Snuggly cats

What a yawn!

What a yawn!

The cats are enjoying the lovely spring weather we are having and have been extra affectionate and snuggle up with me every chance they get.  Here is Mo caught in the middle of a yawn and the pair of them snoozing by a shady window.

Double snooze by the window

Double snooze by the window


The spring flowers are blooming, the vegetable garden has a good start; altogether it’s a wonderful time of year.

Mo looked pretty surprised when he saw me evicting a stray tomcat, but we will all appreciate having that foul smelling, bad tempered freeloader gone for good.

Embroidery treasures

foxy embroidery and book

foxy embroidery and book

Many years ago I made a blouse entirely by hand, following the example of a similar garment.  I decorated the front panel with an embroidery of a fox with grapes.  The fox was based on a sweet children’s book, The Little Trapper, by Kathryn and Byron Jackson with illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren.  Here is also pictured is a small embroidery of a lion’s face that was rescued from a favorite pair of jeans.

lion and fox

lion and fox

Very fancy embroidery machines could be programmed to do similar work, but that would take half the fun out of it!  Hand embroidery is like painting with a rather limited palette, and making stitches look like fur was a way to add a realistic touch.


Antique quilts

Persian fan antique quilt


Quilts have always been an interest of mine, as I grew up with quilts from my grandmother and great grandmother gracing my bedrooms.

Recently I received an antique quilt as a family heirloom.  It might be called a Persian Plate pattern; one version has a central circle with radiating fan of smaller strips.  The quilt show here has squares made of quarter circles.


I am hoping to make a similar quilt with some of the fabrics I have collected.  I have some dark maroons and gray and navy from my father’s ties and a baby blue fabric that can form the center circles with a tan background for the balance of the blocks.

I added some scraps of antique kimono silk and some other silk ties along with a dress and shirt of mine to also fit into the color range.

quilt fabric





A simpler project for a first quilt might be to assemble these antique quilt squares into a top.  I need a bit of complementary fabrics to fill out the balance of the top and a bit more for some edging border.  Mo approves of the layout already!

antique quilt squares laid out for a look

Denim upcycled, round two

Here is the other pant leg from the same pair of jeans made into the second denim purse.  I had used one front pocket and both back pockets on the first purse.  On this one, the other front pocket was attached to the back; it creates a roomy double pocket big enough for a large smart phone.  Inside there is a smaller phone pocket made from the back waistband of the jeans.

More of the back waistband that had the leather patch was turned into a tiny pocket, and the fly made a small zipper pocket.  Those two small pockets are on the front.  The front flap will have applique and embroidery to depict a maple and pine.

These two bags used about every scrap from that pair of jeans.  I used a double patch of fabric to create the bottoms of the bags from fabric on the upper thigh.  There is a very small amount of denim left over.   The strap has some extra fabric to create a fringe area as it frays over time.

For a favorite old pair of jeans that is too worn out it is a great way to remember them and keep them around for a second life.  All the tags on the jeans and the decorations on the pockets are all still there.

Second life for the second pant leg

Front pocket on the back

Bottom detail and mini pockets

Denim bag #2, front flap

Denim recycled

For the colder winter months, when making beads is not an option, there are plenty of other creative outlets.  This latest project converts the pant leg from a pair of jeans into a small purse.  I have attached pockets on the front and the back and another set of pockets inside.

It was a bit tricky getting the sewing machine to reach down inside a tube, ie the existing pant leg, and the bottom of the bag had to be finished by hand.  The beginnings of embellishment include antique kimono fabrics and it will have more quilting and satin stitching, and no doubt some handmade beads as well.  A large handmade glass bead will be the button to close the bag; it will look nice dangling off the front flap.  The strap is made from the seam running up the side of the pant leg; certainly sturdy and already securely attached to the bag.  It has a bit of fringe, which ought to fray in an interesting way.

front view of denim purse

The front pocket from the jeans hides under the front flap, which can be tucked into the bag.  I like the rivets and the wear patterns and fading.

The back has the roomy back pocket and even the bottom of the bag gets some decoration.  It was definitely a fun way to recycle an old favorite pair of Calvin Klein jeans into a new use!

Click on any of the photos for a closer view.

back double pocket and bottom detail

triple front pockets with that cute coin pocket

Mo beads – black with hints of yellow

Mr Mo, my black cat, has golden yellow eyes that are quite striking in contrast with his velvety black fur.  Last summer I made a series of pet beads in colors of several animal friends, and the Mo series were mostly black with hints of gold and yellow, with clear encasing.

Here are three Mo beads mounted up as a necklace and earrings, with black seed beads providing dangling accents.  It is always fun to have part of any jewelry be in motion when the wearer is.

Black bead dangles

Click on the photo for a close up of the earring and pendant set.


Below is a shot of the champion snoozer Mr Slikypants Mo, sound asleep with his feet in the air.


Mo snooze

Northwest berries

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with an abundance of berry varieties.  Some might say that the non-native Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) is the kudzu of the Northwest.  The roots shoot out the giant primocane, a thick arching stem that can reach up to 20 feet in length during the first year of growth, and a mass of branching and fruiting floricanes on the second year.

I found a use for those long thorny primocanes one year when I had damage to my fence from people leaning or sitting on it.  I stapled a length of blackberry primocane along the upper edge of the fence.   Voila, organic natural barbed wire that worked like a charm and cost nothing.

My favorite flavor are the more tart pinkish berries on the cusp of ripeness.  Here are a series of handmade Aura Sun Arts beads with the hobnail texture of blackberries and the range of colors.    The Wikipedia article I linked to above has a nice photo showing this range of colors as the fruit ripens.  It goes from dark green to pale green to pink to dark pink to a very deep inky purple.

ripening berries

Lovely larimar

Larimar is a beautiful blue semi-precious stone mined in the Dominican Republic.  The blue colors are like ocean colors in the Caribbean and the stone is popular on many islands in the area.  On a trip to the Virgin Islands I picked up a specimen of larimar cut like a small marble and a card indicating what stones came from each part of the world.

Here I tried mixing various blues and stirring the colors with a metal rod to create a marbled effect.  These beads do not have the usual clear coat of glass called encasing, so the color is right at the surface of the bead.  It was an interesting challenge to try to match the color.  First I made a core bead and then layered more colors on the surface and stirred those together by hand, being careful to just heat the outside of the bead and not get the entire bead molten.

Stir it up!  Click on the photo for an enlarged view.

larimar marble and beads

September ending

Summer has continued through September in Seattle with hardly any rain, which we badly need.  The warm weather allows me to continue beading.  The shorter days mean that if it gets dark while I am at the torch, an assortment of insects such as those giant crane flies might get in and buzz around me.  If they are drawn to the flame they are toast.

red white and blue


Here are a couple new rows of handmade beads:  The ever popular red and black, colors that are just made for each other.  Of course they have tiny hints of gold.  Click on the photo for a closer view.

The dark blue beads were made on 9-11, the 11th anniversary of the attacks on our country.  They have a black core, layered with translucent red which is nearly invisible against the black.  Above that float specks of blue and periwinkle, with hints of white or white specks of sand and clear encasing.  They are a subtle red, white and blue but the colors themselves can represent mourning, fire, police, firemen, lost souls.  With hints of green and purple the sorrow is the color of a bruise.


A mourning cloak butterfly stopped by, a rich deep brown with yellow accents.

mourning cloak


Mr Mo stopped to check out another project in the works.

what's that Mo?


Summer crop of beads

summer beads 2012

This summer I have been mixing some custom colors by blending and stirring several colors together.  Browns can be especially tricky so by making several custom shades and blending them I have come up with some beads that resemble wood grain.

Another challenge was trying to match the color and shape of some green beads that were missing on a necklace a friend hoped I could repair.  I did not get an exact match but the unusual shape was fun to experiment with.

Here is a photo of some of the recent beads.  The round ones have touches of a bright greenish yellow called Uranium Green.

Click on the photo for a closer view.


Another glorious sign of summer are the crop of sunflowers.

summer sunflower