So much universe, and so little time

I was early for the morning train and headed into the small book and newspaper store inside the train station. There was a time when this was a regular routine for me to check out new books and pick up something for the commute. Now there's a different store there. It's bigger, has more magazines, beverages, snacks and you can actually walk without knocking each other over, but it has lost its charm for me and I hardly ever go there.
Back to that one time about 20 years ago, though. I browsed through the books and came across one called Witches Abroad. I didn't know why, but Discworld sounded vaguely familiar to me, and I definitely knew I  had seen the books before, but never read one of them. I liked the cover and got the book.
On the train I couldn't keep from giggling from page one. I didn't know it yet, but I had just become a Terry Pratchett fan, and I was more than ready to infect others, too. I remember coming to work, pulling one of my co-workers aside and showing him the first page to read.

My ex didn't take reading advice from me often (to be fair, I refused quite a few of his suggestions as well), but he did when it came to Pterry's books. When he was going through my (not so small) library, he often ended up on the Discworld once again at last.
We tried to decide which characters we loved most and what was going to be the next book. At first I bought German pocket books as there were quite a few available already, but when I already owned all novels that were published, it became harder and harder to wait for new ones until I finally starting pre-ordering the hardbacks in English.
And let's not forget that three of my cats are named after Discworld characters and who knows, maybe they will not be the last ones who are.

After hearing that Sir Terry had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I started worrying very selfishly about what that meant for a book series I had grown so fond of.
I don't want to speak about the feelings I had when I heard of his death last year, but about the feelings when I started reading his last Discworld novel The Shepherd's Crown. A part of me was pulling on its chain as always when a new book from the series had arrived. "Read it, you know you want to." Another part, however, made me put the book aside and staring at it whenever I walked by it. This would be it and I didn't want it to be it. I wanted it to go on and it couldn't.
I seriously can't remember a book ever making me feel like this before. Finally I decided that I just had to read it. Not doing it wouldn't change anything, doing it wouldn't change anything. How naive of me. I don't want to spoil it for you, but tears were flowing in abundance.
I have no idea if I will ever be able to read it a second time or even more often like I did with the other books.

I don't want to end this post on a sad note. I'm glad I got to discover this magic world. I'm glad I can visit it anytime and meet my favorite characters there.
Although my first book wasn't the first in the series, I kind of closed the circle as the witches appear in both Witches Abroad and The Shepherd's Crown.
I'm glad I went into the book store that day.

P.S. The title of this post is of course a Terry Pratchett quote.
P.P.S. I could still bite myself for getting sick when I could have had the chance to see him live.
P.P.P.S. Was there any doubt that he had to go on my fan wall?


Oldies but Goodies - Hoops

Hoops are the earrings for which there is the oldest archaeological evidence. Sumerian women wore them as early as 2500 BC.
It's no surprise that they are still very much a big fashion item these days. They work in so many ways. Big, small, embellished or classic, round, oval, textured or not, they compliment all kinds of outfits.

And let's not forget that they are also worn by men.

This week's Oldies but Goodies Challenge from the Jewelry Artisans Community actually doesn't show you the classic hoop which is like a ring going through the ear without an extra earwire, but that doesn't mean they are less fun!

1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 RioRita
5 Echoes of Ela
6 Cat's Wire


Project of my dreams

Have I ever told you how I got started making jewelry and why I chose wire crochet to start with? I know I told the story on other blogs, but I'm not sure if I ever did it here.
The Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival is a good opportunity to do it.
It started with a report on TV about Etsy. I had never heard of it before and went to check it out, just some light browsing. Pretty soon I stumbled upon a wire crochet pendant. To be frank, I don't remember what it looked like or what the shop was called. It was not so much the piece itself, but the fascination that you could crochet with wire.

Until then I had only had a very short phase of "making jewelry" which meant stringing a few necklaces and a few bracelets. Nothing very exciting. (I'm not saying that stringing can't be exciting, but mine definitely wasn't). I had given it up quickly because it couldn't hold my interest and because it was not the style of jewelry that I wanted to wear.
Now, however, I found myself coming back to that pendant again and again, and I started wondering if this could be a creative outlet for me. Had you been my crafts teacher in elementary school, you would have laughed at me.

Let's say that crocheting was not my thing. Knitting went a little better, but crocheting, thank you, but no. Actually I abandoned all of that as soon as I was out of elementary school. From fifth grade on the course was not obligatory anymore, and I got official permission from home to escape from that personal hell.
Although I never picked up the crochet hook again, I did my share of knitting, mostly sweaters, but even my yarn stash had been sleeping for years when I stumbled upon that pendant that kept haunting me.

I don't know what would have happened if the shop owner hadn't added a book title to the description.
Arline M. Fisch: Crocheted wire jewelry.
Before I knew what I was doing, I had ordered it. I have learned a few things from this book, about wire gauges, about the different sizes of crochet hooks (I had never been aware that there were no international standards for that), but I never even tried making one project from it. You know I'm still bad at working from tutorials. I took my 1.75 mm crochet hook which I hadn't even known I owned anymore, got some copper wire and started experimenting.
I did like to look at the photos, though. Photos of pieces made by international designers. And once again one piece fascinated me most, an Elizabethan gown crocheted from wire by Jesse Mathes.

I'm not saying that I want to make a gown as the project of my dreams now, but somehow this gown has always been in the back of my head as an inspiration or as a reminder. It doesn't matter what technique I apply, wire crochet, wire knit, or bead looming.
Actually I don't have just one dream project. There are several. A favorite painting in beads, a big branch full of Chinese lanterns, a huge wall of bead loomed portraits, a big kraken, a Christmas tree (with spike baubles? ;-)), just to name a few.
So why haven't you started on one of them yet, you may ask (except the fan wall)? Well, you know, maybe I have experimenting for them ....
I wish I had done that earlier, though. Lately I have found that I'm not able to spend a few hours with my crochet hook anymore without regretting it for some days. There are times when my thumb is not a happy camper at all and isn't even that fond of bead looming. I won't give up dreaming, though. I will think of an Elizabethan gown, of my experiments and how much fun I have with them. And who knows, maybe some day I'll have more to show you than this little selection.

You want to know what stories the other JAC members have to tell? Have a look here :-)

Violetmoon's Corner 
Echoes of Ela
Jewelry Art by Dawn 


Quote of the week

Who doesn't need money?
We work for it, we play the lottery hoping that will do the trick, we rob banks and steal the petty cash at work (okay, so most of us do NOT do that which is a good thing), but there are also innovative ways of earning money. How about this idea by the lovely Aimi MacDonald?

"I'm appealing to you again on behalf of the Make the Lovely Aimi MacDonald a Rich Lady Fund. I'm afraid it's bad news. We've had a very poor response so far. Come on, Great Britain, you can do better than that! Do you realise that if each of you sends me just one pound, that will be enough to keep me in luxury for hours. So, don't be a meany, give generously to this deserving cause. Next week, I should be reading out a list of all those who have not yet given. Thank you and good luck."

Let me know if you try it and how it works out.

At Last the 1948 Show, UK, 1967


Tackle that stash - The Manatee

Did you hear that it has been proposed to take manatees off the US endangered species list?
The first thought is of course "oh good, that means that they are doing better, right" and then you start thinking about what exactly it might mean. Will they be less protected? What does "endangered" mean anyhow? What is the next level if they are downgraded? It's "threatened". Oh, doesn't sound THAT much better, does it? Here's an article if you want to know more.

Now you may wonder what that has to do with my stash and why I break my rule to keep this a crafty blog, even if just for a small introduction?
First came a stash of bigger, irregular seed beads in ocean colors. Dark blue with a hint of AB luster, a transparent sky blue and a silver-lined light blue. I couldn't have found any other design for to use them, so I crocheted a long rope from wire.
Then I came upon the news about the manatee and remembered the beautiful lampwork pendant by Tom Heath from Sanctuary Glass Designs that I still had in one of my treasure boxes. Actually it's more than beautiful. It's clear glass over a base that gives you the feeling as if you are looking into water with light playing on it.

Now I'll have to think of some way to use Tom's shark pendant that has also been waiting in the box for too long ...


Oldies but goodies - Rainbow colors

In July 2013 I started a blog post with the words "What is a rainbow? According to Wikipedia it's an optical and meteorological phenomenon. Boooring. For many of us rainbows have that bit of magic."
In fact I found a website about rainbow legends from different nations and about the colors of the rainbow which is called Colours of the Rainbow. Maybe you'll find your own magic in stories about leprechauns and their gold which is probably one of the most popular legends or about the Rainbow Serpent?

Rainbow colors also keep fascinating artists and artisans. Sometimes they use the whole spectrum, sometimes just part of it.
This week the Oldies but Goodies Challenge at the Jewelry Artisans Community was about rainbows and this is what the members chose to submit. I hope you'll like it and maybe it will inspire you a little as well.

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


Oldies but goodies - Looking back

We all were beginners at some time. We had to learn walking, talking, tying our shoelaces, how to play the recorder/piano/clarinet, to read and write, how to cook, how to do the laundry right without ending up with only pink socks, to make it through school, how to paint, how to hang wallpaper, how to use a drill, how to get a ticket out of the machine, how to do your income tax report, how to use a computer, how to wrap wire, how to knit, how to bead .... *gasping for air*
You get the idea.

Looking back was the topic for this week's Oldies but Goodies Challenge at the Jewelry Artisans Community. Sure took me back in time when I tried to find old pictures ... and reminded me how badly I sucked at taking photos in those days. I remember my very, very first attempts at wire crochet, mostly I was trying to crochet something I could stuff beads into. In fact I found one of these attempts the other day, but I didn't take a picture before I ripped it up and rescued the beads.
Wow, just thinking of everything that has happened since then.

It's a pity that the group was very small this time, but I hope you'll like this little look back, anyway.

1 and 6 The Crafty Chimp
2 and 4 Cat's Wire
3 and 5 Violetmoon's Corner


Quote of the week

Wouldn't we all like to think the way the Dowager Countess does ....

Isobel Crawley: How you hate to be wrong.
Violet Crawley: I wouldn't know. I'm not familiar with the sensation.

Downton Abbey, UK/USA, 2010 - 2015


Oldies but Goodies - Pastels

I usually start my blog posts by filling in the labels, and sometimes I'm surprised if a keyword already turns up. It was like that with the word "pastels" and indeed I had written about pastels almost five years ago, in a blog ring with the Polymer Clay Smooshers.
Let's see what I had to say back then.
"Pastels make me think of the soft-focus effect film makers used to make their heroines look soft and feminine (even if mostly in black and white then), they make me think of a soft breeze and romantic ballads.
I have no idea if that is stuck in my head from an early art lesson in school or if I am just cheesy by nature."
Okay then. To be frank, that hasn't changed.
Only this time I will show you some pastel beauties from the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge.


What a mouse and a bead loomed portrait have to do with each other

It all started with a mouse, a "Pieps" mouse to be exact. It was a Saturday at the big fleamarket on the university's parking lots many years ago where we saw "Pieps" first.

Of course we were familiar with Steiff animals although we both (my ex and I) hadn't had any when we had been children. If you live only 35 miles from where they come, however, you are bound to know about them. Well, not to mention that they are world famous of course. We had never really thought about vintage Steiff, though, and what they looked like.
We fell in love with "Pieps". "Pieps" mice had been made for twenty years, in the colors grey and white. I don't remember if we paid too much - we probably did - but we couldn't resist. The seller told us a little about vintage Steiffs and that people collected them. I guess it must have hit us like a lightning, but at the same fleamarket we also got a rabbit and a guinea pig and learned about mohair and dralon.
When we came home, we didn't know that a door had been opened, a door to more fleamarkets, auctions, new friends, visits to the Steiff museum (still the old one back then), and of course Steiff animals.
We never forgot that "Pieps" started it all. Whenever we saw one we liked, it came home with us which is why I doubt the one in the picture is the ONE.
To this day they are sitting on giraffe necks, in teddy laps, they are riding on foxes and are guarded by cats and dogs.

We didn't have internet then. We had printed price guides and we did everything to get our hands on old Steiff catalogs for more information, too. We were excited to learn about all the things that Steiff made beside the animals, kites, toy aeroplanes, wooden toys, building blocks, and of course there was the stuff with Steiff animals printed on them, from egg cups to card games, from waxed cloth to plastic dishes.
Just today I put away the little Christmas tree that is part of my hallway decorations every year.

The other day I watched a documentary about Steiff. That's when I decided that Margarete Steiff who started the company in the late 19th century had to go on my fan wall of bead loomed portraits.
At the moment she looks a little out of place among all the actresses and actors there, with her earnest look which is not unusual for photos in those times. As you can imagine, there were not many pictures of her to choose from. Don't let it fool you, she was an amazing woman.
You will find a short biography of Margarete Steiff on my fan wall page.


Happy New Year!

A new year again? Do you also have the feeling sometimes that we are going through the years too fast? I'm not even sure I have been there for all of 2015. I still remember the days when we wondered what we would be like in 2000, except old of course (35, seriously, that did seem old at 10). It all was so far away.
Okay then. Let's give this 2016 a good try, shall we?

A Happy New Year to all of you, my friends!