Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I am looking forward to some fun Halloween events today, which I will blog about later. But first, I just listed some new seasonal appropriate pieces in my Etsy shop!

I just love how these bracelets turned out! I got the colorful little skull beads from Ornamentea, and then each bracelet features an artist skull. The one on the left has a pewter skull bead from Green Girl Studios and the one on the right has a silver charm from Hint. I just love how I found some silver beads that have what look like little dotted flowers on them to match the eyes of the skull in the Hint charm! That bracelet I am keeping for myself, but the Green Girl Studio has been listed for a mere $18!
And here is a necklace inspired by the falling leaves. I got this Raku leaf pendant at a bead shop in Wisconsin over the summer. It is so gorgeous on it's own, I wanted to keep the rest of the design simple. I just love how the copper looks with it! It is now listed for $36!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Home is where the heart is.

The Art Bead Scene Blog brought to my attention a cute little Etsy shop called Art by Heather. Hmmm, someone with the same name as me - it has to be good! LOL!

I too, fell in love with her cute little wood house charms. Lately, I have been finding so many "blank canvases" so to speak for my wood burning work. I promptly ordered her DIY kit of 4 houses. Here is the first little wood house I decorated with the wood burner, now for sale in my Loose Feathers shop. I can't wait to play with the rest of them! I'll probably try my hand at decoupaging some of them as well for my own use. Let me know what you think of them with wood burning though, so I know if I should make some more or not....

Monday, October 26, 2009


I had such a productive weekend! It was fabulous! I spent both days in my house in my pajamas. I really felt I needed it - to regroup physically and emotionally. I really enjoyed padding around the house from one thing to the next. I just did whatever I wanted to do. House work is so much more enjoyable when you don't feel pressured! I got caught up on laundry and a bit of cleaning. Then I'd do a little beading, a little wood burning, drink some tea, organize more of my new metal working tools, take pictures, list things, blog, submit to magazines.

Another busy week is in full swing, but I just listed these 2 necklaces while I had the chance!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wood Shop - Reloaded

I've added some new items to Loose Feathers, my wood shop on Etsy. Something about the cooler weather made me want to pick up the wood burner again - not the mention I've been neglecting that part of my business for a while. It was warm and the smell of the burning wood was nice. I just let me mind wander and create things without pressure.

First up, pumpkins - perfect for the Fall harvest!
Next, I made some owl designs on some round beads - kinda tricky, but fun!
My friend Kristen gave me these butterfly components. They were already a pale yellow with a green design on them, but I figured I could add a little more pizazz to them with the wood burner.
Finally, I found this bee and dragonfly while doing some cleaning. They are a bit larger then my usual pieces, so I had the idea to put some text on them. I looked up some appropriate poems and away I went.
The butterflies, bee and dragonfly do not have holes in them. I thought it best that the purchaser tell me where they would like the holes. That way, they can string them in whatever way they imagine.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tea for Two

There are two things you need to know about me:

1. I love tea! I drink a lot of it on a daily basis. I like it hot or cold, sweet or unsweet, different flavors, etc..... My everyday favorite is Tazo Zen green tea. Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a Starbucks now and again but I know it's not something I can't drink all the time because I like it loaded up with chocolate and cream and sugar and OMG the calories!

2. I love upcycling things into jewelry. It excites me so! Over the past year or so I have used materials such as: old car paint cabs, men's ties, spoons, pennies, old watches & bands, keys and buttons.

So when I was paging through the book Amulets and Talismans by Robert Dancik, I was super thrilled to see the pendant he made from a tea strainer! You see, about a year ago I ran across these metal mesh tea strainers in a dollar bin at a discount store. I bought 2 of them - one for home and one for work - and was looking forward to using them in place of the spoon that I usually use to remove my tea bag once it has brewed. Unfortunately, I don't know if it was all just in my head or what, but the strainers definitely changed the taste of my tea. I don't know how to explain it..... So I was bummed that they ended up sitting in a drawer unused. But hey, now I could turn them into a unique necklace!

I made mine a bit different than Robert did. You see, he used the strainer in it's entirety (both halves) but I thought that made for quite a large bauble! So I only used one half per necklace so that I could make 2 of them!
Once I disassembled them, I did create the patina on the mesh like he did with a torch. Another difference is that his have dangles coming out the bottom but mine do not.
I loaded the dome with the sparkliest beads I had so they would show through. To hold them all in, I attached a Vintaj brass filigree plate to the back. I had some beaded beads that seemed to match the same coloring the patina was so I used them as a little accent on top. This necklace is very modern and quite the conversation piece (I have already worn one - the other is listed on Etsy).
So a few weeks after I was inspired by the idea, I ran across these sweet heart shaped strainers at the grocery store! These are a more solid metal with tiny holes in them. I immediately knew I could sew beads into the holes - 112 per heart to be exact! I knew I wanted something that would really show up against the shiny silver so I got 2mm Swarovski rounds in bright fuchsia and red.
Once I got done attaching all the beads, I lined the inside with black velvet so it can be functional as a locket. The wearer can put special little things inside if they wish.
They are such intricate focals, that I thought it best to just put them on a simple chain. There is one of these listed on Etsy as well.

Both of these necklaces are long (on 30 inch chains) so they are very comfortable to wear and you can look down to see and touch them. It is also a nice length to be able to show them to people - you can actually pull it away from your body a bit so they can get a closer look.

These were really fun for me to make and I know there will be more on the way. I can't wait to see what interesting thing I will find to upcycle next!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegas - 8 years later

Last week, I went to Las Vegas for the second time in my life. I was there Wednesday through Sunday. The main reason for the trip was to attend some meetings for work on Thursday and Friday. But it was also the perfect opportunity to invite my Mom to meet me there to spend some time together. Since I no longer live in my home state, we miss our girl time......

The first time I had ever been to Vegas was with my Mom also - about 8 years ago. She had driven my Grandpa out there, since he is afraid to fly, and my Grandma and I flew out to meet them there.

I couldn't believe how much it had stayed the same, yet changed. There were many more new hotels since I had been there and I can't remember what was imploded down for the space. Right next to where we stayed - the Monte Carlo - there is a huge complex going up called The City Center. There are multiple towers (hotels and condos) and a shopping center. When I had first been out there, I was not married yet (although close to it). So it was interesting for me to be there now that I have grown and matured so much. I am not really a gambler, so I can't even say that I put so much as a quarter in the slots. But what I love about Vegas is the shows, the wonderful restaurants, the shopping, and the beauty of some of the hotels.

Here is a picture of Mom and I at dinner on Friday night. We ate at the Eiffel Tower restaurant at the Paris hotel. Then we were off to see Cirque du Soleil present The Beetles, Love at the Mirage.
This is the view from our dinner table at the Eiffel Tower restaurant. I love the fountains at the Bellagio!

On Saturday, we went to the Bellagio for breakfast and to see their gardens. Here is a mini Bellagio display they had in the gardens.
They had the gardens decorated for Fall - it was so beautiful! It even smelled like Fall in there. We think they must have scents come in through the vents! Even in 90 degree weather, Fall can be created in Vegas!!!

Gorgeous glass lights in the entry to the Bellagio - I can't recall the artist, I will have to look it up.

On Saturday night, we saw Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian.

The shows we saw were wonderful! The food we ate was great! We really enjoyed ourselves, but man, does that city take a lot out of a person! We did so much walking I don't know if my legs and feet will ever be the same! At least I walked off all that rich food I ate!

Now it's back to reality, and trying to get back into a routine. As much as Vegas and I have both changed in the past 8 years, it is still a place the makes you forget about reality. I guess that means Vegas is doing what it is supposed to be doing!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

So Hard to Say Goodbye

I just listed 3 new Fall necklaces on Etsy and I must say, I am quite fond of them. To think that I am offering up these sweet little creatures (owl, squirrel and bird) and that I might have to say goodbye to them is a bit sad.

Here is a funky owl made from a Vintaj brass branch, a Wisdom ceramic bead from Diane Hawkey, and a polymer clay owl head from Quirky Corn Crib.
This polymer clay squirrel from Humblebeads has gathered 3 acorns for the season: a polymer clay one from Humblebeads, one I made with an Elaine Ray ceramic bead cap and metal bead, and one I made with a wood bead with copper accents.
This off center polymer clay bird from Humblebeads sits happily amongst bright fall colors!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Opalicious October Sale

I LOVE opals. All different kinds and colors of opals. And since it is the birthstone for October, I've decided to have a SALE and take 25% off any piece in my Etsy shop that has opals in it. Heck, even pacific opal Swarovski crystals count!
I will be cleaning up my shop a bit this weekend..... swapping older pieces out for new ones. I will be taking the older ones to the Art Center for the upcoming Holly Mart so that new sets of eyes can browse them and perhaps fall in love with them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Into A Routine

Since my husband started back at school in September, I have been trying to dedicate Tuesday and Wednesday nights to beading while he is in class. It has been working out well, but I was finding that my studio was such a mess that I wasn't getting anything done. I'd jump from one project to the next if I hit a creative road block or else get distracted looking at something for too long. So last Friday night, I cleaned and organized my studio to the wonderful state it is in now. My time in there has been more enjoyable, instead of feeling like a crazy person pressuring myself to get something done, get something done, get something done. While cleaning, I realized that it's been about a year since I setup my spare bedroom studio.

Above is a necklace I made to match a new top I got. It is simple - wire wrapped carnelian and crystals with a Tim Holtz key. I wore this combo to work this week.

So, we'll see what I get done tonight. I am already feeling the holiday pressure - the Art Center is starting to take work next week already for their annual Holly Mart sale that starts November 1st and goes through the holidays. I have to get them some stock and start thinking of gifts for my friends and family. I also have some magazine submissions in mind - wow, it's hard to think that it's something I might not see in print until next Summer! And, I have been toying around with the idea of shopping my wood components and/or etched pieces to a local bead shop. They don't carry anything like it. And with the addition of my mixed media jewelry class on Thursday nights in October, that makes 3 beady nights in a row during the week! I can't complain!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jewelry Class

I have wanted to take an art class for some time now. I used to take a lot of them when I was younger - painting comes to mind first. In high school I did pottery and photography. And then when I started beading I took a few classes to learn the various stitches. While getting my accounting degree, I always said I would take a fun class once I was done. I finally am following through with that! Last Thursday was the first of 4 sessions on mixed media jewelry at The Art Center of Battle Creek (I have been involved with them since moving here) - here is the description.

Mixed Media Jewelry: Cold Connections

Explore various cold connection techniques for found and other mixed media objects. Basic metal working techniques will be covered in this beginner to intermediate class. This is a great class for mixed media artists or those who may have a special object they would like to incorporate into a beautiful wearable piece of art. Bring found or special objects to incorporate into jewelry pieces.

My good friend Kristen is taking it with me. She and I have all sorts of fun scrapbooking or making jewelry together, and were each others running partners for our first 5K this year. The first technique we learned was how to connect 2 metal pieces with a rivet. Our teacher told us not to worry about making anything usable, but rather just learn how to do it. We both knew that would be difficult for us. I mean, why make something that you are not going to use? But I am trying to get better at the learning process and understanding this.
I have never been a patient person. The reason I mentioned the painting class earlier is because I have a very specific memory about it. I'd have to say I was maybe 12. I was enthralled with watching Bob Ross on PBS. Remember him? He made it look so easy. I was mesmerized watching him "tap" in his realistic looking trees. So when I went to the class, I figured I was already going to be an expert at this. I quickly filled my canvas with my interpretation of his mountain/waterfall/tree scenes. Of course, it looked nothing close to his but I was excited about it. When the teacher came over and said, "That's a good start" I was heartbroken. I wanted to take that canvas home with me THAT DAY! Too funny.
Of course, Kristen and I still cut out metal into some sort of shape that maybe we'd use. It's funny how alike we think because we both thought about the rivets becoming eyes in some sort of animal. Here is what I made below - my camera was acting up and didn't want to take a very good picture. It's some sort of owl / cat / dog thing I guess, depending on how else I embellish it. I guess we'll see what we learn this week.
It was fun to work with metal again and at the end of the course we should have a completed project. This too is bothering us because we have no idea what to make. It's nice to have that kind of freedom, but in some way I wish the teacher would have a specific project that we could make it to our own specifications to guarantee actually completing and having something to show for it.
To get our inspiration up, I asked Kristen if she wanted to come over to etch some copper that we may or may not want to use in our projects. She had not tried etching before. I already had some copper, the ink, the solutions, files, steel wool, a metal letter stamp set. But we also felt compelled to go shopping to add to our metal workshop after seeing some of the tools we used in class. We went to good ole' Harbor Freight. I usually do not like purposefully buying cheap things from China, but since we were just starting out and not sure how far we would go with this, it's a good place to not blow your budget. We got hobby saws, tiny round files (for the holes), a metal punch (now my hubby is free from my drilling requests). We had a fun day and here are the pieces I made. I tried etching a Vintaj brass blank for the first time!

I am curious to see where this journey takes me. I still have a few things on my shopping list:

a better hammer

the brass tubing to make the rivets (Hobby Lobby was out of it)

an engraving pen (the one I bought didn't work so I have to return it)

the dappling set at Harbor Freight was very tempting..........

As always, I will continue to share as I go along!