Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Minute Gift...

I am a procrastinator.  I think that I've mentioned that personality defect once or twice on my blog.  I think about doing things and for some reason, those thoughts slip back into my brain storage where I keep all the things that I intend to do...someday.

I think I am most famous (at least among my family and friends) for procrastination involving birthday presents. Our grandchildren might get their gift a month later than they should, all because Grandma put that task on her to-do list and it got stuck in that brain storage drawer. I'm also equally bad at picking up little hostess gifts beforehand when we have a soiree to attend.  Put those two together: event + gift, and my brain finally shifts into gear the day of the party.

"Gee, I shoulda got a _______ for her." Or "Oh no, I forgot to get them something!" Whatever the reason, my brain suddenly engages and I think about all the things I could have made for that person beforehand. However, when you are creative, 6 or 7 hours is enough time to make most anything. I'm not tooting my own horn here, I'm just saying that I will try anything...once...and Laurel works really good under pressure!

So, fast forward to yesterday and a friend was having a birthday dinner that evening.  No presents were expected but I got the brilliant idea of giving him a work of "art" for his 6:00 a.m that morning.  He is a gifted contractor whom I had the privilege of working with a few years ago on a building project. So what contractor would not want a set of custom nails? (Probably none, but hey, it's going to be art!!) I needed to make 60 of them, one for each year of his life.

8:00 a.m - off to Lowe's and Michael's early to get the supplies...wasn't sure yet how I was going to make this little artwork, but just walking around Lowe's gave me a good start, then I finished up at Michael's.

The Raw Material: Paint, 16 Penny Nails, wood blocks, etc.

After making the wood base, I made a grid for the nail holes...
(still using those Excel skills from work)
I have to say that my skills with Dave's drill were rather lacking...what a pain!!

On to the fun part! Spray paint for the initial base of the hand-painted nails...

Took a seat at the kitchen table with my acrylic paints, brushes and voila! 
(well, not exactly that quickly...)
60 Custom Nails - Check!

Gives new meaning to the word "Nail Art", doesn't it Gayleen? (my manicurist friend)
One of a kind.

No, I'm not going to make you one...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Technology addiction is a slippery slope - just ask the Candy Crushers, the Farm Town farmers, the Minecrafters, the online "Pokers".  Once you get your first taste of victory, it's all over. And like the Apostle Paul who was humbled by his sins, I too admit that among the Techie Sinners of the world, I may not be "Chief" among you, but I'm right down there with you when it comes to Polyvore. I have burned more vegetables, left the house showerless and ignored my unmade bed countless times, all for the joy of creating a digital masterpiece on my computer.

In the Polyvore world, users form groups that you can join, theoretically with the same artistic predisposition as you. Most group owners sponsor contests, where there is some sort of theme or set requirement.  Even huge corporations like Macy's and Wendy's sponsor contests...remember that the chief goal of Polyvore is to get you to buy fashions, jewelry, home goods and beauty products. Many groups have hundreds, even thousands of entries for a single contest.  I haven't figured out how the game is played, or who decides who wins or why, but I enjoy the challenged of putting my spin on their rules.

And after four months of creating all manner of artistic sets, I finally "won" a prize in a contest. It wasn't first place, or even second. And it wasn't even a "big" contest - only 258 entries.  But I won 7th Place!  (Rather like getting a Lavender ribbon in a county fair sewing contest...) The contest theme was "FREE Woman!", and we were challenged to create a set that epitomized a free spirited woman. And being the conservative, traditional chicken that I am, what is more free than a woman who sports tattoos?

"Too Chicken To Get a Tattoo"
The irony of my thought process in creating this image is that, like my Polyvore addiction, I am told by a couple of women whom I love dearly that Tattoos are also addictive. That explains why we see so much "art work" on men and women these's hard to just get one. And even though I have such appreciation for the artistry of this inked art, I just can't get past the thought of ending up in a skilled nursing facility bed sporting a sagging image of a blurry butterfly smeared across my backside. 

Not that I would ever get a butterfly...I would want a hummingbird...or a Viking...maybe an image of Colette. 

Yep, no tattoo for this girl. 

 Laurel. "Cluck, Cluck, Cluck..."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Knot One, Knot Two...

LaurelLeaves Jewelry crashed and burned over two years ago. Contributing to her demise was the overall pressure to produce one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces month after month after month. I had quite a following of clients wanting their own special and unique I spent many a sleepless night designing in my head, instead of sleeping. 

Secondly, I discovered the magic of Charming could I compete with the store's plethora of necklaces, bracelets and earring in every conceivable color and style, not to mention their Made in ------ prices? Today, I am a huge fan of CC's, but I will admit that even though they don't have the quality that my pieces had, they are sure fun, very accessible and reasonably priced.

And finally, I guess I just got bored.  Those who know me well, know that once I have totally conquered a craft (with the rare exception of sewing which I have done for 55+ years), I tend to move on to the next creative thing to continue to stimulate my brain. Unlike sewing, there are only so many ways to make a necklace. However,  I do honor my pieces by doing occasional repairs for my customers...after all, if you wear a necklace to death, expect it to give way at some point in time.

A friend brought over a necklace (not one of mine) that she had received from her daughter. When she opened the box, the string had broken and all the glass beads were loose. She asked me to restring it, and I agreed - it's a very simple thing - stringing beads. But while I was doing it, I was reminded about the pleasure I used to get hand-knotting beads into a necklace.

Hand-knotting is an art form. I requires patience and care, though I have seen the women in Chinatown knot a string of pearls faster than you can say "necklace". For me there is a rhythm to working the cord around your fingers and using the sharp tweezers to form the knots.

LaurelLeaves Jewelry must always have my signature glass leaf...

The beauty of knotted beads, just like expensive pearls, is that knotting allows the beads to "float", keeping them flexible around your neck...

That was so much fun, I had another strand of stone beads that I finally decided to knot as well. The holes in these beads were bigger, so I had to use a heavier cord...

They look like lapis, but I don't think they are... didn't cost that much!


I found this beautiful sterling silver necklace embellishment at Nordstrom...I planned all along to put it on a strand of beads that I knotted myself.  Lovely! And I can put it on the green beads as well.

People still ask me if I'm making jewelry. Every now and then I see one of my creations on a friend and I remember making it.  It makes me a little nostalgic and I think about starting again. Hand-knotting these two necklaces was very enjoyable. But then again, I didn't have to produce 100 new one-of-a-kind masterpieces for a party. That's when I come to my senses.

Laurel. I'd rather sew...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Just Shoot Me" Skirt

I'm wondering if there are little "Fringers" out there in third world countries that clothing manufacturers pay minuscule wages to make fringe on designer outfits. I ponder that question as there is probably no one in the overly-entitled free world who would actually chose to fringe the hem of a linen skirt. I'm beginning to thing that making fringe is God's way of punishing me for trying to copy a designer skirt. I should back up a minute...

I bought this delightful little white linen skirt almost 10 years ago from a well known designer line.  I wore it to my 40th high school reunion and I remember thinking I looked pretty cool for a 58 year old.  I loved that skirt, but as the years passed, my middle age spread demanded that the skirt be moved the back of the closet...for years it languished in between a beaded bodysuit that cost me $400 and a power red Neiman Marcus suit, neither of which I could get into. This year's weight loss from eating healthy enabled me to pull it from the back of the closet and wear it again.

I still love this skirt! It has a handkerchief hemline and it's fringed - very feminine! So I'm thinking "why not try to re-create this skirt, Laurel", since they have never made a black one (rationalization!).  Such a skirt would be a great addition to my Paris wardrobe this Fall.

I admit that I am a quasi-copier when it comes to sewing for myself, but I rationalize my behavior by making a few modifications to the design when I am creating my pattern, just so that it won't be a complete copy. (Let's be real - good design hangs around and is modified/copied/altered/imitated by everyone!) I kept the same lines of the skirt in theory, but adding the fringe at the bottom was a non-negotiable feature - it's what made the skirt so beautiful. I bought some fabulous black linen from Stonemountain and set out to make my version of the fringed skirt.

Putting it together was the easy part - linen is so easy to sew. It's when I started the fringe at the hemline that I began to seriously doubt that I would be able to finish it. Fringing wool and other loosely woven fabrics is relatively straightforward.  I made a Marci Tilton jacket that I fringed, and a shawl with long fringe.  Both were a breeze compared to the hell of fringing a tightly woven linen.

So very tedious, this fingers ached from all the thread pulling and tugging. I tried several methods before I just gutted it up and started snipping, pulling, and separating. It took forever.

But the result was worth the agony. 

Wherever in the world they are paying people to fringe garments, I can assure you, they are not paying them enough. I teased Suzan/FabricLady than I loved her, but not enough to make her one of these skirts.

Oh, and for all you Colette fans, I think she still needs more downsizing...though these skirts fit me, I couldn't get them zipped all the way on Colette. Of course she isn't squishy like me at the waist...she planks regularly.

Laurel. Made in the USA.

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