Monday, 30 September 2013

Meowy Monday: Cat photos of the week

Not counting when I wrote about Mini, I haven't made a cat post all month. Because it would be too sad to do the first Meowy Monday in ages about Mini, I picked out some recent photos of a tired Figge.

And, lastly, a photo of when he first heard me pick up the camera. Then he got back to sleep so I could take some photos of the cute, sleepy sweetie.

September bead soup palettes

Just before september turns into october, I got a monthly colour palette together. Didn't think I could manage so first I just threw something together from an old photo illustrating a post on using multi-coloured thread in beading (as seen here), but then I made this palette. As I didn't want to waste a photo I thus ended up with two palettes for a month that looked like it would have to make due with none.

Both palettes are very autumnal, perhaps because I feel wistful about missing many of the beautiful, sunny september days while being too ill to enjoy them (ironically I'm writing this with the sun shining on a blue sky outside the window *embarrassed*). The basic theme was green and red(ish) as so much of nature and in the gardens are turning into that colourway: the apple trees, rowans, swedish whitebeams (oxel), virginia creeper, himalayan balsam etc -- and soon even more will follow like the aronia and the japanese maple.

For this, my second palette that you can see above, I just picked up three of the six shades of the new luminous delicas that I couldn't manage to avoid buying some time ago. Three earthy, autumnal colours.

My original, just-something-I-whipped-together palette focused wholly on thread. More specifically, it was all about this space-dyed braided silk thread from Stef Francis (may remember if from the Challenge of Travel reveal). The colours can easily be changed by using lightly coloured transparent beads instead of clear beads. Topaz yellow hues will add a warm autumnal tint to the colours while black diamond (transparent grey) will add a dark antiqued colour.

These are two rather different palettes, but to me both speak of september. The latter palette is more about apple trees; green leaves mixing with green and rose-to-red apples (matte waxy apples can look more rose than red). The former is more about changing leaves with its earthy, warm hues. Now, for that autumn forest feel, you might need to add some stronger colours too (brown, red, yellow, even green). This is a very soft palette, but I like it that way too.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Sequintastic September 2013

It's finally here, my sequintastic post. Many things have come in the way. First I was ill and unable to dedicate much time to creating, then I almost forgot about the hop because I was ill for so long and then yesterday I got the dates mixed up so while I had taken all the photos, I never got as far as culling, editing and writing a post about it. But now it's finally here!

Because I was unable to make a finished piece, but really didn't want to withdraw from two blog hops in a row (had to bow out of the cabochon challenge), I figured I'd instead write a bit about what I'm doing right now. At the moment I'm at the planning stage, sketching on a bead embroidery piece using some of my newest sequin flowers. Not yet having decided on a design, it's all been about trying to combine the different components in various ways to find something I like. Below you will see glimpses from this creative process.

(By the way, I don't know how the photos look on your monitors, but for some reason the white backgrounds change colour on my monitor when I upload them to Blogger. Really annoying and I only hope it doesn't look as bad on your computer as it does on mine...)

The first thing I did was to gather the beads and sequins I wanted to use for my design. I started with the flowers and then the beads pretty much added themselves. They were bought on a separate occasion and never really intended to be used with the sequins. The baroque seed beads from Miyuki were bought because they were new and I was dying to see them IRL. Chose the three colours I liked the best and two of them just happened to match the flowers. Similar thing with the twisted bugle beads. I never used that kind of beads, but I was curious about the gold antiqued matte finish and I could only find that in this bead type. Again, just a coincidence that they happened to go with the flowers and pearlescent big seeds. Lastly, I added the dark leaf sequins (purchased the same time as the flowers).

The beads picked themselves you might say. But now the question was what to do with this mix of components. First I just began by combining them in simple designs that would work just as well as strung or linked jewellery as embroidery borders. After all, just because I want to embroider doesn't mean the components want something else.

My first ideas for Sequintastic September when I signed up had been about using the flowers for a simple but cute necklace. While it was now set aside for this new idea about an embroidery (of some sort), I still wanted to test a few design ideas. And as said above, they could also work in an embroidery.

Sidestepping the chronology I'm trying to follow in this post, I also ended up testing what the flowers would look like doubled. Something I didn't think about before doing the experiments below where the sequins ended up nestled in one another.

I also had to test what the baroques would look like as flower centres. An idea that popped up pretty much for the same reason as above. The beads tried it themselves first. They are a tad too big, though. Unless flower is transformed into a ring of sepals and the baroque bead becomes a berry. Like, say, herb paris (Paris quadrifolia, ormbär). The first version would be great for something like that, though perhaps with another, more round, bead.

After the first little tests of combining components in different ways, it was onto thinking about the over all design. I had no idea what I wanted to actually do beyond using the flowers and then add matching beads to support them. So what do you do after you've poured out all the sequins and beads for a "group shot" (see initial photo)? Well, why not just mix them up and play with them?

I scooped them up, poured them out and took photos from different angles. Then I mixed them and spread them out in a new way, took more photos and repeated.

 I had taken a brown beading foundation and "antique gold" tulle with me and I tried the beads on that as well as on the white photo background. Unfortunately, the tulle didn't really feel as golden and metallic as I wanted against the sequins and beads. This photo session wasn't just about finding inspiration for my design, it also taught me I have to find another foundation to bead on. One that will truly complement the components as this looks like a bead embroidery where the surface isn't encrusted with beads/sequins but one where the surface will be an important and visible part of the design.

Maybe it's the autumnal colours, maybe it's the season -- or maybe it's because I often want things ordered and tend to lean towards that even in my creative work whether I like it or not -- but I fell for the "forest debris" look. Beads in layers, flowers and bugles tumbling around freely. It does however pose a big challenge for me: how to I keep this look once I start beading, knowing my subconscious urge to order and sort everything in neat groups and lines? This is a mild chaos without any deliberate pattern. Easy to do when mixing and pouring out the beads/sequins on the table, but harder to keep when stitching each piece onto a foundation. One by one they might want to line up neatly instead of lying on top of each other and fight for the same space. Those initial simple designs would be oh so easy to make, but this feels really hard to recreate. 

While the photo/design session didn't result in a fully formed plan or even a sketch, it did give me many ideas about how to use the flower sequins and also some general ideas for other, future embroideries. And of cause it was also fun and relaxing to just play around with the sequins and beads like this. With a camera by the side it's easy to capture different stages of the "play session" for future reference -- and the photos in themselves can become the result, the artwork (especially if they're better quality than mine; bad light sources and quick editing makes for poor photos). Even if I end up doing something way different, I also have these ideas captured in images for me to enjoy.


That was all from me. Thank you so much for stopping by (perhaps for a second time even as I didn't have my reveal up in time)! I hope you have enjoyed it. Now be sure to visit the other Sequintastic September participants too!

List of Sequintastic September participants

Blog hop participants without blog share they creations here.

Sequintastic September post delayed

Looking for my post for today's Sequintastic September blog hop? Well, how can I put this... I forgot, or rather got the dates mixed up and I happened to be away today so there hasn't been time to fix it by doing my post last minute. I do hope to have a post up later today (unless I fall asleep first) so please bear with me and if you're hopping I'd really appreciate it if you could take the time and come back later so I can share some sequin love with you. Thanks for understanding that things like this can happen and I'm sorry you came here just to find this note.

Promise you'll soon find some sequin eye candy here!

PS! If you need some sequins to look at right now, please feel free to browse the blog's sequin label for some old posts, including my post for the previous Sequintastic September.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Marbled bezels and eye shadow cabs

I'm back into blogging now, feeling a lot better than just a week ago. Pretty much recovered fully now -- unlike how I was when making the two bezels (to be covered with clear cabs or glass tiles) above. They are actually failed, but I do really like the look of them nonetheless, especially the round one. Adding a cab/tile over the paint will also enhance the look, not least of the oval bezel.

The failure lies in the fact that I used Fantasy paints, but being ill on the evening I made them, I probably didn't stir them properly and I ended up really marbling the paints, which might be the main reason why the paints didn't behave as they should.

(By the way, anyone out there that knows why the image background is white in PicMonkey, but takes on a blueish tint when I upload it to Blogger? Or is it just my monitor?) [Problem solved: it was a change in Picasa, where blogger pics are uploaded, that I wasn't aware of, which autocorrected photos -- in this case making them worse. I fixed the setting and the pics are as they should.]

This is a cab I made before I got ill, about the same time I made the Pébéo Fantasy paint tests. It's made by painting a mix of acrylic medium and loose powder eye-shadow (essentially mica powder) on the back of the clear glass cabochon. I then covered it with magenta acrylic paint for a more opaque background that intensifies the burgundy mica powder.

Unfortunately, I made the biggest mistake you can do when painting: forgetting to let the first layer of paint dry fully before doing any touching up or painting a second layer. Because of that there's blot of non-shimmering magenta. Not that easy to see in the photos, but very visible IRL. Still, I really like the colour, shimmer and depth of the painted cab so I'm keeping it like this. At least at the moment, perhaps I'll scrape it all of and redo it some day.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Just a quick note

UPDATE: Forgot to say thank you everyone who has commented on the news of Mini's passing, it's been very appreciated! He sure was feisty and almost drove some of our other loved cats away, but still he was our beloved little kitten at heart. Also, thanks for you comments on the blog hop -- still have more than a third to go but I'll get around sooner or later!

I just wanted to say something about how things are with me in case I've seemed down for the count. I'm still ill. Got to the doctor on late friday afternoon and after seeing my test results he immediately put me on penicillin (now, depending on what country you live in that might mean nothing, but in Sweden doctors are very aware of the resistance issues and do not prescribe stuff like that without good cause). Took my first pill that night, but still waiting for the magic to happen -- and I don't mean what penicillin apparently do to my stomach (never been on it before).

Anyway, not being able to sleep a whole night due to cough and not having been able to eat normally since last wednesday I'm really feeling tired and weak now. And just like I'm having a major cold but with the mucus all in my airways instead of  nose (yuck). I thought the former was bad, now I know better! At least then you can reroute the oxygen intake so to speak, skip the nose, and it stops at night. Coughing is almost the other way around. My favourite thing to do when ill, be it a headache or upset stomache or cold or whatever, is to sleep it off. Now I can't to that. The sleep-on-your-back-and-losen-every-muscle routine that's fab with a headache causes me to cough these days.

So I'm really hoping this little miracle of a medicine, penicillin, will help me soon. Right now it's up and down and I feel better in the morning than in the evening. It might just be a silly little bug, but it sure knocked me right out, leaving me tired and unbalanced (a few hours ago I cried watching Time Team as they found neonat burials -- and then again when the coast guards in Alaska rescued a bunch of people in horrible weather -- I'm misty-eyed but this was just beyond even my normal standard). And don't even ask what happened when I fed the cats yesterday, unable to heard them with my special food chant. I can't do sing-song shouts now, which not only tell the cats it's dinner time, but also call them back from places they aren't allowed. Very frustrating. So very frustrating, especially when no one else offers to help out.

All in all, I'm really not up to being social right now or ever being online asocially. Depending on how much of a fight this bug will put up, I'm not sure how much e-mail, blog or any other time I'll muster with. If there's no update on Manekis Pärlblogg on Thursday it's because I only got to wednesday before it got all too much. No post on thursday shouldn't be alarming, just means I messed up a schedule post saying the blog is on hold due to health issues. Doesn't mean I'm doing worse, just that I'm still not back where I want to be yet.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sad cat news again

While Ubbi is doing better than ever, a misfortune rarely comes alone. Today, my sis and I had to bury one of our oldest cats, Minimuss (named after a cat we had had called Mini). Now Mimi is the only remaining cat from their litter of five.

We discovered Mini was missing on tuesday night. It isn't unusual for our cats to be gone a whole day if the weather is good and had this been, say, two years ago or more I wouldn't have worried. Mini was good at taking care of him self, but these last years it's become more and more evident that he was getting old and after an illness he didn't ever fully recover. Lately it was even getting hard for him to jump up on our bed and in through the window our cats use as a cat flap. And the hot days this summer were very hard on him. He used to be so vigorous, but the last two years and especially the last year, he rarely even left the yard. And mean Mini who hated all young cats and was a My Cat from Hell candidate, became sweet, peaceful and cuddly Mini. He was getting old and his general health wasn't making things better -- after all, Mimi is just as old but much more like her old self, not marked by ailments. I knew it was a matter of time, but I still thought it was a matter of years. Not many, but still more than this.

We didn't find Mini when first looking for him. Now, both me and my sis are ill so many we were just too tired to spot him, too weak to make a thorough investigation on the spot. But it isn't sure it would've helped. When my sis did find him his body showed signs of having been dead for some time. Perhaps he wandered off to find a secluded space already on monday night or on tuesday morning when we weren't home. It's all just so horrible, thinking of him dying all alone. I know cats sometimes do that, but it's been very long since anyone did that here. His brother for example, defied everything to get home to us when he was dying. Barely concious and beyond help, at least he didn't have to die alone and pestered by flies. Mini died alone, covered in dew under the wild raspberry bushes. There's a spot by the bushes, against the barn wall and facing the morning sun, where some of the cats, especially the older cats, like to rest. I hate to think that maybe he got out at night and was then too weak to get back in and went there to get some cover from the dampness. The days are reasonably warm, tuesday was summer warm, but the nights can be cool and dewy, sometimes even with some drizzle.

I wish I could think of something beautiful to say about him, but the truth is that after not having been able to sleep for a whole night this week due to cough and chills/overheating I can't find words, my brain is wrapped in cotton. It's like I can't even really take in that he's dead despite having seen his body. I will save some photos of Mini for a Meowy Monday and hope to have something better to say about him then.


Above is one of my last photos of Mini -- he wasn't much for posing so we don't have that many pics of him -- and below is one from his youth. You can read the story behind the photo here. I didn't have a camera when they were born so there's a limited number of photos from when they were kittens too.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pébéo Fantasy test pieces

I thought I'd better blog about this before forgetting about it. As you can see, there's two more pieces than in the sneak peek posted here. As mentioned in that post, the paint comes with instructions just must follow to the letter in order to get the effects you want so therefore I thought this post would start with my first pieces, which all failed, and tell you what I did wrong.

The first fault I did was not paying attention to the instructions saying mix well. I just shook the bottle and stirred the knitting stick (for applying the paint) around the bottle once. That's usually enough with ordinary paint, but this isn't ordinary paint and you really, really need to stir well as the effects won't appear if the paint isn't mixed properly.

The second fault was taking the next set of instructions lightly. Flat, horizontal surface means that and not just something sort of horizontal and flat-ish. I wanted to paint the bottom of a cab. To keep it horizontal I fixed it onto the table using Tack-It (häftmassa) and moved the cab until it seemed to be horizontal. It wasn't 100 % so and therefore the paint slowly, slowly moved to one side, which ruined the possibility for the patterns to emerge.

The third fault I made was forgetting how slowly the paint dries and thus making the very first piece, the round bronze tag, on an impromptu worktable. When moving it, the charm got rolled over by a paint syringe, got knocked into the wall of the cardboard box and then, finally, was dropped on the floor. You need to work on a table or other space where you can leave the pieces untouched until they harden. And don't pick them up just because you want to look at them more closely, even if they've been drying for two hours. I did that with the piece below and accidentally put my thumb in the bezel, ruining the paint (which was one of my first successful pieces) and having to redo it....

same bezel with glass cab

So far you can see that I've tried adding paint both directly to a cab and to a bezel covered by a cab. You really should do the latter and I'll explain why. First look what happens when I flip the big glass cab from the photo at the beginning of this post:

Whatever pattern there is on the surface won't be on the bottom. When painting the back of transparent glass cabs, it's the bottom of the paint you will see once the cab is being used. It's at least a small comfort that the Fantasy paints have a mica shimmer that makes them nice to look at even when you fail to get the effects desired. These two cabs are still useful even if they're so far from what I wanted to make.

One last fail, which I don't really see as a fail is what Cookson Gold in their tutorial call an amalgamated effect: if you wait too long (like, a minute or two) to add a second or third colour, the new colour will be engulfed by the first one and the result will either be a marbled look (bracelet) or just one colour on top of the other (copper connector). If filling multiple bezels it's better to add all colours to one bezel before moving over to the next. Pébéo doesn't tell you that on the package so be sure to remember this!

But enough with failures -- I've had some very successful results too! And for every failed piece (almost) I've learned something.

These two glass pebbles -- that I made before realising cab painting was a dead end -- might not look very special, but I'm including them as they were my first two successful attempts at using Prisme. You can see the front of the eggshell white and purple cab above.

For most of my tests I've been using 2x2 cm glass mosaic. They're a good, handy size and will hopefully be very useful and versatile when it comes to actually doing something with them. In the samples above I've used two colours in each (except in the apricot tile in the middle of the top row), mixing Prisme with Prisme, Prisme with Moon or Moon with Moon. The only real flop was the red one in the upper right corner: the lighter red in the centre is Prisme, which should've turned bubbly as in the rest of the samples.

I've also filled both tags (need to be careful moving those) and bezels. Here are two examples of that, both using two colours of Prisme and as you can see they've fused together on the brass round in a way they didn't do in the bezel (part of a bangle).

My final samples are both made using Vintaj brass tags. In the first one I mixed three colours of Prisme. Nothing fancy, really. In the second piece I wanted to see what happened when you have a relief. As you need a horizontal, flat surface would the paint migrate from the relief (in this case decoupaged thin cardboard leaves)? Except for the edges, the paint did cover the embellishment well, though I'm not sure it was a good idea to paint on a sealed pendant considering the Fantasy paints are solvent based. Not sure if that explains the lack of pattern in the Moon paint or not.

Now, when I say that the paint is dynamic and moves, it doesn't just mean that it'll flow on a surface that isn't horizontal. It means that the paint changes, morphs during the time it takes for it to harden. The patterns develop up until the paint is dry, meaning the results are unpredicatable. A fun surprise. Below is a photo I took of the pendant above just two hours or so after applying the paint (never occurred to me to snap one right after dripping the paints on the charm). Notice the differences, both in pattern and the proportion between the colours. (The harsh shimmer, however, is due to the artificial light and camera flash as this photo is taken indoors at night.)

It's not a paint for control freaks -- but for everyone who loves unpredictable results and find morphing paints exciting, it's heaven!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Peek at Pébéo

I'm blog hopping today (Challenge of Travel) and waiting for the Pébéo Fantasy paints to cure fully before taking photos, but I just had to post a little sneak peek of my first try at these paints.

This is what you can see on my worktable right now, hidden under a plate to dust, paws and fingers from the drying paint. A couple of the first test pieces failed miserably as I didn't adhere to the instructions well enough (flat, horizontal surfaces really means flat, horizontal surfaces, not somewhat horizontal and mix well doesn't just mean shake the bottle), but the good thing is that the paints have such pretty colours even failed pieces look nice and usable.

As with all effect paints there's a little learning curve and you need to read -- and follow -- the instructions in order to succeed, but it's such fun paints to play with that it's well worth it! I got back down to the bead room more than once because I just had to make one more. And then, later, I went back several times just to look at the paint. It's like the paint's alive, it grows and moves and you can't be really sure what the finished result will look like. It might just be my bad newbie technique, but when mixing colours the final result is always different from how I envisioned it. In a good way, a very good way.

Be warned, though: painting a piece goes fast -- especially if combining colours as you have to do it right away to avoid the amalgamated effect seen in the bracelet -- but the paint dries slooowly (and hardens fully first after 72 hours) and it's easy to be tempted to pick up the piece and look at it before it's dry. Don't! I did, fumbled and put my thumb in the copper bezel on the left... Nothing to do, but wipe it clean and do it all over again... Lesson learned -- admire them on the table the first and do not touch until after at least 6 hours (2 hours for Moon and 6 for Prisme to dry on the surface according to Pébéo, others say 24 hours), but preferably more just to be on the safe side. 12-24 hours before touching the paint surface is probably a good rule of thumb.

But this isn't the post for paint tips. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at my first experiments and what I learned from it!
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