5/31/2023

Nevermore - again

That may make no sense at first, but with the backstory it will, believe me.
It's actually rather simple.
Eight years ago I bead loomed an Edgar Allan Poe portrait pendant after my own design and made a small polymer clay raven for it. I called the pendant "Nevermore" and was immensely proud of how my raven had turned out.


I always wanted to make another pendant, but my polymer clay days were over. So I looked for raven charms online every, now, and then, but never found what I wanted or needed.
This year, however, I stumbled upon the cutest lampwork beads by Christiane Imkamp, tiny crows sitting on a pumpkin or a cactus. I asked Christiane if I could have just crows and much to my delight she said those had already been on her list. A few days later she had listed them in her shop.
Of course to me they were not crows, but ravens, and they looked just perfect.

After der Dekan moved in, I decided to give my bead loom a break because I didn't trust the little beast around open bead cups. I still don't and if you had just seen him tear down my clamp rod and curtain from one window and knock over a storage box to get to my lacrosse ball, not for a massage, but to roll it around the wooden floor - great noise in the middle of the night - you would well understand why.
The little master "has spring" as I call it which makes him even crazier than he usually is. And it being night, he can't even watch birds now.


I had underestimated him completely, I have to admit, and now it has been two years that none of my looms has been touched, except for putting them back in their spots on the Stairs to Nowhere after der Dekan has knocked one down once again (no worries, my beloved JaLa is locked away safely).
But once my ravens had arrived, I couldn't ignore the itch in my fingers any longer. So I gave dem Dekan - and of course Gundel - something to eat because that is the best way to get him out of the room and then locked myself in with my loom.

Can you believe that I was nervous at first? It showed in my mistakes on the first few increases and decreases when I went through the wrong warp gap, but I quickly got back into the flow of counting and looming.
Then the pendant was finished and I could get to re-weaving each thread back into the loomwork. It was just as meditative as ever.
At first you have a whole bunch of threads (72 in this case, to be exact) getting in one another's way, and then there are fewer and fewer, the piece looks cleaner and cleaner, so satisfying ... it's hard to explain, but you probably have your own things that make you feel this way.

Finally he was in my hand, Mister Edgar Allan Poe, and it felt so good.
All he needed now was his little Nevermore - again.

5/18/2023

The moon hare

Believe it or not, but my life with animals did not begin with cats.
Some of our first companions were bunnies, our own, but also guests from the zoo.
The last one was my crazy boy Buster.


As you can see, the love extended to other bunnies as well, and there are more, in metal, as pictures, or in plush, such as this little old Steiff fellow.



It is not surprising that bunnies also made it into my work before, like the needle felted bunnaroo or these bunny siblings.



I could keep going, but it's time to get to the point.
The current challenge at the Jewelry Artisans Community is "Moon and Stars". Perfect for me as a moon lover.

What a lucky coincidence that my last bead order contained some more "moon" cabs, the faceted kind that I had used before, for example in the Moonlight Ravens, but also a few larger cat eye cabs.

I glued on one of the latter and that's when it hit me that a motif I had been wanting to do for a long time was even more perfect for me than just moon and stars - the Moon Hare.

While I learned about the Man in the Moon here, other cultures from Asia to America see the Hare or Rabbit in the Moon. The legends about the Moon Hare vary from country to country, if you are interested, you can find them here. It's really fascinating to read about similiarities and differences.

Now to some other rabbits that I have been fascinated for decades. The story is wild, kind of traumatizing as well, but the ending is beautiful. I'm talking about "Watership Down". I love both the book and the movie although there are scenes that still break my heart. I never fail to cry at the end when Hazel, the chief rabbit, is taken away by El-ahrairah to find peace after a long life.

El-ahrairah was the first rabbit, and although he upset Lord Frith, the creator of the world, he got the gift of speed, cunning, digging, and good hearing.

This is him after receiving that gift (thank you to Nightpaww for the GIF).



Several rabbits I knew were named after the book by us (unforgotten are Blackie Blackavar, the best rabbit mom ever, and sweet little Hyzenthlay) and the inspiration doesn't end there.

This is my bead embroidered Moon Hare.


As you can tell, El-ahrairah has inspired part of it.
By Frith, who has been on my bead looming list for ages, I got inspired to choose a flowing free form for the pendant.



Again, I used the beautiful dark blue hex beads for the night sky and golden AB ones for the stars.
I just love that magical sparkle when moving the piece, and this will definitely not be the last time for the hex beads to turn up in a design of mine.

There, now you know (almost) the whole story behind my love for rabbits and why I not only had fun making this pendant, but also why it brought up a lot of memories from the last 36 years, some of them bittersweet.
While I miss my bunnies (and the rest of the zoo), two cats are quite enough to keep me on my toes and also I wouldn't trust dem Dekan to leave a rabbit alone. So who knows, maybe I will be reviving more memories through my work instead.

5/10/2023

I vill bite you - The earrings

Remember that I said there will be something new from the bead soup?
I have been sorting and sorting - not done yet - and while I haven't got around to start on a re-make of the bracelet and choker yet, I have made two pairs of earrings, one for myself and one for sale.

I had to change the design a little bit for this smaller brick stitch version and I also used a different red to make them glow more.
What do you think?


4/22/2023

Random Saturday - Soup memories

To me, spring cleaning doesn't necessarily mean pulling everything out of cupboards to put new lining in. Instead I am pulling tiny wire and thread bits out of beads, to be clearer, I am still in the process of ripping up old pieces.

Two of those were from my earliest days of bead looming, a choker and bracelet in the same design, vampire lips.


You could tell that I was still very much a newbie then. I still struggled with the right tension which made the pieces rather stiff, and in one of them I had used satin beads without knowing how easily they would cut through the thread I used.
The reasons to keep them both around for more than ten years were probably mostly sentimental, but it was also a reminder to pick the design up again eventually as an improved version.

Now the time seemed to be right to cut them up along with other old items on my list. Each time I had looked at them lying in my drawer, I had felt a pang of guilt that I hadn't made anything new yet.
Taking that into consideration, it was amazingly hard to cut them up. This large tube of bead soup - this bit is just part of it - is so much more than beads.


It's a beginner's journey to an own and original design, to trial and error and frustration (cue the satin beads again).
It's the joy of seeing a piece coming alive from a printed piece of paper after several hours.
It's the wish to share it with others to see if they also like it.
It's the memory of a personal disappointment.
It's the story of seeing your jewelry again and again, noticing every flaw and finally admitting to yourself that it needs a remake - and seeing it again and again and not getting yourself to actually do it.
And as the last step for now, it's the story of cutting it up and picking it apart - and thinking about what to do with this soup to honor the journey. So-to-speak.

I know it sounds terribly emotional, but I can assure you I didn't shed any tears.
It's just that I hadn't expected it to feel so different from the many other items I had ripped up over the years. Usually it's a relief, maybe with a bit of regret, this time it felt like setting myself a new task.
The old is gone, there will be something new, even if I can't say yet what it's going to be.

Would you have thought that someone could get so philosophical about bead soup on a Saturday night? ;-)

4/16/2023

Rip it up - The painting

"Rip it" - use the components of a piece and make something new from it, that was the March/April challenge at the Jewelry Artisans Community.
I'm practically a professional rip upper. Up ripper? Jack the Ripper? You know what I mean. I could put on my shop sign "Ripping up since at least 2012". Because that's when I first wrote about ripping up stuff for a JAC blog carnival.
The other day a fellow jewelry maker asked how long others wait to rip up pieces or offer them at sale prices if they don't sell. For me, it often depends on
- how much I like a design - endlessly hoping it will find its person eventually
- on the materials and if I will be able to reuse or recycle them easily - I rip up fewer silver items than other things
- how difficult the ripping up will be - wire crochet or knit items with a bead in each stitch are the absolutely worst, but it's also no big fun to pick tiny thread bits out of beaded items.

Just like in 2012, my urge to rip something up usually comes over me like a sudden wave.
For the challenge, I had picked up two items, but both them were nothing but wire and pearls, and I didn't have an idea for just pearls. So I went wild and ripped up five items with stones instead, a Cantera opal, a small Boulder opal bead, two jasper cabochons, and a tumbled rock that I have fallen in love with many years ago.
Latter is the stone I want to show you today.

I don't know what kind of stone is, but to me it looks like a tiny impressionist landscape painting, a stormy sky over fields. So pretty.
I messed up royally.
My first mistake was to go for a wire wrapped bezel, a technique I had only just started and that I tried to make work on a very slippery rock, with wire just barely long enough. That led to mistake number 2, adding some "decorative" wire strands stabilizing the bezel and, frankly spoken, looking as if someone peeked at the landscape from behind very strange bars. The tiny dangle definitely couldn't save anything.
The pendant went on the "rip up" list pretty quickly.


This time around, I opted for bead embroidery. I had a leftover piece of beading foundation that looked like half a navette shape. Its center was just big enough for the rock.
My plan was a simple bezel and for the sides a few mookaite beads picking up the colors of the stone and flowing lines around them. I hated my first attempt. I didn't like the second attempt much better.
Ripping up a piece twice that was part of a ripping up challenge, oh, the irony!
I left the center with the stone, with a peyote bezel in metallic bronze, but the two sides had to go, snip snip.

That's when it hit me. I had a painting which needed a frame and nothing else. No flowing lines, no beads, nothing on the sides, nothing dangling from it.
Was it coincidence that the current episode of my favorite show about artisans was about a gilder working on an antique frame?
I read that impressionists would have preferred white frames for their work, but that collectors and museums wanted the valuable look of gilt frames.
To enhance the "old frame" feeling, I added an edging around the bezel using a mix of light and darker metallic bronze and gold.
Sorry, it's a very grey day, I still have to take better pictures.


If you have been wondering about the shape, by the way, you are right. The stone is not symmetrical as this picture of the back shows, it's more like a drop shape if you look at it vertically. So the pendant isn't symmetrical, either, but I think it still works.


And did I feel the urge to add dangles after all? Of course I did, it's not something I can just turn off. I just had to look at my little painting, though, and the urge went away.

So, what do you see?

4/10/2023

Inspiration is everywhere - Donald Duck and the mirror earrings

The other day I really doubted myself. For years, I had had the plan to make a pair of earrings with little mirrors. My inspiration was a Donald Duck story about a Greek nymph who threw her hand mirror to the ground where it turned into a lake, and I also had the feeling that the story had been inspired by a real Greek tale.
I even started writing a blog post, but when I tried to find out more about the Greek tale, I came up empty. Next I tried to find something about the Donald story, but a site that a friend told me about didn't help me, either, because only titles were listed, no contents.
I questioned my family, but to no avail which was very disappointing ;-)

So now I had a pair of bead embroidered earrings in light blue (for the water), with small mirrors on top and sparkly crystals in the handle, and the story that inspired them didn't even exist?


It didn't even comfort me that I liked the result. Could I really be that wrong about something that had been taking up space in my brain for so long? I was sure I hadn't made that up myself.
Of course there was only one way to solve this problem, I had to look through my comic books.
I started with my "Walt Disneys Lustige Taschenbücher", translated "Walt Disney's Funny Pocketbooks", a comic book series that, other than the regular "Micky Maus", had around 250 pages and thus allowed for longer stories. They were published several times a year, not weekly like "Micky Maus", and with very few exceptions, the stories were by European artists, mostly Italian in the early years, in fact they were based on the Italian series "I Classici di Walt Disney". For economic reasons, the early books weren't fully colored, but the double pages were alternatedly black-white and colored.
The LTB as they are called here had many ups and downs regarding the quality of the stories - both the drawing and the writing - but I grew up on them; and although they can't compare with the work of Carl Barks, there are a few wonderful adventures in them.

And .... "Auf den Spuren der alten Griechen" (In the tracks of the ancient Greeks),
LTB 32 "Donald im Glück" (Donald in Luck)!
More like "Cat in Luck"! I didn't have to search as long as I had feared.
I had never looked for Greeks on the aforementioned site because I was so fixed on the mirror part or I may even have been quicker.

So, was the story based on a Greek tale?
Kind of. Actually it mixed up two Greek tales, added a detail of its own and threw in an Italian adventurer for good measure.
Tale 1: Deucalion and Pyrrha survive a flood sent by Zeus as a punishment thanks to being warned by Prometheus, Deucalion's father (they didn't take any animals, shame on them, Gundel and der Dekan said). When they ask the goddess Themis how to repopulate the world, she tells them to cover their heads and throw the bones of their mother over their shoulders, meaning Gaia, the mother of all living things, her bones being rocks. The rocks thrown by Deucalion turn into men, those thrown by Pyrrha into women. Again, it doesn't say anything about cat..., erm, animals.
Tale 2: Castalia, a nymph, tried to evade Apollo's amorous advances, and threw or transformed herself into a spring near Delphi.

In the story that Huey, Dewey, and Louie tell Scrooge and Donald, Deucalion and Pyrrha don't ask Themis for advice, but the gods in general. Next, the nymph Castalia appears. She throws her mirror to the ground and it turns into a mirror-shaped spring (not a lake, mea culpa)
and advises the couple to throw Gaia's bones over their shoulders when the light of the full moon falls on the spring.
To get a free vacation to Greece, Donald convinces Scrooge to search for the spring and use it to turn stones into gold, and when they come to Greece and Donald finds an antique mirror in a shop, he sneaks it into the fire, determined to blame the mirror's age when the spell won't work.
Of course the nephews notice right away that the mirror is from glass and can't possible be as old as the tale, but Scrooge tries his luck, anyway.
Instead of being turned into gold, however, the rock gets duplicated. The nephews look the mirror up in their trusted scout guidebook and find out that Cagliostro, an Italian adventurer and "magician", invented this magic mirror.
Finally the mirror breaks and the pieces produce a crowd of Scrooge duplicates who chase after Donald, a spell that lasts for an hour.





There you go. What you never wanted to learn, I got it for you :-D
Oh yeah, and earrings.

All the Ducks belong to the Walt Disney Company. I am not affiliated with Disney in any way.

3/18/2023

Clumsy Saturday

It's one of those days. Actually, it has been one of those weeks. If this keeps going, I'll probably get eaten by my cats tomorrow.

That's why I can only share two pairs of earrings that I made this weekend. The third pair is unfinished yet because I cut my index finger like an idiot, and now I have to move my hand at an awkward angle if I try to bead which makes my wrist hurt which then makes my elbow hurt - long story cut short, I gave up for now.
It has been fun digging through my bead stash, I hadn't done that for a while. I think there will be more variations of these earrings once my finger is up to it again!