Friday’s Favorites: Daffodils

ribbonwork daffodilFlowers are one of my favorite things to make. Daffodils however are not really my favorite flower, but they are my friend Phred’s favorite, and he is my one of my favorites.

ribbonwork daffodilsMy friend and his life partner Tom, are getting married this weekend, and he asked if I would be his flower girl, just because I could make the flowers! LOL. So it started with four flowers (one for he and his partner, my husband and me), and now we are up to 16 people and you guessed it 16 flowers.

My husband will be uniting the couple, Phred’s sister and friend will be the matron’s of honor, my daughter and her friend will be the “bubble girls” (blowing bubbles instead of throwing rice), and I will also pitch in as the photographer (because I have the camera).

Happy Life to you my friends!

With Love, ~Christen


Friday’s Favorites: Hearts, Hearts and Hearts

It has been so long since I have added a favorite, and this one seems to be appropriate, because hearts in all shapes and sizes have always been a favorite of mine.

These old tin baking hearts were a thrift store find, one that I just treasure. I picked up the myriad of Valentine’s day themed ribbon in the dollar section at Target. Too cute!

Rose Heart is a combination of two techniques from my new book, Ribbonwork Gardens. The heart shape is made from French wire ribbon, and the rose is made from Hanah Silk ribbon. This is a small corsage.

This is an embroidery sampler comprised of Traditional embroidery stitches. I teach a class called BEBE Beginning Embroidery with Bead Embellishments, that includes many of these stitches.

Here are my magical tin baking hearts full of my favorite buttons, Mother of Pearl.

The base of this “Hanky Heart” is made from an old handkerchief that had ripped in several places. I hand-dyed what was left of the handkerchief, then hand pieced it into this heart shape. I covered the seems of the raw edges with hand-dye vintage lace. I then stitched a few ribbonwork flowers, and ribbon embroidery into this pretty little vignette.

This is a grouping of  heart shaped bases, covered in vintage and new plastic buttons. The base is made from Timtex, then covered in a cotton muslin. Then the buttons are stitched down with pearl cotton. Fun, fun, fun….

Here are my tin baking hearts full of vintage and new heart shaped buttons (of course). The background is a piece of sheet music from the play Don Quixote.

And as far as I am concerned, you can never have too many HEARTS!

I hope that you enjoy your day, think good thoughts, and forever stay young and curious…


Friday’s Favorites: shell adornments

shell adornments

shell adornments

I think that it is fair to say that shells have been used as a status symbol in personal adornment throughout the centuries. Shells were used whole or a portion of the shell and attached to clothing; strung as necklaces or bracelets for jewelry; or even used in headdresses or hair ornaments. Shells were especially prized in cultures that traded for these precious items such as middle eastern cultures where the vintage mother of pearl button and the inlaid shell with sterling silver came from.

vintage shell necklaces

vintage shell necklaces

These two necklaces were made during the Victorian England era where shells were used extensively for adornment and household items, see Friday’s Favorites Mother of Pearl part 1 for more information. These are made from small snail shells that have a single hole drilled through shell in order to string them into a necklace. The earrings are made from shells that are glued to a metal base.

vintage shell earrings

vintage shell earrings

This is a sampling of the types of earrings that were made as souvenirs for the tourist trade during the 1940’s through the 1970’s. I especially love the parrots which are made entirely from shells except for the rhinestones glued around the collar.

vintage greeting cards with small shells

vintage greeting cards with small shells

Shells were also used for adornment by sailors who decorated small boxes or picture frames for their sweethearts back home, long before they became an established item for the tourist trade. These vintage greeting cards are painted with water-color then decorated with small shells.

vintage shell jewelry

vintage shell jewelry

This unusual group of jewelry is made from a combination of shells and garfish (a flat fish that dried hard and could be painted). In the first pair of earrings the fish have been painted white and adorned with rhinestones. The pin and earring have combined painted shells for flowers and garfish that are painted green to resemble the leaves.

shell purses

shell purses

These small coin purses are made from a variety of shells. The Mother of Pearl coin purse is the oldest, probably 1940’s or so, where as the scallop and cowrie shell ones are newer. These items are usually found at a sea port shop or shell store.

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy- Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Measuring UP

rulers and measuring tapesFriday’s Favorites is all about the measuring devices we have. I just love rulers for some reason, I must because this is just a small representation of what I have around the studio. It is as if I am afraid I will not have one on hand when I need it!

The top 12″ ruler is actually triangular in shape, it belonged to my dad and is one of the coolest rulers I have. Every one of the six edges is set up for a specific measurement and divided into multiples of this measurement. This is a really great ruler for ribbon work because I use RW measurement, meaning every flower I make is multiplied by the width of the ribbon.

  • 1″ and 1/2″ marks; then below this it is broken down to 1/4″ and 1/8″
  • 16- meaning every 1/16″ is listed; then below this it is broken down to 3/32″ and 3/16″
  • 1-1/2″ and 3″ marks; then below this it is broken down to 3/8″ and 3/4″ marks

The second row shows a “Sewing Gauge” with each edge a different increment of the inch, it is great just to measure the ribbon. The second ruler is a little more unusual it is used to create pleats; it is a vintage ruler that I found in an old sewing kit at the thrift store. The top tape measure is metal and belonged to my dad, the lower fabric tape measure belonged to my grandmother.

The third row is my fabric tape measure that I used when I went to design school, and I still use it today.

The fourth row was my first wooden ruler, one that was purchased when I was in grade school. The metal ruler on top is a for hemming pants or skirts and had belonged to my mom.

The fifth row starts with a metal ruler that is for Jewelry Maker’s Scale. It gives sheet gauge measurements as well as ring shank and bracelet gauge guides. The ruler below this is my handy little 6″ ruler I keep in my sewing box by my work table, I love the big black circles that have the full inch measurements in them.

The ruler next to these two is really cool! It is full of all kinds of interesting information: it has a Circ-L-Scale; a Celsius and Fahrenheit conversion table; a decimal to inches conversion table: at the round end angled degree  measurements; one side with 1/8″ measurements and the other with 1/4″ and 1/2″ measurements; and the other side with metric measurements.

The fourth row is a wooden ruler with both inches and centimeters, it is a great help when I need to convert a measurement. The metal ruler on top is another one that is used for hemming pants or skirts, which I got with the tape measure when I was in design school.

The vertical measuring device is also used in dressmaking and was in the old sewing kit that I found at the thrift store.

Not shown is a button gauge guide with both the metric and Lines measurements of  buttons; a knitting needle gauge; and fabric width to yardage conversion chart. I also use my calculator to convert inch measurements into decimal form.

Probably the most humorous note of all is that I was really bad at math in school, I flunked Geometry twice; well actually the second time I took it the teacher took pity on me and gave me a D-, but I really did flunk it. It was not until I worked at a yardage store that I understood measurements, I learned so much with that practical application of math!

Math is still a mystery to me, something to be treated with care, and I never take measuring anything for granted!

I hope that your day “measures up” to your expectations! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Mother of Pearl part 5

Friday’s Favorites finishes off the month with Wearable Art and Collage Art pieces that I have made which included mother of pearl, Tahiti and brown mussel shell buttons.

mother of pearl buttons, collageLothlorian Twilight~ Collage Art

collage of wearable art with mop buttons

silk ribbon embroidery with mother of pearl buttons

Days of Wine and Roses~ Wearable Art

collage of wearable art with mother of pearl buttons

heart shapes covered in MOP buttons

Pearls From My Heart~ Collage Art

Creativity opens hearts and minds, share your talents with the world because we all benefit.
Enjoy- Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Mother of Pearl part 4

tahiti shell buttonsFriday’s Favorites is all about the lovely brown Tahiti shells and brown mussel shells, that fall under the Mother of pearl category. These buttons here have the same amazing coloring of the Mother of pearl buttons, with a brown base instead of a white base. In this picture the buttons and buckles carved from Tahiti shells are the deeper brown shells, with the vibrant pink, blue and green shimmer; the brown mussel shell buttons and buckles are lighter in color but still will show a faint blue, green shimmer.

Urban VillageThis is my “Urban Village” necklace, made from vintage Tahiti shell buttons and a new brown mussel leaf pendant. The base of the necklace is made from Hanah silk rouleau. A few of the buttons had large holes that I could use to thread the rouleau through and I attached the larger buttons with beads, fresh water pearls, and smaller buttons. The bracelet is strung on Soft Flex, my “BBB” pattern; with brown mussel shell and metal buttons with shanks, fresh water pearls, and glass beads. I also added dangles of beads and buttons.

bracelets made from vintage tahiti shellsThese top two bracelets are covered with Tahiti and brown mussel shell buttons. The first bracelet, my “Klimpt Kollage Kuff” pattern,  is a vintage French Jacquard ribbon; the second bracelet, my “Beaded Ribbon Bracelet” pattern, with a base of vintage velvet ribbon. The second bracelet is made from Tahiti shell discs, with brass buttons set into the discs, then strung with leather cord. The last bracelet base is made from silk rouleau braided into a base; the buttons were stitched on with seed beads.

jewelry made from vintage Tahiti shell buttonsThis is my “Cobblestone Collar”, the base is made from seed beads, with fresh water pearls and vintage and new Tahiti and brown mussel shell buttons. I included three pairs of earrings that I wear with this necklace and the Urban Village necklace. The first pair of carved Tahiti and brown mussel shell buttons have a post glued to the back. The second (really big pair) are made from vintage Tahiti shell leaves with porcelain cabs. The third pair are made from vintage  brown mussel shell and metal buttons, with a 20 gauge silver wire running through the holes of the button and used for the earring hook.

pink shellFor this necklace I strung pink mussel shell, tourmaline, pink opal and fresh water pearls on Soft Flex. The bracelet is made from carved pieces of pink mussel shell, strung on elastic cord. The pink and peach mussel shell buttons are rarer than the Tahiti or brown mussel. The pink and peach mussel shell will have a brownish/yellow glow as opposed to the AB finish of the white Mother of pearl and Tahiti shells.

pink shell buttonsThe top bracelet is my “Jeweled Pi” pattern, made from pink mussel shell discs (which are often referred to as Pi),  seed beads, pink tourmaline, fresh water pearls and shell chips. The second bracelet is made from peach mussel shell buttons carved into the shape of butterflies, this is my “Button Brigade” bracelet pattern. The vintage oval buttons are carved from pink mussel shell; to the right is a single pink mussel shell disc that I didn’t use in the bracelet.

The nacre of the Mother of pearl, Tahiti shell, and mussel shells is very delicate, it can scratch easily so keep these away from sharp objects. Excessive water, or putting these shells in the dryer will remove the layers of nacre, and therefor damage the shell beyond repair! If you need to clean this type shell, try rubbing with a soft cloth, or a cloth dabbed in a mild solution of soap and water.

Enjoy- Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Mother of Pearl part 3

vintage jewerly made from carved mother of pearl

Mother of pearl or MOP is the common name for the inside shell of an oyster or mollusk. The iridescent nacre is a combination of minerals that is secreted by the shell-fish as a coating to protect their bodies from parasites and foreign objects. Aren’t we lucky the oyster knows how to do that!

The inner necklace, (probably made during the Victorian period), is made from Mother of pearl charms carved into flower shapes, stitched to a gimp base. The outer necklace (probably made in the 1980’s) is made from Mother of pearl beads carved into a flower shape.

vintage jewelry made from carved mother of pearl

Mother of pearl is relatively inexpensive to use for jewelry and other items. The beauty comes from the nacre itself, lending a soft sheen of gold, blue, pink, green, purple or combination of colors to the white of the shell.

All of the examples here (excluding the basket of flowers) were carved in Jerusalem. These would have been sold as souvenirs to tourists during the 1940’s and 1950’s. The basket pin probably dates from the Victorian period.

vintage jewelry made from carved mother of pearl

Mother of pearl was very popular during the Victorian period in England. The shells could be cut into beads, carved into objects, or inlaid into wood or other hard substances.

To the left is a necklace that I have made with the large oval-shaped beads from that period; also shown are a wire wrapped necklace and a wire wrapped bracelet both with Mother of pearl beads.

vintage jewelry made from carved mother of pearl

During and a short time after WWll, metal was scarce and people did not have extra money for luxury items.  Mother of pearl regained popularity because it was inexpensive and easily obtained.

The top necklace is from the 1940’s, with rectangles of Mother of pearl combined with rhinestones. The bottom necklace is from the 1950’s with discs of Mother of pearl strung with pearl coated glass beads with metal findings.

vintage jewelry made from carved mother of pearl

These bracelets are also from the 1940’s. These were common souvenirs brought back from the Philippines by soldiers for their sweethearts. These are carved from the whole shell, the outer two with carved details.

As with all Mother of pearl items, these should be stored separately, avoiding any sharp edges that could scratch the surface. If you need to clean this type of jewelry, try rubbing with a soft cloth, or a cloth dabbed in a mild solution of soap and water. Avoid the use of water on jewelry that has been glued, such as the rhinestone necklace; the reason for this is that the glue is old, and has shrunk, so any over use or water will dissolve what is left of the bond.

Enjoy your day, Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Mother of Pearl part 2

necklace made from vintage and new mother of pearl buttons

Enchanted Butterflies

Friday’s Favorites is continuing this month with Mother of pearl. This week I want to show you jewelry that I have made with MOP buttons, charms and beads.

Enchanted Butterflies is an adaptation of my “Entwined Treasures” pattern. The base is created by entwining and stitching silk cords, into a base. This base is then embellished with buttons and charms, and the beads are attached with the peyote stitch.

ribbon bracelets stitched with vintage mother of pearl buttons

Mother of Pearl Button Bracelets

Button bracelets have been around for many decades. You may have one of those cuff bracelets that your mom made with an elastic crochet or stretchy gimp base that is encrusted with vintage buttons and beads.
These two bracelets here are a take-off on those original bracelets.
I chose to use a ribbon for the base (because I don’t like the elastic), using a button for the closure. The top bracelet, which is a sample of my “Klimpt Kollage Kuff” pattern, is encrusted with buttons, while the buttons are stitched in a design on the bottom bracelet.

vintage tie neckpiece


The neck-piece here is made from the tie that my dad wore at his wedding. The buttons are vintage carved Mother of pearl with celluloid discs.
The pin base is a wide ribbon, encrusted with Mother of pearl buttons and buckles, celluloid buttons, and roses that I made from gimp and vintage zippers.

necklace strand made from amethyst and mother of pearl buttons

Pearl's Delight

This necklace incorporates small mother of pearl buttons with beads, strung on #10 Soft Flex.. The beads are amethyst, fresh water pearls, mother of pearl and seed beads. This necklace and the bracelets below were created to wear with “Pearl’s Delight” jacket ensemble, that is covered in vintage lace and vintage Mother of pearl buttons.

bracelets made from mother of pearl buttons

Mother of Pearl Bracelets

These bracelets are all made from vintage Mother of pearl buttons. The top and bottom bracelets are samples from my “Bohemian Button Bracelet” pattern, these are strung on Soft Flex as the necklace above. The middle bracelet is a sample of my “Button Bracelet” pattern using the peyote stitch.

mother of pearl buttons

Vintage at Heart

These are two pins that I made using vintage Mother of pearl buttons. The pin on the left is made from muslin fabric and is covered with buttons. The pin to the right is made from silk fabric with a piece of vintage lace, the buttons are all carved.

Vintage Mother of pearl buttons are still around in some abundance, what will you make with them?
Enjoy what you do, it’s good for you! Christen

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