Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mussel Shells and Vintage Buttons

Gift mussel shells from the Little Miami River...
...and old buttons made from the same type of shell.
The purple ones are rare! Beautiful, lustrous lavender plum,
ranging to opalescent dusty pink.

Freshwater mussel shells were used in the U.S. from the 1800's to produce millions and millions of buttons, as well as cutlery handles, inlay and other products. (Before that, I guess the shells were mostly used as tools by indigenous North Americans.) But by the 1930's, over-harvesting, decline in mussel habitat, and eventually, alternative technology and materials put an end to the river-based shell industries all along the Mississippi and other eastern waterways.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vintage Beaded Purse To Dive For

Look what the MOTH found at the bottom of a huge bin at Goodwill:

This vintage bead crochet purse is huge! 8" wide and 12" tall.
And it's not in bad condition considering where it was found...

The beads are SO tiny, I would estimate they're about size 16-0.

More photos to come!
(These old patterns convert well to loomwork and square stitch.)
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Wooden Spools for Seed Beading

Just listed these walnut-colored tiny wooden spools in my Etsy shop:

I like to stitch a band of seed beads around the recessed part of the spool,
then string them onto larger strands of beads.

Here's a necklace I made using plain wooden spools which I painted black,
for Jean Campbell's The Art of Beaded Beads.

Basically, you can use tubular peyote stitch and sew a tube around the spool.
Or you can create a swatch of flat peyote stitch, then zip it up around the tube.
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Embroidery Tutorial with French Coiled Wire Bullion

Here's a simple video tutorial on how to embroider with that coiled wire bullion from India. It used to be impossible to find, but now it's readily available in several colors. (Click here to search on Etsy.) Basically you snip several lengths and then string them on your needle as you would a long bugle bead. But unlike glass bugle beads, you can get curved effects with the flexible coiled wire.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Springs

Near Richmond, Kentucky circa 1980
In a country without saints or shrines
I knew one who made his pilgrimage
to springs, where in his life's dry years
his mind held on. Everlasting,
people called them, and gave them names.
The water broke into sounds and shinings
at the vein mouth, bearing the taste
of the place, the deep rock, sweetness
out of the dark. He bent and drank
in bondage to the ground.
--Wendell Berry 
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pipestone Cuff Bracelet WIP

Click the image for a close-up
Been picking my way through this bead embroidery project using
pipestone (bauxite) heishi. It is so exquisite but the holes are small so
I have to use a size 16-0 needle.

Click the image for a close-up
Ingredients are freshwater pearls, Czech glass nailhead beads,
Czech charlottes (true-cuts), and the pipestone heishi sprinkled
with antique faceted steel cut beads.
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