Thursday, May 30, 2013

Midnight Necklace and Other Tales of Metal Smithing

Midnight Necklace: Brass and Beads

The curse of the midnight necklace.... is that it is not made of gold, and all who wear it are instantly fabulous. I took a few jewelry/metal smithing classes in college and still make jewelry from time to time. For this piece, I began by designing a star shape and sawing that shape out of a sheet of brass. I used a jeweler's saw. The chain was crafted by bending brass wire with a needle nose pliers into an S shape and linking all the Ss. I added some black beads for a little pizzaz.

African violet inspiration

African violet necklace: Brass and Yellow Jasper

A few years ago I made my mom this African violet inspired necklace. I cut the African violet shape out of brass, again with a jeweler's saw. Then I put the brass into a mixture of salt, woodchips, and ammonia to achieve the purplish patina. Here is a helpful link for making a salt and vinegar patina. Make sure to handle ammonia carefully, wear gloves! The stone is yellow jasper and I set it with 5 prongs. The prongs are part of the cut out flower piece. Easy peasy!

Swarovski and silver

I gave this last necklace to my mom for Christmas this year. The chain is the same linked S chain as before, but this time I used silver wire. The silver was so pretty and nice to work with. I bought tiny light blue swarovski crystal beads to add some shimmer. I love how airy and sweet it looks. These necklaces are all finished with lobster clasps. What kinds of jewelry smithing tricks do you know?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sewing Laurel (aka Project Laurel)

My sewing themed Laurel!

I made my barrette a few years ago with some pretty aqua lace and tiny black beads.

April 30th, at about a quarter to midnight I was on my labtop frantically trying to learn the nouonces of flickr. I was one of the procrastinators, uploading photos for the Colette Laurel Challenge on the night they were due. It was a wild night. After so many years as a fan, I finally know what it must feel like to be a contestant on Project Runway. The night was rife with last minute photoshoots, quickly sewn hems, and tears… many tears.

This is the expression procrastinators make...

To make matters worse, our internet connection decided to come in and out that night, so I had to re-upload all the images to flickr after I had already named, tagged, and described them. I think I hit my lowest moment around 11:45 at night, when the internet quit again and none of my photos of this "Sewing Laurel" were on flickr. I had a little cry, and then bucked-up and got the job done.

It was all sooo worth it in the end because the challenge was really fun and I love my dress. It is just awesome to see everyone's different interpretations of the pattern. Who knew there were so many ways to do one dress? I was truly inspired.

I found a cool old bottle on the forest floor, I am going to use it in our wedding next spring.

My Laurel has self-designed cotton voile fabric for the bottom section, a beautiful sheer swiss dot fabric on the bodice, black lace sleeves, a dark navy underlining, and light aqua bias tape trim around the neckline. The fabric I designed is sewing themed - it has little pins and needles stuck in a latticey-lacy geometric type pattern.

It's hard to see in this photo, but the pins are a light blue color.

This was my first time printing fabric from Spoonflower. I think it printed pretty nicely, I had intended the skirt to be more of a dark-rich black but I think it printed grey because it was on voile - not quite sure. I would definitely print fabric from them again - I love having that amount of freedom/control.

Dang allergies

We took pictures again at Maquoketa Caves State Park. The flowers were just starting to bloom and everything was starting to turn green - it was magical. I saw some of my favorite wild Iowa plants.

These are Jack in the Pulpits - one of my favorite wild plants to find.

I found a little snail

I love the tiny scallops on the edge of the lace sleeves.

I'm not really sure what my next sewing project will be. I have been dreaming about polka-dotted shorts and Hepburn-inspired cigarette pants. Definitely something that takes advantage of this nice warm weather!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Miette for Mom

My beautiful mom in her new Miette skirt!

It has been a busy few days, but I finally have time to post the skirt I made for Mother's Day. I used Tilly's Miette pattern and jazzed it up with a panel of geometric floral fabric on the bottom. The Miette was really simple to put together and I love how Tilly has the wastband put together - it looks so tidy on the inside. In fact, this skirt has the cleanest and best looking seam finishes I have ever put together.

Cute fabric from Home Ec. in Iowa City - Love that store!

I took a gazillion photos of the inside of this skirt - I felt like a proud mother :)  I bound most of the seams to finish them, and I used a french seam to connect the jean material with the floral material.

Beautifully bound seams!

These seams are bound to last  ;)

I had to show her how it works

Mother's Day card / tag

I designed this tag, with washing instructions, and attached it with a lace ribbon. It looked super cute and doubled as a Mother's Day card. Next I need to make a Miette for myself. This one was hard to give away - I totally fell in love with it. She's lucky she's my mom  ;)

Mom, Miette, and me  :D

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!!

This is the Happy Mother's Day tag I designed and attached to my Mom's gift.

Happy Mother's Day! I had a lovely weekend with my family. Both of my sisters were home, with their significant others, and we had a lot of fun. I made my mom Tilly's Miette wrap skirt for her Mother's Day Gift. Miraculously it was a perfect fit!

Mom and me! Look at that stunning Miette!

Stay tuned for more photos of Mom in her Miette. I think this Miette is the most well made piece of clothing I have ever created - the construction is seamless (not literally)  ;)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Yummy Rose Buttermints

Yummy buttermints!

A few weekends ago, my Grandma and I made these pretty buttermints. We are practicing for my wedding next spring. They were so easy to make and you can make them in any color - yay! I found the recipe on The Splendid Table's website. If you haven't listened to Lynne Rossetto Kasper's radio show, I really recommend it. She interviews interesting guests and shares delicious recipes.

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 cups (520 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) pure peppermint oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) whole milk
  • Food coloring (optional)
1. Combine the butter and the 4 cups confectioners' sugar in the mixer bowl. 
2. Add the peppermint oil and milk, and beat on medium speed until combined.
3. Lightly dust some confectioners' sugar onto a cutting board, and turn the dough out onto the board. If you're using food coloring, add 1 to 2 drops (or more for deeper color) and knead it into the dough with your hands until incorporated. If you're making multiple colors, divide the dough into several pieces first (one for each color) and add the food coloring to each piece, starting with 1 drop and kneading, adding 1 drop at a time, until the desired colors are reached. Gather each piece of dough into a ball.
4. Sift more confectioners' sugar over the cutting board. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (if you haven't divided it already), and set 3 of the pieces aside, loosely covered in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Using your hands, and dusting them with confectioners' sugar as needed to reduce any stickiness, gently roll one piece of dough into a log about 1/2-inch in diameter.
5. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the log into 1/2-inch pieces. Lay the pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet to dry. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough, and allow the candies to dry at room temperature, uncovered, overnight.
Store the buttermints, layered between parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature, away from light, for up to 2 weeks.

We rolled the buttermint dough into balls, dipped them in sugar, and pressed them into a rose shaped candy mould. I love the effect of the sugar, they look so sweet and whimsical. Give them a try! Lynne suggests a coffee flavored variation that I have to try - what could be better?