Felted Lake Superior Stones

There is something mystical about lake stones and I'm drawn to them whenever I find myself on a Great Lakes beach. I had a sizable collection of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan stones and ran out of ways to display them. I was inspired by a Lil Fish Studios tutorial (excellent!) and the gorgeous felted rocks they create. This is my own take on felting stones with hand dyed wool and adding embroidery and beads.

Start by wrapping medium sized, smooth stones with dyed wool roving. Lay out strips of  roving to make a piece wide enough to wrap around the stone. Wrap the stone and use a felting needle to secure the roving. Add enough roving to cover the whole stone with a good layer. Take some strips of contrasting colors and wrap it around the stones to mimic veins in real rock. 
Next, you'll need to felt! There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. You can drop them in hot soapy water and wet felt them the traditional way, by squeezing them gently with a lot of soap until they begin to mat down, then rolling them in mesh or bubble wrap. There are lots of articles online about how to wet felt. 

If you want to make a lot of stones (for gifts), I'd recommend the Lil Fish way, using old stockings and a washing machine. It will speed things up! You can then cut the stockings open and your stones will be ready for use or embellishment. 

These look gorgeous piled together in a bowl, but since I wanted to give mine as gifts, I decided to continue by adding some random embroidery and a little beading. You can try a variety of embroidery stitches and techniques and go wild! When you're done, sit back and appreciate your handiwork. Then make some more!

Bottle Cap Tree

My bottle cap obsession knows no bounds, so with the help of a lot of friends, I've amassed an impressive collection of thousands of bottle caps from all over the world. When this crabapple tree died, it was time to make my move. First I stripped it of bark and applied a few coats of linseed oil to protect it. Once that task was complete, I prepared my bottle caps.
For each bottle cap, I drove a small finishing nail through the center. Then I took bucketfuls out to the tree and started the hard work. Pound pound pound to attach each cap. After doing a section, I sprayed them with varnish to try and preserve the color from the harsh rays of the sun. 

 Stay tuned for more. This project is not yet finished!


Flowers for My Ears

Finally time to make something for myself. I tried some simple enamel earrings made from pre-cut copper circles.

First I punched some holes in the smaller circle with a handheld hole punch. Then I dapped both sets of circles with some dapping punches to round them. I did some hammering on the edges to add some texture.

Both sets were enamelled. Then I cut some leaf shapes and enameled those. I punched a hole in the ends of them as well so I could thread them all together.

The center is a piece of silver wire. I balled the end and then threaded all the pieces through and bent the wire on the back so that all the parts would stay together. Finally I added a french earring wire made from silver wire.

What did I learn from this experience? I ended up removing the copper rings and simply hanging the flowers directly on the ear wires, since they were too long and the flowers tended to move too freely and end up showing the back, which I did not enamel. Secondly, four pieces of copper, even though they're small, ends up being pretty heavy, so I think I'll max at 2 pieces if possible so I don't bend my ears out of shape!