I decided to make a piece in honour of my childhood babysitter, affectionately known to us as "Mrs. C". She started looking after us when my Mom arrived to pick us up from the babysitting centre of a group function. I guess the level of general calm in the middle of twenty or so kids impressed my Mom, and she'd asked the woman providing the babysitting if she'd help out with us two kids on an occasional basis.
Mrs. C was a remarkable woman. Raised on the Canadian prairies in the early part of the century, she continued to farm and homestead until she moved in to the city in her later years. She always had a story as to what life was like either on the prairies or just growing up through a century that included two world wars and a great deal of progress. When she first babysat us, she drove a white Volkswagen Beetle, which could be described as vintage even then, as the heat was somewhat variable and the Beetle had a distinctive rattling sound. In later years, she stopped driving altogether, and it was a sad day when we could no longer look for the white Beetle to pull up in the front of the house. My brother has since gone on to form a business specializing in Volkswagens, and I can't help but think that Mrs. C. influenced that. The most vivid memory that I have of her is that she almost always wore a cardigan, and in the sleeve of the cardigan, tucked a kleenex, useful for wiping small noses or cleaning up little mouths. When I think of her, I see her retucking the kleenex into the sleeve, making it ready for the next time that her charges might need a bit of cleaning up.
For the piece, I wanted something that read vintage, but was also timeless in it's own way. I wanted the necklace to be appropriate for at least a couple of decades in the last century, in order to honour a woman who had lived through nearly all of it. I love the way that many older necklaces have beads linked by small pieces of wire, akin to a rosary, and wanted to incorporate that look into the piece. I also had a couple of art deco style necklace links that I wanted to incorporate, as I knew were vintage - they'd been with me for at least 20 years, and looked like they'd been around for many more before that. I`d started out designing the piece as three strands, but with a white, blue and black lampwork beads made by yours truly. In the original version each lampwork bead was to be separated by tiny grey pearls. I've been slightly obsessed in the last few months with creating "white hearts" in my lampworking - a solid core, in this case either white or striated blue, covered with a transparent, in this case clear. I then etch these to give the beads a slightly etherial look.
The look wasn`t really what I was after, so out came the black beads. The tiny grey pearls all got linked together, and created the middle strand. In retrospect, I`m not sure I`d do an entire strand of chain linked 4mm pearl beads again, as that strand took a long time to put together, but what`s a few hours in memory of a loved one! The white beads were combined with some Czech glass and links from a chain I`d picked up a few years before. And the striated blue beads were again strung with some Czech beads and some vintage plastic that was retrieved from a necklace that I picked up in a Seattle market. This was strung along with a few other links and a lampwork focal featuring the same blue glass with cobalt blue roses. All of this got popped onto the necklace links, and voila - a new necklace. I`m quite pleased with the way the whole thing turned out - the end piece was exactly what I was after - mostly vintage, but something that also looks classic rather than old. I do have a few of the blue and white lampwork beads left over, along with an earlier version of the focal, which I`ll likely put up for giveaway next week.
If you`d like to check out the other participants, the participating blogs are here:
Andra Marasteanu Handmade by Indra Marasteanu
Andrea Trank Heaven Lane Creations
April Grinaway Brooklyn Bead Goddess
Christine Stonefield Sweet Girl Design
Liddy McLaughlin Liddy McLaughlin Art