Beaded Treasure Necklace

I admin the Altered Artwear Facebook group. We’ve been kind of inactive this year, but now that summer is over, I hope to generate more group involvement. One of the ways I do that is via informal challenges. The summer challenge was to try a technique in upcycling clothing or accessories that you’ve never tried before.

I have been making costume jewelry off and on for over 40 years. In the ’70s I worked in a mall store, piercing ears and stringing necklace, bracelet, and earring sets. Lately I’ve been missing working with beads.

This was my inspiration for the challenge: a beaded treasure necklace by Mary Ellen Merrigan.

My inspiration for my own treasure necklace

I have lots and lots of inexpensive ethnic costume jewelry. I mean LOTS. I’ve been collecting for years, especially from yard sales, thrift shops, and dollar stores. It’s much cheaper to acquire beads and charms that way. Broken jewelry? No problem when you use the components as materials for your own original creations.

Jewelry that I was willing to take apart for the components

I looked through part of my jewelry hoard and selected some items that I was willing to deconstruct. Some of the pieces were dusty and needed cleaning.

Pieces washed and rinsed

I put the pieces needing cleaning in a bowl of warm water and Dawn dishwashing liquid and swished them around. I rinsed everything and placed on paper towels to dry.

Use a towel to keep beads from rolling

I took the necklaces apart on a towel so that the beads wouldn’t roll around, and also to see them better because my little work table is black.

Use ice cube trays for beads

These ice cube trays came as a pair for 99 cents at the 99 Cents Only store. They are perfect for holding small amounts of beads. As I disassembled everything, I put the pieces in the trays. If I had to buy all that from a bead store, it would cost a fortune.

Starting with the lower strand

I have two beading boards…a one strand and a three strand. I used the Darice three strand board that I’ve had since the ’90s. I started with the bottom strand. Put masking tape or painters tape on the ends to hold your beads in place so they don’t slide off.

Stringing the necklace

I used .024 inch Beadalon bead stringing wire for stringing the beads, which is necessary for heavy beads. I only purchased the stringing wire, end cones, and toggle clasps (from Michaels). I already had the jump rings. Everything else was from the jewelry I took apart.

Three strands

Remaining beads after necklace was finished

As you can see, I still have a lot of materials left over. I also just found another bag of take apart jewelry, so I have a feeling I will be making more than one treasure necklace.

My completed beaded treasure necklace

Beaded treasure necklace detail

I’ve been wanting to create a treasure necklace for a long time, and I’m very pleased with how this one turned out. Entirely made from old earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. It was a lot of fun and not difficult to accomplish. It’s not that heavy, and I’m looking forward to wearing it because it makes me happy!


Summer is Over

I suppose that Labor Day is still officially the end of summer, but nowadays the kids go back to school in August, so that is when it feels like it’s over to me. I started substitute teaching last school year, and I’ve already been called up this month. So here is what I did over the summer….

Metta Prayer Flag, 2017

The theme for the June 1st First Friday show at Stoneworks Studios and Gallery (Ventura, California) was Things That Fly. I created this Metta Prayer Flag, which sold.

In June, I also started crocheting a long dress to wear to the Saturday night banquet at the Crochet Guild of American (CGOA) in Chicago, which I attended during the last week of July. The dress pattern is the Coogee Bay Dress by designer Jenny King.

Beginning of Coogee Bay Dress

The July 7th First Friday Stoneworks show theme was Art With Text. I put text on my art quite often, and I had so much fun making the prayer flag that I made another banner. This is titled Wave That Flag, which is a line from the Grateful Dead song, U.S. Blues. It’s now hanging in my home.

Wave That Flag, 2017

I flew to Chicago from LAX to O’Hare airport on July 26th for the CGOA conference in Itasca, Illinois. I shared a room with my friend Zann at the Westin Chicago Northwest, which hosted the conference. I had a great time visiting with my crochet friends from all over the country and beyond. We received more free stuff this year than at any other conference I’ve attended in over 10 years; I had to ship a big box home and I still received more free yarn that I squished into my small carry-on suitcase. I mean, who can give up free yarn, amirite?

I took an all-day class in freeform crochet on Friday, taught by my friend Margaret Hubert. We started on a freeform crochet clutch bag, and here is what mine looked like at the end of the day:

Beginning of freeform crochet clutch, 2017

Coogee Bay Dress, 2017

I finished crocheting my dress with time to spare. It is made up of 40 squares, and I added crocheted trim on the sleeves and hem. It’s heavy and I’m short, so it did touch the floor a little bit when I wore it to the banquet on Saturday night. Designer Jenny King was there, all the way from Australia, and she took a photo of me in the dress. There were three other women there wearing their versions of the dress, all in solid colors. Mine was the only multicolored one, as it started with my desire to use up some of the jewel tone #10 crochet cotton in my stash. I modeled my freeform shawl California Wildflowers in the fashion show, and it received many compliments, which was nice.

Wearing Coogee Bay Dress at 2017 CGOA banquet in Chicago

My flight back to SoCal didn’t leave until 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, so I got up early and took the hotel shuttle to the local train station, and then took the train into downtown Chicago so I could take in The Art Institute of Chicago, which is world-renowned for its magnificent collection. I got there before they opened at 10:00 a.m. and I didn’t leave until about 3:30 p.m. to walk back to the train station. It was fantastic! I took hundreds of photos, and it was such a delight to see so many famous paintings up close. It felt like seeing old friends.

The Art Institute of Chicago

I arrived home from Chicago on Sunday night, July 30th. I rested for a few days and got ready for the next adventure…hosting visiting grandchildren for a week and numerous activities. I hope to see more of Chicago someday!



No Longer MIA

Sorry to be gone so long. I got caught up in fall vending, and then in December I had to go out of state for a month due to a family emergency medical situation. From January to early May, I had one health setback after another and didn’t feel super creative. I even missed participating in this year’s International Freeform Fiberarts Guild challenge. But I’m on the mend and I’m doing better, so I’m happy about that.

I did manage to make a few new pieces for local shows. January’s First Friday show (1/06/17) at Stoneworks Studio and Gallery was the annual Black & White show. Since I was out of state during December without access to my studio or supplies, I decided on making a simple line embroidered portrait of singer and artist Patti Smith, which I framed once I returned home prior to the entry date.

Horses, hand embroidery, 2017. Portrait of Patti Smith.

Horses, hand embroidery, 2017. Portrait of Patti Smith.

I wasn’t able to enter February’s show due to health issues. March’s First Friday show (3/03/17) theme at Stoneworks was Color It Red. Personally, I was seeing red over the current administration’s attitude toward women’s rights and women’s access to healthcare. I created a small studio quilt mounted on a red plastic hanger. The machine quilting along the border represents barbed wire, in keeping with the imagery of No Trespassing and Private Property.

Seeing Red, studio quilt, 2017

Seeing Red, studio quilt, 2017

April’s First Friday show (4/07/17) theme was Time. Due to ongoing health issues, I entered a piece from last year, which I created for the 2016 annual International Freeform Fiberarts Guild challenge. I called it Springtime in California for the show.

California Wildflowers, 2016

California Wildflowers, 2016

March’s First Friday show (5/05/17) at Stoneworks was the annual portrait show, Face It. I still had very little energy for creating anything very involved and time-consuming. I decided to make a quick, off-the-cuff improvisational portrait quilt. I did it very quickly and intuitively, completing the entire top in six hours. I entered it in the show, forgetting that there would be a People’s Choice Award with a cash prize. Even if I would have remembered, I would not have expected my piece to win compared to the other entries.

Abby Normal, studio quilt, 2017

Abby Normal, studio quilt, 2017

When I arrived at the gallery on Friday night, I saw sheets of paper with stickers on them under each work of art. I had just woken up from a nap and was still half asleep, so it didn’t click with me right away that it was the voting method for the People’s Choice Award. Mine had the most stickers, and I was quite shocked to win the award! I was very pleased nonetheless, and my friend Lucy purchased Abby Normal. It was a very good evening.

I’m back to creating new clothing out of old, and I’m working on new work for the June show. The theme is flying. I have a few ideas.

I promise to update more often. Sometimes life gets in the way of our art.

Getting Caught Up

I came here to post about September art doings, and much to my chagrin, I hadn’t posted since May! I was working as a full-time nanny to my youngest granddaughter until mid-June. I decided to shift my focus to creating wearables for children, so I’ve been working on that while creating art regularly for two local art groups. Let’s get caught up!

No Words (2016)

No Words (2016)

I created No Words, a painted studio quilt, for the July First Friday show at Stoneworks Studios, Word Up! I was influenced by the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting. I then entered it in the Ventura County Arts Council show, Surreal: Depictions of the Barely Believable, which is currently up until October 11, 2016.

No Words in Ventura County Arts Council show, Surreal: Depictions of the Barely Believable

No Words in Ventura County Arts Council show, Surreal: Depictions of the Barely Believable

In July, I entered my freeform crochet shawl California Wildflowers in the Ventura County Arts Council show, 101 Corridor. (The 101 Freeway runs north-south through California.) It won Second Place and a cash award. The show ran July and August, 2016.

California Wildflowers in Ventura County Arts Council show, "101 Corridor"

California Wildflowers in Ventura County Arts Council show, “101 Corridor”

I finished what we fiber artists refer to as “a UFO”, which means “Unfinished Object”. In this case, it was the Medici Coat pattern by “free range knitting” designer Jane Thornley. It had been languishing forlornly in a basket. I like it and it fits, but because I live in southern California I might be able to wear it for a month or two this winter.

Medici coat (2016)

Medici coat (2016)

The theme for the August First Friday Stoneworks show was The Dog Days of Summer. I don’t have a dog. I have three cats. So I thought of my friend Hugh, who lost his beloved dog Polly last year. I asked him if he would like a quilt made in Polly’s likeness, and he said yes, so I took one of his favorite photos of Polly and transformed it into fabric. This was my photo inspiration:


And this is how I interpreted it:

Polly (2016)

Polly (2016)

The Altered Artwear group on Facebook had a Summer Challenge, so I transformed this dress into a tunic.


The September theme for the First Friday show at Stoneworks was Change It Up (mixed media, collage, recycle, found object). I created a collage mask, made with torn up magazine paper on a plaster cloth mask with buttons and green coated wire embellishment. I titled it Sleep Study.

Sleep Study (2016)

Sleep Study (2016)

I often get caught up in creating, and forget to post and share regularly. I will work on that. Hope you enjoyed this post!

Altered Artwear Pinterest Challenge 2016

I’m the admin for the Altered Artwear group on Facebook. I create challenges for the members every few months to, well, keep us challenged. I called for our second annual Pinterest challenge, ending today, May 31. This is what I created!
pinterest challenge pin

This challenge is pretty straightforward: Choose an altered garment or accessory pin from Pinterest and do your own interpretation. I discovered last summer when we had an ongoing heat wave in southern California that I don’t own enough loose, lightweight summer dresses. Also, long flowy boho skirts are plentiful in our area thrift stores. I chose this pin because I like the light gauzy fabric of these skirts and I thought I would try making a summer dress from one.


I found this long rayon skirt in a bin in the backroom of my nearest Goodwill on 50% off night. I think I paid $2.50. It was a lengthy 42″ from waistband to hem, and being only 5’3″ myself, I could have hiked it up under my arms and it would have still been a maxi skirt on me. But the good thing about long skirts is that they have lots of fabric to work with!


I liked the lacy faux crochet band and the plastic gem detailing. And the colors! So cheerful. So summery.


The label Forbidden cracked me up. What does that mean? Am I forbidden to cut up this skirt? Will I be cursed for life? Nah, probably not. Here comes the sewing scissors!


I looked through my pattern collection and chose this Simplicity pattern from the mid-’90s because I like the V neckline and the short sleeves. Also, both front and back pieces are cut on the fold. I cut off the elastic waistband, tags, and hanger loops, spreading out the skirt inside out and pinning the front and back pattern pieces on the folds. I lined up the back seam of the skirt with the back of the dress. I pinned close to the top edge, utilizing as much fabric as possible.


I joined and overlapped the underarm seam allowances on the pattern with a pin, so the sleeves would fit properly, as I wasn’t cutting side seams.

I have a finely woven lightweight cotton print in my stash that I picked up in the L.A. garment district several years ago, and I knew it would be perfect for the sleeves and neckline facing. Using my Bernina 1260 and my Juki serger, I sewed the shoulder seams and attached the sleeves and facing. It was very quick and easy. The first gathered tier of the skirt hits under the bustline ever so perfectly, like a yoke. Like I planned it!

SK2DR Collage

Now I have a new light and flowy summer dress which only cost a few dollars and a few hours of my time. I’m ready for you, heat wave!