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'Cushion cover' by Jill Richardson-Jones of Horsley U3A

'Cushion cover' by Jill Richardson-Jones of Horsley U3A

This is a painted cushion cover.
Pure cotton covers are available from Amazon and are not expensive. I have used Acrylic fabric paints, that can be used just like watercolours when diluted.
The secret is to always use pure cotton covers, as the paint will flow better.
If you have an old towel, insert it into the cover, so that the paint won't leak through to theback of the cushion.
Having chosen your subject , use a graphite pencil to draw out an outline - very lightly.
Choose the colours you need, also have a jam jar of water, some kitchen towel .. and wear an apron!
After painting, and as soon as it is dry, using a hot iron go over the painting, this will seal the pigment so that it can be laundered.
The field is wide open for any subject to be painted onto your cushion cover .... anything from flowers, insects, butterflies to portraits.
Acrylic Fabric paints - and I use ""Keep Smiling Fabric Paints"" -are again available from Amazon.
This is a lovely hobby and can be used to make delightful gifts for family and friends - useful ones too!

'Recycled material bookmarks' by Louise Moore of Saltburn District U3A

'Recycled material bookmarks' by Louise Moore of Saltburn District U3A

Made using old, damaged book pages, scrap card, scrap wool and embellishments of choice. I have made these as Christmas gifts for my Book Group buddies but the idea can be adapted to suit any occasion or theme.

1. Cut rectangles (any size you like but mine were 5cm x 20cm) from damaged book pages. (I ‘aged’ mine using printing ink-pads but you could do this with a used tea bag and let it dry.)

2. If available, stamp an image or if you’re more talented than me, draw or paint directly onto the printed page to decorate.

3. Mount onto card and cut out leaving a small border all around. (I used two layers of card to create a sturdy bookmark)

4. Trim to a point at the bottom.

5. Punch a hole centrally at the pointed end and using wool scraps create a tassel for each bookmark.

6. Add embellishments if desired. (I used small wooden snowflakes, but buttons, sequins, fabric or paper scraps could also be utilised) 

Bird Table by Louise Moore of Saltburn District U3A

Bird Table by Louise Moore of Saltburn District U3A

During the first couple of weeks of ‘lockdown’ my partner and I designed and built this tall bird table feeding station using offcuts of wood and a piece of steel mesh found lurking in various corners of our garage! I had wanted it to be tall enough to be seen through the window from my favourite chair and to house a couple of plant pots beneath the bird table itself. The steel mesh was a great find as were able to use it as the feeding platform and it also ensures effective drainage during wet weather, avoiding soggy breadcrumbs etc. The dowelling ‘perches’ around the platform itself were a suggestion shouted to us over the fence by our neighbour (we are practising social distancing here in the NE) who suggested these would help keep the bigger birds e.g. pigeons and magpies from stealing all the food. An inspired idea which has really worked! Once complete, the entire construction was creosoted to protect it and the roof was tiled using shingles left over from our dog-kennel project (made around 10 years ago). To date, the bird table has attracted numerous bird species including sparrows, blue-tits, starlings, blackbirds, (who usually ‘clear up’ at floor level) a robin and tenacious pigeons and magpies who are determined to get over those dowelling barriers somehow! A wire feeder container has been stuffed full of border-collie fur and has been much collected for nesting material, particularly by the blue-tits.

Scrubs by Jenny Hill of Swansea U3A

Scrubs by Jenny Hill of Swansea U3A

I became a member of “For the love of scrubs” in mid April after seeing it on Facebook. A local lady in Swansea had started it on April 1st using her own fabrics and donated old duvets, sheets and pillowcases to make scrubs, laundry bags, masks ,scrub hats etc for the local NHS front line. Many many people, mostly ladies have volunteered to make things at home.It has grown fantastically with over 1800 members now.
I was keen to help and made the 3 sets of scrubs to a pattern on line, copied by my husband and the correct fabric.I was surprised that it took me so long (4days)realising that I was out of practice and had never been an industrial machinist. I was very pleased but needed a rest afterwards!

The group has grown even more supplying care homes etc with a large team of men volunteering to drive fabrics around and pick up finished items before they are packaged and taken to needy institutions. I am in awe of the lady who is the central organiser and so pleased to find so many still have needlecraft skills — skills that should be taught in schools today.

Pens by Ray	Dodd of Bourton & District U3A

Pens by Ray Dodd of Bourton & District U3A

Hi it's Ray again, pen making is a really worth while project, on so many levels. There are very few things you can do with pieces of wood just 2 long"" x 1""sq, but all too often us wood turners find ourselves with many of these small left overs. Personally I never throw them away; they are brilliant when making pens or Christmas decorations. The finish results make very acceptable presents (something we may have to consider if this lock down carries on). I usually buy most of my wood at local wood auctions (Ledbury in my case). They normally have about 3 or 4 auctions a year, and it's a great way of building your stocks up at very competitive prices. I also keep my eye out for trees being felled in my area; ok you have to give the wood time to dry out,but there's no hurry. When bidding for mixed boxes of wood, it's there that you can find beautiful small pieces of exotic wood, ideal for small projects. So there you have it, why not make small beautiful presents that really are well received, cost very little to make, and are cheap to post.

Happy turning.

Resin paperwights and a necklace by Liisa Brown of Hartley Wintney & District

Resin paperwights and a necklace by Liisa Brown of Hartley Wintney & District

flowers, dandilion seeds etc, which I picked up when walking in the lovely Hartley Wintney woodlands, during the lockdown.

I had bought a very regular resin kit from Internet some time ago, but did not seem to have time to make anything with it, until now! The kit contained everything needed to make different shapes, jewellery etc.

I chose my Resin Casting Molds, then mixed the Resin Liquid with the Hardener according to the instructions. I added some flowers etc into the Molds and poured the Resin mixture into the Molds. Within a few hours they had hardened and ready take out of the Molds. I fixed the small pendants into a simple cord (obviously you can use a proper chain for this as well).

This was my first effort. The variety of objects you can make is endless! I have not even touched the colours, different decorations and shapes you can choose.
A good project to do with your grandchildren, I'm sure!

Ascot Dress by Auriol Ainley of Pershore & District U3A

Ascot Dress by Auriol Ainley of Pershore & District U3A

I started on my outfit for Royal Ascot just before this isolation- then learned 2 weeks ago that the whole event is cancelled - so my silk dress is now waiting for Somewhere Nice to wear it! Perhaps a celebration when life returns to normal once we are given permission to socialise again!

But I have several unfinished outfits stowed away in boxes, so there is no excuse for not finishing everything now. Then I will have a full wardrobe to wear!! My next item is a doll from an Australian pattern I bought when over there some 11 years ago!! Watch this space.....

Bench by Dina	Jung of IoW U3A

Bench by Dina Jung of IoW U3A

I had an eyesore in the corner of my garden that I could see from my windows. The things in the corner were essential, i.e. a black plastic compost bin, plant supports, pieces of very useful wood and metal, unused hanging baskets, etc., but I had nowhere else to put them.

I woke up one morning with an Aha! moment and set to work to make a high backed storage bench. The framework used up some of the ""useful"" bits of wood (this was some old teak I had found in a skip about 15 years ago. The top of the bench is another couple of bits of ""useful"" wood and the inside floor and sides of the bench are the slats from a pallet.

I bought a black bamboo Java screen and cut it to size for the back and front and the hanging head is a momento from a trip to Borneo. The storage seat holds all my precious terracotta pots and the back completely hides the compost bin, etc., whilst still allowing me access via the lefthand side to top it up. I can even sit in the sun on the bench (if I had the time).

I had a great couple of days designing and building it and was inspired to also build two very simple bamboo ladder shelf systems to hold my plants whilst they harden off. I have not had so much fun for ages and it is now one of the features in my garden.

The best tip I can give is design around the materials you have at the moment but allow for the fact you may have to buy some more to finish it.

Table Lamp by Ray	Dodd of Bourton & District U3A

Table Lamp by Ray Dodd of Bourton & District U3A

Hi I'm Ray Dodd and have been wood turning now for the past 3 years; after learning how to use a lathe at school (a very long time ago!!). This lamp has been made of two woods, ash and walnut. I began by choosing a piece of ash 14" long x 5" square. I then cut this diagonally (creating two wedge shaped pieces of wood). Next I selected a 2" thick off cut of walnut, and cemented this in between the ash wedges; and held the whole lot together with sash clamps until firmly set. Trimming off the excesses, I was then able to mount the bonded woods on the lathe to begin the turning process. The main concern with multi wood turning that's been cut like this, is the unknown strength of the bond between the surfaces; so this needs monitoring throughout the turn. Where the wood has been cut on the cross, it has a tendency to come apart due to the centrifugal forces placed upon the joints. When gaps do appear, these need stabilizing with super glue and fine sawdust (together they make an extremely strong joint); certainly I didn't end up with chunks of wood flying around my ears. I finished off by going through the various sand paper grits, to attain the level finish I needed, applied the wood sealant and after the friction polish was dry, gave it a good buff, attached the various electrical components, and hey we have a lamp!!!

Sculpture by Keith Appleby of Henley On Thames U3A

Sculpture by Keith Appleby of Henley On Thames U3A

I spend at least some time everyday working on a variety of projects in wood. This recently finished piece was inspired by a visit to Japan last year and part of a series of sculptures that reflect the culture and architecture of the country. I am a woodturner who produces sculptural work and love to explore the texture and colour of natural wood often combining with other materials such as glass and brass. I particularly enjoy producing hollowed forms and also exploring the use of texture and carving. Isolation has provided an ideal opportunity to indulge my passion for wood. I am the group leader for photography and history of art at Henley U3A and have been also been busy delivering talks using the video conferencing app, Zoom.