Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Realeather Jewellery

As a jewellery designer, I'm always on the look out for new materials to work with and earlier in the year I came across Silver Creek Leather and their recently released Realeather Jewelry collection.

When I first saw these components, it completely stopped me in my tracks. It was one of those moments where you catch your breath and think, "Wow! How clever!". This collection is different to anything else you've seen. These are quality components: contemporary and very cleverly designed. They bring together leather crafting and jewellery making in a really unique way.

Here are some of the things I like most about the collection.

The focals and slides - sterling silver plated and interchangeable. These have a screw backing so that you can screw out one focal and replace it with another for a totally new look.... how versatile! They work really well with the leather bracelets which have pre-punched holes perfectly aligned to accommodate them. I also love the magnetic Bird Cage Knot Tie clasps. These cleverly hide away the end knots of multi strand pieces of jewellery.

And another cleverly designed component is the Pinch Bail necklace and earring components. Just place a suede shape from the collection into the pinch bail (they come in brights, pastels and earthy tones), pinch the bail closed and then add beads to finish it off.

There's a whole lot more to this collection such as large holed beads in both metal and glass, components with real lizard skin inserts, magnetic clasps and other decorative elements and they are all sterling silverplate or made from quality leather and suede.

I was so excited by the collection that I couldn't wait to get back to my studio to start creating with them. Here I've combined a braided bracelet and beautiful silver plated flower beads from the collection with some silver and shell components from my own stash. Don't they work well together?

I had a heap of fun playing with the Sof-Suede lace I brought home with me. True to its name, it's soft and pliable and lends itself well to being coiled (as in the bracelet at top), folded, wrapped, knotted and plaited.In this bracelet I've created a chain from Sof-Suede. Join lengths of Sof-Suede with a suitable adhesive and thread on a large holed bead. Thread the lace for the next chain onto the previous one before gluing the ends together. These "berries" are from my own collection.

Creating tassels and knotting the Sof-Suede lace is a breeze because it's so flexible that it folds back on itself easily. Just take lengths of Sof-Suede lace and twist them in the middle with wire. Thread the wire through a bead cap, pull the tassel firmly into place and then create a loop. Easy!

This is such a classy collection of mix and match components. It's worth spending some time looking over their catalogue and reading the product descriptions because you won't realise just how clever these components are until you do. Check the distributors page for where to find the collection.

'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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BCC Art Bites Update


Here's an important update about the BCC Art Bites Resin Workshop. Due to renovations at the original venue, the workshop has been moved to a new location. The workshop will now take place at the Mt Gravatt Community Centre at 1693 Logan Road, Mt Gravatt.

I'm really excited to share some other news about the workshop too; we will be joined by a camera crew who will be filming a segment for Channel 10's Totally Wild! I don't have specific details yet, just that they will be filming. Let's hope we don't all get camera shy!

It's just 5 short days away, so let the countdown begin. For those of you who managed to secure a booking, prepare yourself for some very resiny 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

Monday, March 21, 2011

A New Year's Resolution Check Up - How Long Can I Keep this Up?

How quickly this year is flying past! Everyone you talk to makes the same comment. Each and every year seems to fly past more quickly than the last. But I've been so busy lately, that I'm not even noticing time is passing. Days and weeks are now such a blur it's almost like there is no separation in time - no night, no day, no weeks or months - it's almost like it's one continuous day!!

With very little spare time on my hands these days, I'm grateful that I made a New Year's Resolution back in January: "To procrastinate less". It's really helping to keep me on track. When I made that promise to myself (and said it out loud on my blog), I felt a little nervous because it meant having to be accountable and really striving to achieve that goal.

I knew I would never have been able to completely stop procrastinating but by quantifying it in terms of procrastinating less, it has made this goal achievable. And here we are, three months into the year and I'm still sticking with this resolution.

Before starting this exercise, I had "piles" everywhere. Some of them even felt like mountains. I could just about liken my paperwork pile to Mount Everest! I really dislike paperwork and I find that this is the toughest "pile" to tackle. I'm still working on this one.

But by dealing with most things as soon as they arise instead of dumping them in "the pile" to be dealt with later, I've discovered a side benefit: I've cleaned out quite a few brain cells too. It's a bit like opening up the window and letting the fresh air in. It feels good to have so much less clutter in there! I hadn't realised how mentally sapping procrastination was until l I did something about it! And I could probably free up a few more brain cells if I made paper lists instead of mental lists. Perhaps that will be next year's resolution!

Habits are such hard things to break though so let's see if I'm still sticking to it come June.

For those of you who have been patiently awaiting samples of this weekend's classes at Stamp Antics, here's one of the cards we'll be working on. This class is all about using Krafty Lady Templates and Art Moulds. You'll complete two different cards in the class and the template is yours to keep.
Samples for the other classes on Saturday are on my website.

'That's all from me for now. I'm off to deal with some more paperwork!

'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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Luck o' the Irish - Good Fortune, that is!

Want to be lucky this St Patrick's Day? Then why not make yourself a bracelet from a lucky Four Leafed Clover!
Bottle cap bracelet featuring green striped scrapbook paper with real dried 4 leaf clovers embedded in resin.Here's what you'll need:
  • Flattened bottle caps or if you'd like to flatten your own, Crown caps and a hammer
  • Magic-Glos UV curing resin
  • Jasart Four leaf clover stickers - these are real four leafed clovers on a clear background so the background can't be seen under the resin
  • Crystals, rub-ons or other small embellishments
  • Green striped scrapbook paper
  • 1" circle punch
  • 1mm drill bit and drill
  • UV nail lamp (sunshine will cure the resin if you don't have a UV lamp)
Use the hammer to flatten the bottle caps to give them a nice border. Punch as many circles from the scrapbook paper as you need. My paper didn't require sealing but some papers do. If yours does, then use Translucent Liquid Sculpey. Do not use Mod Podge for this project -  it's not compatible with Magic-Glos. If you're not sure if your paper needs sealing, then seal it anyway. To do this, coat the back and the front AND the cut edge then bake in the oven on non stick cooking paper, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Whilst the paper circles are in the oven, you can continue with the next step.

Squeeze a blob of Magic-Glos into the centre of the bottle cap about the size of a 1c coin and spread it out to the edges.

Place a paper circle in the Magic-Glos and press it down so that the resin oozes up around the outside of the paper. Place another blob of resin in the centre and spread it out to the edges so that it fully covers the paper. If there are any bubbles, pop these by passing a BBQ torch briefly across the surface. Keep it moving at all times. Place the bottle caps under the lamp (or in the sunshine) for about 10 minutes to cure.

Apply a four leaf clover sticker to the centre of the bottle cap. Cover the entire surface with Magic-Glos and cure for another 10 minutes.

Add any embellishments such as rub-ons now, then apply another layer of Magic-Glos, add the crystals and then place under the lamp until cured.

Turn your lucky four leaf clover charms into jewellery by drilling holes in each bottle cap and assembling them with beads and charms, and then finally, add a clasp.Bottle cap bracelet featuring a 4 leaf clover, light green crystals and green flourish rub ons. The bracelet is strung with alphabet beads spelling out Luck of the Irish.I hope you have fun creating your own lucky charms for St Patrick's Day.

May Irish good fortune smile upon you today!

'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, March 7, 2011

Kokeshi Dolls... so sweet and adorable!

Aren't these little Kokeshi style dolls adorable? Kokeshi dolls are originally from the northern region of Japan and were handmade from wood. They are instantly recognisable; their simplistic design includes a rounded trunk, enlarged head and a lack of arms and legs. They are also painted brightly with very simple detailing. Traditionally they were made by master craftsmen but these days they are mass produced as souvenirs for the tourist industry.

I got these from Beads Online. And whilst they are not strictly traditional, they are really cute. Cute is not a style I work in very often so it will be a challenge to see how I can incorporate their quirkiness with my style.

From time to time it's good to step out of your comfort zone and work with an unfamiliar product or style. That's exactly what I did this weekend with these Kokeshi pendants. I found them so very appealing, but I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them.

And so there I was, confronted with the proverbial blank canvas and that very uncomfortable feeling of not knowing quite where to start. These pendants demand to be the centre of attention but how do you work with such a dominant feature and stay true to the minimalistic style associated with the Japanese culture? Sure, I could have just strung them on a length of cord or chain, but I was looking to incorporate some of my design skills here.

So, first thing I did was raid my stash to see what I have that might work with them. I was looking for items that were similar (or complimentary), beads and charms with a Japanese feel, striking chains, bold colours: anything which felt even remotely Asian. And here's what I found: black chain, some lovely five petal metal spacers, red coral flower beads, some great glass fan beads and crystals in both black and mirrored gunmetal for sparkle. I also found some metal charms in the shape of pagodas and fans but neither of these made it into the finished pieces.

I have several different black chains in my studio to choose from and for the first piece I settled on a polyester chain from Beadalon. I love the look of black chain but there are limited jewellery findings to go with it. You can substitute gunmetal if you're really stuck but I've now got a small collection of black findings and I add to that collection every time I find more. You can see here that I've used a black toggle to connect the bracelet. I stuck with the silver findings for the rest of the piece though because it worked with the other silver elements.I know that I have black headpins and eyepins in my stash but a recent cleanup has resulted in them becoming put away so safely that I can't find them - isn't that always the way? So I've used gunmetal for this next piece. It still works because only the loops of the eyepins show and it's not very visible. But for the rest of the chain and connectors I've used black. You could always make your own jump rings from black wire but I had some on hand so I've made use of them.

This piece is so sweet. I love the way the burnished gold flowers and black chain work together and the sprinkling of red coral makes it all pop.I think the five-petalled spacers even look a little bit Japanese!
In the end, the simple treatment was the best way to go; Kokeshi Dolls don't need a lot of ornamentation! They are bright and happy and that is what I wanted to capture. And I think I've succeeded.

This ended up being a really fun challenge for the weekend.

I hope you all had a great weekend too.

'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, March 5, 2011

Razzle, Dazzle, Opalescence!

Not quite an Opal and not quite dichroic glass, but it's certainly eye catching! This is one of the techniques you learn in my Resin Jewellery Workshop.

One of the fun things about working with resin is the myriad of items that you can embed. Whether they be found objects, charms or iridescent mylar as in the sample above, resin will allow you to create your own really unique focal pieces. This piece is made using Krafty Lady Art Mould AM282. It's quite a large piece, measuring about 5.3cm x 4.0cm, so it gives you a lot of surface area to create a really interesting design.

Such a stunning cabochon needs very little in the way of decorative elements so I've kept it simple and just wired it to a filigree stamping.

Filigrees are wonderful decorative elements and despite their lacy and elaborate appearance, they can compliment even a busy piece. This one does a great job of holding the cabochon in place without detracting from it and yet, when you turn it over, the filigree is the star of the show.
If you'd like to learn the technique for creating this razzle, dazzle, opalescent wonder, why not book yourself in to a workshop. You'll learn a host of tips, tricks and techniques along the way.

Have a happy, crafty weekend!

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, March 1, 2011

Siren of the Sea

I can't believe how quickly this necklace and earring set came together. My original idea for the Czech Glass seashell beads was a much more casual design but when I found the lapis lazuli and pyrite beads I could see something quite different. But the silver filigree dictated that this design would be much more structured than what I'd originally had in mind. It works really well with the very platinum coloured pyrite or fools gold as it is known - gold that is not quite gold and yet not quite silver!

When I laid the lapis beads out on my bead mat around the filigree, I liked the way the eyepins were radiating out from the filigree but I wasn't sure that they'd sit at that angle once they were attached. But what I discovered was that because the holes in the filigree were a long way from the edges, gravity couldn't make the eyepins fall straight down but instead they sat at the angle I wanted. Dare I say it, but I've defied gravity!

For the earrings though, gravity is just doing its thing and the lapis beads sit nicely against the seashell on the bottom of the eyepins. They have just enough movement to make them interesting.
It was a lot of fun selecting these beads and then turning them into finished jewellery and I would like to thank Auntie's Beads for providing me with them. Please check out their selection to see what other interesting beads you can find.

'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

Auntie's Beads

Every once in a while I'm lucky enough to receive some goodies in the mail to create with and yesterday it was this little bundle of goodies courtesy of Auntie's Beads. Aren't they gorgeous?

The seashell strand is Czech Glass and I fell in love with these the moment I saw them. Sometimes, a bead just talks to you and you know you have to have it. But this strand wasn't just talking; it was shouting at me! I couldn't get it into my cart fast enough. I think I was secretly worried that if I didn't, there'd be none left by the time I got to the checkout. But now that I've seen them in real life, I'm wishing I had put 2 strands into my cart! I really LOVE them!

When I was looking for beads to pair them up with I had in mind a beach theme and I was thinking turquoise, sand, sea green.... you get the picture. I was looking for something a little shabby chic. But in wandering through the Auntie's Beads site, I came across these beautiful lapis lazuli rounds and thought how well they would go with seashells. I usually work with glass beads so selecting a semi precious stone was a first for me.

Now remember I said I wanted a beachy colour scheme? Well, that went out the window when I found these pyrite (fools gold) beads. I just couldn't resist how sophisticated this colour scheme looked - a long way from the weathered beachy look I'd initially imagined!

The filigree square was a little extra that they put in my package. What a lovely little bonus! Did they know how much I like filigrees? I mean, seriously, they are one of my favourite components to work with - just ask anyone who has done one of my resin jewellery workshops. I use them in a lot of my jewellery and I buy them whenever I find them and I now have quite a growing collection. But that's a post for another day.

I'm off to have a play to see where this little bundle of beady goodness takes me. I must say that I'm quite excited to be using semi precious stones as well as glass!

I'll be back soon with pics!

'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