Friday, August 26, 2011

Sicily - Island in the Sun

Photo above ... Aboard the train ferry, crossing the Strait of Messina (circa 1985).

Once upon a time long, long ago a little girl was born in a land of warm yellow sunshine, Mediterranean breezes, lush groves of citrus trees,  olive orchards and grape vines.  She was a fair child with dancing blue eyes and blond hair that curled like Shirley Temple's famous locks and, surrounded by her grandparents and the doting attentions of her 4 aunts, she was undoubtedly spoiled.   I was that little girl and the place was Messina, popular sea port and capital of Sicily, the large island just off the toe of the Italian mainland.  As I grew up my blue eyes turned a gray-green and my hair darken to brown.  Oh well we can't all be blue-eyed blonds.

I'm considering using this photo as my new avatar.  Even though it's very old and I no longer look like this fresh faced 40 year old, the photo holds a lot of lovely, warm memories of my first and only trip back to the land of my birth. Please let me know if you think it is a bad idea to use an ancient photo or not.

Why my mother, Antonietta,  didn't stay on that idyllic island is a long story and I probably don't really know the true reason she left.  Perhaps, as she claimed,  she wanted to join my father in the United States, even though he had met another woman and he, along with his adulteress, were hounding her to grant him a divorce.  Or maybe Antonietta  just wanted to get away from her parents, whom she felt had forsaken her, or from her younger sister, Rosa, who had betrayed her.  Perhaps she wanted to be someplace where she would never look upon the face of Nino, her ex-fiancee who had broken her heart.   Several years earlier she and Nino had been engaged but then he fell in love with and wanted to marry her younger sister Rosa.  Perhaps that's the reason Antonietta, jumped into a marriage with a dashing young, foriegn soldier from the United States of America ... unfortunately it would be just another heart breaking relationship.  Gives meaning to the explanation; "It's complicated", doesn't it ?

Together my mother and I left Europe and crossed the vast Atlantic Ocean by steamship.  I was only 2 at the time.  During all the years that passed I've only visited the land of my birth once.

July was not a good time to visit Italy, the summer was gruellingly hot and humid.  Air conditioning, back in 1985 , was limited, many did not have it and most cars were not equipped with it.  Our Roman hotel promptly turned off the central AC at 10 P.M.  It was a cost saving and energy saving gesture.  However once the unit was shut off  guests abruptly awoke to a stifling hot, and stuffy room.  I recalled having to open the window for ventilation.  There was a wedding reception going on in the gardens below and the singer began to sing Stevie Wonder's; "I just called to say I love you".  Considering the circumstances it was and is still a pleasant memory.

We did the typical tourist jaunts around Rome and then boarded a train to Sicily.  Upon reaching the toe of the mainland we disembarked the train while it was put aboard a ferry ... yes passengers, train and all went via ferry to the Port of Messina.  There was also a surprise awaiting us as we boarded the ferry, my Sicilian family was there to greet us.   Naturally my mother chatted away in fluent Italian while John and I wondered; "Who ARE these people?" 
My mother, at times, tended to be oblivious of such small matters such as the fact that she never taught me to speak the language.  Matter of fact she made a point that Italian would not be spoken in her home ... unless she was on the phone speaking to her parents or sisters via transatlantic telephone (that was before the days of satellites and man had not gone into space, let alone walked on the surface of the Moon). 
Truthfully I am resentful that she deprived me of this heritage but what's done is done. 
On the Ferry from Villa San Giovanni, Italy across the Strait of Messina to Messina, Sicily. The 3 boys in front are my cousins. My mother is the lady holding a camera (uses film - not digital), my uncle Franco stands beside her with his hand on her shoulder. I am behind and next to my mother (with the short, dark brown hair) and directly behind me is my uncle Pippo

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Porcelain Pendant - PART II Embellishing

This is how we left the foundation of our pendant.  The working thread is exiting from Bead #11 and if we were to continue bringing the thread up to the top bead we would end up working  clockwise, which is difficult for me and most right handed people to do.  So at this point I flip my work over so that I'm working counter clockwise.

Bring your needle up through the side beads of the last 6 bead circle finished, and exit through the left side of its very top bead.

Pick up 1 of the 3mm crystals, 1 seed bead and 1 crystal.

Pass needle back through the top 4mm round bead.

Travel down through the next 4mm bead to your left.

Pick up 1 crystal and 1 seed bead.

Now pass needle through the 3 mm crystal bead to your right ... remember to go through just the crystal and NOT the seed bead.

Pass needle back through the same 4 mm bead that you just added the new crystal and seed bead to.  Again remember we are traveling in a counterclockwise direction.

Basically we will be adding 1 crystal 3 mm bead and 1 seed bead between each of the 4 mm beads in this circle.  Pass needle through the next 4 mm bead.

Again pick up 1 crystal 3 mm bead and 1 seed bead and pass needle down through just the crystal bead added previously.

And then back through the 4 mm bead that is at the base of the newly added crystal.

We will continue with this pattern of going through the 4 mm base bead, picking up 1 crystal 3 mm bead and 1 seed bead  all around the 6 bead circle until we have 6 crystals and 5 seed beads in place.

Photo below shows the 6th crystal and its seed bead being set into position by going through the crystal to its left.

Photo below shows the needle going through the base 4 mm bead a second time.  I should have designated the tip of needle in this photo but trust me, it is to the right,  traveling in the accepted counterclockwise direction.
Photo below ... Notice there is a gap between the first crystal added and the very last one that we've just set into place ?  We are going to now fix that gap and add our 6th seed bead.

Bring needle up through that very first crystal  (the one to your right) and pick up 1 seed bead.

Bring needle down through the last crystal added, the one to your left

And back through the 4 mm base bead.

And up again through that very 1st crystal added.

Now we are going through each of the top 11/0 seed beads ... all 6 of them

Then back through what would have been the 5th seed bead  in this "crown"

Pass needle down through the crystal 3 mm bead right below the seed bead that you've just gone through.

We now journey over to the next medium sized circle of 6 beads over to our left by going through the 4 mm base bead from right to left ...

continue over to the next 4 mm base bead, this will be a bead in the large center circle

Now up through the right side bead of that 6 bead circle

And over through the next 2 beads, needle is going from right to left.
we are now in position to make another crystal and seed bead "crown" around the beads of this circle.

It is made just like the previous one by picking up 1 crystal 3mm bead, 1 seed bead and 1 crystal bead.  Going back through the top 4 mm bead and then

passing the needle through the 4 mm base bead to the left of the newly added crystal and  once again picking up 1 crystal bead and 1 seed bead  going back down the previous crystal and back through the 4 mm base bead.

Once 6 crystals have been added along with 5 seed beads there is that familiar gap between the first and the last crystal that needs to be joined.

Pass through the base bead

and up through the very first crystal that was strung on this circle

Pick up 1 seed bead and pass down through the last crystal that was strung

Back through the base bead , from left to right ...

Again up through that 1st crystal ...

We will again go through all of the top seed beads, joining them into a nice tight circle and forming our "crown".   Just like the first crown made we will travel back through the 5th top seed bead (the one to the left of the 6th seed bead bridge that was added last).

And then pass through the 4 mm base bead that is part of the large center circle.  Following the same path that we did to reach the 2nd 6 bead circle , we will travel over and up to the 3rd 6 bead circle to the top bead and repeat the same steps as we did to make our first 2 crowns.

Complete the crowns on the 3rd and 4th remaining 6 bead circles in the same way as you did the first two.
When 4th crown is complete, travel down the familiar 6th crystal and through the 4 mm base bead to position the thread for making the crown of the large center circle of beads.

Here you will pick up your contrasting 3mm crystals and seed beads (if this is what you've decided to use) .  Like before, pick up 1 crystal, 1 seed bead and 1 crystal and pass needle back through the 4mm base bead.

Pass through the 4 mm base bead to the left of the newly added crystals and, like the other crowns, pick up 1 crystal and 1 seed bead

Travel down through the crystal to your right, again just through the crystal bead and not the seed bead above it.

Pass again through the base 4 mm bead beneath the newly added crystal and then through the 4 mm base bead to the left of it. 

Continue with this pattern all around until you have 8 crystals and 7 seed beads in place.
Then just like the smaller crowns, pass through the 4 mm base bead

And up the very first crystal added

Pick up 1 seed bead and go down through the last crystal added

Back through the 4 mm base bead

And up through the first crystal (sorry about the fuzzy photo but I took 3 shots of this and believe me this is the only one that turned out the best ... scary isn't it ?)

Now back through all of the top seed beads, to join the top of the crown together.   I sometimes go through them twice to make sure they're secure.

Then back down through one of the crystal beads  ( these last few photos were all fuzzy and I haven't figured out if maybe I was getting tired at this point or if my camera was trying to tell me it had had enough and needed to rest) 

At this point the pendant is pretty much finished.  If the working thread is long enough I normally work it around until I get to a top bead in one of the 6 bead circles and then I use that thread to attach the pendant to my own seed beaded bails.  But you could use the thread to attach it to a large closed jumpring or to a metal pendant bail.  Once completed all thread tails should be worked securely back into the piece and then cleanly cut so they do not show.

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