Tag Archive | Jewelry

Friday’s Favorite: Shells, Pearls, and Beads

I love jewelry, and the combination of shells, pearls, and beads, well enough said, drop the mike, I am all on board!

Summers by the Sea, is a beaded neck-piece that I made, using the free-form peyote stitch technique. I incorporated a variety of treasures using a pallet of soft colors that reflect the sea and shore. I stitched vintage and new glass seed beads and novelty shaped beads with clusters of fresh water pearls, brown muscle shell charms and beads, abalone shells and chips, and my favorite the button shells (they look like small cowrie shells).

Winter Solstice, is another beaded neck-piece that I made, using the free-form peyote stitch technique. I have incorporated fresh water pearls, vintage shell and glass buttons, and vintage glass sew-throughs with vintage and new seed beads. In the close-up you can see the variety of pearls, glass buttons, glass sew-throughs, and seed beads that I used. The light blue beads (almost gray) are vintage beads found in the Hudson Bay area, they are over 200 years old.

Happy Stitching to you, enjoy what you do and make everyday count. ~Christen

National Button Day, November 16, 2022

I LOVE buttons!!! As a kid my mom kept a wooden cigar box in the sewing cupboard, it was full of buttons and all manner of treasures! When we were sick, or sometimes just bored she would pull out the box and let us play with them. At first I just loved the sound that the buttons made when they fell on the table, then I loved just looking at the colors, then I started imagining what I would do with them all. I learned a lot about color, shapes and sizes by playing and arranging these little treasures on the rug in the living room. My mom in her quiet wisdom allowed us to explore, and to create our own self-taught course on design.

What button box, stash or hoard does not include mother-of-pearl buttons? Here are two pins that I have made for a project that is included in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New. The last image shows you a shell that the button blanks were cut from, and a collection of buttons.

Every discerning collector has a favorite material or type of button that they collect. I happen to love all of them!

  • Santa Fe Talisman starts with a base of velvet ribbon. I used abalone shell, brown muscle shell, jade and turquoise buttons. Additional components are glass seed and larger beads, shell and freshwater pearls.
  • Cobble Stone Collar is entirely worked in a beaded stitch. The Tahiti and brown muscle shell buttons, and fresh water pearls were stitched on after the piece was stitched.
  • Umbrian Vintage starts with a base of two silk rouleau cords, with the buttons and beads worked between them. I used metal, celluloid, and glass buttons as the focal points, with glass seed and larger beads for embellishments.

Buttons are easy to stitch in place with threads or beads, and therefor are not damaged in anyway. This way the beauty of the button can be appreciated, and the history preserved.

  • Deco Plumeria started with a grosgrain ribbon base, with hand-stitched ribbonwork flowers and leaves. I embellished these with a collection of celluloid buttons and glass beads.
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride started with a velvet ribbon base. I used black glass buttons, metal buttons, and a few novelty buttons. The embellishments include vintage glass beads, seed beads and larger glass beads.
  • Woodland Roses also started with a velvet ribbon base. I used carved Bakelite roses for the focal points, and surrounded them with a collection of tagua nut and celluloid buttons.

If you want to know more about buttons, check out Piecework Magazine July/August 2013, for an article that I wrote called My Button Box. And in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing, I have a chapter dedicated to “What’s in Your Stash”, with two pages dedicated to button materials, types and more.

I hope that you too have happy fond memories of your mom’s button box, bag, or jar! Happy Stitching, ~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

Hopscotch

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: 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

Violet Gardens- ribbon work brooch

Violet Gardens Brooch

Violet Gardens Brooch

This was one of two entries for the Piecework Magazine’s Excellence in Needlework 2009. This year’s challenge was to make a brooch no larger than 3″, in any needle art category. I chose ribbon work here and silk ribbon embroidery for my other submission Elizabeth’s Garden.

The base of the brooch is 18 gauge florist wire wrapped in cotton batting, then a silk bias ribbon. The brooch was fashioned into a spiral (see the bottom picture), with two loops. Tiny spirals of 22 gauge florist wire wrapped in cotton batting then 4mm silk ribbon peek out here and there, and add more dimension to the design.

The brooch was then covered in hand made ribbon worked flowers and leaves. I used 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ (folded in half); in a variety of materials including silk bias, rayon hem tape, ombre and taffeta ribbons. A few beads are sprinkled here and there for extra detailing.

back of brooch

back of brooch

The back of the brooch is almost covered with as many flowers as the front. I used a rococo trim to cover the bulk of the stitching, and then added in flowers and leaves here and there.

From this picture you can make out the spiral design of the base. You can see the tiny tendrils quite well here too, and if you look closely the pesky white batting wanted to peep out whenever it had a chance to from the 4mm ribbon, I fixed that before sending it off on it’s journey!

Both of my entries were selected by the judges to be included in a display of the brooches at The National Needle Arts Association’s trade show in Columbus, Ohio, June 13-15, 2009. They will also be on display at the Embroiderer’s Guild of America’s (EGA) museum in Louisville, Kentucky, from July 1 through September 23, 2009. For information contact EGA www.egausa.org (502) 589-6956.

Happy stitching, happy day, enjoy- Christen

Elizabeth’s Garden- silk ribbon embroidered brooch

Elizabeth's Garden Brooch

Elizabeth’s Garden Brooch

This was one of two entries for the Piecework Magazine’s Excellence in Needlework 2009. This year’s challenge was to make a brooch no larger than 3″, in any needle art category. I chose silk ribbon embroidery here and ribbon work for my other submission Violet Gardens.

The base of the brooch is a silk chambray fabric, which is covered in silk ribbon embroidery and a few ribbon worked flowers. The top center has two woven roses, with two rolled roses below these. A woven rose in the center and two carnations under the rolled rose.

The outer edge is covered in a rococo trim, with ribbon worked leaves that lead up to the top center with a another rolled rose and silk ribbon carnations.

back of brooch

back of brooch

The brooch was stitched to a padded cardboard base with the back covered in a piece of felt that I hand stitched to the silk front. I embroidered flowers through the holes in the pin back, and stitched in my initial for extra detailing.

This brooch is dedicated to our Elizabeth, who left her earthly body this year, but not our hearts. She was our 5 lb. Bengal kitty, who love all of these colors, fabrics and ribbons. Often I would find her nestled in the basket that held the components for this brooch, purring contentedly. Kitty kisses dear one.

Happy stitching, love what you do and those silent “mewses” who love you back! Christen

PS: Both of my entries were selected by the judges to be included in a display of the brooches at The National Needle Arts Association’s trade show in Columbus, Ohio, June 13-15, 2009. They were on display at the Embroiderer’s Guild of America’s (EGA) museum in Louisville, Kentucky, July 1 through September 23, 2009.

Melon Balls Vintage Ensemble

Melon Balls Vintage Necklace and Earrings

Melon Balls Vintage Necklace and Earrings

This entire collection of accessories started with with the coral colored rectangular molded glass pieces set into earring findings, which I found at the Salvation Army for $.99.

The next piece I found was the bracelet (shown below found on ebay), several years later with the same carved glass pieces set into a metal finding.

I wore these two parts of the ensemble for several more years until I came upon the glass beads (used in the necklace, also from ebay) with the same carved floral design. A few months after that I found the lovely melon colored souffle finished oval beads at a quaint little bead store outside of Julian, CA. I mixed these with black bicones and seed beads to create the necklace. I used a vintage glass button for the closure.

Melon Balls Bracelets

Melon Balls Bracelets

The second bracelet is comprised of vintage glass sew throughs (these I had been saving for just the right project), vintage glass buttons for the closure, and the left-over beads from the necklace.

Then I got to thinking about a brooch for this set, and I started to play with my celluloid buttons and ribbons in the same colors of the necklace.

Deco Decadence Brooch

Deco Decadence Brooch

The brooch boasts a lovely display of “buffed celluloid” buttons. I just adore the black and tan combination. It took many years to collect the right sizes and colors for this brooch. The ribbon worked flowers are made from a vintage ribbed cotton ribbon and the leaves are from a taffeta ribbon.

The ribbon buttons and flowers are attached to florist wire wrapped in 1/8″ satin ribbon, and sit in a vintage jacquard ribbon vase. A pin back is stitched to the back of the vase.

I found a great Chico’s jacket at a thrift store to wear all of these treasure with. Finally the hat and purse that I had collected a while back had a purpose.

Melon Hat and Vintage Purse

Melon Hat and Vintage Purse

The hat is a vintage crochet raffia by Laura Ashley found at a thrift store. I trimmed the brim with a textured lace. I made ribbon worked flowers from French wire ribbons, and used a vintage velvet leaf trim for the background of the vignette.

The vintage handbag was found on a treasure hunt. It is from China, embroidered in coral, melon and gray threads with gold work details. The frame is encrusted with pieces of turquoise and coral.

Yeah, I just love it when things like that work out!

Happy searching, I hope that you find a treasure today that will turn into a wonderous adventure like this one! Christen

Andalusian Flower Fields- Crochet Jewelry Ensemble

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet neckpiece

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet neckpiece

Well if you thought that I had fun making this ensemble you were right!

Crochet is not my first needle technique of choice, not even my second, third… you get the picture. I learned the theory in high school, but never could read a pattern, so my elegant chains never really were of any use.

A few years ago I took a class, I got a book, took a refresher class from a friend, and just started to play. I guess it is just like anything new, you have to work at it. So I did. The flowers and leaves are all made from patterns that I developed, because I still can’t read anybody else’s pattern, but I can read my own!

The neckpiece is assembled by stitching each flower to the other, the leaves are attached to the flowers. I used a vintage glass button for the closure, and I stitched a crochet flower for the loop. The bracelet base is a vintage jacquard ribbon with the flowers sewn down on the ribbon. I had a second glass flower button that I used for the closure of the bracelet, and stitched a buttonhole loop.

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet bracelet

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet bracelet

The ensemble was made to be worn with a vintage blue shawl the same color as the light blue of the flowers. It is from China and is embroidered with the medium pinks, yellow and peach colors that I used in the flowers and the darker green color that I used for the leaves.

I found a vintage embroidered purse that was made in Mexico to match the shawl. It is embroidered on black velvet with flowers in the dark blue, pink and deep peach colors with the lighter green color of the leaves.

Happy stitching, creating, and searching for those great vintage finds! Christen