Tackle that stash - Bead embroidered "Elizabethan" lady

In early November, I have told you why I have been missing from my blog for a while. One of the reasons was der Dekan, my kitten. He has grown to be a little less demonic, but of course still needs a lot of attention, so the only way to get creative is to shut him out or wait until he is very tired and then be prepared for that moment.
If I'm working on something, it can take me a few hours, and at this point, I would really feel bad about locking myself in for that long leaving the little demon outside waiting, especially since Gundel has demanded alone time of her own for some hours of undisturbed sleep. So I tried for the sleep mode time instead. It turned out that I'm never prepared because, well, I never know what I'm going to need when going on a creative adventure. Standing up, however, means that der Dekan is going from sleep mode to "let's play, throw that ball, can I attack you, no, don't pet me, here's the ball back, look what I found, can we play some more" mode.
Of course it's not just a matter of attention. Der Dekan is obsessed with my beads and thread and wire, just as any kitten would be, and he's so fast that I don't trust him around my stuff unless I can tell he's too tired to move. This is a matter of safety, that of the beads, but much more his own.

Yesterday, though, the unthinkable happened. Not only did der Dekan decide to give me hours to play by passing out cold next to me in a way only cats can do it, but I had everything I needed.
It was great. I hadn't even known how much I had missed my beads and the calming effect that playing with them has on me. I have been quite stressed out lately and while beading doesn't make the stress appear, it gave me a much needed timeout.
Not knowing at all where a design will be going can mess things up if you get stuck, but seeing something finished and not having the slightest idea where that design has come from is what I love most about being creative.

This lady started out with a carved face glued to a piece of Lacy's Stiff Stuff and a peyote bezel. This particular transparent dark red with AB finish has become a huge favorite of mine, especially in a combination with the metallic bronze.
I think my first idea was to give her hair, but with the red bezel all around her face it turned into some kind of embellished headdress instead that reminded me of an Elizabethan hairstyle which probably inspired the collar like part which led to the sequins - in a different color in order to add a bit more depth to the design - and pearls in the end.
Is she a little over the top? She sure is, but I guess she - and I ;-) - needed that!


Oldies but Goodies - Neutral colors

Before this Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge, I had never been wondering about neutral colors much. I wear a lot of black and I love grey which are two of them, but beige, taupe, cream, brown, ivory, even white are not on my personal list of colors at all. I even have a very difficult relationship with beige, for example, which is just putting it nicely that I avoid it at all costs.

The definition of neutral colors is that they are not on the color wheel. They are muted shades that look calming and complement the colors well that are on the color wheel, in fashion, but also in interior design.
What about jewelry, though? For me, it's much easier to use neutral colors in jewelry than bright colors because I always feel they can be worn with anything that way.
Let's see what the JAC members have come up with, and don't forget, this is just a small selection.

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


Do you like my decorations?

I'll admit it, it's hard to get into the mood this year. The years before I had always set up my tree by this time, put up the hallway decorations, hung my Moravian stars in the window. This year, however, everything is a little different.

Of course one reason is der Dekan. I still haven't quite decided what to put on the tree, windows, etc. that the little feline brat won't kill, even more important, though, that won't kill him.
The Moravian stars, for example, have long cords. Do I trust him not to try and strangle himself? Not really. And since there are no sockets way up high, there will always be cords in reach for him.
The ball chain around the tree is probably not a good idea then, either. Even Gundel likes to tug on that one every, now and then. The same is with the lights, more cords. Just the tree with the wire ornaments - as the glass ones are definitely out this year ;-) - and the other non-breakable charms? Maybe. Somehow I couldn't muster the energy and motivation for that yet, though.

The other reason is that it's sometimes hard to keep up any motivation for anything at the moment if you feel the world has gone completely crazy now. Who cares, for example, if I haven't cut up my cardboard boxes lately (for which I use den Dekan as an excuse although he's not even that interested in most boxes :-P)? No one will see it these days, anyway, except my family.
Oh no, am I turning into an Ebenezer? :-O Bah, Humbug!

To fight that, I took a deep breath and went decorating my hallway today (and as a bonus I decluttered the cupboard a little where I store my usual hallway decorations while the Christmas ones are out).
Hard to believe, I know, but it actually does look a little different this year!
Of course there are still all the beloved ornaments, those that I made and those that friends gave me.

Where there were always just two little Steiff mice with their Christmas tree and a ball before, however, a whole Steiff crowd has gathered this time, thanks to my dear friend Jennifer.
The ball got hung up, instead a big repro Santa took its place and brought along Gingerbread Teddy, Christmas Tree Teddy, The Little Drummer Teddy, and Teddy in a Gift Box. Aren't they adorable?
They graciously invited my felted and bead embroidered little snowman as well.

As I moved some of the items from here to the sideshow (aka the window sill), there was more space to scatter the gift boxes of the advent calendar. The mice and teddies are already so excited to see what will be coming out of them to hang on the "advent tree" made by Paul from Phoenix Glass!


P.S. The title, by the way, is hinting to this video ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - Geometric shapes

Wow, time is racing and another week has gone by already without me being creative, well, except for a custom pair of spike bauble earrings.
I'm just glad we have the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge to remind me not only of my own creativity, but more so of that of others.
Our theme was geometric shapes and we really got to see some amazing beauties!

How many basic geometric shapes are there? Obviously people don't necessarily agree on the number, some say there are four - circle, triangle, square, and rectangle - others say six and add rhombus and trapezoid. As the math genius that I am not, I'll stay out of that.

I do remember, though, that we once had to make a piece of jewelry in school. The plan had been for us to learn how to use a simple tin-lead based solder. I made a pendant consisting of a triangle, circle, and a square if I remember right. It came out pretty lousy, but had a definite mod vibe which worked well as we were still barely in the 70s.
Anyhow, I guess geometric shapes in jewelry had already fascinated me then.

These following examples are so much better than my pendant was. Enjoy!

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


Oldies but Goodies - More bracelets

Do you like to wear bracelets? In that case, you will love what I have brought along from this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge.
Once again there is such an amazing variety in techniques, materials, and style, and yet my selection isn't even showing everything that has been entered.
Which one is your favorite?
I am in love with the fantastic hand painted elephant bangle (whose design process and WIP pictures Dawn had shared with us while working on this years ago), but I would also gladly wear any of the other items!

1 and 2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 8 RioRita Jewelry
4 and 6 Cat's Wire
5 and 7 My Bijou Life


Oldies but Goodies - Breaking out

Although I had taken a timeout from blogging, the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge has been kept going over the last few months.
Now it's time for me to share my selections with you again.

Our topic in the last week was "Breaking out".
Artisans and artists are only human. Many of us like their comfort zone, and it's always tempting to stay inside it, especially if the result is something you have already had success with. It can never hurt to take a little step outside the box, though.
The challenge was to show something that was unusual to make, because it was different in color, shape or style we are used to, for example. So we got shown some first attempts at new designs or techniques, and now I'll be sharing some of them with you.

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


Welcome back to me! ;-)

Yes, I'm still alive!
It has been 4 1/2 months, I know. A few things have happened during that time that had robbed me of my motivation to blog, even put together the Oldies but Goodies. One of them took up a lot of my time for a while and when I was done with that, well, once you have stopped doing something, it can be hard to get started again.
And then something has happened that has changed my daily routine and that needs a lot of my attention. That wasn't helpful, either.

That doesn't mean I have stopped making things, but lately I have not been able to make things as much and especially as spontaneously.
Enough with the vagueposting.

Number 1 was that I lost my online shop. Zibbet where I had my shop for more than ten years, suddenly announced that they had sold the marketplace to a mysterious buyer, one of the big ones in the business, and that we sellers had two weeks to download everything before Zibbet would be shut down "temporarily".
If I hate something, it is not having information or feeling ignored. If I sit on a train that has stopped in the middle of nowhere, don't just let me sit there, but at least tell me that you don't have any information yet, either. If you have information, let me know about it (seriously, as someone who has been commuting by train for 35 years, this is one of my big pet peeves). It's even worse here. On the train all I can do is wait, but how am I supposed to make a decision in this case if I'm not told what's going to happen?
To be on the safe side, I started listing all my items, including descriptions, a picture, tags, materials, in an own file, so I would still find things easily and have them available for transfer to another shop. While doing so, I decided on items to get ripped apart or given away.
As you can imagine, this took me so long that my anger had plenty of time to bloom.

I still haven't decided on a new platform to sell on and at the moment I have no idea how long that decision will take me. So for now, I'm selling in a few Facebook groups and of course you are always welcome to contact me if you see something on my Facebook page, on DeviantArt or here on my blog, for example on my new gallery page which I have set up to show at least some of my available items while I'm shopless.

Number 2, the attention seeker, has entered my life at the end of June and was quite small and very cute. His name is der Dekan (English: the Dean, after one of the wizards at the Unseen University from the Discworld books).
He's 6 1/2 months old now and still not suitable for a university job, I'm afraid. He's half angel, half demon like every good kitten, some days it's more like 75% demon - we are having one of those today why I'm hiding behind a closed door right now with him having the run of the other rooms. I can hear him. He loves the computer and this post would look very different with him helping ;-)
He's also quite the master thief already which means I can't leave anything out (I have already begun packing a lot of things into cupboards and drawers) that may be a toy to him - so, anything from a piece of felt to bead tubes, tools from crochet hooks to pliers, and of course loose beads or cabs.
Sometimes I even have to lock myself in to have a few undisturbed creative minutes. Only when he falls asleep and I have already everything on hand, I can work for a longer time.
Gundel can't believe I let such a brat into our lives, and honestly, I have never appreciated her more than now although I thought that wasn't possible. Gundel is an angel cat and she deserves wings ... if only to get away from the demon quickly! ;-) She will also keep you up-to-date on that once she starts blogging again, by the way, about his addiction to trash, for example ...

Ok, that's the long-winded explanation for my absence, and I will probably not be around that regularly for a while, but I'll be trying, promise!


Oldies but Goodies - Celestial again

In August 2017, the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge's topic was "celestial". Back then, we shared stars, moons, and the sun. Some of these classic celestial bodies are also featured this time, but we also have colorful planets, clouds in the sky, and astrological signs.
You see, even if we repeat a topic, there is always the chance of something completely new turning up.
Some of these pieces even I had never seen before and I'm nosy as heck when it comes to my fellow JAC people's work! ;-)
I hope you will enjoy seeing them as much as I did.

1/5/9 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 and 6 Cat's Wire
3 and 7 My Bijou Life
4 and 8 RioRita


Oldies but Goodies - Fog and mist

I'm fascinated by fog, but it also makes me nervous.
It's one thing to look out over a landscape beautifully covered by mist or being stuck in your car in a big bowl of "pea soup" (as it happened to me once on New Year's Eve) or even worse, in smog like the deadly Great Smog of 1952 in London which people thought was just the ordinary fog Londoners have to deal with.

Today's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is only about the beautiful kind, though. To some of my bead loomed silhouette pieces I love to add wafts of mist to the scenery, for example, but it's also amazing how some stones or other materials seem to emulate mist or fog.
Here's my selection for this week, I think I picked a few real beauties.

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


Miss Francie Bennet - Part 2, The accessories

Welcome back!
In this post I want to talk about the accessories for Miss Francie Bennet - the 60s doll who has been thrown back into Regency times.

As always I had no definite idea which accessories I would make when I started this project.
Of course I knew Francie would need a pompadour, almost all of my dolls get some kind of purse or tote or handbag, except the first two Flappers.
She would also need a hat, that was the part I was afraid of the most because I had no clue how to make a Regency bonnet.
And for going out a shawl would be nice.
That was as far as I planned ahead.

As my big JaLa loom is still occupied by a WIP that I'm not sure about anymore, I decided to use one of my small looms for the shawl. After some quick measuring I figured it would be just big enough for the triangle shape I had in my mind.
It was close, very, very close. In fact I wouldn't have been able to finish the shawl if I hadn't opted for the triangle because I almost ran out of warp space at the bottom.
What I also had not taken into account was that glass beads are heavy and loomed items very slinky. The shawl slid off Francie's arms at the slightest movement, so I had to put in a few stitches to secure it.

Then I suddenly had the idea to give her a parapluie, obviously because I believe in punishing myself.
My test piece was bead embroidered, but the shape reminded me of cocktail umbrellas, so I had the idea to make strips in Herringbone instead, sew them together and, well, wing it from there.
The little parapluie has nine strips which I sewed together on the inside and extra at the ends to emphasize the seams. A little hole which I wanted to use for the shaft remained at the top. So far, so good, but of course this construction wasn't completely firm. I took a deep breath and put glue all over the outside and inside to reinforce it. That sounds easier than it was, of course it got a little messy. Glue and I - the endless story.
In the end, however, I had a nice firm structure, yay!
I added fringe all around and finally the shaft (for which I beaded around a wooden skewer like for the Fairy Queen's staff) with a golden end top and handle. Voilà.
Francie can't hold this parapluie because she can't grip it and she can't bend her arms, so the plan is to either just put it in front of her or maybe add a strap, so it can dangle from her hand.

After this exhausting part of the project I needed to make something small, Francie's pompadour.
There's not much to say about that, you have seen variations of it before.

I had saved the biggest challenge for last - the bonnet.
Two things were clear. It had to be built up from several parts, and to make it sturdy enough, it had to be bead embroidery.
I looked at all kinds of Regency bonnets and explanations. Of course soft crowned ones were out of the question for me as I don't know anything about embroidering on fabric, it had to be the stove pipe kind.

Then I tried to keep everything that I had seen in mind and cut and bead embroidered three of the parts, sewed them together and glued on the Ultrasuede afterwards. This is a very short description for what took me a few days with the sewing and glueing being most difficult.
I also added some wire to the front part which helps to shape it, well hidden under the Ultrasuede.

The fourth part was even harder to deal with because I had to embroider it first and then glue it to the "stove pipe" as it would have been impossible to do that from the inside. There was no way to hold the glued edges together, it would have needed tons of pins to keep the shape. So I had to manage with my fingers and finally it stuck on the way it was supposed to. After it had dried, I added some pink lace on the back which also served to support the glued edges.

The last task was to sew on two rows of lace at the front, a ribbon around the stove pipe piece - again, as an embellishment and to secure the glued parts - and the ribbons to tie under the chin if wanted.
That too sounds a lot easier than it was. I tried several variations for the lace and the ribbons until I was happy.
Now I may have to make a little hat pin to make sure the bonnet will always sit well.

All in all it took me about three days to make the bonnet and I don't see myself making another one very soon! ;-)

And now here's Francie in all her beaded glory.
It was a fun project, a frustrating project at times, it took patience, fantasy and, I'll be honest, some cursing, too.
There were moments when I thought I wouldn't be able to finish it, but now I'm very happy that I pulled it through!

Francie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel in any way.


Miss Francie Bennet - Part 1, The doll and the dress

Some projects take a little longer than others. In this case, little means more than five years. That's how long Francie had to wait for her beaded outfit.
I think it was worth the wait. My first try at looming her a particular style of outfit went completely wrong, but now I knew how to use different techniques to give her her (or rather my ;-)) dream outfit.

Let's talk about Francie first, however, because this one is special.
"Colored Francie" (#1100) came in two issues in 1967 and 1968. She had a twist waist, bendable knees, and rooted eyelashes. The difference between the two issues were the hair and eyes. The first one had red hair and reddish-brown eyes, the second one had dark brown hair and eyes and a darker skin tone.
There was just one problem. "Black Francie" as she is known among collectors may have had the skin, but she didn't have the features of a true African American doll because the mold of the Caucasian doll had been used. The doll didn't sell well and so wasn't produced in large numbers. Probably African American children just couldn't identify with her which is understandable. It's why Christie is often regarded as the first real African American doll.
That makes her one of the most sought after Francie dolls (after the Japanese specials).

My girl (Francie is supposed to be a teenager) is the first issue. She has a few problems - so do I and after all she's just two years younger than me! She has some nicks on her foot, some light scratches here and there, and not only has she lost some of her hair over the years, but some of it looks like it has become burnt and has shriveled up and some of it is kind of orangey.

I was not brave enough to risk the hair she does have, so she didn't get a new hairstyle. I didn't touch her bangs and for the ponytail didn't dare playing with beads, but used just a bit of string because even light combing cost her more hair. Re-rooting was not an option, though, I would only have done that if she had been mostly bald, also I had planned a hat for her.
It's not as if the outfit is historically correct 100 %, anyway. There are things that are hard to recreate in beads, but I have done my best.

Now why do I call her Francie Bennet?
I'm a fan of Georgette Heyer's books, especially the ones set in the Regency period (1811 - 1820), and I love Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". From the start I wanted this special doll to wear something special although I knew it would be a bit of a challenge. Her name is of course inspired by Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of "Pride and Prejudice".

Today I'll show you her dress.
My original choice of color had been pink and grey. Although I'm not necessarily a big fan of pink, pink and grey has been a favorite color combination of mine ever since I had to crochet my very first chain stitch string bag in elementary school.
Like I said, I had already tried a loomed version with Delicas, but although I had measured more than once, it just didn't work out. I took the parts of the loom and left them in a drawer to die. Yes, I was mad. Eventually I gave myself a good kick, cut the parts up and used the beads in both my Flapper Dawn's and 80s Barbie's outfits.
For the next attempt, I chose seed beads instead of Delicas because they look nicer in Herringbone. Don't look for the grey beads, in the end I decided the contrast was too much and I'd rather play with colors in the accessories (as a matter of fact, however, the grey beads are hidden under the dress in some kind of underpants, shhh).

Miss Bennet's dress is made from pink lined crystal beads. I love them, in the light the crystal parts sparkle so beautifully! Unfortunately I didn't quite manage to catch that in pictures.
For a very subtle contrast I chose sparkly rose colored 15/0 seed beads for the ruffles around the neckline, the lace at the bottom of the dress and the ribbon that is sitting right under the bust and ends in a bow at the back which is hidden by the shawl, though, which you will see tomorrow.
I couldn't believe how long it took me to make the dress, but Mattel dolls do have long legs and here it seemed even longer because of the high waistline!

A real problem were the shoes.
Had Francie stayed inside, she would have worn shoes with a very pointy tip, a side seam, a rounded kitten heel ... all things that I couldn't recreate in beads or things that wouldn't stay on Francie's feet, and of course there were still her foot problems.
So I settled for some boots instead, in honor of the scene in the famous 1995 mini series "Pride and Prejudice" in which Lizzy Bennet is walking across the fields through the mud to visit her sick sister in Netherfield Park.
I was even a little tempted to add brown beads for mud to the seam of Francie's dress *lol*
Of course these boots are by no means perfect, but they were the best I could do, and believe me, I tried. I think I made at least six shoe versions once again and there was
massive cursing. I tried 15/0 beads to make the "leather" look thinner, I tried slippers that went high up to hide the feet, to no avail.
If Francie wants to wear brown basketball boots, so be it. I wear comfy shoes myself. Maybe I'll have an amazing idea one day, but actually you can hardly see them under the dress, anyway. For this picture I pulled the dress up.

Okay then, that's it for today.
Tomorrow I'd like to show you the accessories I made - besides the pompadour that already sneaked in with the second picture.
I hope to see you then!

Francie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel in any way.


Oldies but Goodies - Play with me

A new week, a new Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge.
Do you play with your jewelry? Twist a necklace, play with a fringe or dangles, touch the stones, shake the head to let your earrings fly, play with a spinner ring or just spin a ring around your finger ...
If you answered this question with a no, I suggest you try it, it's fun. Sometimes it may help you to calm down if you are nervous or you just satisfy the playchild in you.
I have a necklace that is so long that I can do a lot with it, especially in meetings, and sometimes I wonder if it makes others nervous to watch me. Maybe we should hand out "play jewelry" for everyone before meetings?

From the many entries I chose five today. Which one would you choose for a meeting? ;-)

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


Oldies but Goodies - Beads

What is a bead? Wikipedia says that a bead is a small, decorative object that is formed in a variety of shapes and sizes of a material such as stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood or pearl and with a small hole for threading or stringing.
Beads can also be addictive. So many shapes, so many colors, so many ways to use them!

Just a few of these ways are represented by today's collage of items from the last Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge.
We have hand painted beads, big and small ones, handmade beads from silver, different colors, glass, wood, stone ... and still this is just a very small glimpse into the world of beads!

1 and 10 Cat's Wire
2 and 3 My Bijou Life
4 and 7 RioRita
5 and 6 Jewelry Art by Dawn
8 and 9 Silver Jewellery Girl


The beach is calling

Our bi-monthly challenge mistress at the Jewelry Artisans Community has been messing with our minds. The challenge is bi-monthly, by the way, not the mistress. See how my mind is already messed up?? ;-)
Let me try this again. Every two months we have a theme challenge at JAC and the good lady chose matching earrings. Great. We all know that matching earrings can be very hit and miss for me. Nevertheless I made some, only to find that she had changed the theme to beach to make it easier for us busy people. Serves me right for skipping that one post.

Beach, beach, beach, there was the beach in Wales we never found despite the signs (I still think they were fake and just meant to lure me into a field full of cows). The only beach I really remember was the one near Bodega Bay. Such a long time ago that I was there the last time, more than 20 years!
Seagulls, weird stuff on the sand - probably algae and remains of jellyfish - sand dollars, other birds and shells ... I knew it would be shells.
Shells are so easy to use in jewelry and I had a bunch of bigger ones that I had been gifted by a co-worker. I have netted shells and crocheted around them with wire, I made them from polymer clay, but you may have noticed, I'm having a lot of fun with bead embroidery lately. Sorry if it gets boring, guys.

The hardest part was to choose one of the shells, and once I had glued it onto the backing, the next hardest part was to decide what to do with it now. Actually I thought it was pretty without adding too much to it, and as luck had it, I happened to have the perfect beads to make a bezel in the colors of the shell itself. For a moment I was tempted to just leave it like that, but then added one single row of bronze metallic beads for contrast.
Now it needed a few pearls. I know, I know, that's not original at all, but shells just scream for pearls.
My first idea was to add one row, but then my dangle addiction raised its omnipresent head and I couldn't stop myself from making a little fringe in the center.

The last decision to make was the chain. I thought about a bail, hidden or not, two bails, chain, cord, everything I didn't have, so I ordered beads for a simple beaded rope.
Voilà, here we go!
Do you think it will please the challenge mistress?


Here's looking at you, kid ...

Last year I used this collage in one of my nostalgia posts about a Steiff King Charles dog, a tin full of vintage glass eyes for plush animals, and a shoe company.
These are just a few of the eyes in that tin, and since my collection has pretty much reached its limits, I doubt that many new eye patients will turn up who need them.

A few days ago I had an idea what I could do with at least some of them.
As you can tell from the picture, the eyes don't all look the same. Most of them are not flat in the back, but have a little (or not so little in case of the pink/red eyes on the bottom right) bump for the wire. I also think it might help the eyes better to sit in the plush animal's eye sockets.
I can only use the flat ones and I have been wondering if there is a way to make the others flat, but for now I chose a pair of old brown eyes of which I have several. After all I don't want to use eyes for jewelry and then need them for a patient eventually.

Some of the eyes are made from colored glass, but the really old ones, like the ones I have used, have a black glass pupil in clear glass and are painted on the back to give the eye its color. Many of these vintage ones have lost some paint which is a pity. Of course you can repaint them yourself, but I'd rather use a damaged one because to me they have a special charm.
They have to be flat if you want to use them in bead embroidery.
In this case, I glued them onto the backing very carefully because of the paint and then let my muse guide me - from the bezels that give the iris some extra shine to the white of the eyes for which I used three sizes of beads all around the iris to give it that wide eyed look, the black around the yes and the "lashes" of silver coated dagger beads only at the bottom edge.
It makes me wonder what they see!


Oldies but Goodies - Fresh

I thought I didn't hear right when I was told last week that 30° C (86° F) had been predicted for Sunday.
Guess the choice for the new Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge topic hadn't been too bad - it was "fresh" as if it was meant fight off the heat lurking outside, just waiting to get me ;-)

Fresh has so many more meanings beside cool, though, that this wasn't a very difficult challenge. It can mean anything from new, pleasant, not salty, not artificial, relaxed, and more depending on the context.
The easiest thing to do was to show fresh colors, but in one entry the word has a different meaning ... cheeky. Can you guess which one that is? :-D

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


Oldies but Goodies - Shapes

This post for the last Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is dedicated to my math teacher in 7th grade. You tried, Mr. Haasl, you really did, but no matter how much it is said that girls can do math just as well as boys, I just wasn't one of them. It wasn't just math, I also struggled with chemistry and physics - and to be honest, I wasn't interested in exploring science's depths myself - but I think geometry probably caused my only true breakdown in school. You comforted me, you encouraged me, and I'm sorry that it didn't work because you were really one of the good ones, and a nice person and neighbor as well until you passed away much too early.

You, my dear readers, don't have to explain anything or calculate or prove now, though, you can just sit back and look at the shapes we are bringing you with today's challenge. Aren't I a nice person, too? :-D

1 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 My Bijou Life
3 Cat's Wire
4 RioRita
5 Silver Jewellery Girl


Oldies but Goodies - More wire

Wire has always been a big topic in JAC, but so far we have only used it as a topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge once before. Let's change that today.

Wire is an incredibly versatile material and there are many techniques to work with it, not only in jewelry, but also for other purposes, from flower stands or filters (have you ever heard of the wire weaving loom?) to wire netted kitchen utensils and more from Kyoto (called Kanaami).
You will find wire wrapped, woven, crocheted and knitted (including spool and Viking knitting), done in macramé and other techniques in jewelry.
This goes way back, thousands of years. You don't necessarily need many tools for working with wire, just pliers and a wire cutter are enough, you don't need heat, you don't have to solder or cast, it can be done pretty much anywhere, and you can combine the wire with all kinds of materials, gemstones, beads, found objects, or leave it as is.

These are only a few of the pieces entered in this challenge. Enjoy.

1 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 Silver Jewellery Girl
3 Cat's Wire
4 RioRita
5 My Bijou Life


Is it the 80s? Part 2

Welcome back to Barbie's fashion show!
Yesterday I told you a little about her and her clothes, today is all about her accessories.

As usual, I started on the shoes first. I didn't know what I would be in for ...
Funtime Barbie has quite long, but very slim feet. I can relate to long feet, mine are, but I almost got jealous of them being so slim. That didn't last for very long. It seems that she has just about as many problems to find shoes that fit her as I do.

You can't see it that well here, but Barbie was made for fun times on very high heels it seems. I should probably have taken a comparison picture with one of the others, maybe I'll do that eventually. So far I had worked with only one pair of "high heel feet", the first time I beaded a doll outfit for my Flapper Barbie, and for those I got a pair of Mattel shoes from my sister which worked nicely. Only afterwards I began beading the shoes as well, simply because I couldn't find shoes for my Supersize Flapper Christie, well, actually those were wire knit and crochet with beads and she has rather flat feet compared to Funtime Barbie.
I tried one pair with heels, but my plan didn't work out by a few millimeters - I'll let you know if it ever does - and I liked the idea of slippers or sneakers better, anyway.
No kidding now, sixth time's the charm (and yes, I had hoped for third at least). I was ready to go all Grimm's "Cinderella" and cut her toes off (Rook di goo, there's blood in the shoe ... you know what I mean?)!
In the end, however, I made it. I'm not gonna let a pair of tiny shoes beat me. Ha! You may wonder what the problem was as they remind of those that Francie Dietrich is wearing which they do, they just were muuuch easier to adapt to Francie's flat feet.
If I hadn't been so worn out, I would probably have tried to give the shoes laces, but I was afraid that I would mess everything up again now that I had finally beat the enemy!
Oh, and a P.S., ignore the "pin pricks", vintage Barbies tend to have those on their legs.

Now to Barbie's hair.
I told you that Funtime Barbie came with pigtails. She had a lot of hair in some spots, and I think I washed, combed and cut her hair a whole day long, including pulling out some to make her hair lie flat. Let's put it like that, in the end her hair looked nice and not even crooked, but it refused to lie flat. The problem wasn't new, in fact I had had used wire to give her a ponytail when she still wore the wire dress.
So how about a hat? In my surprise bead mix there had been that beautiful dark red which would go well with pink.
I had two hats with a ruffled edge in the 80s. They cost 2 DM each and I loved them. Then a friend decided he had to have one of them, he looked so funny with it that I couldn't say no, and I had only one head, anyway ;-)
The difference between my hat - made of hemp, I think - and Barbie's was that I didn't have a hatband on mine and mine had a rounded crown instead of a flat one and was a lighter red.
By the way, the hair only looks crooked in the back because one strand is caught in one of the ruffles.

If you have known me for a while, you know that I don't tend to brag, but I am really, really proud of Barbie's sunglasses. They are not perfect, but I'm happy to have had the idea and making it work. I couldn't have done it all alone, when I looked for an idea what to use for the lenses, my sister had the right one - photo negatives!
I picked one from the end of a film that had almost nothing on it, cut two pieces, glued them onto the wire frame - whose arms really go around the ears to hold the glasses in place, by the way - and cut the excess off.
This is definitely something I'll have to keep experimenting with!

Barbie could also take her glasses off and put it into her purse. I am almost sure that the purse is "woven" even if I can't put my finger on what exactly makes me think that, it's probably a memory somewhere in the back of my mind.
Look, she even put her favorite charms on it.

You know that my dolls can't go without at least a little piece of jewelry, often a cuff, a choker, or a necklace. A necklace wouldn't have worked in this case because of the straps, so Barbie is only wearing a sweet little cuff. Anything else would have been too much.

I just noticed that I haven't said anything about the beading technique that I have used. This time only the shoes are a mix of Herringbone and Peyote, everything else is done in Peyote.

Well, we are coming to the end.
Thank you for sticking with me, I hope you like what you have seen and are looking forward to the next doll project. I know I am!

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel in any way.


Is it the 80s? Part 1

Today's post gave me the chance to get out one of my Barbie books again. I haven't gone through them in a long time, and I'm afraid I have forgotten a lot while I used to be able to list all accessories coming without an outfit most of the time, knowing the name and sometimes even the number.
Let me tell you about today's Barbie doll first *turning the pages*
She's Funtime Barbie #7192 from 1975/76 who was only available in the European market, manufactured in Korea as her butt markings would show you had I taken a photo. Her blonde hair was in pigtails, she had a TNT waist and bendable legs.

From the book "The Collectors Encyclopedia of Barbie Dolls and Collectibles" by Sibyl DeWein and Joan Ashabraner

Here she had to undergo a wire crochet experiment many years ago, an orange mini dress with velvet underneath. Was it pretty? Not really although she never complained. It was one of my very early attempts, ready to get ripped up, so when I had a whole bunch of left over pink Delica beads, she was the first one in line for a new outfit. She deserved it for being so patient for so long ... and suffering a kind of pattern on her thighs resulting from the wire.

To hide those spots, I decided to give Barbie a narrow almost knee length pencil skirt (I was determined to use up all those leftovers!) with a walking slit in the back. Thinking about it a little, I also knew what had inspired me. In the 80s I had had - and I wasn't the only one - stretch denim shirts like that, shorter ones, but also a black one that went down to the ankles. I loved that skirt even if I could hardly walk in it *lol*
I also wore that same pink, just in a blazer, although it was never my favorite color, but the blazer had the best pockets, the best length - blazers could be huge in the 80s and I'm not just talking about the shoulder pads - and it was on sale AND my size!
Obviously Barbie's skirt doesn't stretch, poor girl, she can't even sit in it right. Problems of a fashion doll ...

Now what top to make for her?
I wanted it to be a fresh look. At first I thought about something short and figure hugging, but then my inspiration came from the airy and loose knitted or crocheted sweaters that someone I know liked to wear back then. Granted, these sleeveless summer sweaters usually had an ajour pattern, but I wasn't quite sure I could have pulled that off, so I went for a summery pink and white look instead.
It's funny how what you see in beads usually translates into the "real" thing before my inner eye. I can almost feel a summer breeze going through this sweater.
For a bit of an extra, I gave it kind of a keyhole cutout by crossing the halter straps at her neck.

So far, so good.
Next up were the accessories, and as usual I was looking particularly forward to making them. I never know beforehand what I will make exactly, and this time I really had fun trying something new!
I don't want to make this post too long, but I hope you'll be back for part 2 tomorrow with a closer look at the accessories :-)

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. I am not affiliated with Mattel in any way.


Oldies but Goodies - More cabochons

Cabs, cabochons. I've talked about them before and we had a Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge with that topic a few years ago, too. I'm sure we could do several more with all the cabs that are in the drawers of our members, loose or already added to jewelry.
Cabochons were the earliest way to treat gemstones before people developed the cutting of stones. They usually have a flat back and a polished and rounded front, no facets. Opaque stones are made into cabochons because there's no sparkle which is enhanced by facets. Nevertheless, you will find faceted opaque stones as well, just as you find translucent stones that are not faceted, but made into cabs.

There's a family story about a ring given as a gift. The young recipient was not happy because the ring had an opaque cabochon. I guess most young girls prefer a bit of sparkle or at least did so when I was young, eons ago ;-) It took me very long to acknowledge the beauty of opaque cabs.

People use different techniques to incorporate cabs in their jewelry, bezel or prong settings, wire wrapping and weaving including netting, wire crochet or knit, PMC or polymer clay, even macramé with cord or wire.
Cabs can have all kinds of shapes, too. They come as ovals, rounds, square, rectangular, drops, but also freeform. Lapidary artists have endless fantasy!

The JAC members shared so many beauties that I had a hard time to pick for today's collage, therefore I have a bit more for you today ;-)

1/7/12 RioRita
2/9/11 Cat's Wire
3/8 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4/6/13 My Bijou Life
5/10 Silver Jewellery Girl


The mix

I always try to plan my bead orders and I still forget something every single time.
It reminds me of the old days when we went to the big town to visit the record store chain "Lerche" (which means lark in English). They had four shops in the long pedestrian zone leading from the main station to the castle and beyond that. I have never been a big shopper, but right now I miss the feeling of going for a walk there, go into this or that shop, have something quick to eat, spend some money and look at your treasure once you are home again.
Trips to the big town were hardly ever spontaneous, and yet I was never prepared. I always thought I would definitely remember which records I needed in my life badly, but then I'd stand in the store, 1000s of records all around me, and I would not remember a single one, except the two that they never had, anyway. It was just too overwhelming. Usually it would come back to me when we were on the way home.

Bead orders are simpler, I can, well, actually have to do them online because there's no bead store in my town, so I can order anytime. I try to plan them, however, to be prepared for the next project(s), to fill up a color, to anticipate colors that I might need, and of course to save postage.
This time I forgot some size 15 silver seedies which I could have used so well just now. So much for planning.
What I have always ordered the last few times, though, was a surprise mix. Not bead soup, just a mix of colors and shapes. I think the idea really appeals to the child in me. When I was small, we had something that was called "Wundertüte" = "miracle bag" with chewing gum and a little figure in it. It was the same excitement that I am feeling now when I open my bead parcel. I always try to get out the things first that I know I've ordered and get to the surprise at the end. I'm such a child, I know!

Of course it can be a risk. Once I got some bead shapes that I have never used before or have a hard time using. I'm still struggling with a few of these. Just like the risk of getting colors you usually don't prefer, though, it can spark the creativity which is the second reason I'm getting these. Maybe you even get colors that you never before thought of using, but which quickly become a favorite.
The latest bead order surprised me with a beautiful dark red. The tube is already almost empty, I hope you'll get to see pictures of that project soon. I'm also sure I won't have any trouble to use up all the lovely blues.

What was really funny, however, was that there is a tube of pink and grey each. The funny part is that it's exactly the pink and grey that I have chosen for a project I have already started, but which got put on the backburner because I was missing some matching size 15 beads - that I found just yesterday. Maybe you think the shop owner still remembered that I had ordered these two colors before, but actually I got them from a different shop ...
Talk about coincidence!

What sparks your creativity?


Technique fails

"We all know them, techniques that we simply can't or don't want to pursue any longer, either because we suck at them or because they are boring to us or maybe even outgrew them over the years."
This was the topic for the new Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival. It's not
necessarily failure that makes us eliminate certain techniques, there can be all kind of reasons beside those mentioned why we drop a technique or a craft actually because this doesn't just have to be about jewelry making. For example, I gave up on polymer clay because of cat hairs which just added to my mostly not being very good at it in my opinion ;-)

A jewelry making technique that I gave up on is quite visible in my everyday life. This knitting spool has been a cat toy for a long time which is why it's always on the floor. Gundel isn't interested much, so I guess it's time to put it away. I never used it much, anyway, it came with a smaller spool.

Unlike many children, I had never learned to use a knitting spool. Not that it's difficult, it's just something I never had.
I don't remember exactly why I got the spools to use them for wire, but maybe it was just a natural development after starting out with wire crochet. It's hard to believe that it was more than ten years ago!

I made spool knit ropes without and with different beads, in silver and in colored copper, with ribbons inside of the wire, but my favorites were the ones I made only from gift ribbons. Unfortunately these turned out to be surprisingly exhausting to make, especially my favorite one. The loops were so tight due to the width of the ribbon that it was hard work to lift them off the pegs and I had to take many breaks.
Here are some of my pieces.
As you can see, the wire ones are very airy, actually almost too airy for my liking. I'm crazy about regular stitches and I just didn't manage to make these loops regular. I would probably have needed a spool with very small pegs.
Excuse the pictures, too. These are early ones, I have become better ;-)

My favorite ribbon rope ... do you see now why I like these? Very regular!

Eventually I learned new techniques, the knitting spool - the one I actually used - got put away, the folder got moved to "Archive", and I moved on.
That's how things go.
In fact the last year has been full of beads and very little wire. My crochet hooks are having a long vacation, not much crocheting or knitting. I'm quite sure that is going to change again, though. I don't plan to put my crochet hooks into storage.
Who knows, maybe I'll even get out the spool again sometime?

As mentioned above, this is a blog carnival. If you want to know what stories the others have to tell, have a look here. I'll add links as they come in.

Silver Jewellery Girl (there's not one specific blog post, but have a look around or check out the JAC thread!)
My Bijou Life