Monday, February 27, 2012

Chinese Double Coin Knot - Hair Comb Tutorial

    I have been enjoying all the very cool textile jewelry that I have been seeing all over the internet lately.  I especially like the use of knots in jewelry and home decor.  I filmed a brief television segment on
My hair model "Ariel" and a few of some of the projects for the show.

A view of the pony tail knotting project.

various chinese knots and I thought I would share with you one of the knots that I
demonstrated for the viewers.
    Below are the instructions of how I made the "Chinese Double Knot" hair comb using the same knot like the one below.

Note:  My directions and method of doing the knot may or may not make sense to you.  However,  there are many ways to do chinese knotting.  I highly recommend getting a book on the various knots and their meanings.  Additionally, you can always go on YouTube.  I find it is a fun resource for learning many new techniques.   You can also find celtic knots that are very similar to the chinese knots in appearance but not meaning.  
   The chinese double knot represents "good fortune and abundance".  Making jewelry or hair
accessories with the chinese double knot is a nice handmade gift with a sweet sentiment attached to it.

Materials Used:
1 yard of cording in two contrasting colors
2 beads with large holes
hair comb
Modge Podge

Tools Needed:
Cork Mat
Pins or Tacks to hold the cording in place
soft paint brush
measuring tape

Here is how I made the knot:

Step 1
Prepare the cord ends by brushing them with a little modge podge.  Place aside and allow it to dry.  This seals the ends and keeps them from fraying.

Step 2
Once they are dry, take the two cord and pin the to the board.  You do not need to use the board, I just find it helpful in getting the tension just right.

Anyways, anchor the one end of the cord at point "A" and form a loop with the coord and pin down (like you see below), from this point you will be working with the loose end known as cord "B".  Use pins, as needed,  to hold the shape.

Step 3
Form a second loop by looping cord "B" as illustrated below.  Make sure the "B" end loops under "A".
Step 4
Form a third loop by taking cord "B" down through the two loops as illustrated below (Watch the over and under weave...this is key to get the knot correct). It will kind of look like a pretzel.

Step 5.  Once you have completed the knot pattern by weaving the cord down through the two loops as shown above, you will remove the pins so that you can tighten the knot.  I found that tightening the cord slowly keeps the knot from losing the tension necessary to maintain the right shape.  Below is what it supposed to look like.

Once you master the basic knot, you can weave it with more than one cord and have fun combining colors and beads.  I made the one below with two different colored cords and attached it to the hair comb.

Here is are some close up views of other things I made using the same knotting technique.

  • The final size of your knot completely depends on the size of the cord you use.  For the hair comb I chose a cord that was 1/8".   
  • If you are planning on making earrings to match, then I would choose a very thin cord in a similar color. 
  • You should also take into consideration the texture of the cord you pick as that will also affect the final piece.
  • Again, you can not beat YouTube as a great source to see how different people make these knots.  Each person has their own technique and I am sure you can find someone whose technique works for you.

As always, the opinions expressed on this blog are mine.  Additionally, always use care when working with art and craft supplies, especially if you have children and pets around.  All photos are copyrighted.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A peek at the Glitterfest gift show held in Santa Ana, California

As spring is approaching, one of the fun upcoming events is the "Spring Glitterfest 2012" show.  This is

an opportunity to embrace the creativity of the spring holidays, enjoy unique handmade items, and/or collect vintage collectibles.   The "Glitterfest" shows are created by Sheryl Simpson and

Dianne White.  Here is a peek at what I found at this year's Fall Glitterfest which was held on October 15, 2011, at the Elks Lodge in Santa Ana, California.  My friends and I arrived early to be able to catch all the fun and excitement of the event.

So we followed the excellent signage and joined the line of excited attendees who were kind enough to share their excitement with us.  They told us a little about the various artists that they were going to see.  Below is a peek at some of the wonderful work these artists had on display (and for sale).
IAbove is "In My Blue Room" and below is work by "Dennis Haynes". 

I also stopped to see the fun characters created by Jenny Hernandez (The Polka Dot Pixie).
Jenny also teaches sculpting classes at different locations throughout the year.  You can also so see more pictures of her whimsical characters on the Polka Dot Pixie flicker site.
The outside area of the show had some amazing booths that included the "Blossom Vintage Chic" booth, where I got to meet Debbie Watts.
I had a fun time talking to her and seeing her great selection of vintage and antique merchandise.  I also
spent some time talking to Linda Fitt and Sandi Woods of Eurotrash.Co.  They had some fun mini kits

for jewelry making and for tabletop decor, as well as a great selection of vintage inspired jewelry.
I was excited to find out that Michele Legler (Mosaic Cottage)  had a table at this show.  I love her

mosaic work and I was excited to see what merchandise she had to sell. She makes these very cool
mosaic cupcake pieces  and mosaic cakes that I just adore.

Another fun booth was "Beyond the Poison Apple" with fun selection of holiday merchandise made by

Rose Polanco.  I especially enjoyed her cute Halloween inspired tree ornaments and potion bottles.
Of course it would not be glitterfest if there was not at least one vendor actually selling an amazing selection of German glitter.  The Myer Imports German Glass Glitter Staff was so very helpful in
explaining the difference between the glass glitters and some of the cool fun things I could do with them.
They have a blog where they post ideas, links, and more on glitter related topics. I purchased some cool silver glitter, that tarnishes over time, to use on my crafty projects.

Additionally, each person who attended could enter their names in a drawing to win one of the many
Fun earrings by Sandy Moreno

Trinket Pin by Susan M. Walls

lovely prizes shown below (this is only a sample of the prizes).

A close up of the cool fairy piece.

The spring show is scheduled for March 10, 2012 and will be held at the Elks Lodge in Santa Ana, California.  The admission is $7.00 at the door and the parking is free.  You can park at the store in Tustin and take the shuttle or park at the Elks Lodge. I recommend the shuttle service because then you can visit the vintage "Whimzy" store and have a lovely lunch in the downtown Tustin area.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Volunteering to decorate the Tournament of Roses Parade Floats Decorating Process.

   This is a behind the scenes peek into the decorating process for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade floats.  
   Volunteering my skills to decorate the Roses Parade Floats, has truly been one of my favorite family holiday traditions.  

Traditionally, the decorating of floats is done in the week that follows Christmas.  This is a short 

time period that challenges float building companies to finish a lot of work in a very short time span.  This is only accomplished by the commitment and hard work of hundreds of volunteer float decorators who apply their skills to create the wonderful floats you see during the Rose Parade.  If you are interested in contributing to this amazing process, you can find out volunteer information through the Rose Parade website link and/or through the Petal Pushers organization.  The Petal Pushers
Petal Pushers volunteers decorating floats
is a Lutheran organization that provides hundreds of volunteers to help decorate the Tournament of Roses Parade floats each year.
2012 Lions Club Intl Tournament Rose Parade Float 
So how does the float get from the plastic coated metal base to a finished float like the 2012 Lions Club Intl Tournament Rose Parade above?  Well it is accomplished through a very well organized system that is powered by both float personnel and volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life.

The work floor may look a bit chaotic but it is actually a very organized process.  There are flowers, floral supplies, scaffolding, miscellaneous equipment, and people everywhere all working in a unique harmony to create some

of the most breath taking pieces of floral art.  It is hard to appreciate their true beauty just by seeing them on the television.     They make a very different impact on viewers when seen in person.   Every visible area of the float is covered in either flowers, seeds, spices, herbs and other organic materials.  Below are two sample posters of the various organic materials that are used on the floats.

These are all hand applied by the decorators and volunteers.  In picture below, these materials were applied to create the drawing.

This process is similar to those old fashioned sand painting sets that one can find at the craft supply store.  A good example of how to do this process is the use of dried split peas.

They are individually hand applied to the base form,

using adhesive, to create dimension on the float.
As you can see in this dinosaurs face.

We also used Brussels sprouts that were split in half and glued onto the form to create scales.

Every flower that comes goes through a process.  Then the volunteers begin the  processes of gluing wooden sticks to the stem of each bud.

Once the adhesive is dry, each carnation bloom is then carefully hand fluffed by the volunteers

and then put onto Styrofoam base to be lined up by color and type of flower.  Delicate flower and roses are kept fresh by being placed in individual water filled vials.

Then they are labeled to be placed onto the float in accordance with artist diagram directions.

Once they are labeled, the flowers are lined up next to the float they are going to be placed on.  This

allows the volunteers to begin the process of placing the flowers onto the floats, one by one.  So you can literally watch the float going from this:

to this in just a matter of a few days.  The large flower pieces are removed and placed back onto the float once the lower area is prepared.

Once again, every part of the float is covered by flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, and other natural materials.  The organic materials used to cover the float signage can vary from seed, spices, crushed flowers, and fresh flower petals.  
White carnation petals for covering the City of Glendale 2012 Rose Parade Sign
Pink Carnation Petals for covering giant flower forms

The Carnation Petals after being adhered to the floral form
This is a view of how the decorated floral form looks once it has been loaded onto the float.

The flower petals are adhered to the surface by a process of using individual flower petals 

which are glued onto it one-by-one by the volunteers.

The delicate petals must be glued with care to not damage the petal. Below are Iris petals which are being used to create a faux stitched effect.

This is slow and sticky process. The glue has to be strong enough to hold the petals onto the signage throughout the parade route without damaging the petals (so they look good for the parade).   

We usually end up with glue all over our hands and clothing, most of the seasoned volunteers will advise new volunteers to wear their oldest clothing (since it will probably get trashed during the float decorating process).  Additionally, we glue seeds, dried orange slices, and other natural materials to various surfaces 

and signage.  In the photo below, you can see a decorator working on the "City of LA" plaque using these types of materials.
You can see how tiny the natural materials used in the process can be.  Each seed has to be attached with the adhesive.
More examples of various materials used.

The miniature building in the photo below, is composed of seeds, beans, flowers and other natural materials.

Here is a look at some of the different floats and the cool features you may not get to see when you watch the parade on television.
2012 Odd Fellows & Rebekahs Rose Parade Float

On the Odd Fellows & Rebekahs float they had a memorial garden.
2012 Odd Fellows & Rebekahs Rose Parade Float Memorial Garden

The 2012 HGTV Dream Home Tournament Of Roses Float had some cute details.

The Stag was decorated in grasses and other organic materials which gave it the fur effect.

The 2012 City of Los Angeles Tournament of Roses Parade float had all kinds of cool details besides the dinosaurs.

The Shriners Hospital for kids 2012 Rose Parade float was such a fun float.

The Farmers Insurance Group also had some amazing details on their float.

Seeing these amazing works of art emerge from their beginning stages to end product is an amazing experience. Volunteering to decorate these floats can be fun. Time just seems to just fly by as you watch the floats change with each new floral addition.  You get to meet new friends and learn new skills.   If you live in or are visiting California,  I highly recommend checking out the Rose Parade Float display which sets up at the end of the parade route on January 2.  It is worth the traffic and parking challenges to see these floats in person.