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Archive for January, 2011

Quickie Question: Do You Design?

Monday, January 31st, 2011
By Twistie

(illustration via Instructables)

What you see above is a design for a mosaic, done on a computer. Cool.

I haven’t done much in the way of design for my own work. Just a few pieces of jewelry in copper wire, and in those cases the designs were basically shapes I drew and did in wire lace. It was fun, but not terribly sophisticated design work. I would post a couple pictures, but I can’t find any of the ones I had taken at the time.

Still, sometimes I think I’ll try my hand at some slightly less freeform design. Perhaps one day I will. Right now I’m working more on developing recipes rather than new lace projects.

What about the rest of you? Do you design your own projects? If not, do you think you ever will?

Inspiration Gallery: Reticella

Friday, January 28th, 2011
By Twistie

The above is an illustration from Les Singuliers et Nouveaux Pourtraicts by Federico de Vinciolo, 1587. It’s a pattern for reticella, an  early form of needle lace.

So what precisely is reticella? It’s actually an extreme form of drawn thread work, wherein most of the threads in the interior of the piece are drawn out. The few remaining threads are then embroidered over in fanciful patterns, like the one above.

While its general popularity waned by the middle of the 17th century, reticella has continued to be practiced by needleworkers all over the world.


To Top Things Off

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
By Twistie

all illustrations via Kate Bishop Hats and Flowers

Bay Area artist Kate Bishop is getting ready to retire, alas! This will be her final year as a milliner, and I shall weep buckets when it ends. I’ll miss the artistry, the whimsey, the glory of her work. More than that, though, I’ll miss her attitude about hats and about women. In a Spring, 2000 interview in Ornament Magazine, she had this to say about hats and the women who wear them:

“My craft is hats, my job is sewing them, but my work is making women feel good about themselves,”

Here are a couple more examples of how she accomplished just that:


Sock Monkey Errata

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
By Twistie

via Sock Monkey Fun

The other day, I asked you to tell me about your most frustrating crafts projects. The fabulous and elegant Zelma told us of her woes creating a sock monkey with erroneous instructions, and thus the band Sock Monkey Errata was born.

Everyone here is welcome to join the lineup, playing whatever instruments they please. I, of course, will use my honking huge voice to be the lead singer, because I write the blog and I get to do that. So there. I will also bake delicious post-gig pies and cakes.

But we need musicians, luthiers, roadies, and sock monkey providers, people. Who’s in the band and what are you doing for us lately?

And if you need some inspiration, go check out Sock Monkey Fun with its many excellent photos of sock monkeys in the wild. If nothing else, you’ll get a giggle or three out of it.

Save On Craft Supplies and Kits for Spring

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
By Twistie

After months of dark, early nights and cold weather it’s nice to think about bright colors and cheerful images. It’s even better to think about making something so bright and cheerful.  Perhaps something as fun and happy as this delightful wildflower crewelwork pillow kit from Robert’s Crafts. It’s just $14.95 and includes everything you need: fabric, backing, threads, and instructions.

Oh, and if you order $50.00 or more from Robert’s by January 29, you can save $10.00 by using discount code ROBERTSTENW when you check out. (more…)

Quickie Question: What Project Made You Want to Bang Your Head Against a Wall?

Monday, January 24th, 2011
By Twistie

It happens to us all. We sit down to what promises to be a beautiful, fun project and everything goes cattywampus. Threads break, dyes run, blades snap, and our composure shatters.

In my case, the most frustrating project ever was one I was not only having every kind of trouble possible, I got to make all those mistakes right out in public while trying to tell people how fun bobbin lace is, and that it’s really not as difficult as it looks.

For some reason passing all understanding, I chose to use a pattern I hadn’t done before and didn’t do a couple repeats just to make sure everything worked before the demonstration. For an entire day I sat there making and then unmaking the same single repeat when one pair of threads just wouldn’t go anywhere at all. I had to rewind half a dozen bobbins over the course of those hours when the very fine linen thread I was working with also turned out to be remarkably fragile. I figured out what I was doing wrong about ten minutes before the fair closed.

Yeah, I didn’t pick up too many converts that day.

So what about you? What was the project that caused you the most heartburn?

Hallelujah, Brothers and Sisters!

Friday, January 21st, 2011
By Twistie

image via Batsto Village

We all believe in something.

Don’t panic. I’m not going to make any attempt whatsoever to tell you what you should or should not believe about the creation and purpose of the universe, or mankind’s place in it. That’s something you need to work out for yourselves in your own time and follow in the way that makes it all make sense to you.

But I think we can all agree on one thing, here on this particular blog: crafting matters to us. Making things is important to us. Creating community is a positive thing.

And that’s what brings me to probably the only church I’ll ever feel a need to join: the Church of Craft.

It’s not about a specific form of spirituality, or a particular faith, beyond that which promotes making stuff. It’s about the peace, joy, and sense of purpose to be found in creating things. It’s not about a particular kind of crafting. There’s room for everyone, whether they knit, crochet, sew, scrapbook, sculpt, or do origami. Teaching is encouraged. Learning is encouraged. Finding common bonds is encouraged.

Their mission statement is simple and profound:

The Church of Craft aims to create an environment where any and all acts of making have value to our humanness. When we find moments of creation in our everyday activities, we also find simple satisfaction. The power of creating gives us the confidence to live our lives with all the love we can. By promoting creativity, we offer access to an interfaith spiritual practice that is self-determined and proactive.

The Church of Craft maintains no dogma or doctrine beyond what every member believes for themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly believe in that.

There are chapters in place in a variety of cities across the US, Canada,  and Great Britain, but there are plenty of places that don’t have chapters, and some of the chapters seem pretty inactive. If, however, you’re in the Los Angeles area, there’s an event this weekend, and the Oakland/San Francisco chapter had an event just last week (Drat! Missed it!).

If you think this might be a church for you, and that you could be a crafty spiritual leader, consider starting a chapter. You can find guidelines and suggestions for that here.

Let there be crafts.

Inspiration Gallery: Stained Glass

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
By Twistie

This magnificent stained glass window resides in Lincoln Cathedral in Lincolnshire, England. Some of you may have seen it in the film of The DaVinci Code, some of which was filmed in Lincoln Cathedral after Westminster Abbey turned down the opportunity.

I didn’t see the film, but I love the window. In fact, I have a great fondness for Medieval stained glass. It’s so intricate, so colorful. Gorgeous.

On the other hand, I can definitely appreciate something more modern and less exuberant. Then again, I can really enjoy a piece that has some real humor to it, like this brilliant piece by Dig Dug of a classic video game machine:


The Mouse Cuts the Cheese… Er… Literally

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
By Twistie

I love cheese. I love pretty ceramics. I love bargains. Put all three together and you have this charming cheese platter, condiment dish, and mouse-shaped cheese knife on sale now at Modern Artisans.

The dishes are food and microwave safe (but please hand wash!) and painted by hand. Each set is signed by the artist. The cheese spreader is made of silver-plated food safe pewter by another artist. The whole shebang originally sold for $79.99, but is currently available for just $49.99!

Love it!

Robert Arneson VS Public Art

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
By Twistie

all images via

The gentleman above surrounded by whimsical and slightly surreal ceramic self-portraits is Robert Arneson (1930 – 1992). He’s one of my favorite artists.

I saw my first Arneson at the tender age of nine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of it online, but it was entitled Man Losing His Marbles. It was a self-portrait bust with the skull split open and spilling  – you guessed it! – marbles. I fell in love.


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