Monday, November 12, 2018

Another Snow Day

 And its STILL Snowing here in Southern Colorado!
 Go figure...the season I am not elk snows....and snows.... About 10" maybe this time??? Its still snowing and blowing and being utterly disagreeable outside...the children are home, no school today....
I have a pot of tea on and trying to suppress my urge to blast my favorite 1940's Christmas Album.

Despite what it looks like outside, in 'my world', inside nice and cozy(actually the tip of my nose is quite cold because I keep it around 50 in my part of the house...), the sun is out on my front casket panel, and a precious little dove has come flitting by to land on my finger.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Back Casket Panel Finished

My Enchanted Grotto
  It always feels great to get a project finished~ and committing to work an entire casket is no small undertaking. It can be so overwhelming, some who want to make one, will keep waiting for the right day....for the stars to magically align in the universe....for them to get that last project done first...that they will never ever even start their dream project. It's true. If you want an embroidered casket, your going to have to make it a priority in your life, and just do it already! To lessen the overwhelming impact of it all on my psyche, I have broken it down into several smaller projects.... first was to finish the inside...but within that goal, was to install the music movement...install the mirrors....finish the tray....make the doors and hidden compartments in the lid....embroider the inside many little projects that one can celebrate getting FINISHED!  
The outside is no different. Within each panel~ Lid, Front, Back, Side 1 & Side 2, and Friezes, ...I break them down into their elements, and focus just on that particular thing....before you know it, the entire thing is done!
I always work stumpwork from top to bottom, so my threads don't get caught on previously worked things. The trees came first, and in the case of the oak on the right, I worked all the acorns and leaves when I worked the trunk, then set them aside to attach pretty close to last.  As always...I ended up with twice the amount of leaves as I originally planned.

  I have already posted about the grotto, so other than that, I have been dreaming of these unicorns for years, literally. Not so much bead wise, but their horns, I have always had a specific picture in my mind of what I wanted them to look like. It was very difficult to make it happen tho. Those blasted horns gave given me grey hairs trying to get them just right. I wanted to use a spiral sea shell, a tiny baby tibia fusus. But I just could not find one small enough...let alone a matched pair.  I considered carving my own from some old piano key ivories....but the 'small' problem kept creeping in on me~ which was that I could not hold something so small and that hard, tight enough to carve it with any accuracy. Yes, I tried. And , No, I'm not posting pictures. I made wood horns wrapped with a spiral of wire, then wrapped over that....which didnt come out too bad actually, they were sized perfectly and looked nice, except they were gold....and I didnt want gold horns..I wanted a natural, white spiral horn blast it!
I finally found what I wanted kind of by accident actually....I found a necklace pendant  of carved mother of pearl, and cut off what I needed for my horn. I cut a tab on one end and drilled it so I could attach it to wee beastie's head, and Thank You Jesus! my quest was over.

  I prefer to work all my animals in hand, and then attach them as a slip. After they are attached, they get their ears, mane and tubular peyote tails.

 I love the colors and how they all work to compliment each other. And...since they are worked in beads, antique beads colored by the elements they are made from, and not dyed like modern beads....I can be confident that this panel will look exactly the same as it does now,  for hundreds of years to come (if it survives that long)

 The last two little creatures to land on my panel were two little itsy bitsy bees, one hovering over each rose. 

 I left this picture big so you can enlarge it~ theres those blasted stormy clouds that gave me so many fits. I do really like the colors tho.  Mounting your panel and its accompanying frieze on the same slate frame, helps to keep all a cohesive unit. When I work my double casket, I will have side, frieze 1, slope and frieze 2 all on the same slate frame so I can work all together as one side.

So to date, I have completed all four friezes, the top of the lid and the back.  On to the front panel next, which is the opposite end of the enchanted grotto.
Happy Stitching all~

Sunday, November 04, 2018

an exhausting week......

Only 3 Peaceful Kingdom Kits Left!
For those of you still interested in a kit for this years limited edition ornament, I have a scant 3 kits left! If you are interested in ordering one, you can do so on the Diamond K Folk Art Blog, link to the right.

  This past week was a doozy~ I am exhausted. All my children love Halloween~ I love it! Pip put on a marvelously fun party for the family with games~ pin the nose on the pumpkin...ball toss, her surprise pumpkin balloons where she hides things in the balloons and when if you pop the right one it comes zooming out at you....she made the most amazing monster cupcakes for her cake walk....

And of coarse, what Hallowe'en Party would be complete without bobbing for apples? It was the most fun ever
 We ended the night with lighting the children's punkins they carved earlier that was a busy Sunday!

  Then along came Tuesday...and 8" of heavy wet snow. 

 We lost several trees, including our oldest Elder~ it split right down the middle. The Children were looking forward to their Halloween parties at school, but school was cancelled, and our power was out all day. Pip got just kind of snowballed from pun intended.

The rest of the week we have spent clearing trees~ half the elder fell on husbands International pickup....its under the big brown fluff of tree on the left..and his blue Scout is under the other half of the tree to the right...I told him he should have bought a lotto ticket to be that 'lucky'...

 What broke my heart was the weight of the snow also cracked our biggest, oldest cottonwood~ this tree has stood on this property since the late 1700s, the original Madrid Plaza adobe commissary  stood just to the left of it. So, once we got the Elder cleaned up, my son made a little relief cut at the bend, we thought it would fall then but this old majestic tree stood fast, putting up a valiant fight to the very last second
 I cried my eyes out over this tree, so sad to see it go~ place just doesnt seem right, or the same without it.  I did manage to get the back panel of my casket finished tho, in this mess of a week with a sick child and no power...I'll save that for another post. Stupid daylight savings time is here~ so its now dark by 4.30 pm...all I want to do is sleeeeeeeep!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Can U Believe it!?

More Glorious New Threads from Access Commodities Are Here!

New Colors of Wired Silk Facette Gimp
New threads just got in from Access Commodities today and they are BEEEEEEAAA UUU TI Ful! In addition to the 12 colors of silk facette gimp in the historical color line,  there are 5 more, long! If you are not familiar with facette, it is a filament silk wrapped over a kinky wired silk core.  Just about the same size as silk serpentine gimp, but with a wired core.

New! Size 4 Silk Wrapped Purls
 Yet another size of silk wrapped purls is now at our command, and in some great new fantabulous colors as well. The colors shown are currently in stock at the warehouse~ there are a couple not shown that are on backorder.  I love to see the colors together~ one can get a good idea how they compare to each other, within their own color grouping, if you are not familiar with the color numbers.

 We get a black in this size of purls as well~ which is super exciting because it is often left out of color groups...but is needed! My favorite color of these is 41046, a deep wine claret red ~ not purple. Do enlarge the pictures~ I left them big
 So with all these sizes of silk wrapped purls, its easy to get confused as to what size is what, and how they compare to each other~ so I have taken a picture of all 4 sizes above, and below~ for you to compare. The Tiny SWP is the smallest, at the upper right above. The Standard size 2 SWP is upper left. Lower right is the new size 4 SWP, and lower left, you can see the new size 8 SWP, which is used to make the silk scallop trim~ all you do it stretch it out and press it flat.

This picture is a closer view of how they compare...why so many sizes you ask? Well why on earth not???!!! Not only can they be used in the traditional way, couched down flat or louped up off the surface,  they can be pulled apart, like the size 8, and used as a trim, or pulled straight and used to edge detached needle lace pieces used in stumpwork and so much more!
I am working on a special order threads page on the Diamond K Folk Art blog, but until I get that done, you can special order any of the above threads from me now if  you need them, just drop me an email at 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Grotto back end

Beautiful, Amazing 'Margarites'

I have been motoring along on the back panel of my casket, and finished the grotto & fountain this weekend. I have always been fascinated with the idea of a grotto~ so mystical and fantastic~  and very popular in 17th c embroideries. My back panel contains the back side of my grotto, with the beautiful fountain and cute fishies frolicing about and the opposite end of the grotto is on my front panel. I have been dreaming of this grotto for years, literally, and it has been exciting and fun to actually get to finally make it happen. I have been hoarding these particular blue cut beads for the falling water for as long as I have dreamt about this grotto!
I have scoured museum databases and the internet for 17th c worked examples, and have so many ideas zooming around in my head~ every time I find a new piece, there is something wonderful on there I want to try! Grottos are alot of fun because there is alot going on in a tiny amount of space~ lots of colors and lots of movement.
 During a study session last year at the Clothworkers Center I had the chance to study one of my all time favorite mirrors from the Victoria & Albert Museum up close and personal, 
 you can see it here T-17.1955 
One of the reasons I love 17th c embroidery, is that the longer one stands and looks, the closer one gets to the piece, the more fine, amazing, details one sees. Looking from afar, its just another 17th c embroidered mirror...right? Next...moving on~ but wait!  Go check out the link above and look at it, BEFORE you watch my little video I took here~

It is impossible to capture the essence of this piece in a still, flat photograph. The maker wanted their grotto rocks to sparkle, like they were wet~ so using an animal based glue, they smothered the embroidery with a mixture of glue and crushed mica flakes. There looks to be glue over the surface of the mica, so perhaps they applied the glue first, sprinkled the mica over, and then pushed it into the glue with their fingers.... in any case~ just take in that sparkle! I LOVE it and from the moment I saw it,  I was trying to figure out how I could do that with beads on my casket.( I am seriously excited to start my silk embroidered casket...cant wait!!!!)
To get a wet, sparkly effect using beads, I worked my grotto rocks, or mounds, in antique Margarite beads. The creme de la creme of all antique seed beads. 
 They are often referred to using the French term, Charlottes,  but I prefer to use the term the Venetians called them when they made them, which is Margarites
Margarites were not made until the early 1830's, but I know if they would have been around in the 17th c, they would have adored the subtle sparkle they have.  Venetians first made regular seed beads, then sent the beads to Bohemia where they were strung on a wire, and held onto a grinding stone to add a single facet, or cut, into each and every tiny bead. Once they were 'cut', they were sent back to Venice to be packaged and sold, making them the most expensive of all seed beads, regardless of color.  Of the over 800 different colors of antique seed beads that I have, I have just around 30 colors of Margarites...they are wonderous little gems!
I left this picture large so you can click on it to see the single ground facets in each bead. 

The dimmer the light, the more my grotto sparkles! Am super loving how it came out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Weekend Madness~
 Many have been asking me how my casket is coming on~I have been so busy its been really hard to work on it... Earlier this year, I had a thought that wouldnt it be nice to get the back panel done this year....well, I am making it officially public! I want to get this back panel finished by the end of the year.  I have set aside my weekends for no 'work' if I am not watching one daughter cheer for football, or the other play volleyball...I am all out hog wild on this panel.
I've actually managed a fair bit, and am now working on the fountain in the center. It is certainly a challenge to make a fountain out of nothing but seed beads...

The top of the fountain is a bit hard to see, but it is one of my prized treasures~ a geode crystal given to me by my son. I spent an entire day just drilling a hole thru it...a trip to the hardware store was needed, to get a smaller diamond tip drill bit, its the only thing that would make a dent in it!  I am on to the serpents, which are challenging working this small in hand...I think he will look pretty good tho, I still need to make his wings....and then get to do it alllllllll over again for his mate!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Check your eMails!

For Your 2018 Kit Tracking numbers!

If you have ordered a kit for this years ornament, and live in the USA, your kit is on the way and shipping notice has been sent~ if you dont see it, check your junk box, Ill be there!
I will be tackling the International mailings on Tuesday, since Monday is a holiday here~ thankyou all so much for waiting so patiently on me~
And if you are up here in the Rockies, yes, it could be snowing, so get to sewing!!!