Groovy blast from the past


, , , , ,

My blog has been a bit quiet while I sort out a backlog of chores at home and excavate my workspace. Part of this process has been getting my jewellery listed online (it’s not entirely logical but I feel like I can’t make new stuff if there is nowhere for my existing things to go). The good news is that I have finally gotten some of my vintage teacup inspired earrings listed in my shop. I made them a few years ago, so here’s a reminder.

selection of floral earrings

I have also finally completed a little tutorial video. It’s just a small tip for sanding your polymer clay when there is wire embedded in it (like for the triangle shaped pieces pictured above in the last row). It’s currently available as a preview for my Patreon subscribers, but I’ll be making it public soon.

Rug complete


, , , ,

I have finished my rag rug! Here is the finished article in place at my front door. Not bad for a box of scraps. I have a few posts showing the work in progress.

rag rug

I have also been making little felt brooches to fund-raise for my children’s school.

Pansy brooch

I’ve got a few more projects in progress in my head but nothing to show you yet. Paper flowers may be involved…

I finished a… thing


, , , , ,

A few years ago I made a Bead Habitat. You may have noticed that all the pictures are fairly tightly cropped. This is because I hadn’t finished the edges.

bead habitat

I had intended to frame it as a picture to go on the wall, but my mother objected, saying that it was too tactile for that and needed to be explored closely rather than hung from a wall. After that it got buried under all the debris on my beading table.

bead habitat detail

As part of my recent tidying, I came across it again, and decided to finish it. I’ve done a bead edging and a backing fabric to hide my workings. I had to try really hard not to embellish the back too!

bead habitat

I’m not entirely sure what it is. It’s a kind of sculptural, 3D painting, abstract, mini landscape, ornament… thing. It’s purely decorative and quite small, so I’m thinking of it as “coffee table jewellery”.

Bead habitat detail

It’s a mixed media piece including some of my polymer clay beads and components, silk covered wire, embroidery and glass beads on fabric.

bead habitat

bead habitat detail

Let me know what you think it is. Sometimes feel that I don’t make these things, I’m just there when it happens. 🙂

Proddy Rug


, , , ,

It’s been a while since my last blog, so here’s a look at my current project. It’s a proddy rag rug. Inspired by hours looking at the rugs in Craftworkshop, I decided to give this a try since I have a lot of scrap fabric.

Rug in progress

Rag rug in progress

Of course I didn’t actually look at any tutorials, I just looked at the rugs in the shop and guessed how they were done. I’m using scraps of fleece fabric and a knitting needle for the prodding. I’m not using a frame, but perhaps I should be, since it’s curling a bit on the back. I suspect my scraps are a bit densely packed too, but I think it will be ok since there is a recess at my front door which I am making this to fit into. I’ll just jam it in and stomp it flat when I’m done.

wrong side of rug

Back of rug

I’m doing an abstract design, just planning it as I go. It’s like a very slow motion doodle and is strangely addictive. Often I find it helps keep me interested if I don’t plan things out too fully. It’s also satisfying finding a way to recycle my scraps of fabric.

If you’d like to see a pro making one, here’s a nice video:

And this pdf tutorial even gives instructions for making the tools you will need.

Update: Here’s a more recent photograph with further progress on my rug.


New fabric design – Orchid and Navy


, , , , ,

I have done another fabric design for spoonflower. This one was for their limited palette challenge. They provided the colour choices, I chose the pattern. It was only afterwards that I realised the colours were very similar to my blog header image!

Bubble sandscape fabric design

I was inspired by those pictures made from sand, water and air bubbles between two panes of glass. When you flip it the bubbles rise and cause the sand to dribble through slowly like an hourglass to form different landscapes (search for sandpicture and you’ll see what I mean).

If you’d like to vote, you have until 20th February 2018. There are a lot of entries, so bring a snack!

Where have I been?


, , , , ,

I haven’t done a blog post in a while – this is because I haven’t been making anything new. Here’s why:

Embarrassingly this mess is not because I’ve just moved house, it’s layers of stuff that I’ve been shifting around to different surfaces so that I can work somewhere else. However since the rest of the room is in a similar state, there’s now nowhere else to shift to.  Combine this with my New Year’s good intentions and a birthday marking a new decade, I have been focussing on tidying up and getting things under control. It’s slow going since I can only do a little bit before I feel the panic building and I have to stop and do something else.

Since I don’t want to leave you with such a ghastly image, here’s one of the projects I’ve finally gotten around to doing. These were supposed to be Christmas gifts for my children. Yes it’s February!

Unicorn plushie

My girls were very specific about the designs they wanted so I thought it would be easier to make them than to scour the shops for “a baby white unicorn, lying down, with a purple mane and a golden horn and golden hooves and rainbow wings”. A pink and yellow butterfly was easier, but I figured since I was already making one…

Butterfly plushie

I got my designs printed by Spoonflower on minky fabric. Since the cost was similar to get two fat quarters as a whole yard, I did the two together and filled the background with a design combining the unicorn and the butterfly (this fabric is now available on Spoonflower).

Unicorn and butterfly fabric

My sewing on the plushies was pretty abysmal, so I decided to practice some more. I cut out a few of the motifs from the background fabric and made an even smaller unicorn.

Unicorn plushiesI had to do blanket stitch around the outside since it was too small for an inner seam. I was tempted to put a bail on this and make it into a necklace, but my daughter has claimed this one too.

Tiny unicorn plushie

I also made another butterfly. I’m not sure if this is a pin cushion or a toy. It’s gone too.

Butterfly cushion

Green Man Mask


, , , ,

My husband’s Christmas party this year was a masquerade ball so he asked me to make a mask for him. We decided on something inspired by the Green Man.

Green Man mask by Cate van Alphen

Green Man mask by Cate van Alphen

The base of the mask is paper mache (I used layers of gum tape) with a final decorative layer of my mono printed papers torn into little pieces. The leaves and acorns are polymer clay and there is a foil backed glass gem in the center. I also sprinkled in a few acrylic flat backs for some Christmas bling.

Mask detail by Cate van Alphen

It was a fun project. I’m tempted to make some more masks although I’m not quite sure what to do with the finished products since I find masks pretty creepy.