Saturday, December 22, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018


2018 Ltd Edition Ornament Kit Peaceful Kingdom

Thankyou so much for your patronage~ I am excited to share next years ornament kit with you soon~

Saturday, December 15, 2018


Have you ever been driving along, and realize you are in a different spot than you expected? I do it all the time on a long drive home, say from the dr office...which is 89 miles from us. All of the sudden I realize we are on the other side of Walsenberg....and I dont remember going past it....Auto Pilot. 
Lately I feel like I am stuck in autopilot....or maybe its the Twilight Zone...that could be it. I have a list a mile long to get done every day, if I dont write whatever it is on the list, it doesnt even get remembered.  I am an emotional less than a week will be 1 year since I lost my Biskie....cant quite thinking about that, missing my parents and wishing I was home with last Christmas at home was 1988....its just never worked out to be home again~ not for lack of want, not at all. Thats just life and I suck it up, but every now and then I get overwhelmed. I have had my Christmas tree up in the gallery here since Thanksgiving weekend....boxes of ornaments all around it on the floor...but there it sits, I have no want to get them out. WHAT is the deal??
  I know I should be spending my spare time decorating the tree....but this is what I find myself doing this my auto pilot? I dont know, but it is very engrossing.....all consuming......making fish scales from beetle wings. My dear friend Stacy gifted me them one year, and I have had them in mind for a mermaid tail ever since. Have no idea how many I will need, probably a zillion or so.
 I first cut the wings into strips, then cut the strips into smaller bits, and then trim one edge of each 'bit' to round it out, like a fish scale. Takes forever and I seriously need to go get my glasses redone, as I am really having a hard time focusing on ANYTHING in...the seeing kind of focus.....oh my eyes are wide open, Im walking around, but big blurry blobs, thats all Im seeing. Hannah has been telling me, while at the store, 'geeze mom, you didnt even say hi'.....and I honestly say~ what are you talking about? And she will say I came within arm reach and total eye contact of a neighbor....and I literally have no idea they were there.... even more reason to get it in gear and get this casket finished, before I really do go blind.

 After I get the little buggers shaped, then I have to go back and drill a hole in each one. Takes forEVER. This is two wings worth of little beetle wing fish/mermaid scales.

Happy Stitching y'all~
Oh and just a little reminder~ I have only 2 of this years Ltd Edition Peaceful Kingdom Ornament Kits left, and as well, the Padded Mirror Case Class will be closing December 31!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Has it REALLY been 2 Weeks?
since I last made a blog post? Really? It doesnt seem like it~ time is going by so fast! I have been working on my front casket panel a little when I can steal some time. I have the clouds done, and the base foliage, thats about it. Working on a zillion little rose petals for the roses, I am up to 66 made to far,  and that is only for the back layer of petals on the attached flowers...I will have just as many or more for the interior petals....I havent decided yet if I will make fully detached roses yet...will have to see how it looks first. 
Thanksgiving came and went in a flash, I have managed to get the rest of the floor in the house finished, so I am super happy to have that done. Only 18 years of living here it has taken me to get the floor in...(.now you see the significance of the snails on my casket.)
Working madly on Christmas orders, if you order a slate frame now tho, I cannot guarantee delivery before Christmas. Working on next years classes and kits....I am hoping sometime in all that I will feel the urge to put up the Christmas tree in the gallery. At this point, a little voice in my head says 
'whats the takes so long to put up, it will be up just a few weeks and  you will have to take it down again'
I recall this time of year passing alot slower when I was younger....

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!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Swimming in a Sea of Beautiful Brass
Looky what has finally arrived. My entire shop has been taken over by a sea of precious brass music box movements
I can literally stand in the middle of my shop and in every direction, this is what I see. I will be mounting them to their soundboards and finishing packing up the kits and hopefully all will be ready to ship by Monday at the latest~ so if you have purchased a kit,  be watching then for your shipping confirmations.  Each and every movement gets tested, the lid switch removed, mounted onto its particular soundboard, and then tested its not the quickest process, but I am diligently making a dent in them.
All this listening to really getting me in the Christmas mood...a snap of the fingers and the Season of Merriment will be upon us....too bad its not that way all year round.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

on eBay this week!

Lil Mermaid in her Grotto
The first week of Autumn has arrived! It seems too soon~ I am not sure I want summer to be over just yet. School has finally started here, and its even more hectic now than it was over summer. Where is my quiet time???? I am beginning to wonder if I will even remember what that means in a few months....
I have been working a little here and there on my casket,  when I can get the time. I started out planning to work the front and back panels at the same time, starting with the clouds at the top of each panel. Well. Well. 
I am still amazed, at how a little bunch of innocent enough CLOUDS.....totally kicked my tuccas....over. and over. and over again. I worked and ripped out that blasted bunch of clouds on my back panel at least five times, with some parts more than that. By the time I called them done, I was, and still sick of blasted clouds I don't even want to look at the ones on the front panel.

So after the clouds straight from Satin himself(oddly enough I wanted them to be stormy clouds...not happy clouds)...I have been working on the two trees I have on my back panel.  I bet you can't guess how many beads is in this little bushy tree.....not including the trunk.....
O.K. I am getting sidetracked, which is usual for me lately~ anyways, what does this have to do with the thread palette set  I have on eBay this week?  I drafted the front panel of my casket to include the mermaid and grotto from an unfinished picture at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I love this little mermaid~ she is so happy and full of life, with her little fishy friends swimming along with her while she combs her hair. The original is unworked, so I have been thinking about what colors I am going to use, and that gave me the idea to make her into a thread palette, so I could play with fun happy colors and see how they work together.
The palette itself is a figured maple, and this time, I carved the clamshell, instead of leaving it flat. I really love how it came out. I  used quartersawn sycamore for the three thread winders~ there is a snail, also from the Cooper Hewitt panel, a little baby clamshell and a fish. If you would like to see them, you can find them on eBay this week, here

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Padded Mirror Case Class Closing Dec 2018

All Good Things Must End~
  This has been an awesome class. I have really enjoyed having it online for these past few years! I have been mulling the decision to close the class for a while, and have finally got to the point that I need the room in the shop for other projects I have planned, 
so I would like to announce today, the Padded Mirror Case Class will be closing at the end of December, 2018. 
  For all of those in class, do not panic! I have always said I will keep the step by step instructions online, and I will continue to do so~ you all can continue to work at your own pace to complete your cases!
  For those of you who would like to work a Martha Edlin style 17th c Mirror Case, you can still sign up for class until the end of this year. 
If you would like to read more about the class, and what is included, you can do so here~

Friday, September 21, 2018

Peaceful Kingdom Kit Update

Going Fast!
 For those who have preordered the special limited edition ornament kit for this year, they are just about ready to ship. I am still waiting on the Greensleeves movements to arrive from Japan. They have made it here to the US, and should be clearing customs any time now. Once they arrive, I still need to mount the movements to their soundboards~ it shouldn't take long. I have them made, but cannot drill the boards until I have the movement sitting here, as they are all a bit different. 
If you are on the fence, I  "plan" to have this kit available to order until the end of the year, BUT,  preorders have been so brisk, I only have 8....yes, just 8!!  kits left of my original planned edition here ready to go. As long as these movements have taken to get here, I cannot guarantee that if you order a kit later on, I will have one for you.    
If you would like one, best not wait!  I have had alot of questions re the perceived difficulty, and I can honestly say, I think anyone could work this kit. There is a whopping 56 pages of step by step photograph instructions, along with another 7 pattern pages!!...and I am always here to answer any questions you may have!
If you would like to order a kit, you can do so here

Monday, September 03, 2018

An Exhilarating NEW Read!

The Glory of Beads by Nicole Anderson
   So this book has been in the works for some time now...Nicole has been sharing little bits and bobs here and there....its coming, its coming~ well. IT is finally here and is amazing! I feel absolutely comfortable saying that beads have been a lifelong passion for Nicole, just as they have been for me~ but she has gone light years farther and beyond what I ever could dream of doing, to share her love of them with us all.  I have had great difficulty researching the history of seed beads and how they were made in the 17th century~ I wish wish wish wish this would have been out years ago!  Nicole's book focuses on a particular factory in Venice...hence the title,  'The Glory of Beads, The Rise and Fall of the Societa Veneziana per l'Industria delle Conterie' ....and in the 19th c, but in 17th c was basically the same process, just without the few machines that were being used later.  If you have ever had any question or interest in how glass beads, and in particular, seed beads, were made, you  m.u.s.t.  r.e.a.d.  t.h.i.s.  b.o.o.k!

 It is paperback, 230 GLORIOUS pages including a glossary of terms at the back.  Most photos are in black and white, but there are some in color. And lets talk about these photos..... Not only does Nicole go in depth as to how beads were made, she provides proof in original period photographs taken at the factory. Everyone has seen the early engravings of the 'runners' who draw out the hot glass into long canes....but have you ever actually seen a photograph of the process????(seen above)  I know I hadn't, not until I read this book!
Nicole gives faces to the workers needed for each and every step of the process~ so we can appreciate the hand work actually involved in making everything from seed beads, lampwork beads, beaded fringes used on the elaborate lampshades of the times....there is even an entire chapter devoted to Aldo Bullo, who hand made the needles for stringing the beads~ from pg. 146~

"The term 'hair-thin needles' has an actual mathematical basis. Using a caliper, one strand of hair measures approximately 0.7mm, and the thinnest known needle made by Bullo measured 0.5mm"

 So many of my questions have been answered by this book, and I have learned so much about the SVC that I did not know~ for some reason I thought it went out of business in the 1930's...but not so! The Societa Veneziana per l'Industria delle Conterie did not shut its doors until 1992, after years of valiantly trying to keep up with the changing times & circumstances. Who knew a factory that could produce such gorgeous little beads, also produced glass pellets for encapsulating nuclear waste? 
 On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I give Nicole's passionate book, The Glory of Beads, at least a 20 on the must read & own scale. 
If you would like to order a copy you can send Nicole a message on facebook here , or email her at  Books are 65.00 each, plus shipping, and worth every penny

Friday, August 31, 2018

Registration now open for BTSS 2019 
 Can you believe tomorrow is Sept 1st? I will admit time has got away from me and it wasn't until a few folks   emailed me to tell me they had signed up for class, that I realized registration was even open! There are 15 seats in each class, and Lynne has told me both classes booked to a little over half full already~ so if you are thinking about it~ I would love to see you in class next year!
Click the link above to go to the home page of Summer School~ there you can see all of the different tutors and classes~ not just mine! There is something for everyone!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Wonderful NEW Threads Available!

 Size 8 Silk Wrapped Purl in 17 Colors~

Did you know that I am a retailer for Access Commodities & all of their wonderful threads & Legacy Linens? Well, I am and look what new threads just arrived! I am in the middle of kitting up the Peaceful Kingdom ornament (Just over half of my quantity has sold already in preorders, so if you want one, put it on your list for sooner than later!), and just had to take a break to share these with ya'll.
This new size of silk wrapped purl seems HUGE compared to the others we are used to, but I can imagine the possibilities for its use endless, and not just for embroidery either. So far, it is available in 17 gorgeous colors, and retails for 9.00 per meter. If you enlarge the picture above, the color numbers are marked on the picture~ you will see some new colors for purls if you are a fan of them~ the 3414 is my ultimate favorite and a color I have longed for for some time. Its an aged taupey dusty purple that is just gorgeous and I have seen on so many caskets!

 So what is a size 8?  Just how big is it? In the picture above I have all 3 sizes of silk wrapped purls ~ the tiny on the top, regular on the right, and size 8 on the left.

What is great about this huge size 8, is that in addition to cutting, chipping and louping, it can be easily pulled apart and flattened to form a loupey trim~ much like the silver and gilt metal loupey trim on so many 17th c stumpwork pieces...but now we can have it in colored silk! Think of it for edges of clothing...flower petals and curtains. I am really loving it for its the perfect scale to use as a sub for soutache in tiny dolly clothes~ think Civil War jackets with all of the applied braids. I love it! If you are interested in purchasing, just drop me a line at  For that matter, as long as what you need is in stock at Access Commodities, I can order your hearts desire and have it to you in a jiffy!

Now I am back to sorting threads for Peaceful Kingdom, I am about half way through the spools....just look at those beautiful colors!