Friday, July 29, 2011

The little things....

It's definitely the little things in life. A comfy too big for you sweater, a worn in t-shirt, a big huge mug of coffee, and jewelry that you can wear without thinking, knowing it's just right.

The jewelry was a happy little discovery I made Wednesday when I was making some round wire charm forms for my last class. In my book, I show you how with this one little wire form you're able to make resin, polymer clay, and fabric charms. I demonstrated all these in my class as well. But it was a happy little accident when I got a little crazy with my wrapping on one and I discovered what a wonderful little ring it can be as well. 

Definitely one of those little things that make life sweet. 
Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Handmade Wire and Metal Charms That Look Oh- So-Sweet

 As I was teaching a class last night the actual terms for some things kept alluding me. So I did a little improvisation (the words "thingie and danglie" were used with complete abandon). I did remember the word "mandrel" though and man, did I work that one. The class was a riff off of the mixed media charm bracelet I have in my book and pretty technique heavy. It was really a primer on how to begin to create jewelry, work with polymer clay, create your own wire forms (thus the word "mandrel" being used),an intro to resin, AND to basic stitching. For most of the class this was their first exposure to any of those materials and techniques and I was so impressed  by their willingness to try something new and have fun doing it. They all did wonderfully and I loved seeing all those danglies swinging from their wrists as they walked out at the end of class. 

A Penny for your Thoughts
Besides the charms from my book, I created a few more handmade charms that were simply made to demonstrate to the class how wonderful  wire can be. I also got out my tin snips and scraps from an old metal tray (the rest of it I had used for my altered tin heart tutorial here on the blog). I really love how they turned out.  My faves were a mini scribble heart, a little bird's nest, a couple of charms cut from an old tin tray, a button, a lucky penny, a jump ring danglie of shell buttons, and a funky little spiral.

This morning after I grabbed my coffee, I got out my pliers and a chain and made my own little bracelet with the charms to show you. I really do love how versatile wire can be, and how easily it can be shaped into forms that seem soft or organic and yet are so solid and firm to the touch. It's a juxtaposition I love. 

The completed bracelet has a definite handmade charm

 Which are your faves? Have you ever made a charm bracelet? Any sweet tips on other unexpected items that you've worked with? I'd love to have you share, so please leave a comment! Have a great weekend and thanks again for stopping by! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The NEW Somerset Home and a SUPER good deal!

Just a couple of super cool newsy bits to share with you today. First, one of my all time favorite yearly publications, Somerset Home is making it's way to mailboxes and newsstands all over the country. With over a 100 creative ideas to beautify your home, you're sure to find something to flip over in this issue. I received my advance copy yesterday and love it. I'm also excited to say that it has not just one but TWO articles featuring my beloved steel wire. One is mine, and in it I show you how to creatively reuse an old book by turning it into a photo display.  The other article was written by the french wire artist Claire Rougerie. She tells you how to make the most adorable wire cuckoo clock. Seriously. cute. I just popped over to her website and am absolutely in love. (But it is wire and I LOVE, love, love wire.) Plus, the issue has lots and lots of fabulous ideas for beautifying your home. I hope you'll check it out. It officially hits newsstands on August 1st. Whoo-hoo!

The second little item I thought I'd share is that over at the Create Mixed Media site they are offering a bundle of three essential books for the mixed media and fabric enthusiast. My book, Creative Bloom, is one of those books, the other is Ruth Rae's Layered, Tattered and Stitched and third is the all new Mixed and Stitched by Jen Osborn. The bundle is available at a special discounted price but only for a limited time. I love a good deal and this looked like a fabulous one to share with you. All three titles for only $34.95. You save 53% on all three!

 I have a class I'm teaching tonight and have been so excited all day so I'm going to go finish up my prep on that. Hope you're having a wonderful, creative day and talk to you again soon!Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Funky Cool Trade Show Displays from CHA

I've still lots and lots to tell you about my CHA experience but thought I'd make it mostly pictoral today. I took a lot of pics of new products, innovative booth designs, and super cool displays from the CHA trade show to share with you. SO without further ado, here ya go!
This funky girl was the focal for the Handbehg felts booth. I LOVED this booth. Not only did it have a million cool ideas of how to use their product but it was really artfully displayed and had this artcycle theme that I of course think is fabulous. Check out the paper towel rolls on this girl!
From the world of upholstery to super cute locker mates

Love how the artist behind this product upcycled this Victoria Secret freebie bag into something SO much cooler!
Found this beautifully draped girl at Nunn Designs who had the most gorgeous bezels and findings for resin/collage jewelry lovers.
Graphic 45's booth was overflowing with creative examples of ways to use their new Wizard of Oz stamps and papers. It worked great as nostalgia but also for Halloween.
Art-C is a new line from the makers of Little Yellow Bicycle- loved their canvas prints and their new molds (more on this later)!!!
We ALL wanted ALL of these spray inks by October Afternoon- the colors are just so spot on perfect.

The Vintaj booth- the eye candy was AMAZING!
This was a display item at the We R Memory Makers booth. They have a new tool that crimps on these cute two sided metal tabs. Adorable!
Rose Mille had these gorgeous gorgeous bags of german glass glitter. The colors were really breathtaking and I LOVE the way they look in these wax paper bags. Really truly GORGEOUS!

Hope you enjoyed these pics direct from the trade show floor at CHA- Summer 2011!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

CHA Impressions

Posing by the October Afternoon CHA booth
CHA was amazing. My head is still spinning and it's taken me this long to feel like I can even give you my impressions of the experience. I had the intention of blogging it all right away but honestly was completely unprepared for the huge impact this conference and trade show would have on me. I went with my friend Shelley from Single Stone Studios and we thought we'd go in and just sort of scope out the people and opportunities with the idea that we'd attend our next one knowing what to expect and able to really be proactive. We were not expecting to meet as many people as we did, we were not expecting to be given as much advice and guidance as we were. We were both totally unprepared for how generous, open, and encouraging everyone was. We both felt like we were suddenly in this cool club without really knowing how it was that we got there.

Crafty Couture by Jen Cushman and Claudine Hellmuth
The conference part of CHA started on Monday so I flew into Chicago on Sunday night where I met Shelley. Monday morning we dived right in, our first seminar was a round table discussion for designers. I've never been to a round table thingy and thought it was so cool to walk into the room and see all these round tables that seated about 8, all with some neat-o sounding topic and discussion leader. We were late and so sat down at the table closest to the door and that happened to be the go to table  for info on the CHA designers council. We were both feeling like complete newbies so this was just a little gift from God that we were able to chat with people who really knew the organization and could point us in the right direction right from the start. They also told us about a  design council meeting that we were able to attend later that night that proved to be hugely informational. Then it was time to switch it up and I made a bee line for Jen Cushman's table which had the title, The Editor's Eye. I SO love Jen Cushman's articles on the Create Mixed Media site. Besides having a background in journalism, Jen has a ton of other experience in the craft/art industry AND has authored the book Explore. Create. Resinate, a book about using ICE Resin in your art. In case you missed it, Tonia Davenport wrote a fabulous review of the book, that you can see here. Jen was super sweet, she knew who I was and even has a copy of my book. It was surreal to hear her give a glowing opinion of it (and I'm sure that by the end of our little chat I was completely glowing too). So a fabulous, wonderful way to start.

The new Vintaj embossing machine
As for first impressions- the theme for this summer's CHA was Mixed Media and I was completely struck by how new the concept of mixed media was to the attendees. It's like it was this completely new thing that nobody knew what to do with but everyone knew they needed to understand so that they could bring the products, techniques, and projects that mixed media artists want to their buying public. Walking the trade floor I realized that the majority of companies there were companies that cater to the scrapbooking trade. The aisles were full of paper products. Many of these companies were trying to move into the mixed media realm by adding dimensional products to their paper product lines. By dimensional I mean mdf cutouts, chipboard, rubber embellishments, and flowers- lots and lots of flowers, made from any and all materials at hand. There were some really innovative products though. The one that literally had me jumping up and down in their booth was by Vintaj. They've created this little pressure machine that will create impressions on their little metal blanks. They have two types of plates, one creates a deep embossed look, and the other more the delicate appearance of an etching. I've been wanting to texture metal for a while and this seriously was just so so cool to see. Vintaj has also partnered with Ranger products which you can use on the metal to create an enameled look. AGAIN, so so cool!!!

I've got a ton more to tell you about - more interesting people, experiences, and products. But it's late and time for me to be in bed so I'll have to share the rest with you tomorrow. Thanks for reading- I have to say,it was a great trip but it's nice to be back. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making Over My Little Black Dress

Next week I'm flying to Chicago to attend CHA for the first time. I'm super excited but have been wondering what to wear.

In the last year or so I've been trying to dress more like "me" and less like I think I should look like to be "in style". I feel much more comfortable wearing clothes that I've altered in some way, or wearing accessories I made myself. I just don't  usually take the time to do the altering. Jeans still are, and always will be my wardrobe staple but for something out of my ordinary day to day (like CHA) I'd like to wear something fun and artsy. Something much more "me".  So last night I pulled my little black dress (LBD) out of my closet and started to play.

First, I stitched on some vintage buttons to the front. Next, I added a little shell button to each sleeve. Then some lace purchased at JoAnn went around the bottom of the dress. It looked pretty cute at that point and I wastempted to leave it but I love doilies right now and think a doily dress would be SO fun to wear. A little more stitching and the doilies were on. The dress was originally $35 at Shop Ruche and the trim/doilies was about $14 at Joann. I had the buttons and floss so the entire dress cost about $50. It's worth so much more to me though to be able to create something unique and original- a dress I can't wait to wear. :) 

How about you? Do you alter or sew your own clothing or accessories? If you do, I'd love to know what your favorite technique for altering your clothes is. I've been haunting blogs, and flipping through Altered Couture for a while wanting to try something. I'm so glad I finally took the time, because in the end I think it only took a total of 2 1/2 hours and I love the change.

 details, details....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vintage Frame Spool Holder DIY

I mentioned a post or so ago that I've been working on  making my studio space a little more usable. Part of that is finding accessible storage for all those little odds and ends. My ribbon spools for instance were just tossed into a paper bag that I'd dig through blindly whenever I thought I needed a bit. And I never remembered what I had. To solve this problem I decided I needed a ribbon spool holder that I could mount on the wall. Pondering this dilemma I happened to see an old bare frame I had leaning against the wall and inspiration struck. I'd use that.... Now how to hold the spools.... a trip to Lowe's was definitely in order.

 The result of that trip is this Vintage Frame Spool Display. It's easy to make and I think looks great on my wall. I'm a big fan of the make vintage work movement (also known as the "I found it in the back of my garage and painted it" movement). Anyhoo, take a look and have a fabulously creative day!!! I'm off to a christian artist's retreat this weekend and will post some pics when I return. Hope you have a great weekend too and thanks as always for stopping by. :)

Vintage Frame> Ribbon Spool Holder Tutorial
Tools and Materials
Old frame with 16" x 20" opening
6-8 little screw in hooks to fit the size of your dowels
2 3/8" diameter dowel rods 36" in length (cut into 4- 18" lengths)
small hammer
saw or branch cutter
Measuring tape
Pen or pencil to mark
Assortment of spool sizes you plan on hanging to guide placement
wire to hang (only if your frame doesn't have one already)

Step One: With the frame upside down on the floor decide where you want to place your dowels (using the spools you have as a guide). Mark on one side about 3/4" from inside of frame. 

-I thought I'd be smart and put the hooks on the recessed part of the frame so the whole thing didn't sit out too far from the wall but when I tried this the dowel rod didn't fit because it was longer then the hooks and had to stick out from the surface (rather then be recessed) so that it was able to slide in and out of the hooks.

Step Two: With pen, use measuring tape to make sure you have the same mark placement on other side of frame as on the first. For instance, if your first dowel mark is 2 1/8" from the bottom, use your measuring tape to measure 2 1/8" on the opposite side so that your dowel rods hang straight across. Do this with all your marks. 

-In the finished pic you'll notice that I only have 3 dowels hanging that's because I didn't buy enough hooks and haven't been to the store yet to get more. There is room for one more dowel. Although I kind of like the gap bc it shows off my pretty wall. :)

Step Three: Screw in your little screw hooks where marked on frame. I hate trying to get these little things in so I cheat and use a hammer to tap them in as far as I can then start to screw them into the frame. This sometimes alters their shape so once in the wood I used a pliers to bend them back into shape.

Step Four: Measure and cut your dowel rods in half with branch cutter or use small saw. Thread spools onto rods and then hang on hooks. If desired you can probably stick something on the end of each dowel to keep from sliding off but I haven't had any problems with mine. 

* I didn't have as many ribbon spools as I thought I did so I hung the decorative tapes I buy compulsively on the very top dowel.

And TA DA!!! It's like magic- all your spools are fabulously, artistically displayed and you'll never wonder what you have and where you put it ever, ever again. Hopefully. :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Fabric Corsage Tutorial

Happy Fourth of July!!! To celebrate today's holiday I whipped up this sweet little holiday corsage yesterday. It's red, white and blue at it's best. With a little imagination and fabric you can easily adapt this tutorial to any holiday or special occasion. I think this would be a lovely finishing touch to your outfit when worn to a wedding or garden party. The design is meant to be reminiscent of the ol' time corsages worn high on the shoulder but because of the versatile pin back/clip combo it can also be worn as a hair accessory or you can clip it to a long necklace for a focal accent. However you choose to wear it- Enjoy!
Fourth of July Fabric Corsage Tutorial

Tools and Materials
Embroidery floss or thread
Variety of coordinating fabrics (I used Moda)
Canvas cloth
Bit of ribbon or other trims if desired 
Glue gun with glue stick
Pin back/clip combo (found it at Hobby Lobby) 

Step One: Rip or cut a strip of fabric approx. 2' in length by 2 1/2" in width. 

Step Two:  Fold the strip in half width-wise, hold and tie a knot an inch or so from one end of the strip 

Step Three: Thread your needle and pierce your knot in the center then begin to wrap the strip around the center knot, adding a stitch here or there as you go to hold the shape. 

Step Four: Give the fabric a twist here or there before adding a stitch to create the form and appearance of petals.

Step Five: When finished, add a few more stitches to the base of the flower to secure. Then add a couple of stitches up and through the center. Knot off at back and cut thread. 

Step Six: Choose a couple of coordinating fabric and cut 2-3 leaf shapes. Place on canvas and leaving a 1/4" border cut around your patterned fabric. Rip a few more strips to hang down decoratively from corsage as well.
Step Seven: Play around with your positioning and then stitch leaves to back of fabric flower as desired. Feel free to embellish your leaves by stitching around their edge or adding some buttons or beads. To add dimension to the leaf, pinch bottom and stitch to hold as shown. 

Step Eight: When you've finished assembling your corsage and stitching it all securely in place heat up your glue gun and adhere pin back to back of flower. Hold for a few seconds for better bond.  Alternatively, you could stitch on a pin  back. Make sure to position slightly high on back of corsage so it hangs well.  
Wear with patriotic pride (and 'cause you know you look good). :)

Best Wishes to you and your family- I hope you have a fabulous Fourth of July!!!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Studio Makeover

Every studio I've found has it's own challenges that seem intertwined with the art that's created in it. You have the supplies you use every day, the art that's in progress as well as the art that's completed, the supplies that you keep for the future because you know you'll use them as well as the supplies that you keep just because you might, someday, find you need them. There's also the items of inspiration, the little bits of things that you keep because of the idea they sparked, or the memories they hold. Often, there's an inspiration board, piles of old sketchbooks or journals, and photographs. Maybe you have a collection of old books, or new books, or a collection of magazines that you store for future inspiration. What you have, what you hold dear, is unique to you.

Studios are unique but it is fun and helpful I believe, to see how other artists have solved their particular studio issues. Lately I've had the opportunity to do a bit of a "makeover" of my studio room that has made it much more usable. The problems I've had with my room are primarily...
a) not enough storage space
b) no usable work space
c) no place to put projects in process other then the middle of the floor
d) no comfortable place to sit and work
e)way way too overwhelming because of the sheer amount of stuff- I need to simplify big time.
f) hard to find things when I needed them, I often found myself buying something only to find that very thing in my closet a few weeks later.
g) inspiration was lost since I never wanted to be around it

We had new trim installed in the house a couple of weeks ago and my husband made me move out all the stuff that was stuffed into a corner, or piled up on other things out of the room. We  took this opportunity to wade through things quite a bit, and  to move out my old drawing table and replace it with a long, sleek new table from IKEA. Placed in front of the window it's really quite a charming place to sit and write or sew. My old file cabinet went into the closet and opened up another wall. From the garage I pulled an old bookshelf that I brought in and I placed all my jars of buttons, trims, embroidery floss, corks etc. onto it's shelves. It also holds some of my smaller canvases, and some small bins of odds and ends. Amazing the difference it made just to find a place for all those things. That opened up some of the shelves of my IKEA Expedit bookshelf so I had some freedom to shuffle things around in that a bit more. I'm still in need of a small undertable storage piece but I've got my eye on a really inexpensive piece from IKEA that will then hold my inks, my stamp carving supplies, and my rubber and cling stamps. So I'm feeling optimistic. Although filled it doesn't overwhelm me and I really enjoy being in there. One of my lingering problems was storage for my spools of ribbon. I had no good way to store them and yet wanted them visible and accessible. The solution I came up with for that problem is pretty fun and is actually my next tutorial. So thank you for visiting my studio today, and I hope to see you back soon for that how-to!