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 ...


Tackle that stash - Dangly earrings

Ouch, has it really been over a month that I have been here last time?
Granted, I did spend a lot of time with a personal project, bead loomed portraits of my siblings and me (one still missing) which I am not allowed to show.

I did find the time for a small stash tackler, though.

This mix of little semiprecious drops had been in my stash for about ten years. I had used a few of them, but forgot about the rest until I happened to find in a drawer - yes, I know, me and my drawers - just a few days ago. That baggie had been wandering from here to there, and now it ended up on the little table next to my computer chair (that was supposed to hold only my old laptop, but also became a spot for things that wait to be moved to their final destination, books, DVDs, CDs etc.).
Ten years of travelling are enough ;-) I spontaneously decided to wrap the stones up in copper which I gave a light patina and to put them on a chain.
I love dangly earrings!


Tackle that stash - Hugo's nap

Both Hugo and his beloved ball have been around for a while, one being glass, the other being a shimmering Polaris bead, and they got tired of having to wait for their favorite napping spot.
The basket had been around for a while as well, waiting to be filled up.
So what has been keeping me, you ask? That's easy to say. I can't sew.

My plan for this had been to give Hugo a nice cushion to sit on. I scrounged some fabric off my sewing neighbor and - failed. Oh, so miserably. I can't sew. I never learned it, but you should think I would be able to make a little pillow? Maybe I gave up too early, I don't know.
In the end, however, I did one of the things I do best. I simply crocheted a little afghan in two shades of blue. Hugo seems to be okay with that, he's snuggled up in it right away as you can see. Blue seems to be his favorite color, anyway. I mean, look at his ball, it fits right in!


Oldies but Goodies - Spring colors

Once again the Northern Hemisphere is longing for spring. No matter if winter was all snow or a lot of rain, people want to see colors again, blue skies, hear bees buzz, birds sing and feel that rush of spring in their veins.
It is kind of ironic that when I'm looking out of my window, I see a rainy day, but I've said before that I love rain, so that's okay with me.
Nevertheless it is nice to breathe a different air, to see flowers return, tiny violets, spring snowflakes (which we call Märzenbecher here, March cups), bluebells and to hear birds singing when I walk to the train early in the morning.
Not that April may not have its surprises in stores for us ;-)

Today the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is all about spring colors. I hope you'll like my picks.
What is the weather like in your area now? Are you already feeling the spring?

1 and 8 MC Stoneworks
2 and 4 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 5 Cat's Wire
6 and 7 RioRita


Oldies but Goodies - Aqua

Today's topic in the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is the color aqua. I hope you enjoy my selections from the jewelry that has been shared by the members.
Don't blame me if you are feeling the urge to jump into a lake afterwards, though! ;-)

1 and 6 RioRita
2 and 5 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 8 Cat's Wire
4 and 7 MC Stoneworks


Tackle that stash - Cantera opal pendant with pearl

I have a tiny stash of Cantera opals which are Mexican opals still in their matrix of pinkish rhyolite, and I love them. I can't say how often I took them out and put them back to keep them safe from the outside world ;-) My two favorite ones have gone to good homes and I still miss them. Silly, I know.

It was time to take a deep breath and start letting see them - well, one of them at least - what's outside of the stash drawer - only to go into the finished jewelry drawer afterwards, that is, unless someone takes this little beauty home.

This Cantera opal is almost clear. It looks like a drop of water on a crackled ground, but if you move it, you can see some tiny specks of color, green, yellow, and red. Unfortunately I didn't manage to take a really good picture of them, it seems the stone wants to keep its secret!
As it is not very big - those opals often aren't - I kept the woven bezel rather simple, but added a bigger bail to balance it out and of course I couldn't resist a small embellishment, a very light pink pearl.

Three more opals left ...


Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Birds of Prey

Birds of prey, what a great topic for the new Art Elements Design Challenge! I had no idea what to make, but I've always loved those birds, so nothing could go wrong, right? Thank you, Cathy!
I was even brave enough to post on the AE Facebook page that I was well on the way this time. Yay!
That yay turned into a nooooo pretty quickly. Let me explain.

I happened to have a "paint cabochon" (like a Fordite, but not a real one and not as colorful) already set in woven wire. The drop shape seemed perfect for an owl body. I love owls although I don't get the chance to see them often even though I don't live that far from the woods. I remember once coming home late at night, however, and hearing a soft sound from a tree standing in the yard of the daycare center down the road. When we looked up we saw it was a huge owl sitting there. I don't know if he was trying to warn us off or if he had seen prey, but we decided we wouldn't disturb him for too long although I could have stood there staring at him forever. He was gorgeous!

Back to my paint cab. I had the body and now all I needed was a branch for it to sit on, large wings and a head. I put on some wings that I was not completely happy with.
People who know me also know that I tend not to take WIP pictures. That has several reasons. I'm too lazy, I don't want the flow of creativity to be disturbed, I don't want to jinx the piece, and I'm too lazy, oops, already said that.
So I'm sorry, but I can't show you the wings or the body. Or the branch that I started making, but that I gave up on because I didn't see a good way to attach the owl to it without it falling over constantly. The wings did look, hmm, okay at best, the head was pretty good. Then the bead for the beak broke right after the last wire was snipped. Call it destiny.
You don't want to know what happened next. It wasn't a full blown tantrum, but it did come pretty close. There may have been some light or less light cursing, and when the wire cutter came out .... enough to say that I actually apologized to the poor critter before I cut it up because I'm crazy that way. In such a case when I have fiddled around for too long and finally decide this has to end here and now, I cut. I don't even try to save anything. There's a time for saving and there's a time for "destroy this thing or it will come back forever to haunt your soul".
Excuse me while I'm taking a deep breath. Okay. On to the next chapter.

I had liked the idea in general and, most important, now time had started running out again. So I went through my cab stash and found some labradorite in a drop shape, carved to make it look like a leaf. Or - haHA!! - like feathers.
As if the owl in the tree from so many years ago came to me in spirit as an inspiration, things went a lot more smoothly this time. I wove my bezel, shaped some branches (similarities with tentacles are purely coincidental, cough cough) and added some Czech glass leaves. I made a little face consisting of eyes - looking a bit like a pince-nez now that I'm thinking about it - that I "filled" with two yellow bicones, and a beak. The plan had been to attach that to the bezel, but it looked wrong on the stone, so instead I made a little head around the face which made me much happier, especially because I find the weaving in the face reminds of feathers as well now.
Last but not least I oxidized the copper. As I had to take some breaks for the sake of my wrist and thumb joint, I finished this one the evening before the reveal once again, but I made it. So now I can really say it, YAY!
This pendant gives me great pleasure, I have to admit, and I have to hold back not to make another one right away while I still remember how I did it! ;-)

This is not just a challenge, but also a blog hop, so please have a look at all the other hoppers' posts as well!


Tammy - Beth - Cat (that's me!) - Anita - Kathy - Alysen - Linda - Rozantia - Jennifer - Hope - Sarajo - Melissa - Sarah 

AE Team

Caroline - Cathy - Claire - Jen - Jenny - Karen - Laney - Lesley - Lindsay - Marsha - Niky - Sue


Random Saturday - Handwritten letters

In September last year I told you about my new logo seal and some memories about my first seal and my pen pals, and a few weeks ago I mentioned going back to using a fountain pen and ink.

That didn't just have nostalgic reasons.
My handwriting has never been beautiful. In elementary school when we still had tests in penmanship I never made a 1 (our marks went from 1 to 6), no matter how hard I tried. Over the years my handwriting kept changing. I tried this and that, had my letters lean to the left and to the right, I changed single letters and changed back (to this day my capital E looks like that of my first boss at work because I liked how it looked, and my capital M comes from American handwriting). There was even a short time back when when I drew little circles over my "i"s, never little hearts, though.

Of course we also loved to try colored inks. I remember I had several inks in very small glasses at one time, but I don't remember if I ever used them or if I just liked to look at them. We definitely tried cartridges other than blue or black, however, purple, turquoise, light blue, green. Red was out of bounds because the teachers used that for corrections ... although there was one teacher who used green, but he was different in more than one ways, wearing bib overalls to school for example.
I didn't keep a diary for very long, but when I did, I also wrote in it in ink.

When my brother gave me a fountain pen for a gift, I had a hard time choosing colors for the ink. Finally I went with the old favorites, purple and black, but am only using the purple at the moment which you can also tell by my desk and sometimes my fingers. Isn't it so pretty?

Well, my handwriting hasn't improved with time for which I mostly blame the computer. I never thought it could be such a strain on my hand to write a letter when, as mentioned before, I used to write ten page letters each day. Yes, that was a long time ago, but suddenly it was just a few lines that made my hand cramp up.
I decided I didn't want that. I didn't want to lose cursive writing which is hardly taught nowadays, I didn't want to lose the ability to write something without a computer, I didn't want to write it in a way not even I could read myself! So I started by doing all of my lists with pen and ink.
What I first learned from it was, to say it nicely, that calligraphy is still not for me. I admire it, I think it's wonderful to look at, but it's definitely not a talent I have, not even if I practice very much.

Instead I got out my old stationery. Not all of the paper I have is as old as this one. I have been protecting this for decades, literally. It's from the 70s and I still remember when I bought it. The shop is long gone. In its place came several more shops and now it's just a storage room with a display window.
Back in the 70s you could get silver rings there, knick knacks, the cotton scarves we loved so much (except for the light blue one with the lurex that never stopped dyeing my neck even after being washed a zillion times), and there was a wooden shelf with WWF items, notebooks, stationery, folders etc. from recycled paper. I couldn't resist the tiger. I will definitely not use this paper up completely, but keep at least a sheet for myself.

I still do have some cat stationery from the 90s, so I doubt I'm going to run out of paper that quickly.

Then the times of pen pals were over. We grew up, starting growing apart and didn't feel the need to share every bit of information (which is kind of sad/funny if you look at social media today, and I do feel the irony in me writing this post).
I know I won't bring those times back, I'm not intending to. All I want is to get a tiny sliver of it back for myself. With stained fingers and all *grin*
So watch out, who knows who will get a letter from me next? ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - Casual

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry? Something you can wear every day, to work, when you go grocery shopping, in the park, when you walk your dog, meet friends for a chat, when you go to see a game?
Casual jewelry is great. It doesn't always have to be the diamond tiara you are wearing when meeting the Queen of England ;-)

Here are some examples from the latest Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge. I would wear all of them in a heartbeat! Don't forget to have a look at what else was shown, just click the link.

1 The Crafty Chimp
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 RioRita
5 Cat's Wire


Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Moon

I love the moon. It is not the first time I've said this on my blog. In 2009 I talked about my favorite perigee ever, a magical event that I never forgot - a HUGE moon and we were heading right into it. Well, we weren't, but it felt like it. I had never seen the moon that big and I haven't ever since, and no, although it was around 5 am, I know it was not a dream.
So there was no question about participating in the Art Elements Design Challenge for which Lindsay chose the topic Moon. This time I wouldn't just be participating, though, I would master this challenge like a boss by starting early. I had loads of ideas.

The cow jumping over the moon was the first one, even before I saw the picture in the post. My inspiration came from a different source, Mary Poppins. It would have to be a big moon for me to manage a cow in a good size, and how would I attach it? I'm still thinking about that one.
Then there was Little Peter's Journey to the Moon by Gerdt von Bassewitz about a May beetle taking two good children to the moon. Hans Baluschek's illustrations would have made for great inspiration. I didn't have the book, though, but would have wanted it for the details. Another one for the list.
Theodor Storm. The Little Haverman. Little Hobbin. The Little Häwelmann. I found all these titles for the fairy tale about the little boy who doesn't want to sleep and uses his cradle for a little trip on a moonbeam. Another inspiration. Ugh. This was getting more difficult than I had planned.

Should I even go for the full moon yet again? When I was a kid, I turned the C from my first name into a waning moon (under which I was born, by the way, which I looked up for the first time today) with a big nose, a googly eye and a wide grin for a signature. That would be fun to make once I got better at soldering, but not now. Did I even want to use wire?
Decisions, decisions!
I kept thinking and waiting for the perfect idea, but then I realized I didn't even have a moon I could use. Rather small magnesite beads were the closest I had and they didn't convince me. Polymer clay was out of the question, I wasn't in the mood for light colors and black cat hair. I had a rose quartz cab. Was there something like a pink moon? A song by Nick Drake, Pink Moon, from his third and last studio album with the same name. Never heard of him. What was I doing?? I was going into the wrong direction and time started running out.

Then I got lucky (was about time, too!). While looking for something else I found the cab I had had in mind all the time, a carved moon face with closed eyes. It called for a night sky, craters and stars. Finally I was getting somewhere!

First I beaded a simple peyote bezel with my beloved gunmetal AB and clear AB seed beads in size 11 and 15.
Next stop - moonstones. I didn't have any, but I had a ring that I had been wanting to rip up for some time, anyway. I created "craters" by adding seed beads around the moonstones that I sewed on the bezel. Last but not least there had to be a little fringe with a mix of all the beads.

Another last minute project finished, I am getting good at this! ;-)

Please pay a visit to all the other participants in this challenge, too. I promise it's going to be worth your time.


Jenny - Melissa - Kathy - Sarajo - Hope - Sarah - Rebecca - Divya - Anita - Rozantia - Raven - Cat (that's me!) - Evia - Alysen - Beth - Tammy

AE Team

Claire - Laney - Caroline - Cathy - Sue - Niky - Jenny - Jen - Lindsay

P.S. Do you know the moon from The Mighty Boosh? That one could provide me with more ideas ...


Oldies but Goodies - Wings

This week I have felt a little like the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. "No time! I'm late!"
It has been like a constant attempt of catching up.
So I'm sorry, I have no fascinating story about wings for you (not that I'm saying all of my stories are fascinating ;-)). I could tell you about Icarus, but you probably already know THAT one.
Instead I will let the wings in my collage from the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge do the talking. So many different wings (more in the original thread over at JAC, please have a look!!), I hope you'll love this challenge as much as I did.

1 and 5 and 9 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 and 6 MC Stoneworks
3 and 7 RioRita
4 and 8 Cat's Wire


Random Saturday - Vinyl

I'm a dinosaur, that's no secret. I don't stream, I watch DVDs. I don't own a smartphone, but a mobile phone that turns eleven in June, and I don't use Wi-Fi at home even though I have a notebook. Alexa - no, no, no chance! I still have my video recorder although I have to admit I haven't used that one in a long time, I have a record player and my old collection of vinyl records. My CD player has two tape decks, maybe trying out my old tapes will be another Saturday post eventually ;-) I still own a CD shelf and I actually do buy new CDs every, now and then.

For example I got myself a four CD collection of Sam Cooke songs from 1957 to 1960 which I am listening to at this very moment.
Don't get me wrong, I like my computer and the possibilities that come with it, but I like even better if I can choose what possibilities I'm going to make use of. Instead of writing my to-do lists and more with the computer for example, I have gone back to mostly write with my fountain pen at home (recycling old bills etc. for it) and enjoying it although I suck at refilling and get purple ink spots on my fingers ... well, and sometimes on my desk, but that's okay, it's an old dinosaur just like me.

I'm easy to amuse with some things, for example it made me smile to see the Sam Cooke CDs are made up to look like small vinyl records and underneath the CD there is even "... a word about HIGH FIDELITY" telling me how to care for my records, and never forget "... use a good needle - one that is the correct size and not worn. Diamond needles are most durable and cost less in the long run." ;-)
Isn't that cute?



Tackle that stash - Magnesite drop pendant

This must have been one of my favorite stash tacklers lately. The reason? Not only did I manage to use a whole magnesite bead from my nine hundred magnesite baggies (yes, I may exaggerate just a little here), but I found the perfect one right away.
You may wonder what is so perfect about a simple drop bead. Actually this started quite a while ago. I don't even remember what I had started making this setting for, but it didn't work out. Too small, too big, a cab that was too slippery maybe? I kept the setting, though, to rip it up eventually, so I could use the wire again. Somehow I never did, though. It ended up in a little compartment of one of my storage boxes where I collect small wire leftovers for jump rings etc.

Today I went for my magnesite beads because I knew there were some hearts in there and I wanted to use one for a challenge. Then when I was looking for a headpin as well, I found that setting hanging around with no purpose. Not any longer, however. I remembered a drop bead in that baggie that might just work, and it did. Perfectly. The size was just right.
I wish things would work out like that more often!


Oldies but Goodies - Necklace favorites

Personally I often find it difficult to pick favorites ... favorite actor, favorite movie, favorite music, favorite piece of clothing, even to decide on a favorite color can sometimes be hard.
Nevertheless the new Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge asked us to name favorites from our own work, necklaces in this case.
I probably feel the same way as many others, the project I am working on at the moment is my favorite. Maybe it has to be that way to help us concentrate on it completely. Yet, looking back over the years I guess we all have those pieces that our heart belongs to even if they have made their way to someone else a long time ago. Perhaps we had a hard time letting them go at all or were not even able to let them go after all.

Now I had to pick from all those favorites for my collage which is never easy. I hope you'll like my selection.

1 and 5 Cat's Wire
2 and 6 MC Stoneworks
3 and 7 The Crafty Chimp
4 and 8 Jewelry Art by Dawn


Oldies but Goodies - Round and round

It's funny, just the other day I saw a programme on TV where a lady who emigrated from the UK to Japan a long time ago talked about her children's and grandchildren's old toys, one of them a red London bus that had lost its wheels, so she took it to a woodworker to have the wheels replaced (and now you know why I watched it, too). When she got it out of the cupboard, she started singing the old children's song "The wheels on the Bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long." You are welcome for the earworm.

And right after that the topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was announced which goes round and round with items that are, you guessed it, round! ;-)

1 and 7 MC Stoneworks
2 and 8 RioRita
3 and 6 Cat's Wire
4 and 5 Jewelry Art by Dawn


Small and ugly yet a big step for me

I'm not a friend of fire. Fire makes me nervous, always has, which is why some people think it's funny I have a gas stove. I've also had a torch for a long time, but I was simply too wimpy to try it - until my friend Dawn challenged me by making headpins on her gas stove which didn't work on mine as our gas is different from the one in the USA.
Finally my pal came along with his burner, sat me down and gave me a lesson, and voilà, I could make headpins.

Then I took a beginner's class in silversmithing, and while I didn't get to solder myself because it would have taken too long to let each one do it, I had a good look and got determined to try it myself. Which I haven't done yet because I'm too wimpy to do the first step. I can't help it, it's just the way I am with some things, and tools are among those things. I do have the solder, though, and silver and some tools, so I could get started with a snap of my fingers. Excuse me for a moment while I go and have a good laugh at myself.

I couldn't get soldering out of my head, however, so I finally sat down at my computer during my Christmas vacation and ordered some solder for copper, thanks to Oksana from Ursula Jewelry, a blog post and a video of hers, to be more precise. I also needed a bigger wire cutter because wow, this solder is some tough stuff! I thought I'd break my wrist to get the tiniest bit off. That was also the part that took me the longest, I hadn't expected that.

This doesn't look exciting, just a small ring from copper wire, not polished, with a nick. I know I used too big a piece of solder, but I had lost a few already during cutting, and as this ring didn't need to be pretty, I didn't care. Important was only if I could do it. It may seem nothing to you, but it's a big step for me, my very first own soldered copper jump ring! :-D


Oldies but Goodies - Garnet

This week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is all about garnets and garnet colors. Garnet, the January birthstone, can come in all kinds of colors as there are different types, for example hessonite, tsavorite, rhodolite, spessartine and more, so there are shades of yellow, orange, red, and green.

Most people, however, probably think of a more or less deep brownish red when thinking of garnets.
For me garnets always came in clusters set in gold when I was a child, and it was jewelry that looked vintage and that old ladies like my grandmother used to wear. Those times are long over, although, to be honest, some of that "old" jewelry actually looks rather nice to me today!

As you can tell from today's selection, the JAC artists also think of garnet as red first ;-)

1 and 7 RioRita
2 and 3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 and 8 Cat's Wire
5 and 6 MC Stoneworks


Oldies but Goodies - Color burst

I know it's a few days late, but I don't want to forget to wish you a Happy New Year.
The topic for this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is a little ironic to me because I'm looking at snow through the window, the first "real" one this winter - I don't count the bit that was gone in not even a day. That means we need some color all the more now, and this is what it's about today.
What's your favorite color?

1/6/8 MC Stoneworks
2/4/9 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3/5/7 Cat's Wire