Monday, June 28, 2010

Tutorial: Peyote stitched slide bead

I finished up this copper Viking wire woven necklace today. A friend asked me if I had a tutorial for the peyote stitched slide beads that I make to go with the wire weaving, and I didn't. But I took pictures as I was working today, so hopefully this will help. I found it was hard to take good pictures of such tiny beads!

First, I gathered my materials. I used 2 colors of Miyuke glass Delica beads. These are cylindrical in shape, and very regular. I put them in a watercolor dish while I was working. Scissors, a beading needle, and some Nymo thread rounded out the materials.

I put an even number of beads on my needle. I wanted just enough to go snugly around the wire chain of the necklace. In this case, that was 12 beads.

I ran my thread back through the beads again...

...and continued on through one more bead around.

When I pulled the resulting loop tight, it made a nice circle around the wire weaving. I left a 4-6 inch tail of thread, to weave in at the end of the project. Oh, I probably had a yard of thread that I was working with, so I didn't have to start a new thread part way through the project. The trade off in working with a long length of thread was that I had to deal with the working thread tangling. Running the thread over a chunk of bees wax helped.

Ok. I put one bead on my needle. I skipped one bead in the circle, and ran my needle through the next bead.

With a little convincing, the bead that I just added hopped on top of a bead in the previous row. I continued around the circle of beads in this way. Skip a bead, go through a bead. Skip a bead, go through a bead.

When I got back around to the beginning of the row, I had to 'step up'. I went through the last bead in the row below me, and then also through the first bead of the row I just finished. This is probably the hardest row in the whole project to complete.

The next row around cinches everything into place. Again, skip a bead, and go through a bead. When you get back to the beginning...

...your work should look something like this.

Now, I wanted to start the spiral pattern. Every other bead that I added in this next row was white instead of bronze.

In the next row, again every other bead was white.

After a few rows, I had a nice spiral developing.

I continued on with this spiral pattern until I had the slide bead just about as long as I wanted it, and switched back to all one color of beads. A couple of rows of solid color finished off the project.

I wove the remaining tail of thread back down and around into the beadwork, making tiny half hitches around the working threads. I tugged the knots into the beads to hide them. Then I went back and did the same to the tail end of thread that I had left at the other end.

And there I had it! A beaded bead.

I have used this same technique to make an entire necklace of beadwork, without the wire core. It makes a colorful, light weight, and flexible necklace.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wet felted purse, and an inkle woven band

I took some time today and finished up the red and black felt containers that my son and I made the other day. Well, yesterday he sewed the button and loop on his own, stuck his camera in it, and put it in his pocket. I think it has been there since, except when he is proudly showing it off. But I did the other two today.

The middle sized one is a great size for a blackberry. I sewed a fingerloop braid on it, and it will be going to its new owner tomorrow.

The big one, pictured above, took some thinking. I decided that it would make a good size for a casual little purse. The interior is 3" x 1" x 4 3/4", which is just the right size for some keys, money, ID, and a few other necessities. But I had to figure out what I wanted to do for a strap. I like my purses to hang over the shoulder and reach about to my waist. I haven't figure out how to do a finger loop braid quite that long. (I'll do a tutorial on finger loop braiding in a while, when I can get someone else to take pictures of my hands.)

My first thought was to weave an inkle band for the strap. So I grabbed some red and black cotton thread, made up a pattern, and warped up my loom. I'm liking how the band is turning out! is taking several hours to create the band. Longer than the body of the purse took, actually. If I were making this for myself, I might continue on. But I'd like to put this in the Etsy shop, and I'm thinking that nobody is going to want to more than double the price of the purse in order to have a hand woven strap. (If I'm wrong, I'd happily take custom orders!) So instead, I spun up some two ply yarn out of the same roving that I did the felting with, and then cabled three strands of it together. That did the trick. I hand sewed the cord onto the purse. It hangs 16" down from knot to purse, which puts it at just the right length for me.

I'll still finish up the inkle band, but I'll end up either using it for a different project (trim on a historical costume?), or I might list it in the Etsy shop on its own. I'll see how it turns out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

'This is America' Etsy Treasury

Treasury time! One of my felted camera cases was included in the 'This is America' Etsy treasury: . This one is a great grouping of Americana, including several beautiful native pieces.

I always am inspired and amazed at the breadth of talent that is showcased in these treasuries.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tutorial: Wet felted cell phone cases

I've been making wet felted camera, Blackberry, and cell phone cases recently. Today, I added a large size, that will be a good size for an evening purse. Here's the three different sizes:

My son wanted a case for his cell phone, so I taught him to make his own today. His is the smallest one in the picture above. And here's how he did it:

First, he took three sections of red wool roving, and pulled them open to spread them out.

Then he wrapped them around a river rock that was about a quarter again bigger than he wanted his finished product to be. The first layer wrapped longways, the second sideways, and the third longways again. He moved the fibers around so there were no bare spots, then put wisps of black wool roving around the outside for decoration.

Then I helped him wrap the rock and wool bundle into the cut off leg of a pair of nylons.

We went outside for the messy part. We got two bowls of hot water, and put a squirt of dish soap into one of them. He soaked his bundle in the soapy water.

Then he threw the bundle back and forth between his hands until the fibers started to migrate through the nylons. At that point, he carefully peeled the nylons off. The surface of the felt had started to hold together.

He put a squirt of soap on his hands to keep the fibers from sticking to them, and started carefully throwing the felt back and forth between his hands. Gradually, he could use more force. Eventually, much of the 'squish' had disappeared, and the felt was holding together and shrinking down around the rock.

At this point, he decided which way was up, and which was the front of his case. He cut halfway around the rock in a straight line, about 2/3 of the way up the front of his case.

He slipped the rock out...

...and put in a smaller piece of slate that was the size that he wanted the inside of the finished case to be. (I also use blocks of wood cut to the right size.)

Then he dunked the case in hot soapy water again, and molded the felt to the slate with his hands. Once things were in place, it was time for the final felting. He threw the case back and forth between his hands for some of it.

Rubbing the case up and down a washboard helped to shrink and form the felt as well.

And after an hour or so of work, he had a case!

At this point, it is sitting in the window drying. Tomorrow we can add a button and loop closure.

I'm experimenting with straps, and with clips for the back, so these can be used as purses or belt pouches. But I have one that I made several years ago, that has been living in my front pocket as a digital camera case ever since. They wear like iron!

Congratulations, Kevin! Nice job.

Friday, June 18, 2010

One more gourd, and destashing with an SCA event

One more gourd. I'm so pleased with this one! This is the first time I've broken into the blue leather dyes, but it won't be the last. I love how the white pops against the blue. Gourd bowl, leather dye, waxed linen teneriffe weaving, a button, and some blue chevron beads. All the triangle patterns in the weaving were inspired by the beads. I wove until the wee hours of last night, then got up and took the pictures today. It is listed here, if you want to see more pictures:

And now, I've cleaned up the gourd making mess for awhile. I got a box full of sock yarn in the mail yesterday, and also picked up yarn for another triloom shawl. Next week will be a fibery kind of week.

This weekend though...tomorrow I have an SCA event I'll be going to, called 'Fabric War'. Everyone digs through their stash of fabric, yarn, trim, etc, and brings the stuff that they don't see themselves using any time soon. Then we all set up tables, and trade like crazy! I figure I win if I go home with less mass than I brought with me. I hope so--this year I've got 3 boxes full of fabric, about half a dozen fleeces, two bins of gourds, a small box of trim, buttons, sewing notions, patterns...and you can't even tell that I've taken anything out of my studio. Ok, the fabric, gourds, and fleece were out in the storage shed, but that still looks jam packed too! There is no way I could get to all this stuff in the next several years, let alone the stuff that I am keeping.

I am a fiber breathing dragon. And yes, I have a hoard!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More gourds

Here in Phoenix, AZ, we have cliff swallows that build their nests under bridges and overpasses, and on buildings. They also build in cliffs in the wild, but are adaptable birds. I love to see them swooping around when I drive by. The gourd vase that I finished up yesterday was inspired by them. I traced images of the birds in flight, and transferred them onto the gourd with wood burning. Then I added layers of leather dye, and a rim treatment of waxed linen. I'm pleased with how it turned out.

And now, I'm working on another lidded bowl, with teneriffe weaving. This is the first time I used some of the blue leather dyes, and I'm happy with the colors. I've got the gourd cleaned and dyed, and the basic web strung for the weaving. Tomorrow will be the freeform fun part! I've got purple, tan, blue, and black waxed linen. I don't really have a plan--just a general outline that I'll play with as the mood strikes me. It will be interesting to see what develops.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Natural dye experiment: Dodder

My husband and I went on a road trip this past weekend, just the two of us. Every now and again, it is good to get away for some focused two-time, away from all the things that pull us in so many directions. Anyway, we were heading back home today, and ended up at a gas station in Globe, AZ to buy some ice. While we were there, a plant caught my eye. It looked sort of like a plant that folks had described at the dye retreat that I went to just awhile ago. So I grabbed a bag, and my husband and I harvested some.

The plant is dodder, or golden thread, and is a parasite listed as a restricted noxious weed in Arizona (which means I had no qualms about removing some from the roadside.) There are actually 17 different varieties of dodder in Arizona, so I'm not sure which one this is. ( Dodder seedlings find a host plant, then twine up and attach themselves, losing their roots and taking all their nutrients from their host plant.

We headed home, and I weighed our harvest at about 12 1/2 oz of fresh plant.

I pulled out the pot that I use just for dyeing, and covered the whole mess with water and started it to simmering.

Then, I pulled out my spinning wheel, and some finn/mohair blend roving that I had on hand. I spun up a bobbin full of yarn.

I didn't feel like spending the time to spin a second bobbin full of yarn, so I Navajo plied the singles, chaining them into a 3-ply yarn. This was my first time doing this, so it was a little lumpy bumpy in places. But by the end of the skein I was getting the hang of it.

After about an hour, I had a skein of yarn ready to go. So I pulled some of the liquid out of the dye pot, and added 3 tsp of alum to it. (No, I don't know how much I should have added. I was winging it.) I stirred it around, and added the liquid back to the pot.

Then I put the yarn in, and simmered it for about 15 minutes while I cleaned up my mess. At this point, the family was going out for the evening. I just turned the heat off under the pot, and let the yarn sit until we got back about 4 hours later.

And this is the result! A bright yellow, with a green undertone. There is still quite a bit of color in the pot, so I've set the whole thing on the back patio (with lid on) until I can get back to it. But I'm really kind of tickled by the day's experiment. It is amazing the treasures that are hidden on the roadside!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gourd with Teneriffe Weaving

I finished up the gourd last night, in the wee hours of the morning. The weaving is kind of addicting--once I get started, I don't want to stop!

The finished gourd is 9 1/4" x 6 1/4". It has been decorated with leather dye, waxed linen, wooden beads, and a wooden button. The weaving is done in a free-form teneriffe pattern. The colors and techniques give this piece a SouthWest US flair, but with a modern feel. Here's some pictures:

This is Gourd #13, and will be signed and numbered. It will be up in the Etsy shop before too long.