Monday, September 24, 2012

Have dominoes (and stamps), will travel!

Before I get started, Anna Stern asked a question on my Anatomy of a Spiral post on if there's a way to join two ends of a spiral for a continuous spiral necklace.  I don't know if she'll get my reply.  I get e-mail notifications of all comments, but I don't know if it sends e-mails to people I reply to.  I have a feeling it might not.  Anyway - Anna, I've been thinking about your question, and I think I might know how to do it.  I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I hope I'll be able to do that soon and will post about it here one way or another.  Stay tuned!  (And thank you for your lovely compliments!)

Back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

I've mentioned many times that I'm a member of the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee.  Not only do I get to learn about all different kinds of jewelry making (and other things to do with beads), but I have made quite a number of friends.  That was extremely important because when I moved to Milwaukee from Illinois I only knew one person up here who I met through a Cricut message board (Hi, Jackie!).

A few times a year we have "Bead-Ins" - we all sit around tables and bead all day long.  It's simple but a lot of fun.  During the winter Bead-In, I was sitting with my friend Kat.  She knew that I'm a stamper and scrapper, and she asked if I'd ever worked with dominoes.  She had bought an embellished domino and wanted to learn how to do that or something like it.  Well, stamping on unique objects is right up my alley, so I started listing various things we could do with them.

They're slick, so we'd have to use Staz-On.  She nodded.  To make them more durable, we'd have to seal them.  She said, "Yeah, I've thought about that."  I laughed and said, "What do you need me for, then?"

Well, she determined she did need me and organized a class at her house at the end of March.  I made up a number of samples for her to show people.  Here are a number of them:

Kat took this picture.  Isn't it nice?

You can glue a bail on them for a necklace or glue on a pin back.  You can also drill through it for a key chain or another pendant option, but the one time I tried that I got the drill bit stuck, and Steve was less than pleased.  I'm not allowed to touch the drill anymore.

I had 5 students plus Kat.  Everyone fit around the kitchen table which Kat had covered with a plastic tablecloth and newspaper.  I had written up a bunch of instructions in case they wanted to do this again after the class.  I brought a bunch of my stamps (a small subset of the whole - have you seen my OCD Stamp Index post?), and Kat brought out some of hers.  They seemed to have a good time, and they made some very pretty pieces!

Kat's the one in blue smiling.  She thinks of everything - gloves so hands won't get inky and name tags so everyone knows who everyone is!

A few people couldn't make it to this class, so Kat held another one!  This class happened this past Saturday, and we had eight people plus Kat!  I got there, and newspaper covered everything: the kitchen table as well as both levels of the counter (one side is higher with stools).  As I was setting up I teased Kat that no one sitting at the counter would get anything done - it was nothing but the funnies!  She did that on purpose so there wouldn't be anything depressing like the obits.

This class went as well as the last one - everyone had fun and made at least 4 pieces each.  Kat even had some dominoes that her husband drilled for key chains, along with key rings!

So cute and colorful!

Everyone looks so serious, don't they?  I do wish I had taken more pictures of pieces, but I was a bit busy answering questions, checking on people, cleaning stamps (multiple times for some of them!), and spraying sealant on finished items.  I was able to sneak in a little stamping with some of Kat's very cute stamps!  Kat took pictures, and hopefully I'll get them from her soon.

Thank you, Kat, for holding such wonderful classes in your home!  I truly hope everyone had a great time and will experiment with this technique more, either on dominoes or on other things!

If anyone reading this lives in the Milwaukee/SE Wisconsin/NE Illinois area and wants to have a stamped domino party class, please e-mail me at  I'll give you all the details.  Here's a teaser - any host who finds at least 5 people to come gets her class and kit for free!

If you're going to the Milwaukee Bead Show on October 7th (admission is only $2 and parking is free!), I will have my instructions (nearly 18 pages of content and pictures!) and some domino kits available.  There will even be some pendants for sale.  I'll give 10% off your whole purchase with the code phrase "Stamps are sexy."  Yeah, I know they're not, but I sat here for at least 5 minutes trying to think of something clever and witty and can't come up with anything.  So, "Stamps are sexy" is it!  I want to reward people who read my blog all the way through.  :D

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WYSI (not necessarily) WYG

WYSI-who, now?

My non-geeky readers may never have heard of the term "WYSIWIG" (pronounced WIZ-EE-WIG):  What You See Is What You Get.  There's a Wikipedia entry for it, of course.  There must be a Wikipedia entry for everything.  Yes, yes there is.  Really, now.  But back to WYSIWIG.  The definition given on Wikipedia is:
The term is used in computing to describe a system in which content (text and graphics) displayed onscreen during editing appears in a form closely corresponding to its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product, which might be a printed document, web page, or slide presentation.
This is huge for programmers who create applications in code without seeing what it's going to look like.  You have to compile the program then run it, and if something doesn't look or work right, you have to tweak the program and try again.  Web developers run up against the same thing if they work in straight HTML.

Now my geeky readers are saying, "But, Traci... There are HTML editors that allow websites to be designed while seeing what it's going to look like.  And don't forget what you, yourself, programmed in for many years - Visual Basic.  You designed the screens in a WYSIWYG environment.  Hell, this blog is written in an editor where you can see the pictures along with the text.  Isn't that pretty much WYSIWYG?"

Yes, geeky readers, that is correct.  Not all of it can be done that way in HTML editors, though.  They don't always interpret things correctly, and when you display the page sometimes there's way too much space between paragraphs or not enough.  It works most of the time, and going into the code to tweak is a lot better than writing everything from scratch.

There's a whole bunch of information in that Wikipedia article - history, etymology, problems of implementation, and related acronyms.  Ooh!  A link for comparisons of HTML editors!  brb

Oh, it's just a bunch of charts listing features of quite a big list of editors.  Something for me to look into, though, because the HTML editor I've been using irritates me sometimes.

I should point out here - for those of you who don't know me past the crafts - I was a programmer for many years and now develop the website for my business (Creative Pursuits) and the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee.  That reminds me... I need to add upcoming show information to my business website!  Lots to do!

Now all my readers must be asking, "What on earth does WYSIwhateveryousaid have to do with beading or scrapbooking or anything that you usually talk about?"

Well, nothing in the very literal sense.  (Also see  Check out the recipes.)  But I was reminded of it recently when I went to bead.

On August 26, 2011 I purchased orange Delica seed beads (DB744, Matte Transparent Orange) because I was going to make sushi California rolls out of polymer clay and wanted beads around the edges for the flying fish eggs (Tobiko).  When I went to make them, though, the beads turned out to be too large.  I found orange microbeads that worked perfectly:

I made a bunch of things with these California roll slices.  The rings are available on Etsy if you're interested.

Okay, polymer clay is definitely WYSIWYG, but that's not what I'm here to discuss.  It's those orange Delicas I bought over a year ago.

Orange is not my favorite color.  Orange is possibly my least favorite color.  I'm not fond of yellow, gold, or brown, either.  Those are all colors Steve likes (depending on the shade of orange, he says).  Decorating in our house is always fun.

So what am I going to do with these very bright, nearly glowing beads?  Look at 'em:

Makes my Transitions lenses darken.

They're really only good for one thing.  Halloween.  So I designed a Jack O' Lantern to wrap around the skeleton keys from my "Tubed Key, or Not Tubed Key?" design (that link is to Etsy, not Wikipedia this time).

Now we get to the point of the post.  (finally)  Those glowing orange beads cease to glow when they're on their own.  You can kind of see it around the edges of the pile, but when they're stitched you can really see the difference:

I will admit that I used a black thread (Smoke Fireline, to be exact) which will darken it a little, but even just separating beads from the pile made them look so much darker.  I guess the word "transparent" in the name of the color should have been a clue, huh?

There's another acronym I just found that describes seed bead shopping:  WYSYHYG.  What You See You Hope You Get.  There have been many times that I look at a tube of beads and absolutely love the color, but when I bring them home and start using them I find that they're either too light, too dark, too close to another color, or flat out not the same color as in the store.

You just can't always tell.  Why is there so much of a difference?

Part of it is the lighting in the store.  Most of them use florescent lighting, and colors won't look the same as they will outside in sunlight or the lighting in your own home.  Florescent is cheap, so we can't blame them (much).  Many stores don't mind if you take beads over to the window to see better how they look "sans florescent", but that's not foolproof.  Maybe you can take the beads outside if you give them your wallet, phone, or child as collateral.  Don't offer your husband.  If your husband is as great as mine is, they might not give him back!  If the store has an Ott light or other natural light, that's the best way to tell what the true color is.  (OttLite doesn't have a Wikipedia entry.  It says, "Did you mean Otte?"  Since that is my last name, I had to click.  I'm not in there yet.  Darn.)

Another reason, at least for seed beads, is that they're all piled up there in their bags or tubes, and the color seems to magnify.  Beads with a bit of transparent in them are most susceptible to this.  Ask the bead store for a head pin or, better yet, bit of beading thread.  It shouldn't be a problem to string a number of the beads onto the pin or thread to see how they're going to look.  I would do this at the counter so they know you're not trying to steal any beads, and there's less of a chance of losing any.  If you're going to use them with other beads, bring those along and put those on a pin or string, too.  Probably best to use a different string so they don't accidentally mingle.  Put the pins/strings next to each other and see if there's really the contrast you thought there would be.

This isn't just for transparent beads.  I bought two different colors of purple peanut beads for my "Shadowed Diamonds" design.  They look completely different in the tubes, but once you get them out and start using them there's very little difference.  I guess I should have known - the color numbers are only one apart.  Once they're stitched they look fine, but if you accidentally mix the beads up, you have quite a hard time separating them.  I know from experience.  Here's the bracelet:

Huh - they look really similar in this picture, too.  If you're interested in the tutorial, here's the Etsy page for the PDF, and a kit with black/white/gray.  If you're interested in the finished bracelet, I have that, too.  :)  I can't do the purples right now, though.  I'm having a problem finding the beads.  I'll have to find other purples that will look nice and be easier to separate.

Or it could be bling frenzy.  We're so blinded by the shiny objects (Really?  "shiny objects" redirects to "SpongeBob Square Pants: Battle for Bikini Bottom?"  That's ridiculous.  Oh.  It's a video game in which shiny objects are the game's currency.  Still...) that the color isn't easily detectable.  This is a hazard primarily with Swarovski crystals, especially the AB or ABx2.  The light reflects off of those facets, and we lose all control and buy two or three packages of each color we see.

Okay.  That last one isn't completely true.  But the first two are - lighting and grouping.  See what you can do to see how the beads will actually look, and you'll do just fine.

Back to the orange beads.  I wanted to use them all up, so I made a bunch of embellished bead tubes, ala "Tubed Key, or Not Tubed Key?".  I made a necklace and earrings:

I showed this to Kim who is the owner of Knot Just Beads, the store where I taught the "Tubed Key" class this past Saturday.  She loved it and said I needed to design a whole series of holiday patterns for the keys to sell at the Milwaukee Bead Show which is coming up October 7th.  I've already come up with quite a number of patterns and have stitched one of them - an Easter egg - and will be stitching up each of them as examples.

So since I used up all but 10 of my orange Delicas...  I bought another package as well as other colors perfect for holidays and seasons that I didn't already have: red, blue, green, pink, and a few fall colors.  I skipped yellow, though.  A girl's got to have her standards.

This blog post was brought to you by the letter W for Wikipedia.  Whatever did we do without Wikipedia? (Yes, each one of those is a separate Wikipedia link, including the question mark.  "did" and "without" are a little sparse, but there are actual pages for them.  I'm a getting a little loopy now and Steve is verbally poking me to be finished.  Time for bed!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

My quote book

Almost a month ago I mentioned my quote book, and I said I would post about it more soon.  Well, with everything that's been going on and with all of the things I wanted to post about, I nearly forgot!  Then as I started writing this post, I could have sworn that I have posted about it before.  I remember my cousin Dawn telling me I should make two - one for her, too.  Maybe that was on Facebook, though, because I couldn't find it.  I looked through my list of posts, skimmed through a number of them, and asked Steve.  So if this seems familiar to you... so sorry!  Hopefully this version will be more interesting.  :D

I'm always fascinated by quotes and poems.  They can be uplifting, inspiring, funny, and motivating.  And they can touch something deep inside you.  I have at least one published book of quotes (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, I think?).  I even typed up a number of quotes, cut them out in strips, and put them in a box where I can pull one out from time to time:

Anyone who looks inside will get a nice surprise!

I was starting to amass too many quotes, though, so I decided to get a book I could put them in.  Another thing I'm very fond of is blank books.  I have a whole box of failed diaries, books for my poems, sketches, and just blank books.  I love blank books.  I don't remember when or where I found this particular book, but I loved it.  The leather was soft, and there was a flap that folded over the top with a leather strip that wrapped around and could be tucked in to keep the book closed.

I happily started writing my quotes in (with a purple pen, of course):

And then....disaster struck.

He looks so harmless, doesn't he?  Caegal, the Pomeranian I had when I was with Dave (this is over 10 years ago, I should mention), loves to get into things he's not supposed to:

We had to take him to the animal hospital once because he got into a closed pillbox of diet pills.  He chews through bags and packages to get to bread (that loaf of bread plus a Ziploc bag of dinner rolls that he had to climb to get to) and chocolate, he loves rummaging around in bathroom garbages and litter boxes, and... he loves leather.  Shoes, purses, and my poor quote book:

He's lucky he's so cute.

Well, eventually Dave moved out, taking Caegal with him, and all my leather products (and my food and my cats...) were safe.

I had this book out to take pictures of it, and Steve said, "What's this?"  I told him it was my first quote book, and he said, "It's been Caegaled?"  He knows Caegal all too well.  We watched him once, and it was quite a dance we had making sure the cats could get to their litter boxes but Caegal could not.  It was like the movie "The Others" - we had to close one door and make sure it was secure before opening the next door.  We had gates up with chairs on either side so the older (and the fat) cats could navigate through the house.  I love the pup, but it was exhausting!

It took me quite a while to find a replacement for this book.  Truth to tell, I wasn't looking all that hard.

Whenever I'm in a bookstore I like to look at the blank books.  They have come out with so many beautiful books that it's difficult for me to not get one every time I look.  This particular day in 2006, though, I was not so strong.

The picture on the left is the front, and the one on the right is the back.

Yes, it's mostly gold, but something about it spoke to me.  (I usually cringe when I see gold things.)  As I mentioned when I posted about the book a month ago, it has a quote on the spine:  "The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears."  The quote is from John Vance Cheney.  I had to look that up - it wasn't on the book at all.  I find that odd.  Anyway.  The the image is a self portrait of Laurel Burch, and I think it's stunning, especially paired with that quote.  It's a PaperBlanks book, and all of their books are beautiful and well made.  There's a magnet embedded in the book and the flap, so when it's closed it stays closed.

Instead of just writing the quotes in like I did in the first book, I decided to make the book a work of "art" on the inside like it is on the outside:

Not everything is motivational, of course.  :)  This one is one of those that speaks to my heart.  I bordered it with heart stamps to tie in with the theme of the poem.

On these pages I stamped a harlequin pattern in the middle of each page, sponged the same color around the edges, stamped some flowers in the corners, and wrote the quotes large, emphasizing a word on each.

Since I love quotes, I tend to get quote stamps, too.  These pages are simple, but possibly my favorites.  I sponged blue around the edges and stamped flowers above and below each of the quotes.

Not all of the pages have just one quote per page:

If I'm feeling ambitious I'll stamp the first letter of the quote and stamp a border in between.  This one also has borders stamped in the corners.

Even if you don't stamp, you can do something similar for your own quote or poem book.  Use different color pens for the first letters and make them large and add a doodle border in between and in various places on the page.  Do whatever makes you happy, and you can have your own book of quotes and poems that are meaningful to you.  You can start with the ones on these pages if you'd like.