Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another gift album for a baby

Remember that Baobab baby pullover I've been working on?  It's taking a long time, but I'm to the neck shaping portion, so I'm hoping it'll be done soon.  It's bigger than it's supposed to be, so I hope when I'm done that it'll fit the baby.  If not, then I'm prepared to knit a larger size, which will hopefully not take me nearly as long.

In the meantime, Steve made an 8x8 scrapbook that the parents can just add pictures and some journaling to.  He's done this for the other babies born to his coworkers, so he's pretty quick by this time.  I blogged about one in January (you can see that here, but the giveaway is over).

I'm only going to show you a few of the pages to hopefully give you some ideas for gifts or for your own scrapbooks.

Here's the first page introducing the baby:

Embellishments really make the pages easy to put together and are so cute!  Steve found a pack of borders (there was a train right in front, so that was a no-brainer), so many of the pages have borders to give the album a cohesive look:

Steve added some embellishments on top of the borders in the above pages.  That's a good way to use them up, and it makes the borders very cute!

The theme for the next set of pages is "Playtime", and the borders used are cars and trucks:

Here's what Steve did with the train borders:

The embellishment says, "our little MR", which is referring to the baby being a little mister, but "MR" also stands for "Model Railroader", which ties in to what the baby's father does.  I'm hoping there will be pictures of the baby in an engineer's cap and overalls on these pages.

The next two pages are all about the "firsts" - haircut, bath, and tooth:

Steve did some of the pages while I was gone, so I was surprised when I flipped through the finished book and saw this:

He dipped into my scrapbook paper and embellishments!  :)  It's very cute, isn't it?

The final two pages I'll show you are the "Brotherly Love" pages necessary for babies who have older brothers:

Steve used my Quickutz for the letters and hearts, and he made his own border using a pair of fancy scissors.

That's it!  I'll get to work on that sweater so I can show that to you, too!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hand-tooled copper cat design

A year ago or so I was looking through some old things and found one of my art projects.  It was a copper picture of a flower that I made in "Per. 7", so that must have been Junior High.  I only vaguely remember it and have no idea how I got the lovely black color for the background:

I really like it, and since it fits the flower theme of my Creative Pursuits brand, it is on display in my studio.

I never thought about doing anything other than this to a copper sheet (jewelry designing has kept me very busy!), but look what my mother and stepfather gave me for my birthday this past weekend:

Yes, that's right - it's copper!  The piece is an original Sandi Obertin hand-tooled copper design that has been hand-colored using a special enameling technique that Sandi developed.  I called her today to talk about the piece and to tell her I was going to blog about it, and she told me that her metalwork pieces also include clocks and other nature theme wall art.

This piece is perfect for our living room that we painted last year in two different peaches.  It also has a touch of purple (always a big hit for me), and the cat looks a bit like our Pixel:

I had a lovely chat with Sandi and found out that her whole family are artists:  her husband Lynn, her daughters Lisa and Jennifer, and her 11.5 year old grandson!  They sell as a family at farmers markets and art/craft shows.

If you're in the Kenosha area, check the Obertins out at the Kenosha Harbor Market on Saturday, August 30, 2014 and on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9 am to 2 pm.  They'll also be at the UW Parkside Art and Craft Show on November 22, 2014.  Online you can check out some of their items at the Creative Arts by Obertin Etsy shop.

Thanks, Sandi, for letting me blog about your beautiful piece, and thanks to Mom and John for buying it for me so I could blog about it (and to hang in the living room, of course)!  :) 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Making seed bead mixes for the LBS

The bead society I belong to, the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee, frequently gets bead donations from companies, past members, or other jewelry makers in the community.  Sometimes it's just a few beads here and there or a slightly bigger donation, and sometimes it's the entire bead stash (primarily when someone passes away).

I'm sure you can imagine the monumental task of sorting, storing, and figuring out what to do with all of these lovely beads.  Some of the destinations are: community service projects, hands-on programs, and the Bead&Button Show raffle (the "jar 'o beads" and basket of seed bead tubes).

Along with the raffle, we raise money for the society by selling seed bead mixes made with the donated seed beads (and a few larger ones here and there) where there aren't enough to make up a full tube.  That's what I helped with today.

I didn't think to bring my camera, and I didn't think I could blog about this until we were nearly done, but I do have some pictures taken with my iPhone that should give you an idea of what we did.

Kathy (our president and my friend) dumped out bags upon bags of baggies of seed beads.  There must have been a few hundred little bags (or more).  Then we sorted them by main color - all the reds here, the blues there, etc.  Kathy orchestrated the whole thing, using deli containers from the grocery store to dump baggies in - either the solid colors that we sorted or ones that were already mixed but needed changing up.

I dutifully emptied all of the bags she put on my mat:

into the container:

and then stirred it with the cutest little baby spoon so we could see how the mix would look:

Sometimes Kathy would say, "That's good," or she'd toss over a few more baggies to add to the mix.  This one was probably not the best one to photograph because they're all similar colors, but like I said, we were near the end.  This was the last one I did.

Let me show you a few more mixes.  Here's "Bouganvillea", which Kathy assures me is a plant:

Here is "Rock Star":

And here is the one I most had fun with:

There was a tub with all reds and some whites, and we split it up to get two mixes with different looks.  Kathy gave me a bunch of pinks, for something that could be called "That's Amore", but it started looking like bubblegum or something more cutesy.  Suddenly I realized what it reminded me of: Hello Kitty!  I picked out all of the flower beads from the other mix, and this "Hello Kitty" mix was complete.

After three hours of work, this is all we had left:

Imagine this whole table littered with tubs and baggies.  The entire table.  It was a mess.  :)

Kathy estimates we created about thirty mixes.  The names are all really cute:  "Riders on the Storm", "Play Misty for Me", "Judy Blue Eyes", "Shaken, Not Stirred".

She really is quite talented at this whole process.  I don't think I could have come up with some of the mixes she did.  She showed me one with browns and topazes and some gold, and she asked what I thought.  I just looked at her and said, "You're asking me about a brown mix?"  She laughed and said I had a point.  Anything brown and topaz and gold just looks wrong to me.  Not that it is wrong - it's just that I'm very much not fond of those colors so have problems seeing them as pretty.  My husband likes those colors, so I tap him as a resource when necessary.

Anyway - here's the bowl with all of the mixes waiting to be put in tubes:

And here is the same size bowl with all of the empty baggies:

That's an awful lot of baggies.

What do people do with these mixes?  I'm not sure.  I'm sure some of them are strung as is, or they're used for bead embroidery.  I used some for the make 'n take keys I did for the Art Glass and Bead Show in Madison, and I like using them as edgings for my bead embroidery projects.  Anything else I find myself picking the colors I want out of the mix, which really defeats its purpose.  If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment here.

Want to see more of the bead mixes or to pick up one that you saw here?  Come to the Milwaukee Bead Show on October 5th and look for the LBS table!  (While you're there, stop by my table and say hi!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wire doodle bracelet

Last night at the Loose Bead Society program we did a hands-on "wire doodle bracelet" project.  We were each given a leather bracelet blank and brightly colored wire.  The instructions showed how to make a clasp out of wire (which is great for those of us with larger wrists), how to make a number of "doodles", and how to attach them to the bracelet without making more holes.  Basically, we bent the wire into different shapes using pliers and our hands then wrapped the wire around the leather.

After doing the clasp, I made a purple flower (because purple) and put a red swirl on top for the center.  I made a lot of swirls - they were easy - but I also made a few balls, which also were easy and gave this abstract piece some dimension.  I made a few leaves for the flower, and before I knew it, I had practically the whole bracelet covered:

I could still add a little something over there on the right by the clasp.  I had left it open because I didn't want to mess with the clasp mechanism, but another swirl or two wouldn't interfere.

Yes, it looks like a jumble, but I kinda like it.  It's more comfortable to wear than I thought it would be, and there's so much to look at.

The part I liked best about making it was figuring out how to anchor things so they wouldn't stick up.  For the leaves I took a piece of red wire and went through the spiral then diagonally across one of the leaves to hold it down.  In a few places, such as the center of the flower, I threaded the wire through a few of the spirals then wrapped it around the bracelet again.  Here is the non-clasp end of the bracelet with two examples of that:

It was tricky to not kink the wire while threading it through a spiral, but I managed.  The doodle on the right has a black ball in the center of the purple spiral, and it sticks up about a quarter of an inch.

Here's my favorite part of the bracelet:

It's a little ball with the wire wrapped around one and a half times with little spirals on each end.  If I were to do another of these bracelets, I'd like to just have a number of this kind of doodle in different colors.

This was fun, even though my fingers were sore afterward.  I rely on them too much when working with wire.

I think this would be a great project for kids.  A number of people wrote their name in wire, so that would be fun for kids to figure out how to do it and how to attach it to the bracelet.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My artsy interpretation of a Tammy Rae key

In my Bead&Button Show Marketplace day 1 post, I introduced you to Tammy Rae Wolter (of Glass by Tammy Rae), and I showed you the key I bought from her.  Here's what I said about her and the key:
Since I first visited Tammy in her studio (before she moved to Neenah, Wisconsin) about 4 years ago (again, wow), I have wanted one of her keys with a bead on the shaft.  Since it would be an indulgence for me, I've been putting it off.  She posted them again recently on Facebook, and I decided now is the time.  I want to stitch a tube above and below the bead.  I think that would be very pretty.  I wanted a purple bead (of course), but Tammy didn't have any with the colors of purples I was hoping for.  We were about to discuss her making one just for me, then I saw one I fell in love with.  The bead was gorgeous (of course), but what made the decision for me was the shape of the key.  The bead is a purplish color, but there are elements of blue and pink and green, so I have a lot of leeway in what I stitch, and I can't wait to choose my colors.  I'm going to wear it tomorrow so I can match colors as I shop.

Here's the key:

I'm finding it really hard to take a good picture of that bead.  Hopefully some of the other pictures will be better.

True to my word, I wore the key the next day, and Steve and I found the perfect beads to go with it.  When I started stitching, though, I decided I needed a solid pink (which I had - whew!), so this was the lineup for the key and necklace:

The first thing I did was to stitch above and below the key like I wanted to.  The bead has green on the top and bottom, so I paired the green and purple Delicas (the fourth and fifth piles in the above picture) and stitched two peyote tubes.  It was a bit free-form, as I wanted the green to extend out from the bead with little tendrils.  After each tube was done, I took the multicolored and pink 15/0s (the first and second piles in the above picture) and stitched curves on top of the tubes to try to reflect the ribbons of color in Tammy's bead.  I also added some nubs on the top of the top tube and the bottom of the bottom tube for an extra embellishment.  I do that for all my tubed keys.

It's SO hard to take pictures of this!

Anyway, after the key was done, I stared at it for a long time.  Steve told me it was fine, and that made me look at it even harder.  I didn't want "fine", I wanted spectacular.  The thing is that I don't think that my free-form artsy things look good.  Other people's free-form artsy things look great. 

After Steve assured me about a thousand times that it was pretty, I started work on the necklace.  I liked that a lot better.

I stitched a double spiral using all of the beads shown above.  The core beads (the ones in the pile on the right in that picture way up there) matched the key perfectly.  The key has some spots that look gray and some that look a little bit antique gold or brass, and these 8/0 beads have some that look gray and some that look a little bit antique gold or brass.  It's a pity that you don't see more of them in the necklace.

When I started stitching, I wasn't planning on doing a double spiral.  I thought a regular spiral (see my Anatomy of a Spiral post for a refresher on what spirals normally look like) would be just fine, but after a number of rows, I thought it looked a little bland for this key.  I added a second spiral for each row of just seed beads, but instead of going through four core beads I went through five.  If that makes no sense to you, don't worry.  The end result is that it looks a little intertwined, and the 4mm crystals are pushed up a little.  I'm very happy with how it turned out:

To mimic the pink ribbons in Tammy's bead, every fifth row or so the double spiral is all pink for a ribbon of pink throughout the length of the necklace.

When I added the key, I wanted to preserve its shape.  Instead of just having a string of beads on either side or a single bail in the center, I stitched two new spirals off of the original spiral that nestle in the curves of the key:

The trickiest part was keeping everything tight.  I went through each of the cores a few times to make sure the weight of the key wouldn't stretch things out. 

After getting past the second bail, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the necklace:

The necklace is a little over 23" long.  I wish I had bought another strand of crystals so it could have been longer.  I do have some that I'm going to put into a matching bracelet, but there really aren't enough.

Now that it's all together, I love the necklace, and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it.  The pictures really don't do it justice.

Thank you, Tammy, for creating such a beautiful, inspiring key!

If you'd like to check out what Tammy does, go to her website and her Etsy shop!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A few repairs for my Aunt Nancy

This weekend was the Southern family reunion (my dad's side of the family).  Since I couldn't remember how long my aunt likes her bracelets, this was the perfect time to do the repairs she asked me to do a number of months ago.

The first was easy and needed no Nancy-vention:

I don't know if that was the original attachment, but it was clearly not up to the task.  It was just one piece of wire bent up on either side, and it wasn't very sturdy.  With a piece of wire, I made a wrapped loop on either end, trapping the loops of the pendant and the necklace.  It took a few tries to get the length right, but I think it turned out very well:


The second piece was a bracelet where the elastic was breaking down:

I wish I liked elastic, but it gets brittle and breaks, or it starts fraying and breaking like this one:

After measuring my aunt's wrist and discussing that she wanted to keep the style of the bracelet, this is what I came up with during Saturday's picnic:

I'm probably going to remake the dangle with a copper headpin.  That will look better.  I have two beads left over, so I'm going to make earrings.

The third bracelet had no problems, but it was too small.  In fact, it was very beautifully made:

It had a short chain on the end, and Aunt Nancy thought I could just replace it, but then down the line we'd be right back here again.  I remade it using a toggle clasp and adding a few of my rice pearls that perfectly match the white/ivory/whatever ones that were on the bracelet:

The greens are really a lot prettier than how they look here.

It fits her well, and she's thrilled.  Yay!  We also discussed colors for a necklace I'm going to make her, so I can get to work on that.  There's another repair I have to make which will come first, but I won't discuss that until it's done.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Breaking radio silence (and B&B Show class submissions)

Boy, when I take a break, I take a break!  My last post was on July 3rd, exactly five weeks ago.  Since then, much has happened.  We got a new stove, Steve's parents came to visit, I taught a class, two dear friends lost their pets due to old age (one of them was the dog I had with Dave - you can read about him a bit in my quote book post), and much more.

Above it all, though, I haven't been feeling well.  There have been many nights of insomnia and a fair amount of overall pain.  I knew when I stopped writing that I needed to get to work on the Bead&Button Show class submissions (due 8/8/2014 - so early!!), but I didn't feel up to working for long periods of time.  I couldn't stay awake during the day, and I couldn't sleep at night.  Yes, the solution should be to force myself to not nap, then I'd be able to sleep at night, but that doesn't work for me.  The culmination of this was about a week and a half ago when I did not sleep one wink the entire night.  It just about drove me out of my mind, and Steve has been extra extra supportive.  I'm still really tired, but the submissions are done and delivered to Kalmbach, so I have no deadlines looming over me.

I've made a number of things this last five weeks - more than just the class submissions.  I'm looking forward to showing them to you in the coming weeks.  I'm still not going to blog every day, though.  I think that put too much pressure on me.  I am going to try to post at least twice a week like I did at the end of last year.  That seems doable.

The B&B Show class submissions wouldn't have been so hard except that I wanted to submit a bunch of new things, and I didn't have tutorials written for them yet.  That is one of the requirements - they want to see the physical instructions as well as a sample.  That meant a lot of picture taking and editing as well as a lot of writing.

Here are the classes I submitted:

This is Double Decker Daisy, a modified daisy chain bracelet.  I've submitted this one before, and it's the only one out of this group that is a repeat submission.  I really like the movement as it's worn - those flower petals like to flop about like real ones do in the wind.  It uses twin seed beads or Super Duos to add some height.  The full flowers are a bit higher than the "buds" between them.

This one is Quadrille, a modified Right Angle Weave piece using Super Duos, Rizos, and crystals.  I've blogged about it before (this post has another picture of the above bracelet).  Steve thought that my official picture should show the whole bracelet, so he arranged it in a V, and I took a few pictures.  Looking at them on the computer, he said, "It looks like panties."  It must have been all the scalloped edges.  :)  The thing I like about this project is that there are a few different Right Angle Weave techniques in here so you're not doing the same thing over and over again.  Also, the threads between the Super Duo holes are masked with seed beads.  That makes the piece look a bit more ornate.

This is SDN15 - Dino-spine.  I really don't know what the stitch would be.  It's something I made up.  Frequent readers of my blog will recognize this one from many posts (this one is the most recent).  I'm really fond of this picture.  I was going to have all my pieces on white backgrounds, but then Steve remembered the box of petrified wood pieces that my stepfather gave him for possible use on his model railroad layout.  I think that's why he gave it to him.  It looks like a rock, but it's really petrified wood.  This page explains where petrified wood comes from, and there's an example that looks just like the above piece.  This picture not only looks neat, but it also shows the spiky nature of the bracelet really well.

I'm going to miss this bracelet.  One of the things I wanted to get done but didn't was another sample that I could give to Kalmbach so I could keep this one.  I have another one as a sample at Knot Just Beads (that's the class I taught a while ago), and it's not yet time for it to come out of the case.  Also, it doesn't fit me.  Ah, well, I guess I can live without it until October.  ::sniff::

This is Riding the Waves, a spiral rope with a bunch of different kinds of beads.  If it looks slightly familiar, than you must have read this post.  The change is the shell in the middle.  Karen Crown of Lady Crown Glass made that out of glass.  I first met Karen at the AGAB in Madison (you can see her here at the GLOW table), and I watched her make a shell at the Bead&Button Show (you can see her hard at work in this post).  After I knew I could incorporate this shell into my design, I talked with her about including shells in my kits, and I added to the instructions to explain how to do it.  Yay!  My shop page has not been updated to include the shell - hopefully I'll get to that soon.

This is The Ever-Evolving Spiral, a spiral rope technique that uses Super Duos and Rizos.  You may have seen this project here, here, and/or here.  These colors are something else, aren't they?  A friend of mine recommended them as something that would pop off the class catalog page.  She called it "Fiesta".  There's green, orange, pink, and blue.  Wow.

One thing that I found disconcerting while stitching a new sample of this design was that all 8/0 seed beads are not the same size.  That really throws a crimp in my measuring instructions, but I think I have it explained well enough.  This tutorial is so new (I finished it on Tuesday) that it hasn't made it to my shop yet.

The final one is SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids.  Believe it or not, it starts out using the same triangle as the Dino-spine bracelet.  I really wanted this one to fit me, but it was getting late last night when I was finishing it and the instructions up, and it would have taken another 45 minutes to make one more segment so it would be big enough.  ::pout::  Oh, well.  I'll just have to make another one!

I'm planning on making earrings to match this, and I'll add those to the tutorial when I'm ready then put it on my SDN15 shop page.

Huh.  I must really like Super Duos.  Five out of my six submissions use them.  I have many more ideas bubbling around in my insomniatic head, so stay tuned to see what I'm up to next!  In the meantime, what do you think of these designs?  Would you take the classes if they're offered at B&B?