Wednesday, December 30

Next and Coming




I'm about to leave town for a trip to visit my grandbaby, and of course her parents. My daughter is planning fun things for us, I can't wait.

I decided not to fly after all the recent hullabaloo, you know what I mean, with all the security tightened and possible delays and aggravations.

So I have rented a car, and I'll be driving. It's just me going this time.

One advantage of driving is that I can drop by North Texas and visit my family there, too.

It's a long time in the car, but I'll get some books on CD or something to pass the time quickly.


I usually sit in the passenger side and knit, but not this time. I'm driving, so I guess I'll have to wait to knit until I arrive.

I haven't started packing yet, I'm way behind on my usual planning. But somehow it will all come together.

And if not, I'm sure they have stores in Louisiana, where I can pick up anything I need.

At least I won't have to worry about containers with more than four ounces of liquid, or about having my toothpaste confiscated.

Such things that go on, it's a wonder we travel at all any more. But that grandbaby is a big draw, I think I'd walk it if I had to!

So you may not hear from me as much as usual. It's hard to type with a tiny girl sitting on your lap, and I plan to be in that position as much as possible!

Tuesday, December 29

Lock and Key


For some reason right now I'm facinated with locks and keys.

I've been creating headpins and loops for chains, using the shapes and signs of locks.

Old skeleton keys, big and small.



And padlock designs, simple and fancy.

Of course they're not real, they don't open. And as far as I know the keys don't unlock anything.

But they have such a significance, they are an emblem of something. An older time, when such a large key or such a simple lock would have brought security.

A time when things were simpler, when things moved more slowly.


That's what's fun for me to think about. I sometimes keep old keys that went with a place I used to live or an automobile I used to own.

I still have some of the old hardware from a sailboat I owned long ago.

So they are like a memory of an older day, long ago and far away.

Monday, December 28

Pairs and Solos, New Ancient Pieces


Another friend sent me a parcel of collected items - right out of the blue, I didn't know it was coming.

This past weekend, in spite of the snow and the cold, I made up some molds and took casts off some of the pieces, and I really like how they turned out.


I gave them a dark polished patina so they look worn and ancient.


And it's funny how they go together so well with some of the pieces I had already taken casts from, they would look lovely together. Even with some of the charms I've been making for a while now, like the fleur de lys charm, they seem to go together.

Makes my fingers itch to make them up into some jewelry.

With lovely pearls and lots of faceted glass beads, or dark onyx round beads, put together with a rosary wrap wire connection.

Getting these surprise packages is fun! I don't mind that at all and hope I can do the loaned pieces justice.


Like these two little tassels. Wouldn't they be fun as earrings?

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Well, it's back to the day job today, for a few days. A drive through the snowy streets, bundled up in a hooded coat with leather gloves and snow boots.

New Year's holiday is coming. Do you have special plans for the end of the year?

Sunday, December 27

Roses and Snow, Pink and White


I cast this beautiful oval shape in pewter, with its bas-relief flowers on it, and decided to put two holes at each side. I had a jam jar lid full of my hand dyed costume pearls, and I put it into the pile of faux pearls with their slightly pinkish hue. I like using my hand dyed costume pearls because they are slightly uneven in color and look very antique, even well-worn and time darkened.

I knew I had to use them together. I just couldn't wait to make a wearable piece with them together.


I had also cast the two pillars with one large loop at the top and two small ones at the bottom, and I could just see how the pearls could drape between the roses and the pillars.

I sat in front of a movie last evening, rosary wrapping the pearls and some hand dyed acrylic bicone beads, to make the necklace.

I really like how it turned out, it reminds me of old costume jewelry from the 1930's and has that type of clap on it. I made it adjustable, so it can be used as a princess choker high up on the neck, or let down to a lower neckline look for a plunging evening dress.

The flowers in the oval are daisies and roses, very romantic. It's ornate yet very lightweight.



I can see it at the neckline for a fancy dress occasion - or just worn with a simple lace top for a dressy shabby chic look for everyday. The extra length of chain has a floral cloisonne bead for a dangle, that drapes down the back of the neck when the length is shortened. Dainty!

It's in the Etsy shop, if someone falls in love with it like I did!

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It's very cold in the studio now, I'm layered up like an eskimo. I have certain clothes that I only wear in the studio to keep the dust and chemicals out of the rest of the house. And I only wash those clothes together, I keep them away from my regular out of the studio clothes.

They've been exposed to so many chemicals, heat and equipment they have holes all over. That's why I only wear them in the studio, and why I don't wear anything else there.

So with two pair of socks, three shirts and a sweatshirt covering most of me up, off I go to clean up some pewter for some orders that are waiting.

Thursday, December 24

Bon Bon Box, Goodies Inside


Do you remember that I had candymaking as part of my to-do wish list for the holidays?

Well, I got some made up and gave some as gifts.

Of course I had to taste test some myself, to make sure they were yummy.

There was white chocolate, dark chocolate and peanut butter flavored insides.



And I made this little bon bon box to hold some.

But they didn't stay in there very long!


It's Christmas Eve, I'm hoping for snow, a hot toddy and a warm fire in the fireplace tonight, with the holiday tree lit up and favorite music playing.

Tomorrow if the weather holds we're traveling to visit relatives, it's a one-day trip back and forth.

Lots of knitting time in the car. If it doesn't come a blizzard.

Merry Merry to all of you!

Joyeux Noel!

Wish I could send all of you a bon bon...
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Well, we did get the blizzard, so we aren't driving tomorrow. Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas are having heavy snowfall right now. We'll have a quiet day with just the two of us. Maybe watch a movie.

And I'm making next year's Christmas cards. I figure that way they'll be all ready to go when the time comes. Hopefully I'll remember where I stored them.

Since I can't send you a bonbon, here is a link to the bonbon box template so you can have fun with it, too!

Wednesday, December 23

Up and Down, Side to Side, You Decide


I wanted to make these birds useful, either flying side to side, or soaring up or down.

So I put two loops on them.

They can be used up and down as a focal, with a chain on the top and dangles on the bottom, or added to the center of a chain.


But I also wanted the option to turn the two loops to the side, to use at the clasp of a necklace, or even as a bracelet.


So they can fly either way.

I've been watching the yard for birds to see how they're doing in the snow.
I haven't seen many, or any squirrels. I guess it's too cold right now.

So I'll have to enjoy these bird charms. Red birds, robins of spring. Soon I hope we'll have the real thing.

Monday, December 21

Do You Love Old Medals


I'm still creating molds and doing test casts of the treasure trove of french antiques I received as a loan. I love these two medals I made on the weekend.

It was hard to take the imagery off the original as it was hinged and intact. It even had the original stitched ribbon on it. I really loved seeing it. But I needed to be careful of the original, and I didn't want to take it apart. How to get a nice clear image? I thought about it a few days, pondering.

So I decided to leave the hinge pins showing. And so far I've only created the front side of it. But it has a lot of detail, and the date 1870 on it.


I'm trying to think what might have been going on in french history in 1870 that would cause a medal to commemorate it. Is that Napoleonic times? I need to do some research, I feel awful that I don't know this.

It's way before WWI, so it has to be very old history. The hinge pins look like it would open, but it doesn't, it's a solid piece. It makes me think about how to create those hinges, though. Always thinking of new things to try.


The profile is worn and hard to capture. I may carve an original to enhance it more, keeping the feeling of the laurel leaves around the border.

I wish it was a celebration of peace. When I find more details, I'll definitely share. And if your history knowledge is better than mine, please fill me in, too!

Sunday, December 20

Tiny Book of Good Wishes


Some years ago, I learned how to make star books. I love bookbinding!

I made a book for my daughter with her childhood paper mementos in it, and a star type book with photos of her great and great-great grandparents' photos in it.


This book is a tiny mini star book size that I'm sending as special holiday cards. When open they fan out to create a star shape that can be hung on the tree as an ornament.


This one is going to my daughter for her new baby's Christmas. It has vintage holiday card designs inside, I am hoping she'll like it. The baby can't play with it yet, but hopefully it will be a special memory keeper for the future, Christmas times to come.


I want to make a bunch more - and if you want to make some too, I'll be posting the instructions here after my offering to the Art Bead Scene blog for the 10th day of Christmas post.



They're 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" square on the outside, but they could be made even smaller.

It just depends on how much patience you have!



This one has a cover with a design from the Book of Kells with a faux gem on it, in pink of course! And lots of Christmas greetings for the little girl grandbaby.



So keep an eye on the Art Bead Scene blog, and then come back here for all the instructions and step by step photos.

A perfect project for a cold, blustery day!

Saturday, December 19

Not As Much As Some, More Than Usual


I woke up this morning to a grey, snowy day.

The house behind has lights on, I snapped some photos before the snow melts.


It's what they call "a dusting" of snow, not even an inch. I think we might get more later, I'll enjoy watching it while I work. Maybe I'll have a fire in the fireplace today.

I'm working on making holiday cards. If I can remember, I'll capture some pictures and send so you can see what I'm doing and how they turn out.


I have a few things to ship, and a few orders to prepare. Your response to the new pewter pieces has been AMAZING! thanks so much ...

I'm thankful for the day yesterday to spend focused in the studio.

Today I need to make some holiday candies, and get a chicken dish into the oven. Maybe even put bread makings into the bread machine and bake it. I love that smell, don't you?


So the house will smell nice and warm, and I can enjoy the lovely, if brief, snowy day.

It's not quite snowy, and not quite Christmas, but close enough for me.

Friday, December 18

Deck the Halls and Sing the Carols


Guess what?

I have a couple of days off from the day job, so I can get some things done at the house.


Early this morning I turned on some holiday music and lit some candles. After I made some hot mint tea, I opened up the big bright red and green plastic containers that have the holiday decorations in them, and I decorated the tree. Most of those ornaments are handmade, the ones my daughter made when she was a child I sent to her last year, for her own tree decorations.

It made me smile and feel much more holiday-spirited. Then I talked to my daughter on the phone and told her I had put her favorite ornaments on the tree, and it made me think of her.


We had a few holiday routines when she was young. Every year I'd get a new holiday patterned rubber stamp and a roll of white or brown paper, and she decorated all the wrapping paper with stamps, crayons and her beautiful little-girl artwork.

We would spend a couple of days in the kitchen to make lots of different kinds of candies and cookies, and she decorated brown or white paper lunch bags. Then some of each kind of goodie would go into the bags, for her teachers at school.

I wonder if she remembers that?

So I got the tree lit and decorated, and next will be holiday cards. I need to get those made and sent out. I want to make some that double as a holiday ornament.


My daughter and I have had this holiday sled for a long time, each year we'd put fun things inside for the ride. This year I put lots of bears and reindeer, all dressed up in cheery fashions for the season. With a nutcracker and lion looking on from the side.


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening,
A beautiful sight, I'm happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Off I go to get some things done!

Thursday, December 17

Good Morning, Good Morning




Do you remember the post where I showed the beautiful filigree piece that Andrew Thornton made using one of the resin word charms?

Well, I really wanted to play with that idea.

And I mentioned that I had drilled some of the resin charms from side to side, so it was like a bead.

I started playing with the oval filigree that I have, and found out that serendipity is alive and well!

The holes in the ends of the filigree matched perfectly with the holes I drilled in the resin. I didn't measure, or do it intentionally. It just worked out!

I probably should say that I thought it up, carefully measured and adjusted, but it really didn't happen that way. Somehow that makes it even more fun, it makes me smile even thinking about it.


So I threaded a wire through and made wire wraps, and next I want to put some pearls and crystals onto headpins and add around the word charm, attached to the filigree.

Very cool! Next time, I'll have to do it on purpose, instead of accidently!

Thanks again, Andrew. You started the wheels turning, for sure!

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The insommnia is back with a vengence, I'm getting up after only 4 or 5 hours of sleep. You'd think I'd be dragging my tailfeathers the next day, but I don't seem to feel more tired than usual.

I'm still off caffeine, so maybe I just need to do something to wear myself out. I know! I could decorate the Christmas Tree (no, I still haven't done that) - maybe on Christmas EVE!

Tuesday, December 15

Buttons and Bows


I've been learning new ways to finish the pewter.

At first, I had a hard time making things small and delicate. I still struggle a bit. Larger pieces are easier. The small ones have to be strong, yet not too bulky. A balance, between strength and fragility.

I've learned that my rotary tool is my best way to clean up the edges and finish the pewter after casting. I have to wear my respirator mask and safety glasses, because of the metal dust everywhere. I end up coated in it, like snow. But I don't want it in my eyes, nose or mouth.


So making these delicate little bows makes me feel very happy.

I was able to make them pretty small and keep them lightweight.

They remind me of bows on holiday packages.

Or hair bows, on little girls' curls.


I want to make a necklace with the big bow, with a chandelier crystal hanging from it.

When I get it made I'll show it here.

Monday, December 14

Keys and Locks


I learned something useful this weekend.

Usually, when I'm drilling through the resin or pewter, I hold the item in my hand and use the rotary tool with the drill bit in it.

It's sort of scary having a rapidly turning drill bit close to your hands and fingers.

And as clumsy as I've been lately, I know I better watch myself so I don't get hurt. The burns are healing, but a hole in my hand might take longer, don't you think.


But I learned that I can use the skinny nose vise grips to hold the pewter.



Like this teensy pewter button with four holes in it.

It's really tiny. I got too nervous to hold it in my fingers gripping it while I drilled the holes. So I used the vise grips.

It worked really well. And nobody got hurt!



I've been making these pewter locks, keys and face plates for locks. And small key wire headpins, to add to beads or wire wrapping.

It doesn't help keep my hands clean, but it does keep them free of holes, which I'm in favor of, definitely.

Sunday, December 13

Hero Worship, Medals and Awards


I have a liking for things that look like awards and medals. So when my surprise package arrived, I was thrilled to see some real medals.

Some I would have to carefully cast, they can't be taken apart, I may have to make partials and then re-cast.


But these two are very fun, one is from the Centennial, the dates are right on it. See on the banners, 1819 to 1919, and the word "CENTENNIAL" at the top. I wanted it to look really aged and old, and all of them have a brushed metal back.

This one would be fun with a pin back added to it. Or a couple of large loops for a scarf, to make a scarf clip pin.

So many things to try.


I'm having fun figuring out when to add large loops, when to create attachments. Thinking of how I might use them in a design, I let that guide me.

The other, more pewter-toned one reminds me of a design you might find on a door, or next to a doorbell ringer, on the pretty flats in Paris.

It has a hole at the top and one at the bottom. Or it could be made into a bracelet.

Fun, fun, fun.

Saturday, December 12

Feathered Friends, Sweet Bird Songs


A little while ago, a lovely new friend offered me use of some special french mementos. I could make casts from them, create molds, and replicate them in pewter.

I was thrilled, flattered and excited. Of course, I'd love to try!

They are items brought back from a trip to Paris, special little mementos. I'm taking very good care of them. They're very unique and precious.

I got the first test batches cast, got the molds created.

And today I started casting the metal.


Aren't they fun and lovely?

Some are bird shapes, this friend is particularly fond of birds.


I can tell from the originals that they are very vintage, and it gives me hints about what the pewter castings should look like. Usually, I'm just making things up from my imagination, guessing what they should look like.


Some have a coppery-bronze patina on them. With holes drilled for adding jump rings. And some have jump rings cast into them.

That's one thing the originals were sometimes missing, a way to attach things to them, and to each other.


I have more to work on, but I wanted to share these so you can see. Of course, the first set goes back to the lovely friend who sent me the originals. It's only fair, simply right.

But I have agreement that I can offer some in the Etsy shop, too. And I know some of you love birds, too. But I want the first set to arrive and be enjoyed; I know by posting this there won't be a surprise.

But I couldn't wait to share!

And I'll share some more photos tomorrow, when more of them are ready to show.


Don't you love them? I can't wait to play with them. I think they'd make lovely holiday decorations, too.

Speaking of which, I STILL have NOT decorated the tree! It's up, the lights are on, but no ornaments.

Maybe TONIGHT.... definitely.