Sunday, January 31, 2010

Water Horse

I've completed my January piece for the Bead Journal Project, an interpretation of filet crochet in beads or "Filet Bead".

Crochet began as an imitation of various kinds of bobbin and needle laces, using fine cotton and a hook. Look at vintage patterns, and it becomes obvious that many words used to describe different kinds of crochet are the same as those used for types of lace.

Filet is the French word for net, and gives a strong clue to the overall look of filet crochet pieces.
“Filet crochet” is a term from the mid-19th century, when crochet began to copy lace patterns. Filet crochet was once the most prolific form of crochet, as it copied filet lace easily and did not require complicated patterns.

Any crochet that is worked in relatively fine yarn or thread, and uses a stitch that produces an open fabric is often referred to as lace crochet. Filet crochet is popular because it can easily be charted on graph paper using a cross for a block and leaving the square blank for a space. This makes it relatively simple to create geometric designs and text.

I developed this technique of creating an open grid pattern of beads, some of which are filled to create the intended design a number of years ago, but really haven't used it much, as it's very time intensive.

This design is based on an early 1900's pattern entitled "Long-Tailed Dragon". I removed the long tail and added a few additional wave forms, resulting in my "Water Horse". When you live on an island, water is a fact of daily life and horses too, when your island doesn't allow cars.

The grid is formed of size 15/0 silver seed beads and the design is filled with milky grey bugles. It gives a very iridescent effect, very changeable in the light.

My plan for my journal pieces is to create a fantasy dressmaker's swatchbook of various dress trimmings interpreted in beadwork - so how might my fantasy dressmaker use this particular piece? I can see it used as the central filling of an Edwardian bodice or a series of them used as medallions on the skirt of a late Victorian ballgown. What do you see?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I was nearly late for work one day this past week, as everywhere I turned was another bit of nature just begging to have it's image taken; in the night it had snowed, the light fluffy type of snow that lightly coats and embellishes everything it touches. We usually think of snow covering or hiding the surroundings, but it can actually reveal details we might otherwise overlook.
Sometimes, just a little is just enough...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beach Glass

Lovely, isn't it? But it's not the typical beach glass, it's actually sheets of ice pushed ashore by wind and currents.

We finally had a sunny day and it seemed like a good opportunity for a walk on the shore, well we were probably out on the lake - but not too far.
Someone else, a coyote most likely, had been walking before us:

Ice to the west:

And ice to the east:

But still open water, at least for the moment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1st annual Academy of Mid-19th Century Life

We are very pleased to be involved from the very beginnings of this educational opportunity and are committed to helping it grow in the future:

1st Annual Academy of Mid 19th Century Life

Join us to learn new skills, taste period food, and overall, deepen your impression.

July 16th, 2010 12 ~ 5pm
Charlton Park in Hastings, MI

Cost of Workshops: $25 * Send in your registration and fee to reserve your spot.
Workshops sizes are limited.
Set up your camp and then join us for:

Demeanor and Deportment: Practical Advice for the Aspiring Lady or Gentleman
During the mid-19th century, industrialization and urbanization caused a vast increase in the middle class. In turn, many men and women needed to learn proper behavior for ladies and gentlemen. Learn what defines a "gentleperson" and when/ how such behavior is appropriate.
~ Presented by Robin Dorman

Dare to Dance
Break out the Beer-Can Hold ‘cause Mrs. Hardee’s comin’ to town. This interactive workshop will provide you with the basic steps of 19th century dancing as well as the reasons behind the movements. ~ Presented by Brenda Plakmeyer

Hanky, Hankie - Who has the Handkerchief?
Handkerchief's are an indispensable accessory for every persona, whether practical or frivolous. This will be a "make it/take it" session, options for embellishing a pre-made handkerchief will be presented and original hankies will be on display. ~ Presented by Kelly Dorman

Mmmmm…History Tastes Good
Ever wanted to try “A Very Good Cake”, but were leery about the pound of lard that was required? Sample a period food and drink and take home some new receipts that you can use at the next event along with how to store the food. ~ Presented by Sheri Giffin

*$5 for supplies and $20 will be donated to Charlton Park for education of the next generation.

Send in your registration and fee to reserve your spot.
Workshops sizes are limited.Name: __________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________

City, State Zip: ____________________________________

Email: ____________________________________ (for confirmation)

Make checks to Sally Vander Ark
Send to: Sally Vander Ark, 807 B Court Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49085
Enrollment will be limited to the first 50 registered participants.
This is intended to be a relaxed, but informative venue for learning and sharing. We plan on starting small, but hope to develop and grow in the future - wish us luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010


There have been many occasions, especially after a long day at work, as we slowly peddle our way up "The Hill" that we have wished for a bicycle version of a ski lift to haul us to the top.

Well it turns out that we weren't they only ones with that wish and someone has done something to improve the relationship between bike riders and steep hills. In Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway, a bike lift has been in operation for over fifteen years!

The TRAMPE is easy to learn to use according to the makers, carrying over 220,000 bike/people since it's installation in 1993 - with no accidents!

Trondheim is characterized by the old town center down by the seashore with a surrounding, terraced landscape formed back in the ice age. On the banks of these terraces, 100-300 m above sea level, we find most of the living areas - sounds rather similar to Mackinac, doesn't it?

The inventors are just starting to market the bike lift to other communities, but I suspect it's just a dream to hope one could be installed on our hilly Island.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bead Journal Project

So, I decided I didn't have enough to do already...I went and signed myself up in the Bead Journal Project. This is the third year of the Project, although my first year as a participant. There are 287 beaders from all over the world who have chosen to create a beaded journal.

There are three basic rules:

1.) Create one piece per month.

2.) Include some beads on each piece.

3.) Make all twelve pieces the same size/shape.

I originally started beading due to my interest in historic costuming: I wanted all the "goodies" to complement my outfits and that meant making them myself, yes I am entirely self taught, lots of research and trial and error.

In recent years, my work has taken a turn away from the costuming aspect of beading and I miss it. So my bead journal is going to be fantasy dressmakers swatchbook; I'll be attempting to recreate traditional needlework techniques in beads. January's "swatch" will be Filet-Bead, a technique I developed many years ago to replicate filet crochet.

Here's an example I created many years ago:

I hope I can come up with twelve ideas, currently I'm considering tatting, braidwork, ribbon work, maybe even patchwork quilting.
I'm looking forward to both the challenge and the opportunity to combine traditional techniques with a modern outlook, it should be interesting!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blue Skies

We've had a lengthy bout of sullen grey weather lately, it's just oppressive, closing us in both physically and mentally.

But today is different, the sky is brilliant blue and the sun is bright, everything sparkles, drawing us out despite the cold.

Now all we need is more snow!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I love to go antiquing, but living on the Island doesn't allow many opportunities to search for hidden treasure.

During a recent long weekend away I was able to indulge and discovered some real beauties, true costume treasures!

Find #1: Five beaded appliques, covered in the tiniest of steel beads. I suspect these will someday make an appearance on an Edwardian evening dress.

Next is a lovely comb and it was a real steal:

Here's why - much of the ornamentation is missing, but I suspect a rummage through my big box of faceted "jet" pieces will supply proper replacements.

The final treasure is a beautiful ostrich plume, the teal color is so fantastic. I don't have a definite plan for this pretty, but I just couldn't leave it behind.

I'm not sure exactly what I enjoy more the "thrill of the hunt" or knowing I have a stockpile of trims and ornaments to complement whatever period outfit I visualize and create next.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Skim ice is starting to form in the harbor...
The old timers say the lake will steam seven times before it freezes over. I've seen two steamy mornings so far, given that the weather forecast is calling for temperatures in the single digits for the coming week, ice is probably not too far away.
So much for an extended ferry schedule....