Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teardrop Ink Box/Ink info

So, as I said earlier, I decided to make another little storage thing for all of my teardrop inks. Here they all are inside the lid:


I basically turned the thing upside down and pulled the bottom out so that I could see all of the colors. I think I'll do that every now and then to get a better picture of what I have, even though technically I can see all the color bits even when they're upside down as they are in the next photo, which shows how they'll actually be stored:


I put this together using Kraft cardstock as the base, which I've noticed, probably because of its makeup, I don't know, is actually a naturally stiff product. I covered just the edges with Basic Grey paper scraps on the bottom and did the top and sides of the lid. I had fun poking through my folder of Basic Grey scraps (YES, I keep them separate... sacred Basic Grey papers are not to touch other less worthy and more common products... I'm a huge paper snob that way...) and pulling out all of my Marrakech scraps to cut up and cover this box. I really like the way it turned out! I'm such a hopelessly ridiculous fan of Basic Grey that I actually can pick through all of my scraps and identify what collection each scrap is from. Oh, well.

Anyway... as to ink storage... I'll elaborate just a bit on inks. These particular inks are actually good for use with polymer clay. The reason these inks are good is because they're made up of chalk, if I'm getting my facts correctly, since they're "chalk ink". So the color behaves on the clay about like you'd expect chalk to behave. As always, it's good to get a feel for how the inks work before you try too much with them. They're about $10 a pack at Michael's and JoAnn, and you can use coupons, and they come 4 colors to a pack. Although I think all of them are 30% off right now, so bummer. But the inks last a pretty long time for how big they are, and it's a GREAT way to build up a huge selection of colors without having to spend the $7 per pad in the larger sizes. Although I have gotten some of the larger sizes of the colors that I discovered I really, really loved... such as Turquoise Gem and Perfect Plumeria.

When you see the packages in the stores, look for Dewdrop, which are the chalk inks. Not Momento, which is dye, I believe.

As always, StazOn is the perfect permanent choice for all of your polymer clay work, or for working in paper. For instance, you can stamp an image in StazOn onto a piece of paper and then watercolor because it won't run. You can also stamp it on metal or your cell phone or whatever, although the greater wear the object endures, the more the stamp will fade, even if it never fades completely.

One more thing for working with stamp pads... To get really rich stamped images, it helps to pull the ink to the surface of the stamp pad before you stamp. This is helped a lot by storing your ink upside down, keeping the ink resting at the top of the pad. Also, before you stamp, rub your stamp over the top of the pad. This is sometimes referred to as "seasoning" the pad. Once you've rubbed the stamp onto the pad, gently tap the stamp on the pad to get the ink onto the stamp. Rubbing really doesn't get any ink on the stamp--it just helps bring more ink to the surface.

This isn't usually necessary with newer stamp pads, but it can help give you richer images for a longer amount of time. It just helps you use what ink is in the pad rather than having to throw them away too soon.

And now I have a 9 year old on a broken record saying, "So what are we going to do?" "MOMMA." So I guess I need to go. ^_~

Cardstock Ink Pad Towers

Here's what I did yesterday:


I got all of these glorious brand new stamps from my Stampin' Up! party order and I just wanted to stamp away, but my ink shoebox (a plastic shoebox that previously stored all of my inks, in a big jumble) was annoying me. I started pulling things out and realizing just how many awesome colors I have that I never get to use because I don't remember that I even have them. So here's what I've done so far. I've got 1 tower for some colors and 1 tower for all of my blacks and browns and my embossing inks. YES, there's a difference between all of those blacks and browns. But I don't have to get into that right now.

I had become inspired by the idea of having a lovely little ink tower when I saw the beautiful spinny one Stampin' Up! sells for their inks. That's $55, though. And I don't have enough of their inks yet to justify that. So I figured I could try to make something for the inks I have, but didn't really get to sketching a design until seeing them in a sad jumble yesterday and becoming particularly convicted about it.

So these are made 100% from cardstock and glue (my FAVORITE glue, of course... Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive! Which not only dries fast, but dries hard, lending structural integrity to things.). I covered the edges once finished with my glorious Marrakech Basic Grey paper, which makes me feel like crying in some ways because almost all of my Marrakech paper is gone. Luckily I have this beautiful way of enjoying two pieces of it for a long time to come.

The shelves dipped a bit overnight, so I flipped it all over and put the inks in again. I think the shelves might end up just dipping, which is fine. I didn't need for it to be a perfectly structurally sound object (it is only cardstock, after all), just something that would stand and hold my inks in an easily accessible and upside down fashion. Storing inks upside down is best because it always keeps the ink at the top.

My next puzzlement is to how I'm going to store my little Tsukineko Dewdrop chalk inks. They look like teardrops. I could create a piece similar to these, I suppose, but these were a hellish amount of work and I'm not ready to put myself through that again, quite frankly. Maybe those will require a simpler solution. Something to keep them straight, but also easily accessible.

The wheels are turning now...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coming out of it... Martha Stewart... Zakka...

Well, I seem to be coming out of it somewhat gradually. I can't quite explain what's been going on lately. Maybe it's been all kinds of things that are completely out of my control, and that gets grating after a while, of course.

I've been reading Japanese blogs. Or, rather, I've been looking at pictures on Japanese blogs because I can't read Japanese. I've been inspired by the simplicity of people's homes and the handmade things that are everywhere. I've been taking a look at my home and realizing that I can't really turn my head in any single room in my house without finding at least 1 (or 10) things I've made decorating each area. I'm realizing that even though I have a constant feeling of never doing enough, I clearly have made a mark in my home.

I've also come to something of a decision. For at least a little while, I think I will completely abandon any crafting of any kind that I will try to sell. I think I'll focus on myself, on my family, on my house... I'll try to rediscover the joy of making for what it is. It's possibly one of the best things about being human, the spark of the mind that separates us from the animals. Maybe it's part of God making us in His image. Who knows?

It might sound funny, but lately my biggest inspiration has probably been the Martha Stewart website. I love looking at stuff there. They have a whole section in the decorating area of the website dedicated to entire rooms of certain colors. GOSH, I love seeing those.

http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/livings-colorful-rooms

There's the link to the beginning if anyone wants to see. I'm really inspired lately by zakka crafting from Japan. Their ability to create incredibly beautiful objects with such simplicity will never cease to amaze gaudy-just-10-more-rhinestones-and-a-pound-of-glitter-to-finish-it me.

If ANYONE out there who likes to bead hasn't checked out the Bead Fantasies (I-IV) series by Takako Samejima, you're seriously missing out.

Okay, okay..... I know what to do now. It's really helpful to have a blog to talk about these things. ^_^

Monday, March 22, 2010

Funk punk me

Well, lately I've been in a bit of a funk. It's been harder and harder for me over the last few days to sit myself down and do anything creative. I'm kind of listless. I have the desire to create, but nothing satisfies the urge. I start something, then stop, throw away, recycle, rip out, or store whatever I just started on because it doesn't seem to be the right thing.

So, whatever the heck this is about, I don't know. I mean, the feeling isn't spilling over into the rest of my life. I'm not really depressed or anything. I'm just in a creating funk.

I reorganized my craft area today and I hate it. I hated it before. I can't decide which was worse--before or after. So I'm keeping the after for a while to see if I can stand it. Why does everything feel wrong?

I have been noticing a lack of satisfaction building in me over the last little while with my crafting situation. I'm fortunate enough to have my own space, but it's a multi-purpose space and it's in our living room. This means, really, that I've got to pack up and clean every single time I finish making anything. Out of protection for my younguns sometimes (especially with those 6" razor blades you use with the polymer clay, or sewing scissors, and the like), but also out of respect for my family. I mean, even I feel like it's a real eyesore when I leave all of my crap out. I like for everything to be neat. I just wish I had enough room for everything to be neat in its own spot. Like, a polymer clay station, a sewing station, a jewelry station, a scrapping station, etc.

Oh, well. I'm not complaining, really. Just sort of trying to get to the root of my current issues with making things. I was thinking about trying to do something more expressive. Something more reflective of the inner struggle. Something actually artist-y. But I just don't really feel like it. Maybe I'll just yank something out that I haven't done in a really long time and try it out. Maybe I'll clean more of my stuff out. Ugh, who knows?

Has anyone else ever been in a creative funk? What did you do to get out of it? I'm interested to know.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cinderella's Wish

I've got to say that my absolute most favorite thing about knowing how to make jewelry and having been making it for 9 years is stuff like this:


Our friends who live up in northern Arizona have put together this thing for girls this year whose families have been hit hard by the economy. Basically, they've gotten together dresses and shoes and gotten volunteers for hair and makeup and nails so that the girls can have some nice things for their prom night. They're calling it, rather aptly, "Cinderella's Wish".

When my friend was telling me about it, I just HAD to get in on the fun. I went through some of my stash (which is HUGE) and pulled out a ton of stuff to donate, mostly earrings, with some bracelets in there. They're expecting about 60 girls to participate this year, and this huge pile of stuff will more than cover that. I hope that every single one of them finds something they like in the pile.

This is definitely it. I guess this is the real thrill because this is where I feel like what I do actually has a purpose, you know? It's not just making random pretty stuff to sell--it's actually helping people. And even selling to raise money for something isn't as fun as this is. I just love the idea that I can help make some girl's night. Anyway, I'm thrilled! I can't wait to hear how the whole thing went!

Copier Etching!!!!

I just checked out two videos from the Guild library by Gwen Gibson. This is my life for the next week or so, I'm sure.

I'm THRILLED about the etching techniques! I've got two pieces going now as we speak, stopping only to watch the other video and eat some homemade icecream. YUM.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What do you do when you don't know what to do?

So I think I may have hit upon the true danger of being a craft polygamist. I have this overwhelming urge to make something, but no FREAKING clue what to make or how to make it.

Do I knit? Do I crochet? Do I make jewelry? Do I do clay? Do I sew? Do I make a candle? Do I embroider? Do I scrapbook? Do I make cards? Do I paint? Do I draw?

Then even these things have subcategories.

Jewelry:
Do I crochet? Do I do wirework? Do I do beading? Bead embroidery? Knotting? Stringing? Do I solder? Do I fuse? Do I yank out my resin stuff and make jewelry with that?

Knit:
Do I finish the stupid second sock I'm working on right now!? (I'm THIS close to having MSSS [Malignant Second Sock Syndrome, as described by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in her book, "Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off"] and I think the best way to avoid it is to avoid the second sock for now.) Do I design a new purse? I have the idea in my head. Do I knit the patterns I charted this morning? I charted the phrase, "Piece of Knit", and I want to knit it into something especially pretty. (Perhaps this was an indication of the budding, beautiful mood I'm currently experiencing.) I charted a damask pattern. Do I knit that? Do I knit the scarf that was supposed to be my aunt's birthday present in January? Do I experiment more with thread knitting and finally make that stupid Micro Drive cover I've been envisioning? Do I knit a camera cover?

Crochet:
Oh, screw it. I don't feel like crocheting.

Clay:
Do I make a pin that says "Piece of Knit" on it to go on the felted purse I just made? Or perhaps some little buttons with "Piece of Knit" on them to sell in my Etsy store? I'm stuck on this piece of knit thing. I'm going to start saying it when I mean the other thing instead of "piece of crap" because this one is more satisfying. I could play more with my latest obsession: recreating Japanese food and artwork in the clay.

The truth is, I could go on and on. But I'm in such a sour mood for some reason, I don't know where to start. Nothing seems to have the potential to satisfy this urge. Truth be told, I miss my husband. I've had nearly two solid weeks of being practically alone with both of my children which isn't bad in itself, I suppose. I just want to spend some quality alone time with adults. I miss PEOPLE.

Thank GOD I'm going to Clay Guild tomorrow!!!!!

On reflection, I think I will go ahead and make myself a button out of clay that says "Piece of Knit". I'll put it on my purse. I'll make a whole series of little buttons playing on the cuss word because it's funny. "Knit Happens" "I don't give a knit", etc. Maybe I'm proving myself infantile with this whole thing. LOL. But I'm in a knitty mood, dangit! And I don't care what people think!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Felted Clutch Purse Pattern

This is my first felted clutch bag. I wrote down the pattern. This was SO fun! Here it is for all of my Ravelry people, but also for anyone else who wants to give it a whirl.


The bag before felting:


Bottom of the bag:


Filled with goodies!!!!


Tools:
Size 11 (US) straight knitting needles
Tapestry needle (for sewing seams)

Yarn:
1 skein (less than 1!!!!) 100% wool Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep yarn, found at JoAnn
(This is a worsted weight yarn)

Gauge:
Not really very important... I mean, really... It's all going to shrink rather unpredictably once you're done anyway.

Pattern:

Front:

Cast on 38 stitches


Rows 1-4: Knit

Row 5: Knit 10. Bind off 18 st. Knit to end of row. (20 stitches, 2 sections of 10 left on needle)

Row 6: Knit 10. Cast on 18 st. Knit to end of row. (38 sts)

Row 7: Knit across. (38 sts)

Rows 8 and 9: Knit across

Row 10: Purl across

Continue in Stockinette stitch (alternate knit and purl rows) until piece measures 10” from cast on edge, ending with a purl row.

Bottom:

Row 1: Bind off 4 stitches. Knit across. (34 sts)

Row 2: Bind off 4 stitches. Knit across. (30 sts)

Continue in Garter stitch (knit every row) until bottom piece measures about twice as long as the width of the bound off stitch flaps, ending with a knit row worked with knit side facing.


Back:

Row 1: Cast on 4 stitches. Knit across. (34 sts)

Row 2: Cast on 4 stitches. Knit across. (38 sts.)

Beginning with a knit row, continue in Stockinette stitch until back piece measures same as front Stockinette section, measured between Garter stitch rows of bottom and handle piece. End with a purl row.

Handle piece:

Rows 1-3: Knit

Row 4: Knit 10. Bind off 18 sts. Knit to end of row. (20 sts, 2 sections of 10 sts left on needle)

Row 5: Knit 10. Cast on 18 sts. Knit to end of row. (38 sts)

Rows 6-11: Knit

Bind off all stitches, leaving a long, long tail for sewing.

Finishing:

With right sides facing, sew down side seam until the bottom of the side seam is reached. There will be a hole left where the extra stitch flaps and the bottom piece are unconnected. Flatten this hole so that the bottom of the purse is on one side and the seamed side is on the other, with the sewn seam in the middle. Sew from the middle to one side, then from that side to the other side, then back to the middle. Knot and sew into the seam and cut excess yarn.


Repeat sewing for the other side of the purse, joining yarn at the top of the handle and working down. To save yourself trouble of sewing in an extra end, sew over your joining tail as you sew the side seam.


Before felting, my purse measured about 11x11.5". Yours may be more or less. It came out quite a bit smaller, but really strong and cute!


Felting:

This yarn felted SO fast. You really need to keep an eye on it!


I did this:

I put my machine on the smallest load possible, used hot water, and added a bit of soap. I started the water, threw a pair of my husband's jeans in (for extra agitation) and threw the purse in once the water finished filling. I then set my timer for 10 minutes and went back, fished my purse out, and found it already felted! This may go faster or slower you, but I really do recommend starting a timer and checking every 5 minutes or so. (I waited 10 for mine because all the directions I've read said that I should check after five minutes and then notice that my knitting actually got bigger because the wool relaxes, and then check again in another five minutes. I was like, who cares? LoL. So I just checked after 10 minutes.)


Other things I've read recommended using a zippered pillowcase to hold your knitted item because of all of the fiber that's lost in this process. Holy moly, yeah... there was a TON of loose wool floating around in my washing machine. I managed to fish a lot of it out before it got sucked down my water hose, but next time I'm definitely using the pillowcase. Just pull the entire thing out of the washer and check every now and then.


I rinsed the purse out in cold water and let it dry for a while on a box form, then got impatient and threw it into the dryer with the jeans. Whether this is taboo or not, I don't know, but I was able to use my purse that day because of it. It still wasn't 100% dry, but it dried really fast (but I live in Arizona, so this could be what helped me).


Anyway, this was SO fun. I'm totally felting some more!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Giveaway stuff; pretty pendant; covered binder

Well, Lupe won the giveaway because she was the only one who entered. LoL. So, good job, Lupe! ^_^ Those pics are later.

Here is an old, ugly binder I have that I got from Carol at clay guild about 1 year ago or so. I really needed a new binder and just decided to cover this one so that I could have a pretty one. Basically, I measured to just inside the place where the edge of the binder starts (you know, that dip and channel, kind of, where the plastic looks like it's been crimped). This binder happened to be about 11.25" tall and 9.25" wide and the spine was 13/16" wide.


Since I was in a rush and didn't feel like painting a border or anything, I chose a paper that would coordinate with the white edges left visible all around. I chose some beautiful paper from the DCWV Mariposa stack. I cut it to size, rounded the corners corresponding the open edges with a 1/4" rounder, inked the edges with Vintage Photo colored Distress Ink from Ranger, and glued it on with a fair amount of Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. I lay the binder as shown in the picture above before gluing so that I could run a ruler firmly all over the paper to really spread the glue out underneath and adhere it well. I flipped it around for the back and ended up working on the back upside down. I applied the spine piece last. Instead of cutting out holes where the spine has the metal pieces, I just rubbed the paper rather roughly without glue over the spine so that the imprint of those metal pieces would get into the paper before gluing. I then glued the spine and rubbed again with a ruler to get it all smooth and well adhered.


So, there it is! Isn't it pretty!? It used only 2 sheets of 12x12 paper. Doing the math on this, it works out to about 42 cents a sheet (if you pay the full $20.00 for the paper pack) and only 21 cents each if you got it on sale for $9.99, which they seem to ALWAYS be on sale for. So you could potentially have a beautifully decorated binder for less than $2.00 (buying a super cheapo plain binder without a clear cover or anything... I'm not sure this would work out well on a clear cover binder).

AND.... on to the giveaway!


Lupe chose one of these beads from the picture of my jar and I decided to give her both. She also picked out this green pendant. For the heck of it, I'm throwing in this mokume gane rock purse I made. It's SO pretty!


And since I was in the mood for taking pictures of things from my jar, this is the gold fancy "mystery prize" I talked about when I said that I hadn't posted a pic of it yet, but a person could choose the gold pendant and it was really pretty. Lupe didn't pick this one, so it's back into the jar and maybe someone will pick it the next time I do a giveaway. Or I might take it to clay guild this weekend and put it in the raffle. I really love the way it turned out. ^_^

Monday, March 15, 2010

Knitting!

I got sick of my March resolution as I had originally decided it--the one finished thing every day thing. It got to the point of me feeling like I "had" to sit down and make something and I don't like that feeling.

So I'm morphing it into some creative time spent every day, whatever that should happen to be, and I'm knitting a lot right now.

This is a purse I've begun, an original pattern. It's made with 100% wool, so when it's done, I'm going to felt it. I can't wait! It's my first felting project!


Here is the finished basket from the other day, holding some of the stuff we use to help out Elliott's eczema whenever it flairs up:


Here it is upside down because I think the stitches look so cool:


This project was another first for me. I started with only 8 stitches on the needles and worked out from the middle, increasing stitches. I had never done it that way before, but it was the way the pattern called for it to work, so I did it. And I like this little stitch pattern. The basket was supposed to be 3" high, but I made it only 1" because I got too interested in the idea of doing a purse. So I bound this one off early. I am a weird knitter, I think. I can't stand to have too many projects going. I would rather bind off something and finish it early than leave it on my needles for working on later. Loose ends unnerve me. Currently I have my purse, a scarf, and a pair of socks going. Just enough for variety, but not so much that it stresses me out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Craft 11: Finished crochet necklace, started knitted basket

Today I started a knitted basket. Below is my progress as of this picture. I think I got a few rows further.


And, excitement of excitement, I finished my crochet necklace!!!!


I'm really excited to be learning how to crochet necklaces now. I think that the crochet stuff will really give some great accent to some of my more earthy looking polymer clay pieces.

And that's it for me today! I'm off to squeeze in a few more minutes of Pride and Prejudice (BBC version this time) before all of my boys get home from the bicycle store.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March Craft 10: Video Tutorial of Pretty Earrings!!!

I made these pretty earrings today and during part of that process, I made a video of how to do them. As I said in the video, this is aimed at people who already know how to do wirework. But if you've been thinking my chandelier earrings were pretty and were even slightly interested in trying to make your own, here you go.

This is, as far as I know, my technique. I mean, it's not an insanely complex thing. I'm sure other people have figured it out. But when I figured it out early on in my beading/wireworking journey, I did it without any instructions, and at that point I had never seen it before. I still haven't really seen it. Anyway, it doesn't matter if it's particularly mine or not. I just figured I'd share it. I had done a book proposal about a year ago to teach all of the wire and bead findings I've come up with, but it wasn't accepted. So I figure I'll start to divulge the techniques here one at a time.



A couple of notes on the video (things I forgot to say in the video even though it was my second time shooting it, lol...):
-The extra beads in the earrings (apart from the chandelier components) are all done with simple loops. The three beads of the top of the earring are complete simple loop components (one simple loop at each end) and the beads dangling are on headpins with simple loops made at the top of the bead.
-The sizes of the beads are, from smallest to largest, 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm. (All of the little gray pearls are 4mm.) These are the sizes I use in all of these earring designs. So if you go back and look at any of my previous posts, you can figure out the sizes of the beads.
-At the end, when I say I attach the dangles so that the closed section of the loop is facing front, what I mean is that I attach my dangles so that the solid piece of wire is facing the front. Meaning, the closure of the simple loop of the dangles is always facing the back of the work so that from the front, you have a clean line of wire from inside of the bead to the top of the loop. Again, this is my picky thing. You don't have to do this. It's really not as important in these smaller pieces. But if you're ever attaching things with larger gauges of wire, it's something to keep in mind because on the larger wire gauges, the little closure will be obvious if it's not in the back.

Oh, and as I say in the video briefly, I have to apologize again for the fact that this is a blurry mess. I think it's clear enough, though, if you have previous wire working experience, and between the pictures I've posted of the earrings and this video, you should be able to figure out how to make them. ^_^


video

So, again... hopefully this is useful to someone. I don't care if you make this component into stuff to sell. In fact, I'd love to see anything you come up with. As far as I'm concerned, the component itself is like the nuts and bolts of an entire design. You'll make it different by your bead choices and whatnot. So if you master this and love it, sell as many as you want.

Oh, and the giveaway is still open. Is seriously no one interested but Lupe? I know I only have 6 followers, but I was under the impression from what people tell me and from comments I get out in the real world that I have several readers who are not actual followers here. This is open to you, too, you know!!! I'm starting to feel rejected! LOL. Not really. Really, not really. I just think it's funny. Maybe I should try giving away cooler stuff.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Craft #9: More Wedding Earrings/a pendant for Nanny

I've finally started making some sterling silver pieces for the wedding jewelry. All of these are basically the same design except for the fact that I've changed the beads and whatnot. This is mainly to show the variety possible. All of these are genuine Swarovski crystals and pearls and sterling silver, so they're definitely more pricey than the costume stuff. But some people might want that more.


And here's a pendant I made for my grandma for her birthday which is coming up in a few days. It's got birthstone drops for all of the people in her life who call her "Nanny", including me and my kids and my cousins. This is all sterling and Swarovski, too.


And no one seems interested in my giveaway. So far, it looks like Lupe is going to get the lotus pendant and whatever she wants out of my jar. If you're interested, look at yesterday's post.

Monday, March 8, 2010

March Crafts 7 & 8: Cane work/Lotus pendants/giveaway

Yesterday's craft time was somewhat rife with disappointment. I was inspired, in part, by the Asian looking blue and white china you see quite a bit, yet also by Victorian lace patterns. And I ended up producing something neither Asian nor Victorian, but rather a cane that looks a bit more like it belongs on a Mexican tile. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, and I like the cane itself. I just don't like how my beads and my pendant turned out. I sanded only with 220 on these and just couldn't take it anymore. It's the main reason I don't do a lot of cane work, really. Disappointment with wrong results is just a bit too acute because of how much work goes into it.

Oh, well. These things (except for the raw cane, of course) have now been thrown into my jar to await the day I pull them out and, by then no longer emotionally connected to my original vision, I can love them for what they are.


Today's craft was more inspired by the disappointment of yesterday and several of the crafts I've been doing lately. All of this trying new stuff is starting to wear on my nerves. LoL. I went back to the stuff I really enjoy, and the thing I seem to be most naturally inclined to do with my clay--mimic intricately carved things.

So I made a couple of blue lotus pendants today. They're a mixture of blue pearl and translucent. My future plans for them are for them to be sanded gloriously through all 11 grits of sandpaper I now eccentrically insist on using in all of my sanding projects. They'll be so smooth! And I'm going to fill in the cracks and whatnot with Inca gold acrylic paint. I can't wait!


The black lotus pendant above was made a while ago, sanded through 9 grits of sandpaper (this was before I discovered the last two, lol) and filled with silver paint. If you want to win this cute pendant, post about it on your blog with a link to this post, and you'll be entered in the giveaway (of the black lotus pendant).


Incidentally, here's my infamous jar. This is where my lonely, unfinished pieces await their future completion. What the hey? Look closely at this jar. Pick any one item that you can see in there and you can win that AND the lotus pendant.

Items of note visible in this picture of the jar:

-There's a lovely mokume gane rock purse kind of towards the bottom left there. It was sanded through all the grits I usually use now (220-3000) and buffed and it feels incredible. I just haven't drilled holes in it or anything because I haven't figured out yet how I'm turning it into a pendant. The colors are incredible. I really love it!

-My cute little octopus bead from several posts ago is visible in the bottom left of the jar, too. So you could win that. http://papersensei.blogspot.com/2010/02/polymer-frenzy.html

-The coffee bean beads featured in the post with the octopus are also visible in the jar. You can win the set.

-A beautiful gold colored pendant on the bottom right of the screen has several set cats eye cabochons in it and is actually quite intricate and lovely. (You just can't see the front.) We could call that a mystery prize, if you choose it when you win.

-The elephant and the diamond shaped pendant from a previous post are visible in the jar in this photograph. http://papersensei.blogspot.com/2010/02/ivory-pendants-elephant-beadnational.html

In general, there's a lot of cool stuff in there. I guess this is how people get people to follow their blog, and it seems like a great way to network! So, remember, here are the rules:

-Post about this and use this link on your blog: http://papersensei.blogspot.com/2010/03/march-crafts-7-8-cane-worklotus.html
-Leave a comment on this post.
-I'll leave this open until Friday the 12th. On Saturday, I'll announce the winner and post a picture of what they won.

You can win: the black and silver lotus pendant and one thing from my jar as seen in this photograph. You pick!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's cooking.

Today's craft is cooking right now, literally. (It's polymer clay stuff.) I made a fun experimental cane and some beads. So I'll make a necklace out of them tomorrow and post all the pics then.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March Craft #6: More Wedding Jewelry/Flower Girl Set!!!!

I've been making more wedding jewelry for my craft time today. I'm really pleased that Lupe thought the stuff from yesterday looks vintage, because that's actually exactly what I was going for. Vintage jewelry is hot right now for weddings.

Below is my favorite pair of earrings from today as far as how absolutely pretty they are. I just LOVE these bead frames! And I'm so glad I noticed that the grayish brownish teardrop beads are the same height as the inside of the frame. These earrings wouldn't look even close to as cool without them.


Below is a bracelet I made to match the earrings I made yesterday.


And here are my favorite things as far as how fun they were. I decided to make little flowers and turned it into a flower girl jewelry set! How freaking cute is this!?


Anyway, there you have it. My finger still hurts. And, to top it off, I've got a blister on the ring finger of my right hand (the same hand as the nasty cut) from my fine silver finding spree the other night. I made close to 100 headpins and almost 50 earwires while watching TV until late at night. I did it all with fine silver, with my torch, to create the balled ends for the headpins and the earwires. During the course of this time, I managed to burn myself pretty bad on the finger, the grace here being that the heat is so HOT that it practically cauterizes the wound at the same time so you don't really feel it although it doesn't smell too nice. But today I have a blister. Ah, well. Badges of honor, every single one. My cut is healing quickly, though, as cuts made with wicked sharp knives usually do. It seems that this is the key: just hurt yourself like you MEAN it and your body gets over it quicker. LoL.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March Craft #5: Wedding Necklace, 3 pairs earrings

I've mentioned before that I have an opportunity to be a part of a new business venture with one of my friends. I'm going to be designing wedding jewelry, basically. A lot of it will be my own customized sterling and fine silver jewelry, stamped names, pendants, and such, but I'm also going to offer other jewelry designs, both genuine silver and Swarovski crystals and pearls and all of that and a more costume jewelry line for those brides who want to look beautiful, but don't have a hugely beautiful budget.

The pieces I made today were made with some of the stuff I picked up at Beads Galore today on their super 40% off sale. I got some glass pearls, Chinese crystal (my new absolute favorite thing in jewelry making), and a ton of AWESOME silver plated findings that were so cheap, but look so good! Obviously, these pieces are going to be part of the costume jewelry line. I haven't priced out the necklace and earrings yet, but they will be considerably cheaper than they would have been if they'd have been made with genuine or Swarovski pearls and crystals and the Bali silver that would have been the equivalent of these things. Basically, this is costume jewelry that is constructed with the same skill and attention to detail that I have honed over 9 years of jewelry making with my finer materials. At least, that's how I'll try to sell it. ^_~



I've debated long and hard over whether or not starting to make costume jewelry will demote me as a jewelry maker in some people's eyes. I guess I've finally decided that I don't care. Quite frankly, it's fun to play with designs and jewelry pieces when you're not as concerned about "wasting" your materials.

Anyway, here they are, made with a gimpy finger. It's weird working pliers without the index finger of your dominant hand. LoL.

The Epic Adventure: March Madness!! Cooking! A cut finger!

Any of you who don't know what I'm doing (perhaps new visitors... I don't know. I guess it's possible that I have them.), I'll give you a quick update: March is National Craft Month. I've set out to do one complete craft project for every day of March.

I thought this would be easy. I spend time every day crafting, right? Well, the truth is, as I was surprised to realize, I actually don't. As much as I talk about it and as much as it really seems to be a huge part of my life, there are days when I don't touch my creative stuff. This mission has forced me to really look at my days and plan them well and get my crafting done while at the same time not allowing my house to fall apart. The kitchen was clean yesterday. I'm semi-caught-up-ish on my laundry (which doesn't sound too good, but considering that this chore and I go together about as well as a skittish cat and an ice water bath, this is actually a remarkable statement), and I was all in line to keep going on my mission.

I've even discovered, by God's amazing grace and provision, Jacques Pepin. Mainly the PBS series "More Fast Food My Way" for which there is a companion cookbook. I got that, and the cookbook for his first series "Fast Food My Way". This has enabled me for the past two nights to get a gloriously beautiful dinner on my table with less than 30 minutes of work, but it looks way fancier. I highly recommend both the show and the books. His stuff is amazing and amazingly good!

Enter last night... My son (the 9 year old, Thad) had a concert at school. We got home at about 7:30. By just after 8, we were eating beautiful pan seared chicken breast with a delicious balsamic vinegar sauce, baked (in the microwave) golden potatoes, and grapes. All served with butter, kosher salt, multi colored ground pepper, and shredded Parmesan cheese (from a block of cheese, not the shaker bottle), and a freshly brewed pot of tea. Even Elliott (the 3 year old who is most usually on a hunger strike at dinner) asked for more. Three times.

In between 7:30 and 8:00, however, as I was in a rush, washing the cutting board and wicked Kuhn Rikon chef's knife (wicked awesome and just a bit wicked evil, but it's not the knife's fault it's so good at being so very bad [awesome] in the kitchen) of raw chicken ickies to prepare to chop the onion for the sauce, it happened. I cut my finger. BAD.

There was blood oozing everywhere. It was quite surrealistic, actually. I was saying, "Ow, ow, ouch! Oh, my gosh! OWWWWW!!!!!" And, not to mark him as a jerk, but as a man who is married to such a hyperbolic woman, my husband said, "What? Are you okay?"

And he came in the kitchen, saw me oozing, and handed me a paper towel and I said, "Move!!! I have to flip the chicken!"

Basically, he washed everything, flipped the chicken, helped make the sauce, and everything. And I smoked up our entire house because this sauce thing was supposed to go smoothly (made with the drippings in the skillet after moving the chicken to a very low oven for 1o minutes), but it didn't really because, God bless him, my husband simply can't chop onions as fast as I can, which is understandable, of course. So the drippings smoked. Our house looked awesome. We turned on all of the fans and opened the doors.

And even with all of this, we were still eating by just a bit after 8:00. Oh, if I could meet Jacques Pepin, I'd probably kiss him.

So... all of this to say... my finger is very badly hurt. I've got a bandaide on it now. I'm heading out to Beads Galore today because of their insane sale. Woot, woot! And hopefully I'll figure out how to make something that doesn't kill me. I hate for one of the days to be a little card or something, but if I have to, I suppose it's okay.

At least I have Jacques to help with dinner tonight.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Craft #4: Gwageous Chandelier Earrings

I've mentioned it before, and I suppose I can mention it again: I LOVE BIG EARRINGS!!!!

I've got this special affinity for them which was developed when I was a little girl. I was raised by my grandma, and she always allowed me to play with her jewelry. I was a little girl in the 80's back when huge, chunky plastic and wooden earrings were all the rage. I would prance around in boots that went up to my thighs (they were knee-high high heeled boots she bought at a garage sale specifically so that I could play dress up in them) and huge earrings and pretend that I belonged to a world in which one's status was determined by how big one's earrings were. Naturally, as I had huge earrings, I was a queen. (I very rarely pretended to be a princess... I always pretended to be the queen--the one in charge, duh.)


I guess this idea formed in my head way back then and I have to admit that when I wear big earrings, even today, I prance a bit more than just walk, if you know what I mean. Something in me still feels queenly when I wear huge earrings. And I LOVE to make them.

So this was my craft for today--all of it is silver plated, but all of those are Swarovski crystals. I even used one of my favorite colors--Fire Opal, which is an amazing blend of yellow and orange in each crystal. Each one seems to be unique and just a bit different. I love that about them!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Craft #3: A Sucky Pysanka!!!!

So many things went wrong with this egg, I almost don't know where to start. First of all, my dyes are really, really old and I didn't mix new ones. Second of all, I apparently don't know what I'm doing when it comes to using vinegar to etch color away, then start fresh with white.

This is a duck egg. If you don't know, the process of pysanky goes like this: start with an egg. Draw lines in wax, which will remain white (if you didn't dye the egg first). Dip in a dye. Draw more lines in wax, which will remain the color of the dye, and so on and so forth for hours and hours on end.


My colors turned out way too pastel for my taste. And you can't even see the flowers at the ends of those green stems because I forgot that I had outlined them in a light blue and this blue-ish color was the best dark color I could achieve for my background. Oh, well.


We'll call it a real Easter-ish Easter egg because of all the pastel colors.


There sits the new ugly egg amongst other past creations. In the forefront, you can see an etched brown chicken egg (it started as brown, then by etching with vinegar, the under layers of shell can be seen). In the middle is one of my favorite eggs of all time--a white, etched goose egg which you can't see the detail of because of the flash. And back there is an etched emu egg which is beautiful in its detail even though I etched too much the first time around, leaving me with only my original outlines and no chance to achieve extra depth of color. (Emu eggs are also white at their core, but I never wanted it to go all the way white.)


And just for the heck of it, some other eggs I've done. Ugh, I hate spending hours on something only to have it turn out not like I want it to.

I should go check on Elliott now, too. All of the crashing sounds coming from his room show that his naptime is truly exhausting him. Maybe he'll get to sleep now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March Craft(s) 2: Bamboo skewer vase and customized beadcaps

I did two things today, actually!!! The first was a new earring design which didn't feel like it counted since it was a business thing, and the second was the bamboo skewer vase below that didn't feel like it counted since I was finishing it and didn't do the entire thing today.


The vase is the taller one with the thingies poking out. I took these old, lonely glasses from our cupboard and cut bamboo skewers to fit the height. I used my hot glue gun to glue the skewers all around the outside. I really like the way they look! The shorter one is used as a candle holder and the taller one, newly complete today, is a decorative vase thing. I glued gold sticks to the outside of the vase, too (colored twigs from my yard with a Krylon 18kt pen). The thingies poking out are actually lemon grass husks. Kind of? When you cook with lemon grass, you're supposed to remove the outer layers. I tied them all up and hung them upside down for several weeks and they formed these neat, organic looking (because they ARE, go fig) stick things that I've used in various arrangements throughout my house.


These I felt really excited about. I cut discs and customized them with my wedding anniversary (so at least I could wear them which is better than picking some random date out of the air) and my husband's and my initials (A&K). I then formed the discs into bead caps using my doming block. These are made for a new business my friend is starting called Bello Momento. She is an incredibly talented graphic designer and one of her friends is a wonderfully talented photographer, both very professional and accomplished. And she asked ME if I would like to make some designs so that any customers (mainly weddings, but also for all other special moments) could see if they'd like some jewelry to celebrate their occasion. I'm thinking all about customized stuff, of course, with dates and names and all of that. And I'm trying to come up with stuff I haven't really seen before (like these bead caps!). I think it will be really awesome!!!

Tomorrow I might make an egg for Easter. I haven't pulled out my pysanky stuff in a while. (Like 2 years.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Craft #1: Soldered Fine and Sterling Peridot Chandelier Earrings

Here is my first craft project in celebration of National Craft Month:


I soldered these together using all fine silver (except the discs which are sterling) and pretty faceted peridot beads. I LOVE how pretty they are! And I really love the earwires. So 1 project down... 30 to go...