Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

Red Felt Bowl from The Yarn Kitchen on Etsy

Red Felt Bowl from The Yarn Kitchen on Etsy

First of all, no one really knows where the origination of felting began.  Some say that early man discovered felt while wearing skinned animal  hide and having the fur close to his (or her) skin to keep warm. Eventually, from daily wear the combination of friction and sweat the fur became dense aka felted.

Another legend tells us about one of the son’s of King Solomon. This young man was a professional shepherd (not surprising, what son could compete with a father who knows everything?) Anyway, shepherding, not being the most mentally stimulating experience, this young man began to wonder if it was possible to make fabric from wool without having to first spin the wool into yarn. One day legend tells us, he became so frustrated at his inability to figure this out he began pacing back and forth on a sheep skin while crying hot tears. (Yes, real men do cry.)

Eventually, he calmed himself down and discovered to his amazement that the fiber of the sheep skin he had been walking, crying, and perhaps spilling a drink or two on, had worked this liquid into the wool and it had turned into felt!

However it began, felting has been used throughout the ages as tents for nomads, hats, clothes, shoes and many other items.

Several great examples of contemporary felting can be found below.

Small Messenger Bag by RAGZ.NL on Etsy

Small Messenger Bag by RAGZ.NL on Etsy

Felt Cobweb scarf by Felted Pleasure on Etsy

Felt Cobweb scarf by Felted Pleasure on Etsy



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dream catchers

Many years ago, I remember seeing my first dream catcher for sale in a cute eclectic gift shop in Seaport Village. I was entranced by the circular shape and the spider web-like (sometimes beaded) strings crossing again and again like the web of some very tame, and not keen on catching any flies, spider. Suspended below the crisscrossed strands of twine were soft grey and white feathers which swayed softly whenever someone opened the gift shop’s door.

dream catchers

Dream Catchers by The Supply Shack on Etsy

I also remember stories told to me by my grandfather. He was a surgeon and in his younger days volunteered his services to provide free medical care to various tribes in the Southwest; but, I digress.

Let’s see. Oh yes, I was about to tell you a bit about dream catchers and their purpose. Among the Ojibwa people a dream catcher is hung above a child’s bed or crib. During this child’s sleep, the night air becomes filled with both good and bad dreams. The dream catcher captures these dreams as they float by. The good dreams who know to pass through the center to escape and fall gently upon the feather. These good dreams slide down the feather and float onto the sleeping child.

However, the bad dreams, not knowing the way to escape the dream catcher, become trapped in the netting and fade away in the morning light.

Dream catchers are made in the form of a spider web which symbolize the web of life woven by Spider woman.

dream catchers

Dream Catcher Earrings by Serenity Jewelry on Etsy

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The other day I was taking a wire working class and being the curious person that I am, I began talking to the instructor about her other interests. She told me that she did tatting.  Not wanting to appear ignorant I listened to her answers to my general questions about tatting; such as, how did she learn to tat? Did she tat often?, etc.

Later, I looked up tatting online and was quite impressed of the variation of patterns and techniques to tatting. So, what is tatting?

According to Encyclopedia Britannica Online: tatting is a  process by which a fabric akin to lace is made of thread with a small hand shuttle and the fingers. It was once a widely practiced craft, known in Italy as occhi and in France as la frivolité. The resulting product appears to be quite fragile but is indeed both strong and durable. In tatting, twisted threads are tied around or through small, pointed shuttles that are made of bone, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shell, steel, or plastic and are available in several sizes. The resulting stitches or knots form rings and semicircles that can be used for edgings, insertions, or arrangements that can be stitched together to form doilies and spreads. The thickness of the finished piece is determined by the size of the shuttle and the thread.

Impressive, eh? Well, then, being still curious, I searched online for examples of tatting and found several on Etsy.com: Key to Bride’s Feet Tatted Barefoot Sandals by Totusmel; Black and Blue Tatted Medallion with an Angel by Casual Tatter; and a tatted Gothic Necklace from TataniaRose.

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Nico Papergoods on Etsy

Craftsman, bookbinder, Seattle-based artist, Andrea Kohler is all that and more; using old world papermaking techniques she learned in Switzerland and abroad.

Ann Kohler’s online shop on Etsy, Nico Paper Goods is full of colorful and whimsically designed photo albums, journals and more.  There you will find everything from cheery pink leather-bound journals to vibrantly colored photo albums and more. Each and every cover, each and every page, of these books is made with care, precision and passion.

I was lucky enough to interview Andrea and was impressed by her love and passion for her craft. Below is my interview with Ann Kohlter, bookbinder (in my humble opinion) extraordinaire.

Interview with Andrea Kohler:

1 I understand that you had four years apprenticeship before you opened your own studio in Zurich. What was the one thing you were taught that made the most impression to you?
There was a tremendous attention to detail in the art of bookmaking and binding.

2. What made you decide to move to Seattle?
I met my husband back in Zurich many years ago. After living in Switzerland together for three years, I was ready for a new beginning in Seattle, where he is from.

3. What do you like best about Seattle?
The freedom of being whoever you are. The friendly people. Mount Rainier and all the water surrounding the city. Not the rain, I have to say.

4. What is the difference between traditional bookbinding and contemporary bookbinding?
Traditional bookbinding adheres to the rules of the historical craft – contemporary bookbinding combines the craft with the creative use of materials and designs.

5. What do you like about bookbinding?
It is deeply satisfying to give new life to an old book.

6. Do you teach classes in bookbinding in Seattle?
I used to teach back in Zurich for many years with great pleasure. The opportunity has not occurred as yet, but I’m open for it.

7. When someone hands you an old book that needs rebinding, what do you ask your customer first?
How valuable is the book to you?

9. Approximately, how long does it take to rebind a book with a badly deteriorated binding as shown on your website?
It really depends on the condition of the book. There are always surprises hidden somewhere along the process. The book I show on my website, took three full hours to repair.

9. What parts of bookbinding do you like the best?
I love holding the finished book in my hand and give it to a happy costumer.

10. If someone had an old worn book that needs to be rebound, how would they contact you?
Through my website: www.kohlerbookbinding.com

11. Where do you get your bookbinding and book making materials?
Mostly from a source in New York. I still bring back special paper and fabric from my visits in Europe.

12. Do you use recycled paper?
Not for restoration. That paper has to be very high quality and acid free. But for notebooks I do.

13. I love your pendant/journal necklaces; do you make these from scratch as well?
Thank you. Yes I make everything new from scratch, and I am proud of it.

14. If so, what do you use?
For these journal necklaces I use leather, paper, thread, glue and a chain.

15. I see from your website that, not only do you bind books, but you make other very colorful notebooks, pads, photo albums, etc. on Etsy.com through your online shop Nicopapergoods.com you tell us a little about your online shop?
I have been active on Etsy for two years now and I love it. It is a great place to sell your handmade items.

16. If someone had a question about bookbinding or wanted you to custom make a photo album, what is the best way for them to contact you?
You can find all information on my website. www.kohlerbookbinding.com

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Irish Lace Wedding Gown, overlet

Irish Lace Wedding Gown, overlet

I love to crochet. Frankly, I am not very good at it, but I find it relaxing.  My specialty are simple long scarves and hats, and though I only use two stitches, single crochet and double crochet, I find that if I use bright vibrant colors, no one really notices that it isn’t really fancy. For me, it works.

Now the other day I was doing research on Irish Lace for an small article I wrote on examiner.com and discovered a whole new world of crocheting.  I never knew that crocheting could be so….light, fanciful and ethereal.

Perhaps, someday I will try my hand at this. But, for right now, I can admire other’s handiwork like this beautiful Irish Lace Wedding overlay wedding dress. (yes, the bride wears a white satin-like shift underneath the lace.)

You can still learn how to make Irish Lace today. Below are two websites which can get your started:


Free Craft Patterns, a vintage collection – http://bit.ly/hALKkS

— If you have more information about Irish Lace, please comment. You will be helping others learn more and help keep this craft alive. –

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