Thursday, March 27, 2014

Applique Beaded Leather Bag


A couple of weeks ago I attended a class at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum in Onamia Minnesota. The class was titled “Applique Beading.” Applique beading is similar to needle point except rather than using colored threads one uses beads of various colors and the stitching is done on leather instead of fabric. The method I learned is the single needle technique. There is also a two needle technique.

I chose to make a small leather bag. I only had a few choices for the beaded design. I chose the round medallion as it seemed to be the simplest of the choices. My finished product is shown in the photo. It is not perfect. There are some flaws but I am OK with the results. In some ways the task was easier than I thought it would be and in some ways it was more difficult. It was easier to push the needle through the thick leather than I thought it would be. I used a #10 Glover’s needle and modified leather thimbles on my thumb and middle finger. But laying the beads right where they need to be was somewhat more challenging than I was expecting. Clearly I will need a lot more practice.

This bag is not for sale but I have added a couple of new items to my Artfire store, Sirocco’s Trading Post. I invite you to stop in and take a look around.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

African Maasai Bead Necklace


Last summer during my travels I came across a bead store that was closing its doors and going out of business. They had a sign in their window announcing 50% off everything so naturally I had to stop in. Inside I discovered a big basket of old African Maasai beads. Each bead was about the size of a grape and came in colors of red, orange, yellow, and purple. The heaping basket looked much like a bowl fruit salad. Old large Maasai beads are somewhat rare and usually quite expensive. These had an attractive price so I snatched up a couple handfuls.

The Maasai people are a nomadic tribe in the Kenyon region of African and are well known for their colorful beadwork. The Maasai rarely put similar colored beads next to each other. A darker will always follow a lighter color. The result is very distinctive and colorful beadwork.

Following their technique I strung together this colorful necklace. I added some sterling bead caps and added some sterling side bars to give the necklace a bit more pizzazz. Clearly this necklace is not a Native American design but I enjoy working with all sorts of African trade beads. You can find this necklace along with other interesting adornments at the Sirocco’s Trading Post on Etsy.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Organize and Store Your Beads


Over the years I have accumulated a rather large assortment of beads. I have gemstones, shell beads, beads of glass, along with metal beads. I have beads made from bone, horn, coral, and just about any other material one can think of. In addition I have cabochons, various sizes of seed beads, and Swarovski crystals. In other words I have a lot of beads. I store most of my beads in Plano 9X14 inch fishing tackle boxes. I had number of those Plano boxes leftover from my fishing tackle assortment so that is why I started using them. At first that worked quite well but as I accumulated more and more beads and purchased ever more boxes, the boxes became cumbersome. The problem is I ended up with stacks and stacks of boxes. I’d have to un-stack the boxes and sift through them trying to find what I wanted.

Then a solution presented itself! One day while poking around at a surplus store I discovered an open faced document filing cabinet used for filing 8.5X11 inch documents. The openings were just wide enough to accommodate my 9 inch wide boxes. I couldn’t resist. I bought it. Now, as you can see from the photo, I have all my bead boxes labeled and each one neatly stored away in one of the filing cabinet cubby holes. It works quite well. Now, if you will just stop by my Sirocco’s Trading Post store, you can see what I make with all those beads.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fire King Milk Glass


Milk glass is a type of white opaque glass that originated in the late 1500s in Venice. It can be made into dinnerware, vases, bottles and a variety of adornments. In the 1920s it was associated with prosperity and wealthy American culture. Some of the highest quality milk glass was produced during that time period. But during the depression era the glass was considered to be of lesser quality. Various forms of the glass are still produced today and milk glass items have become a very sought after collectible item. According to Kovels, “milk glass” was a most searched search term in 2013.

Modern milk glass is somewhat different than the old glass. One such milk glass was produced by Anchor Hocking in the 1940s.They produced a low expansion borosilicate glass perfect for use in the oven. It was named “Fire King.” It is a bit more translucent and less opaque. Fire King is also a very collectible product. Besides Anchor Hocking some popular manufactures of milk glass are Fenton, Imperial, and Indiana. There are several others.

I have several pieces of Fire King and other milk glass for sale in my ecrater curios store, Sirocco’s Curios. It is always fun to stop in a take a look around.