Sunday, April 5, 2015

It all started like this...

One day, as I was wasting the usual hour or three on Pinterest, I stumbled upon THIS.

I love chatelaines. Chatelaines were a decorative piece, worn by women, from which lots of household items were hung. They were SUCH a delicate and ladylike way of carrying those things we forever need close at hand. Pencils, paper, scissors...just to name a few. 

This is actually a ladies watch but also classified as a chatelaine. It's home is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Made of gold, platinum and diamonds by Watchmaker Hippolyte Téterger of France, about 1880. The moment I saw this piece I fell HARD.

So hard, in fact, that I actually sat down and altered my zombie apocalypse plan. 

That's right, turns out I'm NOT heading down to the secret rendezvous point in SC to meet up with the rest of my family. I'm headed to the Met. I fully intend to liberate this piece and THEN I'll worry about meeting up with the rest. We all have our priorities. Even during the end of the world. 

Anyway, as I stared at this piece, I felt like there was something really familiar about it. Something that just kept niggling at me, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why.

I'm not sure why inspiration...or general 'crazy'...tends to hit during the wee hours of the morning, but it was around 3am when I woke up suddenly and got out of bed. Down to the craft room to my huge tool box filled with my beloved brass and, after a half hour of digging around, I had it. 

May I present my 'Ode to Téterger'

This pieces measures just under 7 inches tall and 3 inches at the widest part-the bottom Cherubim's outstretched arms.

I'm not sure if having all this brass and broken rhinestone jewelry is necessarily a 'plus', but I CAN say I was THRILLED with the way this turned out! I pieced everything together and used 18k gold spray paint to turn everything the same color gold. The cherubs at the bottom were originally silver and came with 2 arms...I had to amputate the inside ones to make it fit, but hey...they're CHERUBS! Aren't they, like, magic or something? So they can grow another!! Get over it!! 

Next, I took some broken rhinestone chains, a pin and a couple of links from a bracelet to use as the 'blingy' part. The large middle piece was actually this ugly finding/connector I came across that was really cheap and I snagged it ONLY because it was cheap. I just knew I'd never use it. Guess I was wrong, huh?

The rest was brass that I've been accumulating for quite awhile from my 'brass guy'. Who happens to be so ridiculously reasonable that I hate to share him...because what am I going to do when he sells out???? DANG. I hate doing this. But I've been asked so many times about the brass I use, and so in the spirit of sharing-as well as a 'ty' to Michael, my brass guy-I'll share it with you. 


If you're just starting out, buy the auctions where you buy 1/8 or 1/4 and get the same free. That's how I quickly built a collection and kept it inexpensive. Michael is also very generous and especially so to repeat customers. Truly a great guy.

Enough for tonight...there's wine to drink and this thing called 'dinner' my kids keep yelling for. Let me go see what THAT'S all about. Why can't they just eat Easter candy like the REST of the kids? Why this sudden demand for 'nutrition'???? 


UPDATE: To answer my friend and muse Lee Ann's question of what I do with these pieces, most reside with unsuspecting innocents who made the mistake of admiring my work. I figure it's good to remind people of the danger of saying they really like something. So be careful! Don't just admire things liberally, practice reserve...or you, too, could end up with some of my junk on your doorstep. You have been warned. ;)

Saturday, April 4, 2015


In October of 2005, I was pregnant with Minion #3. 

Laid up with morning sickness, and the general misery of my accompanying ailments, I realized that I was running out of time.

I was 38 and STILL smoking. 

Now, before y'all get all 'het' up, let me just say this: smoking, for the most part, wasn't a big deal. Most women smoked during pregnancy to keep their weight down. While all that might have stopped in the late 60's in the REST of the 46 states (GA, TN, NC, SC excluded) it didn't here. So, please allow me to explain a bit of our way of life here in North 'by God' Carolina.

I began smoking at 12. So did most of my friends. Being products of a great tobacco state, this wasn't really considered a problem. In fact, in between our Baptist Church's Sunday School and Worship Service, you'd find all the Church Deacons AND the Pastor out puffing away outside the back door.

Most everyone here grew up pulling tobacco. My mother pulled at her grandparents tobacco farm. I ended up pulling at a family friend's farm. For those of you who have never pulled tobacco, well, let me tell you just a bit about it. 

Take a series of 90 plus degree days, and start each one at 7 am by priming (pulling the bottom leaves) tobacco. My mother had to do it by hand...I was lucky to have a machine do it, but you were constantly running across the back of the machine, scooping up armfuls of leaves and stacking them i the back. STILL no easy job, I tell you. 

You keep working up the stalk-about week intervals, if I remember correctly, and that's week after week of work in the broiling sun. Then you stack the leaves and hang them in the barn (it was an actual barn in mama's mine, it was a large trailer-like apparatus that was a type of kiln that took a week to cure the tobacco) then pile into burlap and haul them to market.. 

These were 10 hour days, with an hour for lunch. I bet I ate thousands of calories each day and STILL lost weight. The best was when they'd take a huge watermelon, refrigerate it, and bring it out at the hottest part of the day to eat. There are no words to describe the cold, the sweet and the sense of relief it brought. Up until that point, you felt like you might die and you were perfectly okay with it. After 15 minutes at the watermelon baptismal (as I still irreverently refer to it) you knew you could make it a few more hours.

While working tobacco, you would find yourself-daily-coated with a thick, tar-like substance. This was nicotine that we absorbed through our skin. Thus, for those of us who DID smoke while pulling tobacco, we were never worried about running out of smokes. We'd just stand around and lick each others arms. 

Sorry...back to 2005.

My point with all of this is to show how smoking was a part of our culture. Drinking? Oh HADES'd best be careful to never let the demon alcohol taint your lips...but you can puff on that smoke all day long. 

I'd been told by several doctors that smokers who quit by 40 stood a good chance of having their lungs revert to the same as a non-smoker's. So, at 38 and pregnant, I bid a sad good-bye to my sidekicks Winston and Marlboro Lights 100's (whichever was on sale, that week) and chewed so much Nicorette gum that I was blowing bubbles with it. 

To date, I never smoked another. 

Today, I'm one of those HORRIBLE people who choke up at the smell and can't stand to be around it. I don't know what happened...I swear it's like I can't breathe if I'm around smoke. Not that this makes me not crave a smoke now and then...I absolutely do. Not often, but there are times when I know that a smoke will bring about a calm I've been missing these past 9 plus years. Like during the construction of this miniature bed. I'm telling you, THIS was one of the most challenging things-for ME-that I've ever tried. 

I want to thank Kris, who is a miniaturist of epic proportions. Her site is here-
She was also kind enough to answer my questions, as well as share her tutorials-gratis-for people who want to learn. Thank you, Kris. 

This was a bit of a struggle at times, my headboard is canted, my legs and dowels aren't even and their tops are different lengths, there's a wrinkle in the 'wood' of the foot board, but I look at this and think: "Wow. I can't believe I made this."

And I have to tell you, folks. THAT is better than any smoke I ever had. ;)

The 'diamonds' on the foot board and the layers of 'wood' embellishment are all different sizes of layered cardstock. This is made with cardstock, matboard and posterboard. I used 2 brass pieces from my stash, but Kris used a punch and layered her shapes and it's fantastic!!!! PLEASE go to her site...just to look at it!

Measurements: 6-3/4 x 4 x 4 (at highest and widest points)

I don't sew. Period. There is a little bit of needlework involved in making the button indents on the mattress. Suffice it to say that it took me only 2 tries to get it looking as right as I was ever going to make it. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. :)

Once again, thanks to Kris at 1 inch minis by Kris