The completed necklace above is fashioned from an Afghani artifact, a heavily beaded tassel, probably used to decorate a camel. This is unlisted due to my complete inability to part with it.
Here then, is another gorgeous tassel I’ve been trying to work with, this one is African and made of leather. The colors are amazing, both dirty and brilliant in perfect combination. The beaded ring is my addition but I can’t seem to properly finish this WIP.
Above is the most recent tassel experiment, made from an upcycled plastic Winchester rifle bullet casing that is insanely rusted and distressed, then gilded (of course). I have a batch of these in the most wonderful desert-faded colors. This is all very unfinished, just playing right now with materials and thought you’d enjoy seeing the influences leading to the design.
I know I will be using these Indonesian blue glass beads; amazing color against the red.
And the Indian sari silk fiber is working for me. I love how all of these tassely objects are related to one another, coming from arid deserts and plains, the recycling and repurposing, how in some cultures even the animals are adorned to the hilt… but the humans too. I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m just…. all jazzed up about… tassels.
These pics are over on flickr in case you want to ogle them larger.
Lastly, I am planning to donate a portion of proceeds from any/all jewelry that utilizes bullet casings to a US gun control organization, so if you want to recommend one, please comment or email me.
Suddenly. In. Love. With. ROCKS!!!!!! Pictured above, from the top: fluorite, blue calcite, citrine (but suspiciously looks like calcite and am contacting dealer about this), raw garnets (!), amazonite and quartz points. Gemstones are MUCH cheaper by the strand, and ebay is a good bet for locating best pricing.
Big batch of Rocking Rings made yesterday, now being varnished to protect the gold leafing and patina work. As soon as they’re dry I’ll start listing. They are really and truly beautiful, if I do say so, and although chunky, very wearable. Earrings are coming next, can’t wait to play with these stones in that context. As always, larger photos up on flickr for your viewing pleasure.
Am in the process of gilding pretty much everything in site, including this amazing piece of Russian military surplus, a small metal tube that will become a necklace focal. I’ve got a batch of these babies to play with.
And this simple pair of vintage brass findings… I love how the metal leaf clings to and shows the fine detail of the… metal leaf(s).
A big-ass ancient glass chandelier crystal gets the gilding treatment, creating a weird world-within-a-world effect as you can see the inside of the other side through the front side. Yeah.
Here’s a finished piece, a ring holding 2 raw crystals, citrine and amethyst. Then goldified, oxidized, and totally effed up. In a good way. I hope. Ring section coming soon over at So Charmed. Lots of these beauties will be for sale at rock bottom prices. harhar.
Bigger pics for better examination of the (charmingly) rustic and pathetically unskilled job of gold leafing of which I am capable: flickr.
A great gold leafing video, watch and learn and then go make your own mess!
A comment from the mom of the baby whose bracelet is pictured in the below post mentioned that she was considering making a shadowbox to contain the bracelet for display during the years prior to her daughter being able to wear it.
This jogged my memory of creating just such a box when I designed a wedding gift charm bracelet for a friend who I wasn’t sure would be able to wear the chunky bangly thing too often… but might want to display it in her home rather than keeping it in a jewelry box hidden away.
The photos aren’t great, but I hope you get the idea. The raw pine box was purchased inexpensively at Michael’s crafts store and has a glass front door. I stained the box and lined it with pretty craft papers, including a scrap from the actual printed wedding invite, installing two small nails on the back wall for hanging the bracelet.
I then added a few treasures to the bottom floor of the box, a miniature cake and some dried rose petals. I honestly can’t remember if I ever resolved creating a way to hang the box on a wall, or if I just left it as something to display on a shelf or tabletop (probably the latter). I had a moment’s thought to offer these custom boxes for sale along with my charm bracelets, but ultimately decided that the amount of work involved was just beyond what I could probably charge. It isn’t hard, and you CAN do it yourself! If you have any questions or want support with your own shadowbox project, drop me an email any old time! xoxo
Anyone who sews understands the frustrations of having to haul your machine onto the dining room table, make a huge mess, run upstairs to where the ironing board lives, clean everything up for dinner, and begin again. Agonizing, especially during an intense time of creating. Here are photos of my newly created nook. Above, among other things, you can see the little Indian dress which I am in the process of altering to fit… and it’s coming out GREAT!
It’s taken nearly a decade of living in my little house to figure out that I had the space and even the furnishings I needed to work this out in a far more satisfying and workable way. Above you can see that I used free weights against the folding table legs to help fortify it. I’d still like to find a sturdier table at the thrift sometime.
Top floor of the house is basically one master bedroom suite, outside of which is a lovely hallway / anteroom that is actually big enough for a small sewing elf such as me to feel cozy working in. Above you can see my grandfather’s desk, a beautiful old thing I’ve had in my life for over 30 years now. I remember him using it… a small round silver dispenser of stamps and a little dish with a wet sponge for applying the postage. There were always other fascinating things to look at in the desk cubbies.
To the left of this image is the doorway to the bedroom, a very large and quite gorgeous room that was expanded by the previous owner. My dressmaker dummy is in that room and the ironing board sets up easily there.
This is the other end of the hallway, if you spin around you’re at the stairway leading down to the main floor. I dearly love all of my old hat boxes, suitcases and my dolly pram full of vintage hats, which was thrifted for about $10. Major score. All images can be seen at full size over on flickrin the aptly titled set “house.”
I thrift in two ways. One is that I think VERY specifically about what I’m looking for (usually project related, sometimes just a fashion issue) and it is frightening how often I find exactly that thing. The other is just a random trip for the inspiring thrill of the hunt. 50/50 success rate.
Yesterday I went to score cheap old tshirts to make another dress. Didn’t happen due to an overwhelming number of ridiculously gorgeous textiles lurking about. Top of the post, the whole score. Above, a set of pillowcases (India) with amazing mirrored handwork on both sides of each, total of FOUR panels. Katie, Bethy, Dorie… one each for you local craftistas.
This blanket (India) is the most amazing shade of yellow-maize with faux fur and sequiny embroidery. Anthropologie eat your effing heart out. Wish I had skills to make a coat, but I’m going to do a skirt. Seems weird, hopefully will work. There’s lots of yardage.
Above, The Gettysburg Address, in its entirety, printed on a scratchy burlap tea-towel sorta thing. LOVE this typography and can’t wait to use patches of it on garments.
Have to research if it’s an image of Abe’s handwriting (as I suspect). I thought the Lincoln portrait was a bit tacky, but it’s grown on me and might get incorporated somewhere.
Warning: This one’s gonna make you swoon.
This vintage Indian garment fits me, but is a bit shapeless. I do not have it in me to cut this; yes I have boundaries. So, if I can’t easily alter it into a flattering shape by taking in the side seams, it will just hang on my wall. Isn’t it divine????
The back, though plainer, is also lovely, with rainbow thread embroidery on this incredible gauzy layered base fabric. This piece was $5, less 25% but is priceless.
There are often great curtains, linens, and doilies but I try not to over-collect hoard them. You might hear me muttering: Someone else’s treasure… my anti-hoarding mantra. At $1.49, could not pass these up. BTW, the one at the bottom is a “pineapple” pattern. Sweet!
I’ve been making a lot of dresses based on the Piece of Cake frock pattern by Jody Pearl of Sew Outside the Lines and when the above pictured African wax print textile (lower fabric) arrived at my attelier (purchased here) , I decided to make something in a queenly maxi length. I also became utterly obsessed with this gorgeous fabric, searching high and low for info about it. Is it genuine wax print or fake? Most importantly, what ARE those strange objects and why do I find them so impossibly alluring?
My research deadended and I sort of gave up, and then, while searching for more textiles on Etsy, I came upon the above (purchased here). Uhhhh, wait a minute! That’s MY textile. And I like it even better in this crazy colorway! I immediately contacted the lovely seller, Angela, who came forth with loads of info about the The Gallery of Poems textile collection from Vlisco, renowned Dutch (not African) textile manufacturer.
Here is Vlisco’s description of their 2011 Collection: GALLERY OF POEMS: DRAMATIC ROMANTICISM
Once upon a time, Vlisco created a mysterious new fabric collection called ‘Gallery of Poems’. Dreams wander, floating into your own fairyland. Step into a new world and view the designs as objects of inspiration. Some designs will magically transform into a piece of art, adding a romantic touch to the poetic drama, while others illustrate a surrealistic passing of time. The decorative collection is intensified by a flamboyant colour palette. ‘Gallery of Poems’ makes you feel like a fairytale beauty.
This is where I about fell on the floor. Surrealism? Although this is another story for another time, suffice to say that at age 14 I came under the influence of members of the American Surrealist Movement (one of whom remains one of my oldest friends), and my life at that point was forever changed. Thus, it seemed that my locating this textile, and the subsequent journey into the world of high-fashion African wax prints, was deeply connected to other aspects of my life as an artist.
Of course, me being me, it doesn’t end there. The above video from Vlisco is absolutely fascinating, explaining the wax print process (pattern ends up on BOTH sides of the cloth) and a lot about the history of the company. These fabrics are so incredible, words can not express. Vibrant color, a slightly stiff substantial hand, and beyond gorgeously weird concepts that combine traditional African imagery with modern Western icons in a global village collision that makes my head spin. Pricing aligns with the incredibleness… yardage is sold only x6 yards and at $15 per, + shipping from the UK… OMG. Here’s your source; Vogue Fabrics UK.
I’m obsessing over the four textiles shown here.
Know someone who might want to share yardage? Put them in touch, ASAP!
…want to make more dresses!
PS: Added bonus video; How to tie tradtional African Gele (head wrap):
Those of you who follow my ramblings on Facebook and my pins on Pinterest, know that I’ve taken a sewing detour of late and have been making the prettiest little dresses using Jody Pearl’s Piece of Cake frock and tunic pattern. Pictured above is my favorite cake to-date worn by me, and featuring a crushed velvet top and yardsale damask (art deco) skirt. Not to mention vintage French faux-fur trim… it is quite the confection! You can see the rest of the cakes in progress and finished/worn over on flickr.
Meanwhile, I spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the world (real life AND virtual) for textiles; a recent post highlighted an obsession with Japanese prints and I’ve been haunting my local thrifts for curtains and bedspreads! This post will highlight fabrics found on Spoonflower; an incredible web site that allows anyone to design and upload/sell their own textiles. And there is truly GORGEOUS stuff to be had.
One of the coolest things about the cake dresses is pairing the fabrics so I’m going to upload these images in order of possible pairings. I love odd color combos and on Spoonflower I seem to fall in love with some very macabre, outre textiles!
First pairing of flies and skulls. Second is a pair by the same artist and I actually like the similarity of color with the difference in imagery… busses and telephone wires.
Above, an odd rococo pairing with squids ‘n roses (like guns ‘n roses only better)! Apologies for not linking all the swatches, they are easy to find by searching Spoonflower and ARE linked over on my Pinterest Craft Board.
Cities (Tokyo) and wolves… I LOVE this pair.
Bones! Scary Forests! The mind reels with possibility. Spoonflower, btw, is print on demand. They offer eight fabric choices and you can obtain a swatchbook for just a dollar, which I’ve done. The fabrics are pricey (but I think it’s worth it to support the designers), starting at $16.20 per yard for quilting weight Kona cotton and going up to $34.20 per yard for silk crepe de chine, which I will NOT be ordering. For the cake dresses I recommend either the Kona, or (and especially) the linen-cotton blend which will be similar to the Japanese fabrics I’ve used and work really well to hold pleats, giving the frock nice fit/form.
The hardest part of this (I think) is the slight altering to the pattern that I worked through this week. I went between sizes for the top, and opened the front neck and arm holes a little. Super easy, really.
You may remember my excitement over Japanese fabrics I’d located on etsy, and yes, I did end up ordering some. However, for this first dress, I don’t want to start cutting into $18 per yard (GASP) linen, hence the above pictured mid-century table cloth I dug out of my dining room sideboard. It’s really lovely! And I was able to avoid the holes! The top fabric looks mid-century, but I’m not sure; it may be reproduction. It was a pair of pajama bottoms — already cut up a bit — scored at a yard sale.
I’m going out to buy seam binding tape (any ideas for color??) and if you missed by facebook post on how to sew seam binding, here is a terrific and very funny video on the subject:
This is truly just so exciting and fun. I am enjoying it immensely and finding that I mostly do have the patience to do things slowly and with care. Sewing commences this weekend… wish me luck!
If you love corsets but find them awfully expensive, here’s a great simple corset you can make yourself. With NO sewing! I saw it in a shop window here in Takoma Park and immediately thought: I can do that!
The most challenging part of this project is locating the vintage army surplus spats you’ll need. The ones I used are from WWI and were scored on Etsy for about $20. I’ve seen them on ebay as well, sometimes as much as $40-$45… still not prohibitive and lots less than a corset which will run you hundreds (not that I would know .
Step 1: Acquire a single pair of spats. Step 2: Lace them up. You have just made a gorgeous steampunky corset.
A note about fit… the spats tend to be small through the curvy waist part. My teenage daughter can fit into this with the front nearly laced closed, and she’s a skinny minnie, size 0-2. On me (30 waist, size 6), the front is pretty open. I was dubious about the cloth fabric laces in the front… but it turns out that it really works if you’re going to wear it more open, as it forms sort of a “panel” in the front (as shown in middle photo). And I do like the girly color with the manly spats. So, I think 30-31 waist might be the maximum for a single pair of spats/corset. HOWEVER, there’s nothing that says you can’t add another pair, lacing up the sides… right?
Oh, and that furry neck thing in the top photo is a collar I knitted. Another no-brainer of a project for the craft inspired-yet-impatient/challenged!