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Homespun Living in a New England

Adventures in Nature--Marine Park, PDX and Mt. Hood

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I recently had car access for awhile, which is somewhat unusual for us these days. And so some more exploring was in order. Marine Park is on the Willamette river, near Lewis and Clark College and the Sellwood bridge. It's very pretty, as you'll see. 

View of the Sellwood bridge. 

Somebody had the right idea--fires on the beach are undeniably awesome.  

And, we also got to go up to, or near, Mount Hood. Gorgeous; and how cool is it that I can go an hour outside of town any time of year and there's snow? It was sixty degrees in Portland, and winter on the mountain. 

I'm loving my new hometown about now. 

Studio details, of late

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It is apparent that my Appalachian Ugly Face and my thrifted Alabaman owl mug do not really trust each other. Sadly, that mug lost it's tongue somewhere in my many moves...I still love it, though. It's in the studio in part because Peter banned from the apartment.

Green olive bowl, holding onto some freshly plied yarn in a boldly graphic sort of way. I didn't make the bowl, but I do appreciate it heartily. 

Don't read into it. It's from a New Orleans trip, several years ago. I haven't felt the need to use it yet. 

Works in Progress - Handspun neckpiece

In my aforementioned Production Jewelry class, I've been foucsing on creating a line of work that combines my (abundantly evident) love of handspun yarn with metalwork. This is an early prototype, in progress. I used a 100% wool felt to bind/rivet the yarn to hand fabricated brass/copper connectors. I need, still, to create a clasp, which will attach at the front of the necklace. The center piece is a lovely lemon chrysophase cab, bezel set. 

I'm still deciding whether I best like the look of riveting these together, or if I'll stitch everything in place with some silver or copper wire.

I'm pretty excited about this direction, and I'm thinking about other designs that can be spun off from this central idea...neckpieces are probably my favorite, right now, but earrings are certainly a possibility too.

Last week was my birthday (so I acted like a child for awhile)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
1. Avalon Theater and Wunderland Arcade (SE Portland, Belmont)

This game, Dirty Driving, is the funnest. Best racing arcade game ever.
2. Glowing Greens Pirate Mini-Golf! With blacklight fantasticness. (SW Portland/Downtown)

Around Portland, of Late

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Now seems as fine a time as any for an around-Portland photo-dump. Ready?  

Nearby Southeast Division St. 

The Bomber Restaurant, Milwaukee OR

Columbia River Gorge--out on 84, about an hour from home.

And Multnomah Falls. Beautiful, and also only about an hour away from home. How I've lived here over a year and haven't checked this place out before is beyond me. 

Butterfly Bear, a brand new jewelry piece

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh my, you guys. My oxygen tank just ran out, so I can't use my torch until I get it refilled (a bummer, though I realize now that this is less urgent than it initially sounds).

So here's a piece I made right before tragedy struck--pierced and hammered copper, brass and sterling silver, with a riveted piece of recycled leather, strung on a simple copper chain. Don't mind the zero dollar price tag that ended up behind it in this photo. It is priceless.

And here are some gratuitous shots of scraps/works in progress. Because. 

Tutorial Tuesday--Upcycled jewelry from 'round the internet

Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Using recycled or hardware parts for jewelry is a perennially popular DIY move (this is because it is awesome). 

I'm working on some jewelry with copper plumbing fixtures myself, at the moment (more on which later). 

For some inspiration, here are a few 'round the internet tutorials I've been collecting. 

Here are some pendants made with pipe fittings, plastic bottle caps, and vintage buttons. This project uses no soldering; the buttons are sewn in place. I could also see this working will with a lot of other materials, or by using hammered rivets instead to hold everything together. The tutorial is by Catherine Ivins, and is available over here.

Here's a tutorial for a really simple idea with great potential and impact: stamping steel washers, then applying a patina to them with permanent marker ink. Courtesy of The 36th Avenue blog, and available here.

This tutorial, courtesy of Melissa Espin, shows you how to use leather scraps to create a long wraparound bracelet. This is another idea with a lot of potential for variation, especially for that center portion, which I can imagine being made of embroidered fabric, or metal, or gem beads. Tutorial is over here.

I've seen fused plastic bags around in a lot of forms, including wallets, tote bags and other containers. But the lightweight material could also work very well in a jewelry context. Portland actually recently expanded its plastic bag ban to most stores over a certain size (woot!), so it's getting a little bit harder to come across a hoard of these. Still, this is a project I'd love to try at some point. The tutorial linked is by Leigh Ann of Freckled Nest; click here.

Spinning: Busy, Busy

In the last few days, I've been working to replenish my inventory of washed and dyed BFL fleece. So: dyeing up a storm. 

And, of course, I've been spinning (evidence of which has been pretty plentiful on this site, recently). Here are some of those yarns, drying so as to set the twist.

Yet more Bright as Hell Handspun

Thursday, April 04, 2013
It's rainy here (what with it being Spring time in Portland, Oregon). As a countermeasure, I seem to be leaning towards the craziest of bright, riotous color combinations, of late *see previous post for further evidence.

In this case, I kind of threw all my favorite colors into the carder: jungle green, acid green, teal, bright orange, pink, yellow and some white, chocolate brown and black to keep the whole thing anchored.

And so, here we are: mohair, merino, BFL and alpaca, all eye-bleedy and beautiful.

Super-bright spinning

Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Pink, orange and green is one of my favorite combos. Pink and green is preppy and classic, and throwing a little orange in there shakes things up nicely. The fiber is a mix of nylon, mohair, merino, BFL and lincoln locks, all hand-dyed and hand-carded. 

The singles from above, all plied up

Spinning--a crazy carded batt with recycled sari silk

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

You can't see it very well in the photo above, but the batts I mixed up today contained some sari silk threads, along with my usual blend of fibers. I like the pop of color and texture they provide; I must say, though, that I need to work on my technique with this material. You need to shred the silk up thoroughly to card it, which I did, but you also need to blend it pretty completely with the wool. Otherwise, it has a tendency to worm it's way back out of the yarn, especially in the plying stage. 

Still--pretty. The batts also had BFL, some lincoln locks, merino, and a bit of natural chocolate brown alpaca. 

Recycled sari silk threads; Source

Carding, in progress. 

The above batts, spun into a somewhat spiky and shed-prone single. I ended up with a few bobbins of this. 

Some finished yarns! The one on the right is today's single plied with itself. On the left, I plied it with a single that has a lot of the same elements, but with some black and teal merino mixed in. 

Close-up, so you can see the sari silk poppin'.

Also, remember that huge bag of BFL fleece that I washed and dyed a while back? The piles of wool that resulted felt near-bottomless. I've made a ton of yarn with this stuff so far, and it's finally starting to get used up. I'm feeling the need for some more color combos, so I'm thinking I need to do some more washing/dyeing/over-dyeing real soon.