Sand and Sea

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
~”Sea Fever” by John Masefield
My first real memories of summer are of my family’s week spent at “the beach.”  Every summer while I was growing up, we visited the coast of southern Maine with my grandparents.  Every day it didn’t rain would find us basking (or baking) in the sun, reading in a beach chair, building sandcastles, sifting the tide pools for crabs and starfish, and swimming until we were numb.  Grammy and I are incurable beach combers, and we would happily stroll across the sand, looking for new treasures.  Prize finds included whole sand dollars, sea urchins, and seaglass.
“Sand and Sea” is a tribute my love for the ocean.  It is a mosaic created with a whimsical mix: glass, shell, wood, pearl–all materials you might find in the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean.  I hope it gives the impression of looking down at the sand and water as the broken waves race up the shore–don’t let your toes get wet.
This was gifted to a friend, who gave me some of the beads used in this piece.  The beads had belonged to a dear friend of hers, who passed away several years ago.  It was a pleasure to use them, and in a way, it felt to me like a collaboration between the three of us.  I hope this piece reflects some of Bonnie’s spirit.

Etsy Shop: Crowns

In a beautiful service, one of the most beautiful and intriguing parts of an the Orthodox wedding is the crowning.  After making a set of crowns for my own wedding, I became fascinated with this unique item, and continued making sets for Ash & Acorn on Etsy.

There are three sets of crowns currently available through my Etsy shop:


Something Blue–available in my Etsy shop

Something Blue was inspired by the English poem “Something borrowed, something blue…”.  The brocade fabric has a soft shine, and the silver leaf pattern shows beautifully against the royal blue background.   The crowns are lined with coordinating ribbon, and tied together with a silver-gray satin ribbon.  This set is even more beautiful in person than in the photos!


Old-Fashioned Romance features cream vintage lace, which inspired the title.  The lace is accented by glass seed beads and small glass pearl beads.  The set is tied together with a white satin ribbon.  This is a sweet and simple, but pretty set of crowns.



A close-up of the lace and beads on the Victory crowns.

Victory is a one-of-a-kind crown set.  It was made with vintage lace, of which there was only enough to make one pair of crowns.  Clear glass seed beads were sewn to the lace for subtle sparkle.  They are joined by a white satin ribbon.


All of these crown sets are ready-to-ship, which means that they can usually be in the customer’s hands within a week of ordering.  They can also be shipped overnight by special arrangement.

A number of my crown orders have actually been prompted by wedding emergencies, often when a couple discovers that their original crown order elsewhere has fallen through at the last minute.  Having the crowns ready to go means that they can be shipped quickly to meet a tight deadline–one case, from inquiry to postal delivery, had a turn-around time of about 36-hours.  While I can’t promise to always be able to replicate such results, I’m happy to help in such situations–just send me a conversation on Etsy.


I’ve been waiting to have an outdoor photo-shoot with my embroidery “Summer Lilac” for about three weeks now, watching for the unfurling leaves, and then the tightly-closed flower buds, and finally the fragrant cone on our lilac bushes.

Out in the May sunshine after a day of rain, engulfed in the heavy fragrance, and politely keeping out of the way of eager bees, it was no hardship to take these photos.



Interestingly, my camera and I disagree on the color of the real lilacs…they are purple, not bright pink!  The photo above is the most accurate representation of their color, and the beads in the embroidery coordinated beautifully with the real flowers.



If you would like lilacs in your life year-round, “Summer Lilac” is available in my Etsy shop.

Tree in Bloom

A huge cherry tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thickset with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen.

…”I named that cherry tree outside my bedroom window this morning.  I called it Snow Queen because it was so white.  Of course, it won’t always be in blossom, but one can imagine that it is, can’t one?”

~Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I have my own “Snow Queen”–not a cherry tree like Anne’s, but an apple tree.  It inspired this piece of bead embroidery, “Tree in Bloom.”


This was mostly created while I sat out on my sunny front porch, watching spring burst to life–and nursing a very nasty spring cold.  I spent the beginning of May embroidering, binge-watching All Creatures Great and Small, and single-handedly keeping Kleenex and Sudafed in business.  It was hard to feel too sorry for myself, though, when the birds and flowers were so cheerful.


“Tree in Bloom” is worked on cream cotton and is framed in a 10-inch embroidery hoop.  Both wood and glass beads create the tree branches, fluffy flowers and budding leaves.  It was something of an experiment, and although there are a few things I would change next time, overall I am happy with it.

I photographed it on my own “Snow Queen,” which, due to a long-lasting winter, isn’t actually in bloom yet.  “But one can imagine that it is, can’t one?”


This piece is being raffled off at the library where I work, as part of a fundraiser.  Hopefully it invites a lot of tickets!

Etsy Shop: Summer Lilac

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med

And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!

–“Sumer Is Icumen In,” 13th-century English round


Every May I look forward to throwing open the windows of my dining room and letting the sweet fragrance of our lilac bush drift indoors.  If I want to cut a few stems to decorate my table, I usually have to compete for the flowers with a host of bees, which find them irresistible.  My love of lilacs is the inspiration behind a small new piece of embroidery–complete with a tiny, seed bead bumble bee.



The lilac stem was worked on cream cotton and white lace. Purple seed beads evoke the four-pointed flowers, which attract a yellow-and-black beaded bumble bee. The work is framed in a four-inch wood (bamboo) embroidery hoop, and is backed with purple felt.


I’m really enjoying these small pieces–they are a crafting version of instant gratification, and provide a nice break from the larger pieces I’m working on.

If you would like a bit of summer in your life all year ’round, this is available at Ash & Acorn on Etsy.

Etsy Shop: Lavender’s Blue

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen:
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
‘Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.


I’ve finally tried my hand at thread embroidery with this little project, and found myself humming “Lavender’s Blue” all the while.  It brought back memories of piano lessons, where I first learned the song.  It’s a nice way to spend a some time, humming and stitching.

I’ve approached embroidery with a great deal of hesitation–a hesitation which has been met with incredulity by friends who have seen my bead embroidery.  But I have never claimed to be a good seamstress, and sometimes my stitches can be a mess–a fact I feel is easier to hide with bead embroidery.

This little project required only straight-stitch and blanket stitch (for the backing), and the floss was surprisingly cooperative.  The speed with which I completed the embroidery portion also surprised me; without beads to string, count, or chase across the table, it was done very quickly.

You were right, friends.


This lavender motif was embroidered free-hand, which was enjoyable–like sketching, but with a needle and floss.  It is stitched onto cream cotton overlaid with white floral lace, and is framed in in a three-inch embroidery hoop.  Purple glass seed beads evoke lavender buds, and the bunch is tied with a thread bow.  The embroidery is backed with light purple felt.

If you would like a little lavender and lace in your life, this bit of embroidery may be found at Ash & Acorn on Etsy.

Etsy Shop: Flora

A little detour from my usual fabric, bead-embroidered items: new in my Etsy shop is a floral-decorated candle, “Flora”…actually, it is probably more accurate to say that it is a bouquet, featuring a candle!


The candle is a 15-inch, drip-resistant white taper, around which is arranged fluffy green hydrangea, dusky blue flowers, and demure cream blooms.  Vintage lace encircles the bouquet.  The bottom of the candle is wrapped in white satin ribbon, over which a sheer white organza ribbon has been crossed and secured with pearl-headed pins.  The overall effect is fresh and vibrant, ready for Spring (and aren’t we all!).

I hope that this candle will add to your celebration of Easter or a baptism.

This candle is available in this Etsy listing.


Etsy Shop: New Items–Sweet Spring card and Antique Elegance candle

A few new items at Ash & Acorn on Etsy:

First, a mini-greeting card, Sweet Spring.  It is 2.75″ tall and 4″ wide, and comes with a matching green envelope, ready to carry a sweet message from you, in any season of the year.




Second, a “new” candle, Antique Elegance, which has been in my Etsy shop before, but has received a design update.  It is an 18-inch wedding or baptismal candle, and has a very similar style to my 12-inch Antique Grace candle (they would look wonderful used as a set!).




Drops of Glass

A few beading projects.

First, a series of wildflower greeting cards.

The forget-me-not and white clover were raffled off as part of a benefit for the library where I work.  I like them, but am going to keep tweaking the patterns.


I was very pleased with how the clover flower came out.

The black-eyed susan is my most bead-intensive work yet.  It also took the longest–almost four months of off-and-on work.  I’ve gotten pretty attached to it, and will probably keep it for now.


Second, two graduation gifts, both based on Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.  I love her artwork, and the lupines from the book were the inspiration that evolved into the wildflower cards.  Both pieces were beaded freehand, with no pattern, so each is unique.

The first was beaded on cardstock, and framed behind glass.


The second was sewn on cotton, and left framed in the embroidery hoop (and yes–that is beaded cursive!).


And finally, a re-discovered card which was made last summer.  It was intended to be used as a baptismal card.