Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Charming Sunday

Today I explored my inner muse. Sometimes she does come out to play so I set aside today just for her. I have a charm swap I'm participating in for November and decided to make charms using only the items I have in my craft room. The theme is blue, white/clear and silver. Most of mine are blue and silver with a few that have some white pearls mixed in but I did try my hand at using some of my found objects in my designs. Here is a sample...yes charmsters these are actual charms that I will be sending in my swap so this is your preview.

For those of you interested, the crystal ladder charm will be featured here on my blog in the next couple of days. Photos have been taken and now I have to write it up. As you can see with some of the other charms, I dug in my sewing box and found some large snaps, safety pins and buttons that I used as well as finding a few Washington State Tax tokens. I had so much fun playing and trying out new designs. Now to get into hubby's tool box and see what kind of cool items I can find out there. He did mention that he might have some old glass fuses. I bet I could wire wrap those into a charm.

I'm off to make some crab cakes for dinner. Have a great evening.

P.S. If you want to participate in the blog hop for November with your commitment to Create Every Day, just send me an e-mail or comment here on my blog and I'll add you to the list.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Committed to Creating Every Day

Yes, I'm going to take up the challenge. For the month of November I commit to create every day. I figure I have charms to make, gem trees, jewelry, artist trading cards, books, sewing jewelry bags and creating items for holiday presents that this should be a no brainer. I will be posting my progress here on my blog if not everyday but every few days to show you what I have accomplished.

This idea came about from Peggy Krzyzewski, author of "Making Mixed Media Art Charms and Jewelry" and her blog post titled Commitment Issues. I have started a link of those bloggers that will be taking up the challenge so if you want to join in, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail with your blog address and I'll add your blog to the list so people can follow our progress.

This doesn't mean you have to create a tangible item each day but devote a block of time to creating. I know some days all I do is create my card background for my ATC's and not finish any of them and other days I finish quite a bit as I have more time.

I know Jenn, Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors left a comment on my blog yesterday about the Cloth Paper Scissors Gift issue and yes I have it. There are some great ideas for creating and gift giving. I especially love the Wrap It section of the magazine as there are some great ideas that you can use anytime and not just for the holidays. Check out the Interweave store or click the link to get your copy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Path of Discovery

Have you ever gone on a journey and not known where it would take you? Well, I am classifying my life these past several months as my path of discovery. We all know that I make and sell jewelry and gem trees but did you know that I also paint. I started painting some 13 years ago when I was laid off work with nothing to do. I did several things during that time but painting stayed with me if not in my active life then always in my mind and on my walls so there was no hiding it, not that family would ever let me forget it.

My path the past few months has been on how can I get back to that place where art is important and I make an effort to create art if not daily then more often than not at all. My first thought was to take up acrylic painting vs. the watercolor I was used to and try a new medium and that was fun but just didn't spark anything in me. Then I found I really like mixed media works which combine painting, collage, wire work, beading, sewing and everything else you can think of. So I started buying magazines like Cloth Paper Scissors and some of the Somerset Studio and Memories. At this point my husband is amused and wondering what in the world I am doing but as long as I'm entertained he doesn't care.

I'm really loving some of the activities and things they do in the magazines and want to try them all but I need more hubby starts to get nervous. Obviously, I need more paper and things like different tools but not only that I have to have a second set of stuff for the motor home in my art box. Wow, this could get expensive. So, I start with essentials like good paper and pens, some fun chipboard images, old magazines from the antique stores, and other bits and pieces from around the house which I call found objects. Even my husband looks for them now instead of throwing them away.

So I have all this stuff the tools and supplies ready but what to make. I decided to make an art journal but after I start I realized that was probably a much larger project than what I could do for my first time. Then I found Artist Trading Cards. These are little (2.5 x 3.5) works of art that you make and trade with other people. Perfect size that I could paint, collage, stamp, sew and experiment my way through all those new techniques in the magazines. I've mentioned them before here on my blog but you also might know them as ACEO's (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) which are the ones sold vs. traded.

I made a few cards and then didn't know what to do with them, so I joined a group. For those of you new to any art medium or hobby, groups are a good way to get started and the members help you answer some of those questions that arise such as how do I use a Crop-a-dile. The Yahoo group I belong to also does swaps so I've started participating in about 2 swaps a month. Here are my latest ones mailed off just yesterday. The first one is called best friends and the other is brown, orange and yellow.

The dilemma now is what to do with all these cards that I make and get back. I want to be able to look at them and enjoy them. Now I know this post is getting long but here is where more discovery starts. I'm in a paper store getting some card stock and they have all these cool kits and one of them was book making. I never really considered making my own book but was intrigued. No, I did not buy the kit but it did get me thinking that I could put my cards together in some sort of book that I could add to. Here is my first attempt.

I didn't want to glue the cards down on the pages so instead used eyelet to secure them and yes I did get to use my new Crop-a-dile to set the eyelets.

There is so much more to do and explore in this new found world of art. Gel medium, encaustic, metal embossing, I want to try them all. Have I gone a little crazy in this world of discovery or is this passion for art? Will I find myself in here eventually? I certainly hope so but I'm going to enjoy getting there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's New With You?

Yes, I really would like to know. If you don't regularly blog then here is your opportunity to tell me and the world something about yourself. I can't believe you wouldn't want to tell the world what you are doing right now or what's new in your life. I seem to be lacking in that area lately, and I am sorry for that but I really have been busy.

I do have big news. I'm going to start teaching gem tree design at Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA starting in December. I have 5 classes scheduled for that month in hopes that people will want to make some holiday gifts. Here are the dates and times:

Holiday tree classes will be: 12/5 10am-1PM 14CS1210-A and 12/18 10am-1pm 14CS1210-C. 

The Standard Tree: 12/5 2pm-5pm 14CS1210-B and 12/18 2pm-5pm 14CS1210-D. 

Kid's class: 12/21 1pm-3pm: 14CS1210-E

The number after the time is the product or class number so that if you want to take the class you can call the store (1-800-950-4232and reserve your spot. This is so new they don't have them up on their web site yet.

I've also been busy with an upcoming benefit dinner auction called Harvest of Hope which benefits Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. The event is Saturday night but we have a lot of set up to do on the day of the event and previously we had all the planning, procuring of items and selling of tickets. Hopefully it will be a fun and profitable event.

I haven't been making much jewelry lately but have been making art charms and artist trading cards. I'm sure I have shared the link to my art charms group before but if you are interested in making little charms for bracelets or a necklace out of beads or found objects this is the group for you. We have a lot of fun and learn from each other daily. We just finished our first swap and are starting a new one for November.

Here is my first swap....we made over 30 bead dangles. The charm in the upper right was a hostess gift. Tutorial will be coming soon for those that want to learn to make it.

The other group I belong to is an artist trading card or ATC group on Yahoo. We create art 2.5 x 3.5 inches and swap, sometimes with themes, with other artists. This is such a diverse group and contains some really wonderful artists. Imagine being able to own small original works of art. You don't have to be a good artist just have the desire to create art on a small scale. Painting, collage, mixed media, pen and ink, digital, photography you name it, it all works.

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I'm off to work on a new project that hopefully I can share with you later this week.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

October Tutorial Swirl and Curl Chain

I'm finally getting caught up. No one is putting pressure on me to create these tutorials but myself but it was one of my New Years resolutions. How are your resolutions coming or did they go out the window say about June? I've been at least trying to keep this one but it is gets in the way sometimes and at the beginning of the year we think we can accomplish so much that it won't be a problem. Okay like that is ever the case. So, here is October's tutorial the Swirl and Curl Chain.

Playing with wire in my craft room one day I came up with these links that could be joined together with jump rings to create a chain. I’ve worn the bracelet and necklace now everyday in testing and it is very comfortable and doesn’t come apart. Here’s how to do it.

Supplies Needed:
  • Stainless Steel block
  • Hammer
  • 16 or 18 gauge soft wire. I used copper and soft sterling. The brass was hard so I only used it a couple of times.
  • Jump rings that are 6mm or 7mm in size
  • Toggle clasp or a clasp of your choosing
  • Wire cutters
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  1. Cut 3 2.5” pieces of wire to make the swirls as shown in the middle of the bracelet
  2. Make a loop with your round nose pliers at one end of one piece of wire, make sure that your loop is large enough that your jump rings will not slip through. You may have to slide a jump ring on to test it out.
  3. Make a loop going the opposite direction at the other end of the wire
  4. Holding the wire in the middle with your chain nose pliers, insert the round nose pliers in the loop on one side and curl towards the center.
  5. Turn your wire piece around and do the same thing to the opposite side until you have swirls curling inward as pictured in the top row of pictures.
  6. Make 2 more of these swirls.
  7. Cut 4 2” pieces of wire to make the curls
  8. Make a loop with your round nose pliers at one end of a piece of wire.
  9. Make another loop on the opposite side of that wire curling it in the same direction. These do not have to be perfect.
  10. Make 3 more of these curls.
  11. Slightly hammer your curls and swirl links on the stainless steel block to harden the wire and shape them flat.
  12. Open a jump ring and insert two of your links.
  13. Close the jump ring.
  14. Continue adding jump rings and links in your desired pattern.
  15. Add a jump ring at the end of each side of your bracelet and add your clasp.
  16. There you go a beautiful bracelet that you fashioned yourself.
My advice is to practice with copper wire and then move onto sterling if you want. If you like the tri color effect, then you would use copper, brass or 14kt gold filled and sterling silver wire. If you like the look of the necklace then you would continue making curl and swirl links until you have achieved the length you need.

Recycling Trash into Treasure???

I've run across some great ideas for recycling used old items into usable items again and then there are those that really should just go in the trash. I'm all for recycling but really, do we need to use an old yogurt container for a vase. Do you not have a vase you can use for those beautiful flowers from your garden or hubby? I just think somethings go to the tacky side. Recycling clothing is a great idea as well as any textile, leather, or paper book/magazine but when you use real trash that has held food, that verges on the yuk factor.

Here is a great web site that has all kinds of recycling and green living ideas as well as tons of tutorials and e-books. If you like to crochet and knit, they have it there as well as sewing and kids crafts.

I do have another tutorial that I'll be writing up this weekend and hopefully will get it published by Monday for you. I call it the Swirl Chain and can be made into a necklace or bracelet. Fun, fun to make especially if you like to hammer and make some noise or just get your frustrations out on something other than the dog or hubby.

I belong to a art charm group on Yahoo and we are just completing our first charm swap. So much fun making these little dangles that can go on a bracelet or a charm necklace. There were 31 of us so we each made 31 charms. I can't imagine all the different charm dangles I'll be receiving. Here is a picture of what I created and sent.

If you want to join in on the fun in learning some new techniques...I think we will be soldering, making paper beads, resin, etc, then head on over to this Yahoo group and take a look.

The group is run by Peggy Krzyzewski and Chris Hansen authors of the book "Making Mixed Media Art Charms and Jewelry". The book has some great ideas. Here is the link to the book on  

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Long Overdue Tutorial - Dangle Chain Earrings

Finally finished this tutorial yesterday and am on a roll as I've started another one today. These earrings are so fun to make. I saw something similar made by a high end designer and now I can't find them to even show them to you.  Oh, well here they are.  Enjoy!

Supplies Needed:
  • Round Nose Pliers
  • Flush Wire Cutters
  • Flat Nose or Needle Nose Pliers
  • 6” of 20 gauge sterling silver wire
  • 2” of spare sterling silver chain
  • Various beads
  • Ruler
  • Hammer (optional)
  • Stainless Steel Block (optional)


  1. Gather all your supplies
  2. Cut wire into 2 – 3” pieces
  3. Fold one wire in half equally
  4. Insert your Round Nose pliers at the center
  5. Twist the wire 2 times as shown
  6. Remove your pliers and straighten out your end wires a bit
  7. Make a second one to match
  8. Even up the ends and trim if necessary
  9. Make a small loop with your Round nose pliers at the end of each wire
  10. Continue with the second wire piece
  11. Insert your chain on one side of your wire by opening a bit the loop and then closing
  12. Insert the other end of the chain on the loop of the other side and repeat with your second wire
 You may leave as is and finish off by adding your ear wire or continue by adding beads.

13.  Making a wrapped loop with your center bead
14.  Find the center of your chain and insert your half loop
15.  Wrap the wire around to finish the wrapped loop
16.  Trim excess wire
17.  Add your center bead to the other earring component
18.  Continue adding beads as desired to the links in the chain
19.  Finished earring components
20.  Handmade ear wires finish off the earrings

Lovely aren't they. Tutorial on the handmade ear wires will be coming soon.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Life Does Get Busy

I never thought that I would be able to keep so busy and not work. If it isn't one thing than it is another. Well this week was no exception. We don't really have planned days but take things as they come. I do no shopping on the weekends anymore as the stores are just packed with people trying to get in and out and in a mad rush to get everything done on their list in a short weekend time frame, so we shop during the week. The one thing we did do this week was get new phones. I've been wanting a new phone for awhile and when they came out with the Android with a 3G mobile hot spot that was the thing we had been waiting for. It is perfect, when traveling we can still check e-mail or my on-line stores on my netbook via my cool is that. I know you are probably saying that this has been around forever, but I am just now catching up. So, now you want to know which of the Droid phones I got...well it was the new Samsung Fascinate by Verizon. I love this phone and they had a special going on in September to buy this phone and get another phone free, so hubby got the Droid X and so far he is loving it too.

Needless to say we have been playing and learning all the new apps with our phones all week which has taken up quite a bit of time now that I think about it. Hubby is now excited to find bar coding. I find him in the kitchen scanning items from the pantry and marveling at how it enters all the information in his phone. Now he has found another type of bar code that looks like a square and he set one up that has all my info in it. I guess I'll be putting it out here and on my web site soon. So, if you have a smartphone that does bar scanning you'll be able to scan my code and have all my contact and web site info. Technology is a wonder sometimes.

I have been playing with jewelry and yesterday was so much fun as a friend of mine wants an Emerald necklace with a twist. She wants vintage chain and lots of it along with a strand of Emeralds mixed in. So, I got to play by digging out all my vintage jewelry and boy did I find a lot. I never realized there was so much stuff there that I could remake. I'm sure you now know where this is going.....maybe a new line of jewelry from Dana's Jewelry Design...LOL. Here are a few of pictures of what I was playing around with. I haven't taken any of them apart yet as I was having a hard time deciding...maybe I just have too many options.

Have a great rest of your weekend and I'll post the final product when we have all the elements narrowed down.


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