Random Saturday - Koko

A few days ago someone mentioned Koko, the signing gorilla, which brought back some memories. I forgot which year exactly it was, but it must have been in the late 80s because my ex and I were still living in our first flat then.
Although I liked our street with its beautiful trees and our flat, I always kept feeling a little homesick for my hometown and my family during those years, especially at the beginning. My little brother visited us for the weekend every, now and then, we took him to the zoo, we played mini golf, or we went into town window shopping.

It was one of those occasions that I saw Koko in the toy department of one of the big shops, well, not herself of course, but a plush version. I don't even remember if I knew Koko's story back then before reading the description on the tag, I just fell in love with that stuffed gorilla. It was expensive, though, and thinking of our finances I did the responsible thing and put her back (it must have been before the Steiffs made us collectors). After all this was just a toy, even if she fit on my hip so perfectly.
I sighed a lot that weekend because I really wanted this gorilla badly. Finally my ex told me that we didn't always have to be grown up (boy, was that a preview on later years) and that I should go there after work on Monday and just get her already.
So that's what I did. I went there ... and she was gone. I even asked about her and was told there had been only one.
That was a sign, right? It wasn't meant to be. And still I wasn't happy about it. You have to remember that we didn't have internet yet. I didn't even know what brand it was (Dakin 1986, it must have taken a while to come to Germany because it was definitely some years later than that).

Fast forward to at least some months later. It is early Saturday afternoon in my hometown, and the stores are starting to close down for the weekend when my friend and I are walking by the toy store. Just this moment the owner is stepping into the window to put a gorilla there. Koko! I tell my friend I have to go in there. Now! The owner comes to greet me, and before he can even ask, I tell him I want that gorilla. "Oh", he says. "How funny. I just put it in the window." "I know", I say. "I saw you. There's one problem, though. I don't have enough money on me at the moment. (Paying with your card was not that common yet.) I'll run to the bank and be right back." He's obviously amused by my determination and he's even more amused ten minutes later when I come back just in time before the store is closing, put my money on the counter, refuse a bag and walk out with Koko sitting on my hip.
Can you believe that several people thought I was carrying a real little ape? o.O

Koko is still sitting on top of a book cabinet and makes me smile when I look at her although it has been almost 30 year.
For the picture, however, she came down from her cabinet ;-)


Oldies but Goodies - Egyptian

"The archaeological surveys and discoveries that accompanied Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, and the battles between France and Britain that took place there, aroused great public interest. Ancient Egyptian art and architecture provided designers with a whole new range of motifs, such as winged sun-discs, hawks and crocodiles." (From the Style Guide: Regency Classicism of the wonderful Victoria and Albert Museum in London)

Egyptian art does still fascinate us today. I admit there was a time I thought my head was going to explode if there was one more documentary about ancient Egypt on TV although I love watching documentaries. There can be too much of a good thing ;-)

This week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is also about the fascination of ancient Egypt. I hope you will enjoy my little selection.

1 MC Stoneworks
2 Violetmoon's Corner
3 Cat's Wire
4 Jewelry Art by Dawn
5 RioRita


Random Saturday - From a whatever to a mermaid

Two weeks ago I made - something. I couldn't even decide what it was, and when I asked around, I got several opinions on it from dragon lady to bat mermaid.
Although the lady didn't have a fin and I had never thought of making a mermaid - the decision against two separate legs had not been deliberate at the time as this was my first wrapped figure - and although I realized eventually that she had been subconsciously been inspired by the succubus in a computer game, the thought kept following me whenever I looked at her.

So I finally did it. I added a fin. She does look more complete now, doesn't she (see the picture at the end of the post)?
You are free to decide yourself if you see a dragon mermaid, bat mermaid, succubus mermaid or fairy mermaid now ;-)

 As promised, "pre-fin" ...


Oldies but Goodies - Around the garden

Our house doesn't have a real garden. I guess I always think there has to be grass to make a garden a real one. We do have plants, though. Lots of them. They are in pots or in an elevated strip behind the house. It's actually rather nice (as long as I'm not expected to do garden work, you remember I kill flowers by saying hello to them ;-)).

A garden is more than bushes, trees, and flowers, though.
For this Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge there were quite a few entries beside flowers and again I am asking you to have a look at JAC because my selection is very small indeed compared to what you can see if you click through.
What else do you think a garden needs?

1 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 MC Stoneworks
3 RioRita
4 Cat's Wire
5 Violetmoon's Corner


Oldies but Goodies - Boho

Boho - if we found out something in this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge it's that we struggle with the word.
I remember the first time I stumbled upon the expression Boho Chic, it was when I first started browsing Etsy. Even then I wasn't sure what exactly it was supposed to mean. I always thought of some kind of Hippie style, colorful, fringe, flowing, but didn't quite get why it wasn't just called Hippie then.
Boho is an abbreviation of Bohemian which had originally to do with Bohemian travellers from Central Europe and developed into the description of a certain lifestyle rebelling against the rules of society way before there were hippies. Sherlock Holmes for example had a "Bohemian soul", but I doubt he wore bright colors and fringe (yes, I know he's not real, such a pity), Winston Churchill was "pre-First World War Bohemian" (now I bet that's a surprise for you, I know it was for me).
Today's Boho look does use a lot of hippie elements, so we were not completely off.
You are most welcome to tell me your own description because now I'm still pretty much at a loss what exactly to think ;-)

Oh, and of course I brought you some examples from the challenge, too!

1 The Crafty Chimp
2 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 MC Stoneworks
4 RioRita
5 Cat's Wire


Random Saturday - Taming the bronze?

I know I have hardly posted anything but the Oldies but Goodies in months, so it's about time for something else for a change.

Years ago I got my first bronze wire just wanting to try something new. Bronze is an alloy consisting mostly of copper (94% in this case), some tin and other trace metals or non-metals which often give the bronze its name, like phosphor bronze.
I was not happy with it as a wire for crocheting, but somehow I forgot about that and got some when I started wire weaving. So far it hasn't made me much happier than the last time, but today we had a small breakthrough in our relationship.

Lately I have been a little obsessed with balling up wire ends. I blame my friend Dawn. And my pal who sat down with me to show me the burner in person. I used copper, sterling and fine silver, and then I got curious about using my bronze wire.
What a disappointment! Instead of getting little balls the wire curled up at the ends looking like a little mutant snail - or in some cases a badly manufactured golf club. Now I have to admit that I'm not only obsessed with balling up wire, but also with the urge to find out how big I can make those balls without them falling off (I am a champion at dropping little copper and silver balls into my water bowl and cursing). I managed some big ugly mutant snails. For some reason I can't remember where I put those, so I can't take a picture of them. Maybe they went back to their home planet.
What did I do wrong? Was I too slow, did I wait too long, did I just not find the right point in the flame (bronze is melting quicker than pure copper), did I hold the wire wrong, did I maybe not know about the secret chant you need for success? I tore out my hair, blamed the cats and bit my desk, but that didn't bring me any closer to the solution.
I have been known to lose patience easily with some projects, but I kept coming back to the bronze wire. Then I remembered a blog post by Lisa Yang that I had found. She wrote some people had suggested for her to hold the wire parallel to the flame.
The wire melted just as quickly and wanted to curl up, but I lifted it right out of the flame and that way it was easier for me to control the shape. One length of wire after the other got treated that way on both sides.
The ends look differently for each metal. I found a picture on Nancy L. T. Hamilton's blog showing the result for fine, sterling and argentium silver, for copper and for bronze.

Bronze wire loses its shiny look in the flame and tends to look more like copper, after all that's what makes up most of it. I wanted to see what would happen in the tumbler and let the wire have a nice carousel ride for four hours (with some other pieces of jewelry).
I wonder what a longer ride would do to them, but I'm already quite happy with this result as the ends lost their red coppery touch and look like the wire again even if not as shiny.
I'll let you know if/when I try!


Oldies but Goodies - Over the top

First of all let me say that the topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge does not at all mean that in a negative way regarding the following pieces. And for that matter it could even be much more over the top than what I'm showing you today! ;-)

Sometimes you feel something is over the top because you are not used to that style yourself. While I don't think any of us can make jewelry that doesn't appeal to us at all, it doesn't have to be 100% us, either - especially when making custom pieces. Maybe there's a color we wouldn't wear, maybe something is too small or too big for us, too colorful, not colorful enough.

What I like about these challenges is not only meeting old friends (as in pieces of jewelry) that fit more than one challenge, but also the inspiration I get by other artisans' and even my own pieces that I maybe almost forgot about, being reminded that you don't have to be stuck in that one groove, that there is open space in all directions and no limits to creativity other than those you set for yourself.

1 and 9 RioRita
2 and 7 Cat's Wire
3 and 5 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 and 8 MC Stoneworks
6 The Crafty Chimp