Monday, November 29, 2010

Dyed and Gone Vintage

A new friend, someone local, saw my rosary cross necklace that I've been wearing lately, and asked me to make one for them to give as a gift.

You might remember, I made mine using some vintage costume pearls that were permanently on the strand, by drilling holes through the end pearls so they could be added to a necklace using wire wrapping.

Now I had the problem of how to re-create that look, but without starting with the vintage pearl strand.

I had a zip-lock bag full of my hand-dyed costume pearls in a generous round size and just the right vintage coloring. 

But how to re-create the flowing, vintage strand look? 

It needed to be strung on something lightweight that would flow. The tiger tails and flexible steel strands just don't have the same bend and flow as a fiber cord does, they're too stiff.

I didn't want to spend the time to do pearl knotting between each pearl with silk thread.  Although it's a lovely look, it's very time consuming and slow to do. These necklaces are very long, they just slip over the head without a clasp, and it would take a very long time to hand knot each pearl in place.  

So here's what I decided to do, and I think it worked out wonderfully.

  • I took two strands of tencel cord and measured them two inches longer than the total length I wanted for the strand, like knitting or crochet cord. Mercerized cotton would probably also work, something sturdy but flexible.
  • I threaded the doubled cords through the costume pearls using a big-eye beading needle to make the strand almost the length I needed, with an inch of extra cording at each end of the strand.  
  • I took two large pearls, and held them tightly on the sides that already had a hole through -- gripping tightly using a hemostat, not my fingers.
  • I drilled them with a small drill bit on the side with no hole - they end up with a vertical hole and a horizontal hole in each costume pearl. 
  • HINT!    Holding them with the hemostat was much better than trying to hold a round thing in your fingers while you used a drill bit through it, believe me! Do not try that! No fingers should EVER be near spinning drill bits...
  • The two drilled pearls (with the double holes) were threaded on the double tencel cording as the last two on each side of the strand, at the very ends. 
  • I ran the big-eye needle with the double tencel strand through a crimp bead, went back through the crimp and the double-hole pearl leaving a loop at the very end of the strand, pushed the pearls snugly next to each other and crimped the crimp bead very tightly on the four-thread strand of tencel. 
  • I tested by tugging hard to make sure the crimp tube was holding tight, then I clipped the loop and cut the excess tencel cording off.
  • HINT!  Be sure to test and tug hard BEFORE cutting off the excess - if the crimp isn't tight enough, you need that length to try again with another crimp bead.
  • My wire slipped through the horizontal hole in the end pearl, the holes I had I drilled through the sides. 
  • After that, one end was wrapped to secure the wire and the other end was passed through some pretty silver bead caps to cover up the wire and the holes in the drilled costume pearls.

Just the tops of the drilled costume pearls show above the bead caps, and you can't tell they have an extra hole and some wire going through.

If your bead caps are very, very long, like some of the ornate filigree ones, you can follow the drilled large pearl with a smaller pearl at the end of the strand, to fill up the space in the bead caps so there's not so much wire unsupported inside the bead cap below the pearls.

I wire wrapped the ends coming through the bead caps onto the rosary connector, and made a nice finish to attach the two ends of the stranded costume pearls onto the three way connector bead.

I used a faceted glass bead and a large resin faceted crystalline drop to finish it off, with bead caps of different types on all of them for a polished, completed look.

I was pleased with the solution, and I will be doing it again, now that I've figured out how to do the strand of costume pearls this way. 

I have some lovely rose colored dyed pearls that I want to work with, to make a rosy colored strand. It's fairly quick, it flows beautifully and is lightweight.

 I had to get rid of all my dye solutions when we moved here, and I haven't remixed them yet. But if you want some to experiment, I have a few bags of dyed costume pearls left that I made before the move.
I can spare some if you want to try this trick yourself. 

If (WHEN) I get my dye solutions remixed, I can offer the dyed pearls again in the Etsy shop.

The friend who commissioned the necklace was very pleased with how it turned out, it's already been delivered for wrapping and gifting.

Do you think this is a viable solution? Do you like how it turned out?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ornamentally Speaking

I spent most of yesterday in the studio, it was a fantastic luxury. All day in the studio, on a Friday, no less.

I'm back to the mental place where I constantly wish I had more time, I'm sure you can relate. But speaking of time, it's my turn again to do the Studio Saturday post at the Art Bead Scene blog. If you comment on my post with a reply to the question, you could win one of my medieval ornamental castings that I've been working on lately.

I'm thinking of using them around the house, made into tree decorations or other fun things for the season. So pop on over to the Art Bead Scene and check it out, if you win you can create something with them, too!

If you can't wait until next week, or you don't want to rely on chance, you can find this medallion in my Etsy shop now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Season

I had a half-day off yesterday, a kind of surprise. So we got the boxes of holiday decorations out of the shed in the back yard, and I started putting together the seasonal look to the new house.

In pulling things out of the bright red and green tubs that they are stored in, it brought back memories of last year's celebration. My grandbaby and her family had traveled up from Louisiana to St. Louis for Christmas, spending a few days visiting. And this year, no one has to travel - not counting a few blocks apart. It reinforces that I made the right decision to do the move. It's wonderful!

These are a few of the holiday books I made last year, I've put them under the tree and I'll open them up in their fan-shape later and hang them, too.

I put the tree up on a table, and only used two of the three sections, to get it up off the floor out of the way of curious little fingers.

I'm working on some handmade gifts for family. There are pies and rolls in the oven, preparing for the big Thanksgiving Day lunch. We're all gathering at one house for lunch, to eat together as a great big group. 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope you enjoy family, friends and food today!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Old Favorite Reads, Revisited

Most people have heard of Agatha Christie, and many have actually read at least one of her books.

But you may not have heard of the author Ngaio Marsh. She's one of my favorite mystery writers.

Right now I'm in the paperback version of this book, "A Clutch of Constables" - and it's lovely. With an artist, Troy Alleyn, taking a river cruise. And mysterious happenings begin around her. Troy Alleyn is the wife of Roderick Alleyn of Scotland Yard. The first part of the series deals with their courtship. This book is later in the series, and was apparently first published in 1968 in Great Britain by Collins, as part of the Collins Crime Club in hardback. The picture above is the original dust jacket.

I love Ngaio Marsh's writing and characters. She's from New Zealand. Doesn't she look interesting in her photo? She was a painter and a theater producer herself. I'm thinking she would have been fun to have as a dinner guest, don't you? Some of her books went out of print, but many are coming back into print now. And many libraries have her books. If you get a chance, and you're looking for interesting reading over the holidays, check out her series. I think you'll enjoy her. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Neon Brights Soft

I bought some yarn, it was on sale. It's still silly, like a shoemaker buying shoes, I have a lot of yarn already. But I wanted some bright colors, not in wool, and I wanted to be unafraid to mix it up and cut it when I needed to.

To make these fun granny square flowers.

I don't know yet what they'll turn into when they're done. I made these four last nght, as a test.

I think I'll do the traditional thing, and frame and join them together with a black border. Not sure what order, and how the colors will repeat and come together in new ways. Color is so grand!

I don't know if they're headed to be a front for a little girl sweater.
Or maybe a design on a backpack knitted for little shoulders.
I liked the old-fashioned granny square design, very nostalgic. Combined with the bright neon colors, to give them a little up-to-date punch.

When the weather starts to get cooler, I find myself turning more toward knitting and crochet.

I don't think I could ever do it fast enough to make sense to sell it, but it's a nice thing to keep my fingers busy on a cool, dark fall evening. The soft yarn, the bright colors, and the rythmic movement of my hands with the crochet hook. Very soothing, after a long, long day at the day job.

Maybe I'll make some knitting stitch markers or crochet row markers for the Etsy shop. I already make them and use them myself. 

Maybe someone else would enjoy having and using them in their handwork, already also working the soft fibers into fabric, with the holidays coming up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wearing the Old Ones

On Saturday I spent the majority of the day in the studio. I had a large custom order, to make a bunch of special crosses for a lovely project for someone.

While I was at it, as a sort of self-incentive, I created this wearable piece for myself.

For the longest time I'd had that long chain of vintage pearls in a strand. Someone gave them to me years ago, and I didn't have a way to use them easily.

They couldn't be removed from the string, not without hurting their patina, and re-drilling the holes in them. Here's the idea I had, in how to use the pearls the way they were without making major changes to them.

I created the three-way rosary connector in pewter, and the rose cross. I've been saving the faceted teardrop stone for some time, to use for something special.

To connect the rosary crown to the pearls. I drilled a hole through the sides of the pearls at the ends, after snipping the circular strand apart to make a long single strand of beads. 

Then I ran the long, long length of wire through the hole in the end pearl and made a triangle shape and wrapped the wire around itself to secure the triangle. Then I wrapped and wrapped around the pearl, using the triangular shaped of the wire to create a sort of cone-shaped finish.

You can just see in this photo, on the right side, the hole through the pearl showing. I wore this necklace on Sunday and enjoyed it. It's very, very long so it doesn't need a clasp at all, I just slip it over my head.

Then I could take the wire through the hole in the rosary connector, and finish wrapping the wire. 

Almost like the cone-shaped finish on the faceted stone drop, which had a horizontal hole through it.

So if you have a strand of pearl beads like this, costume pearls, and you don't know how to use them, this might give you some ideas. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

History Buttons

Deryn Mentock is a fantastic designer, I just love how she combines focals with gemstones and wire. You can recognize her pieces by her style. Fantastic.

And guess what?

She's blogged today about a project we're working on together. 

Check out the beautiful necklaces she created using the replicas of her antique Galveston buttons!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Steel Magnolias are Nearby

I mentioned that family was visiting, husband's sister and brother-in-law from Topeka, Kansas.

They really seemed to enjoy the food, and the weather, here in Central Louisiana.

The three of them took a trip up the highway to Natchitoches, Louisiana. That's pronounced "NACK-i-tish" - not like it's spelled. (I, alas, couldn't go, I was ever faithful at the day job .... next time, for sure! )

I didn't know that my sister-in-law's favorite movie is "Steel Magnolias" and I also didn't know that it was filmed in Natchitoches. I guess I need to watch it again, to keep an eye out for familiar landscapes.

But she immediately recognized the house from the movie, and the holiday decorations on the riverwalk.

So they had to get some photos of the house and the sign. Mementos of the trip, don't you know.

And they had some good seafood, apparently the oysters were a big hit.

Here's a photo of my hubby and his sister, in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I'm happy they had a chance to visit, and they could experience the people, culture, music and food of our new home.

I think they had a good time, and they're planning another trip down. 
Woo-Hoo! More gumbo, ya-ya ... 

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's A Winner Today Giveaway

Of course, I knew you all would have lots of fresh, exciting ideas about how to use the 3-hole center drilled keys. You're so creative and brilliant!

Someone asked me how I keep the drill going through the pewter key charm - I don't use a handheld drill, I have a flex shaft. It's almost like holding a pencil except a lot louder!

But you all want to know who was the winner, right?

Out of all the great answers I got, and there are some real special keepers in there, the winners are LOIS MOON and DEBORAH

So click on the Ringleader of LLYYNN on the left sidebar, send me an email with your contact information, and I'll send the 3-hole key out to each of you.

And - AS A BONUS - everyone who answered on the original giveaway post gets FREE SHIPPING for the rest of the month of November on any Etsy shop purchase. Just put 'KEYSTROKES' in the notes at checkout to let me know you're taking advantage of the free shipping, and to remind me.

Thank you all very much. Great ideas! I can't wait to try some of them myself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Veteran's Day falls on November 11 each year, commemorating the end of World War I on that day on the eleventh hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice was signed. It's also called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

- “As we express our gratutude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In Flanders Fields 
John McCrae (1915)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Cousins, So Precious

This is the new addition to the family, her name is Sadie Claire. She came to the world on November 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm. She was a tall and lean 18.5 inches and weighed 7 lbs, 8 ozs. Her mom is Ashley and her proud poppa is Louis. Lots of excitement around here, as you can guess.

I'm sort of kind of related by marriage - my daughter is her aunt. 
Cuteness! My grandbaby has a cousin... 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Cooking

I can't remember if I mentioned that I have family coming down from Topeka to visit. So I went to the library and got several cookbooks for local recipes. After all, if you're coming from Kansas to Louisiana, you'll probably want to eat Louisiana food, right?

This is some gumbo on the stove that I made this morning. We tasted it at lunch with rice, and it was good. It has okra, shrimp and cajun sausage in it. It's my first gumbo attempt. I don't like things too spicy, but once it's served up in the bowl you can add Tabasco sauce to put more zing in it. 

This is an oatmeal cake topped with pecan icing. It's a very different kind of cake, moist and almost like a big cookie. I made three of these yesterday. The whole house smelled like a pastry shop! I got the pecans locally, a family member gave me a whole huge bag of freshly cracked shelled pecan halves. They are glorious! Nothing tastes quite like really fresh local pecans.

It's a really old recipe, I baked it in a springform pan to make it easier to get it out of the pan. It's good for dessert, or for a coffee cake first thing in the morning with coffee. And super easy to make.

Oatmeal Cake

9 1/2" Springform pan (a pie or cake pan will work if you don't have one of these) well greased with shortening
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (not the instant kind, the long-cooking variety)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, if you like those better)

Pour boiling water over the oats in a bowl and let stand 20 minutes.

Cream butter with both sugars and add eggs. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and add to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly, then add the soaked oats. Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and bake for 50 minutes.

For the frosting, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add evaporated milk, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix lightly. Stir in the chopped nuts. Spread over the warm cake while still in the springform pan, and place in the oven under the broiler briefly, until the sugars bubble and caramelize and the top is lightly browned.

Cool thoroughly on a wire rack before removing the sides of the pan. In fact, if it can sit and cool for several hours, it will come out of the pan slick as a whistle!

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, or a big cup of hot chocolate. YUM!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Key Strokes Giveaway

I took the little key charm, and put a hole right in the center for a dangle. I was thinking of a chain attached to the end and the open key top, with the dangle hanging horizontally.

But I bet you can think of a bunch more ideas!

So post them here, and you might be picked at random to have one of these little key charms to use in your design.

How would you design using this fun key shape, with a hole in the center?

I'll announce the winner of the GIVEAWAY next week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Novel Ideas

Okay, on Saturday, I sat down and read an entire book.

It didn't take that long, really. It's another of Deanna Raybourne's novels about Lady Julia Gray.

So I think her being in mourning in the first book I read must have inspired this pendant focal I finished last weekend.

And I wonder what will be created based on her description of a beautiful long necklace, bracelet and earrings of gray pearls.

Does anyone else let their reading habits form their creativity, or is it just that I'm suggestible!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Absent Minded

Someone sent me a message, about using this pewter component without the toggle bar, as a focal for a pendant.

And asked me to make another one to use the same way.

And now I can't find the email or convo, to remember who it was. 

I can just picture that email in my mind's eye. I know I didn't delete it.

But I can't find it.

So if that was you, please convo me in Etsy again. 

I'm going crazy, it's like having a string tied around your finger, and not remembering why you tied it there in the first place.