There can never be enough stars for my taste, not just for the Christmas time.
I'm going to take it a little easy today. No story, only stars (from the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge)!
1 and 5 and 7 Cat's Wire
3 and 4 and 6 MC Stoneworks
Moravian stars or "Herrnhuter Sterne" as they called in Germany were invented more than 160 years ago. The Moravian Church is a Protestant congregation. In 1722 Protestants fled religious persecution from different countries, most of them from Moravia and Bohemia, though, and went to Saxony where some of the refugees established the village Herrnhut which grew quickly (that's only a very short version).
They soon sent missionaries to far away countries. Those often sent their children back home when they had reached school age.
A teacher used stars to teach his pupils geometry, the children then used them for decoration during advent time and passed the tradition on to their families. The first stars were white and red, white standing for purity and red for the blood of Christ.
Nowadays you can get the stars in all kinds of colors, sizes and materials. You can buy them already put together or as a kit, in paper or plastic. Of course you can also make them completely from scratch.
I'm a fool. I thought it would be fun - for you - to see what a kit looks like. I'm not that much of an idiot that I would go for a big one right away because of my glue trauma. I know I suck at gluing. It shows time and again, but I was willing. I bought two mini stars of 13 cm, that's a little over one inch, one blue, one yellow.
Here are the sets in the box and the blue one out of the box. As you can see in the upper left hand corner, Ponder wanted to help me. He changed his mind soon. Probably he was afraid I'd glue him to the star.
Then I did something that doesn't happen often, I read the instructions. Of course there was not much to read, it's pretty self-explanatory. It did tell me to apply the glue sparingly. I knew then I was doomed. Sparingly is not in my vocabulary, simply because I can't do it.
It also said to take seven square points and "stick them along the seam of the body" after sticking the two halves of the body base together (and please imagine me saying "body" like the teacher does in this Mr Bean video ;-)).
I opened the glue and guess what. A big blob of glue with air bubbles attacked me. I was obviously doomed, but still willing.
I'll never read the instructions again. I did my round of seven, but the more points I glued on, the more threads of glue I generously applied over the table (it's a good thing it's so old and worn), on my hands and like a web between the points, and I didn't even know how to hold the star anymore. In between I took little breaks to give the glue time to do its thing, sometimes more inside the point instead of on its edges.
Did there have to be gaps?
Wait. The instructions said "The star assembly kit might be assembled under adult supervision and by children 7 years and older". I'm not really sure I am that old regarding anything glue related ;-)
Finally it was finished, though, and like this it didn't even look that bad (although I am still thinking I'd like to rip everything off and do it over).
I had learned something for the second star, however. Who cares about instructions?
This time I didn't start by going along the seam, instead I worked in rounds from top to bottom. Crazy! ;-) That way I could still hold the star at the bottom. It went like a breeze if you don't count the glue problems (I don't learn that quickly).
While I was working, I remembered that the bigger stars aren't glued at all, by the way, they use pins. Oh well, I wouldn't know where to put it, anyway.
And here's the yellow star now. I did it, yay!
I once had a friend who collected snow globes. I never got to see her collection, but when I happened to see a TV program about Vienna in the Christmas time, it made me wonder if she knew about the history of the snow globe. I didn't.
As usual I found slightly different stories on different pages.
You may want to know what snow globes have to do with Vienna. While "one of the earliest known descriptions of the snow globe comes from the U.S. government’s official report on the Paris Universal Exposition of 1878" as The Strategist is telling me (a paper weight with a man in the snow who's holding an umbrella), there is also the story of Erwin Perzy, a maker of surgical instruments in Vienna, who tried to improve the carbon thread lamp and experimented with a shoemaker's ball, a glass ball filled with water that craftsmen used to bundle the rays of light in order to have better light during their work. He tried out several things to add to the water to enhance light reflection. Semolina which sank to the ground slowly reminded him of snow and gave him the idea for a snow globe with the first one containing a model of the Basilica of Maria Zell. He patented the idea and the manufacture exists to this day.
Then I got to the website of the Paris Musée de la Poupée where I was told that the predecessors of snow globes were Cartesian divers, a science experiment named after Descartes.
They didn't mention Perzy at all, but instead a legal dispute between two German brands. From there on to a German website for collectors, from there to an American newspaper article that I couldn't read because of the EU's data policies and finally I ended up with the thesis of Anne Hilker: A biography of the American snow globe: from memory to mass production, from souvenir to sign ... that's when I gave up, but you are very welcome to read it here and check up on the many citations yourself.
There's nothing you can't find in a snow globe, no matter if it makes sense or not. There is even a snow globe that has only snow! Check out CoolSnowGlobes if you don't believe me. My favorite, however, is the Eclipse which "conjures the infinite depth of the night sky". It does look quite fascinating, but my desk definitely does not need any more things.
You can get snow globes in small, big, glass, plastic, as balls or domes, as jewelry, as ornament or as DIY kits.
What would you put into a snow globe if you had the choice? Do you have any yourself, if you do, what kinds?
Here's the only one I have.
The other day my sister and I talked about scented candles. I never have any candles burning in the house because of the cats, much less scented ones. I have hardly ever worn perfume. I don't use air fresheners.
Of course that doesn't mean, however, that I don't notice scents or smells.
"Fragrance is deeply personal, you don't have a choice between which scents you like and which you don't. Throughout our lives we store information on smells, creating a complex stockpile of memories and associations, all of which have a big impact on whether we like a fragrance or not." (from Belfast Telegraph)
I love the smell of fried onions.
I loved the smell of, I don't know, the tracks in the underground station after a heavy rain, but only on the way home. Probably it came from some kind of chemicals, so it may be a good thing that it has gone since, but those few seconds when I came down the stairs always triggered something in me.
I love the sweet scent of the roses in front of our house and crushed mint.
I don't like the smell of peach flavored things.
I hate the smell of wild garlic. When I still drove to work with the ex, there was an area where there must have been so much wild garlic that the smell clawed its way through the car windows after rain. I had to hold my breath because it made me sick.
Well, and sometimes I wish Ponder would flush after being in the litter box.
Then I started out on a trip into the internet to find out more about holiday scents. I should have taken something to eat on that trip because it looked like it would take a while and I quickly knew I would end up in total confusion, so I had to limit myself. If you want to enlighten me with your own personal experiences, please do, I'd love to hear it!
Let's begin with Diwali because this festival already took place in early November. On his site Hindu Inside Hariram says that Diwali smells like the gunpowder of the fireworks and the eatables. Mads Creations tells me Diwali fragrances for your home should be soothing and welcoming for visitors, floral and religious, and not sweet, spicy or fruity "as Diwali already includes lots of delicacies and delights to be shared that are already filled with sweeteners, spices and fruits". I'll be honest, that doesn't help me that much without any personal experience.
Hanukkah is ending tonight. Given the fact that I don't know much about Hanukkah except what I googled and the snippets I have been told by friends all I could think of were latkes and candles.
Obviously I was so wrong. Hanukkah smells like fear of relatives. Wait! I'm not making fun of it. This is a quote from the first article that I found on the matter, on Tablet, it's about perfumes for Hanukkah. It also quotes another article on Jewcy that I had found about scented candles for the festival, and that leads me to the last one from Alma which actually mentioned a candle that is supposed to smell like latkes and jelly donuts. I can't even imagine that one even if I try. Potato and fruit? Frying oil?
I turned to a dear friend to ask her what Hanukkah smells like for her. She said her first thought was olive oil as it's not only significant for the holiday, but also stands for latkes (I got something right!) and spinach with pine nuts in their house. She also added that sounds had been a big part of it when her kids were little, like screaming "Happy Hanukkah" three times while holding hands and jumping up and down as a circle and then falling on the floor after the candles were lit. Another memory she shared was that she hid the presents when she was growing up and put rhyming clues around the house, so there were happy screams when the kids found something. Thank you, Sharon!
Christmas. Now I can finally speak from own experience. What are Christmas scents to me?
Pine needles, spices like cinnamon or cloves, vanilla, turkey (even if don't eat it myself), oranges, snow (even if I don't like it ;-)) ... huh, now I almost want a scented candle. Maybe I'll just stick my nose into the little tin with Christmas cookies I got from the neighbors for St. Nicholas Day!
What do you know about Santa Claus? Where did he come from? Has he ever been a child?
Of course we could rehash the usual stories now. I could tell you about St. Nicholas again, I could tell you about that he is dressed either as the bishop who really lived, or that he used to wear different colors like brown or blue and that Coca Cola really was the company to make Santa Claus look like most of us think of him today, in the red coat with the white fur, with white hair and and a long beard, ho-ho-ho and children on his knee who tell him their wishes.
This Christmas story is different, though. Imagine Lapland hundreds of years ago.
A boy named Nikolas loses his parents and little sister due to a tragic accident on Christmas, so the whole village decided to take care of him. Nikolas stays with each family for one year, then he moves on. To show his gratitude he carves toys for the children of his former families. After six years, however, a bad harvest and bad luck at fishing mean no one can afford to take him in.
That's when the carpenter Iisakki who lives far from the village that he only visits to sell his goods offers to take the boy for a year. Although the relationship isn't easy in the beginning as Iisakki is not fond of children, he teaches Nikolas how to be a carpenter. One night he catches him in the workshop where Nikolas is preparing the Christmas gifts for the village children. He forbids it at first, but then decides to help him. He also asks the boy to stay although the year is over.
When Iisakki gets old, he moves away, but leaves his house, workshop and money to Nikolas who has become like a son to him. Nikolas who has always been a bit of an hermit takes this as a sign to dedicate his life to Christmas and bring presents to the children of all the villages in the area.
We still won't get around the red suit, though! As the distance between the villages is quite big, Nikolas gets himself four reindeer for his sleigh from Hilla. He thinks they will be easy to train, but the reindeer have their own opinion about that.
Only when Nikolas follows Hilla's advice and has a red suit made, they start listening to him and the legend of Santa Claus is about to begin.
Christmas Story, Finland, 2007
When I was a kid, our parson once asked me to come to his office after confirmation class. He was a really cool guy, smart, friendly, listened to us young ones just as he would to the grown ups, never got mad at us, never was surprised by our shenanigans (a certain raid in his garden with some of his apples being mysteriously gone comes to my mind for example, and no, I wasn't part of that one), was always open for questions and never ever condescending. Who knows, had I met more like him in church, I may think differently about it today. That's not what this is about, though.
When I got up there, he told me someone had given him two sets of books by Theodor Storm saying he should give one of them to a child he thought would appreciate it. Most of them were in Fraktur, a Gothic typeface, and he thought I should have them because he knew I was going to be able to read it fluently.
I have no idea why he chose me, I'm sure there were others who could read Fraktur, maybe he did it because I was so crazy about books or maybe he wanted to teach me something. Maybe I was just the first one he saw ;-) It doesn't matter, I was very pleased and possibly a little proud. This was more than 40 years ago, and I still have those books and treasure them although I haven't read them in a long time.
In honor of him I'll share this Christmas poem by Storm. H.K. (which we called him for short, not to his face of course although I'm sure he knew), this one's for you.
Weihnachtslied (Christmas Song)
From Heaven into valleys deep
The mild light of a star descends,
From fir tree woods a fragrance sweet
Ascending through the cold night breathe;
And lit by candles is the night.
My heart is startled now with joy,
It is the Christmas time so dear!
Afar I hear the church bells toll,
So dear and homely they call
Me back into a fairy tale.
Again, I stand in adoration,
The old enchantment holds me still;
Before my eyes, from deep oblivion
Lost childhood's golden dreams return.
I feel, a miracle has happened here.
From the page of Electric Scotland
|Oberhofen Church ("my" church back then, picture taken in 2010)|
Few of you will remember my very first wire crochet Christmas baubles. Unbreakable, unusual, some of them still available ;-) Since then I have made different kinds of decorations, but most of them were wire knitted which I only realized after a conversation with a co-worker the other day. Why had I never tried to crochet around a bauble?
Well, that could easy be changed. I had already strung some, okay, a lot of mixed color seed beads on a copper wire and I choose black baubles for the filling as the contrast would show the difference between the two techniques nicely.
After starting the wire crochet bauble, I knew why I prefer wire knitting for ornaments. To achieve the perfect shape for your bauble, you actually work on the bauble, at least I do. That's a lot easier to do if you knit because the wire structure isn't as dense, is much more forgiving when you press it against the bauble and easier to shape, and of course because the beads are between the stitches.
In wire crochet you usually work from the inside if you don't have a flat piece and the beads appear on the outside, but try to do that if there is already a bauble on the inside! So I turned it the wire structure around after a few rows, so the beads are on the inside now, but you can still see them peek through.
The other downside is that it takes even longer than knitting around a bauble, but it definitely has a very different look and also gave me two new ideas for later some time.
Now the wire knit bauble. You see all the beads perfectly well, the look is very airy and less "messy" as you have just one layer of wire whereas crocheting is more three-dimensional because you pull the extra wire through to make a stitch.
Here they are in one picture together, so you can compare them even better. Let me add that in the right light the wire crochet bauble sparkles more because the layers of wire and the texture capture the light better. I wonder which one would win the sparkle battle, though, if I had used only silver lined beads or maybe even crystals as the beads are so much more visible in the wire knit bauble.
I also feel the temptation to see which one breaks more easily when dropping them, but the crochet bauble just took too long for that.
In the end I guess it's just a matter of taste which one you like better (let's not forget these are quite unconventional colors for Christmas baubles, too ;-)).
This post goes well with my other posts about the difference between techniques like wire crochet, wire knit, netting, and Viking knit, by the way. You can find them here, here and here.