5/02/2022

Dawn is going boho

Usually I need a break after completing a doll outfit. I take a while relishing the feeling and admiring my own work - yes, I know that doesn't sound very humble, but it mostly is a very interesting path from the first row of beads to the completed doll and I'm always amazed myself that it has actually happened!
This time my bead mojo was strong enough for me to start on a new doll only a few days after finishing the wedding outfit and once again there were experiments, failures, and a complete change of plan.
You see, my first plan had been pink, but I had problems getting the same pink in both size 11 and 15 seed beads, so I checked the colors I had on hand and went for a favorite opaque luster red instead.
Luckily red with some golden accents looks stunning on this girl with her long blond hair and luckily she's not as afraid of color as I often seem to be myself or this dress would be black now ;-)

My second plan had been a kind of evening gown which I'm not going to say more about in case I'll do a variation of it eventually after all (how often have I said that about things?). The reason I didn't follow that plan were the gloves.
Did you know that Dawn has really small hands? Bead gloves simply looked too bulky, even with 15s, and of course there wasn't a chance I could have made a thumb with beads.
So the gloves turned into sleeves instead, 3/4 long which is a preferred length of my own.
When I was still a knitter, I hated sleeves. It was my old problem of having to make the same thing twice, boooooring. This time I made the sleeves first, that's definitely a new one for me.

What I really like about making these doll outfits is how one thing influences the other, often unexpectedly. After the sleeves I made the top and when I was at the top of the top - I often start from the waist because the beads don't try to run away there - and joined it with the sleeves, it hit me. A Carmen neckline!
And the Carmen neckline called for a wider, flowing skirt.
You may think at first that this dress doesn't look that different from that of the Fairy Queen, but actually there are several things I did like this for the first time.
There's the neckline and my first long sleeves, there are tiny crystal embellishments (you have to trust me on this, it's hard to see here), and not only is the waist a bit higher up which accentuates Dawn's lovely figure, but the skirt also flares out higher up, and after increasing always in the same spots for some rows, the skirt then falls down straight while the Fairy Queen's skirt is increased all around and all the way down to the bottom.
That's the fun about making these dresses, even though you are limited by the beads not being flexible, you can still play with designs.
I think Dawn likes it, too, judging from the way she's showing off her new dress.



The dress didn't seem to need many accessories, so Dawn is just wearing some simple gold sandals - I'm sure she would also have liked to go barefoot - a classic two-toned coated hematite ball chain and a cute little daisy chain. Maybe she has just made that herself before going to the market?
Yes, she has been to the market with her netted cotton tote that she has also made herself, no doubt, and she has brought home a huge ear of corn which actually fills up the tote. Hopefully it's organic, but I'm sure Dawn knows what she does! ;-)


I already have at least two new designs in mind, one of them will take more planning because of the technique I think I'll have to use, however, so I can't promise when there will be more to see.

4/17/2022

The Bride

It has been almost a year since I made my last beaded doll outfit which was Miss Francie Bennet, but this weekend I felt the sudden urge to grab one of my Topper Dawns and give her a new outfit.
This particular Dawn has several problems, mostly with her legs, so the only plan I had at that point was some kind of a slim skirt to hide them.

When I got my very first Dawn, I had begun to make her a wedding dress which I didn't like anymore when I was halfway through the project which is why she finally got an evening gown instead.
How about revisiting this idea?
There were several reasons to go for it. With a wedding dress you can go overboard if you like and your doll won't be able to complain. I knew I had plenty of pearly white seed beads in both size 11 and 15. A wedding dress has always been part of fashion shows. It's almost May, the bridal season is upon us. I'll use any excuse I can find.
Of course I don't have a husband for Dawn, but she'll have to live with that.

As the dress became more elaborate this time, I refrained from making many accessories - less to read for you!
Dawn is wearing a simple silver necklace and a "pearl" headband (which looks classy, but also helps to hide that some child in the past seems to have tried to cut her hair into bangs). At first I started making a short veil flowing down from the headband, but it wasn't heavy enough to fall over Dawn's hair in a pretty way, so I took it back off.
I also didn't bead shoes this time, but happened to have a pair of what I think are clone shoes in white which worked better for her little problem feet (I can so relate even if mine are not little!).

Now to the dress.

As planned, the skirt part is slim and long enough to hide most of the shoes because I didn't like the look of them with the dress much, both for the material and the tone of white. I promised Dawn she won't have to walk long distances ;-)
The front part of the skirt is embellished with lines of tiny silver lined crystal seed beads for a reason. T
here are tiny gaps in the "fabric" due to the Herringbone technique, and is it because I know Dawn's problems or because I think I can actually see them, at any rate I felt the need to distract from them a little. Also, I like a bit of silver sparkle!



The top part is a mix of Herringbone and Peyote and has off shoulder straps. They do hide an imperfection on Dawn's arm, but actually I made them because I liked them with this top.

I also wanted the dress to have a train, that had even been a plan for my attempt at that first wedding dress years ago.
The decision fell on this tapered train that begins like an overskirt at the waist (I have loved overskirts since I was a child, my drawn ladies always wore an open one). Not making it straighter at the edges is not because of the Herringbone technique that is worked in bead pairs, by the way, I just liked the different look.
For a second, I thought about embellishing it as well, but then I decided against it. Instead I added the little bead "chains" at the front.



Flowers had been on my mind, too. A flower on the headband or one at the neckline, at the waist maybe, but it all seemed too much.
Maybe I will give her a single flower to hold eventually.

I already have the next project on my mind, but it will probably have to involve the loom, and so far I have been hesitating to get the loom out around den Dekan (my kitten).
We will just have to wait and see what happens.

4/01/2022

Tackle that stash - Rhodonite focal

Usually I start a stash tackler by going through my stash to see if anything is talking to me.
This time I started with a leftover piece of bead embroidery foundation. When I made my little hedgehog (that I didn't blog about, but you can also find it in my gallery), I didn't know at first what it would be become and how big it would be. Well, not very big as it turned out, so I had a piece of foundation with a hole in the middle and no idea what to do with it - until I cut it in half and ended up with two quite weird shapes.

I took one of them to my cab drawer to see if I had one that was right in size and would give me a good idea when a small rhodonite donut jumped into the way - not the slightest idea how this ever got to me - and thus turned on the experimenting mode.

This was a rather interesting journey. The first steps were easy. I glued the donut on, then I looked for bezel colors. Funnily enough, I had matte seed beads that matched the color of the rhodonite almost perfectly. They came from one of the surprise bead mixes that I like to order, and until now I had been pretty sure I would not be able to use them anytime soon. Does the bead store know my stash better than I do? ;-)
Now what colors to use with them?
I wanted a bit of color and a bit of shine (my way to say that I love to use metallic accents). Was it coincidence that most of the colors I picked were already waiting in my work area? And was it coincidence that I had just found the dark red fire polished crystals again? Of which one fit perfectly into the hole of the donut?
This was almost getting a little spooky!

From there, I was just following the flow. I had cut the edges of the foundation randomly, now I needed to fit a pattern into that.
After doing a few swirls I noticed that I was reminded of clothes patterns from the mod era, almost a little psychedelic, although those clothes would probably have been a lot more colorful.

In the end, the focal needed a chain, and there was really only one way to attach it.
I struggled a bit with the temptation to add a drop dangle to the tip (which isn't really a tip, it's just an illusion thanks to the crystal, the back looks more like a member of the Barbapapa family ;-)) or a fringe from tiny seed beads or fine chain, but then it seemed to me that would have been too much.



This was a fun experiment. Maybe I should try this more often, after all I still have the second half to begin with. I'll let you know how it goes.

3/20/2022

Nostalgia - Stollwerck's Victoria

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.

It has been 1 1/2 years since my last nostalgia post, then again I didn't blog much at all in that time.
Today, however, one of my little Steiff teddies told me a story. It seems he went for an adventure and found a large (compared to him) vending machine for chocolate and bonbons in the middle of nowhere!
Unfortunately, the machine was empty and little Teddy was quite disappointed. On the other hand, he had to admit that he hadn't any money on him, anyway, so how sorry would he have been if there had been chocolate but no way to get to it!


Let's take a closer look at this vending machine that Teddy found.
It's the "Victoria Spar-Automat" of the company Stollwerck.
Stollwerck, a manufacturer of chocolate, cocoa, and candy, was the first company to put up vending machines in Germany in 1887. Inspired by their great success, Stollwerck decided to have miniature versions of them produced after 1890 to teach children how to save and to give them an "incentive to diligence". The machines were produced by the company of Friedrich Anton Reiche which was also known for making chocolate molds (very collectible today).

How does the machine work?
"Victoria" has two chambers that could be filled up with sample boxes of "Chocolade" and "Bonbons".
The house has two chimneys aka coin slots, and depending on the chimney you put the 10 Pfennig coin in, you got chocolate or candy when pulling out the drawer.
The text says (in German it rhymes): "Save your money, my dear child, throw it in here quickly, everything you save is kept here for you."
The front also says: "Nibbledydee, nibbledyday, what is rattling into my little house?" which of course refers to the coins.




To refill the machine and get your saved money back out, you could unlock it on the side with a little key to allow you to lift off the back and roof.
I wonder how many parents refilled it themselves and how many let the children spend part of their savings on the refills to teach them the value of money.

From the above quote, you can easily tell that the machine is telling us the tale of Hansel and Gretel, with a little twist, however.
You can also see that Teddy has still been very careful not to get himself into trouble!


1. "Hansel and Grethel, lost and frightened, walked so long in the dark forest, finally stood in front of the sugar house, a wicked witch came out."


2. "The witch grabbed the children small, put them into the stable, bared her teeth and rejoiced, said: this will be a feast for me."


3. "It turned out differently than the old woman thought; when she heated up the oven, little Grethel grabbed the witch by the leg and quickly pushed her into the embers."

We know the tale that far, but now comes the Stollwerck twist.

4. "That's what the fairy tale tells you, Stollwerck sugar house here doesn't look so dangerous, no witch is looking out, either."

5. "A good old lady is looking out of the window, if you bring her a piece of money, she will always give you something sweet."


There's one of these machines in our local museum which I had been in love with since I was a small kid.
"Victoria" was produced around 1900 and is a desired collectible, but mine is missing the red bottom stand and has been attached to a metal/wood plate instead which made it affordable enough for me to have my dream of owning her come true.
Now if only Teddy could get his dream of "Chocolade" and "Bonbons" fulfilled, too ...

3/18/2022

Tackle that stash - Peyote tube earrings

When going through the beads for my winged scarab, I found two tubes of Delica beads in my stash drawer. Both of them had been part of a surprise mix order. Whenever I put in a bead order, I can't resist putting one lot of these surprise mixes in my cart.
I may be getting some colors, shapes, or sizes of beads that leave me clueless for the moment, but it's always a nice challenge to use something I would never have thought of ordering, and some of those beads were just spot-on for projects of mine.

These particular tubes were size 10 and size 8 Delicas. I mostly use my Delicas for bead looming and it could have proved quite difficult to incorporate these bigger ones in an item, so I had to come up with something different and small.
What came to mind first were peyote tube earrings, but of course I would have to add something to the tubes, just plain - even if lustrous - white with a gold lining or red wouldn't be much fun.

So after making the tubes, I went through my stash one more time.
I love these tiny golden AB cubes, so much that I when I first discovered the tiny cubes, I got a whole bunch of them which I still haven't used up completely.
Their edges nestle up to the spaces between the Delicas perfectly.
Just two Swarovski crystals and some tiny seed beads and voilà, a beautiful pair of earrings!


As the red Delicas were smaller, they also needed smaller accents, but what?
That's when my eye fell on my little Steiff ladybug wool miniature (the yellow shine is from my daylight lamp, by the way, for real she is completely red). Perfect!
How do you like my ladybug earrings?

3/15/2022

The winged scarab

Khepri was the god of the morning sun in ancient Egypt. He was believed to push the new-born sun across the sky in the shape of a scarab the way real scarab beetles roll balls of dung from which their young emerge.
Khepri was depicted either as a god with a human figure and a scarab face or simply the scarab itself.
This is of course only the short version of his story.

When I put a little sodalite cabochon on my backing, nothing could have been more far from my mind than Khepri. It had been supposed to be a little in between project, a small cab on a small piece of leftover backing, with a bezel and maybe some edging for a pendant or part of a ring.
My plans changed rather quickly, though, when I had chosen a combination of blue and gold for the bezel and added tiny golden beads which turned the humble sodalite in a kind of scarab.

It was then when I remembered the winged scarab and went to look for some beads that would work for the wings.
I don't often use bugles, but have some choice in different colors from ordering surprise or destash lots.
After exchanging the backing because my piece was much to small for the new idea, I had to decide how to shape the wings and if I wanted to add the morning sun. Just in time I remembered having red magnesite around which would work perfectly for the sun.
When I had finished scarab and sun,
I chose colors for the wings that reminded me of ancient Egypt, turquoise - shiny and matte with an AB finish - gold and purple.

The result was not at all what I had expected when randomly picking the sodalite from my stash.
Next - pendant or necklace? A bail seemed wrong, so it had to be a necklace, and if you have seen my last necklaces, you will have noticed that I love Herringbone ropes for my focal pieces. In this case, I added some dumortierite beads - for lack of lapislazuli.
I'm really happy with how this piece has turned out in the end!

3/10/2022

Pirates of Swabia

I never heard of it before, but we must have pirates around here ;-)
How else would you explain this piece that is obviously a kind of pirate medaillon?
Okay, you caught me. This is my latest pendant. I have had the idea of combing a beaded component with bead embroidery for a few days, and I wanted to add one my crystal skulls to it.

After several failed attempts or experiments with size, colors, thread tension (I found out that I have trouble with the thread tension when being tense myself *eyeroll*) etc., things finally moved into the right direction.
I beaded a ring, attached it to the backing and added the skull in the center. Then I randomly filled the empty space in the center with differently sized and colored seed beads and sewed the edge of the beaded ring to the backing using purple coated hematite beads for just a touch of color.
Using varying techniques to create more than one level is giving the pendant more depth, I think.
As the colors are all quite dark, I chose silver for the edging and bail to lighten the look up a bit.


It may be worth to see how it looks if the colors are completely different. Now I wish I had got some golden skulls, so I could make a few "gold coins"! ;-)

2/28/2022

Ready for spring

The last time I had expressed the hope that I would be ready to show something new soon, based on one of the designs I had shared.
For this I used some beads that I have probably had around almost from the start of my jewelry making. It was at a Sunday market in a small town nearby where I found a strand of blue goldstone. Back then, I had only seen red goldstone before, and I really loved that deep blue. If only I had known that these beads would haunt me for years, I am almost sure that these haven't been the last ones because they have been hiding in old pieces that I set aside for ripping up before.
My problem was that I never had a really good idea for them.
I finally found a good use for them, though, even if it meant that I was shamelessly hiding that beautiful blue in the process.

They are perfect to incorporate them in these beaded buds, and as I had three of them, I decided against another pair of earrings and instead made this necklace
With the necklace, I'm also once again embracing my asymmetric side which doesn't happen that often, both with the position of the buds and with the different colors.
Originally, the third bud was supposed to be bronze colored, but I didn't have the necessary size 15 seed beads for that, and I simply couldn't wait for an order because I was afraid the necklace would end up in the infamous WIP drawer.
Now I'm thinking the gunmetal makes for a very nice contrast, too. What do you think?




2/24/2022

Erm ... a Happy New Year?

I admit that the year is already feeling rather used AND it is definitely trying to show 2021 that it can do even "better" than its predecessor.
In short, I am still struggling with life as I had mentioned before in December. Private matters, but also what is going in the world, often I just want to hide under my blanket in bed. It's exhausting, it's scary, and sometimes it's hard for me to find the motivation for the smallest things.

Just now I managed to cut up cardboard boxes again and it was pretty amazing to see that most of the boxes were for the cats and just two small ones for me, something for the household (yay?) and a gift. So spoilt, but what would I do without them?
Now that der Dekan has become a tiny bit calmer - as in being crazy in segments rather than for five hours in a row - I even had the chance to get a little creative again.
I participated in an Art Nouveau inspired showcase on Facebook and was determined to make some new items and to use some of my old stash. It took me a while to get into the flow of creating and reach that meditative state, actually one of the designs needed experimenting and cost me some nerves before it finally worked the way I wanted it to, but then it felt so good.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I don't like making earrings, sometimes simply because I forget how I made the first one, but bead embroidery has helped me a lot with that. It's more work for me with having to sew on the backing, but it is really satisfying to end up with two matching earrings!

So here are the pieces I have made so far in 2022, and I'm working on something else based on one of these designs to use up some leftover beads, so hopefully there will be something new to show again soon.



Stay safe and healthy out there and take care!

By the way, I have finally caved and can now also be found on Instagram where I don't just share my work, but also brat ... sorry, cat pictures and items from my personal collections.