Sunday, 20 April 2014

DIY Statement Meccano Chain Necklace

Meccano was invented by Frank Hornby right here in the UK. Patented in 1901 as 'mechanics made easy' the construction kits consist of metal strips, plates, nuts and bolts (amongst other components). Whilst I have no interest in mechanics what-so-ever, I do have a love for interesting and unusual jewellery. I picked up some vintage Meccano plates on EBay for next to nothing, seeing potential in them but not necessarily knowing what for just yet. I started to build up a small collection of these plates in different sizes, colours and shapes until it got to the point that I thought 'I should probably actually do something with these now'. So I sat down one rainy afternoon and began to play around with them....and the Meccano necklace idea was born. Already having perfectly form holes and tessellating sides, constructing them into a wearable piece seemed logical and easy and what's more, adaptable and expandable. As the pieces are simply linked with jump rings, pieces can be added or removed, creating an ever-changing statement piece.

You will need:

Meccano strips/plates of your choosing
Meccano washers
Length of chain or chain necklace
Lobster clasp
Jump rings of varying sizes (mine ranged from about 6mm to 12mm)
Spike beads
Jewellery pliers and cutters

This is a really simple DIY. You're basically just constructing your necklace a piece at a time until you have your desired look.
It's a good idea to lay everything out first, making a design to follow so you can see how everything is likely to look once finished, making changes along the way if things don't 'sit' or hang the way you'd like.

Then it's just a case of connecting the pieces together using jump rings.  


 It really is as simple as that.

 There are loads of things you could do with Meccano...I'm thinking earrings next, or spraying the plates bright colours for a necklace with a pop of colour. Some of the larger, longer plates could even be manipulated and bent to form bracelets.

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

DIY Driftwood Pom Pom Wall Hanging

Having moved house not that long ago, I'm still getting around to adding finishing touches and some home decor to each of the rooms. I love having stuff up on the walls, photo's and pictures evoking memories of adventures, special occasions and our nearest and dearest. The spare/guest/sewing room was in dire need of some love and attention. I wanted to hang something that evoked memories of our travels but was also more tactile than a photo or a canvas. I've always loved pom poms, for their fun and playful appearance, texture and tactile nature, so it seemed like the perfect pairing for a wall hanging...memories in pom pom form! The colours where taken from woven and brightly decorated basket boxes, sold in the markets in Indonesia.
The room is at the back of the house and doesn't get any direct sunlight, so this pop of colour will add warmth and vibrancy to the ivory wall painted walls.

This is a really easy DIY that can be adapted to any size or shape. It is a little bit of a labour of love, but it's definitely worth it. Seeing your pom pom creation up on your wall will make you smile instantly.

You will need:

Piece of scrap wood, hammer and 2 long nails (optional, but a time saving wonder)
Yarn or wool for the pom poms
Yarn or wool for hanging
Embroidery silks/threads
Sharp fabric scissors
Tape measure

To make the pom poms, you can use the old faithful cardboard method...or you can save time and make multiple (say what?!) pom poms at a time. I know, mind blown!

To make multiple pom poms, you simply need a piece of wood, any bit of wood will do, and 2 long nails. Simply hammer your nails into the wood at either end, at a slight angle facing outwards. Having the nails at a slight angle will prevent the yarn from sliding off them as you wind the yarn around them.

Now all you do is simply tie your yarn around one of the nails and begin to wrap it around both nails, forming multiple layers of loops.
You want to pull your yarn fairly taught, but not too much, just enough to stop the yarn from slacking in the middle.

The size of your pom pom with depend on how many times you wrap your yarn. The more you wrap, the fatter it will be.
Once you are happy with the thickness, simply tie off your yarn like you did at the start.

Starting in the middle, you will secure bands of yarn around the length of the yarn. This is the centre of your pom pom, and what will hold all the strands of yarn together once you have cut your pom poms.

Tie the bands as tightly as you can and simply snip away any excess yarn.

Continue like this until you have bound the entire length of the yarn.
The more you tie/the smaller the gap in between each band means the tighter and smaller the pom pom.
Looser and bigger pom poms can be achieve by tying a smaller amount of bands across the yarn.

Now you need to cut the yarn in between the bands, directly in the centre. These cuts form the ends of your pom poms.
Cutting through the top half first will make it easier to snip through but also mean that you will get a cleaner, straighter cut.

Once you have done this for all of the yarn, you should end up with a pile of flat, oval bundles of tied up yarn.

Whilst they are still like this, you can trim the pom poms to make them more circular.
Then it's just a matter of sprucing them up, trimming and shaping them into a more spherical pom pom shape.
Rolling them around in your hand can help with this.

Et voila! A handmade pom pom.
Now to make (a lot) more.

Once you have made your desired amount and desired colour collection of pom poms, it's assembly time.
I decided to add a little colour to my piece of wood by simply wrapping embroidery silk around it.

Start by tying the thread around the wood, then wrap around several times until you have covered an inch or so. Add as many colours as you want and simply secure by knotting the thread.

I wanted to leave some of the natural wood showing.

Work out a pattern for your wall hanging by laying out the pom poms in order of how you want them to hang. This will help you to visualise how the final piece will look.

Link your pom poms together by threading your hanging yarn through the centre of each pom pom. You can do this by hand or by using a wool needles.
Secure your pom poms in place by knotting the hanging yarn, I recommend knotting the yarn 2 or 3 times in the same place.

Secure the yarn to the wood with a couple of knots.

Wrap any excess length of yarn around the wood.

Continue this step until all of your pom poms are attached to the wood.
Attach a length of yarn at either end of the wood to enable you to hang the piece on the wall.

Okay, so not all of my pom poms are perfectly round, but they have that 'handmade' charm about them. I kinda got carried away when making these little beauts, so you may see some more pom pom related DIY projects popping up on here soon (have I said 'pom poms' enough yet?!).

I've already been eyeing up the expanse of white wall at the head of our bed for a larger version of this, I think it will make a real statement piece and can envisage creating my pom poms in tones of grey with a splash of cream and dusky pink, or offsetting the grey tones with a vibrant lime or chartreuse green.
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