Crochet Beaded Bracelets

My friend Gina sent me a link about two years ago showing some crocheted bracelets with button closures – so cute! I figured out the pattern, found different sized buttons, crocheted about twenty bracelets in varying lengths (multi-wraps are fun!), used jewelry o-rings to attach charms midway and started handing them out to friends on my travels.

Oh, the charms – they fell off in legions – usually after a household chore like doing the dishes…or walking across a room. Sometimes even before I was done with the visit (In Kauai I actually asked for some pliers and replaced the gifted charm with one from my purse. It probably also fell off soon after I left. Mrgh!)

I have not mastered the fool-proof closure of o-rings (does this exist, beyond soldering?).

Alas, a design failure the internet did not prepare me for. Also, I’m not sure how much I want to talk about how hard it is to BUTTON your own wrap-around bracelet…

New rule: Jewelry should not be a reminder of loneliness, or dexterity challenges, or a cause of any stress whatsoever frankly (right?!). Wait ’til you see how I’ve solved this!!! (P.S. o-rings replaced by stitching…why didn’t I think of that…first?!)

Magical Magnet Closures

I attended a presentation today of the San Diego Bead Society and was inspired to think again about what kinds of trades I could make for my next art retreat. I put 2 + 2 + 2 together and came up with: crocheted bracelet with beads and magnetic closure.

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Size 11/0 beads, Lizbeth variegated thread, size 10, gold magnetic closure

A couple hours before this creation I spent time looking up patterns for beaded amulet pouches and such, thinking that would be my thing. Then I remembered what I already know how to do and how many supplies I already have on hand. And how time works.

So I made the above prototype, using waxed nylon bead string to attach the magnetic ends to the crocheted piece, and also to thread the beads throughout. For the crocheters, I used a 2.25mm needle on Lizbeth size 10 thread. So far I’ve mapped a small bracelet (I have skinny wrists) like this:

  • Chain 60
  • Work a slip stitch in the 2nd chain from hook, and in all the rest to the end
  • Gauge: I worked these stitches fairly loose, to make way for the beads.

After that, I stitched the waxed bead string through a bead on one end and then worked a series of knots before attaching the magnet closure. Then I used the same waxed string to work my way back through the bracelet, attaching the beads on alternating sides.

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I aimed for every other stitch back and forth and it didn’t seem to need too much precision to attain a good effect.

I tried a couple of beading patterns (e.g. all on one side vs. alternating) and decided that going back and forth on the chain gave the best dynamic effect on the wrist.

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I used Dritz Fray Check on the end knots and wrapped the ends next to the magnetic closures with extra stitches. We’ll see how it holds up in the next few weeks.

The Front and the Back

 

So far it’s hanging nicely with beads on all sides and the magnetic catch falling to the bottom of my wrist. I’ll keep wearing it and see how it holds up throughout the week.

Favorite Discovery

Magnetic connectors do the work for you! And they come in really fun shapes – like fish and turtles. The ones I found were too wide to work with my current skinny crochet chains but I have plans for those magnetic turtle and fish connectors…just you wait…

 

 

 

 

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Spirograph Designs

It all started with something that came through one of my social media feeds today…Inspirograph…). Remember Spiro-Graph y’all? I played with the online app for a few minutes before remembering my very own Spiro-Graph set, in-house, from Turkey no less!

Despite the fact that I didn’t save my Spiro-Graph kit from the 70s, I have some tools on hand to relive the moment. When I was in Turkey 5 years ago I bought a mini-spirograph kit from a street vendor. I dug it out today and made some art with it.

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There’s two outer sizes and four cog sizes with 9 holes each…don’t do the math…your head might explode
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I used one marker (blue) in different cog holes…1, 2, 3, 4….
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Bigger wheel…
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Spiro-Graph Experiments

This made me think of Spin-Art, which is now apparently available for party rentals! Seriously?! Of course! I’ll be renting one soon for my next art party!

Thank you ’70’s!

Embroidering My Stamps on Cloth

I’ve been having a lot of fun carving my own stamps since my class with Jane LaFazio. I decided to make a stamp from the wave pattern I used for my last needle lace design. I’m thrilled with the results.

The carved stamp is on top of the needle lace pattern it came from. Ink stamps and needle lace results surround.
The carved stamp is on top of the needle lace pattern it came from (you can see the needle holes if you look closely). Ink stamps and needle lace results surround.

I’m digging the rubber stamp carved “chatter” inside the waves – I tried to let this flow while I was carving instead of doing a full excavation. (There were so many unintended puns in there that my fingers got sparked off the keyboard for a second. Unintended y’all, I promise.)

Close-up on the wave needle lace. I love the shadows at the top of the waves. I was really going for motion with the different thread choices.
Close-up on the wave needle lace. I love the shadows at the top of the waves. They add to the motion of the ocean (couldn’t resist – I’ll try to stop).

I especially like seeing the end products next to the pattern. So different when it’s transferred to ink on page vs. needle laced. If you’re digging that, wait til you see what’s next!

This is my first embroidered stamped pattern...I learned a lot.
This is my first embroidered stamped pattern…I learned a lot.
close-up on the shiny thread...and spooky eye
close-up on the shiny thread…and spooky eye

So I really like metallic and silk thread…and they’re very finicky. I think Seahorse Dude is kind of gnarly as a result, which makes sense when you think about his time underwater in the ocean…moving on…

WIP
WIP – loving the direction of the daisy chain stitches
Finished product - yay metallic thread!
Finished product – yay metallic thread!
Turtle gets a close-up...he's on the move!
Turtle gets a close-up…he’s on the move!

Earlier today…I was getting a smog-check on my car next to a craft store…so I spent my time wisely.

Super cool frame idea (way too much $$ for purchase...even with a coupon)
Super cool frame idea (way too much $$ for purchase…even with a coupon)
And a close-up on our favorite wave (pre-embroidery!)
And a close-up on our favorite wave (pre-embroidery and in a borrowed frame!)

It’s fun to see my rubber stamp patterns come to life in stitching!

Crafting/Sailing Away…

Carving Rubber Stamps (and I bought some amazing gourds!)

Today I went to Oceanside Museum of Art and took a class from Jane LaFazio to learn how to carve my own rubber stamp. It was a great class…but before we get to that…I got there an hour early…

And there was an art show in the streets!

So I got to browse around and found one of my favorite artists, Grace Swanson (GourdsByGrace.com). I bought a beautiful gourd from her last year that incorporated a dyed pine needle trim and woven antique silk kimono material. Today I found two new pieces I just HAD to have (I went back to her booth after class for a beaded gourd I had seen earlier, but got stars in my eyes over these two beauties and there was no going back).

She "chip carved" the outside of this gourd (involves a special tool that makes a notch or chip, then you scoop toward the notch). Then she dyed the notches.
She “chip carved” the outside of this gourd (involves a special tool that makes a notch or chip, then you scoop toward the notch). Then she dyed the notches.

She often scoops out her gourds (and sometimes appliques cool textures inside) but this one is left whole so the seeds inside shake around a little (I like that :).

Then there’s this piece of magic…

Grace carved the outside of this one then painted it (it's a flat little gourd - belly button on the back :).
Grace carved the outside of this one then painted it (it’s a flat little gourd – belly button on the back :).

 

I love this oblong cut in the top (jagged on the painted edge and smooth on the back edge).
I love this oblong cut in the top (jagged on the carved/painted edge and smooth on the back edge).

 

Trying to capture some of the glitter of the paint
Trying to capture some of the glitter of the paint

I was so glad to get the chance to see her work again and chat with her about her materials and process (she also does spectacular pine coiling and she uses Montezuma pine needles from Texas – we talked about the differences between those and the Torrey Pine needles in my neighborhood). Getting to add to my “Gourds by Grace” collection was icing on today’s cake.

And Now, Some Rubber Stamps

The class with Jane LaFazio was everything I hoped for and more. I spoke with someone who is taking one of her online courses as well and they come highly recommended. I got to see this gal’s art journal from the class (water colors and sketching) – so elegant and exactly the kind of skill I’d like to learn. I’m sure I’ll be signing up for the next one of those.

So we started with something called a “gum eraser” to get some practice and create something small.

I went with a wavy pattern. I call this my "water phase." :P
I went with a wavy pattern. I’m in what I call my “water phase.” 😛

I borrowed the carving tools from the museum but I’m definitely going to invest in my own set because this is a fun and easy way to make amazing reusable patterns. In the class we talked about making Christmas cards, printing tote bags, combining these patterns with watercolor painting – the possibilities are endless. Some people made a printed envelope in class with some brown paper, and the teacher showed an example that she stamped, scanned and printed on vellum. So many options!!

tbd
My next design was a seahorse. I’m proud of the detail I was able to achieve in his body and fin (I worked thru the lunch break :). I’m planning to cut away more background so he isn’t framed with a rectangle.

So the bottom right design is my first print test after cutting out the seahorse (I kind of like the black background). Then I went through a series of trimming and printing to get at the effect I was after.

My stamp, next to some trial prints and a first drawing rev
My stamp, next to some trial prints and a first drawing rev (the yellow-green paint represents where I’ll shave next to get rid of some of that “chatter”)

 

The teacher likes to work with black ink so she can watercolor the insides, but colored ink yields some cool results too...
The teacher likes to work with black ink so she can watercolor the insides, but colored ink yields some cool results too…

What a fun day and an interesting class. The materials for this are not too expensive (cutting tool, some rubber pads and ink) and the results are really fun to play with (I haven’t even started to play with coloring in my designs with pencils and water colors). I saw some really artistic renderings today from folks who have some experiences with these stamps. We also learned ways to repeat patterns and create mosaic type designs. This might play a role in this year’s Christmas cards…

Needle felting: by hand and by machine

I’m back to my regularly scheduled programming this week, returning to my day job, or what I like to refer to as “my new daily grind” (it’s definitely caffeinated). The night time blend still involves art du jour as possible, and tonight I have more stuff to share from my Art and Soul Retreat.

Turns out there are soooo many ways to felt beautiful things!! I talked earlier about my first wet-felted scarf and needle-felted penguin (see: felting).  I decided to felt some more penguins and I took a few pictures along the way.

Hand Needle Felting

Penguin #2 started like this...just a black roll of roving.
Penguin #2 started like this…just a black coil of wool roving and that little purple-handled needle (of doom, if you’re not paying attention).

 

Magically (after much hand-punching) that black roll of roving turns into penguin base - ready for his mask and tummy cover.
Magically (after so very much hand-punching) that black coil of wool roving turns into a penguin base – ready for his mask and tummy cover (you can see First Penguin modeling spookily in the distance – he doesn’t move around much – good model).

 

TA-DA!  "Felted Penguins in Ice Plant"
TA-DA!
“Felted Penguins in Ice Plant”

They’re cute little buggers and I want to make more!

Machine Needle Felting

So this is where the learning got real. We used Bernina machines with felting foot attachments, and the activity looked something like this.

Now. The person in that video is a ninja expert and is sewing at the speed of light…in circles. These happen to be the two behaviors that lead me to break approximately five needles (I lost count, and there was a hand-held felting punch in the mix as well. Oh so much learning. I was warned…) So that video isn’t so much “me doing machine needle felting” as “don’t try this at home.”

But I tried it at the retreat, because the teachers encouraged it, and they were the pictures of patience as they changed my needles (and removed the needle pieces from my work…with pliers…they didn’t even snicker!). Here’s the lessons I learned about machine needle felting:

  • Start out with some big pieces on your base felt, to get the feel of the felting needles (small pieces can be hard to felt into your design at first – edges are hard to deal with)
  • Start out at a very slow speed
  • Don’t use materials that are too thick (needles break – start thin)
  • Edges are tricky – don’t let the felting needles push the material down into the stitching hole (I finally figured out a few ways to deal with this; trial and error can be “fun!”)

My First Experimental Pieces

One of the great things about this Art and Soul Retreat was the ability to experiment with lots of different media. In this machine needle felting class they had all these sewing machines set up with the needle felting attachments, and once the teacher shared the basic technique we were free to use the machines and her stash (as well as some sharing students’ stashes!) to experiment.

Many of the teacher’s designs involved covering the top of the base design completely with a white silk scarf and needle-felting it so that you could barely see the base material underneath. But I preferred to try that on only part of my design (I’m still working on the concept of “collage” and possibly covering up an original layer :). You’ll see the white silk scarf running vertically in the top right corner of the design – pulled apart with my fingers as I felted so that more of the fabrics behind could show through.

There’s some orange-dyed cheesecloth in here as well – that’s really fun to felt with! And more silk pieces running horizontally as I tried tacking other pieces in (the pink across the top is one of my favorites).

I'm working on layers here. The base felt was white, covered by pieces of cotton and velvet, then felted with strips of silk, then embellished with beads.
I’m working on layers here. The base felt was white, covered by pieces of cotton and velvet (bottom left corner in purple – my fave piece! I love how dimpled the velvet got with the felting), then felted on top with strips of silk, then embellished with beads.

After Lunch…

I tried something completely different.

I started out with a blue piece of felt. (This is the end result turned upside down – you’ll see why in a second. Just remember…blue piece of felt…)

This is after felting - you can see where the yellow and white fabrics began to fuse with the felt and come through to the other side.
This is after felting – you can see where the yellow and white fabrics began to fuse with the felt and come through to the other side. This was actually a pleasant surprise I discovered after working for about 3 hours on the other side…

 

So many layers...base cotton material, strips of yellow and white (silk and cotton), layer of chiffon scarf over the whole thing, then ribbons of white silk felted on top
So many layers…base cotton material, strips of yellow and white (silk and cotton), layer of chiffon scarf over the whole thing, then ribbons of white silk felted on top. I spent extra felting time on the yellow strips and maroon circles, to bring them to the front.

I really was just messing around with the felting machine at this point – trying to attach different layers while maintaining a “sun-ray” design in the felting. I only felt-stitched along the sun ray lines (instead of up and down, side to side or the dreaded round-and-round) – which created that really fun back view in the end.

I like the frothy edges of these pieces, though I could just as easily cut these pieces up, zigzag stitch the edges and use them for smaller pieces.

After doing needle-felting by hand, I can definitely say that a sewing machine attachment is interesting to me. I can’t really create 3-dimensional shapes so easily with the machine (e.g. cute penguins), but I can create some very interesting background material in short order using scraps and hand-dyed fabrics.

I am considering that sewing machine attachment…

Have y’all done any felting you’d like to share? I’m new to this and very interested in what others are doing in this space.

Where Do All the Cigar Boxes Go?

I bought some more boxes, and now I’m wondering where all these amazing cigar boxes are going?! The cigar store owners seem to be very ready to get rid of them…like maybe it’s a problem related to selling cigars!

They're all so different!
They’re all so different!

I happened upon a new store recently and thought to ask about empty boxes. At first he said he sells them for $1.99 each, and that a man comes by every two months or so and buys them all – and he offers them to him for one dollar each at that time. I asked him what the man uses them for, but he hasn’t asked (ah well).

So then he offered me 11 boxes for $10. How can one resist? I mean, they’re so weird and different – every one! Some of them even have a little clasp to close them, like on my diary from a million years ago (e.g. childhood)!

So now I own “A LOT” of cigar boxes – some of which are being used for craft supplies (not labeled yet, so it’s a hunt-and-chase situation…mergh…:\ )

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They come in all shapes and sizes (what crafter isn’t “wow’ed” by that alone?!). The one on the left is a trapezoid (I think…whatever, it’s a weird shape!)

 

It has a magic slide top y'all. Seriously.
It has a magic slide top y’all. Seriously. Are cigar smokers doing magic now and we just didn’t realize it?

 

This box has a wooden partition in it that has the label glued on
This box has a wooden partition in it that has a label glued on the edge…which says “Hand Made.”

So much wow.

I think I’m officially addicted now to cigar boxes. (According to all the labels, I’m better off addicted to the boxes than the cigars…have to figure out how to remove all those useful labels…P.S. DON’T SMOKE…but check out smoke shops because they probably have some cool boxes sitting around that they want to get rid off).