Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beyond Charming - Embellished Hoarder's Bracelet from Jeans


I wore this bracelet yesterday to a crochet gathering. It was my first visit to the group, and this bracelet, though not crocheted, is a can't-miss conversation piece. One person who examined it proclaimed, "Now that's a charm bracelet!"

Before her declaration I would have described it as an extreme embellishment quilting project. I became fascinated by 'encrustation' four years ago after reading an article by quilter Frances Holliday Alford titled 'Outrageous Embellishment,' in the 12/07/1/08 issue of Quilting Arts magazine. (That article is now in a free e-booklet that you can pick up here.)

Alford piles objects on top of objects - charms, toys, buttons - in strange and fascinating ways. You can't stop looking. She lays them down so close that it's difficult to see the background. Compared to her encrustation, my project is restrained!

As a base, I used a strip of aged denim, starting at about 4" wide by about 11" long. It's folded the long way in thirds, so it's only about  2" wide finished, and there's a 2" strip of interfacing inserted inside. All the pieces are stitched on with grey pre-waxed Silamide (size A), through a layer of denim and interfacing, before the sides and ends were folded in to the middle back.

I added not just beads, buttons and sequins, but also snap halves, hardware washers and nuts, a ball chain lamp pull, single earrings, broken vintage rhinestone shoe buckles, and, of course, a piece of a bobbin [bobbins = best embellishments ever]. Old and new, as long as it was mostly silver in color, it qualified. 
(Come to think of it, the silveryness gives it a shot of steampunk). That sandal in the center of the shot below is a scrapbooking tchotchke. The oval above it is a sew-on beveled mirror. There's an alphabet cube bead next to the sandal.
In keeping with the upcycling theme, I finished the inside with a strip from a blue patterned men's necktie, fused in place. It covers the seams. 

As I was working on it, I thought not only about Alford's work, but also about  folk art memory vessels.  (I promise you will thank me if you visit the latter link.) I saw one of these in person a decade ago at a flea market, and still haven't recovered from its greatness. 

So try some extreme embellishment! You'll not only have a ton of fun, but it will take a significant bite out of your hoard! 

Update: An astute reader also pointed me to a memory jar quilt made by quilt artist Terrie Mangat. It's in the ninth row from the bottom, on this page. I admired Terrie's fabric in an earlier post.
Update II: Shared on Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday. Check it out for creative quilt art! 

15 comments:

  1. Utterly charming! Is the bracelet slip-on or does it fasten? Was it hard to sew thru all those heavy layers?

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    1. This one slips on like a bangle, Norma. Usually it wasn't hard to sew through the layers. It was only a top layer and interfacing when I sewed most of the items. Some went on after I folded in the top and and bottom flap, and sometimes there was a conflict because I needed a delicate beading needle (for seed beads), but something sturdier to get through the fabric. I made my needle decisions on a bead-by-bead basis! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I love this bracelet. You have inspired me. Just today, I got a box of things from my step-dad that belonged to my mom. There are lots of "baubles." Maybe I can actually make a bracelet from some of the stuff and give one to my sister/nieces/daughter.

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  3. Go for it, Beth, and then send me a picture! I'm thrilled to be an inspiration! Thanks for coming by!

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  4. This is beautiful. I think it is my favorite of all of the wristlets you've shared. I love the look. It is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I'm so glad you like it, Carol. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Cathy, that is quite a braclet and I love it. Great job. Maggie

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  7. AS someone just said on my blog. 'Just plain awesome!'
    Thanks for stopping by and for giving me the chance to find your blog!

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    1. You are welcome, Marie, and thanks back to you!

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  8. Wonderful idea, Cathy! You never fail to make me smile and want to run to my stash.Too bad it is the middle of the night but inspiration can strike at any time. Wear it in good health!

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  9. Jeri, your quilts (hanging on my sewing room wall in miniature and postcard form) are a constant inspiration to me!!! Thank you!

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  10. Fascinating! I can't tell you how many bits of 'stuff' I have gathered over the years. Too unique to toss, too unique to use! lol

    Thanks for the idea candy. :)

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  11. Idea candy, I love that Sherri, do you mind if I borrow it?! Just knowing about this type of project makes me unable to throw anything away! Thanks for coming by.

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  12. Cathy, I love this bracelet! Very cool!

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