Friday, March 30, 2012

A Lengthy Lariat

Earlier in the week I completed the spiral rope necklace to wear with my swirly yellow, brown and orange dress. I loved the way the necklace turned out but it just didn't work with the dress. Such a shame. But the good part is that I learned a new stitch and ever since I have been itching to start on the next kit. It's a lariat using St Petersburg stitch and the packaging says its level of difficulty is medium.

Well, I'm breezing through it. And while it's taking a little longer to make the finished length than the spiral rope took, it's taking shape nicely.

There's a lot to like about this stitch. Apart from being quite easy, I really like the angled pattern the stitch creates - the movement and direction that makes your eye move up and down the pattern. And because there is so little backstitching, it's really flexible as you can see in the photo. Don't you love the little picot edge?

As I'm working on this, I'm beginning to wonder if it might go with the swirly yellow, orange and brown dress - after all, there are patches of blue, pink and purple in the fabric. I have been trying to create jewellery for that dress all week and it's proving to be a difficult task.  So far, I've made 4 great pieces but not one of them is quite right. But I'm determined to find something that works with it.

So tomorrow I'm off to the bead wholesaler and I'm hoping to come home with some dark wooden beads. Failing that I'm really not sure what I'll try next. I'd love to wear that dress for Easter so I have to get a hurry up.

Wish me luck!

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 27, 2012

Spiral Shell Rope Necklace

When I look at beading projects and see the many thousand seed beads that make up these designs, it always makes me think how time consuming these projects must be. But not this one! I whipped it up in a couple of evenings in front of TV and without making a mistake along the way. Now that's the perfect kind of project for a busy girl!

The only hitch I had was when I broke a bead as I forced the needle through it one too many times. Luckily, it was right near the clasp and it's not visible in the design or I'd have had a bit of unpicking to do!

Anyway, here is the finished necklace and the dress it was made for.

The dress is a mass of swirling colour.  As I said, yellow, brown and orange are colours that I don't feel super confident in, but with the pinks and blues swirling amongst the autumn palette I think I can pull it off.

I'm not sure about the necklace though. When I bought it, the shell pendant looked brown inside the packaging but in the daylight it is as black as black can be. I had picked this pendant from amongst all the others because it looked brown.... just like the dark brown in the dress.

It's not that they look bad together, but I just think I can find something that works with it better so I'll keep looking until I'm happy with what I 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

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Rope in Progress

I was pretty excited with my beading kit purchases from the Bead Shack at the Brisbane craft show on Friday - I couldn't wait to get started on them. At first, I was having trouble make up my mind which one I should tackle first but after reading the packaging, I discovered that each one was marked with a degree of difficulty. What a nice little touch. And how perfect: I had bought one which was easy, one which was intermediate and one which was advanced. Three different kits, and three different stitches!

So now it's pretty obvious which one I should start with: the spiral rope! The packaging says this is herringbone (N'debele) stitch which I haven't done before so I'm excited that I'll be learning a new stitch.

I'm glad this was the easiest because I bought it to wear with a colourful maxi dress in colours that are way out of my comfort zone: yellow, brown and orange! I don't have a thing to accessorize with that colour palette and I've found it difficult to team it with anything in my purple, pink and burgundy wardrobe successfully. But this just might be the solution. Now I'm getting excited to finish it.

An evening in front of TV with a needle and the bead kit and I've made good progress.... it only needs about 5cm more I think. It is definitely what I'd classify as an easy project - one that you can do without too much concentrating and so it's perfect for in front of the TV.
I'm anxious to finish it so I can see whether it will go with the dress or not. Hopefully, I'll finish it tonight so I can share pics with you tomorrow.

'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, March 23, 2012

Time to Shop, Browse and Learn

I took a day away from the studio today and spent a few pleasant hours wandering the show floor at the Brisbane Craft and Sewing Show.  It was fun to be a visitor instead of a demonstrator or a teacher for a change. I got to do what you all get to do and that's browse, shop and learn. Well, I didn't have time to actually take a class but I did buy some beading kits which is basically a class in a kit! It will be a nice change of pace to follow instructions instead of writing them!

I also found some new moulds to work with. I love silicone moulds and I'm always on the lookout for new shapes and designs and today I found two new vendors to check out, both of them are cake decorating suppliers. Not many of you would know that many years ago I was a cake decorator and spent many years refining my skills in this craft so after all these years, it was refreshing to see cake decorating represented at the craft show. How cool are these "building brick" shape moulds?

And look what else I found..... some wonderful fan shaped shells edged with gold.
I know these have been around a while, but as soon as I saw them, a light bulb went off in my head - I have some special projects in mind for these little beauties.

And after all the projects I've been working on recently for my new tutorials, I've pretty much exhausted my supply of Fantasy Film so I was glad to find Angelina Film at the show. I picked up a few colours which I don't have in my stash.

With so many new "toys" to play with, I'm not quite sure where to start. Perhaps with a beading kit in front of TV. Yeah, that will be fun - can't wait to get started!

'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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Many Plans Does a Girl Have to Have?

Sometimes, things just don't go to plan no matter how well prepared you are! Take last week; I spent a good deal of the week preparing kits and packing for my workshops in Port Macquarie. I was well prepared but I had a little hitch; my regular Australian supplier didn't have any of the lovely little filigrees below in stock. So I'd made arrangements to buy them from a supplier in a far off land. Two weeks after ordering them, I was still waiting for them to arrive.

Now, not being one to panic (for too long!!), I knew there was still time but as I checked time and again, the order just didn't budge from the "Your order is ready to pick" stage. Not speaking Chinese wasn't helping the situation. I eventually came to the conclusion that they just wouldn't arrive in time. But I decided they would not be the downfall of one of the projects. So I drew up a Plan B...... and a Plan C just in case.

I knew I had some brass filigree flowers and squares on hand that would work.....

........but I didn't have enough. They would have looked good wrapped around the bottle cap though.

So I implemented Plan B2 which was to order a back up component from across the other side of the country. They weren't exactly what I wanted but I would have to make do. With the help of a wonderful supplier, they were dispatched the same day and on their way across the Nullabor.

Thankfully, they arrived in the nick of time, yet still things didn't work out! You see, the components I ordered were too small - how on earth did I make that mistake? Grrr!!!!

So, it was time to roll out Plan C..... a beautiful filigree butterfly which gently wraps its wing tips around the bottlecap and gracefully and securely connects it to the chain.

I'm thankful that Plan C actually worked. It wasn't the ideal solution, but I was running out of time and options and I really didn't want to call up Plan D which was to wait for the original components to arrive and then post them to everyone after the workshops!

Today, my order from Hong Kong arrived. And now, my original Australian supplier has got them back in stock and they too should arrive any day. And on top of that, my Plan C supplier is now also stocking them. It never rains, but it pours - I now have so many suppliers that it will be a long time before I have to go looking for these again!

'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, March 20, 2012

How Did I Fit All This In?

My bags were packed full to the brim on Friday as I made my way to the check in counter for the flight down to Port Macquarie for the resin jewellery workshops on the weekend. I had a serious case of excess baggage. How much? Well, enough to cost a pretty penny!

But it's a good thing that packing has always been one of my strong points. I was blessed with a keen sense of how things fit together in tight spaces - it comes in very handy for packing suitcases!

But even I can't believe how much I crammed into that bag!!! What you see here is about one third of it!

When I began setting up at The Glass House, the organisers looked on in amazement as it all came out - it was like the bottomless bag! 

Well, there were 24 participants after all. And that's a lot of supplies over the course of a weekend!

My next resin workshop will be at the Chermside Library for Youth Week. So if you are aged between 12 and 25, this is a workshop designed just for you. Check out the calendar for booking details. (edited: sorry, this link no longer available)

'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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Star Fish Aplenty!

Ahoy me maties..... there's something a bit fishy going on today! Starfishy, to be precise!

One of the items I had to prepare for the Glass House resin workshop kits this weekend is a batch of polymer clay starfish. It's really hard to come by the real thing these days so a while back I made a mould of a tiny little starfish and began casting my own. Actually, it was a two step process - I didn't really like the original starfish shape. It was too rigid and a bit too small. So I cast a starfish from that mould and then set about manipulating it into a slightly larger, and much more interesting starfish. I turned this one into the mould I use for these great little starfish.

But it's a fiddly little piece to get out of the mould so today I want to show you not only how to get it out but also how to give it a bit more personality before baking it.

I use beige and white Sculpey mixed together in roughly equal quantities and then pinch off small balls.

Roll the ball into a snake and place it into the arms of the starfish

Flatten it once all the arms have been filled and make sure you push it down into the cavity to pick up all the detail.

Hold a tissue blade horizontal to the mould and carefully slice through the excess.

At this point it will need a bit more work before you remove it from the mould.

Use your fingers to carefully pull the sides of each arm in towards the middle of the arm. This will define the shape better.

Now for the tricky bit. Bend the mould back a little to release the edge of one of the arms.

You need to use your nails to gently pry the arm out of the mould. Your nails will leave some marks but as long as they are on the side of the arms they won't show. Don't squeeze hard.... just use a light touch.... and be patient.

Rotate the mould and work on the next arm.

Continue working around the mould until all the arms are free except for the last one.

Bend the mould back again and gently lift out the final arm.

They are usually pretty deformed at this point.

But don't panic! Just pick it up in your fingers and gently reshape the arms. Give them a bit of a twist here and there to make them look more realistic.

And the finished starfish should look something like this.

Bake in the oven according to the package instructions and you have one fabulous little starfish for your next project.

'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, March 13, 2012

Getting Kitted Up

With two large workshops at the Glass House in Port Macquarie this weekend I'll be spending a lot of time packing workshop materials and preparing kits this week.

One of the scariest things when you're preparing for workshops is when materials don't arrive in time and at the moment I'm sweating on 3 different orders. Two are scheduled to arrive the day before I get on the plane, but the third one is definitely not going to arrive in time - it's still scheduled for picking. I think I'll get on the plane before it even leaves the warehouse! Hmmm..... on to Plan B (you've always got to have a Plan B!).

In the meantime, I'm cutting......
trimming off loops (with my trusty shank removers...... love this tool!)
pre-spraying moulds.....
making chains......

counting (and re-counting), kitting and packing.

After cutting out over 100 ovals I'm really over this part of the kit preparation....... why isn't there an oval punch that fits this mould?

I also like to make up my own chains so that I can make them to the length that suits the jewellery and also so that all the components are secure. Sure it takes longer, but at the end of the day it's worth it.

So on with the kitting up.... there's a lot to be done. Later in the week I'm going to show you how I cast those gorgeous, but very fiddly little starfish you see above.

'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