Monday, January 31, 2011

CHA - Day 2

This morning started bright and early with a 7.00am class. Yes, you read that right, 7.00am! In this class I learned some basics about wool felting. I've wanted to learn how to felt for a long time so I was excited that CHA had scheduled a workshop.

In this class, I learned that felting is not a quick process and that you need to have patience, persistence and hot soapy water to make a good felt. This was not as easy I thought it would be and I have a new found respect for anyone who has mastered the process of felting. My very simple heart shaped design has become a little misshapen during the process but overall, it's not too bad for a first effort. I didn't complete the needle felted scrolls I was working on but I found this part of the process much easier and more enjoyable.
After the workshop, it was time to set up my Designer Showcase and then I was on the go for the rest of the day meeting with people and I only had time to do one make and take for the afternoon but it was a goodie!
I think there must have been love in the air today. Not only had I chosen a heart motif for this morning's workshop but I also did this very cute Valentine's frog at the Walter Foster booth. This project comes from a wonderful book called Mixed-Media Dollhouses by Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina and they were at the booth running the make and take. Isn't this little guy cute? Don't you just want to kiss him!
With only one and a half days of the show left, I will be on a mission tomorrow to cover much more of the show floor.
I'll be back to tell you all about it soon.

Until then, happy crafting!.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Sunday, January 30, 2011

CHA - Day 1

It's Saturday and the first day of CHA. It's always so exciting to walk through the doors not knowing what you're going to find on the show floor.

My first stop for the day was at Viva Decor's booth where Michael Strong had designed a very pretty and softly coloured valentine's card using Paper Soft Color. Whilst this is not a new product, it is the first opportunity I've had to use it and I was really impressed by how easily it blended on the paper. The colour is very soft just as its name implies. To add some elegant pearls to the flourishes we used a Pearl Pen which was also a dream to use. The stamped images are from Michael's own stamp line, Strong Stamps.
Beautiful card, isn't it Sorry about the poor photography - there is very limited lighting in the hotel room so I won't mention where this photo was taken, although the towel background might give you some idea! Viva Decor has a theme for their booth this year: A White Wedding and this card definitely fits the theme but for me, this will be a Valentine's card for my wonderful DH.

A little around the corner was Pin Charming where I made the cutest little pin to wear on my shirt.These safety pins have a removable head which you wind off so that you can then thread on the beads of your choice. Wind the head back on and it's ready to by worn. This is a fun and easy project for children and I can see it being great activity for Girl Guides or for a girl's birthday party.

Moving along to the Sizzix booth I did a make and take with Vintaj jewellery blanks and Sizzix embossing folder; another super easy project. All you had to do was place the jewellery blank in the embossing folder, run it through the Big Shot (of which I am now a proud owner!) and then sand with a nail sanding block. The rough side removes enough of the aged metal to reveal the embossed pattern, but sanding it with the smooth side polishes the embossed metal brightly. Guess which side I chose to use?!!
From the Sizzix booth I moved along to Teresa Collins Designs where I got to use one of her new releases: Blingage. This was another super quick and easy make and take where all you had to do was thread the acrylic and metal elements on a ball chain. That's a lot of bling but big is a hot look at the moment so these rocks really fit the bill.
There were lots of other cool things that I saw today and these are just a few of the things which I enjoyed. I'll have more cool finds later on. I hope you'll stop by to see what else I get up to at CHA over the next few days.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Saturday, January 29, 2011

CHA - getting an education

Today I'm blogging from CHA in Los Angeles so it's greetings from sunny California!
LA has turned on the weather for CHA and it is warm and sunny and the sky is blue. Temps are in the mid 20s and there is a gentle breeze blowing.... you really couldn't get a more perfect day!

I've spent most of the day in business seminars learning so much that I didn't know about the craft industry. It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn. And there are some very experienced folks who lead these seminars so they are invaluable.
I know seminars sound a bit boring but I managed to squeeze in some fun stuff too. I did a great workshop featuring Kandicorp's deColourant paints. All I can say is WOW..... what an amazing product! Not only does it take the colour out of natural fabrics (and handmade papers) but it also puts colour back into the fabric, all in the one step. It's non toxic and easy to apply, with no mess and a pleasant fragrance. And best of all, the results you get are great.
We worked with a hand dyed silk scarf as our fabric base. We were trying to create a faux shibori look so we twisted the scarf tightly from both ends until it twisted back onto itself. Then we applied the deColourant of our choice onto the creases in the twisted scarf with a sponge. I used green for this step and my faux shibori has ended up looking more like leaves, but that's OK - keep reading on to find out why.
Next we opened the scarf out and laid it flat on our work surface and pounced a second deColourant colour through a pebble stencil. We were supposed to do this down the centre of the scarf but I decided to make my pebbles into a border along both long sides of the scarf. The final step was to heat set the colour which took about 15 seconds. And that's it! Doesn't it look stunning?
Mine has a very tropical feel about it and the yellow "pebble" border has turned into tropical looking flowers. I am so happy with the result!

This was a neat little project that took only about 15-20 minutes to complete and the finished scarf looks super cute tied around the handle of my handbag.

I can't wait to try some other things out with this at home and it will give me a good excuse to get out the silk paints to dye some silk so that I can "deColour" it. What fun!

I'll try to pop in again some time during CHA but in the meantime, I hope you have a crafty weekend!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Friday, January 28, 2011


Life here in the Hillam household has been a little bit topsy turvy these past couple of weeks and blogging has had to take a back seat.

Our eldest son left for Duntroon (Royal Military College) last week. It was one of life's special moments - you know the ones I mean; when you're happy, sad, proud and anxious all at once. Who knew that a child leaving the nest would be so hard on the parents?

And as if it wasn't hard enough to have one child leave the nest, the youngest child also left home this week to begin university studies interstate. There has been so much organising to do to get her new home set up with the basic necessities that a household requires. And then finally, the moment came when it was time to leave. Another one of those special moments - lots of tears and a moment of anxiousness as you wonder if you have equipped them to cope with what life throws at them.

There are still two children at home but all of a sudden, our household is mighty quiet. I'm already missing the hustle and bustle and comings and goings of four adult children. I think they are too!

Whilst all this has been going on, and in between all the teary moments, there has been a lot of activity in the studio in preparation for CHA. There have been samples to complete and a Designer Showcase to put together, so sadly, blogging has taken a back seat as a result. But I thought I'd share a pic of my Designer Showcase with you in it's early stages. There were lots of adjustments made to it after this snap was taken but it gives you a bit of an idea of what I've been doing whilst I've been neglecting my blog.

I'm pleased to say that it's all now packed in my suitcase and both my suitcase and I have arrived safely in LA.

Tomorrow the CHA education program begins, and then on Saturday the show floor officially opens. The next few days will be exciting but at the same time it will be hectic as there is so much to cover during the show; people to meet, seminars to attend and new products to discover.

If I get a chance, I'll check back in during the show with an update. But until then, I hope you'll find time to spend crafting!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kumihimo - a fun way to braid

I'm in the midst of preparations for CHA at the moment and have lots of different projects on the go and one of those is a lanyard for my name badge.

The ones given to attendees are purely functional, and frustratingly, I always find mine turns itself back to front so that when you meet someone and they look down at your name badge all they see is the back of it. It doesn't seem to matter which way you wear it, it always flips itself over again. Not surprising really, as they are secured by just one point at the top of the badge so no amount of fiddling with it will prevent this phenomenon from happening. But this show, I'll be wearing one that is a lot less likely to flip over; it will be attached by the two top corners and it's made from a sturdy Kumihimo braid.

And whilst you might not have the need of a lanyard, this particular braid is also really suitable for jewellery making so let's get to and make a Kumihimo bracelet.
Candy coloured kumihimo bracelet

You'll need four 1 metre (39") lengths of rat tail cord in your choice of colours and a Kumihimo Disk.
Kumihimo basics: the materials that you need are a Kumihimo disk and cord.Find the middle of the first length of cord and place it across the hole in the middle of the disk and then place the cord into the slot on the left hand side of the dot at the top of the disk. Pull the cord firmly and place the other end into the slot to the right of the bottom dot. Repeat with the other cords until the disk looks like the photo.Set up your Kumihimo disk with the cords placed at the top and bottom, and right and left hand sides.Now it's time to begin the braid. There are just three actions involved:
Step 1: Hold the centre of the cords with your right thumb and with your left hand, lift the bottom left cord out of its slot....Begin the braid by taking the bottom left cord and placing it in the top left hand slotand place it into the slot to the left of the cord at the top of the disk. You now have 3 cords at the top and 1 cord at the bottom.
Kumihimo basics: After step 1 is completed, you'll have 3 cords at the top.Step 2: Now, switch hands and place your left thumb over the centre and using your right hand, lift the cord at the top right of the disk....
Kumihimo basics: Step 2 - Take the top right hand cord and place it in the bottom right hand slot. You now have two cords at the top again and two cords at the bottom.and place it into the slot at the bottom right of the disk.Kumihimo basics: After you've completed Step 2, you have two cords at the top and two cords at the bottom again.Step 3: Rotate the disk counter clockwise.

And that's it. Continue with these three simple steps and you will see the braid begin to emerge from the bottom of the disk.Kumihimo basics: after you've worked a few rotations of the disk, you'll begin to see the braid emerge from the back of the disk.Continue until you have used up all the cord and you will have a braid approximately 20cm (8") long.
Kumihimo basics: Keep working the braid until it measures about 20cm (8") in length (or the desired length of your bracelet).Tie the pairs of cord together so that the braid doesn't unravel when you take it off the disk.Kumihimo basics: tie off the threads on the disk before removing the cords from the slots so that it doesn't unravel.You'll need approximately 18cm - 19cm (7" - 7 1/2") to make a bracelet. Measure your wrist to check how long you need to make it and then subtract about 3/4" for the toggle closure.

Use a needle and thread to stitch through all the cords at the desired length and then wrap the thread 3 or 4 times around the braid to bind it all together.Kumihimo basics: tie off the braid before removing the cords from the disk to prevent it from unravelling.Trim the cords closely to the binding.Kumihimo bracelet: trim the cords close to the binding.Use a good dab of glue on the ends and slide the braid into a snug fitting cord end. A strong glue like Weld Bond or 5-minute epoxy are my go to adhesives.Once the adhesive has dried, add a jump ring and two or three chain links to the bar and then connect the jump ring to the cord end. Attach the toggle to a jump ring and connect to the remaining cord end.
The finished Kumihimo braid with silver cord ends and a toggle clasp closure.
And there you have it - a simple and fun bracelet that can be made in any colour you like.

Now that you've got the hang of the basic round braid, check out the Kumihimo Bracelet Collection at where you'll find Kumihimo Bracelet ideas for every season of the year!

And for more ideas from this blog, see this related post:
Beaded Leather Kumihimo Bracelet with Sliding Knot

Pin this project for later!
Learn how to master the basic Kumihimo Braid

DIY Kumihimo Braided Candy-Coloured Bracelet tutorial sheet

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Amethyst Spiral

At last, here it is... my final Christmas holiday project..... a twisted spiral rope bracelet kit. I thought this would be the most difficult of the kits I'd bought because it looks so complicated but I think it was actually the easiest! There are really only two simple steps in the pattern; string on the beads, count back 4 beads, and stitch back up through those four beads. That's it... there isn't any more to it and once you start, it comes together really quickly. I think it took all of one hour from start to finish, including adding the closure.

I really enjoyed this project and of all the kits I've done, this one has definitely been my favourite - I can see myself incorporating this into a future jewellery project.

Working on these simple bead weaving kits over the last few weeks has not only been enjoyable but it has also given me a few new techniques to draw on in the future. You've gotta love it when learning = FUN!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beadweaving in the RAW

This beadweaving thing is becoming addictive!

After finishing the first two RAW kits I couldn't help experimenting with it some more. I've started working on variations in colour, bead placement, even bead shape and each piece has turned out quite differently. I can't help but think about the endless variations that can be created with this weave. I have got to stop! This was supposed to be a relaxing holiday activity but it's beginning to take a strangle hold over me! So this is the last RAW piece I'm going to work on for a while. The holidays have now come to an end and I've learned a new jewellery making skill. Gosh, I've even done some experimenting with it so, goal achieved! What a good start to the New Year.

I'm about to begin working on a spiral rope bracelet kit and I imagine that this will be just as addictive once I realise the endless possibilities with this weave too. This will take me longer to complete though because it's back to work today. Here's hoping it doesn't become a UFO!!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Monday, January 3, 2011

Privacy Please!!

I got a new photographic light tent for Christmas..... I was thrilled when I unwrapped it!

It's not the first one I've had though. My first one was so well used, that it had begun to fall apart at the joins. And that's because I fold it up and put it away after every photographic session. You see, I have to, or this is what happens......... Miss kitty kat finds it very comfy and private in there...... even in the glare of my daylight lamps which are set up to illuminate the jewellery!

What an interesting prop she would have made for the bracelet I photographed for yesterday's post. You can just see it in the bottom of the opening. She would have made a lovely model; perhaps sporting the bracelet as a collar 'round her neck!

So the moral of this story is.... don't leave the light tent out even for 5 minutes or it will become snooze central.

2011 is turning out to be the year of the lesson learned!!!!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Sunday, January 2, 2011

RAW Exploration - Learning valuable lessons

Here's the next bead weaving kit I've made up during my holidays. This one is a variation of the first one I did where the basic pattern has been built on by adding an additional RAW stitch on each side of the main beads, as well as a contrasting bead in the centre. This one is worked with just one needle and whilst I found it easier to manage than the two needles in the first kit, it was harder because you have to work with a longer thread which sometimes gets tangled.

But all in all, it was easy....... except for a tiny little mistake I discovered just before adding the last two RAW stitches on the circle at the end. You can't see anything wrong with the pattern, can you?Well, neither could I..... until I got all the way back to the beginning and noticed that..... after the first round I had forgotten to add the connecting seed beads between each circle. Grrr! I hadn't bothered to read the pattern after the first couple of circles because I thought I had the pattern down pat! Huh! Lesson learned..... FOLLOW the instructions!

OK, no big deal I thought. I'll just undo all my work back to the beginning and start over. It will be good practice. So I patiently undid every stitch so I could reuse the beading thread which came in the kit. There was no extra provided for such an event and being a public holiday meant I couldn't just run out to buy some, so undoing it was a necessity. And all was going well, until I got to within the last three circles and found I had split the thread with the needle. Well, that was the end of that. The thread would be too weak to make a bracelet with it now so I had to put it aside until the shops re-opened.

But when I was finally able to get to the shops I got an even better lesson about beading threads. I hunted high and low for a silk thread fine enough to pass through the seed beads 6 times (required when attaching the clasp). No luck! The ones in stock were all too thick. No worries I thought. I've heard that Nymo is a good thread to use with Miyuki beads so I thought I'd give that a try. It comes in a great range of colours and should be fine enough to pass through the seed beads many times.

But then I got a great piece of advice from the shop owner. She suggested I use Fire Line because it was better suited to a bracelet which has movement in it than Nymo. You can knot it and it comes in different breaking strengths. Then she pulled out of her pocket two 3D seed bead ornaments that she was working on. They were identical to look at, but when she put them in my hand I could immediately tell the difference.... one was soft and flexible and had been made with FireLine. The other was stiff and sturdy and was made out of Spiderwire. For her project, the Spiderwire was the best choice, but for mine, FireLine would be perfect. So home I went with FireLine and before I knew it I had remade the bracelet, this time including the seed bead circles.

This was such a valuable lesson to have learned. Now I can select the right threading material for my projects and feel confident that my bead weaving will not fall apart when it's worn. Aren't mistakes wonderful?!

I'll be back with more bead weaving bracelets later in the week. In the meantime, happy crafting!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs