english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Leather Bag Making

Handmade Leather Bag
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Saturday workshop to make a leather handbag run by Gosia Weber, a local designer maker here in Birmingham. The class was held at Bilston Craft Gallery, which runs a really good selection of courses which are also cheap! I booked the class back in December as a Christmas present to myself:) I’d seen the course advertised previously but been unable to make the date so was adamant that I was going to make it this time around. As it happened I had to travel  to Istanbul for work the week of the course – but arrived back on Friday in time to attend, if rather tired and keen to spend some time at home.
Handmade Leather Bag
Making a leather handbag was actually easier than I though and was mainly made up on a sewing machine – with some hammering of metal fastenings also involved! Gosia made it easy by providing a pattern for the three main pieces involved – the back (which also formed the flap), front and bottom/side piece. These were all cut from small leather off-cuts.
Handmade Leather Bag
In order to personalise the bags we each cut out a small motif and sewed this (by machine) onto the bag before the bag was assembled. I used the hand wheel rather than the pedal to keep sufficient control while attaching the motif. My choice of a moon and star motif was influenced by the color scheme of my bag. Plenty of tea was provided to keep us going.
Handmade Leather Bag
Handmade Leather Bag
The picture below shows all of the bags produced in the workshop. You can see we all went for different colours, designs, and even placement of the clasp!
Handmade Leather Bag


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Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Today Phil and I attended a Made in the Middle ‘craft taster day’ at Bilston Craft Gallery.
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Made in the Middle is a touring exhibition which I previously blogged about while it was showing at MAC. Made in the Middle is currently on at Bilston, and today’s taster day was a related event with five of the artists with work in the exhibition demonstrating their techniques and allowing visitors to have a go.

Clare Willard allowed visitors to create a version of her laser cut brooches. The brooches me and Phil created are pictured below. Phil’s is the neater one (on the right). Clare provided the laser cut pieces which we stuck together based on a pattern provided. The reverse of the brooches were specially made up with the text ‘Bilston 2013’ which was a lovely touch. I’m pictured modelling mine below (and pulling an awkward face as is my habit when photographed) in the park surrounding Birmingham Cathedral.

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Me wearing my Clare Willard brooch from Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also spent time with sculptor Ruth Spaak who creates sculptures from glass and found/recycled objects. Ruth talked about how she visits car boot sales to find objects to recycle into works of art or for her pupils to recycle into works of art at the various classes she teaches.

In the session with Ruth we threaded beads, buttons and other interesting bits and bobs onto crocodile ties to create the objects pictured below. As you may be able to guess Phil’s is the one on the right (browns & greys) and mine is on the left (pinks and purples)!

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also got chance to talk to Charlotte Clark about her process for creating glass sculptures. Charlotte is participating in a very cool upcoming Urban Pony Exhibition, taking place at Art Space Dudley from 24th May, where various artists will customise a vintage My Little Pony in a way which reflects their own artistic practice. There are workshops taking place as part of the exhibition where participants will have the chance to customise a pony. I’ve definitely got to attend one of those!