Friday, June 29, 2007

Wunderkammer at Beklina

I'm delighted to report that some of my work is now for sale at Beklina, a wonderful California-based online boutique with a fair trade and organic focus. You can see the pendants above in the "accessories" section as well as display budding coral in "paper & nest."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Integrity verified

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that I was testing the integrity of a "barnacle necklace" design. I'm happy to report that it seems to be very strong, and I've since developed a new way to attach the bale with is sturdier and less obtrusive.

The knots of the embroidery floss braid and concealed inside two adjacent barnacles. The braid is fed through the back of the base to create the loop which a cord or chain can be passed through.

The more recent "specimens" of this type which I've been making have more widely varied diameters of each individual barnacle. I am starting, in some cases, with a chain of up to 18 stitches....

The particularly huge one you see in the pictures is extremely dense, and took forever to make. I am now using a spacing that would put only about 11 "buds" on a backing of this size, rather than the 17 shown here.

1,000 yards of custom color

Frustrated with working with only two decently ocean-y colors of crochet thread, I broke down and made my own using a dusting of dye from various permutations of three packages of RIT.

This was really an exercise in deriving the basic rules of skein-making. I spent way too much time untangling yarn last weekend...

Now that I have these balls, though, I can start free-forming seaweed gardens which I am planning to attach to pin backs....

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Customer appreciation"

Experimetal, an incredibly talented jeweler and metalworker who was just recently Etsy's featured seller, placed a custom order with me for a 2-foot long coral frond. She made my week by sending this beautiful photo of the finished piece with her dogs - she says they are of the Alaskan Klee Kai breed, which, as far as my lazy internet research can tell, is relatively new and definitely super cute.

Untitled (Head) by selflesh

Untitled (Head), originally uploaded by selflesh.

I love how selflesh uses these cut map fragments to produce a familiar human image - it's reminiscent of an anatomical drawing from a distance. The excellent twist, revealed upon closer inspection, is that all the information (markings, colors, lines) is erroneous as far as knowledge of the "head" goes, like much of what can be seen in very old, speculative anatomical works.

That's not to say the map is meaningless from an artistic perspective, of course!

Please take a look at the rest of her amazing work. She has a very bizarre way of combining crochet thread and wax...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Barnacle necklace

The trouble with making these individual "barnacles" (which are just like the "white coral" I've made in the past, except that they vary in diameter rather than height) is that they tend to collapse when they're very small. I am trying to devise a way to keep them open....

The crochet thread is very slick, and it's difficult to negotiate a stable knot. I ended up weaving one of the "tails" through the wall of the "barnacle" to meet the other, where I tied them in a knot. One of those resultant thread tails was then trimmed off, and the other used to sew the piece of the backing. Unlike the white coral, these little things seem to look better if the last row made is pointing up, rather than down at the backing.

I plan to wear this thing around for a little while before making any more to test the integrity. It's going to be like those Ikea commercials where the chair gets pounded 10,000 times a day with what looks like a battering ram/erotic machine.


...on this ottoman by Constance Swinderman, who just graduated from RISD. I guess I would be worried about the rhinestones...

Via the excellent Design Sponge.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pretty toy ladies, dissected

Stephan Zick, 1639-1715

To see more, read this amazing post at In fact, you could also just read everything tagged with Museum Lust. It will be worth your while.

I love how the makers of these figures, meant as teaching tools, went to a lot of trouble to make these women beautiful - perhaps a frivolous aim, or even a source of potential distraction for the poor students? This ivory one, not so much. But scroll down in the bioephemera post to see what I am talking about.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Crochet jellyfish

Inspired by these incredible ceramic versions, I've been playing around with making crochet jellyfish.

I wanted to do some IFF style "hyperspace" crenelation for the wavy "oral arms" hanging from the bell - but couldn't get them small enough. Instead I had to use a spiral knot I learned during my embroidery-floss-bracelet making days circa 2nd grade. The ends are sealed with a touch of clear nail polish to prevent unraveling.

I'm also pumped about these wearable tyvek specimen tags. This particular stuff came from an envelope I got in the mail - I painted it with acrylic and marked with a Pigma Micron. The tags are surprisingly durable...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tiny, tiny thread

I just started experimenting with size 10 crochet thread, done up with a steel hook. Coming from a crochet reference frame of WORSTED WEIGHT, this is totally mind blowing.

Did you ever, as a kid, have weird semi-hallucinations while you were almost asleep? I, for one, had the sense that I was flying, or growing or shrinking, so that my bed felt like an enormous prairie or my room was just a tiny little nest I could barely fit in. (They're called hypnagogic hallucinations, by the way, for the science dorks among us). They were definitely weird, but not scary or anything. As I got older, I had them less and less, and now not at all.

UNTIL CROCHETING THIS. I guess my brain was still telling me that all red yarn is worsted weight, and all hooks are G size, so my hands manipulating this size 10 thread must be huge. It was weird and fun.

I've turned this little branch frond into a pendant, and am thinking of making simpler ones for earrings. They would be great for that for me, since I always find earrings too heavy, but this coral is featherweight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

2-month pledge at Wardrobe Refashion

I just committed myself to 60 days of acquiring (by either buying or making) only handmade or thrifted clothing, along with tons of other ladies over at Wardrobe Refashion. No new stuff at all.

Everyone is required to post once a week, and you should really check out the stuff people come up with. The current post is on this amazing old viking yarncraft I really want to try called NALBINDING. As if I needed an excuse to buy a weird oversized needle made from an antler.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

My new favorite mythical animal:

Ever since the 5th century BCE, travelers made reports of half-plant, half-sheep growths. The lamb would hatch from a melon and was suspended from the plant (or leashed to it) by an umbilical vine. After grazing as much as possible from surrounding plants, the lamb would either die of starvation or gnaw itself free. Its blood tasted of honey!

A convenient explanation for cotton, according to this Wikipedia article, the real-life inspiration for the vegetable lamb turned out to be a fern of the "Dicksonia" genus, which has furry roots/stems. Reminds me of the rabbit foot fern my mom kept in the dining room when I was growing up - though I never made the "sheep" connection.

Read more here.

I heart Haeckel

More textures than you ever wanted to know existed. Read more about him, or cut to the chase and see his work at the Wikimedia Commons.