Friday, November 30, 2012

Beaded Bead Holiday Earrings

These started with some large (24 mm) silver colored filigree beads - I had purchased these for enameling, but I have hundreds of them! Hundreds! I'll never enamel them all - so I started to think ... what ELSE can I do with these beads?

I grabbed some Fireline, and doubled it, worried that the sharp edges of the holes on these metal beads would cut the thread.

I grabbed some seed beads, and started playing, weaving in and out of the holes.

It took several tries before I found a pattern I liked:

They were supposed to look like peppermints, but by the time I finished, and added a Swarovski crystal dangle at the bottom, they look like Christmas tops!

I gave these to Sonya this morning as her Christmas gift - I think she likes them!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Felted Vessel

This has been on my "To Do" list for months and months - about 18 months, to be exact.

My first felted vessel -not quite finished yet; I still need to embellish it!

I discovered felted vessels on Facebook, when I saw the work of the talented Shirley Cook. Her work is absolutely stunning, and I own several of her gorgeous vessels, which I purchased through her Etsy Shop.

One of Shirley's incredible vessels (I own this one!)

After purchasing my second one, I was so intrigued (Shirley adds lots of beautiful bead embellishment to her work) that I decided I really want to try wet felting.

I bought some books, watched some YouTube videos, and started buying the supplies I thought I would need - roving, vinyl (for the resist), tulle, embellishments, and so, so much more - have you noticed that every new hobby you want to get into involves lots of STUFF?

Fast forward 18 months: All my accumulated felting stuff is sitting in a huge box on the bedroom floor, gathering a nice thick layer of dust. Fortunately, none of the roving and other yarny type embellishments had even been opened, so they were safe from the dust! I truly wanted to try felting, but to be honest, I was terribly intimidated by it.

From watching the felting videos, I had the impression that once I got the felted wet, it was a race against the clock, and if I didn't do every step correctly, I would end up with a wet, gooey blob.

I finally set a deadline - I was GOING to do this, Thanksgiving weekend. I had a stretch of 6 uninterrupted days off from work (yay!), and nothing else on the agenda.

I studied my books some more, and made notes. Watched the YouTube videos again, made more notes. Reviewed my notes, made more notes. As most of you know by now, I'm a bit obsessive...

After I finished my note-taking process, I still had some "burning questions" that were keeping me from just going for it, so I logged in to Facebook and messaged Shirley with my questions - and did I mention, it was about 1PM on Thanksgiving Day? Shirley is so gracious, and imagine my surprise when I checked about an hour later, and Shirley had taken the time to answer all my questions! Thanks, Shirley!

But since it was now 2PM, I decided I didn't want to get started this late in the day, because I was anticipating a I put it off until Friday. Although I *did* tote everything downstairs to the kitchen, scrub all the countertops, and get my work area set up.

Woke up Friday morning, and watched those YouTube videos again. (Terri Pike has some incredible videos on wet felting - a series of 8 or 9 of them, and another set of 6 or 7 just on felting with a resist. Could not have done this without her videos!) My confidence was really shaky on this endeavor! Then I decided to break the process up the same way the videos did - into 7 or 8 separate steps, so I could pause in between (and watch the video for the next step again!)

My iPad was right there with me as I slogged through the process - I watched and rewatched those videos!

Here are some pics of the process:
all my felting supplies (and 3 ceramic dog biscuit containers - a must in my kitchen!)

My designated work area, with the bubble wrap laid down. On top of the dishwasher, right next to the sink - hot water!

Cutting the vinyl resist
I had learned that I needed to allow about 20% for shrinkage, so I did the math, based on the finished size I wanted my vessel to be. This bowl (from my "good china" - the only use the good china was put to on Thanksgiving!) seemed to be the perfect size, allowing for the anticipated shrinkage.

Sharpie circle, traced on the vinyl from my china template

I cut out the vinyl circle, then spent the next ten minutes getting the Sharpie marks off my good china bowl.

The vinyl resist will "resist" the felting process, allowing for the vessel to have a hollow center, rather than be just a flat circle of felt. Interesting, right?

The rovings I picked for my vessel

That striped tube on the counter - the one that looks like a biscotti? It's a raku handle for my vessel. Purchased it in anticipation of this very project, about 2 years ago. I was coordinating my roving colors to go with the raku handle. Stay tuned and learn why this handle will never be attached to my little vessel!

Side 1 - roving plus yarn embellishments

The layers of roving extend about an inch beyond the vinyl template (in all directions) - turns out, this was not enough, but I didn't figure this out until I flipped it over, and couldn't get the overlap to curl back over the vinyl resist. And by that point, I didn't want to pick up all the tiny bits of roving, removing them, and replacing them. So I didn't. Terri recommended a 1-2 inch overhang on her video, but for some reason, the "1" stuck in my head. So 1 inch, it was.

Side 2 - roving plus yarn embellishments

I managed to get the edges from side 1 tucked under the roving on side 2, but it sure would have been easier if I had let them extend further!

The felt is wet, and I haven't yet started to manipulate it

Starting to felt

I'm kneading in the soapy hot water (and burning my fingers) now, and the roving packet is starting to felt. See that pleated-looking edge at the bottom right? That's a big boo-boo. I didn't really comprehend what was going on with the process, and the resist, and I didn't completely push the packet of fibers in to the very edge of the resist, so Side 1 and Side 2 are meeting here at this "pleat", and have actually felted to each other. That is bad.


The wool is felted now, and it is time for fulling, where most of the shrinkage will occur. I have cut a hole in the packet and removed the resist, revealing the hollow center. And there's that pleated boo-boo, at the bottom right.

more fulling

Fulling takes a long time.

All finished - drying upside down on one of my gorgeous Wishon-Harrell handmade canisters

Dried, and ready for embellishing.

Notice how much the colors changed from the wet state to the dry state! And there is my pleated pucker again, this time over at the far left.

I am still going to do some embellishing with beads - but I want to wait until I finish my freeform piece for the Head-to-Head challenge.

So why aren't I going to attach my beautiful raku vessel handle?

1) even though the roving I chose went beautifully with the handle, once I had felted them, the finished piece does NOT match the handle. Interesting lesson.
2) even though I allowed, through some fancy "cyphering" (shout out to Jethro Bodine) for shrinkage, this vessel shrank WAY more than 20%, and is now too small for the handle.

I can cypher good as Jethro!

3) The hole in my vessel - I allowed for shrinkage here, too. But guess what? The hole doesn't shrink. Even Jethro could have told me that! Duh. The wool shrinks - not the empty space I cut in the wool. But I just figured it was a circular hole - and that if the wool shrunk around it, the hole HAD to get smaller. Yeah, I feel kinda dumb right now. Lesson learned. But I sure would like some tips on estimating what size to cut the hole!

On one of her resist videos, Terri Pike says to err on the small side when cutting the hole, because you can always enlarge it later, but you can never make it smaller (I guess Terri isn't onto my hole-shrinkage theory yet). But here's the thing with that - when you cut the hole, you have to "heal" the edges by felting the fibers back together everywhere you cut. And if your hole turns out to be too small after the fulling process, and you decided to go back and enlarge it, can you still heal these edges, or is it too late? Inquiring minds want to know!

4) Even if my vessel matched the handle, and was the perfect size for it, I still don't think I would attach that expensive handle to this vessel with a felted pleat extending 50% of the way around its waistline - although, I am going to desperately try to make that boo-boo look like a design choice, once I start embellishing!

So, there you have it. My first wet felted vessel. I would say, my ONLY felted vessel, except that I spent SO much on the supplies, and have so much left over, that I will feel horribly guilty if I don't use some more more of them up! But it is really an exhausting process. At least I'm not scared of it anymore.

A big shout out to Shirley - thanks for the inspiration and the advice! And also to Terri Pike - I feel like I know you! You spent all day in my kitchen, coaching me on!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tangle Tuesday

As I said last Thursday, one of the many things I wanted to accomplish over the long Holiday weekend (spoiler alert: I did them ALL!) was get back to Zentangling.

I first stumbled onto Zentangling through my Pinterest addiction, fell in love with it, and dove right in. I wanted to create at least one tangle a week, and did OK for awhile, and then got sidetracked (ironically, by my Pinterest addiction!) My last Zentangle was created for Diva Challenge #78 (Auraknot) - I love aura'ing! But that was way back in June! Over 5 months without tangling!

I really wanted to start Tangling again, and 2 things I wanted to try were playing with colors, and tangling without a string. So I guess it is only fitting that I jump back into tangling with Diva Challenge #97: No Strings Attached. Perfect timing, right?

No Strings Attached

"No strings attached" makes it sound like this would be easy, but I found it challenging!

I knew I wanted to start in the middle with something round-ish, so I chose Zenplosion Folds. Then it got tricky for me - I found I really like the semblance of order that strings give me - they define a nice space for me to fill with a tangle, and they keep all the tangles from running into each other - that's a mess just waiting to happen!

In my case, I wanted to fill in behind my Zenplosion with a light, airy tangle, but I think I let it get too close to my Zenplosion - it detracts from my Zenplosion flower!

I also added some Organza lines, and a piece of Tresse, to restore a little bit of order - kind of like those plates with the divided sections: can't let the peas get in the mashed potatoes! Yuck! I found I just really needed a little division between my tangles.

How about you? Strings, or no strings? Which do YOU prefer?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Circular Peyote Earrings

These earrings are each made from 2 circular peyote triangles which were then stitched together. One triangle is large, and the other is slightly smaller - they are joined at the widest part of the earring as you see them hanging in the pic above.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Remnants of Summer

These earrings were made with shells I found on the beach at Daufuskie Island the last time I was there, which was way back in 2007 - way too long ago! I miss the beach!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday Swarovski Earrings

These earrings were designed to go with my Holiday Swarovski Bracelet, particular the double decker pair, which are just screaming to go to a party, in my opinion!

The Holidays are right around the corner!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Coffee-lovers' Earrings

Tigers' eye and fancy beadcaps combine in this cute earrings (and some Czech glass and sterling silver spacers) - some people see coffee, some people see tea. I guess it depends on your perspective!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

The bead shop is closed for a nice, long holiday weekend, and Bailey and I are settled in for a nice, relaxing vacation!

I enjoy a very non-traditional (for most people, anyway) Thanksgiving - I get to stay home with Bailey, in my PJs, doing whatever I want. Whatever! Peace and quiet! I love it!

2 years ago, I brought home wire and a jig, and spent all day Thanksgiving making colored earwires:
 Lots and lots of earwires .... I still have some left, but have sold quite a few! I really enjoy matching the earwires to my earrings!

Last year, I spent the whole long weekend reading.

This year, I am contemplating trying wet felting. I have purchased a couple of gorgeous felted vessels in the past, and am fascinated by them, and by the process, but have absolutely no experience with it.

After I purchased my second vessel, I impulsively bought a few books on the subject, and ALL the supplies I would need to make a vessel. While I DID read the books, I simply piled all the supplies up in a huge box, which sits on top of the cedar chest in my bedroom, covered in layers of dust. The last item I needed for this endeavor was some colorful roving - I ordered it in March, 2011 from an Etsy Seller, and never even opened the package - I just added it to the pile (I swear - I was thinking I would dig into the felting THAT weekend. REALLY!) So it will be exciting to dig into all these goodies! [If I blog it, it will happen....]

I don't want to take home any beads ... and this long weekend seems like the perfect opportunity to try something new. I'll need to re-study up on the process, and I'll photograph my "progress", and we'll see what develops! I skimmed through the books again early this morning, and it turns out I may not have everything I need - I don't think I have any rubber or latex gloves here at the house (they're optional for the process, but since I'm allergic to wool, they are probably not that optional for me!) cause I am not going anywhere near a store this weekend, period.

I hope I can pull all this together this Holiday weekend - it would feel like such an accomplishment. But if nothing else, I will study up on the process, and then grab the few remaining items I need next week, and be all set! But cross your fingers for me - I may have some latex gloves hidden away in the first aid stuff.  Who knows? Gotta go exploring!

I want to get back into Zentangling, too - I have taken WAY too long a break from that! I cannot believe I haven't done any tangling since July 6! [I love that my blog serves as a "diary" of my creative endeavors, and I can look back and see what I was doing at any given time - of course, this has a downside, too: I am quickly reminded about promises to myself that I haven't kept! But that's another story....]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

My freeform beading for the Head-to-Head Challenge is what's on my worktable. It's been there for a couple of weeks, and will be there for many more - It progresses at a seemingly glacial pace - I stitch for 7 or 8 hours, and that equals less than 1 inch of finished piece. Still a long way to go! But I love it.

I truly, truly love it - the beads take on a life of their own, and just go wherever they want. Sometimes that's not good, and I have to do some finagling to make the project veer back towards a wearable shape. But it is really fun!

Sonya and I both want to be surprised by what each other makes for the challenge, so this will probably be my last Wednesday Worktable post for a few weeks. The last post was photoshopped to disguise my work (to protect the innocent?) - and so is this pic, showing my progress as of this morning:

I'm having so much fun playing with the distortion effects in photoshop that I'm taking away from my beading!

This project is so much fun that I would like to take it home for the long holiday weekend, where I have so much uninterrupted quiet time facing me that I might, MIGHT even be able to finish it. But 2 things are stopping me:

1) transporting all the various color-sorted bead soups that I have set-up for the stitching, in their plastic cups with NO LIDS, is problematic. Especially the way I tend to drive: one slamming on of brakes, and their would be beads every-damn-where. No thanks.

2) I am going to run out of the particular Fireline I am using sometime after lunch today, if my stitching schedule holds. I am using 4 lb Fireline for this, which I have to special order (I normally use 6lb). I bought a 30yd spool back when I started the challenge, and I cannot believe it is almost all gone. Part of it was sacrificed to the 2 false starts I got off to - it was too time-consuming to take apart the stitching bead by bead, preserving the Fireline, so I just cut it up and gathered the beads. If I had known how much thread this project would eat, I might not have been so hasty! Now I am waiting for the UPS lady to bring me my new order of Fireline, but it will probably arrive either this Friday (when the shop is closed) or next Monday. So no stitching for me this Holiday weekend!

I'll get back to publishing regular Wednesday Worktable posts once I have a new project on my worktable.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

These earrings are just Peachy!

Sorry - I am really bad at titles. But I love puns!

Gorgeous etched peach-colored lampwork beads with gold dots - love them!

I paired them with some pink and off white freshwater pearls, peach-colored Swarovski crystals, and long, skinny peach-colored stick pearls.

I think they are very dramatic, and I love the mix of textures and shapes!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chandelier Earrings

I picked up these chandelier findings at a show; I love them because they have a contemporary look to them. I am not really into filigree, frou-frou, or big dangly earrings, but these were smallish, and modern looking.

The earring findings were so bold, I decided to go very simple with the dangles - a 4 and 6mm Swarovski crystal on either side, and plain chain in the center.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pearl Dangle Earrings

These earrings are made with Swarovski Pearls and chain - I liked them so much in the mauve that I made a second pair in white.

I like this earring style, because I love for my earrings to have some movement!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wire Crochet Earrings

28g sterling silver wire, freshwater pearls, and Czech glass - these are fun and easy to make. You can make them as full as you like by simply adding more beads, This pair is lightweight, and at the upper limit of the size earring I like to wear.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beads on a Wire

These earrings were so much fun to make - the trick was to get the wire the right length so that the beads were counterbalanced, so the wire moves like a pendulum!

I started with about a 6 inch length of square sterling silver wire. I twisted it with my pin vise, then bent it (I actually did each step side-by-side, if you will, for each earring, so that they would match as closely as possible). I put the gorgeous, handmade, raku-inspired lampwork beads on one end, and formed a loop to hold them. A Bali-style spacer went on the other end. Initially, I had left this end a little too long, and the earrings didn't hang correctly, so I shortened it, and got lucky the second time.

I love the way they swing when worn!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Swarovski Holiday Bling

Perfect for Holiday parties:

Huge 8mm Swarovski cubes in ruby and emerald - capped with rhinestone squaredelles. This bracelet closes with a sterling silver extender, so it will fit most everyone!

Available on Etsy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Head to Head Challenge, Update

Last month I entered into a Head to Head Freeform Beading challenge with my friend Sonya. Today is the day we designated for posting an update, showing our progress.

Yesterday, Sonya and I got to have a (way too brief!) visit, and we talked about this update stuff - we are both a little conflicted about what to reveal, because we both want to be surprised by what the other makes!

Here is the bead that is inspiring our beadwork (some of which must be freeform):

I have drawn up my design on paper and chosen my beads, and I've actually been stitching away for about 5 days (with a couple of false starts thrown in, where I ended up ripping out hours of stitching because it was heading in the wrong direction!). I have been really lucky with timing, in that both times Sonya snuck into the bead shop for a visit, I JUST managed to throw a bead mat over my work and hide it from her. HA!

Here is a fancy distorted photoshopped image of what I have stitched so far:

Come back on December 14 for more fancy Photoshoppery; our big reveal will be January 14!

Don't forget to check out Sonya's Head to Head update!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Metal and WireWork Earrings

For these earrings, I hammered and oxidized some copper discs, punched holes in them, and wired some teal glass seed beads to their fronts. I dangled a chrysocolla rondelle from the bottom of each.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Silver and Copper Chainmaille Bracelet

I call this one "Off-Kilter Celtic"; it is a variation of the Celtic Weave:

The sterling silver rings fit inside the larger copper rings, and smaller copper rings link everything together.

I love mixing metals, and I love the large copper toggle I chose for this bracelet - this one's a keeper. All mine!!

Happy Veteran's Day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Foldformed Copper Cuff

This was a fun cuff to create - the challenge was to get the fold to form at one corner of the cuff, and extend to the opposite side of the cuff:

If you look closely, you can see that there are 2 different textures hammered into the cuff - one on either side of the fold.

With the help of my Sharpie, my paper template, and my vise, I got it right the first time - yay!

The folds are flattened down at the ends of the cuff, so the cuff is more comfortable when worn.

I achieved the beautiful patina through a combination of Liver of Sulfur, buffing with steel wool, and a very long time in the tumbler (about 4 hours).