Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Merry Wanderer of the Night

Continuing on with my Mardi Gras throw-inspired crafting, here's a glittery wristlet purse.  The Mystic Krewe of Nyx throws hand-decorated purses during their parade, so I thought I'd try my hand at making a few to give out to friends.  Hail, Nyx!

This is actually the third purse I've glittered, but it's the first that has that over-the-top feeling I'm striving for.  Anyone who has followed my jewelry in the past knows I'm all about the theme, and I really like being able to go to town with the shoes and purses in that regard.  And the color!  That's the one thing I always struggled with when working with the PMC - sometimes there just wasn't enough eye-popping color for my tastes, regardless of what I added to the fine silver.  That's no problem with these projects!

Anyway, this was my first attempt to use the transfer technique that Nori discussed in her wonderful blog, Confessions of a Glitter Addict.  I did the lettering separately using fabric paint and glitter and then applied it to the bag with E6000.  This worked wonderfully, and allowed me to use the best combination of letters out of three tries.  I'm eager to try more complex designs (and the cogs have started turning about applying this technique to jewelry-making...).

By the way, all of the feathers in the three purses here come from a set of really ratty-looking marabou boas I bought several years ago from Oriental Trading Company for a monster-making project with the SO.  I found they actually worked well here, where the fuller boas in my craft stash were simply too much.  This was a nice surprise!  Here's the first purse (and very first glitter job, which was a huge mess):

I hand-set those flat-back pearls with tweezers - it was a little annoying.  The simple "S" design is supposed to suggest a wave.  The dangly shells and starfish are a cut-up necklace, also from OTC.  These are from a dozen I bought for a summer Pirate Party for the SO but never got around to actually using (although the SO did get his party).  

Finally, here's one I did while traveling during the SO's Spring Break last week (I will say that the purse projects are much easier to travel with than the shoes):

I suppose the whole watermelon-rhinestone pattern is a little overdone, but I hoped framing it in black on a silver glitter background and using the oversized rhinestones would make the design pop more and add some interest.  I had left over marabou from the first purse and found the color complementary here.  

So, I'm still obsessing about Mardi Gras.  It's become pretty clear to me though, while learning about the celebration, that I'm much more interested in the crafting and riding aspect of Carnival!  While the waiting list for Nyx is closed, they did have a submission form open on their website last month, and I put my name in.  I noticed the other day that the form isn't there anymore.  I have no idea what that means, but I'm crossing my fingers and hope to be contacted sometime in the future!

ps.  I can tell I really need to dig out my light box...these photos could really use some improvement.  It's been a long time...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy Are They Whom the Muses Love

Hello, anyone out there?!?  I have no idea if anyone is still reading this blog after my continuing, years-long hiatus, but I've recently been inspired, so I thought I'd at least go ahead and post.  I have no idea why, but after ignoring Mardi Gras for the better part of my life, I suddenly decided this year that it would be fun to celebrate and introduce the Short One (who, after a couple of years, is no longer all that short) in a modest way to Carnival.  Naturally, I decided this about a week before the day, but thanks to some very efficient sellers, I had just enough time to order some beads and a lot of old doubloons off of eBay.

I also picked up a King Cake locally.  The SO was all "They put a baby in the cake??  Why do they put a baby in there?  That's kinda gross, Mom!!  No way; I don't want the baby!"  After thinking about it, though, I think he decided he wouldn't mind to be king for a day - as my husband would say, "And how is this different from any other day in our house?!"  Just by sheer luck he did get the baby, and he was (secretly) very pleased about it - the baby is currently residing with his well-loved doubloons and beads.

So, the SO enjoyed our little celebration and moved on to other things, the way you do, but I started learning more and more about New Orleans (which I have never had the good fortune to visit) and the history of Mardi Gras.  I got interested in the krewes, especially the all-female ones, like the Krewe of Muses.  For anyone reading this who doesn't already know, during the Muses' parade, they give out highly coveted, highly glittered, hand-decorated shoes as their signature Mardi Gras throw.  The designs can be over-the-top wonderful, and I have rapidly become obsessed with these iconic shoes.

After reading Muses' member Nori's wonderful blog, Confessions of a Glitter Addict, I became increasingly inspired.  My design book, which is still languishing with many unfinished jewelry designs, has been filling up again.  I decided to try creating a few shoes of my own.  Here's my first attempt.  Honestly, I'm not sure if it's done yet - I'm thinking of putting "ABRACADABRA" lettering down the side.  Also, I really wanted a white rabbit popping out of the hat, but the only one I found that was the right size was a cute plush finger puppet - the plush just didn't look right with the glitter (in my opinion, anyway).  So, anyway, I used the doves instead, but if I could find the right rabbit, I'd totally try this idea again.

Being a novice glitterer, I'm having a tough time showing the sparkle.  Here's another shot - not so great on detail, but it sparkles better:

As with any first try, I learned quite a bit making this.  First, yeah, the glitter really does get everywhere, just as every Muse whose blog or interview I read said (fancy that).  I tried as hard as I could but the extra fine glitter, while it looks beautiful when applied, is very hard to contain.  It was all I could do to keep it from being an ingredient in dinner.  

Second, you really do need to paint the shoe white before starting, if you plan on using a lighter shade of glitter.  It's probably difficult to tell from the photos, but there's white glitter under the rhinestones.  The original shoe (I'll have to post a photo of it later) had a silver and black snakeskin pattern on the heel - it took me 5 coats of white glitter to obtain even moderate opacity over that pattern.  

Third, I found it extremely difficult not to cross-contaminate the glitter when applying each new color.  There was always a little glitter loss after one layer dried, so my white, for example, has just a tiny bit of red in it.  I haven't figured out how to avoid this.  I used Aqua Net (recommended in Confessions of a Glitter Addict) to seal the shoe but didn't apply it until all of the glitter was on the shoe.  Perhaps applying it after every layer would help?

Which brings me to my next issue.  The Aqua Net works just fine on this display shoe, but I'd like to eventually make a pair of wearable shoes (well, probably boots - the irony of all of my crafty activity here is that I don't actually wear heels).  I'd like to find a sealant that will work for a wearable shoe but will not dim the sparkle of the glitter.  If anyone reading this has any suggestions, I'd really love it if you'd share!  I'm thinking of trying Aleene's Spray Acrylic Sealer Gloss...

I haven't had so much fun on a project in a long time.  I already have my second and third shoes lined up with sketches for three more developing.  And I'm making purses à la Mystic Krewe of Nyx as well - although I've had a harder time finding inexpensive suitable purses.  It's definitely on my bucket list now to ride with one of these wonderfully creative krewes once in my lifetime!  In the meantime, thank you to the Muses for the inspiration.