May 26, 2011

New Feathers!

May has been an excellent month here.

Here's what I've got on deck:

* Peahen feathers (including the irridescent green neck, etc)
* Lady Amherst pheasant feathers (including the tippets & wings)
* Ringneck pheasant feathers (including the white ring & the green/purple head)
* Matched pairs of rooster saddle hackle
* A giant stash of natural color-sorted (chinchilla, grizzly, variant, etc) rooster saddle hackle
* A giant collection of every imaginable color of long, skinny Whiting silver (top-end salon) grade rooster saddle hackle
... and more ...
Everything's been pro cleaned (no mothballs garbage!) & sanitized. It's being sorted as we speak...

June and July are going to be great fun!

May 2, 2011

FeatherJewels Has A New Treasury Of Feathers

Happy May 2, everyone. We've got one less terrorist in the world and a whole batch of new fresh feathers for sale. How's that for a nice Monday morning treat?

Check out some highlights from the FeatherJewels store on Etsy. :)

April 24, 2011

FeatherJewels featured in 8+ treasuries!

Now that the CraftCult widget generator is working again, here are all of the treasuries that FeatherJewels has been featured in. The most recent treasury list is at the top of this page and the earliest list is at the bottom. There is some amazing work from a lot of wonderful Etsy vendors here so please check all of these lovely lists out!

Enjoy! :)

The Feathery!

Finally I have enough sets of loose feathers posted that I can make a treasury out of them on Etsy.

Here it is! :)

On that page:

10 sets of Ringneck Pheasant feathers
4 huge Scarlet macaw tail feathers
2 sets of macaw feathers: Hyacinth, and Blue & Gold

Please check it out. :)

Silk Painting is fun!

I'm definitely going to try silk painting in the future... for now, here's a nice "tutorial" type video for all of us to enjoy.

April 19, 2011

Needle Felting

Needle felting. Passing a barbed needle through multiple layers of felt, cloth, or roving to create embellishment. This is a craft that a lot of people are getting in to.

I'm not good at felting so I'll put up some tutorials for those of you who think you might be good at it!


If you're not good at it but you still want to pursue it, there are now specialized home needle felting machines to help your quest. :)

What can you do with fur yarn?

I mean fur yarn... not spun up cat hair or fake "fun" fur or eyelash yarn or whatever they're calling it these days. Fur yarn is really thin strips of genuine fur still naturally attached to the pelt.

In North America, a very long time ago, Native Americans and First Nations peoples premiered the design and use of knit fur with spectacular rabbit fur blankets.

Nowadays the durability, appeal, and usefulness has been taken up a notch by modern tanning, shearing, and dyeing techniques. This allowed designers who choose to work with natural materials, the opportunity to explore.

Paula Lishman made her namesake on micro-thin strips of tanned, plucked and sheared beaver fur twined around an inner fiber core.

(The Native peoples use the fur as-is without an added core. It can be tanned or raw before use for their blankets. In arid regions, the skins are cut and twined in to the yarn raw and then softened by usage and time.)

One benefit of using fur in this way is that you can get more surface area covered per pelt then if you were using it as a full skin. This reduces the weight and increases the stretch of your garment. That's important if you sit on your scarf in the car - a full skin mink might rip, but a knit sheared mink will stretch. Another thing you can do with knit that you can't do with full skin fur is that you can pass pins through the many open-weave holes. Pins are a no-no on traditional fur coats but lightweight embellishments of all sorts are fine for knit. Don't put pins through the leather. :)

I mention all of this because I make my own genuine fur yarns, tanned, in the Native style. They are so much fun to work with!

One thing I wonder is: can these fur yarns be put on a knitting machine using the "super bulky" setting? Has anyone tried? I've been doing all of my openwork by hand, but it would be fun to knock out a sheared nutria cowl in 10 minutes on a machine, you know?

April 11, 2011

This is also how to make ribbon

I found this yesterday while I was searching for new, fun things to do with my sewing machine.

Sure, you can make bias tape this way too. :)

What I want to do is make ribbon. I have all this nice kimono silk and nothing to do with it - it's too small to make even a scarf from, but it would make great ribbon!

The tutorial (photos and text)

Except that you cut the ribbon a bit wider then intended, for a seam allowance. Then you hem each edge, trim up, press, and you're done.

I'm familiar with this cutting method. It's a fantastic way to get *a lot* of length out of a fur pelt to make "fur yarn" and it makes your creations very unique! :)

FeatherJewels created 4+ Etsy Treasuries!

Here are some Etsy member-curated Treasuries with lots of great merchandise. I've picked out some wonderful items to share with all of you, and here they are!

Here are the treasuries that my FeatherJewels shop on Etsy has made for others. The newest treasury is first. The oldest is last.

RFamilyJools created 17+ Etsy Treasuries!

It's time for Etsy member-curated Treasuries galore. I've picked out some wonderful items to share with all of you, and here they are!

Here are the treasuries that my RFamilyJools shop on Etsy has made for others. The newest treasury is first. The oldest is last.

RFamilyJools featured in 33+ Etsy Treasuries!

It's Etsy member-curated Treasuries galore. I've picked out some wonderful items to share with all of you, and here they are!

Here are the treasuries that my RFamilyJools shop on Etsy is featured in. The newest treasury is first. The oldest is last.

April 7, 2011

New fun project: Cat Toys

During my spring cleaning a few weeks ago, I decided that "skinning my sewing machine" would be a fun thing to do. It was bought refurbished. It was out of warranty, and had been broken for 6 years. I took the plastic covering off the entire machine, and it made for a very 'Machivellian' desk ornament! Unfortunately, it was a big item of "clutter". So, I threw it away after I took all of the "potentially useful" items from it. That was a machine I paid $399 for (in 2005), in the trash! *sigh*

Once I junked the old machine, I decided that for the price of fixing up the old one - I was quoted about $80-120 - I could buy a brand new, basic machine *with a warranty*. That's what I ended up doing. I got a Brother (I forget the model #). It arrived promptly on the day it was supposed to, undamaged. It took me a day to get up the nerve to wind a bobbin and get it threaded, and another 2 days to get up the nerve to start sewing.

When I fired 'er up, it was like lighting that sewing fire under my butt again. I'm so happy to have a nice, working machine again.

The first project? Let's make cat toys! So in my usual "it isn't worth it unless I can make a hundred of it" way, this is what I did... I got a pattern from a random toy floating around the house. (My landlords have cats. I don't.) I sat down and for 5 hours over 2 days, I made over a hundred toys. I'll offer them up on Etsy once I've finished the embellishment. Watch for them because they're really cool!

What's nice about cat toys is that they don't consume a ton of material, and cats love to hide the toys, so you always need new ones... If you have a new kitten, or older cats, a little time (about 10 seconds of sewing per toy), and even a fat eighth of fabric... you can make a few toys. It's FUN! Even if you don't have felines, or ferrets - who also love these toys - you can still use up clothes you can't donate (or would be ashamed to!), and you can make some critter's life better: you don't even need to sell them. You can give them to your local animal shelter. So go for it. Cat toys are a fun and good way to play with your sewing machine!

(grown-ups do love their toys!) :)

Last Big Project...

In February, the big project I was working on before I became ill, was "hair extension feathers". I'd bought myself 2 really nice rooster saddles for my birthday in 2009. I already had all of the feathers cleaned and sorted, and it had been my dream since 2009 to dye them up to make a giant set of colorful super-long feathers. So this is what I was doing. In a couple of weeks, the project will finally be ready. I have to do "the blues": blue, indigo, violet... and then it is done. They look terrific so far. I also bought a wholesaler's lot of micro link extension crimps or beads that I'm throwing in with the feathers. There are a LOT of these feathers, so this will be one of my most expensive offerings to my audience. I'm undecided as to how to sell these actually, and have saved some aside to sell "by the feather" for the people who don't want to drop a ton of cash on one item / one seller. Watch for these. :)


I finally felt better and "healthy again" around the middle of March. Unfortunately, around that time, my PayPal account got locked up *again*. Frustrated, I closed it and re-routed all payments to my personal PayPal account instead. It took like all the wind out of my sails... being ill with that nasty GI virus for 3 weeks, and also not being able to sell anything during that time, due to the "dead" computer and the screwy PayPal account, put me back in to 'lurk mode'. I'm trying to regain my momentum from before, *sigh*

February 27, 2011

More sick days :(

I saw my doctor, we ran tests, and I found out that I have some sort of intestinal flu virus. There is no cure and no treatment, other then drinking lots of Pedialyte to make sure I don't get dehydrated, and taking Immodium to control cramping and loose stools. *sigh* I feel sick still (it's been 9 days/9 nights), so I'm going back to bed!

February 22, 2011

Sick Days!

Well my landlord gave me some sort of stomach flu, and I'm miserable, so I had to shutter both of my Etsy shops until I get better. I have a doctor's appointment in 48 hours and I hope I'm right as rain by then, or shortly after. I'm so sorry for having to do this... so soon after opening. :( I hope to be back soon!

February 17, 2011

50 Sites To Help Promote Your Etsy Shop

I was given this link.
Please note
that many of these places are full-fledged online communities - destinations in themselves - and will require an account be setup to be able to use these to help promote your Etsy shop.
It's not one-click easy. It's 50 different destination ideas for you. :)

50 Sites To Help Promote Your Etsy Shop

Side notes: Twitter has been my best source of increased views, so far. That might be because I very rarely use Facebook / Google to promote, but I don't know. (I just optimized my shops last week, and still haven't optimized over half of my items).

Etsy Treasuries I have been featured in

Here are some wonderful Etsy Treasuries - or galleries of handcrafted items picked by other Etsy members - which I have been featured in. Enjoy browsing through all of the great merchandise from these creative souls!

Treasury One

Treasury Two

Treasury Three

Treasury Four

Treasury Five

Treasury Six

Treasury Seven

Treasury Eight

Treasury Nine

Treasury Ten

Treasury Eleven

Treasury Twelve

Treasury Thirteen

Treasury Fourteen

Treasury Fifteen

Treasury Sixteen

Treasury Seventeen

Treasury Eighteen

Treasury Nineteen

Treasury Twenty

Isn't it amazing? The generosity of others... :)

Blogs Who Feature Etsians

Here's a blog post that will showcase a few fellow bloggers who feature Etsians, or denizens of Etsy, on their pages. :)

I'd like to get in to this one:

Handcrafted Handpainted Haven

I need better product photos though! :)

Here's another.

Heart Handmade

Maybe I'll try to get in to that one too.

Gorgeous Murano beads

This shop on Etsy has the most beautiful handmade glass beads I have found yet.

On working with dentalium...

Here are my musings on working with dentalium (aka tusk shell, tooth shell).

First of all, I bought far more shells then I needed! I've wanted them for a long time though. I'm used to my very bad math, and more is better! Everything arrived and I was just blown away! So many shells, so little time. I spent the next 4 hours cleaning / sterilizing them, then I laid them on a towel to dry. Note to self: do not do this in front of door. I stepped over the pile of shells for 2 weeks...

I have been packaging them (after pulling out the tiny ones and the junk) in resale bags of 100. I graded & packaged 27 bags the first day! That's exuberance. :)

I looked up the species. I believe it's here. An octagonal shape, translucent white dentalium from The Philippines. They are much more ridged then the 'precious dentalium' from the US pacific coast. Still, they're the real deal, so onward with work!

Today I began the work in earnest.

First I had to de-grain some braintan mule deer I did in 2008, to use for spacers and ties. That is hard work but it's fun. The leather comes out so soft and fluffy!
I selected 80 shells from the resale pile and decided to make a 10-row Ponca style choker from them.

I snipped the tips off with a guillotine cutter. It was easier then trimming parakeet nails.

Now for the 'de silting'. Almost every one of them was jam packed with Phillipine sand! How aggravating. So I took a pin and removed the sand from every one of them. This took an hour and 20 minutes (for 80 shells). 2 exploded. Not fun!
Then it was time to match up the rows and start sewing. Because the tops were so rough and small, I decided against filing/sanding them. Instead I used rugged beading wire and 2 thicknesses of waxed nylon thread. That's 3 stringing materials on a needle through a little hole...

Amazingly, I didn't poke myself at all. Usually that needle (a cutting point) will impale me at least once. I bleed and cry like a 3 year old when this happens. Seriously. It HURTS. I got lucky though and all of that needling only resulted in lots more length loss to the shells... no bloody fingers.

Having a shell snap in half while you're trying to pass the needle through it is VERY annoying. Luckily I had a giant pile of shells nearby to replace the exploded ones quickly.

Almost every one of them lost some length when the thread passed through tthe hole. So this ended up much more bracelet size then choker size, and most of my careful row matching for size ended up being for naught.
I wanted to rip my hair out with exasperation...
Finally, after almost 3 and a half hours, the choker was finished! It looks very nice.
Here is the thread which provided the inspiration.

I used double-shaved, de-grained braintan; the Ponca used *much* thicker, stiffer harness leather.

The ties on my choker are actually tied in to the necklace, not just slip loop knotted on to the first and last rows. Additionally I have sewn covers on to the first and last rows, so my knots are not exposed. It makes for a much softer (and more attractive to a contemporary user, as this is intended for) wearing experience.

What a hand-killer though. Every stitch was done with a needle awl - the old way... not a single stitch would pass through the leather unaided. Mule deer are the thickest-skinned North American deer - elk are elk, and moose are moose! - and I am using skin from about a foot in front of the rump, from a mature buck, unframed. I should have used white-tail doe belly! :)

Now I know why dentalium stuff costs so much. The earrings are going to have to wait. Man what a PITA.

Blog Central

My blog's now open for pleasure and business.

My Etsy shops are here:
(for all of your feather needs)
(for all of your inexpensive fashion jewelry needs)

My Facebook Fan Page

Hi everyone! Here is my brand-new Facebook fan page. I published it just to get it out the door, so to speak. Please become a fan and I will reciprocate!

Feather Jewels Fan Page On Facebook.

The “lots of beads” picture above, is taken from the back of my door, where I have like 30 hanks of beads hanging, just waiting to be put in to projects. That is very inspiring to me, to see all of that color, just waiting to be utilized.