Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gone but not forgotten....to keep creating!

Hi blogging buddies!  It's been awhile since I blogged - life got in the way. Despite my absence from blogging, I've been busy making and creating!

Paper clay beads in drying stage

Cold weather in the northeast signals a move indoors to my office/jewelry studio area and a change in media. This year, I thought I'd experiment with Paperclay. I've made several different shapes that I'm fond of - a bird, house and cloud. Stay tuned to see how these come out.

Next up was needle tatting. I tried this awhile ago and got stuck at pulling the thread through the needle. I thought I was doing something wrong so I stopped trying.

First successful attempt at needle tatted flower
 This time around, I watched the video and stopped it in the places where I got stuck before. It took me about 2 hours to figure it out but I finally got it right!  I've made several more since the red one above in black and purple. Needle tatting is really addictive - I'm now on the hunt for patterns! If you know of any good ones, send a link my way!

So although I've been gone, I haven't forgotten to keep creating. I feel particularly satisfied that I finally learned to needle tat. 

What about you? What have you been up to?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday Morning Eye Candy and Book

Another practice bracelet of Right Angle Weave made with Gossamer floss, crystal 6mm firepolished rondelles from Rings n Things and silverlined "E" beads. I like the single row of RAW because it makes up quickly and by changing the beads, you can make one to match your wardrobe!

I've got another book from Kalmach that I'm smitten with. It's Jewelry for the New Romantic. Here's an interview with the book's author Nealay Patel. 

Projects look yummy don't they?  I haven't done any stringing with Soft Flex wire in quite awhile. Patel puts a new spin on it and I can't wait to dive in.  Are there any techniques you haven't tried in awhile?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

On My Bookshelf: Stitch Workshop: Right Angle Weave

Drum roll please.......


These are my practice bracelets in Right Angle Weave. I made these using the very first pattern from  Stitch Workshop: Right Angle Weave. 

As I said yesterday, I'm not a rank beginner with off loom but have never done right angle weave. The projects in the book are arranged from easy to advanced. 

Let me say now that I've never been able to teach myself an off loom technique by using a book. Usually I try and then go take a class so I can see how to do it. I wanted to use beads from my stash and I didn't have any 6mm rounds to use so I substituted with size 6 and size 8 seed beads. So it was a little harder to see the beads and pattern.

The beginning of the book includes the basics of right angle weave with colored illustrations and arrows to show where to weave your needle and thread (or stringing material. These illustrations came in very handy when I got confused with the project directions. The illustrations are followed by "Tips and Tricks for Right Angle Weave by David Chatt." It's a list of tips for the more experienced right angle beadweaver. Page 8 is "Beading Technique Basics" and it covers topics like adding thread, ending thread surgeion's knot, other beadweaving stitches, wire techniques and opening jump rings to name just a few. Tools and materials are covered in the next section. I'm very familiar with these materials so I skipped over this section and went straight to the first pattern by Pam O'Connor, "The Cuff Crystallized."

It took me a couple of tries to get the pattern and stitch right. When I got to the right length, again it took me a couple of tries to join the bracelet properly. Adding the next row was also trial and error. I'd read the directions and look at the pictures given on page five rather than the pictures in the pattern. The similar colors in the pattern pictures confused me. The colors were too similar to be clear. I alleviated the confusion with the pictures on page five. It took me several tries flipping between the pages and pulling out the beads but I eventually got the second row going. Since it was nothing like the first row, it took me awhile to get into the rhythm.

Despite the learning curve, I was able to teach myself how to beadweave in flat, right angle weave using a single needle.  The first project states you can make the bracelet in a couple of hours. It took me approximately 5 hours over two days. Not bad for a beginner.

I've got my sights on the third project called "Wiggle Room." It's by Julie Glasser and it's made with various sizes of seed beads to create the wiggle.

Wiggle Room photo courtesy of Judy Glasser.

I have a big stash of size 6, 8 and 11 seed beads in all colors just perfect for this project.  I may try the bracelet project after called Crossing Paths by Lisa Twede or skip right to another favorite, Cosmic Crystals by Deborah Staehle.  Another luscious project I'm smitten with is April Bradley's Spring Snowflakes.

And those are just the beginner- intermediate projects! There are lovely advanced projects Where you can learn advanced and dimensional right angle weave such as Chain of Rings by Cindy Thomas Pankopf and Victorian Sparkle by Julie Walker. If you're looking for a book on right angle weave with a variety of projects, this is a bargain for under $20.

Monday, October 31, 2011

On My Workbench: New Off Loom Beadweaving with Seed Beads

I'm working on a off-loom beadweaving technique, right angle weave. I'm not a rank beginner to off loom beadweaving. I learned peyote and brick stitch about 10 years ago and have a little 4 x 6 box where I keep my off loom work.

I've never taken on RAW though and when I saw Kalmach's new addition to their Stitch Workshop series, I figured it was a good time to teach myself.  So I'm in the middle of a series of "practice bracelets," simple, flat right angle weave done with .5mm stretch cording.

I'll review the book the book tomorrow after I finish the bracelets I've started. What about you, have you done any off loom beadweaving lately?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Boo! Happy Halloween and Hauntingly Hallowed Links!

Halloween is upon us already, readers! Every fall, I'm shocked at how fast the times goes!  Lots of great jewelry and ideas from our bead bloggers this week, take a look.....

A Bead A Day
Are you sharing your talents with others? Lisa shares her recent experience teaching a group of friends a simple, but rewarding project.

About.com Jewelrymaking
Break into glass jewelry making with these tutorials and techniques.

Art Bead Scene
Heather helps us look ahead to the holiday season with some great inspiration for seasonal jewelry

Beading Arts
Polymer clay + greeting cards = a fun mixed media necklace!

Beads and Books
How long does it really take you to make a piece of jewelry? Michelle shares the long process behind a simple pair of earrings.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has a cute fabric brooch idea for Halloween.

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
This week's Tuesday Tangle features handmade earrings of metal clay and wire.

Resin Crafts
This week we have a nice series showing you how to use an ice tray to make fun skull and bone cast pieces.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Wonderful, really exciting giveaway from Beaducation! Read all about it and sign up on Jean's blog!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minding the Business: Taking care of you!

I've talked before about learning to say no as a fundamental business lesson. Especially for those of us who have a tendency to always put others first.  There are good reasons to put others first such as, you have children, aging parents and/or that's who you are.  But always doing for others and never carving out a little time for yourself leaves you depleted and worse yet, sore. If your unwinding time involves making jewelry or crocheting, the small muscle movements can leave you wound up tighter than an old fashioned grandfather's clock!

I work as a sign language interpreter, beadmaker, crocheter, knitter, jewelry designer and all around crafts maker. I know what I'm talking about. Over-use. Repetitive movement. Carpal Tunnel. My down time just wound me up more. I kept over using my muscles, giving myself migraines and soreness, but I didn't make anytime for me. No vacation, no days off, just work and over-use.

Maybe that's you, maybe it's not. But either way, I'll bet you need to make a little time for yourself. But what should you do? 

Get a massage.

Yes, dear readers, a massage. I'm encouraging everyone and anyone to get a massage.

I was the original queen of denial. I didn't realize how tight my muscles were and what they were doing to me. It drove me to doctors and neurologists. When the neurologist sent me to a chiropractor who said he could give me 50% of my movement back and massage therapy should be part of my regular routine, I was in so much pain I just did what the doctor ordered to feel better.

It took awhile to finally get to the point where I was ready for massage. Once I started going in the spring, I wondered why I hadn't gone earlier. Whatever stood in my way, I'm glad it didn't continue because massage is one of the best things I've ever done for my health.

I take 2 hours every three weeks to have a massage. My work and my hobbies wind up my muscles. Massage unwinds them. I feel better, have less pain and more movement than I've had in years. Two hours every three weeks, that's hardly a blip in my schedule.

It would hardly be a blip on your schedule too.

Take care of yourself, my friend. After all you do for others, you're entitled to enjoying your handmade work and feeling good.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Tangle: Duos Earrings

 Finally!  A piece of finished jewelry from the metal clay class!  These are meant to be very worn and rough. They were extra test blanks I had rolled out to test the kiln. But their simplicity is striking - copper base with bronze centers. The violet patina on the copper earwires is made in a flame.

What do you think?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Blue Fingers and The Handbook of Metal Clay

It's been a couple of weeks since I took Hadar Jacobson's class on Mokume Gane but I'm still working on the pieces I didn't have a chance to fire and finish during the class. I've even fired a few pieces that I had laying around from my first foray into bronz metal clay (yes, they've been sitting there for two years!) I was amazed when they fired without crumbling.

I've been polishing with my dremel tool. I had alot of trouble with it during class and frankly, I'm a little afraid of taking an eye out trying to polish those small pieces. There's lots of dust too so I wear my safety glasses and my dust mask when I'm finishing.

Safety ain't pretty but your lungs and eyes appreciate it!

 Most of the patina goes directly onto my fingers turning them blue giving me a zombie look just perfect for Halloween. I understand now why so much of the metal clay jewelry is large, it's easier to finish.

If all this metal clay talk makes you want to take a class from Hadar, I recommend it. If you can't get to one of her classes or don't live near her, the next best thing is her book, The Handbook of Metal Clay: Textures and Forms. 

Photo Courtesy of Hadar's website

The Handbook of Metal Clay first edition was reviewed in Jewelry Artist August 2008.  I consider myself a beginner with metal clay and have had the opportunity to take a class. The handbook is an excellent follow-up to Hadar's class along with the free downloadable instructions available on her blog. However, if you haven't taken a class, I believe if you read through all the available material and the book, you would be able to create lovely pieces of metal clay. 

This is the second edition and contains information on mixing metal clays.  The book reads like her class, opening with a comprehensive list of materials and tools needed.  The actual book is spiral bound making it easy to open to specific pages while you're working. I've actually ruined my Enchanted Adornments book by pressing the spine to have it stay open while I'm working. 
Throughout the handbook, there are boxes on the margins containing useful tips. You'd be wise to read all of the tips as you work. Many of your questions can be answered by reading them. 

I skip through the book and pick out projects I really have been jonseing to do.  Page 20 is "Collage Pendant in Copper and Bronze" and is the first project I skipped to after taking the her class. I could use a little more practice on working with different textures but it's the basics of backing and adding a tube bail that I want to perfect. From there, I plan to skip to the project on page 25 called "Changing Places." It's an exercise in mixing bronze and copper clays into a squares and rectangles project. 

If you're into architectural style jewelry, page 44 introduces the concept with a project called "House Earrings."  You'll hone your skill in joining and making tube beads. I've got to make a pair of these! 

There are many more projects in this section but I'm going to skip right to the section on Flexible Clay and Textile Techniques. 

I've had dreams about flexible wire clay so you can be sure I'll make a project from this section soon. I love the Mobius Washers and Cross-Armed Earrings projects.

Whew! That's quite an array of techniques and those are just the ones I've mentioned. There are many more in the book. The books are self-published which makes them a little more expensive than those on Amazon. If you're looking for Hadar's techniques and tips, this is the only place to find them - well worth the price. If you've taken a class and don't understand the notes you took because you were too busy watching, the book is a great refresher. Everything is there. 

So me and my blue fingers are going back to work now. Have you taken a class from Hadar? Have you bought her books?  What do you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Crafting: My Baby Lock is back! Crafty links to enjoy

It's Saturday! Today is my crafting day! I'm so excited to finally have my Baby Lock back in working order.  This week's project isn't very creative but it's useful. I bought curtains for the bedroom that are too long. So I'll be cutting them down and hemming them. I think I'll make pillows out of the leftover fabric. Unless you have another idea? What would you make?

Lots of crafty-ness going on. Let's check out the Crafty bloggers and see what they're up to this week....
The current craft challenge is all about crafting with plastic bags. Submit your project and browse through the pumpkin projects submitted for the last craft challenge. 

Recycled plabric remade into high style (photo courtesy of steevithak on Flickr)

Cindy reviews Craft Activism just in time for Make a Difference Day!

This week at Craftside there is a blanket stitched felted flower pattern and tutorial, a chance to win a copy of The Wine Lover's Devotional, some high fashion clothing details, and a recipe for an oven smoked roast.

The Crafty Princess takes a trip and talks a little about the benefits of attending functions away from home.

Got tea lights? Look at this darling mini birthday cake favor you can make with them. You'll find directions for a coordinating birthday card as well. 

Eileen's adorable tealight birthday cake.

Cyndi's painted silk fabric quilt is almost finished!

How to make a recycled wool sweater pumpkin with flower die cuts.

Stephanie Girard's felt pumpkin gets eyeballed cuz it's so cute!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Funny Friday and Fabulous Links!

Funny Pictures - Cute Kittens
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

About.com Jewelrymaking
You will fall in love with this new necklace tutorial, or at the very least follow your heart.

Art Bead Scene
Jennifer shares a free tutorial on making adorable bead zipper pulls, perfect to spruce up a fall jacket!

Beading Arts
Cyndi explains how to turn a cabochon into a simple bead embroidered pendant!

Beads and Books
See the fun earrings Michelle made with sari ribbon and get inspired to work with this popular material.

Michelle Mach's lovely sari earrings

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Cindy's back from her class with Hadar Jacobson. Take a look at the mokume gane pieces she made from metal clay.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shows off her holiday packaging and questions photography in another Etsy Boot Camp post

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews the beautiful new book by Heather Powers, Jewelry Designs from Nature

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On My Bookshelf: Craft Activism

While at my metal clay class last week, Craft Activism by Joan Tapper and Photography by Gale Zucker arrived at my doorstep.

 Photo from the Random House Website

I've read it from cover to cover, taking in all of the ideas and projects. I felt like I was walking through a modern, yet retro craft show. There were the crafts of my mother and her sister, crochet, knitting and quilting. They were traditional crafts yet put together with a fresh spin, a sense of humor and decidedly activist.

The author, Joan Tapper has laid out the book according to the purpose of the crafts. Part one is entitled, "Crafting a Statement" and includes a section on Ruth Marshall who knits the fur patterns of endagered species to call attention to their plight. An ocelot knitted scarf project follows so you can knit a conscious raising scarf. 

Part Two, Recrafting the Past, is where I found my old junior high school crush, crochet. There's a colorful explosion of granny squares made by Ellen Bloom along with an easy "Granny Greenbag" project you can make yourself. The rest of the section highlights embroidery and sewing. The intermediate sewing project resurrects the 1950's housedress meant to be worn over your jeans.  It made me happy that I bought a new Baby Lock. 

Vintage Housedress Pattern (Photo courtesy of Gertie's Blog.)

It was Part Three, Crafting for a Cause that really brought the activist in me out. Crafts aren't just for style or hobbies to the craftivists in this book, they're for making a difference in someone else's life.  The Red Scarf Project is featured in a section  along with the Mother Bear Project and the Quilts of Valor Foundation. You can donate handmade scarves, teddy bears and quilt blocks to help others. 

All we are saying is give plabric a chance.... (Photo credit)

The last section, Crafting to Recycle, Renew, and Reuse showcases the "green" side of crafting. From how to recycle t-shirts into "Sun-Tea Dresses" to making a "Tongue in Chic circle skirt" of "plabric" You'll be looking at your recycle bins and garage sales in a whole new way.

Throughout the book there are sections on business advice, how to get a community of crafters together and other business tips. At the end of the book, there are three full pages of further readings, resources and links to get you pointed in the right direction.

Tapper and Zucker have delivered on the subtitle of the book - People, Ideas and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In. If you're jonesing for the new spin crafts, this is the resource book to get you started. There are a wide variety of crafts and causes and you can take your pick. 

Craft Activism will get your creative DIY juices flowing! So get out your needles, hooks or sewing machines and make your craft statement!  Just in time for this year's Make a Difference Day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Tangle: Mokume-Gane Metal Clay Class

 Tuesday Tangle is a weekly feature about all things wire (and sometimes not).

Burnishing a Metal Clay Mokume-Gane Pendant

I'm taking today's Tuesday Tangle to finish catching you up on my class with Hadar Jacobson. I wanted to show you where I am with the mokume-gane projects I made in Hadar's class but wasn't able to fire and finish.  The pendant above has three different kinds of metal clay, copper, bronze and steel. It's primarily copper because copper shrinks less than the bronze so I avoid the potential warping.  I'm burnishing it to see if there are any flaws in it. It's easier to catch at this phase than try to fix it after its fired. I can't let my tendency towards skipping steps to come into play. I'll be very sorry later if I do.

I had to test my brick kiln first by making a full load of copper and bronze test circles. Fortunately, the first load came out perfectly so I didn't have to do any adjustments from the recommended firing temperature.  I love the quick fire clay and shortened firing time. It's closer to instant gratification for those of us who are impatient.

Fired to perfect blackness in my own brick kiln!
Here's what they look like in all their polished goodness....

I'm happy with how these turned out especially the teardrop in the front.  I wanted it to look like a table cut bead so I polished it flat rather than keeping the rounded shape. I really like how it looks.

Which one is your favorite?

Monday, October 17, 2011

What's Up This Week: Metal Clay class, Baby Lock and Craft Activisim

Fall has turned out to be very busy for me! I've got lots of catching-you-up to do so I'll overview what I'm blogging about this week.  Last time you visited, I was nervously awaiting my metal clay class with Hadar Jacobson. It was a fabulous class and it didn't matter that I hadn't had a lot of experience with metal clay. Hadar took us through the basics and I had alot of help from my classmates.

Mokume Gane Metal Clay fresh from the kiln

The pieces in the photo look a little crisy but they're supposed to look like that. More on Hadar's class tomorrow. I've tested my kiln and fired pieces at home without the luxury of having Hadar close by to give me feedback.  You'll see how I've done.

Next up, my Creative Pro Baby Lock Sewing Machine is back from her tune up. YAY! Now I can get on with the jewelry display sewing projects I have lined up!

While I was at Hadar's class last weekend, Craft Activism by Joan Tapper and Photography by Gale Zucker arrived at my doorstep.

 Photo from the Random House Website

I'm devouring all the crafty goodness in it right now and will be reviewing it later this week.

That's what's on my plate for this week, what about you? What are you up?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday Tangle: I'm a little scared....

I have to admit it, I'm a little scared.

I've signed up for a Hadar Jacobson class for this upcoming weekend. Originally, it was supposed to be a beginner to advanced class, the first two days, a beginner class and then the last two days would build on the first two. So I signed up, but sometime in between, the class became advanced. No beginner.

I've worked with metal clay but I wouldn't exactly say I was an advanced metal clay artist. So I'm worried everyone else will be a master and I'll be the dumb one in the class.

But I'm going anyways.

I've wanted to take a class with Hadar for a long time and I don't want to miss out on it. Wish me luck and let's hope I'm not the class dum-dum!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Monday Morning Inspiration and Winner!

There is inspiration all around us and fortunately, it's captured by the people on flickr. Here are a few fall color inspiration pictures I found on Flickr's Explore! page.

Lovely greens of the Northern Lights.....

Northern Lights over Cass Lake

Northern Lights over Cass Lake by railtalk on flickr

.....high contrast of warm oranges and reds .....

For your eyes and soul/ Pour l ame et les yeux

For your eyes and soul/ Pour l ame et les yeux

....russets, brown and golden yellow for contrast plus the texture captured in the macro setting....

Stick to my Heart.

...now you have a whole fall color palette to inspire your creations.  

Speaking of creations, I promised to announce the winner of the double dip giveaway....

Congratulations!  Send me your email and I'll send you the double dips.

Thank you to all who participated and help spread the word!  I love my blog readers!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sunday Macro and Sensational Links

studio waterstone

Japanese Maple Leaves wearing fall colors

A Bead A Day
Lisa's got a quick tip for bead lovers! If a fabulous wholesale bead show comes to your city, don't miss it!

About.com Jewelrymaking
My, oh my, what is your favorite type of mother-of-pearl, natural, colored, bleeched, all of the above?

Art Bead Scene
We are all ready for Fall at Art Bead Scene! Check out the bounty of Autumn beady goodies we found from art bead makers on Etsy.

Beading Arts
Cyndi has a really fun giveaway book with great projects for fall weekends!

Beads and Books
Michelle shares a strategy for improving her Etsy shop photos.

Cindy Gimbrone Beads
Cindy shares what she made with Cat's lovely etched copper heart.

Close up shot of Cat's handmade etched copper heart

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie starts Etsy Holiday Boot Camp with some goals and promises.

Resin Crafts
Carmi has a blog post featuring a resin disaster

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean goes back through the mists of time and fondly recalls a favorite bracelet she made using components from two favorite websites!

The Bead Dreamer
Handcrafted jewelry and autumn looks for 2011 are just perfect together. Charlene shows how.

Please take a peek at the other "i heart macro" postings. I'm sure you'll enjoy what others have noticed during this past week....

studio waterstone

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Minding the Business: Customer Service

When you're self employed, you're responsible for all aspects of running the business.  I run two small businesses, one is the creative beadmaking business that you're reading about here and the other is a freelance sign language interpreting business.    On the surface, they're two very different businesses but I've found there's a caveat they both share. Any business is only as good as its customer service.  What I mean by customer service, is as a business owner, I need to make sure my customers are taken care of. You might think they're only the people who buy my beads. They're not. They're my colleagues, my suppliers, and in my sign language interpreting business, they're the team interpreters I work with.

I haven't always understood that. If you're like me, you have a problem with no. I know I did. I did what everyone wanted me to do despite the overload it created on me. I thought that was customer service. I had to do what everyone else wanted me to do when they wanted it. I had to serve every whim at the most inconvenient time.

That's not customer service, that's exhausting yourself and then total collapse.

Set reasonable expectations and then stick with them. For example, my beads are handcrafted. I don't keep them in stock. I make them as they are ordered.

In my descriptions, I explain it may take up to two weeks for delivery. I've set my limits. Once I set my limits I'm able to respond to customers within the expectations I've set.

Have you set limits in your business?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Tangle: Inspired by Flickr

If you're a Flickr member, you know there is lots of inspiration to be had there. One of my favorite groups is Wire Sculpture.

Here are some of the inspirational goodies that can be found in the group:

woman sculpture
Woman Sculpture by Duffy Designs

Have you joined Flickr and found inspiration?