Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Will I Ever Learn? (Or when will I quit lying to myself?)

Every time I let there be a long period between posts, I promise myself I won't let it happen again.  When will I ever learn (or quit lying to myself) that I have no more control over that than I do the beating of my heart??  I get so caught up in the process of living that I forget to make time for the process of writing and sharing.

I am currently in rehearsals for Steel Magnolias at our local community college.  I am playing the part of Truvy (Dolly Parton in the movie.  No, I am not built like her!).  It's very exciting as it my largest role ever, but also very exhausting.  We have rehearsal 6 days a week.  On top of working full-time and taking care of a family, it's hard work having fun!  Laundry is behind.  I'm reconnecting with my crock-pot. And exercise has gone on vacation.  As for crafting of any kind....well, that has slowed down as well.  But not completely.

Actually, last weekend I took my mother to her 60th class reunion.  The next day a number of relatives stopped in to visit with my mother while she was in town.  I was showing my jewelry to my cousin, who ended up buying $75 worth.  And I managed to custom design a ring for her while she was there.  I also whipped up a little ring to show my sister, and ended up selling it and 2 similar ones in my Etsy shop.  Thankfully my wonderful husband has been able to get to the post office to do my shipping on these things so that I didn't have one more thing to add to my to-do list.

So, here are a few pics of some things I've made in the last few weeks.  But I'm not going to go into great detail.  I'm supposed to be memorizing lines! (And working!)

 This is my Judaica series so far.  All made out of copper clay.  I just this weekend figured out a new technique for making my molds that I think will give a clearer impression on the star and hamsa.  Time will tell.

 These are all made from silver wire.  They were ones I used to show at my hair dresser.  The salon owner is going to let me sell my things.  She says they need to be bigger--like hanging to the neck.  I did get new flyers and business cards designed and made.  Haven't had a chance to price anything and actually get it over there, though.  Maybe after the play!

This was an error.  Had a piece of wire I had started, but cut too short.  Then a friend from Facebook asked about toe rings.  Light bulb!  Sold it about 3 or 4 days after I listed it.

This is my first foray into aluminum.  I've made several things since then, but I love it.  Bends and hammers super easily.  Earrings can be huge but still lightweight.

This is copper colored aluminum.  I really like its warmth.

 My copper rings.  Fun "writing" with wire, but not as easy as I thought it would be.  It's easy to make the letters too big and end up with a necklace instead of a ring!

Another aluminum set.  This is one of the things my cousin bought.

Well, that's it for now.  Back after the play closes!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Too much!

Heavens!  How do I let so much time pass between posts?  Oh, I!  So, whenever I have too much to do, I work on cards or jewelry.  Nothing like adding a little extra to my to-do lists to make me feel relaxed!

Actually, yesterday was very relaxing after I did some yard work and a little garage cleaning.  So while I was waiting for either my husband or son to go fetch dinner, I decided to work on some cards.  Now, I don't know about you, but I always have bits and pieces of cards that I started but never finished for one reason or another.  Maybe I've used a new technique to create a background, but then can't decide what to do with it.  Or I made a focal image but couldn't decide how best to showcase it.  Over the months these things tend to pile up.  I find them all again as I shove clean my space.  So last night I decided to actually use up some of these things instead of making more to add to a pile card.  Here are the results:

These two were from a piece I made about 2 years ago I think.  I intended to use the leaves as a background but couldn't decide how or with what.  Last night I decided it wasn't meant to be a background, it was meant to be an accent.  I think it has much more impact this way.  What's really unusual for me is that I didn't use texture plates or dimensionals on these.  I almost never make a flat card anymore, but I like how these came out.  Now if I could just remember how I made the background behind the leaves.....

For this one, the little bird was causing trouble.  I had bought some paper-thin wood sheets back in March.  When I got home, my new bird stamp was in, to go with my bird punch (I love stamps and punches or dies that go together!  So I immediately sat down and stamped a bird on the wood and punched it out.  And there it sat until now. Unlike the above cards, this uses both texture and dimensionals (under the wing).  I think the embossing makes it look rather elegant, while the bird adds a touch of whimsy.

I originally just planned to have this black and white.  I love this stamp.  But it looked too plain, even though I love black and white.  The solution?  Add these butterflies.  Love that punch of color!

Another bird I couldn't decide what to do with.  I'd used him to practice coloring with alcohol markers.  He finally found his perfect perch here on this bird and vine embossed background.  Too bad I didn't see that there was a stamp for feet before I glued him down!

This is a blatant copy of a card I saw on Pinterest by a Stampin' Up! demonstrator.  Not an exact duplicate, but close.  I've had these darn flowers stamped and punched for about 6 months....

I don't even know how long I've had this butterfly cut out.  It's so big I just couldn't decide what to do with it.  Finally thought of something!

These glitter butterflies were originally made with the intention of one being flat, and the second being placed on top of it with open wings.  I think I played around with card layering colors about 100 times.  I never could get something I liked.  Last night I decided to use them as separate pieces, and it made it much easier to make decisions.  The bottom one is adhered flat, the top one is adhered just by the body so that the wings can stand up.

So there you have it.  After months of gathering dust, these items have finally made it into finished cards.  I wish I could say I was finished, but I have so many more pieces/parts laying around.  And I have every evening free this week.  Which naturally means I won't work on a darn thing!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jewelry Class

Why, or why do I let so much time go between posts?  Oh, right, LIFE!

I was recently coerced  convinced that I should have a jewelry class of my own.  As in, where I taught everyone how to make something.  Wait.  TEACH a class?  I mean, I was a teacher by profession (when there were teaching jobs actually available), but teach jewelry?  I'm just a novice myself.  However, the novice-ier novices than me finally persuaded me.

I sent and email to everyone living, breathing woman I knew (sorry guys, but few of you that I know personally would be in the least bit interested!).  I had 11 reply that they could make it on the date I set.  I busily ordered supplies, got food and drink, and waited for the big day.

8 of the 11 who originally said they could make it, made it, and one person brought a friend.  It turned out to be a blast!  It was such an eclectic group of women: some from Italian Dinner Club, some from work (current and former), some from stamping, and one from way back.

As in my stamping group (participant, not demonstrator!), everyone had their own ideas of how to get to the final product.  We started with the idea of making earrings.  But several people decided to use the design as a pendant, and make simpler matching earrings.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures.  I sent an email asking for some and managed to get 4 back.  If I get any more, I'll post them, too.  But here are some of the wonderful results. And I can't wait to do another one.  No coercion necessary!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It finally happened!  I finally created some jewelry pieces that are totally my own idea!  I do much better copying  emulating other people's designs.  But I finally had an original thought.  (It might not happen again for years, so enjoy it!)

It all started when I was in my son, Rick's, room.  He had this container on his desk with a bunch of guitar picks.  They were so pretty.  Like this:

Now, aren't those just gorgeous?  They just called to me.  I decided that they would look great in jewelry.  So I decided to give it a shot.  Here is what I came up with.

The red pick is the first one that caught my eye.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it.  Looking through my stash, I found part of a necklace of my girls' that had been mangled in the washing machine a number of years ago (what? you don't save ruined jewelry in case you can use parts of it?).  I cut off a section and glued it to the pick  Super easy.  Hope the glue holds!

The next one was this blue pick.  Originally I had glued on a little wire butterfly I'd made out of wire scraps.  But it didn't look terribly great.  Then I had this idea.  I love it!  It will make the perfect pendant to go with my swirly earrings.

 The last one is this one that reminded me of a deep colored Tiger Eye.  I decided to add a stone that I had.  Then I got crazy and added my own chain.  It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but it's wonderful! I was surprised at how easy the chain was to make. And I love the look of the copper instead of silver.

These obviously aren't made out of a pick.  But I figured as log as I was on a music theme...I made these a couple of weeks ago.  This way they are treble clefs.  From the other direction they are Ss.  See, I'm multi-purpose, too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trees Of Life

I've made a bunch of jewelry in the past month.  No too many cards.  So I'm posting about jewelry again. I'll just do a few at a time, though, so as not to be totally boring!  This post will show the trees of life I've made.

I went online to learn how to make these, then did some of my own adaptations.  The video I found most helpful was actually by a woman who has had several jewelry videos I have watched.  Here's the one for the tree of life:  Camille Sharon.  I like hers because the beads don't all go straight.  You can see the straight bead ones online--they don't look very tree-like.  These do.

My first one was actually an attempt to copy the work of  Vixens Natural Jewelry.  But no one seems to think mine looks like a tree and moon like hers do.  Don't know if that's because of the bead or the position of the wire.  Actually, I think I need to make a branch across the "moon" and perhaps use thicker wire.  I'll be trying this again for sure.

My second one seems to be a favorite of those who have seen it.  I used square wire for the frame instead of round and made it a little smaller than the moon one. May try this again perhaps with thicker wire also.  But I like this one.    I have plenty of these pearls, so I can certainly make more.

This one is made like the pearl one, but with turquoise beads. Back to using round wire, though, for the frame  It's also a little smaller than the pearl one.  I really like it as well, but maybe another branch?  Or maybe just move one down a little.

That's all for now.  More later!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bed and Bath Remodel

I have been meaning to post these before and after pics forever.  This was a remodel I did a year ago. Somehow I've just never gotten around to posting about it.  Probably because I was originally going to make this blog just about cards.  But then I added jewelry.  So I might as well throw in everything else, too!

I have to confess that I am an avid DIYer.  My husband is not.  All our tools are ones I bought or were given to me as gifts.  I was so excited a couple of years ago when I made him a poker table for Christmas.  I had to buy a new circular saw (mine bit the dust), a new jig saw (Ok.  I'm hard on saws!  My old one bit the dust, too), and a new staple gun (You guessed it, my old one died....)  But I digress.  That is fodder for another post.

Anyway, I am also an HGTV fan, although I don't have much time to watch it anymore.  But I'm all about getting a look for cheap  less.  So, though I'm showcasing the new & improved bed and bath, I'll point out some of my previous fixes, too.

 So this is the bed  before (don't know why all the before pics look yellow!)  What you don't see is the really cool "crown" type of canopy I had hanging behind the bed.  I didn't think to start taking pictures until after it was down.  Anyway. I really loved the red and gold but was getting tired of it.  The accent pillows are made out of clearance satin drapery panels and scarves I found at Walmart.  The dresser scarves on the nightstands are velvet placements from Big Lots,

This is the bed after.  I had done this at our previous house, too.  Instead of a headboard, I framed out the area above the bed with crown molding, and painted it cream to contrast with the blue.  Then hung a print in the middle.  The flowers in the print were originally too white, so I just swiped over them with a sponge and some vanilla stamping ink to tone them down.  I should mention that my husband asked me, "Why didn't you paint the whole room?  Why one wall?"  Guess he doesn't get the concept of an accent wall.

 The foot of the bed was a bit crowded with the love seat and the hope chest.  But I loved having the   love seat there.  So, I finally ditched the love seat and move the hope chest, adding pillows to make it more comfy for sitting (out cats love it!)  The long cushion is a piece of foam rubber covered with a body pillow cover that I picked up on clearance.  I used the same wall sconces, just changing the candles, which I also found at Big Lots, along with the mirror. The 2 smaller pillows were part of the comforter set that I decided to use here instead of on the bed.

One of these days I'll get around to hanging the tapestry in my living room.  I'll need to ask my mom, but I believe this was brought over from the old country by my great grandparents, so I hate to have it put away.

 This photo has my electric fireplace that I bought about 12 years ago.  My husband griped that I was spending too much money, but I'd wanted a fireplace in the bedroom forever.Now he turns it on (flame only since I'm at the certain age where my body temperature fluctuates from second to second!)  The mirror was one from our previous house that had gotten a corner broken off.  I painted and distressed molding and glued it on to create the frame.  The problem is that when I wanted to hang one as you see above, it couldn't be done.  The molding was glued even with the edges of the mirror because of the size of the broken corner.  Therefore, there was nothing that I could attach hangers to because the back was all glass.  Hence the need to purchase a new mirror.

My good friend, Cindy, who helped me paint, had suggested I find a way to raise the fireplace so both occupants of the bed could see it.  I am very proud of the result.  I built this myself from mdf, 2x4s, and crown molding.  I simply took the fireplace insert out of the old surround, removed the gold trim, and then built supports inside the new surround to hold it in place (think legs made out of 2x4s, essentially).  Then I added the mosaic trim.  I found the coolest stuff at our local home Depot for helping with that.  It's basically a huge sheet of super sticky double stick tape.  You cut it to the size of your tiles (in this case mosaic tiles on a mesh backing).  Then you stick it to  the surface you are tiling, then add the tile.  Then you can grout immediately.  No waiting.  No adhesive mess.  Fabulous stuff!

Now on to the bathroom......

Bathroom before repeated the red and gold.  Geraniums in the flower box at the tub.  Window scarves tossed over brass curtain rods.  You can't see it, but the can light by the shower does have a decorative surround that I bought for it.  The colors were suitable for the "after" bathroom as well.

Now the walls (only 2 of them.  One here, one in the next pics) are the same color as the accent wall in the bedroom.  I purchased the window scarves on sale at Menard's.  The wall hanging here and in the next picture are from Big Lots.  I forget where I got the shower curtain, but I was thrilled that it had the accent stripes of brown and the brown flourish in the center, both echoing the new bedspread.  I replaced the geraniums with a board on which to place spare towels on one half, and filled the other with sand, decorative glass stones, and battery operated scented candles.

The cabinets here are the original plain oak ones, although I had swapped out the handles a few years ago.  When we moved in the mirror was plain old construction grade, and I added the painted/antiqued/distressed molding.  I found a great lighting option for can lights (which I hate).  You can buy pendant lights (now in many styles, only available in one when I got mine), that you use by simply unscrewing the can light bulb, and screwing the pendant into its place. The cord is adjustable so you can have it hang however long or short you like.  Then you put a regular bulb in the pendant.  I liked it so much when I got it that I ordered two for my kitchen, too.

The thing I really hated in the bathroom was the brass light fixture and the silver towel bars/rings.  Because of the bass ackwards way the light was put in, though, there isn't really any other option.  So instead, I got metallic spray paint (hammered bronze) and painted the towel bars/rings and the light housing.  I also broke down and painted the cabinets the same brown as the fireplace, the frame behind the bed, and the mirror molding.  People who know me well know this was a major breakthrough because I just can't bring myself to paint over perfectly good wood--especially oak.  But I'm glad I did!  It finished off the room in a way that could never have been acheveed by leaving them oak.

So there you have it.  Everything but the fireplace got finished in two days, thanks to the help of my friends Cindy and Christine.  The surround took me another day to build and another to install (I did have to work at my job, too!).  I love the way it turned out.  It didn't look bad in the regal red and gold (although  the pics don't do it justice).  But now it's peaceful and serene.  Spa-like.  I love it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

So, as usual, much more time has gone by than I intended  between posts.  I've been busy!   For now I'll just show the things I made this weekend while sitting watching tv.  Hey, it's Mother's Day weekend, I deserve some down time!

This is a Shambala bracelet.  It's made with red jade beads.  This was my first attempt at macrame since I was about 12.  It was fun.  You can see part of the closure on the right side--all the black macrame above the last bead.  It's a slide closure, so it will fit a lot of different sized wrists.  Very nice since it's hard (at least for me) to figure out how big or small to make a bracelet.
Another macrame bracelet made with czech glass beads I got from a Tophatter auction. The thread is waxed Irish linen.  I guess this makes this bracelet international!

This bracelet uses the same knot as the Shambala bracelet, but instead of adding one bead to the middle, a bead is added to each side.

I loved the way this came out.  Unfortunately, that trouble I have sizing bracelets that I mentioned?  Well, it ended up being too small for me, even though I tried it around my wrist about a dozen times before finishing it.  However, luckily for my oldest daughter, it did fit her.

The button I used as a closure is a vintage button from my Grandma Rudolph's button "box".  It's not a box, it's a tin from a 5 lb beef brain.  She and my grandpa used to run a grocery store.  I love the look on people's faces when they really look at it for the first time.  The tin, not the button.

Another macrame bracelet--this one made with glass "pearls.  Another Tophatter win.  This is also made like the Shambala, but instead of a full knot (or more) and then adding a bead, you do a half knot, add a bead, then the other half, add a bead....It's pretty easy unless you're watching Supernatural with your daughter and keep losing your place.  Then you have to go back and calculate every time: left, right, left, right, left.  Don't know if it makes one feel like a soldier or Dr. Seuss.

A vintage button from the brain tin again.  This is probably my favorite.  Fortunately, there are several of them.

And finally, a pendant I made out of a baked marble.  I had read about these in many places online and was dying to try it.  It's very easy, but I did have to adjust things a bit.  Basically, you put your marbles on a pan in a preheated 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Then take and pour them immediately into a glass or bowl of cold water with ice (Don't use plastic as the marbles could melt it when they settle.).  Let them sit for about 20-30 minutes.  Because the exterior and interior of the hot marble cool at different rates, the pressure inside the marble causes it to crack.  You may have one that occasionally cracks all the way, but I only had that happen to 2 out of about 15.  I did have to tweak things a little, though.  I didn't think the marbles had enough cracks, so I ended up putting them back in the oven.  When I took them out, I didn't have to ice them again as they had cracked more when heated the second time.  They do look really pretty.

Anyway, I then used silver wire to make a bail, glued it on, and voila!
a lovely pendant.  Can't wait to try making different wrapped wire bails for the rest of them.