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November 16, 2014

Learning

Macrame bezel knotted around a cabochon

I have such news!  I have taken my first lessons in macrame this week, and I'm positively twitterpated!  I have long admired the style of macrame I think of as South American.  I really am not sure where it originated, but I see quite a bit of this style from people from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, etc.  The pieces I'm talking about are usually done with waxed cord and natural stones as opposed to the nylon bead cord I use and the glass seed beads.  The emphasis is on the knotting.  The style is less "fussy" than mine, maybe.  More natural, more organic.

I don't mean to imply that folks in other areas of the world don't do that style, because some certainly do.  In fact, my teacher is from Estonia.  If you follow the world of macrame, you may have come across some of the work of Percy Palomino Tomayquispe.  I don't want to filch any of his photos to put them here to show you, so I'll just give you this link to his Facebook page.  Prepare to be amazed.

Anyway, back to my story... we don't have a local bead store in my town (the nearest is about 150 miles from here) so classes for me would require travel.  And I'm a homebody (okay, some would make an argument that the correct term would be recluse).  Either way, I've never taken any macrame classes or any jewelry making classes either, so when Percy announced that he would be doing online classes, I jumped at the chance.  

Macrame failures.

Turns out I'm not the world's best student.  I asked Percy to teach me bezeling because I've never quite been able to get it down as well as I'd like.  Those two pieces in the photo above are my first two failures even after Percy's lesson!

Knotted macrame bezel.

Third time is a charm though, and I finally nailed it.  After a second lesson, I also got the back done to hold the cabochon in place.

The back of the bezel and cabochon.

It may not look like much, but I am learning and enjoying every second of it.  And even if I'm not the best student, I am a determined one!  I'm also thrilled to have such an opportunity.  I grew up in the TBI (time before Internet), so it is still a big deal to me that we can interact with folks from the other side of the globe with such ease.  What a learning opportunity.

November 12, 2014

Collaboration Unveiling (Sort of)

Beaded bits and a macrame skull

Do you remember this post from last month telling you about a collaborative project my friend Lindsay Starr and I were doing?  She sent me these:

Beaded components from Lindsay Starr

And I sent her these:

Macrame components by Sherri Stokey

Our challenge was to make something using the other person's pieces and our own techniques.  Lindsay had hers finished in no time at all:

Collaboration of bead work and macrame

I'm just going to show you this little teaser here.  If you want to see the whole piece she made, you'll want to pop over to her blog.  It's worth the trip, let me tell you.  After she set the bar so high, I was really sweating my piece using her beaded components.  For some reason I was set on trying to make a sugar skull and since I've never tried knotting one before, it was a lot of trial and error. 

My pieces are usually fairly simple, but I wanted something much more complex for Lindsay.  I struggled.

Trial.
Another trial layout.

I struggled a LOT.

Yet another trial layout.

I put the skull in and I took the skull out (I did the Hokey Pokey....).  Nothing "felt" right.  I finally ended up with this:

Finished layout?

I'm still not quite happy with it.  I think now that I have to remove the top coral colored circle with the seed bead flower in it.  Or maybe move it more to the left - I'm not sure.  At this rate, Lindsay might get this necklace in time for next year's Day of the Dead.  It's a good thing she's patient. 

Beadwork and macrame collaboration.


November 1, 2014

Spiral Fossil Disc Meets Micro Macrame: Art Jewelry Elements Component Reveal

Micro macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey featuring a ceramic disc from Starry Road Studio.

If you follow the Art Jewelry Elements blog (and if you don't, you really should!), you know they do a monthly component challenge and giveaway.  I was one of the lucky recipients this month and I received one of Karen Totten's Spiral Fossil Discs!

I have a bit of an obsession with Karen's work.  Do you  remember the necklace I made with one of her bird and branch sets in this post?  Her ceramic pieces are amazingly detailed and beautiful and she continually comes up with new and different things to keep it interesting.  Here are some Starry Road Studio beads I have in my treasure trove:

Ceramic beads and pendants from Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio

See what I mean?  Anywho...(sorry, I got distracted by the beads for just a minute there) Lindsay Starr was also lucky enough to get one of the discs this month (and yes, her stuff is another obsession of mine as demonstrated here and here).  She had her piece finished soon after she got the disc and shared it with me.  I like to keep pushing my limits with macrame to keep it interesting, so I thought I would see if I could mimic what Lindsay did with beads, but with knots.  This is her piece (photo used with her permission):

Beaded necklace by Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations.

In an effort to mimic but not copy her design exactly, I started with an antler tip that my dad gave me and knotted around it.

Deer antler tip with macrame knotting attached to a ceramic disc.

I've seen this technique before in some South American macrame designs, but I hadn't ever tried doing it myself.  They typically use a waxed cord which gives it a little tackiness and I wasn't sure how the process would work with the unwaxed nylon cord I use.  I made sure I knotted my first row very tightly around the antler (which is actually the bottom row in this photo).  The antler angles out a little bit at the top, so that first row of knotting actually holds the antler in place.  

Linsday chose a y-shaped yoke for the top strap of the necklace in order to cover as little of Karen's disc as possible.  I chose to do two separate straps of macrame, but I kept them narrow around the disc for the same reason.

Macrame knotting attached to cermamic spiral fossil disc by Karren Totten.

In keeping with the sort of rustic, organic feel of the piece, I chose some carved bone beads to use directly above the disc in a light color to pull in the color from the antler tip.  From there I added some basic square knots in the teal colored thread.

Micro macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

The beads I used in the strap are recycled glass from Ghana. They are made by crushing discarded glass and adding a colorant.  The powder is poured into molds and the stem of a plant is added, which burns away during the firing leaving a hole for stringing.  The beads are fired in a wood burning earthen oven.  The look is crude and primitive and perfect for this project.

Half knot sinnets make spiral micro macrame knotting

I used simple half knot sinnets for the bulk of the necklace straps.  The spirals catch the light in interesting ways and draw the eye to their twists and shadows.

Deer antler pendant micro macrame necklace from Knot Just Macrame

At the end I added a few more glass beads and a simple brass hook closure.  I think it's a fun piece and I've really enjoyed the study in "compare and contrast" with Lindsay's necklace.  I hope you'll visit her page, then stop back to tell me what you think.  What similarities did you spot?  What differences?  Which elements worked better with beads and which did you like better with knots?

I hope you will also join me in visiting the blogs of the other participants to see what each of them has done with the Spiral Fossil Disc:

Monthly Winners

 
AJE Blog Team




October 26, 2014

Celebrating Autumn - Octoberfest 2014 Blog Hop

Octoberfest 2014

My friend Rita of Toltec Jewels is hosting her third annual Octoberfest Blog Hop today and I thought it would be fun to join.  She asks only that participants do something - anything - to celebrate autumn and blog about it.  I've been enjoying autumn for the past several weeks, and what's more autumn than apples?  A friend has over twenty apple trees and sent home a whole bunch of apples for us.  

apples

After conning my daughter and her friend into helping, we peeled and chopped apples until we couldn't stand it anymore.  We ended up with a huge roaster (the giant one I use for Thanksgiving turkeys), a huge dutch over and a large crock pot full of apples.  I added a little sugar and cinnamon and a splash of apple juice and set them all to cook for hours and hours and hours.  The sugar in the apples caramelizes and the apples break down and when all is said and done, you end up with apple butter.  

Homemade apple butter

We ended up with something like 15 pints of apple butter and still had bags and bags of apples left.  I've been slicing them and drying them in my dehydrators every night for a week now.  And honestly?  I am not sure when I'll ever be able to even LOOK at another apple.

In the weekend between apple butter and dried apples, my husband and I took a trip up through the Rocky Mountains.  It's one of our favorite things to do in the fall and we always try to time a trip when the leaves are turning.  
Autumn in the Rockies

My photography skills are just not good enough to capture the beauty, but I always try.  Notice the gorgeous waterfall in the distance in this one?  We hiked up to get this view and it was so worth it!

Mountain waterfall

My favorite, though, is always the vibrant yellow.

Autumn in the Rocky Mountains

Vibrant colors of fall

Brilliantly colored leaves

A while back I found a great variegated cord and used it to make a chain of leaves (the class is available here if you want to try it).  I was never quite satisfied with the outcome, so I set it aside.  After being inspired by the mountain trip, I dug it back out and made a few changes.  At a suggestion from a friend (thanks, Lindsay!) I used some lizard leather to make connectors and added some swags of colorful glass seed beads between the leaves.

Micro macrame leaves and hand made leather connector

I also made a clasp to match and sponged on some of the necklace colors.

Clasp

And I ended up with a colorful autumn necklace with cascading leaves, funky leather connectors and multiple strands of beads.

Micro macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey with knotted leaves, leather connectors and multiple strands of beads.

And that, my friends, is this year's ode to autumn from me.  I hope you'll take some time to visit the other participants below and see what they did.  And be sure to swing by Rita's site and tell her if you like her blog hop!

Toltec Jewels (Hostess)

Sherri Stokey <----You are Here
Michelle McCarthy

October 22, 2014

A Collaborative Experiment with Bead Weaving and Micro Macrame

Micro macrame by Sherri Stokey with polymer cab by Lindsay Starr

Do you remember my friend, Lindsay Starr?  She's the creative genius behind Phantasm Creations and does some of the most amazing bead work I have ever seen.  I did a trade with her last year (you can read about it in this post) and we decided it was time to do another one, this time with a twist.  We would each start a piece and then send it to the other person to finish.  

I had been hoarding a face cab she made and decided it would be fun to do something with that.  Me being me (with a micro macrame obsession) it stood to reason that I would have to do something with macrame, so I knotted two pieces the size of the cab.  As you can see from the photo, the front piece is a bezel with a hole for the face to peek through and the back is a solid circle of knotting.  I sandwiched them together and did some more knotting to get this:

Micro macrame bezel on a polymer cab

I didn't exactly know what I was doing, since this was my first attempt at something like this.  I learned some things I will definitely do better next time, but I like the way she turned out.  The way the knotting snugs up around her face makes me think of a woman in the cold with her hood drawn up close to keep her warm.  

Knotted micro macrame circles by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

I wanted to give Lindsay a little more knotting to work with in case she needed to bring it back into her design, so I knotted a couple more circles keeping with the theme.  It will be most interesting to see what she makes with these.  And meanwhile, she send me these beautiful pieces:

Beaded pieces by Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations

Gorgeous, right?!  The flower and leaf (and maybe the time of year) made me think of Day of the Dead (okay, that's probably one of those thought transitions that only I would follow, but it makes perfect sense to me).  I decided to try something really different and attempt to knot a skull.  I know!  Ridiculous, right!?

Beaded pieces by Lindsay Starr and macrame by Sherri Stokey

No, it's not a white strawberry and yes, it is going to be more skull-like before I'm finished.  You will just have to come back and see.  

While she was waiting for my packaged parts to arrive in the mail, Lindsay was without a project and asked me for an assignment.  Me being me (my latest catch-all un-apology excuse), I suggested she do something with a sugar skull and a Day of the Dead theme.  

Day of the Dead sugar skull necklace by Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations.

She nailed it, didn't she!  I told you she was awesome.  While you're waiting to see our finished pieces, you should head over to her blog and check out her other pieces.  Prepared to be amazed.  And don't forget to come back and see what we do with our collaboration experiment!


October 12, 2014

The New Artisan Component Marketplace

Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey with ceramic leaf pendant by Marla James.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  You know all those wonderful heads and pendants (like this oak leaf from Marla's Mud) I'm always showing you?  (Yes, I may have a slight bead buying problem, but that's a discussion for another time.)  There's a new online marketplace just for artisan made pieces - Artisan Component Marketplace.  You won't find any factory produced knock offs there because each shop is juried before being allowed to sell on the site.  That means each and every one of the pieces you find listed there will be hand made by the artist.  

Artisan Component Marketplace screenshot

You will find ceramic and porcelain, handpainted wood and lampwork as well as mixed media and metal.  There are seed bead components made of tiny glass beads woven together in intricate patterns, pendants made from polymer clay and clasps made from wood.  There are all sorts of little treasures from some of my favorite artists, so when I had an offer to do a guest blog post for them, I jumped at the chance.  

You're going to have to go there to see what I wrote, but I will give you a hint:  it involves Marla's ceramic leaf pendant and a little free macrame tutorial.  Have fun!  Oh, and I made up a fancy new, handy-dandy bar for the bottom of my guest post - what do you think?

Sherri Stokey









October 8, 2014

How to Get From Apples to Giraffes in 7 Easy Steps

Micro macrame bracelets by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Even people close to me are confused as to just how my thought process works.  We can be having a conversation about low blood sugar and I'll interrupt with a comment on the cutest aviator glasses for Carter (true story).  I know there's a method to my madness, but it isn't always apparent to others.  So today I'm going to let you inside my mind for one brief, horrifying minute:  Here's how you (okay, how I) get from apples to giraffes in 7 easy steps.

Sage green colorway kit for Leaves Micro Macrame Bracelet Tutorial

It all starts when I'm putting together more kits for my Leaves Micro Macrame Bracelet Tutorial in this sage green colorway.  It's the strangest combination, really, and it technically shouldn't work.  The cord is more of a turquoise kind of color with a lot of blue in it, while the beads have a definite yellow tinge.  Shouldn't work at all, but it does:

Leaves Micro Macrame Bracelet done in Sage colorway.

Then I start wondering what that cord and bead combination would look like in the Hydrangea pattern, so I have to stop everything and make one up.

Hydrangea Micro Macrame Bracelet done in Sage colorway.

Which leads to trying the beads with a different color of cord.

Hydrangea Micro Macrame Bracelet done in green with marina.

And then I wonder what would happen if I use some unexpected cord color.

Hydrangea Micro Macrame Bracelet done in green with marigold cord.

And before you know it, I'm mixing all the cord colors.

Hydrangea micro macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey.

Then I notice that the darker color makes little divisions of the flowers and the bracelet looks totally different.  The flowers look more distinct and the diamond connectors almost disappear.  And I wonder what would happen if I rearrange the cord colors.

Knotted micro macrame bracelets by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

And then I notice all the texture in those bracelets and I wonder what would happen if I focus more on the knotting, but keep using the same cord colors and beads.

Knotted micro macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Then I look up and it's three days later and we're out of milk.  Oh, and somewhere in there I made up kits for the first three colorways and there are some earrings in these colors around here somewhere that I need to put on earwires and photograph.

And that, my friends, is how you get from apples to giraffes in my world.  

Micro macrame bracelets by Knot Just Macrame.

Micro macrame bracelets by Knot Just Macrame.