Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pearls and Crystals

Here's a necklace and earrings set that I made that will shortly go up in my Etsy store, Essential Adornment. It features large diamond shaped freshwater cultured pearls, sterling silver, and large Swarovski crystals. This is the only time I've found pearls this color blue. The color is gorgeous, plus there is enough iridescence that the pearls will go with more colors than blue. I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

My Guest Blog on "Her Accessories"

Last week Chloe of Her Accessories and Gleaming Things sent out an invite for guest bloggers. I sent in a blog for Her Accessories.

This morning I was pleased to see my blog "
Clip on a New Look" on Her Accessories.

Her Accessories is my favorite fashion blog and I've been following it for a long time. Gleaming Things is new, but I expect to be following it for a long time.
Check them out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tutorial Monday-Home Jewelry Business Success Tips

Today's Tutorial Monday features a resource rather than a tutorial, although the articles are tutorials of a different kind. If you have a jewelry business you might want to check out Rena Klingenberg's site and sign up for the newsletter Jewelry Business Success News.

Rena has a wonderful site filled with a tremendous amount of information. Many of her articles are also applicable to other types of art work.

She also has published some e-books, the latest of which is Social Networking: Sell Your Jewelry Online. I purchased Your Profitable Jewelry Booth and was very pleased with it.

Be sure to check out her sections on Your Jewelry Website, Jewelry Displays, Jewelry Party Tips, and Jewelry Show Tips. These articles (and there are many) are most helpful to beginners, but even seasoned jewelry artists can get some good info here. I wish I'd known about this site before I started selling jewelry.

Her blog, Jewelry Business Blog has some interesting info as well. One recent article detailed how a jewelry thief was able to steal jewelry from upscale stores, often right under the clerks noses.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We're Off to See the Wizard

Actually, we're going to my parents for my Dad's 80th birthday party. Cake and ice cream, yum. We'll be out of town for the weekend.

Unfortunately, Tutorial Monday may not be out until Tuesday due to our being gone and my medical checkup on Monday. So if it's not out Monday, look for it on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Gift from Phoenix

or perhaps A Letter From the Clearys' cat.*

I was doing a little deep cleaning today getting under the heavy furniture when I found this. I knew immediately that the poor lizard had been a gift from our cat Phoenix. Phoenix went in and out the cat door during the day and we frequently came home to perfectly uninjured birds flying through the house.

A number of times I would awake at 2 am and hear the cats running through the house playing with one of the pack rats she liked to bring in. The pack rats are slow moving and not very bright. I'm surprised that they aren't extinct. They are a size between mice and rats and look like the mice in a Beatrice Potter book, minus the clothes. They always look like they are smiling. I'd get up at night and catch the rat in a box and let it go in the woods. Any rat that I can catch in a couple of minutes is no match for a cat.

Neither Phoenix nor my husband cared for the other cats, but they loved each other with fierce intensity. Phoenix once spent an entire week in bed with my husband when he was sick with the flu. She loved to sit on his shoulder while he watched TV.

She liked to flop on your face at night--you couldn't breathe. We were afraid that she would flop on our infant son when we first brought him home from the hospital. We kept him in the bassinet in our room and locked her out. We needn't have worried. As soon as she figured out that that thing was alive, she was terrified; and later, maybe a little jealous. After he got older and became mobile, she would leave any room he entered.

Then one day, when he was eight, he called me with a quavering voice. "Look, Mom." Phoenix had climbed into his lap. Obviously, he had grown large enough to be one-who-should-adore-her. And from that day, she expected him to adore her.

Phoenix was named because she "rose" from the ashes. As a kitten she wandered up to my mother-in-law's house with singed whiskers, a spot of hair burned off one side, and singed feet. There had been nine grass and house fires in the area and we never found out where she came from.

She was fourteen when a tumor took her from us. Although she was not young it still seemed to us that she was taken before her time, and our grief was deeper. Yet I know that there can be no heaven without cats. Somewhere she rises again and for her there are green hills, trees, meadows, a warm spot in the sun, and a soft bed.

And maybe a pack rat or lizard.

*A Letter From the Clearys is a short story by Connie Willis that was published in Fire Watch. If you haven't read it, you should. The collection won the Nebula for the best science fiction in 1983. Connie Willis has won six Nebula awards and six Hugo awards, more than any other author. If you have read it, then you know why I subtitled this post.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tutorial Monday-A Mini Tutorial on Broom Straw Casting

(Note: feel free to use this tutorial, but please don't repriint without permission. Use safety equipment and follow safety procedures when using the torch! Do this outside or in an area with good ventilation.)

I've posted before on broom straw casting, but this time I'm going to go into a little more detail.

You will need:
  • an inexpensive straw broom

  • a water bucket big enough to stand the broom in

  • some concrete blocks, lumber or something to brace the broom upright in the bucket

  • sterling silver or fine silver scraps to melt

  • a torch (we use a propane torch; probably a mini torch would be too small)

  • a crucible to melt the silver in

  • long handled pliers or other tool to manipulate the hot crucible, or a crucible with a handle attached

  • safety glasses for use with the torch

  • a small can or container of water

  • small wood saw, or similar cutting device

  • scissors

  • string for binding the broom head

The first step is to prepare the broom. Cut off the broom handle about one foot or less above the top of the broom head. Then cut the stitching holding the broom head in shape. It's best to cut it in a lot of places and pull all the strings out. After the stitching is removed bind the broom with some string into a round cylindrical shape. Put the broom head in your bucket of water and soak until the straw is damp. This only takes a few minutes.

After the straw has gotten damp you need to brace the broom head upright in the bucket of water. We used some bricks we had around to do this.

Now use the torch to melt the silver in the crucible.

When the silver is fully melted pour it into the end of the straw head. Don't pour all of it in one spot. Move the pour around a little. Smoking and burning will occur.

Put the crucible down and turn your torch off. Use your smaller container of water and pour it into the broom head to cool the silver.

If you are outside, like we were, cover the crucible with something to protect yourself and any kids or animals from the heat. An old metal pot, a flower pot or something like that works fine.

Let things cool down for a minute and remove the broom head. Upend it over the large bucket of water, stick it in the water, cut the binding, and shake the broom out in the bucket. The silver will fall out into the water where you can fish it out when it cools. It cools quickly. Examine your castings. If you don't like them you can melt the silver and try again. There may also be pieces that are too small to use, but you can reserve them for the next time.

If you've used sterling silver you'll need to brush, then pickle the casting to clean it. If you used fine silver you'll just need to brush it.

Broom straw casting makes interesting organic shapes that can be made into pendants, rings, or pins.

Here's a link to a post I did on broom straw casting at Metal Chik with different pictures.

Here's a nice PDF article by Dennis Chapman. He goes into some detail on finishing.

Here's another article on finewire group at MSN with lots of pictures.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vilma at Kiva

I made another loan today at Kiva. I made the loan to Vilma, who makes jewelry and sells accessories.

So far this is my 5th loan, and all the loans have been repaid or are being repaid, (except for this one which hasn't been disbursed yet).

Here's a link below, but after this loan is fully funded it will link to someone who still needs a loan.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Perfect Day

My husband woke me up this morning with the happy news that Callie was back. One week to the day she shows back up. She's a little skinnier but seems in good health. I guess she just took a vacation.

I'm really happy to have all my cats back home.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm Happy Today

I'm really happy today. My cat Pawlie Newman (named after Paul Newman because of his intensely blue eyes) has been found.

Some of you probably know I am a cat person. Cats just seem to find me, except for Scrappy, who I actually picked up from the median of Interstate 30. You can read his story here, but be warned it is a difficult story for cat lovers, although it has a happy ending.

A few months ago Pawlie found me. He appeared to be a stray, although he is full blooded Siamese. At first I only saw him once in a while, then more frequently. I noted that one ear was folded down for some reason. I gradually tamed him enough that I could handle him and had him neutered and got his shots. The vet took care of his intestinal parasites and ear mites as well. The folded ear is due to scar tissue from an earlier injury that did not receive care. That ear is almost completely closed off with scar tissue and I doubt he hears well with it. He was very affectionate with me and loving.

Then he disappeared. He was gone a month. I feared that coyotes had caught him. One neighbor saw him up the road a ways and I immediately went there but couldn't find him. I was perplexed because he always runs up to me when I call.

Yesterday I handed out flyers with pictures of Pawlie and Callie. (Yes, my sweet mostly feral Callie was last seen Thursday). I located a neighbor who had seen Pawlie multiple times recently, but he stated Pawlie ran off when they called him. As I walked from their front door Pawlie came around the corner of the house. I called his name and he began meowing at me. When I called again he ran up. Now he's back at home and sticks to me like glue. He's obviously very happy to be here. He can't get enough petting. I guess he just went up the road and couldn't figure out how to get back. There's a pond and creek with a little bridge to cross.

Buddy cat is not happy about this. He glares at Pawlie like he is spawn of the devil.
I would like to find Pawlie a home where he can go in the house. We have indoor cats who are very fearful and can't have any more house cats. He tried to follow me into the house last night. He is a real lover boy and deserves a home where he can get lots of attention, without the competition of other jealous male cats. It would be hard to part with him but I would like to find him a place where he can get the attention he needs.

I'm going into the woods today and search for Callie. Plus, I'm going to hand out more flyers. She is so incredibly frightened of everything that I doubt anyone will see her. My next door neighbors sit out in the yard a lot and they have only seen her once or twice. She's really good at hiding.

Pawlie is in good shape. He hasn't lost weight. Many people here own cats and he has obviously been helping himself to their food.
Now if I can just find Callie it would be a perfect day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tutorial Monday-Etsy and Blog Banners

Today Tutorial Monday is a little different. Instead of a jewelry tutorial I'm sharing the the best of the banner tutorials I've found on the web. I've been kicking around ideas for my blog banner/header and my Etsy shop banner but haven't been sure how to go about creating one. I want a picture or two of my jewelry with the name of my blog. I also want something similar for my Etsy shop.

So far my favorite comes from Etsy Labs: Skill Share: Making A Banner. One of the reasons I like this tutorial is that it uses Photoshop and the directions are applicable to Photoshop Elements. I have Elements. I've taken a couple of courses in Photoshop Elements, but I don't always remember the facets of the program that I don't use often. Danielle goes over the steps and illustrates the process with some screen shots.

Brenda Smith of Serendipity Patchwork and Quilting has a good tutorial How to Create a Blog Banner, and well as one on Blog Buttons. Oh, and be sure to check out her blog.

Carole Casper has a tutorial for Blogger banners as well. Creating a Personal Header in New Blogger is a PDF file that you can download and print out for handy reference. She has other tutorials on creating a favicon, making links, and fabric art related tutorials on her blog A Stitch in Time.

Gabrielle Blair has a tutorial by Guest Mom Amy on Making a Blog Banner.

Paul Stamatiou has tutorial on HOW TO: Make a Blog Header Graphic.

You can get free graphics for your Wordpress header at Ten Free Cutline Header Images on Skitzo. For more on the Cutline Theme for Word Press see Chris Pearson. Captain Hops also has free graphics for Cutline.

More free graphics can be found at Blog Headers For Free Download. There are some very creative graphics here. All of the header graphics in this post came from here. Check it out.

Maybe you don't want to do it yourself. There are a number of people who will do blog and etsy banners, as well as website banners, for very reasonable fees. Here are some I've found:

Etsy Banners and Graphics by Jelene

Many of her banners have a colorful pop art style, but she also does some very close to what I had in mine for my banner. She has lots of examples to view. You can also buy through her Etsy shop Jelene's Pop Shop.

Callista's Graphic Design Studio

I really like the look of her work and she also does website and blog headers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Impatient Crafter Oo La La Collaged Pendants

I'm out of town for the rest of this week so I'm leaving you this fantastic video from Margot Potter, the Impatient Crafter™. I think this is my favorite one so far, probably because I have been working on some collage pendants myself. So far I'm doing digital collage but Margot makes the ink look like fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Orphan Bill Update-Action Needed

Action is need immediately on the Orphan Works Bill, also known as the S. 2913 in the Senate and the H.R. 5889 in the House. For a detailed explanation of why so many artists oppose this bill go here or to this excellent blog on arts and crafts law. Even if you are not an artist please call or write your senator or congressman and oppose these bills. Do you take family photos? Then this bill will affect you as well.

It's really easy to send email to the House and Senate if you go to this website. Don't remember your representatives name? No problem, they look it up and fill in the required info automatically. It takes two minutes.

Right now once a work, including a photo, is created it is copyrighted. It doesn't have to be registered. If an artist wants to register works of art, he or she can register a body of work instead of having to register things separately. If this bill passes the photo or art is NOT copyrighted until it is registered. Each work must be registered separately. This is not free. In addition, the creator of a work will have to pay, probably multiple times, to again register their work in an unspecified number of data bases to keep people from using the work without paying royalties. And you know what? That probably won't work.

Tutorial Monday-Mei of Wirebliss

This week for Tutorial Monday I'm reviewing the Sparkly Crystal Ring Tutorial from Mei of WireBliss.

Lately I've been really interested in doing rings. This is a very lovely ring, and I purchased the tutorial on Etsy. The tutorial is delivered as a PDF. It's well written with lots of good detailed photos. I found it very easy to follow. The directions were clear and complete.

Here's a sample page from the tutorial. Remember that the resolution of my blog will not be nearly what the actual tutorial is.

Here are the first practice rings I did using the tutorial.

Mei calls for 22 gauge wire, but I wanted to start out learning with my less expensive craft wire, so I used a 20 gauge tarnish resistant wire in gold and copper, and some leftover beads that I had handy. This worked well, although the 20 gauge doesn't have the beautiful dainty look of Mei's rings. I also experimented with Czech glass firepolish in the center rather than using all Swarovski. Swarovski will definitely be more sparkly so I'll use that next. If you like to use heavier wire with rings I think 20 gauge is probably the heaviest wire that can be used with the small crystals, but 19 gauge might work. Now that I've had some practice I'm going to do some with 22 gauge sterling and gold filled wire. Pearls can also be used in this ring design, and Mei has a picture of a ring made with pearls that is very attractive.

This is a good tutorial for beginners as well as more experienced wire wrappers. I've never done any complex wire work so I consider myself a beginner. I found the directions easy to follow. The tutorial is also very reasonably priced at $6.00 USD.

You can view Mei's wire jewelry on her blogs, WireBliss Jewelry , WireBliss: Handcrafted Wire Wrap Jewelry, and her etsy store, Wirebliss. Be sure to check out her Wire Wrap Donut pendant tutorial that is available at Etsy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Catching Up

We spent this weekend traveling. There was a family reunion the 4th of July at my cousin's home. The next day we went to a relative's 85th birthday party (Happy Birthday Buster!). We had a good time catching up with our relatives.

This coming week I will be out of town starting Wednesday. I'm meeting my sister-in-law and we're taking care of some family business relating to my mother-in-law's estate. I probably won't have computer access, but I've scheduled some posts so check back.

Look for Tutorial Monday-Mei of WireBliss on Monday. Wednesday I'll be posting another video. Hopefully I'll get something else scheduled.

I've been playing with my new camera, a Canon Rebel Xti. Here are a few butterfly pictures I've taken. I've seen few butterflies this year compared to last year.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

I'm always amazed as I think back over the history of our country that the founding fathers did such a good job with the Declaration of Independence, and particularly, the Bill of Rights. They could not have imagined, I'm sure, how much life would change in the 200 plus years that have passed. Yet they crafted a system that works still, and will continue to work if we don't do something stupid to mess it up.

It took courage to craft and sign the Declaration of Independence. If you study the personal life of many of the signers, things did not go well for them. Signing the document painted a big ole target on their foreheads for King's George's troups to aim at.
Whatever your feelings about the current war, remember that without those who were willing to give their lives for this country we would not enjoy the freedoms we enjoy now.
Remember, too, that in many other countries people are willing to DIE for the right to vote. Too many Americans don't bother to vote. If you haven't registered to vote please do so. Then exercise your right and go to the polls.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Update on Tonia Davenport

Since I just reviewed Plexi Class I thought I would post this quick update on the author, Tonia Davenport. She has just opened an etsy store. Check out the cute bracelets. I especially like "dark chocolate."

Also her bracelet project "Save the Trees" from Plexi Class is featured as a free project on MyCraftivity.com.