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


Oldies but Goodies - Soft

I know I have missed a few Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenges in my blog, mostly because I'm struggling with frustration about the whole Covid thing (I know I'm not alone with that), but I'm back now with this one.
The topic was "soft" which could be anything, soft material like fabric, cord, or felt, soft colors or even a soft look of the design itself.
We are happy to welcome a new member with her beautiful Sakura necklace, too. I think it works both for the soft colors and the soft look.
I hope you'll like the other designs as well.

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


Gavin the pood...., erm, polar bear

Wondering about the title? Well, to be honest, Gavin was supposed to become a poodle when I started working on this. I hadn't expected it to work out right away, but I also didn't expect things to change quite so dramatically ;-)
No idea why, but my needle felted animals tend to be on the pudgy side. In this case, however, there was no chance to call that growing piece of felt a pudgy poodle. Instead it turned into a bigger dog (whom I gave fluffy hair at first), and then I thought that was actually a polar bear staring at me, even if it wasn't really a polar bear yet and didn't have eyes yet at that point.

After changing that, though, Gavin is now ready to say hello.