Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I do not usually write about politics in this forum but today for the first time I voted in a American Presidential election. I immigrated many years ago after falling in love with an American I met in Canada (my one and only husband, Nicolai Larsen). I remained a permanent resident green card holder even though I was eligible to become an American citizen years ago. During the first Bush term I got motivated to become a citizen, to vote him out of office. I became American in mid-November 2004 in a moving swearing-in ceremony but too late to vote in the 2004 election. New citizens from countries around the world were sworn in by country of origin in alphabetical order starting with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe. As each country was called new Americans rose until the full auditorium was standing. The largest group were from China, Mexico, The Philippines and India. By the time Switzerland was called almost everyone was already standing.

I voted for the first time in 2006, than last June in the primary. Voting today was easy in my precinct, no lines at 9:30 am, a voting machine with a paper audit trail clearly seen when voting, 3 chances to double check before casting the vote, so all above board.

Political opinions aside, this run to election has been riveting. I have spent many hours knotting away in my studio listening to the news on my computer. My family and friends in Europe are also incredibly interested in the outcome of this election. Regardless we will get a new president who will restore some of our international standing. As to real change we will see as actual change is a lot harder than rhetorics and so many of the problems facing us have no easy solutions.

Regardless, goodbye imperial style swaggering, goodbye bad elocution and goodbye Bush kleptocracy...

Added on January 9, 2009 - just 11 days before the Inauguration: I just saw a photo of Chaney presiding over the Senate as the election was certified. Was he smirking as the administration he represents is handing out a plate of manure to Obama? I believe the Bush administration thought the economy was not going to fall into shamble until they were well out of office and they got caught by surprise by the timing, not the fact that it was occurring as they continued to plunder the dying beast until the very last minute. Had that occurred, they could even have blamed the whole debacle onto the upcoming administration and repeated it at nauseum until it became a 'truth'. It was the last stand of a dying breed of dinosaurs, a retroactive force - the old economy based purely on profit regardless on any costs to society at large or future generations. And now that all the old structures are collapsing, the need to create new ones is obvious. So we may have hope for the future with the return of actual civil servants to the White House to help us move toward a new economy that is sustainable and less toxic to the planet. Let's just hope the transition will not be too bumpy for each of us as individuals, and let's embrace the future of new possibilities as it is coming anyways.

Monday, October 20, 2008

'Paracas Headband Textiles Revisited' with Rodrick Owen

Rodrick Owen is a leading expert on Pre-Columbian and Japanese braids known for his seminal book 'Braids, 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru and Beyond' published by Interweave Press in 1995.
A friend gave me a hardcover copy when it was published. I browsed through the book, considered some of the techniques, but kept to my methods of braiding at the time. I had discovered braiding through nautical knotting books in the mid 70's and only heard of the term 'kumihimo' in 1978 when I met Jules and Kaethe Kliot while exhibiting at the San Francisco American Craft Council Show. The Kliots had published a booklet on kumihimo the previous year. Jules Kliot owns Lacis in Berkeley.

I have since then revisited Rodrick's book several times when playing with kumihimo at first with a maru dai, then recently when trying out braids with nylon cord, the kumihimo disk and EZ bobs.

It was a great pleasure to meet Rodrick in person last Thursday at his presentation at the Black Sheep Handweavers Guild. He started by tracing the movement the people who came over the Bering land bridge 30,000 years ago and then showing various sites where excavations found signs of civilizations and textiles in burial sites. In the Paracas necropolis, mummies were bound in place by cords and wrapped with many layers of intricate textiles, such as tunics, mantles and headbands.

He took us then on a visual tour of Paracas and Nazca textiles from around 600 BCE to 400 CE, stunning us with braids, weaving and embroideries of such complexity that no one now knows how to reproduce them. Visually, some pieces were like modern art. One textile design depicted abstractions of windows and modern buildings in the style of a Hundertwasser's. Others had interconnected designs precursors of M.C. Esher's tesselations.

We got a chance after the presentation to see some of Rodrick's samples of interlaced, fingerwoven braids. Go to Rodrick Owen's website at http://homepage.mac.com/billgreene1/owen/owenhome.html

What a treat to look at ancient textiles and modern creation of forgotten fiber arts!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tamara Hill in Ornament Magazine

Congratulation to Tamara Hill, for being featured in the current Ornament Magazine. I met Tamara, a designer through my online store. She was looking for thread. When I saw her website, I looked forward to meeting her due to her connection to beads and Buddhism. We have since connected via emails, phone, and in person at shows, Bead Society meetings... Her work features lots of bold one of a kind beads and many crown knots done with various thread and cord, some from my store.

Check her work in the latest Ornament Magazine or on her website.

Tamara Hill Website: http://tamarahillstudio.com/

Ornament Magazine: http://www.ornamentmagazine.com/current.html

Photos of necklaces are by George Post

Monday, June 30, 2008

For the Love of Jewels Interview

I get a lot of emails everyday and make an effort to respond as quickly as I can to questions and requests for information.
Sally Jewett-Bocato contacted me by email: 'I came across your website while looking for artisan jewelry galleries in the SF area....I was blown away by your beautiful work and would like to do a profile about you in my blog which focuses on "the best of the best" of jewelry designers, teachers and suppliers. If you are interested, I send questions via email and publish your responses.'
Her profile on published on the June 23 post at http://fortheloveofjewels.blogspot.com/2008/06/marion-hunziker-larsen-jewels-in-fiber.html

Thursday, June 12, 2008


When do we have enough colors? As an artist, designer and artisan working primarily with Nylon #18/C-Lon Bead Cord type thread, I struggled for many years with a limited color range, unreliable supplies, a lack of quality control, companies going out of business... All of this was of course before to C-Lon got into the thread business.

C-Lon has now 64 colors, Mastex 22 colors, Conso 14, Beadsmith 17 (Beadsmith may no longer produce their Nylon #18, every time I reorder a few more colors have been discontinued). In addition I also use vintage cords, colors produced in the past by companies no longer in business, discontinued colors and old dye lots. Vintage cord is difficult to come by to newcomers in this field. So essentially most of us have about 100 colors to work with if we are willing to mix brands. Is that enough?

While pondering on this question, I decided to take a look at artist colored pencils. I easily found 9 artist quality brand with sets ranging from 12 to 132 colors. All the sets come in numbers such as 12, 24, 36, 49, 72, 96, 120 and 132 (Prismacolor only). In all the sets the colors are arranged chromatically using different logical systems. Keep in mind that color pencils can be layered, thread can only be juxtaposed. Then I looked at the Madeira Rayon thread used for machine embroidery and they boast 356 colors...

... Back to the nylons: Conso has not changed or added colors for 25 years. Mastex has reduced its color range. Oh, I forgot a sub-brand, S-Lon, well it's just a fact simile or exact duplicate of C-Lon in 51 colors. So we can forget about that brand as an option for additional colors. C-Lon is the only company that may be willing to expand their offering. So the main question remains:

Are 64 colors enough? Or do you still dream of more colors...

Grateful to have 64 colors! ~ Marion

Post your feedback on this question...

Added on January 9, 2009: 2008 saw the shrinking of company offering Nylon #18 with Mastex going out of business :(. I am always sorry to see our choices shrinking. On a positive notes C-Lon decided to expand their colors. I was asked to advise as to possible new colors. As of a week ago 8 new colors are on order at the factory expected to be released toward the end of February. So 64 is growing to 72. Hurrah!

New Heavyweight C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord

Did you get the new heavyweight C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord? What's you opinion on this new thread?

Post your comments on this thread, send pictures of pieces you have done with it...

It is available in 16 colors for now.

Update - This cord is now available in 24 colors and I have since had the chance to use it for a square knot bracelet I taught for an enrichment class to 4th-8th graders. The resulting bracelets made or attenpted were great for some and not so great for others, but bear in mind that for most of the students in this class, it was their first introduction to square knotting!
I will do a new blog entry as soon as I get the chance.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Reviews

I often get asked for book recommendations. Occasionally I write a book review. In February or March I wrote about Marie Le Sueur's book on micro macrame (posted in the news section on the online jewels in fiber store).

One of my website visitor wrote me upset about her purchase based on my recommendation, feeling she had wasted $45.00. I offered to trade with her. Several days later I got her copy, she got a package of supplies as trade, and one of my student asked me about books, saw it and took it off my hand, really happy not to have to order it. So problem solved, right...

Others have emailed me pictures of pieces they have made based on the book. Here is a copy of an email I got:

Marie le Sueur’s book Micro-macrame de la dentelle aux bijoux is beautifully illustrated with step-by-step instructions that inspired me to create a piece in her style immediately. I do not speak or read French but found most of the directions easy to follow because of the detailed, clear illustrations. My husband did translate a few steps that were confusing at first glance, but I think that with some trial and error even those would have worked out fine.

I did not follow any one project exactly because I have not been able to locate a source for the findings or crystal settings that she uses. But it is very easy to adapt the techniques to the stones and beads on hand. Notice on my bracelet that the end is longer than the ribbon end crimp but I could not find a longer one and wanted to wear it immediately so I used what was available. In the future I’ll use Marion’s techniques for starting and ending to avoid this problem or make my own findings; as I plan to do for this piece. Even with the not so perfect end, compliments are plentiful when it is worn! ~ Fran/Ohio

Feedjit Map

A Feedjit map was added to this blog and my websites. See it in the left column. It shows a world map and tracks the latest visitors on a map by red dots and if you click on the map, it will take you to larger map with little flags for the towns where the visitors are from and it shows the pages they visited. It adds a cookie to your visit to my sites, but the sites will function even if you refuse the cookies from Feedjit. The info they collect is general enough not be intrusive to your privacy. I find it fun as it illustrates the global reach of the internet. Please post your thoughts about the map!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Special Order

Occasionally I get a special order. A customer requests a piece for a special occasion or a specific dress...

In this instance, a very special customer needed jewelry for a Bar Mitzvah. She had found the dress, and we designed together this dramatic set for her special event.
Imagine this piece worn by a tall statuesque blond, in a long black dress with a very low back decolleté (and she speaks French as she is Parisian).

We also wanted this neckpiece to be wearable beyond this one occasion, thus the removable back tassel... making this piece more casual. The idea was to wear it in winter with a turtle neck sweater and black pants, and in summer with a dress or a light suit. The bracelet shown below completes this jewelry set.

Neckpiece and Earrings. Braided and knotted nylon thread, satin cord as the core for the braid, dyed coral and black onyx rings and toggles. Designed, handmade and © 2007 by Marion Hunziker-Larsen

Photography by George Post © 2008

The Bracelet

Bracelet (shown framed with the neckpiece braid). Knotted nylon thread, dyed coral, black onyx rings and toggle.

Designed, handmade and © 2007 by Marion Hunziker-Larsen

Photography by George Post © 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Blog!

marion jewels in fiber has an official blog!!! It is just in its infancy... as I just set it up tonight. We will see how it evolves, tonight I posted some pictures, landscapes/cityscape mostly in a slide format from my trip to New England. I am waiting for additional pictures from the Lexington workshop before another posting regarding the workshop... More to come soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Somedays are meant to be rescheduled. Tuesday, I started out the day with the best laid plans. Work on Cabochon projects... Then a friend of mine calls me with news of a common friend in the hospital awaiting major surgery. We decide to go do some Reiki work in person (hands-on healing), so everything else got put aside, for a little while.

I reflect later on on how lucky I am to have a flexible schedule!
My Wednesday morning, for example, are dedicated to a yoga group practice, but by now most of the group is also doing Reiki, so it is intermingled at times during the meditation with yoga.

Namaste, ~ Marion (I started yoga 22 years ago as a restorative practice)

On the Road to New England

Occasionally I leave my studio and go on a trip to show work or to teach.

After a number of emails with the workshop coordinator of Bead Designer International/Bead Society of New England, we were ready with a clear curriculum, manuals to be printed, bead kits to prepare and bags to be packed, supplies to be ordered and shipped to the workshop location and most importantly students signed up. In the meantime I had forgotten about Spring Break, taking time away from work, so of course I scrambled to prepare all the bead and pre-cut thread kits. Then I was off in the plane with 90 pounds of supplies and 8 pounds of personal stuff and a heavy carry-on. 5 boxes had already been shipped from various locations.

The trip to New England went amazingly well. The lecture about my personal journey as an artist went well, I believe. Public speaking used to make me very nervous. But several years ago, I decided that speaking about my work should be easy as no one else knew the subject better than I. Yoga centering and grounding techniques have been a great help as well...

A side trip by train took me to Portland, Maine, just in time for a last Spring snow fall. Downtown was deserted as everyone there was so sick of snow, but I had a great time waking around until my return back to the Boston area.

Back in the Boston area, the BDI coordinator took me on a short visit of Concord, MA. We spent some time walking around the Concord Greens with the Old North Bridge and the Minute Man sculpture memorialized by Emerson's words 'the shot heard around the world'. As a fairly new citizen of this land, I got touched by being there at the very spot were the revolution began more than 200 years ago. As we were ready to leave, after being the only visitors during our visit so far, a Minute Man in full regalia materialized for us (his umbrella gave him away).

We went to warm up at the Concord Library. What a spot, a jewel. It is about 200 years old, a grand place to spent time, and still a public library. If I lived in this area I would hang there... As we walked around: a young kid was sitting in an alcove in the stairs reading Star Wars, what a contrast!

Then out for diner at the old Colonial Inn, and the Minute Man was already sitting at the next table...

In the meantime, I understand better the colors of New England in winter or early spring. The land is buff, the tree truck gray bare of leaves, with a few dark green pine here and there. The sky is either grey or a gorgeous blue when the skies are clear. The shadows are completely different than the shadows in California or Europe... Back in California, the land is quite green right now in early spring, whereas it will be buff in summer when all the grasses dry off, and the shadows have a hint of purple here. The earth is really a beautiful precious jewel.