We are a bit Czech here today because I thought I would share with you some things I made on holiday.
And even though I have written 'dobrý den' (hello) I won't try to fool you into thinking I speak Czech...it is to my shame that in the 7 years I have been visiting the Czech Republic (and loving it) I still don't speak the language. I know basic words (Hello, Goodbye, Thank you and Cheers!) and each year I intend to learn and never get around to it....I don't have any kind of talent for learning languages!
We went to stay with my mother-in-law Gil in the Czech Republic. For those of you who don't know, Gil has been a dolls house collector and crafter for over 40 years. She spends half the year in the Czech Republic where she has set up a dolls house museum filled with the dolls houses she has collected over the years. If you fancy taking a peek (and I really recommend you do!) here is a link to her blog. When I first met my husband and saw her collection of houses I was amazed and thrilled - I had always been fascinated with dolls houses and had always wanted one...imagine how thrilled I was to find a person who owned so many! A few years later Gil gave me my own dolls house and it is slowly being decorated....
I miss crafting when I am away from home so Gil usually finds me things to make! She has a knack of collecting helpers...."Oh you do crochet/sewing/woodwork....have you ever thought of doing miniature items?" These people find themselves suddenly using their skills in 1/12th scale and I don't think Gil has ever encountered anyone who says they won't do it again and again. I think she has infected many people with the miniature bug over the years - myself included! When she bought me my own dolls house I said I could never make anything for it and I would have to buy items. She told me this was nonsense and I absolutely could do it....She was right....once I began I found a fascination for working in such small detail that I never thought was possible.
Gil has created a department store and needed some items for the jewellery department. So I went to work in the museum and sat making jewellery one morning - more jewellery followed later in the holiday and I am so hooked I will probably make some for Gil to collect when she comes home later this year.
I began to practice before I went away. I wanted to make chains from the metal wire and most of the ideas failed totally. Eventually I put together a piece of wood with two nails hammered into it.
I wrapped a length of wire around the front nail and twisted it
Then I lifted that loop off the nail and placed it down over the nail at the back
I twisted the wire again in a loop around the front nail
I then lifted it off and placed that loop over the back nail...and so on and so on....
Once the chains/loops are formed it is simply the case of adding beads. This necklace was made with two strands of wire (forming four once looped into a chain). I decided to have three lines of beads so the center line was beaded with two strands of wire. Once I had finished adding beads to the four strands I knotted the wire and began the wire looping again.
It all sounds tricky and time consuming but it really isn't. I got into the flow of doing it quite quickly and it was a lot of fun.
This double necklace was made by just twisting thicker wire and occasionally adding a pearl bead.
Here is the entire collection I made - pictured against a penny to show the scale....
And here are some of them close up......
I think this one is my favourite. It was made with miniature crystal seed beads. I threaded them onto two strands of fine silver wire then secured the ends. I then twisted the two strands together.
And because I liked that one so much I made another using the miniature seed beads along with regular sized gold seed beads and added a pearl bead at the center.
This one was made using the chain/loop method and adding pearl and gold beads.
Sometimes simple is good! A strand of wire threaded with pearl, crystal and red seed beads.
I loved making this one! This was the trickiest - but then I LOVE tricky work! Using two lengths of thin gold wire I wrapped them around the nail to begin making the loop. So I was working with four strands. I made the entire chain for the necklace then I added the gold beads. I then began to add beads to the four stands of wire before repeating the three gold beads again and finishing by making a loop so that I could connect the length of chain.
But it wasn't all about jewellery this year. There was jam to made too....Gil has many plum trees in her garden.
Last year the fruit yield was nil and this year the trees are overflowing and they needed to be used. We all adore plum jam so I offered to make some. It is lovely to make jam and even better when you have picked the fruit yourself.
So two evenings were spent preparing buckets of plums and cooking the most luscious jam.....Bliss.....There were more jars than this!!!
We ended up eating quite a lot ourselves and we made so much we began to give them as gifts to visitors. Czechs don't really know plum jam - they make something called Povidla instead....and most of them thought they were being given a gift of Povidla and were amazed when told it was jam. Povidla is more like a thick plum stew that is cooked without any sugar - so they use late harvest plums which are naturally sweeter. Even then it is slightly sour. I wonder what they make of a very sweet traditional English jam! I think there will be more jars on the way as the trees are still overloaded with fruit and Gil plans to make more....I think I might have even convinced her to collect enough to make Slivovice!