Virtually Amsterdam


, , , ,

I decided to make time to take part in the Virtual Paintout again. This is a fun project by Bill Guffey where he chooses a destination and then we use google maps to find views to paint. This month it’s Amsterdam.


“It’s Amsterdam, only bonkers” by Cate van Alphen

It was quite near the end of the month when I started, so I decided to focus on something fun rather than strictly accurate. I’ve done some messy gesso in the background on a piece of blue paper. I used paint pens and only slightly exaggerated the tilt of the buildings.

I wanted something a little bonkers to reflect the feeling of Amsterdam which is full of fun surprises. For example a museum of Fluorescent Art or tiny houses in a crack between two buildings.

Tiny houses

Evolution of a wishpot


, , , ,

I’ve just finished a commission for a wishpot which has helped me work out some of the technical issues I’ve had with stringing them. I began making these several years ago so I’ll show you some highlights in their evolution. Apologies for the quality on the older photos, I’ve tried to fix the colour balance.

Pearl wishpot necklace

This mother of pearl effect wishpot was one of the first I made. It is strung directly on the necklace. The bead stopper can be lifted to open the wishpot. The necklace string keeps it in place when it’s being worn.

Pearl wishpot open

There were a few things I didn’t like about this design. Firstly the necklace needs to be thin in order for the bead lid to be opened (the stopper bead plus cord on either side needs to fit through the mouth of the pot). Also unless it is a specific commission I get stressed about choosing the length for a necklace.

purple wishpot

For my next version, I wanted the pendant to go on a thicker kumihimo cord. Since there was no hope of this going through the opening of the wishpot, I put it on a ribbon that created a bail to hang on the necklace. I included lengths of ribbon in the necklace to link the design together. This version was better, but still not massively versatile – I couldn’t picture the ribbon working on something like a chain.

wishpot mala

My latest necklace was for a wishpot on a mala necklace. I used beads made from imfibinga seeds. The necklace needed a specific number of beads which made it pretty long. I wanted a way to allow the necklace to be shortened without adding a clasp. My solution was to add a button toggle to the wishpot attachment.

wishpot mala necklace

This means the necklace can be doubled over and the wishpot used to attach the two sides together. The wishpot can now also exist independently, so for example you could pop it in your pocket or wear it on a belt loop.


The thin nylon cords still allow the pot to be opened. and the bead and macrame knotted button hole on either side keep the pieces together. Hooray! It finally feels like all the pieces of this design make sense!

mala wishpot open

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.

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!