Thursday, 31 January 2013

Let’s All Go to Our Happy Place

To celebrate my 40th post I thought I’d show you something a little bit different. It is this, my Three Tiers of Happiness coffee cosy.

I know, I know, a coffee cosy is not that different from a tea cosy but at the time of making it, it sure felt pretty different I can tell you. After receiving all the relevant information from the person who wanted this creation, my mind was reeling with the important things I wanted to include in this piece and how I was going to put it all together.

The stand-out inspirations for the cosy were; the sea, archaeology and cake. I was a little confounded to begin with. How would or could I make these things relate to each other and also how would I make it look manly because the commission was a present for my clients husband.

I started, as ever, with getting the foundation right. I had never made a coffee cosy before so I set about designing a pattern for the coffee pot. When I make up my own patterns I always write them down. I have notebook after notebook full of things like: Coffee Cosy Attempt 1
5mm needles    2 strands of wool
Cast on 32 stitches
Knit in stocking stitch for 68 rows
(Too long, not enough stitches across, increase by 10)
This is always accompanied by hand drawn boxes with crossed off rows, like you might see in jail cells when prisoners are crossing off the time the have done in cheesy prison films.

For this piece I made a whole test cosy to make sure I worked out all the kinks before starting on the real thing. When I was happy that I had the foundation sorted, I moved on to the concept behind the piece. As you can tell from the title I settled on making this cosy into a shrine to happiness. This is how all the different components were interrelated; they give pleasure to the person this cosy was being created for.

So I designed three layers that, hopefully, all flow into each other to create a cohesive and visually appealing whole. I knit the base in mottled wool with tones of blues, browns and greens. This was to represent the earth for the archaeology layer. I then used one of the brown tones from the wool to create the colour of the cake for the top layer.

I made felt arrow heads and stitched them to the base. I had to put these on first because I wanted them to appear as if they were coming up from under the sea. Not literally out of the sea, I didn’t imagine little archers swimming in the waves, randomly shooting arrows into the air. I mean that I wanted the sea to be the first layer and because the arrows were underneath it in the design, they had to be applied first.

I love the stylised waves created by Japanese print artist Hokusai and I used these for my inspiration for my felt sea. I made a template and cut out my design from different tones of blue felt. I then sewed them into place.

At the top, I ironed some cream coloured felt into pleats and then sewed it around the perimeter of the lid of the cosy to create a cupcake case. The dome of the coffee pot created the body of the cake and then I added a circle of pink and red icing, also made of felt, to complete the cake.

I think this is certainly an unusual design and if it wasn't explained to you or you didn’t know the person well that it was made for, you might be more than a little confused. But I guess that is the unique pleasure of having something specifically designed for you. It doesn’t have to appeal to everybody; it just has to appeal to one person. I don’t think you can really describe the experience of receiving something that has been made just for you.

Luckily for me I have had some very artistic friends and family and I have received some of my most treasured possessions from them. They are treasured because they were made with me in mind and there is so much thought and consideration gone into them.

I highly recommend commissioning original art work, not because I’m trying to get a job out of it, you don’t have to hire me. I recommend it because there is nothing like receiving the work when it is finished and it is, in my experience, worth every penny that it costs. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are great sites out there selling one of a kind or customisable pieces that are worth investing in and they can suit many different budgets. Check out Etsy to get you started and there is a whole world of artists and creators that can be discovered from there. 

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