Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas

Well, it sure is a White Christmas this year! Snow, snow and more snow! Unfortunately, our snow blower broke on Friday just as Jon was getting done with the driveway. We finally broke down and bought one this year - although a used one from a co-worker. This was the 3rd time he used it - darn, you get what you pay for I guess... He'll have to work on it, even though working on yard equipment is his least favorite thing to do!

I'm hoping we can find a window tomorrow to travel before the next storm hits. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and I can't wait to read all about everyone's good times! Til then, I'll leave you with my most recent peacock wares I made. I must model them over the next few days...

I layered Hint's Krishna Peacock with Vintaj's Fussy Peacock on a simple chain for a necklace that goes with everything! Check out the paper mache mini model I got at Michael's.
And here's the first necklace I made from one of my many peacock pendants from Wabisabipottery. I decided to put it off-center. The rest of the necklace is wood beads, silver beads, and some lovely stones a friend gave me because I showed her how to wire wrap. I'm not completely sure what they are, but they are the prettiest milky green color! I'll be making more necklaces with the other pendants that will be for sale - I have some other designs in mind.Take Care Everyone!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Probably gonna be a long post...

Sorry, I haven't been in blogging mode lately. This was a busy week. I am done with the school semester, having to take finals on Wednesday and Thursday. I don't feel the relief yet until I get my grades... We got pounded with snow yesterday, but I still had to make my way into work because I live fairly close. It was a quiet day and I had to wrap things up to be off for the next 2 weeks. That's right, I worked my vacation so that I have 2 full weeks off now!!! Four of those days we get off through the company anyway and the rest I took as vacation. My hubby has 2 weeks off too, although his place always has the week between X-mas and New Years off as a given. We will be spending about half of that time with friends and family and the other half for our own much needed R & R!

So let's see... what's new with me. I have a place in Andrew Thornton's charm club - yeah! And, I got Anne Choi's new skull bead! Merry Christmas to me!!!

I didn't put up our big tree this year. There were many reasons why I talked myself out of it: I was busy and any spare time I had I wanted to work on jewelry, we aren't physically here on any of the actual holidays, and I wasn't sure if the place where I usually put it was going to be full of my dining room furniture since I have no idea when the work is going to start on the water damage we've had. Lame, I know. So instead, I just put up one of my smaller "theme" trees with all of my peacocks on it. I put this tree up every year anyway, just in a different location. Besides ornaments, I have also found over the years peacock ribbons and wrapping paper. I have some faux wrapped gifts with those elements to save each year to put under this tree.I did put up 8 pieces of my town though. I have way too many decorations for any sane person. Years and years ago, I started collecting lighted houses and accessories from a company called Kurt Adler. The name of my holiday town is "Snowtown". I would describe it as whimsical/folk art/glittery. If you look inside the windows, you can see there are even painted scenes inside!
There is a spin off of "Snowtown" called "Gingerbread Junction" which I also have. I also have the "Angel Heights" collection and "Springtown" for Easter. Yeah... a lot. I probably do have the room to put up all the winter ones: "Snowtown", "Gingerbread Junction", and "Angel Heights" but I usually rotate different ones each year because I merely don't have the energy. This year, I took a look at eBay to see if anyone was selling any of these suckers and sure enough, they were. I don't think these collections are made anymore so some of the prices sure opened my eyes. Enough to where I decided to sell 2 of the houses that weren't my favorites and the accessories to go with them. I was happy with the sales and in turn, they allowed me to splurge on this vintage owl sweater:
I just love the saying on it - probably too offensive to wear to work, eh?

Well, since this sure jumped all over the place, I'll sign off now! Wait, one more thing: my skin is so dry it is driving me crazy!!! I usually don't get this dry until mid-January! I am not a big fan of lotion. Even if I find a non-greasy one, I don't know why I think those extra few minutes in the morning is going to throw off my schedule. I think I'll have to give in though.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Handmade Gifts

Every year, I usually always give some handmade gifts. But this year especially, it's all about stretching the pocketbook and trying to use what has already been packed into this house in 5 short years. We've been on a roller coaster for at least 2 years now with Jon's automotive related job and we'll see how much longer we can ride with the Big 3 problems coming to a head here. My Dad has had to take unpaid days off, my brother just lost his job and my future sister-in-law's plant may shut down soon too. So needless to say, we are all planning a simpler Christmas this year - which really, isn't that what's it's all about?

Firstly, what do you get an 89 year old (my Grandpa)? He has plenty of sweaters, pajamas, slippers, etc... Every year, we try to find creative ways to give him scratch off lottery tickets and rolls of quarters for the casino. So this year, I made him his own personalized Advent Calendar. I had this fabric hanger with 20 pockets on it so I had the calendar start on December 6th (St. Nick's Day for any of you Catholics out there). I painted the numbers on and filled it with the tickets, rolls of quarters, his favorite candies, word searches and gift cards to McDonald's and Walgreens and sent it off. From what I have heard, he loves it!!!
Next, while at a craft fair this summer I saw this cool idea that I knew I'd want to try - making abstract garden art with old dishes/glasses. I had some old dishes in the basement and some broken dishes and bowls. With Jon's help yesterday, we also dug up an old light fixture (which he painted), some buttons, river rock, a doorknob. You need a strong epoxy to adhere everything together. Then, you adhere a hockey puck on the back that you have drilled a hole in to accept a strong metal rod that goes in the ground so the "flower" sits at a 90 degree angle! I always go with the rule of thumb that I only give gifts that I would like enough for myself... I really like these so I hope others will too.Of course I am giving some of my mini foldout scrapbooks I posted about a while ago and certainly some jewelry... like the necklace below that reminds me of my sister-in-law.(The pendant is from Joan Miller)Stay tuned.. I hope to get some new things loaded on Etsy tonight...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was recently inspired by Margo Morrison to make some simple necklaces that are great for layering. Look how many are layered on here!!!Her's are hand knotted but I used delicate chain for mine. I used several of the glass strands I got at the gem show a few weeks ago, and even used wood beads for one. I have these for sale at the Art Center and of course am modeling them myself at work - they are so easy to wear!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Stuff

I have some new pieces listed on Etsy - pics below. My favorite is the bracelet I made with one of my lampwork owl beads from Jawjee! My biggest frustration is that it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get home so I have no good light to take pictures during the week (until I get around to making that light box). So I brought my pieces to work today to take pictures by a window at lunchtime. Great use of an intercompany mailer for a background, don't ya think?

I took several older pieces off my Etsy site to clean it up a bit AND I'm taking a bunch of stuff into the Art Center tomorrow so I thought some might need some new eyes looking at them. I volunteered at the Art Center gift shop again on Saturday and the holiday market it going great! For the month of November, we sold a little over $10,000 worth of merchandise which well exceeded our goal and expectations this year with the economy. I am so glad people are choosing local art instead of Walmart!
In other news, my book from Snapfish arrived today and it is so beautiful! Here's a peek - it's so surreal to see your own things printed in such a professional manner. It's amazing how far pictures have come! Well, I'm off to price my things for the Art Center.....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Loot

The International Gem and Jewelry shopping experience yesterday was a success! While the artisan bead booths from Bead & Button were replaced by fine jewelry booths (which I was not in the market for) you could still find plenty of tables with piles and piles of stone strands on them! In fact, I think I got better prices on stone strands than I usually do at Bead & Button. For instance, there was one booth where I got a dozen stone strands for $50. Another booth where I got a dozen glass stands for $20. Another booth had a limited selection of stone strands 4 for $10. I got a few miscellaneous strands for $1 a piece.

I was also most happy about refilling my selection of Chinese painted beads and pendants. The stash I had from my trip to China was slowly dwindling and it was hard to let some of it go. I got a strand of hand painted beads, a hand painted vessel, and 2 gorgeous hand painted pendants which are two sided (there's a different lady on each side)! I was also pleased with the cloisonne owls I found.

All in all, I spent around $100 which isn't bad considering all I got. It was fun to go with a friend and lay all our things out when we got home and split/trade from some strands. Enjoy the pics below....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Peacock Favorites on Etsy

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was pretty nice. The dinner turned out good, although we only got through the first 2 Lord of the Rings movies. Oh well. I spent all day today cleaning my house - what a great feeling that is! However a not so great feeling is when I pulled my back in the middle of the 3rd room I was mopping. I worked through the pain and finished out the rest of the day - started to put some Christmas decorations up. But I better relax now so that I can walk around all day tomorrow at the International Gem and Jewelry show!
I'll leave you with my latest peacock favorites on Etsy...

Here is a lovely necklace I bought from Sunny Rising Leather. My Mom informed me this week that she found some old bonds for me to cash in from when I was little, so I decided to treat myself to this excellent craftsmanship.
Also, check out wabisabipottery. I first stumbled upon Catherine's lovely little peacock dish and was pleased when she agreed to make me some pendants! I can't wait to get them! She has many sweet little dishes (some owls too!) perfect for holding beads or even for that delicious bread dipping oil.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Mocha: "Can you believe she got us more idiotic dog clothes?"
Biscuit: "Yeah, but just think of the table scraps we'll get!"
Ugh, I am so over this sweater. The tryptophan has kicked in.Not me! I am going to attack her for making me wear this stupid polo shirt! (He's only attacking me with kisses!)I couldn't resist these owl ensembles from Target! Anyway, hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! It's just Jon and I and the dogs this year, but we will be spending a lot of time with our families at Christmas. We bought a farm turkey this year and are looking forward to tasting the difference everyone raves about. The other plans for the day include a "Lord of the Rings" marathon. I know, we're such dorks. We will watch the first one. Put the turkey in the over. Watch the second one while it cooks. Eat. Then watch the third one.

I don't plan to fight the crowds tomorrow. Instead, I am going to clean my house from top to bottom. Saturday though, I am going to the International Gem and Jewelry show with my friend in Detroit. Hope I can score some goodies!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun with Filigree and more...

I have been having fun lately re-discovering filigree. It seems to be everywhere now, especially for romantic fall looks. Here is some inspiration I picked up at Target (long necklace), The Limited (bought 2 on clearance, have taken one apart to use for other projects) and the butterflies are from some other cheap mall store. I am loving how different colored metals are being mixed together as well.

So, I created this bold necklace which is now for sale on Etsy. I was inspired by this necklace from Anthropologie.
As for the "more" section of my title, I weeded through several old boxes of stuff and was pleasantly surprised with my finds. Jackpot! One of the things I found was this African pendant which I got from an aunt who traveled there. The colors are amazing and I am really happy with how this necklace turned out (also for sale on Etsy).

I know, I know.... I don't have a particular "look" to my work. I just work with what I love and what inspires me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My last 2 days have been filled with putting together a book of my jewelry. What an exhausting task! A few weeks ago, I was alerted to an offer to get a free, 20 page, hardcover photo book from Snapfish ($29.99 value). The original deadline to order this book was last Saturday, however due to the overwhelming demand they extended it until yesterday. So all week I was trying to think of someone I could use it as a gift for. Hmmmm, I already make copies of my nephew's scrapbook pages for my future sister-in-law for her own book. I keep a scrapbook updated for my Mom of things we do together. All the other pictures I have are of my husband and my dogs - who would want those??? It's too late to try to have people send me pictures of all the grandkids. I truly thought this amazing offer was going to go to waste. But wait! Why don't I make a book about my jewelry! I haven't updated my stock/collection for quite some time. Back when I first started, and before digital cameras were the norm, I would take pictures of my pieces and not know how they would turn out until I got them developed. They are all pasted into a binder with page protectors that I would pull out and show at people's request. So this seemed the perfect time, especially since a new store has asked to see pictures of my work.

I wanted to take the pictures with natural light as much as I could so that provided some time limits. I borrowed a mannequin from my work's company store (also borrowed this mannequin for my art fair this past summer - I just need to break down and buy one). I also thought of all my hand-me-down or garage sale wood tables I could use that have distressed tops (one even has a crackled leather top). I pulled out books, trays, peacock statues, etc... all to use as props. It was very time consuming trying to decide how to arrange each piece, thinking about which pieces needed close up shots and which would be fine without. Once I had all of my completed jewelry logged, I rushed to complete a few more pieces in the studio and fit those in too. Whew. When I sat down last night to actually put the book together, there are about a gazillion configurations for each page. There are all kinds of backgrounds and layouts for 2 photos, 3 photos, 4 photos, text or no text etc... I went simple and just had a white background on each page. Once I got rolling, I realized not all my work was going to fit into this book so I had to narrow it down. It is a mix of both my personal collection and pieces that are for sale. I am very happy with how it turned out and I think it is a good representation of what I can do. I can't wait to get it!

Needless to say, my house has been neglected. Things were strewn all over the place during the "photo shoot" since I was working on a deadline of sorts. Today I am slowly putting things away, listing a few things on Etsy and plan to do some relaxing. Even though this will be a short work week, it will still be busy with an Art Center Board Meeting and school. My house is in serious need of dusting and having the floors cleaned. While I am anxious to try my new lavender floor cleaning solution, I think I might put that off until the long holiday weekend. It makes sense to take Fall/Thanksgiving decorations down and then clean before Christmas decorations go up, right? That is what I am telling myself.

Latest on Etsy.....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Recap

Ahhh, back to the daily grind! On Friday night, we went to see the new James Bond movie. My husband and I both agree the last James Bond movie - Casino Royale - is our favorite. The new movie did not get very good reviews so we worried it would suck. And yes, it's not as good as Casino Royale but we both enjoyed it very much. I think Daniel Craig is the best James Bond so far!

There was school work, a nice dinner out on Saturday, grocery shopping and some crafting. I learned how to make this new little fold out book at my friend's house and I can't wait to make more! They are going to make great Christmas gifts! Here is the cover:
As you pull open the tie, you can see it start to unfold......Once it's completely open, it can actually "sit" on a desk, shelf, etc... The receiver can decorate it with pictures, stickers, sketches, stamps - it would even make a cute portable dollhouse for little girls and their Polly Pockets!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ode to Ombre

I am especially loving the ombre trend lately - it's like tie dye for grown ups! The Fall issue of Stringing magazine had a lovely feature on it, and I've been doing some work in it as well. You can see my "Fly" necklace and bracelet on Etsy, both with varying shades of blue beads. I'd like to share the two pieces that I have been wearing lately too.

The first is using the same blue beads I have been in love with lately, laid upon one of my brown ombre sweaters. The beads have a matte finish. I used one of my wood burned beads and a butterfly from KB Glassworks. I got the butterfly as a gift from my parents when I finished my Associate Degree and I had it strung but was always not totally happy with how it turned out. Now that I have used the ombre technique on it, I love it and it seems to flow better!
The second long necklace I made out of glazed ceramic beads to match the purple and pink top I have. The iridescent pink seed beads are a new favorite from Michael's.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A bunch of random thoughts....

Okay, this blog is going to skip all over the place so bear with me. I haven't been able to blog much this week so I thought I would do a quick recap. Firstly, I have off today! Yeah! I don't mind finding any excuse to take a day off and this morning I had to wait for the cable guy. Unfortunately, after I log off here I have to study for a test tonight. Boo, hiss. It's going to take every ounce of me to be disciplined.

I stand corrected from my scrapping activities last weekend - I actually made 9 pages, not 8. Mostly a beachy theme as I had several pics of the dogs and my nephew at the beach this summer. I need to add some journaling and embellishments to some.
Still working on the wood beads.... I bought some metal stamping letters thinking after the image was pressed into the wood, I could rub some color in there to make it stand out. Ummm, the first strike of the hammer made the bead shatter. Opps. So my hubby suggested I heat up the letter over a candle to see if that would work. It provides okay results but I am up for more practicing. I've attached a pic - which do you like better? My scribbly cursive or a typed look? Or both?Yesterday, my friend and I went to a bead store in a local town during our lunch hour. I was thrilled to find these glass lockets! I can't wait to fill them with pretty papers, butterfly wings, feathers, etc.... Stayed tuned for the results! I also might play with resin this weekend as I found some bezel pendants I'd been hanging on to.Other than that, some new things in my Etsy shop - I won't fill this up with any more pictures. Til next time.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Soon, very soon.

I have been working on the wood burned beads. I expect to have some for sale soon. I have really been focusing on "word" ones because I fell in love with them the moment I made one. It takes a really steady hand though and the grain of the wood sometimes has a mind of it's own. Steady, consistent pressure is important. I first thought I would put the words on both sides of the beads but soon realized I may get a really good impression on one side and it's not worth ruining a good bead if you don't get as good an impression on the other side.
I forgot to mention too, in my blog about handmade beads, the straw/ribbon idea in the Fall issue of Stringing magazine. I may experiment with the idea of adhering ribbon to straws!

I have some new necklaces to list tonight, but until then I will leave you with my latest purchases:

1. New Anne Choi skull. I can't believe that I had never purchased from Anne before and now I have bought many of her beads over the past few months!
2. Cute lampwork Owl by Jawjee. This artist was on Etsy but now seems to prefer eBay. Hopefully she will come back to Etsy. I was surprised I won this little guy as I lost out on the previous one I bid on.3. First purchase from Hint - gotta have her peacock pendant!I also placed my first purchase on Ornamentea. It should be an exciting week for my mailbox! All in all, it was a busy weekend. I went to scrap at a friend's house on Friday evening and Saturday morning and got 8 pages done. I will take a pic and post for those that might be following this blog for scrapbooking. Saturday night my hubby and I finally had our Opera date from the tickets I bought him for his birthday in September. We have been to operas in several cities and this was a new city to try for us, as well as the first time we had box seats. The opera was "Tosca". The price for box seats was very comparable to other decent seats and we will definitely go that route again. No stepping over people or people stepping over you to get in and out - very nice! Yesterday I worked on jewelry and as always, the time went too fast!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Handmade Beads

I know, I know.... my posts lately have been kinda.... boring. I promise to step it up. From now on, I promise not to whine about how little time I have to be creative and how stressed I am. I will only post the good, positive stuff that comes out of the studio. And am I ever excited about what I created last night!

Every artist tries to find something to make them stand out - or what they are known for. In a world where there is so much inspiration, it is hard to come up with something totally original. I would love to be a lamp work bead maker, a polymer clay bead maker, a metal smith. But until I have the time and training to learn those processes I have been trying to come up with other ideas. True, I did take a beginners lamp work class years ago and the results were - okay. It truly is something that needs a lot of practice and some money invested.

So, I've had this wood burner tool kit for years. I've used it from time to time. I think I burned a snowman into a sled for my Mom and then colored him in. We've burnt designs on pumpkins. And I've even used the cutter tip to cut through foam board. But now, I am burning designs into wood beads! Wood beads are very popular right now and I am glad I found a way to "enhance" them with my own special touch. I will continue to experiment and will probably plan to sell them as well as use them in designs. So far, I have just used a few design tips and the writing tip to freehand words. I know they sell letter and word tips that I am going to check into but I fear they might be too big for an individual bead. I could also rub paint into the imprints and then clear coat them. Oh, I am so excited about the possibilities. So I guess what I want to know is - would you be interested in buying them? What designs or words would you like to see? At this point, I think I would be open to taking special orders.
In other handmade beads news, I also made some paper beads a few months ago - thanks to Girl Scout instruction from my youth. Since I am also a scrapbooker, I certainly have plenty of patterned paper on hand. You cut a long, narrow triangle and then roll it up starting at the large side. Once the end is glued, I also sprayed a matte clear coat on them. Also pictured is a shrinky dink from some other experiments, to use in jewelry. Once again as a scrapper I also have lots of rubber stamps and coloring tools. I don't have the link handy right now, but some may remember Andrew Thornton and his family playing with shrinky dinks a while ago too. It was so ironic that I had just bought some and then saw his post!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Monday

Some new work from yesterday... Have more, but need to take pictures. Guess I was in an Asian mood....

Also, I love opals!!! Most any color. A few years ago when Peruvian Opals were all the rage, I could not get enough of them. I am sure they are still popular, and I still love them, but now I am on to the more traditional white opals. I usually tend to go for rough cut stones too. Another regret from Bead and Button was not buying any there as it was the first time I could remember seeing them. But I had some luck on eBay recently.....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Latest Obsession

Keys! And anything to do with keys! I must not be alone because the Fall issue of Stringing has a feature on them. I am hoarding and collecting with plans to make an entire necklace, and of course incorporate them in other pieces. Anne Choi has just offered up her small key bead again and I ordered promptly.
I ordered the Green Girl Studios "Love is Key" connector. And here is a perfect example of how my scrapbook embellishments can spill over into the jewelry making - I just ordered these pretties too:

Still feeling stressed. I was pleasantly surprised to get the Gaea "Day of the Dead" beads I ordered in the mail yesterday. I sooooo want to get a necklace done to wear before Halloween is over and made an attempt last night to start - after class and grocery shopping and overall exhaustion. Maybe I can get it done for tomorrow??? I thought with the colors I ordered, I could also use my Joan Miller skull bead. But it seems I will be making 2 entirely different necklaces but I think I can wear them together if I make one long and one short. The look of the beads - while both artists are equally beautiful - are too different to have in one necklace.

Also, in Etsy news.... So far having the shop has been great for co-workers, classmates, etc.. to see my work without having to drag it everywhere. I am making sales by deleting the pieces people are buying that I hand delivery. So, the shop is good in that respect, but I know I need to spruce it up, advertise better, take better pictures. Any suggestions?