Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wearing the Art of Jewelry

While working at Art Is In Market this week, I spent some time looking at the jewelry.  There are basically five different artisans who create jewelry that is sold in the Art Is In Market store at Laurel Park Place Mall, and all of them have a unique style.  As I examined their work, I thought about all the department store and commercial jewelry store ads I receive featuring jewelry.  It all seems to be very similar; very mass-produced.  Jewelry is such a personal form of self-expression for the wearer, I found myself wondering why people would settle for cookie cutter, commercial jewelry, when they could wear one-of-a-kind pieces of handmade art; often for less money than they would pay for the mass-produced stuff.

So this week, I thought I would share some photos of the unique and beautiful jewelry produced by the artisans at Art Is In Market, Livonia.

Necklaces and matching earrings created by Maureen Mitchell-Tardivi of Bijounique

Colorful, one-of-a-kind button bracelets, also by Bijounique
Karen Meller of All Glass Creations makes dichroic glass bracelets and pendants.

Karen also makes unique glass cuff bracelets and hair accessories.
Linda and Joe Ignaczak of Authentic Creations work with gems, shells and natural stone to create their necklaces...

... and earrings.
Veronica Tobey makes lovely, light and comfortable fiber jewelry.

She has both necklaces and bracelets available.
And then, of course, there are my own Gossamer Tangles creations -- earrings...

... necklaces ...

... and a bevy of brooches, among other things.
Next time you're in the market for jewelry, consider what it might be like to wear a very personal work of art, and take a look at what local artisans have to offer.  You just might find a creation you love!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

May I Broach the Topic of the Brooch?

Looking for a quick, fun, portable crochet project this summer?  How about making a crocheted brooch?  They are wearable, versatile, and quick to make.  They also make a great little gift.  I made these by looking at the "Bejeweled Brooch" pattern by Erika Knight, from her wonderful book Simple Crocheting: A Complete How-to-Crochet Workshop with 20 Projects (2012) for inspiration, and then I began to experiment.  Even though I am an experienced crocheter, I love the patterns, ideas, and tips in this book!

If you look at the photo of the "Bejeweled Brooches" in the pattern library on Ravelry, you'll see that they are done in a solid, single color linen yarn.  I experimented by using multiple strands of yarn (2-3) of different yarns in complementary textures and colors.  I varied the number of stitches, and how I engaged the stitches, to get a fuller, more domed, or a flatter appearance, as desired.  I also added decorative edgings to some of my brooches.    Here are a few of the different brooches I came up with, using the basic concept in Erika Knight's pattern:

As you can see, by changing the type of fiber, the center embellishment, the edgings ... even adding a leaf, you can get very different looks.  It is a fun design to play around with.

Here is a very basic outline to the steps in making a brooch.  Don't feel like you have to follow these instructions to the letter ... let your creativity flow! If you want (or need) a more detailed set of instructions or precise pattern for making this type of brooch, you should consult Simple Crocheting by Erika Knight.

I chose some leftover sock yarn in purple, green, teal, yellow shades; Nazli Gelin Purple/Silver Metallic Garden crochet thread, and sequined Department 71 Glisten Crochet Thread in Emerald.  All three strands are used together.  You start with a slip knot.  Here I used a size G hook, but you should choose the size that allows you to work comfortably with the yarns you've chosen and achieve a fairly tight stitch.

You then chain 3 or 4 stitches, depending on how heavy your yarn is and the size of the ring you want to work into. You join the last chain to the first with a slip stitch to create a ring.

Chain one and begin making single crochets into the ring.

I usually make 8-10 single crochets, depending on the yarns I am using and how full I want the ring.  When you are done, slip stitch into the first single crochet to join.

Now chain three and make one double crochet in the first single crochet, make two double crochets in the next sc, one dc in the next sc, and continue around the ring in that stitch pattern. 
Join the last dc to the top of the initial ch 3 with a slip stitch.

Now, chain one and then insert the hook through the center ring, front to back.

Yarn over the hook and ...

pull a loop through the center hole.  You now have two loops on your hook.

Yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook.

Continue doing this same pull-through-the-center stitch, all the way around.   I usually use 16-20, but you can use more or less depending on how filled in you want the space and how much of the underlying stitches you want to peek through.

Chain one and make a single crochet in the first stitch, skip the next sc, make an sc in the next stitch.  Continue in this manner, all the way around, single crocheting in every other stitch.  On this particular brooch, I worked my single crochets into only the back loops of the stitches.  This makes for a flatter brooch.  If you work your single crochets into the whole stitch (front and back loops),  you get more of a domed effect, because the stitches are more taut and pull the center up more.  (The photo shows the back of the brooch while working the every-other-stitch single crochets.)
This photo shows what the front of the brooch looks like, if you are working the single crochets into the back loops only.

Here, I am working a single crochet into the back loops, skipping a stitch between.

Almost done working the single crochets here.  As you can see, by working in every other stitch, it pulls the edge of the brooch back.

When you finish the single crochets, you join the first to the last with a slip stitch, and then fasten off, leaving a long tail.  Thread the tail through a yarn or tapestry needle.  Using a running, overcast stitch, stitch through each single crochet, pulling the single crochets tight together.

When you've stitched through all of the single crochets, pull the stitches tight, and secure with a knot.  

Weave in the ends and trim.

At this point, this is how the front of the brooch looks.  If you wish, at this point you can attach the center embellishment and pin back to complete your brooch, or you can add some edging.  As you can see in the photos above, you can do just about any kind of edging to achieve the look you want.

I decided to add edging to this brooch.  I used metallic silver cord and threaded it with purple-lined, aqua-colored, glass beads.  I  joined the cord with a slip stitch into one of the front loops along the edge of the brooch.

I worked two beaded single crochets into each front loop along the edge.  You want the wrong side of the beaded single crochets facing the front, since the bead appears on the wrong side.  So, you should be working with the back of the brooch facing you as you add the row of single, beaded crochets stitches.  To make a beaded single crochet, you put your hook through the stitch, yarn over, and pull through a loop, just as you would for a regular single crochet.

You then push a bead up close to the second loop on you hook.

Yarn over, you pull the yarn through both loops on your hook.  The bead is captured as part of the stitch.

This shows the completed beaded sc from the right side (back of the brooch).

These are the beaded sc stitches, viewed from the wrong side (front of the brooch).

After completing 2 sc in each front loop along the edge, join the first beaded sc to the last with a slip stitch and fasten off. Here is the completed edging.  Tails should be woven in and trimmed.

Add the center embellishment.  It can be a button, a gemstone, a rhinestone, a cluster of beads ... whatever you want.  Here, I sewed on a two-holed, square, faceted aqua glass button.  I ran my stitches to attach the button through a purple metallic bugle bead.
Cut a felt circle to fit the back of the brooch.  Stitch on a pin back, and then stitch the felt circle to the back of the brooch.   If you'd rather, you could use adhesive instead of sewing on the pin and felt circle. You're done.

Making these little brooches is a great way to use up yarn scraps and it is so much fun to experiment with different colors and textures!  Give it a try. Let me know how it works out ... I'd love to see photos of your work.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Time to Think Pink!

I am really looking forward to participating in Lure for the Cure, being held at Heritage Park in Taylor, Michigan, this Sunday, July 14.  My son, Tony, and I will have a tent there.  I'll be selling my Gossamer Tangles jewelry and accessories, and Tony will have the children's books he's written. The main event will be a K9 Fun Run, where dogs compete in a race on a track where they follow a lure.  People can bring their dogs along.  There will be many vendors and artisans, food, and lots of fun stuff to see and do. The weather is supposed to be warm and sunny, so it should be a great day!

I love participating in events like this one that go beyond just an opportunity to make sales.  It is soul-satisfying to be part of something that actually promotes the accomplishment of a good purpose in the world -- in this case, efforts to end breast cancer.  Specifically, the money raised at Lure for the Cure will be donated to support a walker in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 3 day, 60 mile walk that requires participants to raise a minimum of $2,300 to participate.  The 3-Day website explains how the funds are used to support the fight against breast cancer:
Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds raised by the Komen 3-Day help support national research and large public health outreach programs. The remaining 25 percent supports local community and Affiliate outreach programs. Virtually every major advance in the fight against breast cancer in the last 30 years has been impacted by a Susan G. Komen grant. 
Tony and I talked about it and we've decided to donate 10% of our gross sales proceeds from the day to help support the 3-Day walker.  We just feel like it is something we definitely want to do. I've known (what seems to me to be) a surprising number of women who've had breast cancer.  Eight of them were in their 30's when they were diagnosed; among them one of my close friends and my sister-in-law. Three of the women I've known with breast cancer did not survive. This is a cause that hits close to home.

I've been trying to make some "pink" items especially for sale at the Lure for the Cure.  I thought I would share photos of a few of the things I've completed.

Assorted Pink Brooches

Pink Crocheted Flower Pins/Clips

Pink Beads and Shell Discs Crocheted Necklace

Close-up detail of Pink Necklace

Pink Fiber Bracelet and Pink Ribbons Crocheted Earrings
Tony will have all three of his Viper Girl books, as well as Cootie the Not-So-Oddly-Named Girl Makes the Ultimate Pizza.
Viper Girl Kicks Canadian Robottom

Cootie the Not-So-Oddly-Named Girl Makes the Ultimate Pizza
If you live in the area, I hope you will come out to Heritage Park on Sunday, July 14, and support this wonderful fundraiser.  If you do, please stop by and say "hello" to Tony and me.