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Monday, June 30, 2014

A Seashore Curio Necklace

The idea came several years ago from Martha Stewart, but I got a beachy vibe from the project, perfect for the sea glass and shells I've collected over the years, plus other assorted charms and beads:

The first step was drilling holes in the glass and shells, which turned into quite the project itself.  I tried first with my normal drill bits, going slowly and keeping the glass and tip of the drill bit submerged in water, and it took forever -- at least an hour of steady drilling to get a hole in one measly piece.  That caused quite a delay as I researched drilling glass, realized I needed diamond-tipped drill bits, tracked down an affordable source for them, and got distracted by myriad other projects.

A over a year later I tried again, and what a difference the proper tools made!  It still took 10-1 minutes per glass shard (substantially less for the shells), because I didn't want to rush and risk overheating or shattering (one broke anyway), but that was much more manageable.  The results:

The drill bit had a completely flat tip:
 and experts recommended starting the hole with a domed bit, but I was not about to buy another one.  Instead I started drilling at an angle, to create a divot, and then repositioned the drill perpendicular to the surface.  If you look closely, you can see that my inexpert control resulted in a little "etching" on some pieces.

Once the drilling was done, I set the project aside again to work on other stuff, and finally picked it up again a few weeks ago.  I cut out a linen crescent and started sewing on in layers glass, shells, beads, charms, fabric doodads, ribbon, buttons, and anything else that struck my fancy:

Once I was happy with the look, I used fabric glue to attach it to a backing piece of linen:
and attached ribbon ties, and frayed the edges as per M.S.  This was a great project to use some of the beach glass and shells I've accumulated, not to mention other charms and beads and even some heshi strands and carved shell birds I bought ages ago and forgot about.

A few favorite details:

This looks like a flip-flop:

Of course, I can't actually wear this necklace, at least not while I'm in proximity to Beadboy3, who's in the grab-everything-and-shove-it-in-his-mouth phase.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A is for Assisi Embroidery

For the third letter in my alphabet series, I used my take on Assisi embroidery.

A is a mauvy-pinky-purply color, like a henley shirt I had as a teenager.  That shirt is long gone, but I have a beach towel that's almost the same shade.  I cut out a 2 by 3 inch rectangle from the edge and zigzagged the edges a couple of times, with a variegated quilting thread.

I also stay-stitched the cut-out, so the towel wouldn't unravel.

I then sketched out an A in a blue wash-out marker and started stitching:
Traditionally, in Assisi embroidery the motif is outlined with a back stitch or Holbein stitch, and the background is filled in with cross stitch, but why be traditional?  I used seed and straight stitches to fill in the background, using Caron Collections' Watercolours and Wildflowers threads in African Sunset (so pretty).

A close up:

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Festive Necklace

While in Jo-Ann's for some fabric, I couldn't resist a strand of colorful plastic beads.  When I got home I paired them with a bunch of charms, vaguely Latin-themed:
The end result:
The necklace is a bit stiff around my neck, and the charms don't dangle as freely as I'd like, so I plan to wear it a few times and see if I need to remake it (that's what I get for rushing to finish it so I could wear it to a party).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Round-Up: Baseball Edition

Seasons in Hell: With Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and "The Worst Baseball Team in History"-The 1973-1975 Texas Rangers, by Mike Shropshire:The advent of baseball season put me in the mood for this, an account of the absurdist 1973-1975 Texas Rangers team.  When your team has no hope of hitting .500, you might as well embrace the egotistical and talentless hitters, the pitcher who deliberately shot himself in the hand, the other pitcher who called a press conference to announce he just threw spitballs, the outfielder given a whistle to blow because he couldn't remember to shout "I've got it!", the long-suffering manager with no illusions, the greedy owner coming up with ridiculous schemes to generate revenue, scarily blunt groupies, and the booze.  Oh my God, the booze.

Ball Four: The Final Pitch by Jim Bouton:Seasons in Hell was fun, but Ball Four is the superior book, and the original baseball "tell-all."  Bouton is a former ML pitcher, and the book covers the year he spent pitching for the one-season Seattle Pilots (plus three addenda for each additional decade).  Bouton's status as an insider and as a pretty smart and insightful guy result in a fascinating account of what baseball was like for the players in the years before free agency.  Although a lot of the stories he relates are fairly tame by today's celebrity-scandal standards, the book was hugely controversial when it was released; management had invested a lot in the idea of baseball players as Wholesome American Heroes, and finding out that they were often underpaid and mistreated, used drugs, drank a lot, played jokes on each other, chased women, and cussed would result in fans abandoning baseball! (Ha.) Some of the players, too, weren't too happy with the exposure, although to Bouton's credit he is never mean-spirited or cruel to his fellow players.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis:Math + Baseball = Awesome.  This is the story of how one general manager, Billy Beane of the Oakland A's, defied baseball's conventional wisdom by using sabermetrics to build the best baseball team on the cheap.  It's a fascinating account of how some obscure but crucial baseball skills are completely undervalued, because people (agents, scouts, managers, owners) are too focused on flashy statistics like batting average and win/loss records.  This book was especially enjoyable for me as a Red Sox fan, because at the end of the season depicted, 2002, Beane turns down an offer to be the GM of the Sox.  Instead Theo Epstein took the job, determined to bringing sabermetrics to Fenway, and had some success.