Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Little Box Necklace

About a week and a half before my Dad died, he gave me a pair of unusual, little silver boxes. (Everyone who knows me knows that I have a penchant for little boxes.) Each box has a tiny sliding door in the back. At first I thought they were snuffboxes. But then I saw that there were holes in one end of each box.

antique French vinaigrette (scent box)

Then it hit me - they were vinaigrettes! No, not salad dressings, this vinaigrette is a small scent box. They were used in the late 1700's and early 1800's to carry a scrap of cotton or cloth which had been dipped in scent. Some of these scents were vinegar-based, hence the name. Sounds quite pungent, doesn't it? But it made sense in a time when people did not bathe regularly.

necklace I made with antique vinaigrette my father gave me

So when my father died somewhat unexpectedly, I decided to make a necklace with one of them to wear to his funeral. It seemed especially appropriate to me because he loved the slightly eclectic jewelry  that I make.

hanging view of necklace made with recycled beads and chain

You can see that it is quite long, but I made it so the length can be adjusted. 

 closeup of recycled beads, capacitor, ^ chandelier crystals

It's made with all recycled materials. I used vintage chandelier crystals, bits of a number of vintage necklaces. Part of the necklace is made from a vintage beaded light bulb cover. I also threw in a capacitor (an electronic component).

recyced / upcycled necklace

I added a large faux pearl to one end. When you shorten the necklace, this will hang down in back as an added element. I love it, and I think of my Dad whenever I wear it.

 Let me know what you think of my creation.

Another Felted Potholder

So I made another felted potholder. But I think I'll keep this one for myself. I like the crazy colors and the abstract design.

recycled sweater felted potholder

And here it is with the banana bread I made for breakfast. Yum!

my banana bread and recycled potholder

I need to make another one so that it will have a mate. And then I have to decide where to hang them in my kitchen. That will be more difficult than it sounds. My kitchen has one standard doorway, one extra    wide doorway, and four windows. Add in two antique apothecary cabinets, each one about six feet wide and eight feet tall. You can imagine that I don't have much wall space left. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Gifts - Felted Potholders

Sorry, it's been so long since my first post. I was all set to really buckle down and blog regularly, but early in December my father became ill. He passed away somewhat unexpectedly a few days later. Ironically he was on his way home from the hospital after beating his pneumonia when he died getting out of his car. Just when we thought he'd dodged a bullet. So I've been busy with his estate and, of course, with Christmas.

I love to make handmade Christmas presents. There's just something wonderful about a gift made with by hand with care. I do it every year, and thought about skipping it this year after my Dad passed away. But the week of Christmas, I was overcome by a need to create something. So I made potholders. I had already machine felted a number of thrift shop sweaters for earlier projects. So I cut out squares of the felt, then added needle felted decorations.

Here are a few of my creations. Somehow I neglected to take a picture of my favorite - I guess I had already wrapped it. It was impressionistic; I wanted it to look like flowers in a meadow.

recycled felted sweater potholder

I'm fairly new to needle felting, but I liked how these flowers turned out.

swirled upcycled felted sweater potholder

This one is very basic but I liked the sinuous shape. I added a coordinating button with contrasting yarn crocheted to form a loop for hanging. 

Van Gogh-esque potholder made from recycled machine felted sweaters

I can't decide whether this one is a meteor shower or a variation on a Van Gogh.

abstract needle felted potholder

This is one of my more abstract ones; I love the colors.

upcycled felted sweater into potholder

I knew these colors would work beautifully in my sister-in-law's kitchen.

recycled felted sweater potholder with needle felted decorations

This one is the craziest. I felted in pieces of yarn, roving, and more sari silk scraps. (Can you ever have too much silk?)

I even fired up my cast iron pan and let it get nice and hot to test them. I picked up the skillet with one of these and then with my store-bought oven mitt. The felted wool worked better. Hooray!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Remaking my Sari Silk Purse

I think I'll start with a crazy project that I made back in September. This all began about a year ago when my daughter and I were out yard sale-ing with my wonderful mother-in-law, Gretchen. One sale had this cool (and slightly crazy) purse made from sari silk scraps. My mother-in-law bought it and took it back to Virginia with her.

sari silk ribbon purse before
Until her next visit when she gave it to me saying that she never used it. So I carried it for part of the summer but always felt that it didn't totally 'fit' me. And then it started to fall apart - literally. So I decided to remake it. I'd never made a bag before so I hit the internet and found this wonderful tutorial by littlegirlPearl.

Here's a picture of the bag before. You can see that it is a little crazy. The silk scraps were fraying extensively and starting to fall off the bag. Plus one of the handles had come unsewn.

The sari scraps were gathered and sewn on along the top edge of each row only. I grabbed my seam ripper and undid the stitching and freed all my little sari scraps. how I took apart the purse

Just look at how beautiful the silk is - nothing takes dye like silk does.

sari silk scraps I salvaged from bag - how beautiful

 And my little helper agrees. Say hello to Ginger.
bowl full of salvaged sari silk scraps with my cat investigating

Now I turned to littlegirlPearl's tutorial. Sort of. I needed two pieces of fabric that would be the basis for each side of the bag. So I decided that I liked the underlying shape of the original bag. That meant I could use the original bag as a cutting template. I knew that I wanted to attach the silk bits by stitching them down. (I was really making this up as I went along, but I was hoping that stitching down the pieces of silk would cut down on the fraying.) However the thought of pinning down all those slippery bits of fabric was daunting. 

piecing together the recycled silk piecesSo I pulled out my two-sided iron on interfacing and ironed it onto the side. Then I laid out pieces of silk on this. As you can see, I cut the silk scraps into smaller pieces to get more of a patchwork effect. I made the mistake of sneezing partway through this stage and silk went flying everywhere.

This shows one side after I laid out all the silk. Very carefully I laid down a tea towel on top of it to hold the silk still and act as a pressing cloth. Then I ironed it to stick the silk to the interfacing and the fabric piece that is the basis for one side of the bag. 

one side of bag with recycled silk pieces after I quilted it
Then I stitched parallel lines all over it. Kind of like quilting. I love the look that it gave the piece - I think it unified it.

Can you believe the colors here? I love that some of the pieces are patterned and some are solids. By the way, I found out that you can buy sari silk scraps on Etsy if this makes you crave some.

closeup of quilted recycled sari silk bag piece

I'm not going to try to go through the detailed steps of making this purse. LittlegirlPearl has done such a good job that I cannot compete. I just wanted to explain the evolution of my bag. 

pockets in lining of remade bagOne of the complaints I had with the original bag was the black lining. I often had to stand under a light to see down into its murky depths. So I decided to have a brighter lining this time. I found a bright blue dress at a thrift shop.  And it had some embroidered trim on the sleeves so I could make pretty little pockets like these.

MOP handled antique nail file

It occurred to me that since I was making this from scratch I could solve some of the storage problems I had with my old purse. For example, I have this beautiful antique mother of pearl nail file that I always carry with me. I love how people used to make even utilitarian items look so decorative. I can just imagine that my grandmother carried a piece like this in her purse.

 But my favorite nail file always gets lost in my bags. So I made a pocket just for it in this bag. I love it! Now I can always reach right in and find it.

finished recycled sari silk bag

Here's the finished bag! I reused the straps from the old bag which made me happy. I love to recycle. One thing I especially like about this bag is how lightweight it is. It's as colorful as the original but not quite as crazy. And I have enough silk scraps left for several more projects. (Please excuse my messy house; housekeeping is not my forte.)