Friday, January 29, 2010

Salome's Adornment

The busy bee was working again yesterday. I remade a few sold pieces in doubles. I decided that it might be prudent when I actually do have the time to increase my stock, but I always put off the task, so for a solution, I decided that when something needs remaking, I will make two. This of course does not apply to masks nor ankle corsets, though it probably should.

I finished up my anklet, got pictures and used the power of twitter to help me name the sucker. Now I know due to the new relevancy search on the horizon at etsy I should cut out the creative names and just call it something like tatted anklet with bells and coins, but I shall have none of that. It is called 'Salome's Adornment'. Yes, it is cliche, and I like it that way. I was terribly lazy when I got photos of it worn as an arm band. I was wearing a t shirt and I didn't want to change so I cropped the hell out of the picture. I should probably get new ones one of these days...maybe.

I also spent a good deal of time cleaning up various child and pet created disasters. I am becoming more acutely aware of them since my Grandfather is coming to visit next week. We invited him to stay in our guest room and though we have already hosted my brother, Grandpa is an entirely different situation. It's not that we're one of those over judging least not on that side, but his house was always immaculate, mine is, well passable. So I didn't get much more tatting done. I did list the shisha mirrors and they are already on their way to a new home. I hope I get to see their application. I will get a few more made up, maybe today.

Oh, but I did tat one more thing. As I was sitting in the computer room, I had one of those, 'I wonder what...?' moments. I dug through my supplies and came out with a few things, grabbed the white thread, I know, and started on a pendant that shall be called 'The White Queen'. Am I jumping on an Alice bandwagon here? Yeah, maybe a little, but I really wanted to use the silver filament again so I needed a properly flashy piece. I'll get that one done this morning and hopefully get some pictures and have it listed too. the search through the supply box may have also inspired a few more small and one of a kind pieces as well, only time will tell for certain.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Jingling

I thought that I was going to spend the day on the museum pieces, but to no ones surprise, I flipped and decided to remake a couple of sold pieces. I had just enough crystals on hand to make two of my tenebrous pendant, so I made two. As I completed them, I sat them side by side and got an idea for a new anklet. I had had a completely different silhouette in mind before, but this will work too. I finished the mock up and after much drama figuring out the best way to edge the sides, I did begin on the final piece as well. This is just the point where I set out all the jewels or in this case bells and coins for placement. I should get this one done sometime today. I plan for this one to be a lace up piece. Like wrists, I fear ankle size varies dramatically and with a pattern made of separate motifs this large, adjusting said pattern just an inch is way more of a task than I enjoy, so lacing solves that handsomely. Plus that might make the piece wearable as an arm band, though the weight might hinder that. I guess I'll have to try it out.

I was terribly distracted by all the apple hoopla yesterday so I'm shocked that I got anything done. I went from, "I can haz now, please" all the way too, '...maybe I should just save the money and wait.' I'm whishy washy like that. I liked the look and even the majority of what it can do, but I am a hopeless multitask-er and without the ability to run multiple applications at once, I fear I would just get annoyed with the thing. Then I again got terribly distracted with the State Of The Union thing. Though I avoid being politically opinionated here or online in general so as not to offend my friends, I found others opinions, particularly on twitter to be a fine filtering tool. I stopped following a few quite quickly and had a very hard time ignoring a few others that I did not want to unfollow...I really wanted to unfollow. I should shut up now before I paint myself into a corner.

I didn't get the shisha listed yesterday, I shall try to remember to get them up today and I have a few pieces to remake as well. The anklet might go up today, though there are no promises, it might be another day on that as well. I do have a few other ideas swirling at this point, though I should get back to the glove before I forget how I constructed the first parts. I think that might be important to remember when I need to make its mate. While I was constructing one of the anklet motifs, I thought about making a circlet with a section of that as a base. This is something I've toyed with making for a while, but never got around to. I think adding it to the belly dance line makes good sense so it might see the light of day in the future too. Ugh, why do I keep thinking of new things to make...I'm tired.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back To Basics

So let's see, I got the new jingling necklace listed and I made another so I could re list it after it's intended owner picked it up. Then I had one of those, 'what was I going to do now?' moments. Don't get me wrong it's kind of nice to not be so backed up on projects that I can take a break, but it's been so long I actually turned around in circles for a moment. Of course I do still have several projects on deck, it's just that these are either simply personal goals with no real reason like the gloves, or ones with no impending deadline, like creating sample pieces for my aunt's museum display. So I took care of a few odds and ends. I photographed those shisha so I can list them later and then I started on the museum display pieces.

For these I decided to get a wide variety of unmodified medallions and edgings. I busted out a big ball of vintage ecru thread. I have no idea how old it is, but the label reads 700 yds and is priced at a whopping .39 cents so it's old anyway. I am still working with my size 10 since I figured while it's larger than most people would have worked with in the past, it will make for a much easier to see display. I might still get out the small thread for illustrative purposes, but I think I'll do the bulk in 10.

I've only gotten a few done so far using some books from the 40's. I think I'll get out my earlier ones today and get some edgings from there. By the 40's they were getting far more inventive and decorative than they were just a few decades before. The one thing about this project that I don't enjoy is working up the single shuttle patterns and the mignonette stitch. I'm sure it's easier with the shuttle, but with the needle I'm working with an insane amount of loose thread just trailing everywhere and getting tangled. Sure I could use shorter lengths, but then I'm adding thread everywhere and having to hide ends in tiny spaces and well that's even more annoying. I'm actually working on a small doily with the mignonette edging now and I think I might just stop when I run out of thread, all mid project like. Sloppy, sure, but the point has been made and these pieces have no further use after their display life ends so I'm not stressing on it.

I've not pressed any of the pieces yet and it always amazes me that people thought these curled up messes were going to look good eventually. I mean, if you were a beginning tatter and that medallion up there was coming off your needle or shuttle, I image you'd stop and try again thinking that it just couldn't be right. Funny thing is of course after blocking, or in my case, pressing it will look right as rain. No one mentions this in any of those old books, perhaps they all just knew that's how it was going to be. I know I had a little faith in the beginning that the pattern writers knew what they were doing, but I figured I was horribly unskilled. Then an iron later, I was cool.

I think that's all from me today. I really have no idea which direction my tatting will turn for the day so no use predicting now. Oh, one last thing, I figured out how to add my 365 project over on the lower right column as a slide show. It's not amazing or groundbreaking, but I figured it out and now those pictures will scroll through here. I might add a tatting album one here as well if it doesn't slow the blog down to a crawl or anything. Not that I spend all that much time reading the main blog page, so I might never know that anyway... and there's the nonsense starting to pour out, so I'm off.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dancing Bells And Coins

No, I didn't slow down much yesterday. We had our second quarter teacher conference for my home schooled daughter. So I spent the better part of the morning in a whirl getting her and paperwork ready. Then we headed to the library to be told we are of course doing fine and keep at it. I was initially afraid of this whole teacher/learning coach relationship. I wanted support but not to be dictated to and judged too harshly for my attempts. The fear turns out to be completely unwarranted, apparently, they just want to make sure the child learns and if they are we're all good. One more week and we'll have half the year of school knocked out. It feels pretty good.

Once we got back and finished up art class it was back to tatting for me. I decided to get this belly dance necklace that I've been going on about for months done. First I was stalled by supplies, then by other projects and finally by a lack of clear direction. The Scandal design though was a breakthrough for me. It is that rare combination of dramatic silhouette and easy construction. Usually I avoid pieced with too many individual motifs, but this one flies together. Plus creating in pieces allowed me to add the coins and bells much easier. No counting and loading on tons of them while they weigh down the thread. Just a few here and a few there.

The final piece is a custom order for an extremely patient customer. I will be getting the listing photos today and posting it for her, but I have had a pleasant reaction to it from other dancers, so I will be making another to get listed soon as well. This also opens up the potential for a whole line of jingling things. I can put bells on barefoot sandals and bracelets and I've just had a brainstorm for something of an anklet married to an ankle corset all covered in coins. I hope no one minds the distinct lack of Indian influence in the pieces. On the same subject I made up a few more of the shisha pieces so I might get them listed as a three pack. Of course I found a place that sells what appear to be machine crocheted versions for sewing on at the less than twenty bucks for 100, so the market for tatted ones might be just too ridiculously expensive to bother. I might still use the technique in my own pieces, but yeah.

I am also getting very close to revealing one of my secret project destinations. I fear I might have built up a the hype on this one a bit by being secretive, so it's not too awesome, just a first for me. Of course one is moving forward and I'm still waiting to hear back on another. It's probably best really, like when the bad guys in the movie take turns attacking the hero so he doesn't have to fight them all at once. It's not as if I've nothing to do while I wait, so I'll be patient a while longer. So today, more tatting and listing. I've got to keep moving lest I drown right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Didn't I Make?

So Friday was a busy, busy tatting day, followed by a busy tatting weekend. I finished the first spat and then it's mate and I shared the results on the facebook fan page. The design is apparently acceptable. I also spent the weekend making up a second pair in terror that I would run out of thread before its completion. It seems I had just enough of the discontinued shade to finish. I guess that makes them limited editions right?When I can breath, I will likely try a few other color combinations as I think this design benefits from the technique. All in one color I think the elements might get lost and blend together.

Did I mention that I acquired yet another vintage tatting book from the 40's? Well, I did and as is my way I needed to find the first project from its pages. This was an easy pick. There was a hankie edging I fell for immediately. It was one of those that you would have had to cut the corner to fit, which I think would have been a ridiculous task, but I digress. I made some minor modifications to the design for structural purposes, but otherwise left it fairly intact and I think it makes a stunning necklace. I already sold the first one to the fine lady who I let name the piece, "A Scandal In Bohemia". I don't know if the real Irene would wear this one, but it is dramatic.

Then Saturday evening, my ankle corsets got a shot at the front page of etsy. This time during the day, for a whole hour. I was lucky to have gotten home right before they were up and the twitterverse immediately alerted me to the feature. The views were spectacular and the corsets got 112 new item hearts. Really, not much beats the front page treasuries for exposure, though it is fleeting, very fleeting. During my stay on twitter, I mentioned that the new necklace design was going to serve as a base for a belly dance inspired piece that I should be getting to this week. My comment was met with the phrase, "bet you could churn out tatted shisha like nobody's business. Maybe make sew-on shisha for people to use on their own stuff." Of course my first reaction was to look that up, because I had no clue was shisha was...if you look it up add the work embroidery or you will be further confused. Anyway, I gave it a go because I am hardwired to accept a challenge no matter how vague it is or busy I am. I found plenty of instructions on how to do this with embroidery, but none of that applied here. I made this with one of the smaller mirrors I picked up and after some stitch count adjustments we have a little mirror encased in tatting that can be simply sewed on.

What am I going to do with it? No clue. I think it might make a cute pendant or perhaps an element to be added to my larger designs or maybe I will just offer them up for other to use in their own designs. See, I told you it was a busy tatting weekend. What is up for the coming week you ask? Oh, I don't know...maybe a nap would be nice, of course I don't nap, so more tatting I suppose.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Invisible Hand

It was an ADD sort of creating day. I leaped from one thing to another and back again repeatedly, not really getting any one thing done. I also obsessed on etsy most recent change/move. In an attempt to make everyone happy, they are trying to create a relevancy search. They realize that change makes us wet ourselves, so they've opted to try out 'Relevancy Thursdays' in an effort to gain data and I suppose improve the algorithm involved. I do think that is it ironic that they are trying to mimic the google search whilst google implements recency results. Anyway, I digress...again. The unfortunate basis of the relevancy seems to be our our titles, descriptions and tags. When I looked up tatting, the only tatting on the first page was at the bottom buried by things like puddy tat glass, which had that in the title, the tags and the sellers name, and not, not tatting. Hell, that wasn't even tattooing, which did make up a large portion of the results as well.

My own person pieces, pages back...pages. You can see why I'd be annoyed. The way to fool this new search apparently, is to add your most effective search term to your titles, your tags and your descriptions, but frankly that's not only a lot of effort, but if feels wrong. I like my cleverly named pieces. I like my short effective descriptions, but I'd also like to actually be found. My views were not down for the day, though that might be due to my own search experiments, but I made no sales and heard others puzzled at the results as well. There were those you sell similar products with similar tags, titles and descriptions, yet appear no where near each other in the search, so what is the formula to be found. Of course, we can't all be on the front of these results, but it would be nice if a tatting search yielded, you know...tatting. Of course the other fear is that unscrupulous people will add unrelated, but popular search terms to all their tags, titles and descriptions destroying other peoples chances of being found. Without the sheer man power to police this issue, I fear we're down a very bad rabbit hole indeed.

I did work on my gloves for a bit in the afternoon. I married the fingers together creating at first a frightening Frankenstein monster hand. Really, they are going together well and next up is the hardest bit so far. I want to attach them to a slave bracelet design, but I'm not certain the best way to fill in the empty space. I think I might just continue the current weave pattern and see if I can find the best attachment points, but really, I just need to do it, thinking and plotting is not helping at this point.

Back to work on the spat that I thought I was done with. I scrapped the side designs as well, they were too, I don't know, predictable. Instead, I took the motif I used to fill in the center bottom and modified that to do the job of the current side motifs. Then I struck a wall. Not a design wall, but a color one. As I am trying to create a matching set with mystery pieces, I was using said matching color. As the ball is wearing done, I went online to order more of this color. I noted that the tag on the ball is old...I had bought the thread some time ago, it also had no numbered color code, no matter I can match the color. Nope. I fear this is a discontinued color and I see nothing it's like anywhere. It's a cebelia in a medium brown shade. It's darker than the coffee cream and I can see nothing darker than that until we reach the royale thread in a chocolate brown which is far too dark. It's my own fault of course for getting ahead of myself. I've ordered every brown toned shade of cebelia that they had hoping that perhaps the online color swatches are horribly off, but I'm pretty sure I'm screwed here. I searched for a while trying to locate a list of discontinued colors or something, but I got nowhere. I suppose there's a slight chance that my hand dying thread angel can reproduce the color or at least a similar one, but the cost for that is much higher than store bought.

Oh, well, I'm just rambling again. I am still waiting on emails, so I'll just stay in a holding pattern, work with what I have and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This One Is A Spat

Another day, another storm. It's wet, it's windy and I really have no desire to leave the house. So why did I run outside to stop the barbecue cover from blowing away, in my slippers? Why did I then run inside and not wipe my wet, slick feet on the rug before stepping onto the tile? Because, apparently, I thought it would be fun to slip all cartoon like, my legs flying into the air while I land on my bum so hard that sitting is still now, nearly 24 hours later, painful. Sure, I should feel lucky that I landed firmly on one cheek, sparing my tailbone and leaving me a side to sit on, but really I'm just annoyed at my lack of forethought. To recap, my rear hurts.

In other news, I was hard at work on my newest ankle corset design. Everything started to come together and the shape started to form. I did do one thing I rarely do while designing, I did cut out the bottom center motif you see here and replaced it with a smaller, different one. That's the thing about making pieces meant to fit the body. It's hard to visualize where bends are needed and this one was sticking nearly straight up when I arched my foot, which would have made it look ridiculous in heels.

Again, I don't have the final picture yet, but I added an edging to help it match another piece and aside from choosing the final color gradation, the prototype is done. I'll probably play with colors today, or I might just take a break from this and pull out those fingers and give them some attention. I am wishing however that I had started working the gloves in ecru as counting stitches with black thread is quite the eye strain and as I get further on, I'll need to do that. No, I didn't write anything down. Do I ever write anything down?

Still waiting on emails. Of course this illustrates how insane I would be if I was waiting on actual mail...insane. I have also been neglecting my shop a bit, which is ironic given the amount of energy I usually pour into the thing. So many of my recent projects have been custom pieces I've been emailed about, or secret projects, so I just don't have anything new to list in the store. I've even let a few things expire since they were more seasonal and despite what people say about clearing out old inventory to make room for more, I've got plenty of room as I'm certain they do too, so I'll just reintroduce them when appropriate. Anyway, traffic is down and I think I need to get on some advertising or something too. I refuse to use all my social media to constantly stream promos as I think it's actually counterproductive. I will have to think outside the box a bit to get my precious attention, you know, when I get around to it. Back to tatting then.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's That I'm Making?

So why on earth do I have a picture of a simple ring posted here. Seems silly I know, but look closely. You see where the thread are coming off that little ring? The center, yep. This is my very first split chain. This was a technique I had assumed was solely the domain of the shuttle tatter as I could find no instruction for the needle at all. Then one day a lovely tatter over at intatters made this video to help the shuttle tatters with the move. At first I was stumped, it was not happening for me, so I put down my little ring and moved on. Then yesterday for some reason I picked it up again and without revisiting the video decided that I could do that with just a crochet hook, and I did. Turns out all I really needed to do was focus on what makes a ds a ds. The half hitch knot. Whew. I don't know how often I might use the technique as it is still a bit of a pain to do and cutting and hiding ends to start a new row is really no effort with the needle, but I am so glad to have learned.

Next up, my new secret projects. Well sort of secret, like most things I have not yet announced, I fear that everything will fall right through, so rather than explain what went wrong later I just don't announce a thing. I will however give you a peek into the creation process. I am creating a matching line of pieces...for a secret reason. Anyway one of those pieces will likely be a new ankle corset design. I say likely because I always count failure as an option in new designs. It's just prudent.

So the new design is starting with this decorative lace up section. I made the prototype in ecru since I have two level tons of the stuff, but the final design won't be black, just a little detail. I've gotten further than this piece now, but this was the only picture I took while working. I got a wee bit distracted by the enormous thunder storm we got yesterday evening. I digress, the piece will have straight sides up the ankle a bit and I'm still working out the curves section for the front. I want a bit of frill without going too over the top. This one is meant to have a slightly more spat like appearance, but like all designs I never know what the end will look like until I'm there. I've one more secret design already done, but I think I'll keep that one under wraps for the sake of drama.

As seems to be the case more often than not lately, I am waiting for more emails on other projects. I keep thinking that I've bit off more than I can chew and then as each project finishes, I think well that wasn't so bad. Perhaps I thrive under pressure or perhaps I just let just enough of those projects fall through the cracks to keep me sane. So if I appear to be ignoring your project, please let me know, it's likely I have had a bit of amnesia about it. I really should start writing these things down...maybe next year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There's A Giveaway At The End Of This Post

You know, I love holidays just like any other person, but I hate when Tuesday acts like Monday. It's unnatural and puts my whole week in a weird spin. No matter how I hard I try, the week is just off. Anyway, I tried to do myself a favor by simply posting the Instructable yesterday, but I think it just further contributed to yesterday not feeling like a week day. The folks over at Instructables have again spoiled me by choosing to feature my tutorial. I think that this one will ultimately get far less attention as it really doesn't teach all that much new nor is it complicated and interesting looking like the mask, but I do like to throw these out every once in a while and keep interest in tatting growing outside the established community.

I have not worked any more on the gloves as I've had my hands full with other projects demanding more immediate attention. Okay, maybe not demanding, more like actually having destinations in mind. I spent much of the weekend sewing sequins on an other mask, this time, I think I found the sweet spot for the person who requested it. This one will take a trip and I'll let it's destination and purpose remain a mystery so I can talk about it later.

Ooh, now a story. So, I was checking out my google alerts for tatted jewelry when I stumbled upon a blog and I read the entry and I commented nicely in regards to the content and it appears that I must have not been polite enough to warrant the publishing of said comment, so I shall share here. It was in regards to why people publish free patterns and then do not want you selling pieces made with them. I've heard opinions on this subject most recently during the copycat scandal that of course went well beyond just that. Basically what I said there was: I give out patterns because I believe most people who seek out free patterns are not trying to make money with them. They are trying build their skills, make gifts for themselves and others and simply enjoy the pastime. I knit, I look for free patterns, I don't sell those things, that's not why I knit. It's not *why* I tat either, but I've managed to make this my only income, so you'd see why I wouldn't want to hurt that. I think I was naive when I offered patterns of things I was trying to sell, but when I started selling on etsy there was not a single solitary tatter selling there...not one. It is of course rapidly becoming a crowded market and I would not have guessed that just a few years ago.

Anyway, the blog post also referred to coming up with a ring design all by themselves and that they didn't think anyone could claim the design as it was too simple. I mention this because it seems an odd succession of statements, almost as if they were justifying or defending themselves. This might be because while they may have indeed independently come up with the design as many others may have, I did too, last November when I made and listed the ring. Look, I'm not mad here. I have long accepted that with limited elements simple pieces are going to be created, discovered, designed by multiple sources independent of others. There are things I 'created', then subsequently saw in a book from the turn of the century. Here, I am not naive. It is what you do with the elements that makes a piece original. I just worry when folks get defensive like this while also condemning people for not wanting to freely share with no conditions. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the subject and I doubt I'll change any minds here, but I think this is why so many creators pull their heads into their shells and do not share techniques, hoarding their knowledge. They believe their ideas do in fact belong to them...not the world, it's sad, but I don't blame them.

Sorry to be such a downer and all, just needed some venting and that's what a blog is for right? I did mention another surprise, but again it is not ready to be unveiled, but I do have one last thing for the day...a giveaway. It's not mine, but you can win one of my Quadra bracelets. Choklit of Adornments for Tarts is having a fabulous tiered giveaway that only starts with my bracelet and continues on to gift certificates for her gorgeous silk and beaded beauties. I've had the pleasure of seeing her work in person and it is simply divine and elegant. So head over to her blog and enter to win. The more people who enter, the more prizes there are to be had.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Instructable

I know that I said this was going on a long list of tasks and would likely not be complete any time soon, but the kids were gone, it was quiet and it seemed a good time to get some pictures of the pearl technique and post some instructions. So here it is in all it's glory.

Pearl Necklace Makeover With Tatting - More DIY How To Projects

You can definitely use this technique with any other large beads, crystals, heck whatever suits your fancy. It's far too basic for me to be the first one to give it a go, so I claim no such rights to it. I imagine it can also be done with a shuttle, but I don't have a clue how you'd load such large beads onto a shuttle. Tatters of the shuttle variety, if you're so inclined to share how that would be done, I can add that to the instructions. I've got a few more surprises and announcements that might be spilling forth soon, but I don't want to get ahead of myself, so I'll just leave it at that for the day. Now go and destroy a's fun.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pink Pearls And Other Projects

Alright, let's see. I started the day the same way I had ended the last, cutting apart a pearl necklace. The pink pearls were a pain in the neck to dismantle since they were knotted between each pearl. The larger pearls were simply strung making that a breeze. For the pink pearls I opted to use black thread and went smaller, size 20. Even with the smaller thread, getting these loaded on the ball was like pulling teeth. I actually had to use a pair of pliers to hold the beading needle to pull them on. I'm sure a smaller beading needle would have helped, but that would have required buying a new one as I break them all the time and have none on hand.

I went with a basic chain because I like the unpredictable curve giving the whole length an interesting undulation rather than the perfectly straight look that results from a Josephine knot chain. I thought about doing a tutorial for this technique, but like all things that goes on a long list. It is rather simple to do and I think it really transforms an otherwise simple set of pearls. I've got a few left over from the long one so I can use the remaining ones to make a shorter version perhaps with an actual clasp and use that creation to make the tutorial.

The gloves still slumber as I make another mask upon which to apply sequins. I finished the tatting of that one late yesterday evening and I even had time to start with the sewing of said sequins. I started with the eyes as that is the only place I know for sure I want the things. Like my other attempt, this process is strictly a make it up as I go along. Remember how I was talking about how I design the other day. It was in response to a thread on intatters, which I should honestly go respond to, but I lurk there more often than talk. Anyway, one had responded that there were in fact rules to design and though they are probably right, I literally laughed out loud when I read it. I know there are rules for every art, I just don't bother. Am I lazy? Hell yeah, I'm lazy, but it's more than that. Creation is visceral for me, if I can't do flying by the seat of my pants, if it's 'real work', then why do it? Fine, without knowing the 'rules' I will never be the next great tatting designer, there are already some ridiculously amazing ones. I will probably never get a book deal, there are plenty of those anyway. I'll keep working with my blinders on, thank you very much.

I digress...again. I'll be working on the mask today and then I finally received some supplies that said they were delivered months ago. Apparently they were in post office limbo or something. Anyway, they were for a belly dance necklace that has yet to be designed. I was going to simply embellish an existing necklace with the coins and bells, but I think I might get a bit more ambitious and whip up a new design or at least a new variation on an existing one to give it more of that middle eastern feel. There is also one more project in the pipeline awaiting approval before it moves forward. I guess at this point the gloves are a side project, a rather large side project, but still not a huge priority, even though I know there are those waiting with bated breath.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pearl Necklace

While the fingers waited for their hand I did the unspeakable. Okay, maybe not unspeakable, but it did feel wrong somehow. I ripped apart a perfectly good string of huge pearls. The first cut was the hardest, but I managed to tear the thing asunder. I wish I had taken a before picture, but they were a classic string of pearls. When worn I felt a little like Lisa Simpson, which may possibly be the saddest statement for pearls ever. I Laid them all out in one of those necklace design trays since they were of varying sizes, just slightly, but I like everything to be all even like. Then I had to do some math...I know, I hate math too.

I was charged with giving these pearls a makeover into a 44 inch strand that could be doubled and closed with a simple loop over a pearl. It was a quick piece to work up, just chains and I liked the look so much that I spent a few minutes in the evening ripping apart a set of small pink pearls for a similar makeover for the shop, perhaps with black thread for a completely different look. As this customer had said of hers, they were never worn. Perhaps now, they will get out some. I also have some freshwater pearls that might get out of the supply box now too.

Then I sent out an email to the commissioner of my sequins mask. I wanted to confirm that they did not want it, so I could move on with the piece. I was surprised to receive a message back quickly asking for a second, simpler sequins mask. As is the habit of the season, they were sick and that is why I had heard nothing further. So rather than return to the gloves, I am again mask making. This one will be my signature mask with the added sequins details. Perhaps with similar embellishment in the center for a little extra oomph. When that one is done and hopefully cleared for work, I plan on shopping the first mask to some of the wonderful photographer friends I've made who can give it the photo shoot that it deserves so that I can list the thing in my shop in a style befitting the price tag I'm slapping on the sucker.

While I didn't work on my gloves, the idea mill is up and running. After further thought, the palms will definitely remain bare and the piece will hook around the wrist at the base and then switch to lacing further up. I've still not worked out the marriage to the slave bracelet design, but I think I know which basic design I want to use. I'll let that choice be a surprise when I get around to it though. I also have some basic tatting to get to as my Aunt has asked me to help with a lace display at the museum she works at. She has several large tatted lace pieces and I was charged with making up some small samples of the designs used for display in a shadow box. I admit it will be odd after I have spent so much effort taking my tatting away from the edgings and doilies to go back there for a bit, but respect the roots right?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Here's the Finger

The package I was waiting for yesterday did not arrive until about 7 in the evening, so I was as I had suspected left to my own devices. With the peer pressure mounting I decided to go forth and start the creation of my tatted gloves. Several other glove patterns exist, I've seen pictures, but rather that use them as a jumping off point I started elsewhere with my spine pattern. Sure a few people have offered great suggestions which I had considered. Just do the back side and sew them to existing gloves or why not just do opera length fingerless gloves. I thought about both of those options, but decided that I wanted to conquer those fingers.

Sure, if all this works there might be a much cheaper, I imagine, fingerless version, but for now were starting from the beginning. I also ran across someone asking how the designers mind works and while I didn't answer there, I thought about that a lot. Sure, there are those that truly understand the math involved in pattern creation. They sketch and run the numbers when they design. Me, not so much. I think that I might understand the math at a subconscious level, but it certainly does not ever come out to play on a piece of paper. More often than not my designs start with an idea which is often times very vague. Then I either imagine what existing designs might be married together, pull our scraps of lace to actually lay them together, or more often, I just start tatting and see what emerges.

I rarely scrap an idea. Usually the first thing off the needle wins. There are rarely adjustments or revisions to the original design and to make everything even more interesting, I almost never write down stitch counts while I work. I must take a zillion pictures and then I count stitches and hope I remember. Usually a pattern gets written down only after it has been created quite a number of times, or when someone asks real nice like.

I am digressing though, fingers. I wanted to show you fingers. I have all five on one hand done now, but I took pictures when I had only 4. I used my spine pattern which itself was adapting a one shuttle pattern to two adding a Celtic element. I played with the stitch counts to make each finger fit just so. I do need to make some slight adjustments to the length and then it is on to making them one. I can't help but think that I'm going about this a little backwards. I have knitted gloves and they go in the other direction, but it seemed only logical to me to conquer the fingers first. I thought about continuing this basic design throughout the length of the gloves, but I decided that had been done. All the tatted gloves I've seen do the strips method to create the glove. My current idea is to take one of my slave bracelet designs and figure out what need to be done to match the two together. I'm also toying with the idea of leaving the palm bare. I think it might be a striking look and besides warmth is clearly not what these suckers are designed for. I features some other gloves recently on the Wunderkammer that played with that negative space and it gave them a real avant garde feel.

Ooh, speaking of Wunderkammer, she has reached 300 followers. I wanted to celebrate, but I think I shall save all celebrations until the one year anniversary, since it is near the two year anniversary of this blog and my 4th etsyversary. Sure, we've got a few months to go on that but, look out, it's coming.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Yesterday was production time. I had a fair amount of house cleaning to contend with and honestly just didn't have the brains available for design purposes. I managed to remake a few pieces that had been out of the shop since the holiday shopping season and then I went to work on a second headband for the shop. I had initially intended to do the second one in black, but opted to stick with the purple for two reasons. First people seemed to really dig on the color, second, I wouldn't have to take more pictures.

I really want to be able to take picture of this thing on people, but as a headband that's probably ill advised. I mean my hair is clean and all, but, well it's just weird. I don't however wear headbands so I have no need to have a sparkly one lying around collection dust just so I can take a hair picture. I suppose I could put the wig on me, meh too much work. One of the irons in the fire was put out. The piece I had been working up to surround a bracelet will never be, the owner found shipping costs to send me the bracelet overseas prohibitive and I don't blame her. I still like the look of the lace around metal, so I may seek out a similarly sized bracelet to make the piece with anyway, but I think that goes on the 'one day' list.

Other than that it was a quiet day. Still waiting for many emails left unanswered and I start the day without a clear direction. I should be receiving pearls soon to create a necklace with, but I rarely get shipments before late afternoon, so the morning is up for grabs. I might start work on the glove idea, mostly just to see if I have the requisite skills of construction required. Hands seem like tricky little things to cover comfortably. I want to be able to use larger thread, since even size 20 would keep me on this project for weeks, or months, but I fear the larger thread might be too thick. Of course we certainly wear thicker gloves with no problem, so perhaps I'm creating an issue where none exists.

It feels odd to not have a picture for you today since I've had so many recently, but I just have nothing new to show you. I have been keeping up with my picture a day and it seems clear that lace will be a recurring theme in them since I haven't far to go to find a piece of that. So if you need a picture fix from me, they are here. I was trying to find a way to just post that album to the blog, but I couldn't seem to find anything that specific and I don't really want my entire photo stream boring the crap out of everyone...I just want this 365 one boring you. Well off to it then and see what the day brings.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tatted Headband

Busy, busy weekend. Projects were approved, others became irons in the fire awaiting approval. To say that I've had a jump start into the year would be, I fear, a gross understatement. Along with the many projects I've already shared, I've got a few more as well my own wandering mind coming up with new ideas.

Over the weekend, I was very nearly bullied into attempting to create opera length tatted gloves. I accused them of insanity, but I know that with the addition of laces it would be possible. However anyone who has done an afternoon of tatting can appreciate the sheer amount of time said project would take. First of course I need to concur the hand portion of the glove itself. I have seem wearable tatted gloves so I know it is possible. I would like my pattern to not simply mimic those so I will not search out the pattern and rather muddle though on my own. Yes, this is another project that will take forever to manifest, so don't expect to see anything any time soon. I'm also contemplating a high end of luxe line full of embellished pieces, again gonna take some precious time.

I will show off the most recent piece to actually sell from my slate of custom pieces. The tatted headband I teased at. I made it with hand dyed thread and a hell of a lot of swarovski beads. I attached ribbon to each end so the whole thing will tie on. In fact I tried it out as a choker as well and it is quite dramatic. This one will definitely be remade and make it's way into the store. It will likely be purple, but will receive a black makeover in the future.

One other interesting project is an exclusive piece for an online store. I made something up to share with them yesterday and it will remain an iron until I hear back. I usually shy away from wholesale entirely not wanting to compete against myself, but this match was right for an exclusive piece...I hope. I'll share more as it develops of course. I know it's early in the year, but here's to this being the start of, let's see...yeah, let's go with greatness.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seen The New Tattoo?

First off today, I thought I'd share a wee bit of the nonsense. During the holiday break, my family ventured to Monterey and for Christmas I got myself a new tattoo. While it's still far from completely healed as that takes a couple of months really, it looks pretty good, so I thought I'd share it with you. This also illustrates at least for me, the importance of a good tattoo artist as opposed to a tattooist. The artist I saw took my drawing and asked if he could work with me on the design. Thank the gods he did. He took what I had created using clip art and a pen trying to create the feeling that I had in my head and made it into this...actual art. I think it's perfect...the picture is not.

I received word back on a few different irons I posted about yesterday, so it's full speed ahead on that fence. Yeah, this is not going to make a lick of sense if you didn't read yesterday, sorry. One of those irons was a commission to make a pearl necklace 'wearable'. I was sent a sketch of what they were thinking of and I made up a little sample piece with the options and I will await the pearls to create the final piece, likely next week. This one should work up rather quickly, but at a very long length for doubling, it should also be quite a striking look and you might see a similar version without real pearls pop up in the store some time.

I know I never showed you what the last pile of ace was becoming. I wanted to wait and see whether the commissioner of that project liked it yet before I did. Well the design has been approved after some slight tweaking, that frankly I should have done in the first place. The final piece may see some crystal embellishment, but we're still on the fence with that decision. It s, my friends a face mask, designed for those who want a tatted mask but wear glasses and I still have not gotten over that design hurdle. I shaped it a bit like gas mask or a motocross mask. Sure, it has little masking powers but hey, it's lace.

Yesterday headband sample was also approved with a slight design adjustment. The entire piece will be created to widen at the center. This should be a fairly simple case of strategic stitch increases. I want the widening to be a nice, gradual increase. Does this mean that I will make a prototype and write it all down? No...that's silly, wise, but silly. I will of course just make it up as I go along. See, this is why I'm not sure I belong in any designers club. I'm like a hack who sometimes gets lucky. I don't follow any rules, hell, I don't even know what rules might actually exist. Don't worry though, I don't think I'm too good for them...I'm just too lazy to figure that all out.

Anyway, I should be busy working on all of this for a while and after I clear my plate, I've been thinking more about doing couture type pieces. After the mask, I felt such accomplishment, so I was thinking of doing a small line of similarly embellished pieces. Price them accordingly, accept that they may never sell, but may in fact inspire others and you know, get eyes into the store who might then purchase the reasonably priced items. Of course they will take much more time to create, but I suppose that's the point. I'll let you know if they ever do start to be day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You Want Me to Make What?

It's times like these that have me wondering if I was always this bloody impatient or if it was the advent of the Internet and email that caused it. I generally concluded that I was always impatient, but I was aware of the limitations of communication and I accepted them. So instead of wondering why someone hasn't answered my message in an hour or so, I simply used to start get antsy in a week. Regardless, I have so many irons in the fire right now, I could make a wrought iron fence surrounding my entire house, if only any of them would get back to me.

After extreme focus on one single design, I've moved onto several other custom requests. There is the mystery one you glimpsed the last couple of days. Then I moved onto a request to capture an existing bracelet in lace. The bangle bracelet has special engraving that cannot be sized, but is too large for the wearer. They asked if perhaps it might be entwined into lace in order to make it fit. Rather than attempt this with the real bracelet, I made a wire analog using the customers measurements and used a familiar Celtic design as a jumping off point. Of course the stitch counts are all different, but it's the basic construction technique that was perfect for this task. I wish I could credit the original designer, but honestly I can't figure out who did it first. This of course is one of those irons awaiting approval before commencing.

Next up we have a headband. After wearing one of my jeweled masks another customer wondered if a similarly jeweled headband might be created. For this piece I went all over creation looking for the right edging to base it off of. It needed to be think, about 2.5 inched across and it needed to have just the right spacing for crystal embellishment to not be too heavy or light. While that can be created simply by adding more picots, I wanted the design to really hold them...if that makes any sense. Again I went with a familiar construction technique of a sort of rose motif, chain, motif and turn the whole thing around like a bookmark. I really likes a bookmark design I spied, but I wanted the whole thing much more compact and dense. The inspiration was spied on Gina's blog and I believe it was by Judi Banashek. I hope I changed enough, but I really liked the structure for the headband. This too is awaiting customer approval so it might well be different in the end anyway.

There are are a few more custom orders and requests also firing, but I think that's enough sharing for now. Who knows what I'll get onto today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year Blues

I managed to stay on topic most of the day working on my newest project, but then I got some, will call it annoying news. The mask for which I have devoted three weeks may not be the right shape for those who commissioned it in the first place. I had accepted long ago that this project had to be about me wanting to make something high end or couture or whatever and not about the commission or it wasn't going to get done. That being said, the thought of starting over from scratch to create something else at this point makes me kinda want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb. I'm still waiting to hear back again, so nothing is certain yet. I don't have the time to wallow in this, with an ever growing list of custom project requests, I must keep moving forward.

I think I've finished the newest one, though it also is waiting for approval or rejection from its commissioner, so won't share a finished picture yet. What I just realized yesterday as I accepted yet another of these, 'I wonder if this is possible' requests, is the sheer number of things on my plate without payment. It's my own fault of course. I couldn't in good conscious request up front payment when I wasn't certain in any of these cases whether the piece could even be created. Sure, this means a lot of designing that might result in sell able pieces or a lot of wasted time for pieces that will never be. On the up side I've had no recent sales in my shop to distract me.

It appears that I am coming down off the high of finishing that mask. I seem to have landing somewhere in the 'why the hell am I even doing this' fields. This too shall pass. My cold is waning, the child is readjusting back to our home school schedule and I hope that my issues are just about readjusting back as well. I also decided that I haven't shared enough 'nonsense' lately, all focused on the tatting and creating, so here's a bit. On New Tear's Day, I saw all sorts of chatter on the twitter about starting 365 projects. You know, a craft, picture, etc. a day for the whole year. I tried a piece a day and got like 5 days in before I got distracted, so I opted to try out the picture a day. I stole a theme from an actual photographer and started the project. Now, I will never claim to be a photographer, if I take a good picture, it's more than likely luck. All my skills in this arena revolve around taking listing pictures of my lace, that is all. If you are curious, my project will reside on my flickr page here. I have begun with black and white mostly because like I said I stole the theme and my camera has that setting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Onto The Next One

I spent a good portion of energy yesterday trying to get as many people as possible to look at my new mask. I suppose after working on the piece for three weeks I was in need of a little show and tell. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented. I am proud of the piece, but I definitely needed the pats on the back to reassure me that it was in fact done. However, I have no time to sit on my laurels and I've begun work on my next project.

The head cold might have helped me with finishing the last piece, but it is having the opposite effect on the next one. I'm having scattered thoughts and it's not quite gelling in my head yet. I even hesitate to say what it is that I'm attempting to make yet as I think this one might take two or three prototypes before the actual piece emerges. I started this one with an element from a vintage handkerchief edging. I often start a new piece simply by gleaning elements from other designs as a jumping off point. It's really what I do with them that makes the pieces original and boy am I thankful that I have those early tatters to lean on for inspiration.

Today is not looking much better for creation either as not only am I sick, but so are the kids. Sure, during the day they seem fine, but as soon as the two year old's head hits the pillow the coughing begins and nothing can stop it for like two hours. Then when she is quiet, I'm all paranoid and I have to watch her breath for a while. So as you might have guessed I'm running on a bit less sleep than I like to have.

Let's see what else? Ooh, I sent off my first order to Dubai. I've shipped a lot of places, but this was the first time that a customer requested that I use a different carrier. They were willing to pay and I'm not exaggerating here, $85 for just the shipping. I am carefully monitoring the shipment with extreme paranoia, not because it's huge or more important than any other order, but because that's a lot of shipping costs and it better get where it's going fast and efficiently.

I know that there was something else that I wanted to share with you today, but it appears that the head fog is winning. Hopefully this cold is on the way out and I can get my brain back soon...I really miss it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Mask Revealed

Illness had been surrounding me for a spell now and it finally laid it's clammy little claws on my. It's just a head cold, but I feel...unpleasant. The fog in my head kept me from getting around to all those things I wanted to start. On the plus side though, that allowed me to simply focus on one thing since it was all I had the patience for. So guess what's done. Yep, the mask...she is complete.

As I finished up the sequins it was apparent that I needed to highlight the center motif somehow. The shine of the sequins while difficult to capture on film, really took all the attention and it was meant to be a backdrop not the main show. So here's where an impulse purchase came in handy. I'd seen these neat sew on swarovski crystals last time I put in a supply order and picked them up for no other reason than I though they looked neat and someday I might try them out. Using the dreaded silver filament and I sewed around the edges of the center motif adding crystals as I went.

After just the center I knew I was onto something and I continues in this manner to highlight the entire motif. I also took the crystals all the way down the edge of the nose creating a subtle Gothic looking cross motif. If you really know me, that might be slightly amusing, but the effect is perfect for the design of the mask. At this point I was asked by my husband if I was anywhere near done with this thing and as I answered yes, I realized that there was yet one more thing to do to really tie the whole piece together. I needed to continue the embroidery around the edge of the mask in the most subtle way possible.

Everything about this mask has been basically unplanned. All the design elements flowed as they were needed. I wanted the edge to have just the slightest pop so rather than sew around entire rings or chains , I followed a single edge of the rings creating a undulating line that occasionally slips behind the sequins. Honestly as I sewed and tatted for weeks on this thing I really never 'got' how well it really was turning out. Why? Because I had never looked at it in the light. Finally finished save for a few loose end to be hidden, I took the piece to the bathroom, turned on all the lights and placed the thing on my face. Wow. My biggest failure is as a are absolutely not seeing what I'm seeing. It shines, it sparkles and I am so glad it is done. No, you do not get a picture of the mask on my face. Remember I'm sick and the ones I took reflect that very well with dull, puffy eyes, unkempt hair and a slightly sallow skin tint. See, not attractive, so this is the only picture you get of the whole mask until I look better.
I hope you've enjoyed the creation process on this piece. I think this is the first time I've detailed one from beginning to completion so thoroughly. I will of course let you know what happens with her. Whether she meets her intended destiny or becomes an exorbitantly priced art piece. It has been quite a project to be sure.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Beads and Sequins

I was bound and determined to get to the new year with at least one fewer project on my table. So I worked like a banshee to get the recently order mask completed. A task that was complicated by the task of babysitting my sisters four children. Six kids under the age of ten in one house is, well...loud. Yet I still managed to finish the mask. This is the one that I substituted a trio of black seed beads for every picot. I quite like the way it turned out. I usually don't bother taking pictures of small variations like this, but I really liked the look.

After that was done, I switched gears to production mode again. I got a few more small pieces remade and yes, i picked up the Zelda game more than once. Though I've reached one of those battle points where I know I will be repeating the same thing over and over until I "get" the pattern, so a break is in order. Plus my ds screen has taken to jumping, not flickering mind you, but jumping. I fear the cord is pinched in the hinge or something.

Back to the sequins I went. First I torn out the bottom scalloped edge that I had done first. I really didn't have the right spacing down and I had managed to warp the tatting to unattractive levels. I got that redone and then moved back to the forehead section. I have worked out a method for sewing the sequins to each other to cover the empty spaces. Though id I ever do revisit this sort of project, I am so going with the tulle method. I wanted so badly to finish this process yesterday, but alas the children wanted to cuddle and watch a movie. Who am I to deny them this.

I'll be back to the mask today and I think I might even further embellish particularly the center motif. I'm thinking of adding silver filament and perhaps some crystals since I have basically abandoned the spider idea. I know it needs something to make the lace pop, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm starting to think that I want to keep this one around after all hours and days I've put into it. Well, no use thinking about that now, we're not done yet.