The Box

A few months ago a co-worker brought me a wooden box asking if I would like to have it. I don't know if it used to belong to a library, but it was a little battered, had a slightly rusty latch, and still all I thought was that maybe some day I would pick up bead embroidery, so I said yes.
Since then the box had been standing around openly in my hallway, so I was reminded of it every time I walked by. I guess that was the reason why I had bought the Stiff Stuff (a backing for bead embroidery) I recently found in a box on my stash drawers and also bunch of dichroic glass cabochons. I honestly don't remember.

So I gave this a try. First I did all the cabs, and from there I just winged it, determined to decimate my stash of bugles and seed beads, and after I improvised the "tentacles", I remembered having some shell pearls, so I threw them into the mix as well.
Had I decided on a background beforehand, I would probably have used more bright colors for the tentacles. I simply hadn't thought about how many seed beads I would need for it, and the only colors that I had in bigger amounts were black and gunmetal - I had already used both black and gunmetal bugles in the tentacles, so that was not a choice - and my beloved gunmetal AB. I'm getting withdrawal symptoms if I don't have enough seed beads and Delicas in that color in the house, it was the first one I fell in love with, and I love using the beads for night skies.
The background was good practice for embroidering curves.

When I had finished the piece which took me so many hours, I had another look at the box. The color of the wood seemed all wrong now. What now? A friend of mine advised me to consider chalk paint.
I had a look around and then ordered some because it sounded easy enough for even me to use. When it arrived, I was a little surprised because I had expected a darker color from the picture, but so what?
I gave the box a light sanding and then a few coats of paint, allowing each one to dry in between. The advantage of chalk paint is that it dries rather quickly (an advantage that really sold the idea to me ;-)). Afterwards I scrubbed it just lightly with the rough side of a kitchen sponge because I didn't want to go for the full shabby chic look, I just wanted the color not looking so uniform and boring.

I'm not a painter, and this is not perfect, but I didn't aim for perfection. I would have had to do a lot more with the box to make it perfect. It has dents here and there, there's the latch that was hesitant to lose all of its rust while I was hesitant to look for a new latch to put on, and so my brush strokes are not even, either. That rather fits me, though.

Next I glued on the embroidered piece. There we go. Or not.
I wasn't completely happy with the latch, so I decided to try painting part of it and randomly adding some beads. So far none has fallen off, but I don't think I'll let Gundel too close!
I didn't seal the paint because I don't intend to bring water near it, either (chalk paint is water-based). Now all I have to do is glue in a bead mat because the inside looks a little battered as well.
Of course I don't have an idea what to use the box for yet ... what would you do with it?


Tackle that stash - Bead embroidered brooch with blue lace agate

If you ask yourself now if I will ever show anything but bead embroidery again, the answer is no.
I'm just kidding! It's just that my latest wire and felting project got stuck somehow and the brooch I'm about to show you got finished.

The blue lace agate has been another one of my long term companions, so-to-speak. It's a very irregular stone that is drilled sideways at the top, and it has become another one of those seemingly eternal experiments. I won't tell you what it was once before because then you may have a hard time seeing anything else in it ... but maybe that was just me. Possibly someone else would have had the perfect idea from the start.

The only thing I actually planned for this piece was to glue the agate onto the backing and bead a bezel for it. The first problem came up when I tried to find a good way to deal with the inwards curve on one side.
From there the piece - I didn't know then if it would become a pendant or a brooch or a component for a necklace - took over. It demanded something to run across the stone and secure the bezel for good. Not that the stone was about to fall out, but the curve in the bezel just didn't look right. I wanted it to follow the stone better.
And I wanted to make said "something" look as if the stone were overgrown by the beads from the bezel. When I looked for beads to add to the edging, I came across a pair of earrings I had started ripping up because the seed beads in them had started losing their color just by lying in a drawer (just in these earrings, though, very strange). The royal blue crystals looked like the perfect match for the mostly icy colors I had already used, with a hint of blue added by the thread.

In the end I thought a brooch would be the best choice for this piece. The small asymmetrical fringe is right under the "growth" to emphasize the organic feeling.
I can tell I'm slowly getting more comfortable with making asymmetrical pieces. After all the stone didn't give me a choice, so it was easier to go with the flow.

This is what the brooch looks like worn. Sorry, the vintage dress my manikin is wearing is not the best background for it, but I didn't have anything better on hand so quickly.


Oldies but Goodies - Bollywood

The topic for this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was Bollywood. It was a little ironic that just last night the only TV channel showing Bollywood movies withdrew from the German market.
I'm not really that surprised. While I have watched my share of Indian movies (not just Bollywood) before that channel was even started, it does get annoying to be offered the same movies and soap operas over and over again, mixed up with a little cooking here and there. I would have loved to see documentaries as well, programs about the culture, the history ... I'm digressing, sorry.

Bollywood stands for dance, song and rich colors. I can't give you dance and song, but I do have colors for you.

1 and 4 The Crafty Chimp
2 Cat's Wire
3 RioRita
5 My Bijou Life



The moonstone in this pendant has been an old companion of mine. In fact it has been around almost from the very start of my jewelry making journey. There were originally two of them that I had made into wire crochet pendants - not easy with a cab that size - one sold, the other one got ripped eventually.

I love moonstones because I love the moon. I really think they deserve their name.
As small as this one is, it still has a lovely blue glow which made me choose some silver lined light blue seed beads with the clear beads and crystals. I mostly used a thread also in light blue to give the clear beads a touch of color as well, only the picot edging sitting on top of the crystal row is made with white thread. 

Including the bail the whole bead embroidered pendant is only an inch, so it needed a dainty chain as well. When I went on YouTube to look for something else, one of my recommendations was a two bead spiral Herringbone rope tutorial.
I wish the internet would get out of my head!
Nevertheless that was one recommendation that really worked for me - I still don't understand why YouTube seems to think I'm into crazy disclosure stories about English Royals just because I watch one channel about Victorian cooking! - because the dainty look was perfect for my pendant.
Also it's not hard at all to do, and with everything that has been and still is going on, both personal and in the world, and which occupies my mind, it felt good to get lost in a repetitive process for a while.
To enhance the icy look, I chose clear and silver lined clear seed beads for the rope and finished it off with a simple click clasp.

At the Jewelry Artisans Community we have some tiny challenges - tiny because not many people participate - six times a year, the latest one was to make a piece of jewelry with your own chain.
I have often made wire ropes to go along with my pendants, mostly crocheted or knitted, but I never make chains from wire links on my own. My plan was to tackle one of those, but I didn't feel I had the nerve for it at this time.
So it'll have to be this instead.


Zibbet finds of the week - Light and shadow

Have you ever thought about losing your shadow?
I have loved the Mary Poppins books since I was a child. In the last chapter of "Mary Poppins in the Park" which is called "Hallowe'en" people's shadows get one evening of freedom from their "owners". I remember looking at my own shadow and wondering if I would have felt like a part of me had been taken away from me.

Light and shadow, none without the other.
I may not be the only one who sometimes feels there's more shadow than light at the moment, but today I have brought you both from my walk through Zibbet.

Light Play - fine art print by Fire Spirit Designs

"As I Walk These Lonely Streets" art print by Shashamane Dream Photos

Cat shadow rubber stamp by Cherry Pie Art Stamps

Winter Light - Fine art print by budanArt

Crystal forest terrarium light by The Moonstoned Alchemist

Aluminum print Firefly by Two Rabbits


Tackle that stash - Bead embroidered mystery rock

I have a few tumbled rocks in my stash that I have been trying to use with different wire techniques forever, failing every time. I was never happy and always ripped them up again.
After a while this can almost turn into a obsession.
This rock was one of them. I don't know what kind of stone it is, but the orb like pattern and the soft colors were so appealing to me. A wire crochet or knit bezel didn't work, the feeble attempt at a prong setting failed not only because of the irregular shape of the rock but also because it was so smooth and slippery!

When I made my first steps into bead embroidery, I wondered if I could finally pin this rock down. The backside wasn't flat, but maybe I could glue down the ridge along the center and then secure the rock additionally with the beaded bezel.
After this worked out better than I had expected, I added the embellishments.
First I sewed down some spacer beads I had salvaged from a little crystal bracelet that I had found once. I chose beads to pick up colors from the rock which had brown, a soft pink and a hint of orange.
Somehow it reminds me of a coral reef. Maybe the spacer beads with their orange edgings make me think of sea anemones?

At first I wanted to turn it into a pendant and even tried out a few different bails, but none of them did it for me, so it's a brooch now instead.


Oldies but Goodies - Young

I remember a lady once saying about a pair of my earrings that she guessed teenagers would like these. It wasn't a compliment. I would have taken this much harder when I started out making jewelry and kept thinking I was doing everything wrong, but in this case it just reminded me of something my ex had told me years ago and which I ignored as well in the end. He told me that I should stop dressing like a teenager - talking about my animal and nerdy t-shirts (and no, that was not the reason for the break-up).
Yes, there are things I wouldn't wear, bare midriff shirts for example, but that's my choice, not because someone else is telling me I'm too old for it.

The same goes for my jewelry. The jewelry I wear can be with diamonds or glass, elegant or whimsical, and no one can make me feel bad about that.

Today's topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is young, and that can mean different things to different people. In our time, what is young, anyway? Anything goes, right? If we like it or not, everyone embraces his own style, like I refused to get short hair. Why, just because I'm turning grey and the old color needs time to grow out? As long as I like my long hair, I'll keep it, and who knows once it's all grey I may braid it and put flowers in it ;-)
What does you make feel young at heart even if you are not on the outside anymore?

Here are some of the "young" pieces from the challenge. Which ones would you wear?

1 My Bijou Life
2 and 5 Cat's Wire
3 RioRita
4 and 6 Jewelry Art by Dawn