Dec 312007


We have moved all of my jewelry-making supplies, books, magazines and assorted “stuff” into my son’s old bedroom, and moved all of his things into his “new” room.

I still have some organizing to do, but there’s room to spread out and I can find things again.

Until my workbench is done, I’ll have to put up with the card table I’ve been using, but it’s worked for this long, so I think I’ll manage. 🙂

A few tips for organizing that I used when I moved:
– Beading magazines in those plastic upright organizers – I have mine separated by magazine title.
– An old entertainment center is perfect for organizing books, magazines, tools, and other supplies. I’ve grouped my tools and supplies together – all metal-smithing tools on one shelf, jump ringer and flex shaft on another – so I can find things quickly depending on what I’m working on at the time.
– A plastic container with three drawers is perfect for supplies – I put some painting and scrapping supplies in one drawer, sewing supplies in another.
– PURGE and donate or toss!!! I spent hours going through old boxes of materials that I bought when I started making jewelry and got rid of the things I won’t use. Goodwill got bags of old beads, base metal head pins, and ribbon. I know someone can use them!!!

Now to start working on some jewelry!

Dec 282007

Hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this week…yep, crazy, we got married two days after Christmas, and I was working in RETAIL at the time, if you can believe it! Like Christmas, we stuck with low-key because I’m still under the weather (how long is this cold going to hang around???) and he was possibly going to be called in for snow-patrol. Nice dinner at home with family, and practical gifts. 🙂

Because I’m in the process of moving my jewelry studio to another room, I’d love to make some improvements to my work area, so we planned out a work bench that he’s going to make for me as my anniversary gift.

The plan is to have a fairly high (39 inches at the top of the table), sturdy (2 x 4’s on edge with a sanded wood top), 6-foot long bench at one end of my room. The way we’ve designed it, it should be sturdy enough that I stamp and hammer without bounce-back.

I’m hoping the move is complete by New Year’s Eve – I know the bench will still be in progress, but it will be nice to have the move done so I can get back to making jewelry!

Dec 272007

Our Christmas was quiet and low-key this year – I’ve been suffering with a terrible cold that kept me home on Christmas Eve for one thing. It’s been hanging on for far too long, and I’m tired of it already!!

Hubby came through with the PMC (Precious Metal Clay, aka Art Clay Silver) starter kit I’d asked for, and I’m looking forward to running in town, getting butane, and firing up the cute little torch that came with it. Starter kit came from Fire Mountain Gems, and is supposed to have everything I need to start playing!

He also sprung for an iPod Nano, which we FINALLY got up and running today. Seems there was a problem with the iTunes software and compatibility with the Nano, but it’s fixed with the new download. I’ve been happily putting music on my cute little Nano and playing the games that came on it. Absolutely great portable music, and I know I’m going to love it!!!

Dec 222007

It’s always fun and inspiring to talk to other artists. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some amazing people, find out a little about them and their jewelry, and make some new friends. Check out the full artist interviews on Beading Help Web’s Artists page.

Janet Crosby makes incredible lampwork beads and lists them on Etsy.

Lidija Fairbanks’ doll artistry is detailed and amazing!

Katie Hacker is one of the biggest names in beading for a reason – she’s not only talented, she also brings her energetic and fun personality into everything she does!

Linda Jones and Sharilyn Miller are terrific wire artists who will take you beyond stringing and into the Wonderful World of Wire.

Katherine Natalia Wadsworth makes some of the most interesting lampwork beads I’ve even seen.

And finally, Rena Klingenberg not only makes fabulous jewelry, but dispenses some of the best jewelry business advice available!
Enjoy reading about each one of these artists, I hope you are as inspired by them as I have been! Look for even more interviews in 2008 from Beading Help Web.

Dec 202007

As a bonus to Ornament Thursday, I thought I’d include these shots of some of my newer stamped ornaments, front and back. A large round copper disc (about 2 inches diameter) is stamped with “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. I added some texture to the copper (using the ball end of a hammer), punched a few holes, and added some copper wire swirls and clear crystal discs. Silent Night, Holy Night used the same concept, except I cut the copper out of some of the backsplash tiles. With this one, I also included a back shot, which shows the little “date tag” that I added to these larger ornaments. I think it added a nice touch, and plan to do the same with next year’s ornaments.

Dec 192007
Hooray! It’s Ornament Thursday! My gift today is an exclusive project that you can make just in time for Christmas.

I don’t think I’ve had this much fun doing a challenge in a long time. I love thinking outside the jewelry box, and coming up with ways I can use my jewelry-making skills to decorate things other than my ears, neck and wrists, LOL! Thanks once again to Katie Hacker and the rest of the Ornament Thursday group who worked so hard on this project. 🙂

This week, I’ve taken my Holiday Tree Earring project, blown it up a bit, and added some decorations for the tree. Here are the step-by-step instructions to make your own Holiday Tree Ornament, using craft wire and orphan beads.

Holiday Tree Ornament
18g green or silver colored craft wire
Orphan beads
I thought it would be fun to make a tree using green craft wire, but you might want to try silver if you are hanging this ornament on a tree! I also used orphan beads (onsie-twosie beads left over from other projects) because my own tree decorations are very eclectic (more about that in a minute), but you can stick with a theme or color scheme if you’d like.

Level: Beginner

I work directly from the spool of wire to reduce wire waste. Starting at the bottom of the tree works best to ensure you have a nice swirl for the base.
Make a tiny loop at the end of the wire. Using a flat nosed pliers, make a swirl, with three revolutions around the loop. This is your tree base.
Use a round object (the barrel of a pen, a wooden dowel, large section of a round nosed or stepped pliers) to make a loop about 1cm from the top of the swirl.

Bring the wire back around and toward the swirl. Extend the wire 1cm from the swirl on the other side from the loop you just made. Bend slightly down, and make a matching loop on this side. Bring the wire back around the jaw of the pliers, and you have made the bottom tier of your tree.
About 3mm from the end of the first loop, grasp the wire again, and make another loop for the start of the second tier. Repeat on the other side to complete the second tier.

Make a third tier about 3mm in from the end of the second tier, repeating on both sides to complete.

When you have finished the third tier, bring the wire to the center of the top of the tree, and make a small wrapped loop to hang the ornament.

Use headpins and beads to make dangles. Hang the dangles from the tree “limbs” to decorate.
Make a hanger for your ornament, and you are ready to hang from the tree, an ornament display or in the window!

A little about our family Christmas tree. I don’t think I can even begin to count the number of ornaments we have on our tree, but it’s so much fun to put them up every year. We have no theme: a handmade Sputnik (very crafty – a styrofoam ball and toothpicks covered in glitter that my parents made 50 years ago), crystal store-bought snowflakes, one of the first ornaments I picked for myself (a partridge), the copper stamped ornaments I made just this year, ornaments my children have made, and ornaments their grandparents and other relatives have given them. Sure it’s a little messy, but I love it, and every year I look to make sure that Sputnik and Garfy (handpainted rendition of my cat who has gone to the Rainbow Bridge) are safe on the branches.

Thanks again to everyone who made this project so much fun (I have had a blast looking at and sharing everyone else’s ornaments too!)…check out ornaments from:

Christmas cookie – Jennifer Heynen
Christmas tree finger labyrinth – Hali Chambers
Ring in the New Year – Kriss Cramer
Quilty pieced snowman – Linda Augsburg
Simply striking sparkling spheres – Margot Potter
Beaded memory wire – Elaine Luther
Wire & beaded tree – Lynn Kvigne
Beaded sun catcher – Debba Haupert
Jolly and yummy ceramic candy – Melanie Brooks Lukacs
Polymer snowflake embedded in resin – Melissa Lee
Beaded candy canes – Candie Cooper
Polymer clay gift tag/ornament – Heather Powers
Twisted blues – Lampwork Diva aka Cindy Gimbrone
Holiday spiral tree & party pixie – Art Bead Scene
Wire bird’s nest – Rebecca Peck
Plush gingerbread doggie – Jenny Harada
Swell ornament – Alexa Westerfield
Holiday paper crafting – Brandy Lung Gill
Shaving cream & chipboard ornament – Michelle McGee
Easy needle-felted orb – Katie Hacker
Lisa Liffy’s Lovely Ornament

Dec 192007

My gift to you today: Beaducation. What a GREAT site this is.

Lisa Niven Kelly is a terrific inspiration – she’s a mom, an artist and a teacher…and seems to be able to balance it all very well. I love her Tornado Clasps, and anyone who’s been reading my blog lately knows I am having a ball playing with her metal stamps.

Beaducation, Lisa’s web site, also boasts some terrific tutorials…you can learn all kinds of basic stamping skills, wire work techniques, and make projects from tutorials online without having to leave your home! Some tuts are free, others have a fee, but they are all downloadable and very detailed and easy to follow.

Side note – I ordered a boatload of stamps from Lisa’s site last week, and was tickled when they arrived in my mailbox just a couple of days later. Then I realized that the amount hadn’t even hit my bank account yet…how’s that for great customer service?! Also, I was having just a wee bit of trouble with my design stamps, and sent a question in via her web site. Later that day, I had a personal response from Lisa, answering my question and giving me some advice!

Great service, great products, great communication. That earns top ratings in my book.

Dec 182007

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to take a look back over the last 12 months and see what I’ve learned in jewelry making. To grow in my art is a continous goal of mine, and I look forward to taking new classes or learning new techniques…so I also think about what I’d like to branch out into for the coming year.

In 2008, there are so many opportunities for great learning at the Bead & Button Show…sure, its’ not until June, but the class sign ups are in January! I have heard so many great testimonials about the classes and show; in 2008 I’m making it a point to get to Milwaukee and get in on the fun!

My gift to you today is knowledge…look through the classes that will be offered and see if there are areas that interest you. Even if you can’t make it to the B&B Show, there are other ways to gain that knowledge. So many resources online, books, magazines….you can expand your world without even leaving your home!!

Make a list of the things you’d like to learn and accomplish in 2008, and post it in your work area (maybe on that bulletin board I talked about?) where you can look at it and see what kind of progress you are making.

Dec 172007

A gift for a cold and snowy Monday – a 2008 Beading Calendar, and quick tip for your work area!

With a project to make or inspire you every month, hang up a copy of Kalmbach Publishing’s (publishers of Bead & Button, Art Jewelry, and Bead Style magazines) Beading 2008 Calendar: A Project a Month!

One of the things I’ve done in my studio is to hang a couple of big cork boards on the wall directly in front of my work table. I can hang reminders of orders I need to make, pictures of jewelry that I find inspiring, thank you notes from customers, and instructions for projects I want to work on. I also have pictures of some of the jewelry I’ve made, as well as photos of the things most important to me – my family, friends, and of course Rex the Wonder Dog!

A calendar (with all my show dates and important due dates) also goes up on the bulletin board. It’s a pretty crowded space, but everything is available at a glance, and I can (usually) find what I’m looking for. 🙂 I need a new calendar for 2008, and I think a beading calendar is just the right touch!