Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hockeypulver patina experiment

I should be answering e-mails right now, but can't help procrastinating. So instead I'm writing this short post before forcing myself back to the mail.

This is another one of my little patina experiments. Remember how the only ammonia I could find was baker's ammonia (hjorthornssalt)? Well, some time after that I bought some hockeypulver -- mostly out of nostalgia but also because I had a craving for salty liquorice -- which made me start thinking: salmiak liquorice is made from salmiak and salmiak is ammonia based (I do remember some things from chemistry class!). So does that mean you can use salmiak liquorice powder like hockeypulver to create fumed or buried ammonia patinas?

My first attempt at finding out failed as I ate all of it before finding any metal to test it on... Not sure the second attempt was any better. One of the main reasons are that I wanted to try a fumed patina first and thought it'd work by just wetting the powder (after having eaten most of it), put a bronze tag in the box, close the lid and wait. Unfortunately as the powder melted, the tag sank into the liquid and it was more guck than patina that covered it once I opened the lid again. So I put the tag on a little scrap of paper on the liquid and sealed it up again. And this is the result after the guck was rinsed off. The glimmering is sugar crystals that I haven't scrubbed off: looks like the patina would disappear before the rock hard crystals if I tried and I haven't tried to immerse it in water to let the sugar dissolve.

So it is worth trying again? I don't know, but if it's the only thing you have, it can be used to create some sort of patina. And with better execution, the result would've been better than in my first hockeypulver experiment.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Meowy Monday

These pics are a bit old, from before the snow came again. It's really more about what's happening than about getting cute close-ups of Julle here. I was going to take pics of something else when I bumped into him, perched up there.

So where do you think he is? And why is he sitting there?

Let's zoom out and see if we can solve this "puzzle".

Yes, he's waiting for the birds. Usually, the girls are more interested in them than the boys. Jinja, for example, almost daily skulk behind the boxwood hedge after my sis have fed the wild birds. But some of the younger boys find the little birdies fascinating to watch too. And some of the cats like to get closer to the birds -- or so they think -- by scurrying up on the swing holder. Like Julle have done here (he also enjoys the swing we put up there during summer as you could see here).

If there are any bird lovers reading this: don't worry, the birds are used to the presence of cats and know to stay away when needed and, more importantly, which cats to avoid -- some of them are just curious rather than looking for a snack. Julle, Jinja and Uggi are bird watchers rather than bird hunters. They prefer food to be served on a plate on their command, not chased after. They're cats -- they don't work unless they have to.

And there's Ullegull too. Not liking that I focus so much on Julls instead of him...

Sunday, 27 January 2013

White trees

 I took these pics on Friday. The weather is changing and that day the frost had turned all the trees white. Not pics I'm that pleased with: despite the sunshine the photos came out boring (or is it just the poor light in the computer room? Doubt it but will take a second look tomorrow) and my compositions bad (I was in a hurry so there really isn't any). But it's still pretty white trees so I'm posting a few pics anyway.

Have a feeling these photos will become good candidates for experimenting with textures. I got some nice texture photos when taking pics of the frosty windows last week. Maybe I'll get around to post a few during the week. Come to think of it, I took some frost pics in december, too, that I don't think I've shown you....

PS! A sneak peek of the frost window pics. You can't see much of the frost, really. There was an oval free from frost were you could peek in through the window, just by the pelargonium.

Friday, 25 January 2013

My Nina Designs creations

I'm a fan of Nina Designs jewellery components so when I read about their new blog partner programme and the chance for jewellery makers to get some goodies from them, I just had to ask if I could participate. And earlier this month I got a late christmas present in the mail. Inside were lovely bronze charms and components, soft deer hide leather cord and sheer silk ribbon.

Today I thought I'd show you what I made with the stuff I got (or at least most of it). I won't complain too much about the quality of my photos as I do that too often, but the light turned out to be more finicky than usual today and I just hope the pics are too bad.

One of the first things I did was to figure out something fun to do with the leaves. Thinking about it back and forth, I settled for two things I like: weaving and embroidery floss. Just like you would use a metal frame to weave and twist wire around in wirework, the 24 mm long skeleton leaf charms acted as a frame for weaving the floss. If the charm hadn't been made in such a pretty metal, I would've wrapped the outer lines with floss too, but this time I decided to keep the metal bare, which also frames the colourful floss.

I'm pretty pleased with this experiment and hope at least some of the charm of these autumn leaves will show in the photo too, which really was a balance between showing detail (which make it look clumsy, but shows up the weaving) and showing the dainty leaves in their natural size.

Originally I wanted to show them on a golden jewellery chain, which is how I intend to wear them, but I couldn't find it. So just try to imagine the leaves dangling on i thin matching chain.

The package also contained two coral branch charms, which I immediately wanted to embellish a bit. It was like they were crying out for some blossoms and leaves. This was my first version with tiny acrylic flowers wire-wrapped onto the branch. Simple, but fun. Not sure what chain or cord I want for this one, but will probably opt for a chain that'll go nicely with the colour and texture of the branch.

I also made a second version today with the same flowers but with added seed bead picot leaves where I strung the pendant on the green deer hide cord and finished by adding the toggle clasp that were also in my package. No pic of that as I'm still not sure whether I like it or not.

UPDATE: I just realised that it would've been a nice touch if I'd oxidized the branch first for a more earthtone colour rather than a shiny bronze. 

The sheer silk ribbon (aka fairy ribbon) I got had such a gorgeous dark purple colour I knew this would probably be my favourite piece. But what to add to it when I'm a girl that can wrap a ribbon around my wrist and find that a perfect bracelet in itself? Actually, this piece started out as and idea. It all began with the infinity link and my questioning myself what could be a fun and less usual way of using it. Why not make it into a slider, threading it onto the ribbon and adding a focalpiece to it? Which is exactly what I did by wiring an acrylic violet flower and two dark green acrylic leaves to the middle of the link.

To finish the bracelet, I added two -- for their size rather heavy -- lotus petal charms (such a simple and lovely shape) to each end of the ribbon. The idea is that they will both keep the slider from falling off and add some weight that'll keep the knot  in place when wearing the bracelet. I say bracelet, but it could probably also double as a necklace.

The final piece were a couple of earrings. Unfortunately I ran out of roses, but I didn't want to give up my idea so I simply made just one earring. The base for this earring is a three teardrops link that I attached to a bronze hook. I then played around with different ideas, arranging roses in different ways before ending up with this design. To attach the tiny metal roses I used something I rarely use: glue. A cheat and shortcut sometimes, but here pretty m uch my only option due to an unforeseen lack of suitable wire in the right colour.

Of cause, just making a single earring I ended up with a leftover hook and teardrop link. Therefore I made a second design using a single, velvet matte aluminium rose wired onto the bottom link. Very simple and "clean" compared to the first earring. Not sure if it'd look better on an earring with just one teardrop instead of three? But it's definitely  something for those that prefer simple jewellery and a single rose to a whole bouquet.

And that's it, my take on Nina Designs bronze jewellery components. I hope you liked them and perhaps were inspired by them.


Disclaimer: The materials above were provided as part of the Nina Designs blogging program. The author of this blog has not received any payment from above-mentioned company. The post above represents only personal opinion of the blog author.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

January bead soup palette

January is almost over -- or at least two thirds of the month is -- and I haven't shown the latest bead mix. Maybe it's because it's a simple thing I threw together as I couldn't decide what to do with the mix that was originally intended to be the first monthly soup of the year (because of the winter colours in it).

This is a really simple mix of light earthtone colours. The kind I like to use. The pearls add a nice shine to the colours. For a darker mix, you could use brown and olive green pearls instead. For more colour, consider adding a light purple or mauve hue to the blend.

I like the two neutrals beige (here champagne) and brown (bronze) as they go so well with many of the colours I like such as purple, rose, green, turquoise, teal, mauve etc. If you don't know how to mix a colour, why not first try and mix it with brown and beige? Might sound slightly boring, but it works great with some colours, especially if using matte or silky finishes -- which of cause includes fibres and other textile supplies like silk ribbons. My siamese cat necklace is a variation of this type of colour combo.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Winter renewed: Frost

Here's some of the photos I mentioned before the weekend. Focus is on close-ups of frost and snow rather than landscapes and scenic views. We, my sis and I, took that kind of photos too, but surely you must get tired of seeing the same views of Svenstad all the time? Maybe there'll be a couple of those pics another day, but in this post it's all about macro photography and frost.

So we went for a walk, my sis and I, just an hour or so before sunset, which is why the sun's so low in the photos. When we got to the other side of the road, we saw that there was a fantastic frosted surface on the snow and when we got further up the hill we also found these large frost formations on staws of grass. Looked really fascinating.

There were also more delicate grass with a different, lighter frost coating.

Finally, a couple of pics from the garden where it was more snow and thin frost coatings on the leaves. I think it's Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or perhaps mint in the second pic. The snow has gathered in little balls on the nodes where the leaves were attached.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Meowy Monday

Today it's all about Ullegull again. More precisely Ullegull in the snow (as mentioned earlier, we got a white winter again last week). He likes it. At least for a while, then it get too cold. Despite all that fluffy fur.

Ah, that's Uggi's reaction to the fire truck sirens. There were a couple of trucks on the main road, which you barely can make out in the background of the photo.

Alas, I missed the opportunity when he -- after the truck had disappeared to the west -- ran down the hill. This is the only photo I got, taken just before he took off.

Soon he found it was too cold. You can't see it in these pics, but he began to shiver while my sis held him up to camera so he could play with it (she got him to make a nose print on the lens...).  Tried my best to crop her out (though I think you still see enough of her for her to want to kill me if she knew I posted that photo online!).

Friday, 18 January 2013

Winter birds

I'm no good at photographing birds -- unless they're water birds or at least by the sea -- so this is an unusual photo. For those of you not familiar with birds, it's a nuthatch (nötväcka) on the left and a blue tit (blåmes) on the right.

This photo's from a big bunch of pics I just downloaded after filling the memory card with photos of a yet again snowy landscape. While it'd be a lot more fun to show those, they still have to wait as they need to be resized and cropped before showing them. Not to mention having to pick out a reasonable number of photos from the over 400 I took. That would be a tad much to show all of those, don't you agree? Also, when my memory card was full I took some pics with my sis' camera so they need to be retrieved too. So until then you'll have to make due with the little birds here.

Well, ok, here's a little sneak peek of what I hope to be able to show you more of later in the weekend (as in probably Sunday, won't be home tomorrow).

Monday, 14 January 2013

Meowy Monday

When my sis was reorganizing her workspace, she found a bunch of photos I took years ago. Autumn of 2006 to be precise (I think). I scanned in the three photos I call Äppelkatter, Apple Cats, thinking they'd be fun to show here on the blog.

There's a story behind these photos and it all started one day when I'd let the kittens Mini, Mimi and Isse out to play. I went indoors as they were old enough to take care of themselves and still young enough to not to have the courage to go very far (e. g. up to the road). When I got back out I didn't see them. No panick: cats like to hide. I called their names, which usually was very effective. No kittens. A little worried now, but still: they could be preoccupied playing in the bushes. Looked around the yard, but didn't find anything. At that point I started to worry, it was like they had vanished into thin air. Having lost cats without a trace before, it wasn't a good sign.

I walked around the garden and that's when I heard something. I walked towards the sound that came from the place where we have a few apple trees (not really an orchard, more a section of the garden with apple trees). The kittens had never been that far from the house before so I hadn't searched there. Now I did. And I found the little kitties up in the apple trees. Climbing around like they'd been born in them. I'd never seen them climb up even a small bush before so it was with a big surprise I saw them hiding, climbing and playing up in the canopies.

 That's Mini in the top pic and then Mimi above. They did like to walk out on the smallest limbs of the trees like that -- thankfully the trees weren't that big, just a little over two metres or something.

Below, you can see Isse -- and, if you look close, a paw and tail above him as one of the others are climbing down.

They did give me a scare that day, but it all ended well. And for many days after, the apple trees became their favourite playground. While most of our cats love to climb trees and telephone poles, no one has -- before or after -- been as fond of the apple trees as this trio were.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Having fun with rizo beads

No, I haven't disappeared from the online world, though for some reason I haven't blogged since new year's eve and I've forgotten a Meowy Monday. Partially it's been because I've had fun with a couple of "late christmas gifts" I got offered during boxing week.

During christmas, Karin from swedish bead shop Fru Pärla asked me if I wanted to have some new rizo beads to play with and blog about. Fru Pärla was the first swedish shop to get the new beads that were presented by Sabine Lippert in December. If you're into beadweaving, you've probably heard about these new rice-shaped top-drilled little beads. While they've been developed by and for bead weavers, they do work very well in all sorts of beading/jewellery making, from stringing to chain maille. As I hope to show here.

These are just my first designs: I still have beads left and hope to use them soon.

This isn't the first thing I made, but of the designs here it's the pièce de résistance. My own original design, but most of all a design where everything just fell into place. No frustration at all: no ripping up, no re-thinking the whole thing, no design issues at all (apart from choosing whether or not to add the big daggers). If only it was always like that!


I was really keeping my fingers crossed the colours would work as I picked them out at night in poor light... The preciosa rivoli is crystal honey, the rizo and seeds topaz, the 8 mm daggers crystal apricot and then I don't know the colour name of the 16 mm daggers.

This is actually the first thing I made, partially to show that the beads can be used for more than just bead weaving. It's a simple 2-in-1 chain maille bracelet with two rizos added to each jump ring. Maybe it'd look better with slightly smaller rings, but this is the only size I had. Still like it, though, and the topaz amber rizos have a ½ coat with a metallic finish that matches the rings and clasp beautifully.

Then I tried a few variations of the rizo chain, adding e. g. flower bead dangles, drops etc. However, the next design came about when I wanted to vary sizes rather than shapes. So why not add daggers? Well, it didn't turn out as planned at all as I forgot that even 11 mm daggers are too big to hang as freely and dangle as easily as e. g. rizos, drops or even long magatamas. Instead they form a much more stylized pattern. To keep that interesting new pattern still, the chain was turned into an earring rather than a bracelet.

I don't wear earrings so I'm not sure that the ideal length for this one would be. Any suggestions? Longer, shorter, as it is?

(I'm considering doing a new free tutorial for either the bracelet or the earring -- anyone want that? And if so, which of the two would you rather have instructions to? The earrings might need a little tweaking first, though...)

Last -- and least -- I made a tiny beaded bead. I'm thinking of making a handful and use them as space beads in a necklace or bracelet so it isn't a finished design, but I still wanted to show them now that I got photos of the other stuff I'm been making.

By the way: the colour used in the beaded bead and the earring is called emerald azuro and if you love jewel tones, you might want to check it out. Lovely emerald greens and metallic dark blues in that finish.

I'm going to play some more with my rizo beads today and hopefully I'll also get to work on few things with things I got in a blog partner programme (more on that later!). Then I hope to get some time to work on my first Bead Journal Project panel. So plenty of fun things to do. Don't feel like I'm on a creative roll at the moment, but I'm still being creative and that's a step in the right direction. The year seems to be beginning just fine. Not with a big, fabulous bang, but relaxed and filled with little progresses. And that's pretty decent, isn't it? Whether big or small, every step you take is a good thing. Even if it's slow, it propells you forward.
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