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Monday, October 23, 2017

Wire Skeltons

I designed these skeleton earrings for a demonstration that I was doing for my friends at Parawire during one of the bead shows.  They amused people so much that I have made the tutorial available in my Etsy shop Reckless Beading.  The skeletons measure a little under 3 inches; I love long earrings but they would also make a fun pendant.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Suffragette Jewelry and Pink Pussy Hats

Mini Bead Crochet Pussy Hat Pattern

Whatever you think of them, the pink pussy hats made and worn by women as they march to uphold their rights quickly became a recognizable political symbol.  When a few of my friends joked about the fact that knitted hats are uncomfortable to wear during the summer, I got the idea of a miniature beaded pussy hat that you could wear as a pin or display on a key chain.

As I played with a way to incorporate the hat into a pin, I was struck by the fact that 100 years ago, women wore their political views on their bodies in the form of clothing and jewelry to support the movement to extend the right to vote to women.  

For those who don't know much about the struggle to vote, the idea of giving women the vote was discussed as early as 1860 in England, but there was no  real organized effort until 1897 when supporting groups were brought together in the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).  The group's genteel approach to the issue resulted in little progress, so Sylvia Pankhurst broke away in 1903 and founded the Women's Political and Social Union with her 3 daughters.  Their motto was "Deeds Not Words" and, starting in 1905, they followed through with violent actions as well as marches.  WPSU members committed acts of arson and vandalism; when imprisoned, women went on hunger strikes.  One member, Emily Davison, died after she jumped in front of  King George V's racehorse during the running of the Epsom Derby in 1913.  These are the badass women that come to mind when we think of the Suffragette movement that eventually resulted in our right to vote.

The WPSU adopted the colors of purple (dignity), white (purity), and green (hope) in 1908 and supporters wearing those colors would march behind banners with the same trio of colors as they protested their lack of voting power.  Medals incorporating the groups colors were also presented in August of 1909 to the women who had gone on a hunger strike while serving a prison sentence for acts supporting women's suffrage.  

  While other suffrage organizations in England and America adopted variations of those colors, it is the purple, white, and green that most of use associate with suffragettes today.

Fashion was actually part of the arsenal of the suffragettes, as members were cautioned by Mrs. Pankhurst that "Suffragettes must not be dowdy"  and urged to outfit themselves in an appropriate manner.  Department stores such as Derry and Toms or Selfridges even advertised clothing incorporating the movement's colors in advertisements in the paper Votes for Women and in their shop windows.

While some of the jewelry was specifically made and sold to support the suffragettes, that combination of purple, green, and white was also popular at the turn of the century, thus much of the jewelry we now classify as "suffragette" may not be.  This brooch below is an example of one that uses the same color combination, but doesn't seem to have any connection to suffragettes. (It's a snake, I had to include it).  The colors still stick in our mind, though.

So the pink pussy hat is carrying on the same tradition of women using fashion and crafts to bolster political efforts.  That's why I designed the miniature pink pussy hat and why I used it along with purple, white, and green crystals to fashion a brooch.  I am sure that you can think of other uses for the little beaded hat.

The pattern is available in my Reckless Beading Etsy shop.  At first, I was going to offer the pattern for free but that means that anyone else could take the pattern and sell it or teach a class in how to make it.  So my compromise was to charge  for the pattern and donate $2 from every pattern sale to Planned Parenthood; I actually wanted to donate the money to the Pussy Hat Project as they are organizing more marches, but they never got back to me.  Given the passage of the new healthcare bill by the House, it seems like a lot of people on both sides may need help with healthcare, so Planned Parenthood seemed to be a good alternative for those who may lose their insurance in the future.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Love

This seems to be a good day to share my latest experiments with making a heart shape in bead crochet. 

For more hearts to brighten your day, check out the latest blog post at Bead Love, where we have put together a collection of beadwork hearts.  Some have accompanying free patterns, some are patterns for purchase, some are for upcoming classes or blog posts, and some are just to share the love.  We hope they brighten your day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spread the Bead Love


     Ready to be energized?  Last year was a tough one for many people on both a personal and global level; many of us lost our beading mojo.  Marcia DeCoster came up with the great idea that we needed something to get us going again, something to do with love and beads (of course).
     So a group of us have been planning projects and Marcia has set up a place to share them as a way to bring some love into the world.  New content will be added every week in the form of photos, free patterns, stories about their Bead Love creations from members, and links to patterns for sale.
     To start us off, Marcia has literally beaded love in the form of the letters L,O,V, and E.  She has even provided the pattern for L on the blog and the other letters will follow weekly.  I hope you will stop by the Bead Love blog and return throughout the year and that it will inspire you as much as the idea has inspired us.  If our project prompts you to make your own bead love, feel free to share a photo at #beadlove on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Window Tour 2016

It's been a while since my last post (life intervened), but I couldn't miss sharing our annual Christmas Window Tour.  We started at Barney's, which invited a few designers to each do a window; these were my favorites.

This is a suit designed by Nick Cave, the fiber artist and performer.


A fun sculpture by Job Smeets and Nynke Tyangel.

One of the stars that hangs above 5th Avenue.

Then it was down to Bergdorf Goodman, which went green for the holidays...literally.

One green window

Detail of the model's skirt

A tapestry squirrel

The next window showed an interesting perspective.

Some of the merchandise in the store that caught my eye.

That's one big bunny

Hope you aren't afraid of bugs.


Another interesting window


After Bergdorf's, it was a walk down 5th Avenue. 

Harry Winston

One of their windows

Unfortunately, the usual festive atmosphere on 5th Avenue was missing as many stores were boarded up for renovation or were just displaying merchandise and here's the reason why.

Police van in the security zone around Trump Tower

No, I am not dissing our NYPD, but the closing of Trump Tower meant that people couldn't get to stores in the security zone.  Tiffany's gave up completely and announced in November that they would not be decorating their windows.  Even Trump Tower looked like it was closed for business.

Luckily, the area around Rockefeller Center was hopping.  Saks did an impressive live display on the face of their building.

Part of the show

Then we slogged our way through the crowds to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center

After that, it was down to Lord and Taylor.

The theme was nature this year.

Another window with squirrels

Raccoons teasing sleeping foxes.

My favorite window was the one with the geese.

Our last stop was Macy's.

The big white bunny in the window was actually a projection that changed into other animals.

Close-up for all of the mushroom lovers

Another window

It took me a bit to figure out that this was a huge reindeer with elves on his antlers.

This window was a giant pinball machine that could be controlled by people watching the game.

That was our tour for this year.  Not as long as some years, but we enjoyed all of the decorations.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bead Crochet Snakes in Italy

I am working on posting the photos that I took of the Bead Dreams finalists at Bead and Button but, in the meantime, please enjoy an interview about my work and the history of bead crochet snakes that Cristina Gualtierotti conducted.  Cristina is a talented beader living in Italy and she has some interesting posts.  Here is the link  Cristal Clinic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bead and Button 2016

     My time at Bead and Button started with a bang as I tripped the uneven pavement by my hotel and did a face plant right onto the sidewalk on my first night in Milwaukee.  I didn't break anything, although I have 2 scrapes on my hands and a big hole in my knee.  Add to that, 1 slashed knuckle from bending copper sheet and a mystery scratch on my left thumb and I won't be doing much beading for a while.  Luckily, my mouse finger still works.
      Tuesday night, I took the Steampunk Trellis Pendant class with Irina Miech, which turned out to be not what I expected.  I thought that we would be using the wire looping technique to make the base of the pendant, but Irina had a neat cheat. 
Steampunk Trellis Pendant and Niobium Flower Ring

Moonlight Madness started right after class, so I wandered over to the shopping event to say hello to people.  I actually bought some crocodile leather-it was just so dinosaur-y that I couldn't pass it up.  I also bought a cute pair of flowers from Stephanie Sersich to make a pair of earrings.

Australian crocodile leather

Flower beads from Stephanie Sersich.  How cute are these?

 Wednesday, I had a day-long class with Maria Richmond as we made Riffing on a Zipper, which taught us how to wire wrap zippers onto wire.  Maria is a great teacher and we had a lot of fun.  I am not finished with my pendant because I hit a wall with it's design but I intend to finish it once I can use my hands again.  Wednesday night was Meet the Teachers, where I got to say hello to lots of friends.

Riffing on a Zipper

Thursday, I had a short class with Marti Brown where we learned to make a niobium flower ring.  As usual, playing with niobium was such fun!  Then the shopping floor opened at 4pm and I was busy for the next 4 hours.  The main mission was to buy beads to cover a stuffed frog toy.

Froggy is surveying some of the beads that might adorn him soon.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that they all won't fit on him.

Friday, I got to spend a few minutes with Kelly Stevenson of Back2Bead and his lovely wife Alicia.  Although they have many tempting beads, I was good and only bought these etched daggers.

Etched daggers from Back2Bead 

I also did my first wire crochet demonstration session at the ParaWire booth.  I needed earrings, so I have been obsessed with crocheting the smaller gauges of wire.

One pair of wire crochet earrings

Another pair of wire crochet earrings

I also stopped at Trinket Foundry booth to see Cathy's new recycled glass with silver metal clay.  Sadly, the earring pieces were quite popular, but I managed to find 2 shapes that went together.  Who says that earrings have to match?

Recycled glass with silver clay decoration

Saturday morning, I took the Painted Pendants class with Eva Sherman-what a treat!  I learned how to fold a sheet of copper  so that it looked like crumpled paper, cut it into shapes, add enamel and fire it with a torch, and mount our creations into frames.  I really liked this class and Eva is a great teacher.

A folded sheet of copper (top) and 3 finished pendants (bottom)

In the afternoon, I did a second wire crochet demonstration at the ParaWire booth.

Wire crochet earrings with pearls.

Wire crochet sewn to a textured frame.  I didn't start out to make dream catchers but that was what the earrings wanted to be.

I also discovered a new tool at the ParaWire booth.  I have been thinking about buying a few texturing hammers.  My metal friends swear by the Fretz hammers, but I don't do enough metal and wire work to justify spending that kind of money...but I do want to do some metal texturing.  This hammer with multiple texturing heads looked like a good way to get a number of heads for a decent price, especially since it feels balanced when you use it.  I played with it a bit in the booth and can't wait to explore what it can do.

My haul from ParaWire

My friend Akiko Nomura surprised me with a pair of Ninja socks and some cute stickers  from Japan. 


Then it was out to dinner with friends on Saturday night before I headed back to the hotel to pack.