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September 18, 2014

Talk Like a Pirate Day


Ahoy, me Hearties!  Tomorrow be International Talk Like a Pirate Day and what with knottin' bein' all tied t' sailin' (didja see what I done thar?) what better way t' pay me respects but t' create a piece o' micro macrame!  Boy, writin' like tha' is harder than ye'd think!  

I asked Anastasija o' Dreams and Elements t' make some pieces t' use in me micro macrame bracelets and shiver me timbers!  Beauty!  Me packages arrived from some other artists that day, too. Check t' motherload:


And out of all that booty, which treasure did I choose first?


They're just so ever-lovin' adorable!!  And what with the pirate day thing coming up and all, it seemed like fate.  I did make a very similar bracelet with one of her owl focals instead,  if ye ain't be likin' the skulls.  


Wanna try your hand at knottin' one yeself?  These bands are variations of me Micro Macrame Bracelet Watch class at CraftArtEdu.com.  Fair winds, mateys!

September 13, 2014

Sea Shell Design Challenge Reveal

Sea shell design challenge

My generous friend, Rita of Toltec Jewels put out a challenge in one of the beading groups to which I belong:  create a piece using a ceramic scallop shell pendant by Firefly Design Studio.  Michelle (the creative genius behind Firefly Design) is also a member of the same group, so this was a particularly fun challenge for me.  Rita even supplied the shells for participants (thanks again, Rita!!).

It's no surprise to anyone who has followed me for five minutes or more that I love ocean themes.  Anything beachy and I'm there.  And to top it all off, the shell I received was in some of my favorite colors (fate or Rita's hand?):

Cord and bead palette in sage green and blue and bronze

I pulled some glass seed beads and s-lon cord I thought might work with the sagey green and soft blue in the pendant and then played up the background color of the clay as well, adding some gold and bronze.  

I started knotting around a center ring and let the cord fan out from that like ripples in the water.  I didn't have any pattern in mind when I started, I just let the micro macrame wander and flow around the beads.

Close up of micro macrame knotting by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

The necklace ended up with a unique keyhole shape which gives a hint of the exotic and the lavish beads and scalloped knots gives it an over-the-top, excess feel, like a mermaid dripping in jewels.  

Micro macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey with ceramic shell pendant by Firefly Design Studio


The sea shell pendant is actually drilled at the wider end, but I wanted to suspend it the other way around, so I added a bail to the narrower end of the shell.  That left me with a hole at the bottom to attach a ring full of beachy charms - a shell, some starfish beads and even a Vintaj seahorse.

Ceramic sea shell pendant by Firefly Design Studio

So?  Can you picture this on your friendly neighborhood mermaid?

Micro macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.


September 10, 2014

An Experiment

Bleached nylon cord.

Well, that could have gone better.  This mess of sickly colored cord is not what I was hoping for.  Let me fill you in:  I got a wild hair last week and wanted to make a micro macrame bracelet with the look of soft, worn denim.  I wanted cord in a really faded blue color and I really was hoping for a bit of mottling in the color instead of even color on the cord.  I took some bits of cord (both c-lon and s-lon nylon bead cord) and stuck them in some diluted bleach for a while and got this:

Outcome of first cord bleaching experiment.

There was one major flaw in that first experiment, though, as I had forgotten to keep a control group.  I figured I would remember exactly what shades I'd started with, silly me, and ended up clueless. I do know the one that looks sort of mustard yellow was a green color to start with, but I'm not sure which green.  *sigh*  So I started over, and this time I took a photo with the original colors.  There is again a mix of c-lon and s-lon cord, all in the .5mm size.

C-lon and S-lon bed cord in assorted colors.

I left the cord to soak in some bleach, diluted a bit, but still pretty strong (and no, Clorox isn't paying me anything for showing this photo of their product).

Bleaching experiment with cord.

I came back to check after half an hour and found that the lighter blue cord I'd hoped would look like worn denim had turned into this:

Bleaching experiment with cord.

After only 30 minutes!!  You can still see traces of the original blue, but most of the color is completely gone.  I continued checking on the remaining cords at hourly intervals.  After almost six hours, I took them all out and rinsed them well.  This is what I got:

Outcome of cord bleaching experiment.

The colors didn't change after drying, either, so here's what I discovered: The light blue cord bleached out in a heartbeat into a totally undesirable shade of yuk.  The mint green cord also bleached some and ended up a ugly shade of mucus green.  The four remaining cords, bright blue, orange, teal and purple, didn't change at all.  Even after six hours of soaking in bleach, there was no change in color!  

I'd say even though I didn't achieve my intended goal, this experiment was a partial success since I still learned something valuable.  It looks to me like there's a 67% chance your micro macrame bracelet won't change color even if you get bleach on it.  And that, as we say in Nebraska, is the rest of the story.

August 22, 2014

Separation Anxiety



Pardon me while I take time out for a little, woe-is-me self pity party.  My daughter left for college (in Colorado, in case you didn't get that from the photo) and now I have an empty next.  Yes, it sounds all cliche, but that was when it was about someone else.  Now that it's about me, it's different, because let's face it, we humans are basically a self centered lot.

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity getting her ready.  In the middle of all that, she took time to donate to Locks of Love.  This is her (on the left) when she graduated three months ago.  See how long her hair was?



She was able to donate and still have hair that is past her shoulders.  The new shorter length should be much easier, which will be great for a busy student. This is her and her roommate in their dorm room.  Swanky, huh?

  
After getting her all settled in, we made the long drive home.  To an empty house.  Today I found one of her socks left behind in the dryer.  *sigh*  THIS should not make a grown woman cry.




August 18, 2014

It's GIVEAWAY Time!

Giveaway:  Micro Macrame bracelet made by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Recently, Marta from Shanti Free Bird contacted me about giving away one of my micro macrame bracelets on her blog.  I usually have to say "no" to these requests (or I'd go broke!) but after spending some time reading her blog, I could not resist.  She is such an interesting person and leads such a fascinating life!  I am in awe (and a bit jealous, I must admit).

I challenge you to read a few of her posts like this one:  Bundi Festival in India and not be inspired and enchanted by her enthusiasm.  I mean seriously:

Shanti Free Bird - camel in the Sahara

She's ridden a camel in the Sahara and gone boating on the canals of Amsterdam:

Shanti Free Bird - canals of Amsterdam

Shanti Free Bird - biking in Laos

She's gone biking through Laos and traveled to Asia.  Alone!  She says people are more likely to approach you when you are by yourself, so you are never really alone.  This is her at a wedding in India demonstrating that theory:

Shanti Free Bird - wedding in India

Her sense of adventure is exhilarating and intoxicating!  I'll be following along on her blog, waiting for her next trip and I hope you'll join me.

Meanwhile, she is sponsoring a giveaway of one of my micro macrame bracelets.  You can find all the details here on her blog.  And just in case you've gotten sidetracked with me, dreaming of foreign places, and have forgotten which bracelet is being given away, I'll leave you with a reminder:

Giveaway:  Micro Macrame bracelet made by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

Good luck and happy travels!


August 13, 2014

A Contest, Artisan Beads and Micro Macrame - What's Not to Love!

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey featuring ceramic beads by Karen Totten.

Artisan Component Marketplace is a group of very talented artisans who gather on Facebook to buy and sell their handcrafted components.  The range of talent there is amazing and several of my favorite bead makers are there.  The group recently sponsored a contest requiring only the use of components made by one of the members.  I love to work with art beads anyway, so this seemed a convenient excuse to buy more use some.

Ceramic bird bead set by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.

I started with this Enchanted Woodland Bird set by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.  She described it as "A ceramic bird bead set in an palette of mossy woodland colors. These beads made me think of a hike in a forest shaded by tall pine trees, full of mystery and magic!"  If the photo hadn't lured me in, the description just might have. 

Another group to which I belong, Color Combo Challenge, features inspiration color palettes and it has really helped me to expand and think of colors in combinations I normally wouldn't consider.  This palette from Design Seeds really appealed to me and seemed to fit Karen's bead set well.

Color Palette by Design Seeds.
Photo from http://design-seeds.com/
 
Are you seeing how this could come together beautifully?  I certainly could.  I've really been trying to expand my micro macrame knotting lately with trying out new ideas.  I wanted a fairly simple rope for these beads, and what I came up with looks much like kumihimo, but my version is just done with half knots.  

Micro Macrame knotted rope by Knot Just Macrame.

Matches the palette?  Check.  Matches the beads?  Check.  Then I was digging around looking for a bail to hang the beads from the cord and couldn't find just the right thing.  Everything I had looked to "fussy" for the look I wanted and somewhere in the midst of this it dawned on me that I could probably knot something that would work.  

Knotted micro macrame rope and bail necklace with ceramic artisan beads.
 
I knotted a piece, then folded it over the rope, threaded the beads on the remaining cords, put a few square knots under the last bead to hold everything in place and left a few cords for a swishy little tail at the end.  Simple and effective, I think.

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.

I wanted the wearer to be able to adjust the length of this necklace, so I added some caps to the ends of the rope and a bit of chain on either end.  This piece can be worn shorter so the beads fall in the hollow of the throat and nestle in a neckline, or longer to fit on the outside of a collar or sweater.  

I think this piece turned out beautifully and what's more, the judges from the Artisan Component Marketplace thought so, too.  I won First Place and a gift certificate to spend in my favorite component maker's store!  And you KNOW how I love to shop for more beads!  There are so many talented artists in that group, I am having a terrible time trying to decide which one to chose.

Micro Macrame necklace by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame featuring ceramic beads by Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.

August 5, 2014

Matubo Beads and Micro Macrame

Seed bead size comparison, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0

Have you tried out the new Matubo seed beads yet?  They are 7/0 beads, falling in between the 6/0 and 8/0 seed bead sizes.  In the photo, the first beads (on the left) are 6/0 beads from Miyuki (146FR if you love the color).  The beads in the middle are Matubo beads in Blue Picasso and on the right are 8/0 beads in metallic bronze.  Even though the overall size (outer dimensions) falls squarely between the others, the hole size is closer to that in the larger 6/0 beads.

Bead size comparison

The secret to these little wonders is the manufacturing method.  Matubo beads are made by pressing rather than then traditional method of cutting glass tubes into pieces.  The pressing method has several advantages:  it produces much more uniformly sized and shaped beads, the holes can be larger in comparison to the bead (thinner walls) and the holes have smoother edges.  Those things may not seem like a big deal, but they're really great for micro macrame.  The larger hole size is really nice, especially if you are knotting with the thicker Tex 400 cord.  I've found I can get two cords through the Matubos.

I started out putting them in a pattern I've made quite a lot.  I really love the finish on these beads.

Matubo beads in Micro Macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey

Then I thought I'd experiment a little.

Original micro macrame bracelet designed by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

In this pattern, I used them in the center of each little shape as well as in between the rows and along both edges.  The shiny little beads in the lacy loops are 11/0, just to give you another size comparison.

Original micro macrame bracelet designed by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

All in all, I like these new beads.  I always like choices, and having a new size and new colors and finishes is great! 

Two micro macrame bracelets from Knot Just Macrame