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  • Porcupine Quill Earring Class

    May 24th, 2008 Susan | Posted in Events, News, Porcupine Quillwork | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

    Amethyst Single Class

    You have a chance to learn how to make these porcupine quill earrings.

    Out of Our Hands will be sponsoring my Porcupine Quill Earring Class on Sunday, June 1 from noon to 2 p.m. The class costs $40 and all supplies are included. You’ll come away from the class with a pair of earrings made with porcupine quills, silver or gold-plated earwires and semi-precious stone chips. Amethyst chips are featured above, but you can also choose from peridot (green), citirine (yellow) or aquamarine (blue).

    Classes like this give artists and customers a chance to meet and chat. I get a greater understanding of how the rest of world sees my pieces. The results are sometimes very surprising. Customers get a glimpse of the creative process and working with the materials, giving them a greater appreciation for handmade items.

    So come join the fun. Space is limited, so sign up soon with Out of Our Hands, Emmaus, PA, by contacting OOOH@ptd.net or 610-965-4806.

    CCButton
    In other news, my Vanilla blog post is featured on The Crafty Crow today. This fun site is tagged “a children’s craft collective.” Created by Cassi of Bella Dia as a way to wrangle interesting kids crafts from all over the Internet, it’s a great resource if you’re stumped on how to keep the wee ones busy today.

    Making vanilla gets kids involved in cooking at the very beginning of the process and helps them see that all ingredients come from somewhere, not just the store.

    The vanilla beans went into the bottleBottled Vanilla beans almost 6 weeks ago. Today the liquid is the color of strong tea, a beautiful golden brown, but it still has a mightty vodka bite, so it needs a little more time. Visuals on that to come, as my husband just walked out the door with the camera.

    Check out Crafty Crow’s other posts for the day, too, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

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    Shop Update

    May 17th, 2008 Susan | Posted in Horse Hair, Porcupine Quillwork, Shop | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

    Black Horse Hair and Garnet Earrings

    I’ve added some new items to my Etsy shop and not just any items, but my two favorite pieces I have in stock right now.

    First up are these horse hair earrings above. I love the earrings. The hammered bead cone on top of the horse hair and garnet just makes these look so classy. Hopefully I can get some more of these bead cones and add them to most of my horse hair earrings.

    Black HH with HornOften I use a variety of bead to finish off the earrings, which give the earrings a rustic feel, like those at right. But these shiny hammer sterling tops really kick it up a notch, as Emeril would say, and give it the flash and sophistication needed for a more classic style.

    The other reason I love these: the photo actually captures the color of the garnet drops. I really need to invest in an SLR camera and macro lens. Not in the budget today, so I need to figure out the intricacies of my current camera, and I’m not exactly an ace. I snap lots of photos and hope for the best. The stars aligned, or maybe the lighting was just right, when I took that picture.

    Next up is this pair of quilled earrings.

    Quilled TearDrop Earrings

    I love these because they are my second “break out” piece (I’ll be posting my first break out piece later this week). By break out piece I mean I finally made the craft my own and did my own thing.

    Porcupine quillwork is a very old art and much of what is know about it was collected by a Smithsonian scientist in the early 1900s.By the time he talked with quillworkers who’d learned their craft from generations of other quillworkers this technique was falling out of favor among most Native American Indians. There isn’t much information on quillwork, and it makes you wonder how much of craft was lost along the way.

    I’m not of Native American descent (at least not that I know of) and had no one to teach me the techniques, so for years I’ve been teaching myself porcupine quillwork by reading books, looking a museum pieces and using classic trial and error. The designs and techniques I’ve done up until recently have been literally by the book, or the way people interpreted the creation of quillwork, so I could learn the techniques. With these earrings I decided to do a different shape with the quills and the leather. An artist was born.

    This was reinforced yesterday while listening to a CraftCast podcast interviewing Thomas Mann. Imitation is how we learn, he said, and once you move beyond the imitation you can become your own artist. Mann goes on to explain how imitation as learning manifests itself at craft show where in a certain time period all the work looks similar. (An interesting note for you locals: Thomas Mann embarked on his art-laden path at 8 years old when he began attending the Baum School of Art in Allentown.) The podcast is worth a listen, as are most of Alison Lee’s CraftCast podcasts.

    I’ll keep you updated as I add more pieces to my shop in the next few days.

    In the meantime, I took a little fieldtrip into my beadbox to make a few gifts for Mother’s Day and birthdays. Here are the results:

    Hematite and Porcelain Necklace

    Hematite and porcelain bead necklace with…

    Porcelain Earrings

    …matching earrings.

    Bead and Pearl Earrings

    A pair of bead and pearl earrings.

    Red Porcelain and Suede Earrings Polka Dot Cylinders

    My friend picked out the red porcelain beads and pink cylinders with black polka dots and I made them into earrings for her. Hope she likes them.

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    Corn Festing

    May 6th, 2008 Susan | Posted in Events, News, Porcupine Quillwork | | 1 Comment »

    What a great way to celebrate spring that with a festival! I spent the weekend at the Museum of Indian Culture’s Spring Corn Festival. Some highlights:

    Lots of dancing by native peoples in regalia. Head Dancer Robert SilentThunder performs a special dance in honor of the Museum of Indian Culture.

    Native Dancer 2

    The turtle I worked on the last few weeks found a happy, new home.Turtle in Hair

    Two of the teaching tipis.

    Tipis

    My little pink with her uncle, learning to throw the atlatl, an ancient hunting weapon.

    Atlatl

    Yes that’s me wearing gloves while demonstrating quillwork at my booth. Saturday was overcast and the breeze blowing off the Lehigh River was c-c-c-cold. Sunday was sunny and gorgeous.

    Sue at the Indian Fest

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    New Inspirations

    April 29th, 2008 Susan | Posted in About, Events, Porcupine Quillwork | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

    The turtle has arrived!

    Turtle Done, Phase 1

    He’s a bit flashier than I imagined, with the white around his shell, but that’s okay. This is my first quillwork turtle (that looks like a turtle), so he should be flashy. My projects usually don’t turn out exactly as drawn/imagined because I try to go with the flow. Although I drew a sketch for the turtle, I didn’t outline the design on leather. I usually freehand the whole thing right there as I’m quilling. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t.

    I’d say it worked this time.

    Closeup of Turtle Done Phase 1

    The turtle is done–he looks like he’s going to crawl right off the leather, doesn’t he?– but I still have to whip this into shape with leather tie, leather backing and quilled border. I have a few days left before the Powwow. Pressure is a wonderful thing.

    While quills soak and soften, I pull together other porcupine quill pieces.

    Silver Quill Loop Earrings

    My tradition-style of porcupine quill earrings on the right; on the left are some new ones I envisioned in the middle of a bead store this past weekend. They are more stunning than they appear in the photo.

    Friends and I checked out Beadnik in West Chester, PA (along with a fabulous dinner at Vincents and coffee/gelato/pastries at Sprazzo. We should have gone to Sprazzo first. Life is really too short to save incredible desserts for last).

    I’m sure I’ve seen these silver tubes before since they’re among the many silver beads made by the Karen Hills Tribe in northern Thailand. I love Tribal Hills Silver and order it whenever I have money burning a hole in my pocket. But there in the bead store, these two little tubes spoke to me.

    I have visions like that in bead stores.

    In fact, I often have a take a deep breath and remind myself to focus when I go into a bead store. I get very distracted by, “Wow, I could pair this bead with that bead and have and fantabulous new thing.” Too many dollars later I have more beads to take up space alongside the other fantabulous beads I purchased before. This year, I’m aiming to use all those beads in projects so by year’s end my bead boxes are empty and I’ll have to buy new stuff. Then again, don’t all of us collectors-of-inspirational-bits-n-pieces dream of burning through our stash? If only we had enough hours in the day.

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    The Birth of a Turtle

    April 24th, 2008 Susan | Posted in Events, Porcupine Quillwork | Tags: , | No Comments »

    Turtle Sketches

    It’s time to get back to quillworking. May 3 and 4 the Museum of Indian Culture will host the first of its three annual powwows, the Spring Planting Corn Festival. For the past several years I have demonstrated porcupine quillwork at the powwow. The next week will be dedicated to whipping up last minute things for my booth.

    One of the volunteers last year requested I make a turtle hair tie. Above are the sketches for different ideas. The frist layer of shell is done in porcupine quills dyed yellow using a line technique. Around that I straight stitched quills dyed black.

    Turtle shell 1 TurtleShell2 Turtle 3

    Can you see the turtle emerging? Next I’ll outline the shell and add his legs, head and tail in red and white. Red, white, black and yellow tend to be very traditional colors among several different Native American Indian nations. That’s going to be new colors and different stitch, so I need to sleep on it first.

    My original plan for the turtle didn’t work out. I tried a complicated technique called a multiquill plait, thinking I could use a several dyed quills and end up with a woven round shape.

    MultiQuill Plait1 MultiQuill Plait2 MultiQuill Plait

    It didn’t pan out, but I ended up with this neat flower shape. So I’ll add a stem and some other embellishments and maybe turn it into a pendant.

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