Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Craft Friday: Linen Amulet Necklace

It’s nearing the epagomenal days for Kemeticists.  I’ll have a few upcoming posts that explain it in better detail, but it was a time that served as a transition between the previous year and the upcoming one.  While it was a time of renewal they were considered dangerous as well.  It was a time when Sekhmet and Her demons would emerge and try to destroy mankind.

During the epagomenal days the Ancient Egyptians wore an amulet to protect themselves. This amulet is made from a strip of linen and contained the image of various gods and 12 knots. Each day from the end of the year until the first a spell was recited over the necklace to grant protection. Naturally I made one for myself so I may practice accordingly.

My rendition of the amulet is shown below. I didn’t have any white linen and didn’t feel bleaching the fabric was a good idea, so I ran with it to the best of my ability. I decided on the 12 knots in the manner I did because it mimics cloth beads.

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In an effort to save on cloth and length (I don’t like very lengthy necklaces) I painted the images of the gods on both sides of each piece. I lined each piece with a ribbon as trim.

 

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As the pieces dried I poked a hole through each end wide enough for a jump ring.

If you’re curious about how I discerned which gods ended up on the amulet and other information about these amulets (including the spell to recite) I use this passage.

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Craft Friday: How to Make 3D Stickers

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As I scrapbook more I’ve realized I can’t afford all the pretty stickers I want. Until the magical, far away day arrives where I have lots of disposable income I have to get creative in my stickers. I found some stuff at a few craft stores that solved this problem. I’ll show you how I made a basic version of the 3D sticker.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

1 sheet cardstock

1 printer

scissors

1 craft knife (optional)

2 foam dot circles

1 sticker adhesive sheet

1 bone folder (a butter knife will work if a bone folder is unavailable)

1.  Take the image, adjust it to print multiple copies on one sheet. Print. TIP: I’ve learned the hard way why it’s important to ensure the image fits the resizing.

2.  Cut out the images. Make a point to cut out only the parts which can be layered and will emphasize the sticker. I recommend no more than three pieces. TIP: After cutting out the images feel free to decorate these parts. Bear in mind it should add emphasis to the sticker and won’t be obscured when layering.

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3.  Take a foam dot circle and remove the paper from one side. Place the sticky side down on the biggest image.
Remove the paper from the other side of the same dot and place the second image on top.

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4.  Flip the final image over. Use the pointed end of the bone folder to scour the outline of the image. Rub it down between these lines to make the image pop out more (sorry you can’t see it in this image.  I really tried).  TIP: If you own a lightbox, use it for this step. It will make outlining much easier.

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5.  Remove the paper from the circle dot. Place the top image on the dot.

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6.  Remove the cover sheet on the adhesive sheet. Place the image on the sheet; rub down as much as possible.

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You now have a sticker. You can cut away the excess paper if you’d like (though I’m not sure how well that would have worked with this piece) but always make sure to carefully peel the sticker off.


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Craft Friday: Yet Another Envelope Project

I’m sure you guys get tired of my scrapbooking projects. That’s OK I sort of tie this to a ritual book I have for the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. I decided on a project where it looked like something of a wedding invitation but reveals much more. This didn’t end up as quite the awesome tutorial as I had hoped (always have a practice run, folks!), but at least I covered it up well enough.

I started by creating an envelope from some cardstock. You can learn how here. I added an embellishment which could double as a seal.  I haven’t glued down anything.

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I marked with a pencil where I intend to cut a slot for the bracket…

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And subsequently found I aimed too low. I remarked it, cut accordingly, and used some scraps to cover my mistake. I’ll cover it further with some outside decorations later.

After gluing the back of the envelope onto a scrapbook page I decorated the inside. Basically I made it look thrown together (OK, it was thrown together) because I wanted to focus on the theme of preparing for a wedding.   My experience has been most preparations for weddings are chaotic, anyway.  I’ll add more to it over time.

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The outside I kept pretty simple. As for the botched hole I tried to patch up? I used a strategically placed sticker to soften the botched job.

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I know this project was pretty simple and unimpressive, but it was a nice idea and deviates from my block arrangement for pages.


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Craft Friday…Well, Not Really

I have a horrible secret.  I’ve let my artistic skills go.  The current banner is a huge testament to how far I’ve let them go.  Just the same I’ve gotten back on my painting saddle in hopes I could finish a painting I started years ago.  I know some of you are already cringing and wondering why on earth I’d bother with such a horrible idea (for what it’s worth I used acrylics then and now).  I assure you after salvaging the painting I’m wondering why I bothered as well.

I made another horrible mistake in talking about my project (humor me) on facebook.  People grew curious and asked for photos.  After a bit of thought I figured I’d comply, only to find my batteries in my camera died.  While the batteries recharged I worked a little more on my salvage.  In time, spilt acrylic paint, and two charged batteries later I found a satisfactory stopping point.  I’ve decided to take a picture and show the world my work-in-progress, though honestly it should be a “throw-in-the-towel already”.

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I decided to keep up the tradition of cropped, blurry, out of focus pictures at Upholding Ma’at with this unveiling.  It is a picture of Het-Hert where I depict Her in the form of the Celestial Cow.  I decided to use a part of the arm of the Milky Way to further convey this point.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the painting once it’s finished.  I may stuff it somewhere, embarrassed by my poor skill.  Maybe I can auction it off for more funds for craft projects and for upcoming books.  Perhaps I could donate it for some worthy cause, like preserving bad art for future generations.  I may paint over it and start again.

I think I shouldn’t deviate from my stick drawings anymore and leave it to the professionals.

 

 


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Craft Friday: Mini Book

As I’ve mentioned before bookbinding is a hobby of mine, albeit I’m not very good.    So when I found a relatively simple “book” project to try as an outlet of my spring fever I figured it wouldn’t be too hard.  Here’s how it turned out.  It also allowed an outlet for my pre-spring fever.

Instead of grabbing an envelope I made one from this tutorial.  Using this tutorial allowed me to use some double-sided cardstock in lieu of the doilies and covering the envelope flap with a different paper as suggested in the book tutorial.  I also deviated from the book tutorial by using coin envelopes for the main pouch in lieu of the pull-out gift tag.

I didn’t use gift tags for the cover either.  Instead I used some cardstock to make the cover, hole punched it, and decorated with my own flower pin to go inside.

 

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I decorated with some leftover brads from a previous bookbinding project.  I also used the stickers for an upcoming project for which I can’t use for it.

 

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I had some pictures from a planner about fairies that I decided would work for this project.  Eventually I settled on one.   I tried to keep it simple.

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I think this page is the only time I used some gift tags.  I used up the last of my brads from the other book project on this page.  If you look closely you can even see my fingers.

 

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For the pouch I decorated it with some more stickers.  The coin envelopes are tucked inside this pouch.

 

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Here’s a closer look at the coin envelopes, front and back.  I haven’t decided what to put in there yet.

 

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I personally consider it a work in progress, but that’s fine by me.  I can add as time goes on and add keepsakes in the envelopes.


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Craft Friday: Paper Pockets

After trying to follow a nice box project only for it to go horribly awry I decided to try my hand at other projects on my Pinterest board.  I tried my hand at making some of the pockets from a tutorial on a mini pocket album.  Quite frankly I’m more pleased with the results of this than with a video tutorial that requires half of the video on pre-creasing and then manages to leave out vital steps (I will have a tutorial sometime that demonstrates why planning your projects is vital, and doubly so for tutorials).  Here’s how it turned out:

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If you looked at the link you’ll notice I didn’t stitch the pockets together.  That’s because I don’t feel like it.  Despite the fact it looks like crumpled paper and I didn’t bind the pockets I have to say I like how it looks.  I’ll have to see if I can translate this to a few pockets on book covers for the next few bookbinding projects.


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Craft Friday: Menat

A menat is an interesting piece from Ancient Egypt. It was worn as a necklace (mainly as an amulet for protection) and was used as a percussion instrument. Contrary to how most people wear anything resembling a pendant, the menat was worn with the beads in the front (called the aegis, which means “shield”) and the pendant (called the counterpoise) was worn in the back. The menat was associated with a few goddesses, mostly Het-Hert. The menat was important enough of an instrument it was presented to Het-Hert as an offering.

While the strand length varied the menat consisted of three parts: the aegis (shield), which was usually a series of bead strands strung together and draped across the chest; the strand, though the length of this varied; and the counterpoise, which was large enough to serve as a handle for shaking the menat and as a counterweight for the menat. The materials varied, but faience was usually the material of choice.

I didn’t have a proper counterweight nor a pendant large enough when I made this menat, so I combined a couple of pendants to get the desired length. If you can get a hold of a proper counterpoise or a large enough pendant use it. It’s also worth noting it’s important to have a long enough counterpoise because the aegis will droop otherwise.  I know this because when I’ve worn this menat I made it too long to wear it with the counterpoise in the back (when I wrap it around I end up with the counterpoise in the front).  I actually made my menat strand 3 1/2 feet, though I think because of my oversight 2 1/2 feet (maybe even 2 feet) should suffice.

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What You’ll Need:

Aegis

-seed beads

-nylon beading thread

-2 larger beads (I used scarab beads)

-scissors

Strand

-2 pendant caps

-nylon beading thread, 2 feet

-various beads

-scissors

Counterpoise

-2 pendants

-1 pendant cap

-1 bead (I used another scarab bead)

1.  Cut a strand of nylon thread roughly over 1 1/2 feet. The extra length will be used to tie loops.

2.  Make a small loop on one end. Trim excess from the loop. TIP: If the loop is hard to make first loop it around something like part of a pen cap, then make a square knot under the loop.

3.  String the seed beads until the total length of the beads is 1 1/2 feet. Tie the other loop like before.

4.  Repeat steps 1-3 until there are at least 10-12 strands (though I think for this project I made something around 15). These will serve as the aegis.

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5.  Gather all the strands. Take the nylon thread for the strand and thread each loop.

6.  Tie a knot when the loops on one end are threaded. I tied several knots to ensure it would stay.

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7.  Thread the pendant cap so the open end will face the aegis.

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8.  Bead until the center is reached.

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9.  Thread the second the pendant cap so the open end faced the pendants.

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10.  Thread the bead and pendants through.

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11.  Thread through the pendants again.

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12.  Thread through the bead and pendant cap.

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13.  Bead as on the other side. Thread the final pendant cap so the open end faced the other end faces the aegis. Take the end loops and thread together like the other side of the aegis.

14.  Thread the left over thread back through the pendant cap. Tie a few knots, trim as needed.

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This is a wonderful piece for ritual use. When I use it in ritual I gather up the strand and the counterpoise, letting the aegis hang. Shake gently, as if shaking a fist at someone.


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Craft Friday: A Book Project

As some of you know I have a bookbinding hobby. I’m not particularly good at it, but I enjoy it the same. I finally finished one project because I found a nice stopping point for me, which is why I don’t have the tutorial for today ready (it will hopefully be up next week). In the meantime here are some photos of my completed project.

As you can see, I keep screwing up the spine cover. I’ll eventually get the hang of it…

 

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I also did a horrible job of trimming the paper this time around. Luckily I know what I did (I glued it down before sizing it). This is what happens when you cut corners.

 

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Despite my errors I do enjoy my work on the cover.

 

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A couple of people wanted to see the results of my work, and this is it.  When I get decent enough at it perhaps I’ll post a tutorial for bookbinding so others can try it too.


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Craft Friday: Lackadaisical Unguent

In Ancient Egypt annointing oils were commonplace. Some were worn as perfume while other oils perfumed the idols at temples during the morning ritual. These oils, because they weren’t distilled, bore a consistency of an unguent and took a lot of time to make. If you’re like me and don’t mind taking a few shortcuts this recipe is for you. I tend to split this amount into 7 very small parts for the sacred oils, but this can easily work for a single oil.

What You’ll Need:

1 oz of beeswax

1/2 fluid oz oil blend of desired oil

5-6 tablespoon olive oil (Note: this really can be any carrier oil)

Water

2 pots (Note: if you own a double boiler, use it)

Spoon

1 container (Note: use a big container. I wasn’t able to hold all of it in a small bottle.)

 

1. Fill one pot a quarter of the way with water. Turn on the stove and bring to a boil.

2. Place the other pot on top to create a double boiler. Make sure the bottom pot doesn’t boil over.

3. Place the beeswax in the top pot. Stir occasionally with the spoon until completely melted. Take the double boiler off the burner. Let cool for one minute.

4. Add the olive oil until the unguent is the consistency of petroleum jelly.

5. Add the oil to the unguent and stir.

6. Place in the desired container.

 

If you’d like some very pleasant oils, I recommend Setjy Netjerw.


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Craft Friday: Wedding Heart Ornaments

I found on a pinterest a link to this blogger’s craft  and it really stood out to me. I thought the ornament was really cute and would work for some decorations of my own, namely decorating for the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. Sadly, I am not as talented as the blogger and didn’t make mine from steel. I actually stretched out some old paperclips and bent them into a heart shape with needle-nosed pliers.

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I had some seed pearls laying around from a previous project so I wrapped them around the heart with some nylon beading thread. Clearly, beading isn’t my strong suit…

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In addition to wrapping beads around the heart I added a strand of beads and doves from another project. This hangs in the middle. I tied bows for a couple of the hearts and used a smaller bow from a previous project for the heart in the middle.  I decided to add bells left over from another project onto the ties. I used left over ribbon from the other hearts to tie them hearts together.

I don’t have a tutorial of this since it was just my rendition of someone’s project rather than inspired by their project. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the ornaments from here, but I’m sure it will come to me. I’ll probably use it as part of another decoration.