Every Bead Has a Story

  Beads hold  memories and  and every bead has a story, partially known and partially buried in the past.  When I finish the piece for the Blog Hop,  story of the beads I’ve used will become longer and might be told later on-or not.

Most of the beads here are very old and I don’t know anything about the people who wore them.   I am only the latest owner-no, I prefer to think of myself as a caretaker.  I hope there will be other caretakers.

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I will use some of the beads you see below in my piece for the Memories and Thanks Blog Hop, so I thought it fitting that I should share some bead history with you.

The red disks (above) are African Vulcanite Heishi beads made from old phonograph records. The brass comes from vintage jewelry that has seen a lot of use. The glass beads (above) are African sand cast beads,  millefiore (actually Venetian but traded widely in Africa) and interlocking “snake” beads (above) called African for the same reason even though they are of Czech origin.

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Millefiore Beads

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Phenolic Resin Amber

Seed beads, Krobo glass beads from Ghana, (right) brass and bone beads.  Note that the Phenolic Amber is not genuine amber.  It’s a simulation and some of it is highly collectable.  I bought the  Phenolic Amber above in Cape Town, S.A

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  These brass findings-to-be aren’t African but I followed an African tradition:  recycling!  I cut the wires off  a brass wire picture holder,  cleaned them and made jump rings .  Then I soldered a few of the rings to straight pieces of the wire.

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More Krobo Beads from Ghana.

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I am thinking earrings here, maybe without the beads because I don’t want them too heavy.

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Baoulé Brass, Ivory Coast, Ghana

Interested in learning more?  See

Bedazzled Dictionary of Beads

But wait-there’s more–

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Maruti International Beads sent me some  lovely  handcrafted beads to give away to lucky readers.    Interested in winning some?   Details coming soon, so keep checking here and my Facebook page.

My First Quilt


I did not plan to make this quilt.  I wanted new quilts or comforters for my bedroom but could not justify buying new ones when the old ones were perfectly fine and I was just tired of the way they looked.  Then I started searching for the perfect duvet cover.  I didn’t see anything I liked.  Then I saw quilts I liked in a catalog and thought about making a patchwork design duvet cover.  I started dreaming in patchwork and going on line and looking at quilting supplies and fabric.   That’s when I got the idea of making quilts for my bedroom using the old comforter as the insides.  Have I ever done this before?  No.  But the Internet is full of blogs and tutorials with information on how to do things.   I read and watched videos.  A lot of videos.  I read books.  The main idea I came away with is that a beginner (me) should start small.  It was then that I remembered that a baby was due in our family in a few weeks and, if I put the (sewing machine) pedal to the metal, perhaps I could make a baby quilt.

What about the fabric?  I knew the little Tater Tot was a boy.  I had some great fabric I found at Jo-Mar in Philadelphia, along with some Bohemian Chic   style tablecloths bought at deep discount.   Not appropriate for a baby boy quilt.  So I went looking on line and saw all these kits and jelly rolls and charm packs  with gorgeous color coordinated fabric meant to be cut and sewn together.  But that didn’t resonate with me.  This project wasn’t about recreating someone else’s idea; I wanted to create my own palette and  I wanted to recycle fabric.  So I  bought old clothes at thrift stores, and raided  my small fabric stash and closet.  A co-worker gave me fabric that belonged to her late aunt who had made baby quilts for her family.  That seemed appropriate to use. I brought everything home,  washed and dried it, ripped out the seams in the clothes and ironed everything. 

Plumpton helped me to “audition” the colors.  He took his job seriously!

                                                                                                                               

I decided to make the quilt five (six inch) blocks across and down and to have blocks on both sides.  Because I intended to do the quilting on my sewing machine and didn’t have a walking foot, I used a baby blanket for the inner layer.  My first step was to cut out 50 blocks, arrange them in two sets of 25 and sew each set together.

One side sewn together.


After I completed both sides, I sandwiched the baby blanket in the middle using spray adhesive to hold everything in place and smoothed out the layers.  I put in a few pins for added stability.  Then I started to machine quilt.  It was here that tips from two friends came in handy.  I had watched one video where the quilter  started machine quilting from an outside corner.  “No,” instructed Jeri Beading Yoda, “You start from the center and go out.”  And since I had never machine quilted anything,  Susie B recommended I practice on some cheap fabric first. I’m glad I did.

I used a modified zig zag stitch because I knew my quilting was going to be crooked and this stitch would sort of hide that.

 

After quilting, I trimmed everything square and sewed on the binding.

 

Here I am machine stitching part of the binding.  I did it over  about three times before I was happy with it.  I ended up machine stitching one side of the binding and hand sewing the other.  You can see this technique here

They say you should sign the quilt, so I did.  I thought it was important to mention that I sewed it on a machine that had belonged to baby’s Great Grandmother Vicky.  It wasn’t until after I signed the quilt that I remembered that Vicky had  made me a beautiful quilted jacket  on the very same machine. 

 

Here is the finished baby quilt.

Jewelry from the Trash Can

I have been exploring textile arts and learning  techniques for incorporating them into jewelry.  And making up a few of my  own.  The bracelets below are from recycled materials:  old clothing dyed, stamped, painted and shredded, cast off electrical wire stripped and straightened, scrap stained glass tumbled and drilled, some gilded twigs from the sidewalk, pieces of old jewelry, and old plastic bangles or wire forms,  There is no plan; I just start to wrap and embellish.   I hit some of the bracelets with a heat gun to see how it would affect the fabric.  Depending on the fabric, it will burn, seal the frayed edges, or melt the fabric to reveal  what’s beneath.  I got this idea from a video by  Textile  and Mixed Media Artist Maggie Ayres.  There is so much information out there.  Don’t limit yourself to what you already know or think you have to take a class (unless you are learning how to use a torch, or another technique where proper safety instruction is vital).   Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Clayathon Wrap Up with Pictures

 

Clayathon is a place to relax, mix with great people, see the work other people’s work in progress and watch demos of  polymer and non-polymer techniques.  I saw demos on caning, faux dichroic glass,  soldering solver bezels, metal fold forming, and I gave a demo on drilling glass and making ring clasps with copper washers.  Lisa Clarke of Polka Dot Creations was there with the latest books and videos and Wilma Yost was there with the latest products from Polymer Clay Express  including their Shape Frames  that Wilma showed everyone how to use.  We had a cane swap and worked on a group cane too.  To sum it up, we had a blast.

Here are some pictures. 

Clayathon 2011

Clayathon is organized by the wonderful and talented Arlene Groch and her talented team of South Jersey Poly Addicts, (which is not the same thing as having a dual diagnosis, although Arlene does confess to having an “out of control” polymer clay addiction.) There is something so poetically just about a woman who gave up her law practice for polymer clay and invited friends to come and use her conference room, not for depositions and settlement conferences, but as a polymer clay studio.

If my Meniere’s disease, which has been acting up this week, does not have me Jackson Pollocking the carpet, I will be there along with the rest of my friends. Actually, Clayathon is a great stress reliever so I’ll have my doctor write a prescription.

Here are some pictures from past Clayathons.




Amulets, Talismans, Polymer and Wire

There are two new books that will enhance the library of anyone creative.  Both  show you how to elevate non precious material into art imbued with special meaning.

The first one is  Amulets and Talismans by Robert DancikI took Dancik’s class on cold connections last year  and put the book on pre-order as soon as I could.  I was not disappointed.  The book is crammed with information on cold connections techniques,  and full of ideas on how to take ordinary objects and showcase them in original, one of a kind pieces of jewelry that  tell a story that could be about the wearer, maker or materials themselves.

If you are a tool junky like me, you will relish Dancik’s ideas for making custom tools.  He shows a nifty little jump ring cutting gizmo you can make yourself.  I made one.  There are no directions, but one look at it is all you need. (If Truman Capote had met me when he first came to New York, his book would have been entitled Breakfast at Harbor Freight.)

The next gotta have it book is Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry by Ronna Sarvas Weltman.

Weltman’s  designs have an inimitable   primitive sophistication that’s fresh and inspiring.  Her projects and instructions will stoke your creativity and have might change the way you think  about polymer clay and wire.

This time last year

The Soul of a Tree

Nak037Last week, we made the trek to the Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. My in-laws made this trek in 1959 with Shari and my husband in tow.  They put a deposit on  a slab coffee table and hanging wall cabinet, and were nervous about spending so much money.  Who in his right mind would spend $300.00 on furniture with knot holes in it and cracks fixed with inlaid butterfly shaped pieces of wood that didn’t even match?

The furniture was delivered to their suburban home a few months later and they enjoyed it for the next 48 years. That furniture saw a lot of parties and family celebrations.  When Milton died, the guest book for the memorial ceremony sat on the cabinet for guests to sign.

When Vicky died, the furniture passed to Shari who enjoyed it every day of the short time she had left.  Shari longed to make one last trip to the Nakashima Studio but was too sick.  At her memorial ceremony we set a beautiful wooden box holding her ashes on the coffee table along with her glasses.

Last week, as I was walking on the gravel paths that lead from one studio building to the next, I realized that trees tell a Nak020story.  You can read history in trees if you know how.    Nakashima understood the soul of trees; he did not alter or mask a tree’s spirit with detailed carving, paint or heavy hardware.  Instead, he engaged in a dialog with it, and listened-really listened-to each whorl, knot and wormhole.  George Nakashima’s work is a reminder that imperfection has its own beauty.   If we could take those principles and apply them to each other, we would understand  that our imperfections are what make us remarkable.  And beautiful.


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We gave the furniture to family members who we hope will enjoy it for the next 48 years.

Make Clasps from Found Objects

I’ve been thinking a lot about jewelry made from found objects lately, probably because I have been asked to give a talk on the topic at the April meeting of the Main Line Bead Society. So this morning as I was brushing my teeth, it hit me: Why couldn’t I make a clasp from those cool copper washers I got at Harbor freight? I always get my best ideas in the morning. I had to wait until I came home from work to give it a try.

I took two washers about 18 gauge thick  and sawed a slit in one just big enough for the other one to fit through. Then I made jump rings from 18 gauge copper wire and soldered them on the washers. Then I pickled, cleaned, punched a pattern on the clasps, gave them liver of sulfur bath, and polished them up. The placement of the opening relative to the jump rings is critical; you want your necklace to stay on.  I don’t recommend this clasp for bracelets.  It has kind of an old Roman feel, don’t you think?  Here are the pictures.


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This last clasp is from an object I found on the street- a sheaf of 10 gauge copper wire encased in black electrical tubing. You can take off the tubing and use the wire. I made a clasp out of mine. Here’s that picture.

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What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

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Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

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Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

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Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

Beading From Budapest

I bought these necklaces and lariats in Budapest. I had never seen netting around beads, tubular netting, or so many variations on flat netting. I wanted to try some of the stitches myself, but I couldn’t find good netting instructions anywhere.

When Diane Fitzgerald’s wonderful book Netted Beadwork came out, the mysteries of the netting stitch were revealed along with the tale of its rich history. I recommend the book for anyone interested in learning this versatile stitch.nb

Here’s a picture of the beautiful blue Danube. Go to Budapest if you have the chance. It’s a charming city.

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