Thursday, May 28, 2009

Buried Treasures

In a day's time, there are going to be some 300-400 children and youth milling around me and I'm going to wonder where my sanity is. In short, I'm festival staff in the upcoming Malaysian Choral Eistedfodd and 7th Young Singers Choral Festival which starts on Saturday. The competition involves the secondary school choir I've been tutoring for the last few months - that's one worry there already! - but in the Festival, I'm going to be sectional leader for the altos and that's even more of a worry. Why? Because this year we're attempting to sing a few selections out of Handel's Coronation Anthems.

If unexplained, screechy thundery sounds drift through in the next few days, it's probably me trying to get the young 'uns to sing properly. Apologies in advance, especially if it leads to thunderstorms.

However, today I finally found time to go through a stash of vintage beads I inherited a few years back - and I discovered buried treasure. Literally!

Vintage crystal chaton montees - in their original packaging! And more than one, I might add. There are several different colours, some are in plastic bags and those I suspect are probably glass since they don't have the sparkle of the crystal ones, but they have patina'd so beautifully, all it took was a polish of the stones and they still look good.

Some of the other treasure finds: vintage lucite beads, more chatons and some other beads which could be glass or crystal. I don't know. They just look gorgeous though!

I got all of these from a family member - a very elegant lady who used to have her clothes tailored in Hong Kong back in her heyday. I know the beads were bought in Hong Kong; I've got some of her dresses and every single one of them is embroidered with a selection of all these different chatons and beads. They're top-quality, that I know - she wasn't one who would settle for second-rate stuff. And that's not counting the bags and bags of seed beads, faux pearls, and other silver-lined bugle beads and things that are in those 15lbs of inheritance!

I can't -wait- to do something with these lovely shinies. Deryn Mentock's beautiful jewellery has given me some ideas, but they may have to percolate over the course of the competition and the festival. Ahh well - it'll distract me so I don't murder anyone in the course of the week from sheer frustration...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Venice in Spring Time

...or at least, that's how I felt yesterday after my exams! The inherent need to see something fresh and springish eventually led to these:

Spring Greens: 20ga sterling silver hand-crafted earwires, cloisonne green beads, Czech glass bellflowers, Czech glass green beads. RM25

This pair of earrings actually required a creative work-around - I don't have 20ga silver wires, and I wanted to make a pair of ear wires to finish off the dangles. Then it occurred to me that I actually had purchased some long sterling silver headpins in the past which were definitely thinner than 19ga wire and thicker than the 22ga I had, so they were definitely 20ga for sure (at least, the last I checked, wires don't come in half-sizes.) So I cut the headpins up, made the dangles with one half and the earwires with the other. No wastage and the ear wires turned out great! They measure just over 1.5 inches, from the top of the ear wire to the bottom of the dangle.

And, specially for Swati, here are closeups of the Venetian Necklace and how it turned out. I was trying out the wonderful Old-Fashioned Chain tutorial by Bobbi and the Small Chains tutorial by Diny of Natural Jewels over at I think it didn't turn out too badly!

Venetian Necklace: 18ga and 24ga silver-plated copper wire, 20ga hand-crafted chain links, 0.4cm rhodium-plated copper jump rings, antique faux pearls, glass pearls, China fire-polish glass rondelles, 2mm pewter beads, silver-plated butterfly toggle clasp.

And this is another of Mei's Sparkly Rings which I made to match the necklace, though I accidentally got the wires crossed due to it being 3am in the morning when I was attempting it. Lesson: Don't try to make rings at 3am if you're not wide awake. However, I was also trying out a wonderful finishing tip by Perri - and let me tell you it -works- beautifully. The wire wraps came out so neatly I was floored. Bravo to Perri for sharing such a wonderful tip!

Venetian Pink: 22ga Argentium silver wire, 4mm Argentium silver beads, Czech fire-polish glass bead, swarovski crystals.

And now before I get any more weird wire ideas, I better go to bed as I have to write up a quiz for my sight-singing students tomorrow. It's far too easy to get sidetracked by shiny things --oooh, is that another ring tutorial I see --err, bed! bed! Now!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Breather, Dive In

I've been somewhat scarce for the past 2 weeks or so, mainly because of the reason behind this:

This is my Venetian Necklace, a test piece I threw together to use up a test piece focal and to try out some chain techniques. The reason I've been busy with finishing that is because my Trinity Guild vocal exam was on Friday! Not only that, I just got done with a concert with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Choir so between rehearsals and exam prep, I've had very little time to play with jewellery and wires!

I'll photograph the necklace properly very soon; I made a Sparkly Ring to go with it too (Mei, let me tell you, that Sparkly Ring is soooo popular it's amazing. Go you for such a lovely tutorial!) I made the entire set to go with this outfit for the exam. Yes, I look dreadful, because I wasn't feeling well that day! But the corset is beautiful, courtesy of Joanna of Paperdoll. Love it!

Dead to the world, ma cherie! Sooo dead...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Unexpected Evolution of Hammered Hoops

Some days, the planned gets hijacked by the bizarre and the unexpected. This time, it was the unexpected.

I'd gotten my hands on some 20ga copper wire so I could hammer out some hoop earrings. Being the smart woman I thought I was, I decided to make them roughly fish- or tear-drop shaped for ease of hammering them out evenly. After some brainwork about how to secure the wires, everything proceeded fairly uneventfully - the hoops weren't exactly ENTIRELY even, because I really suck at getting them perfect, but they worked.

Then I put them on. And they were just 'enh'. They needed something more. Maybe just a touch of colour, a little wire-wrap to accent.

Wire-wrapping led to more wire-wrapping, one thing led to another thing and suddenly instead of hammered hoop earrings, I had these on my hands:

Wine Country: 20ga and 24ga copper wire, 4mm garnets, 4mm amethysts, olive glass seed beads. RM40.

They reminded me so much of grapes on the trellis, naming them Wine Country was only natural. I didn't think the little amethyst dangle would look nice, but amazingly it does, and it gives just that needed bit of weight for them to hang properly. They measure just shy of 4cm, one side's -slightly- uneven because of the hand-hammered hoops - I really need to get better at this hammering thing. The bead placements aren't exactly symmetrical either on both earrings, but that's deliberate for a touch of nature-inspired random.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rockin' Chicks

I don't know about other girls, but I loved Susie Derkins. She was Calvin's arch-nemesis - well, at least HE called her an arch nemesis, she always had a witty retort ready and she always creamed him but -good- whenever he hit her with snowballs. What isn't there to like?

This is one of the many, many reasons I love Susie. This + colour scheme in strip + weird brain = the Susie Derkins Earrings:

Susie Derkins: 22ga copper wire, pink-dyed mother-of-pearl beads, Czech glass beads, Patton's 'Willow' yarn, dyed shell discs, hand-hammered 22ga earwires.

Here's to rockin' chicks with attitude!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dames, Hearts, Stars

'The dame's scream hit an octave usually reserved for calling dogs, but it meant I had a case, and the sound of greenbacks slapping across my palm is music to -my- ears any day. After all, I'm not an opera critic. I'm a private eye.'

--Tracer Bullet, Calvin and Hobbes

That's probably one of the most memorable opening lines I've ever come across in all my readings, and I read a lot (my friends have had to stop me reading at some points in my life, it's gotten that bad before.) Tracer Bullet, hard-boiled noir detective and Calvin's alter ego - I salute Bill Watterson, I really do. Tracer Bullet is sheer -genius- and one of my favourite comic characters ever.

Which would explain why inspiration grabbed my brain, shook it, turned it upside down, and disgorged this:

Tracer Bullet: 19ga and 24ga annealed steel wire, Czech glass beads.

Yep, it's a Tracer Bullet bracelet, all black and white for that classic noir effect. Why hearts, stars and flowers, you might ask, since Calvin's never been one for any of those...

Hearts for the calisthenics that Tracer Bullet gets when a brunette client opens his door, stars for the beating up he gets from the requisite goons, and flowers -- well, Dames of course!

Here is the link to the Tracer Bullet strip that was inspiration for this, and you'll see where all the hearts, stars and flowers fit in. Weird place for inspiration, but it apparently happens! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I still do.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Steel, Steampunk and Spacemen

Boys and men aren't the only ones who go gaga over new toys, and they're not the only ones who like 'em either. I like power tools - I -am- a theatre graduate after all! So when I came across annealed steel wire in the hardware store yesterday, of course I bought it. I've been curious to see what I can do with the stuff ever since looking at Deryn Mentock's gorgeous work.

New toys require playtime. This goes without saying. This also explains why I slept at 6am this morning, and why my neighbours could hear occasional bursts of hammering at the most ungodly hours. (I consider it payback for the dreadful out-of-key joget and Chinese New Year karaoke, m'self, but...)

The results:

You really need to sleep. It is almost 5am, said Brain. Go away, I'm making stuff, said the Creative Side. And just what ARE those pieces of metal you're hammering? Bell tongues? Brain snorted derisively. The Creative Side just gave Brain a Look, and retorted sagely, Steampunk Stamens. Brain, sensing defeat, just went off to a corner to sulk.

Steampunk Stamens: 19ga and 24ga annealed steel wire, 16ga copper wire, rhodium-plate earwires.

I love Calvin and Hobbes. I especially love the Transmogrifier, Tracer Bullet and Spaceman Spiff, and I've been rereading the comics for the last week. After I'd experimented with Deryn's wrapped loop link and finished, I realised that the bead colours against that dark background reminded me of the colour panels of Spiff and the Zogwarg Queen confrontations he constantly ran into. Even more so after I attached the little orange dangle - I know Calvin wears a red t-shirt, but the overall effect couldn't be denied. Besides, the Zogwarg Queen had guards too, like the two random wrapped tangles flanking the main pendant...

Spaceman Spiff and the Zogwarg Queen: 19ga, 24ga and 28ga annealed steel wire, Czech seed beads and glass bead, linen cord, copper toggle clasp.

I'm officially in love with these annealed steel wires. So -many- things I can imagine doing, between steampunk and Calvin and Hobbes!

...I guess that means tonight I'm not sleeping again either huh?

Tuesday Surprise!

This was something I completely wasn't expecting at all - Corra, of De Cor's Handmades, sprang it on me. Talk about surprise! Thank you Corra! It's definitely a bit of a *blink blink* moment, given I feel very much like a novice still in the field. There's just -so- much to learn and I'm clumsy, and sometimes it's like pulling -teeth- to get something simple right!

So, what I now have to do is play by the rules, and the rules are as follows:

This award was created by Team Etsy Malaysia (talk about news to me; Corra said she had no idea this existed and neither did I till she messaged me!) to promote, and hopefully, build a network of creative Malaysian bloggers around the world.

1. Put the logo on my blog or post.
2. List my 5 sources of inspiration.
3. Nominate 5 other Malaysian blogs which demonstrate some form of creativity.
4. Be sure to link to the nominees within my post.
5. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog, and if possible, make sure they follow these 6 steps too!
6. Share the love and link to the person from whom I received the award.

Here goes!

My 5 Sources of Inspiration:
1. Music - lyrics or just plain tunes, or even song titles.

2. Books - Nick Bantock's Windflower, Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, Steven Brust's Jhereg etc. to name a few.

3. Blogs - Deryn Mentock's gorgeous work, Tammy's Treasure Chest, Corra's beautiful wired knots, Mei's amazing work, Swati's lovely jewellery, for starters.

4. RPGs and video games.

5. The weirdest places. I've found inspiration in a tank of guppies before.

5 other Malaysian blogs which demonstrate some form of creativity:
1. Vanity Vault - I took a class under April before, and she's a sweetheart. Her stuff is so very pretty!

2. Atelier Wendy Sue - I stumbled onto her work one day and the lady makes -beautiful- things all right.

3. Life For Beginners - Kenny writes some of the most beautiful prose; between the words and photos he makes even the mundane seem something totally special.

4. Standard Issue - She has a wicked sense of humour, doesn't update often, but her observations are spot-on and her photos are wonderful.

5. JP Beads - Shinies and pretties! Definitely worth a look.

Here's to creativity and expression!