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

Friday’s Favorites: Decorating the Tree(s)

christmas tree with moon and star ornaments

Celestial Christmas

I love to decorate for the holidays, for every holiday I do a little something, but I seem to enjoy decorating for the Christmas holiday the most. I enjoy the lights, the baubles, the ornaments, the stockings, the candy canes… all of it seems so festive! When we were growing up we had a plastic tree, which my dad hung with colored lights, then my mom, sister and I decorated with glass ornaments and tinsel. The felt tree skirt above was our tree skirt while growing up. Our tree was always festive, but I longed for a real Christmas Tree.

Our very first tree as a young family was real, and it cost $5.00, it would have rivaled Charlie Brown’s tree before the ornaments. At that time we had very little money (not that this has changed all that much), and I hand-made all of our ornaments, our stockings, and all of the other Christmas decorations. I also hand-made all of the Christmas presents that we gave to our family and friends. How I did this with a full-time job, a young daughter, and a career as an artist I do not know.

Our ornaments and collections have out grown our first tree, and now I decorate eight trees (and as I no longer wish to cut down a real tree these are all artificial), including the mantle over the fire-place. Every tree has a different theme, and I change the themes around so that every year it is a little different. The above tree (which is the largest, 4 ft.) rests on a vintage sewing machine, and sits in front of our picture window. This year I have decorated it with our collection of moon and star themed ornaments.

decorated mantle

Festive Mantle

This is a picture of our mantle with Gwen’s stocking in the middle (made of moire and hand embroidered); Kevin’s to the right (made of vintage cotton velveteen scraps and hand embroidered); mine to the left (made of vintage Jacquard and lace). The theme for the mantle this year is Angels and Santas.

tiny glass ornaments

Vintage Tree

This is our vintage glass ornament tree (3 ft.), the figural ornaments all reproduction but they look old-fashioned with no ornament bigger than 2″; this tree stands in the middle of our china cabinet. Grouped around the ornaments are small bells that were attached to Christmas Crackers that we bought one year, small colorful glass balls and a few strands of vintage mercury glass beads. I placed an old felt stocking around the base of the tree and for the topper I hung a metal tree with hanging ornaments that was a gift from a friend.

frog ornamnets

Kevin's Frog Tree

This tree sits to the right of the above tree, it is about 18″ tall and it is Kevin’s very own frog tree. I have mentioned before that I gave him the hobby (see Two Many Frogs) of collecting frogs, and this is one more addition to his collection. I hung glass Mardi Gras beads that I found at the thrift store and included butterfly and lady bug ornaments to represent the gals in his life. The tree that sits to the left on the opposite side of the china cabinet is my Angel Tree, which I featured in a Tea on Tuesday post Angels and Hearts.

Tree by the Sea

Tree by the Sea

This is the newest tree for our collection, it is about 12′ tall. The tree rests in a large abalone shell, and is decorated and surrounded with shells. I made a crochet garland that is supposed to look like kelp, and attached small purple shells in the strand. I purchased most of the shells and star fish that are around and on the tree except for the small abalone shells that you see in the branches.

glass baubles

Glass Baubles, Santa and Snowmen

This tree is also new for us this year, being that we have so many ornaments now, and stands 3 ft. tall. This tree is manly decorated with vintage mercury glass ornaments and garland, I also included our collection of glass ornaments that were made in traditional shapes. The tree topper is from my CuddleNots class that I taught in September. I have surrounded the tree (which sits on our china cabinet) with Santas and Snowmen and Reindeer and Wise Men.

I have another tree full of handmade hearts, which rests next to the fireplace, one in the kitchen which I featured in a Tea on Tuesday post In the Kitchen, and the dining room table is festive with candles and ornaments.

I wish you a joyous day, and hope that it is filled with family and friends. Love to you and yours, Christen

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Birthday Flowers

cut flowers

Birthday Surprise

Monday was my birthday, and I got a wonderful surprise from my daughter, she sent me flowers and they arrived just after we got back from our walk. I have received flowers from a florist three times in my life, once by my loving husband, once from my best friend and his husband, and Monday from my daughter.

Pretty cool kid, I love her so much!

Happy day to you, enjoy, I hope that you receive flowers every day, even if they are in thought only. Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Silk Ribbon Embroidery with Ribbon Worked Flowers


scrumptious scraps

Scrumptious Scraps


Friday’s Favorites (and every day for me) are silk ribbon embroidery projects that include ribbon worked flowers and leaves. This type of work incorporates two different techniques, embroidery with silk ribbon and flower or leaves stitched from ribbon. If you are unfamiliar with these techniques it can be confusing to identify one technique over the other.

In the above image I have used both silk ribbon embroidery and ribbon worked flowers made from silk habotai and silk satin ribbons. The base of this particular piece is composed of precious bits and pieces of lace that are stitched to a base of silk fabric. This base was dyed along with a few of the ribbons. Additional ribbons that I used were the Hanah Silk Ribbons. The silk ribbon embroidery was stitched with 2mm, 4mm, 7mm silk ribbon from YLI.


silk ribbon embroidery

Marie's Boudoir Pillow


This is pillow is an example of silk ribbon embroidery. The technique is described by threading the ribbon into a needle (chenille) and stitching through the fabric to create the embroidered designs. All of the stitches were stitched with either silk ribbon from YLI which comes in a variety of sizes (here I used 2mm, 4mm, 7mm, and 13mm);  or silk threads which I used buttonhole twist and stranded floss.


ribbon worked flowers and leaves

Violet Gardens

This brooch is an example of flowers and leaves made from ribbon. These ribbon worked flowers are stitched from different widths of ribbon (1/4″ to 5/8″), in a variety of styles and fiber content. Ribbon work differs from embroidery in the fact that the individually stitched flowers are created by threading a needle with sewing thread, cutting the ribbon the exact length for each flower, then stitching the ribbon to form the flower. Each flower or leaf  then is stitched in place with a needle and thread. These flowers can also be glued onto a project such as a mixed media project like Green Gardens, or stitched onto a ribbon base and made into a necklace or bracelet as in Deco Plumeria and Violas and Peas.


silk ribbon embroidered brooch

Elizabeth's Garden


This is an example of a brooch that is primarily embroidered with silk ribbon, using traditional stitches such as Lazy Daisy, French Knot and Chain Stitch. Stitches that are primarily used in silk ribbon embroidery are the Japanese Ribbon Stitch and the Woven Rose (which are shown in the top center of the brooch along with a few ribbon work flowers). I have also incorporated a rococo trim around the outer edge of the brooch, and a few ribbon worked flowers and leaves at the top outside portion of the brooch.


silk fabric with silk ribbon embroidery

Summer Blossoms Purse


This purse is an example of silk ribbon embroidery on an embroidered silk fabric (in the middle) with silk dupioni fabric on the outer edges. One of the wonderful qualities of silk is that it takes the dye so beautifully, and is very vibrant, yet still feminine. The other lovely thing about silk ribbon is that it is so beautiful even the most basic stitches such as Lazy Daisy, Straight Stitch and French Knots.


silk ribbon worked flowers and leaves

Silk Gardens Purse


This purse appeared in the March/ April 2007 issue of PieceWork Magazine. I wrote an article on silk fabrics, and this piece was included as a project. Here I have used primarily ribbon worked flowers made from Hanah Silk Ribbons with a few silk ribbon embroidered stitches.

If you would like to view a few other projects see my website for Samples of Silk Ribbon Embroidery.

Enjoy what you do, Christen



Friday’s Favorites: Jewels from the Sea

small shells

Tiny Jewels from the Sea

Friday’s Favorites (a day late) is all about my favorite shells. Growing up in Southern California we visited the many miles and miles of sand, rocks and surf often. We also frequented the tides pools off of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Some of the earliest art and jewelry that I made was from shells.

The collection above are some of the tiniest shells that I have. Below I have added in the ruler with the millimeter edge up so you can see just how tiny they are.

tiny shells sized


When gathering the small shells I have no real favorites, just the size is what draws my attention. I do Love the colors and the variety of shapes.

abalone shells

abalone shells

button shells

button shells

I found all of the larger black abalone shells at the tide pools off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  The smaller red shells were purchased in a bead store, and these are really tiny as you can see.

The button shells here were all found  on Catalina Island, which is the only place that I have found them except for the very center pinkish one, which I found in San Diego.

It is remarkable to think that these jewels make it safely to the shore intact!

sand dollars

sand dollars

sea urchins

sea urchins

abalone shells

abalone shells

cowrie and button shells

cowrie and button shells

With these photos I have tried to give you an idea of the variety of sizes the shells come in.

Most of the larger shells pictured I have found except for the large abalone shell which I purchased on Catalina Island and the different variety of  sand dollars. I did find the four that are similar in the center of the line-up.

metal leaf full of shells

metal leaf full of shells

This display sits on my dining room table most of the year. I love the subtle colors, and the shapes of the treasures that reside in here.

sea urchin's in a bowl

sea urchin's in a bowl

The sea urchin’s here are for the most part purchased, but the green ones I found here in Southern California.

So what wonderous tiny jewels have you found beach combing? Perhaps you should take a walk along the shore today and enjoy! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Tagua Nut Buttons

tagua nut buttons, Bakelite roses

Woodland Roses

Friday’s Favorites is all about “tagua nut buttons”. The vintage buttons on the necklace and bracelet are made almost entirely from tagua nut (the necklace has a few celluloid buttons). I have used mostly natural colored buttons, but a few have a darker brown dye added to the carved ones, some even have a cross-hatch pattern which is quite pretty. I used a variety of buttons on the necklace, two hole, four hole and shank; in designs such as “fish eye” and whistle; where as on the bracelet just shank buttons. The vintage roses on the necklace are carved Bakelite, and the round discs on the bracelet are wood. The necklace is a variation of my “Vintage Bling Bling” pattern, and the bracelet is the “Bohemian Button Bracelet” pattern.

Vegetable Ivory- or Tagua Nut from the Corozo Palm (except from Button Identification and Cleaning)

This nut comes from the Corozo Palm that grows in South America. It is a hard, versatile nut that can be carved and dyed. It has been used since the late 19th century s an alternative to ivory because the striations of the nut resemble those in ivory. It is softer than bone. The dye only absorbs on the surface layer, so the carving is left as the natural color of the nut. The tagua nut was popular from 1890- 1920, but has found resurgence since 1990.

vintage tagua nut buttons

Tagua Nut Buttons

All of these buttons here except for the red button are vintage.

What is amazing about tagua nut buttons is that each vintage one is made, one at a time, hand carved, hand dyed. Pretty remarkable.

The colors are so pretty close-up, rich natural browns; when dyed the colors tended to be greens both dark and light; black (which I ask what is the point because it is hard to see the beauty of the nut); browns from light to dark; and red as seen in the group that is tied together, notice the carving and how it shows the nut underneath. Some tagua nut buttons were inlaid with shell, or metal, some were dyed, carved and another color rubbed into the carving.

For further reading may I suggest “Button Button Identification & Price Guide”.

Enjoy your day, play in the button box if you have time! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Harvest Time

Harvest Wreath

Harvest Wreath

Fridays Favorites is all about the Harvest Time. I decorate for fall at the end of September, even though here in San Diego (city) we have no turning of the leaves, and only the occasional crisp cold weather mornings, and no frost in the air yet. I still appreciate this turning of the season. I absolutely love all of the rich autumn colors, the browns: from chestnut to sienna; golden umber and warm maple; firy reds like crimson and  cinnamon; pumpkin and carnelian.

As  a kid I used to love to dress up for Halloween, it wasn’t so much about the candy, but the fact that you could turn into something else, if only for the day. We used to help mom decorate the house so that we were appropriately spooky for the “trick or treater’s”. When my daughter was young, she couldn’t wait for Halloween, and I loved dressing her up as a princess or heroine of some sort. I had a co-worker ask me why it was always a princess not a peasant, and I said why not reach for the stars?

I have a few decorations set up specifically for Halloween, such as my 3 ft. black spider and 2 ft. spider and web. I have a spooky ghost tree made from found branches, and I have adorned this with a pumpkin garland that lights up, I added glow in the dark bats, but they don’t do there job quite as well as they should, but they are spooky enough without glowing I guess.

Halloween's Queen

Halloween's Queen

This is a cute little witch that I purchased at a cloth doll show. I added the pumpkin that was purchased at a thrift store. I set her on a tray amongst tiny paper mache pumpkins, acorns and creepy hands. She is really a very cute witch, not scary, so I keep her up through Thanksgiving, I just take the hands away and pack them up for next year. I also have a pumpkin that holds a votive candle, and two ghosts that sit in the flower pot.

Harvest Table Center Piece

Harvest Table Center Piece

This is the center piece that rests on my table from the end of September through the weekend of Thanksgiving. The pumpkin is just so cool, and the setting that it rests in is actually a frame full of berries and nuts. I added a few autumn leaves and ribbons for the finishing touches.

During this time of year, we usually take a drive up to our friends house in Morongo Valley, which is just before Joshua Tree state park. We all pack into the car and tramp and hike and climb around the boulders. Most of the roads are paved, but of course the trails are not. On the way back home we drive through the backroads of Idlewyld and Hemmit, and think of days that are gone but not forgotten.

Dirt roads lined with
brown dusted bushes
and autumn colored trees
Leaves falling with even prettier colors
than last year.
Crackle air smells
of snow and cooked
turkeys and pumpkin pie.
Family days spent with
distant relatives, loved ones
and Thanksgiving.

Christen, 10-15-79

Well I hope that you are enjoying this time of year, Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Thimbles and Thimble Holders

vintage thimbles and thimble holders

vintage thimbles and thimble holders

Friday’s Favorites today is focussed on my collection of thimbles and thimble holders. I really never used a thimble in my hand sewing until I started to embroider jeans and work shirts which are thicker than the muslin or cotton that I was used to. Wikipedia has a long history on thimbles which is quite interesting.

My collection grew when I inherited an old sewing chest that had belonged to my grandmother. It was curiously filled with all sorts of wonderful sewing supplies and tools. Curious only by the fact that she did not sew, embroider or knit. She did however mend, which was obvious by the bits and pieces of stuff inside the chest. There were about 12 thimbles and at one point I had very irreverently made several into earrings (as you can see by the hole in the top of one of the four in the top row to the right).

I normally use the silver thimble resting idly at the bottom of the picture to the right. I have collected a few plastic advertising thimbles, a few more metal thimbles, and a colorful wooden thimble painted with a little girl. The porcelain thimble was a gift from my father in-law, and the sterling thimble a gift from my daughter. I do have a leather thimble which feels a little funny on my finger, so I don’t use it much, but it is sitting patiently in the sewing chest just in case.

The thimble holders are as varied as the thimbles themselves. The crochet hat is quite darling, with the thimble resting in the cap, and the lid opens up to reveal a piece of felt to insert your needles into, I found this at an antique store. The crochet pocket is attached to a huge wishbone, which is covered in crochet with tiny balls dangling below, this was given to me by a friend.

There are a few metal thimble holders, and one that is made from metal and celluloid. These all hold individual thimbles, some also include a needle or two. A few have self tops of the same material they are made of like the yellow one, the gold embossed one and the colorful celluloid one. The green and the light blue one are capped by the thimbles themselves, with a spool of thread inserted into the green one. Most of these were given to me by my mother in-law and they belonged to her mother. The gold and silver cases were purchased on Ebay, and they came from England.

What is your favorite thimble? Can you find it?

Enjoy, Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Junkity Junk Junk Junk

I love bits of rusted, peeled, broken, miss-matched stuff. Not sure why, but I love a garage full of smelly gadgets, love baby food jars full of nuts and bolts, love coffee cans full of nails. My grandmother was an executive secretary for a hardware manufacturing firm, and we occasionally worked “Re-con” and visited hardware stores to see what was what.

Most of the junk that I have I find while on a walk, or in a parking lot. This last week I put together a few JunkMen to accompany the guy I made in honor of my husband, who normally has to carry all of these tattered, rusty, dirty bits of treasure in his pocket.

Here are my guys and a pin full of pile o junk… (click on the images for a larger view)

Enjoy whatever it is that gives you the most pleasure! Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Butterflies

Group of Butterflies

Group of Butterflies

Friday’s Favorites today as you can see is all about butterflies, a few moths may have crept in here and there, but their shape is just as lovely. I love the shapes, colors, and variety that you can find both in real life and in the wonderful things that I can use in my art such as charms, buttons, beads and lace.

embroidered butterfly

embroidered butterfly

Here is a variety of just those things, whether they be sequined or beaded; carved from bone, jade, or mother of pearl; whether they be copper, brass, gold, or silver; enameled or painted I love them all.

The necklace in the middle as you may imagine is called Enchanted Butterflies and is worn with the ensemble Madame Butterfly this embroidery here is from the sleeve of the jacket.

Speaking of Madame Butterfly we were lucky enough to watch a simulcast performance at the movie theater of the taped version from a Met performance. WOW is about  all I  can say except for truly amazing!

I'm NO Wallflower

I'm NO Wallflower

This is a close-up of the work on the jacket called “I’m NO Wallflower.”

Here we have a copper and brass butterfly pin, a brass charm and a paper mache butterfly charm. These are all sitting amongst ribbon flowers and silk ribbon embroidery. Even the background fabric which is a Hoffman print is strewn with happy butterflies flying free.

Butterfly Jewelry

Butterfly Jewelry

These pieces of jewelry are made from vintage sterling reposse charms that I believe are from China. I think that these are probably moths, but they are lovely and detailed. I glued a pin back onto the larger charm and wire wrapped the beads for earrings.

A Mid Summer Night's Dream

A Mid Summer Night's Dream

This close-up is from the jacket of the ensemble called “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream“.

The jacket is crazy pieced in sections which are later stitched together on a foundation piece with ribbon.

Each section is embellished with silk ribbon and traditional embroidery stitches using cotton, silk and metallic threads; ribbon worked flowers and leaves rest here and there and are adorned with vintage sequin appliques, vintage and new buttons, glass charms and beads. Here the butterflies take form in dyed lace appliques, metal charms and glass beads.

We have also planted many Lantana and bougainvillea plants to entice these wonderful colorful ephemeral flying beauties to our yard. Fly free, love what you do and see you next Friday. Enjoy- Christen