My Crafting Adventures: Jewelry

I have written SIX crafting adventure pieces and still haven’t done one on my jewelry making. That all changes now. You guys know you love my shameless attempts at garnering compliments.

 

You guys might realize by this point that I am not a ‘girly’ girl. But I cannot leave my apartment without a necklace on. I feel weird and naked without one. I feel like everyone is looking at my neck. Even though I logically know they are not.

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This one is a fossilized buffalo tooth.

By this point I have hundreds of necklaces. I have bracelets and have recently been venturing into earrings. My etsy is full of my jewelry for sale.

 

But everything I am going to post on here is from my personal collection and not for sale. It’s not even all of my personal collection. These only get seen if you happen to be looking at my neck. That is the curse of being a crafter. You want to save all the best stuff for yourself.

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Jade dress robe weight that is several hundred years old.

My father has been collecting beads and making jewelry for over 50 years. His jewelry makes the things I am about to show you look like they were done by a child. A gifted child, but still. His work is fantastic.

 

Sometime when I was around 13 or 14, I asked him to teach me how to make jewelry. He and his first wife invented a form of micro macrame with beads and stones at Woodstock. They moved to California and gave away necklaces on the beach. I mentioned that he was a total hippie, right?

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Charoite center bead.

So he sat me down and very patiently showed me how to do it. I practiced for hours until my hands cramped and everything I was doing seemed meaningless. Like when you say a word to many times until it is just noises and nothing more. And then I said, fuck this shit. I’m never going to get it.

 

I tried again a few years later based off my memory and I managed to spend several hours making a beaded cylinder of what appeared to be a cat hairball studded with beads. I savagely attacked it with scissors and hid my unholy horror of a creation at the bottom of a trash bin.

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Turquoise of varying shades. I remade this one twice which is an incredible pain in the ass. But it was worth it.

When I was 17 and had moved away, I asked him to show me again. I was making simple jewelry now and figured I had developed enough hand/eye co-ordination to make it work.

 

My father sat me down again and showed me again how to do the weaving with the string and beads. And I again failed miserably. I could tell he was frustrated but I figured I was just too stupid to ever make it happen.

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Shark’s tooth. I remade this one twice too.

I tried for about a year after that. Every once in a while I would sit down with a newfound determination to make it work. But it never worked. I don’t know where that well-spring of stubbornness and determination even comes from. But it appears to be ever-lasting.

 

Sometime when I was 20 I was trying for my fourth or fifth time to make this wretched thing work. It is so complicated and you have to hold your hands just so and it was one of those situations that felt so alien and awkward.

 

And then, for some reason, I did it backwards. I don’t know how I thought of it. Most likely, I had simply forgotten my father’s original instruction and just decided to make it up as I went (a common theme in my life). And it worked. I don’t know why, but it just worked.

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Tibetan silver and copal. I especially like this one as it has amber in it and kyanite and a sterling silver dime as a clasp.

I thought maybe my father had been telling me how to do it from his perspective which would have been backwards for me and therefore I had been doing it backwards all these years which is why it hadn’t worked. But no. Doing it backwards was what worked for me.

I started making necklaces. They have changed over time in a way that is so obvious it is like carbon dating the layers of sediment in stone. I can look at something I made and know exactly when it is from.

 

I eventually showed my brother the stitch. He does it backwards too.

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Here is a very simple one. Tibetan quartz and silver.

Even though the three of us use the same technique, same materials, same style. Our pieces are as distinctly different as our personalities.

My Crafting Adventures: The L Word Birthday Miracle

Let me just get this out of the way first. The time stamp on my WordPress is always all wonky. As I am writing this, I am two hours away from turning 30.

 

I should explain that the Birthday Miracle part of this is something I stole from my brother. He calls our birthdays “Birthday Miracles.” Last year for my birthday miracle he discovered the cache of dumpster shirts.

 

There were nearly 100 in all. He was walking through an industrial part of town and came across a dumpster full of shirts. He fished them out and they were awesome. We go back periodically for more and it’s mostly all I wear anymore.

 

Like that time I met Debbie? Dumpster shirt. Or when I was riding the giant brass piggy bank in Seattle? Dumpster shirt. They are secretly embedded everywhere on this blog.

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Dumpster tank top. Also, I look exhausted here.

 

Anyway, I decided I was going to make this craft project as a birthday present to myself. I always give myself gifts on the corresponding occasions. I am an amazing gift giver. And I always know exactly what I want.

 

If you read my Twitter, you may have already seen this craft project. But too bad. It’s my birthday and I do what I want.

 

A few months ago, I was watching The L Word. I really liked the first season but stopped somewhere in the third.

 

At some point during the The L Word marathon, there was an artist that made these things. They were delicate mobiles covered in ornaments and glass balls and crystals. The real artist is Julia Condon.

I am clearly not, and will never be, at this level.

They actually reminded me of a the skeleton of some strange creature. All shiny metal and sparkling glass. Like what a dinosaur jellyfish skeleton would look like in a dream.

 

They are amazing!

 

And I knew I had to make one for myself.

 

In typical me fashion, I put this project off until this week. I had already bought the ornaments and had plenty of crystals and beads lying around. Plus, I knew I had some copper wire. Somewhere.

 

I sat down last weekend and patted myself on the back. I was going to cobble this thing together with plenty of time to spare. After all, I am a crafting genius.

 

I started putting it all together, but shit wasn’t working. My copper wire was too flimsy. I needed something heavy duty enough to handle the crystals. This thing is pretty precariously balanced. It takes finesse, which I do not have.

 

Yesterday, when I got off work, I headed over to Home Depot for some industrial strength copper wire. When I brought it home, I quickly realized it was way too thick for my intentions.

It felt like this.

 

I sighed. I was like fucking Goldilocks and the Three Copper Wires. Which I think is a way more realistic fairy tale. I mean, bears don’t even eat porridge. They eat little girls that fall asleep in their beds.

 

I found the right wire today and got down to business. And it turns out the thing was so much harder than I thought it would be. I hurt myself several times. But after four hours, I finally finished.

 

I felt so proud of it, I spammed everyone I know with pictures. Including Twitter.

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So proud.

 

This must be how new mothers feel. I wanted everyone to see what I had made. Except my thing wasn’t ever in my vagina.

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I did it! I made this thing!

 

And so, The L Word Birthday Miracle was created. It is currently hanging over my beading table. It has passed the first test of a successful project: It didn’t fall and break immediately.

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Birthday Miracle!


The second test is to make sure it doesn’t fall sometime in the night. That test is more important as it gives me a coronary and also makes me think I have poltergeists. So, we’ll see.

In which I take you on a tour of my apartment

So I have alluded to my apartment and decorations many times. I have been told it looks like a combination yoga retreat, gypsy caravan, mad scientist lab, and healing shaman hut. I am very pleased by that comparison. I hear, despite my freaky shit, my apartment is very calming to be in.

 

I thought since I just had my apartment re-done and am feeling particularly pleased with it, I would share some of my favorite things with you. It is obviously a work in progress. I still have X-Ray shadowbox nightlights to build. And I didn’t take pictures of the necklaces on every doorknob or the pictures of my sister. Or my craft tables (yes there are two, one just for jewelry making and one for everything else) as they are a bit of a mess. But I think I will be able to still paint an accurate picture of it.

180My transistor collection. I intend to get more and do some kind of art project.

 

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Glass head, shell collection, and wooden clogs.

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I bought this when I got my first place alone. It is driftwood, sea glass, crystals, all kinds of cool weird beach-y things.

 

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I call this my seance table. It is a soy candle, crystal, salt lamp, singing bowl, Buddha head, incense.  It just happens to look unintentionally creepy but then I liked it so I kept it that way. (No seances were done at this table. At least, not by me).

 

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I won this beauty at a gem show last year. It was the grand prize drawing. It is huge. Two feet long by almost a foot wide. It’s my coffee table center piece.

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Native American bone, turquoise and leather chest piece I made and shadowboxed (which is now a verb).

 

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Goat skull and poison ledger. This is on my TV stand.

 

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Antique French chemistry set. Also on my TV stand. For when I start making antique French meth.

 

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Antler necklace holder. I made it for overflow.

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Original driftwood necklace holder. I ran out of room on it. These are both covered in necklaces I have made. making your own jewelry has a ton of perks.

 

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Earring holder I made along with a shitload of earrings I mostly made.

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Collage of random shit. Two barometers, thermometer, brass mail slot, mother of pearl drawer pulls, cast iron seahorse, and a freaky wheat and dried grass crown my sister made for me.

 

I don’t want to make this too long and boring. But that gives you an idea of my space. My bookshelf is not featured, though I love it and it is overflowing with books and comics.  I didn’t include any of my actual artwork (or the crystals that are lying pretty much everywhere) as that would take another blog post. Though, I will make one with those if anyone is really interested.

What do you think? What freaky things do you keep in your apartment? Anyone want to see more of my shit?

 

 

My Crafting Adventures: Knitting

If you read this post then you know that I almost started a crafting blog instead of doing this blog. I have an insane amount of crafty hobbies and thought it would be fun to write about them. But things didn’t go that way.

 

I was thinking about it today and realized, there is no reason why I can’t talk about my crafting on here too. I had intended my crafting blog to be funny, inappropriate, and full of cursing. So it actually isn’t too different from what I am already writing.

 

So here is what I hope is only the first installment of my crafting adventures:

 

When I was 10 my older sister, W, tried to teach me to knit. She had very little patience and I had very little skill. It was a terrible, terrible disaster. She had given me this beautiful skein of ice blue fine mohair to practice with.

Almost exactly this.

The good thing about really fine mohair is that you can fuck it up pretty badly and still not be able to notice. After hours of exhaustive practice I managed to knit up a square about 5in by 5in. I gave this to her for her birthday as a thank you for attempting to teach me. (Reason number 857 to not have kids: pretending to like their bullshit homemade gifts).

Yeah, this is what my life was missing.

I promptly completely forgot about knitting and never attempted it again.

 

Until I was 23. My brother and I had been hanging out, watching a bit of an old Dr. Who episode. We were both intrigued by his crazy scarf. My brother commented that he might like to own a scarf like that.

This is all your fault, Tom!

I went online and saw how expensive they were. I idiotically decided that I could learn to knit and make him one for much cheaper. So I went out and bought the cheapest yarn and needles that I could find to learn on.

 

That was my first mistake. The yarn was synthetic which I am slightly allergic to and very rough. I watched a few YouTube videos, checked a ridiculous quantity of books out of the library and dove in.

 

I could cast on like a pro and I remembered it being the one thing I had been good at when I was 10. I attempted to knit my first row. But I couldn’t.

 

I literally could not get my hands to get into the positions I was seeing in all these damn books and videos. The movements were so awkward and alien to me. I have never been known for my co-ordination, quite the opposite in fact, but this experience was beginning to make me suspect I was not even using the hands I had been born with.

 

Maybe I had been in some horrible accident that I subsequently blocked out. As a result of sad accident I had gotten a double hand transplant. And the doctors had stitched the hands on incorrectly and now there were some crossed tendons in there causing these major disruptions to my desired goals. It was infuriating.

 

I tried for weeks to knit the first row. I tried until I got blisters, then tender sores, then callouses. I tried until the yarn began to disintegrate from sheer monotonous usage. And every time it was so fucking awkward!

Sorry, I couldn’t find any pics of people that looked like they didn’t know what the fuck they were doing.

I imagine this is how babies must feel right before they learn to talk. They know what the noises are that they need to make, they just can’t make them in the right order to be intelligible to anyone.

 

One day I sat down and picked up the needles and I felt sort of comfortable with them in my hands. I cautiously tried to knit. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much after weeks of crushing disappointment. To be honest, it wasn’t even about the scarf anymore. I was going to knit dammit! I didn’t care if it killed me. (What a way to die, in some yarn induced tragedy).

 

I knitted a row. And then another. And then another. I was a knitting fool!

 

I knitted back and forth, row after row, until I created what was undoubtedly the most sorry looking scarf ever created. But it was done. And then I had to learn to bind off.

 

I had been dreading this part so much. Knitting takes hours and hours of work. Dropping a single stitch can ruin the whole piece. But I knew I had to face my fears. I couldn’t call someone to help me every time I wanted to bind off a project. I had to face this on my own.

 

I actually did an okay job. I had finished my first knitting project. Next I tried out a new stitch and made myself a scarf. It looked exactly how I had intended it to. I was ready to knit my Tom Baker scarf for my brother, T.

 

I don’t want any of you to think I am some fabulous knitter at this point in my life. I enjoy knitting. It is very relaxing for me. Like meditating. I can knit for hours without scrutinizing every stitch.

 

But I also have never progressed beyond scarves, hats, cowls, purses, and bathmats. They are lovely gorgeous items. But you probably won’t see me giving away any socks or sweaters to my loved ones. Because if I invest that much time in something that complicated it will be for myself!

Plus, every knitter knows about the knitter curse. Never knit something for a friend or significant other. It will be the death knell of the relationship. (Hey, I don’t make the rules).