November 21, 2015

Looking for Micro Macrame Classes?

 If you're thinking about making a couple gifts for special people on your list, pop over to CraftArtEdu - but hurry!!!  All of the micro macrame classes are on sale at a whopping 35% off through Sunday (November 22, 2015).  You'll find the code and all of the details here.

And if you're thinking you won't have time to get gifts made before the holidays, at this price you'll want to buy a class or two in anticipation of the January blues!  It will give you something to take your mind off the weather :)

November 15, 2015

Beading Back In Time: The Final Reveal

Beaded fringe with feathers and jaguar.

It's time!!  Well, actually it's past time, but we agreed we all needed a bit longer to work on our projects for this final Beading Back in Time blog hop reveal, so... It's time!  The challenge this round was to create a piece based on a favorite historical period from 500 AD to present.  As with the other challenges in the series, the hop hosts are me and my pal, Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations.  

Easter Island Guy by Dreams and Elements

I had every intention of making a piece with this awesome Easter Island guy from Anastasia  at Dreams and Elements.  If you're not familiar with her work, you need to go check it out. I've worked with some of her beads before (visit this post) and they're really amazing.  I liked these pieces so well, I asked Anastasia to do this hop with us and post about them.  You can find her post here.

I have a really cool project in mind for the Easter Island dude and I'm not going to spoil the surprise.  You'll just have to stay tuned for that one.  Meanwhile... I got distracted by a trip to Cancun.  Well, not actually Cancun, but Chichen Itza.  I've been lost in daydreams about Maya civilization ever since my visit there last month.  How could I not be, with sights like this:

Chichen Itza pics

And this:

Chichen Itza pyramid.

I'm enthralled.  I've spent hours and hours researching the Maya culture, just for the satisfaction of learning something I didn't know before.  I wish I could shrink myself down small enough to squeeze through time and transport myself back to that place so I could experience what it must was like to live there (yes, I'm geeky like that).

The Short Version:  the classic Maya flourished between 250 and 900 a.d.  They had around 40 cities built of stone with populations ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 people in each one.  That may not seem like a big deal, but for a civilization then to be able to feed that number of people in one place, it really was amazing.   Chichen Itza was really starting to flourish about the time the other great Maya cities were dying out (for reasons unclear to us).

It would have been a magical time, and the people were deeply religious.  They believed in many gods and elaborate ceremonies and rituals were an important part of their lives (yes, including human sacrifice).  One of the main gods was Kukulkan, the feathered serpent deity to whom the pyramid at Chichen Itza was dedicated.

Serpent clasp.

The ancient Maya made significant advances in astronomy (read up on the orientation of the pyramid at Chichen Itza sometime, if you don't believe me) and mathematics.  They had a system of writing (hieroglyphs).  They built temples and palaces that survive to this day.  How could I not be fascinated?

I found some photos from the late 1800's, when Chichen Itza was first "rediscovered":

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

Isn't that incredible?  They've since rebuilt several of the structures to what we see today, but if you close your eyes and look closely, you can still feel the original architects. Remember the feathered serpent god?  I found an old (late 1800's) photo of one of the carvings of him on the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza and compared it to a photo I took last month.

Kukulkan carving on pyramid

Isn't that cool!  I really, really want to know what it must have been like in its heyday!  If only...

Colorized version.

Colorized version.

These colored images are some I found (thanks Tulane University) of what it might have looked like 1000 years ago.  The structures we see now are all monochromatic stone, but when they were built, they would have been a riot of bright color.

Many buildings would have been red with colorful accents.  I spent an afternoon "coloring" my own pyramid to get into the mindset:

Colored pyramid.

And then I decided to "build" one.  I started with a pile of cord and tried to recreate in knots the stepped sides and sweeping staircases of the Chichen pyramid.

Micro macrame pyramid in progress.

Did I lose you?  That's not a wedding cake (although it does sort of look like one at this stage).  Somewhere along the line while I was daydreaming about an ancient culture, it dawned on me this is what I had to use for the Beading Back in Time hop!  I wanted my piece to reflect the Maya's affinity for bright colors as well as incorporating the feathered serpent, the jaguar (there were several versions of the jaguar god), and, of course, the pyramid.

Maya necklace done in micro macrame with beaded fringe.

I suspended my finished pyramid from ten spiraling cords in bright colors ranging from blood red and Maya blue to the greens of the jungle.  At the back of the necklace, I brought all the cords together in a spiral ending in a clasp featuring twin serpents.  I added a jungle-y fringe at the bottom with some feathers (a favorite adornment of ancient Maya) and a jaguar charm.

Maya pyramid necklace in macrame by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

I hope you like my piece and I hope you'll join me to checking to see what everyone else has made for this, the Final Reveal of the Beading Back in Time Blog hop series.

Sherri Stokey <-----you are here
Lindsay Starr <-----Co-Host
Anastasia Kristala Urbanski
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Stephanie Haussler
Niky Sayers
Melissa Trudinger
Kelly Rodgers
Michelle McCarthy

If you've enjoyed this Beading Back in Time hop, you can find previous ones here:  Pre-Human Edition,  Early Human Edition and Early Civilization Edition.

If you'd like to read more about the ancient Maya civilization, these were some of my favorites:  Maya 3D (great if you want to pretend you're there!),  Virtual Chichen (also great for "almost" being there) and the Maya Civilization Wikipedia page (lots and lots of links to even more info).  Thanks for joining us today!

Easter Island Statues and Beads

Hi there! My name is Anastasia, I am designer at Dreams and Elements and very honored to be a guest writer in Sherri's blog!

Today I will tell you about my biggest inspiration – Moai statues from Easter Island.

There is a lot to tell about Moai, but in today's post I will just highlight the main information about these mysterious monoliths. Many people already know, that these grumpy-looking guys are found in Easter Island, which is located in the South Pacific Ocean, few thousand miles from Chile's west coast. Many archaeologists believe, that Moai are representation of the ancient Polynesian's ancestors. Despite being called "Easter Island Heads", these guys are actually whole-body statues - on the early known photographs of them, their bodies were hidden in the ground. They were are carved out of compressed volcanic ash, basalt, trachyte and red scoria. 

How did I get the idea to make little grumpy Moai-ish faces on my beads and jewelry? It is really a funny story - once I saw a dream where I was observing Easter Island at night. Moai statues were so mysterious and beautiful on a starry night sky background, it seemed very real. When I woke up I had an urge to try to make some stylized beads with pouty faces out of polymer clay and to my surprise they ended up looking pretty cool! I hope you like them too :)

Fun fact: some Easter Island Heads actually used to have eyes! It was discovered, that statues used to have eyes made out of coral with either black obsidian or red scoria pupils.

This is it for today. Thank you very much for reading, you are all awesome!


November 12, 2015

Teal Therapy: A Reset

Somewhere along the line I discovered a little trick.  Whenever I'm floundering a bit with ideas or feeling uninspired or without focus, I fall back to my favorites.  Shades of teal and turquoise with brown or tan are like a favorite pair of slippers - all warm and welcoming.  I'm not quite sure why, but these colors in most any combination make me feel calm and centered.

I recently ran across these amazing buttons in one of my all-too-frequent shopping frenzies (my mail carrier hates me, I'm sure).  I got the teal tree and the white-washed version as well, but I ended up adding some teal to the leaves of the tree on the white one for that extra special little "something".

For dragon fans, I also found a cool dragon button:

I think the teal therapy is working, by the way.  I feel better already :)

November 4, 2015

Copper and Capri: A Micro Macrame Love Story

Micro macrame bracelets by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Once upon a time, I received a request for a custom item:  a micro macrame bracelet using copper cord and blue beads.  So I made this:

Micro macrame bracelet in orange and blue by Sherri Stokey.

It reminded me how much I like that particular shade of blue (it's called Capri) and then this happened:

Micro macrame bracelet in capri blue by Sherri Stokey.

But then I remembered that this was supposed to be a love story using copper and blue, so I went back to this:

Micro macrame bracelet in capri blue by Sherri Stokey.

The two colors fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after.  The end.

Epilogue:  If you would like to write your own micro macrame story, you can find the tutorial for this design (and several others) here in my Etsy shop.

October 27, 2015

Wandering Micro Macrame

Free form macrame doodle with starfish by Sherri Stokey

Ever had one of those days when you feel like you're just wondering aimlessly?  When you just can't seem to make yourself focus?  I've been having one of those days after another after another - since I got back from vacation, in fact!  I'm lost in thought, dreaming of ancient civilizations (okay, and a margarita or two). 

Free form macrame doodle with starfish from Knot Just Macrame.
The macrame pieces I've made lately seem to reflect that same meandering mindset.  There are no set patterns, no straight lines, no specific anything.  Just knots that drift here and there like lines in the sand.

Free form macrame necklace with starfish from Knot Just Macrame.

I should point out, however, that this style isn't as effortless as it looks.  In fact, careless abandon is pretty difficult for me.  And just to make it a bit more of a challenge, I was trying to make a free form piece for a customer who wanted it to have a straight (or fairly straight) upper edge.  Turns out, I can't be methodically random.  Go figure.  I did, however, end up with a couple of cool necklaces.  

Free form macrame necklace with starfish in teal by Sherri Stokey.

The customer who started this whole thing bought one of them, but the other one (the one in the photo above) is available here in my Etsy shop if you're interested. And if you're looking for me, I'll be over here staring into space, daydreaming of sun and sand.

October 20, 2015

She's Ba-ack! With a Vacation Recap!

Margarita on the beach.

Golly, folks, it sure is hard to get back into the swing of things after a little tropical vacation.  Cancun was wonderful - margaritas delivered to me on a picture-postcard-beautiful beach.  Ahhhhh...


So, here's the short version:  I visited Chichen Itza, which was awesome (is there a word for awesomer than awesome?).

  Temple at Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza.

And just in case you think I'm fibbing about actually being there, here's the selfie:

Selfie at Chichen Itza.

We stopped off at a cenote, where I noped right out of jumping off a ledge (high or low ledge, doesn't matter) into deep water that's in a deep hole in the ground.

Cenote nope.

See those itty bitty figures at the bottom of my photo?  Yeah, those are people.  They haven't even hit the water yet and I'm terrified for them. See the little things that look like bugs in the foliage here:

Cenote through foliage.

Those are people wayyyyyy down in the hole.  Nope, nope and nope.  I hung out at the tequila shop.  Much more my speed.

Tequila shop.

We spent some time goofing around:

Cancun aquarium.

Mark and the ladies.

I got to pet a sting ray.

Petting a ray.

Spent a disproportionate amount of time looking for sugar skulls and skull related things (did you miss this post?).

Day of the dead mermaids.

Skull carvings at Chichen Itza.

Intricately carved skulls.

Day of the dead figurines.

Spent more time at the pool, looking out at the ocean:

Pool with an ocean view.

And than had to come home, where I found this had happened in my absence:

Autumn foliage in my yard.

Dang it.  I just hate it when season sneak up on me.  I wasn't ready (and I'm saying that in my best whiny voice).  And making me transition from beach directly into Autumn, well that's just cruel and unusual punishment.  Over and out.