2/04/2016

Bam!

I haven't talked about my spike baubles here yet. My addiction to spike baubles, that is. Team up Christmas baubles, wire and spike beads, and you get the coolest mace like looking ornaments or earrings. And since there are so many beautiful colors, it's really hard to stop making them. Okay, not kidding anybody here, I never stopped.

Had someone told me that I would browse the net for black Christmas baubles in the middle of a January night, I would have told them that I am crazy, but not THAT crazy.
Obviously I am after all. Think gothic spiky earrings and ornaments. I couldn't resist and I was so looking forward to my order (which might have contained some other colors as well *cough cough*).

Black and red is one of my favorite color combinations, so when the order arrived, I grabbed one of the bigger baubles, my black wire, beautiful transparent red spikes and my hook.
Bigger baubles with the big spikes are harder to make. You don't just have to get the wire tension right, but also have to try and catch the spikes in the wires of the top and bottom row from avoiding them to fall over, all of that while holding a spiky ornament in your hand which doesn't hurt, but makes working a little awkward.
The goth ornament seemed to be jinxed from the start, though. For some reason black wire is hard to see on a shiny black bauble, believe it or not, and the spikes tended to stand in all directions, just not where I wanted them. I gave up when the ornament was about halfway done. When I got it out again a few days later, I decided to give it a fresh start and unraveled it.

It was a good decision. I could see the wire better, I had the spikes under control, everything looked right. I felt very smug, and that was a mistake.
Bam! It was that thunking sound of glass breaking, but not flying around everywhere. Of course not, it couldn't because there was a wire cage around it. I still had that bit of hope when I picked up the ornament. How did I drop it in the first place? Wait, it did look okay? Had I imagined the sound because it was what I had expected to hear? Then I turned it around and saw the hole in the glass bauble.

Oh well :-/ Can't help it now.
By the way, would you like to know what a spike ornament looks without its "guts"? Like this.



2/03/2016

Oldies but Goodies - Lariats

What is a lariat necklace?
A lariat is a very long rope without a clasp. It can be from chain, it can be wire, it can be beaded, and most important of all it can be worn in different ways. You can tie it, knot it, loop it, wear it long, or drape it around your neck a few times. There can be small embellishments all along the rope or just on the ends, but there can also be some kind of connector which allows one end to be pulled through it, like in a lasso for example.
When I looked around, I found several Y-chains being called lariats, too. Y-chains, however, usually have a clasp and can only be worn one way. They are chains with a long rope hanging down from the middle of the rope that goes around the neck.

It seems that the Jewelry Artisans Community has not embraced the lariat style yet, for this week's Oldies but Goodies Challenge we only got entries from three people. Who knows, maybe it's going to turn into one of our monthly challenges eventually to make a lariat. I think that could be fun.
I hope you enjoy the entries I do have to show you.


1 and 5 Violetmoon's Corner
2 and 3 MC Stoneworks
4 and 6 Cat's Wire

1/28/2016

So much universe, and so little time

I was early for the morning train and headed into the small book and newspaper store inside the train station. There was a time when this was a regular routine for me to check out new books and pick up something for the commute. Now there's a different store there. It's bigger, has more magazines, beverages, snacks and you can actually walk without knocking each other over, but it has lost its charm for me and I hardly ever go there.
Back to that one time about 20 years ago, though. I browsed through the books and came across one called Witches Abroad. I didn't know why, but Discworld sounded vaguely familiar to me, and I definitely knew I  had seen the books before, but never read one of them. I liked the cover and got the book.
On the train I couldn't keep from giggling from page one. I didn't know it yet, but I had just become a Terry Pratchett fan, and I was more than ready to infect others, too. I remember coming to work, pulling one of my co-workers aside and showing him the first page to read.

My ex didn't take reading advice from me often (to be fair, I refused quite a few of his suggestions as well), but he did when it came to Pterry's books. When he was going through my (not so small) library, he often ended up on the Discworld once again at last.
We tried to decide which characters we loved most and what was going to be the next book. At first I bought German pocket books as there were quite a few available already, but when I already owned all novels that were published, it became harder and harder to wait for new ones until I finally starting pre-ordering the hardbacks in English.
And let's not forget that three of my cats are named after Discworld characters and who knows, maybe they will not be the last ones who are.

After hearing that Sir Terry had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I started worrying very selfishly about what that meant for a book series I had grown so fond of.
I don't want to speak about the feelings I had when I heard of his death last year, but about the feelings when I started reading his last Discworld novel The Shepherd's Crown. A part of me was pulling on its chain as always when a new book from the series had arrived. "Read it, you know you want to." Another part, however, made me put the book aside and staring at it whenever I walked by it. This would be it and I didn't want it to be it. I wanted it to go on and it couldn't.
I seriously can't remember a book ever making me feel like this before. Finally I decided that I just had to read it. Not doing it wouldn't change anything, doing it wouldn't change anything. How naive of me. I don't want to spoil it for you, but tears were flowing in abundance.
I have no idea if I will ever be able to read it a second time or even more often like I did with the other books.

I don't want to end this post on a sad note. I'm glad I got to discover this magic world. I'm glad I can visit it anytime and meet my favorite characters there.
Although my first book wasn't the first in the series, I kind of closed the circle as the witches appear in both Witches Abroad and The Shepherd's Crown.
I'm glad I went into the book store that day.

P.S. The title of this post is of course a Terry Pratchett quote.
P.P.S. I could still bite myself for getting sick when I could have had the chance to see him live.
P.P.P.S. Was there any doubt that he had to go on my fan wall?

1/27/2016

Oldies but Goodies - Hoops

Hoops are the earrings for which there is the oldest archaeological evidence. Sumerian women wore them as early as 2500 BC.
It's no surprise that they are still very much a big fashion item these days. They work in so many ways. Big, small, embellished or classic, round, oval, textured or not, they compliment all kinds of outfits.

And let's not forget that they are also worn by men.

This week's Oldies but Goodies Challenge from the Jewelry Artisans Community actually doesn't show you the classic hoop which is like a ring going through the ear without an extra earwire, but that doesn't mean they are less fun!



1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 RioRita
5 Echoes of Ela
6 Cat's Wire

1/26/2016

Project of my dreams

Have I ever told you how I got started making jewelry and why I chose wire crochet to start with? I know I told the story on other blogs, but I'm not sure if I ever did it here.
The Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival is a good opportunity to do it.
It started with a report on TV about Etsy. I had never heard of it before and went to check it out, just some light browsing. Pretty soon I stumbled upon a wire crochet pendant. To be frank, I don't remember what it looked like or what the shop was called. It was not so much the piece itself, but the fascination that you could crochet with wire.

Until then I had only had a very short phase of "making jewelry" which meant stringing a few necklaces and a few bracelets. Nothing very exciting. (I'm not saying that stringing can't be exciting, but mine definitely wasn't). I had given it up quickly because it couldn't hold my interest and because it was not the style of jewelry that I wanted to wear.
Now, however, I found myself coming back to that pendant again and again, and I started wondering if this could be a creative outlet for me. Had you been my crafts teacher in elementary school, you would have laughed at me.

Let's say that crocheting was not my thing. Knitting went a little better, but crocheting, thank you, but no. Actually I abandoned all of that as soon as I was out of elementary school. From fifth grade on the course was not obligatory anymore, and I got official permission from home to escape from that personal hell.
Although I never picked up the crochet hook again, I did my share of knitting, mostly sweaters, but even my yarn stash had been sleeping for years when I stumbled upon that pendant that kept haunting me.

I don't know what would have happened if the shop owner hadn't added a book title to the description.
Arline M. Fisch: Crocheted wire jewelry.
Before I knew what I was doing, I had ordered it. I have learned a few things from this book, about wire gauges, about the different sizes of crochet hooks (I had never been aware that there were no international standards for that), but I never even tried making one project from it. You know I'm still bad at working from tutorials. I took my 1.75 mm crochet hook which I hadn't even known I owned anymore, got some copper wire and started experimenting.
I did like to look at the photos, though. Photos of pieces made by international designers. And once again one piece fascinated me most, an Elizabethan gown crocheted from wire by Jesse Mathes.

I'm not saying that I want to make a gown as the project of my dreams now, but somehow this gown has always been in the back of my head as an inspiration or as a reminder. It doesn't matter what technique I apply, wire crochet, wire knit, or bead looming.
Actually I don't have just one dream project. There are several. A favorite painting in beads, a big branch full of Chinese lanterns, a huge wall of bead loomed portraits, a big kraken, a Christmas tree (with spike baubles? ;-)), just to name a few.
So why haven't you started on one of them yet, you may ask (except the fan wall)? Well, you know, maybe I have experimenting for them ....
I wish I had done that earlier, though. Lately I have found that I'm not able to spend a few hours with my crochet hook anymore without regretting it for some days. There are times when my thumb is not a happy camper at all and isn't even that fond of bead looming. I won't give up dreaming, though. I will think of an Elizabethan gown, of my experiments and how much fun I have with them. And who knows, maybe some day I'll have more to show you than this little selection.



You want to know what stories the other JAC members have to tell? Have a look here :-)


Violetmoon's Corner 
Echoes of Ela
Jewelry Art by Dawn 

1/24/2016

Quote of the week

Who doesn't need money?
We work for it, we play the lottery hoping that will do the trick, we rob banks and steal the petty cash at work (okay, so most of us do NOT do that which is a good thing), but there are also innovative ways of earning money. How about this idea by the lovely Aimi MacDonald?

"I'm appealing to you again on behalf of the Make the Lovely Aimi MacDonald a Rich Lady Fund. I'm afraid it's bad news. We've had a very poor response so far. Come on, Great Britain, you can do better than that! Do you realise that if each of you sends me just one pound, that will be enough to keep me in luxury for hours. So, don't be a meany, give generously to this deserving cause. Next week, I should be reading out a list of all those who have not yet given. Thank you and good luck."


Let me know if you try it and how it works out.

At Last the 1948 Show, UK, 1967

1/22/2016

Tackle that stash - The Manatee

Did you hear that it has been proposed to take manatees off the US endangered species list?
The first thought is of course "oh good, that means that they are doing better, right" and then you start thinking about what exactly it might mean. Will they be less protected? What does "endangered" mean anyhow? What is the next level if they are downgraded? It's "threatened". Oh, doesn't sound THAT much better, does it? Here's an article if you want to know more.

Now you may wonder what that has to do with my stash and why I break my rule to keep this a crafty blog, even if just for a small introduction?
First came a stash of bigger, irregular seed beads in ocean colors. Dark blue with a hint of AB luster, a transparent sky blue and a silver-lined light blue. I couldn't have found any other design for to use them, so I crocheted a long rope from wire.
Then I came upon the news about the manatee and remembered the beautiful lampwork pendant by Tom Heath from Sanctuary Glass Designs that I still had in one of my treasure boxes. Actually it's more than beautiful. It's clear glass over a base that gives you the feeling as if you are looking into water with light playing on it.



Now I'll have to think of some way to use Tom's shark pendant that has also been waiting in the box for too long ...