7/01/2022

SilhouetteCat and the mermaid

No, they are not a couple even if the title makes it sound like that ;-) Although you never know if they have met under a full moon, SilhouetteCat sitting at the pier maybe, looking down on his friend who has come from the depth of the ocean to say hello? I wonder what kind of conversation they would have.

Let's start with SilhouetteCat.
If you have followed me for a while, you may know that he is one of my favorite HeatherCats and I have made several versions of him.
This one is my second bead embroidered version and the first one in color, all because I couldn't resist turning a shimmering checkerboard cab into a moon.
I hadn't planned a HeatherCat. My first thought had been a tree "holding" the full moon, but luckily I used a big piece of backing as if Mabel, my muse, had been whispering in my ear that a moon needs a cat ...
Once I had beaded the bezel for the moon and added some rows around it, I knew that it reminded me of Heather's SilhouetteCat.


So I added the black cat -  with the body changed a little because I didn't want him to reach up to the moon.
Now some stars. In bead looming, my night skies often have dots for the stars, but this moon was so big that I felt they needed to be bigger, too. I didn't have any cabs that would have worked, though, so I went with more circles (that's probably why people are reminded of Van Gogh's "Starry Night", but if you have a closer look, you see it's not really that similar and it was not my inspiration).
It was also fun to add the fringe. I still have tons of those dagger beads from when an old project fell through, and the color was perfect.

Then I was at the usual point, what kind of rope to use. Of course I thought of my beloved Herringbone, but neither the 4 bead nor the 6 bead rope appealed to me this time because the different blue tones had different sizes.
I remembered, though, that I had just got some faux suede ribbon and there were still a bunch of crimps from my early bead looming days, and indeed the braids looked much better.
Now I'm really happy how the whole piece turned out!


And the braids actually brought me to a WIP that has spent nine months in my infamous WIP drawer - my mermaid.
I hadn't even posted about her here because I thought she would be done much earlier, but I had had the same problem with the rope. Bead loomed strips didn't sit right, the Herringbone ropes didn't look right.

Luckily the other spools of faux suede that I got were a dark teal and a light blue which went perfectly with the colors I used in the mermaid's tail.
Actually, the first idea had been to make just a fish tail with all those sequins, but a tail by itself always looks so cut off, so instead this large mermaid started evolving, getting more and more hair and this big fish tail. It was fun ;-)

It's amazing how satisfying it is to finish a long time WIP because the right idea has finally come along and I'm very glad she made it out of that drawer that has proved to be the end of the line for some other pieces over the years.

6/09/2022

Hello, little hedgehog

Almost exactly seven years ago I made a little hedgehog family.
Today another of these little fellows turned up in my house. Maybe the big ones I encountered in the streets every, now and then when walking to the train in the morning sent her to check on me because we haven't met since I started home office due to the pandemic ;-)

It had been a long time since I made a hedgehog, but it had also been a while since I last did some wire crochet.
It's so funny how good it felt on one side - like visiting a very old friend you haven't seen for some time - but also how different the movement is for hands and wrists compared to the different beading techniques. It actually took some getting used to again.
Also I had to experiment a little because you may remember that I never put down patterns, so I had to figure out some parts again. The good thing about that was that I tried something different and was very happy with how it came out (and I'm not even talking about the ears ... yes, she's my first hedgehog with ears, the other ones probably preferred not listening to me ;-)).

She will be travelling across the ocean soon. Safe travels, little one!



5/29/2022

The mystery rock

Sometimes it really sucks to get old/er. I've had health issues all my life and always think I should be used to it by now. Guess what - I'm not.
It started out with foot pain which then led to my back going out because I couldn't walk right. It's not as if I haven't felt old sometimes before, but you should have seen me these last few weeks. Once one spot was fine, the next one began hurting and I'm not completely through with this yet.
The worst part about it was that it took away all my motivation to even try doing anything fun, like being creative, as all I did was worrying about how to best care for the cats (luckily I had some help from the family) and not crash when der Dekan tried to hunt my old 2 DM fleamarket cane while I did my best to slowly make it to the kitchen, for example.
I was so sure that both he and I would be dying in an earth shattering fall, him because I would fall on top of him! ;-) Strangely enough, we both made it alive. Gundel was smart enough to stay out of it completely.

About a week ago then, I have started working on a new Dawn doll and it felt so good to feel my creative flow coming back.
Two days ago, however, I suddenly felt the urge to make a piece of jewelry. I think it has been before Easter that I last made something, definitely too long!
Going through my cab drawer, I found a rock that I have had for years and years. I even had turned it into a pendant once before, but was never completely happy with that.
I probably bought it as a worry stone back then because it's really smooth.
The last time I had used either brass or bronze wire - it was ten years ago, I only remember how hard it was on my hands - and dark red Swarovski bicones for a wire crochet bezel, and I stuck with the color combo of gold and red for this bead embroidery pendant.

I still love the mystery rock, even if I have no idea what kind of stone it is. What do you think?


5/02/2022

Dawn is going boho

Usually I need a break after completing a doll outfit. I take a while relishing the feeling and admiring my own work - yes, I know that doesn't sound very humble, but it mostly is a very interesting path from the first row of beads to the completed doll and I'm always amazed myself that it has actually happened!
This time my bead mojo was strong enough for me to start on a new doll only a few days after finishing the wedding outfit and once again there were experiments, failures, and a complete change of plan.
You see, my first plan had been pink, but I had problems getting the same pink in both size 11 and 15 seed beads, so I checked the colors I had on hand and went for a favorite opaque luster red instead.
Luckily red with some golden accents looks stunning on this girl with her long blond hair and luckily she's not as afraid of color as I often seem to be myself or this dress would be black now ;-)

My second plan had been a kind of evening gown which I'm not going to say more about in case I'll do a variation of it eventually after all (how often have I said that about things?). The reason I didn't follow that plan were the gloves.
Did you know that Dawn has really small hands? Bead gloves simply looked too bulky, even with 15s, and of course there wasn't a chance I could have made a thumb with beads.
So the gloves turned into sleeves instead, 3/4 long which is a preferred length of my own.
When I was still a knitter, I hated sleeves. It was my old problem of having to make the same thing twice, boooooring. This time I made the sleeves first, that's definitely a new one for me.

What I really like about making these doll outfits is how one thing influences the other, often unexpectedly. After the sleeves I made the top and when I was at the top of the top - I often start from the waist because the beads don't try to run away there - and joined it with the sleeves, it hit me. A Carmen neckline!
And the Carmen neckline called for a wider, flowing skirt.
You may think at first that this dress doesn't look that different from that of the Fairy Queen, but actually there are several things I did like this for the first time.
There's the neckline and my first long sleeves, there are tiny crystal embellishments (you have to trust me on this, it's hard to see here), and not only is the waist a bit higher up which accentuates Dawn's lovely figure, but the skirt also flares out higher up, and after increasing always in the same spots for some rows, the skirt then falls down straight while the Fairy Queen's skirt is increased all around and all the way down to the bottom.
That's the fun about making these dresses, even though you are limited by the beads not being flexible, you can still play with designs.
I think Dawn likes it, too, judging from the way she's showing off her new dress.



The dress didn't seem to need many accessories, so Dawn is just wearing some simple gold sandals - I'm sure she would also have liked to go barefoot - a classic two-toned coated hematite ball chain and a cute little daisy chain. Maybe she has just made that herself before going to the market?
Yes, she has been to the market with her netted cotton tote that she has also made herself, no doubt, and she has brought home a huge ear of corn which actually fills up the tote. Hopefully it's organic, but I'm sure Dawn knows what she does! ;-)


I already have at least two new designs in mind, one of them will take more planning because of the technique I think I'll have to use, however, so I can't promise when there will be more to see.

4/17/2022

The Bride

It has been almost a year since I made my last beaded doll outfit which was Miss Francie Bennet, but this weekend I felt the sudden urge to grab one of my Topper Dawns and give her a new outfit.
This particular Dawn has several problems, mostly with her legs, so the only plan I had at that point was some kind of a slim skirt to hide them.

When I got my very first Dawn, I had begun to make her a wedding dress which I didn't like anymore when I was halfway through the project which is why she finally got an evening gown instead.
How about revisiting this idea?
There were several reasons to go for it. With a wedding dress you can go overboard if you like and your doll won't be able to complain. I knew I had plenty of pearly white seed beads in both size 11 and 15. A wedding dress has always been part of fashion shows. It's almost May, the bridal season is upon us. I'll use any excuse I can find.
Of course I don't have a husband for Dawn, but she'll have to live with that.

As the dress became more elaborate this time, I refrained from making many accessories - less to read for you!
Dawn is wearing a simple silver necklace and a "pearl" headband (which looks classy, but also helps to hide that some child in the past seems to have tried to cut her hair into bangs). At first I started making a short veil flowing down from the headband, but it wasn't heavy enough to fall over Dawn's hair in a pretty way, so I took it back off.
I also didn't bead shoes this time, but happened to have a pair of what I think are clone shoes in white which worked better for her little problem feet (I can so relate even if mine are not little!).

Now to the dress.

As planned, the skirt part is slim and long enough to hide most of the shoes because I didn't like the look of them with the dress much, both for the material and the tone of white. I promised Dawn she won't have to walk long distances ;-)
The front part of the skirt is embellished with lines of tiny silver lined crystal seed beads for a reason. T
here are tiny gaps in the "fabric" due to the Herringbone technique, and is it because I know Dawn's problems or because I think I can actually see them, at any rate I felt the need to distract from them a little. Also, I like a bit of silver sparkle!



The top part is a mix of Herringbone and Peyote and has off shoulder straps. They do hide an imperfection on Dawn's arm, but actually I made them because I liked them with this top.

I also wanted the dress to have a train, that had even been a plan for my attempt at that first wedding dress years ago.
The decision fell on this tapered train that begins like an overskirt at the waist (I have loved overskirts since I was a child, my drawn ladies always wore an open one). Not making it straighter at the edges is not because of the Herringbone technique that is worked in bead pairs, by the way, I just liked the different look.
For a second, I thought about embellishing it as well, but then I decided against it. Instead I added the little bead "chains" at the front.



Flowers had been on my mind, too. A flower on the headband or one at the neckline, at the waist maybe, but it all seemed too much.
Maybe I will give her a single flower to hold eventually.

I already have the next project on my mind, but it will probably have to involve the loom, and so far I have been hesitating to get the loom out around den Dekan (my kitten).
We will just have to wait and see what happens.

4/01/2022

Tackle that stash - Rhodonite focal

Usually I start a stash tackler by going through my stash to see if anything is talking to me.
This time I started with a leftover piece of bead embroidery foundation. When I made my little hedgehog (that I didn't blog about, but you can also find it in my gallery), I didn't know at first what it would be become and how big it would be. Well, not very big as it turned out, so I had a piece of foundation with a hole in the middle and no idea what to do with it - until I cut it in half and ended up with two quite weird shapes.

I took one of them to my cab drawer to see if I had one that was right in size and would give me a good idea when a small rhodonite donut jumped into the way - not the slightest idea how this ever got to me - and thus turned on the experimenting mode.

This was a rather interesting journey. The first steps were easy. I glued the donut on, then I looked for bezel colors. Funnily enough, I had matte seed beads that matched the color of the rhodonite almost perfectly. They came from one of the surprise bead mixes that I like to order, and until now I had been pretty sure I would not be able to use them anytime soon. Does the bead store know my stash better than I do? ;-)
Now what colors to use with them?
I wanted a bit of color and a bit of shine (my way to say that I love to use metallic accents). Was it coincidence that most of the colors I picked were already waiting in my work area? And was it coincidence that I had just found the dark red fire polished crystals again? Of which one fit perfectly into the hole of the donut?
This was almost getting a little spooky!

From there, I was just following the flow. I had cut the edges of the foundation randomly, now I needed to fit a pattern into that.
After doing a few swirls I noticed that I was reminded of clothes patterns from the mod era, almost a little psychedelic, although those clothes would probably have been a lot more colorful.

In the end, the focal needed a chain, and there was really only one way to attach it.
I struggled a bit with the temptation to add a drop dangle to the tip (which isn't really a tip, it's just an illusion thanks to the crystal, the back looks more like a member of the Barbapapa family ;-)) or a fringe from tiny seed beads or fine chain, but then it seemed to me that would have been too much.



This was a fun experiment. Maybe I should try this more often, after all I still have the second half to begin with. I'll let you know how it goes.

3/20/2022

Nostalgia - Stollwerck's Victoria

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.

It has been 1 1/2 years since my last nostalgia post, then again I didn't blog much at all in that time.
Today, however, one of my little Steiff teddies told me a story. It seems he went for an adventure and found a large (compared to him) vending machine for chocolate and bonbons in the middle of nowhere!
Unfortunately, the machine was empty and little Teddy was quite disappointed. On the other hand, he had to admit that he hadn't any money on him, anyway, so how sorry would he have been if there had been chocolate but no way to get to it!


Let's take a closer look at this vending machine that Teddy found.
It's the "Victoria Spar-Automat" of the company Stollwerck.
Stollwerck, a manufacturer of chocolate, cocoa, and candy, was the first company to put up vending machines in Germany in 1887. Inspired by their great success, Stollwerck decided to have miniature versions of them produced after 1890 to teach children how to save and to give them an "incentive to diligence". The machines were produced by the company of Friedrich Anton Reiche which was also known for making chocolate molds (very collectible today).

How does the machine work?
"Victoria" has two chambers that could be filled up with sample boxes of "Chocolade" and "Bonbons".
The house has two chimneys aka coin slots, and depending on the chimney you put the 10 Pfennig coin in, you got chocolate or candy when pulling out the drawer.
The text says (in German it rhymes): "Save your money, my dear child, throw it in here quickly, everything you save is kept here for you."
The front also says: "Nibbledydee, nibbledyday, what is rattling into my little house?" which of course refers to the coins.




To refill the machine and get your saved money back out, you could unlock it on the side with a little key to allow you to lift off the back and roof.
I wonder how many parents refilled it themselves and how many let the children spend part of their savings on the refills to teach them the value of money.

From the above quote, you can easily tell that the machine is telling us the tale of Hansel and Gretel, with a little twist, however.
You can also see that Teddy has still been very careful not to get himself into trouble!


1. "Hansel and Grethel, lost and frightened, walked so long in the dark forest, finally stood in front of the sugar house, a wicked witch came out."


2. "The witch grabbed the children small, put them into the stable, bared her teeth and rejoiced, said: this will be a feast for me."


3. "It turned out differently than the old woman thought; when she heated up the oven, little Grethel grabbed the witch by the leg and quickly pushed her into the embers."

We know the tale that far, but now comes the Stollwerck twist.

4. "That's what the fairy tale tells you, Stollwerck sugar house here doesn't look so dangerous, no witch is looking out, either."

5. "A good old lady is looking out of the window, if you bring her a piece of money, she will always give you something sweet."


There's one of these machines in our local museum which I had been in love with since I was a small kid.
"Victoria" was produced around 1900 and is a desired collectible, but mine is missing the red bottom stand and has been attached to a metal/wood plate instead which made it affordable enough for me to have my dream of owning her come true.
Now if only Teddy could get his dream of "Chocolade" and "Bonbons" fulfilled, too ...