Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Better or worse?

Remember the iris heart from this post? This is yet another example of a piece that first ended up with a meh patina (or at least a patina that looked more good than great) and therefore got another patina on top of it. Experimenting is fun and it's hard to resist the urge to do something more, think "what if..." and act on that curious thought.

This time I let the the dusty turquoise silver-plated stamping bathe in some old LOS solution I found. Didn't know what the result would be as I had no idea how it'd react nor with the flaking plating (which could still have som lacquer left on it too), neither with the previous patina. My thought was that it would darken the metal so this wasn't the result I was aiming for...

The effect is cool in one way, though, as it makes the metal look very old and dirty. Like it's been picked up from the mud. It really does look like dry mud, nothing like the oxidised black or brown LOS normally creates on metal. Some would probably call it ruined, but I like distressed and old-looking surfaces. "Real old", the authentic, is of cause the best, but simulated old like this can be gorgeous too (if it isn't overdone or made all cutesy or obviously fake, like some do with shabby chic).

Below you can see what it looked like before. In a way it looks ok in picture and it almost makes me regret the second patina, but the contrast was low IRL, making it hard to see the iris motif and the colour was fading. But was it a good call, adding liver of sulphur? I really can't decide.

So what do you think: did the second patina make it better or worse? Or just different?

(Size note: Including the loop, the heart is 54 mm high. It's a big pendant, not a small charm.)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Cat photo of the week

This is for those of you who want to see more cat pics on the blog. Sometimes it's hard to tell that we have about a dozen cats, just judging from the number of cat pics here...

This here is the kitten that so far only goes by the nickname Snuttis. Not much of a name*, but so far it's all we've got. With Sötis gone, Snuttis is his brother's, Ulle-gull's, only playmate (Ulle-gull is an even worse name than Snuttis* -- so sorry, Ulle-gull!). Snuttis mommy is called Mimi -- you can see a photo of her e.g. here.

On Flickr I call this photo Solkatt. That literally translates to "sun cat" (which is exactly what you see in the photo, a cat in sun, though the photo editing has made the background darker than in the original), but it's actually a swedish word for reflections of the sun that you can see e.g. on a wall or ceiling.

Despite the headline I've no real intention to post a new cat pic every week as some sort of weekly feature. The name of the post just sort of happened. I could probably be persuaded to do such a feature if someone begged me or if there were an overwhelming interest, but it's nothing that's planned.

* = Snuttis is a term of endearment and a diminutive used for cute little pets or sometimes human babies. Not sure exactly how to translate it. Snutte and snuttis are also diminutives for comfort objects (snuttefilt = security blanket). Ulle-gull means something along the lines of woolly-cutie. But in Swedish it at least rhymes. Sötis, as mentioned earlier, means sweetie and is also a diminutive.


PS! A comment on an earlier post reminded me that I still haven't published a "Potato season part 2" post (on potato harvest; I sometimes get questions about the machines and while it can feel like a dull subject to me, some are really curious). Will do that soon. I think. No promises, but I've had the photos since last year so it's about time to show them.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The sequin stash

Sarah of Saturday Sequins announced her first blog hop, Sequinastic September, not long ago. Of cause I was temped to join in. I have only used sequins a few times since I grew up (of cause I craved sequins a lot as a kid). Once for a fun wirework necklace, once for some sort of garland. Never really used it in my beadwork. Sure, there have been a few ideas, but in the end I often stick with other materials I like better.

That said, I do have a small stash of sequins that I've both either because they looked pretty or because I got one of my weird ideas of using unusual jewellery materials. As they are often bought in bigger packs than I need or in mixes, I end up with lots of leftover. Some I've destashed a couple of years ago, but much I chose to keep for one reason or another.

I have two favourites in this pile of plastic:

  • The matte bronze sequins. I bought these on sale because I really liked the colour and the flowers were so cute. My sis bought the third shape available: you can see part of one of the oval sequins she got in the back.

  • The big flowers. This is from a package of big mixed sequins. Pretty much all of the big and colourful sequins in the first pic are from this mix, which included everything from stars and leaves to fish and turkeys. I think these flowers are fun and very retro. (BTW, they are purple, not blue.)

So now that I have signed up, what will I do with these sequins? To be honest I have no idea. The hop is on September 29th so there's lots of time to do something. With a deadline so far off, it doesn't feel like I have to rush any ideas -- but I'm trying not to get too lax as it's so easy to forget about it all and then sit up on the last night, trying to make something with the mind blank and stress levels rising.

I'm hoping to be able to create something without going shopping. I've seen lots of interesting sequins out there that'd be fun to play with -- and I do want to get my hands on some punchinella/sequin waste too! -- but it's better to work with the stash. Especially knowing how long these sequins have just been lying there in a drawer: even if I like them now, buying new stuff might just result in an even bigger stash of unused materials...

But, on the other, if I do use much of my sequins for this challenge, I have a legit reason to buy some new sequins, right? Some more useful shapes and nicer styles than the ones I have.

If you like sequins -- or if you want to be challenged to use them -- you should check out Sarah's blog hop. The rules for this creative challenge are simple: create original work using sequins -- it doesn't have to be jewellery or beadwork -- and post on your blog on the reveal date. And, finally, have fun! Sign ups are open through August 20. Complete information can be found here.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

So-so patina results

Not all patinas turn out the way you like it. Some will turn out different, but good, or perhaps even different and great. Others will turn out different and disappointing.

The heart above is a plated stamping, silver ox or something like that. Those stampings are usually lacquered to protect the antiquing and keep the plating from tarnishing. I don't always bother with such details as seeing if there is lacquer and if so remove it before trying to patinate a piece. That was the case with this iris heart. I just chucked it into the baker's ammonia and spirit vinegar (ättika 24 %) sawdust and checked in on the progress from day to day.

This piece have been removed from the sawdust and rinsed in water several times, which is one of the reasons it doesn't have a crusty or cobalt patina. Today when I took it out and let it dry, I also brushed it vigourously with an old tooth brush, removing some of the blue dust of the patina. The result almost looks like an old/antique, not very wellmade, paintjob.

Not sure what I'll do with it. Keep it like this or try to enhance the motif a bit in one way or another (adding LOS? polish the relief? gesso in recesses?). I'll have to think about it for a while longer.

This is a Vintaj brass tag I put in the vinegar-and-tea leaves jar. Originally I had attached an image transfer to the surface (Nunn Design image transfer sheets), but forgot to check that the lacquer was compatible with the plastic film. It wasn't -- I watched in horror as the beautiful butterfly image dissolved in front of me! So it's just been laying around, looking like a ruined mess. Adding some verdigris couldn't make it worse so that's what I did.

Above is a pic of the back (also lacquered) and below is the front with the ruined image transfer.

Finally, another piece I put in the ammonia jar:

Not exactly sure what the material is. It looks very much like pewter, probably lacquered but it doesn't really look plated as it was darker than most silver and white plates. At first it looked like the patina hadn't had the slightest effect on the charm, but once I took it out, I saw that the patina solution had darkened the metal significantly. (The reason one edge is lighter is that it protuded out of the sawdust so it wasn't fully buried as the rest of it.)

This is the back of the charm. The front is so fugly it doesn't feel work showing. In fact it was the "fugliness" of it that made me sacrifice it for the patina experiment in the first place.


Do all these patinas last? No, unfortunately not. Even if lacquered, some of my samples in this blog have altered in appearance already after a few weeks. Maybe they needed heavier layers of the sealant, maybe I needed a better sealant, maybe the pieces should've been rinsed and/or neutralised better before sealing. The patina tutorials and recipes don't always discuss such details.

You need to make sure you stop the process you started as best you can or at least slow it down as much as possible. But it just isn't always enough to completely stop it -- and sealants often alter the patinas one way or another (a common problem is that matte sealants dull heat patina colours or alter the hue). I've also had problems with some lacquers that have seemed to "boost" the patinas before drying. It's all about experimentation at this stage.

July bead soup palette (part 3 & 4)

I never got around to posting the english version of the 3rd july palette on the blog so this will be a "double post". First, though, it's the fourth palette -- you might recognize the the Oliver Twist skein from this post.

For the fibres (Oliver Twist One Offs), I used the colour number on the tag. I've also seen this colour sold as "oil slick" or, like at Perles & Co where I got it, just "blue green". The main colours are jewel tones of blue, green and turquoise with purple and even a few amber/copper accents.

Blue and green hues (including turquoise, petrol, teal etc) usually works great together with copper. And why not, considering it's colours the copper itself can produce, e.g. in the form of verdigris and copper salts. It's also the copper content that gives stones like turquoise, malachite, chrysocolla and azurite their colours. Historically, copper pigments made from minerals like malachite or directly from copper ore were used to make paints like spanskgröna (a.k.a verdegris) and copper-arsenic paints -- hues that in Sweden coined the term giftgrönt, toxic or poisonous green. Copper is also the symbol of the godess of love, Venus/Aphrodite, who was born in the blue-green Mediterranean Sea.

Last week's palette was a little something for those who like pale, pastel hues. I got a bit irritated taking this pic as the light topaz opal beads looked so dark compared to the aragonite in all the photos. IRL they are both light and soft. The aragonite is lighter, but in some of the photos, the opal beads almost looked amber!

This little palette is created using the bicolour focal as a starting point. I chose not to add any more colours apart from the blues and yellows found in the flower bead.

The milky, almost opaque pale yellow aragnoite works very well together with the opal glass beads. I don't often mix stone and glass, but somethings it can be a way of adding a hue to a piece of glass jewellery that you can't find in glass beads. 

As with most complementary colour schemes, this looks the most harmonious if the cold hue, blue, it allowed to dominate, using the yellow as an accent.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Goodbye, Sötis

Life can be long. Life can be short. Sötis got two months. Two months of play, fun and explorations of a world that was so new and so big to him. Is that not so painfully unfairly short?

Today we went with him to the vet. The verdict was a broken leg and spinal injury (possibly broken). Nothing to do but put him to sleep. Our sweet, sweet Sötis didn't even survive the summer.

We have no idea what happened. When my sis saw him he was fine, sleeping on her bed. Perhpas no more than an hour later I saw him and noticed a limp. It looked like a harmless limp at first, but the leg started to swell and suddenly he collapsed. He could no longer walk, but tried his best to move around using his front paws. My heart sank. At that moment I knew he was dying. Whenever a cat or dog lose the ability to use the hind legs for one reason or another it has always meant that. The last hours. Sometimes because they die themselves or because the only mercyful thing to do is to take that horrible decision. This happened late at night and it felt like nothing could be done until the morning. So we gave him a last night in bed. I fell as sleep asking every power in the universe for "miracle or mercy" -- a miracle recovery or at the very least a painless merciful death.

Woke up early, worried about what Sötis would be like. Very ill? Dead? He was stable. Not happy, but not lethargic or depressed or even in real pain. I gave him water and food and he was sweet as usual. Had an apetite, but he was also suffering from the injury. But seeing how his state hadn't turned to the worse, my hope lit up again. Maybe it was just fatigue that kept his hind legs from working, the swelling pressing on a nerve or something. Maybe he was just tired. Maybe it was just a broken bone that, though painful, is easy to fix. It's 2012. Surely medicine, even vet medicine, can do everything. He had apetite. That's good. The worst sign is a cat without apetite. A cat can starve itself to death if feeling ill or in severe pain. He ate, that's good. Isn't it? Right? Hope gone to hope lit -- to hope so utterly gone again when the vet said those words, gave a verdict that showed no other option but the one every pet owner dread to hear.

He didn't like the car ride -- I hate that part, torturing on the way to the vet. In this can torturing a cat at the very end of his life.

I held his paw while he died. He fell asleep forever and now there will be an eternity without him. Two months he lived. He will be did forever. He will never play with his brother. He will never sleep on my lap. He will never grow up to be a beautiful big cat. He will never chase a butterfly or stalk a bird. Death ends it all so abruptly. A short, short time of life. An eternity of death, of non-existense.

Last photos of Sötis.

Two things makes me feel sorry for myself and find his death especially cruel:

-- To be honest I wasn't happy when the kittens were born. We have so many already and it was an accident that there came more this year. We weren't going to keep them and in order to not get attached we didn't give them names. Sötis died without even a real name. Sötis just means Sweety, a term of endearment. But for different reasons we did keep them. And we did get attached to them. But the fact remains: during his first weeks I looked at him and wondered why he had to be born because he wasn't wanted. Cute, but not wanted in this home. Cute, but not looking very special like his long-haired brother or white-and-black cousin that were part of the 2012 litter. Nothing that would make me fight the rest of the family to keep him. Cruel fate has now taken him from me. I miss him so much.

-- We don't know if both injuries came at once or if his attempt to hop on three legs aggrevated the spinal injury. Perhaps if we could've rushed him to the vet at once when it happened (whenever it happened) he wouldn't have been paralysed and the injury treatable. What if we had rushed him in, ignoring the fact it was already night, pounded on the vet's door demanding she's see us right away, instead of losing hope. What if we would've seen the accident  and been able to fixate the spine to avoid further damage toit at the earliest possible stage. What if we could've prevented the accident. What if...

On the right, Snuttis with mommy Mimi. On the right Ullegull behind Sötis.

Two months also mean not an awful lot of photos. Two months mean he will be remembered as a sweet kitten, but without even knowing his full potential. Two months mean he died defenseless, with no one of the cats or humans he leaned against for help being able to safely carry him back to life. Two months are just too short. Life was just about to begin, he was just about to really discover the world he was born into. He was so innocent.

I've agreed to this sentiment before: "I don't know if heaven exists, but kitty heaven does. It must exist." Sötis deserves a kitty heaven. A paradise full of mice and milk and butterflies -- and lots of other kittens to play with.

The last sunset

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Simple fibre bracelet

No, it's not actually a bracelet I've made, but I did use it as one -- after having untwisted it and folded it in half twice -- while sorting beads yesterday. Not folded at all it would make a light-weight long necklace. What it is? Well, I thought I'd let you figure it out yourself, but on the other hand it's just so easy for anyone working with hand-dyed fibres and for those who don't use fibre it's perhaps something they never knew existed. So I'm telling you anyway:

It's an Oliver Twist One Off skein, a mix of hand-dyed cotton and rayon threads including ribbon yarn, braided threads, bouclé, metallic rayon chain etc. They are fun to buy as you get such an interesting mix of textures and thread types. And the space-dyed colours are usually fab (though unfortunately not always guaranteed colourfast). 

Unless you do a lot of mixed media embroidery -- which I don't -- some of the fibres can have you stumped at times, but the good thing is that the thick skeins often looks so pretty just as they are: you can just see them as little treasures that you take up and stroke (mumbling 'my precious') from time to time without actually using them in a project.

PS! If you've followed this blog for a while, you might've seen the bouclé brass chain, which I made from bouclé rayon yarn taken from a Stef Francis' texture collection "multi-skein". Multi-skein being her name for skeins of mixed threads/yarns.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Roses, always roses

I gathered up a few rose pics taken during July. Most of these roses have already wilted, but there will be new ones. (And, no, it's not really a coincidence that I'm posting rose pictures on this particular date.)

Those last red and white  roses are climbing roses on the facade of the barn. I don't know if I've shown any pics of the barn. At least not of the front of the barn while the roses are in full bloom so here's a pic below.

There's a climbing rose in the greenhouse on the southern end of the barn too. It was there before the big greenhouse my dad built and was sort of built into it. The rose really thrives, clinging along the roof and peeking through it (as you can see), and because of the sheltering walls and relative warmth inside, the rose usually blooms much earlier than the rest.

And, finally, a view of the crowded dog roses behind the barn. These are the ones you can see in the middle pics above (e.g. the rose with the bee).

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Mesh ribbon musings

I've begun a new bead embroidery project -- which was slightly hindered by two cats who had to sit on me in between my face and the beadwork -- but that doesn't keep my mind from thinking of other things too. Like this mesh ribbon.

I originally bought this ribbon because I thought the pattern was fun and it could make an interesting background for embroidery, bead embroidery or perhaps even collage/resin pendants. Either used as a single layer or doubled as in the pic below. But it's been in the ribbon bag ever since as I haven't come up with the right design/project yet.

top: double layer. Bottom: single layer.

two lengths of ribbon side by side.

Then not long ago I happened to stumble over this (scroll down). Don't remember how, but it wasn't because I wanted to find something Friendly Plastic-related. I'd never heard of Liz Welch and her ooze technique and seeing it for the first time it looked very interesting.

Now, I don't use FP and I have no intention to focus on another material right now, but the use of "my" mesh ribbon made me think of other ways to use it than the once I initially thought off.

In the end, I began thinking about using it as a mask or stencil, especially considering my interest in resist patinas. Could the ribbon be used as a resist/"bound object"? The lines are rather fine so I'm not sure; perhaps if I spray it with glue and attach it first. Or maybe I should use it with paint instead? Hold it tight or use stencil glue, dab on colour using a sponge and then remove it. No extended time in a solution during which the patina solution and seep in under the mesh threads or come loose.

For those who own a rolling mill or similar it could probably also be an interesting product to use for texturing.

close-up (note how the dark brown ribbon is really made up from two different colours)

Many ideas, but very few concrete results. However, I havve already tried to use it in another way than the once listed above. Or mor precisely I used one of the ribbon pics. As a texture over another photo. It's the only edit I did to the photo (apart from resizing and rounding the corners) as I just wanted to test the texture: the colours are as I saw them on that night. Maybe the images will need a bit more tweaking for a better effect and maybe this wasn't the best photo to use (the sunset looks even more fab without the texture), but I must say I like the crackle effect it can give an image.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Just a stone

So while working in the potato fields, I collect stones from time to time. Some I pick straight from the ground during the breaks, others I pick from the conveyor belt on the machine. Apart from the flints, which are my all-time favourites, this stone must be my best find. Just really fell for the striped pattern and multiple colours.

Other stones are trickier: you don't really see the colours and patterns unless you wet (or polish) the stone. Sometimes when it's wet, you pick up a pretty stone and put it in the pocket. Then, when looking at it later, it looks just so drab and dull, you wonder why you picked it up. At that point it's important not to throw away the stone (I usually cull them a bit, can't take them all with me) but to try and find out if it has a hidden potential. Ordinairy stones can be fab if you just keep them long enough to give them a tumble.

Unfortunately, I don't have a saw or grinder so there's no way for me to cut these stones for use in jewellery, but some of them are small enough to wire-wrap into pendants, put in a setting or bead a bezel for. The one in the above pic, however, isn't.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The butterfly: patina on silverplate

This silver-plated butterfly component was buried in the same baker's ammonia-and-sawdust mixture as the bronze tags. Like the tag in the bottom right corner, it got a cobalt blue patina. Fearing it'd bleed just like the first tags, I let it dry on the window sill.

Turns out that dark blue doesn't only wash out if the patina is still moist (but not if dry it seems): it dissappears in sunlight too (or air, but the blue tag is still blue and I didn't seal it until today), turning into turquoise blue. You can still see some patches of darker blue, but it's now mainly a dusty turquoise. I also brushed it a bit with a tooth brush to see how durable the crusty patina was. There was dust and some of the plate shows through, but most of it still stuck to the metal.

I  tried to use the vinegar patina on plated components but it didn't take, at least not as fast as the ammonia mixture. Maybe the pieces where made using different plating metals or sealants, maybe the ammonia just works better on plating. Now the pieces from the vinegar jar are in the ammonia jar so we'll see if that works on them. (And the butterfly is in the vinegar and sawdust just because I want to and I already have ammonia turquoise tags so why a butterfly too in a colour I just like sometimes?)

Footnote: I say silverplated and believe it was describes as that, but it could also be white plate or rhodium plate. I'm not sure. Same goes for the two pieces I tested the vinegar-soaked sawdust on.

TAST week 28: Up and down buttonhole stitch

English name: Up and down buttonhole stitch
Swedish name: Langettstygn med omtag

I took a break from the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenges while working. Last week I did was 20, bullion knots, which isn't even on this blog (but a pic can be found on Flickr). A bit of a shame really as it was about the same time there came many stitches I haven't done before. But anyway, now I'm back on track again. Not such when I'll catch up on the weeks I've missed, but right now my focus is on the new challenges.

This stitch is one I've been waiting for. Saw it in TAST 2011 and so thought I might as well wait for it to appear in TAST to learn it. Of cause, liking the look of it I could've learned it whenever I wanted, but I wanted to do it this way so why not?

As the stitch is new to me, I stuck to some simple variations and did most of the stitching on my bright red aida as the grid makes it easier to focus on the technique and stitches than on trying to get everything nice and even. I wanted to make it in all black, but ran out of black floss -- just in time for the doubled motifs!

At first the stitch felt a bit tricky, but once I began stitching rather than just looking at step-by-step illustrations and finished embroidery, it turned out to be a fun and relative easy stitch. And it looks great too so this will be another one of my favourites.

No aurica yarn this time. I actually did a few stitches with beads too, but forgot to take a pics so it'll have to be added later.

What is TAST?

Take a Stitch Tuesday is a weekly embroidery challenge throughout the year by Sharon of Pin Tangle. You can read more about it here (or by clicking the TAST badge to the right).

To see what others have done in this stitch, check out the comments in this post on Pin Tangle. Be sure not to miss Sharon's lovely stitch variations in the actual post.
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