Project Wedding Review

Damselfly Studio Review

See more reviews of Damselfly Studio on Project Wedding.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

As Time Goes By

Where has the year gone? It has been almost a year since my last post. A lot has happened since then! Lets see...

Last May, after 14 months of unemployment, my husband started working in Bessemer, Alabama as a foundry engineer. This was a difficult transition for us. I went to visit in August, and then again in November for our 24th wedding anniversary. We did something extra special. We drove to Destin, Florida to the Henderson Park Inn for a lovely weekend getaway. We had a beautiful room overlooking the water. When we arrived, it was late evening. Paul, having been landlocked for the last six months, just couldn't help himself. "Honey" he said. "I have to go to the beach, now!" Even though there was only a half moon, he went down to the water's edge for a late night walk. And yes, my husband came back with a pocket full of shells that he managed to find on the snow white sands in the dark!

Paul came home at Christmas, and of course, his "girls" were very glad to see him! And he was very glad to see his girls! (And even me!)

Last fall, my sister commissioned me to make her a felted handbag to be inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's iconic Poppy paintings. This was a dream project for me. The bag itself was knitted and fulled. Fulling is felting by way of shrinking in the washer. Remember when you accidentally shrunk your favorite wool sweater when it was put into the laundry hamper by mistake? This is a form a felting! The large poppy flower was made of wool roving, wool fibers before they are spun, felted with a barbed needle over a hat form. The petals were
then wet felted with an electric sander (covered in a plastic bag and well grounded!) for a firmer sculpted texture. The center of the flower had beaded fringe accented with Swarovski Crystals. The back of the bag featured a needle felted poppy garden "wool painting". The bag was lined in red silk with lots of pockets of course!

Another major felting project was a knitting tote that features my favorite flower, the iris.
This was also a knitted and fulled bag in two shades of green, with a garden of needle felted iris. The bag is lined in a purple batik print cotton.

I love knitting shawls. Especially lace. It is fascinating to watch the pattern of lace grow from the needles, transitioning from one row to the next. A friend of mine says that before a shawl is blocked it looks like "dryer lint". Afterword, the full effect of all those rows of pattern emerges into something wonderful!

No, I have not forgotten my brides. This year I have been exploring some new "old" techniques of manipulating ribbon that I read about in a reprint of a 1923 booklet about fashioning ribbon. I designed Roses, Pansies, Violets and Lilies to use in brooch, fascinator/headpiece and other jewelry design. I have enjoyed adding fabric elements into my jewelry design. Ombre Taffeta wired ribbon is a natural for these projects as it allows for natural looking shading with in the flowers.

Last year, I was able to purchase some beautiful French silk tulle. I have been wanting to make silk tulle veils for a long time. Below are the first two of the new Silk line:

So, what's next? More veil designs with ribbon flowers. More silk tulle. New fascinators. Fulled handbags. And knitting. I am always, always knitting.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Changing Seasons

Ah, the Summer is slipping into Fall now. I see the kids walking to school, or gathering for the bus. Here in Erie, our leaves are starting to already change color and sigh, fall to the ground.

In Northeast, PA (a town, not a direction!) the grapes are ripening on the vine, and will soon be ready for harvest for wine. This is one of my favorite times of year. There is just nothing oh so amazing like fresh off the vine Concord grapes. Their flavor is so intense! And Grape Pie...oh so worth the work. But then, many of the wineries sell the filling already made, all you have to do is add the sugar, cook it, and fill your pie shell! When driving along the lake coast, do so with the windows down so that you can catch the fabulous aroma of the grapes. It's wonderful!

Inspired by the grapevines of Lake Erie vineyards, is my Ambrosia Headband. Tinted Freshwater Pearls, Czech glass leaves, Peridot gem tips, Swarovski Crystals are handwired on an hand dyed silk covered headband with Sterling Silver wire and delicate Japanese seed beads. Color statements are a fabulous way for a Bride to express her indiviuality on her wedding day. Start with a handcrafted, uniquely designed headpiece. Use vibrant colors in your bouquet, wear a colored sash or broach with your wedding gown. Why should your bridesmaids be the only ones having the fun with color?

Another option for fall color is a set of hairpins. Shades of Gold Hairpins is a set of three hairpins composed of Mother of Pearl hand carved leaves, Swarovski Crystal, natural peach Freshwater Pearls and Citrine gemstone handwired with 12kt Gold Fill wire. The Swarovoski Crystal colors are in the lovely copper family. A broach for your wedding gown can also be custom designed to be worn on the bodice or belt for your gown to match!

Enjoy the changing of the seasons, and the beauty of Fall. Enjoy the Glorious colors that Fall brings to us. Ha ha, remember that as you are raking up those leaves!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everything Up Close Giveaway

I have been reviewed by the blogger Ilissa Huhta of Everything Up Close for her
Wedding Wishes Contest and Giveaway!

To the readers of my blog, one reader will have the opportunity to win a single tiered veil in white or ivory up to 40" in length, and another will win a headpiece identical to the one that was custom designed for the review. (the background of the photograph is blue). To participate, please go to my Etsy shop,
and "heart" your favorite in the shop, then come back to the blog and make a note of it here. THEN...visit the blog Everything Up Close and follow the directions there for entering the contest. There are also opportunities for extra votes too! There are two prizes for this giveaway! One headpiece, and One veil! So you have two chances to win!

I appreciate reader comments on what they like, and suggestions on what they would like to see. I started designing my headpieces and jewelry to give brides more options than what they were seeing in the typical retail market. Brides come to Etsy to see something different, unusual and with the satisfaction of having a beautiful piece of art for their wedding day that is not a typical carbon copy of eveything else that they have seen in every magazine and bridal salon.

My passion for the last 10 years has been "Tomorrow's Heirlooms for Today's Brides. My goal is for every bride that I work with that she have an experience with me, whether it be in my home studio or online that have the best customer service that I can provide from my 25 years of experience, have jewelry, veil, and headpieces that will bring happy memories, and hopefully they are passed on to future generations.

To see more of my work, please visit my online catalog:

2010 Campbell Pottery Lily Festival

I entered my first juried show this summer. The above mentioned 2010 Lily Festival at Campbell Pottery. Every year, Bill Campbell raises acres of day lilies in many varieties and colors. A Lily Festival Art Show is held at the time when the Lilies are in their full glory, showing off their finery that our Gracious Lord has provided for them. How amazing it is to see this field of so many colors...Oranges, Rusts, Burgundy's so dark that they look almost Black, Purple, Lavender, Pinks, Coral, Yellow, Peach...ah, its a beautiful sight!

My entry for the festival of course, was felt. And, a handbag! I combined my two major knitting and felting/fulling loves into one. And even made a necklace style handle. The bag base was knitted with Louet Riverstone Bulky on a size 10.5 needle, single strand, and fulled. It is lined in coral duppioni silk and black wool. Of course, it has a zipper pocket! It is closed with a zipper facing. The bag features a six petal lily of four layers of merino wool roving: Two shades of pink, honey, and apricot. This layered wool was then wet felted into a "prefelt", then shaped into the petals and needlefelted, and wetfelted again. Further shaping of the petals was accomplished by more needlefelting when the lime green wool accent, beading of Swarovski Crystals and Japanese Delica beads were applied. The stamens were wired 12KT GF wire and Swarovski Crystal. The handle was a square weave of Onyx, Czech Glass and Swarovski Crystal.

My sister has placed an order for my next bag! To be inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's Poppies!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

From My Fiber Garden

I have spent the last few weeks more playing in my fiber garden, exploring the world of needle felting, or "dry felting". This is a felting technique where the wool roving is poked with a barbed needle, which tangles and matts the fibers into a solid form. Its a fascinating process to work with. It starts with drawing out the wool roving into thin layers, then blending colors together to gain the color effect that you the fiber artist want...then start maddly poking with a fine sharp pointy needle to shape the fibers into a recognizable form! Well, not quite that simple, but that is the process in a few words! Next I will try "Wet felting" which is making traditional true felt. This is the process of laying out the fiber in thin sheets, applying pressure, water and soap, which in the end will turn the sodden mass into cloth. From there, the cloth can be molded into many forms.

What I find perhaps the most wonderful about the needle felting process is the ability to paint with wool. After the basic forms of my flower petals have been made from several shades of layered wool roving, I then add the top colors, or highlight colors seen at the throat or tips of the flower petals. Its a wonderful and fascinating process. For my first examples, I used pictures of Asian Lilies that took in July 2007 at Campbell Pottery, Cambridge Springs,PA. Bill Campbell raises acres of lilies every summer for the enjoyment of his customers. The lilies have beautiful, simple shapes, with lovely layers of colors to enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flowers that Bloom in the Spring...

Spring arrives slowly, and sometimes rather reluctantly in Erie. Last weekend, we had a beautiful spell of warm weather with temps that reached almost 80 degrees! This past weekend? Yup, its Erie. Snow flurries and sleet. A miserable 37 degrees was what the thermometer on my Jeep was reading as I was huddling into my heated seat on my way to an animal rescue farm to watch alpacas being shorn. What, you say? Alpaca shearing? How does this relate to bridal flowers? Not a darn thing. It was what I was doing this weekend with my knitting friends. Tromping around a barn, taking pictures of alpacas, avoiding stepping in unidentifiable poop, and watching the gorgeous fleece come off these charming animals. And dreaming what it must be like to spin and knit this fabulous fiber.

Back to the subject at hand. There is a new fascinator in the Etsy Shop. It has a unique feature, a Floral Coin Pearl Broach that can be removed from the center of the flower and worn after the wedding! I love making items that have a "double life". The fascinator also has a detachable French Net face veil. The headpiece can be worn on either side of one's face, or on top of the head. Cocque feathers give it a bit of charming whimsy, don't you think?

My latest adventure with flowers has been with my passion for wool and knitting. I have been interested in felting for years, thanks to my Minnesota friend, Avis, who introduced me to the idea that you can shrink knitted wool on purpose. I have been delving into books about knitting and felting flowers. Felting is an ancient craft, going back to Asia and Eastern Europe. Most likely shepherds picked up bits of stray wool left by their sheep and tucked them inside their moccasins and boots. When the wool matted down from the pressure of their feet, and moisture from becoming wet, it became wool. Of course, their feet would have stayed warmer because of the wool fibers in their footwear! Wool can be felted or "fulled" with water and soap over a mesh screen, or dry by poking it over and over with barbed needles. The barbed needles tangle the fibers together, forming a matted mess that one continually shapes as you harden with the continued poking. The goal of course is to poke the fibers with the sharp barbed needles, and not ones fingers!

The techniques are all fascinating, and after a lot of practice, the goal is to be able to just about "paint" with the many colors that wool roving is available in. Its amazing, and for a fiberholic such as I, it is addicting. So here we go with yet another fiber hobby. Then, there is knitted felt, as mentioned earlier, where a garment or item is knitted about 40% larger than what you want, then washed in the washer. The soapy water, combined with the agitation shrinks the wool in this "fulling" process. The fabric is very dense and durable. It makes great handbags! And afterwards, needle felting can be done on the surface to add decoration.

I have a large felted tote bag project in process at the moment. The tote bag is made and "fulled". I am now in the process of creating the flowers. I am not sure of what the final arrangement will be, as I am still so new in the designing of felted flowers, both in knitting and needle felting. I am also needle felting over some of my knitted fulled flowers to add more definition and detail to them. I will be adding more pictures soon as the project progresses!

This is my kind of gardening! Fiber style!

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Adventures and Ventures

I have decided to delve more into the retro world of the 1950's influenced "Facinator" headpiece style. I dipped my toes into those waters a bit last year with "Moonlight Serenade" (see last January's BridalDreamTeam winning Challenge headpiece) and another I called Camellia.

Both Moonlight and Camellia featured Ostrich feathers, hand wired sterling silver, freshwater pearls and Swarovski Crystal sprigs, and knitted sterling silver wire leaves. They were my first venture into the wonderfully messy world of playing with feathers. Chasing feathers around the house is an interesting experience. I was finding bits of ostrich everywhereOstrich sticks to everything by its little feather barbs, and of course static electricity. A year later, and I am still cleaning up last years feather remainders! I decided that when I would start playing with them again, the feathers were going to stay out of the sewing room as much as possible. And also, while working with feathers, I am not going to wear polar fleece.

So, a few weeks ago, I spent several days on the computer hunting down new supplier sources for millinery flowers, Russian/French veiling, Ribbons and more feathers. And then in the following days, the packages began to arrive. Oooooh! What fun! New products will be arriving into my Etsy shop in the coming weeks. The flowers are stunning. These are not A. C. Moore, Michael's Crafts or Hobby Lobby flowers, but true Millinery flowers. I am also going to delve into the world of making my own handmade silk flowers for the types of blooms that I cannot find.


Also coming will be new bridal veils with new edgings. I am experimenting with some new styles and new edges. I will be adding a 1/4" double faced ribbon edge. I found the most wonderful ribbon a few weeks ago that will drape beautifully on a veil. The ribbon is available in White, Ivory and Diamond White/Silk White. I am going to experiment with a 3/4 inch in the near future to see if it will work on a curved edge. I am also considering a satin bound edge for special order veils. It is a very elegant veil. All of this inspiration to experiment has come from two very lovely brides that I have been working with from Project Wedding. These wonderful young ladies have given me the shot of enthusiasm that I really needed to get back to business after the passing of my mother last year. And somehow, returning to millinery just seems right, since she was a milliner.
Another new adventure has been in the world of knitting! I belong to a group of knitters called the "Presque Isle Stick Ladies". We meet at the Presque Isle Gallery Coffee Shop in Erie every Tuesday night to knit, crochet and what ever fiber. I was asked to teach a class on how to make a knitted and felted handbag. To wind the clock back about 6 years or so, I need to introduce everyone to Avis. Avis was my best friend during our year in Minnesota. She is an avid knitter, and had a stash that was beyond SABLE. (stash accumulated beyond life expectancy). Avis is also a designer, and was in on the felting craze before it was popular. I had never heard of it before I met Avis. I wasn't even knitting when I met Avis. I had left my knitting behind me years long before I met Avis. Then Avis sent me a prayer shawl just before I had surgery, and that reawakened my need to be with one with the fiber gods again. When we moved to Erie in 2005, I started haunting the local yarn shop, Cultured Purl, as a way to meet people. And then, I discovered felting too, and got hooked, along with other knitting projects.
When I started "re-knitting", I had said I would never knit on a needle smaller than a size 9 which is medium size needle. I have now learned to never say never. I had thought that with some of my brain difficulties I would have problems with the more complex patterns in knitting and the smaller needles. Knitting had something else in mind. And it seemed that the more I knitted, the more my brain retrained itself. Knitting is really an amazing craft. Its rhythms and patterns are soothing and mediative. Relaxing. Soothing to the soul. The regular repeats of a pattern do seem to re-order, "defrag" one's harddrive so to speak. So, with in a few years, I started knitting more than just basic prayershawls and basic purses. I knit a coat. A vest. I ventured to a beret that challenged me to use double point needles in a size 5. Then mittens. And when I was doing the cuff of the mittens I realized, hmmm, if I can do this cuff, why couldn't I knit a sock? So I bought a book on knitting socks visually (Ann Budd's I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks)and now my husband has been blessed with handmade socks to wear in the winter.

Anyway. Back to the Tuesday night group. Our leader, Shelley, asked me to teach a class on knitting a felted handbag. so, I designed a pattern for a Messenger Style Handbag. This is my first real pattern endeavor as a knitter. This pattern has pictures for those that like to learn visually, like me. I am excited about teaching my first class. I have six students starting in March, and another six waiting for a class in mid April! Since I will be knitting along with the class, the messenger bags that I am knitting will go up for sale in my Etsy shop. I don't need that many more handbags! At least of the same style. I have other ideas to pursue!