Category Archives: Jewellery

Preparing for the Passion

Easter is just a few weeks away. That was quick.

We don’t celebrate it big in our little family, but the memories of childhood make me feel that I would like to create that magic for my children too. I come from a Polish, Roman Catholic family, and though we did not continue going to weekly mass after I was about 11 or 12, we kept alive the Polish traditions and customs right into my siblings and my adulthood.

Some of my dearest childhood memories are of Easter time: taming my desire for something chosen during lent, days of preparing the feast for a large brunch after the fast, dying and decorating easter eggs and preparing easter baskets for blessing, dressing in the traditional costume posted to us by my babcia (grandmother) from Poland, the joyful Easter Sunday mass and blessing festival attended by family and friends,  sharing the egg before the feast and giving blessings to each other, celebrating with what family we had here in Australia and the friends who had become our family. These memories weave together a feeling of richness and depth, meaning and reverence, and it is something I find I miss in every-day adult life.

I do sense that now I have a little person to cherish and share with, some of these traditions will live on. Last year I was still too new to motherhood to be able to contemplate the preparations, this year I feel quite excited about getting together the basket for blessing and going to the Polish church with Miss K to experience the festival. I don’t expect to celebrate as large as we did when I was a child, but I am taking the first real steps towards a nourishing tradition for the Winters.

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

Hem of Easter dress for Miss K

The last few days I have been getting Miss K’s costume ready. My auntie made her a dress out of an heirloom european pillowcase and I’ve been hand stitching a decorative border to it that my babcia in Poland gave me when she gifted me her treasury of lace and edgings from since she was young.

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Hand stitching on heirloom decorative border lace

Traditionally, girls wear strings of spherical beads, red or in other colours. I decided to be a little different and make Miss K her own block and chain necklace to match the decorative border on the dress.

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

Block and chain necklace for Miss K

I’ve also started on a handmade Easter basket in which to put all the important things (mainly food) that need blessing. You can begin yours too by following my video tutorial on how to make coil baskets.

This is just the beginning of my preparations for the Easter celebration. A number of you have requested that I post a tutorial of how to dye easter eggs with onion skin the way I was taught as a child, I will gladly acquiesce to your request!

I will also post on what preparations are necessary for a great easter basket – a symbol of abundance and life, of plenty, of spring.

Of course here in Australia the seasons turn toward autumn, or the Nyoongar season of Djeran, the season of adulthood, which is the precursor to Makuru, the season of fertility in June and July. In this part of traditional Aboriginal Australia, fertility occurs in what is commonly called winter. This is because water is needed for fertility and summer has a way of drying and burning the landscape to a gold against a sky of relentless blue. We certainly do not have that sense of abandon and creation as one feels during a European Easter time, but as the heat subsides, green appears after autumn showers and with it the possibility of a mild and habitable landscape is once again here.

I hope you will join me during this last part of Passiontide. To explore the good and meaningful moments that busy hands can create. To remember what it is to be deep in the service of others, no matter what our belief; or as Leunig wrote:

“Let us live in such a way
That when we die
Our love will survive
And continue to grow.

Amen.”

 

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How to make a block and chain necklace

I’ve been accumulating so many craft supplies over the years. Some of it is well travelled and some of it was waiting here in boxes for us to return for a decent amount of time. As I unpacked those boxes, I got rid of so much stuff, but I can never bring myself to throw out craft supplies. There is just so much potential to make something that someone will like…

My inexhaustible bead collection is a prime example. After a year of looking at it just sit there collecting dust, I finally got an idea of what I’d like to make. I’ve called it the block and chain necklace.

Silver and Turquoise necklace

Silver and Turquoise necklace

I had a few chains lying around – copper, brass and silver – lovely things to work with. I wanted to create long necklaces that are mostly chain with a feature string of beads added.

How to make a block and chain necklace - rainbow and chunky chain

How to make a block and chain necklace – rainbow and chunky chain

I’ve already made a few to sell or wear, but I thought today I might do a tutorial on how to make such a necklace yourself. The best thing about these is that they can be very classy or cute or kitsch and they still work. Miss K. is a great connoisseur of these kinds of things and she particularly likes the more chunky, colourful ones.

Not a teething ring!

How to make a block and chain necklace – not a teething ring!

I think this would be a really wonderful activity with older children, but let’s think about ourselves for once – what would you like yours made from? Favourite stones? Will you splash out on some silver?

Here is what you will need:

a length of chain 40cm (16in) or longer
Tiger Tail – about 10-20cm (4-8in)
2 crimps to match your chain
beads of choice – enough for about 20cm (8in)
small wire cutters (or some old scissors)
flat nose pliers

The beads, crimps and tiger tail might lead you to a bead shop. It would be a good idea to ask them to show you how to use crimps or for you to do a youtube search as it’s rather hard to explain and photograph as I have found out…

Actually, you can get beads in many places. My favourite is going to an op shop or a bulk semi-prescious stone store. Many things can also be made into beads with a drill.

Once you have your materials assembled, you can start.

Instructions:

Thread Tiger Tail into one end of your chain and secure it in place by using the flat nose pliers on a crimp. Leave an extra centimetre or so of Tiger Tail to thread into the first and maybe second bead along with the main length, otherwise it can end up poking into you and being mighty uncomfortable (be aware that some small beads don’t have big enough holes to do this). Have look carefully at the photo below; under where the flat nose pliers are, is the main length of chain as well as a small amount for the purpose above (both these pass through the crimp that was squished by the pliers).

How to make block and chain necklace - crimping the Tiger Tail to one end of the chain

How to make a block and chain necklace – crimping the Tiger Tail to one end of the chain

Now measure off the Tiger Tail to the desired length. Let it hang a little lower than usual I reckon. Make sure you can fit the whole thing over your head as there will be no clasp to undo. Add 5cm (2in) to the desired length and cut the Tiger Tail. For example, if you want your beads to span 20cm, cut the Tiger Tail at 25cm so you have enough room to attach the other end to the chain. Again, make sure this will fit over your head!

Thread your chosen beads onto the Tiger Tail. You should have about 5cm (2in) of Tiger Tail left sticking out once the beads are threaded on. Lastly, thread on your other crimp like a bead, thread the Tiger Tail through the other end of your chain and then through the crimp and first (and maybe second) bead. The picture below is meant to illustrate the rather convoluted instructions I just gave…

How to make a block and chain necklace - securing onto chain

How to make a block and chain necklace – securing onto chain

You want to pull the Tiger Tail carefully through, so that the crimp is close to both the chain and the beads, but be careful not to make the Tiger Tail too tight that the beads lose their curve. Crimp this in place and cut off the excess Tiger Tail after the first or second bead so that it is hidden inside neatly.

Now it is ready to wear.

How to make a block and chain necklace - it's been a sweltering day, but Miss K. doesn't mind wearing a necklace

How to make a block and chain necklace – it’s been a sweltering day, but Miss K. doesn’t mind wearing a necklace

I have found that the thing that takes the longest with these necklaces is choosing the right beads, but that is also the fun part.

I’d love to see your block and chain necklaces if you make one. Send links/pics so we can have a look.