Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Whew! Finally finished!

You know that green tubular peyote necklace I've been talking about?  Well, some of you are new readers, so you probably don't know.  I've been working on a necklace to go with my first beaded bezel (referenced in this blog post here).

Well, I finally finished the necklace!  It could have been a bit longer, but I gotta tell you... I was so sick of doing it!  If I lose weight, the necklace will end up longer.  I get chided all the time for saying I have a fat neck, but when you're beading a necklace every fat cell seems to count!  :)

Here's a close up of part of the necklace and the bail:

If you're staring at the bail trying to figure out what I did... it's "odd count" peyote with two beads for the middle instead of one.  Since the darker beads are so much smaller than the green beads, there was too much flopping about (that's the technical term, you know) of the middle bead, so I added another.  I think it turned out quite well, especially since I had no idea what I was doing and didn't feel like getting up to find a book or magazine to look odd count peyote up.  Yeah, I know, if I had gotten up and looked for a book, that would have burned off a few fat cells, and the necklace would hang lower.  Don't remind me!

Here's a picture of me with the necklace so you can get a sense of how short it is:

The shelf above my desk is the perfect height for self portraits!  Who knew?  Just turn on the timer and go!  Of course, I didn't realize I had something in my teeth for the first go-round, and Simoon was wandering around my desk for the second set.  Scoot back a bit to reduce flash glare on the glasses, shoo the cat off of the desk, and voila!  Beauteous picture.

I'd like to thank Cindy Collins not only for teaching me how to bezel but also for giving me this gorgeous polymer clay piece to work with!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The importance of handwriting

Ever since I made my Mom's altered book (blog posts about this are here: #1, #2, #3, and #4) I have had something on my mind that I've been wanting to share with you:  how important your handwriting is in your scrapbooking.

I talked about this when I taught scrapbooking classes, and whenever I scrap in a group it always seems to come up.  We all know that journaling is important so people who see our pages will know what happened, when it happened, who was there, where "there" is, and maybe even our feelings about what went on.  Now I realize that the "casual" viewer will not read all of the journaling, but your family members will.  (My mother and Steve's mother read every word!)

It's for those family members that I'd like to urge you to use your own handwriting in your journaling.  Not for every page - just for some of them.  Have your husband journal a few, and definitely have your children jot some notes down here and there so you can see the changes in their writing over time.

Why has this been on my mind?  When I was looking for material for my Mom's altered book - cards, postcards, etc... - I also found cards, postcards, etc.. from my Mom's Mom (I called her Omi).  She has been gone for nearly 8 years, and as soon as I see a bit of her handwriting, her voice echoes in my head and who she was comes rushing into me.  Yeah, that's a bit melodramatic, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

My mother and her family came to the United States from Germany in 1957 (my mother was 15) and eventually settled in North Chicago, Illinois (this is a separate city from Chicago just north of Waukegan).  As far as I know, my grandmother never had any formal English lessons, but she loved game shows, word search puzzles, crossword puzzles, and All My Children.  :)  While her English wasn't perfect, she did quite well.  She never lost her accent, and I can hear it when I read her words.

I'll give you just a few examples.  The first is from a birthday card she sent me when I was unemployed.  You can start to get the sense of the kind of woman she was - loving but quite straightforward:

Every time I see this card I can't help but laugh.

The other example is just a note asking me to pick up a few things at the store for her.  I'm not sure why I kept it but probably because it's "quintessential Omi":

So save cards and notes from your loved ones, write out your journaling, and encourage your family members to give you their thoughts from time to time.  Your grandchildren will thank you!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I am SUCH a geek!

My husband's company has a picnic at the Milwaukee County Zoo every year.  In the packet with the tickets were blank "Hello my name is" name tags.  When I saw those I got very excited.  I was going to stamp our names on them, but Steve suggested I use my Cricut.  He thought I would use a pen to draw our names on them, but I decided to cut our names and a few shapes out of paper:

We had a great time at the picnic, serving beverages to other Kalmbachians for an hour, and walking around the zoo.  And, I must say, we had the most stylish name tags.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A matched set

Three of the pieces I got at last year's Bead & Button Show were beautiful pendants from Priscilla Marban.  The main component of the pendants is sawdust.  Yup - sawdust.  I can't even describe it... you just have to see it to believe it.  I have gotten so many compliments on these that I made sure to tell everyone where I got them and where her booth was this year.

Two of the pendants sat for a long time - months - until I figured out what I wanted to do.

I hung one of them on 5 strands of mixed purple seed beads.  I used a bead spinner to load 100 inches of beads then had to figure out how to separate them into 5 strands.  It was difficult (I don't think I knew what I was doing), but it's pretty!

For the second pendant I learned the spiral stitch.  It took a number of tries before I got the results I wanted... different stringing materials, the color and size of the core beads....and more.  It was a good experience, and I added about 4 samples to my sample tin.

Once I learned the peyote stitch, my first project was a ring to match this necklace.  Did I start with something easy like a solid color bracelet?  No, of course not.  I just had to make a ring with teeny-tiny seed beads with a pattern and embellishments.  Well, it worked out just fine!

So, after all that chatter:

I planned the focal piece of the ring to match the shapes directly to the left of the ring in the above picture.  The square was made with regular peyote, and the circle was made with circular peyote (big surprise, huh?).  As I did with yesterday's flower ring, here's a picture to show the size:

This ring is a bit bulkier than I'm used to, but it's pretty cute!

The third pendant I got from Priscilla?  It's still sitting there.  I'm having a problem finding something I need at a decent price.  I hate when I get something in my head and can't get it out.  :)

The sawdust pendants are not available on Priscilla's website, but you can contact her at priscillabeads@gmail.com to ask her about them.  She does have quite a number of beads and other pieces available on her site, so feel free to check her out!

This year I bought another sawdust pendant and a few of her decoupage beads.  Ideas are buzzing around in my head already, and I can't wait to see what I can come up with!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cute glass flower project

One of my finds at the Bead&Button Show was a cute black and white glass flower made by Bronwen Heilman.  I met her at the Meet the Teachers event on Wednesday night and really enjoyed talking to her.  I chatted with her throughout the weekend, and during my shopping excursion I wasn't able to get much, but I fell in love with this flower bead.

Over the next few days I thought about how I could best show this cutie off.  It would get lost in a necklace.  Less so in a bracelet, but..... a RING!  I could make a simple peyote band and sew the flower on with a small bead in the center.

In just a short amount of time (one evening that included a lot of chatting with friends and part of another evening that included watching TV and chatting with my husband), I had it:

Here's a picture of the ring on my finger so you can get a sense of how big it is:

The best part of this ring?  The flower turns!  I'm a fidgeter, so this is perfect for me.

Again - this flower was made by Bronwen Heilman at gHosTcOw GlassWorks, and you can check out some of her gorgeous beads and finished jewelry at www.BronwenHeilman.com.  I bet if you contact her she'll tell you how to get one or more of these flowers, either in black and white like mine or in other colors - she had some cute combinations!  If you make a project with these beads, e-mail pictures to me at traciotte@att.net, and I'll post them here.  While you're talking to Bronwen, tell her Traci said hi!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Online resources for jewelry supplies

Claudia64 commented on yesterday's post with a question about purchasing jewelry supplies online for her daughter, and my reply turned out to be way more involved than I thought it would be, so - poof! - it's a blog post.

There are quite a number of online stores for jewelry supplies.  The one that I tend to go to the most when I'm looking for something is Fire Mountain Gems.  They don't have everything, but they have NEARLY everything.  You can search on their website if you know what you want, or you can just browse.  You can sign up to get free catalogs, too.  They come pretty often in the mail - a huge one at least once a year, and littler ones throughout the year.  I would recommend doing that for ideas and inspiration.  Not only do they show their products, but there are also projects, sometimes with step-by-step instructions on how to make the piece.  One warning, though - if you sign up for their e-mails, you will get something nearly every day.  While this is good to know about their sales and for further inspiration, it's dangerous for your checkbook.  I have my e-mails from them go to my Yahoo e-mail that I don't check but once a month or two.

Another good site is Consumer Crafts  They don't have as much as Fire Mountain Gems, but they have some pretty decent sales.  Right now they have one for jewelry supplies - June is Jewelry Month, they say.  Free shipping and 20% off on orders of $100 or more, and up to 75% off on selected beads, kits, tools, and storage.  There's a promo code (Jewelry10), so don't forget to use that!  Wow... if I had some extra money, I think I'd take advantage of this sale!

A surprising source is Oriental Trading Company.  I started getting their catalogs for cheap Halloween toys for trick-or-treating.  I prefer to do that rather than give candy.  The kids seem to like it.  In the last few years, though, they've expanded their product lines into crafts and jewelry supplies.  Their stuff isn't as "nice" as the other sites, but in just a minute of looking around I found some cute cocktail lampwork glass beads.  My warning here is to be careful what you buy.  The materials might not be as good as you'd get elsewhere.  However, if you want to have a "jewelry making party" for young girls (3-5 years old or so), this is definitely the site to get your beads and supplies.  Oooh... I just found some alien lampwork glass beads that are pretty adorable.

For supplies and books, I've been using Amazon a lot.  Fireline is very good for bead stitching, and I've found great prices on Amazon.  It's primarily fishing line, but every time I look at it on Amazon the "Customers who bought this item also bought" section always has more beading supplies and books than fishing supplies.

There are many, many more sites out there for general jewelry supplies and information, but these sites should give you some ideas on what's available.

This doesn't even cover the individual artists who make gorgeous pieces in glass, polymer clay, precious metal clay, etc...  That's a post for another day, but if you can't wait, I do have some of these artists and their websites in my Bead&Button Show post from last week.

Oh - one more thing.  Google is your friend.  I just did a search for "jewelry supplies", and there were 112,000,000 results, including some possible stores in my area.

Thanks for the idea, Claudia!  I hope this will give your daughter many more options for her creations, but I hope she won't bleed you dry doing it!  If at all possible, she should have a project in mind before she buys something, instead of just getting something because it's cheap and cute.  I did that, and now I have thousands of beads that "seemed like a good idea at the time".  Now what I try to do is only get beads I know are versatile enough for a multitude projects or those that I absolutely love or have a use for.  Notice I said "try".  :)

I'd love to see pictures of what your daughter has made, Claudia, or what any of my readers have made - jewelry or other crafts.  Send them to me at traciotte@att.net, and I'll post them on my blog!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Steve's first jewelry project

As I mentioned in my last post, Steve purchased a number of items at the Bead&Button Show as a challenge for me.  Since I had never worked with chain and usually have smaller focal pieces, he picked a large art deco-style pendant, chain, crystals, and a few other pieces for me to make a necklace.  Most of the pieces are from Designer's Findings in their "Vintage Reflections" collection.

After I came home from the Show that night, he laid everything out in a few different ways that he had been thinking about.  I offered that he make the necklace, and he surprisingly agreed!  A few nights later (Tuesday, June 15th, if you're keeping track of these things), I sat down with the green tubular peyote necklace that is still nowhere near to being done, and Steve sat down with his purchases, some tools, and a teeny-tiny drill.  The focal piece didn't have holes where he wanted them, so he drilled them!

Here's a picture of him working on the necklace:

One of the "interstitial" pieces:

It's nearly done:

He was working so feverishly that we had to turn down the A/C - you can see his glasses fogging up.  Fe behind him was unimpressed throughout this whole process, but I was very pleased with how fast it was going together and how few questions Steve asked.  In no time the necklace was complete, and I had only added about an inch to my peyote tubular necklace.

I wore the finished piece to lunch on Friday and to a crafty get-together later that night.  Everyone was in agreement that Steve did a phenomenal job on his first jewelry project.  Well, the train guys at lunch didn't say that, but they did look impressed (as impressed as train guys ever look).

You know, the thing about this blog is that I have more pictures taken of myself than I usually allow.  I like to joke that if we ever have children, they won't know what I look like based on my scrapbook pages (I'm hardly ever pictured).  However, now they will know, and they will be able to see all of my fabulous jewelry right after it was made!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The 2010 Bead&Button Show!

Last year I was just a wide-eyed newcomer to the B&B Show. Steve works for Kalmbach, the host of the Show and the publisher of Bead&Button, Bead Style, and Art Jewelry magazines, so he got free tickets. Before we even got into the marketplace, I saw the table for the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee, and I haven't looked back since. I'm now the website coordinator (Webgoddess, even!) for our Society and attend as many of our functions and community projects as I can. I had thought I was too new to be so involved, but it turns out I fit in just fine!

Shopping at the Show last year was awe-inspiring. It's held in a very large room, and there are hundreds of vendors. I hadn't scoped anything out before going, so we just wandered around until my budget and feet were exhausted.

This year was quite a different experience. I took a class on Wednesday and learned that pounding steel wire on a baby anvil was an exhilarating experience, and I look forward to doing more of it! Afterward, Brenda (the President of our Society and the teacher of the class) and Kat (our Vice President of Special Events) and I went to lunch. I hung out for a while until I met up with Cindy (our Vice President of Programming), then we hung out chatting with pretty much everyone and setting up the Loose Bead Society tables. Here's what happened when I let Cindy get a hold of my camera:

We went to the Meet the Teachers event that night, which was a great experience. I talked with a number of people who I would see the rest of the weekend, and I even tried out a few of the Japanese words I know to some teachers who came all the way from Japan.  Here I got Cindy back by making her pose with the longest beaded necklace:

I stayed home on Thursday, but I was not idle in the slightest! I was supposed to work for a vendor on Friday, but they found someone who could work the whole show instead of just one day. I decided that I would use the day to market my new business, and I spent Thursday finishing up the list of vendors I wanted to talk to.

On Friday I headed to the Show after lunch and spent the afternoon on my "marketing campaign".  Some of them seemed interested in talking further, and I will be e-mailing them in about a week so they can get settled after the show.  Others weren't interested, but I still enjoyed chatting with them!  I had dinner with Judy, then I worked at the Loose Bead Society table until the Show closed.

I had "coffee" with Laura Timmons on Saturday morning before heading back up to the LBS table for the morning.  Here's a picture of the table during a lull:

Steve came after my shift was over for us to have lunch and to shop.  He hates this story, but I'm going to tell it anyway because it's so funny.  We had a few display cases out with pieces made by some of our members.  He had forgotten that I had the necklace I made for our wedding on display, and after glancing through the cases he said, "You don't have a piece in here?"  I made him look again, "offended" that he couldn't find it.  He very carefully looked at each piece until.... "Ah, hell."  I said, "Yeah, you should recognize that one!"  He smoothly retorted, "I was gazing into your eyes that day - I wasn't paying attention to your necklace!"  That got a lot of laughs from the ladies present, let me tell you.

The funniest part of this story... when I introduced him to Maggie Roschyk who designed and was wearing the cover necklace for the June 2010 issue of Bead&Button, he said, "Wait - I recognize that necklace, don't I?"  SO not fair!

Wow - this is getting long!  Hope you've stuck with me.  I bought some beautiful beads from Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan, pendants from Priscilla Marban, an adorable glass flower bead from Bronwen Heilman, and a purple heart bead I'd been looking at since Wednesday night from Christi Friesen.  Since I'm not working, I had a limited budget.  There were so many beautiful pieces from so many vendors.... I need to save my pennies for next year!

Steve made some purchases, too.  He's been into challenging me - getting pieces and beads that are different than my usual fare so I will experiment with new things.  He got some wonderful art deco-looking pieces and chain, plus some purple crystals.  Turns out that he thought about the design so much that he made the necklace himself!  Pictures of that will be forthcoming.

Saturday night there was a meeting for the Global Bead Society which is just getting started.  It was a good meeting, and we learned a lot about The Bead Museum which will be the host organization for the Society.  I found out that it's close to Steve's Aunt Lynne and where his Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Jay winter, so we're looking forward to a trip to Arizona!

Sunday I was back at our table for a final shift.  I walked around afterward and said goodbye to the vendors I had chatted with a lot during the weekend.  I'm starting to weed through the pictures I took along with a few other people who gave me CDs of what they took.  I need to get the LBS website updated and send e-mails out to people I talked to, either about my business, the Loose Bead Society, my blog, or just to say hi.

It was an amazing weekend, and I'm so glad I could be involved in so many parts of it and that I met so many wonderful people.  I already can't wait until next year's Show!

Sunday night I made a necklace with Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan's beads so I could wear it to Monday's LBS meeting.  I asked Maggie to take a picture so I could send it to Nikki.  Here it is for you to see, too:

Whew - I think I'm done!  Future blogs will feature the necklace Steve made plus more of my projects, if I can ever get that green tubular peyote necklace done.  I'm over 14", but I still have quite a ways to go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Gypsy-rific transformation

A long, long time ago in a town not-extremely-far-away, a 12 year old girl made a metal toolbox, even though she was scared to death of the rivet machine.  It was Shop class in Junior High, and she was proud of her finished project.  A number of years later it was spray painted (purple, of course):

Yup, you guessed it - that girl was me.  I'm sure your first clue was that the toolbox was painted purple.  Second clue:  It's my blog.  :)

I know I've talked about the Cricut and the Gypsy a fair amount on this blog without any real explanation of what it is, so I thought I'd give you a quick description/demonstration using this toolbox and some purple vinyl Steve got me for Christmas.

The Cricuit is an electronic cutting machine.  You can cut shapes or letters out of paper based on what cartridges you have.  You plug the cartridge in, choose your shapes and what size you want them to be, then cut.

The Gypsy is a hand-held design tool that stores your cartridges and lets you design with any or all of them before you cut.  This is a huge paper saver, as you can plan where on the cutting mat the shapes will cut, and how big they will be.  Before the Gypsy, you had an idea of what the final size will be, but not necessarily how much paper you would need to cut the shapes out.  The Gypsy also lets you see ALL of the Cricut cartridges, not just those you've purchased.  This can be pretty dangerous.   (Oooh... THAT cartridge is cute!  Oh, look - if I had THAT cartridge I could decorate the kitchen!  {Steve got me that one for Christmas, but I have yet to decorate the kitchen.  All in good time!})

Here is a picture of the Gypsy's screen with a cutting mat filled up with shapes and letters:

As you can see, I filled it up pretty well.  If I'd really wanted to, I could have fit a few more shapes on it.  This project uses the following cartridges: Cuttin' Up, Designer's Calendar, George and Basic Shapes, Gypsy Font, Gypsy Wanderings, Gypsy Wanderings, Home Accents, Plantin SchoolBook, and Walk in My Garden.  Whew!  That's a lot.  I wanted a number of different kinds of simple-shaped flowers.

So, after the shapes are placed "just so" on the cutting mat, I plugged the Gypsy into the Cricut and let it cut.  Here's a video of it cutting with a surprise guest appearance:

I sure hope that works. It's my first video!

After the cutting is finished, here's what it looks like:

One thing about the Cricut is that very small pieces tend to not stay put on the mat:

This cut worked well, though, and I was able to get all the shapes plus a few hand-cut negatives onto my toolbox:

I think it's adorable, even if Steve thinks it's perfect for a 12 year old girl.  Yeah, back when I made this in 1983 or 1984 I would have LOVED it, just like I do now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another tangent, but a worthy one

Hi, folks!  Sorry about having another tangent, but I believe this is for a very worthy cause.

One of my friends from high school is part of Waukegan Lighthouse, a group that wants to start a teen drop-in center in our hometown of Waukegan, Illinois.  Pepsi is having a contest where the top 10 ideas will get $50,000 grants.

From their Refresh Everything page:
Our mission is to provide a positive choice for the teens of Waukegan, something that they can take pride in and be themselves.  The center will offer a counseling center, compter lab, tutoring center, workshops, music practice rooms, social area, games room as well as much more. Let the Waukegan Lighthouse provide a beacon for self discovery to help facilitate healthy choices for today and the future.  The center provides services for youth 6th grade thru 12th.

Waukegan is a large town between Chicago and Milwaukee that has been through many ups and downs over the years as industries have changed.  I recently came across a video done last year that nicely sums up what has happened.  It's called Rockegan, and it's about 5 minutes long.

In any town there is a need for teen centers like the Waukegan Lighthouse, but since this is my hometown, of course I'm going to be a bit biased.

Pepsi's Refresh Everything voting is open throughout June, and you can see on the site what the current rank is every day.  As of this writing, Waukegan Lighthouse is ranked 131.  They have a long way to go, and I'm hoping you will check them out and vote every day.