Marcasite? What is that?

Going through some antique jewelry my grandmother left me I came upon a wonderfully distinctive art deco ring made with small greyish pave style crystals and a dark centerpiece stone.

Antique Art Deco Ring

Being the curious type I decided to do some research the stones in this ring and discovered that the small shiny grey faceted stones are called marcasite, which is another name for pyrite, classified as a semi precious stone.

Apparently, Marcasite/Pyrite was used quite a bit in jewelry in the 1800’s Deco period (1920’s – 1930’s.)  The two center stones in the above ring are black onyx (also classified as a semi-precious stone) which you will find in many pieces of jewelry during this period.

Art Deco Sterling Marcasite Floral Bar Pin by Fibber McGeez on Etsy

Here is another lovely example of Art Deco I discovered in Fibber McGee’z. This pin is classic Art Deco. If you look carefully at the pin, you will see that it tells a story of a flower garden – the square centerpiece of flowers, perhaps daisies and the at the right and left of the square of daisy’s is what looks like leafy vine topped by a simple stylized flower.

I think the important to fully enjoy Art Deco is to view the patterns within the pattern, which are rather geometric in shape, as well as the “shimmer value” of the stones within each piece.

Loral Leaves Marcasite Necklace by Etsy shop ilie pea

Now we go Retro in the lovely Retro (1935-1945) Loral leaves necklace marcasite necklace which I found in Etsy shop, lile pea. The delicate leaves with their Marcasite jewels seem to compel the viewer to once again enter a garden and surround her neck in leafy jeweled glory.

Vintage Art Deco Marcasite and sterling Ring by CRYSTAL CREEK 2

Changing the pattern and back to Art Deco, is this organic in origin is this graceful Art Deco Marcasite ring which can be found in CRYSTAL CREEK2.  This ring shows the classic swirl pattern embellished by marcasite crystals.


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.

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

Fashion is timeless

It has been said that fashion is a gentle progression of revisited ideas. Have you noticed this past fashion week top designers Proenza Schoule and Michael Kors. Fall Fashion line, as well as many other designers, have pulled elements and styles from fashions of the past; in other words, classics with a modern twist. What they have discovered, what we need to remember is that fashion is timeless. Not many of us can afford to buy from top designers. Therefore, shoppers must become creative as they shop for clothes for themselves and family.

Savvy shoppers scour vintage, second hand and thrift shops, garage sales, estate sales, and websites (Etsy, Ebay, Rubylane, craigslist, etc.) for original and used fashions at bargain prices. It only makes sense to do so.

Buy Vintage! You will save money, look original and become a fashion forward (and backward looking) fashionista.

Happy shopping!

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. –