Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Multitude - November 2012 Bead Journal Project

"A Multitude" is my November rune stone; each stone has been intended to represent a force and this month's force is the power of mass or numbers.

Coral reefs are formed by the calcium carbonate exoskeletons of coral polyps - uncountable numbers of individual living creature in some cases; the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space! The coral attract other creatures resulting in an elaborate ecosystem involving numerous species - all living together in careful balance.

Working with seed beads is a similar system - each bead is individual and complete, but not of much use in it's singularity. But combine a multitude of them together and the product is certainly more than a sum of the individual parts.

This month's stone is a bit different than previous stones, as the stone itself is the found object. This particular stone is a Petoskey stone, fossilized coral from the ancient reefs which once existed in the shallow seas that covered this part of Michigan. I intentionally left a large portion of the stone uncovered to show the distinctive mottled pattern. 

I tried to emulate this pattern with beads on the bottom of the stone.

The focal point is my representation of a single coral polyp in three dimensional beadwork.

Only one more month to go !!!

Friday, November 23, 2012


"Tri-Level" is my entry for the November Art Bead Scene challenge.... and it most definitely was a challenge!

Here's the inspiration image:

It's "Three Worlds", 1955 by M C Escher; "Three Worlds" depicts a large pool or lake during the autumn or winter months, the title referring to the three visible perspectives in the picture: the surface of the water on which leaves float, the world above the surface, observable by the water's reflection of the forest, and the world below the surface, observable in the large fish swimming just below the water's surface.

For me, the biggest challenge this month was the lack of color, for me, neutrals are just a necessary evil that I need to use to make my beloved colors pop.

I used three of my own images that fit the theme, taken as part of a photography challenge years ago, to create three pendents. I transferred portions of the images onto silk fabric, attached the fabric to thin metal and then finished the edges with beaded bezels, all in shades of grey and black.

I decided to join the pendents into one, large, over-sized pendent and mounted it on a simple Italian mesh base.

This is very different from my usual approach, very modern and stark, but I'm very pleased with the pendent technique - I'm sure I'll be using it more in the future.

Available for purchase here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hidden Details: An 1840's Fan Front Dress

Isn't she lovely in her fan front bodice, with all the characteristic of 1840's fashion: her bodice long and tight with fan-shaped gathering, pointed in the front and fastening in the back, the neckline wide and shallow, the sleeves long and tight.

I recently purchased a dress from an online dealer, described as "Edwardian" but it was clear even in the blurry photos that it was definitely from an earlier era...and made of stunning fabric too!

I was so pleased when the box arrived and my thoughts were confirmed when this beautiful wool challis 1840's fan front dress emerged!

The fabric is so outstanding, brilliant green with a pattern of botehs or paisley that increase in size from top to bottom.

The dress is completely hand sewn, closes up the back with hooks and eyes. Tiny self fabric piping is found at the arms-eye, the shoulder and finishing the sleeve; larger piping finishes the waist.

The only trim is a bit of fringe on the sleeves.

The sleeves are cut on the bias, are lined  and are one piece, with just a bit of gathering at the elbow for wearing ease - I've used this style of sleeve, which was briefly popular again in the early 1860's, on some of my reproduction dresses and it's quite comfortable.

The skirt is not lined, with the exception of a polished cotton hem facing; there is no hem braid, the fashion fabric has been just slightly turned to the interior.

The panels making up the skirt run selvedge to selvedge, and have been joined with a running stitch.

The pattern was printed to allow for the pattern to match up when this technique was used, although the seamstress was a little off in her join in this case.

The skirt was gauged at the waist. At some point, a modern alteration was made and the excess fabric at the front point was removed and added to the back of the bodice to enlarge the dress.

While an alteration of this type was done in the period, after all, fabric was expensive, this particular example is so crude, I believe it to be modern. However, it could be easily reversed - the original hooks can be felt still in their proper places and the fabric could be used to restore some of the more damaged areas.

This photo shows the princess seams used on the front and the clever and careful way the fabric was cut to emphasize a tiny waist.

Here's a view of the bodice interior - even the basting stitches are still in place!

Despite the modern "remuddling" and the damage to the fabric, especially the underarms, it's a beautiful dress and a wonderful example of 1840's fashion!

Available for purchase here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Here they are - my latest temptation!

I've been told I have a bit of a shoe "issue"; not so much modern styles, but I prefer NOT to discuss how many pairs of reproduction and true vintage shoes are stashed in my wardrobe.

This particular reproduction pair are called "23Skidoo" and are available for pre-order at American Duchess. They are a spectator style with a T-strap closure and a lovely French heel.

I've been becoming more and more attracted to 1920's styles, despite not having a 1920's figure; we even went semi-20's style for Halloween this year.

I've managed to stand strong against temptation so far, but I may yet succumb!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Boarding Call

I've not had a Mackinac specific post in quite awhile, so I thought I'd share a unique to Mackinac moment with you - horses leaving for the winter, a sure sign that the "season" is over.

At the peak of the season, there's upwards of 600 horses here on the Island, all with their job to do, hauling people or freight. But they don't spend the winter here, due to the lack of pasture and the necessity/expense of hauling all their foodstuffs over via ferry.

So except for a very few, they travel to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, in small groups, to spend the winter at pasture. And that  starts with a ferry ride to the mainland.

Due to the current very low water levels, the ramp down into the ferry is pretty steep, but most of the horses take it in stride - they've made this trip before!

But occasionally, one will decide that this just isn't a good idea:

"I don't WANT to go!!!"

"I still don't want to go!!!"

"Okay, if I have too, but I still think it's a bad idea!"

"What's his problem? It's no big deal."

In the spring, the process is reversed, with the horses gradually returning - they're usual the first "seasonal" workers to arrive!