Tag Archives: make something

blaugust #18: tell me a colorstory.

I spent a lot of time this past weekend making new necklaces for urban legend. Well, cleaning up a dire mess in my supplies and work area, and then making new necklaces. Whenever I’m planning a weekend session of making, I collect sources for color inspiration. Depending on how specific they are, I’ll either make a list or I’ll print out a sheet of thumbnail photos that I’m planning to work from. These come from all over – photographs that I’ve taken, posts I’ve liked on Instagram, spreads in magazines, color boards on Pinterest – the list is endless. In the last couple of years, though, outfits I’ve spotted while riding public transportation have played a huge role in my creative process. I never used to sneak pictures of strangers, but the fashion in Portland is so good that I do it at least once a week now. When I sit down to collect that sheet of thumbnails, it always includes a scroll through the photos on my phone. That’s right: I am that woman surreptitiously taking a photograph of the back of your dress while you, all unsuspecting, ride the train. Because it’s a really sensational dress. In the first place, I’m a huge fan of stripes cut on the bias like that. And in the second place, I’m a sucker for a punch of black right in the middle of those juicy summer melon colors. So I’ll hold the phone up as unobtrusively as I can, and grab a picture that just shows enough of a pattern so I’ll remember it. Thanks, fellow commuter and your outstanding dress. And then I’ll just happen to glance out the window as the train goes over the river, and I’ll see that boxy mustard yellow building that I see every day, but today it’ll have a perfectly blue sky behind it and a towering rusted crane in front of it. That’s another necklace right there. I hadn’t realized until I made my list this week how much commuting has featured in my color work lately, but it’s nice to know that all those hours soaking up what I see eventually get used in the studio.


blaugust #15: gimme that old time sparkle.

I spent a lot of time today cleaning up my work trays and putting supplies back where they belong. In the process, I found part of a necklace I’d started making a while back, inspired by something Lady Mary wore on Downton Abbey. The piece had never been finished – probably because I’d just lost track of it in the shuffle. So I played around with it a bit, and the result is a new necklace with a distinctly 20’s flavor.

Lady Mary necklace, due to appear at Leaves of Glass next week.

Lady Mary necklace, due to appear at Leaves of Glass next week.

That got me thinking about jewelry and costumes in several different period dramas that I like. This necklace has flapper elements, but it’s nowhere near long enough to really deserve that name. My favorite antique necklaces are the insanely long and heavy cut glass flapper necklaces from the Art Deco period, often worn tied in a loose knot, or with a beaded tassel at the end. You can feel the weight of them when you look at them, and they’re just sooooooooo glittery. I’ve always intended to recreate one someday, but so far I have yet to have enough of one bead to do it. Most of my materials come in limited, small batches.

Thinking about this, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole googling screenshots of Miss Fisher, Lady Mary and Ariadne Oliver from the Poirot series. Initially, I was looking for the Downtown Abbey necklace that inspired me (no hope of finding that, really, and I didn’t). Before long, though, I got seduced by one costume shot after another. I mean, come on. I want to wear every single one of these outfits. If I can’t do that, I want to make things inspired by them.

Downton Abbey images copyright Carnival Film/Masterpiece; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mystery images copyright Every Cloud Productions; images of Ariadne Oliver in Poirot copyright itv.

I have no point here, other than I’ve had a nice day appreciating the artistry of old things and trying to build on it with new things. See you tomorrow, I’m gonna go make more stuff.

(This is my fifteenth daily post for Blaugust.)

blaugust #14: artifact.

Last night I was scrolling through my draft blog posts in search of some things I could finish up and use for Blaugust. It’s pretty slim pickings in there, to be honest. Most of it was a couple of photos with no text (deleted all those), and some poems I’m collecting for next year’s National Poetry Month. There were a couple of things that I thought could be interesting, and then there was this little snippet of a list:

in the past year I have:

gone 36 hours without food only to eat 3 full meals in 4 hours.

done without milk/peanut butter/laundry detergent in order to buy silver/beads/bubble mailers.

spilled tomato sauce on my ottoman and liked the resulting color story so much I went back to work before cleaning it up.

watched 19 straight episodes of Dark Shadows while preparing inventory for holiday sales.

worn the same pair of pajama pants from Monday-Thursday. WHAT.

claimed deep tissue massages as a business expense.

Well, that’s interesting. I have no idea how long ago I wrote this, or what I was planning to do with it. This blog originally lived on a blogger site, and when I ported all of it over to WordPress, the drafts came too, but their dates didn’t survive. So what year was this when I went without groceries and was utterly slovenly in the service of color? The draft had a title – “My name is Kateri & I’m a crafter” – but that doesn’t tell me anything about where I was going with the post, or what else might have been on that list.

It did make me think about how the life of making has changed for me in the last few years, though. I’m much better at self care than I was when I started out in small business. I’m careful to eat (mostly) healthy food at almost regular intervals. I’m better at budgeting, and have also been in business long enough to have a pretty substantial supply inventory. I don’t offer what I can’t produce with materials on hand, so although there are still some very thin months, I don’t go without peanut butter in order to keep stocked. My day job now is so much different than it was when this was written, and I no longer have summers off or two week holiday breaks.

Other things remain the same. If Dark Shadows was still on Netflix, you can bet I’d still be marathoning it while I work (there’s never any chance of running out of Dark Shadows, there are 9 frillion nearly identical episodes). If I get four uninterrupted days at home, I am definitely wearing the same pajama pants the entire time. There’s even a word for this now, thanks to Shawn Hampton: pajampion. (That’s actually a good dating device for this draft post – it must predate the word pajampion, or I’d have used it there. So no later than 2010 by the linguistic yardstick.)

There is no way on earth I’d leave a tomato sauce spill in situ now, as the tiny ants that plague Portland would be all over it. Honestly, I can’t really imagine doing it then, either – I may have exaggerated that one for effect, who knows. Not the spill, I spill everything all the time. But leaving it while I made something might have been made up.

My takeaway from this is that the life of making is messy and compelling. It takes your time. It makes you forget time. It teaches you to care more for the thing you make than for your own body. The thing you make feeds you just as surely as food, and it is necessary sustenance. And it makes order out of chaos. From all the tumbled stashes of materials, a steady thread of coherent design is woven. I can see it stretching from that draft post to this one, from that home in Chicago to this one in Portland, from the thing I make now to the thing I will make ten years from now.

As I write this, I’m surrounded by piles of messy making supplies. Part of my plan for this weekend is to do a proper clean and sort so that I can start on new work for fall with a fair idea of what I have to work with. But not too much, not too clean. The work lives in there, and it’s my happy job to dig it out.

blaugust #06: sparkletalk.

I made a little deal with myself last week. The boxes of glass beads have been languishing lately. My time for making things is much more restricted than it was a couple of years ago, and when I sit down for a design marathon I tend to let the more popular urban legend designs take all my time. Leaves of Glass is my first venture, though, and still my true heart. I don’t want to let it slip away entirely.

Last week I decided I’d make at least one piece of vintage glass jewelry a day. Sometimes my only hope of succeeding at a challenge is NOT to publicize it. Talking about it can work as a catalyst for doing it (Blaugust is working that way for me, so far), but it can also work as creativity-stifling pressure. I’ve lost momentum from sheer panic before. This was a little challenge, and not really in danger of being derailed. But it was also a challenge from me, to me, for reasons of my own affection. So I kept it quiet and just forged ahead. I did well! I didn’t miss any days, and on a couple of days I made more than one thing. I posted most of them on Instagram, and several pieces were sold straight from there. For me, that’s the most rewarding design-to-sale format, and I’m always excited when it happens.

This is a gallery of my favorite pieces. The ones that are still available are listed for sale in Leaves of Glass on Etsy. I got my nimble glass fingers working again, and there will be more grit and sparkle to come this month.

(This is my sixth post for the Blaugust initiative.)

sparkle tango.

photo 3As I begin typing, I realize that 1) I’m only using the word tango here because I’m listening to one, and 2) there is not actually any literal sparkle in the work I did today. I’m practicing not fussing over every little thing, though, so I’m letting it stand.


I listed a few new things at urban legend this morning, but lately I’ve had the itch to go back to glass. It’s been a long time since I sat down and just played for several hours. I’m rusty, and slow, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. As it happens, nothing really surprising came of it today, but I made pretty things. The colors and textures make my heart sing, and I’m happy with them.


The three pairs of earrings shown here were in today’s crop. Combining tonal variations of reds is something that pleases my eyes very much, and I love this pair of earrings, with its subtle differences in shades and elegant floral textures. The orange and blue earrings above feature my very last pair of hollow faceted orange glass beads. These are virtually weightless and so rare and spectacular. I love the way they play with the translucent and opaque aqua flowers. The very odd painted lacy finding in the third pair of earrings is also the last of its kind. I orginally had six of them, and I did something different with each one. This summer, I’m drawn over and over again to iterations of navy blue and chartreuse, so that’s what I used here to set off the bold white of the metal pieces.

I also started working on a bustling cha-cha bracelet of leaves and flowers in true old school costume jewelry style. The bracelet pictured here was actually made a few weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to list it for sale. So it’s appearing here to remind me! I love the contrast of pure white vintage milk glass beads with the shimmering, almost oily-looking oxidized chain.

photo 5

Not an enormously productive venture, but a good day. I plan to spend some more time playing in the sparkle fields. Possibly with actual sparkle next time.