Oldies but Goodies - We love purple!

Last time purple was the topic for the challenge in 2016, it was inspired by the song Purple Haze.
I don't know about this time, but I do know that we have some real beauties in the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge - purple beauties.
Now I have to confess something. Purple confuses me. Not the color or maybe it is the color because ... what is purple? What is the difference between purple and violet and lilac (in German we translate purple into Lila, but we do have a color called Purpur, see my problem?)?
It's not the first time I have been wondering about that, it has been going on since I was a child. Finally I decided from what I heard that purple was more blue and violet was more red. Yeah, no. I guess. I don't know. If you go out there into internetland, you'll find all kinds of explanations and opinions, and it seemed to me that they even differed depending on if I searched the German or the English words.

What do you think it is?
Here's a link that might help you. I thought it helped me, but then I found the next one and the next one, and I'm as confused as before.
What I'm not confused about is that at JAC we thankfully are quite open about the rules, so I didn't have to worry about entering something wrong, neither did my fellow members :-) Here you go.

1 MC Stoneworks
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 Cat's Wire
4 Bijou Bead Boutique
5 Togan
6 The Crafty Chimp
7 RioRita


Oldies but Goodies - More dangles

We are back! The Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge had taken a little break, but now we are back. I'm happy to say that I can show you a few beautiful pieces, and there are so many more at the original thread that I couldn't fit into the collage without making the individual pictures very small, so please have a look over at JAC!
This week's topic were "Dangles". We already did those a little less than a year ago and how many dangles can you have? Never enough, that's how many! ;-)

Last time I told you the story about a pair of dangly earrings I gave to a friend.

This time I'll tell you about the time my friend (a different one) and I got our ears pierced. First of all I should mention that we were both a bit wimpy about this. We even had an agreement that we wouldn't get our ears pierced before we were, well, old. Anything is old when you are a teenager. Then, however, my friend pushed the matter. She gave me a voucher for an ear piercing for my birthday, knowing very well that I would just give her one back for her birthday which is only eight days later!

So we went off together. To be honest, I don't remember ever asking my mother if this was okay, but I must have because I don't think they would have done it otherwise. We had already picked our "medical" - as in non-allergic - post earrings, just tiny bezel set rhinestones that came in all kinds of colors. Mine were a light blue.
We dealt with this very responsibly. We had the little bottle with the disinfecting fluid and cleaned both our ear lobes and our earrings every day. We turned the posts in our ears to make sure the hole wouldn't close in on them. Yeah, that was sold to us as a real danger then, and we imagined how the earrings would be stuck in our ears forever, aaaaaaah!
Then after a month when we were "officially" allowed to remove the posts, we went to a shop to buy real earrings, real meaning crazy, modern, long, flashy, dangly! I miss that shop. They had clothes and fashion jewelry, and I often tried on stuff there that I would never have been able to buy. It's funny because even then I wasn't big on fashion. I remember them having a pair of purple jeans that I loved so much, but I couldn't afford them.

Enough talk now, though, time for some pictures. A drumroll please!

1 The Crafty Chimp
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 MC Stoneworks
4 Togan
5 RioRita
6 Bijou Bead Boutique
7 Cat's Wire

P.S. For your amusement I thought I'd show you some of the earrings I used to wear in the olden days, just the dangly ones. Of course these are not by far all of those I used to have or maybe still have in a drawer. Some of them are just leftover parts, often one of them is missing or they lost their earwires - I probably have the biggest collection of single earrings in the world ;-) - but they don't take up much space in my little earring memory box.
What's funny is that I still remember where I got most of them or I know a story connected to them, for example where I lost the second one. I'm surprised myself that quite a few are sterling silver, probably I threw the broken cheap ones out a long time ago.
And honestly, who wouldn't want to wear a pair of silver lobsters in their ears? ;-)

P.P.S. Unbelievable. I thought I had imagined still having one of my first earrings, but here it is, 40 years old.



World Cat Day

I have been honored to open my home to many animals over the years. Some of them came very young, others were already old. Some of them left much too early - although it is always too early - some of them accompanied me for many years. Some of them I miss ... forget it, of course I miss all of them.
There are so many memories, good ones, bad ones, happy ones, sad ones.

Today is World Cat Day and I want to take the opportunity to thank all the cats in my life. There were times when you drove me nuts because that's what is in your job description, but there were and are all those precious moments too when you snuggled up against me when I was sad, when you made me laugh by doing something silly or made me squee when you were being so cute that I just wanted to squeeze and hold you.
I'm using past tense which really isn't fair as Ponder and Gundel are still here to drive me nuts and make me smile.

Here's to all of you!

Dude - the gentlecat from California who started it all taking my heart by storm when I first laid eyes on you and spent four hours under the lemon tree just holding you in my arms while you were dribbling on my shirt, so starved for love. We hadn't planned to come home to Germany with a cat, but didn't regret it for one second.

Mim - the cat who had been returned to the shelter twice for "being mean", who was not a lap cat, but the sweetest cat with no (!) mean bone in your body, who had to learn to trust people again, who always had to be where we were. I'll never forget how your dad went under the shower with you wearing his fencing clothes to apply some "milk bath" to your irritated skin because the attempt in the basin had gone so wrong.

Jester - the one eyed kitten so full of energy who only gave us a few months. I wish we would have had more time and I could have given you more. At least you didn't have to live on the streets where you had been found and you were loved.

Magica - the kitten who slept with me every night to suckle on my shirt. You came to us with Jester and unfortunately carried the same disease. You left us much too early, my sweet girl.

Gandalf - we got you the day after we lost Jester because Magica was too young to have just two older cats for company. That you only had one eye seemed to be a sign. You were so shy at first and appreciated your privacy when you grew up, but you really came around, and honestly, you were the only cat to ever hump my arm! ;-)

Merlin - my heart. You slept in my arm every night after we "stole" you as a kitten from a rural backyard (with permission of the house owner whose tenant neglected the cats) not knowing that your family was to be picked up by cat rescue the next day. You were the calmest, most laid back cat I have ever known. You were the glue in our little cat society, the mediator, and of course Meffi's and my great love.

Mephista - you were the queen and very much a daddy's girl before he left us, very much my girl afterwards (thank you again for giving him the cold shoulder once). Merlin and you were a dream couple, the big tux guy and the little tabby lady. After he passed, you were very alone, but at least you had me.

Greebo - the eternal kitten. You were so much my baby, snuggly and cuddly and playful, almost to the end. The only time I really saw the predator in you was when I brought you chicks home. You were the one sitting under a table for fifteen minutes with it in your mouth growling at me! You were also a paper nibbler and the best rubber band fetcher within miles.

Esme - you were my princess, my gorgeous girl. When you had your five minutes, though, you could turn into a monster, if I dared to whistle for example. Thanks to you I still think our vintage dresser was possessed by a ghost because it made you freak out when I went too near it (good thing your dad took it). You were a daddy's girl as well, but learned to love sleeping spread out against my leg with my arm on your belly.

Ponder - you, mister, are the loudest cat of them all. You never took no for an answer, not even as a kitten. Quarantine? Heck, no! You started your career as an escape artist at a very young age. You take what you want. You are big and bad, but behind that is a squishy little heart. When Gandalf passed, it upset you so badly that you licked your whole belly naked. You are my big boy.

Gundel - sometimes I think you are a mix of Meffi and Esme with a twist of your own. You are adorable and you make me laugh. You are so sweet I could eat you. Thank you to my sister for bringing this little stray into my life.

Okay, I did have a good cry while writing this. I miss them all so much, but they made my life so much better. I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Do you have a memory you'd like to share in the comments? I'd love to hear them! Happy World Cat Day!


Nostalgia - Inconnue de la Seine

Some years ago when I still did the "Finds of the week" posts, I had some called "I'm a collector" in which I shared vintage items.
Over time my collections have mostly stopped growing due to different reasons, but they are still there and still loved. I also have vintage items, some inherited, some gifts, some from fleamarkets, some more interesting than others.
So I thought it could be fun to share some of them every, now and then and tell their story.

I'll start with L'Inconnue de la Seine - The Unknown of the Seine - who is also called La Belle Italienne in the USA.
You can find the story online a thousand times, the beautiful young girl who drowned in the Seine, probably a suicide as there was no sign of violence to be found, the pathologist in the Paris Morgue who was so enchanted by her beautiful face and smile that he took a plaster mold of her face from which casts were made to be sold.
So sad, so mysterious - just the kind of tale we still like today, so it comes up from time to time.
Back then the Bohemians of Paris hung that mask in their halls, artists and writers were inspired by the "drowned Mona Lisa" as Camus called her and who is said to be the most kissed face in the world after the first CPR doll was modeled after our beautiful unknown girl.

Later there were doubts about the possible truth of the tale. Cast makers and doctors said there is a difference between life and death masks, even more so if the dead person was in the water. Was it just a smart advertising move to sell more masks?
Whatever the truth is, the girl made me feel a little uneasy when I was a child. Why yes, we had her hanging at home, and now I'll have her hanging in my home.
I don't know if I ever asked anybody about it, but I remember thinking that it was a very small face before I got old enough to understand that it wasn't a 1:1 cast.
Now a friend of mine shared the story because she found the part with the CPR doll interesting, and I couldn't help myself, I had to go pester my Mom about the mask. In fact not much pestering was needed. She had taken her down and put her away, but she didn't have a problem finding her, and I have the feeling she didn't mind much having her out of the house after "having to look at her for so long" ;-)
So this here is our Inconnue.

Not all casts are the same. This one has a smile that I actually like better than the original.

Now I got curious if I could find out which of the many manufacturers had made our Inconnue. I found this pottery mark on the back which wasn't that easy to recognize at first, but then it wasn't too hard to find out whose it was, thanks to the website Museum Europäischer Keramikkunst (it's mere coincidence that the club making that site is situated in my own hometown!).
It belongs to the Majolika Keramik Manufaktur Karlsruhe (on whose website here you can see the mark much clearer if you are interested). Unfortunately the mark doesn't give me an idea when exactly they produced these casts, but ours must be from the early 60s.

Do you want to read more?
How about this manufacturer's - Felice Calchi - blog here and here? Both posts are very interesting.
This article from the New York Times was very interesting as well.
I could add so many more, but I think you'll find these by yourself if you have some time on your hands eventually.

So - see you next time on "Nostalgia"? :-)


Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Flowers

It has been a few months since I last participated in the Art Elements Design Challenge. While my muse is still on an extended vacation at a place unknown to me, I responded to this month's topic right away.
Flowers, that's easy enough even for me, I thought. The bonus was that I had already planned a flower piece for the Jewelry Artisans Community challenge! Now I had just to pull it through of which I wasn't sure yet.
Stick with me for my story, will you?

Shortly before my birthday in June my pal gave me a wonderful gift. We would go to see Jane Goodall, one of my heroines since childhood, in Munich.
On the way back home the next day we didn't take the direct route, but went along the little towns and villages (where we discovered for example that there's something called soccer golf, but that is not part of this story). Summertime, flowers in the fields, a/c in the car to protect us from the heat outside ;-) it was very relaxed. At one point I wanted to get out of the car and take a picture, though.
This was the field with the most poppies along the way and it brought back memories big time. As a kid and teenager I had a friend with a dachshund. Near the house where we would take Finni for a walk there was a big field with poppies and cornflowers. It was beautiful, and I don't know why, but on my friend's birthday - we've lost touch since - this field is always what I think of first. I guess it's one of those romanticized childhood memories of lighthearted fun.
So we got out and I took a picture of the field on the other side of the road and one of the single poppy on our side of the road. Probably ran away from home to see the world, that one.

Can't you just see Dorothy and her three companions falling asleep in the field of poppies that the Wicked Witch prepared to keep them from making it to Oz?

On with the story. These pictures became the inspiration for my flower/summer piece.
I had a plan. I would do something that I had only done successfully once before. I would bead crochet a rope with a pattern of stylized poppies. That sounds easy enough again, doesn't it?
It wasn't. You have to know that I had tried bead crocheting several times before and I didn't get the hang of it, so I always stopped after a few rows. I hadn't even bothered making a pattern then. Finally I tried it again when I ripped up a piece I had made with size 8 seed beads, a good size for practicing.

Now I was determined. I went to my neglected bead crochet program, ready to go - and it didn't work. I couldn't even download it again, but I wouldn't let such small things get in my way, naaaah, not this time! I downloaded the old version and made a very simple poppy pattern using the colors of size 11 seed beads that I had in my stash.
I didn't have any yarn except what was left over from my bead knitting course, yellow or white. Obviously yellow was not the right choice. A lighter blue would have been better than the white, but it would work.

The pattern was not simple enough for me, it seemed. It's amazing how often you can count wrong while stringing beads or get confused in the middle of an easy bead sequence, so you for example repeat something that shouldn't have been repeated.
There was one moment when I was very ready to throw that beaded yarn against the wall. Once again there was cursing, but in the end I had done it. It was the first miracle.

So I started crocheting and while the tension in some spots is less than perfect - after all I was only used to crocheting with wire - I managed to finish the rope. That was the second miracle.

Next stop, glue trauma. There is no way to explain how much I hate glue and glue hates me. In this case you can tell by the clasp. My glue hadn't been used for a while and I first had to dig out some gunk to get the glue to flow right at all. Which it then did in a most generous and unplanned way.
You would have been so proud of me. I cursed just a little and did my best to clean up the clasp (and my shirt, thank you very much). There's still some on the beads next to the clasp, but this piece obviously isn't for sale anyway, so I took a deep breath and kept going.
Next I filed down the clasp. I had only got a gold tone clasp in the right size, and I'm not really into gold and even less into shiny gold, so I wanted it to have at least a matte finish.

Originally I had planned to add something to the rope, a 3D effect, a beaded poppy maybe, not necessarily a big one, just as a little extra. After I had mde three attempts at beaded poppies, I gave up. I just didn't like the look, and even though this is a simple rope now, it had been quite the achievement for me to finish it at all.
So here you go - a very long story and a very simple result.

I could have made more flowers. I have bead loomed flower patterns, I have crocheted and knitted flowers with wire. I had made them from polymer clay. My only tutorial ever is a small flower.
This simple rope necklace, however, had deserved to be the star this time.

Not only a design challenge, but also a blog hop - please have a look at what the other participants have to show you. It will be like walking through a beautiful garden! :-)


Alysen - Cat (that's me ;-)) - Divya - Evie and Beth - Hope - Jill - Kathy - Linda - Martha - Melissa - Michelle - Rozantia - Sarah - Sarajo - Tammy

AE team members

Caroline - Cathy - Claire - Jenny - Laney - Lesley - Marsha - Susan


Random Saturday - Vandals

I admit my librarian's heart skipped a beat when I went to pick up a needle (yes, I keep my beading tray hidden away in one shelf of my book cabinets) and came upon this act of vandalism. I'm just glad it wasn't the cabinet with the beading tray!!
How it could happen at all, you ask? Well, these cabinets are almost 50 years old, and for some reason I don't manage to lock all the doors anymore so they really stay locked.
For some other reason it was always the black cats that were fascinated with those cabinets. Ponder regularly tries to fight his way in as soon as I open a door, but in this case I suspect it was Gundel who was in the mood of not taking no for an answer today.

Oh, and yes, if you take a close look and are old enough, you may recognize that the books on the top are "Family Affair" going with the TV show from the late 60s as this happens to be my children's books cabinet. For me "Family Affair" will always be connected with a Saturday bath and a blue bathrobe with white poodles on it.
And yes again, I do own two copies of "Charlotte's Web", one in English, one in German.

Now excuse me while I go interview a little black cat ...


Have you ever wondered ...

... where the yarn for my yarn baskets is coming from?
Maybe you have been following me a little over the years and got to meet some of the sheep I couldn't have done without. These are just three of them, Belle, Spots and Myrtle.

It has always been a happy little flock, and none looks like the other.
These three have already left me for the big world out there, Belle and Spots live in the USA now and Myrtle is in Canada. I guess they like it there because they never bothered to write, the little beasts. I know they are in good hands, though, so it's okay.

And every, now and then a new sheep turns up to help me out.
Let me introduce you to Minnie. She's a real cutie with her sky blue eyes (yes, you can only see one of them). We already had a little collaboration as you can see. I hope I didn't make her work too hard in this heat!

You know what's funny, I just noticed that so far all of my sheep except one have been looking in one direction ... I wonder what they are seeing there ...