Quote of the week

Why do people spell words if they don't want anyone else to understand what they are saying? Take a cat that has to go to the v-e-t for example. Believe me, neither spelling nor whispering helps with that one because the furry masters feel the vibrations coming from the human. It's unnecessary around babies, but okay, there might be a chance that it helps if you have toddlers around.
Or maybe sometimes it does work to make things sound less harsh ...

Maryann has just been told that all of her credit cards have been blocked. Being used to spending money without thinking about it she doesn't react well to that.

Cybill: Okay, Maryann, here. Breathe into this bag. It's Chanel.
Maryann is whimpering.
Zoey: What happened?
Cybill: We just came from a meeting with her business manager. She's b-r-o-k-e.
Zoey: Oh my God. She's illiterate?
Cybill: No, she's broke!!! (Maryann starts screaming and trying to strangle herself with the bag strap - maybe spelling it was better after all? ;-))

Cybill, USA, 1995 - 1998


Random Saturday - Scarves

"And they are looking for knitters to donate a scarf", my friend from the USA wrote.
Except for a WIP (no, don't look at it or it will wake up and demand to be finished!) I hadn't knitted in years. "A scarf is not that difficult, though. Won't take that long. You won't have to think much. You can take it on the train. It's gonna be fun." That's what I thought and I volunteered to make one.
Don't get me wrong, it almost worked out that way. It was fun. It felt good to work with yarn. It was easy to take on the train.

What I had forgotten was that I wasn't used to knitting like this anymore and that my thumb had been acting up lately. I hadn't realized I was going to need breaks in between. I hadn't realized how long a scarf can be and how you start to measure it all the time because that deadline is coming nearer fast. After all the postal services have to play along, too.
Another row. Another row. Another row before the train is in the station? Seems I also had forgotten how much I hate stopping in the middle of a row just because I had to get off the train.
Will there be enough yarn (no - another trip to the store became necessary)?

On top of that was a different kind of pressure. My sister. No, she didn't pressure me, that's not it.
When I asked her if she wanted to go to the department store with me, I also told her what I wanted to get yarn for. And believe it or not - I come to that store and the first thing my sister does is pull a scarf out of her bag.

What the .... When did she have time to knit a scarf? It turns out that she had made it for herself, but finally got tired of it (oh, how I know the feeling). There were two halves in different colors to match it to two different coats, and only the fringe on one side was missing for which she also handed me the yarn. It almost seemed as if this WIP had been waiting just for this.

This is not about sibling rivalry, but how embarrassing would it have been to send her scarf and not finish my own one? The pressure was purely self-inflicted.

About thirty minutes ago I put the last thread in the fringe. Yay!
Now all I need are some crossed fingers that they will both make it in time when I send them off Monday!

I'll be honest, though, it will be nice to go back to the jewelry, too :-D


Tackle that stash - Fine silver, glass, and pearls

I love Art Nouveau. The patterns in this glass cabochon (made by Deronda O'Neill) always reminded me of Art Nouveau flowers with their beautiful flow on the matte black background.

I felt the cab called for something more organic looking, not symmetrical, with a little flow of its own.
First I crocheted a bezel from fine silver wire, widened the stitches here and there and then filled the whole top up with randomly placed freshwater pearls - pearl by pearl individually attached.
Shimmering in different colors, those small pearls match the pattern in the cabochon so well and are so beautiful. I tend to sit on them like a dragon on his hoard, but pearls need light, not a shut drawer.
Last I added a wrapped bail, very small this time, so it wouldn't distract too much from the pearl clusters.
And here's the pendant now ...

Don't miss the new episode of the stash tackler series next week! ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - Clay

I would think that each one of us has worked with some kind of clay before, the natural kind or the polymer kind, as a child, in school or as an adult.
For example I remember the little pots we had to make at school (how many of those ended up as ashtrays in the old days?) or someone sunbathing (mine was not exactly a masterpiece, but I still remember exactly what the poor guy looked like, he had a very ugly nose). Then there are the attempts at making beads or miniatures of all kinds from polymer clay.
This week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was all about both kinds. I hope you'll enjoy my little selection.

1 and 6 Cat's Wire
2 and 7 MC Stoneworks
3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 and 8 Violetmoon's Corner
5 and 9 The Crafty Chimp


Quote of the week

That's right. The quote of the week is back again, and I'll start with a real little gem of a movie that I had on my wish list for quite some time.
Obviously I was a kid when I saw this first, but it hasn't lost any of its magic for me. Giant creatures attacking people? An all time favorite of mine, right up there with aliens.
These particular creatures are giant ants, mutants thanks to atomic testing in the desert, communicating with that eerie sound (if I heard that somewhere now, I would probably become very jumpy). And after the first nest has been destroyed it's clear that two young ant queens had the chance to escape, to mate and to build new nests. How to find them? Maybe a mysterious theft can give a clue.

FBI agent Robert Graham: This the only job you ever had?
Train yard watchman: Yes, sir. I've been with the railroad for 30 years and never a blot against my record.
Graham: Well, yard cop seems to think you made a deal not to see that car broken into.
Watchman: Pff. What sense does that make? Is sugar rare cargo? Is there a black market for it? Did you ever hear of a fence for hot sugar? If I were gonna make a deal with crooks to steal something, it wouldn't be for 40 tons of sugar!

Wait! Sugar .... ants .... hey ....

Them!, USA, 1954

P.S. I know I sound as if I find this movie ridiculous, but actually I do like it a lot - maybe with a little giggle here and there ;-)


Random Saturday - Irish soda bread

I have baker genes on my paternal grandmother's side. Unfortunately I'm the one in the family whose baker genes decided to go on strike. I made my fair share of okay cakes and cookies when I was younger, then I stopped completely. I know there are people who can't understand the problem. You follow the recipe, everything is fine. Well, obviously it doesn't work that way for everyone. Apart from that I hate having flour everywhere, sticky surfaces, and more.

Every, now and then, however, I feel the urge coming back, usually when I don't have any bread around and I'm too lazy to go to the bakery which is incredibly far away from here, about one block ;-) Or on weekends. So whenever an easy and quick recipe comes my way, I put it on my list. And nothing seemed easier than the soda bread that I saw in an English TV show.
I prepared myself. I got baking soda and decided on spelt flour for my first attempt. Then when I checked out recipes again I noticed I had forgotten to get the buttermilk. Depending on the recipe you use you only need about four ingredients which makes the buttermilk quite important. Oh well.

Today I had it all. Again I checked out recipes and found that I was about to make white soda bread. Check out this article, there are also links to different variations. I learned about brown soda bread (I may have to get full grain flour next time, too) and white soda bread and the American variation. I may add caraway seeds the next time because I love them. Or maybe I'll make bread rolls to take to work with me.

I almost felt my baker genes waking up, ready to go. There was no stopping me. No salt in this recipe? Oh come on, at least a pinch. Here they used an egg, here they didn't. Hey, I have eggs at the moment, let's use one (and break one in the box, well done, Cat). Baking soda, baking powder. One recipe said this, the other that, the third one both. I still had an open bag with baking powder, so I went for both. My baker genes cheered me on. Until they saw my dough on the baking tray. "Too much buttermilk? Are you sure you should have put the egg in? Maybe you should have used a little more flour." When I tried to cut the X across the top, they grabbed their little bags and left again (but look, you can see the X a little in the picture after all!).

But guess what. The bread came out just fine. Yes, maybe I will use a little less buttermilk the next time, and depending on if I have one or not, I may add an egg or not. In the end it might not be a genuine Irish soda bread, but I like it and it's definitely a keeper for this baking challenged lady.

Bonus: Still almost warm, with butter and orange/ginger/passion fruit jam (a gift from my lovely neighbor lady). So good!!


Tackle that stash - The caterpillar

Actually you are welcome to see whatever you want in this bracelet. I find that I tend to see animals of all kinds where others see completely different things, and this reminds me of a happy little caterpillar. Or not so little seeing that he makes it almost around the wrist.

In the beginning there was no plan of a caterpillar whatsoever, though. You may have come to think that I'm not being serious about stumbling upon stash, but it's true. I am sadly disorganized in these things.
These glass lentils that a friend had given me practically jumped at me. They had tried that a few times before and went from drawer to drawer because I had no spontaneous idea how to use lentils that were not side drilled. It must have been frustrating for them ;-)

After playing with different kinds and shapes of beads on the loom - like in my dagger pieces - I saw that the solution was so easy. I loomed a strip from gunmetal colored seed beads and the amethyst glass lentils, with short black strips on both ends to use the same bars as last week (told you they'd be back).

You know me, I often change a design spontaneously, and this is what I did here as well. After I had woven in the warp threads I thought it would be cool to make the lentils stick out even more, in different directions rather than just straight up from a flat surface.
So I rolled the strip into a tube and stitched it up using some big seed beads that had been left over from another project - except for the black ends for which I used the bars after all. That way the seam doesn't show because they hold the bracelet in place and the seam on the inside.

What caterpillar colors would you like to see in the future?


Oldies but Goodies - Copper

Not only is copper one of the first metals known to mankind - thousands of years ago - it is also one of the most important ones.
First came the Copper Age, then when humans found out about tin, copper was mostly substituted for one of its alloys. During the Bronze Age weapons and tools were made from bronze which consists mostly of copper and tin and is harder than pure copper.

There was a time in jewelry making when copper was regarded to be an inferior material compared to silver or gold. Not only were people afraid copper would leave dark or green stains on their skin, they also didn't like that copper tends to oxidize easily, and it just wasn't good enough for them.
That has definitely changed again. There is non-tarnish copper and both bright and oxidized copper is widely seen in jewelry. People appreciate the warm, earthy tones and often even prefer it to the bright and shiny gold and silver.

Now I want to show you the designs that our members entered in this week's JAC Oldies but Goodies Challenge. No doubt about it, we like our copper, too!

1 and 8 Cat's Wire
2 and 7 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 RioRita
4 and 9 Violetmoon's Corner
5 and 6 MC Stoneworks


Tackle that stash - Bead loomed and strung necklace

Believe me, I wrote a really cool post to celebrate my first stash tackler in months. It was eloquent, it was funny, it was charming and profound.
Okay, it was not all of that, but it was okay. And I deleted it with a little touch of my finger, and I couldn't bring it back because right then my draft was auto-saved. My now empty draft, that is.

So I'll make it short this time.
These acrylic beads have been in my stash almost since my jewelry making beginnings. They hid away in a box that a friend of mine had brought over when we made polymer clay jewelry for the first time which was about 30 years ago and lasted about two sessions long (which is why I don't count that as beginnings). I have no idea how they sneaked in there which says a lot about my organizational skills.

To me the necklace has a vintage touch and I can imagine it worn with one of those fancy 20s dresses which is why I couldn't resist editing the picture after this image in my head, with faded colors of an early photography.

There are two strips loomed from silver lined crystal Delica beads - sparkly! - that hold three strands of the beads that are shining in a yellow/blue/green coating and that are held by silver tone bars that were custom made after a friend's design (you will be seeing more of those). The chain allows to change the length of the necklace although I prefer it long myself.


Oldies but Goodies - News

Wait, oldies that are new? Before you think I have gone completely nuts now, let me explain.
The Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is not necessarily about old pieces, but it can be if they fit the topic. This week is about pieces that are new to the challenge. They can be new, but they don't have to be.
If you follow our challenges, even just every, now and then, you might have seen one or the other piece pop up more than once. Maybe you even wondered if we made anything new at all or if you had already seen it all. Don't you worry, that's never going to happen.
Oh, and by the way, because it also fits the topic so well, I noticed I forgot to wish you all a Happy New Year! That was close ;-)

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


Oldies but Goodies - Dainty

It doesn't always have to be big. Sometimes just a bit of sparkle, a small stone, sweet earrings are all you need to make an impression. Often exactly those pieces turn into favorite or everyday pieces to wear because they are comfortable, easy to match and the perfect little extra.
This week the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was all about dainty jewelry.

1 and 5 Cat's Wire
2 and 6 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 7 MC Stoneworks
4 and 8 Violetmoon's Corner