| Welcome to my place. I'm Diane (screen name Diabella). I live in NY with three cats: Count Dracula, Red-Devil and Tropicana.
As a child, my fondest dream was to have a cat. But that was never to be. Time and time again I picked up strays from the street and brought them home with incredible stories: "Look, mom, I found this cat frozen solid in the snow" ... or, "look, mom, this cat was stuck in a drain".
It never worked. A few days would pass and mom would give dad that all too familiar command: "George, get rid of this cat!"
| What was I to do? What was poor dad to do? Mom's word was law. |
So when the day finally came to leave the nest my biggest thrill was that I would finally realize my dream.
I immediately began searching the streets and in just few months took in several cats. All of these cats have long passed through the rainbow but I remember each one with a smile. To follow me over the years and meet some of the cats I've rescued, visit My Rescues.
| Today, my limit is 3 but I will do all that I can to help those without homes which includes fundraising, cat placement, educating through graphics, and helping those who have cat related problems. |
If you want to learn more about the feline species including their anatomy and life cycle, don't miss our Links page where you will find fascinating and educational material.
Behind the Scenes
|Public relations, fundraising, and web site creation for Kings Highway Cat Rescue|
|To see the day when every stray has a home, a bit of love, and a full belly. This is the most important thing we can do to help.|
|Below are a few of the necklaces created using vintage brooches as centerpieces. Anything can be used as a centerpiece if it has a hole at each side or at the top so that it can be threaded for stringing. Open filigree will serve as holes. We've provided information to help you to begin creating your own wearable art including a recipe for dough beads.|
| Necklaces 1-5: Made with vintage brooches. |
Necklace 6: Made with an Art Nouveau face found at a street fair for 50 cents.
7: Made with an old shoe clasp ... 8 was made with a carved green antique celluloid belt buckle ... and 9 with an orange celluloid leaf pendant.
If you think you'd like to try your hand at creating a spectacular beaded necklace ...
If you'd like to own a piece that is truly one of a kind ...
If you are looking for a rewarding hobby...
then here is some information to get you started:
HOW TO THREAD YOUR BROOCH|
Here are 3 vintage brooches. Note that each side is threaded separately. Each side has "double" threading even though one strand was used per side. A long length was threaded through the hole and then a knot was tied making the two strands. The third brooch was only threaded on the left side to show you how it looks with beads added. Always start your piece with a few seed beads on each side as shown. Large beads resting against the brooch will usually not lay right.
THE HUNT FOR BEADS, BROOCHES AND SUPPLIES|
Ebay is a great place to purchase loose beads, vintage brooches and shoe clips, and large lots of vintage necklaces whose beads and clasps you can use to create many pieces. There are always lots of old "for repair" necklaces. Search for "lots vintage necklaces". They list everything you will need to get started from beads and stringing materials, to tiny bead spacers and clasps and jewelry-making books.
Another place online to buy everything you will ever need at great prices is Fire Mountain Gems. Send for their free big fat catalog. It's a treasure. Don't overlook antique stores, thrift shops, flea markets and garage sales. Let friends and relatives know what you are looking for. They just may clean out their jewelry boxes for you. Some of the older necklaces have beads that are unique and beautiful. Many a time they are not in perfect condition and can be purchased at good prices. Save all of the old clasps you come across for re-use.
The Beads, the Clasps, and the Recipe For Dough Beads
|The chart shows some of the popular beads and clasps. The plastic, glass and ceramic beads found in vintage costume jewelry are oftentimes beautiful and are my preference.|
|Here's the recipe for dough beads: ... 2 cups of flour - 1 cup of salt - 1 cup of water |
Mix ingredients together and knead on a flour covered board for a few minutes. Thread beads on metal skewers or tooth picks to punch and maintain hole while baking. Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Do not let them touch each other. Let cool. Paint with poster paint or enamel. When dry, add varnish or clear nail polish to seal and impart a glossy finish.
|NECKLACE LENGTH CHART
||The chart will give you an estimate of how many beads are needed for different size necklaces. However, when you mix different types of beads each will be a different size. The chart is for beads that are all the same size...but we've included it to give you a rough idea. Also, if you use a brooch as a centerpiece you will need fewer beads. |
If you find that you don't have enough beads in the middle of a project use seed beads between the beads as spacers. Keep them on hand in all colors. They come in small vials or packs and are inexpensive.
|USING A BEAD BOARD
||Bead boards are ideal to work on and save time. You won't commit to stringing until the pattern is the way you want it. For an 18" necklace center your brooch over the zero and add beads on both sides until you reach number 9 (9+9=18"). Once you are happy with your design, the beads can be strung. |
Remember that the clasp will add anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" depending on its size. If the necklace is long enough to slip over your head you won't need a clasp. There are many ways to add a clasp. A good instruction book is "Complete Beading for Beginners" by Karen Rempel.
The center compartments in the board are for your beads. Beads love to roll so if you choose to work without a bead board put them in bowls so they don't roll onto the floor. If there are pets around do not leave your work unattended. Beads and stringing material pose a great danger to them.
|STORING THE BEADS
||Once you are hooked on collecting beads you'll want to store them in a way that will allow you to quickly select what you need. For this purpose you can purchase at a lumber yard or hardware store several of the little bins that have many see-through drawers. Buy several and stack them on a closet shelf. The larger ones have 60 drawers and are only about 15" x 15" x 7" deep. These bins were made to hold nails and screws but they are great for storing beads. Separate beads by color. |
Another option for storing beads is to use glass jars. Baby food jars are great to store small beads, and spice bottles work well for tiny seed beads.
Diabella's Fantasy Dolls
|Esmerelda the Gypsy Cat||Witch-Hazel||The Lenny Doll with Horns|
WHY THE DOLLS WERE CREATED
| One of my favorite pastimes has always been writing lavishly illustrated fantasy stories whose pages are contained in large photo albums. The "illustrations" always contained a huge array of junk store finds. For Esmerelda it was an antique red ruffled glove, an old rhinestone choker, lace doilies, and more. These little finds were pasted to the album's pages and kept safe under their plastic covers. |
One summer a very special friend entered my life. And so began work on a story book entitled Esmerelda the Gypsy Cat which I would present to her at Christmas.
While involved in writing the story it occurred to me to try to breathe life into her. It was my first attempt at doll-making. The project took many months and was exciting. Esmerelda is 30" tall. Her head is papier mache'. A pattern for her body was cut from muslin which was dyed grey. She is stuffed with old panty hose. The fun part came when she was ready to be dressed. It was difficult to make realistic shoes, so off to a childrens' clothing store she went to be fitted for a pair. Will never forget the day I walked into that store with Esmerelda concealed in a blanket and laid her on the counter to be fitted for shoes.
And so began three years of doll-making. One to present each Christmas to this special friend, along with an illustrated story book. Each of my dolls is anatomically correct but you will have to take my word for it.
ESMERELDA THE GYPSY CAT
"Mirrors don't lie. I AM pretty!"
"Look how tall I am!"
"Of course I don't use a litter box."
"mmm... A Hostess cupcake"
"This is my story book"
"Of course everything is real"
|Read the illustrated story book:
ESMERELDA THE GYPSY CAT,
(An "X-Rated cat adventure)
|Esmerelda and King Kat are two |
of our many dressed cat graphics.
You can get them HERE.
They are for web site use only.
"Hope she remembered
to make me a broomstick"
"Glad she covered me!"
"Whatdya mean, choose?"
"I need all of them."
"This is my story book."
THE LENNY DOLL WITH HORNS
"This is all I can show you"
"I ask you. Did I deserve
Can I have some privacy?"
"Will the real Lenny
please stand up"
... A Gallery of Golden Oldies
... How It All Started
... How To Acquire Antiques On A Budget
... What To Do With Them Once You Have Them
... Making Your Antiques Grow
... Closing Thoughts
A GALLERY OF GOLDEN OLDIESA few of the things collected over the years
|A collection of old bric-a-brac. The colorful stained glass window is from a pre-war building that was being renovated.||The same stained glass window during the day with the sun shining through it.|
| Tiger oak washstand and Circa 1920 tiger oak server with hand carved lady faces.|
My first refinishing project.
|Circa 1920 tiger oak server with gargoyles. Someone had painted this blue!||Victorian children, wicked witches, and an army of well behaved cats|
|Circa 1920 tiger oak dresser with carved gingerbread mirror frame||Art Deco alabaster lamp. Woman feeding a peacock. Priced low due to a hairline crack.||The desk whose drawers Katzenberg cannot open. Here you see him trying to figure it out.|
|Carved mantelpiece from junk shop. A find at $50.||A 1920's floor lamp. Broken panel is placed out of view. The old stained glass window was another find due to minor cracks.||Stained glass in bathroom window.|
No, that's not a real cat.
|Here's the real Tropicana|
HOW IT ALL STARTED
It all began many years ago with a craving for 7 layer cake when my ex-husband gallantly ventured out into the snowy night in search of an open bakery. The bakeries were closed but Jay didn't return empty handed. Instead of a cake box, he walked through the door with a snow-covered old typewriter which some good samaritan had polluted the sidewalk with. I halfheartedly agreed to let it share a our home on a closet floor.|
Something unexpected happened the day I took it from the closet to tinker with it. Lightly touching its keys I experienced a strong sense of oneness with the past and found myself wondering who had owned it and what impressions its keys had left over the years. It didn't exactly fit the decor, nor could I get it to work, yet with all of its history this typewriter was too noble to live in a closet. So I shined it up and sat it atop a coffee table. Over the next few weeks I developed an affinity with this old hunk of machinery.
And so began my introduction into the world of searching and collecting and restoring, and falling in love with the past over and over again. Armed with very little in the way of dollars, and very much determination, the hunt began. Piece by piece the Mediterranean furnishings went, and piece by piece we began to build an empire of days gone by. Following is what I learned along the way.
FABULOUS FINDS - HOW TO ACQUIRE ANTIQUES ON A BUDGET
APARTMENT BUILDING BASEMENTS - YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SUPER|
Get to know the superintendents of the apartment buildings in your area. They can generally be found in front of their buildings caring for the premises. Having a dog to walk is beneficial as it gives you reason for being out there often. But only if the dog behaves. Smile every time you see them. And when the timing is right, make some small talk. Soon you will be able to approach them and ask "any old furniture in your basement?" Never let on that you are looking for antiques. I have been given the basement tour many times and have ended up with some remarkable finds for which I have forked over a ten dollar bill. This leaves both of you happy. The more you clear out of his basement, the less he has to lug out on garbage pickup day. You wouldn't believe the things apartment dwellers discard. At this very moment I am sitting at an oak desk whose legs are ornately carved ladies for which I have been offered $500. Cost? $10.
BASEMENTS - ON YOUR OWN
WARNING: To be done at your own risk and always accompanied by a couple of brave friends. Wear good running shoes and bring along a flashlight with EverReady batteries. Do not go it alone for even if no-one is lurking in nooks and crannies to grab you, the smallest sound will do you in. CAUTION: Do this quietly. Supers often hang out down there to escape their nagging wives and they do not appreciate uninvited guests treading on their territory. If you get caught, say "Hi, we're looking for cats." Every basement has them so you will be believed. Should you get caught exiting with goodies, first smile. Then say " hi, we were looking for cats and found this junk." The most he can do is have you put everything back. If your finds are good, quickly offer money. Never look guilty. If you do, he will assume you are.
Make it known that you are a junk collector. Tenants pass on and in many instances landlords have the task of disposing of the contents of his apartments. My landlord has knocked on my door several times with offerings. Never refuse anything or you will get no more. I have thanked him profusely.... once for a broken radio and once for a flower pot. But the third time he knocked at my door he handed me a magnificent old hand-crocheted bedspread.
One never knows. It is not worth the risk. Stay away.
Insist on visiting to inspect everything before they discard it. Chances are that if they have been around a long time so have the belongings they are getting rid of.
FLEA MARKETS / GARAGE SALES
Anything can turn up here. Best to wait almost till closing time when vendors are desperate to get rid of what they couldn't move earlier... at much lower prices. Bargaining is the name of the game. If you must, walk away from your find and return a little later when you are likely to be offered that $25 vase for $15.
Bargain! Prices are not fixed. The numbers on the tag are only there because the store owner was drunk and had a fat, felt tip pen. Some antique store dealers never tag their merchandise. Rather, they will size you up when you enter the store and try to determine how much cash is in your purse. Go antiquing in torn jeans and leave the Gucci bag at home.
This is where your local antique dealer goes to pick up something for $10 on which he adds a tag and uses his fat felt tip pen to write a big number. Go often and be alert. Thrift shops carry many small pieces of furniture with huge possibilities. They are also a good source for old costume jewelry, bric-a-brac and lots of jazzy stuff.
WHAT TO DO WITH THEM ONCE YOU HAVE THEM
You spot something fantastic at a great price but it is badly damaged. Or, worse yet, you spot half of something fantastic. It doesn't have to be aggravating: A broken desk with an ornately carved drawer is salvageable in part if the price is right. Pay for the drawer and leave the desk behind. Sit it on the floor in front of a sunny window and fill it with plants. Or use it to house magazines. Spot another piece that is entirely damaged all except for its heavily carved legs? Screw a couple of cup hooks down the length of the leg and mount it on a kitchen wall to show off some fancy mugs.
There are many old collectibles out there waiting to be found. Here are some ideas to get you started.
|Small mirrors||Hang on wall behind bed or couch|
|Salt & pepper shakers||Display on shelf in kitchen|
|Paperweights/snow globes||Crowd atop a desk|
|Evening bags||Hang on wall, or on a hall tree or coat rack. Or have them framed.|
|Tiny tables||Group together to hold collections|
|Old Keys||Mount on velvet covered plywood and frame them|
MAKING YOUR ANTIQUES GROW
Two years ago I purchased an old oak server at a steal: $100. A year later I sold it for $175, added $50, and with $225 in my pocket invested in a bigger and better piece of oak furniture. After 6 months I sold this piece at another profit, added a few more dollars and went shopping again. |
This process eventually turned the original $100 oak server into an huge oak server with hand carved gargoyles. Although a previous owner had painted the server blue, the refinishing task was well worth the effort. You can see the server in the photo gallery above. The trick to buying this way is to keep an eye out for unique pieces at good prices which go up in value as they become scarcer. A few sure bets are stained glass windows, anything made of oak, anything funky and all that is Deco.
|Antiques are rarely in perfect condition. Never paint wood. Invest in a book on furniture refinishing and practice. it is not as difficult as one might think. Learn how to use tools and make minor repairs... or find a friend who is handy.|
A few years ago the New York Times reported that "A lamp found hanging in a church rectory in the South Bronx had been identified as having a Tiffany shade and has been appraised at $15,000-$19,000. The lamp had been hanging there for years before being noticed." "It was just a lamp to me," someone at the church was quoted as saying. "I thought it was ugly."
|It is my hope that this page will be an inspriration and a pathway to a new and exciting hobby.|
Diabella Loves Cats ... Web Site IndexThis is a brief index. The index on the Home Page has full details on each page.
|Home||Rescue I: Kings Highway
|Rescue II: The CACC||Rescue III:
|Catland||Cat Cafe Series
|Pot of Gold
|About Me||Win an Award||Links||Red Witch E-cards
|Custom Web Graphics||Bannersets||Pet Frame Graphics|