Friday, July 29, 2011


You might be surprised to learn that given the choices I had yesterday morning for the days tasks, I went with cleaning first. That's right I buckled down and cleaned my part of our shared computer room. I have desk space now and my only regret is that I am missing a large envelope of  art prints that I assumed I'd find in the mess. If I hadn't cleaned I wouldn't have spent hours looking for and failing to find it.

Then I made the next slightly surprising choice, I read. I finished the book and I immediately began the task of reading other reviews of said book to get a feel for the format. I then decided that the format I saw most used would not work for me. They reminded me of sports announcers with odd bits of trivia about each contributing author and back stories and well, I just don't have that sort of knowledge. So instead, I went with a basic opinion post and wrote it up. I figure if one wants a comprehensive analysis of each element of the book, they have other folks for that. The review will be up on my Wunderkammer blog Saturday morning and I would love it if you guys would pop over there and tell me how I did over the weekend.

I didn't get any tatting done aside form finishing a bracelet early in the morning. I did have a bit of an idea though that led to me making a couple of supply orders. The necklace you see in this horrible photo is the one I have been wearing daily for some time now. Well, that's not entirely true, parts of it are that necklace. You see I have a habit or remaking my jewelry...often. I mean, the pliers and chains are right there next to me, so I tinker. Parts of the necklace were purchased as an entirely different necklace and then I added my tatted medallion to it. The more recent adjustment was the separation of the elements onto different chains. I like it so much like this that I have ordered some keys and crystals to make similar pieces for the shop.

The keys and jump rings will be different than mine, but similar enough to create the same feel. I may also add another small tatted bit on the top chain, but I think I'll wait to work that out when all the supplies have arrived. I also need to figure out a nice average neck size so it actually fits people. I made mine to fit me perfectly and unfortunately, I am not average sized. If I was shopping would be much easier.

So that brings us to the plans for today. Well, they're aren't any really. I could work on the custom pieces in the shop, but at this second I'm not really feeling like it. I suppose I could pull out the grab bag supplies and see if anything inspires me. Yeah, see I have no idea what I'm going to do, but hopefully it'll give me something entertaining to tell you on Monday.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Done And Done

I'm pretty proud of myself today. I managed to do exactly what I said I would yesterday. I finished up the embroidery on the second mask then got both of them photographed and listed. Usually I like to spread listings out to get more attention, but honestly I just wanted to have it done. So they're both listed with the same name, 'You Have No Power Over Me' and maybe I can move on from this glut of mask masking.

Once that was done I got to reading the review book and I am currently about 80 pages from the end. Hopefully I can knock those out today and write up the review tomorrow after I look up how to write a book review. I know I might be taking this all a bit too seriously, but I figure it's better to give it my my full attention than treat it like a bother if I ever want the privilege again.

I felt the need to get back to tatting after all that focused reading and that bracelet that didn't want to be made the other day flew off my needle with no mistakes at all. I've got another bracelet waiting to be remade today and unless another project presents itself, I might just look and see what else I have listed as custom pieces and get them worked up as well. That or I might do a little sewing as I have a couple of t-shirts that need to be girl fitted if I actually want to wear them ever. I guess what I'm saying is I have absolutely no idea how today is going to shape up, but I have to throw all the possibilities out there to see what sticks. I've also been told I might want to clean up my space in our 'computer' room if I don't want the husband to clean it his way. This is a real threat that should not be ignored. I suppose then that I take my pick of the tasks and hope for the best.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Not Make Two

When I asked all my Internet acquaintances about the embellishment of the new mask, I added a third option to make another mask to embellish leaving the first plain. This is the choice that seemed to garner the most support. Honestly I found it a great idea because it gave me an excuse to make the mask again right away and not only work out the best wire placement, but also help me remember the pattern I just created for the next time. Often when I sell something, I spend the hours before I ship it using the piece as a template to make its replacement. Sure, I write down some of my patterns, but rarely the masks. I do have some of them completely memorized, but that takes repetition and now the new mask has been repeated.

So once I finished covering the wire on the first one, I started on the second mask. This time around, I made the eye wires with extensions to the sides and worked a portion of all three rounds over the wire. This is quite a fiddly process, but it gave the pointed corners all the support they will need and it looks much neater on the back side. Then it was onto the crystals and embroidery. I decided to go light on both of those. The crystals you can see here and the embroidery just goes around the perimeter. I still need to embroider around the eyes today and then I'm done. The very simple bottom edge of this mask helps it work up quickly and once I perfect working around the wires it will be even faster.

Hopefully I'll get the rest of the embroidery done quickly this morning  and get both the plain and embellished mask photographed and listed today. I barely did any reading yesterday in favor of mask making, so I really need to read at least 100 pages of the review book. So far its pretty good, but the language is rife with complex sounding made up words and that makes speed reading very difficult. I have to pay a lot more attention to ascribe the intended meaning. Regardless, those are my tasks for today. Reading, embroidery and photo taking, oh my.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yet Another Mask

Progress has been made, but not until after some serious fail and we'll start there. So I'm happily remaking some small pendants. I even get new pictures of one of them to replace the sad ones I had been using. Then I take  bit of a break from tatting to get the Wunderkammer scheduled and waste some time online. After that I start to remake a bracelet. Three motifs in, I realize the centers are all wrong, so I cut my losses and start again. Three motifs into the second try I realize that I messed up the second two motif, so I cut those out. At this point I've begun to start reading and tatting at the same time. Apparently the Wunderkammer landed on some Steampunk blog list that scored me a review copy of a book. So I feel I must read it quickly and you know, review it so perhaps I will get more sweet free in the future. Anyway, I'm reading and tatting and I make yet another mistake that cannot be easily corrected. This is when I give up both pursuits, toss on a movie to watch instead and turned my attention to the mask. That bracelet clearly did not want to get made.

So to the mask. The first different thing about this one is the eye wires. I adjusted their shape to have a more cat eye shape and tried to keep them pointed up at the corners just a bit. Then I added the center motif though the eyes weren't pulled up in the corners as much as I wanted at this point.

Next up is a second row based on the same one I used for the Masquerade masks. I knew I needed to modify that a lot to get the point, but I opted to just start working on it and make it up as I went. The problem I faced was the tips were going to need wire to stand well and though I had anticipated that I was not ahead of myself enough to have tatted it in on the first side in all the places I did on the second side. I worked something out that will be just fine, but the second version of this mask will definitely be a little prettier on the back side.

I still need to cover the eye wires and then decide whether it needs some crystals and embroidery or not. Part of me wants to make it the little sister to the Masquerade masks with similar embellishments and a much smaller price tag. Then there is the other part of me that just wants it to be done. I suppose that when I finish the wires I'll make that decision or maybe I'll ask twitter or facebook for their opinions later. Either way, that's the only tatting task on the agenda today...I think. I have almost recovered all the energy I lost over the weekend so I guess I'll try to get in some speed reading too so hopefully I'll be able to post that book review on Saturday once I figure out how to properly write one...I hope there are no rules I'm unaware of here. Well, off to it then.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Well, that was quite the weekend. Friday I saw the mask off to it's owner and did a little remaking. Then I decided to go ahead and start that mask that I saw in the last mask I made. You know the one with the center point that comes up on both sides that I talked about while remaking the last Masquerade mask? No, I didn't get pictures and really I only got started when Saturday took away my ability to make anything.

First it was to Lowe's to build something, home for a short spell, out again for lunch, comic book shop and Captain America, which I highly recommend. Home again for another short while and it was out again to a friends house for a wonderful evening get together that kept us out until 3 in the morning. I know right? Me, 3am...yes, I'm still tired.

Sunday I was still up at the crack of dawn as the cats refuse to let me sleep in more than say an hour. So functioning on two and a half hours of sleep I began a custom order for a very colorful bracelet. Now, the photo was taken in really bad light so the colors aren't even close to what you see here, but it does give you an idea of the brightness and the sheer amount of colors. I also re sized one of these same bracelets for a friend. Then there was some more production work on some sold pieces between bouts of nearly falling asleep on the couch, so I still haven't gotten back to the mask was trying to work on.

Today will start with some more of that production work and then if I get time, I'll work on the mask. I have precious little summer left to work on these sort of big projects. Once school is back in session that's at least three hours a day, if not more, I won't have for tatting work anymore. So I work fast now. Man, I'm tired, but I guess that's the price I pay to do what I love at home with the kids every day. I'm sure that the 3am didn't help much either.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dia de los Muertos

What a productive day for finishing things. First I wrapped up the sequins mask and presented it to the customer for approval. I was asked to make a small adjustment and once that was done, it was packed up and will be off this morning to its new owner. Once that was done I made the decision to go ahead and list the mask as a custom order after changing some of the listing language to reflect that.

The listing is back up, but look at the original photo, there are more in the listing of course and tell me how I did on the reconstruction from photos. I know it seems a bit taller than wide, but I swear it's the same shape on my face. I just wanted it to stand up on its own so I shaped it a bit for the photo. That's one of the fun parts about the wire base. Either way, the customer did like it so I am relieved and am moving on.

I also finished up the sugar skull mask. I did add a few sequins dotted along the edge with beads. I also decided on a string of extremely tiny seed beads lining the outside. These beads are so small, I have no needle small enough except the collapsible eye one I use for stringing beads. So I made a string and tacked it down every few beads. There were also more embroidered swirls as well as embroidery around the eyes and bottom edge. Even when I thought I was done, I went back and added another embroidered swirl. I know they are pretty subtle in the photos, but I think the details make all the difference when you're holding the piece in your hands.

I did also get out the good camera to get pictures of it. In fact I had the goofy thought that it might look good on my skull cookie jar. Yes, I have a skull cookie jar, this should not surprise you. What was surprising is that it lined up with the skull on the jar almost perfectly which was completely unplanned. In fact the only big difference is the shape of the eyes. In retrospect I should have gone for rounder eye wires, but I'm just so used to the cat eye shape. Maybe if the mask is well received I'll make another with different colored embellishments and the eye shape change, but there's no sense in getting ahead of myself. I almost like the cookie jar pictures enough to use them as the listing photos instead of modeled ones. I might try some out today and just see which look better, or perhaps both as I imagine people do like to see how it looks on a person before they drop that kind of dough on a piece.

So today I have a little remaking to do and maybe the afore mentioned photos. I have a lovely weekend planned with too much to do. There's the Captain America movie, a kids clinic at Lowe's and a get together at a friends house for some much needed grown up social interaction. Then I suppose Sunday is for resting so I probably won't have much to share on Monday. I hope you have a lovely weekend as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Still Sewing Sequins

Another day of sequins means another day of little to talk about. At least this time I managed to remember to take a picture. I promise that when it's done I'll have a picture of the new one so we can all compare it to the first mask and see if I pulled it off or not. Honestly, I think it's going to be a very close match though I only have my pictures to compare it with, In fact I think I've come close enough that I may just re list the mask as a custom piece with the provision that it will not be an exact copy. My inability to sew sequins the same way on even each half of the mask ensures that each piece get that, 'due to the hand made nature of the product, each piece will be one of a kind' disclaimer plus it lets me use those amazingly awesome listing photos again.

So today I will finish this mask and hopefully get back to the sugar skull. I've been thinking about the embellishments for that one and it is likely going to have a heck of a lot more embroidery, but few if any sequins. I might pop a few on with beads as an accent, but definitely no running lines of them. I'm also brain storming photo possibilities for this one. I mean, do I go ahead and finish the skull on my face with makeup to emphasize the design or does that take away from? What the heck do I wear? I probably won't know until its done and I try, but these are the things going through my mind as I sew sequins. Well, I guess that's pretty much it for sharing today though. Nope, I can't think of anything else you'd care about so I'll talk at you tomorrow then. Be good and have a nice day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Face Painting

Well, here it is...that one day that always happens when I'm working on a long project. You know the one where I have no pictures of what I'm working on or anything new and interesting to say. I could have sworn that I took a picture of the mask at some point yesterday, but my phone says otherwise. So, I guess I'll babble a bit about my day and hope I don't bore you to death.

One of those dreaded mail order toy commercials caused my youngest to beg for face paint and since they sell the same product at Michaels, a fact she quickly picked up on, I was compelled to buy some and succumbed to face painting yesterday morning. While I fancy myself competent with a makeup brush, I am no face painter. The children were relatively pleased once they accepted and reminded me of this fact, repeatably.

After that pleasantness, it was off on an adventure to buy more sequins. I find it ludicrous that the little beasts come in packs of 800 and I use multiple packs on a mask. Seriously, it boggles my mind that I could sew on so many individual...well, anything. I know there are some tatters that actually list the number of stitches/knots that a piece contains, but I find those kinds of numbers to be insane to keep track of. Now sales, fans, followers and the like, those numbers I enjoy. Thousands of sequins, yikes.

When I got back from sequin retrieval it was all about sewing them on. The outside is done thanks to me finally, after all this time figuring out the perfect way to sew a line of sequins. I'm not certain why it took me so long to get this down, I've sewn a lot of them before, but it either took multiple passes or a strange back and forth with the thread. Turns out all it takes is a perfectly spaced running stitch. I was so proud of myself that I considered making a tutorial. I remember looking for one when I made the first mask and only finding poorly diagrammed ones that obviously were no help. Then I figured I was likely in a small minority of people who didn't 'get' it, so I probably won't bother.

I guess that brings us to the plans for today. Yep, you guessed it, more sequins. As I work on the fill in portions, it's taking a bit more creativity to get those sequins to behave. This is the same challenge I faced with the first mask, but this time the underlying structure is denser so there should be fewer floating sequin sections. So far the resemblance to the first mask is good and I hope that the deviations I've made thus far only improve on the design and not take away from the aesthetic that the customer admired. Just a couple more days I think and we'll find out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've been selling my creations to people over the Internet for quite a few years now. Even given that length of time and the general lack of negative comments, I still get anxious about how pieces, particularly custom ones, will be received. Since feedback on etsy is optional I often get none and am often left wondering whether they disliked it, but not enough to leave bad feedback. I am forced in these instances to fall back on the old adage that no news is good news. The reason I bring this up is the sweet relief I felt when I received this feedback yesterday for the stick mask I just sent off:
"My Mask arrived today. It is breathtaking. I can not tell you how happy I am with your fast service, your prompt response (even while on vacation!) to emails and the speed of shipping my order to me. Thank you. My wedding day will be that much better with your work on my face and I am so grateful!"
That, my friends is the sweetest relief.  I was very nearly terrified to send that piece off. Sure, I thought it looked good and I had tested the stability of the the design, but when a customer buys something sight unseen you can never know how it will be received until it is. So a big thank you to this customer and all customers that leave feedback to ease my anxious mind.

I did get tons of work done on the commissioned mask yesterday and while I was making it I saw the potential for another new mask design. Each time I make one of these large masks, I work them up in a slightly different way. Usual it's to find the most effective way to make it, this time it was to try to replicate the shape of the first mask without all the split rings I used then. See how the center sticks up and then there is a slight point on each side. It will need some refining and I will likely bring those side point up a bit higher to define them, but this mask is definitely coming in the future.

Rather than get distracted by the potential new creation, I managed to stay on task and got the piece all the way to the embellishment stage.  I had started the mask the night before so this all got done on day two of construction. The center side bits are different than the mask I'm trying to replicate, but the shape is the same. The differences at this point won't matter though since those areas will be covered in sequins. I made the tatting denser to hopefully make sewing those on easier. There were many free floating ones in the first mask and that was a bloody pain in the neck to do. Even with the improvements to the design, sequins are a long and tedious process, so there will still be a few more days on this mask, but barring any unforeseen circumstances it should be done well before the 'up to two weeks' quoted to the customer. Now, I just need to stop stabbing my fingers with the sewing needle and we're gold.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Masks, Masks, And More Masks

Ah, the other side of the weekend. It was a a fairly quiet few days aside from the huge, I must clean the house for no good reason, that came over me on Friday. Okay, so I do know what came over me...I was hitting rock bottom in a rut. These happen periodically, first I get tired of the routine and I start avoiding any extra cleaning beyond the necessary maintenance. Then annoyance at nothing cleaning itself wells up until I snap and spend two or three days cleaning carpets and floors and generally behaving is a mildly crazy way that frankly scares my husband a bit. This usually ends in a rant regarding all the things that annoy me and finally a realization and acceptance that most of these things won't change, but I will still be fine. I shrug my shoulders and get back to work.

So about that work. I spent much of Friday, when I wasn't cleaning, remaking the small things that had sold recently. Saturday I got to work a little bit on the new mask. I've reached the embellishment phase of the piece. Once the wires are covered these masks always take their form so quickly.  They go from a pile of loose lace to a nearly perfect mask form. For this one I've added black and red crystals as well as these silver filigree bits. I've only begun on the embroidery now. I'm using a black thread with a silver filament for this one. It pulls and separates a bit more than the silver I used for the other masks, but I wanted the black to pull the piece together a bit more. I do, however, have to put this one on the back burner again as I have a commission to work on.

Starting Saturday afternoon, there was a discussion with a customer the possible remaking of my first Masquerade mask. I explained that it was a one of a kind creation and that I could never remake it exactly and I pointed them to the newer one. Honestly, I didn't really think the customer was making a serious inquiry as the cost of the mask is so high it makes me immediately skeptical. The conversation went on after that when I further suggested that I could make something similar, but it would not be exact. To my surprise the customer returned Sunday with a thorough explanation of the elements they loved from the first mask and an obvious intent to purchase. So, I now have a commission with half paid up front to create a twin to the first mask. It will be a fraternal twin, but with the information the customer provided, I feel confident that I can create one that will please them. Hell, I wish all custom work came with such details.

I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of invalidating the first mask as a one of a kind creation though. Most of my pieces are easily recreated, but the ones I make with the intent to not remake...well, they are like a piece of art to me. I feel like part of their value is that there is not another one like it anywhere. So my intent with this commission is to create a piece similar enough to please the customer that is still one of a kind. It should be quite the challenge and of course all I will be doing until it is done. That reminds me, I need to buy more sequins.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stick Mask

One down and one to go. I finished embellishing the purple mask yesterday morning and took a trip to Michael's for the final bits I needed. The customer wanted a longer mask handle so I needed a long dowel, some ribbon, hot glue and my trusty dremel tool. I used the dremel to cut the dowel to length, flatten and smooth the edges and then I started with the ribbon and hot glue. It just took a bit every few inches to keep the ribbon wrapping around the stick. Then it was back to the dremel to drill some holes in the top edge which I used to sew the mask to the stick.

I feel I must also point out that none of the pictures you've seen so far accurately depict the color of the mask because it is truly impossible to capture with my phone camera. In case you were wondering, it is the Lizbeth dark purple that I've used before. If I use my real camera it comes out just fine, but never with the phone and in progress pictures are so much easier with the phone. Since it's not being listed all you get are these phone pics. At least they show you that it was a successful enterprise to make a tatted mask stiff enough to stick on...well, a stick.

I spent rather a long time figuring out the best way to pack the piece. If the stick had been a mere 12 inches it would have been much easier, but luckily I had an old priority box on hand with the dimensions to make it work. Of course this still required creative packing to ensure nothing is bent and extra stuffing to keep the piece in the center of the box away from potential harm. The plan is to get it out this morning.

Once all that was done it was back to the other mask. I've been teasing the facebook fan page with images of it without explanation hoping that at some point it becomes obvious what I'm trying to make. So far no one has gotten it in a way that reassures me that the depiction is good. I'm getting a bit worried that it doesn't look like what it is suppose to, but I'm hoping that the embellishments at the end will fix that. I really would hate to go to all the trouble and have people just look at it and ask, what the hell is that suppose to be?'. That would be disappointing indeed.

Anyway, I got the fill in bits done and the eye wires covered. Next up is covering the larger wire and then it will be onto the embellishment phase. I might take a break on it though as I've been neglecting the business of remaking sold items. There haven't been a lot of them, but they are beginning to pile up on me with the masks and the vacation, so I really ought to buckle down and get the things that actually make me money done. Yes, I'm aware if these large masks sell they will also make me money. History, however, tells me that these masks are art pieces and will be around for a very long time before they sell if they ever do so I can only devote so much time to them. So steady remaking today it is, but hopefully I'll have some mask progress for you by Monday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mask On A Stick

I'm definitely back into the swing of things now. The husband had stayed home one more day to recover from vacation, so there were bike rides and errands to run with the family, but tatting got done. I mentioned that I was making a mask on a stick. I wish this were a simple case of make a mask as per usual and glue a stick on the side, but it is not. Since my masks are meant to comfortably fit ones face, they are generally a floppy, unformed piece with wire only where needed. This one needs serious reinforcement to hold itself up when supported by a single point, the stick. First off that meant adding two additional wire pieces across the nose. One I tatted directly over and the other two were put in like normal, but spaced to provide almost solid support.

The second upgrade was a completely reshaped eye wire. This time the wire included a bit straight out to the side that I also tatted directly over to hold up the clover on the sides. You can see just the end of it poking out from the lace at the top of the clover. Tatting over wire structures is always a slower, more deliberate process, but for this mask, absolutely necessary.  Once I got all the tatting done I covered the wires. This too took more steps with the added center wires, but once it was done the mask stands up beautifully. This one is done in the pattern of my 'Such A Sad Love' mask which means there is also embroidery, crystals and dangles to add to it. Then the stick will be acquired, embellished and hopefully seamlessly attached to the side. No, I don't just plan on gluing it on. I have little faith in glue as a primary connective device. I've got a few different ideas to try out, so we'll just have to see what works best.

That was the whole of my tatting day yesterday and it should be much of today as well. I did snap this photo of the other mask I was working on just so you could see how far I got before I started this new one. This should give you a better idea of where I'm going with the design. Once the mask on a stick is complete, I will get those fill in areas taken care of on the sides and cover the wires. The pattern, while seemingly similar to the other fancy mask, differs quite a lot and that leaves me with a different sized hole to fill, but the same basic design should do it I think. It's odd to have two different projects to think about, but they are so wildly different that it is also quite creatively stimulating. So, off to see what I can get made today.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm Back

Ah, back in the valley again. I was going to start off today with a nice vacation recap when I remembered what happened on Friday evening. I'm closing up the drapes in the front room. As I walk across the carpet, my foot strikes something hidden by it's pattern, a five pound weight that kids think is a toy. It did this to my toe. In case you were wondering, yes, it's the same exact toe I broke a month ago. The break was definitely worse this time so I spent all Saturday with it up hoping it wouldn't put a cramp in our trip. Luckily I'd already learned how to work around this particular break so aside from it being stepped on by children, it survived the trip. No, this does not mean I will start wearing shoes in the house regardless of the wisdom of that behavior.

While sitting on my rump on Saturday, I began a new mask too. This one stems from a comment I received about my most recent mask. I mentioned the idea a bit too here before, it will be a sugar skull mask. Honestly, I don't know what the proper name would be, calavera seems too broad, I suppose I could just call it a Day of the Dead mask, or the same thing in Spanish. Anyway, I've gotten a whole mess more than this done, but didn't take any more photographs. It follows a similar design as the fancy one, with white being the primary color accented by red with just a touch of black at the nose. I figure once the tatting is complete, I'll add black embroidery and perhaps some colored crystals and maybe even some silver filigree bits. I have to hold off on it for a bit because right before I left for vacation, I got a special order for a mask on a stick. Hopefully, I can document that one a little for you too.

Last up today, the vacation recap. We were in Monterey from Sunday through yesterday. It was a cool, crisp 60º with heavy morning mist. Sunday, we stopped at the Dennis The Menace Park and then headed to the Aquarium which was ridiculously crowded. We left after a while, but came back later in the evening when the crowds were gone and had a lovely time, the puffins are a treat. We went on a walk Monday morning and saw a pod of dolphins in the bay along with the usual gathering of sea lions. The we spent much of the day at the aquarium and shopping. I got shoes. More aquarium on Tuesday and then on the way home we stopped at Casa De Fruta to have lunch, feed the ducks and ride the train.

I did try to blog using my phone the days we were gone, but without pictures it seemed silly to bother, so I obviously didn't. Today, there will be mask making and more mask making and hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things before the weekend arrives. There is just one month left before school starts again and I want to make good use of it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thank You

I feel I must start off today with a huge thank you for all the kind photo comments I received on yesterdays post. Not to be overly dramatic, but large projects like the mask soak up so much of my soul and energy that I almost need the feedback when it's finished to know that it was worth all the effort. I know, I know, I shouldn't look outside for approval and I was happy with the work and the photos, but that outside approval is like sweet, sweet candy.

I also have the two new pieces that I mentioned yesterday to show you. The first is the square medallion. See, I told you it was large. I almost wrote it off as a coaster, but I think it works like this as a really big statement necklace. One thing that has always allowed me to be a bit over the top with these sort of pieces is the light weight of the lace. If this were a metal piece, I imagine it would be prohibitively heavy, but as lace, you could wear this thing all day, every know, if you were so inclined.

The next one is another bracelet made with an existing edging. This one did get some changes though. That bottom zigzag edge was written as regular chains. I thought about turning them into Josephine chains, but settled on some Victorian sets instead. It gives the chains a waved appearance and I think it also kept them from curving into each other too much. I made a few other changes on the pattern as well, added some joins and adjusted some stitch counts, you know, what I usually do to existing patterns. I sometimes feel lazy when I stop designing completely original pieces for these vintage pattern reworks, but I also like to give these old patterns a new purpose, even if it doesn't take too much imagination to do so.

I was fortunate enough to make a couple of sales yesterday so I have a little remaking to do today. The weekend should be pretty quiet, but then we're heading to the coast for a few days for our anniversary which is Monday. I'm looking forward to the 40º drop in temperature, the sounds of the sea and a bit of recharging. I just hope our pet watchers can keep the seven cats from revolting...seriously, this is my biggest concern. I might write a short post the days I'm gone, but if I don't I hope you'll forgive me. Thanks again for all the comments and your support, I appreciate it all!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Am No Model

I started the day playing with the giant square motif like I planned, but nothing was coming to me, so I picked up an old tatting book and played with another pattern instead. At first I thought I was just going to use a small piece of the design as a pendant, so once I was done with that I screwed up my courage and went to taking pictures of my new mask.

 I had decided the way to go with this was really good lighting and a black background. As you might guess, I have no actually photography equipment save for a camera with a remote and a tripod. So I improvised. Usually I take pictures against a black white wall with the window open and the light on. This time I went upstairs with the east facing windows, opened one up and draped a black table cloth over my television. The light didn't hit directly, but was nice and bright. Then I proceeded to take dozens of photos of myself feeling a bit like the fool. After all that, I spent at least an hour playing with the photos in gimp, which is like photoshop, and I emerged with three pictures I felt okay about.

What is actually exciting to me is that I think the pictures actually show the mask almost how it is in person. When I attempted photographs of the last fancy mask everything just seems washed out. There was no sparkle, no reflection in the sequins and you couldn't even make out the embroidery at all. Along with these pictures, I used two that I already showed you for detail pictures and I got the mask listed. I was incredibly nervous about listing it though. I guess because the last one had garnered so much attention. I am anxious to see if my meager photography skills can get that much for this mask. It is of course something I will just have to wait and see about. I certainly believe this mask deserves at least that much attention, but then again that it not up to me.

After all this, I did get back to some tatting. I went back to the design I worked on earlier and made it up into a nice cuff bracelet...that I didn't get pictures of. Then I stumbled upon the use for the big square motif. I added multiple, heavy silver chains to it on the sides to form a short necklace...that I didn't get pictures of. I just wasn't in the mood for more photo shooting. People are always so kind to me in regards to my appearance in them, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy doing them...I do enjoy the compliments though. Today I should get the new pieces up and hope for some sales to busy me. Otherwise I think I will get to making up the embellishment free version of the mask. At least now I know I can get usable photos of it all by myself.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I was going to start this post with what is likely already a familiar rant about the temperature being far too high, but I was going to let it go. Then I was going to say at least I'm not in Phoenix, but I just checked their weather for today and it will be no hotter than here which made me depressed. Man, I used to adore summer.

I did get quite a bit of tatting done yesterday and even some pictures. Here's the bracelet from the pillow edging. I did end up doing a few, very small changes to the pattern, but mostly because it had some head scratching stitch count differences in sections. Mostly I just evened things out a bit and changed some joins. The name, Oneironaut, is a reference back to its pillow origin and refers to a dreamer, or lucid dreamer. No, I didn't make it up.

Then I got the necklace version done up. Right before the last section of the last row, I realized that I had added an extra center ring in the first row, so I had to cut that out and rework the previous row. I was tatting and tweeting at the same time and this can lead to distracted mistakes especially on a new pattern I haven't yet committed to memory. This one also went through more than one photo shoot since I botched the first completely. The necklace is actually a little too long for me to wear on the base of my neck where it sits perfectly, so I had to clasp it in the lace for the photos. It should however fit average sized necks perfectly, so I figured I didn't need to change it. The listing does note that I can make it a couple of inches shorter or longer. That's just one repeat so it's pretty easy.

There was one more variation on this pillow pattern, a square. I made one up yesterday, but I'm not entirely certain what to do with it. I definitely need to tweak the pattern a bit, things don't lay well at all as is and it's a way too big for a pendant. I was thinking of making a necklace similar to my Vive La Reine piece which is also a square, but I'm not sure yet. At any rate that's likely what I'll be fiddling with today as I again hide from the heat in my air conditioned cave. I'm also still working out the concept for the mask photos I still need to take. My hair is freshly cut and I think I might have some ideas. They will likely be much less compelling than the pictures of its predecessor, but we'll never know if I don't just try already. So there you have it and off I go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nothing Much

Well, it's another too tired morning. Even though we packed it in around ten, the rest of the neighborhood just kept right on blowing stuff up sending patterned light, booms and pops right into our room at unpredictable intervals. I have no idea when the noise and lights gave way to sleep, but it certainly wasn't soon enough for my taste.

We spent the rest of the day exposing our children to the entirety of the Lord Of The Rings film trilogy. I think they actually became invested in the story despite it's dramatic length. We took a bit of a break for meals and this unfortunately pushed back the last movie to the point where we were unable to finish it for the day. They did want to know when we would see the last hour, so I suppose it was a success. To be fair, it was asking a lot of children to sit through that many hours of movies, but it was like 104º outside, so we certainly weren't going anywhere.

As for tatting, I was fortunate to sell a few small things during the day and I busied myself with remaking them while we watched the movies. I also made up the new bracelet design from the antique edging, but as you'll notice, I took no time away from Middle Earth to get pictures. The first attempt was too short, so I gave it to my oldest daughter. The younger sister then had to have one as well, so a pink was made for her. Will they destroy them? Yes, they will, but the design was fairly straight forward and not too much time went into making them happy, so it was worth the effort.

Hopefully today will be a bit more focused and productive. I have beetle wings to drill to finish a necklace and then I wanted to make the necklace version of the bracelet I made. I've got pictures of that to take and I may even attempt mask photos as well. The tricky bit with this mask is the sparkles. I just don't have the requisite photography skill to properly highlight them in a picture. I might wait until tomorrow on those anyway since I'm heading to my sisters house this evening for a much needed haircut and the more put together  I look, the better the photos will be. Well that's about it, but I didn't want this to be a completely photo free post, so enjoy this closeup of the fancy mask and have a nice day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

She Is Complete

Tatted Sequins and Crystal MaskYes, it is done. Friday was devoted to crystals and embroidery and Saturday I finished with the embroidery and began the slow task of reinforcing the sequins. The bits I had sewn in the center were properly done, but the eyes and the outside edge I had initially done with the stitching going over one side of each sequin. I realized as I worked with it that even though it looked fine, my hands and the thread kept catching up the sequins and that just wouldn't do. I spent much of Saturday remedying that by sewing down the sequins on each second side. My fingers were horrible sore, but it was worn it as everything lays perfectly and when I was done I knew the mask was complete.

Tatted Sequins and Crystal MaskI posted some photos of the completed mask on Sunday since I always need immediate feedback when I finish a large project. I got quite a few of these photos, but nothing modeled yet, so it won't be listed until I do.Yes, it will be as expensive as the last Masquerade mask. It did take far less time since much had been learned from the first go round, but it was still five days worth of work, over 50 crystals, hundreds of hand sewn sequins, hours of painstaking embroidery and honestly I think this one looks better that the first one. So the plan is to try and get some modeled photos myself some time this week. If I fail miserably, which there is a good chance of, I will try to outsource the photos. Once I do have some though, I'll get this one listed and move on.

The husband is off for the holiday today, so it should be a down day tatting wise. I do have an idea for a new bracelet using an antique edging I spied yesterday. I wanted to move onto something smaller before I attempt to remake this mask in just lace. I even thought about making a similar mask in white with color accents to mimic a sugar skull mask. I had some initial design thoughts, but there are a few more logistics to work out before I begin since using multiple colors adds quite the kink in my free flow style of work. This one will have to be properly planned out first and that just sucks some of the fun out of it. That also means it goes on the bottom of the pile of projects unless I get crazy inspired or someone gives me a reason to work on it. So that's it from me today, I'll be in the cave hiding from the heat. I hope you have a nice holiday if you're in the States, otherwise happy Monday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sequins and Crystals

I got to take a short break from the mask yesterday as I did some housework. Oh, don't worry it was just laundry. Then I opted to remake a necklace that I had sold. The tatting distraction was nice since I really do begin to lose my mind whilst sewing on individual sequins one by one. That fact is just one reason why this mask has far fewer of the sparkly disks than its predecessor. I opted to trace a fill in portion on each side as well as a nice zigzag around the side on the eyes. I also ended up reinforcing the sequins I had already sewn to the bottom edge. They initially warped the scallop, but once I sewed them flatter, the shape returned. I want to say that I'm finished with the sequins, but there is always a chance that once I think I'm finished I'll go back and add some, so I'm finished with them for now.

Next up I started work on the Swarovski crystals. The last mask had them only on the center motif. This was partly because it was a last thought to add them and partly because I only had a small baggie of them on hand at the time. After I made the lace maille pieces I ordered a dealer pack of them, Yes, that's a lot and yes, it wasn't cheap. I like to buy supplies in bulk when I think I will use them often so for this mask, I'm going to town with the crystals. I started in the center like the first mask, but this time I will add them around the entire mask where rings meet. Will this mask be gaudy? Well as one of my facebook friends said yesterday, nothing exceeds like excess!

Once I think I'm done with the crystals, I'll start on the embroidery. On the last mask I used silver filament. It stretches and breaks and leaves an uneven line unless you are very careful. I am not very careful. I work fast and deliberately and I am aware this is not the filaments fault, but it does make us fairly incompatible. I still use the filament when it is the best choice for the look I want, but for this I will use something else. I have this great three ply silver thread. I separate the individual threads and use those instead. Each thread does have a tendency to unravel at the end if I work with too long a piece, but it stands up so much better to my abuses. With the speed I've managed to keep on this project there is a real chance that I will have a finished product to show you come Monday. Just don't get mad at me if I don't. I also thought about immediately remaking the mask while the design is still fresh in my head and leaving it completely without embellishment. Since I made a much more complete design this time around I though it looked lovely just as lace too. If I can replicate it without too much frustration, then the plain lace once can enter the shop as a repeatable design. I guess we'll just have to wait and see on that one too.