Friday, December 30, 2011

Words of Encouragement

As an old year ends the inevitable happens. I reflect on the past 365 days and look forward to the next 365.

With the New Year just a few days away, resolutions seem to just naturally present themselves. They fly in and out of my head. Kind of like when I am perusing the shoe aisle and flit from one pretty pair to the next. But planning to organize my closet, alphabetize my spice rack and loose 40 lbs all before breakfast just doesn't seem realistic somehow.

But life really shouldn't be about flitting from one pair of shoes to the next or neat spices lined up in a row. (At least not TODAY.) This year I am taking a cue from a couple of ladies that I admire. Instead of resolutions they chose words to describe what they want from the upcoming year.

They inspired me to choose a word for myself.

I found this cool Visual Thesaurus online. I might be addicted.

Welcome 2012. Here's to GROW!

If you have a word you'd like to share, leave it in the comments. I'd like to know what you're thinking for your year ahead. Plus I need an excuse to go play some more with the visual thesaurus.

Happy New Year to you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

All is Merry and Bright

The stockings are hung. The gifts are finished and wrapped. The champagne and orange juice are chilling.

 Have a ...

 ...very, very, very...

...Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bead & Button 2012 Class Previews!

The previews are UP!!! That's right. You can peruse the gazillion classes that are scheduled for the  biggest bead show of the year, Bead & Button in Milwaukee, WI.

I teach three of the gazillion classes:

Crystal Frame Ring

Simple Soldering

Dapped, Capped and Soldered Beads
Here are a few samples that students have made in past classes:

Lovely Crystal Frame Rings. This photo also shows the two metal practice rings that students make in class. You'll finish 3-4 rings during class.

Here a a few dapped beads that feature tube riveting with some small soldered beads in brass and sterling. A great start to a lovely necklace design.

 Stacks and stacks of rings are just a few of the things students make in Simple Soldering.
Registration opens Tuesday, January 10 at 12 noon CST. Hope you can join me!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today I wish...

...I was here.

With my friend Susan. And Mary. And Beth. And Monet. And my Mom.
Susan would be spinning.
I would be weaving. (Okay. I would be napping.)
My Mom and Mary would be quilting.
Beth would be watching football.
Monet would be making Bloody Marys.

 It would be the perfect day.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pearls of Wisdom

I love pearls. Pearl knotting is a great skill to have in your beading repertoire. The luscious look of a knotted pearl strand compliments any outfit.

Wait? What is that you say? You don't know how to knot pearls? You think it's too difficult? Pshaw! Look here...

It's the only pearl-knotting how-to you'll ever need in the upcoming January 2012 issue of BeadStyle Magazine.

Let's check it out.

 Look at all of those lovely strands. And that author photo looks familiar...

Yep! It's me. I teach you all about how to knot pearls, how to choose thread, some alternate designs, plus more tips and tricks.

As a special bonus you can also check out my quick guide to necklace lengths in the Bead Room online forum on the BeadStyle magazine website.

I am so excited. My Mom and I are going to have to go on another magazine hunt to find this issue. You can find it at your local book and craft stores in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Magic Shoes

I yearned for Emerald Green Glitter Shoes. Maybe it's the holiday season. Maybe it's because I like glitter. And shoes. And glittery shoes. So I made these...

I love they way they turned out. They look magical and green (really green) and lovely. The sort of shoes one wears to a Christmas party in Oz. Plus they were so simple to make! Here is what I used:

I knew that, in order for the shoes to be wearable, they had to be waterproof, flexible and not leave glitter behind everywhere I trod. I needed the right bonding agent for the job. I hopped in my car and made a trip to my local Joann's Craft Store (with coupon in hand) and went to the glitter aisle.

They had just what I needed; Glitter Bond! The directions on the package assured me that, when dry, the piece would be flexible and waterproof and the glitter would be permanently bonded to the surface. Sold.

I went home and got out my shoes. I covered a TV tray with some newspaper and got to work. First I had to remove the embellishments on the shoes. That was easily accomplished with a pair of small scissors. I snipped it away and set the rings aside to use later. I thought they might come in handy.
Then I started to apply the glue. I used the sponge brush and added a thin layer to the surface of the shoe. You can see where the embellishment was removed. That was no big deal. The glue and glitter covered it nicely.

To add the glitter, I just set the shoe on a magazine page and sprinkled it on. Then I tapped the excess off onto the magazine page and poured it back into the glitter tube. Since it was glossy paper, the glitter didn't stick to it, but slid easily back into the tube.

I kept going around the shoes, switching back and forth between them to let one section dry while I worked on the other shoe. Overall, the glitter bonded really well the first time around. I only went back in and touched up a couple of places that needed more glitter.

While the shoes were drying, I glammed up the feather pads with some rhinestones. I placed each stone with tweezers and used the heat tool to stick them in place. It's pretty easy to use. Just press down on the top of the crystal and the adhesive melts and sticks immediately.

I glittered the rings and added them to the feathers with hot glue. I put the feathers on shoe clips so I could wear the shoes with or without the extra adornment.

I let everything dry overnight. The glitter is really bonded and the shoe is nice and flexible. They are ready to wear. On to adventure in magic shoes! Happy Holidays and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creative Space

I love my creative space. I like peeking into the spaces that spark creativity and thought you might like to see where I talk to my muse.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

This is my worktable. I like everything to have its own space so I can find it when I need it. Having an organized work area is a big help to my creative process. Since I have everything handy and it is usually fairly neat(ish), I can jump in and work when the mood strikes.

It took me a while to come up with this configuration and it still needs a few tweaks, but so far this works for me.

I like to do the majority of my designing and metalwork standing up, but also have a high stool that I can pull in when I feel like sitting.

The baskets on the bottom shelves house tools, a few display items, my tumbler and my dremel. The drawers hold my dapping blocks, small hand tools, metal stamps and other essentials.

The three shelves above my worktable display my favorite jewelry pieces and other fanciful objects that I like to have hanging around. Those pieces of blue pottery (from when I was little) give my space a sense of whimsy and add a splash of color. I love that dancing lady. Yes. Those are spindles on the left. The crochet covered rock is from my super talented friend Susan.

I like to have a pretty display near my workspace to help to inspire me. I like how everything seems at home on these shelves. I like to pull inspiration for designs from jewelry I have made in the past, so I have some pieces on display here. You may have noticed I also have a thing for small leather carryalls. I found both these vintage pieces ages ago and now use them to carry my pliers when I teach on the road. Another blue glass piece off to the right. You can never have too much blue glass pottery!

I also like to keep magazines and books featuring my designs stored close by. Sometimes, when self doubt threatens the creative process, I like to look at them and see my name printed on shiny paper that did not come out of my own printer. That row of houses is a favorite toy from childhood. Many hours were spent making a village with those houses and trinkets that I would find around the house. I think they were a gift from my mom when I was two? Three? She has excellent taste in gifts. There is another spindle and some yarn I spun stacked up there, too.

I have my sketch/idea book and collection of Sharpie markers. Sharpies are some of my most favorite things ever.

And my tools on magnetic strips so they will all be in reach. Those lovely carving tools were hand made by master metalworker Bob Burkett.

Hammers. Mostly Fretz.

Pliers. Mostly Lindstrom.

Everything ready for me make to something special.

Where do you create? What is your favorite feature about your creative space? What does your dream space look like?

If you are feeling creative this weekend, come spend some time with me. I'll be packing up some of these tools and heading over to Bead Inspirations in Alameda, CA for a creative metalworking day. All the details are here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's a Pin!

Thanks for the creative push on my October Challenge project. You all suggested the finished component should turn into a brooch or pin. So without further ado...


Here it is. I was kind of stumped about how to turn it into a pin, but I had a recent discussion with my friend Susan (Hi Susan!) on the merits of shawl pins. I like shawls and my aforementioned friend has gifted me with several. A few lightning fast neuron synapses later and this shawl pin was born.

I love the stitched leather component, but just wasn't sure how I was going to mount it to be sturdy enough to wear. As I was unpacking my tools and materials from my teaching gig last weekend I came across a couple of copper scraps that became my starting point.

The two triangles were originally a 1" square of copper with a heat patina surface. One hole was already in the square, so I popped another one in the opposite corner and cut it in half for two triangles. A quick file of the edges smoothed everything out.

My second scrap was a square of copper that just happened to fit the leather, with a bit of room around the edges. I punched holes top and bottom and sandwiched the leather between the copper triangles and sheet and riveted them in place.

A bit of free-form wire wrapping and the main piece was done.

I used 16-gauge wire for the pin. I hammered, shaped and filed it and added more free-form wrapping at the top.

Here is is all ready to go on my shawl.

It's the perfect day to wear this piece on my lovely shawl from Susan. A good way to brighten up a Monday morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Makin' Beads

Come make beads with me!

I am so excited to teach a class locally. Bead Inspirations, in Alameda CA is hosting a 1-day workshop with me on November 19.  Enrollment is on now and there are a few spaces left.

We are going to have a great time! I am bringing a few extra things to play with in class including some pretty beads to cap.

I just taught this class last weekend at Wiremasters and the students made such LOVELY things. Here are a few samples...

To register contact Bead Inspirations in Alameda. Here is the full class description. Hope to see you there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October's Reader Challenge REVEAL!

I like to say yes to people. I like to keep busy. I like to participate in group activities and be social. I also like to nap. Which is a good thing, since saying yes, keeping busy and having a really active social life can be really tiring. Hence my love of naps.

Unfortunately all this whooping it up and napping can lead to overcommitment with my free time slipping by too fast.

Right about now I'll bet you are wondering what ANY of this has to do with Andrew Thornton's October Reader's Challenge and can I just post the picture already? 'Cause you have, like, 17 more blogs to visit and only so many hours in a day.

Right. So let me get to it.

I bit off more than I could chew with this project. These busy few weeks have not allowed much extra time. Not only that, the time crunch made me awash in indecision about my design. Those two factors combined to thwart the timeliness of my finished piece.

This is what I have so far.

The beads are all stitched to the piece of metallic leather (because I have had leather on my mind lately). That is a river pebble underneath the stitching and a key pendant because I like keys. It's about 2"x 2" or so.

This is where you all come in. I need a push in the right direction. My goal is to finish this piece by next Thursday, November 10. Your job (should you accept it) is to leave a comment and tell me if you think this piece should evolve into a pendant/necklace, bracelet or a brooch.

I will tally up this Sunday night, November 6 and complete the piece in the style that gets the most votes.

I'll reveal the results on Friday November 11.

Thanks for your help! Don't forget to visit the other fine folks participating in this challenge.  Check out the list:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Driving Ambition.

I love a road trip: the gas station coffee, reading unfamiliar road signs, the fruitless search for NPR in the vast air wave wasteland that is California's Interstate 5.

No, seriously. When I was little, I remember being snuggled up in the back seat of my grandparents Dodge Monaco with my stuffed animal friends watching the world go by.

Now I am in the driver's seat, but viewing the world through a windshield is still one of my favorite experiences.

So what does this rambling post have to do with Wednesday, November 2, you ask? Well, it's Weekend with the Wiremasters travel day and that means ROADTRIP!

My classes start tomorrow, so I am up bright and early to pack the car, gas her up, pick up my dear traveling companion, and set out for parts unknown. (Actually the parts are pretty known to you NorCal peeps. US 101 to 152 and then on to the interminable I5. YEEK!)

Tomorrow I start a 4-day class extravaganza. If you haven't read about the event, check it out here. I am teaching 4 fabulous metalworking classes including my über-creative, throw-caution-to-the-wind Rolled and Wrapped beads. I rarely teach this class and it is one of my favorites.

Okay gang. Enough for this morning. I'll let you know how it's going. But I suspect it will go pretty well. After all, it's gonna be rough hanging out here for the next few days...

...but I will do my best.

Friday, October 28, 2011

On the road again...

Last night I had to make a choice. It was one of those life choices that most women have to grapple with at one time or another. It was tough, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and make the hard decisions.

Look, I loved each of them. Each one was unique and filled a special place in my heart. They made me feel pretty and in my own way I needed each one.

But my suitcase was full.

Five pairs of shoes for a five-day trip just wasn't going to happen.

I am leaving next week to teach for "Weekend with the Wiremasters." Yes, I have kits and tools and jewelry to pack. I have to wrangle soldering set-ups in my car. I have to find that class sample that I decided to wear and then tuck away in a safe place so I could find it later.

But come ON. The real problem that I grapple with before I go out on a teaching gig is "What am I going to wear and how many shoe changes can I fit in my suitcase?"

Look, its a precarious balance between comfort and style. I gotta be mobile in class. I have pre class set up, the actual class itself and the immediate after party (usually held with chilled glasses and savory snacks) so this shoe choice needs to last all day. Comfort and cute don't always go hand-in-hand.

You'd think I could just find a nice neutral shoe. One that would go with everything. I could just slip it into a single shoe bag and tuck it in and go.  Nope. I like color. I love red shoes and blue shoes and shoes with flowers and shoes that have straps and shoes that tie.

So last night I lined 'em up and culled the heard. It was hard. I may have wept a silent tear, but I did it and I am proud. Three pairs are making the trip and one of those pairs are going on my feet, so I just need room for two.

(Okay, humor me. I know three pairs of shoes may STILL be a little excessive for a five-day trip, but let me have my moment.)

If you don't have plans for November 3-6 and want to have a super fun filled metals and wire weekend, Wiremasters is still accepting signups. Check out my classes here, and details about the whole event here.

Samples from my Crystal Frame Ring class.

The weather promises to be beautiful and they have a lovely pool. 

Whoops. Make that four pairs. I need flip-flops for the dash to the hot tub.

Now that the tough decisions are over, I can get to assembling kits and printing handouts. In my slippers.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Necklace, Completed!


Click on each photo to enlarge.

I love the way it turned out. You may remember the skull components I made from this post. I used howlite and coral beads (both dyed or "enhanced" as we say in the biz.) I also added a splash of green by tossing in some vintage glass leaves.

 The clasp was one that I had in my stash. Lovely vintage glass and sterling silver. It was waiting for the perfect project. I got it years ago from my dear friend Jess from Jess Imports. (The best source for unique and fancy clasps in my humble opinion. Join their email list to be notified when new stuff goes up online. They sell out FAST!)

When I tackle a multi-strand piece, I don't think too far ahead in the future. I just take it step-by-step as it can be a bit daunting. I usually don't pick the clasp until the piece is strung, but in this case I used the clasp as my primary source of inspiration along with the skulls.

 I began by "auditioning" my beads like I did in this Bead Soup piece. Then I started stringing. I cut a 20" piece of SoftFlex and got to work. (My favorite stringing material. Not a paid endorsement, just deep love from using it since it came out.)

Since I knew I wanted a multi-strand piece, and I had five finished skulls, I had the rough idea that it would end up being a 5-strand necklace. I didn't pre plan much else. I strung the first strand with the red skull and went from there.

As I was stringing along, I realized that the piece need more pops of color so I wire wrapped the vintage glass leaves and strung them next to each skull. The 4mm round beads bump up next to them and help them to hang nicely.

I checked the length of this first strand and added the length of the clasp and crimp closures and measured it against where I wanted it to sit around my neck. (First securing the ends of the strand by closing them with clear tape.) That gave me a rough idea of how long to make the remaining strands.

I kept stringing, cutting a new piece of SoftFlex and making each strand one at a time. I planned the layout as I went along, adding a large bead here, a stack of coral beads there. Placing the skull pendants spaced apart so they wouldn't knock against each other. I just let it evolve.

To make the strands sit nicely on the single loop of the clasp, I tapered each with two 4mm beads. I crimped one strand at a time to the clasp. I sized each strand as I went along, checking how it laid against the previous one.

I made slight adjustments by taking off the two 4mm beads and adding another bead or two to make the necklace slightly graduated. I tried the necklace on each time I added a strand to make sure the fit was right. (Think of this part like fitting a custom garment. You wouldn't have a fancy dress made without trying it on several times to make sure the fit is perfect. Same thing with a fancy necklace. It's a couture moment.)

To make sure that the closure was as pretty as it could be, I used crimp covers. If you haven't heard of them, they are 4mm metal beads with a split down one side. They close over crimp beads after they have been attached and hide them. I use the top indentation in my crimping pliers to gently (gently!) close them around the crimp.

I also used wire guards around the loop of the clasp. They add strength and have the added bonus of really creating a finished look. The SoftFlex strings right through them and is mostly hidden from view.

And there she is. I took her out for a test wear and the fit and feel are perfect. Viva la vida! A perfect necklace for Dia de los Muertos!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Earrings on the Fly

I made some pretty enameled wings the other day.

And used them as the focal for this pair of earrings.

 I kind of love them.

Have a great weekend all. I am off to sew up a storm. (Or maybe a dolly or two.)