Saturday, January 28, 2012


Millefiori is a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware.
The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words "mille" (thousand) and "fiori" (flowers). Apsley Pellatt (in his book "Curiosities of Glass Making") was the first to use the term "millefiori", which appeared in the Oxford Dictionary in 1849. The beads were called mosaic beads before then. While the use of this technique long precedes the term millefiori, it is now frequently associated with Venetian glassware.

Monday, January 23, 2012


So, I'm thinking of adding a destash line to my shop. I've read recently that "if you have a specific craft project that your stash was meant for, pair that information with your stock. People are more likely to buy a bundle of supplies if they can imagine the finished craft. Consider calling it a kit if you have everything they'll need to complete a project, including directions."

So, I have been a crafter of sorts for years and probably have enough in the storage closet to get started. I know I have enough needlework supplies to fill a shop.

I'm also thinking that all the vintage jewelry odds and ends and the damaged pieces I've bought without knowing it, will make a good lot.

More on this later . . 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are pearls which grow in non-saline environment in freshwater mussels. Hence the name...

China has harvested freshwater pearls since the 13th century, and is the leader in freshwater pearl production. The first record mentioning pearls in China was from 2206 BC. The United States was also a major source of natural freshwater pearls, from the discovery of the New World, through the 19th century, until over-harvesting and increasing pollution significantly reduced the number of available pearl-forming mussels in the US.

Freshwater pearls differ from other cultured pearls, in that the great majority of them are not bead-nucleated. Freshwater mollusks are nucleated by creating a small incision in the fleshy mantle tissue of a 6 to 12 month old mussel, then inserting a 3mm square piece of mantle tissue from a donor mussel. Upon insertion, the donor, (graft) tissue is twisted slightly, rounding out the edges. What happens after this point is really just speculation. Some believe that this tissue acts as a catalyst in producing a pearl sac thus making the 'nucleation' actual 'activation'. Others believe the tissue molds with the host to create a pearl sac, while still others maintain the tissue is the actual nucleus. Although it is said that a freshwater mollusk can withstand up to 25 insertions per valve, it is common industry practice to perform only 12-16 insertions in either valve, for a total production of 24-32 pearls. The mollusks are then returned to their freshwater environment where they are tended for 2-6 years. The resulting pearls are of solid nacre, but without a bead nucleus to guide the growth process the pearls are rarely perfectly round.

From George Frederick Kunz's, 1908 masterpiece, 'The Book of the Pearl'
The Chinese freshwater pearls come in a wide color range that includes white, champagne, cream, orange, pink, purple, lilac, mauve, blue and brown.
Bleaching, dying, and polishing do occur. Except for the old Arabic practice of sun-bleaching in the Persian Gulf, naturals were practically never processed. Chinese pearls that are nearly white or mottled are usually bleached to make them whiter and more uniform. With the same methods perfected by the Japanese, the Chinese use a mild bleach, bright fluorescent lights, and heat. They polish surfaces by tumbling pearls in pumice or similar substances. The idea, as always, is to facilitate matching pearls for strands.

Fire Mountain Gems has many shapes of Cultured Freshwater Pearls. I did not know there were so many!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pearl Basics

The formation of a natural pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into the oyster between the mantle and the shell, which irritate­s the mantle. It's kind of like the oyster getting a splinter. The oyster's natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The man­tle covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. This eventually forms a pearl.

Most pearls are nicely rounded objects, which are the most valuable ones. Not all pearls turn out so well. Some pearls form in an uneven shape -- these are called baroque pearls. 

Cultured pearls are created by the same process as natural pearls, but are given a slight nudge by pearl harvesters. To create a cultured pearl, the harvester opens the oyster shell and cuts a small slit in the mantle tissue. Small irritants are then inserted under the mantle.

The natural color of a pearl results from a combination of several factors. The pearl's body color is its main color. This can be white, silver, cream-colored, gold, green, blue, or even black. The body color is determined by the type of oyster or mollusk that produces the pearl, as well as the conditions of the water, and sometimes the type of nucleus implanted to stimulate the pearl's creation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


la·mé  (l-m)
A brocaded fabric woven with metallic threads, often of gold or silver.
I'm always looking for mew wording for my items and here's a great one from a fabric store:
This shiny metallic Silver Lame is sure to add a touch of elegance wherever you use it. For a memorable look, try Silver Lame for evening gowns, prom dresses, and bridal party fashions. Lame can also be used effectively for costumes, decorations, and flags. This sparkly Silver Lame fabric coordinates beautifully with all shades of blue, including royal, turquoise, and aqua. It looks equally lovely with satin or velvet in dark hues such as purple and maroon. The shimmer of this Silver Lame is also stunning when paired with white or ivory satin. For drop-dead glamour, combine Silver and Black Lame.

Silk vs. Satin

Silk vs Satin
Silk and satin are both smooth and soft. Though these two come with somewhat similar features and have a similar look, they are quite different in every sense.

Silk is natural; satin is artificial.
Silk is made from cocoons of silk worms. The fibre is removed from the cocoons and made into threads, which is then woven into clothes.
Satin can be produced from many types of materials like silk, nylon and polyester.

Satin is more delicate than silk and so when handling it, more care is needed. 

Silk, which is a natural protein fiber, has a shimmering appearance. The shimmering appearance is because of the prism like structure of its fabric, which refracts the light producing various colors.

Satin has a glossy surface and a dull back. Satin is made of a number of floats (interlacing). It is these floats that give Satin a glossy look and also a smooth surface.

Silk threads are hard to produce, as a single strand of thread requires silk from thousands of silk worms. This makes silk fabrics more expensive than satin.

Silk fabrics can be hand washed using cold water and it is better to avoid too much wringing as it can damage it. Satin fabrics should be dry-cleaned.


ruche  (rsh)
A ruffle or pleat of lace, muslin, or other fine fabric used for trimming women's garments.
Ruching is the gathering of fabric. Fabrics can include lace, muslin or similar fine fabric


A slightly ribbed, woven fabric of silk, cotton, or rayon.
Silk faille fabric features a distinctive ribbed texture, a subdued yet elegant sheen and a heavy weight. The characteristic corded effect in silk faille is produced by including, at regular intervals in the weave, a thicker yarn, leaving soft, wide, strongly defined ribs. Faille is a plain weave textile and is finer than grosgrain, a well-regarded sturdy woven corded fabric.

Silk faille has a smooth, lustrous feel and easy drape. These, combined with a readiness to take a crease, make silk faille popular for elegant apparel that's pleated or tailored. Silk faille fabric is widely used in dresses, skirts and slacks, as well as in tasteful home décor applications, and, in heavier weights, the material works well in coats and suits.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Learning New Words - Basse-taille

basse-taille (bas TIE yuh) An enameling technique that applies translucent enameling over an engraved, or decorated metal base.

Occupied Japan

History of Made in Japan Ceramics


1860s-1891 JAPONISME ERA
Before 1891 ,goods exporated to America did not have to be stamped with their country of origin in English. Japanese ceramics usually had no backstamps, or they had artists or their patrons names in Japanese characters.

The McKinley Tariff, which took effect March 1,1891, required that all imported goods be stamped in English with their country of origin. At the time, "NIPPON" was considered to be an acceptable name for Japan, so most Japanese ceramics of this period were backstamped "NIPPON" or "HAND PAINTED NIPPON." often with a company logo as well. However, not all were stamped that way. There were still unmarked pieces, and pieces stamped "JAPAN" as well.

Noritake Art Deco are the high end of Made in Japan ceramics. They were of better quality and most beautifully decorated. Noritake Art Deco pieces generally are priced higher than similar Made in Japan pieces.

The U.S. Customs Bureau ruled that "Nippon" was no longer an acceptable synonym for Japan. As of August 1, 1921 all goods were supposed to be backstamped "Japan"  Technically, the Made in Japan Era began when the Nippon era ended in 1921, but it really was not that precise. At some point the US Customs Bureau may have required that the words," MADE IN" be added to the backstamps, but this was not always done. Unmarked pieces sometimes slipped through Customs, but most of the ceramics from 1921 to 1941 are marked either "JAPAN" or "MADE IN JAPAN" . Sometimes all pieces in a set are not backstamped. The profit margin on ceramics was slim, and a factory could save a little labor cost by not marking every piece in a set. If pieces in a set have different backstamps, it is because there often was not room for “MADE IN JAPAN" or a company logo, so they just used "Japan" on some of the smaller pieces.

The US occupied Japan from Sept. 2,1945, until April 28, 1952. The Occupied Japan backstamp Era truly began August 15, 1947 when the first shipment of Occupied Japan ceramics arrived in America. The US Customs Bureau decreed in 1949 that Japanese goods could be marked "OCCUPIED JAPAN". "MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN","JAPAN" or "MADE IN JAPAN". Again, some were not marked at all.

When the Occupation ended in 1952, marks no longer contained the work "Occupied" so pieces were again marked only with "Japan" or "Made in Japan". This is when the paper label era really began. Prior to WWII, paper labels were flimsy and the glue was often not strong, so the Customs Bureau usually made importers replace the labels with indelible ink backstamps. In the 1950s, technology improved and paper labels were allowed. The two most common types of labels seem to be small oval or rectangular blue or black paper with white letters or two -color metallic, such as black or red with gold or silver lettering.


Pulled Pork Crockpot

4 to 5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast
2 large onions, sliced
4 to 6 whole cloves
2 cups water
1 bottle (16 oz) barbecue sauce, your choice
1 large onion, chopped, about 1 cup

Place half the sliced onion in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add pork roast, cloves, and water. Add the remaining sliced onion. Cover and cook 8 to 12 hours on LOW.

Remove bone and fat from meat. Discard onions, cloves and water.

Shred the meat and put it back in the pot. Add chopped onion and the barbecue sauce. Cook another 2 1/2 to 4 hours on LOW, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.