Friday, May 25, 2007


Is this what you think of when you hear the word chainmail?

Let's do some Word Association:
Chainmail = Midevil
Chainmail = Knights
Chainmail = Dragons
Chainmail = dainty jewlry?????

Yes! Chainmail is now an artform that is on the rise. Take that same ancient pattern. Make it with something 14K or colorful and you've got a whole new genre of jewelry making magic! Look here:
and here!

Please visit Red Panda's Etsy Shop for these designs and more:

I've become obsessed! Did you know that there are Roman patterns, and Chinese patterns? I'm thinking about useing chainmail on jeans, purses and jackets. What do you think?

BTW - if you really want midevil protection against dragons...get it here:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Salty Step-Wife

I wanted to share about the most wonderful website. It's called "Life In A Blender." It's for parents, both biological and step-parents. It's absolutely a life saver. When I first married my husband and moved into his house, I was at odds end with my own life. I suddenly had three children instead of one, my house was not my own, and my child was to be shared. I made all of the typical mistakes. I tried too hard not to be the "evil step-mother." I over compensated for the perceived lack of attention to my own daughter. I tried to "blend" our family and exclude my step-children's other family. Then I found this place...where everyone understood; where they told it like it was. Where they let me vent and patted me on the back. It really helped me move through that period of transition in my life and now I give advice to others. I have a new family and a new group of friends. Here: on the message board.

Someone recently asked me for this post that I made after an epiphany. I've been asked for it other times too. I'll post it here so that I can refer people back here too.

Loss is loss and grief is grief. People think that there are different kinds of loss or different levels of loss.I've learned through training, and counseling that loss hurts. And the amount it hurts has no relevance to the amount of time it takes to be able to cope. Notice I didn't say, move on.She has lost her family foundation. Whether it was good or bad doesn't matter. Like the death of a loved one, that kind of pain never goes away. Some days are relatively easy for her to deal with and some days are harder.Liken it to a physical wound. A paper cut is small and takes forever to heal if it's in a peculiar place. It also hurts like the dickens! A surgery incision is usually much larger, requires stitches and leaves scars. Does it hurt more? That's subjective. You are the salt. Just your presence hurts. Doesn't matter if the wound is large or small. Doesn't matter if the wound was self-inflicted or not. Doesn't matter how long ago it was inflicted. Chances are if she's reacting negatively towards you, the wound hasn't healed. For some women it never heals. They just get used to the pain. (And we label this as "moving on.")My SW isn't scabbed over yet. Neither is yours. And my SW (step-wife) picks at her wounds too. So it may take her longer. I (as salt) try to stay away from her and only flavor my DHs (dear husband) and SKs (step-kids) life.You can't help being salt. She can't help being wounded. Just don't rub it in if you can help it.It's virtually impossible for someone who is wounded to see the wonderful flavor of salt. It's presence is always going to be a threat to their wounded heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Inventory & The Studio Mess

We made a small dent in the inventory. My husband took pictures of each fabric while I described it and measured it out. Then he made a fantastic spread sheet with all the information. I'm currently looking for a way to link it to this blog so that people can look at what I have and custom order items that are specially made for them.

Now I have to organize this mess. My wonderful husband allowed me to sell the living room furniture to make room for my studio and to make an office. He's very generous. And THIS is how I repay him. Ugh! I need to be way more productive and clean up after myself.

It just seems to be against my grain to be a neat person. Maybe it's the artist in me...maybe not. I know how to clean...I just don't. I'd rather be sewing! Maybe I didn't have enough messy art parties as a kid, or maybe I had too many.

Check this out!

Maybe it just shows that I think outside of the box, like artist Larissa Meek.

I think it's proof that I'm busy and creative and ... well a terror on cleanliness

Friday, May 18, 2007

Promise to Inventory & The Lack of Stuff in My Shop

I've promised myself and several other people that I'll create an inventory of items that I have for sale and items that I still have to make. My husband has volunteered to help me with this. Is this an adventure that he should join me on? I'm afraid that he'll want to throw away things that I want to keep or that he'll decide that I never need to shop again or start another project again. I was very excited that he was interested in helping me...but the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe I'll keep my mess to myself.

On another note; I've brought great numbers of people to Etsy to check out my shop. I've found out that most people are shopping at Etsy...just not my shop. One dear friend was even honest enough with me to tell me that my shop seemed a bit empty. This is all understandable, because Etsy isn't my full time job. It's also understandable because all of my products are made with the utmost care and therefore take a while to create. So with the fact that I'm only "creating" my art in my spare time and that each piece takes a while to finish...I can see how the shop would look empty.

Has anyone else ever noticed that your loved ones tend to eat up all your profits? DD wants the retro girls bag and some earrings too. If DD gets something, SDS will want something too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Retro Bag & Over-Cycle Upholstery

Well the retro bathing beauties are up on the site. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep Nikki out of the pictures. She chose that exact moment to demonstrate her amazing ability to "shake" at all the most inopportune times and beg for treats. So almost all of the pictures contain the wonder pup. I think she adds a little glamour to all of those fabulous ladies on the bag. Don't you?

The bag came out really well. I was surprised that the grommets worked as well as they did. They're originally intended for paper and I found them in the scrap booking section of my local craft store. You see, the design of the bag called for the sides to be pleated so that the bag wouldn't fall open when walking. I didn't like that because it limited the size of the mouth of the bag and would only allow one large book in at a time. From my University days, I know that sometimes I'd like to be able to just shove all of them in at the same time. So I used a draw string on the sides. Lesson learned from the messenger bag: Don't be afraid to venture out of your own "isle" to find what you need. Sometimes it's not even called the same thing and may require some extra time to look for it. Other times, it's not even the same store! I've found that plumbing fixtures work wonders in a pinch for some projects. Fishing weights work well for weighing down curtains that fly too much in the breeze or have a tendency to bunch in the wrong places. Also, tiny woodworking hinges make great purse closures. By visiting different places to find your art or complete your vision, you'll not only expand your horizons; you'll also make your options virtually limitless.

Check out these links for some outrageous supplies made beautiful:

Insect Art
Money Origami
Eggshell Art
Phil Hansen Seattle artist Phil Hansen, painted 30 different people that influenced him, on on top of another on his own torso!

This last weekend was mother's day and since we had no children here, my husband hired me for a little project. We have two vehicles I call the retro-minis. One is a Turbo Sprint and one is an automatic Justy. Both are only three cylinders and two-doors. Both are excellent on gas mileage. Unfortunately, the Justy was made with a carburetor (YUK!) and the Sprint has a TURBO (vroom vroom!) The Justy is in perfect shape and was given to my by a very dear friend with the promise that I would love it and take care of it. The Sprint was a junker that I fell in love with and my husband rebuilt the engine for.

The project: reupholster the Sprint seats. The answer? Hand tailor the Justy upholstery to fit the Sprint! The original Justy seat is on the left and the new, hand tailored Sprint seat is on the right.The Justy has been not working for quite a while and frankly we were thinking of donating it. However, with my promise to my friend and the total beauty of the interior, we really didn't want to see it just get parted out. So, I switched the fabric and with little (yeah right) adjustments here and there...Voila!

I like to call this type of project "Over-Cycling," because it's not really an up-cycle, since nothing better has come from a lesser original product...and it' not recycling, because it wasn't really garbage to begin with. It's just received an over-haul.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Musings About Recycled Knit

I think I'll finish the retro messenger bag this evening and it'll be available in the shop soon. I have the same bag in denim that I made several years ago and it's one of my favorites for toting around projects. In fact, right now I have a beautiful cross stitch that needs to be finished in it...note to self: finish the cross stitch.

I thought of an idea this morning in the shower. I have several old sweaters that are still extremely beautiful but very small for me anymore. I want to make drawstring backpacks out of them, I think. I can recycle them.

I could make one like this with some nifty drawstrings or leather straps, and just line it with some pretty fabric. Or I could get fancier too, an try to duplicate the green bag above, by adding some tassels and handles.
I could also make a tote like the ones hanging here. (sigh) Too many ideas to count.

After the post yesterday, I realised that I need to go through my stash of supplies. I have so many ideas that I'm absolutely sure that I've packed many many away in boxes. (Like I need more after the list I've already posted.) It would be nice to see what I've got. I think it would help me to make an inventory too. Does any one else have any ideas as to how to keep track of all my ideas?

I started a sketch book, but I lost it in the great stacks of stuff I have. I also started a portfolio of all the things I've already done, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of them before I sell them and never see them again. I guess this blog will help with that!

For instructions on how to make the above bags see the following links:

What Would You Rather Have?

I think my problem is that I'm too spread out in my tastes. I love to make jewelry, knit, work with polymer clay, make clothing, makes bags, paint, decopage....

I also think I'm distracted by the things around me. For most artists, being surrounded by multi-colored, multi-textural elements helps to spur the imagination:

My issue is that I'm surrounded by stacks of projects that are half done and projects that have yet to be started. I have so many ideas that I've forgotten more inventions than I can possibly write down.

I would just love to work at home full time on my business and be creative all day.

Then there's my other problem; The Internet. If there were any shortage of ideas in the world, the problem was solved with the Internet.

Look here: and here: and over here too!

I was just lost on the net when I came across some pictures of someone else's "Craft Cave" and realised that mine wasn't so bad. I have a few mannequins that need names though. Any ideas? I won't post pictures of the boxes, or of the shelves in the garage, or the baskets by the rocking chair, or under the maybe I am that bad.

Maybe if I start a list of ideas here I can keep up.

1) the retro messenger bag
2) 50s polka-dot dress
3) aprons
4) wrap around pants
5) tiered skirts

That's just what I have sitting on the floor in front of my sewing table!
6) necktie dresses and skirts
7) wallets
8) printed bags
9) printed Ts
10) girls knit blankets (not for sale)
11) toddler clothing

Sheesh! I could be here all day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Knitting Bug Has Bitten Me

Today I need to make 5 capes for a dance recital and last month I altered a lime green prom dress. I'm just loving having my own business. I'd like to do more but I have to work sometimes too. (grin) I've recently taught myself how to knit socks and I'm hooked! I bought this beautiful yarn:

And then I used the traditional, multi-needled method to learn to kint this sock!!!

Then I tried a different method with a self striping yarn to begin to knit another pair on two circular needles.

Here's my long term project though. You'll think I'm crazy at first, but keep reading....I'm using my dog's fur to knit a scarf. Yup! A scarf! No. I'm not the crazy cat (dog) lady. It's actually just like angora. Here read this:

I send this wonderful woman all the brushings from Nikki, my Akita. Akitas are known for blowing their coat twice a year. She washes and spins up the fur into a super soft and very warm yarn for me and I buy it back from her. It usually costs about 12$ for a large ball of yarn that has been made from a trash bag full of hair. Here are the beautiful results!

You may then ask me, "What are you doing for the Shop while you're doing all this knitting and altering?" This:

Cheap Threads offers all kinds of fabulous fabric and I just couldn't resist. I'm making a messenger bag out of this one and if it sells, I'll have to get more!

You can check out the shops mentioned above here:

Kindred Spirits Yarn


Thread Bangers