Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a Beaded Basket~ Where to start?

   I took this picture about an hour after my mind told me I was making a beaded basket~ I have never beaded a thing, aside from stringing beads for necklaces!  This is probably not the way to do it, but I figured, if they could bend a wire to make a neat basket shape in the 17th c, I could do it....right now.... and in my living room ;)   So first, I wanted to make a pattern of some sort~ I didnt have any paper large enough, so I grabbed a spare sheet of foam core and drew it out with a sharpie. No measure, just eyeballed it.  I am glad now I used that foam core, I used it thru the entire process, from making the basket itself, so using it for my template to fit my beaded designs to.   For the basket frame, I used lengths of brass brazing rod.  They are not so stiff you have to use tools or heat them to bend~but you do have to use quite a bit of elbow grease.  For the handles, I sketched my pattern on a scrap wood board and then pounded it out with nails every little bit, then I took about a 25" length of rod and bent it carefully around the nails for my handles
   Here is what my frame looked like after the little spot welds to get it together~ you can see the one required element for the competition in the center~ I used the smaller of the two ovals from the kit.  My Idea at this moment, is for an angel in the center, and to reproduce the floral panels from the Corning basket in each of the surrounding sections.  So she will be watching over her Garden~ the inner panels will be treated like the Corning with the white lattice between, but the outside and handles will be wrapped spiral like the Holburne basket.
   Underneath the white lattice, I want the basket to look like 'dirt', so am planing on wrapping it with silk I will dye to the right dirt color~ and so that the wraps are nice and tidy and all the same size, I will wrap the basket first with wool~ this will give the sections a bit of a cushion under the wrapping and give my needle and thread something to dig into.  I have loads and loads of wool for my dolls, this is from a handsome ram named 'Leo'
 I just grab a little and stretch it out and wrap it round on itself. The wool has been washed, but there are still wonderful little seeds and sticks here and there~ that I like to leave in~ it gives character!
  Here is the basket frame all wrapped~ you will notice alot of my pictures will be at night~ cause I literally worked day and night on this basket~ from August till the last day of December it took to get it finished~ I wont tell you how many hours, because I am planing a little giveaway later for you all to guess that, but yes! I kept track of every  minute of work, and YES! Every bead! So be keeping track in the back of your mind!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Queen Anne Doll on eBay this week!

Stubborn as a Mule & on eBay this week!

  Wrestling Heart~ she certainly does live up to her name. It is known all girls of society and grace simply must must must have their heads covered at all times!  But no! all I hear is
  ' please Mum~ I hate wearing that bonnet!!!! Please don't make me wear it~ it makes my head itch horrible and now Jacob thinks I have the lice!!! Do you even know how embarrassing that is????'
  What to do when they are so cheeky...and one such as I am feeling such under the weather....  I let her have her way of coarse~ she is on eBay this week so please click on the eBay specials to see super huge detailed pictures of her wooden legs....latchett tie shoes....and that horrible silk brocade bonnet she hates so much!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Special breed of 17th c Beaded Basket....

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning NY ~Accession no.  53.2.4

    This basket is a breed of it's own, I have found just one other that is made similar, located in the U.K.  No provenance is known for this basket, it was purchased from a dealer by the Museum in 1953.  In 1972, the entire Museum was flooded up to the second floor~ many pieces were lost and damaged, this basket being one of them. It was literally encased in mud, and both Ladye & Gentleman's hair were lost.  ( Its actually quite an interesting read if you go to the Museum link, you can read all about the flood)

 There are several things that make this basket unique, the first one that stood out to me, was the trellis like white bead work covering the basket itself.  The majority of the other beaded basket frames of this era (17th century) are wrapped solid with beads in a spiral direction....(think of a barber pole).  I really liked how delicate and light it looked~ very feminine.  And what a treat, one can see the actual basket frame....or can you?
  I have left the photos large so you can enjoy the details~ so please do click on the pictures to enlarge!  I have studied and studied the pictures I have, and while it does look like the frame is wrapped in cloth, I cannot be 100% sure that it is not the frame showing, and the wonderful brown color is not actually rust. (I have emailed the Museum several times with no reply as of yet) This was no bother to me, as I already had my mind set on how I was going to do up my own basket.   Besides a good view of the frame, the above picture is of one of my favorite panels, foxgloves. This at first looks like an absolute nightmare, but it being so disheveled actually showed a lot of how the individual flowers were constructed....which brings me the the  most fascinating and wonderful thing about this basket~ all the motifs...the leaves, the flowers, the people, the birds, the butterflies.....all made on wire forms.
 On this panel of roses you can clearly see the wire shapes of the large petals, their beads now missing. Actually, the two large flowers in back are also missing their second layer of petals that the center front rose still retains, tho they are all smooshed forward.   For the majority of the motifs, wires were bent to the desired shape, then seed beads were woven within the shape to fill it solid. Some things, like the peaches, were made more like traditional stumpwork, with woven beads covering a shaped card base, and then stuffing added to give a 3 dimensional shape.
  Perhaps it was the fact that so many panels looked like this~ just a mess! Beads missing, parts of flowers going every which way. How sorrowful it all looked to me. I wanted to see what this basket looked like when it was made~ when all the flowers and the vases and birds and butterflies were complete. Like I have said before, there was no question in my mind. No hesitation. I had  to make a basket like this.
      And so, it began....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Currently on eBay

Retired Nicol Sayre Valentines & Easter on eBay this week!

  When I was tearing the house apart in December looking for that lost santa chart, I found a whole nother BOX of Nicol Sayre licensed pieces (back when she was with Midwest of Canon Falls)  and have listed some on eBay this week~ all are retired, from 2003, 2004 and 2005~ never before been displayed and still in their original wraps~ so if you haven an interest~ go take a peek at my eBay specials~ link is at the right!

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Introduction to 17th C Beaded Baskets

   17th c beaded or bead work baskets are made from one main ingredient~ seed beads.  They have been labeled as 'Christening Baskets' by some, but in my research, most likely used as presentation baskets~ for a special occasion, like a wedding or having a child...and are purely decorative. They would not have held anything in them. Some are made entirely of seed beads strung over wire, others have beads applied to a silk satin background fabric and stitched over the frame...while others are made entirely of flat woven beads.  The Met's basket above has a bottom with beads stitched onto a silk satin background, while the sides are made up of beads strung on wires to make marvelous three dimensional fruits and flowers~ you can learn more about it here
  The majority are rectangular in shape, the like Braganza Basket at the Met Museum in NY in the first picture, but there are ovals too, like this cutie patuti from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

 You can go here to explore the Burrell Collection

   Whatever the shape, they all have key aspects in common~ a wire basket frame is made, then covered with beads, entirely, so no wire can be seen. Beaded embellishments are then applied by wiring to the frame, until the entire thing is covered.  The trefoil shape handles are also common, and a feature that I really adore~
   the above basket was just acquired by the Holburne Museum in Bath, you can read more about it here

This last basket is one in the Corning Museum of Glass  and one of my favorites. It looks at first glance similar to the majority of the early 17th c beaded baskets, but in fact has several unique features in its construction.  I have scoured and scoured, and have only found one other extant period basket that utilizes the same construction techniques~ which I will be touching a bit on in my next post

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Found & Finished!

The Only snow we have seen for a bit.....

   So back in 1999 when I was pregnant with my son, I started this wonderful counted cross stitch Santa. It was a Designs for the Needle kit that came with blank cloth, threads and a chart. I used to do counted work all the time, this is the 4th big Santa....I like to start a the bottom and work up, so he was done up to the first ring on the lantern, just above the first polar bears eye. We lived in Upstate NY then, and soon after moved out here to it got rolled up and stuck in a box.
  That was YEARS ago and I just forgot about him for a few years, poor fellow.  About 5 or 6 years ago I found HIM, but not the kit with the chart. Back into a box he went....then found him again last year, and that time actually looked for the chart but couldn't find it. He is BIG, on a rolling scroll frame I wanted to use for something he has been sitting out to remind me to look for the chart!  Once I got my beaded basket finished the last week of Dec, I literally tore the house apart looking for that blasted chart~ took me about 3 days, but I found it!!!!!  WOOP!   And, even impressing myself, I got the entire thing done~ now I can use the frame for what I want~ I knew if I took him off it before he was finished, hed NEVER get finished!

  Honestly speaking...I have never disliked a chart so much in my entire life!  I do not recommend this kit to anyone!  The chart and the picture do not not not go along with each other at all~ so much so that I scrapped the chart altogether for the back stitching and french knots and just winged it.  For example...the gold bells on the pack~ half of them were red according to the chart symbols....and the blue part intermixed with red and blue~ I was merrily going along with the chart in my cross stitches...and thought, wow, this looks like a bell....what the heck~ red??? and blue????  So I had to rip out a huge section, which I HATE!   And thread....I have never ever ever run out of thread in a kit either~ but this one had 4 colors I ran out of...and not by a squeak either~ I needed nearly half a skein more of a red that was in the border than what was provided....and am only using 2 strands!  Ohh....but I guess they made up for that, giving me 7 yard long chunks of the nasty PURPLE that was ONLY sposed to be used for the rocking horse!  BLEK! A Purple horse in the midst of such other pretty you can see, I made mine grey!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A Small Flame Flickers......

 I have loved beads for as long as I can remember~ literally.  I have always been drawn to them, they are amazing little treasures to me, each and every one. I can remember as a child in the late 1970s making the hour trip to Spokane~ we didnt go very often, so when we did, it was special and an all day excursion. We would get to go out to eat....I always wished for "Klinkerdaggers" in the Flour Mill.....we would of coarse go to the...THE huge store of all stores...the "K Mart"....who can forget the flashing blue light specials!  I would have gathered up all my allowance that I had managed to save....which was never very much~ back then a full size candy bar was a quarter...and good grief~ with bubblegum and candy machines that were a penny, or a nickle or a dime....who could ever save up their money????  Anyway, my Pa being a model railroader, we would always, ALWAYS stop at Columbia Cycle on the way home. Ground level was bicycles yes...and loads of trains......but upstairs....pure HEAVEN! Dollhouses and beads beads beads!  If you search the blog, you will find pictures of my dollhouse that I made from a kit....oh I spent many an hour drooling over all the glass cases. They  in themselves were marvelous wonders to me~ each was fitted with these long turntables that held pans and pans of beads and any other little tiny whatnot you could think of. The best way I can describe them, are like the hot dog rotisseries you see at gas stations.  I would ponder for what seemed like hours, my Mom would even be getting tired of waiting....and finally I would pick out how many beads I could get with my dollar or so.....I would point to the exact one I wanted, and into my little brown paper sack they would go. Seemed like I always liked the expensive ones...and would just get maybe 10 little beads to bring home~ little swirly glass ones I can remember well.  The as I got older, and had to get was off to Spokane to the dentist quite often, and my Mom & I would make the rounds to sticker stores....(dont get me started) and bead stores~ hanks and hanks of bright gaudy silver lined beads everywhere....but thats not what caught my eye.  For the 'good stuff' one had to ask...'you got any antique beads?'....and out would come a box from behind the counter....oh what treasures! Of coarse Id want them all....but they were SO expensive!  So my collection grew little by little....carefully stored in an old cigar box. I never did anything with them but admire them. What to make....they have always been to special to actually use. Until now.

 My most prized beads are the smallest~ soo weensie some strung single on a thread, are over 50 to the inch. They will easily drop thru the hole in a size 15 seed bead....speaking of bead sizes..... Everyone seems to use their own 'scale'~ so if you dare to buy  them online, without holding them in your hot hands and looking at them with your own eyes...instead of asking what size they are, ask "how many are there per inch?"  It will save you a lot of frustration, trust me!

   Thus, akin to a pilot light on a gas little bead flame has always been lit....just waiting for the right match to come along and light it for real~