Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I never knew my grandmother Amanda. She passed on when my father was a youth. I like to think she was a vibrant part of the Edwardian Era ...a glorious Gibson girl, next door variety. What little I do know of her is that she was a widowed single mother, raising her four young children in difficult times. She was a teacher, and liked to write poetry. She had a love of fine things, yet appreciated the simple life that escaping to the mountains and nature made possible. 

Life was hard back in the early 1900's. People still pumped water from wells and used outhouses. Lighting in the home was often from kerosene lamps that cast a soft glow. Cooking was done on wood-fire iron stoves that heated a tank of water for washing and cleaning, and provided heat for the home in winter. Amanda met it all head-on valiantly and gracefully. Over the years, I have cherished two things that belonged to her: her wedding dress, and an old fine-silver letter opener with a beautiful mother-of-pearl blade. The dress is pale gray silk chiffon with beautiful needle lace trim at the neck and sleeves. It appears too have been home-sewn by a fairly skilled seamstress.  Sadly, it is deteriorating with stains and holes sprinkled throughout because of years of abuse in a wooden chest alongside mouse nests before I rescued it. The letter opener had not fared well either.  It was broken at the blade/handle join long before I ever laid eyes on it. Even so, someone must have seen the beauty in it, choosing to save it rather than throw it out.

Over time, and especially the past year, I have been holding ideas for creating a number of remembrances and jewelry, that build in my own mind what Amanda might have been like. This is the first in a series of remembrances, creations that honor my grandmother. The pendant was cut from the end of the old letter opener she once used. I added silver beads to an old chain, and pearl and rhinestone dangles from the bell. Somewhere in the mix I added an antique button and tied in a tiny scrap of the wedding gown. I plan to create several more chains with faceted crystals beads, ribbon, and other beautiful things added to layer with this, even though it can certainly be worn alone. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kicking Off the New Year

It's time to make good on those New Year resolution lists again.  I think I really needed a few pieces of paper this go 'round.  There are so many things that didn't get done last year, and they are nagging at me.  Then, there are a whole lot of new things that I want to do.  The excitement of starting and completing projects keeps me juiced.  The ones that do not get done really drag me down.  So, Resolution #1:  Finish what you start.  High on the list is the chair swing.  The fanged critter that was eating my branch, lost the battle of the plastic bag that I encased it in, and after a few weeks of working on it, that branch is so beautiful.  I learned that it really is a good idea to de-bark  the branch when it is freshly cut.  The bark will peal right off.  Since this was over a year old, the inner bark was really hard to sand off.  It was quite tough.  The swing part has been ready to attach, and I am gathering up courage to drill holes through the branch to mount and hold the swing in place.  I'll keep you posted on that.

 In spite of my UFO pile, I have not been totally slacking.  ...Just in a slower mode.  Now this will show you all the jewelry projects that I had planned for gift giving.  All those little plastic trays once held frozen dinners. There are eleven shown there, and not all of them were even started.  I had dreams of wrap bracelets for one of my sons and grandson, of leather and chain and a stamped plate with my grandson's racing number on it.  When it came time to start, I decided the chain was too shiny and refined for what I had in mind.  That idea was scrapped for the time being!  Anyway, I put all the components that seem to want to go together into a tray and then work from that.  All my projects took unexpected turns.  Rose quartz nuggets that were to become a multi-strand bracelet for my granddaughter didn't look right and were replaced with strands of pearls connected rosary style and clasped with an old rhinestone earring.  I have no photo because I was right down to the wire with finishing it, and was bagging it as she came in the door.  Although I am a "last-minute" person, that was a little ridiculous.   These are bracelets that went to my "daughters" (one is a son's girlfriend.)  In the fist one, I flattened a button and made a few fabric beads to jazz it up.  In the second one, I hand twisted silver wire to do the clasp.  I love that mother-of-pearl focal.  In the last one, I made use of a Chinese coin relic that is about 2" in diameter, and twisted some fabric rope to be a very simple bracelet.  I love the look of this one by itself and with the separate bangle I made to be worn with it.