Monday, March 30, 2015


Is it ever OK to wear your Pottery Barn curtain, your great aunt's handmade table cloth, and a high thread count Egyptian cotton pillow case as an outfit...in public I mean?  I am wondering would that be considered artful or awful couture?
It all started with a simple question from Handy Hubby,  "What kind of clothes do you wear with the kind of jewelry you are making?  Maybe you need to show your work off with something different or unique."  The hamster wheel in my head started turning and I thought he is right, I should make some artful clothing to use as props for photos. I ambled off to the studio to see what I could come up with.  I had a simple basic shirt pattern on hand that I thought I could alter a bit to get the look I wanted by tracing the main pattern front and back onto a roll of craft paper and then sketching the alterations to that to make a new pattern.

Since this was only going to be a prop for photos I dug through my fabric stash to see what I could come up with.  I found a fab Pottery Barn curtain that I had picked up at a tag sale, the linen was high quality and I knew it would be great for crafting with, after washing and drying it crinkled into the most fabulous texture, this would make the front and back of the shirt.  
For the sleeves I chose a handmade damaged crochet table cloth that my great aunt made.  My mother had given it to me years ago thinking I could craft with the good parts, one end had a great gaping hole torn in the stitching but otherwise was in great shape.
Next I needed something to use for the facing pieces (yes I was making it like a real live shirt even though it was going to be a prop) and I found an Egyptian cotton pillowcase, soft as butter, in my stash, another tag sale find, that was the right weight and color.  Lastly I wanted an accent color and snagged a piece of muslin I had hand dyed to a lovely robins egg blue.
After patterning, pinning, snipping, sewing, clipping, and ironing I had a piece of artful couture as a photo prop!  I put it on my display form and hung it in the studio.  As I was cleaning up my sewing shambles I kept sneaking peeks at the garment.  I thought to myself, "I would wear that."  Followed by, "You can't wear that, its a Pottery Barn curtain for heavens sake!"  "Wait a minute, I am a resourceful southern gal just like Scarlett O'Hara and we both had the same idea..."
"But what if I look like this...
Instead of this...
While clad in my curtain garment?"

Batting the thought back and forth in my brain another Scarlett-isum came to mind, "Well fiddle-dee-dee, see if I care!"  So, did I wear it out in public?  The proof is in the picture...
So, what do you think artful or awful couture?


Friday, March 27, 2015


I have listed some of handmade mixed media jewelry in my Etsy shop.

"Winter's Frost" mixed media necklace:

BoHo style mixed media butterfly necklace:

"Woodland Friends" charm bracelet:

"Nature's Wonder" mixed media lariat style necklace:

"The Librarian" mixed media lariat style necklace:

"Serenity by the Sea" mixed media lariat style necklace:

"Nature's Notebook" mixed media lariat style necklace:

Thanks for taking a peek.


Thursday, March 26, 2015


"Flowers and butterflies drift in color, illuminating spring."
~ Author Unknown ~

I have been as busy a bee in a field full of clover these past weeks working through my beginner metalsmithing class.  I am super excited about what I am learning and buzzing with ideas of how it can enhance my art.  Right now my focus has been in using the techniques I am learning on jewelry making and as soon as I have a good foundation of skills built up I plan to expand into other mediums.

With springs arrival I have been anticipating the return of things with wings that delight my soul...migrating birds, chubby bumble bees, ethereal moths, fluttering butterflies, even the loud cadence of the cicadas.  One of my first projects after learning a texture and patina lesson on copper was to make something with the piece of metal.  I decided to keep it pretty simple and create a butterfly pendant.

Wings beating against the air over a field of wildflowers, a day spent with my daughter when we saw the mighty hand of protection shadow us from what could have been a dangerous situation..this memory darted through my mind as I cut, filed, and formed.  The wings a meadows drum beat, delicately silent but powerful, able to defy gravity and float on the wind.  So many butterflies that day, maybe more than I have ever seen in one natural setting before.

I wanted to capture their soft delicacy and strength in this piece.  Metal, I am finding, can be a tricky thing to work with.  A piece needs good use of balance as to not make it too heavy or overpowering visually or too weighty for wear.  How you choose to create your focal point dictates your choices in finishing a piece with wire and beading.

I think I achieved what I set out to do with this piece, it has good balance between hard and soft and after giving it the "wear test" (long enough to test the connections, comfort, and drape, but long enough to fall in love and claim it for my own) I am pleased with the outcome for a beginner piece.  My favorite part of this piece are the curved wire antenna.

A butterflies antenna are a sensory appendage that they use for sense of smell and balance.  That day in the meadow, my daughter sensed something was wrong and gently guided my attention to it.  Silent prayers were sent winging their way heavenward and a way of escape was made where none could be seen.  Even thinking about it gives me butterflies in my stomach.  Oddly enough, it was a butterfly that caught my attention and directed my gaze to a clear path away from danger.

Thank you humble butterfly and thank you Mighty God for divine intervention.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015


(etch and patina copper face)

My daughter says I have an open invitation that invites crazy into my life and I am starting think she might be right.  My best friend confirmed it when she said she wished there were hidden cameras in my house so she could see my misadventures played out in real time instead of hearing about them secondhand.  Most of the time I get into these scraps because my head is in the clouds and I am not paying attention, who could with a cloudy head?  But this time was different, in my defense I was paying close attention, inexperience led to this channeling of my Lucy and Ethel moment.
(stamped etched copper)

In Ethel's famous last words, "This is easy, I think we (I) can do it."  That was my exact thought when I took on a lesson in applying patina to metal.  I think a little background is needed to set the scene properly.  About a month ago I took the plunge to do something that I have long wanted to learn, metalsmithing (as applied to jewelry making).  I gifted myself with a class on Valentine's Day and away I went on my learning adventure.
(etched and patina moon and trees)

After covering the lessons on patina and etching applied to different metals I decided to spend a day experimenting with both homemade and manufactured solutions to compare the different results and build up a supply of ready to use pieces.  The etching turned out beautifully and I was ready to tackle the patina.   I am not a complete novice where patina is concerned but there are some methods and products I have never used before...and so the adventure began.
(embossed patina copper)

I happily slathered, dipped, brushed, burned, inked, salted, and soaked.  Blue greens, rusty dreams, spectacular speckles, burnt browns, brackish blacks, giddy success plummeted to sudden distress with the very last thing I tried, something I had never used before.
(play pretties)

I read the directions carefully and plunged into the very last experiment.  Things were going well until my super sniffer begins to tingle with the most unpleasant, distinct, offensive, odoriferous odor I have ever smelled. My eyes started to water. I started to cough and gag.  My nose was burning.  My whole house filled with the green gaseous scent of rotten eggs!
(waiting to become a necklace)

I was immediately catapulted back in my memory to standing on the edge of a volcano that had the same sulfur stench and I suddenly wished I was the sacrificial chicken that I saw tossed over the into the abyss for an offering...no worries the chicken was not alive, it was one of those roasted ones from the Wal-Mart deli...I wondered why anyone would have a picnic on the edge of a sulfur infested volcano...but that is beside the point and a story for another day.
(lovely verdigris on copper)

I grabbed the noxious offender and it splashed on my hands turning my finger nails a sickly shade of yellow green. Coughing, choking, and gagging to the back door I flung the repulsive concoction as far as I could fling it taking deep gulping breaths of fresh cold air.  I scoured and bleached my hands, however, NOTHING helped the stench in my house.
(desk view)

I should have known that if you put anything that tastes as bad as liver and smells as bad a sulfur together into a usable product that it would be a recipe for disaster.  Oh, it did a beautiful patina but it almost did me in!
(butterfly pendant in progress)

Now to tackle those torches...pen torch, mini blazer, stubby torch here I come!


P.S.  If you want to keep up with the artful happenings here at the Quill between blog posts you can follow along on my Facebook page here.  
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