Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Housework vs Jewellery Making

Keeping house is like stringing beads with no knot in the end of the thread

I found this wonderful quote today and thought how true it is! In my household of six adults it is a never ending quest to have a clean home. Take the laundry for instance.... no sooner has the day's laundry gone through the wash cycle, been hung out to dry, sorted, folded and put away, than there is another pile of washing at the end of the day. It is just like stringing beads without knotting the end.

So today I decided to ditch the household chores and string beads..... with a knot in the end of course! Only my knots are at the end of each feature bead.
These pebbles look really heavy but they're actually quite lightweight because they're made of resin and the stringing material is the leather cord they came on. There's absolutely no way my beads are falling off the end of the string!

Stringing beads is a much more satisfying pursuit than keeping the laundry up to date, don't you agree?

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the finished piece. If you'd like to add it to your jewellery collection why not check it out in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Elegant Birdies

I've been having so much fun in the studio this week playing with my latest find. My LSS is stocking the most fabulous range of mirrored acrylic shapes from Kutalicious, a brand new local manufacturer. The birds and birdcages in the range are so appealing and being reflective, they're eye catching too!

In my last post I told you about how magpie-like I am - always attracted to bright shiny things so you can imagine what I was like when I first saw these. I just had to have them! Oh what joy in the studio this week!

What do you think of them? Aren't they gorgeous? My photos don't do them justice (it's hard photographing reflective surfaces). But if you click on the images for a larger view you can see them in a much better light.
There are also black birdcages available which are my No. 1 pick from the range.

I can't share images of the pieces I've made with them just yet as they've been submitted for consideration for publication. And I can't share a weblink to Kutalicious because this manufacturer is so new that they don't have a website up and running yet but I really wanted to give them a plug so as soon as get a link, I will post it.

But in the meantime, here's a peak at a piece which didn't make the cut when I was selecting which pieces I'd submit.
I just love the way the mirrored surface of the bird is reflecting other elements of the card.

These are just the most exciting find I've made in ages and it has been a delight to work with this product. Good on you Kutalicious..... I wish you every success!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Texture AND Shine

Just like a magpie, I am drawn to bright shiny things. I like precious jewels, so dazzling that they sparkle in the light. And the reflective shimmer of a CD as you tilt it causing a rainbow to dance around the disk. I like the lustre of shiny satin as it drapes in soft folds, and the crystals of a chandelier as the sunlight dances on them projecting a beautiful spectrum on whatever surface it falls. But I especially like Friendly Plastic with its vibrant, metallic foils so shiny and bright. It is hard not to be drawn to them.

But today I want to share what happens when you alter that shiny, smooth surface by impressing a texture. Doesn't it look great?....... still shiny, but no longer smooth. So you CAN have the best of both worlds - texture and shine all in the one piece.

With a stunning texture like this only a few simple embellishments are needed to create a lovely focal point on this card.
By the way, this texture is from Krafty Lady. Being made of silicone it won't stick to Friendly Plastic so there's no need for a release agent. Just soften the Friendly Plastic using your preferred heating method, place the texture mat on the surface and use a small rolling pin or stamp block to gently press the texture into the Friendly Plastic. Allow it to cool and it will release easily. If you're impatient like me, you can speed up the cooling by plunging it into cold water.

Before signing off today, I just want to give a quick plug to my upcoming Friendly Plastic classes at Stamp Antics on April 24th. In the morning class you'll learn how to create a Fracture and Fusion pendant with Friendly Plastic and resin and in the afternoon, we turn our attention to all your Friendly Plastic scraps when we turn them into fantastic embellishments to use in your papercraft projects. Bookings can be made by phoning Stamp Antics (3393 3022).

Hope you can join me!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heartfully Yours

Today I have a mini Friendly Plastic tutorial to share with you..... How to create little hearts to embellish your work - a technique inspired by Liz Welch's flower technique. Liz uses a hot water bath to soften her Friendly Plastic but for this spin off you could just as easily use any of the other Friendly Plastic heating methods. I just happen to use a heat gun as this is what I use to demo this at shows.

Cut a small triangle of Friendly Plastic - about 5mm wide by about 8mm long. Trim away the two top corners using really strong scissors like Tim Holtz Tonic scissors. Place the triangle on a sheet of aluminium foil which has been brushed lightly with cooking oil.Heat with the heat gun until soft - you'll notice the surface loses its shine and the edges will become rounded. Dip a metal stylus in cooking oil and draw it down through the Friendly Plastic from the top to create the indentation of the heart. You can play around with the shape a bit whilst it's still warm and curve the bottom of the heart if you like.And there you have it..... so easy!These sweet little hearts make lovely accents on this card and leave the recipient in no doubt as to how you feel about them..........And you might have seen this piece in AMACO's Friendly Plastic challenge last year. This is the same technique I used to make the hearts that dangle from the chains and decorate the beads on this Valentines jewellery ensemble.

With this very simple idea you can make flowers like Liz's, or butterflies like the ones in this post. Why not play around with the technique and see what other simple shapes you can make.

'Til next time,


Monday, April 5, 2010

Time off to recharge the batteries!

Well the Easter long weekend has almost come to an end but I've had a really enjoyable time working on the jewellery kits I had set aside. Here's what I got up to.

The first is a sweet little bracelet from My Little Bead Shop. I've made slider bracelets before but the idea of using velour tubing over tiger tail instead of curved metal tubes over memory wire really appealed to me. And, I love the hot pink velour tubing too! This was just a little warm up project and it took only a few minutes to complete.

Next I tried something I've never tried before - a chain maille project, which would no doubt be a little more challenging than the straight forward threading of my first project. How fascinating to make jewellery out of nothing more than jump rings!

The kit had everything in it to complete a necklace using the European 4 in 1 weave. The kit even included some simple tools: a jump ring opener and a T-pin and the rings were gold and silver plated. Personally, I prefer to use two pairs of flat nosed pliers to open and close jump rings but I thought it was a nice touch to include a ring opener. The T-pin, on the other hand, was an entirely necessary tool for a beginner. It was the only way I was going to be able to get the jump rings lying in the right position to attach more rings.

I've had this kit for more than a year just waiting until I had an opportunity to put it together so I was really excited to be finally trying my hand at Chain Maille. I've only ever flirted with doubling rings before because my supply of bulk rings are not well enough formed for Chain Maille.

At first I found it a little tricky manipulating the rings - hooking on all three rings as the instructions said seemed almost impossible to begin with, but once I got the "rhythm" of the weave it started to get easier and in the end I was able to dispense with the T-bar and the necklace came together very quickly. I must say that having the silver ring down the middle made it easy to work the weave although I'm not completely happy with the end result as the rings in this kit were less than perfect. All the jump rings were flattened on one cut edge by the tool they were cut with so they didn't butt together perfectly. They were also a little twisted which I found annoying as I was constantly trying to flatten them..... the problem with being a perfectionist! Anyway, I lost that battle but it was not a bad effort.
The third kit I made up was a Japanese 12 in 2 weave bracelet with matching earrings. Now this was fun! Although there is a little bit more to this weave than the 4 in 1 weave, by the time I had made a couple of the daisy repeats, the pattern was easy to remember. I also really liked the two tone look of copper and gold together.

The jump rings in this kit were all beautifully formed and definitely not cut with pliers. They were also not twisted so this was a joy to put together. I bought the pattern and the kit for the project as two separate components from The Chain Maille Lady. The instructions were easy to follow and the kit was good quality - it was more expensive than the other kit but it was worth paying more for it too.

I'm quite happy with this piece although smaller gold jump rings would have made the daisies a little bit tighter, but the slightly larger jump rings did make it easier for a beginner to put together. If you're interested in trying Chain Maille I would definitely recommend a kit from The Chain Maille Lady.

Well, that's it for my Easter long weekend projects. What great therapy these projects were! I've enjoyed myself so much that I'm going to squirrel away some more kits for another rainy day, whenever that might be.

And now I'm feeling refreshed again and the batteries are recharged.

'Til next time,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Just a quick post today to wish you all a Happy Easter.... I hope it is a day enjoyed with family and friends and that if you are travelling, that you arrive safely home after your journey.

I've been working on a number of projects at once during the past couple of weeks. I can't share any of the completed pieces with you just yet but here's a little peek at one of them which features a clutch of handmade eggs - not of the chocolate variety I'm afraid, but there are no calories, either!This is a workshop project for the Stamp Antics Retreat in July and it uses a few of my favourite supplies and tools: Lumiere paint, the Cuttlebug and chipboard elements from Collections. I'll unveil the whole piece a little closer to the retreat.

I hope that you find some time over this long weekend to craft. As for me, I've set aside my studio work for the weekend and I'm taking my crafting in front of the TV - I have some kits set aside for a day just like today and I can't wait to tackle them. I'll share what I finish later in the week.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.