Saturday, 29 September 2012

By the way... hopping and seeing so many sequin creations made me think of a little something I did back in 2008 when I was challenged to make something using glass, sequins and silver(plate). You can see it here (or if the link doesn't work, here).

Will add the pic in the post later when I have more time. Right now I have to get off the computer -- with about half the hop participants left to visit so if I haven't commented on your blog yet, I will tomorrow.

My Sequintastic September post can be found below.

Sequintastic September

Welcome to the Sequintastic September blog hop!
When Sarah of Saturday Sequins first presented her blog hop I was quick to enter. Rarely using sequins, but still buying a few now and then as they felt inspiring, I had managed to amass a small stash that wanted to be used. It's easy to be seduced by sequins once you find the right shapes and colours (like many I don't love all sequins), but not as easy to use them it turned out. Sequins are fun and lend themselves well to many techniques and having seen sequin jewellery from Sarah and Gail Crosman Moore as well as impressive french sequin embroidery, I wanted this as a challenge to actually start using more of my stash.

We did get a lot of time to prepare for this blog hop, but due to all that has happened with the kittens (Sötis, Vitfluff and Snuttis), I felt low on energy and creative flow so in the end I ended up with just the two simple creations below. But also with a feeling that participating have had positive effects, especially by giving me ideas for creating with sequins in the future and seeing the potential in these humble (and sometimes kitschy) plastic bits. It's not just about tangible results, is it? It's also about getting and sharing that spark of ideas and creativity this theme generated. And that's something I'll take with me from this blog hop.

I hope you enjoy my little contribution to this hop and that it might inspire you in your own creative persuit. (and I hope the photos aren't too bad -- forgot to put in new batteries...)

My first creation started as an idea of a floral satin ribbon bracelet. Once I started making it I realised two things: 1) the size of the sequins means they won't follow the curve of the bracelet when worn, making it scratchy and wonky-looking and 2) I didn't have enough flower sequins to cover the length of the satin ribbon. If I'd had enough sequins (and time) it'd probably morph into a necklace instead. Not having done much sequin embroidery before, I found I had a very small grasp of how much sequins were needed to cover a bracelet or necklace collar.

Did finish the embroidery, though, and now I'm thinking of ways to use this piece. One idea I've had has been to make a romantic hairband of it. An initial idea was to make it into a bookmark, but it was scrapped after seing how thick it became, especially with the tiny beads holding the sequins in place. But then again, what if the beaded piece is hung on the outside of the book and an unembellished piece of ribbon is placed between the pages?

What do you say? Do you have any other ideas or suggestions?

The second creation is a very simple pair of earrings I made to show of a couple of my large sequins. At first I wanted to make a linked necklace using these sequins, but in the end the earrings probably turned out better than any quickly made necklace. I'm considering adding drops to the bottom to prevent these very lightweight earring dangles from moving about too much (it only takes a gentle wind gust to move them -- which is also the reason for the blurry photo as I took the pics by the open window for the sunlight).

There were a couple of ideas I wanted to try, but didn't manage to make any samples of in time for the blog hop. If I do finish a few tonight (writing this on Friday evening) I'll add pics on Saturday, but most likely it'll be saved for future sequin posts -- because after this there's bound to be more sequins on this blog. E.g. I would've wanted to make something with my matte bronze sequins (the once that garned positive comments in an earlier post) and hope to be able to show something in the near future. If you were hoping to see some sequin waste creations, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. That too will have to wait. Until then you'll have to make do with the two previous posts, Sequin waste patterns and Sequin waste inspiration links.

And so... That's all from me. Now be sure to check out the other Sequintastic September participants too!

Blog hop list

Host: Sarah...





Karen W...




Dawn Marie...









Maneki...  (You're here!)





















Friday, 28 September 2012


Feels like I haven't shown any photos in ages and I did think I'd have time to get a few ready today, but I find myself preparing for tomorrow's Sequintastic September blog hop post so there won't be any new flower or landscape photos just yet. I'm just going to leave you with a couple of crummy photos of the budding heather by the steps.

can't wait for the flowers to open up a bit more. I'll take a couple of new photos then.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Hurry to enter the bead book giveaway!

Just a quick reminder than Friday is the last day to enter the giveaway to win a copy of A-Z of Bead Embroidery.

If you want to learn bead embroidery or want some romantic floral patterns to be inspired by, this is a great opportunity so don't miss it! Do feel free to share this giveaway and borrow my photos to do so.
Click here to go to the giveaway post.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

I've spent the day baking and preparing some frozen yoghurt and fudgsicle (fudgsicle is not something you can buy here, but after seeing american recipes for in on Pinterest, I was inspired to do some using a chocolate cream/pudding recipe intended as topping on kladdkakemuffins, gooey chocolate cupcakes) so it'll only be one little cat photo today.

It's hard to pick out photos to show. Partially because I have so many and not all of them are sorted into the right folder, partially because some cats have a tendency to show up more often than others and I want to brag about all our cats. Another reason right now is that I haven't taken many pics since Snuttis disappeared...

This time I ended up with a photo of Jisse, taken in the garden earlier this summer.  (The cats often jump up on that pedestal when they want some attention when we are photographing flowers.) Not my best pic of Jisse, but nice enough to post I guess.

Must get some photos of some of the other cats too, like Mini, Figge and Knatti. They don't follow us around the same way e.g. Jisse and Julle does so I don't get as many opportunities to take photos of them when being out on "photo walks".

PS! On e-mail messages
I know I have some e-mail to reply to, but I've felt a bit under the weather and have procrastinated forever it feels like. Replying to e-mails is just one of those things I keep pushing ahead of me all the time when I'm not in the best of moods and then suddenly it becomes this massive obstacle that's hard to tackle and then I feel guilty about not replying in a timely manner. I sit down in front of the computer, log on to gmail -- and it's like all my energy is drained. Doing things that doesn't require any thinking, such as pinning and reading blogs is fine for some odd reason, it's just the writing that's the problem. Right now I just feel a bit tired (ironic considering how I did manage to get my butt out of the computer chair and bake all afternoon), but I hope to be to get my act together and sit down tomorrow and really go through all messages that need a reply. So if you're one of those waiting to hear from me: this is the reason I've not been in touch yet and I hope you'll bare with me just a little bit longer. Sorry to have you waiting, perhaps not even being sure whether I've gotten the message or not.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Damn you, ziplock bag...

In two days I've had two bead incidents due to a ziplock bag having ruptured in the bottom. Tiny fire-polished beads -- thankfully it wasn't seed beads, but that has happened in the past too -- pouring into the bed or the jam-packed bead box. Luckily, in both cases I spotted it before all the beads had fallen out.

And here's the thing: it has happened to me before and I know that other beaders warn about the dangers of keeping beads in ziplock bags, but I still do it. Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's thrift seeing the cost of buying hard plastic containers for all beads, maybe it's green thinking (not buying unnecessary packaging). But most of all it's because they're handy and easy to store (without taking up unnecessary space with half-filled tubes or small boxes that doesn't fit the larger bead box perfectly). In many cases they have the name/colour/number of the bead -- perhaps even the bead shop's name -- printed on them (unless they're reused), which is very practical. In many ways ziplock bags are perfect. They're an ideal way to store small things effectively. Especially for smaller beads, it's just such a practical solution. But it's also a precarious one. You never know when a ziplock bag with rupture -- and when it does it is of cause the one containing a gross of 4 mm fp or 20 g of 15/0 seeds, not the one with just half a dozen 12 mm lampies.

 If you're lucky, you spot it directly and can keep most of the beads in the bag. If you're unlucky, you end up with an unintentional bead soup in the box. Worst case scenario being if two or more bags with different (tiny) beads rupture at the same time, causing a mess that not only have to be bagged, but also sorted. Which takes forever. I know that from experience...

Some big ziplock bags are really, really thick and I trust them 100 %, but it's hard to tell about the rest as it's not necessarily down to e.g. the thickness of the bags whether they burst or not.

So what to do? As I see it, buying tiny hard-plastic boxes for all my beads would be too expensive and I don't want to store them loose in bead boxes (especially not considering the bad combination of bead boxes and cats!). Wish I could transfer all my beads, but at the moment it's not a financially sound solution for me. I always re-use tubes and flip-top boxes for my seeds, but still there are many places I buy from that uses ziplocks so the majority of my seeds are still in ziplock bags and pretty much all of my glass beads are bagged the same way. I understand that it might be the cheapest solution for the shops and not all costumers want to pay extra for tubes or boxes, especially not if they already have a lot of unused ones at home. If I already had empty tubes/boxes at home, I'd rather pay less and get a cheaper bag as I'd transfer them to a tube or box once I got the beads.

Maybe the only thing to do is to tape the edges of every ziplock bag as a precaution? Have thought of that before, but it always ends up the same way: it's too time consuming to fix all bags so I settle on just doing it on bead bags bought from here on (and already ruptured ones), but next time I get beads I've forgotten about that smart and simple idea... until it happens again -- to yourself, hearing horror stories from others doesn't help. Then I remember it. A tad too late.

I know this isn't a new issue. I know many have discussed it before and that there are different views on whether to store beads in ziplocks or not. I also know that many beaders are like me and don't really care until they find a(nother) bead soup in the bead box or have seeds pouring into the crevices of the sofa or under the cupboard... An old problem, but one that keeps occurring again and again. This time it happened to me. I hope it won't happen to you, but if you haven't thought about it before, you might want to reconsider using ziplock bags for all your beads because it could happen to you too.

Gesso and chalk

When I bought a jar of gesso for a project, it was only sold in big jars (with a price to match). Great for painters, but when making jewellery you don't use very much at the time. So there's a lot of it left. Now, gesso is great and has many uses so I'm sure it'll come in handy some day. And I want to buy black gesso too to complement the white.

The other day I got the idea to just play around and smear some of it on two small Vintaj brass blanks. On the left tag, I used a smooth brush stroke motion (didn't actually use a brush but a piece of paper towel) and on the right tag, I dabbed the gesso with the paper.

Then -- just for the fun of it and because I hadn't used it yet -- I brushed coloured chalk on the not fully dried gesso. Not sure it's something that's going to lead anywhere. It was just for fun and because I had nothing else to do. It's two little doodles made without a plan or idea, almost stuck after having that inital thought of "what if I gesso some metal and brush on chalk to tint it". Nothing special to look at, but I'm hoping to see some sort of potential in them nonetheless.

To conclude, the blanks had me thinking of more ways to use gesso on metal -- you've seen me use gesso on metal before here -- and what to do with my chalks. (And what kind of fixative or varnish to use on chalk and gesso; these pieces aren't sealed.) Both gesso and chalk are fun to play with. I bought gesso inspired by designs and techniques I'd seen in paper crafts and mixed media while I got the chalk with the intention to use it on polymer clay. Then I realised I'm rubbish at working with clay and the chalk was never used. Perhaps it can be used on the epoxy clay I have lying around? I do believe it can also be used on paper so maybe it'd be a good thing to think of some sort of paper-based project for these materials.

But I do think I want to develop this idea of gesso and chalk on metal a bit more too. What do you think? Do you perhaps even have some tips or ideas to share or links to others who do great things with gesso and chalk?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Old DIY jewellery and accessories article

I actually wrote about this magazine page in my other blog back in 2008, but thought it'd be fun to show it again now that I found it while looking for some other photos. It's a really big scan so if you want to read the text -- which is in Swedish -- or view the jewellery and accessory projects up close, you can just click on it.

I found this page in a crochet book I "took over" after my grandma or oldest aunt. Both dies years before I was born (one of age, one of stomach cancer) and left many things behind in my dad's possession.  The reason this page from an old women's magazine was folded and put in the book was that the other side, page 40, features patterns for a cat and teddy bear knitted in fuzzy yarn. It's also the cat pattern that made me save the torn out page.

Then, in 2008, I got the idea to unfold the paper and see what was on the back. I knew there was something, but didn't remember what. It turned out to be instructions for easy-to-make DIY accessories, or "decorations for the young ladies" as the headline reads. The necklaces and belts are made from such everday objects as bast/raffia, vent chain, curtain rings, glass or wooden beads and wire, while the gloves and purse are beaded with glass and steel beads. Also notice the bead dangles, taken from a crystal chandelier, on the raffia-wrapped metal belt.

A fun glimpse of DIY jewellery articles back in... well, I have no idea what decade or year it might be. Don't even know which magazine featured this. Anyone got any ideas?

Monday, 17 September 2012

More inked verdigris

Sorting through my photos, I found another recent patina test. As in an earlier post, Tinted patina, it's alcohol ink (stream I believe the name of the colour is) over a so-so verdigris patina in an attempt to boost the colour and cover up ugly spots. Very successful as far as I'm concerned: the ink deepens the colour without hiding the mottled surface or covering the crusty patina. An easy way to save a less than impressive verdigris surface.

Below are the first to tests with a few drops splashed over the patina. For the beetle above, I more or less drenched the stamping in ink to get as intense a colour as possible.

So far I've only tried to add another colour than blue-green to the turquoise patina once. It'd be interesting to test more colours too, but I've just got a few ink bottles so there's not much to choose between.

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

When I began doing the Meowy Mondays just a few weeks ago, I felt like some cats had a tendency to get more attention than others on this blog and I wanted to make sure they were all equally bragged about. Cats like Snuttis and Julle. Of cause, now it feels like I want to show as many pics of her as possible (though, being just a few months old I have a limited supply of Snuttis photos). She's still missing. Haven't found her, not alive nor dead. So while it feels futile, there's still a shard of hope that she's alive somewhere. Odds might be against it, but you have to keep hoping.

So it's Snuttis photos again. This time with other cats too as I don't have many more good portrait photos left to show.

Above is one messy photo of Jinja, Ullegull and Snuttis (behind the stool, just might see a glimpse of Vitfluff too). In the morning, Jinja had found this spot of sun by my bed and soon the kittens wanted some of the sun too. Though they were more interested in playing than in sunbathing at times. (The strange shadow on Jinja's hind paw is from two suspended plushy toys, by the way. Hung them up for Jinja, Julle and Jisse when they were kittens.)

This is another photo from the play session in the grass that you've seen pics from in the previous weeks. I like her tail. She's sitting there very focused, observing Vitfluff who got abandoned on the lawn when the other kittens ran off. Ullegull has found Jinja and is preparing an attack.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Just got a new obsession: sea urchins

I mean, I've seen pics of sea urchin shells before and found them very pretty, but for some reason it wasn't until last night that I fell head over heel in love with them. I'm just totally fascinated by the shape, texture and colours now. They're so delicate and irresistable.

Before, I've mostly seen sea urchin spikes as jewellery materials, but now it's the shells (or tests, as it's also called) that have me captivated. As seen on my new sea urchin pinboard.

People all over the world seem to find sea uchins along the coastlines, but I have never seen even one around here. Are there no urchins on the beaches I visit (which, it could be added, are lining a bay and maybe sea urchins are found further out in the sea) or is it just that I look in the wrong place? From what I've read people have found them on or near the beach, not always diving for them but just picking them up. I find lots of seashells, stones, driftwood, trash, dead jellyfish (not that I pick that up!), seaweed, feathers, coins and occasionally some sea glass, but no sea urchins.

Not buying any right now as there are so many things I want to buy (and a very limited budget...), but sea urchins will go on my wishlist now.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 36-37

It's time for yet another round-up of my Manekis pärlblogg posts from the last two weeks. These weeks I've posted about challenges and contests, Swarovski innovations, cool Pébéo paints, padded bead embroidery, a jewellery exhibit in Stockholm, bead shopping at Swedish sewing and mineral shows and more. (If you or beaders/jewellery makers you know are going to Stockholm -- or Sweden in general -- you might want to read this as there's an unusual amount of shopping and exhibition tips here.)


Friday, 14 September 2012

Etched opalite

Here's another post of things I did before Snuttis disappeared, but which I never blogged about. First because of the camera and then because of how I felt when Snuttis went missing. And then I almost ended up scrapping the idea of taking any photos as the colours and matte, transparent surface made it a tricky bead to take a sharp photo of. And you can't always tell that much of a difference between the etched and unetched opalite on top of that....

It's been a long time since I last etched glass.

I made this bead after having tidied up my worktable (not because I felt like the mess was too bad, but because of cats knocking things over) and looked through the bowl with glass to etch someday. Seeing how etching transformed cat's eye and goldstone beads into something much better than their original look, maybe the etch would work the same magic on another type of glass bead I don't like that much, opalite (a k a sea opal aka "moonstone").

Doesn't make as much of a difference as on cat's eye/fibreoptic beads, but it might partially also be because the etch cream has become weaker so the glass had to be etched twice. Partially it's also because both cat's eye and goldstone have something the opalite is missing: shiny inclusions. Cat's eye has fibreoptic filaments and add a special shine to the bead, even when etched. Goldstone has sparkling copper shavings. Opalite just have, well, a "quiet" opalescence. A slight change of colour depending on the angle of light and against what background it's seen. But etching does add a soft, velvety touch to the opalite and matte is always pretty. It's a rather romantic-looking glass bead now. So it's not a failure, just not a dramatic change in appearance as in e.g. goldstone.

For anyone who likes the opalescence of opal glass and the velvet touch of etched glass, this is something to try.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The bearded lady

As I've said before, patina experiments don't always turn out the way you want them to. When using vinegar, the acid will eat into the metal if left long enough -- and it doesn't etch evenly as an etching fluid would, but createds a pitted surface, which can be great (see e.g. this post). But sometimes it goes plain wrong.

In this case I sacrificed a plated stamping. I'd bought it ages ago, but never really liked it once I got it. Didn't like how she puts her chin out, which made it feel like she had the mumps or something. So I wasn't worried about putting it in the baker's ammonia and vinegar sawdust: a good patina would just improve it, a failed patina wouldn't damage a piece of any particular value to me. So in the jar it went. I waited. And waited. Even forgot it for some time. And very little happened. Often, the vinegar will eat through sealants and even plating, but not this time. In the end, I put it in another jar with just salt and vinegar to see if that would speed up any patina. Eventually, this is what I ended up with.

More rust than verdigris and the edges had corroded badly. That distressed, rustic surface might be a great loook on many stampings, but perhaps not one with a human face because that protruding chin had become more etched and pitted than any other area.

I had ended up with a one-eyed bearded lady!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Meowy Monday: Cat photo of the week

I didn't feel like preparing a Meowy Monday considering the things that has happened, like it would somehow be as if ignoring Snuttis and pretending everything is normal, business as usual. But then yesterday night and this morning, I began thinking of a story that I wanted to share. This is for my not losing the hope and for those of you who are also have a lost beloved pet. It's another wordy post, I'm afraid.

In a little nook in my heart is hope, the hope than suddenly Snuttis will just walk through the door, happy and unharmed. Wishful thinking some would say, but that image of Snuttis that you can find in that place in my heart and my head is based on other cats we've had or still have. I remember Herki who was gone for six months. In November, the day the first snow of the season fell, he came home. He walked down the entrance, perhaps a little thinner but very much just like he used to be. I was so sure I'd never see him again, but on that day, which I remember only as painted in grey with tiny white snowflakes falling, he came back. Eventually, he gave us a happy end to the story.

But most of all, the image I see is moulded on what happened to Randa, the cat in the photo. This happened in October 2007. (Before I blogged, but when active on a swedish bead forum where you can still read my thoughts and feelings, day by day, from the first dispair to the joy when she returned.) It was a Saturday and my family plus a friend of my sister's where spending the day at the shopping mall Väla. We came home in the afternoon and noticed on the caller id display that our neighbour had tried to reach us. More than once on a time that was unusual for her to call. We were unloading and preparing dinner as we all where starving. I went out to get something from the other building when the neighbours happened to be driving by. They stopped, turned into the driveway, got out and asked "Is Randa home?"

You don't want your neighbour to ask you if all your cats are home. As we had just gotten home, I hadn't seen all the outdoor cats yet. Randa was one of those cats not currently in the yard. I got a bad feeling.

The neighbours told how a man earlier in the day had knocked on their son's door -- he too is a neighbour of ours -- telling that he had accidentally hit a cat with his car just down where the road made a slight turn (I've seen Randa there before so in my head I pinpointed the exact spot). Worried, my neighbour and former class mate thought it was his little one that had been hit, but when going to the spot where the driver had been, he saw a striped cat limping away. It was not his. He tried to catch her, but she quickly disappeared into the at the time uninhabited farm by the road (yes, what's now the museum). He didn't want to continue tracking her as he feared he was just scaring her further away. As Randa often hunted and played around that place, he had often seen her and was convinced the injured cat was our Randa. We weren't home, but he told his mum, who has a close contact with my mum. And so she good then, hours later, relay the story to us.

Letting my sis stay with our guest, I went down to the farm to look, tears streaming down my face and almost unable to call for her as my voice cracked. No luck. My dad joined me. Knowing the place better than me, he knew many of the nooks and crannies, the holes and hiding places. But nothing. Maybe she had been strong enough to go home, but when she got her, there was no one here to take care of her or even let her indoors. So instead she had to find a sheltered place to hide. That worried me, knowing how cats can choose to hide and not make themselves noticed in order to heal injuries -- or die.

At Sunday night I was worried and more or less mourning. The previous night had been cold. I was still hoping she would appear, injured and in pain, but alive. At the same time my brain told me that she probably had died, either directly from the injuries or from the cold and shock. As Snuttis, she hadn't eaten that much on the day she disappeared, which had me so worried. If she was injured, she wouldn't be able to hunt for food. I also knew that if she was too weak to call out -- or dead -- when we came looking, we could walk just right passed. Be a few centimetres from her without ever knowing. There are so many places to hide or be hidden around here. The chances of her being alive, cooped up somewhere recovering enough to walk home, or that someone else had found her felt tiny.

Not knowing was the worst part, but also the thought that if we hadn't been away when it happened, we could've got to her immediately. And the nagging feeling that it also was our fault for not letting her stay indoors when we left. The kittens aren't allowed to be outdoors when we aren't home, never have been. But the adult cats are if they want to. And Randa loved to be outdoors, hunting and playing, often being away all night and then come back before daybreak, standing under the window meowing loudly for us to let her in. First urgently and demaning, then complaining until someone opened the door.

To make matters worse, her brother had been killed in a hit-and-run the year before. Those memories were still fresh. The phone call (from yet another neighbour). The blood on the road. Seeing Vitis with his head bloody and fractured, his eyes frozen in fear. Saying my goodbyes. Burying him.

So my hope was dwindling at the end of the weekend. And I was so upset with myself for not having been home. She could've been in bed, recovering, and instead she was disappeared, dead or alive.

On Monday I mourned, but still tried to keep some of the hope alive. But I doubt I truely believed in a happy end at this point. And the feeling of unfairness started to mount. She was two years old, vibrant, full of life. She was playful and cuddly. She had a kitten she loved to play with -- a kitten that couldn't comprehend what was happening, a kitten that was beyond himself. Her being dead or severly injured felt so horribly unfair. And worst part was knowing she was alive after the accident. We were having fun when she was in agony. I hadn't even gone as I wanted to shop much, I just went because of the company and the fact I didn't get many chances to go to a mall. I had to work that day and tried to push all feeling ahead of me, but when writing an update on the forum in the evening, it all came back. I was crying so hard.

And then, on Tuesday...

My sis spotted her. It looked like she had walked up to the house, but not seeing anyone had begun to turn back again. She probably had done the same thing on Saturday. My sis saw her in the last minute, spotting a familiar tail and a limping paw. When my sis came, she turned around.

I was happy, elated that she was home. I was heartbroken, seeing her agony and weakness. She was fatigued, being injured and probably not having had anything to eat. The injuries were confined to the hind leg and lower back, but nothing was broken. We gave her lots of food, which she wolfed down, and made a bed for here in the bead room, which is normally off limits, but the one place she could have some calm away from the other cats. She neede a lot of rest. But the signs were good: she had an appetite, she showed some energy and curiosity about the world around here. Injured, but her old self. And now I knew for sure: we had an injured Randa, but not a dead or dying Randa.

Would you believe that I, on the night between Sunday and Monday, actually had dreamt about her coming home, limping? Of cause it was my hope, an image I'd already shaped inside me, that I dreamt of, but on Tuesday it still felt like the sign I'd kept repeating to her that I wanted to see. "Just give me a sign." But at the end of that day, I was sad and exhausted and convinced she was dead. On one hand, I'd had so many cats dying during the years, but also had cats reappearing weeks after and accident. One the other hand, the death of Vitis had left me a pessimist.

But she came home. She recovered 99,99 %. She's still alive and well. She was lucky. We were lucky.

So no matter what happens, there's always hope. Even when it doesn't look like it. Life is unfair, but the odds can be beaten. Those who are injured can heal. Those who are lost can be found. Thoses believed to be dead can be alive. Even when our rational mind tells us the odds are slim, the heart won't let go of that last shed of hope -- and sometimes the heart is right.

I'm still hoping. Desperately so as the thought of her in pain or dispair is so horrible. Evering but a happy end unthinkably horrible. Fearing the worst, believing the worst, but still hoping. I have experienced the unhappy ends. I have experienced the happy ends.

I cry, but I hope.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Missing Snuttis

Where do I even begin?

Both the Thursday and Friday posts were scheduled, written days before. If it wasn't for those posts, the blog would've been silent those days because of what's happened.

It feels like the kittens are victims of a cruel, cruel fate. First Sötis. Then Vitfluff. And now... On wednesday afternoon, around five in the afternoon, we couldn't find Snuttis. She and Ullegull had mostly spent the day indoors due to the chilly weather. It was grey and windy so not much fun to be outdoors. They did venture out in the afternoon, I guess. Which is very normal, they like to be outdoors. Now that the weather is chilly, they mostly like to find a warm spot by the southern wall just by the door. The've never gone very far -- playing in the yard or the gardens -- and even less so when the weather kept them close to the doors and open window so they could get back in fast.

When returning home after five, she was greeted by Ullegull, but could not find Snuttis. She found me and told the news. We worried, but with a firm belief she'd appear soon. After all, she's always nearby. And the kittens had that usual habit of hiding in a cozy place to sleep for hours while the humans found run around searching for them. Typical cat behaviour -- and especially when the weather's a bit bad, the like to find a warm, snug covert of their own. So the first hours, we mainly checked so that she wasn't trapped somewhere behind a closed door or anything. Checked the usual hideouts too. And the hay loft, which some cats can access without being able to find a way back. Looking in the treetops as she can climb (at least up, down is tricky). Looked under bushes, fearing the worst, that she lied dead or injured somewhere. The wind made it hard to call out and listen for meows of distress. Without result, but while we worried it was still with a sense of confidence that things would be back to normal. She was out of sight, not disappeared.

Then it got dark (damn these grey days and black night) and the worries took over fully. It she'd just been sleeping and hiding, she'd definitely be back after some hours. We were out looking for her again. And then again around midnight. To no avail. In the end we had so sleep. I dozed off hoping that it now was just the dark that kept her outdoors, that she'd found a shelter to wait out the night. That's happened before, especially if the cat were in the relatively cozy, but big, hay loft. Woke up at around 4:30 with a big lump churning in my stomach, unable to sleep.  Went outdoors again, looking, calling.

One night. Had she been an adult, I wouldn't have worried: our cats are good at fending for themselves and they do spent hours away (not least the big hunters Mimi and Randa), but Snuttis is a kitten. She's not old enough to hunt and be on her own for hours and hours. Now the worry was total. We was she? How could she vanish without a trace? What had happened?

Widening the search area didn't help, not on Thursday nor on Friday. And looking around, it's hard to see all the possible places to go, not knowing where to focus and which way is the most logical to look. There's fields and grazing land and coppices -- places to hide and get lost in. But where to look, knowing she'd never shown an interest in venturing beyond the home turf? And should we focus on many places around the farm or believe she'l got herself lost behind a hill or nearby grove?

And what has happened? Been spooked by something and run off -- but always staying in the yard, she'd surely run towards the house or barn, not away. An accident -- but wouldn't we find some sign if it happened nearby or -- horrible thought! -- her body somewhere. Wanderlust -- but the weather was not cat friendly, it was typical stay-indoors-and-sleep-the-whole-day weather. Then the more bisarre ideas take over. Theft. Stowaway in a car (not bizarre, just so unlikely).

So many questions. Worried sick not just being a figure of speech, but fear and sorrow and worry congeling in a horrible ice lump, a lead weight in the guts. The horror and panic of the thought she might be in distress, unable to make contact with anyone who can help her. In pain, injured -- or at the very least starving. Really starving (she hadn't had a big meal on Wednesday as they usually get the main meal in the late afternoon). Not knowing if she's dead or alive. Not knowing where. Alternating between hope and mourning. The heart shattering once again. The mind unable to believe the horrible things that has happened to our kittens this summer. How can fate be so cruel to an innocent, defenseless kitten?

Latest -- I refuse to say last! -- photo. Taken in the middle of the night.
13 hours later I feed the cats. And that's the last time I see her.

I'm not playing favourites, but Snuttis is for me the most special of the kittens we got this year. As mentioned before, I wasn't thrilled about it at first, seeing how many cats we have and our financial situation. But Snuttis was special. She was the only kitten in her mummy's, Mimi's, litter. She was born in the middle of the night -- in my bed! Mimi refused to be anywhere else. It was gory, I was unhappy (though it wasn't the first time ever, having kittens born in the bed). Mimi still refused to be anywhere but it the bed with me. So Snuttis ended up spending her first days and weeks exclusively in a corner of my bed. Always there. She got older and, with the help of a stool, was able to get in and out of bed. But ever since, she's almost always slept in my bed. I believe I can count the days she hasn't on my fingers. Lately, she liked to sleep on me. Not an easy feat considering I sleep on the side (lucky for her I'm a big girl) -- and I toss and turn every night. Daytime she's often been sleeping on my chest while I was trying to read, bead or embroider, reclined in bed or an armchair. In my way, but I wouldn't move her unless I had to get up.

In other words, she's always been the kittens that's been the closest to me of the four. Physically and otherwise. In a house full of cats, it still feels empty now. She's been here just a few months, but it's hard to picture life without her.

It's just so hard to really take it all in, to realise that it's real. That she has disappeared without a trace. She's not just in the other room or outside the door. She's vanished. She's been totally, completely, mercilessly gone for days now. Dead or alive -- in pain or ok -- we cannot know. With Sötis and Vitfluff there was that definite end, knowing what was happening and then, however hard, to accept the situation knowing they were dead. With Snuttis I can't, as if believing she's dead will kill her. And no matter how much I try, I can't stop time and I can't rewind the clock. It's happening right now. It's happening again. And I don't know what to do. I don't know how to cope, especially with the fear that she might be somewhere suffering right now. I hope for a miracle -- that she'll without a word with walk through the door, it's happened before when adult cats have gone awol -- but I don't truely believe in such miracles. Life is unfair, life is cruel, life hurts. Life goes not, indifferent to who lives and who dies.

The nights have been the worst as then when your thoughts start to wander. When you think of Snuttis out there alone, lonely, exposed to wind and rain in the dark. It's when I miss not having Snuttis near me. It's when I worry something will happen to Ullegull too. It's when I feel like a bad person for not looking harder, keep on searching every hour. When I feel it's my fault. I let them be outdoors (as usual), I spent four hours in front of a computer not once checking on them (as usual), I didn't react fast enough when told of the disappearance as I was too sure -- or tried to convince myself? -- that she was just sleeping in a cozy nook somwhere around the house. I'm the one not finding here, I'm the one who can't figure out what happened meaning I can't save her. And the questions about how she could desaplpear like that won't leave me.

And the only one that would be able to say something at all about what happened, the only one who say here just before she was gone, is Ullegull. The kitten that now don't have any playmates. He lies here beside me, sleeping like an angel, but can't say a thing...

Friday, 7 September 2012

GIVEAWAY: A-Z of Bead Embroidery

In association with Country Bumpkin (publisher of "the world's most beautiful embroidery magazine, Inspirations), I'm giving away a copy of today's reviewed book, A-Z of Bead Embroidery.

A-Z of Bead Embroidery, part of Country Bumpkin's popular A-Z series of embroidery books, is a book for beginners wanting to learn how to bead on cloth, but the many inspirational projects also makes the book a good read for those already familiar with the basic techniques. The book include many techniques, including less common ones like tambour beading, padded beading and beadpoint (needlepoint with beads). The projects are divided into two chapters, one with different (often floral) motifs and one with bead fringes and edgings. You can read more about the book in my review here.

Does this sound like a book you want to read? Then don't hesiste, but fill in the bilingual entry form below for your chance to win this book. The giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere (as long as the postal service can reach you, of cause). If you can't see the form, please click here to fill it out.

NB! I'm not doing any "tweet/blog/facebook/pin this for extra chances" this time, but if you want to share this giveaway with people you think might be interested, help me spread the word, it is very appreciated! Feel free to borrow my photo above and/or in the sidebar.

Last day to enter is 28th September!

Review: A-Z of Bead Embroidery

Title: A-Z of Bead Embroidery
Author: Sue Gardner (ed.)
Publisher and year: Country Bumpkin, 2006
Pages: 128
Summary: Introduction to bead embroidery on cloth and canvas with many beautiful projects.
Pros: Many techniques, including tambour beading, padded beading and counted thread. Varied projects.
Cons: Very few, just miss beaded stem stitch
Recommended to: Beginners who want to learn the basics of bead embroidery on cloth and bead embroiderers looking for floral patterns to be inspired by. 

A few weeks ago, I contacted the australian publisher Country Bumpkin. The result of our mail conversation was my getting two copies of their book A-Z of Bead Embroidery: a review copy for myself -- and one copy to give away to a lucky blog reader!

To see how you can be the winner of this book, please go to the giveaway post here.


A-Z of Bead Embroidery is the 13th book in Country Bumpkin's popular A-Z series of embroidery books. The format is the same as in the rest of the series with an introduction to the materials and tools used, followed by a section of basic techniques with step-by-step photos and then finishing with projects showing how the techniques can be used. Here and there in the book, you can find inspiration photos of bead embroideries from the publisher's world-renowned embroidery magazine Inspirations. The book also includes little boxes with everything from practical hints to information about the history of beads, birthstones, beadworks, colour symbolism etc.

All books in the series are spiralbound, which is very handy as it makes it easy to lay the book open on a table or sofa while embroidering.

 The focus of the book is on bead and sequin embroidery on fabric, tulle and canvas/aida. The kind of bead embroidery where the background fabric is part of the design unlike bead embroidered jewellery, where the embroidery is often done on a special backing that is fully covered with beads. The embroidery designs in this book are intended as wall hangings, embellishment etc. The basic bead embroidery techniques are the same no matter what you want to make, but I want to point out that this is no jewellery-making book.

The techniques covered in the book includes, as already mention, both the most basic -- often a couple of different ways to stitch single seed and bugle beads, beads on a row and sequins -- and less common techniques that aren't very often covered in other bead embroidery books. This includes counted embroidery such as beadpoint and embroidery on aida, tambour beading with a tambour hook and padded beading. As these techniques aren't found in many other (beginner level) books, it would have been interesting to see a few more variations, but then again, the book is mainly meant to be an introduction. The only basic embroidery stitch I really missed was stem stitch -- it's such a simple stitch, but so striking when done with beads, making it perfect for beginners.

Over half the book is devoted to the 31 embroidery projects, which are divided on two chapters with the first one focusing on different patterns/designs and the second on bead fringes and edgings. Almost all the designs in the first chapter are floral. As the designs are created by eight different embroiderers, the styles and techniques are very varied. The projects include beadpoint, flower beads on aida, tulle embroidery, sequined motifs, embellished silk prints and -- my personal favourite -- beading on lace motifs. Some of the projects include step-by-step photos while others are in text only. Seed beads are the main material used, but larger beads such as fire-polished, bicones, leaf and flower beads, hearts, rhinestones, lucite flowers and sequins are also used, mostly as accents.

Six of the project in the designs chapter include other embroidery stitches such as ribbon, chain, padded satin, split and back stitch. Stitches that it's assumed you already know. If you aren't familar with them, you can find instructions online (for free) or in books like The Essential Guide to Embroidery.

The last chapter, Fringes and edgings, focus on designs -- the majority by Jane Davis -- rather than basic patterns, which makes the chapter a bit different from many books introducing the reader to beaded fringe. All the twelve fringes/edgings combine seeds and larger beads such as druks, fire-polished, bicones, daggers, leaf beads and gemstone chips. The are probably designed mainly for bags, wall hangings and such, but some could probably be adapted for jewellery too.

To sum up, A-Z of Bead Embroidery is a both informative and inspiring book for those interested in beading (and stitching sequins) on cloth and canvas. The many projects fit both beginners and those already familiar with bead embroidery, perhaps looking for new projects or just inspiration. When I blogged about being interested in this book, on comment was that it probably would suit me, considering my penchant for flowers and the romantic. Others could also appreciate the book -- the techniques chapters are universal -- but if you like flowers, you will probably enjoy this book more and get more out of it.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Night roses

Night roses

Just a pic of a rose photo I created yesterday. The original photo was taken while the sun was beginning to set, shedding a warm saturated glow on the light pink mini roses.

The photo was edited using PicMonkey where I added two textures of my own (photos of sheer fabric curtain and tulle lampshade respectively) -- partially to hide that the flowers had a few brown spots and other flaws. It's pretty dark, especially in this smaller size, but I hope it's not too dark.

At first I wanted to add a frame, but decided against it. Didn't even add rounded corners. Perhaps I'll add a frame in a future version, though. It's also just slightly cropped, but after uploading the pic on Flickr, I looked at the 150x150 pixel thumbnail generated by Flickr and kind of liked it that way too. So maybe I should take the original photo and create a second, cropped version too?

Night roses

These tiny roses are planted in the perfect spot so that when sun sets in the summer and it's not too cloudy, the roses bathe in a warm light for hours. Some of my favourite rose photos are of these little rosebushes and while the dainty and sweet roses in themselves photograph well, it's mostly due to the lovely light.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tinted patina

Double post today. Just a quick snapshot of a couple of ammonia patina'd bronze tags. Like most of my tags, the most intense blues faded from the crusty patina surface. Having seen metal colouring techniques and patinas that were made on a base of a "primer" patina, I thought why not dye the verdigris crust with some alcohol ink. To boost the colour in the first case (left) and add another colour in the second (right).

You could probably do something more interesting with this that just add a few drops in the middle of the tag like here. This was just a first try to see how the ink reacted with the patina, how it'd spread and how well it'd stick.

Adding the pic, I was reminded of an old photo of a rose I made using layers of alcohol inks in a two or three different shades on a brass ox flower. Add a really matte spray lacquer and you get a nice velvet-like feel. (That white smudge is made by the nick in the lens on my old camera -- will not be missing that about it!)

WIP: copper satin and blue silk

I did make a few thing while being without a camera. Here are two pics of a couple of ideas that I tested. For bracelets, most likely. Both uses satin copper twin beads and blue silk

The piece above probably looks soutache-inspired, but my main source of inspiration is actually smocking with pearls and pearls/beads stitched into the folds of shibori silk. Things like Phiona Richards' book sculpture Pearls of Wisdom shown here and the silk bangles from Alyson G. Design.

The soutache inspiration was probably more subconscious in that case, having seen soutache jewellery and tutorials for years now, it's tricky to say they didn't play a role in the process behind this bracelet design. It's got the strict, clean shapes and curves of soutach jewellery even though I'm more drawn towards the organic shapes of scrunched and "freeform folded" beaded fabric. Hopefully you'll get to see some embroidery of that kind in a near future. I'm playing with a few ideas, developing a few things I've done before and exploring some new ones. Nothing finished enough to show on the blog at the moment, I'm afraid.

As you can see I haven't got very far. Right now I'm using a brick/peach red thread, which matches the twin beads well, but as the thread will show on the cobalt blue silk ribbon, a darker blue thread would be better. Seeing how blue isn't a favourite colour of mine, however, there's no such thread in my stash. So I've put this project on hold while planning for the closure (and a good excuse to do a tiny bit of bead shopping again).

The other sample is made with the same twin beads as above and some denim blue pearl silk. Tried a few different things before doing the "strung-and-whipped" design you can see on the left. It might be a bit too stiff for a bracelet, though, so I'm trying a few variations first before trying to do a whole jewellery pieces. Also, I'm not sure it looks that interesting, just doing this. Don't know. Nothing wrong with simple bracelets, but it's perhaps not the style I want to explore at the moment. But even if I scrap the idea, I'll keep the sample for future reference.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Meowy Mond... Tuesday!

I was so thrilled about having a properly working camera again yesterday that I forgot to post pics of my little sweethearts! So this week it's a Meowy Tuesday.

The theme of the day is a backlit Ullegull. A sometimes blurry Ullegull as we took these pics while the kittens were playing. Some of the pics -- like the first one above -- were taken by my sis, not me, as we alternated between being the photographer and the person luring the cats back in front of the camera with long straws of grass. Not all pics turned out great, but there's a lot of action in many of them.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Good camera news

I now officially have a new camera (not the one in the photo -- that's my old camera). Or, well, a new old camera. I found a used Konica Minolta Dimage Z5, which came with batteries and memory card so now I have three sets of batteries. I'm sure that despite that, I'll still find myself in a situation where my batteries die and I don't have any extra with me...

The Z5 is pretty much like the Z3, just a few minor differences in design and one more megapixel. One of the reasons I didn't buy a Z5 instead of a Z3 when getting my first digital camera was the price. My camera wasn't cheap, but this was way more expensive.

Anyway, I found a camera . And today I could pick it up. I've already tried it and it seems to work just fine. And it's black -- never did like that the shop only had silver/grey as the only option when I bought the Z3. Have to get used to the differences in menus and buttons, but I'm getting there. It's so similar to my beloved old camera that it shouldn't take too long to get used to it.

Ironically, I've tried several times to get the broken camera to work since it fell on the floor, but to no avail. After picking up my new Z5, I showed my mum the old camera (she claimed the new one was less clumpsy than the old, I claimed the size and shape was the same). I shook the camera to show it was broken. Then I used a lot of force to press the on button as I've tried so many time. And this time it turned on!

[Those of you who know the story of my "sleeping beauty" laptop might grin, hearing this. I'm not bad with technology, I promise I tried many times, many different days, and it wouldn't work no matter what I tried.]

However, it is falling to pieces and there's still that ugly nick in the lens since a previous accident when the camera fell from a table onto a chair -- with a box of rocks on it (I know...). So all in all, I'm glad to have a replacement camera. I'll keep the Z3 for emergencies or for those photos were I don't dare use a good camera (e.g. very near a water surface, out in the rain, during a snow storm -- you know, around elements that could damage a camera for good if you aren't careful). Will try to patch it up with duct tape or something. It doesn't have to look pretty. But it has to be done in a way so my "repair" won't block buttons or access to batteries and/or the memory card. Don't know what to do about the battery flap: there's a gap (and it's chipped in one place) so moisture might be a problem there... Not sure how to tape the back piece to the rest of the camera house either. Right now I can see the electronics on the inside and I don't think it's a good thing to use a camera when it's like that.

To have it somewhat professionally repair would probably cost as much as the new camera -- and I'd still have a damaged lens, causing blurs in the photos. So while it is really ironic that the camera would work now, I don't feel that I wasted money getting a replacement. Not for a second.

But I have to say this: Konica Minolta knew/know how to build cameras that last! Have heard horror stories of electronics that can't take the slightest bump -- and my camera has survived flying through the air, bouncing on a concrete floor. Too bad Konica Minolta doesn't do cameras anymore or I'd be such a loyal costumer of theirs forever, knowing what their cameras can put up with.

September bead soup palette

The bead palette of the month is an analogous mix of muted pinks and purples, pefect for elegant, sophisticatad jewellery. The bead choice -- Swarovski crystals and pearls -- add to the sense of luxury.

Satin is a perfect finish for those who prefer toned colours and that special vintage feel. Satin is a haematite grey finish and therefore it's not surprising that dark greys go well together with this mix -- as beads or as findings (e.g. gunmetal or oxidized clasp). If you want to add seeds, on tip could be to look for colour-lined black diamond/transparent grey, e.g. magenta-lined black diamond.

If the mix is too dark for you or you just want to add another colour, one option could be to add "antiqued gold"/brass ox and beige tones. Other options include muted earthy greens like olive and sage or a muted blue like montana or denim.

Below is an example using an "antique gold" toggle clasp and sand-lined crystal hex cuts.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sequin waste inspiration links

I thought that as I'm not doing anything worthwhile anyway today, I could take a few minutes hours to show some of the links I found when looking for sequin waste (a.k.a. punchinella) inspiration. This is pretty much just a random list of things stumbled over. Hope you can find something of interest in it!

Most of the examples -- well, more or less all of them -- use sequin waste with round hole as that's the most common type. You can however find sequin waste in all sorts of shapes. For examples of this, see e.g. Simply Sequins (there's also snowflake-shaped punchinella, but it's out of stock so it doesn't show up in that page -- see it here instead).


First, I just wanted to mention that if you haven't seen it already, you can find some seqiun waste pattern photos in my previous post on the subject. You can also read about what sequin waste or punchinella actually is there.

A good place to start is of cause Flickr, searching for either sequin waste or punchinella. Different names resulting in different search results. Tip: use quotation marks around "sequin waste" for more relevant hits.

Another almost just as good place to start is Pinterest, again search for either sequin waste or punchinella.

In fact, those two places alone will give you many ideas, ranging from printing and scrapbooking to hand embroidery and beadwork.

So far, my favourites are the ones using sequin waste in embroidery. Plenty of examples at Flickr, like this, this, this (bottom right corner) or this (beaded). Notice how some cut open the "centre" to create open flower motifs. More embroideries, using detached daisy stitch, can be found at Pintangle. There's also tiny fragments of sequin waste in the art squares at Taylor's textile trials.

A fabric postcard with sequin waste background and beads and button embellishments can be found at Judy Skeel's blog.

Edited to add: Forgot to mention the videos from Guache Alchemy. One video with 7 different ways of using sequin waste plus a bonus video using embossing and inking.

At Rare Bird, you can see sequin waste being used to create patterns in friendly plastic, e.g. for making necklace pendants. There it's sold as laser mesh. Another version, using two layers, can be seen in Liz Welch's blog here. And don't miss this one either. In this pic, you can see star-shaped sequin waste too. Both sequin waste and sequins in friendly plastic can be found in this post.

Even more pics of friendly plastic and punchinella can be found at Adrienne Wood's blog.

Sequin waste can also be used for weaving as seen e.g. in this preview of a book by Lillian Coppock. Another use for it in the book is for wirework fish, as you could see in that link. More weaving can be found at Julie's mixed media blog.

Mixing punchinella and modelling paste (used with acryclic paints) can result in lovely art pieces like these by Amy Dame.

There are plenty of examples of sequin waste being used as stencils on Flickr so I'm just going to mention JoZart's blog post, showing how she created a background for a concertina file. And some pastel-painted polymer clay at Deez News.

Apparently, it can also be used as a bird scare.


Your turn: have you used sequin waste before? How? Have you found something inspirational online or in books for using this stuff? What would you do with it?

Feel free to add links to pics and blog posts. Your own or other's.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Bead blog recap weeks 34-35

Since Manekis pärlblogg is back on the usual schedule again it means the biweekly summaries of what I write over there are back too. I started off the "autumn term" with everything from cute bead-embroidered dolls (don't miss those!), beaded brollies and painted rhinestone jewellery to french schools, odd jewellery supplies and jewellery-creating larvae.

There's a few contest tips too (as a heads up, there'll be the monthly design challenge summary and -- hopefully -- a giveaway next week so pop over so you don't miss a deadline between my posting there and doing a recap here).

Also, I've done a few design changes so if you haven't been over to my other blog in some time, you're welcome to take a look and give some feedback on the changes. More about that below.

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