Friday, December 31, 2010

Procrastination - a mighty beast

Well, here we are! It's December 31st... New Year's Eve 2010.

Tomorrow we start a new year and we all hope to start afresh resolving to improve this and change that. And like everyone who makes a New Year's resolution, I want to succeed, not fail!

So I will not sabotage myself before the year starts.

I will make just one promise to myself..... to procrastinate less. Not "to stop procrastinating" but just to procrastinate LESS. I procrastinate in all areas of my life: at home; in my work life; in my studio; everywhere! The procrastination monster is a mighty beast that is hard to tame so I will be happy to just control it a little bit better than I do at the moment!

So here's to 2011 - and to less procrastination. Happy New Year!

And just quickly before I go, I'm in print in the latest edition of Scrapbooking m.m. - a Swedish magazine. Wow! I've never been translated before! It's strange to see your instructions written in a different language!And now, it's back to the New Year celebrations.... Happy New Year to you all! Enjoy your celebrations tonight and I'll see you in 2011.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

RAW - Very Magenta Daisies

Now that the Christmas celebrations are behind us, I'm in holiday mode for a few days which means I get to work on the little kits I bought earlier in the year to keep myself amused whilst everyone lazes around. I'm one of those people who just can't sit idle and I like to keep busy even when I'm relaxing. So these holidays I'm trying something new to me: beadweaving.

I've always admired this style of jewellery but thought it looked too hard to do, so I thought kits were the place to start.

Here's the first one I attempted.At first I wasn't sure that it was the best project to start with when the instructions said to use two needles but it turned out to be really easy to create the pattern so it was a good choice after all. I got the hang of right angle weave really quickly.

I'm quite happy with the result but I've got to say that whilst the weaving was easy, when I read the finishing instructions and it said weave back here and through there and back here again to reinforce, I started to think that this was not something I was going to enjoy. And yet once I got into the rhythm of reinforcing the pattern, it wasn't hard at all, but it was certainly the most time consuming part of the project.

I can see how easy it would be to create variations with this weave which I'll have to explore down the track but right now, I'm off to work on my next kit.

'Til next time,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Baking

Christmas Day might have come and gone but I was back in the kitchen this morning baking more Christmas goodies. Forcer biscuits have become a Christmas tradition in our household and we only ever bake them for Christmas; once for our tree-decorating get-together in early December and then again just before Christmas. But today we had a belated Christmas lunch with our good friends who have become part of our family. It's wonderful to have such close friends when you are so far from your family at this time of the year. So this batch is for our adopted family.

Don't they look pretty when they're paired together with delicately coloured icing. Yum!

I know my last few posts have been food oriented but I just wanted to assure you that this is not becoming a food blog. Things will soon return to normal once I'm back in the studio creating again but in the meantime I'll be playing with some bead weaving kits I bought earlier in the year. I've been wanting to learn bead weaving for a while now so I can't wait to get started. I'll share the finished bracelets with you later.

'Til then....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread House - Construction Complete!

It was back to the construction site for my son and I this evening. The first thing we did was add more sweets to the roof......and then we transported the house onto its new site, a silver cake board that my daughter picked up from Spotlight earlier today. We piled it high with lollies before placing the house on top.
The board is nice and sturdy but we didn't really like the look of the silver foil and thought it would be much better covered in snow. So between us we covered the entire board with royal icing. We both agreed that was a much better look.
Now it was time to get into planting the garden. Here, Bryce is adding the greenery. We also made a snowman and a pine tree with a star on top. There's a pile of wood off to the side of the house too, ready to make a fire, and a chocolate path lined with little flowers which leads from the front door to the candy cane fence.
And here's the finished masterpiece! As you can see we are pretty pleased with our efforts. It was so much fun having my son join me in the kitchen for this project and we both enjoyed working on it together. And tomorrow, we will have the fun of demolishing it!

I hope whatever celebrations you have planned for Christmas, that you enjoy the company of those who are important to you. And I hope that Santa leaves a special little something under the Christmas tree for you.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Under Construction!

My family is all too familiar with my crafting activities in the kitchen. Many of the craft materials I work with require heat: the oven, the stove top or an electrical appliance. When we built my studio in our new house, the family gave me strict instructions that everything was to be contained in the room and not escape into the rest of the house and they supplied me with a portable stove top, an electric frypan and a small oven. Bless them!

But today, I get to craft in the kitchen with everyone's blessing. With my son's help we're making a ginger bread house, the first we've ever made! I'm a bit time challenged at the moment so I picked up a prefab one at IKEA where all you have to do is put it together and decorate it. Sounds great! So here we go......In typical IKEA fashion it's a flat pack and the instructions are in diagrams but the one written instruction it does provide is to melt some sugar in a saucepan and use it to assemble all the pieces together. I'll have to admit that I've never melted sugar before but that's what it said to do so I guess that means just pour sugar in a saucepan and melt it. Hmmm.... OK, that worked! It burns quickly though so take it off the stove as soon as it's liquid and then work fast because it sets fast.So far so good. We left the roof off to make decorating the sides easier.

Next I mixed up some royal icing (beaten egg white, icing sugar and lemon juice) and then spooned the mixture into a zip lock bag.The zip lock bag makes a great icing bag - just zip it shut, snip off the corner and you're ready to decorate.
Pipe in a bit of detail and let it dry.....We decorated the roof panels next and decided to place one roof panel in place but we still left the other one off so we could fill it with goodies later. This was all going along so nicely. But then we had a change of heart.... we decided that as the gingerbread house wasn't on a cake board yet that we would put the other roof panel on and when it was fully decorated we'd place it on the pile of goodies on the cake board.

So we melted some more sugar and tried to spoon it into place but it was drizzling where it wasn't supposed to and starting to make a mess. Then my brain must have switched off because I managed to get my index finger into the piping hot toffee and before I could get the toffee off it had already blistered. OUCH!!! This stuff is so hot! I plunged my finger into iced water where it remained for the next 3 hours. And still it was burning.

So that's as far as we've got but we'll have another go at it tomorrow once the burn has settled down a bit. Don't forget to check back to see how we got on.

Happy creating!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas crafting finally arrives at Mill Lane Studio

It has been a while coming, but Christmas has finally made an appearance in my studio!

My studio is a very functional space and I try to keep as clutter free as possible. But at this time of the year as we are counting down towards Christmas, I thought it would be wonderful to bring a little Christmas cheer into it. So I'm starting with something requiring little effort but that will add a nice festive touch to my workspace. The plan here is to display some of my favourite Christmas cards to help bring some cheer into the studio.This is a quick and easy project: All you need is Designer Dries Clear from Art Glitter Institute, chipboard snowflakes from Maya Road, some metallic pegs and glitter in your choice of colours.Apply the Designer Dries Clear to one of the snowflakes
Pour glitter over the whole shape. Be generous with it so that you get solid coverage.Use a needle tool or toothpick to dig it out of the pile of glitter and give it a light tap to remove the excess.Allow a few minutes for each snowflake to dry and then apply adhesive to the back. I'm trying out the new Pritt All Purpose Glue here. I am a big fan of their Power Gel but now that it's discontinued I'm testing out the replacement product. I'll keep you posted on how it performs once I've had a chance to test it on different surfaces.
Attach the snowflake to the peg.
And there you have it - a glittery snowflake to hang cards from.
And here's the finished garland. It's draped just above my monitor so I can see it as I type away. Now that's much better!
I have more Christmas crafting to come soon.

'Til then,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Obsession with Resin

Somehow, I haven't managed to move on from my fossicking adventures with the contents of the resin box yet. I know I said it was time to put it aside and get on with some crafting for the festive season but the resin bug has bitten me hard this week and it just won't let go. No matter how hard I fight it, I can't seem to get it out of my system. So rather than fight it, I gave in to it over the weekend. Here's what I got up to.

Firstly, a jelly bean coloured button necklace...... .....featuring a sprinkling of Plaid Fresh leaf charms and resin beads tucked amongst the buttons. Nice and bright and in almost every colour of the rainbow. Those buttons look good enough to eat!

How about this one for feeling summery and tropical. It might be cold and snowy in the northern hemisphere, but here in subtropical Brisbane, it's summer and what says summer more than frangipanis? Don't you love the silhouetted birds? It's a Plaid Fresh Pendant - and it goes perfectly with the salmon frangipani.

The photo of this last piece doesn't show the pendant base very clearly but the colour was perfect for these minty looking frangipanis. The bead dangle at the bottom is also from the Fresh range.
I fell in love with the Plaid Fresh line the moment I first saw it a couple of years ago and it's why I still have a quite a selection of beads and charms in my stash. They work so well with the resin pieces I cast which is not really surprising seeing as that they are both made of resin.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I used Krafty Lady art moulds to cast all these pieces. Because they're made of flexible silicone, they make demoulding a breeze.

OK, this time, I really am putting the resin box away. Christmas is less than a couple of weeks away and I have a lot of crafting and decorating to catch up on, so hopefully my next post will be a little more Christmassy!

'til then,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Treasures from the Resin box

I'm still digging around in my box of undiscovered resin treasures. This container seems to be bottomless and I think I could keep digging forever.... there are so many of them that I wonder if I will ever use them all up! I have been giving them away at camps and retreats in place of ATCs for some time now - everyone seems to LOVE getting one - and yet my box is still overflowing. And every time I cast another bangle, the left over resin gets poured into a Krafty Lady art mould or two because you just can't waste good resin. When the piece is cured it gets added to the box to become some future undiscovered treasure. It's become quite a collection!Anyway, here's another button piece - a sea themed version of Vintage Buttons. This set of turquoise and green coloured resin pieces is a mix of glittered, translucent and opaque buttons in so many different shades of green. I've called it Tide Pools because there are lots of sea themed silver charms tucked amongst the green beads: fish, shells, starfish and my personal favourite, a seahorse.

I love using the bracelet blanks as my base because no drilling is required and also because I can use up 6 casts in one piece of jewellery! So in the last 2 pieces I've shared with you, I've used 12 pieces of resin and a lot of left over beads from my stash - I'm feeling rather pleased with myself to have only used what I have on hand. And of course, it's a great way to make space for more bead purchases!

I'll have to put the digging aside for a while now - I still have Christmas crafting to do. But I really hope I can return to see what other undiscovered treasures lay waiting to be found in that box.

'til next time........

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vintage Buttons?!!

After the wonderful transformation of the rather ordinary looking cameo that I found in my box of resin casts on Sunday, I decided that I should see what else is hiding in that container. I'm sure there are some other treasures to be found in there if I dig deep enough. I have so many to select from - literally hundreds - and the box weighs over a kilo. That's a lot of potential!

So dig I did!

And what I noticed was all the button shapes I've cast over the years. They had never caught my attention before. I certainly hadn't realised that I'd cast SO many of them - there were blues, greens, pinks, corals, fluoro pink, creams, bright yellows, and glittery ones too. But this pile here caught my eye - colours which had a bit of a vintage look about them. I remembered having some lovely lucite flower beads in a similar tone in my stash. So that was my starting point. I picked out a nice mix of buttons in different colours and shapes and glued them onto the pads of a bracelet blank and then I went about creating the dangles which are attached to each link of the bracelet.Amongst the lucite flower beads you can see a sprinkling of cream potato pearls, cherry quartz, aventurine and olive AB crystals - such soft, feminine colours with a decidedly vintage feel.

I had no idea this piece was lying waiting for me to find in my box of resin casts. I think I should keep digging to see what else I find!

Oh, and if you're wondering what mould I've used, it's called 8 Up from Krafty Lady.

So perhaps I'd better get back to the digging!

Happy crafting!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Precious Metal?!!,

Can anyone guess what metal this is?
Is it:
A - Brass
B - Copper
C - Bronze?

The answer is at the bottom of the post. But I hope you'll read on to learn the story behind this cameo.

I found this beautiful piece whilst digging around in my studio this afternoon. Only, when I found it, it didn't look anything like this. You see, it started out life looking much more like resin.... clear resin which I'd marbled with red pigment. It was actually quite hideous. I'd already attempted to alter it's appearance once before by coating it with black alcohol ink and Krylon Gold Leafing Pen. It was a huge improvement but something had reactivated the alcohol ink and it was bleeding everywhere. So I gave it a good clean up with methylated spirits to return it to it's original colour.

With a clean slate I started again. This time I brushed on a coat of antiquing solution to give it a bit of definition. And then, out came the Rub 'n Buff. Firstly Amethyst, followed by Patina and finally Gold Leaf. I buffed after each colour, building up layers of colour and then I buffed it some more. There are patches of the original resin colour showing through too, which has added to it's very aged appearance.

And now, it's completely transformed.

I didn't take a before shot but here's a similar looking piece so you can see where this piece started out. Rub 'n Buff has turned this piece, which almost went into the trash, into a treasure. And with the addition of a brass stamping and chain, it looks more like an antique.

So perhaps, my question was a little bit misleading. I guess the correct answer is:
D - None of the above!

I think I might do a little more digging in my studio to see what other treasures I might find buried.

'Til Next time....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Merry and Bright!

With Christmas now less that one month away, it's time to turn our attention to Christmas crafting. I'm starting off my Christmas crafting with a resin pendant filled with a festive image from a bygone era.

The vintage look is so popular at the moment and it is often teamed with soft, aged looking brass, and whilst I love that look, I have a real problem working with the muted tones associated with vintage. You see, I like colour way too much and my version of vintage is usually much brighter than vintage is supposed to be.

But there is no reason why these lovely nostalgic images can't be teamed with bright and shiny things too. Here, I've used a silver word tag from Plaid's Fresh range and bright red Czech glass beads. To tie in the "bright and shiny" with the "old and vintage", I've used red velour tubing for the necklace - it has that lovely soft velvety look and feel to it - and to complete the look it just needed a vintage looking bow.

So vintage doesn't always have to be soft brass and muted colours...... bright and shiny can work too - especially at Christmas!

Happy Christmas crafting everyone........

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Emergency Jewellery

We had a bit of a medical scare in our household recently. Our eldest son suffered an allergic reaction to something he'd come into contact with and his face and neck were swollen and itchy. It was enough of an emergency to warrant calling an ambulance.

The paramedics arrived and checked all his vital signs. They attached electrodes from the heart rate monitor to his chest and monitored his heart rate. They also checked his blood pressure and breathing. They declared his condition was not life threatening but decided he should enjoy a ride in the ambulance and receive further treatment in hospital. And I'm happy to report that he was released from hospital in the wee small hours of the morning.

The paramedics left behind the coolest little plastic patches which they'd peeled off the electrodes when they were monitoring his heart. The patches contain conductive gel and attach the electrodes from the heart rate monitor to the skin. But I like to think of them more in crafting terms: they are bezels to be used in resin jewellery making! Let me show you what I mean.

Here's the little patches that contained the conductive gel. They have two channels on one side and one on the other - just deep enough for filling with resin.
I traced several circles onto an Alice in Wonderland photo sheet. These circles are the same size as a 5c coin and I had to cut them out with scissors but my recommendation is find a circle punch the right size! It took 45 minutes to get them the right size and round.
Because the patches are clear and I didn't want the printing on the back of the photo paper to show, I've cut out two pieces for each patch making them double sided: image on the front, text on the back. But the text pieces were so white and they needed a little aging to tone the background down. I swiped them with Antique Linen and Vintage Photo Adirondack ink.
That's much better!
The Krylon Gold Leafing Pen fitted into the channel on the underside of the patch perfectly. What an easy way to create a frame!
At this point you want to mix the resin. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Use a wooden stirrer to drip a few drops in the centre......
and then place the text image face down into the resin. Make sure the text isn't at an angle.
Put another 2 or 3 drops of resin on top of the text image and then place the picture image on the resin right side up. Place another 2 or 3 drops of resin over the image and spread it out to the edges using a toothpick. Leave them to cure for 24 hours and you're ready to be used in a project.
Don't they look cool?!! I think they make wonderful little bezels!I haven't finished with these just yet but once I have I'll post the finished project. But at the moment I'm just enjoying looking at how vivid these images are.

My thanks go to Beads Online for providing the Alice in Wonderland photo sheet and of course to the wonderful Queensland Ambulance Service for supplying the bezels that inspired the project! I hope you'll stop by Beads Online and check out their fantastic range of jewellery making supplies - you won't be disappointed.

'Til next time........