Friday, August 31, 2012

Flower Brooches - On Trend Fall 2012

I had a great time at Leon & Lulu's Artists' Market on August 26 and 28.  Below you can see some photos from my "space" there. It is, bar none, the most amazing store I've ever been in -- in terms of both merchandise and atmosphere.

Just before the market, I created some new flower brooches (pictured in the second photo below).  They attracted quite a bit of favorable attention and I sold one of them.

As I discussed in last week's post, I really like to search through remnants in fabric stores and pick up interesting pieces.  These flower brooches are also a result of my fabric remnant stockpiling.  They're made by cutting long thin strips of fabric and then pulling up loops of that fabric through a circular burlap base.  I work in a spiral pattern until I fill in a circle.  I added beaded stamens in the center of each piece and created  leaves using ribbon embroidered with metallic thread.

It is best to use fabric where the dye permeates both sides of the cloth.  Batiked cotton fabric (seen in the centers of the first and third flowers above, seemed to work particularly well.  The basic idea for these brooches came from Felt, Fabric, and Fiber Jewelry: 20 Projects to Bead, Stitch, Knot and Braid by Sherri Haab.

Subsequent to the Artists' Market, I learned that flower brooches, and large brooches in general, are actually  "on trend' this Fall.  So, I thought I would try creating another type of flower brooch; this time crocheted with yarn.  I'd also purchased some WireLace, Italian ribbon, which I had never used before.  Very cool stuff!  It comes in many colors and a variety of widths.  It features a very delicate wire mesh that is formed into a flattened tube.  It can be expanded and stretched, or you can work with it like you would cord or ribbon, or you can place beads within the tube -- versatile material. After playing with it for a while, I decided to use some to form the center of the crocheted flower brooch and then added beaded stamens.

I'm hoping to expand my brooch selection in the next few months.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New "Tulle" for Crocheting Accessories -- Like this Colorful Flower Cuff

Whenever I find myself in JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby, I always look in the fabric salvage bin to see what remnants they have for sale. It's a great way to get amazing fabric pieces for rock-bottom prices.  I like to have them on hand to use for linings for bags, or other projects where I may need a smaller-size piece of fabric.  Over time, I've gathered remnants of tulle in a variety of colors.  I am partial to tulle -- maybe because of my unfulfilled desire to be take ballet lessons and wear a tutu as a child.  Anyway, I've collected this rainbow of tulle remnants and was trying to think of a use for them.  I thought about trying to create some kind of flower and experimented with a few things, but wasn't happy.

Then I cut come tulle into strips and tried crocheting with it.  Surprise! Surprise!  I really liked the effect.  I decided to come up with a design for a cuff utilizing tulle crochet.

I used a ribbon yarn (Lion Brand's Incredible) and crocheted two strips of proper length to fit around the wrist.  The ribbon yarn has some stretch to it when crocheted.  I used a row of single crochet and a row of double crochet to create each strip.

I then cut multiple long strips of brown and red tulle, about 1/2 inch wide. Holding the two ribbon crocheted pieces together with right sides facing, I took two strips of tulle (one of each color) and used it to slip stitch the ribbon crocheted pieces together along their long edges.  I made sure the single crocheted rows were on the outer edges; the slip stitched tulle joining the double-crocheted rows down the middle.

I used the tulle strips (using one brown and one red together) to crochet a ruffle along the long edges of the cuff.  I placed three single crochets in each stitch of the foundation chain on each side to get the ruffle effect.  I slip stitched along the short edges with the tulle strips to give them a more finished appearance.

I created the beaded flower motif as the focal element for the cuff by crocheting a flower using deep brown, red, and natural cooper 30-gauge wire.  I strung beads onto the wire before beginning to use as I crocheted the center, trying to feature shades that would highlight the colors in the ribbon yarn. I wove a thin strand of metallic braid in blue/green through the chain stitch of the petals to make them more visible against the ribbon.

Finally, I added snaps to close the cuff.  And the cuff was complete.

 I will be looking for new and interesting ways to use my tulle remnants in the future.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Artists' Market at Leon & Lulu's - August 26 & 28

Gossamer Tangles will be participating in the Artists' Market at Leon & Lulu's on August 26 and 28.  Directions can be found on the store website.  It is a really fun venue!  Yummy snacks, entertainment, beautiful stuff to look at -- all for a great cause. Hope to see you there.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Design by Error and Trial

Usually, when I create a new piece of jewelry or an accessory, I have the design pretty well figured out in my head.  Sometimes I make a sketch.  Sometimes, before I start, I try a couple of new stitch or bead ideas to see if they will work.  When I created my Opalescent Wire, Fiber, and Bead Circle Pendant Necklace this week, the design process was, unexpectedly, much different from the "usual".  I had in mind to create a pair of earrings, featuring crochet covered rings with a beaded edge.   I would create an abstract design in the center of each open ring, using beads and the same fiber used to crochet around the ring.  I would then attach the rings to silver posts by using a beaded strand loop. Sounded fairly simple.  Something different for me.

I then chose the white plastic rings I wanted to use for the earrings and I chose a multi-strand metallic embroidery thread in a shade called "Opalescence" to crochet around the rings.  I also chose some complementary glass beads.  After I crocheted around the first ring and added the beaded edge, I realized two things: (1) I had drastically underestimated the amount of thread it would take to cover each ring and did not have enough to do the second ring; and (2) the ring, once covered, looked too large and thick to make a suitable earring (at least in my opinion).  But, I really loved the way the ring looked, covered in crochet and with the beads along the edge, and I also really loved the colors -- sort of an iridescent shimmering blend of mauve, gray, blue, silver, lavender, rose, and a hint of gold.

There was a multi-strand tail of the thread left where I had finished the crochet at the edge of the ring, about 8 inches long.  It struck me that this could be worked into a beaded tassel hanging from the ring.  In fact, it would make a great pendant for a necklace.

This led to a total re-think of the design.  What would I attach the pendant to?  I thought about creating a single chain with beads, but it didn't seem substantial enough for the pendant idea. I liked the idea of multiple strands, done in the opalescent colors of the original thread. That, however, then raised the question of  how I would attach the pendant.  It would look strange attached to just one strand.  I considered running all the strands through the center of the ring, but it just didn't look right in my imaginary view of the finished product.  I thought that I could use a bail, but the opening at the top of the bail would not be able to accommodate all the strands.  This in turn, let to my decision to create the crocheted wire band, with a loop at the bottom to which the bail could be attached, with the other end attached to the ring pendant.

The most enjoyment came in choosing the wire, fiber, and beads to keep the opalescent color theme going throughout the piece.  Once I'd finished the strands, I considered whether I should still fill in the center of the pendant ring with the abstract beaded design I had planned for the earrings, but I thought it would just be too busy.  With the multiple strands of differing design in the necklace, the addition of more strands and beads within the open ring would have been overwhelming.  So, I decided to leave the simple, open circle as the focal point.

Here is the result of my "earring design gone wrong":

I was happy that my circumstances led to this design.  It was probably not something I would have thought of as a potential design or come up with using my usual process.  But it is lightweight, comfortable, and can be worn with many different colors because of the multiple subtle shades and reflective quality of the materials used.

I thought I would also add a photo of the finished necklace that I was working on when I wrote last week's blog.  There I included some photos of my work in progress, using Swarovski crystal pearls and Gioiello yarn.  Today I added the completed Almond Crystal Pearls Nestled in Crocheted Spiral of Gray, Taupe, Gold to my ArtFire shop.

Next weekend I'll be showing and selling my jewelry and accessories in my favorite venue -- The Artists' Market at Leon & Lulu in Clawson, MI. Lots of wonderful artists, beautiful handcrafted items, and proceeds benefit Cass Community Services, helping the homeless in Detroit. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Sweet Greens and Blues are the Colors I Choose" ... for a Cool Summer Bracelet

With wedding jewelry finished (see my last several blog entries), this week I finally had time to try a couple of new designs that I've been carrying around at the back of my brain.  The first is a bracelet that features Czech pressed glass flowers in sky blue and leaves in emerald green.  These focal beads grace the center of individual beaded loops embellished with glass seed and bugle beads in shades of blue and green.  The base of the bracelet is crocheted using sea green multi-strand nylon cord and sapphire blue wire.

The bracelet is secured with a button and loop closure.

The other design, which I've had in mind for months now, is most appropriate for the cooler months of autumn and winter.  It is a necklace that features Swarovski crystal pearls in almond surrounded by a crocheted spiral using fiber that picks up the almond color of the pearls and adds shades of deeper brown, gray, slate, and gold.  This yarn, Gioiello, by Filatura di Crosa, has a bit of mohair, giving a bit of halo effect to the spiral.

I haven't quite finished the necklace, but the photos below give a good idea of the design idea.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today's post is short -- just a few little tidbits of information.  Life led me down some interesting trails this week.  Although I was able to complete all of the jewelry and accessories for my daughter, Betsy's, wedding, unfortunately I didn't have time for any other creative work this week.

I did make it to the Allen Park Street Fair today, although not as an artisan.  I volunteered to work in the Obama for America campaign booth and helped hand out information, bumper stickers, etc.

While at the Street Fair, I ran into a fiber artist that I met earlier this year at another show, Jennifer Xerri of Starlily Creations.  Didn't get to chat with her as much as I would have liked, but as always, I was amazed by the gorgeous crochet work I saw in her booth!

Starlily Creations' Gypsy Mandala Vest
I also wanted to mention that in addition to my ArtFire studio,  I've now opened a Gossamer Tangles store on Etsy.  I only have a few items listed so far; still learning how things work.

My plan is to use Etsy to list many of my handmade custom wedding accessory and jewelry items.  It is a part of my business that I am very interested in growing.  As I get the Etsy shop up and running, I'll post more information here.