Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Wreath Decorations made from Merino Wool Tops

We love these simple and effective Christmas Wreath decorations made from Merino Wool Tops by Cara and Jo Barrell.


How to Make the Christmas Wreath

You will need a framework on which to attach the wool tops, and these can be found in floristry sections in garden centres. If you can't find one, you can bend a wire coat hanger into a circle, leaving the hook at the top for hanging the wreath.

The Christmas Wreath decoration was made by plaiting 3 lengths of Merino wool tops and attaching the plait around the wire. The wool tops are supplied in a continuous length where possible and breaks can be fixed by overlapping the ends while plaiting.

The wools tops are attached to the wire by passing one of the lengths around the wire as you plait, or the plait can be tied in place with string or food bag ties.

The holly decoration is made from felted holly leaves and berries. You will need to create a piece of flat felt (our Fact File page Making Felted Fabric and Felt Balls By Hand will show you how) and cut out the shape of holly leaves. A small amount of scarlet Merino wool is easily felted into balls for berries.

The Christmas wreath decoration above was made using our Silver coloured wool top. It is decorated with a charming hand felted snowman, two felted candy canes, and stars made from fused Angelina fibres.

The felted snowman with his top hat and carrot nose.

The Merino wool tops are available in 29 colours - take a look

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Retirement for Julie - and Pastures Anew!

Congratulations to our friend and colleague, Julie Scanlon who begins her retirement journey this week.

If you have placed an order by phone, or called us with a query, you may well have spoken to Julie who has been part of the George Weil sales team for nearly 14 years.

Julie has plans to fill her time travelling all over the world, doting on her grandson, and spending time with her children and family.

Thank you Julie for all your effort over the years - we'll miss you.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sophie's Tapestry Weaving Experience

I am new to tapestry weaving and this is my first attempt at using a loom. To try weaving I used the Schacht Lilli loom. This is a simple design so it was easier for me to understand how the loom works.
The first thing I did was print off a set of instructions on how to warp the tapestry loom and a simple guide on how to weave. This included diagrams for me to follow. To be able to start weaving I needed a basic understanding of what the different terms meant when weaving, thankfully definitions of these terms were included in the instructions (see excerpt below).

You can also take a look at our blog post Getting Started with Tapestry Weaving which explains the technique using a simple tapestry frame and bobbins.

Setting up the Loom

I used different colours of rug yarn for my tapestry weaving. I took a black yarn and tied a simple knot round one of the beam teeth on the loom. To warp up the loom I took the yarn backwards and forwards between the top and bottom beam with the yarn linking it to the beam teeth. Ensuring that it was tied off securely.

Setting up the Stick Shuttle

I needed to wind the shuttle with the yarn for the weft. There are different ways a stick shuttle can be loaded but I used a simple method. Threading the yarn from the top to the bottom of the stick shuttle to create a bulk of weft. It is important to make sure that there is not too much yarn on the stick shuttle as you will struggle to thread the shuttle through the shed.

Time to begin weaving!

Now I could begin my tapestry weaving. By following the instructions I had an understanding that I needed to use the shed stick to weave in and out of every other warp thread across the warp. For this loom the shed stick stays in place for the entire weaving.
The pick-up stick is placed in the opposite row to the shed stick it can then be turned onto its side to make more space (shed) for the stick shuttle to go through the warp.
To start the tapestry weaving you need to thread the shuttle through the warp (under and over every other thread). This creates the first weave. Now the tapestry beater is needed to press the weft into place, this means that it should be pushed down into a straight line and to be in line with the beam.

The next stage of the tapestry weaving

Removing the pick-up stick from the loom is the next step to be able to weave the opposite shed. It has to be used to weave under and over the opposite threads which are on the shed stick. The shuttle is then threaded through the warp again to create a second weave. The beater is used again to push down the weft and create a tight weave. I found that it is essential that the weft is not threaded through the warp too tight. Otherwise it will cause the warp threads on either end to be too tight. This then causes an inwards dent throughout your weaving. The steps are then repeated to create a simple tapestry weave.
This is where it became clear to me why the shed stick stays in place. The reason being when the pick-up stick is removed to create the next weave it can be placed through the same warp threads as the shed stick. Personally I found this easier as I then only had to thread every other weave and it saved time throughout my weaving.

Trying a different technique

As this was my first time doing tapestry weaving I was inspired to try different designs! I tried using a different colour and only wove half of the warp, reducing the weave by one warp thread on every 4 weaves. I did this by using exactly the same technique as the previous weaving. By keeping the shed stick in place and using the pick-up stick to create the new weave to be able to thread the stick shuttle through.

After completing a few lines of this design I decided to use another colour on the opposite side. Hoping that I would be able to link the two colours together to create a block similar to the previous design I had created on the loom.

When the weave was complete I noticed that the colours did not link in the way I wanted them to. There were wholes within the weaving which meant that it wasn't completed correctly. To overcome this problem I decided to try and create tassels to link the two colours together!

Creating the tassel!

To create the tassel I used a different coloured thread on a tapestry needle. I used the needle to thread the yarn through the two warp threads that had the different colours connect to them. I then tied the yarn at the back of the loom. After this I created a loop of yarn which I repeated four times and then secured it by looping the yarn at the back again and tying a firm knot. I was then able to cut the loop in half to create a tassel; this is how I overcame my problem of the yarns not connecting.

If you would like to have a go at tapestry weaving, George Weil stock a large choice of tapestry frames and looms.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Tie-dye Pillowcases with Children

You may have seen our post Tie-dyed Onesies using Jacquard Procion MX dyes in which professional nannies Cara and Kim did some fun tie-dyeing with the children they look after.

This post shows what the children made with the left over dyes!

Tie-dyed Pillowcases

The white pillowcase were first prepared for dyeing and then soaked in a solution of 20g soda ash per litre of water (allowing approximately 2 litres of water for every 100g of dry fabric). The soda ash solution is what helps to bond the dye to the fabric making the colours permanent and wash fast.

The bottles were filled with 150ml of hot tap water and 2-4 teaspoons of Jacquard Procion MX dye powder were added before shaking the solution to disperse the dye. This type of dye is for use on cellulose fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon.

Tying the Fabric

The tied off areas of the fabric will absorb little or no dye and this will create the patterning on the fabric. You can use string by wrapping it tightly around the fabric before knotting it, or elastic bands pulled as tightly as they will stretch without breaking.

Applying the Dye

It is a good idea to protect all work surfaces and wear disposable gloves when working with the dyes. With help from the adults, the children applied the dye using the squeezy bottles. The children had a lot of lovely colours to choose from, although 2-3 colours can be equally effective.

Here are the tie-dyed pillowcases laid out to dry.

And here are the finished pillowcases!

Tie-dyeing Alternative Technique

Another method of tie-dyeing fabric involves the tied item being fully submerged is a bucket of dye solution. It is then allowed to dry before unwrapping the tied parcel. The fabric is then tied again (but in different places) and submerged in a different dye colour. This process is very effective if you only have two dye colours such as turquoise and yellow. The parts of the fabric that were protected by the ties will remain either turquoise or yellow. The parts of the fabric that were dyed with both colours will be green.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Natural Dyeing Display at the Weald & Downland Living Museum

A visit to the Weald & Downland Living Museum takes us on a journey through 950 years of English rural history.

There are 50 historical buildings which were carefully rebuilt within the 40 acre site, demonstrations and exhibits, plus an extensive artefact collection housed in the award-winning Downland Gridshell Building. Throughout the year, the Museum also hosts event days inspired by the collections, plus a programme of adult education courses in traditional rural trades and crafts.

Natural Dyed Fabrics, Yarns and Thread 

Amongst the many exhibits is this glass topped cabinet displaying items dyed using natural dyes. The dyes and mordants used were bought from George Weil in October 2016 and it's great to see the the wonderful range of colours achieved.

Some the natural dyes used for the display include Madder, Weld, Walnut Husks, Tansy, Marigold and Safflower. Our images below show the dried dye-stuff prior to dyeing.

Colours from Natural Dyes

The final colours of natural dyes will depend on the method and the type of mordant or fixative used. Some natural dyes, such as Walnut Husks and Lichens, do not require a mordant. These are classed as Substantive dyes. Adjective dyes, however, do need a mordant to combine with the dye and fix it to the material.

The roots of Madder (Rubia tinctoria) produce a colour range from bright red (Turkey Red) through to purple. Both the crimson Alizarin and rich pink Rose Madder pigment are made from Madder and are used in water colour paints. A purple can be achieved by using a copper or iron mordant.

Weld (or Dyer's Rocket) was introduced into the UK in ancient times possibly due to the bright yellow colour it can yield when used as a dye. It was used in combination with Woad (which produces a blue) to create Lincoln Green which is famously associated with the fictional Robin Hood.

Walnut Husks come from the outer green husk that contains the shell. The husks produce varying shades of brown and do not require a mordant. Walnut Husks can also be used to make an excellent deep brown ink by boiling and reducing the solution for 6-8 hours.

The Tansy plant has a strong aromatic scent which repels flies, ants and even moths. It is also said to help with bruising, rheumatism and other medical conditions. For the natural dyer, it produces a useful yellow.

Marigold - the clue is in the name - is not only a very pleasant garden plant but also a very effective source of golden yellow. The dye colour can be altered to a greeny olive by using an iron or copper mordant.

The Safflower is generally used for the production of vegetable oil but was traditionally used for colouring and flavouring. When used as a natural dye, the dried flowers produce shades of yellow through to red. This page on Jenny Dean's Wild Colour explains how to extract both yellow and red from Safflower petals.

Other historically important dye-stuff includes indigo, henna, logwood and oak bark. Browse the range of natural dyes and mordants from George Weil for further information.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Support for the Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition 2017

George Weil are pleased to have been able to support the 2017 Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition as a patron. The event featured 25 artists including works in oils, acrylics, pastels - and cement! Plus photographs on aluminum, sculptures and ceramics.

The painting "Patti" featured here (right) is by artist David Dragon, and another of his paintings "The Water Carrier" is shown on the bottom left of the wall pictured below. David was previously an album sleeve designer and has worked for Decca and EMI for artists such as UB40, XTC and Oasis.

Other exhibiting artists included watercolourist Jackie Deveraux, photographer Sue Roche, and sculptor Christine Suzman.

Broadcaster and champion of community arts, Jeff Thomson, attended the Private Viewing.

"Guildford Arts again offers an eclectic range of styles, materials, and concepts from 25 contributors and I joined an informed crowd circulating among works that represent national, regional and local names. This year’s exhibition continues to astonish and could exceed some earlier shows."

"I can only echo Nicholas Tromans' (curator of The Watts Gallery) observation - 'local does not mean lesser.'  How true."

You can review some of the artists' work from the Yvonne Arnaud Art Exhibition on the Guildford Arts website.

More about Guildford Arts

"Guildford Arts is a charity dedicated to improving public participation in the rich offerings of art – in all its varieties – that are available in Guildford and beyond.

Through our small grants scheme we seek to support arts initiatives that will enhance that offering …… and our innovative web site development – – is contributing directly to the growth of public awareness of arts events."

If you would like to support Guildford Arts, you can become a member for just £10.00 a year. Visit their website to find out more.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Following in Grandpa's Footsteps

Did you know that Doctor Ian Bowers, Managing Director of George Weil & Sons Ltd, has run the business since it merged with Fibrecrafts, over 20 years ago?

Fibrecrafts was set up in 1982 by Anna Bowers, to offer textile crafts supplies for hand spinners, weavers, dyers, felt makers and knitters. Anna set the standard for the service we are proud of today. The products are still sourced from the best world-wide manufacturers, offering choice, quality and value. Ian took up the reins after Anna sadly died in 1994.

Today in August 2017 her legacy lives on. We now welcome their granddaughter Sophie to the team!

Sophie attended Farnham Sixth Form College, studying health and social care. Her ambition is to become a midwife, and hopes her experience here at George Weil will ready her for a busy future. Sophie is an intelligent, productive worker, who from her first few days here has already shown great potential.

Do we have a new MD in our midst? Watch out Ian!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Conte a Paris Crayons

Conte a Paris Crayons are square 'carre' sticks which are made using a combination of pigments, clay and binder. They are harder than pastels and charcoal, and can be applied with the corner for fine lines and the flat edge to make larger strokes.

square pastel sticks
Conte a Paris Crayons
These crayons with their 6x6mm cross-section offer a range of 84 bright and balanced colours, that make up various sets of assortments. Conte offers sets specifically selected for portraits, landscapes, sketching and still life, and crayons can also be purchased individually.

6mm pastels
Conte a Paris 6mm Pastel Crayons
Manufactured with natural pigments (iron oxide, carbon black, titanium oxide), clay (kaolin), and a binder (cellulose either). They are extruded and dried, then baked. The degree of baking varies the grade (hardness: H/softness: B) of the black and white crayons. Two special tints were recently developed to enhance the Conte sketching range, Rose and Brown. Crayons are produced from a highly rigorous choice of pigments.

Ever since Nicolas-Jacques Conte perfected the quality and manufacturing of the coloured leads in 1795 (used by artists in the 14th century), many artists and grand masters used his pastels due to the selection of pigments, lightfastness, and purity of the colours. Conte crayons are famed for how easily they blend, their softness and how they offer control for detail.

Pastels on coloured paper
Bright Luminous colours of Conte a Paris Crayons on Coloured Paper
 The pastels look best when used on coloured paper with plenty of tooth (such as Canson Ingres Sheets or Canson Mi-Teintes Pastels Paper), as the colour of the pastels will be more luminous, and the tooth will grab hold of the pigment. To create a non-absorbent, grease free surface on materials such as wood, canvas or paper, we recommend you apply a primer (such as Schmincke Pastel primer). When dried the surface will be opaque and rough enough to provide a good hold for pastel colours.

Whilst drawing you can use the corner of the crayon for fine lines, allowing you to sketch and structure the piece. The flat edge can be used for thicker lines, and by applying greater pressure you can create a denser colour. As the Conte crayons are soft they blend easily, which helps to create dimension in your artwork. Conte crayons allow you to produce thick, dynamic lines that can be used to suggest movement. These techniques can transform an initially mundane subject into something intriguing and extraordinary. 

To preserve your work, apply a pastel fixative before framing behind glass.

If you are interested in buying Conte a Paris Crayons, click here to see the products available on our website.

A close up of Conte a Paris Crayons
A closer look at Conte a Paris Crayons
images and text by Kyra Quinn

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Welcome to Kyra from George Weil

Kyra has joined us for work experience this week where she's learning the in's and out's of how a business is run. Today Kyra has learnt about the steps for how orders are processed and packaged, as well as how businesses keep track of sales and profit. She's even had a sneak preview of our new and improved website, and had a summary of how it all gets coded.

"I'm currently studying Fine Arts at Sixth Form, and I hope to pursue a creative career where I can incorporate my creative talents."

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Nail Art with Pearl Ex Pigment Powders

Jacquard Pearl Ex pigment powders are made from fine particles of glistening mica. The varying sizes of the coloured particles produce pearlescent and metallic effects. These ultra fine powders can be combined with any viscous material such as glue, resin, paint, varnish, or brushed onto tacky surfaces such as wax candles or modelling clay.

This exciting art material can be used in so many other creative ways. The finer powders can be added to screen inks for screen printing, while Gum Arabic makes an excellent carrier for making watercolour paints. The Jacquard Textile Colourless Extender can be used for making Pearl Ex paint for fabric.

Cara's Toes!

The Pearl Ex powders have been used to great effect by our colleague Cara to decorate her toe nails for a mermaid costume she will be wearing soon. Scroll down to read how Cara achieved this look.

"I did this by painting turquoise nail varnish onto my nails, but you can obviously use any colour nail varnish. When it was dry, I rubbed a small amount of the Pearl Ex on top of the colour and then covered with a clear top coat. I used the Interference Violet and a bit of the Interference Green Pearl Ex for this."

"I then used silver and black nail art pens to draw the scales on top and then another clear top coat again!"

Pearl Ex Pigment on Polymer Clay

The same Pearl Ex Interference colours were used on this piece of moulded polymer clay. You can see from the image that the colours are very effective on dark coloured materials. After the clay in baked in a domestic oven at 130°C, the colours remain stable and unchanged. In fact, 17 of the 49 colours (the Interference Green and Violet included) have been tested in a glass kiln and shown to withstand temperatures between 590°C - 925°C!

Happy Feet!

Visit the George Weil website to see the range of 49 colours available in Jacquard Pearl Ex Powders

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Mending and Hanging Terracotta Pots with Milliput Epoxy Putty

Milliput Terracotta Epoxy Putty

What is Milliput?

Milliput epoxy putty is used to repair damaged metals, glass, concrete, plastics, brick, cement and wood, and in places where welding is impractical. This malleable putty is also very popular with model makers for its work-ability and smooth finish.

When mixed in equal quantities, the two-part epoxy putty cures to a rock hard, durable finish which can be sanded, filed, drilled, turned and painted. It is self hardening (and will set under water!) and non-shrinking. Although it is not recommended as a thin layer adhesive, it will bond most materials.

In this post, we demonstrate the Terracotta Milliput epoxy putty which is ideal for repairing cracks and breaks in garden pots, picture frames, sculptures and brickwork.

Repairing a Pot with Terracotta Milliput Epoxy Putty

A pack of Milliput contains two sticks of putty. You will need to cut off a slice of the same size from each of the sticks. The soft putty is then kneaded until both colours of stick are fully combined.

Thoroughly blend the two parts of Milliput Epoxy Putty

The chipped edge of the garden pot below was repaired by pressing some of the blended putty into the crack before smoothing it over with wetted fingers.  The repair is almost invisible!

Terracotta pot repaired with Milliput

Making Hanging Terracotta Pots from Milliput

The bonding properties of cured Milliput is so strong that it can be used to make simple "brackets" for your terracotta plant pots. The Milliput was first rolled into a ball and then pressed into a disc shape.

Adding a hanger to a garden pot with Milliput Terracotta Epoxy Putty

The disc of Milliput was then pressed onto the rim of the pot and the join smoothed into the terracotta using a wet finger. An old biro pen was then used to make a hole.

Milliput dried rock hard within 3-4 hours

The epoxy resin set hard within 3-4 hours and the pots were ready to hang!

Hanging pots adapted using Terracotta coloured Milliput epoxy putty

Milliput epoxy resin is available in Standard, Terracotta, Black and Silver Grey grades, and in a finer grade of White for repairing smooth finishes such as ceramics, porcelain and marble. Find out more about Milliput and to buy from George Weil.