Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have a confession...

Last week I showed you the Ever-Evolving Spiral necklace I made that perfectly matched one of my tops.  If you missed it, you can read about it here or take a peek at this picture:

The colors are great, and it's a great length, right?  Well, the colors are great, but... I'm a fraud!  It was not a great length!

When I was stitching the necklace, I measured a number of times until I reached what I thought was the middle.  Then I figured out how many more teal sections were needed and laid the beads out for them.  Then I stitched until the end and didn't measure when it was all done.  I did test it on my neck, and it seemed fine, but after I added the clasp and wove in the thread, it was too short.  It fit, but it was too tight.

My husband said, "Do you have more of those snap clasps?" then suggested what I was already thinking - add an extender.  I grabbed beading wire, another snap clasp, some clear 6/0 (or so) beads, a few crimp beads, and my trusty Xuron 4 in 1 crimper tool.  In no time at all, I had an extender:

It's a little over 2" long.  Here's how it looks on the necklace:

Of course, this will only work with necklaces that have the same size snap clasp.  Since it's behind the neck, it wouldn't matter if the clasps were different colors.

It wasn't uncomfortable like I thought it would be, but I decided to take apart one end of the necklace and add a few inches to it.  I'll keep the extender around in case I want the necklace a touch longer or if I screw up in my measuring again.  In its spare time it can be a necklace for my turtle:

No, I didn't forget about the tongue twister I promised you.  It's coming.  I'm hoping to have a final project to show you first.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Perfectly matched Ever-Evolving Spiral

I hope you're not sick of the Ever-Evolving Spiral I keep blogging about.  I'm not!  I'm playing with colors and the different thicknesses, and I don't think I can ever get bored of it.

Recently I bought a whole bunch of beads to match a top that needed the perfect jewelry, but that turned out to be more difficult than I thought it was going to be.  I'll show you that and give you a new tongue twister on Tuesday.

I got so frustrated with that project that I thought I'd take a shot at matching another top of mine that needed a necklace:

The sleeves are really long, so I don't need a bracelet.  The neckline is a V, but it's not very deep, so I wanted something that would be thin.  I decided to stitch an Ever-Evolving Spiral using just the first thickness.

I went searching for beads to match, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had the perfect gray, purple, and blue-green/teal/whatever it is (let's call it teal).  I didn't have a good pink for the little spots of it on the top, but that's okay.

Here's the resulting necklace:

I didn't have the perfect color for the core, but a lavender does the job nicely.  Most of the spirals have purple in them, but after every ten I put a splash of the teal.  I got lucky with both the purple and teal beads, finding them in the last few months at various bead society events.

Okay, so we know it's a pretty necklace, but how does it match the top?

Wait, is the necklace there or isn't it?  :)

And here it is on me:

I think it's a great accessory - it complements the top but doesn't overpower the neckline.  I think it'll be versatile, too.  I'm wearing a solid lavender sweater today with a round scoopy neckline.  I'm going to wear the necklace even though there are those spots of teal.

Well, we have my mother's dog while they're on vacation, and she's making noises at me.  I don't know what she wants (it's probably water - I really wish she'd drink on her own), and she's blocking my screen, so I should go.  Come back Tuesday to see that color dilemma and how I solved it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jack O' Lantern tube earrings

Last week I posted about two upcoming events: the Milwaukee Bead Show and classes I'm teaching at Terry's Treasures in King George, Virginia. If you missed that post and would like all the details, click here.

Today I sat down and made a pair of earrings for a class sample.  It was my first time stitching holiday tubes without putting them around a key, and I think they make very cute earrings!

You don't have to rub your eyes... the orange used in the earrings is brighter than the orange used in the pendant key I showed you last week.  I made these earrings using the brighter orange so I'd have samples of both opaque and transparent.

Here's a full-blown Tubed Key, or Not Tubed Key necklace with a Jack O' Lantern pendant using the transparent orange beads:

The difference is really striking.  The transparent orange is all laid back, saying, "Yo, this is what Halloween is all about, man."  The bright orange says, "HALLOWEEN IS COMING!!  I'M SO EXCITED!"

Ahem.  Sorry for all the screaming.

I'm glad I made these earrings and not just because I wanted a class sample and a sample of the bright orange.  While I stitched I made notes of things I want to make sure I don't forget to say in class.  I now don't have to try to remember how long the thread should be, how long the tail thread should be, and all sorts of things.  I'm all set for class!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Trying a new sample organization method

With every jewelry design I develop I have to make samples.  Sometimes there's just one or two, but for some designs there are many samples when I'm playing with color, size, and types of beads.  Some samples I put out for sale at craft/art shows, some of them I wear, and most of them go out at bead shows (such as the Milwaukee Bead Show that's coming up on October 5th).  Some of them never go out, but I want to keep them separate from other jewelry in case I need them.  Over the last few years, I've amassed quite a number of pieces of jewelry that I have to keep track of!

Here is what I've been keeping the samples in:

This box was supposed to be for samples that shouldn't be sold.  This next picture shows a stackable box of samples that could be sold:

And stamped dominoes were stored in a plastic bag:

As you can see, it's a jumbled mess.  That's not even all of it, either, because I had some pieces on my desk and in baggies fresh from Bead&Button Show class jurying.

A few months ago, Michaels had a 50% off scrapbook storage sale, and I picked up another handy-dandy tote with sixteen photo boxes:

Yesterday I finally sat down with this box, my samples, some blank address labels, and a pen and got everything sorted:

Some boxes have just one design, but some house more than one.  Here's a closer look at some of the boxes:

My handwriting isn't the best, so if it works out, then I'll type up labels to make it look prettier.

Here's one of the boxes close up:

There's a lot in this one.  Others have just a few pieces.

The downside to this system is that it's a lot bulkier than the old "system".  It has to be carried separately instead of tossed into a bin or something.  I also can't have anyone but Steve help me put things away, and I'll have to work to maintain it.  However, I think it'll be so much easier for me to find things as I'm putting them out on the table (or looking for something to wear).  I do need to go through and tag items that should have a tag but don't, but this is a good start.

If you have a lot of jewelry to sell and want to keep the designs separate, keep this system in mind.  Even if you don't sell, if you have a lot of jewelry that you've made for yourself, I could see using a box like this to separate colors or types.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two exciting upcoming events

Hi!  I thought I'd have a new beading thing to show you, but it turns out that what I thought was going to be a mini SDN15 - Dino-spine ended up being a different technique for a long Polka Dot beaded bead.  For the "official" instructions for that, the smaller bead, and the Waltz rope, click here.  Oops!

Since that didn't work, I thought today I'd take the opportunity to tell you about two events I have in the next month.

The first one is local to Milwaukee and is the Milwaukee Bead Show hosted by Knot Just Beads on October 5th from 10a - 4p.  This year we're at the Greenfield Community Center (7215 W. Coldspring Road, Greenfield, WI).  That's very close to Knot Just Beads, so if you know where that is, you should be able to find the community center just fine.  Parking is free, and admission is just $2.  There will be a beading lounge for open beading, and there are a number of vendors, including me (Creative Pursuits), Knot Just Beads, friend of the blog Cindy Collins/Beadwork Ingenieur (you have to see her polymer clay pumpkins and other creations!), Funky Hannah's, and more!  There will be concessions there offered by American Legion Auxiliary #416, so come early, get lunch, and stay for the day!

I'll have my tutorials, kits, keys, and some Xuron tools.  I have some new designs from last year, so please stop by and see me!

Just two days later Steve and I will be riding the rails from Chicago to Washington D.C.!  We will be sleeping upright in the train (instead of in a very expensive sleeper car) then touring the sights and a few museums.  We're both very excited by this trip - we never leave for more than a day or two - and we're so happy that my friend Amy will be by every day to poke at the cats and change their water and all the rest.  I hope Frisco (our youngest) will let her see him at least a little so we don't have to worry.

I believe I've mentioned before that Terry's Treasures carries tutorials of my designs.  They're in King George, Virginia, which turns out to be just about an hour away from where we'll be staying in Springfield, Virginia.  I couldn't be so close and not go to see them, so I called and offered to teach a class or two.  They very graciously let me have the entire day on Saturday, October 11th!

I'll be teaching two classes.  The first one will be earrings using my Jack O' Lantern Tubed Key design:

I'll be making a sample pair of earrings, so look for that in an upcoming post!  I'll also be bringing my keys in case anyone is interested.

The best thing about this is that I'll be able to meet Karen (you can see what she did with one of my large tubed key patterns here).  She's been my best customer, and I love corresponding with her!  It'll be so nice to put a face to her name!  She's already signed up for both of my classes.  Thanks, Karen!

The second class is the ever-popular Ever-Evolving Spiral.  We'll cover the bracelet, but they'll have the instructions for the matching necklace:

That's about it!  If you're in the Milwaukee area, come see me at the Milwaukee Bead Show on October 5th, and if you live in Virginia, please take one of my classes at Terry's Treasures on October 11th!  If you live somewhere else but know folks either in Milwaukee or Virginia, please share this blog!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Recipe scrapbook page - Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce

I've blogged before about scrapping family recipes, although it seems I only posted about our German potato salad in More vinegar!  In that post I explain why I think scrapping family recipes is so important, what to keep in mind while scrapping (showing before and after pictures, using your own or a relative's handwriting, and the like), and how important bacon is.  If you haven't read that post (or if you'd like a refresher on all of the above), click here.  I seemed to have been particularly witty that day, so that's worth checking it out if nothing else.

If you're a frequent reader of my blog (or even a pop-in-here-and-there reader), you know that jewelry designing and my business has been my main focus the last few years.  I haven't done any scrapbooking at all, and the events have been piling up.  We're about to go on vacation, so there will be a whole other book that will need to be done.  Steve keeps making comments like, "if we ever scrap again," which upsets me, but I know he's right.  Scrapping means that SO much has to be pulled out, and I have to remember where this punch or that embellishment is (or even if I have any appropriate embellishments).

With beads it seems so much easier.  I typically buy everything I need for a project at the same time, pull anything else out from my extremely organized seed bead center, put it in a pile on my desk or in a baggie, and there it sits until I'm ready to start on it.  I only need a small area on my desk to work, or if I'm going somewhere else to bead, I throw the baggie or pile of bead tubes in my extremely organized bead Caboodle (which can be seen in that same post, and which everyone calls my "magic box").  That's it!  No muss, no fuss.

So Steve has decided to take matters in his own very capable hands.  He has scrapped before, and not just gift albums for new babies (the most recent one can be seen here).

One of our favorite dinners is Kraft's Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce, although we like calling it "Chicken in CREEPY Pan Sauce" or just "Creepy Chicken".  We originally got the recipe from their website and printed it out.  We always have it with cherry/grape tomatoes and basil on top, and it's so good.  After making it dozens of times, the page was grease-spotted and slightly translucent.  Instead of printing out another one, Steve thought it was time it was scrapped - scrapbooked, that is.

He took pictures of each of the steps, including...

gathering all the ingredients together:

frying the chicken:

cutting the tomatoes and basil:

and plating:

That looks so tasty!  There's more sauce that goes on that, but you get the idea.

With a minimum of "Where's this?  Where's that?  What embellishments do you have?" Steve set up shop at the kitchen table and made a very cute set of scrapbook pages:

You can see he separated the steps out in text and pictures, and he split the title across both pages like I did in the "More Vinegar!" page.  I like that he hand-drew the letters - it looks different from other pages we've done.

If you're worried about the pages getting messed up in the cooking process, don't.  The pages are in protectors in an album, and the album is always kept away from the stove.

Here's the official recipe again:  Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce.  If you'd like to see my Pinterest board of favorite recipes, you can find that here, or you can follow all of my boards (which includes pins of my blog posts as well as various craft and non-craft things I've found) here.  If you follow me, I'll follow you!

Post a comment with your favorite online recipes (with links to the page if you can) here.  We're always looking to try new things.  I don't like peppers or spicy food, though, but post those recipes anyway so others can try them out.  Who knows?  Your recipe could become one of our favorites, and when that page becomes translucent, we'll scrap that one, too!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Another Ever-Evolving Spiral bracelet

Yes, I know I've posted a lot about my Ever-Evolving Spiral design (here, here, here, and a little bit here), but I had to make another bracelet for a class sample, so you get to look at it again.  :)  This one is for Knot Just Beads, and I'll be teaching it in November or December.  I'll post the date when it's been set.

I do have another colorway that I could have dropped off:

This is called "Fire and Sand".  Steve named it.  Coming up with colorway names is hard, and I appreciate all the help I get!  This is the one that about made me lose my mind because the 8/0 seed beads are smaller than the ones in my other samples.

Anyway - I could have dropped off that bracelet, but Kim from Knot Just Beads helped me pick out the "Fiesta" colors I showed you in the B&B Show class submission post.  I thought it would be nice to give her a sample with the colors she chose.  Since Kalmbach has my other Fiesta pieces, I whipped up another bracelet last night:

It's so quick to stitch - it's a nice break from some of my other designs (such as SDN15 - Dino-spine and SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids that you can see here).

While I'm here, I thought I'd take the opportunity to show you a picture from the design's tutorial that compares all the different widths of this technique:

The changes between thicknesses are really subtle in the piece but a lot more pronounced in that picture.

I really like this technique and am looking forward to continued experiments with color and transitions!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cards for multiple occasions

When Steve's parents were here a while ago, his mother asked if I could make a bunch of cards for different occasions and mail them to her.  I did that, and she was very pleased and sent a few of them off right away!  Since I'm in the middle of a few jewelry projects right now, I thought I'd show you a few of the cards.

Here's a general sympathy card:

I didn't have any "With Sympathy" stamps, so I typed it out in Word and printed it on cardstock.  The irises were stamped on the same piece of paper, and I inked the edges of both of pieces to tie them together.  I used a little bit of ribbon, too.

Here's a pet sympathy card:

For this one, I used a paw print sheet of patterned paper and stamped "heartfelt".  I used a bit of jute to give it some texture.  I rarely remember I have a plethora of patterned paper I can use for cards.  I should use it more often - it's nice!  In case you're curious, yes, that's the same piece of paper that I used for the other sympathy card.  I like using paper up when I can.

Here's an anniversary card with some subtle stamping for the background:

Here's the inside:

If you're using a dark-colored paper for the card, it's nice to have a light-colored paper on the inside for someone to write on.  If I were the one to send the card, I might have left that off and used a white pen, but I didn't think Mama would have that option.

Here's a card that's not specific to gender or age:

On the inside it says, "Happy bird-day to you!"  The birds are stamped and colored in, and there's some ribbon to make it look a little fancier.

There were other cards, too, but I think this is enough to give you a few ideas for making your own cards if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vinyl decals for a dental hygienist's office

Kate is a good friend of mine, and she's been over to my house a time or two.  She loved the decals I put up in our kitchen, so when the dentist she works for gave her leave to paint and decorate her room any way she wanted, she knew that she wanted to incorporate some decals in her decorating scheme.

She ordered the words "HAPPY", "SMILE", "BRUSH", "&", "FLOSS", and later she asked if I could cut "OPEN WIDE!" with whatever was left over (smaller than the others).  I designed the decals on my Gypsy and sent her screen shots (taken with my phone) so she could approve them.  For "HAPPY" and "SMILE", I added a flower.

Here's the cutting mat with "FLOSS" taken off:

The mats go to 24", so you can imagine just how big these decals are.  I welded the letters so each word is in one piece.  Oh - I should say that these decals were cut using my Cricut Expression.

Here's a cutting mat with the leftover vinyl removed:

This past weekend, Kate and her husband put up all the decorations - pictures and the decals.

After putting the transfer tape on the top of the word, here's Kate's husband (with an appropriate T-shirt on) holding "HAPPY" up on the wall so Kate can approve the positioning:

Kate then peeled off the decal's backing (the transfer tape is only sticky enough for positioning) and posed for the camera:

then she stuck the decal on the wall and burnished it:

That's to make sure that the decal has a firm hold on the wall.  Here she is peeling off the transfer tape:

It's done and looks great!

Here are the other decals:

That "Tooth Fairy" picture to the right of "FLOSS" was drawn by Kate's daughter.  She's so talented!

That's it!  Oh, wait... where's "OPEN WIDE!"?  Look up:

Just a gentle reminder of what you're supposed to do when sitting in that chair!  :)

Kate said everyone loves her new room (including the decals)!  I'm so happy I played a part in that.

If you'd like to do something similar to your office or a room in your home, contact me at traci@creative-pursuits.biz.