Sunday, February 28, 2010

Featured Artist - Janine Basil

Here is another wonderful craftsperson that I have recently met through Indie Junction.

Janine makes fabulous hats. She is inspired by many eras, from the 1920's through the 1950's. Being a fan of old films myself, I love those eras and sometimes wish for the glamour that seems to have disappeared from women's fashion. Janine's hats bring all of that back, but in a way that can be translated to our modern life.

In her own words she began her current craft in a very "round about way'. She was at one time a hairdresser, a make-up artist, involved in film and theater and eventually found herself studying fashion at Cambridgeshire College of Technology and Art in West Wales. She had a small introduction to hat making in a course she took just before Art College. Although she always loved hats, she decided not to take a degree in millinery. It wasn't until last year when she moved to London with her boyfriend, that she took an additional two week intensive course in hat making and made 10 hats. I guess you could say she was hooked.

For fascinators, Janine uses buckram, which is a loose woven cotton with an adhesive coating. She uses two layers and says that "the beauty of it is you can spray it with water, leave it for a minute or two and than it is easy to shape over a block. For those of you who don't know what a fascinator is, I again used the ever useful Wikipedia to look up the definition. "A fascinator is a headpiece, a style of millinery". It is used to describe "a delicate, slightly-to-very frivolous head decoration worn almost exclusively by women."

For hats, wool felt is used for winter and straw and sinamey for lightweight summer hats. The wool felt is bought as "hoods", then steamed over a hat block. She also uses a glitter fabric that is tough and doesn't shed much glitter. I can hear the question now - what is sinamey? Well the definition is "a stiff open-weave fabric spun from the fibers of the banana plant".

I can talk all day and not do Janine justice for her beautiful work. I suggest you check out her hats on the following sites:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Featured Seller Benjamin Krudwig

As promised for all of you who have been waiting with baited breath, my first featured artist is Benjamin Krudwig.

I met Benjamin on a wonderful site called Indie Junction, a great place for crafters, artists and photographers to come together to give each other support and advice and to, well, just bs, which is obviously something I do quite well.

I am now quoting directly from Ben's shop on etsy to describe his work - "Sustainable crochet products made using natural fibers, renewable or reused resources."

In high school Ben's sister taught him to knit and about a year or so ago he taught himself how to crochet. In 2008 he learned the Japanese art of amigurumi from a friend. For those of you who do not know what amigurumi is, I looked up the exact definition on Wikipedia - "the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures". The object of this art is to make things that are "cute". Well in that, Ben is definitely a master of this art. His creations are wonderful and certainly cute. I fell in love with them as soon as I saw them.

In addition to amigurumi, Ben primarily crochet's wonderful hats, made from his own patterns, and beautiful scarves. I have also seen some of his other items; great looking gloves, afghans and coasters. Any crocheted items you would want he can custom make for you.

To see more of Ben's work you can find him on: ef=ts

Friday, February 19, 2010

To My Son (My First Rant)

I have a bone to pick with my son. He's a 28 year old "progressive". If I hear the word progressive one more time, I'm going to have to do something drastic. Perhaps I will have to kick one of my cats.

So I suppose as a progressive you are implying, that all of us non-progressives, and that refers to Democrats sand Republicans alike are, well, backwards. I have news for you kid, I am not as dumb as you want to believe and you're not as smart as you think. Oh, I know what the problem is and I'm going to say it in print. I don't like Barak Obama, and because of that I am an idiot. I was one of those fools who wanted Hillary Clinton be be nominated as the presidential candidate. Well, dear, Barak Obama is now president and I'm waiting for the "change" you can believe in. So where is it. I don't see it yet. What I'm seeing is Chicago politics as usual expanded to the White House. Now isn't that terrific.

Before any collateral "progressive" attacks that if you don't like the current president you must be a racist, rest assured I am not. I would love to have been proven wrong. All I've seen so far in this administration is the same old, same old crap, with nothing being accomplished. Your argument that it's the Republicans standing in the way is not even possible - they truly don't have the power to stand in the way of anything at this point. What is standing in the way are the Democrats themselves who can't agree on anything. Put three Democrats in a room and you'll get 5 arguments.

If anyone reading this article gets the wrong idea, I am a registered Democrat. I was once just like my son, but I have lived longer than he has and I know bullcrap when I hear it. Empty words, are just that, empty words. You can sound great, be a wonderful speaker, and still be saying absolutely nothing.

When all other arguments fail, I become the staunch defender and admirer of Sarah Palin. Oh yes, she's my hero. And I guess that, in fact, would prove I'm as dumb as a stump. You know, like her. Let's get this straight right now, I don't agree with Sarah Palin's beliefs, I would not vote for her as president. However, I did feel that she was subjected to attacks that were kind of disgusting and I felt it was mainly because she was female. There are men, just as conservative as she is, who were not treated the same way. As a matter of fact, Hillary Clinton, was attacked in much the same way. Maybe not as severely, but the sexist overtones were there. If you want to criticize Sarah Palin's policies, go right ahead, that's certainly fair game, but the attacks were personal and as a woman I resent it.

I am going to make this prediction, if something doesn't change with this administration and fast, the democrats will be out in Congress, the Senate and the White House. I don't necessarily see that as a wonderful thing. I shudder at the thought of Republicans being in power of all three.

So I could go on and on, but I won't. Anyone who wants to comment is welcome to do so. I warned you I could rant. I will not do it often. I feel better now, at least for a while.

My Latest Pieces

I am using this post to show off my latest work.

The first piece is a sewn fringe necklace, that someone called my "signature pieces". How cool - I have "signature pieces". Well, this "signature piece" is made with floral and leaf shape glass beads, seed beads, swarovski crystal and anything else I could get my hands on that I thought enhanced the colors. As is pretty obvious, I love bright colors and the colors in this are great. Well, at least I think so.

The next necklace is made with turquoise beads, a green jasper stone for the pendant, which is wrapped with non tarnish silver plated wire and sterling silver. I interspersed some swarovski crystal in the wrap. I personally love this piece. The turquoise beads are beautiful, but more importantly this pendant changes color depending on the way the light hits it. A little bling never hurt anyone.

Next is a glass bead necklace, in blue and copper. The pendant is sodalite, which is one of my favorite stones. I love this particular stone, its colors and shape and the way it looks with this necklace. The wire wrapping came out well also and the blue swarovski crystal framing the stone give it a very special look.

The last necklace is made with brown and amber color glass beads. The pendant is a wooden donut, wrapped with gold plated wire, fresh water pearls and swarovski crystal. It's an unusual combination but I love the way it looks. A unique and one of a kind item.

I have tried to make this post short and to the point. Phew - that was rough. Oh yes, all of these pieces are available in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Artwork

This is a bit of a stretch really, but it's my blog, so there.

I have dabbled in painting, drawing and pastels - and I do mean dabbled. I by no means consider myself a great artistic talent, but I enjoy expressing myself and so when the mood strikes me I'll pick up my pastels, or pencils or brushes and voila.
If nothing else it makes me feel good and some people actually like what I do. I have no technique, but I do like color and I think that's probably my strong point.

This post will be short and sweet since I really can't describe my technique, having no formal training in art. Therefore, there's not much to write here. You are spared. I'm really just writing this so I can post some pictures of my work.

Like I said, it's my blog, I'll do what I want. Protest will get you nowhere.

I will promise you this, this is the last you'll here about me for a while. I am off looking for some featured artists and I may have a couple for you in short order. If anyone would like me to feature them in the future please contact me at

Monday, February 15, 2010

About my (ahem) wire wrapping

Wow I think this is my 4th post already - I sure can talk (figuratively, since I'm really writing this and not actually speaking).

Ok, I digress. Well, besides sewing necklaces and bracelets, I also do wire wrapping on stones for my necklaces. I put the (ahem)wire wrapping in the title, because I don't do wire wrapping in the traditional sense. I have been to wire wrapping classes, watched the tutorials and than I did whatever I felt like anyway. I will leave the traditional wire wrapping to those who do it much better than I do. Besides, I'm just a wild and crazy kind of gal, I'm out of control. So let's just call what I do "wire sculpting".

Any piece that I make is going to depend on the color and shape of the stone and than pretty much whatever I feel like doing with it. I will describe my "technique". I use 20 guage round wire to start off with. I have in the past used flat or half round, but right now I'm into the round wire, since it seems to be the best match for what I'm doing. After I do the initial wrapping of the stone, I take softer wire - usually 24 guage round wire to sculpt around the outside of the stone. This works well because I can actually sculpt the wire with my hands to get the shape I want. Sometimes I will use multi-color wire, add swarovski crystal or glass beads, or sometimes just seed beads. Whatever strikes my fancy (whatever fancy is).

So that's pretty much my technique. Some people love it and some others would like to ban me from stone wrapping for all eternity - stand me up against a wall and shoot me for breaking all the laws of the wire wrapping universe. Oh well, can't please all the people all the time as my dear departed mother used to say.

I have uploaded three photos at the beginning of this post. To all wire wrapping purists out there (who I am sure would never be caught dead reading this) I have worn these necklaces and large gaping holes in the earth have not swallowed me up and sent me straight to crafters hell.

Tribute to a Friend

This will be one of the few times I am being serious. It's just a passing phase, I'll get over it.

A very dear friend of mine passed away this November. He'd been my friend for nearly 25 years. His name was Gene Feller and he was one of the most talented people I ever knew.

I met Gene when I first brought my son to an Issinryu Karate class, back in early 1985. Gene was a student and instructor there and I watched him get his promotion to black belt. He was an excellent martial artist, but not what most people would think of when martial artist comes to mind. He was short, a little on the chubby side, balding and looked like he wouldn't hurt a fly. Well, Gene was a gentle soul, and would never hurt anyone, but he was skilled at martial arts and he inspired me to actually start studying Issinryu along with my son and eventually my daughter.

Gene was not only a martial artist, he was an amazing artist in the fine arts, creating with oil, acrylics and pastels. He never understood just how talented he was, taking every critique to heart and wondering if he was good enough. He supported himself by teaching others to draw and create and at the time of his death, he was finally becoming well known in the art world, especially for his pastels.

I will end by saying this, I will miss him for many things. He will never create another wonderful picture, he will never teach me or my children or anyone else the joy you can get from creating, but most of all I will miss his great sense of humor and that he will no longer be there to make me laugh when I need it the most.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Random Thoughts 2

Oh lucky, lucky reader - just as I was signing off with my latest masterpiece of prose, I looked up and saw, wonder of wonders, the little thing-a-majig that let's me upload my photos.

So with no further interruption, let me introduce you to one of my handsewn pieces of jewelry, Red Jasper and Swarovski Crystal Fringe Necklace.

As you can tell by the title the necklace is hand sewn, made with red jasper chips and swarovski crystal. It also has some glass and seed beads. I was originally sewing my necklaces with silk thread but didn't feel that was strong enough. My new pieces are sewn using thin fireline wire, which is stronger and will not break.

I am afraid as with so many people new to selling their work online, my pictures do not do my jewelry justice. Doesn't seem quite fair having put all that work into it, but c'est la vie. This particular piece took about 10 hours of sewing and, if I do say so myself, which I do, it looks great in person.

Some Random Thoughts

The title for this post is a little redundant since most of my thoughts these days are random.

I have all kinds of wonderful ideas for this blog. Unfortunately right now I have no idea how to use this site. Computers are not my strong suit - oh where are my children when you need them. How could they move so far away and leave me alone with a rebellious laptop. If computers could laugh it would be laughing at me right now.

Well since I wanted to post some pictures of my jewelry here, but can't figure out how to do it, I will explain to you (if anyone ever reads this) what it is I do.

My jewelry is either hand sewn (I love fringe necklaces) or are beaded necklaces with wire sculpted stone pendants as the focal piece. I say wire sculpted because it's a different technique (some of which I made up myself -lol) than wire wrapping. Each pendant is different, depending on the shape, size and color of the stones. I may add swarovski crystal or glass beads to the pendant or sometimes just seed beads. Occasionally I'll use more than one color wire if the mood strikes me.

I am just now looking up the metaphysical properties of each of these stones since some people like to know this. For myself, I'm just being honest here, I pick the stones because - well - I think they're pretty. Let's not confuse me with a spiritual deep thinker - this is me we're talking about.

Well I will figure out how to upload some of my masterpieces here yet. Until that time, I will let you go - well at least until another random thought pops into my head - TTYL

Friday, February 12, 2010

Some Ideas

Well since I am certainly on shaky ground here having resisted setting up a blog for the longest time, I will endeavor to begin. You must realize that I am using polite language for me. I am originally from the Bronx, NY and I don't remember the word endeavor being popular on our block.

That said, I was thinking what I would like to do here. I certainly want to use this to post some of my own work, but in the past year since I have started to seriously think about selling my work, I have met some incredibly talented people. I would also like to post their work here and have a featured seller each week.

I also will not be able to resist some of my, need I say it, well yes, incredibly brilliant insight into the world in general. Well I think it's brilliant. And to follow my son's lead I would also like to invite guest writers, since, even though, I can't imagine it, you might tire of my endless ramblings.

Ok enough - I am off to search the world for some talented people to help me out here. Speak to you soon -