Saturday, 30 June 2012

Instant satisfaction and slow patinas

Being a seasonal worker and hourly means I don't really know when or how long I will work until the day before the work is needed. Good thing about the job in the potato fields is that it's just a limited time -- and I desperately need the money. Bad thing is it's hard to really plan things in advance. Things like starting a new, big jewellery project (especially things where you want to be able to work without interruptions). But one thing you can do, though, is to prepare those things that take time but little work. In other words: buried and fumed patinas.

I tend to forget, but last weekend I actually chucked some components in my sawdust-and-vinegar jar. While I do enjoy such slow media as embroidery and prefer hand tools to fast and effective power tools, I -- like most people -- want instant satisfaction. So patinas that takes days to develop and boringly slow processes like stone tumbling sometimes feels too slow, too time-consuming to bother starting up. But not having as much time to work as usual, but lots of time between jewellery-making sessions, throwing some brass and bronze in the jar seemed like a good idea: the vinegar and brass would do all the work while I was away. No waiting arond impatiently, seeing the jar before you all the time but knowing it wouldn't be ready in ages yet. Just getting home from work one day and it'd be finished. Perfect. Sort of (it's easy to forget that you put something in that jar or that container when you don't see it all day long).

This is one of my latest examples. The idea was to let the vinegar eat away the lacquer and antiquing (paint) on this brass ox stamping, etching the metal which I'd then scrub to get a shiny, textured surface like in this example. But after washing of the verdigris, I kind of liked the colours. Uneven and your can still se the paint used for the original antiquing, but there was still something I liked about the matte, mottled surface. Something that was hard to capture with the camera, but hopefully some of it shines through the lens.

Now I'm not sure what to do. Stick to the original plan or keep it like this. Or perhaps even add some heat patina like in this one. Or add some colour using e.g. paints or inks? I'm running out of stampings or I'd try something more structured and do several pieces at the time (to get the same texture/patina to work from) and try the different ideas, one on each piece. With one piece you just can't always go back if you regret the decision to add another patina, colour or finish (polish, sanded matte, hammering etc). There's no ctrl+Z in real life. At least not always -- some things can be remedied, but other simply can't and it's exactly those things that can't be undone that I'm wondering whether to do or not in this case.

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A sunset photo

I haven't blogged much lately, but have so many pics (mostly of flowers) that I'd love to share. As I edit photos before uploading them, though, it takes time to do. So right now you'll have to make due with a pic I took around solstice.

No masterpieces, but I like the colours and warm light in them.

Bead blog recap weeks 23-25

I've been so busy with other things as well as relaxing and doing nothing so I forgot the last recap before the blog break. So here, finally is a summary of the Manekis Pärlblogg posts for the last few weeks. (As usual I will do monthly colour inspiration posts and contest/challenge tips during the break.)

The posts include everything from slightly unusual jewellery materials (concrete and washi tape), embroidery techniques, challenge tips, seed bead glossaries, patinas, german bead shows, colour inspiration and more.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Is it possible... have too many books on a subject? I've spent the beginning of this weekend seeding my latest book purchace (Goldwork by Hazel Everett and A-Z of Stumpwork). Both include a few bead embroideries/embellishments (or designs that would look good with a touch of beadwork), which made me think of starting a new bead embroidery project. And then, at the end of the A-Z book there was a page with other books from the series. Which included A-Z of Bead Embroidery. "That might be an interesting book. I should add it to my wishlist just in case or at least check it out."

Now, do I need another bead embroidery book? I have three. Three very different ones: The Art of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini, Designs for Bead Embroidery by Kenneth King and Bead Embroidery: The Complete Guide by Jane Davis. (I also have the free download of Robin Atkins' One Bead at a Time, but I haven't read it all yet...) Isn't that enough? Of cause not!

First of all, many book have different profiles, styles and ideas. My books span over bead embroidery jewellery (Kummli and Serafini), bead embellished clothes and home décor (King) and beaded "traditional" embroidery stitches (Davis). Bead embroidery is such a wide subject that even three books can't encompass all faces of it. Also, I''m always looking for new ideas, inspirations, applications and points of view.

So what bead embroidery books can be found on my too long craft book wishlist? Below is a list of books I for some reason or another have added to the list. Some I'm just dying to buy, others I know very little of and just added because the seemed more or less interesting.

The bead embroidery book wishlist

Dimensional Bead Embroidery by Jamie Cloud Eakin: interested in her jewellery style and I've seen this stitch index (pdf) for her two books, which looked promising. A complement to my Kummli & Serafini book.

La broderie de perles by Yukiko Ogura: Have seen a few pretty pics from the pages of this book. Lots of flowers, which I like. I do believe this is the french version of a japanese book that's called Bead Embroidery in the english version. The english version appears to be out of print as I can't find it in my usual online book shops so that's why I'm listing the french version eventhough I don't speak french. (You don't always need to be able to read a craft book to enjoy it and find it useful -- I have books in japanese and dutch too.) Update: Ignore that -- I was wrong. Have since bought this book and seen a preview of the english book -- which I know can find again -- and it's not the same. This is a great book, though, no doubt about it! So glad I couldn't resist the urge to buy it.

Bead Embroidery by Yukiko Ogura: Another book by the same japanese embroiderer. This one focuses more on techniques while the french book is all about flower patterns. A book that's gotten many good reviews and based on what I've seen in her other book, I'm sure it's very much worth buying one day.

Bead Embroidery by Valerie Campbell-Harding & Pamela Watts:  Found it while stumbling on an embroidery technique called "trapped beads". Description says it also includes machine embroidery. Not that I touch a sewing machine if it can be avoided (always have preferred hand tools in all materials), but it's interesting and not that usual in books [I've blogged -- on my other blog -- about machine bead embroidery if you want to learn more.]

Bead and Sequin Embroidery Stitches by Stanley Levy: A book mentioned on Saturday Sequins in her bead embroidery resource post (good read if you want to give bead embroidery a try!). Why not expand and learn some more about sequin stitches/techniques too?

A-Z of Bead Embroidery: Ah, yes, this is the book mentioned in the beginning of this post. Flipped through the preview at the publisher's website and it seems of some interest.

Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples by CRK Design and Yasuko Endo: I've only seen the cover of this book. Maybe it's not that interesting, maybe it's just like Jane Davis' book. But I like the cover. [UPDATE: I found a short preview at the Interweave store -- it isn't released yet, by the way.]

Beaded Dimensional Embroidery (Milner Craft Series) by Helan Pearce: Have I seen pages from this book? I must have since it's included in my list, but I can't pinpoint exactly what it was that made me list this one... (Both Pearce and Davis seem to be in the A-Z book too.)

 Finishing Techniques for Bead Embroidery Projects by Robin Atkins: Always useful to learn and consider how to finish a project properly. And I want to do wall hangings or something, which needs good framing/finishing/suspension and that's not always like finishing jewellery. (This book can be bought directly from the author. No ISBN = not sold in book shops.)

And that's my list. At least my list as it looks on the evening of June 23rd. Of cause, this list only includes bead embroidery books. I also have books that partially includes beads that's on my wishlist, but for this post I drew the line at bead embroidery only titles.


If you have a good bead embroidery book that you think I should add to the list, don't hesitate to comment (preferrably with a reason for why it's so good). Or if you have read one of the above books, I'd love to hear what you thought of it: would you recommend it or should I buy something else? All and any tips and/or comments more than welcome!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Happy Midsummer's Eve!

Ah, yes, forgot to do a piccy in english so the swedish greeting will have to do. I'm actually working Friday morning (early in the morning -- there goes my plan to stay up late to get som halfway-to-midnight-but-it's-still-twilight photos) so this post is a scheduled one so I don't forget to wish you all a happy midsummer's eve.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


I mentioned in the Helsingborg post that I had a find to share. Nothing big and not a thing. It's a magazine article find.

It all started because few stores in Helsingborg are open on a Sunday so we went to Pressbyrån to look for a copy of the new rose-themed issue of Hemslöjd. I told my sis to keep an eye out for it while looking through all the magazine shelves, commenting and looking for something of interest. My sis found it first, but what she picked up and showed me was the mag next to it, norwegian Bunad (issue 2-2012). I'm not sure why she picked it up to show. Maybe she wanted to say "look, a norwegian hemslöjd magazine" or "look at those girls on the cover" (in colourful and patterned folk costumes) or "look at that price". Either way, I took the copy, flipped through it -- and there it was! An upphlutur.

I've never seen icelandic folk costumes (Þjóðbúningurinn) before and this particular one is very different from the scanian and swedish folkdräkter and bygdedräkter I've seen. (Not just because the other scandinavian/nordic costumes are regional while the icelandic ones are national.) I really liked the simplicity of the black-and-white upphlutur. And above all I loved the embellishments. At first I thought it was like goldwork, metallic threads embroidered onto the cloth. It didn't look like plain embroidery floss so my guess was goldwork with silver threads. Then I looked closer and saw that it was in fact silver filigree (real, handmade silver filigree) stitched to the bodice. Two of my favourite things in one: metalwork and embroidery!

Look at that!

The mother inherited her dress, which has vermeil filigree instead of just silver, from her grandmother, who in turn was given it in the 1920's (so it's really old). At that time this type of upphlutur was relatively new. It was designed by Gudmundura Thoroddsen in the early 20th century. The upphlutur itself was originally part -- or more precisely the "undergarment" -- of another folk costume, the faldbúningur (see this photo). When it was warm the faldbúningur could be worn without the jacket and from that the upphlutur was developed as a folk costume in its own right. The colours can vary. The bodice is often black but can also be e.g. blue or red. As you can see, different types of aprons are also used and the embellishments varies. The cap that goes with the dress is called skotthúfa or, in english, icelandic tail cap.

Of cause I can't show you the whole article (already this much is probably a stretch). There's more pics and information in the magazine and while it doesn't go in to any depth, if you want to see better pics -- and, if you understand norwegian, want to read the whole article -- you might want to try and get a copy. It costs 89 SEK or NOK, though.

You can read more about the icelandic folk costumes at e.g. The Icelandic National Costume Board  and Wikipedia. More pics of upphluturs can be found on the Icelandic National Costume Board website, Flickr and by image googling.

Myself, I'm starting to think about embroidering filigree and wirework on cloth now.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Where I've been today

I'm not one to take a camera with me when I go somewhere and I don't have a modern mobile phone with a camera, but this time when we went to Helsingborg (where my dad is currently hospitalised, awaiting an operation) I couldn't resist taking a photo or two with my sister's phone camera.

So that's Helsingborg. With Denmark and Helsingör at the horizon. There probably are better views of the city, but this is the one we often see as we walk to the city centre. We took these photos (in the rain) from the parapets at Landborgen by Kärnan. A landborg is a kind of plataeu with a sudden drop, which can -- like in Helsingborg -- offer lovely vantage points.

As mentioned it was raining and my sis only have a tiny memory card in her phone so we didn't take any more pics (if you want more urban photos than my usual rural photo settings, se a post I made this winter: Båstad and Laholmsbukten). I added a filtre to the pic above to make it less chilly and dull -- which made want to do something with the first pics too:

Anyway, I did some shopping and while it was mostly food (read: chocolate and gräddbullar) and craft supplies etc, there was one find I wanted to share. Not today as I'm too tired to get out the camera (getting up at 6 again tomorrow, the harvest isn't over yet), but hopefully soon.

While uploading my photos from the mobile, I found a few other pics I've taken with her camera once when we were in the car together. We saw this fab sunset and as I was sitting on the right side of the car, I borrowed her camera to take a few snapshots. Through a dirty car window. While the car was in motion. These were part of that photo session:

This last phtos is taken between Vantinge and Förslöv. The other two are closer to home.

Not showing them because they're amazingly good or anything. But I kind of like the blur. If nothing else they might be fun photos to use as a base for digital art doodles or digital collages. And the dirty car window adds a certain touch to the pics, don't you think?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Patina and decoupage

Because of work, I haven't felt like starting a new project. Instead, when time has permitted, I've just experimented with bead-weaving ideas, played with patinas and colouring etc. Here are a few things I did today. The round tags are bronze and the flower vines are brass.

I've been thinking about combined patinas lately, what with the gesso and heat patina stamping here and the heat patina'd vinegar etched/buried patina stamping here. Therefore I picked out two of the tags from this experiment and added a peanut oil heat patina. (As a comparison, see these tags, which are just peanut oil with no prior patination.)

The dark tag above is almost burnt peanut oil on a "buried patina" (= leave metal in vinegar soaked sawdust).  [UPDATE: mixed up the info so here's the correct description of the tags.]  I'd polished the patina off with fine steel wool to get a shiny, textured surface so it was textured but not patinated when oiled. I also dabble with a second tag where the etched and slightly verdigris surface wasn't treated in any way before brushing on the oil. No pics of the front that one (i.e. the side the heat was applied on) -- but below you can see the back of it. I liked the softed colours it got.

These pics are macro shots: the actual size of the bronze tags is 17,5 mm in diametre.

If you've read this Manekis Pärlblogg post, you might've seen the branches below. I wasn't satisfied with the gesso finish so I dipped the whole thing in oil (rapeseed, not peanut this time) and heated it. Carefully as I'm not sure it's a good idea to torch acrylic-based gesso.

Nothing special, but I think it's an improvement. It's much darker, but you can still see some of the gesso, especially on the flowers.

And then, finally, a WIP photo.

One day I said to myself: "well, I've had this decoupage glue for textiles forever, when will I actually use it? Napkin decouapage on a piece of fabric could be a good foundation of embroidery or bead embroidery and I am looking for some fun, exciting and unusual surfaces to stitch on. If I don't do it today I'll probably never get around to it." So I found a cotton fabric scrap and a rose patterned tissue and begun work. It's one of those boring techniques were you have to wait for the glue to dry for 24 hours before heat setting it and being able to use it.

Now it is heat set and dried, but it's still laying around as I'm not sure what to do with it. Thinking jewellery (bracelet), but how do I want to embellish it? Could leave it as is, but using the decoupage as a surface was the original idea and I want something fun to stitch on... This is one of the bits and bobs laying around that I hope to be able to devote some time to after midsummer.

Apart from embroidery of various kinds, I'm really, really looking forward to some patina and colourisation sessions this summer. I'm obsessed with those two things, embroidery with or without beads and colour on metal, right now. (One patina I want to try soon, after seeing this, is heat patina on rusted steel and then of cause I'm dying to try coloured pencils and perhaps add some distress embossing.)

To end this post, another pic that'll appear on my other blog later this week: gold wax on black brass stamping (no, it's not Gilder's Paste). The wax really brings out the details, which the original shiny black finish didn't.

Just one pic...

So what happened to the photos I promised for today? For various reasons I didn't get around to edit them all -- and it's really hard to pick out just a few for the post (got totally mesmerised by the patterns the sun made in the water and ended up with lots of pics). So today I'll only show you the one above.

And a few mixed notes:

  • I'm really rubbish at commenting/replying on your comments, especially now, but I always read them and I appreciate them so much. The "thanks for commenting" text by the comment box isn't just empty words.
  • I finally did get my books this week. Got them on Monday. That means I'll hopefully do a review of one of them, a jewellery making book by Mary Hettmansperger, on my other blog next week. If you want to see a review in english on this blog, just let me know you're interested and I'll publish one.
  • I'm never satisfied: got new books and what do I do? Order another one! (Let's just say I'm celebrating the tax return.)
  • It'll almost midsummer's eve and that means next week will be the last week I blog on Manekis Pärlblogg before my summer break. After that I just hope to be able to focus on other things like (bead) embroidery and metalwork (read: patina and colorising experiments). Yay!
  • I've been rubbish at replying on my e-mail messages too. I'm trying to catch up today. If you've contacted me via e-mail and don't recieve a reply by tomorrow -- contact me again because the message might have disappeared (on the way or in my inbox).

For those of you missing jewellery and/or bead related content: I've got another post that'll be published later today too with a couple more of my patina experiments. Later during the week I might also show my twin bead swatches/samplers.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Summer's eve -- part 2

And here's part 2 of the summer evening photos. This time I didn't have Jisse with me. Instead, his brother Julle came and followed me on the road. Unfortunately, this was the best pic I got of him: the close-ups where blurred as he refused to sit still (he really didn't like that I focused more on the camera than him...).

This was the view he and I saw from that spot:

And then -- to totally spoil the mood -- a pic that should've been in the first part instead:

(I did take a few flower pics too, but I'm saving them for a special summer flower post. And, by the way, don't miss tomorrow's post with the seaside photos.)

Summer's eve -- part 1

I've got some new photos for you. Last night the weather was so lovely I just had to go outdoors not just once, but three times to snap a few pics. I was supposed to go to bed early to get up for work in time, but I just had to get some photos when the mist started to gather. (I had the camera nearby as I needed to upload pics from my camera as my sis and I had decided to go down to the sea after work today -- but those pics will have to wait to tomorrow, our day off.)

The pics have been divided into two posts. This post is about the first series of pics I took around 8 or 9 (that some pics look so dark hours before the sunset is because of the bright sun: hard to get photos of the landscape without the shimmering water burning out). The next post are photos I took later. But first a photo of my assistant that came with me, the very sweet Jisse.

The view is the same old, really so I don't have much to say about the individual photos.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

June bead soup palette

Just a quick post (as I've not only been working, but also managed to hurt my knee and got a three day tummy ache so I'm not in the best of mood). Wanted to show this week's colour palette that I've done for my other blog. It's actually two palettes since I couldn't choose which green to use. In retrospect I regret the opaque olive though as it didn't looks a good together with the pink in the photos (either the olive beads should've been lustered or the pink beads should've been without the luster finish). So for this post, I put the second palette (with the mottled and lustered green beads) before the first.

As you can see I don't use a template: different font sizes every time... Should make notes of the sizes really so it's more uniform. I also should add the blog URL, I think. To watermark/tag the pics. But I forget... (On the same note, I really feel the first palette photo needs to be remade. It doesn't at all bring out the lovely colours of the beads...)

I've had an idea about my summer blogging break (from my other blog, not this one), that I'd make weekly palettes. Simple ones with two or three colours max. Instead of not blogging at all. But maybe I need more of a full break? I felt that way the other day and wanted to give up the idea. But... Can't decide... There's some time left before midsummer's eve and my traditional blog break start, though, so there's time to change my mind again. What do you think? My palettes aren't that special, but it's always fun to do even if the photo editing takes some time. Is it better to do palettes than to do no blogging at all through July and perhaps even August? Would you like to see more palettes, even if they are simple? Is it worth the effort?
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