My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Charming Shadowbox

11.28.12

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

Atelier Charm

11.01.12

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 flickr in the aptly titled set “house.”

What $17 + a 25% Off Discount Card Will Get You on Thursday at Value Village Thriftstore

10.19.12

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!

Surrealism, Africa, Holland, and Me

05.03.12

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!

Because I….

…want to make more dresses!

PS: Added bonus video; How to tie tradtional African Gele (head wrap):

Fabric, Part 2: Spoonflower!

04.05.12

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.

WIP: Piece of Cake Dress

03.15.12

A few weeks ago I posted about a terrific pattern I’d discovered; a dress called the Piece of Cake (by Jody Pearl of Sew Outside the Lines). Pictured above is my dress in progress!

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!

CORSET TUTORIAL: Steal this Idea… I Did!

03.13.12

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!

Supply Lust

03.09.12

My work for designfarm takes precedence during the weekdays and this has been a slammed week, with no time for jewelry other than the site launch.

Finally, with things winding down on Friday afternoon I took a break to run errands and found myself at my local bead shop — S&A Beads — in Old Town Takoma Park. Manager Zoe had restocked the tiny shop with so much amazing ethnic tribal and glamorous gemstone stuff, I was dazed. Pictured at the top, vinyl beads in brilliant neon colors and above, gorgeous leather tassels, all from Africa. SWOON. If you’re in the tri-state area, swing through and visit S&A. Sunday is great, the Farmer’s Market will be set up out front (year round) and soon will be brimming with fruits, veg, flowers, baked goods etc.

Here’s an cool jet black beaded sequined tassel I picked up at Value Village when Molly and I stopped by after her orthodontist appt this week.

On the same VV run, picked up these hideious earrings which I can’t wait to disassemble and reconfigure.

But the main reason for the trip to VV was hunt for Bollywood bangles, and my No.1 thriftstore did NOT disappoint.

It makes me happy having this stuff strewn about my desk while I work on my graphics deadlines. That way the supplies can continue their job of talking to me about context. My favorite time for making jewelry is Saturday morning. I almost always get up early, caffeinate, then gather up the supplies and head for the studio. What’s your most creative time?

Gigliotigre

03.08.12

Having a far-away art friend is today’s version of a pen pal (which I’m old enough to also have had), only better! Manuela lives in Milan and we met on flickr — where she goes by the name Gigliotigre and/or PoppyPoppins. We were drawn to one another’s jewelry images; pictured above is Manu’s hand-knit plastic necklace, Knotting Lies.

Although we barely know one another, we decided to do a destash trade… destash being an invented word crafters use to describe the sharing of their overflow hoard of supplies. I was so excited to get Manu’s package, note the mustache tape! Inside was a little suitcase and inside that…

 A crazy little mini-hoard! Here are some pix…

Manu also sent me a super sweet pair of earrings from her PoppyPoppins line, pictured below. Of course we both LOVE polka-dots.

Lastly, here is one more necklace creation of Manu’s, entitled  Erasmus, “la tete Mundurucù” dedita all’ubriachezza molesta or The head hunter’s first victim.

Despite our language barriers — Manu’s English surpassing my Italian by a gazillion percent — we’ve become great friends. I’ve sent a package off to Italy and knowing their mail system as I do… I hope it arrives before Xmas! I can’t wait to see the extreme craziness that comes of this trade. And I hope to introduce you to a few more of my talented art-buds soon.

 

 

WIP: New focals

02.20.12

I’m so excited to share this with you… a new necklace focal — printed images soldered between thin pieces of glass. Above is one side, below is the other. I added the little fleur de lis charm for fun and patina and sanded everything to a messy aged black.

Since giving up the resin process, I’ve been agonizing over not being able to play with text and images. Having had this entire soldering kit around the studio for several years, and having experimented with it a bit lately, I finally got inspired to go the full distance creating one of these sorts of picture things. The technique is nothing new. But I hope I’ll be bringing that So Charmed touch to the whole thing.

And here are some CRAZY tribal focals made with clay (polymer), wire, and dental teeth, which I believe are porcelain, but not sure. They didn’t melt in the oven… so I’m assuming they aren’t plastic! I have a few cards of these… they are used (I believe) for shade matching.

I have to say, these scare even me. They are so incredibly creepy. But I do love them and can’t wait use them in jewelry. Big hugs to Steph of Vladthebatsattic and Simona of HappyFallout for the clay inspiration. Visit their shops to see really great stuff made with actual fired clay… much better than my efforts!

Here’s the second Marie focal, with a vintage brass ribbon thingee soldered on. This is LOTS OF FUN to do.

The back of this second charm features an ancient guillotine illustration. Had to go there…

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