Category Archives: Materials and Tools

Ready, Rugosa


Moje Hammarberg: The actual plant is not this blinding, I swear.

I have two rugosa roses which I’m very fond of. Why? They require very little work. They have few diseases, and not only do I not need to spray them with anything, they would be damaged by spraying. This rose species tolerates a lot. The ‘rugosa’ regards their ridged leaves. Most of the flowers of the rugosas are tend to be simple single or double petaled blooms, and bear large orange hips. I have a Frau Dagmar Haustrup (sometimes ‘Hartopp’), and a Moje Hammarberg. I’ve grown the Haustrup in sunny California and in rainy Oregon with great success.

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The Frau

When most people think of roses, they are thinking of the hybrid tea roses, and then complain about how difficult roses are to grow. Ah no, I say, look at the rugosa. Then they object because the rugosa doesn’t come in orange, and they doom themselves to disappointment trying to begin growing roses with a hybrid tea (which is not to say it can’t be done, but really? All that for a stiff, low-scented bloom?).

It’s an illustration of using tools and methods suiting the skill level, and what is best suited to a situation. I don’t have a lot of time or energy to spray or debug, I like plants, but I’m not that into gardening. Half the project is preparation -this huge piece of wisdom I came by painfully, after many years of abandoned projects. I would try to sew clothes, sculpt busts, paint with watercolors without understanding darts, knowing how long to bake the Sculpey or how to lay in washes. I got a massive fail on most attempts and would give up, going back to what I did better.

I didn’t have an ‘a-ha’ moment as much as a slow realization. In my first degree (art) I took several etching classes. Before doing anything in that discipline the materials have to be prepared: the plate has to be beveled so it doesn’t ruin the blankets. The ground has to go on evenly so the lines don’t get messed up. The (expensive) paper has to be torn to the right size so as not waste any. Times have to be guaged for the acid bath or the image won’t look right. Hands must be washed or ink will get everywhere. And on and on.

After an ill-fated sewing project last year, I finally learned to make a muslin first, I found textbooks not only about darts but about making slopers too. I don’t think I’ll use Sculpey for much more than beads or buttons, but if I do, I’m getting a timer. When you get the right materials before starting, when have you the right rose, when you read the instructions first, the project is much more fun, less frustrating, and now I make fewer mistakes.

American Rose Society


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The Great Fabric Book

Fabric Swatches in the Binder Like most of the art supplies in my life, I have too much fabric. It currently takes up a plastic bin, and overflows into the storage space. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s like my library, it’s stuck in an awkward place and there is a lot I’m never going to get to.

Which is why my swatch book came into being. It ‘s not much more than clips of material a couple inches wide stapled to a note card. I wrote as much information on the card (front and back) as I could think of. I included the composition (I have a lot of cottons), the weave, the date I entered it, and a short descriptions (for all those large patterned fabrics especially). Some of this information I had to to straight-up guess.

On the back I wrote how much I had of each (broke out the ruler for this one), whether it was pre-washed, where and when I’d gotten it, and then anything else that might be helpful. Some of the cloth came from old bed-sheets (good for muslins!), which had tags that told me everything I needed to know.

All of this I stuck in photo insert pages in a binder.

This project’s influence will, I hope, be two-fold: first, I need to know what is in that bin, without having to remove the contents. Second, it will help me prioritize the collection. This project promises to be tedious and time consuming. If I can’t be bothered to cut a bit off to label, I can happily get rid of it.

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The Final Resting Place of Maps and Other Ephemera (Covering a Journal)

I have spent too long away.

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Covered in the map. Before I added the puff paint, fern and title card.

While I was slacking off, I covered a couple journals.

I got a pack of three paper bound Moleskine notebooks. (about $18.00 at your local purveyor of fine notebooks).

I used an Elmer’s quick drying permanent glue stick. It works better than the all-purpose glue stick.

Before gluing anything, I removed the little pocket in the back before gluing on the cover.

My collage materials:

  • The Sticker that came with the notebooks,
  • Gold puff-paint
  • A blank artists trading card for the title
  • A map from Powell’s Books (They are in color and fold out).
  • A sheet of scrap-booking paper with ferns on it (I punched up the colors with some colored pencils).

I laid out the notebook and traced out the covers. I added about 1/2 inch on three sides before cutting. I glued it one cover at a time folded in the sides and corners:

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The corners.At the spines, I clipped off the bit that couldn’t be folded over.

After I’d finished with the cover, I clipped off about 1/2 cm off the very first and last page and gluing them to hide the edges of the covering material. I glued the pocket piece back on.

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Filed under Books, Colors and Images, Instructions, Materials and Tools, Project - Papercrafts

Clownfish Earrings (or, Toys on Wire)

Amongst my stable of crafty things to make are pendants and earrings out of toys. For Christmas, I made a My Little Pony pendant for my roommate’s daughter. (I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but she is actually in their demographic). What I made for her was from an Applejack figurine but it was similar in execution to this one:

MLP Pendant

You can use basically any small plastic toy, as long as you can poke a hole in it. Be careful that it isn’t too heavy, or it will pull on the wire or your ears.

I found the clownfish  toys at the toy store for about $0.50. The My Little Pony was in one of those foil packets which you can’t see what you are getting and cost more like $3 (They’ve moved on to glitter versions of the ponies, and I’m not sure how to prevent those from shedding glitter everywhere).

Here is more of a break-down.

  Clownfish Earrings

Clown Fish EarringsYou need:

  • 2 soft rubber clownfish toys
  • 2 lengths 24 gauge wire or slightly thicker (maybe 4.5 – 5 inches each, and that sounds generous, but you want more to work with rather than less)
  • 4 blue seed beads  (mine are in three different shades)
  • 2 jump rings (I wrapped mine around a wooden chopstick — apparently it was not round…)
  • 2 ear wire thingies

To keep the lower bead from falling off, make a little spiral in the end of the wire. Load a bead onto the wire.

With a thick needle, poke a hole through the fish where the wire should go. Carefully thread a length of wire with a bead on it through the hole in the fish. <—- this part can be quite frustrating, especially if the wire you are using is soft, as mine was. Be patient, and don’t try to force it.

Once the fish are threaded on their wires, load the other bead on top of the fish. Make a wrapped loop above the bead and trim the excess wire.

Attach the ear wire with the jump ring. Ta-da! Fish ears!

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Netted Bead Necklace, Part 2

I finally found the book that I got the stitches for this necklace:

Blue Netted Necklace

Blue Netted Necklace

The book is The Pattern Companion: Beading, by Ann Benson, Gay Bowles, Valerie Campbell-Harding, Jane Davis, Elizabeth Gourley, Ellen Talbott, and Carol Wilcox Wells. I think it’s a compliation of many different works, hence the many authors.

Basically, this necklace is composed of a pair of chevron chains. To attach them, they share a line of beads on a bottom and a top. Online instructions for a basic chevron chain can be found at Bead It, Babe!, on this page.

A Closer look at the necklace:

Blue Net Detail

Blue Net Detail

Variations can be made on the chain to yield different looks. I used two rows of chevron chain, stacked. The top row has four shared beads in a column, with two in between. The bottom row shares three beads, two on the top (one of light and dark blue, of you look closely), with two to separate and a picot on the bottom row of beads. Once you master the basic chain, making alterations to the pattern is very easy. Actually talking about it, and conceiving it is much harder than actually doing it.

The rows share a base, except where I split them.  It didn’t hang like i wanted so I stitched between them with the blue and ill-considered gold beads. You can see those columns in the upper portion of the picture. along the top of the top chain I added another row of beads to squinch in the inner row and make the necklace curve. Those aren’t part of the chevron chain, but a later edition. I added the glass blue drops and “gold” beaded daisies as a last touch.

Here is a simpler bead collar I did with a similar technique:

Pink Net

Pink Net

Unfortunately the stop – bead technique that worked so well with the silk thread in the blue necklace didn’t hold as well with the thinner Superlon thread. You can see the decay if you look near the clasp.

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I was in Long’s today, for something else and I walked out with a new notebook. It isn’t high quality, and it only cost me three bucks, but it has each page divided in half: half for graph paper and half lined. It’s going to be my beading project book.

I found I needed one of these things about three minutes before, when I found a folder on the same aisle that came with a pad divided into “description,” “drawing”, and “actions for completion” on each page. I wanted the pad but decided that I had no need for the elaborate leather-like folder. Sadly, I couldn’t find the pad just alone. This composition-type notebook is the next best thing, Somewhere to draw my idea, and another place to list colors, materials, stitches, etc.

Let’s see, along with this “Beading Project Notebook” I have a notebook for:

  • General drawings, magazine clippings and ideas
  • Beading images and colors notebook
  • quick pen doodles (where I use obscene amounts of whiteout)
  • objective subjects (still life and landscapes), and developed ideas
  • Another general subject notebook used for printmaking class

I probably have too many, but I’ve found that If I have an idea or inspiration, I need to record it. Each of these notebooks has a quality level that applies to the subject it contains. For example, the objective subjects etc. notebook is a Moleskine notebook with thick creamy pages and a stiff cover. The quick pen doodles is really cheap, and the general subject notebooks are decent artist’s notebooks.  The feel of the paper helps me articulate the idea — whether it’s just exercises, or something more developed.

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Filed under Colors and Images, Inspiration, Life, Materials and Tools, New Ideas, To Do List

Golden (And Otherwise) Beads

As an addendum to Saturday’s post, I thought I’d show you what the golden beads looked like when new:


Golden Beads

Quite a difference, no?

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