Friday, November 2, 2012

the little unnecessities of life are not inconsequential

This past weekend, I flew to Kansas to attend a cousin's wedding. I hadn't seen most of my Kansas cousins--my dad's twin brothers, their wives and kids--for 30 years. Why? There's really no good reason, and now I wish I'd visited more. My family lived in Tennessee and took driving vacations each summer, spending a week or so in Kansas, and at least once, our Kansas relatives visited us in Tennessee.

I don't know if it's because time moves so slowly when you're a kid, or if it was just the experiences we shared over so many summers together, but Kansas and summers spent with my cousins comprise a profound and beloved part of my childhood. It was great to go back and see them all. Before the wedding, some of us took in a musical and stayed in a Victorian B&B in Abilene. There were vintage hats in the Victorian parlor. We went antiquing the next day. I found a few things.

pince nez specs with a hairpin...for years, I thought it was "prince" nez

HelloGiggles: Item of the Day

Alessandra Rizzotti just wrote up Millennium General Assembly for I am psyched!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Player for a player

I bought these plaques for not very much money, maybe ten bucks. I thought I might use them in an assemblage one day; I didn't know how. I just loved the graphics.

At first I thought these plaques were from a metronome but the text* on
the piece from the upper left reveals them to be from a player piano.

Since then, I started cutting up tin and making pieces with it. Now there are tin snips and files and shears at hand. And when I started making a necklace for a friend who's a stellar guitarist, Jane Getter, searching through my cabinets for pieces to assemble, I came across the player-piano plaques and realized I could actually make a necklace from them.

Largo,  slowest<--------------> fastest, Presto

The thick brass was harder to cut than tin (thinner steel) but I managed with my new German shears. I filed off the sharp edges and shaped the treble clef. 

The volume control was already banner-shaped, but the brass was thinner,
so I cut a piece of vintage tin to back it with and riveted the pieces together.

I think it turned out great. Now where do I find more player-piano plaques?

*Standard Artist-Record Action is specially constructed to play any make of reproducing or regular music roll with transposer lever at normal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

fairly ready

Renegade tent setup dry run. The real deal happens in three days...and also four days; it's a two-day event.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

gamesmanship necklaces for Renegade

antique game pieces from France, vintage rosary chain,
vintage brass and steel chain, antique brass uniform
beads, antique crystal bead, vintage black steel bead
tin riveted to antique yellow-dyed bone game counter, antique
yellow enamel and sterling watch chain, antique turquoise enamel
and brass watch chain, African trade beads, copper heshi beads, vintage
copper leaf bracelet links, antique dog clips from watch chains

the antique swivel dog clip makes this piece reversible

Thursday, July 12, 2012

tobacco tin time: plugging my plug pluggers

I've forayed into homemade rivets, attaching tin tobacco tags and the like to tin-can backings cut from a Sunshine Candies container. I'll be selling these goodies at Renegade Handmade (see previous post).

Tin tobacco tags were a promotional tool used circa 1880-1920.
These are all tobacco tags except the feather and the key, which were
promotional pinbacks from Red Feather Services, a forerunner to
the United Way, and a 1947 tourist promotional key that was worn by
teachers and students visiting D.C. and Virginia on spring break.

Sunshine Candies tin cutouts for the backs...or fronts,
however you want to wear them.
According to, "A key strategy in the war for market supremacy was the offering of  household items as premiums in exchange for tags.  The man who couldn’t afford to buy his wife a set of silver-plated tableware, might be able to accumulate the 500 tags necessary to get six Rogers knives and forks for free." Like S&H Green Stamps!

Monday, July 9, 2012


I'll be selling my wares at the Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles on July 28 & 29.

Where? 1245 North Spring Street, adjacent to
and Dodger Stadium. 

Per Renegade, here's what's happening: "We’re finishing up the West Coast leg of our 2012 RCF summer tour with the 4th Annual Renegade Craft Fair Los Angeles on July 28+29 from 11am-7pm both days, at the Los Angeles State Historic Park! Get ready for hundreds of today’s best indie crafters, hands-on workshops, music, food trucks, booze + oh so much more.  As always, our favorite free-to-use photobooth will be in full effect, and DJs from KXLU will be spinning our crafting + shopping soundtrack.  Attendees can help LA’s four-legged friends find a forever home with Second Acts Animal RescueWe’ll also have several of LA’s finest food trucks on hand!

Friday, June 1, 2012

many metals, many years

New necklace: Victorian enamel and cut-steel button mixes it up with 1940s TWA DC-3 pin from a Stetson Stratoliner. Metals are mixed, too: brass and nickel silver chains and plane; and steel and pinchbeck (an alloy of copper and zinc that shines like gold) on the button. Two links from an antique watch chain accent the neck. Delicate brass-beaded rosary chain holds the twin-engine craft. That bitty plane makes me happy to no end.

wild blue yonder


Monday, May 21, 2012

on ivory, feathers and animal bits as ornamentation

"The Bull Leaper" 15th-century ivory figurine from the palace of Knossos, Crete

I worry about offending people, which is the reason I hesitate to use anything that even looks like old ivory. I mean, really, to say that it's pre-ban ivory doesn't make it okay; an elephant killed for its pieces is still a murdered elephant. Unless you've been desecrating an elephant graveyard or finding the actual skeleton itself. I guess if I'm walking the savannah and trip over a tusk, I could use that tusk without guilt.

I've sometimes questioned the acceptability of using of items depicting circus elephants. I don't think most captive, trained animals are happy.

And what about bones? Are they okay? I purchased some old ivory piano keys, intending to try my hand at scrimshaw.

Also, I'm reluctant to incorporate feathers in my pieces. Where are they coming from? I did find an already road-killed pheasant on a trip a couple of years ago, so I can use its feathers without guilt.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

general assemblages and musings on the ins and outs of tin

On my to-make list are a birdcage veil for my friend's wedding and a fancy hat for me; a belt for Mike's birthday; an unfinished mixed-media piece that includes tuning pegs and violin strings, as well as dovetail joints, encaustic wax, ephemera, brass findings, machine plaques, collage blocks and whatever else I decide to throw into that recipe; and jewelries incorporating tin elements.

I love the look of old tin, deconstructed and riveted and layered and waxed. I'm just trying to figure out how to do it. What keeps the paint from all flaking off when you manipulate the metal? Should you never soak a tin container to clean out its the beautiful Camphor Ice tin I bought then soaked to get the remaining camphor wax out of it, only to wreck most of it by making the design all cloudy and peeling?

How does one rivet? Do I have enough tools, the right tools? The aviation metal shears I just got may be too large for anything except breaking down the tins. I've been using tiny scissors--I think they're embroidery scissors--to make the fine cuts. I bought Renaissance wax to "seal" the pieces. I need techniques!

How far do I go in demolishing old tins to make something else out of them. What if I cut up a rare tin that a tin collector has been dying to find for his collection? Are people going to be offended? If I were more gregarious, I would reach out and ask one of the amazing artists who already make fabulous creations with tin, like these:

fofum's chicken badges

adaptive reuse's vesica pieces

Pig Like That

That's one distressed pig. Or maybe he's just loudly making a point. He hangs below a sunburst pewter button that hangs in turn from vintage steel chains. The necklace clasps at the side with an antique silver or silver-plated spring clasp. 

--vintage pot-metal pig, hollow, with 3.5 legs. Seems upset about something. One inch by one half inch
--vintage pewter button, one inch, no shank
--vintage steel jack chain from a watch fob
--vintage steel beaded rosary chain
--antique silver spring clip
--sterling MGA logo tag


Bad Joke (apologies in advance)

A city guy visits a country guy, who proudly gives the city guy a tour of the farm...silos, cribs, coops, paddocks, sty. At the sty, city guy looks over and sees a pig with three legs. The pig is splendid, rosy and clean.

"Why does that pig have only three legs?" asks city guy.

"Oh," says country guy, "there's a story for you. One time in the dead of night, we heard the screen door banging hard and ran down to see what the ruckus was, and there was that pig. Then we smelled smoke and realized the house was on fire. That there pig's a hero!"

"Okay," says city guy, "but what happened to his leg?"

"Then another time," country guy continues, "my boy was out front of the house. He'd gone after his cat and was sitting there playing with it in the middle of the road, when out of nowhere, that pig comes rushing at him and shoves him into the ditch. Second later, a big ol' truck comes barrelin' down the road. That pig saved my boy's life. That pig's a hero!"

"Okay, okay, but why's he got only three legs?"

"Well...a pig like that you don't eat all at once."

If Time Is an Engine

An antique glass crystal rectangle wrapped at the edges in brass filigree hangs from the dog clip and spring ring of an antique gold filled watch chain, with brass rolo chain at the neck, closing with an antique spring ring clasp. Trailing down the back of the neck is a strand of vintage etched and faceted brass links, punctuated at the end with a crystal bead from a vintage rosary flanked by two tiny antique cut steel beads from France.

--antique glass crystal rectangle wrapped in brass filigree
--antique 12k gold filled watch chain with fancy links
--brass rolo chain
--antique brass spring ring clasp
--vintage faceted, etched brass chain
--crystal bead from a vintage rosary
--two tiny antique cut-steel beads from France


From "The Mystery of Meteors" --Eleanor Lerman

If Time Is an Engine

There are sunflowers on the path where I go
and lacewings rising from the fields
With each step I take, I know more surely
that this is the way

If time is an engine, then it was created in a dream
If love is an engine, then the dreamer weeps
If memory is an engine, then it will carry the dreamer away

But there are sunflowers on the path where I go
and the dog is at my heel. There is a gate
and a meadow beyond. There is a stream

The sky is blue by day, blue in the evening
but I know the way of the hidden stars
and I'm still alive, I still know secrets
There is nothing I have left undone

So my keys are on the table. You can sell my
clothes. Rust, rust is affecting the machinery
But I am not needed. The machines can be repaired

For if time is a cathedral, then I have lived in the cathedral
If love is a cathedral, then I have lived in splendor
If memory is a cathedral, then I remember everything

but now pass by. And there are sunflowers
on the path where I go. The dog is at my heel
There is a gate and a meadow beyond
There is a stream

Saturday, May 19, 2012

new pieces for Hollywood Dell Art Show tomorrow

Bee Ring (celluloid bee, bone ring)

Bread & Honey (vintage aluminum ad tokens)

G.E.T. O.U.T. (antique sword-belt chain)

Lamp Beyond the Wardrobe (deco aluminum necklace, walking-stick emblem)

My Stars (celluloid, brass)

True Blue (cut steel buckle part and dachshund button)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

naming things

I suppose it'll get harder as time goes by, naming things, finding some trope to associate with the name or piece of jewelry. Now, since I just made a trio of love-token necklaces and am faced with naming them, I thought to use the initials on the tokens as a correlative device and am sitting here surrounded by poetry anthologies, searching the indexes of first lines for three words that match the initials.

This may be a dumb, not to mention extremely time-intensive, idea. Especially for three initials. Two initials are more doable. One is too becomes more like picking a word at random. So far, for the token SJP/SPJ/PJS/PSJ/JSP/JPS, I've hit upon "primrose, salutations..." The third word should begin with a J, but it's "miry." So, I think to myself, Maybe two will do, and I go to the page the poem is on.

I laugh. Of course, given the way my weekend has been going, it's a Sylvia Plath poem; what else would be there on page 1416, attached to those words? And the next? "miry skull of a half-eaten ram." Um, okay, who would want to wear that around her neck? Well, maybe plenty, but not me. 

"Here. Here's your necklace."

Sorry; have a unicorn chaser...

Postscript: Mike was standing in the kitchen, making me a brown-rice quesadilla, because he's sweet like that, and he asked me what I was working on.

"A blog post."

"What about."

"A bloody ram's head."

"Is there a picture?!"

"Yes. But I put another picture below it to get that picture out of your head. But it's gory, too."

"Why would you do that? I don't think I'll be able to read it. What's the title?"

"Naming Things."

"Maiming Things?!!"

"No, naming things."

"Whew. I thought I was gonna have to tell people my wife started a blog called Maiming Things."

Friday, January 6, 2012

say hello to Alma and Ben, earrings

antique assemblage earrings
I'm not sure what I will call this pair, maybe Alma & Ben. They were described as love tokens in the auction I won, but they look more like they were cut from some other existing piece of silver, since there is cutwork on the backs. At any rate, they're silver. And the coral bits are coral, originally from an antique necklace that belonged to my grandmother. The string disintegrated, so I've had this box of coral pieces with drilled holes, thinking I'd eventually use them for something, and lo and behold: Alma & Ben.