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Archive for August, 2009

clean silver with foil

I saved a tweet from @craft_tips:

Warm water, baking soda, aluminum foil. Insert tarnished silver, remove after 10 minutes. Clean!

The idea of a quick and easy method to clean it without any effort was too good to pass up – I have a lot of silver jewellery (because I only wear silver or white gold jewellery) and some is horribly tarnished. I googled to try to find more details and the consensus seems to be that foil, baking soda, a little salt, and boiling water are the magic formula.

Let’s see it in action!

silver cleaning: before
Before (I chose the blackest, most tarnished pieces for this photo. Note also the green tarnish on the two earrings next to the horseshoe charm – I’ll refer to this later!)

silver cleaning: ingredients
Aluminium foil in the bottom of a glass bowl, with baking soda and a little salt

silver cleaning: bubbles
Boiling water added – bubbles!

I added the jewellery – the trick is to make sure that each piece is in direct contact with the foil. Here comes the science part (I probably haven’t mentioned this before, but I used to be a Materials Scientist in a past life): the black tarnish on your silver is silver sulphide. An electrochemical reaction causes the sulphur to transfer from the silver to the aluminium foil, and the tarnish disappears! You can tell it’s working when you smell the sulphur (bad eggs)…

silver cleaning: dirty water
Look how dirty the water becomes (I’d taken out most of the jewellery by this point)

Most of my jewellery came out clean and shiny. Some had a whitish powdery residue (probably from the salt etc) but after rinsing them in clean water, they were fine. Some still looked black, but the black came off easily when I dried it on some paper towel:

silver cleaning: clean
The remaining black tarnish rubbed off easily on a paper towel

Now here’s something interesting: the silver that started with green tarnish to begin with didn’t get clean – it turned orangey/black. This makes sense – pure silver is very soft, so the standard 925 silver (sterling silver) is made from 92.5% silver, and the remaining 7.5% is often copper. It would have been the copper content in the silver that produced the green tarnish in the first place.

Look at the result of the ‘cleaning’ of the green-tarnished pieces:

silver cleaning: copper
Yuck – discolouration from the copper content in the silver

The good news – this isn’t permanent. I used silver polish on these pieces and they turned back to shiny silver (phew!). But I recommend that if you have any silver with green tarnish, don’t use the baking soda method – it won’t help!

After rinsing (and polishing the copper from the surface of the above earrings), here’s all my jewellery:

silver cleaning: clean shiny jewellery

And here’s the final proof that it does (mostly) work – remember my blackened flower ring from the first picture? Look at it now!

silver cleaning: ring after cleaning
Clean and shiny!

Yay! I can wear it again! And I didn’t have to polish into all those little crevices by hand ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’d like to try this technique yourself, you just need aluminium (that’s aluminum to the Americans) foil, baking soda, salt, and boiling water to make most of your silver look like new again with zero effort! Just don’t forget to rinse the pieces after cleaning (if you leave the salt residue, it’ll corrode the silver).

I hope you found my review interesting – just tell me if I get too science-geeky and I’ll scale it back in future ๐Ÿ™‚

Edited to add:

Several people have asked about silver jewellery that includes gems or other stones. I’ve mentioned a few important tips about those in the comments, so I thought I should add them here too:

  • Pearls are NOT stones and must be treated very carefully with only a damp cloth or a very mild soap solution. NEVER put pearls into a baking soda solution!
  • The finish of some gems may be damaged by hot water or salt, so do Google for cleaning instructions for your particular gemstone to make sure itโ€™s safe before you try this or any other cleaning method.
  • If your stones are glued in place, there’s also a chance that the glue will react with the solution, or even melt in the boiling water.

So, if in doubt, save this technique for your silver jewellery that’s all. silver and doesn’t have any gems, stones, crystals etc.

Comments (60)

new stitch markers for crochet

I have a new item available in my shop today: stitch markers for crocheters. The regular ring-shaped stitch markers used by knitters are no good for crochet, as there’s no way to remove the marker from the stitch without cutting it off! Stitch markers for crochet need an opening so they can be slipped off the stitch when you have finished with them.

I’ve been using Susan Bates aluminum stitch markers, but they are expensive (a couple of dollars each) and I keep losing them! Using a scrap of contrasting yarn can leave fibres of the wrong colour on your work. I’ve used coilless safety pins too, but the point of the pin is so sharp that it’s easy to split the yarn by mistake.

Now I’ve managed to source these wonderful plastic stitch markers for you! They look like a cuter version of a coilless safety pin and come in 5 translucent colours.

stitch markers for crochet at planetjune
Aren’t they adorable?

These 3cm (1.2″) long stitch markers open and close like a real safety pin, so you can be sure that your marker won’t fall out in transit. The plastic tip is rounded so it won’t split your yarn. And, best of all, I’ve managed to get a great price for you – they are so inexpensive that if you do lose one, it won’t be the end of the world!

Crochet stitch markers are now available from my shop for $0.50 each, with big discounts if you buy in bulk:

  • Save 30% when you buy 3 or more
  • Save 40% when you buy 10 or more

It’s always useful to have a few spare stitch markers on hand to stop your UFOs (UnFinished Objects) from unravelling, until you get around to working on them again! And these markers would make great mini gifts for your crocheter friends too, so why not stock up and save?

Comments (11)

brushed crochet experiments

After the comment discussion yesterday about brushed crochet, whether I should have brushed the tail of my fox, and which kind of yarns you can brush, I realised that I didn’t actually have a definitive answer to give for that…

The technique of brushed crochet originated with is apparently an old long-forgotten technique that was reinvented by my good friend Brie aka Wibit/Roman Sock with her wonderful brushed animals and brushed crochet tutorial. Since then, brushed crochet has been popping up here and there, but there is no actual ‘yes/no’ list for which yarns can be brushed!

brushed crochet miniature schnauzer puppy by planetjune
I made this Miniature Schnauzer puppy with the brushed crochet technique

I already know that wool, mohair and bamboo yarns work for brushed crochet, but I’ve read that acrylic and cotton yarns should not be used (why is that?). So, time for an experiment…

Hunting through my box of crocheted scraps and rejected pieces, I found an 100% acrylic grey piece, and a failed prototype made from black acrylic and green 100% cotton – perfect test candidates for the ‘do not use’ yarns. Here are the results after a little brushing with a pet slicker brush:

brushed acrylic yarn experiment
Acrylic yarn after brushing (right side is unbrushed for comparison)

brushed cotton yarn experiment
Black: acrylic yarn. Green: cotton yarn.

Guess what? They both fluffed up, and the yarns didn’t break! It was more difficult to generate fluff with the cotton and acrylic yarns than with the mohair blends I’ve used previously – you need to brush for longer to get the fluff to appear (especially with the cotton, which I suspect would never give a fully furry effect). The acrylic also made a sort of crinkly looking fluff, so wouldn’t be as good for a natural fur effect.

But, in general, I say brush away! Based on this experiment, I think any kind of yarn would work to some extent – if in doubt, crochet a small swatch first and brush it out to make sure the yarn doesn’t break and your work unravel before you achieve your desired level of fluffiness! All you need to get started is a wire pet slicker brush and a little patience.

brushed crochet experiment

Be aware that this is a destructive technique – the brush yanks fibres out of the yarn, and in the process some fibres come out completely and are left on the brush (as you can see in the above photo). So please do use caution, and test-brush a swatch before risking something you’ve spent a long time creating.

crocheted red fox by planetjune

I still won’t be brushing out the tail on my red fox. Brushing masks the shape of the underlying crocheted piece and I don’t want that for my fox. But if you buy the pattern (coming soon!) then feel free to try brushing out the tail of your foxes – no matter which type of yarn you choose to crochet it from ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (9)

fantastic mr fox

I was going to wait until the pattern was ready before posting, but I just can’t resist giving you a teaser – sometimes a design just magically comes together, and this was one of those times. The pieces all looked okay, but it was only when I stitched it all together that his personality popped out and I knew I had a real cunning fox on my hands:

crocheted amigurumi red fox by planetjune

crocheted amigurumi red fox by planetjune
“I’m ready for my close-up now”

crocheted amigurumi red fox by planetjune
Foxy tail!

I’m making a variant now, and then I’ll write up the pattern. If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, sign up for my mailing list.

I’m really happy with his colouring. I’d love to know what you think of him though – please leave me a comment and let me know!

Comments (21)

Serengeti Sunset & interview

The lovely Sister Diane interviewed me for the latest episode of her podcast, CraftyPod #97: Two Ways to Publish a Craft Book, with June Gilbank. We talked about our experiences in print and eBook publishing. If you have any interest in publishing a craft book at some point, either the traditional way (through a print publisher) or by self-publishing an eBook, you should definitely listen – there’s a lot more to publishing a book (either way) than you might realise!

For my non-crafty family and friends who don’t have any interest in the subject matter but just want to hear me and my English accent, my section starts at 13 mins through ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m also very happy to be able to reveal my latest punchneedle design, entitled Serengeti Sunset. Distinctive acacia trees are silhouetted against the African sunset as giraffes and an elephant wander the plains of the Serengeti:

serengeti sunset punchneedle embroidery by planetjune

This design is a little different from my others – I laid it out as a long landscape, which would make a great embellishment for a purse or bag, as well as a stunning wallhanging.

I also modified the design to create a tapered coffee sleeve to fit over a standard disposable coffee cup. The loops of punchneedle embroidery form a thick, dense fabric which is perfect to use as a barrier to stop your hand from being burnt while holding your hot beverage of choice! Look stylish while you help save the environment by not using a second cup or a cardboard disposable sleeve each time you buy a coffee:

punchneedle coffee sleeve by planetjune

The full instructions for both the flat rectangular embroidery and the tapered coffee sleeve (with full assembly instructions) are provided in the Serengeti Sunset pattern.

The Serengeti Sunset pattern costs $5, or take advantage of my new special offers:

I’ve set up a new mailing list for my punchneedle designs, so please sign up for that if you’d like notification when I release new patterns!

I hope you like my latest design! Please leave me a comment if you

Comments (10)

last chance for a free pattern!

embroidery floss by planetjune

This weekend is your last chance to take advantage of my introductory offer of a FREE punchneedle pattern of your choice when you buy my eBook, The Punchneedle Handbook.

Praise for The Punchneedle Handbook:

The book is brief, clear, direct, logical. It includes everything you need to know to get started. And, best of all, June tips us off to the most common errors and explains how to avoid or correct them. I know exactly what I was doing wrong now (several things), and I canโ€™t wait to try it again.
Excerpted from CraftGossip review by Denise Felton

June has done a bang-up job of outlining everything you need to know to get started with this craft: how to prepare your materials, how to thread the needle and punch stitches, how to get perfect outlines and color effects, and how to troubleshoot problems while youโ€™re learning. June also covers the basics of finishing your work and preparing it for incorporation into other crafts. Itโ€™s all illustrated with nice, clear photographs.
Excerpted from Craftypod review by Diane Gilleland

buy The Punchneedle Handbook by June Gilbank

New pricing will be in effect from Monday, so if you haven’t got around to buying The Punchneedle Handbook yet, now is the perfect time to take the plunge!

(Also on Monday, I’ll have a brand new African-themed punchneedle design to show you…)

Comments (3)

book news

As you may or may not have picked up from reading my blog over the past few months, I’ve written a papercraft book, to be released exclusively through Barnes & Noble. I finished writing and illustrating the book months ago, but haven’t seen a copy of it yet, so it all feels very unreal at this point – did I really write a book?! Maybe I just dreamt it…

Well now, thanks to my friend Jana and her camera, I have proof that it really did happen! Although it doesn’t yet appear on their website, a search for “June Gilbank” on the in-store Barnes & Noble catalogue computers reveals:

screenshot of B&N catalogue computer

That’s Paper Chains and Garlands: Easy-to-Make Decorations for Parties, Holidays, and Home Decor by June Gilbank! It really exists!

Not long to wait now – I hope I’ll be able to show some pics from the book itself shortly! I can’t wait to finally be able to show you the result of all the hard work I put into it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (10)

amigurumi whale class

creativ festival logo

I’ll be teaching again at the Creativ Festival in Toronto this October. This time I’m going to teach this adorable one-piece amigurumi whale design:

amigurumi whales by planetjune

I loved this concept as soon as I came up with it because it’s all crocheted in one piece, so that means there’s no sewing required! It’s perfect design to teach in my class.

My class is on Friday October 18th, 5-6.30pm. Class registration is now open on the Creativ Festival website.

If you’re at all crafty and you’ll be anywhere near Toronto in October, you should definitely check out the Creativ Festival!

Comments (8)

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    June Gilbank

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