Art Elements Design Challenge and Blog Hop - Octopuses

First of all ... you are free to think of these as octopi or octopodes, should you so prefer, but while I used to say octopi and loved my octopi t-shirt, I now like how fun it sounds to say octopuses, and it's not wrong (thank you, Merriam-Webster).

Second, when Claire announced the topic for the Art Elements August theme challenge - Octopus - I did a little chair dance. Not only do I love octopuses, but I may also be slightly obsessed with making them.
I first got inspired by the polymer clay octopus my friend Star made and which is looking at me at this very moment.

It took me quite a few hours to crochet my octopus from wire. The man came later and was not meant to end up in the tentacles, but you know how those things happen. They are still in their deadly (?) embrace sitting in the ocean department of my Steiff collection.

Then there was Hank, the little lampwork thief, also crocheted from wire.

After a long break from making octopuses (but never not loving them) I started wire weaving, and that really got me going. Instead of telling you each single story I made a little collage (minus one of which it seems I didn't take a picture). There's tiny Barney at the top, and now you can tell how I more and more became obsessed by twisting those tentacles. Gosh, they are fun to make!!

So I decided on a big piece for this challenge, and maybe a small one. The small one hasn't happened yet, and I honestly didn't think I'd finish the big one in time although I started really early this time. My first step was to order small cabs.

Why? This is why.

I wanted octopus babies of my own, but instead of making them all one color, I decided on a multitude of colors. I chose agate, sodalite, zoisite, jasper, aventurine, amethyst, rose quartz, and more. Each cab got its own kind of weave, and voilà - an army of octopus babies, ready to take over the world, mwahahaaaaaa!

Actually this was the easy part. How to put them together now? I could dangle them from a chain, but a tentacle army is not quite as effective if those tentacles keep tangling. I kept laying them out like this and like that, I think they got rather tired of me.

Just two days ago I suddenly knew what I wanted to do. The video should have given me the idea much earlier. Those babies needed a mom!
One of my easiest exercises - well, not really because by now I began getting nervous about finishing this in time. AND I still didn't know how to put it all together in the end.
A little deep breathing, a lot of cursing and some dramatic yelling "I can't do this, I'm useless!" later I had done it - almost. Hard to believe and still true, you can run out of exactly that one kind of chain that you need while still having all others. I just found enough to connect my babies in the back, though. Phew.

I rarely make big, over the top necklaces, but this is one of them, and I love each little tentacle.
Taking a picture, however, wasn't easy, it was a little crowded in that light tent and a little too early in the morning to take a picture in the garden, and on top of that I only had four hours of sleep.
I'll try to come up with something better later, so please bear with me.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a blog hop. Once again I ask you, no, I order you to go to these links and see what the other participants have come up with. It's worth it, honestly. Do it now. Thank you ;-)


Cat (that's me ;-)) - Evie and Beth - Hope - Karen - Kathy - Melissa - Michelle - Rozantia - Sarajo - Tammy

AE team members

Cathy - Claire - Jenny - Laney - Lindsay - Marsha

Last but not least I want to thank Claire for this fantastic topic. I have a feeling she and I share the same love of octopuses ....

P.S. Oops, almost forgot my own polymer clay octopus. That won't do, he's grumpy enough as it is! ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - More monochromatic beauties

We had the topic monochromatic at the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge before, and as I'm in a bit of a hurry today, I'll steal from my last post where I stole from Wikipedia ;-)
"Monochrome describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or values of one color. A monochromatic object or image reflects colors in shades of limited colors or hues. Images using only shades of grey (with or without black or white) are called grayscale or black-and-white."

So, without further ado, on to the pictures! :-)

1 CymberRain
2 RioRita
3 Cat's Wire
4 MC Stoneworks
5 Togan
6 The Crafty Chimp
7 Bijou Bead Boutique
8 Jewelry Art by Dawn


Oldies but Goodies - We love purple!

Last time purple was the topic for the challenge in 2016, it was inspired by the song Purple Haze.
I don't know about this time, but I do know that we have some real beauties in the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge - purple beauties.
Now I have to confess something. Purple confuses me. Not the color or maybe it is the color because ... what is purple? What is the difference between purple and violet and lilac (in German we translate purple into Lila, but we do have a color called Purpur, see my problem?)?
It's not the first time I have been wondering about that, it has been going on since I was a child. Finally I decided from what I heard that purple was more blue and violet was more red. Yeah, no. I guess. I don't know. If you go out there into internetland, you'll find all kinds of explanations and opinions, and it seemed to me that they even differed depending on if I searched the German or the English words.

What do you think it is?
Here's a link that might help you. I thought it helped me, but then I found the next one and the next one, and I'm as confused as before.
What I'm not confused about is that at JAC we thankfully are quite open about the rules, so I didn't have to worry about entering something wrong, neither did my fellow members :-) Here you go.

1 MC Stoneworks
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 Cat's Wire
4 Bijou Bead Boutique
5 Togan
6 The Crafty Chimp
7 RioRita


Oldies but Goodies - More dangles

We are back! The Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge had taken a little break, but now we are back. I'm happy to say that I can show you a few beautiful pieces, and there are so many more at the original thread that I couldn't fit into the collage without making the individual pictures very small, so please have a look over at JAC!
This week's topic were "Dangles". We already did those a little less than a year ago and how many dangles can you have? Never enough, that's how many! ;-)

Last time I told you the story about a pair of dangly earrings I gave to a friend.

This time I'll tell you about the time my friend (a different one) and I got our ears pierced. First of all I should mention that we were both a bit wimpy about this. We even had an agreement that we wouldn't get our ears pierced before we were, well, old. Anything is old when you are a teenager. Then, however, my friend pushed the matter. She gave me a voucher for an ear piercing for my birthday, knowing very well that I would just give her one back for her birthday which is only eight days later!

So we went off together. To be honest, I don't remember ever asking my mother if this was okay, but I must have because I don't think they would have done it otherwise. We had already picked our "medical" - as in non-allergic - post earrings, just tiny bezel set rhinestones that came in all kinds of colors. Mine were a light blue.
We dealt with this very responsibly. We had the little bottle with the disinfecting fluid and cleaned both our ear lobes and our earrings every day. We turned the posts in our ears to make sure the hole wouldn't close in on them. Yeah, that was sold to us as a real danger then, and we imagined how the earrings would be stuck in our ears forever, aaaaaaah!
Then after a month when we were "officially" allowed to remove the posts, we went to a shop to buy real earrings, real meaning crazy, modern, long, flashy, dangly! I miss that shop. They had clothes and fashion jewelry, and I often tried on stuff there that I would never have been able to buy. It's funny because even then I wasn't big on fashion. I remember them having a pair of purple jeans that I loved so much, but I couldn't afford them.

Enough talk now, though, time for some pictures. A drumroll please!

1 The Crafty Chimp
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 MC Stoneworks
4 Togan
5 RioRita
6 Bijou Bead Boutique
7 Cat's Wire

P.S. For your amusement I thought I'd show you some of the earrings I used to wear in the olden days, just the dangly ones. Of course these are not by far all of those I used to have or maybe still have in a drawer. Some of them are just leftover parts, often one of them is missing or they lost their earwires - I probably have the biggest collection of single earrings in the world ;-) - but they don't take up much space in my little earring memory box.
What's funny is that I still remember where I got most of them or I know a story connected to them, for example where I lost the second one. I'm surprised myself that quite a few are sterling silver, probably I threw the broken cheap ones out a long time ago.
And honestly, who wouldn't want to wear a pair of silver lobsters in their ears? ;-)

P.P.S. Unbelievable. I thought I had imagined still having one of my first earrings, but here it is, 40 years old.



World Cat Day

I have been honored to open my home to many animals over the years. Some of them came very young, others were already old. Some of them left much too early - although it is always too early - some of them accompanied me for many years. Some of them I miss ... forget it, of course I miss all of them.
There are so many memories, good ones, bad ones, happy ones, sad ones.

Today is World Cat Day and I want to take the opportunity to thank all the cats in my life. There were times when you drove me nuts because that's what is in your job description, but there were and are all those precious moments too when you snuggled up against me when I was sad, when you made me laugh by doing something silly or made me squee when you were being so cute that I just wanted to squeeze and hold you.
I'm using past tense which really isn't fair as Ponder and Gundel are still here to drive me nuts and make me smile.

Here's to all of you!

Dude - the gentlecat from California who started it all taking my heart by storm when I first laid eyes on you and spent four hours under the lemon tree just holding you in my arms while you were dribbling on my shirt, so starved for love. We hadn't planned to come home to Germany with a cat, but didn't regret it for one second.

Mim - the cat who had been returned to the shelter twice for "being mean", who was not a lap cat, but the sweetest cat with no (!) mean bone in your body, who had to learn to trust people again, who always had to be where we were. I'll never forget how your dad went under the shower with you wearing his fencing clothes to apply some "milk bath" to your irritated skin because the attempt in the basin had gone so wrong.

Jester - the one eyed kitten so full of energy who only gave us a few months. I wish we would have had more time and I could have given you more. At least you didn't have to live on the streets where you had been found and you were loved.

Magica - the kitten who slept with me every night to suckle on my shirt. You came to us with Jester and unfortunately carried the same disease. You left us much too early, my sweet girl.

Gandalf - we got you the day after we lost Jester because Magica was too young to have just two older cats for company. That you only had one eye seemed to be a sign. You were so shy at first and appreciated your privacy when you grew up, but you really came around, and honestly, you were the only cat to ever hump my arm! ;-)

Merlin - my heart. You slept in my arm every night after we "stole" you as a kitten from a rural backyard (with permission of the house owner whose tenant neglected the cats) not knowing that your family was to be picked up by cat rescue the next day. You were the calmest, most laid back cat I have ever known. You were the glue in our little cat society, the mediator, and of course Meffi's and my great love.

Mephista - you were the queen and very much a daddy's girl before he left us, very much my girl afterwards (thank you again for giving him the cold shoulder once). Merlin and you were a dream couple, the big tux guy and the little tabby lady. After he passed, you were very alone, but at least you had me.

Greebo - the eternal kitten. You were so much my baby, snuggly and cuddly and playful, almost to the end. The only time I really saw the predator in you was when I brought you chicks home. You were the one sitting under a table for fifteen minutes with it in your mouth growling at me! You were also a paper nibbler and the best rubber band fetcher within miles.

Esme - you were my princess, my gorgeous girl. When you had your five minutes, though, you could turn into a monster, if I dared to whistle for example. Thanks to you I still think our vintage dresser was possessed by a ghost because it made you freak out when I went too near it (good thing your dad took it). You were a daddy's girl as well, but learned to love sleeping spread out against my leg with my arm on your belly.

Ponder - you, mister, are the loudest cat of them all. You never took no for an answer, not even as a kitten. Quarantine? Heck, no! You started your career as an escape artist at a very young age. You take what you want. You are big and bad, but behind that is a squishy little heart. When Gandalf passed, it upset you so badly that you licked your whole belly naked. You are my big boy.

Gundel - sometimes I think you are a mix of Meffi and Esme with a twist of your own. You are adorable and you make me laugh. You are so sweet I could eat you. Thank you to my sister for bringing this little stray into my life.

Okay, I did have a good cry while writing this. I miss them all so much, but they made my life so much better. I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Do you have a memory you'd like to share in the comments? I'd love to hear them! Happy World Cat Day!


Nostalgia - Inconnue de la Seine

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.

I'll start with L'Inconnue de la Seine - The Unknown of the Seine - who is also called La Belle Italienne in the USA.
You can find the story online a thousand times, the beautiful young girl who drowned in the Seine, probably a suicide as there was no sign of violence to be found, the pathologist in the Paris Morgue who was so enchanted by her beautiful face and smile that he took a plaster mold of her face from which casts were made to be sold.
So sad, so mysterious - just the kind of tale we still like today, so it comes up from time to time.
Back then the Bohemians of Paris hung that mask in their halls, artists and writers were inspired by the "drowned Mona Lisa" as Camus called her and who is said to be the most kissed face in the world after the first CPR doll was modeled after our beautiful unknown girl.

Later there were doubts about the possible truth of the tale. Cast makers and doctors said there is a difference between life and death masks, even more so if the dead person was in the water. Was it just a smart advertising move to sell more masks?
Whatever the truth is, the girl made me feel a little uneasy when I was a child. Why yes, we had her hanging at home, and now I'll have her hanging in my home.
I don't know if I ever asked anybody about it, but I remember thinking that it was a very small face before I got old enough to understand that it wasn't a 1:1 cast.
Now a friend of mine shared the story because she found the part with the CPR doll interesting, and I couldn't help myself, I had to go pester my Mom about the mask. In fact not much pestering was needed. She had taken her down and put her away, but she didn't have a problem finding her, and I have the feeling she didn't mind much having her out of the house after "having to look at her for so long" ;-)
So this here is our Inconnue.

Not all casts are the same. This one has a smile that I actually like better than the original.

Now I got curious if I could find out which of the many manufacturers had made our Inconnue. I found this pottery mark on the back which wasn't that easy to recognize at first, but then it wasn't too hard to find out whose it was, thanks to the website Museum Europäischer Keramikkunst (it's mere coincidence that the club making that site is situated in my own hometown!).
It belongs to the Majolika Keramik Manufaktur Karlsruhe (on whose website here you can see the mark much clearer if you are interested). Unfortunately the mark doesn't give me an idea when exactly they produced these casts, but ours must be from the early 60s.

Do you want to read more?
How about this manufacturer's - Felice Calchi - blog here and here? Both posts are very interesting.
This article from the New York Times was very interesting as well.
I could add so many more, but I think you'll find these by yourself if you have some time on your hands eventually.

So - see you next time on "Nostalgia"? :-)