Welcome to the CRAFT-y Corner of my Web!
A place for my Workings, my Weavings ...
oh, and my more mundane crafts as well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Craft Work: In Cutting the Ties That Bind.

So, a friend of mine has asked for a little "help" in dealing with the negative influences of an individual with whom she was once in a relationship, but who is now behaving in a manner most unbecoming of a gentleman. He is employing spiteful tactics of domineering control that I am well familiar with from having been through this with my late ex (father of my children). Being that this is someone to whom she is linked through their child, a toddler who is being employed as a pawn in this person's misbehaviour, the option of simply never interacting with him is not available.

She has asked, and so shall she receive ... beginning now.

Tomorrow and the next day, I have set myself a couple of tasks to complete that will culminate in my having a little spiritual care-package for her when I see her on Saturday arvo. In the meantime, the weaving has already begun. I have gathered my materials and am marshaling my Intent and my Will in order that I will be best able to focus them when I begin the manual portion of the crafting on the morrow.

More to come ...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Herbalism: Rosehip Syrup final

After letting the cooked hip and water brew steep overnight, I got back to making the syrup.

First I gathered up everything I would need ... the steeped hips,
1Kg of honey from my local honey store, containers to pour the
completed syrup into (incl the currently full honey jar), ceramic pot,
bamboo spoon, and reusable cloth mesh jelly strainer. 

Using the mesh strainer bag, I poured the contents of the two thermos
containers and the two mason jars into the ceramic bowl.

The beauty of the cloth bag is that it allows me to really squeeze
all the juice I can get out of the cooked mass.

Heat to simmering ...
The bag works so well, much better than the cheesecloth I used to use.
No sediment left behind ... which is important as the seed of the rosehips are
known to irritate the bum on exit. (politest was I could think of phrasing that :p )

Stir in the honey and then keep on a low heat to reduce down
to 1/2 it's volume.

Finished syrup cooling in it's jars ....
I'm kind of pleased that I gauged the amount so well.
Two Bears and most of a hive .. so the yield was 1.75L of yummy syrup.
Whoo ... and we're done.
Now to get some pancake batter ^_^
Or mabey just a spoon ^_~

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Herbalism: Phaze 1

Today I began work on the rosehip syrup ...

Preparing the hips ...
cut them in half and put them into the ceramic pot.

Once all the hips are cut,
I strained the water they'd been soaking in and added it too.
Simmer on low heat until it boils.

This has got to be the best part ... can you see all of that steam?
It makes the whole house smell of roses ^_^ 

Once the brew has started boiling,
you remove it from heat and pour it into the containers.
I filled both the double glass walled thermos type I had and still had some fluid left
over so I filled the two mason jars you can see.
The thermos containers will stay on the counter overnight so their
contents can steep. The mason Jars will go into the fridge until they are ready for use.
The adventure continues tomorrow.

Oooohhh ... my house smells so good right now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Herbalism: Rosehip Syrup

Time to work with Airmid a bit ...

It's that time of year again ... the season of colds and flus is bearing down on us. And, being home in BC, I have the opportunity to get back to one of the things I have missed greatly.

Rosehips are a wonderful source of vitamin C (more vitamin C in 1 large rosehip than in 3 navel oranges) and is both soothing to the throat and a tonic for the kidneys.

When we were on the return trip from Merritt, I stopped by a prolific patch of wild and dog rosebushes that I found when I was living up on the acreage there. Being that they are off the beaten track and yet still readily accessible with a little walking, they are plentiful and I can harvest a nice amount  of hips and not have to worry about causing a shortage for reseeding and/or local wildlife. The few locals don't seem to appreciate what they have there and so no one has complained when they drive by and see me picking furiously ... indeed, I got a few knowing nods and approving smiles from the older First Nations ladies and amused waves from the rest of the folk who happen by.

A couple of years ago, I made an apple and rosehip jam that went over extremely well with the family (with the upside of keeping them healthy through the sick season). This year, I thought I'd try something different and make a rosehip and honey syrup.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crafty Thoughts: Forging New Directions

I'm positively amazed how, in only three months, I've had this explosion in crafting creativity ... not only the wanting to leading to doing but also the sudden appearance of a hitherto unknown ability to look at a picture of a given craft and be able, within a couple of moments of manipulating the image in my head, to reproduce said activity.

Not at all certain where this ability has come from particularly since, in the case of the chainmail activity, I can distinctly recall while working at Stream back in 2002 that one of my co-workers who did chainmail for the local SCA tried several times to show me how to make the weave (basic European 4 in 1). I was fascinated with what she was doing but just could not, no matter how many times she demonstrated it to me, grasp the mechanics of what I was supposed to be doing.

I am very grateful for the ease with which I seem to be picking up whatever metal based craft I am trying at this point. It is helping a great deal in allowing me to be doing something, occupying my mind and hands, to keep me from fretting about the estate situation and/or Kara's post-operative recovery.

Something new happened shortly after I completed the Wire Writing activity ... being that the wire name I made  was, essentially, a practice exercise with no real purpose beyond seeing if I could do it ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wire Writing: Giving it a try

So, I'm trying yet something else new ... writing with wire.

In this case, specifically, Kara's name in 20 gauge copper (cause it's cheap and plentiful so screwing up doesn't hurt as much as some of my costlier wires would).

First try

I am good with how it turned out ... the heart didn't turn out right.
But hey ... that's ok.
It's a first try ^_^

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chainmail: Kara's pink die bag

I got Kara's die bag completed (all but for a drawstring which I'll do today) last night ... I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out. It's the first one that I have made that actually looks like your typical pouch.
Pink Die Bag

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chainmail: Pink Die Bag for Kara

So, Kara asked me to make her a die bag the day before she went in for her surgery. I agreed that I would, as soon as I could locate some pink wire.

While Kara was recovering and after my cold had improved enough for me to venture outside (but not enough for me to risk bringing the bug into the recovery residence), Jen and I made a quick trip to ClubBEADplus which just happened to be in Montreal. OMG! I fell in love with the place, so wish we had something of that calibre on this end of the country but, thankfully, they have an online store and will ship to BC (Huzzah!!!).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Viking Weave: Double Weave 1st Attempt

Well this sucks ... I'm sick. I can't afford to be sick with Kara recovering from major surgery ... I also can't take this bug into the recovery residence with me. That's just plain wrong ... for me to bring a cold into a place where people already have their immune systems and healing factors challenged due to the procedures they underwent. I cannot do it even though I want to be there with Kara.

Blue craft-wire bracelet with handmade
findings that I wove the second night here.
Instead of making myself insane fretting, I decided that today would be the day that I would experiment with trying to master the double weave technique of trichinopoly ... I used some of the 24g copper wire that Jen had gifted me with.

My first attempt was a 6 sided weave and it didn't work out so well ... I did learn from it. I learnt that I need to make the weave far looser, with longer loops, than when I'm doing a single weave. It quickly became too difficult to get the wire through the very tight loops and I was forced to abandon it before I'd gotten too far.
1st try at a double weave ...
didn't get too far.
It has just enough length to it to hint at the very attractive weave that would have resulted had I known what I was doing and been able to complete it.

I decided to go with a 4 sided weave for the next attempt in order that I could practice weaving loosely before again trying the 6 sided one I prefer. This worked considerably better.

Completed 24g 4 sided
double weave.

After being put through the
draw plate.

Closeup of the finished wire.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Viking Weave: End caps

I went back to the 24g antiqued copper bracelet I wove the other day. Beginning by drawing it through my new draw plate to smooth and soften out the links, I coiled some 20g copper and turned them into a mighty nice end cap I can actually be proud of.

Had an idea using coiled 20g copper.

Add a simple two amethyst bead dangle,
and it's complete.
Finally an end result I like!   ^_^

Then I revisited the 24g silver and antiqued copper weave I made earlier today for testing the draw plate ... Kara called dibs on it, so finishing it nicely was kind of necessary.

Having gotten a bit too enthusiastic during my trial run with the draw plate (drew it through every one of the drilled holes), I ended up with a two tone weave that was just slightly too long to be a bracelet if end pieces were used. So, I opted to make it a bangle instead (for those who don't know a bracelet differs from a bangle in that the former has a clasp/closure of some sort while the latter is one continuous piece that the wearer slides over the hand to put on). Some 20g coiled copper and a three bead dangle (a piece of magnetized lodestone sandwiched between two purple sheen glass beads Kara really liked) turned this into a wearable piece.

Kara modelling her new bangle.

Viking Weave: Draw plate ...

I managed to pick up the four missing drill bits that I needed (only to find later that the two largest won't fit my drill chuck *faceplam*) and I picked up an Oregon Myrtlewood (Bay Laurel) napkin holder from Value Village. Repurposing the Myrtlewood, which is a very hard hardwood with a reputation for dulling carving tools, by separating the two large pieces from each other, left me with a nice large flat surface into which to drill the holes.

Even with not being able to use the two largest drill bits, everything worked out quite nicely ... large enough to be held and braced, small enough for ready portability. Although it's not pretty, I'm quite pleased with the end result. The drill bit thing isn't such a bit problem unless and until I get a bigger dowel to work with ... the one I am currently using creates a tube the right size for the holes I was able to drill. ^_^

Of course, once the holes were drilled and sandpapered to remove the worst of the rough edges and splinters, there was only one way to make sure that it would do the job ...

Assembled materials.

Battery all charged up.

Myrtlewood draw plate.

Only one way to test it ...
24g antiqued copper.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Viking Weave: Plotting ...

Well, a quick trip to New Westminster and several phone calls to various bead and craft places in the Lower Mainland has resulted in no one having the draw plate I need ... closest I can get is Moody Beads in New West. They actually have some on order but won't have them in for at least two weeks at which point I'll be in Montreal and getting ready to come home. Being that I'm wanting to have the draw plate to take with me to Mtl to help keep my hands and mind busy while Kara is in surgery ... so that won't work.

I did a quick inventory of my drill case, turns out I have all but the four largest bit sizes I need to make my own ... so, I'll be making a quick trip to a hardware store for the missing bits and the Port Kells Irly Lumber tomorrow to see if I can get hold of some scraps of oak, walnut, cherry or hickory wood (I only need a piece about 2x6 inches). All my research indicates that making the draw plate out of an actual hard hardwood allows it to last longer against the bite of the wire when being pulled through.

Wish me luck ^_^

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Viking Weave: Getting practice ...

Having woken up way earlier than I would have liked, courtesy of the post-banging, metal on metal sound being generated from the construction site down the hill from here ... I decided to get a little weaving done before I hit the books.

I chose an antiqued copper (so pre-dulled and darker than the usual copper) in 24 gauge. I'm definitely liking this technique .. it's rhythmic and forgiving and the end result comes together fairly quickly. Allowing me to get a bracelet length (13 ft of wire cut into one foot sections for ease of weaving) piece done by the time I had done using the drill gauge to smooth and lengthen it.

I don't, however, like the drill gauge ... because it is metal, it's far too hard on the weave while it is being pulled through. I definitely NEED to find a piece of oak, cherry or hickory (read as HARDwood) and get the right sized holes drilled into it so that I can have the proper finishing tool. The drill gauge, while it does reduce the size of the woven wire tube like I need it to, it causes the reduction to occur unevenly AND, to my fingers, causes the weave to feel ever so slightly rough (which is not such a big deal for a bracelet ... but would feel awful on the far more sensitive skin of the neck and throat).

Even allowing for the fact that I have near to the tactile sensitivity of the Princess from the Tale of the Princess and the Pea (an exaggeration, but still based upon repeated observation of my over and hypersensitivity to tactile irritants), I would prefer to see an end product that was smooth and soft ... I can only deduce that it would be far more pleasant to wear. So, I will need to find somewhere that I can purchase a small quantity of the necessary hardwood and then purchase the needed drill bits to make the larger holes (I already have approximately half of the drill bit I will need ... but they are all the smaller finishing sizes).

Rough finished 24g antiqued copper weave.

Same photo as above using Jasc Paintshop Pro 8 to magnify the
weave allowing for a better view of the intricacy of the weaving.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chainmail: Jump Ring Day ...

Coiled and cut 4 packs of 16 gauge wire today ... I now have in the approximate of 2500 rings ready to go to Montreal in my suitcase with me for me to busy my hands and mind with while Kara's in surgery and recovery.

I'd like to get another 4 packs and get them done before we leave but, even if I can't, I'll have enough to work with while I'm there.

Tomorrow, to give my hands a rest, I'll go back to the Viking weave.

Approximately 2500 rings coiled, cut and ready for weaving.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Viking Weave - my first try ever o.O

While I'm enjoying the chainmail, I thought I'd give something different a try ...
... Viking wire weave.

It's a form of jewellery making that incorporates weaving a wire around a form (in this case a dowel) and then drawing it through a successively smaller set of holes (ideally in a wooden block, but I haven't found anything that would be suitable yet ... I'm using a drill bit size gauge atm).

It's called Viking weave because pieces of it have been found in ancient Scandinavian gravesites ... it's believed that. because the weaves were usually made from precious and semi-precious metals (gold, silver, copper) that pieces of the weave could have been broken/cut off and used for currency.

This is my very first time trying this technique so, from the outset, I expected that the end result wouldn't be quite right and/or pretty. Rather than waste my good copper and silver wires on what are, essentially, practice runs, I am using coloured craft wire (it's cheap so it's not a big deal if I mess it up a few times or ten before I get the hang of it).

Casting on ... I really need to stop
using my iPhone to take my pics.

Ahh, yes ... my
"concentration face"
and my new magnifying specs.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chainmail: Die Bag #2

I opted to try a different pattern for this effort. It was a bit tougher to figure out, being that the individual who provided the tutorial works upwards from the original row and I prefer to work downward ... also, there are occasions where the explanation text instructions became a bit ... vague and confusing and I kind of had to wing it. The end result was ready in time for the character building session at Keith's on Saturday.

Still not quite right, but it's a workable die bag which will hold fewer dice than the one I made for Sheri.

Getting started by making queen-rings.

Each batch of wire comes secured with
the x shaped wire thing you can see in the photo.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chainmail - Finishing Touches ...

I had to give the chainmail work a rest for a few days as I'd worked up a few blisters on my fingers from manning the pliers. Today, since my hands felt better, I figured I should put the finishing touch on Sheri's bag.

All it was missing was something to make closing it easier ... so, I set out to make a rosette known as a Celtic Star:

A quick peek at the three sizes of needles
I'm using as mandrels (someday I will
need to get the real thing).

Getting the Star started.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chainmail - Nearly complete ...

Well, it's way too early in the morning and I haven't been to bed yet ...
Must mean that I got into a groove with what I was doing and didn't stop till I was done.

Got the body cylinder done.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chainmail - Die bag progress ^_^

Well, got started working on Sheri's die bag yesterday ... had a couple of false starts with the weave before I managed to figure out how to properly interlock which rings with which. That sorted itself out readily enough and within about 30 minutes I was making progress.
Got my first 6 rows done and then decided to weave in
some copper rings to add a little colour and character
to the finished product. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chainmail - 1000 jump rings done ...


I popped 'round to the Home Depot for more wire this afternoon and by 9pm I have completed the coil and cut on it. While my candle burned softly, wafting the scent of honey through the room, I have been productive.

I now have in excess of 1000 jump rings and a queen ring (larger one on top left of the photo) cut and ready for weaving. The die bag for Sheri can now begin!

See? They are as happy as I am that this part of the process is done.
Boy do I ever need to build up strength in my right hand/arm for cutting ...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chainmail - Crafting jump rings

I started by lighting a beeswax votive candle with the lighter that carries the charge from my Lady Brìd's Flame from Kildare, Ireland. Being that I'm going to be crafting jump rings out of copper, galvanized black wire, and galvanized wire ... it seemed most appropriate to invite the Lady of the Smithy to grace my work with her energy.

Brìd's Flame 
small galvanized black wire rings

I decided to work the black wire first. I was a bit disappointed to see that I'd misread the label and, instead of getting the 16 gauge wire I'd meant to, I grabbed a 19 gauge instead. I had to opt to make small rings from it as making large rings would have proven quite flimsy. 

In working with wire gauges, it's important to remember that the smaller the number, the thicker the wire is ... so a 20g wire is quite thin and suitable for stringing beads onto, while a 14g would be more suitable for making the frame for a pendant such as the tree of life

This medium proved to be a challenge out of the gate as it was oiled (which I had not realized when I purchased it) and made a bit of a mess until I figured out how to clean the wire while I was winding the coil. It was only a minor hiccough and the coil and cut process went nice and quick.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chainmail - The Quest for a Jump Ring Rig ...

I woke up the next morning having posted the photos of Kara's new earrings onto my Facebook page before going to bed. I found that I was still extremely enthused by the whole experience (which was a good thing as it distracted me from the fact that I was going to have to wait until Wednesday to see the Endodontist) and became further encouraged by the very positive reaction the pictures were eliciting from various persons who's opinions I value. ^_^

There was more to it as well, it's something in the feeling of working the metal that is very difficult to describe ... I view my Lady Brìd as my current primary Patron, with Ladies Medb and Airmid in attendance. Brìd, herself, being a transfunctional deity ...
-- She of the Healing Well -- She of the Forge and Craft -- She of the Inspired Word --
... I found working with those little metal rings had an odd way of making me feel better in touch with her energy. Everything onward from the point where I began to make the silver wire coil for the small jump rings just lent to a strong feeling of happiness and well being the like I haven't felt for a very long time.

With all that and a couple of good friends to encourage me, I spent the first part of yesterday (Sunday) morning wrestling with how I could cobble together a large jump ring rig. Theorizing that I might be able to use a knitting needle as the mandrel, I took a quick trip up to Value Village (acting on  Sheri's suggestion) with a test jump ring and sized out one that would work. With a little trial and error, I found that the size 6½ needle was the right size ... it's one of the old 1970's plastic needles of the type I can remember my mother using when I was a child. I picket it up, along with its mate, for 69¢. ^_^

The next stop was Home Depot for a pair of L-bracket shelf hangers ($3) and some wood screws ($2.50) then back home to turn an old, wooden Canadian Tire TV tray into the base for the rig. I put everything together and then just had to give it a spin.  ^_~

Chain Maille - What Started It All ...

So ... after the whole dental fiasco on Saturday left me in severe pain and an extremely short and foul temper, I needed something with which to occupy my mind and body that wouldn't see me snarling and snapping at the family. 

Having purchased some 16 gague copper jump rings the last time I was in Moody Beads (3 small baggies of about 25 rings a piece), and having figured out how to make the smaller sized ones with my coiling gadget, I decided to see if I could make a simple rosette. Which went rather well, so I made another ... followed by some small purple jump rings to see if I could marry the two rosettes together ... and the whole thing evolved into an earring. So, of course, I had to make a mate for it. And Kara ended up with a new pair to go to work with the next day (yesterday).

Starting out just trying to keep busy.
Completed 1st earring.

All materials laid out for the next one.

The two rosettes are complete , just need to marry them.

And the completed pair.

Kara wearing her new earrings to work yesterday.

I had so much fun with making them, despite all the discomfort I was in, that I became quite keen to do more ... and try other patterns. I did not, however, have enough copper jump rings left to do much of anything with and the mandrels of my coiling gadget were of the small and tiny variety. 

It was time to get creative.