"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Monday, December 31, 2012


Over the years I have collected a small stash of old keys. Some are pretty beat up, some are pristine and quite lovely, with beautiful decorations. I have used some of the smaller keys on charm bracelets, but for the most part, they have been stuffed in one of the small drawers in one of my multi-drawered plastic storage units...you know, the ones sold in hardware departments for screws, washers, nuts, etc.

Since the Steampunk trend went mainstream, keys are now everywhere, which made me reluctant to dig mine out and use them. The jewelry market is buried under a glut of items made with keys, so what more could I possibly add? However, I was, well, bored the other day, and decided what the hell, I'll play with my keys and see what I come up with. And that was, earrings. I left the keys "as is" and just added beads and wire. I had fun, and the earrings came out funky, which is not usually something I do.

So, here they are: Old keys, beads (some vintage), crystals, colored jump rings, and surgical steel ear wires.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

For 2013...More Drawing

I miss drawing. I have let that skill slide as I worked on other things, oh, like jewelry and clothing.  Even with all the mediums, old and new, available to play with these days, I still love drawing the most. For 2013 I want to get my drawing skills back up to speed. Also, I want to use my photos in artwork, mixed with drawing and collage.

Even if it is only a quick sketch, or playing around with doodles, I have made a promise to myself to do some kind of drawing a minimum of once a week. Preferably more often than that. Some may be done in a journal/sketchbook and some may be on scraps of paper that will later get stuffed into my on again/off again journal. I admit, I LOVE the idea of journals, and have good intentions when I start one, but they always end up pretty hit or miss, and months can go by between one page and the next.

In an effort to prod myself along, I am going to post many of the drawings here. At first I know they are going to be rough. Also, I don't use a model. I sketch from my imagination. If I need anatomy help, I go to magazines. I live too far out of town for any model to want to drive out this far, and I can't really afford to pay one.

So, what do I want these future drawings and finished works to say, since I have a very good imagination? I suspect they will mix together all the things I love...


So here is the first one. Doodles on a printout of one of my snow photos, and a quick sketch in Sharpie over pencil.  Remember, as I said, these first sketches will be rough, since right now it feels like I am drawing with clubbed fingers. But with time, and the zillions of ideas I have, I hope the finished pieces will start to sing.

Also, I would like the drawings to be in sync with my jewelry. This will be hard, as I can draw extremely complicated pieces I don't have the skill to actually make, yet—like the earcuff in the drawing here. But it would be nice if the two could meld, influencing each other. That would be very kewl indeed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Photos of the first good snow of the season.

This last one is the view from my living room.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Next Project — Earrings

I have a whole collection of old keys, which I use periodically in my jewelry. I haven't done anything with them lately, since it seems that everywhere I look there are folks doing stuff with old keys, especially since Steampunk went mainstream. Keys and clock gears turned up EVERYWHERE.

But I was in the mood for something different than the more elegant jewelry pieces I had been making lately, so pulled out my keys, and some of the things I thought might go well with them, including two fancy wire paperclips. I'll see how things go as I play around with these. One thing I do like is that the earrings will be asymmetric, since each key is slightly different from the other in each set. Just some fun, funky stuff to experiment with and see what turns up.

In the background is the keyboard to my old computer, which still has stuff on it that I use. Also, and I am embarrassed to admit it, is my tea-stained tea cup, which needs a good scrub with baking soda. So, sorry if it grosses anyone out. :=D

Tibetan Bolero, Finished — Sorta

I have finished beading the binding on the bolero, and at this point consider the piece done. I may, at some point, go back and add beads to the little prayer flags, but for now, I want to move on to something else. So here is the finished garment. I like the way it turned out, and I think I've said somewhere else (or maybe here) that I will do more of these little guys. They are fun, easy to make, comfy to wear, and make great mini-canvases to play around with.

Note on beading: I started out using heavy button/craft thread, but it was so thick it took an act of God to get it through the beading needle. After ten minutes of struggling with it I gave up, and used regular sewing thread doubled.  Next time I will find some quilting thread in the correct color and use that, probably doubled as well. The small beads won't fit over a bigger needle, so that option is out. And bigger beads would look a bit clunky, at least on this piece. I'm still experimenting, which is part of the fun.

Not why this photo came out so dark...ah well. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tibetan Bolero — 3

I have added prayer flags to the front (using a free-form feather stitch, combined with a blanket stitch,  to resemble Tibetan script), and sewn the side/sleeve seams. I added the binding with feather stitch, which took me awhile to get the rhythm of, which is why the sleeve binding looks more even that the stitching on the binding around the neck and front. But when I was done, I kinda decided this would be my "signature" binding stitch, the way the Cretan stitch is for Rice, over at the Voodoo Cafe.

I am now in the process of adding little gold beads to the binding, and will probably add some to the prayer flags.

Bolero back

Bolero front.
I stuck a piece of cardboard inside to hide the messy machine embroidery backing. Had I to do this piece over again, or if I get another T-shirt with a large machine embroidered design on the back, I will make the back of the bolero two layers. The outside layer will have all the decoration on it, and the inside layer will hide all the messy bits.

Here is the beading I have just started.

And here is why I put the cardboard inside to take the pictures, and why I will make the next bolero sporting a machine embroidered design in two layers. This is just WAY too messy looking to leave uncovered. Well, to me anyway.

I really like the color combination in this bolero. The green was just something I had on hand...one of my husband's old work T-shirts. Also, I enjoy working on these little guys because I don't have to get into any complicated patterns, piecing, futzing, etc., like I do with a lot of the costuming stuff I make. These boleros, and the AC T-shirts and tank tops are simple patterns to sew together so I can spend more time playing with embellishments. That's the really fun part.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Medal For Kay Nielsen Shirt

Per a request by Rice over at the Voodoo Cafe as part of her discussion on SoulWear, I am posting pictures of this work shirt I did back in the early 70s. The title comes from the one I came up with off-the-cuff, to be used in the Art Clothing show it appeared in at the Riverside Art Center and Museum (Riverside, CA). It refers to the image on the back of the shirt, which was my interpretation of one of Kay Nielsen's illustrations for East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and the front of the shirt made to look like I had a chest full of military medals. The woman putting the show together saw me wearing this shirt to an art class, and asked me if I would put it in the show. Gosh, lemme think...of course I would! Not thinking, I whipped it off my back and handed it to her (I had a T-shirt on under it). Much to my later embarrassment, when I went to the show, I discovered my shirt had been washed and...gasp...ironed! A few days later, this shirt appeared in our local paper as part of the advertizing for the show. I still have that article...somewhere.

By the time this shirt was made, all of us art students were into the embroidery, embellishment thing. I started this shirt around 1972, in conjunction with finding and buying the book Native Funk and Flash, which, alas, was destroyed by water two decades later. 

So here it is, pulled from a drawer, not ironed...gasp...and laid out on my work table in the garage.

The front of the shirt is decorated with clothing labels cut from other garments I either Goodwilled or gave away, along with bells, keys(one now missing), and metal star studs. The dragon, now looking a little ragged around the edges, was one of my first attempts at decorating with embroidery, after I dorked around with the little roses on the collar points, and the fake ribbons on the "medals". The little pins were gifted to me by various people over the years, and once on the shirt, never left.

The back of the shirt is a combination of embroidery, applique, beading, and painting (the dark clouds). The horse's breast collar is some kind of washer, and a small bell. Everything on this shirt was drawn, sewn, painted, embroidered or beaded by me.

This old guy has held up pretty well over the decades. All the appliques and beading were done using just regular sewing thread. I haven't added anything to it since the 80s, as the shirt fabric is just too thin to hold up. But I still love and wear this shirt. He's an old friend who brings back a lot of memories of a young woman taking her first real art classes (with nude models!),  hanging out with other artists, sharing our ideas, showing our works in the yearly member's show (and feeling so, so important), and all of us overflowing with enthusiasm for what we were doing, and what we hoped to do in the future.