Tag Archive | Gene Molloy

Blending the Centuries

Lately, I’ve been going through my personal belongings, organizing them, and giving away what I really don’t need, because how much “stuff” does a person really need? Sentimental things aren’t a consideration. They stay. I need them.

One of those sentimental things is a necklace that belonged to my great-grandma. I have a black-and-white picture of her wearing this necklace sometime in the 1940s, sitting in the backyard, cleaning string beans, her head wrapped up in a printed scarf, and the necklace just barely discernable between her dress’s open collar.


The necklace is a string of tin cut faceted 1910s or 1920s-era Czech crystal beads, in graduated sizes, with the original brass spring ring. My understanding was that it went through a couple of re-stringings in years past before I inherited it in high school. The medium back then was black cotton sewing thread, and when I restrung it in high school, I followed suit, using a doubled-up length of white cotton thread, needle, and patience, and a lot of knots.
Over the years, the thread turned green where it met the brass rings, yet the thread itself was in good and seemingly strong condition. However, it was time to restring it with more a reliable material.


Taking it apart was fairly easy work, but the knots were a little difficult to remove from the rings. Once done, I cleaned the brass with dry cotton swabs.


Next, since the beads were hazy, I gently cleaned them and rubbed them with a cotton terry cloth to bring back the brilliant sparkle. Going through each bead, there were two mismatched glass beads with an unusual – maybe antique cut? – shape. Nonetheless, I kept them and used them at each end so they would only be seen from the back if I wear my hair up.


Taking 49-strand AccuFlex, brass crimp beads and crimp bead covers, and wire guards, I restrung the crystals and glass spacer beads, and added three extra vintage era new old stock (NOS) tin cut beads (purchased from Beadtopia Vintage in Flushing, New York) to make the necklace a touch longer. The old and new old stock beads are barely discernable. They look natural.


Now my great-grandma’s necklace is more solid, and I don’t have the queasy feeling that, Heaven forbid, it comes apart while I’m wearing it.


In the past, I wore it for my high school graduation picture, my wedding picture, and countless other special occasions. I’d like to think that Great-Grandma would get a kick out of how her necklace survives and how I’m making sure it lasts for decades to come.

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

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Pièce de L’élégance

Here at my studio, this seems to be the season for patrons and customers commissioning me to create pieces for them. I’m creating bracelets and wall art, and all this is keeping me busy every day.

One commissioned work in particular stands out for this week.  I was asked by one of my longtime customers and art aficionada to create a purse charm based on a metal bookmark I recently designed. Looking through my supplies, I carefully handpicked Swarovski crystals, Czech glass beads, and a two-tone hand carved Czech glass melon bead. I arranged them in groups for their most aesthetic appearance, and hand wrapped them in delightful clusters with gold plated wire.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

Beginning to gather pieces for the charm.

To make the chain, I fashioned my oval-shaped jump rings as the base for this piece. Then I added each cluster of beads to it, starting at the end with the largest, a cube-shaped peachy hued Swarovski crystal, end capped with crystal Swarovski caps and marguerite flower beads.

I continued adding each cluster to the chain, connecting them with smaller oval jump rings. At the opposite end, I attached a small lobster clasp and tiny wrapped bead cluster.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The finished charm on my vintage straw purse.

The purse charm in its final incarnation is pretty! It sparkles and shines, and adds just the right amount of interest and effervescence to make this a conversation starter. The lady who commissioned this purse charm recently bought a new purse, and this charm is just the ticket to add that pièce de l’élégance and je ne sais quoi to her ensemble.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

The charm on my vintage gold mesh evening purse.

Most of all, I hope the charm brings joy and that little something to my customer/patron.

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Ocean Waves Cellini Spiral Bangle

"Ocean Waves Cellini Bangle" (c)Designs by Susan Marie Molloy for Miss Poppy's Boutique

“Ocean Waves Cellini Bangle” (c)Designs by Susan Marie Molloy for Miss Poppy’s Boutique

Last winter, I took a class at the Emerald Coast Bead Retreat in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to learn how to make the Cellini spiral stitch. Since then, it’s become one of my favorite beading stitches.

The Cellini spiral is basically tubular peyote stitch with beads gone wild – a varying amount of different sized and shaped beads make up the unique pattern to create a spectacular piece that gets conversations started.

With this particular project, I went with colors that mimic the warm and undulating ocean waves we see here in Florida, particularly the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline in the panhandle. My colors as like the aquas and blues of the waters, the barely perceptible purple that reveals deep waters, and the golden sunshine that sparkles on the water. The undulating shape of this bangle mimics the ever-moving waves.

I had a lot of fun creating this piece, and it wears beautifully. It may look heavy, but it’s very light and comfortable on the wrist.

It’s one of the classes I will be teaching this summer – I like teaching to help keep the art of beading alive.

I am offering the tutorial and a kit through my Etsy shop, too.  Follow this link HERE.

Maybe a pair of matching earrings would be nice . . . the wheels are turning in my head!

©Designs by Susan Marie Molloy for Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Checkerboard

Black and White Check2The past weekend found me finishing some beading projects I started last fall. Between a beading cruise we went on in October, to getting custom Christmas ornament covers made, I put some projects aside and . . . well, forgot about them until this weekend.

As I was straightening up and cleaning my studio, I found the half-finished projects sitting patiently in a plastic box. The checkerboard-style cuff bracelet was my first to finish.

As you can see, when finishing off the ends, I prefer using wire/thread guards before attaching the clasp. They help to strengthen the clasp to the piece and prevent the Fireline® thread from fraying. For this bracelet, I used a tube/sliding clasp in silver plate. All beads used in this piece are high quality Czech glass.

Nice, isn’t it?

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This pattern is from Virginia Jensen’s book, “Stitching with Two-Hole Shaped Beads,” published by Kalmbah Books (2015). The name of the bracelet is “Herringbone Cuff with Squares and Rullas.”  (Found on Amazon.)

I’m keeping this one for myself. The checkerboard look is nice for summer, as well as year-round.

As always, custom orders are always welcomed!

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.
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The Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet as Art

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Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet by Shoshin Arts

A couple of weeks ago, I finished a single peyote stitch bracelet, and immediately knew that since I enjoyed making it so much, this was going to be my “Summer of Peyote Stitching.”  Well, it appears so.

My friend, Deborah Wear-Finkle is a talented artist, an intelligent woman, and a lot of fun to be around.  She expanded her creativity recently by opening her own Etsy shop, Shoshin Arts, and offering some of her original peyote patterns, among other delightful items.  Her Japanese brushwork-inspired bracelet, “Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet,” was my second peyote stitch work I tackled this past week.

(As an aside, I like things Japanese:  I enjoy reading about their history, politics, culture, and art, and savoring the cuisine.  One of my cousins spent her childhood living in Japan, and in college one of my Bachelor of Arts degrees focused heavily on the Japanese political system, art, and history.  So, this bracelet was one of those excited “I want it!” things.)

Deborah’s pattern calls for 8O round seed beads, but I took my version in a different direction by using 11O Delicas (cylinder beads) instead.  I liked how theses beads make the plum branch very delicate-looking, and the overall look is smooth.  Seriously, I am delighted at how delicate the branch looks, with that almost-paint-brushed-look about it.  Yes, to me it looks like Sumi-e, or Oriental brush painting.

Additionally, it made for a much smaller (4” x 5/8”) piece, and stiffer, too.  I was pleased with my result, although since the piece was about half the length it should be for a bracelet, I was going to stitch more rows to add to the length.  Then I thought I’d add tassels and make it a bookmark.  Then my husband, Gene, suggested I add a beaded loop to one end and hang it as wall art.

Brilliant!

I did that.  I added a row of peyote stitches for the loop, and hung it.  It’s a simple, delicate, and an interesting piece of wall art that reminds me of my friend each time I see it on my foyer wall. 

Here it is on my foyer wall. The wall color maybe isnt' the best against the piece.

Here it is on my foyer wall. The wall color maybe isn’t’ the best against the piece.

You can purchase Deborah Wear-Finkle’s Plum Branch Cuff Bracelet tutorial/pattern at Shoshin Arts through Etsy.

I like it!

I like it!

© Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Dressing Up Your Table with Embroidery

Though I normally have been teaching beading over the past few months, I offered a beginner class on thread embroidery. My students only had to bring their choice of plain cotton napkins, embroidery threads and needles, and I provided the hot iron transfers, iron, and ironing board.

So last week, I hosted this small class to teach a few embroidery basics. My students learned the satin, lazy daisy, and outline stitches, and best of all, we had fun, with childhood stories of attempting embroidery, but not continuing this craft – until now.

We used Aunt Martha’s hot iron transfers, specifically “Assorted Alphabets” #9240 and “New Monograms” #3739.

We took plain cotton napkins and hot ironed the transfers onto the edges of the napkins. Each student placed her monogram and/or flower design where she most creatively thought best.

Following are my finished projects in sets of two. I chose red cotton napkins made in India. I was pleased with my outcomes, though the napkins’ weave wasn’t as even as I liked. It made some of my embroidery stitches a little uneven. Future projects in this vein will be high quality cotton weave or linen.

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I plan on hosting more thread embroidery classes to teach other and more complicated stitches.
©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.

Bead Counters

Most needlework-type art requires counting of some sort. It may be stitches, rows, rounds, beads, threads. loops, et cetera. The trick, sometimes, is correctly keeping track of the patterns.

When I crochet and knit, I keep a piece of paper and a pen at my side and tally off the number of rounds or rows. When I cross-stitch off of a printed design, I use a highlighter to delineate stitches I completed. When I bead, I use beads.

Beads? Yes. Beads, to count beads.

I have a small handful of defective two-hold squares that are fused together and  cannot be taken apart. That happens from time to time, and it’s just a circumstance of the manufacturing process. Now, I’m not one to mindlessly toss out anything that just night have a useful second life.

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I use these beads to keep track of my beaded stitches. I’ll count how many stitches I will be doing ahead of time, place them in a pile on my beading board, and then start my work. As I finish each row or round, I’ll toss one bead on a small plate. When all the beads are on the plate, then I know my rows or rounds are done, and I’m ready for the next steps.

It’s a tried and true method for me. Some of my students do the same, and some are able to keep track in their heads.

How do you keep track of your stitches?

©Susan Marie Molloy, Designs by Susan Marie Molloy, Miss Poppy’s Boutique, and all works within.