Two Spools, a Dozen Needles and One Rolling Hop

When challenged by Christine Altmiller of One Kiss Creations to create something using vintage wooden spools she found while antiquing, my first thought was: "How can I use needles in my design?" Not just in the execution, but in the design itself. My mom always had a needle in her hand when we were growing up, whether she was sewing our clothes, reupholstering the furniture, making drapes, darning socks or sitting down after dinner with her needlepoint. We loved to watch her take out the trussing needle, cut a length of colorful cotton thread and sew up the Thanksgiving turkey to secure the stuffing! It's a tradition I continue with my own family.

While talking about Christine's challenge with my husband, Dan, over dinner, he suggested cutting the spools in half (which would definitely increase my design options) and offered to do the job himself.

Holes were drilled in the center of each spool, which were then screwed into a block of wood to prevent them from flying across the deck.

The spools arrived with this lovely card from Christine, and a selection of seed beads in the same colors as the card. How could Christine know that I've never been able to resist the lure of a closed door and love to imagine the lives that are being lived out behind them? You'll find photographs of ancient doors, rustic doors, and ornate gateways in every room of my house. Second design consideration solved: Christine's card gave my project its color palette.

I selected the largest and smallest spools for my design and began researching the best way to paint them. Deciding that metallic spray paint was the way to go, I built a paint booth and began testing colors on some unfinished wooden wheels. I decided that two coats of primer followed by five coats of paint would yield the depth of color and coverage I needed. I chose Valspar's Brushed Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze, and left them to dry on the counter, resting on the openings in those plastic sleeves that hold beading wire on the spool. When Dan came home, he thought I had decided to make bracelets. (They look pretty cool as bangles, and I do have more spools…)

But I had chosen something a little more ornate for Christine's challenge, a necklace with a softly colored, more Elizabethan design.

A friend recently managed an estate sale and held back a few special pieces for me, including three exquisite rhinestone buttons. The top component, with its gentle slope, was easy to bezel, but the middle component, with its steep sides, proved quite a challenge. After several failed attempts, I remembered a technique Laura McCabe teaches to embellish hardware washers, and once I secured the button to peyote-stitched tabs, and linked them around the spool's rim, I was on my way!

The bottom component is an earwire form (recently learned in a Deryn Mentock class), inverted and embellished in ruby rondelles. The dangles are a collection of vintage needles, some of which I spray painted to match the spools.

I had so much fun with this project! Thank you Christine, for inviting me to join you in this challenge. If you haven't already, you'll want to make time to check out the unique and inspiring creations of those who have already revealed their designs: Janet, Cynthia (here and here), Tanya, Bobbie, Maryanne, Hope, Lisa, Liz and Kim.