Archive | January 2010

Friday’s Favorites: Mother of Pearl part 1

mother of pearl

Mother of Pearl or MOP

Friday’s favorites this week is all about Mother of pearl. Mother of pearl (shortened to MOP) is the iridescent layer of lining material that is formed by a variety of mollusks such as oysters and mussels. The beautiful natural coloring of these shells is a favorite material used by fashion designers, craftsman and artisans throughout the centuries. Here is a nice group of items with the Mother of pearl pink/green sheen glowing off of the white shells.

Mother of pearl was very popular during the “Victorian” period in England, when femininity and beauty were prized. The spines of the fan which is from this period are all Mother of pearl, with the fan itself made from silk and lace. The opera glasses (circa 1900’s) are made from brass with sections of Mother of pearl inlaid into the sides. The utensils made from Mother of pearl with attached metal sections were my grandmother’s, and I believe these were handed down from her mother. The utensils made entirely from shell were found at an antique store, and I am not sure of the date on these. The small shell purses are made from whole shells with metal findings, these are newer items and can be found at a shell or novelty shop. The buttons are both new and vintage and can be found at antique stores, quilt shops and jewelry supply stores.

variety of items made from mother of pearl

MOP in all her glory

Here are a variety of items that would have been used in both men and women’s fashions. Starting at the left, these charms and beads are both new and old and would have been used on women’s clothing and accessories as well as jewelry. The middle section of buttons and buckles are from the Victorian period. The cuff-links to the right are worn by both sexes, these examples are both vintage and new.

mother of pearl buttons

mother of pearl buttons

Quilters, embroiderers and crafters alike all have a collection of Mother of pearl buttons! Here I have grouped a variety of different button shapes and sizes; both new and old; carved, pierced and drilled; both sew-on (with wholes) and shank (some self and some metal) styles.

These are probably the most common of the vintage buttons, not only because of their beauty but the availability. They can be found in their natural state carved, mixed with other materials such as metal and rhinestones; they can be dyed, or painted with images. The nacre that is important to the health of the shell is still important to the button. Over washing and drying in the dryer can damage and chip the shell, so take care of these precious beauties!

Enjoy your day, may it be filled with creative wonder! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Sequins, Glittering Glamour

vintage sequins

vintage sequins

I am sure if you are a fiber artist or crafter each of you will have a box of sequins, probably very similar to the box  to the left. I think that I have had this box for as many as 43 years, I just keep adding to it. Some of the older sequins came from my mother’s craft stash.

I first started using sequins on the clothes that I made for my troll doll, adding them to her little garments made her and me (by proxy feel) glamorous.

Sequins were something special and certainly not used for everyday wear during the 1960’s and 1970’s when I was growing up. In fact the only other place that I saw sequins when I was growing up was on my Christmas stocking and a few ornaments that were hung on the tree.

vintage sequin purse

vintage sequin purse

During the 1920’s and 1930’s sequins were used exclusively for evening wear, used both on clothing and the accessories that a woman wore.

Sequins were considered the poor woman’s answer to a beaded bag or rhinestones. Often little bags like the one to the right would have been sold in a department store, with a matching hat.

vintage sequin jewelry

vintage sequin jewelry

Here to the left is a wonderful set of jewelry comprised of a necklace and pair of earrings that I found on Ebay. These were probably hand-made and not available in retail stores. My guess would be that these were made in the late 1940’s – 1950’s.

The base of the necklace is a series of large rectangular sequins which are attached together with beads. Each of these sequin’s is decorated with star and round shaped sequin that are attached by seed beads. The earrings are made from fabric with round sequins attached with beads. Quite festive I must say!

vintage hat pins mad with sequins

vintage hat pins made with sequins

Here to the right are a group of hatpins that I would date around the 1940’s, and they also seem to be hand-made.

Three of the pins are made with a sequin trim,  meaning the sequins are pre-strung by a machine stitch. The other pin was made by hand stitching the sequins to a fabric base with seed beads.

vintage paillettes

vintage paillettes

Paillettes are a metal sequin, which is flat and has a large hole. Coins are still used as sequins in some cultures.

vintage sequins

vintage sequins

Sequins though for the most part are a made from plastic or Mylar, and are described as a shining disk or spangle that is used for ornamentation to add to or create a design that lends a certain sparkle.

The samples to the right and below show that they can come in many shapes, colors and sizes. As you can see from these sequins, not all were created round, many came in fabulous colors and shapes such as the wings and fans which are my favorite.

vintage sequins

vintage sequins

vintage soulffle

vintage souffle

The picture below shows a group of vintage “Souffle”, which were made in France and Belgium and are also called “Gelatin” which is a description of the substance that was used to produce them.

They were used to embellish clothing and accessories during the 1920’s. I have used them on a few of my wearable garments, but I recommend that you be careful when using them because they melt in water (sadly I found this out the hard way!).

Well may this brighten your day and give you a little history on the glamor of our past.

Enjoy- Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Free-Form Peyote Stitch

free-form peyote stitch

Free-form Peyote Stitch

Friday’s Favorites is all about the free-form peyote stitch. The peyote stitch is a traditional stitch used by Native Americans in a ceremonial ritual. There is some controversy in using the name of this stitch in beadwork today, but because I have no alternative word, I use it here with care.

The stitch is formed after a row of stitches are added onto the needle and thread; the stitching is then reversed with one bead added onto the needle and passed through a bead in the original row; additional beads are added in this manner. In the free-form stitch beads are added at random in singles or quantities creating a flowing organic form. The beads used are seed beads of all sizes (4-15 in my case), square, triangles, Czech glass beads, buttons, pearls, semi precious beads and basically anything with a hole in it.

free-form peyote stitch

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice was created using the free-form stitch adding and lengthening as needed. Here I have incorporated fresh water pearls, vintage shell and glass buttons, and vintage glass sew-throughs with vintage and new seed beads.

free-form peyote


Here is a close-up of the center, showing you the variety of pearls, glass buttons, glass sew-throughs and seed beads. The light blue beads (almost gray) are vintage beads found in the Hudson Bay area, they are over 200 years old.

free-form peyote neck-piece

Summer's By the Sea

Summer’s By the Sea was created using the same techniques as above, incorporating shells that I had found on Catalina Island as well as on the beaches of Southern California. Here I have incorporated vintage glass beads, vintage glass charms, abalone beads and chips, fresh water pearls along with the vintage and new glass seed beads.

close-up view of free-form peyote stitch

close-up view of free-form peyote stitch

Here is a close-up of the wonderful button shells that I found on Catalina Island.

free-form peyote stitch

Jeweled Pi

This is a close-up view of the Jeweled Pi bracelets, which is one of the patterns that I teach and sell. I have incorporated large Pi or shell discs, along with buttons, jade pieces, fresh water pearls, semi precious stones, and seed beads of different sizes.

free-form peyote with ribbon worked flowers

Tatiana's Enchantment

This necklace is from my Entwined Roses class, which incorporates ribbon worked flowers and leaves and the free-form peyote stitch. This class and the Entwined Treasures class both use silk cord and rayon cords as a base for the neck-piece. The flowers, buttons and beads are stitched on and around the base of cords which give a certain amount of stability and help to defray any tension problems that can arise when stitching without a base.

free- form peyote stitch with ribbon worked flowers

close-up view

This is a close-up view of the center, showing you the ribbon worked flowers that lay amongst the bead-work and buttons.

free-form peyote stitch with ribbon worked flowers

Woodland Elf

This is a close-up of my Woodland Elf necklace, which uses the Entwined Roses pattern. This is a wonderful collection of treasures: tiny sea urchins, vintage troca shell whistle buttons, fresh water pearls, jade charms, ra ku buttons, bronze charms from Big Sur, a dyed gourd, shell flowers….. and more.

close-up view of free-form peyote stitch

Beadazzled Somemore

This is a close-up view of the Beadazzled Somemore class and pattern that I teach. The free-form stitch is attached to the fabric at intervals, and then stitched using the same techniques as a regular peyote stitch.

free- form peyote stitch on ribbon

Ocean River's Bracelet

The Ocean River’s Bracelet uses the same concept as the Beadazzled Somemore, using a ribbon base to work the free-form stitch onto. This is a class that is on the current Winter Schedule for

When all is said and done I enjoy using this stitch both in the structured and unstructured forms, both having their merits in history and style. Happy day to you, enjoy what you do and make everyday count. Christen