All posts by Helen Robertson

Damselfly Days

july 014

Make the most of last few sunny summer days with Helen Robertson’s speedcrafting project.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a damselfly in Shetland. The brightness and vivid colour of its abdomen was like nothing else I’d seen in Shetland. Here’s a damselfly you can make to brighten up your garden.


  • Wire (around 0.9mm thick). Any pliable wire will do. I used coloured copper
  • Lighter wire (0.6mm)
  • Lace curtain
  • Glue
  • Assorted beads and buttons
  • Dowel rod (around 50cm)


  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Method

To make the wings:

  • Cut 4 lengths of wire around 25cm long.
  • Gently fold the wire in half. Holding it around 5cm up the double stem, twist the ends together a couple of times (at the 5cm point).
  • Shape each piece into a dragonfly/damselfly wing shape.
  • Make 3 further wings.
  • Cut a piece of lace curtain twice the size of each wing.
  • Lay each wing on top of the lace curtain piece, glue around the wire outline and fold the curtain over. Press until it sticks.
  • When dry, cut around the edge of the wings.

To make the head:

  • Cut a length of the 0.9mm wire around 50cm long.
  • Thread through a button and fix it in the middle of the piece of wire by either threading through the button holes or the back (depending on the style of your buttons).
  • Thread a big bead in the middle of the two buttons.
  • Take the wire into the middle of the centre bead and pull it tightly.

To make the body and abdomen:

  • Form the body by threading one of the wires through a big bead and letting the other wire cling to the side of the same bead. Twist the end a couple of times to fix.
  • Next, take each wing and twist the ends of the wing around the middle wires.
  • Attach all the wings in this way.
  • Now cut a 50cm length of the lighter wire and attach beads down the length of the abdomen by twisting each one individually around the centre wires. The damselfly abdomen is made up from 10 segments but you can decide how many ‘segments’ you would like to make using the beads.
  • When you’re happy with the length of the abdomen, finish by cutting the ends of the wire and curling them in.
  • Thread another 10 cm length of the thinner wire and use to fasten the damselfly to the dowel rod.

Stick it in your garden and enjoy!

Embroidered Leaves

There are two ways to annoy a Shetlander: First call Shetland “the Shetlands” which will instantly set their teeth on edge; second complain about the lack of trees. This usually results in either the mention of Kergord or a defensive/passive aggressive “who needs trees anyway?” response.

This month’s craft is somethiang I’ve been wanting to try for a while – embroidered leaves. It’s partly inspired by Tom Of Holland’s Visible Mending Program and partly by the transience of nature.

First, find your tree. Look around for fallen leaves or pull one or two off (shh!). The type of leaf you use will affect the result you get.

Rubbery leaves last longer and so your piece will change less. Other leaves like oak will wither thus altering your piece with time.

I would try a mixture to see what effect you like best.

Equipment & Materials needed

  • Glycerine (two small bottles);
  • Plastic tub;
  • Thread;
  • Small sharp needle;
  • A small shape punch (usually used for card making) or small sharp scissors;
  • Some kind of varnish either spray varnish or clear nail varnish;
  • A plain white ceramic tile or canvas covered frame for mounting them on.


  1. First steep your leaves in a mixture of one part glycerine to two parts water.
  2. After a couple of days remove the leaves and pat dry with kitchen roll.
  3. You can either cut or punch a regular shaped hole out of the middle of your leaf
  4. or carefully cut an abstract shape from the inside of your leaf. Or you can leave the leaf whole.
  5. If it tears you can mend your leaf by sewing two parts together. You can also sew around the edges of the hole that you cut in the leaf.
  6. It’s very relaxing when you stop questioning the point of it all.
  7. Either paint on clear nail varnish, spray on clear varnish or leave to wither with time.
  8. They look great mounted on tiles or on a plain white canvas.

Speedcrafting Leaves 2 660