Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Costumes

my sister and brother in the early 70s

Oh, Halloween. Long gone are the days of yore, when you could snag a plastic-bag costume off the shelf at Gold Circle and wander the neighborhood after dark, filling a pillowcase with Mallowbars and home-made cookies. A $4.99 investment yielded a ransom of sugar and food coloring. 

Who am I kidding. My mom never let us get those plastic bag costumes. I can actually remember her shaking her head as she watched neighbor kids walk down the street dressed as the cartoon character of the season. She would sigh and look at us, as if to say 'see, children, that's what you get when your mother plays too much tennis.'  My mom did not mess around with the store-bought costume. We went as clowns. Every year. My mother made super-elaborate homemade clown costumes and we (in the days before the killer clown) wore them for years. Puffy legs and arms were stuffed with newspaper that left black marks on our skin. The rick-rack edged collars and tall, pointy hats were embellished with handmade pompoms. The costume was always adorable, especially as there were three of us, stair-stepped in height like a clown troop from the world's cutest circus. The taller we got, the less newspaper she stuffed into the costumes to puff them out. 

I do remember putting my foot down at one point and INSISTING that I was not going to be a clown. No how, no way. I wanted to be something pretty. Something that involved a fancy dress, or at least a wig and lipstick. We came up with the politically correct Gypsy Woman/Spanish Princess/Royal Person costume, which I wore in some variation for about five more years. It involved (always) a long fancy skirt, a shawl, an adult-boutique-worthy black lace eye mask and a lace fan. Also, since I grew up in Ohio, my winter coat was probably under there somewhere. Fancy. 

After I refused to clown around, my siblings also got on the special costumes boat. In the subsequent years my mom created a Henson Studios-worthy Miss Piggy, a medieval princess (which involved me ruining a beautiful sheer dress with a puffy winter coat because of snow on Halloween) and even an Elvis Presley costume for our family dog. She's even made costumes and costume parts for her grandchildren. I do remember her sighing about new clown costumes a few years back, when my girls were toddlers, but I gently told her no. 

Here in North Carolina we are lucky that Halloween eve can often be balmy. I've walked the dark streets after princesses, vampires and black cats in my shirtsleeves. My daughters' costumes have not needed long velvet capes or custom fur coats, but if they did, I'm pretty sure that Grandma would oblige. 

If you don't have a Grandma to chain to the sewing machine, you should join me on Thursday night at Craft Habit Raleigh. I'll be there, with a box of mis-fit supplies and parts, trying to figure out what I can be this Halloween. The Costume Jam details are right here. 

hubby and I as 80s Icons

the above was excerpted from my personal newsletter, irregularly sent out to a select group of readers...subscribe here

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

They just get a little bit higher every time...

Time passes, this is not news to you. Every day, the car gets a new dent, the plant overflows the pot, the neighbor's beagle puppy grows into her ears.

All these little things remind us that we are aging, time is moving forward and the river of our days is unstoppable. Recently, I've been listening to a few podcasts that touch on language and linguistics and mythology. These recordings have played in my ears as I've walked my dogs, weeded my garden and strung my beads.

Occasionally, I'll try some fiction (most recently, Gone Girl) but it never sticks. Back to the podcasts.

This recent podcast mentioned that the Old Norse/Scandinavians had a different view of time than we do. It was not, to them, that flowing river, that timeline, that link of days one after the other. Instead, it was a series of unconnected moments, each it's own experience, but not lined up in a specific way. In our conception of time, the past can inform the future, but (unless you drive a Tardis)  the future cannot inform the past. In the unconnected moment time, what I am doing today can affect how I do something as a child. While I don't agree with this view, because, well, physics, I do love it. I love the idea that an action I take now could fill an empty spot that would exist in the past. That my hand touching the wood trim of my 100+ year old home could be affecting the way that doorframe was experienced in a long-ago September afternoon.

On these September afternoons, I am touching my door frame in the 2016 moment. The fingerprints I wipe off are growing higher each year. My river is flowing forward and the owners of those fingers, like beagle puppies, are getting taller every day. I cannot anymore stop the move forward than I can reach into the past and say, for pete's sake, wash your hands, although I like that idea.

My podcast playlist (this week) includes:
Myths and Legends
Words for Granted
The World In Words

Have you read/listened to Gone Girl? Should I stick with it? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Do you like free beads?

I thought that subject line would get your attention. We're adding a free 8" strand of beads to all the orders over $30 that we ship, starting today and through. Don't miss this, we've got some VERY pretty bead strands to tuck in your order...

How To Create a Tassel Color Fade Necklace

This pretty necklace, designed by Aimee Leang, features a mix of tassel colors in a fall fade. I like to think it's the perfect blend to wear over a slouchy sweater and your favorite jeans...mmm, I can almost smell the pumpkin spiced lattes now!

But really, to make this sweet necklace you'll need:
22 inches of chain
13 small cotton tassels
1 silky rayon tassel (all tassels are found here)
1 tulip bead cap (the raw brass one can be found here, the plated ones are sold out but will be back soon)
1 carnelian bead
20 gauge wire
a clasp
13 jump rings

round nose pliers
chain nose pliers
wire cutters

to create the main tassel dangle, check these instructions out right here

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Pretty Beads...

These vacuum-coated hematite beads are tempting me, big-time right now...I keep vacillating between a bead-weavy thing using them in peyote stitch (or net stitch, the only two weavy stitches that I can do without concentrating) OR just doing a super-long strand of them, all mixed up in stripes and color blocks. I'm thinking REALLY long here, maybe 60 inches or so...I'd just wrap it around and around my neck when I wear it.

They'll be up on the site, soon...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Playing With Something New

Today I'm sitting here at the table on my porch, listening to my dogs keep dangerous songbirds out of our yard (mostly they just chase, ocassionally they bark) and stringing up some beads. The dogs are pretty sure all songbirds are dangerous, and that means that this time of year they spend a lot of time running from one side of the yard to the other. I'm apparently too feeble to recognize the danger inherent in a robin, or a cardinal, and must be protected vigilantly.

It's been almost a month since we closed the Raleigh store and my life is settling into a peaceful routine. There are still a few boxes left to unpack from the studio painting. We're waiting for the shelf paint to 'cure' before we put the books and tools back. There are some 'where will this go?' items I saved from the store that I probably should have just sold (like about 65 too-many wire baskets!) but that will all get sorted out. I have had a lot more time, inside my head and in my garden. I have found myself thinking of things I wanted to make, not things I felt I HAD to make.

Which is nice.

Within this routine, I've been spending some time with a pair of friends who are embarking on something new. These ladies miss the creative space that we had at Ornamentea, and I'm honored to say that they have enlisted me to work as their sounding board and advisor. Their new spot, Craft Habit Raleigh, will open late this summer. I'm looking forward to sitting in one of their work table chairs and being a customer.

Projects like the one up above, playing with a new material, are the kind I am enjoying right now. This cotton Temple Cording is made of a zillion tiny threads, all hand-twisted and worsted back upon themselves. It's so compelling to me; I want to knot it and stitch it and loop it. If I were a knitter, I'd probably want to knit it. Thank goodness I am not a knitter, as I only have a few yards (teeny sweaters!)

This new cording is part of the swath of new items that are appearing on Ornamentea.com. The talented folks who are running the site for me are also geniuses at bringing new materials to the crafting world. I'm going to be responsible for figuring out if these materials are worth importing. Basically, it's my job to play.

I like that.

So, if you are in Raleigh, check out the Craft Habit Raleigh page. If you are a beader, check out the Temple Knotting Cord (it's mixed in with the silk cord for now on this page.)

If you are a dangerous songbird, stay out of my yard.