Saturday, April 27, 2013

Focus on Life Week 17~Colour

Looking for my Bead Soup?? It's HERE!

Sally's prompt for our photo challenge this week made my heart favourite thing!! Here is her instruction:

"Whether photographing a full shot of amazing colours or small pops of colour against a muted background, this week break out your camera and capture some colour."

I am one of those for whom there is no such thing as too much colour...bring it on! The bolder, the bigger, the better!

When I moved to Ontario from the west, one of the first things I noticed here was the colour!! The vibrant greens of a myriad of different trees, the striking black and white of the lone birch in a forest, the burgundies and mustards of the crops, the striking russets and brilliant gold of the maples and the sumac...all against the brilliant blue sky. 

I am fortunate to have the back of the house face West...and when Daylight Savings Time happens, so that I am home at be treated to a spectacular show by Mother Nature. Here are a few of my favourites from just this week:

I look forward the the beauty found by the other participants in this challenge! 

Why not join me in admiring them HERE

Bead Soup Blog Party 7~Reveal 3

This is the 4th (?) time I have participated in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party. Each time, it gets better and better; this year there are over 500 participants from countries around the world. Here's a visual which I think is very cool:

Our third reveal, as you can see, has been postponed a bit due to some real life issues for Lori Anderson. But the big day has finally arrived! Without further ado, here is a reminder first about what I sent my partner Leah Tees

And what she sent me:

(We were apparently on the same wave length about the purple LOL)

And here is what I have concocted from Leah's beautiful soup:

 The first thing I finished was this necklace and the matching earrings. I used the gorgeous stone focal Leah provided and the toggle as a feature element. The dangles on the necklace chain and in the stone pendant fringe are all from Leah, as are the "paisley" drops. 

Closeup of the pendant:

And the earrings:

This set I will wear a LOT, as my wardrobe tends to consist of shades of black, especially when I'm travelling...which I do quite a lot. It's just so easy. 

At the same time, I was working away on this bracelet:

I've recently fallen in love with freeform peyote, thanks to Karen Williams of Skunk Hill Studio and Mandi Ainsworth of Bead Circle. I had such fun with this piece! I added a flash of teal to Leah's black, silver, and purple colour scheme and just went cray-cray. I've added some of my own seed beads, but the majority of the piece is the soup that Leah sent. 

I also made earrings to go with the bracelet:

Here they are together:

Please be sure to visit my friend Leah's post HERE....(I can't WAIT to see what she's created!) and also see what the other participants have come up with from their soups.  Please visit Lori's blog at Pretty Things for the link list of participants for this reveal.  

Thanks Leah, for a particularly inspiring soup! I have many in-progress photos for the freeform bracelet, which I will post separately after the mayhem is over. :-)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Focus on Life Week 16~Take a Walk

.....and I responded promptly to that invitation! :-) 

Here is Sally's prompt for this week's photographs:

"Step back and look at the wide world around you and capture a shot of the landscape in front of you!"

For once, serendipity happened this day off from work AND the sun conspired together to provide a breathtaking spring day. I had about a million things I SHOULD have been working on, but chose instead to take Sally's advice. Thank you, Sally! I had a wonderful day!

I chose to drive up to one of my favorite spots; this is Marchmont, ON:

This old mill has been converted to a home, but still stands ready, without its millwheel, to enjoy the creek running by: 

We've had lots of rain, so the creek is running hard and fast at this point:

Here, on the other side of the bridge, is the small waterfall between the creek's origin lake, and the old mill. 

And here is the beautiful lake area up above:

Reflections on the lake:

No, this next photo is not turned sideways *g*


The flower boxes on the bridge are waiting for their Spring plantings: 

But these decided not to wait!

I love these patina'd old split-rail fences:

It was a gorgeous day!

I look forward to seeing what the other adventurers discovered, HERE at Sally's blog. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Beading Babes~Project 8

I'm delighted to be a member of Beading Babes, as you can see from the sidebar. 

Each month, we choose projects from beading magazines such as Beadwork or Bead and Button, or a project from a designer website. Everyone creates from the same project group, and we compare notes/problems/solutions as we work. 
Please feel free to join in on the fun!

Here are the projects I completed this go-round:

1. Button-up Bracelet by Leslie Frazier from Beadwork Dec 2012. 

This is considered to be an intermediate project, and is done for the most part in RAW. 

I chose this one because I love bracelets (pretty near instant gratification!), it looked pretty, and I was interested to work with the peanut beads. 

The bracelet was, for the most part, very easy to complete. I would say it's more of an advanced beginner than an intermediate project. I had very little difficulty following the pattern and didn't really find any errors in it (this is unusual!).

The experience with the peanut beads....hmmm...

The metallized beads I used for the bracelet base (see below) were fine to work with, and produced a bracelet that has substance and heft and a great feel on the wrist. The matte finish mauve beads were a whole other story. They did not play well with one another; the finish seemed to prevent the beads from sitting properly without being forced into place with each stitch. Frustrating to say the least. I also ended up having to order more of the matte beads, because the cull of unusable beads was MUCH higher than the norm, and much higher than the cull from the shiny beads. 
Tip: if you love one of the matte finishes in these beads, be prepared to spend extra time with them, and order 10 grams more than the pattern asks for. 

I have noticed that there are at least two different manufacturers of these beads; mine were ordered from Fusion Beads, and of course I have no idea who is the manufacturer as that information is not provided. 

The "flower" on this bracelet is interesting; in the magazine picture, it looks like a flower. My finished product bears only a slight resemblance to a flower, and I followed the instructions exactly. I think the magazine pic is just a particularly poor one. 
Tip: If I do this a second time, and I probably will, I will use one of two options:
     -use the flower from the pattern in Beadwork, but UNembellished (stop at the end of Step 3); this will give you a flat circular peyote piece which spirals in the two colours. I loved the look of it with the angular bracelet. 
     -use an alternate flower, probably from HERE, which contains some particularly pretty ones. I'm sure there are tons you could find on Pinterest as well.

Speaking of the flower...the only problem I had with the instructions was in getting the flower attached to the bracelet band. How you're supposed to do RAW with good tension, in a space between two items you're drawing firmly together with it, was beyond me.  Could be just me. I did my own thing, and it worked fine. 

I do LOVE the closure on this one. It works great and is neatly hidden by the "flower". I will certainly use that again. 

So, here's Lori's version of "Button-up Bracelet":

2. Royal Chains Lariat by Kelly Wiese from Beadwork Oct 2009

This project was time consuming but fun, fun, fun. I loved the opportunity to try out several different new (to me) stitches, and doing the stitching was very Zen. It's not a quick project, as the lariat ropes are looooooooong. I plan to do another one, in my favourite at the moment colours of silver and purple. Next time, I will likely replace the size 11 beads in the embellishment ridge with 2 mm crystals for a little extra sparkle. 

Tip: My thread of choice is normally Fireline, but do NOT use it for this project. It will create a rope that is far too stiff and doesn't flow nicely. I used Nymo D. Be SURE you wax it....WAX not Thread Heaven...especially for the Chevron Chain, or you will have problems with your tension.
I devised a hold on the chain as I was working on it that finally worked for me to control the tension; I held the last stitch between the thumb and forefinger of my non-dominant hand, and used the fingernail of my dominant hand to work the stitch firmly together once the beads were in place. Waxed thread will more firmly control it once stitched. 

The chains, once joined, create a rope that is about 3/4" wide, with an embellished ridge of pearls and seed beads, and varied fringe tails. I think you could easily double or treble the "base" chains to create a very pretty, delicate bracelet as well. I'll add that one to my list of projects I'm going to try out. *g* I'd probably add some fringe tails to the closure as well. 

Here is Lori's version of Royal Chains Lariat:  

Detail of the closure:

Be sure you look us up on Facebook to see everyone else's projects as well! 

Here's the link to ask for an add: Beading Babes on Facebook

Friday, April 12, 2013

Focus on Life~Week 15 Aged Beauty

Week 15? Has it really been that long? I'm really enjoying this weekly challenge, and once again want to thank Sally Russick for all her hard work to keep us informed and challenged...for 52 weeks!

This week's challenge is Aged Beauty:

"This week focus on the aged beauty that may be an old building, or an aged vehicle in a parking lot, items in a local barn, flea market, garage, or in your jewelry box and snap a shot of a vintage beauty!"

I had finished my photos for this week before half an hour had passed from Sally's announcement; I knew immediately what I wanted to "snap". In fact, I have many, many items I could have used, but the backstory of these ones I think is quite unique, so I'm going to bore you with a little story and LOTS of pictures this time. *ok, can it, those of you in the back whispering to yourselves...and every time!* 

From the time I was about 3 I've been a hand-stitcher; not at my mother's knee, but at the side of my babysitter, who was a milliner back in the 1950's. Her work was amazing....all hand done from gorgeous expensive fabrics, with exotic trims and filmy veils. Likely in order to save her sanity *g* she taught me how to sew as soon as I was able to hold a needle. She let me use the scraps of those wonderful fabrics and trims to make clothing for my dolls, and later taught me how to use a pattern to make my own clothing, and how to embellish household linens of various kinds with beautiful embroidery.
When I went to school for the first time, I made my own first-day outfit....a pleated short skirt and a white blouse with a little Peter Pan collar...very fashionable for the time! 

As I grew older, my sewing evolved into making quilts; by this time I had my own sewing machine, but I always enjoyed doing handwork of various kinds as well. As I was now the "quilter of the family", when an elderly friend of the family died in about 1970 at age 93, they gave to me the quilts her parents had brought to the West when they left Ontario to homestead in Alberta. I have had them since, and fittingly, when I was transferred by my company in 2004 to Ontario....they came home again. 
I also inherited from my mother, my great-grandmother's crazy quilt; this one is about 128 years old. When my sisters and I were children, it was used as a coverlet when we were ill, so it has been very well-loved over the years, and there isn't a lot left of it. Nonetheless, I treasure it. 

Here's the 128 year old crazy:

The cream patches you see are backing, where the fabric originally used has disintegrated completely; amazingly, some have held up quite well! 


This is the backing; those are not stains you see, they are the remains of pattern on the floral backing fabric. You can also see that the quilt was hand-tied, which was common for crazy quilts. 

Here are the quilts from the Peller family that emigrated west in about 1890 to homestead in Alberta. 

This one is the oldest one. The pattern, for those of you not quilters, is called Log Cabin. Even if you're not a quilter, you'll likely recognize that name, as it has been a pattern used very commonly for much longer than 150 years. It is completely hand-stitched, with the narrow "logs" common to older Log Cabins; these ones are about 1/4" wide, although as you can see the quilter had a little difficulty keeping them even *g*. Modern Log Cabin quilts generally have about 1" or wider logs. Log Cabins can be "set" (the arrangement of the blocks) in many different ways. This set is called Barn Raising. From the fabrics, my guess would set the age of the quilt at early 1900's, or late 1800's. It is in excellent condition. 


This next one is from approximately the 1920's (from the look of the fabrics). It's a Bears Paw variant which I've never seen before or since. Can you see the Bears "Paw"? It's the square, with the 4 triangle pieces above and to the right, forming the "claws".  A very appropriate pattern for a quilt from what was at that time the Wild West! This one has a muslin background, and is hand quilted and hand pieced. Again, it is in excellent condition. It graces the back of my living room sofa. 


I'm delighted to have them "home" again, and hope that when I pass on, I am able to pass them to someone who will love them as much as I do. 

Now run and see what the other photographers have captured in their Aged Beauty segments.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Week 14~Up Close!

First things first...let me apologize for not being able to return any visits last week! Let's just was one of those, and close the chapter.

I was excited to see Sally's prompt for us this week:

"The macro shot! Start exploring the details of the ordinary up close and glimpse a world that you may never have noticed until you observed it magnified "

It immediately brought to mind something that I discovered a while back in my stash of "jewelry goodies". I picked up this piece of shale on the shores of Lake Huron months back, while exploring with visiting friends from North Carolina. I grabbed a few of them, just because they fascinate me, and I thought I might be able to create something for each of them in the way of a remembrance of the Canadian Shield. I didn't look at them that closely, just picked up a few shapes that appealed to me.

And then one day I was looking for a focal, and noticed this.....

Click on the picture to many fossils do you see? *

.....and here are my other favourites of my pictures this week....two of the many shells in my collection

Let's see what the other participants have discovered in their macro explorations! You'll find them HERE

*PS....I count at least 4 fossils in that many did you find?
It was apparently a very buggy day those thousands of years ago!