Monday, February 25, 2013

Kathy made this for you!

I made this pretty cross necklace out of polymer clay for my Sunday School teacher at church.

It's hand sculpted, no molds...

...with a meaningful verse on the back.

As always, there's rich symbolism here because I love putting something tangible to those things in Christianity that are so intangible.  No statues for us, no idols, no little things that we believe have any actual power in and of themselves--just little pieces that represent something far greater and trigger a remembrance of that which can't be contained.  Kiss of Heaven.  Breath of God.  A touch of super in the natural.

A key for authority.  A pearl for the kingdom of God.  A cross, obviously.  Red words because Jesus said them, and their power is in His finished work on the cross.  A heart clasp because every time the necklace gets clasped, it's symbolic that all of this stuff is already in our hearts.  It is finished.  Everything we could ever need or want wrapped up in one great sacrifice that took care of all of it.

Beauty, glory, love, and light.  I adore it.  I live it.  I breathe it.  There could never be enough skill to render everything that all of this means to me, but that's where grace comes in.  He causes me to hit the mark. 

You know, it's like a little child "helping" his mother bake cookies.  Any mother who has ever baked cookies knows just how much "help" a small child is in such a task, and how it's so much clumsier, and takes so much longer, and how they really don't do very much of anything.  The mom is the one who does all of the real work.  The child is the one who gets the credit in the end, cookies on the plate, beaming from ear to ear, saying, "I made these!"  And the mom nods and says, "Yes, you did!"

That's how I feel about all of this.  When the cookies get served, what does He say?  "Here, Kathy made this for you!"  It humbles me and blows my mind every single time.  It was totally not me.  It was so Him.  It's always been so Him.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Shawl Pins

Here's a fresh half dozen shawl pins over at Tempe Yarn and Fiber now...  Get them while they're hot!  ^_~

Handsculpted polymer clay seahorse with freshwater pearls ($35):

Cut and hammered copper donut disc with various embellishments ($35):

Woven copper, aluminum, and freshwater pearls ($35):

Silver plated and czech glass glory ($20):

Chemical etched copper dangle with various wired on charms ($35):

Chinese crystal bead on brass with pearl... this one can be used with or without the stick ($20):

There are four others in the shop right now, too, that I haven't pictured.  Go to TYF or call for purchasing details and options!  They ship, I believe, if you're not local.

Have an awesome Saturday!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beads for Knitters...

They're almost here!  ^_~

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Big Bead Polymer Clay and Knitted I-Cord

It was bound to happen eventually.

Knitting has become part of the jewelry.  I'm off to make more i-cord as I dream up some more awesome polymer beads to go with it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How to Make Round and Oval Rosettes, plus Rosette Math Theory

Here's a (not at all) quick post about how to make rosettes.  I'll start with the basic instructions and then move on to my little trick for making oval rosettes.  I will also share with you how to make sure that the width of paper you're using won't be too wide for your finished rosette.  (Warning: that part takes... MATH!!!  I figured I'd get it out there now for those of you who tremble at the mere mention of its name.)

I'll save the usually lengthy introduction and simply say this: rosettes are awesome!  These are another one of those things I like to make on those days when I want to sit and make something, but I don't know what.  Bang out a ton of rosettes, flowers, etc., for use in future projects.  That's the way to look brilliant with less effort when it counts!  ^_~


I use Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive for gluing the initial folded circle and hot glue for the finished rosette.  I find that I prefer low temperature hot glue for these because it sets faster than the high temperature hot glue.

Get a strip of cardstock or paper, usually either 11 or 12 inches long.  Make your strip half the size of your desired finished rosette.  If that's 2", for instance, cut a 1" strip.  If you want a fancy edge on your rosette, punch along the edge of your paper first and THEN cut the strip, else you'll end with a rosette smaller than the one you initially wanted.

Don't go any wider than 1 1/2" for either side, unless your edge is punched like mine, with an up and down pattern.  Then, for a 12 inch strip, you can get away with 1 3/4".  This instruction is all based upon evil maths.  I won't get into the maths part yet, but just listen to your Sensei to avoid some grief.

When you have your strip cut, go ahead and score.  I use my handy dandy Martha Stewart Scoring Board, which I love beyond all reason.  I usually score every 1/4".  You can try to score so that each line lines up with the dip in your punched edge, if you have one, but I never do.  I think I did once.  For me, that way lies madness, and the finished rosettes look just as good, in my opinion, so I abandoned that bit of OCD in favor of productivity and I haven't regretted it even one time.

Once the entire strip has been scored, begin to accordion fold your piece along all of the score lines.  This means that you will fold up at one point, then fold down at the next, then up, then down.  If you were to set the paper down, it should look like a line of wee mountains, and make your heart glad to see it.

At this point, I'll say that cardstock is harder to fold in that it's thicker and therefore more difficult to push the folds true, but it's easier to fold in that it's more stiff and will basically only fold where it's been scored.  Paper is easier to fold down, but you have to be really careful that you're folding on each actual score line instead of just past it or just before it since paper is flimsy and will fold anywhere.

When you get to the end of the folding, you'll end up with two ends that look exactly the same and don't seem to join together.  Other tutorials will tell you to cut one strip off of one end so that you can neatly fold one end to the other, and you can do that.  I just put glue on two of the folded sections and then fit the two sections of the other end on top so that I don't have to grab yet another tool at this point.  By the time I'm  here, I'm ready to be done, quite frankly, and this still works out for me.  Press firmly on the glued join and proceed at once to the next step.

As soon as you've glued the ends together, that part will be flat from your pressing.  To make it folded again and heart-gladdening, simply fold the section again.  Grab the folds nearest the join and squeeze them onto the place you glued.

Press the rosette into its final formation.  This gives the rosette a little bit of a memory and makes it easier to push down when you go to glue it.  It also convinces you that, yes, you will soon have something to please you as a result of all of this effort if you'll just keep going a little further.  Sometimes I need this kind of motivation.

(I grabbed my silicon craft mat because I'm using pretty paper as a backdrop so that I stop offending everyone with my ugly desk.  Normally, I'd be doing this part directly on my desk because it's much easier to slide the rosette down onto the glue when it's being done on a surface that will allow sliding.  If you have a silicon craft mat, you could technically do this next step without the little paper square underneath, but you'd have to wait for the glue to set completely before you could move your piece.)

Cut yourself a little scrap cardstock square.  This is an excellent way to use up those random strips of cardstock that are too thick to throw away, but too thin to really be of any use.  Some people use pretty punches for the backs of their rosettes instead, and I think that's very nice if they can make it work.  I find that I can't perfectly center the punched piece on the back and when it's a punched piece, it looks like it's supposed to be centered, so if it's not, it looks a bit dreadful.  In light of this, I use a simple, smallish cardstock square.  I can usually put a punched piece on the back later if the back will be visible in the finished project.  99% of the time, for me, you won't see the back.

Put some hot glue in the center of the square.  (Again, I prefer low temperature hot glue because it sets faster.)

Get your folded circle piece ready.  Start to push it down, then peek through the hole and make sure you're centered over the glue.  Keep pushing down, aiming carefully for the glue.

Push your rosette all the way to the bottom and hold for a few seconds.  You know it's okay when you lift your fingers and the rosette doesn't pop back up at all.  Congratulations!  You've just made a round rosette!

Now, to make an oval rosette, you basically repeat all of the steps above, but change the last part, where you push it down.  Also, make sure your strip is no bigger than, say, 1 1/4" thick.  You need a bit more wiggle room for this to work, and the finished rosette ends up bigger anyway, so it balances out.

Get to the point when you'll be pushing the rosette down.  Don't just push it down straight, though.  Stretch it slightly from side to side before you push it down and you will end up with a pleasing oval shape.  (I usually do this with two hands.  It's only one hand below because I had to hold the camera with my other hand.)

Instead of a cardstock square, cut yourself a cardstock rectangle.  Put a relatively large bit of hot glue onto the rectangle.

Push the rosette down, stretching the sides, and looking down through the middle to make sure you'll hit the glue.  You may have a tiny bit of wiggle room to adjust sides, but it's mostly just moving forward and hoping for the best.

You can see my oval rosette in the card below, which I made as part of my husband's Valentine Card Bomb.  Obviously this wouldn't do for an envelope, but they get displayed instead of given, really.  I think a card like this wouldn't need an envelope, anyway.  Just stick it in a gift bag as is and let it be part of the present.

Now, for the evil maths.  I'm going to do my best to explain this in such a way that no one gets too upset.  Once you understand this, you will always know how long to make a strip for any rosette you want to make.  If you've ever worked hard and folded up a strip only to have it be too short to form a flat circle after you've already glued everything, you will feel motivated to learn this.

Basically, you have three parts to any circle.  They are:

Radius: measurement halfway across
Diameter: measurement all the way across
Circumference: measurement all the way around

To put this in rosette theory, the width of your beginning strip is the radius because that measurement is only halfway across your finished circle.  When your rosette is finished, the diameter is the measurement all the way across the rosette.

When you start with a 1" wide strip, that's the radius.  The finished diameter of your rosette will be 2".  If you start with a 1.5" strip, your finished diameter will be 3".

That might not seem so scary, but we haven't gotten to pi yet.  Yes, I said pi.  Hold your hats, I promise this won't be too bad.  Pi is basically equal to 3.14, and that's as far as we need to go for our rosettes. 3.14 is just a number, and it's not scary at all.  It's a very special number, and I'll explain why.  When we get finished here, I think you will LOVE pi.

Pi is an expression of the ratio between the circumference of the circle and its diameter.  The circumference of any circle (including your rosette) is always about 3.14 times the diameter.

The circumference of the circle is the outside line, all the way around.  Basically, why this matters to you is the fact that the circumference of the circle will never be longer than the length of your strip.  You can imagine that when you cut your strip, one side of the strip (usually the punched end, if you decorate it), will end up circling the outside, and that side will become the circumference.  If the strip is longer than the desired circumference, you'll be fine.  If it's shorter, you'll end up not being able to push the folded circle down to form the rosette.

How do you know your desired circumference?  You multiply your diameter by 3.14, or, pi.  If you're making your 2" rosette, for instance, it breaks down like this:

Initial strip width: 1"
Final diameter: 2"
Circumference: 2 x 3.14 = 6.28"

Your strip needs to be at least 6.28" long.  You'd be totally fine to make a 2" rosette from a 12" strip.  This is where the math magic comes in.

For a 3" rosette, it breaks down like this:

Initial strip width: 1.5"
Final diameter: 3"
Circumference: 3 x 3.14 = 9.42"

Your strip needs to be at least 9.42" long.

For a 4" rosette, it breaks down like this:

Initial strip width: 2"
Final diameter: 4"
Circumference: 4 x 3.14 = 12.56"

You need a strip that's at least 12.56" long, which is why a 12" strip won't work for a 4" rosette.  You'd need to basically accordion fold an extra two-three inch piece and glue it to your folded up 12" strip in order to make it work.

For a 6" rosette, this is what you'd do:

Initial strip width: 3"
Final diameter: 6"
Circumference: 6 x 3.14 = 18.84"

For these, I will cut two 12" long 3" strips and score them every 1/2" instead of every 1/4".   Glue the strips together and then glue the ends together to make your final rosette.

Anyway, I know that was a very long winded and technical explanation for how to make rosettes, but understanding this has sure helped me in making sure I'm always cutting the right lengths for the rosette I want to make.  You also don't absolutely have to use a calculator each time.  Just multiple your diameter by three, and round up at least two inches, and you should be fine.  Now go make some awesome rosettes!  ^_~

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Card Bomb How To

I'm making a million cards for Valentine's Day, and I know this makes me look crazy, but really, it's not that difficult.

I don't think I clarified before that the cards I'm making for my boys are little 2"x3" valentines, almost like the ones they will be getting at school from friends.  Their Valentines are easy to throw together rather quickly, and it's easy to batch create them when you do them assembly line style.  I make each one unique, but I get my stuff ready before I start.

My husband's cards are all handmade individually, and they're bigger, and they're for him, so they take up much more time.  I had already made him five cards, I believe, throughout this past year, knowing I needed to get ready for this, so that means I have 9 hand crafted cards to make over the next 13 days.  All in all, not impossible, but those are made the old fashioned way, so I don't have any real advice for getting those done except to just do it.  Whenever there's a spare moment, make something.  That's how I roll around Valentine's Day.  Come to think of it, there always seems to be some occasion, so it seems like that's how I roll for most of the year.  I keep busy!

Valentine Card Bomb How-To

If you were interested in making handmade Valentines for your child (probably a girl, unless your boy is in Kindergarten or you have a lot of really manly supplies... I had to throw that in there, because I have never made handmade Valentines for my boys to take to school even though I constantly dreamed of it, which may be how this whole Card Bomb thing started) to take to school, these tips and tricks would work out well for you!  I'm making 28 cards this way.

First of all, and most importantly, decide on your basic color palette and stick with it.  For my cards this year, I'm doing red, black, and creams and browns (vintage), with occasional splashes of pink.  Deciding this ahead of time helps you to make the best use of your time by eliminating most of your choices in decoration.  Less agonizing over choices means getting more work done.

Next, pick out colors that match your theme and cut out and score all of the card bases.  The base size of the card pieces themselves is 3"x4".  You can get twelve 3"x4" pieces from each piece of cardstock.  Score each piece 2" in along the 4" side.  I leave them unfolded until assembly so that they all stack neatly.

Side note: This is a great way to use up those weird, random pieces in a 12"x12" stack that you don't really like, but don't really hate, but that you know in your heart you will probably never use.  It's funny how even the weirdest patten ends up looking SO cute folded up as a little 2"x3" card.

Prepare appropriate stamps and punches for sentiments, decorations, etc.  I'm making at least two each of 14 different sentiments for 14 different cards.  If you were batching these for a classroom, you would probably just need one sentiment for all of them.  Because each day my boys need to get a unique card, my process is more involved in this step.  I use a lot of Stampin' Up! stamps and punches because they coordinate.

Grab a piece of white or light colored cardstock and start stamping images along one side, making sure to leave room for the punch to go around each one.  I use only one color of ink (usually black or dark brown) to save myself time.  I have a baby wipe on hand to wipe each stamp clean as I finish, and I put everything away as I work.

When you get all the way to the edge of your page, punch out each image, and then slice off that portion of the paper with your slide cutter.

You end up with a really cute pile of punched sentiments and a fresh edge to start working again.  Go ahead and just keep repeating this process across the page.  Try to, for the most part, use punches that are about the same height, that way you don't use up too much valuable page space.  But, above all, don't agonize too much over this part. 

If you're not sure whether or not a certain image will fit inside a certain punch, just make yourself a template from scrap paper (or cut apart a piece from one of the strips you've been making) and simply lay it like a window over the stamp to see if it will work.

This also works very well for helping you eyeball placement of stamps along the edge of the cardstock.

After about 45 minutes to an hour of work, I ended up with a nice pile of sentiments that looked something like this:

Now, you could totally just go from here and start work on your cards, but I happen to have border stamps that fit each one of these punches, so I sort of had to do an extra step.  To me, I think truly beautiful objects are all about the details of their creation.  This is for my precious boys, after all, so I have to add these steps even though they probably will never know or care.  It's just essential to me, whether or not they recognize the work in the final product, that my love can't be expressed with anything less than my best.  It reminds me of God, actually, and the way He loves us every day.

Now that I got myself all teary eyed over the boogens in the middle of my own tutorial (hopeless sap, I know, but I can't help myself), I will show how I do border stamps on punches.  If I'm doing multiple punched images (sentiment AND border), I always do it this way.  If I'm doing only a border, then I stamp the border and punch it out.

This way seems to get more consistently good enough results, if that makes sense.  I have yet to find a method that is perfect every time.  Some stamping genius probably knows some way to line everything up perfectly (and, actually, I know how to do it, too, but it's too time consuming to contemplate), but usually when I'm making stuff, I have to get something done, so I do as few steps as possible.  This works out very well for me, especially when using a light colored ink.  It all ends up getting rather well hidden when you ink the edges of the punched pieces.

Lay your stamp down, face up, on your work surface.  Ink it with a light colored ink.  I used Distress Ink in Antique Linen, and I also used Victorian Velvet, which is not very light at all, but I almost never completely follow instructions.  Even my own.  Basically, you can use a darker ink if it's not going to interfere too much with your sentiment.

(Also, at this point, if you're going to be assembling cards right away, you might want to plug in your hot glue gun if you use it.)

Okay, stamp inked and ready.  Take your punched piece and lay it on top, lining it up as best as possible.  Basically, you're going to reverse stamp now.  Take a clear block or the back of another wood mount stamp and press it onto your punched piece to get an even press of ink across the surface of the paper.

For truly tiny stamps, you can just press on the back of the paper with your fingers.

When you're all finished, you should have a nice little pile of double stamped sentiments that look something like this.

Not all of them are absolutely perfectly centered, but it's not the end of the world.  I put the details, and I always aim for perfection, but I don't let it get in the way of getting things done.  Anyway, I think it just adds a lovely extra layer of craftsmanship to have the borders on there.  If you don't have border stamps, you can stamp a background stamp with a light ink (for REAL, a light ink this time, even I wouldn't not do it in this situation) over your sentiment to create that extra layer of craftsmanship.  It will still look really nice!

To assemble, get your hot glue gun (or some other quick drying adhesive) ready to go.  I am discovering that I love tissue tapes because they save so much time!  Pieces of cardstock would work just as well.

Pick your punched sentiment, plan where it should go, fold up the card base, and get to work.  Basically, lay some kind of grounding strip (tissue tape, cardstock, ribbon, or combinations of those) centered where your punch will go.  I am finding myself obsessed with banners right now and decoration everything I see with little strips of ribbon hanging down, like you can see in the "you're a gem" card in the back.

I like hot glue for this because it's fast.  I do a line of adhesive on the card itself and then press the ribbon on top.  For my ribbon dangles, I run a line of hot glue over the back of the punched piece, then put my little ribbons in place.

I purposefully use the same exact embellishments on the cards as I make.  Obviously, this saves time, but since I usually make these in separate groups, it creates a natural mix in the finished pile of cards.

I made these five cards in about 20 minutes.

Inside of each card, I put the number and write something sweet.

You also need a way to keep track of which sentiments you used.  I just grab an index card, label it with each child, and create a checklist.  As I use a sentiment for one child, I put it on each child's list, but only check it for the child that received that card.  This way I don't have to hunt later to find the different sentiments and figure out which child got what so far.  This is my 2013 improvement.  I have high hopes for it!

Because these cards are so small, they and all their papers and sentiments fit very nicely into a sandwich size bag.  I throw everything in there after I'm finished working and toss it into my desk drawer.

It's a lot of work, but I find it so necessary.  I'm creating a crazy memory for them more than I'm making cards.  I love the idea of them sharing this memory with people.  Even when they're teenagers and they'll probably think it's so lame, I'll keep going.  I'm not too far away from my "everything-is-so-lame" teenager years that I don't remember that I also did actually appreciate stuff, but was too "meh" to admit it.

Here is the display of the Card Bomb, day one.  It ends up looking much more impressive later.

And here is a closeup of Adam's card, but you can't see inside that one.

I'm off to add more cards to the table, turn Netflix on my laptop, and make some more!