The first nest

There are some things you can't learn early enough and among those is how to choose a comfortable spot for hanging out - literally in this case.

Melisande and Schwabhild, the new arrivals in the farmyard, were lucky to have a mother and aunts who are experienced in that sort of thing and found the perfect nests for the girls from where they don't just have a great view, but in which they can also swing!
You can tell from their wide eyes that there is truly a lot to see there.
So many new experiences for a pair of little chicks


10 on the 10th - Summer memories

This is not something I usually do because I'm just not very good at it, but when I read that Marsha from Marsha in the Middle chose the topic "Special Summer Memories" for "10 on the 10th", I figured I would be able to do a bit of nostalgia.

Sooo, let's try this. There won't be any particular order, I'll just put the memories down as they come to mind.

1. The first one coming to mind is the birthday of my best friend when we were kids. Our birthdays are about a week apart, mine end of June, hers beginning of July. She used to have around ten or so kids at her birthday parties and one of our favorite games was "vampire" which was basically a variation of hide and seek, but the "victims" were put into time out for a certain period of time in a small storage room on the first floor. That wasn't as bad as it may sound because they had a little basket on a string which they let down through the window to have it filled with cherries from the garden by those who hadn't been caught yet (they were so good!). We were very proud of that game idea ;-)

2. This one also has to do with birthdays and fruit - my birthday and strawberries. When I was a kid, there were a few times (probably not as many as I seem to remember because that's how those things go) when my grandfather would go buy strawberries with me and my grandmother made a strawberry pie with them for my birthday.
This year a family member brought me some strawberry pie for my birthday and the memory popped up once again.

3. While we are at birthday memories, here's another one. I have been a fan of Jane Goodall ever since I got one of her books as a gift when I was about 12. She's absolutely amazing and of course her portrait is on my fan wall.
Some years ago, there was an evening with her in Munich which is about 125 miles from here. A friend, knowing how much I admire her, but also that it would have been hard for me to organize this by myself, turned up with tickets and an overnight room reservation.
It was truly an experience to remember, hearing Jane Goodall talk, then spending the rest of the evening in the small self-service bar at the hotel talking to some other guests and driving home the next day not via "Autobahn", but through little towns and villages, stopping here and there like at a field full of poppies.

4. There's nothing like a sponteanous field trip, don't you think?
There is one I remember especially well. A friend called me very early in the morning asking if I wanted to come on a quick trip to the source of the small river Lauter to hang our feet into the water. It was a very hot August that year, the night had been very humid, and the idea sounded great.
The Lauter source is a small spring surrounded by nature. You walk there from the church, through the woods, birds singing. There are only a few houses and a historical inn and except for a couple taking a quick peek, we were all alone, talking, laughing, enjoying the water.
Then all hell broke loose, just rain luckily, no thunderstorm. We are both no runners, but it really didn't make a difference because we were soaked through to the skin within seconds, anyway. We laughed all the way back to the car (and luckily my friend had extra tees in the car which was better than nothing).

5. This memory is as stereotypical as it can be. When I was 13, I was invited to stay with an aunt (actually she was probably more some kind of distant cousin) for a few weeks during summer vacation. As luck would have it, a cousin of mine (we had the same great-grandparents on one side) lived in the same little town. He was my age and so were his friends. My aunt said I could use her old bike, and from then on, we were out there all day and came home in the evening very hungry and full of stories what we had done. As the only girl I even got an honorary nickname and for a while we even sent one another letters after the vacations were over.
Had we been looking for a body instead of mushrooms, it would very much have been "Stand By Me".

No pictures exist of our adventures, so my needle felt/embroidery mushroom will have to do.

6. My last trip in 2011 was to Cambridge in the UK. I loved it. I loved the town, the museums, the atmosphere, I didn't even mind the other tourists. The weather was a perfect mix of sun and rain. In the afternoon we just sat in the lounge for a while and had a cup of tea while reading.
The special memory has to do with breakfast, though. We tourists love our breakfast and this one had so many choices, we could have eaten all day. What was the biggest fun about it, however, was that they didn't have an ordinary toaster back then, but what I called - for lack of a better word - a "toaster tunnel". You put your toast on the conveyor belt which ran it through the tunnel, and at the end - voilĂ , nice browned toast. I was actually amazed how well it worked and could have just made toast all day. I know, I'm such a child.
The hotel got a complete makeover in 2018, though, so that huge breakfast room has changed a lot, it seems, and the toast tunnel is gone :-(
Now I wish I had taken a picture of it.

7. Although I'm not a summer person, I have to admit that sitting outside somewhere quiet in a warm summer night can be wonderful. Being next to a body of water is not the worst thing if it's hot. For me, that was the only reason to join the ex and family members for night fishing although I am a vegetarian and don't fish (not that chances of catching fish were very high where we went, anyway).
A comfy chair, a cooler bag full of goodies, and a book for the evening when there was still light - and once it got dark, just listening to the rustling in the bushes and trees behind us (joking that it was bears when it was probably hedgehogs and other small animals), the waves in front of us and the muffled curses of the men when there was another missed bite, and relaxing until it was time to get ourselves home again.

Sorry, we never took pictures, so you have to make do with one of my handmade fishes ;-)

8. July 27, 2018 was the day of the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, and a lot of people were really excited to see that one, including my friend and I.
We drove around for a while to look for a good spot and finally ended up on the "AasrĂĽcken" (literally "carrion back", I have no idea why the vantage point near our local mountain, the Hohenstaufen, has that name) in a farmer's almost harvested field (he was still working on it at the far end) with hundreds of other people. Some had huge telescopes and loads of photo equipment, others set up rich picknicks for the whole family. Although it got rather cool eventually, my friend and I were among the last few who sat it out until the very end and didn't regret it. It was rather magical.
Again, no pictures, but here's a time lapse video (not from our area, though).

9. Fleamarkets are not restricted to summer, I know, but this memory is about a very special June fleamarket. One reason it was special was that my American friend was there for a visit. We had met her via Steiff and no matter which country, a fleamarket had always been a favorite activity of us. This particular one was a city fleamarket that only took place once a year and it spread out all over city center.
We usually did one round and then sat down somewhere for a drink and some food, then did another round.
I was always slow at fleamarkets and usually relied on the "hunting master" to find the good stuff, but this time it was my friend who called me to tell me she had found a Barbie case with contents and she thought it was old.
One glance at the case and the two dolls in wedding outfits and I asked for the price without even knowing what else was in it. The price was so incredible that I almost fell over. All I could say "Sold, just let me get to the bank." as I had very little money on me. I was very glad the bank was nearby and the lady put the case under the table because others had shown visible interest when I had looked at it.
Only when we took our usual break, I allowed myself to take a closer look. While I had been looking through children's books, my friend had found a real little treasure for me. I still feel as excited now when I look at those finds in my collection, for example this sweet pink and black outfit called "Atelierfest".

10. This isn't really just one special memory, but more of a mix of all the summers my best friend and I hung out in the woods and had "adventures" - I think making them up ourselves doesn't take away from us having a lot of fun being out there with the bikes, picking wild flowers, pretending to be in a jungle, solving cases or re-enacting our favorite books.
I'm not saying these were better times in general, but we had some great times which I'm looking back on fondly.

If you really made it down to here, all I can say is thank you and you definitely deserve to get yourself a stiff drink and/or some chocolate now ;-)
My summer memories may not have been what you expected, but I sure had fun remembering all of them.
Happy Summer everyone!


I made an octopus!

You may want to say that you already know that I made an octopus ... or two or five or ten ... after all I had shown a collage of them in 2019 in this long post. Of course I didn't stop making them after this, but the wire had been on the back burner for a while now because new techniques had to be explored which also happened to be easier on my hands than the wire most of the time.

That doesn't mean the wire has stopped calling me, though, so when I was asked to make a custom octopus pendant, I couldn't say no.
I love that none of them comes out the same. Tentacles with one or two wires, with beads or without beads, the head with a cab or without, and best of all - I never know myself what they will look like in the end. Making the tentacles go wild is really the most fun about this. It may seem they are random, but they are not.
The first one starts out randomly, but the next ones are based on it, and often I go back to fiddling on the first again, too.
I like to think the octopus head is telling me what to do ;-)

For this one, a cab was required and the choice was a lovely moss agate cab.
I used moss agate on a custom order before, only in that case the stone was large and dark green and not just the size requirements for the pendant were very specific, I also had to use exactly 23 moss agate beads in the two-wired tentacles which weren't supposed to spread out, all of which made the job a bit of a puzzle.

This time, I was allowed to go wild as long as I added enough moss agate beads to the tentacles and achieved a certain length, and I enjoyed it immensely.
So this is the latest addition to my little octopus family (and I'm already hatching new ideas in my head ;-)).


Beaded butterfly bowler

I mentioned this in my last blog post. If you follow me anywhere, you have already seen a picture of this hat, but I said I wanted to take some detail pictures.

I have been fascinated by bowlers since I was a child. Although I did watch Laurel and Hardy, I think I really noticed them when I first saw The Avengers. I loved Emma Peel's incredible outfits, but loved Mr. Steed's classy and elegant suits, complemented by his bowlers, brollies, and shoes, just as much.

In 1999, on a visit to California, we went to a huge fleamarket. It's amazing how just thinking about it brings back memories of individual stands and the layout and even individual pieces (I still miss the fantastic tie-dye shirt I bought there and wore until it fell apart).
I can even see the table before my inner eye on which I saw the vintage bowler. It was love at first sight, I just had to have it and didn't even try to haggle. A few stands down, a seller admired it and asked me where I got it. I was so proud of it.
Granted, I haven't worn it often because it's a bit hard with my long hair, my hats tend to ride up in the back where the hair is caught between collars and the hat rims, but it makes me smile just to look at it. Shortly afterwards I got myself a ladies' bowler at an antique shop. I have pictures of both hats here if you want to have a look.

Beaded hat rims hadn't been new to me for a while, there were friends who made them and who also made bead loomed hatbands and beaded embellishments for hats, but although it had always been on my list, I was always too lazy to get a hat and work out a pattern (my bowler is taboo for such shenanigans ;-)).
Then one fine day I spontaneously ordered a bowler off eBay that was a good price, not top quality at the price of course, but also no fancy dress party hat, was quite big (planning to put the hair underneath, but haven't quite worked it out yet, also because I'm growing my bangs out which have been at a very awkward length for months) and had no lining which was perfect for me as I wanted to put embellishments on it although at the time I wasn't sure yet what.

I started on the bowler just as spontaneously (two years after I bought it, lol), putting my seed bead boxes next to me and (quite) randomly choosing from my colors to make a very colorful, very happy looking rim. I wish I could say how much fun it was doing that, but to be honest, as much as I love the result, it pretty much bored me to tears. I doubt it's something I want to repeat anytime soon.
Next I took a break in order to decide what to put on the hat. That's when I made the butterfly pendant with my friend Michelle's fabric design and immediately I thought of the bowler. Make it even happier and more colorful and put butterflies on it!

My first plan was to bead embroider butterflies and make them fly around the hat in a spiral, but then I decided to bead the wings seperately - although I know that wing patterns are different on the front and back, and this would mean, patterns are the same front and back - because I wanted them to look light while for the pendant I had wanted something sturdier. Then I would bead the bodies, sew on the wings, stiffen them in different positions, but not too much, and sew the butterflies to the hat.
As you can see, there's no spiral. I just couldn't stop myself and kept making new patterns, a few after real butterflies, but most with fantasy patterns. I seem to have a problem with empty space (which is confirmed by my walls)? There was even a short moment I thought of adding flowers, but it was really just a moment.

After working on it a few weeks and making 13 butterflies in very different colors, I told myself it was enough. Yes, even if there are two spaces that to me scream for more wings, but enough is enough.
Another long post, sorry, but it was a long project.
Now where are the detail pictures?
I don't have any. I tried it in the garden, in the light tent, inside in daylight, but the variety of beads I used either puts a glare on one wing or one wing is blurry. I gave up for now, but if I ever manage, I'll make a page for it.

What I do have are some pictures in the garden, so you can at least see more than one side.


Creative energy

Wow, it has been a while again, but that actually fits today's topic quite well.

My creative energy tank had been not empty for some time, but locked, you could say.
I always have a list of ideas in my head some of which have been around for months or even longer, and I kept adding new ones.
That isn't new, I have always done that and my guess is that 90 % of them never got realized, either because I forget them again very quickly (as I usually don't write them down) or because something new caught my attention (oooh shiny) or because I couldn't figure out quickly how to do it (I can experiment forever once I get hooked, but I can also abandon stuff very quickly before even starting on it) or because they ended up in the infamous WIP drawer (which is actually the code word for drawers or cabinets all over my place).

For quite a while, though, I had absolutely no motivation or energy to get started on anything. At night, I would be lying in my bed and work out all kinds of fantastic stuff that would have revolutionized the craft world, no doubt ;-)
The next day, I would aimlessly click through websites or change TV channels and think I should really get started on something now, but couldn't get myself to do it most of the time.
It's not that I didn't make anything at all, and once I got into that almost meditative state, I would keep going, but it was still a far cry from how I used to work and I had no idea what was going on and really let it bring me down at times.

Maybe I should have realized earlier that it was kind of a jewelry burnout. I guess I was so used to making jewelry that I didn't even notice that not only did it not make me happy at the time, but it also squashed my urge to make anything else because I felt I needed to come up with new designs instead.
A generous portion of Weltschmerz on top of that didn't help.

So I decided to leave one of my very active sale groups, which sadly had not been successful for me for too long, to take some pressure off and do something for myself that had been on my list for almost 1 1/2 years! I'm planning an extra blog post for that because I want to take some detail pictures first.
Then of course there was something completely new on my list as well which I'd like to tell you about.

I have been intrigued by other crafts for a long time. I like to watch videos on pottery, sewing, weaving, and more, but two crafts really caught my interest - spinning and embroidery.
Now I had/have friends who spin - not nearby unfortunately - but I never thought I would want to give it a try and now I'm still struggling with a beginner's drop spindle after weeks without producing more than about five inch of usable yarn. I'm beginning to think that should have been a sign, but hey, der Dekan thoroughly enjoys helping and has fun! Not that it makes things any easier. I'm not giving up yet, though.

Hand embroidery is a different topic.
In elementary school we had what you could maybe call a stitch booklet. It wasn't a sampler, from what I remember it really looked like a little booklet and each page was for practising one particular stitch. I was absolutely terrible at it, maybe not unusual for a 6 or 7 year old, but on the other hand my school experiences made me think for a long time that I wasn't good at any kind of craft.
My second experience with embroidery came after being at a yarn shop - with about 17, I had discovered knitting for myself in my early 20s, way later than all the others in my circle - and not being able to resist a lovely tablecloth kit with little violets. 1 1/2 violets was my limit, my sister finally finished it.
That's it. I never touched embroidery yarn again. Then, many, many years later, I discovered metal threads on a British website - oooh shiny - while looking for a particular calendar, and even later a friend made a kit from RSN tutor Becky Hogg which I fell in love with, a little goldwork fox. It took me a long time to do the jump and order the kit myself, and then it took me even longer to start on it. I can't say how often I opened up that box, admiring the metal threads, but being too wimpy to give it a go.
A few months ago then, Deana from vuvu_ceramics wrote something in an Instagram post of hers that really gave me the kick I needed. I can't remember the exact words, but it was about just giving things a go and enjoy them, no matter how they turn out. I've heard that before, but the way she said it ... I can't tell you why, but I commented that I had a hard time with a kit I got because I was afraid messing it up, and then Lauren (Confesstress) chimed in with encouraging words and some help ... well, I actually started working on my kit.
I won't lie, it was hard. I had never heard of couching and punching threads and cutwork and purl and passing and all that. Also I hadn't expected my hands to hurt that much, but holding the embroidery ring and trying to shape the metal threads to sew them down at the same time was tough on them. I had to force myself to take breaks although I didn't always want to, being so determined to not let this become a WIP.
And I finished it. Is it perfect? Heavens, no. It has flaws and flaws and flaws which I'm not going to list (you can see them, anyway). But I finished it and was happier than I had even expected. Take that, stitch booklet!!
Actually there was one flaw that I felt I needed to hide, so instead of leaving the face without embroidery as intended, I added white seed beads in two sizes to it, so now my fox is squinting a little, probably surprised to finally see the light of day.
At first, I wanted to give Foxy some grass and flowers to sit in, in beads or in an ambitious attempt to use more embroidery stitches that I didn't really know (although someone who shall stay unnamed may have bought a lot of randomly chosen thread colors), but after coming so far I really didn't want to mess the fabric up.
So instead - and I really hope Becky will forgive me for changing the design, even if it's not a lot - I sprinkled small and tiny golden seed beads all around Foxy randomly. I guess I can't do without beads, also I love to combine techniques.

And here's Foxy now.
If you made it up to here, thank you very much for your patience!

These two pictures were taken under my daylight lamps, but look how beautiful Foxy is in warm light!


Nostalgia - The mystery zebra

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.

Today I have brought a little mystery friend from my Steiff collection.
Steiff has always been known to make promotional items, from an aphid for a chemical company to a little teddy for cough syrup, but also cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse.

This little fellow is a zebra as you can see. That isn't unusual of course, but unlike its zebra pal with whom it shares the stock number, its cotton velvet fur doesn't have only black or brown stripes (yes, even the "ordinary" Steiff zebras don't all have the same color) ...

... but part of its stripes are green. Huh?

The green is not painted over the original stripes and it is not limited to individual parts of the zebra, in some spots you can see it go across the seams.

Was the color sprayed on maybe? Why green? And why not all the stripes?
Then of course there's also the word "arco" on both hips.

I've tried more than once, but couldn't find out anything. So I finally turned to expert Steiffgal hoping she would be able to help me. She let me know that there was a picture of the arco zebra in a product guide I don't own, but all it said there was that it was from 1954 and that it was a promotional item for "Arco".
I had figured as much, but
what is or was "arco"? Is it a brand, is it a company name? What did it have to do with the color green?
Interesting is also that the zebra in the book is described as being green and white and also looks that way in the photo, no brown to see, while mine just has some green areas and the green seems to be brighter.
Did that depend on the person applying the stripes or did it have to do with the production process?

Unfortunately I don't have any possibility to find out after 70 years, so my little zebra is going to stay a mystery.
And why do I have the feeling it's laughing at me? ;-)


Charade - a small homage of mine

It's really incredible that I have never used a quote from this movie when I still did the quotes of the week because it is one of my all time favorites.
Cary Grant? Audrey Hepburn? Excitement, mystery, love, and wit? I'm in, thank you very much.
I'm of course talking about Charade from 1963, and if you have never seen that movie, but still want to, you should stop reading or looking. Spoiler alert!

In short, Audrey Hepburn - Reggie - discovers that her husband, whom she has decided to divorce because it's always secrecy and lies with him, is not only dead, but has also left her nothing but an empty flat and a few things in a small bag.
He also happens to have been a thief who stole from his accomplices, and now those are chasing after her because they are convinced that she has the stolen money or at least knows where it is. Throw in a fake agent and Cary Grant as the suspicious helper, whom she can never be sure about although she has fallen in love with him, put them all in 1960s Paris, and you're in for a wild ride - "the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made".

For a "movie showcase" in one of my Facebook sales groups, we were supposed to design pieces inspired by movies, and Charade was the second one to pop into my mind (the first one was Jaws, and maybe I'll do another post about what I made based on that).
All I could think was "stamps" and "Eiffel Tower", and without planning exactly how I wanted to put those two together, I got myself some Eiffel Tower charms and pulled out the family's old stamp collection.
You see, Reggie's husband used the gold to buy three very rare and valuable stamps which are on an envelope for everyone to see, but it takes them the whole movie through to realize it.
By then, Reggie has given the stamps to her friend's little son who is a collector (just like my siblings and I used to be as kids), and he has traded them with a stamp dealer. It's one of my favorite scenes of the movie how they go to the shop and the dealer describes each stamp lovingly before he gives them back saying that he had already waited for them because he knew it had to be a mistake.
When Reggie says that she's sorry, he says: "Oh no. For a few minutes, they were mine. That's enough."
My collector's heart is really feeling these words, every time again.

I had thought it would be easier to pick stamps from the collection that would go well together in color and design for the right feel, but not only didn't I want to break up some of the series, I also thought huge and colorful stamps with astronauts or exotic animals wouldn't quite work in this design ;-)
I finally picked three stamps, and after a failed first attempt, which made me do a few things a little differently the second time, it was really fun to work on this pendant. It's one of the pieces that is not just an ordinary design to me, but something very personal. If you have watched a movie often, do you also have memories of the circumstances when watching it or of the emotions?

If the pendant stays with me, which it probably will as I doubt that it evokes the same feelings in others, it will still be useful to remember what I learned from making it - how to seal the stamps, how to attach them, and more.

By the way, here's an article about the wonderful scene with the stamp dealer. I'm not the only one who loves it.
And here's another one explaining a bit about the stamps they used in the movie which is actually very interesting.


What do you mean - chipped?

A few weeks ago, Rachel from The Glass Cavern posted two pictures on Facebook, of an ammonite with inlays of Bello opal (lab-created). I have admired them more than once - and not just the ammonites, Rachel makes beautiful lampwork and so much more -, but I'm trying to use what is in my stash and my seed bead orders are bad enough, so I always resisted.

This ammonite was a little different, though. While polishing it, a little accident happened and a bit got chipped off the edge. Not wanting it to end up in a drawer, Rachel posted it asking if a wire wrapper or bezel maker was interested.
I'll admit that I jumped on the chance like a hawk on a mouse although I had no idea at all for it at first and only a very vague one minutes later. When the ammonite arrived, that idea had already decided to leave my brain because I hadn't written it down.

So I had to come up with a new idea and I decided to try something really new to me. Ammonites are of course flat on top, but not at the bottom, and from another pendant I knew that it could be a little difficult to bead a good bezel for it.

How about adding some of the beading foundation at the bottom and level the fossil out? How about making that piece a little bigger and then bead on it? Oh, or how about adding layers of beading foundation to both level out the bottom and "complete" the ammonite, so I could bead a bezel all around that and have an even better chance to hide the chipped edge?
I really had to wing this, but I was pleasantly surprised when it worked out just the way I had hoped.

After beading the bezel in bronze and golden seed beads, I had to fill up that extra space somehow. I decided on a organic look with a mix of golden size 11 and 15 seed beads, making one layer with seed beads sewn on individually and going through all of the layers of beading foundation, then I added some extra beads on top.
There is a two row edging of the golden beads all around and an embellishment with garnet beads only around the ammonite itself. For the garnets I chose different sizes, so some sit lower, some higher to repeat the organic feel of the golden addition.

I really struggled with a bail for this one.
Due to the spiral, the pendant isn't symmetrical, even if you may not notice that at first glance, and I wasn't sure if I wanted a very simple bail like peyote or herringbone or something a bit flashier like a triangle peyote bail.
To be honest, my preference would have been no bail at all or rather a hidden one (you may have noticed that before in my bead pendants, no matter if loomed, woven or embroidered), and after working out the best way, I did that in the end.

P.S. As usual, I had a hard time not to add dangles, but I think they really wouldn't worked for this one.


Fluttering into spring

Ever since my friend Michelle opened her Spoonflower shop, I have been thinking about using one of her fabric designs in one of my jewelry designs.
If you don't know Spoonflower, the platform offers "premium fabric, wallpaper and home decor that's printed on demand with unique designs from independent artists worldwide".
This was my first personal experience with Spoonflower although I first heard of it years ago.
All I knew was that I wanted to use my favorite of Michelle's designs, the "Whimsical Watercolor Wildflowers on Turquoise", but obviously only a very small part of it as it is not a miniature pattern. Not knowing what to expect, I ordered just a swatch to see what I could be doing with it and chose a sturdy cotton which would make a solid backing for embroidering on it. At that point, it was just a vague plan, I hadn't worked out any details at all.

By the time the swatch arrived, I had thought about it some more. For a wire wrapped octopus piece (that I haven't shown here, it's a component for a friend's basket weaving project) I had got a number of large flat copper rings (how is it I can never order just one thing?) ... ah, you remember my last post with the curtain ring? Yes, this time I would be using a different kind of "frame".
The rings are large enough to pick a nice part of the pattern and to add something of my own - I still hadn't determined what -  and they are lighter in weight if someone doesn't like heavier pendants.

Step 1 - prepare the "canvas".
I didn't cover the copper ring completely with the beaded bezel to achieve the look of a passepartout.

Step 2 - embroider small dew drops on the plants. That was easy.

Step 3 ... step 3 ... step 3 ... something to sit in the empty space above the plant. A dragonfly. A fairy. A butterfly!
That was the right choice for more than one reason (but that will be a different story).
For a second I thought about embroidering it directly on the fabric, but then I knew I wanted it to be 3D (which also has to do with that other story).

So I bead embroidered a pair of wings in colors that would complement the background using silver lined beads for some sparkle and added them to a small beaded body.
Lastly, I gave my butterfly two little winged buddies.

A simple bail and my pendant was finished :-)


Moon web

"Your January/February challenge is to make something that depicts your zodiac sign." Thank you, JAC challenge mistress. I had made a crab before once, but not with signs as inspiration, and a quick search on my blog informed me that I was indeed never inspired by my zodiac sign.

I had no idea at all at first, but then I found a piece of blue fabric that has been around since I first started selling jewelry. A friend of mine who sewed visited and we went to the "Sewing World" in town, a shop for fabric, sewing machines, haberdashery, picked a dark blue fabric with big golden stars, and she made me a bunch of jewelry bags from it. I used part of the fabric for backgrounds in photos and as a "shawl" for Jo, my manikin head, then eventually it got stashed away.
When I found it now, the backside without the stars screamed night sky at me and inspired me to go look for one of my metal curtain rings.
I thought I had shown my first bead embroidery piece using one of those rings, but obviously I only did on the gallery page, so here it is. It was a new interpretation of one of my favorite HeatherCats, Silhouette Cat.

I glued the curtain ring on, beaded the bezel, and embroidered the scene which sounds a lot easier than it was because the ring is quite massive. Let me assure you that I learned nothing from that for the challenge piece.
It would be smarter to embroider the scene without the ring getting in the way and then glue it on and do the bezel, but the scene would have to be perfect in size for that to work. Maybe I will think of trying that the next time.

My plan had been to embroider the constellation for Cancer using a star bead for the biggest star, a bigger seed bead for the smaller one, and crystals for the others.
When I had finished that, however, I hated every bit of it. It looked like a weird clock, squeezed into the space. I cut it up again and thought I'd just use the ring for another night scene and start a completely new challenge piece.

Choosing a bigger cat eye cab for the full moon is a nod to the most beautiful perigee I ever experienced, when the moon on our way to work was so big that it felt as if we could drive right into it. It was really magic.
What next?
I decided on a spider web, something else I have been fascinated with forever. With spider, of course.
Then it struck me. How about a tiny cancer constellation next to the moon that Cancerians are so often drawn to ...

VoilĂ , my challenge pendant.
My muse works in mysterious ways sometimes.


Another bead soup story

"Bead soup doesn't scare me." I wrote that in the post about the winter comet ornament in my advent calendar.
Not even if it's ten years old, actually probably even older because I mixed it in my early bead looming days,
for a project that never happened.
Every, now and then I picked beads from it, for the winter comet and for a pair of white elephant earrings, for example.

It was time to empty that little tin and I did it.
I had already had the plan to try out folded peyote earrings in a bead soup and a smaller size than the last ones, and I managed to use up the whole soup with the addition of a few more of the silver lined crystal beads.
I made four folded peyote components in two different sizes and turned one pair into earrings by hanging them from little beaded hearts.

Then I started playing with the second pair. I thought I could do something new with them (new to me, just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist). After breaking off a few end beads I could join the two components with beads and turn it into a folded peyote diamond.
Now what?
Well, in the same tin there was a little spike thingy with crystals that I improvised a few months ago and had just turned into a dangle with some crystal rondelles a few days before.
I attached it to the diamond and actually like it. It has a kind of archaic fantasy look to me now. What do you see in it?


Erm, Happy New Year?

I know, I know, I'm a bit late. I can only hope you'll forgive me - happy New Year to all of you!
Have you already broken the first of your resolutions for 2024?
I haven't, but that's simply because I have given up on resolutions a long time ago. I don't like setting myself up for failure like that ;-)

It's hard enough for me to start into this year after my time off work. As usual when having more time to myself than just my weekends, I snapped right back into my normal rhythm, meaning staying awake into the wee hours of the morning, sleeping as long as the cats allowed me to, maybe going back to bed after their first, second, and third breakfasts - obviously they are hobbit cats - or having a glorious nap in the middle of the day. I only needed my alarm clock, so I would take out the trash out in time or for one of my rare morning appointments. It was a sad moment when I turned on the alarm clock on Sunday night before I had to start working again, and after more than a week I am still struggling with it.

Somehow that also put a bit of a damper on my creativity. That doesn't mean I haven't done anything this year yet.
A new little chicken, Friedrun, picked a nest for herself and her triplets Huey, Dewey, and Louie (yes, named after ducks).

Two bead embroidered autumn suns made me dig into my old stash once again, this time for the beautiful frosted carnelian beads.

Then, however, I started working again and, creatively seen, took a very easy way out by beading more folded peyote earrings in different color combinations. Actually, I surprised myself by having the patience for so many, but they were the perfect "background beading" (meaning I only had to concentrate on the colors, not so much on the technique which seems to have made its way into my brain at last) while I am contemplating my next big project for which I have an idea, but am still looking for the best way to do it.

There would even have been a blue version that had been suggested, but I didn't have enough blue beads left for a pair of earrings. I do have a lot of grey ...
What do you think, how many more folded peyote earrings will there be before my muse will finally give me that spark that I need to get started on the next biggie? ;-)