Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Little Bit of Summer

On Monday my husband had off of work, and it is free day at our local indoor gardens if you are a county resident. So that is where we went. In a winter where our December snowfall was second highest EVER, it is so nice to get to a place and remember what GREEN STUFF looks like (I have made no secret my feelings about winter!!). There are three glass domes, one is tropical, one is arrid, and one is a special area that always changes. Currently it is Christmas themed, and the huge tree is pictured below. The sun was shining through the glass ceiling and walls, the plants were giving us plentiful oxygen, and seeing the greenery was a feast for our eyes which have become accustomed to the nothingness of white white white. It was a good time to visit these gardens because despite the crowds (we are not the only ones that love getting in free!!), it reminded us of the life that awaits underneath the frozen ice, the beauty that will come in a few months, and the warmth and rebirth that will follow winter. The gardeners in this indoor park always do an amazing job.

An extra treat was that we ran into my cousin and her family! They popped into our picture behind us, unknown to me; isn't that hilarious?! I hope she doesn't mind me including the picture--it turned out so cute (tho' her youngest must be behind us, and we can't see her in this shot!), and I got such a kick out of it! A special thanks for her for taking the time to check out my etsy shop and read my blog!

Tonight, being New Year's Eve, we have a date with Kung Fu Panda, and will have a party supper of little pieces of pizza, eggrolls and other snacky items! I do plan to be in bed before the new year arrives... it is just one of those years where some quiet is appealing, and I will enjoy my rest! :-)

Thanks for reading, and a VERY Happy New Year to you all!! I hope your 2009 is filled with health, happiness, and dreams accomplished.

I'll see you next year (har har dee har!)!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Resin Tips

This blog entry was inspired by my Twitter buddy, SuperTeeTee !

There are many pieces out there on basic directions for making resin jewelry. I recommend this one by resin goddess, isewcute !

This is just a list of my tips—my “been there done that” advice. There are so many ways of doing things, I do not recommend mine over others. This is just the way I do it. These ideas are for you to take or leave as you wish. As a matter of fact, some people might read this and think I do it “the hard way.” If you have easier tips, please share!

Please follow all directions and precautions given by manufacturers of resin, this includes proper ventilation, gloves and a mask while sanding!

I want to recommend the ultimate resin how-to book by Sherri Haab, The Art of Resin Jewelry (I must admit I am a bit envious that it is now being sold with a DVD!!). It is awesome and exciting!! She also has a great website

My first frustrating batch of resin was STICKY. It never cured. So disappointing!! I am not a very precise person, and I realized I would really have to change that if I wanted to succeed in resin. To measure the resin, I ordered these fantastic little disposable medicine cups .

This allows for very precise measurements of the resin and hardener, which is vital. I use Easy Cast resin, which I find at Michael’s. I always use the 40% off coupon (did you know they accept Joann 40% off coupons as well?) which really knocks the price down!

My Michael's also sells one resin mold, which is a nice starting place. If you really get into it, you can get more from the internet. My favorite site doesn’t seem to be up right now, I’ll keep checking and get back to you in later posts. Sherri Haab’s website also sells molds, as well as sites on ebay, etsy, etc. I have also found silicone (they must be the rubbery material!) ice cube trays at Dollar Tree, which work great with resin!

A word on Mold Release… I do not take responsibility for your decision on this, but I find I don’t really need to use it on my resin-specific molds. I do have it, though, and I used it at first, so maybe that primed my molds, or maybe they just didn’t need it to start with. I found this at Michael’s, right next to the resin.

Ok—so I use those medicine cups for measuring the resin. In addition, I get Popsicle sticks from the Dollar Tree, and plastic “party” cups from the grocery store. I also keep a nice supply of toothpicks handy.

If I am mixing up a very small batch of resin, I measure it into the medicine cups, and pour the hardener into the resin to mix. I have a timer, so I do not estimate, but time EXACTLY two minutes of mixing. I have found mixing it a key to proper curing (and not that sticky mess!). THEN I put it into a new, clean, medicine cup, use a new, clean popsicle stick, and mix for an additional two minutes, on the timer. The directions say one more minute, but I do it a full two. Then it is ok for me to use.

If I am mixing a larger batch of resin, when the combined amount of resin and hardener won’t fit into the medicine cups, I cut the tops off of the plastic drinking cups, and use two for my two mixing containers. I find if I cut the tops off, it is easier to pour. The top is more flexible, and I can squeeze it a bit to make a spout. I will also use my Popsicle stick to “drip” resin into small spaces.

Bubbles!!!! I used to use a hair dryer WITH A DIFFUSER to remove bubbles. The diffuser kept the dryer from blowing the resin to smithereens!!!! I recently received a heat gun on loan from a friend, and that thing works GREAT!!!!!! It is amazing how quickly the bubbles disappear.

Now that I am in winter, I see many more bubbles, and the resin takes longer to cure. Resin likes warmer temperatures!!!

I am typed out for now…. Soon I will do a “tips on finishing resin” entry (my least favorite part)! It will take some time for your resin to cure, and by then hopefully I will have that entry done!

Questions and comments are more than welcome!

Christmas is Over

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was busy and festive, filled with family and good food! With that said: PHEW!!!!!!! Although it was a great time, I am a bit relieved that the preparations are over, and we can get back to some normal-life around here.

One of my post-Christmas goals was to get back to my first jewelry-making love of off-loom bead weaving. It a way it is meditative with its repetition, and the colors of the beads are a feast for the eyes.

I got back to a free-form peyote project that I started long ago. Peyote is a basic beadweaving stitch, and to do it free-form means that you decide where it goes: you may have an idea in mind, but there is no pattern, the beads lead you. I find it very fun, and easier than following a pattern. That is interesting because my friend, and beadweaving mentor FarFrumPlainJane finds free-form challenging, while I find the incredibly gorgeous, detailed work she is most comfortable with most challenging! It is interesting how different minds work differently!

The project I am working on features lampworked beads I purchased several months ago from Alice Hunter-Kelly. I just love the colors--her beads are so gorgeous. Originally I planned this for myself, but I am not sure if I will list it on etsy or not. The lampworked bead set came with matching small round beads that I will make into coordinating earrings. It is a work in progress, but getting close. I have tiny clear-gold AB beads to add as well. Additionally I will weave a clasp of some sort, I haven't decided on that yet--or perhaps it is more correct to say the beads haven't told me, yet!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tis the Season for Kid Craftin', Fa la la la la....

Well, despite the freezing weather (a whopping 2 degrees below zero--NOT counting the windchill!) my girlie wanted to mess with polymer clay today! Clay does not like the cold temps, so it took some effort to get it soft enough to work with. A Twitter pal later gave me the tip she had heard from professionals, to warm it up inside my bra!! Hey, it just might work!!
I think it is just great to give the kids some extra clay and see what they come up with. It is so good for them, and it makes a lasting item since it gets hard when baked! We worked together to make this kitty cat, which she has decided to give to her brother for Christmas.

This is my favorite polymer clay item made by my son when he was 4 or 5 years old. The arm broke off, so I had to hold it up there for the picture! It just makes me happy to look at--this funny dancing guy! It also reminds me of good times spent together with him.

We have worked on other Christmas gifts together. These are shrinky dink pins made by my son. I should have gotten the white shrinky dinks instead of the clear, since you can see the pins right through them!
This one (below) was a big hit with the kids!!! These are just bottle tops which they filled with white glue then added little toys, shells, whatnots and etcetera. They sprinkled with glitter. I added some clear resin just because that is my thing, but it wouldn't be necessary. They really had a good time doing it. I glued scrap magnets (sales, etc, that get sent in the mail, etc) to the back. I was worried they would be too heavy for those magnets, but it worked fine--although I did glue the magnets to the entire back, not just parts.
My girl loved the Pikachu (from Pokemon) pin that my son made from Shrinky Dinks for the pin shown above, so he made her a smaller one for a necklace in secret. I punched a hole (use a regular size punch, as the hold will shrink, of course!) and added a jump ring and ball chain. I think she will love it, and he is proud.
Part of the fun of Christmas is making gifts for each other, so maybe this will give you some ideas--leave comments if you have ideas of your own to share! I am *always* looking for new ideas to keep these guys busy!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Well, my mother scolded me that she wouldn't have to secretly spy on me on Twitter if I would just update my blog!!! :-) Isn't she a silly thing!?
But truly--how lucky am I that my parents are so very interested at me, even at my maturing age, to sit and read every word I write? They have always made me feel that they think I am so talented and special--all of us kids in our own ways. To grow up and grow older with that feeling is priceless. It is not something I take for granted and something I appreciate.
Maybe she will read that and get me a bigger Christmas present!!! JUST KIDDING, MOM!!! :-D
Ok, so that aside, where HAVE I been? Really, I have been nursing my craft show hangover all this time. I haven't done ANYTHING crafty except work on my hubby's Christmas gift from the kids with the kids. I've wrapped gifts, gone to work, watched some DVDs in the evening with hubby WITHOUT beads in my hands. I've been Twittering here and there, and pimping my etsy shop now and again--but I haven't even opened my ArtFire shop in days.
I guess I've gone on vacation. I need some time to renew my creativity. It got to the point where my ideas far outweighed my time, almost to an uncomfortable feeling--like my brain might burst... plus my housework waited, Christmas projects were being shoved aside... so I am taking a creative rest. And I think after several days of nothing (truly I have not taken several days off from crafts in a few YEARS) I will feel renewed.
Except as I am typing this I just remembered some stuff I need to do... jewelry promised... I was going to make Christmas earring for my daughter from polymer clay... oh well, the rest was short... I'd better get back to work tonight!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Craft Fair Hangover

Well, it is the morning after--the morning after the craft fair, that is!! My friend and I had a nice set-up, I think. Our work really complimented each other's. If you want a closer look at her items, check out That's her in the picture.

Unfortunately--she had a slip on the ice during the week, so I felt so sorry for her. She would sit, she would stand, but was having severe back pain. Not nice to have to sit all day at a craft fair with that kind of pain!

...Especially such a SLOW craft fair. There were MANY tables selling jewelry, and it was a slow fair in all. Perhaps the economy, perhaps people finished with their Christmas shopping already? (wish that was me!!) It was slow all over, so we decided not to take it personally! :-) My mom and sister came by to support us, which we both fully appreciated--they were our best sales, we sheepishly admit. But we will admit it so they realize how much their visit meant! I saw my aunt and my cousin's wonderful girlfriend, and that was really great, too.

We saw some good points--there were two instances where we helped parents trick their kids--they bought items on the sly while their kids were looking away, so that was really fun! A little boy that reminded me of my son kept coming by and petting the lizard pin I had out. I told him to just take it, but he turned up his sweet little boy face and said, "Oh no, I'll pay for it!" So the lizard went to a happy home where he will be treasured. Plus, my friend gave me a pin that looks SO perfect on my winter coat at the end of the fair when it didn't sell!!! YAY!!

Best of all, I got an uninterrupted (we joke that being MORE interrupted at a craft fair would have been beneficial!! ha ha!) day with a dear friend whom I don't get to spend a whole lot of time with on a regular basis.

Though we feel discouraged (quite! at least me!), we'll try again. I heard another crafter mentioning a fair in March that we will check out. But for now, with the fair over, I get to spend some time focusing on Christmas and my family. My etsy shop is full, my ArtFire shop has enough items, I'm going to scale back on "pimping" my shop on Twitter--it is time to enjoy this season of family, friendship and love! The sales, well, they'll wait.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shrinking Some Dinks

Well, Girlie does not have school on Fridays, so today we decided to make some Shrinky Dink ornaments. She is at that stage where she just started drawing people. I find that so charming, and will be glad to have some permanent reminders.

I purchased sheets of shrink plastic, but because I got the clear kind, I had to sand it so the color would stick to the sheets, not to my girlie's hands. This was an event where she was allowed to use my permanent markers, and she was whole-heartedly on board for that. The forbidden fruit!

So she drew 'em, I cut them out and punched a hole in the top with a regular-sized hole punch. Let the shrinking begin! They really get twisted and turned, it is hard to imagine that they will get flat again. Sometimes they need a little extra help with that. Put something flat and heavy on them while they are still hot. I like using a heat gun to shrink them for a little more control.

Viola! Ornaments (well, once we get some string or ribbon through them for hanging). Fun for all. And honestly, despite being an adult, I still get such a kick out of watching them shrink! :-)
There ARE some hazards to permanent markers with a 4-year-old--thank goodness for Mr. Clean magic erasers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Well, even though it is 14 degrees this morning, I ventured to walk to the post office. It is about five blocks one way--and I realize that walking through ice and snow makes your legs feel like you just ran a marathon in sand. BUT it was quite beautiful, with no wind, so the cold did not get to me, and I was able to enjoy the pretty part of winter.

I know those of you that know me probably just fell off of your chair--but it is true! I am trying to take the "bad" with the good and appreciate the whole experience.

Well, sometimes.

I am probably just so glad that I don't have to drive in a blizzard like yesterday!

Now that that trip is done, how should I spend my two hours (less now) with Girlie at school? I have many projects to work on. As a matter of fact, I am going to swallow my pride and show the horror that are my work tables (trust me, the other one is even worse!)... how can I get anything accomplished?! Well, my ideas and need for clean up surpass my time to actually do them!

One thing I need to finish are these sports pendants I made from resin for my craft fair on Saturday. They are pretty simple, but I thought they might appeal to girls in sports... now they need to be sanded several times and drilled. I like drilling, but sanding isn't my favorite... so maybe I should do that first!
So, instead of just thinking about what to do next, much like my trip to the post office, I will just get started--which can be difficult for me! Just put one foot in front of the other.... :-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gettin' Stuff Done--Well, Some Stuff

(I added a picture to yesterday's blog of myself on stage with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.)

So today I need to clean up my new soldered pendants! I really really (super duper really!) enjoyed making them, I am so happy I decided to take the dive into it! I'm grateful to my friend and sis-in-law for letting me puruse their scrapbooking scraps. My mother-in-law's stash is next!!!

I also added the last layer to a number of resin pendants shown here in their molds, and even a few ornaments for family members. I didn't mix enough resin to do as much as I planned, but I did not mix more. It is kind of a process. Plus I need to stop creating and do the less fun part and start pricing as I have a craft fair this Saturday.

So I feel fairly accomplished in this craft room--but hmmmm, I suppose that non-essential stuff like laundry should be taken care of next! ;-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lunch with Santa

Q. What is Santa's favorite hobby?

A. Gardening, because he likes to hoe-hoe-hoe

We had lunch with Santa yesterday, at our County Zoo. I got called on stage to help with a song, but I did ok as I was sandwiched between my sis-in-law and bro-in-law. My mother-in-law had to do the slide whistle, which would have been worse! ;-)

Today husband has the gang over to watch football and eat chili--which means the kids have a friend over and I get to play in my craft room.... so off I go. I have some resin to finish, plus I hope to make my first attempt at soldering. Wish me luck!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Lies Beneath

I have been working feverishly, in between entertaining a four-year-old (who, yes, has gotten paint in her hair) to paint a little room in our house that hasn't been touched in the 13 years we've lived here. I still have some trim to finish (yes, painted wood, sigh). Last night I pulled off the carpet (and hubby helped me finish--small room, but that carpet got heavy!).

I am sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but someone stuck linoleum tiles all over the hardwood floor. They are kind of a cool pattern, though. I wonder how old they are--they are actually engraved linoleum--not a printed pattern. This house dates back to 1890, so it could be any time in between. I just love old things like that. I was never great in history class, but when it is in front of you, tangible--it is exciting to think of the people who lived here in the past with their own families and lives, joys and sorrows... Did they have to save up for the linoleum? Were they so excited with their "new look"? Or was it simply a weekend project, no big deal?

Anyway, even though the pattern appeals to me, it doesn't look right where it is located in the house (I might leave it for a kitchen or ??), so we will probably have to look into some carpet squares. We are not up for refinishing the floor, it would need lots of work. We have done other rooms in the house, and we are tired of doing that right now (!!!!!!).

Ok, time to get ready for my flu shot appointment. I am less concerned about the poke than freezing my bootie--it is a whopping 7 degrees here this morning!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Sad Clown

Not one day after I hung up those cute vintage ornaments passed on from my mother-in-law, my daughter handed me the clown, fallen and broken. I don't think she was the culprit--more a gravity thing!! I felt so terrible about it. So I am trying to decide--do I take down the other one, wrap it in bubble wrap and put it in a box? Or do we leave it on the tree and enjoy it--risking its demise at any moment?

Certainly a question that could go far beyond an ornament, couldn't it? We could consider how we live our lives--protecting ourselves, or taking chances?

I'll leave you to your thoughts on that one, and I will think on it, too--I have a project to work on that will leave me with my thoughts. Unfortunately, it is not a craft project--it is one I don't particularly enjoy. I need to get to work on painting some walls. I will be glad when it is done, though! And I filled some holes myself! I learned something new, and that is a good thing. Husband showed me one, and I rather enjoyed it. So it is time to sand them smooth, and hopefully get some paint on the wall before it is time to pick Girlie up from school!
A Happy Wednesday to all of you!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday

Well, we only got 3" instead of the 9" of snow predicted. But it was a strange snowfall--areas that are perhaps only a 45-minute drive away received 10"!!!! (better them than me--oops, that was ungracious!)
Last night we got our Christmas tree up. It was nice because, at age four, my girlie seemed to have a clear memory of Christmas last year for the first time. She was so excited, and it brought back some childhood memories of being excited as well (instead of seeming a touch bit like a chore, getting all of the decorations out, etc etc). My son was quite happy, too, but she took the cake with her enthusiasm.
Many of the ornaments we put up were made by my son, nieces and nephews--she kept saying, "Did I make this?" I think it will be a big year for her to make some ornaments. That is good, there are so many kinds of ornaments to make, and making them as gifts will give her a feel for the giving part of the season.

Speaking of ornaments, I put up some breakable ones that I didn't quite dare in previous years. My mother-in-law split up some of the childhood ornaments a few years ago. I thought you would get a kick out of these. They must be between 20 and 30 years old! What a treasure! Besides, they crack me up! One is crazy clown, and the other must be an alien in a UFO!

Well, today is my first Cyber Monday as someone with an internet shop! Also the last day of my big etsy sale and free shipping offer. We will see how things go!