Picture This.

If Mr. Groundhog can come out of his hole so can I!  It seems lately I've lived in the same sweats, slippers and robe for three months straight.  I'm not sure if it's the negative temps outside or still feeling groggy from winter colds, but it's time to get back to normal life.  Now that February has arrived, our family has a lot to look forward to, including spring being just around the corner, fingers crossed.

I finally crept down to my studio, stood in front of my bench and said "lets do this!"  No, seriously, I did.  ;)  I took a peak at my vintage buttons and noticed the ones that inspire me the most are these beautiful picture buttons.  I mainly stick with militaristic or nautical themes but as I delve more into researching rare fasteners, I'm finding that although military buttons can hold a profound memory, picture buttons are beautifully detailed and engaging.  

These button designs are from the Victorian Era.  They are romantic and feminine.  Some feature scenes from classical art, fairtytales, operas, and commonplace themes.  Most are from the mid 1800's and include building motifs, The Buglar of Cracow on his church, and botanical scenes, which I took a close up of, are pictured.



I found these grape and strawberry themed buttons through a dealer on Etsy - how cute are they?  Perfect for the farmer or fruitarian friend you have, ha!  Most buttons from this time period are steel, mother of pearl, wood, horn, or glass.

An interesting factoid about the Victorian Era is Queen Victoria's influence on the button industry. When her husband, Prince Albert died, the Queen wore jet (black gemstone) jewelry and buttons as a sign of her mourning (which lasted many years).  This gave rise to Mourning Jewelry.  As jet was expensive and difficult to work with, black glass, onyx, and vulcanite become popular alternatives.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I can begin to work on transforming these pictorial buttons into necklaces and rings.  If only I wasn't shivering all the time!  That torch of mine might be better served as a fire starter than a tool for soldering.  :)

Crafting For Christmas

It's the holidays, yipee!  This is most definitely one of my favorite times of the year.  From Thanksgiving on is nothing but family, warm fires, good food, and elastic pants.  Ha!  If it could all go by slower right?  

Every Christmas I like to give handmade gifts and now that I have children it makes it all the more meaningful.  Since we are far removed from our family (and actually, civilization;) it makes it tricky because I have to consider safe and affordable shipping.  If you follow me on Instagram I have been posting all about A Beautiful Mess marbled clay ring dishes.   A few friends have asked about them so I thought I'd do a quick blog on what fun we had creating these from our perspective.  Again, I wish I could say these were my creation; all the credit goes to Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman.

If you visit A Beautiful Mess's website it will bring you through the step by step instructions of how to create the dishes.  Here's a few steps in with our Sculpey polymer clay snakes.  The girls said they looked like colorful candy canes.  By mixing and smooshing the clay more,  the end result was a blurred marbled effect.  So some advice would be to worry less about the actual design and what colors will show - just have fun with it!



Also, I chose to do a cup and saucer arrangement.  I didn't match them perfectly either.  Instead I tried to compliment the colors and patterns.  There's so much you can do!  With leftovers from cutting the clay circles I made beads for the girls.  They put together these sweet toddler bracelets.  The liquid guilding made them so beautiful.

I can't stand clutter so I made this tray as a catch all for odds and ends.  As you can see the sides are not perfect and the top, where the gold is painted, is a little mountainous.  I did this with the dishes too, seems more organic.  I will say the flatter the top the more gold you see...and who doesn't like a lot of gold?! 

I found these gift boxes at Michaels for the dishes to go into.  I'm a fan of nice packaging and creative gift wrapping.  ;)  I wanted our family to open the box and easily pull out their gift.

The next fun project I did was something I've been meaning to do for a while.  I've been searching for a plaid poncho but I'm a little too frugal to spend money on basically a flannel blanket you drape over yourself (sorry, fashion designers).  So I found a pattern I liked, added some fur and good enough for me!

I cut the fabric 44" by 56" to fit my body.  So you'll have to figure out what length and width is best for you, then come home and cut it to size.  I'd say at least 3 ' by 4 1/2 ' would give you something to work with.  After customized to your size it should look like a small throw blanket.  I folded it lengthwise, found the middle and cut a line up to the folded side.  In other words, cut from the middle of the open side, up to the fold.  (I wish I would've take a pic but you can kind of see it on the left image).  It's only cut on one side too so when you open up the fabric it should look like REALLY BIG CLOWN PANTS.  Okay, I cheated and only cut it with pinking shears to bring to the seamstress to surge.  I'm AWFUL at fabric crafts.  That's also why  I chose Fabric Glue instead of using the machine or doing it by hand (Fabric-Tac is the best).  I then found some faux fur ribbon online and pasted it to the inside of the "U" that would go around my neck and downward.  Belted it and there you go.  I plan on making two more for the girls too.  :)

The only project left to do is to hand stamp my linen bags for packaging my jewelry.  India ink is the best!  I realized you can also make designs on fabric with this, like a henna effect.  I'm so excited to send my pieces off to family and friends whom have supported me.  December has been a wonderful month so far and the best is yet to come!  Counting down to Christmas and the New Year!