Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Weaving demo in Nanjing, China

Brocade loom, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

I was fortunate enough to see some interesting demonstrations on my trip. At the Confucious Temple marketplace in Nanjing, we went into the museum of historical crafts where we discovered a fully operational silk brocade loom being manned by two weavers. The number of spools the weaver was keeping track of was mind-boggling. She had an assistant sitting up in the "rafters" of the loom, counting out some threads for either the warp or heddles, not sure quite what they were.
See all the loom photos

Silk Factory Tour in Beijing

Cocoon spinning, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

We were taken on a tour of a silk factory where we got to see how the cocoons are unwound and the threads spun into silk thread. Double size (with two worms inside) cocoons are stretched and layered into small, round flat shapes, almost like felting, then stretched out onto a bed-size table to create quilt batting.
After seeing the process, the tour guide then ushered us into a room filled with displays of beds dressed in dazzling silk quilts. Most of our tour group bought quilts then we went into the large showroom where the shopaholics were let loose among the thousands of silk products. I purchased half of our Christmas gifts here.
See the whole silk factory tour

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Favorite Fiber Art non-profit saved by pledge drive

The Springwater Fiber Workshop, a mainstay of the Washington, DC region's fiber communtity, almost went under last month and 22 years of operation. After a frenzied pledge drive brought in over $100,00 in pledges, the non-profit will be able to stay open. Read more about it

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Back to my old sewing gig

About two years ago, I found a post on craigslist looking for someone to help sew leotards. I love mind-numbing factory-like sewing projects because they are great for procrastinating on projects that really need to be done. This was the perfect sewing gig because the leotards are the CUTEST things I've ever seen. They range in many different sizes and the little tiny ones are so adorable. The colors are great and they are made with the softest fabric. I sew the elastic in the arm and legholes. The elastic for the legholes has a unique method for stitching which creates a "wedgie-resistant" design. The mother and daughter team who design and do all the rest of the sewing are wonderful to work for and their company is Quantum Leotards. So far, I have sewn several hundred "leos" and can sew in the middle of the night or in between violin lessons. The leotards are available at several gymnastic studios in Maryland and you can customize a leotard at their website. After about a year and a half hiatus, they asked me to start sewing again, so now I have another reason for not cleaning around here :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

FFF for the weekend

OK, I finally found the coolest shop of the week: Catirina Bonet Designs. Everything is patterns for knitting, but as you'll see, it's some pretty wild knitting. Check out the knitted turkey headdress and the coat of many colors. The sexy knitted dress is gorgeous, but I wouldn't have the courage to wear it. Then there are cute hats and ballerina shoes to knit as well.

Friday, October 12, 2007

FFF-More "Friday Fiber Finds"

Time to search for the next woven "goodie" on Etsy and here's what I found today: Copper Wire Creations-Large Basket . I love the burst of colorful spirals and the obvious attention to the craft of wire weaving in this basket. She has many more cute and interesting wire decorative items.

Monday, October 01, 2007

More Paraguayan Lace

On Sunday I went to the Hispanic Heritage Festival in the Mount Pleasant area of DC. Our band Batala Washington performed in the parade. It was one of the best festivals I've attended and I enjoyed seeing the magnificent costumes of dancers from many Latin American countries. There were vendors selling handmade goods from Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Columbia and many others. I found these adorable lace earrings made in Paraguay. Some of the costumed performers wore dresses that were completely or partially made with this type of lace. I also enjoyed seeing costumes made of woven textiles from Mexico and Guatemala. One of these days, hopefully, I'll make a "pilgimage" to the weaving centers of Central and South America.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fiber Artists Collective Exhibit in DC

The Fiber Artists Collective will hold an all-member exhibit September 18th to November 16, 2007 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science located at 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, DC 20005. The exhibit is open M-F from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

The Fiber Artists Collective (FAC), established in 1996, is an organization of professional fiber artists creating fiber art for residential, corporate and public settings. The Fiber Artists Collective's mission is to enable professional fiber artists to work cooperatively to present and market their work, educate the public and inspire its appreciation and awareness of works of contemporary fiber art.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

September Etsy Beadweavers Challlenge

Time once again to help us out and cast your vote for the next winner of the Etsy Beadweavers monthly challenge for September. Just to push you in my direction, the photo I posted is of the piece I submitted. It's very simple, but was a color study and served to get me out of my usual monochromatic rut. More pictures of my bracelet are listed in my Etsy shop. Enjoy all the beautiful beadweaving from our industrious and artistic members !

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FFF-Friday Fiber Finds (belated)

I forgot to keep up with my new goal of sharing a new Etsy "fiber find" of the week last Friday. I was in Austin, Texas on a recording gig and lost track, but never fear, I'll get caught up today with a wonderful selection of beadweaving from my dear friends of the Etsy Beadweavers Street Team.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Freeform Crochet

Last year I started to learn freeform crochet in my knitting study group (we got sidetracked with crochet). I still haven't finished my first project, but I might just pick it up again after finding this inspiring website called Not Just Knitting. There is a good tutorial to get you started.

Friday, September 14, 2007

1st Weekly "Friday Fiber Find"

I've decided to share my favorite Etsy fiber find of the day every Friday. Every other Friday, I staff the gallery at Artists' Undertaking Gallery in Occoquan, Virginia and we recently got wireless internet in the town. So while I'm gallery sitting, I plan to do some Etsy-surfing. Here's what I found today: Peaks and Valleys Art Basket by johnsbasketcase. I just love the way this basket looks like it created its own personality. Check back next week for my next "FFF" and happy Etsy-surfing this weekend !

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Inspiring Story

In the latest issue of the Making newsletter, I ran across a reference to group in Colorado that helps refugee women by teaching them jewelry-making skills. To read more: A Little Something: The beaded path to self-sufficiency They are in need of stash beads and especially findings and tools.

Another group I think is a worthy organization is Bead for Life which operates in Uganda. They provide work for Ugandan women through creation of paper beads made from discarded magazines. I went to a Bead for Life sale, and the beaded jewelry was being snapped up like hotcakes. Quite beautiful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Brazilian Lacemaking

On Sunday I was treated to the sight of a highly skilled Brazilian lacemaker in action at the Brazil Day festival in Frederick, MD. She was working with a large tufted pillow with a leather pattern pinned to it and with incredible speed, shuffled handfuls of unmarked bobbins back and forth to create the beautiful lacy patterns. If I had been carrying more cash with me, I would have brought home something. I was there to perform with my new Brazilian percussion band, Batala.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Etsy BeadWeavers' August Challenge needs your vote !

Check the Etsy BeadWeavers blog to see the beautiful beaded artwork submitted for our monthly challenge entitled "Hot August Nights" and vote for your favorite piece.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Etsy BeadWeavers August Challenge

Open to all beadweavers on Etsy, our new monthly challenge features the theme "Hot August Nights". Check the blog for the winners of this month's challenge ! Etsy BeadWeavers

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ambrosian Beads on Etsy

I finally took the plunge and opened a second Etsy shop to focus on my beadweaving and bead kits: Ambrosian Beads. Eventually I hope to have my main site point to the Etsy shop.

Recently I made a friend who owned a needlework shop but had to close it suddenly and was left with tons of packages of Delica beads. I offered to list some bead sets in the new shop and am having a great time playing with all the colors, combining them and coming up with descriptive titles.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


At the Arts in Pershing Park art market where I was a vendor over the weekend, I met a woman who told me about this upcoming event featuring a new book about the history of 38 African-American designers and dressmakers. I wish I could go, but since I can't I'm hoping I can promote the event here:



Washington, DC, on Wednesday, July 18, 2007. The DC Historical Society will be hosting a book-signing event to promote the release of Rosemary E. Reed Miller's new book, The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History. The event will be held at the Mt Vernon Square, Carnegie Library, 801 K Street, NW, Wednesday, July 18, 2007, 6-9pm.

The book explores the history of 38 African American designers and dressmakers, as well as their accomplishments and involvement in the fiber industry. The gifted women featured in this book designed many well-known costumes and dresses, without receiving proper credit. Reed Miller profiles the designers to draw attention to their achievements. Find out who these unknown designers are and be totally surprised by the socialites for whom they designed.

In addition to the book signing, exhibitors will showcase their unique talents, there will be informal modeling of fashions, a panel talk, time for questions and answers, exhibitions, refreshments and of course Ms Reed-Miller will be available to sign copies of her book. This promises to be a very delightful evening. Tell your friends! Join us for the fun, the information that well be shared and the opportunity to network. This is a free to the public event.

For exhibitor space
Quintina Hampton (202) 744-3379
Rosemary E. Reed-Miller (202) 723-9007
Sponsors and Contributors needed

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Art Market in DC-Pershing Park

I'm signed up for the next Arts in Pershing Park weekend art market July 6th, 7th and 8th. There are 10-20 juried artists participating in the market which is held every first full weekend of the month through October. Open 11 am - 5 pm each day and held in Pershing Park, A Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Park located at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW across from the Willard Hotel.

Next Market: July 6-8,2007
An event of family learning and fun and art collecting all in one – live jazz music by The Tom Reyes Trio and acoustic solo musician, Steve Hung; hands-on activities; artist demonstrations including Roderick Turner, muralist; Pindar VanArman and Zanelle, his robotic painter; Face painting; local artist booths showcasing paintings, glass, pottery, jewelry and more!

Arts at Pershing Park!
An open air gallery showcase highlighting the talent of local artists.
Arts at Pershing Park! is a local artist showcase brought to you by Guest Services, Inc., in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.
For more information on Arts at Pershing Park!
Contact 202-208-4056 or

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beadweaving Tutorial-Spiral Rope Stitch

UPDATE !!! Filmloop has been replaced by something I can't figure out, so please stand by until I get a Fickr slideshow ready. Stay tuned !!! In the meantime, here are some excellent tutorials to help:
Spiral Rope Chain
How to Make a Beaded Spiral Rope Chain
Beltana's Beads -- Spiral Rope Chain

Here is my next tutorial for another favorite, Spiral Rope Stitch that is very easy to learn. There are also many possibilites for variation so once you learn the basic stitch, you can take it from there !

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Etsy Trashion Events

I’m a member of the Etsy Trashion Team which is a group of over 70 artists from around the world who specialize in turning trash into treasure. The Etsy Trashion Team is about visualizing beauty in unconventional objects and materials. We fabricate art, jewelry, fashion and objects for the home from used, thrown-out & found elements. For us, trashion is a philosophy and an ethic. It encompasses environmentalism and innovation, and respects the human creative and healing potential.

This month, a group Etsy shop, located at opened for business. Products from all of our members are available for purchase there. A full list of members' shops can also be found there in the profile section.

On Friday, July 27th, we will be hosting a trunk show at the Etsy Labs in Brooklyn NYC. (325 Gold Street, Brooklyn NYC. A/C/F to Jay St * B/M/Q/R to Dekalb) We will have recycled art, jewelry, clothing, home d├ęcor & more for sale, plus there will be trashion-themed films, make-your-own trashion activities and refreshments. The trunk show is FREE and open to all ages, plus the first 25 people through the door will receive a complimentary trashion team gift bag. Attendees are requested to RSVP via email at

For more info on the group, our Etsy shop and our trunk show is available at:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Paraguayan Lace Technique

Ever scanning the web for fascinating and beautiful fiber techniques, I ran across these beauties: Paraguayan lace They are done by a fellow DC area resident who is originally from that country and who learned it from her family. She plans to use the proceeds from sales of her handiwork to help a leper colony back home. I would love to try the technique but I doubt I could achieve her level of skill.

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Beadweaving Tutorial-Chevron Chain Stitch

UPDATE !!! Filmloop has been replaced by something I can't figure out, so please stand by until I get a Fickr slideshow ready. Stay tuned !!!

I found a cool way to create a slideshow tutorial for my favorite beadweaving stitches. The first one I want to share is a very easy and versatile stitch that I use alot called Chevron Chain. I include this stitch in my Earring Kit which contains all the materials and a printed booklet with patterns for three different pairs of earrings. The other stitches you can try with the kit are Herringbone stitch and Spiral Rope stitch. Have fun, and check back for more tutorials coming soon !

Sunday, June 10, 2007

DC Area Etsy Team Trunk Show in NYC

Head over to the Etsy Labs if you're in Brooklyn on June 29th from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm to check out the handmade works of art and craft by members of C.R.E.S.T.-the Capital Region Etsy Street Team.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fashion Recycling

As usual, I am juggling projects and finally finished a couple of pieces that I've been thinking about for a long time. My stash of interesting fabric and clothing has been calling to me and I got down to work last week in time for the Virginia Craft-n-istas show in Arlington. Here's a photo of my display and some new pieces made from old clothes.

The first piece is a blue satin shoulder shrug made from a pair of child's silk trousers. The second is a halter and bubble skirt made from a floor length skirt (not that you would want to wear them together, they are just shown together !). And the third is a purse made from another floor length skirt.

And now the "tagging" issue. I've been putting it off, and will now list 7 things about me, but I feel wary to "tag" anyone else, so forgive me if I'm not playing the game right.

1. I have studied violin-making.
2. I sang in a Bulgarian women's chorus
3. When I was a kid, I ate peanut butter and mayo sandwiches...m..m..good !
4. I love my new "cybergreen" VW Beetle.
5. I like Moomins.
6. And parrots.
7. In high school I once dressed up as a man with a plastic skull head and scared tons of people at the mall.

I hope that's interesting enough for now.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Bead Kit Listed

After an enormous amount of time photographing each step, editing the photos and writing the text, I am finally finished with my third bead kit pattern: Three Original Earring Designs I've already taught the class once in the fall and these designs are a great way to learn three different beadweaving stitches. The Long Drop style earrings teach chevron chain stitch, the Snowflake design teaches herringbone stitch, and the Spiral Rope Loop earrings teach the (of course !) immensely fun and easy spiral rope stitch. All three pairs can be finished in an afternoon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Goddess Series

I just finished three pieces for my "Goddess Series" part of the featured artist show entitled "Myth and Magic" at the Artists' Undertaking Gallery in Occoquan, VA. The other featured artist is printmaker, Patricia Smith.
The first image is of a necklace I named "Aphrodite" depicting a female figure rising from the sea. She is done in herringbone stitch with surface embellishment of beads for the seaweed and hair.
The second is a necklace "Athena" and depicts lightning and rain. This necklace is done in ladder stitch and peyote.
The third necklace is "Persephone" for the goddess of springtime and is done in herringbone stitch.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beadwork Cards

Just listed on Etsy is a set of four cards featuring images from the beaded pieces I made for the Artists' Undertaking Gallery show on travel Most of our artists sell cards with their artwork images and I wanted to get in on the card sales. Check them out:Beadwork Card Set

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, I took a break from my gallery-sitting duties at the
Potomac Craftsmen Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center and shopped in the bookstore for something to read during the opera I was to play that night (pit orchestra). I found a fascinating book about "featherwork" which is the use of feathers as a fiber element by native cultures. The book is called "The Gift of Feathers" and was published by the University of Pennsylvania in the early '90's. Any title with the word "feathers" in it catches my interest because I have parrots and they shed beautiful feathers. One day, I hope to try some of the knotting techniques pictured in the book. In the meantime, I need to get over to the Textile Museum in Washington, DC and check out the Peruvian feather cape in their collection.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Beads in Concert

One of my crocheted bead necklaces made its debut yesterday in a fantastic vocal recital with two friends of ours visiting from Germany,
Nadine Balbeisi, soprano and Matthias Manasi, piano. They performed works of Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz and Delibes. I loaned Nadine the necklace and a matching knitted bracelet to add a little "dazzle" to the performance. The necklace is made by simply slipping a bead in between each chain stitch and connecting them in a freeform manner as you go. The beads are silver-lined clear and really catch the light. The bracelet is knitted. I used Fireline for both pieces. They are for sale at the Artists' Undertaking Gallery in Occoquan, Virginia.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ghanaian Thread Art

Recently a musician friend of ours, Nana Frimpong who is originally from Ghana and now lives in the DC metro area, brought us some examples of thread art made by his cousin back in Ghana. I had never seen anything like it and was captivated by the bold shapes and colors. My husband and I selected one piece, and I tried to find out more about the technique. All I can find so far are a few links to sites that sell the artworks:

If I had the space, I would definitely start a collection of this art form. One day I hope to make a trip to Ghana to see it being made and to meet more of the fabulous musicians there. To learn more about our friend "Nana from Ghana" (that's how he introduces himself !), visit his website: He is available for concerts and singing and drumming workshops.