Tears for the crocodile

We all know crocodile tears, but I call this new pendant "Tears for the crocodile" for a reason.
Since I had been a kid, the "Great White One" (you can find a picture of him from the local newspaper here) at the Wilhelma, the Zoological-Botanical Garden in Stuttgart, had been one of my favorites. No, he was not a shark, he was a saltwater crocodile who lived at the zoo from 1967 until his too early death in 2000. He was an absolute magnificent beast.
I never caught his feeding time, but I saw him jump out of the water once, maybe because a visitor looked too yummy, and I'll never forget that incredible power that literally made me gasp.
While I loved to see him, it also made me sad (zoos do that to me or rather did, I haven't been to one in years).

The tiger eye was another rock from my stash. Because of its slightly weird shape, I had never had an idea for it, but I loved the color.
Once again, bead embroidery came to the rescue. Only when I had beaded the bezel, I got this vibe of an eye. The eye of a crocodile ...

Then I remembered the Picasso Tila beads that had been in one of my bead orders. Sometimes the bead shop I buy from offers surprise packs with leftovers at a sale price. It takes me back to the "Wundertüten" (literally: Miracle bags) of my childhood. I love surprises, but I also love the challenge of unknown beads. Sometimes I get a color or a shape or a size I would never have thought of buying. Honestly, who can keep up with all of those beads?
Now the time for the Tilas had come because the color reminded me of the "Great White One". I used them at a slant around the bezel for depth and added another flat row all around. I know crocodiles rarely wear gold ;-) but it fit both the tiger eye and the Tilas so well, and so do the "tears" which also happened to be from the surprise pack, by the way.
I did contemplate adding a pupil to the eye for a bit, but decided against it in the end.

You may see something else in this pendant, but for me it was a real trip in the past although that hadn't been planned at all from the beginning.


Diving into fall

If you asked me, I would tell you that fall colors are not really my thing, but only in clothing that I wear myself.
Fall colors in nature or jewelry? Wonderful.

This red jasper definitely says fall.
There are stones in my drawer that I just keep staring at for years and there are stones that had more settings than my FB account.
The jasper rock has gone through a few in wire crochet and knit, but something was never right about it.

Sometimes I'm stuck creatively, usually not for lack of ideas, but because I have a hard time to get some things started. It may be something difficult, a big project, something on my list that needs the right moment, something that I haven't worked out completely yet, something I am missing some beads for, there are many reasons. And sometimes I am just not feeling it, because of the heat (I had that a LOT this summer), because I'm not feeling well and don't manage to push myself, or because I'm simply too lazy.
For me, one way out of this is to crochet one of my little baskets. Or two. Sometimes I fill them up right away, sometimes I don't. It's the only design I don't mind recreating and still there's the moment of surprise because the filling isn't always the same.
Another way has opened up for me when I started doing bead embroidery. Glue something on some beading surface and see what happens.

So what happened to the jasper after I glued it on?
First step, the bezel. I still had some beads in my "workbox" from working on another pendant and they were perfect.

Now what?
The jasper had always reminded me of the 50s, not just in color, but also the one line going across the stone which makes me think of curtains with a pattern like this one (only thrown together quickly to give you an idea)?

I would make the pendant into a rectangle with rounded corners and embroider a pattern like that.
Well, it wasn't really a surprise that I went slightly overboard with the lines, both in number and how wavy they became.
So after filling the fields up with some of my favorite seed bead colors, it reminded me more of abstract stained glass which made me just as happy.
The golden edging can only be seen from the side and even the beaded bail is hidden in the back because I didn't want to disturb the "window" look.

I think my little jasper may at last have come to rest after all those years. That was a long journey.
Now can someone tell me to finally get started on my project procrastination list?


A history of broomsticks (and a staff)

Are you ready to say goodbye to summer?
I welcomed September with a bead embroidered pendant in fall colors, but my mind has already wandered off to October and Halloween.

Today's design is not new to me. I have used it in one of my very first bead bracelets, even if it was a mix of beaded and bead loomed then.

Later I beaded a staff for my Fairy Queen, in this case the stick was beaded around a wood skewer.

That finally led to the broomstick for my little snowman in which the handle is again beaded around a wood skewer, but as the "twigs" are up in the air, I had to give them more substance by putting the beads on wire.

There is another broomstick, but that is for a future post because it's a WIP.
When the idea for today's item came to me, I was surprised myself. How had I not thought of that earlier?
Let's go for a ride, my friends ... with these broomstick earrings!


Nosy neighbors family portrait

Can you believe it?
I was getting ready to have a nice cup of chai latte on a lazy Saturday afternoon and who turns up? The nosy neighbors!

The nosy neighbors made their first appearance here.
Always make sure to build your walls high enough if you have neighbors like these, or you will never be able to do anything in peace.

These are Hildy and Bruno, I guess they like chai latte, too?


Random Saturday - Putting more happy yellow into my life!

Do you remember my childhood memories with the colorful "Arabella / Boston" dishes from the 60s? It really revived my love of yellow. Not that it had gone away completely, but yellow is a little hard to use in jewelry, at least for me, and it doesn't work on me as clothes. I always wanted at least one room with yellow walls, but wasn't even allowed to have that (that's a longer story I'm going to spare you).
Dishes are a very good way to get yellow into my life.

Now there's one problem with my Arabella set.

Look at the cup. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a but a sip for me (I only drink coffee as a cold brew or with ice cream, by the way). I'm not good at elegantly holding a cup with my pinky up in the air, unlike a friend in school who did this without even noticing which never failed to amuse me.

For daily use I'm very much a mug girl, the bigger the better. I have a LOT of mugs and while I am using quite a few of them, the biggest one is my favorite. If it isn't too hot, which it usually isn't because I prefer cold drinks, I don't even hold it by the handle because it can get quite heavy when it's full.
Big mugs or cups are also a childhood memory for me. My godmother's father who was a farmer had a big breakfast cup that I was very jealous of even as a child. I can still see him sitting at that table and smell cows and hay and country air - not meant negatively at all - and feel comfortable and happy watching him drink his morning coffee.

So I had this idea ... how about looking for a potter in the area and ask if they could make me a mug in yellow? Of course I could have looked
for a yellow mug online, but 1. I like handmade - who would have thought, 2. I like to support local artisans if possible - not always easy depending on what you need or want, 3. I didn't want a solid yellow, but one that reminded me of Arabella's stripy appearance.

I checked online, found the pottery "Töpferei auf dem Jackenhof" (a former farm in a village not very far from me which has a lot of old farms), and sent them an email with the Arabella picture explaining what I wanted. A few more emails went back and forth to clear up details about the size and shape of the two mugs. Yes, by now I had decided that I of course needed two.

Yesterday I got notice that I could pick them up. My "chauffeur", who hadn't been on the Jackenhof before either, and I were amazed at how idyllic the house was situated, away from the street, an alpaca grazing on the other side (there's an alpaca farm), trees and sculptures underneath. It may sound corny and silly, but I got this 80s feeling of what we called the "alternatives" here in Germany, making me think of hand knitted socks and sweaters, the beginning of the "green" thinking, drinking tea from handmade pottery, colorful neck scarves from India, and actually I read afterwards that the workshop had opened in 1987, so maybe that's what I felt, and it was good ;-)

Welcomed inside, I asked for my mugs, and the potter said she had two choices, one was more of a brownish yellow, but course I immediately picked the bright yellow one. She said that the dark ones were made with a glaze and the other two painted which gave the mugs just the look I had wanted. I was so happy and will love using these, I'm sure. Maybe it's a good thing the pottery is not that easy to reach with public transportation or I could put down quite a bit of money there although the mugs were very affordable and even the price for the standard mugs although I had asked for bigger ones.
Can you tell from the picture that they don't look exactly the same? The shape, size, and top edges are a little different. I like that because it shows they are handmade.

As it is, I couldn't resist getting a cat - anyone surprised? - which is a salt shaker, but will be just a cat for me, and a liqueur cup whose color and shape I fell in love with and which I will happily use for my beloved Drambuie.

Do you have a favorite mug or a favorite piece of pottery?


The broken dolphin

"My dolphin broke. It fell and the nose and fluke broke off. Do you think I could get a new one?"
Alas, no. The boro dolphin pendant had been from a shop that doesn't seem to exist anymore, at least the website doesn't look up-to-date at all. So what to do about my friend's dolphin?
I asked her if she still had all the parts, but no matter how she searched, she was able to find the nose, but not the fluke.
She sent me a quick picture and my brain started ticking.

This was still better than the other way round. I could try to hide the missing fluke, and the nose could be glued on, and wasn't it a nice coincidence that I had asked for a "gilding" (not real gold) kit for my birthday?
I told my friend I would try to figure something out, and soon after the poor little dolphin arrived at my house (nose already glued on, so I didn't have to do it, phew).

First of all, I gilded the nose. It had been glued on a tiny bit crooked, so the seam is a little visible, but not too badly, I think. Unfortunately I'm not the restoration master I saw on NHK the other day who made cracks disappear completely.
As it felt only a golden nose and forehead would look a little strange, I decided to gild the fins and the nose tip as well.

After that, the dolphin had to wait some time. I kept picking him up hoping he would tell me what to do next.
I thought of a wire structure around his tail end that I could secure going through the big glass bail on the back, then I thought of the same, but beaded in some kind of way. I saw pearls and blue crystals for the ocean to make him appear mid-breach, but I just didn't know how to start.

Then it came to me. Bead embroidery. A mix of blue seed beads. I could make one cut in the beading foundation for the glass bail and a second one to put the tail end through to hide it.
I glued the dolphin to the beading foundation and cut it into shape, but I wasn't completely happy with the spot where the tail end went through the cut.
So I added an extra patch at the bottom that went over the tail end and another one at the back to fill up the spot where the foundation bent because of the tail's thickness.
That was so much better.

I sewed on the seed beads and added some crystal rondelles, then the backing and the edging.
Another worry of mine had been that the layers of foundation and the backing might be too thick for the chain to go through the glass bail, but it works just fine.
It's hard for me to resist dangles, also I felt they would give the piece some balance. To me they represent the splash of water when the dolphin breaches.

Doesn't our dolphin look so much happier now than in his broken state?


Nostalgia - Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter!

1988, London.
Two young women and a five year old girl on a one week vacation - we had a wonderful time (if you don't count in the terrible hotel room, but we used to be a lot more tolerant at that age and the partial refund helped as well) and I fell in love with London although I am not usually a fan of big cities.

Now what does Beatrix Potter's birthday - she was born on July 28, 1866 - have to do with our London vacation 122 years later?
Well, among trips to parks, museums, and galleries we also hit the shops of course, and I couldn't resist bringing home a little bunny for my bunny collection.

"Benjamin Bunny sat on a bank" was inspired by Potter's "The Tale of Benjamin Bunny".

This little fellow is the first version of two manufactured by Beswick, he ran from 1983 to 1985 and differs from the second version by his head posture (he's looking up) and wearing a darker brown colored jacket.
He was modelled by David Lyttleton.
(Thank you to Beatrix Potter Figurines - A Definitive Guide!)
I still think he's very cute and it's really funny to me how vividly I remember the inside of the shop where I got him and a little address book.

Every time I look at him it takes me back to this London vacation.

Now you are in for a very rare treat, a picture of me from that trip (I hate my picture being taken!).