Friday, July 31, 2009

Look Close to Find the Beauty

This photo is a broken shard of a section of glass from an old lighthouse we visited recently in Nova Scotia.

In person it wasn’t too exciting but as usual I was snapping away and I was surprised to see this shot.

It kind of reminds me of when you break open a piece of an aloe plant. On the bottom edge of the triangle shaped cut it almost looks like a small drip.

It looks kind of icy and I like the movement in the picture too.

I guess the lesson is...with digital cameras, no film and a delete button there is no reason to edit yourself when taking pictures.

But the largest memory card your camera will hold, charge up your battery and start shooting!

You never know what you will end up with.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Crafty Abode Series – Beautiful Memories

This small detail is a section of a beautiful gift my parents gave us a few years ago.
It is my families dining room table that I grew up with.
Walnut, hand carved, big…10 feet by 4 feet…all one piece, with no leaves.
While the table is an amazing work of art on it’s own…I think the most special part is all of the memories attached to it. 40 years of family, parties, friends, children, holidays, food…and now it is ours to carry on the traditions.
We use it…and it shows the use which gives it a warm, comfortable glow.
Maybe someday, when the kids are all grown, we will refinish it to it’s early glory…and maybe not. Like my fine silver, I prefer it to show the use and memory marks!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Using Everything You’ve Got

I am not sure why exactly but I found I had some extra "rings" from decorative toggle sets.

Can’t for the life of me tell you what I did with the “bar” sides but nevertheless, there they were.

I wanted to try and find a use for them and this is what I did. I had made some thick, hand woven, leather bracelets and needed a closure option that would be suited to a man.

I used the rings I had left over and just tucked the little attached loop inside the folds of the leather strands. It kind of anchored the loop. Then I secured the ends with some crude, organic looking wire wrapping.

Now I don’t know how this would work with thin strands as the attached loop might show though but with this application it was hidden. I used an over sized lobster clasp on the other end which hooked on to the ring.

The textures on the rings worked with the leather and the substantial size balanced the thicker bracelet.

See what you have left over that might be able to be utilized in a new way.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“Chicken Puppet” Displays

When I needed displays for some of my jewelry I just couldn’t find what I wanted.

Truthfully, I didn’t even know what I wanted but I knew I didn’t like what I was seeing. I have an eclectic taste and the plastic, cookie-cutter display pieces just didn’t work with my one-of-a-kind, hand crafted jewelry.

I also had a budget and a list of other guidelines like, transport easily, store well, be flexible, be neutral, etc…

Finally, I remembered that I know how to sew. It was funny it took me so long because I actually went to school for fashion design.

These funny little pieces are what I designed. They are made out of a neutral fabric, they are sculptural and can be configured in many different combinations.

The whole thing breaks down for storage and transport and it gives my display some height.

I could see these made in different sizes, colors or shapes…it is only limited by your imagination!

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Crafty Abode Series – Lighten up

I have always loved industrial looking home accessories.

Things most people would think are too avant garde to incorporate into a personal space…especially a bedroom.

This is a picture of one of our bedside table lamps and while our bedroom isn’t overly contemporary, I love that little edge these give to the space. It is a small way for me to incorporate that industrial feel without it being cold or hard looking.

At night, they let off a soft glow and an interesting pattern…with a little bit of sparkle. I chose to use a graphic, tube shaped bulb because you can see them through the mesh.I think having two of the same light fixtures flanking our bed gives it balance and I am happy every time I flick one on!

Don’t ever be afraid to add decorative touches or materials that make you happy...even if you think it might not be the "right" thing to do!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An Artist's Motivation...

This made me smile...

"I hate flowers.
I only paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move.”
Georgia O'Keeffe

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Crafty Abode Series – Painted Privacy

When we moved in our home it bothered me that there were open windows on top and both sides the front door.
At night you could see right into our kitchen and dining room clear as day.
Not good for someone who lives in her PJ’s when home.
I struggled with wanting more privacy but not wanting to loose the beautiful natural light streaming in. I tried sheer fabric panels but it was distracting and to fussy looking for me.
Then it hit me…I am an artist…paint!
Using a specialty paint called Gallery Glass I was able to simulate stained glass which gave us the privacy AND light. Being slightly impatient when it comes to starting the fun part of a creative project…I chose to do a loose pattern that I could free hand with little prep work or planning.
Above is a section of the final product.Fluid leaves with a frank Lloyd Wright type box border. I kept the colors muted and natural and tried to highlight some texture. That added to the privacy without loosing the transparency.
When the sun comes through, colors fall on the white molding and bring a bit of cheer…especially on a New England winters day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Inspired by my Dad

When I had to design a piece of jewelry that represented my dad (who is a singer) I was stumped.

I didn't want the obvious but I wanted to design something someone could wear even if they didn't know who he was. A design that would stand on it's own.
Above is some marketing material for the finished piece.

I loved how the necklace turned out. The design was inspired by the 45 records my dad recorded and the paper sleeves they slid into. Each sterling silver and 14K gold piece incorporates my dad's fingerprint as the pattern on the record.

It took some finesse in the construction but was well worth it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Photo Jewelry Series – Part Three of Three

These are the two products I use to secure and seal my photographs when creating my photo jewelry.

They can each be found at most national craft retailers or online.

The Glossy Accents is thick and great for filling in a "well" or covering small beads, findings or paper layers. It has it's own applicator and can fit in small areas. A very tiny amount can be applied to the back of your photograph to secure it to the piece of jewelry before covering the top.

The Triple Thick is thinner and easier to spread over larger surfaces. I use a clean, soft, synthetic craft brush to apply it. It gives a uniform look to a wider surface. You must take care not to over-brush the top or your photo might smear.

I also sometimes use a spray fixative (found at any art store) to "fix" or seal my photographs or paper art before finishing with one of the above products.

Be sure to experiment with any product you use and get comfortable with it. There can be a slight learning curve and it will make for happier creating if you feel secure with your supplies.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Crafty Abode Series – Our “Water” View

The end of our hallway was boring…white and boring.

I hung a mirror…that was ok but not great. I tried a picture and still not great. Because there is a door located close by, there wasn’t room for piece of furniture… so my options seemed limited.

This seemed like a job for my paints and brushes…What I ended up with is a water view and some faux, trompe l’oeil curtains with tile steps that lead out.

Over all, I ahave been fairly happy with it. I's been there for a while and lately I have been contemplating changing the view. I like the curtains but feel I might need a new perspective.

Who knows…soon there might be a new picture to include in these posts!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photo Jewelry Series – Part Two of Three

These are an example of the earrings from the photo jewelry collection I created a few years ago.

Mounted on a small, flat, matte-black charm...the photos highlighted my love for photography and nature.

I selected pictures that I felt would reduce well and then cut two sections out of the same image for each pair of earrings.

I didn't want them to "match" but I wanted them to coordinate.

What I ended up with was two pieces of the same image...tied together by their common colors and themes.

I attached them to hand made sterling silver ear wires and created a small silver plated scroll charm to cover the utilitarian loop.

After signing the back of each they were ready to go!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Crafty Abode Series – Our Pet Tiger

We had just moved and were scheduled to host our big, annual 4th of July party for the first time in our new home.

Somehow, in my sick, “creative obsessed” mind, the night before the party seemed like the ideal time to start a new painting project.

By now my husband was used to these creative bursts and knew it was best to just go with it and get involved.

So with a ladder, my brushes and some paint I created this beautiful, majestic animal while Steve read aloud to me. We were up very late and I am trying to remember…but I don’t think I finished him that night…I think his eyes might have still been in pencil for the party.

Anyway, he is still with us and I love seeing him up there while we are in the kitchen. It’s almost like he is part of our family.

When we did our addition I was concerned that he would be damaged by the construction but they did a great job being careful and working around him.

He doesn’t have a name…and I kind of like that. He seems mysterious and untouchable…like he could take off at any second.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Photo Jewelry Series – Part One of Three

Inspired by the incredible nature photos taken by a friend of mine a few years ago I created a line of jewelry using photographs.
The collection started with her photos and soon evolved into an outlet for my own.
At a local jewelry supply company I found pendants with a shallow well perfect for laying a photo in. They were in a base metal so I had them all silver plated. I reduced a series of pictures on my computer and cut them to the right size and shape.
I stuck with straight lines for this first go around…I wasn’t ready to fight with circles and ovals.
With a tiny bit of gel medium I adhered the photo to the metal charm and then flooded the top with the medium. (details of the products I used with be available in the third post of this series)
Once the medium dried there was a shiny, thick coating. All that was left to do was to create a decorative bail out of wire and design something for them to hang from.
I opted to hand braid exotic yarns in a variety of colors that were secured with vintage buttons.
After signing the back, they were complete.
A small framed, custom work of art!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Serenity in Nature...

“There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.”

- Washington Irving

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to Store your Photo Props!

I really enjoy using props in my work photos...

but being a recovering was hard to edit and store all of the items I was quickly accumulating.

I found this unit in a national office supply store and it has worked perfectly!

It wasn't expensive, is very sturdy and has adjustable drawer heights. I like the clean lines and as you may have read in my previous posts...for me, out of sight is out of the open mesh drawers help me remember what I have.

An added bonus is the sturdy table top surface it provides...great for baskets with more props or even my light box.

There are small plaques on the front of the shelves where you can attach labels...but I haven't gotten quite that organized yet!

Work in progress, right?!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My "Crafty Abode" Series

Art is such a part of me and my everyday life that there is no clear boundary of where the art begins and ends.
Creating and incorporating art into my life began as far back as I can remember…from a very young child.
It is part of every thought, action, purchase, decision, etc…
Recently, as I looked around my home, I realized that there might be some details that could interest or inspire other creative souls.
This ongoing series will showcase some of my personal projects, art selections and favorite home decor.
I hope these posts inspire you to live a creative life… true to your own voice and not constrained by ANY outside influence.This is YOUR life…YOUR expression…trust it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Creative Jewelry Show Display – Zipper Pulls

When I started selling zipper pulls at my jewelry shows people weren’t really sure what they were supposed to do with them.
Also, they are small and can get lost on a table full of jewelry.
I decided to create a display that wouldn’t take up too much room but that would show how they are used.
I decided to sew a zipper into a piece of fabric and mount that into a small frame. I put the zipper at an angle so that the zipper pull would hang against the fabric and not the actual zipper.
This worked perfectly.
It was inexpensive, transported and stored easily and was eye-catching. If you don’t sew you could easily re-purpose an old piece of clothing with a zipper and with a little glue transform it into a display.
Get creative!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Unexpected Art - Buttons... who knew?

Today at my son's piano lesson we needed to switch rooms unexpectedly.
His lessons are run by The Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School but they are held at a local church.

We peeked in a room we had never been in to see if was free and discovered this unusual piece of art.

At first I was attracted by the quirky mannequin and the texture of the garment but then upon closer inspection I realized the sexy, floor length frock was constructed entirely out of various sized buttons and thread!

Not even fancy buttons. Ordinary, plastic buttons in neutral colors.
The "fabric" glided over the curves and fit like a glove. It was wonderfully constructed.

A little bit of sparkle came from the shiny gold thread holding them all together.The straight gold lines almost looked like golden staples.

I don't even know who to credit for this eclectic masterpiece but I felt compelled to share it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Natures Earrings

On a recent trip to California I took a bunch of pictures of the beautiful desert wildlife.
I am sharing some of these to show how inspiration for jewelry pieces can be found everywhere.
The flowers on this bush, when grouped all together, kind of got lost…but I think when you separate them and focus on just one the look like delicate, dangling earrings handmade by Mother Nature.
It made me picture a thin chain with long tube beads attached…capped off by little floating crystals…what does this picture make you think about?
Does it inspire certain materials, colors, shapes?
Picture making something this shape using only wire…or all one color…or a shorter length.
Next time you are out in nature…take a closer look…or better yet…take your camera!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creative Uses for Surplus Beads and Findings Series - Vintage Key Rings

Large split rings like the ones used for key rings are readily available at jewelry supply stores and websites.
They come in all different shapes, sizes and finishes and are very inexpensive.
Stack some pretty, loose, surplus beads on wire and attach to the ring directly or with some chain…and there you have a pretty, one-of-a-kind key ring.
I like to have multiple strands and think small spacer beads add to the look. I also recommend wire wrapping the loop for durability.
I punch a hole on a business card and attach the ring …then slip it into a baggie for protection. Sometimes I have a small basket of these by my check out station at shows…just as a little something a customer can pick up.
They also make a nice thank you gift for a loyal customer

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Creative Uses for Surplus Beads and Findings Series - Zipper Pulls

I always have a stash of loose beads and findings…treasures left over from a project or rescued from an old piece of jewelry. Usually too pretty to discard but maybe not enough to support their own project.

I have found several uses for these ones and twos and in the next series of posts I will share some of my ideas.


It is always a good idea when doing craft shows , fairs or festivals to have a selection of lower priced items on hand. Something someone could pick up as a small gift for a friend or as a treat for them selves.
I think that this is the perfect use for your surplus beads and findings. It allows you to utilize your supplies to the maximum and benefits your customers by letting them purchase something pretty for a lower amount…when they might have not been able to before.
Zipper pulls are useful, decorative and fun and they are thoughtful gift for any age. By simple stacking a few beads and spacers on a strong headpin or piece of wire, you can create a small piece of art. I recommend wire wrapping the top instead of creating a simple loop as it is stronger and more durable.
The beaded piece can be attached to a variety of findings…but basically anything that can be attached to a loop…slide hook, split key ring, fishing lure holder. There are a bunch of findings that can be found at jewelry supply sites…very inexpensively.
I take one of my business cards and punch a hole in the top corner. I attach the zipper pull to it and slip it into a protective baggie. I also include a small sheet explaining what it and what it’s used for.
At a show, sometimes I throw them all in a basket by the check out…and sometimes I lay some out on the table. Either way people always enjoy hunting for the perfect one!
I think they also make a nice little thank you gift for a special customer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Today is my dad's 79th birthday!

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author Unknown

Happy Birthday Dad.
I can't wait to see you next month...
All my love.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Simple Contrast

This is a picture I took on a recent trip to California.
While the flower itself is so pretty…it was the contrast of light and dark and the simple color pallet that drew me to this particular photo.
I think the feeling of this could translate into beautiful jewelry.
The rose…creamy and ivory set against the deep black reminds me of a more romantic time. It makes me think of some kind of light focal piece framed by onyx, jet black or midnight bluestone.
In a necklace that could mean a beautiful light pendant dangling from a strand of dark beads. For a bracelet it could be multiple strands of dark stones secured with a light clasp. For earrings it could be a dark bead with a waterfall of light strands flowing from beneath.
Mostly it is about the contrast of dark to light and a simple color pallet…
classic…in shades of two colors.
Color combinations don’t have to be complicated…play with the intensity of just a few colors and see what magic can happen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creative Jewelry Packaging Series - Hand Made Felt Pouches

Felt is a wonderful thing!
It is so soft, comes in a ton of colors…and the best part is it doesn’t have to be hemmed.
When I made some special silver necklace charms I knew I wanted some kind of pouch to package them in. I decided to create one myself that would fit my needs in a more custom way.
I knew it needed to be something that would be very easy to create and something I could make over and over.
First I made a pattern out of paper to find the right size. I ended up with a long rectangle.Then all I needed to do was fold up the bottom and sew along three sides…just a quick straight line.
The excess on top folded over and was secured with a small piece of organza ribbon. They were so simple to make I ended up with a whole bucket full in one sitting.
I preferred to do more of an assembly line…cut all felt, sew all pieces, cut all ribbon, etc.
The color or pattern can be chosen to complement your pieces…for a more natural, earthy look…tie with raffia, for a more modern, contemporary look tie with metallic thread…or for a more romantic look tie with a thin strip of lace…
Presto! A small pouch …inexpensive, custom…perfect.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Beautiful 3 Weeks

They passed too quickly...

After 6 months apart, my husband and I spent the last three weeks enjoying each other while he was on leave from his job in Afghanistan.

Today he heads almost 3 day journey to Kabul to finish out a year long contract that began in January of this year.

The past three weeks have been filled with laughter, family, travel, friends, art, food and lots of love.

I will count the minutes until we see each other again in August.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nature's Fireworks

Happy 4th of July!

“May the sun in his course visit no land more free,
more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! ”
~ Daniel Webster

Friday, July 3, 2009

Creative Jewelry Packaging Series - Small Wood Boxes

When you take a lot of time and care to create a very special, hand crafted piece of jewelry it is important to think about how that little creation will be packaged for the recipient.
At most national art and craft stores, in their unfinished wood sections, you can find small, unfinished wood boxes in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes…most prices around $1 or less.
There are so many things that can be done to incorporate these inexpensive boxes into your presentation...
• hand paint them in a color or theme to coordinate with your piece of jewelry
• decoupage them with decorative papers or tissue
• stain them with a wood stain or simply clear varnish
• spray paint them and add your signature or write a personal note or poem
• glue fabric or trims on them
The list goes on and on…
Just think what a special experience the recipient would have receiving one of your creations, wrapped in colorful tissue paper, carefully tucked inside a beautifully decorated box .
It is a complete presentation!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Creative Jewelry Packaging Series - Clear Top Boxes - Part Two

Ok, so you have the right boxes…now what do you do with them?
As I said in Part One of this series…I didn’t care for the cotton usually supplied with jewelry boxes. It would get caught on my jewelry and the little hairs would look messy.
I chose to buy a large piece of felt from a craft store and cut small rectangles to fit my boxes. This was very affordable and I could customize my colors to match the pieces of jewelry or my display.
A tip…to save your sanity when cutting felt, make sure you use sharp, fabric scissors…even if that means you need to pick up a new pair along with your fabric purchase! There is nothing worse than trying to cut felt with dull scissors or scissors that are regularly used for cutting paper.
The other great thing about clear top boxes is that you can see what you have.This is handy for display and for storage. It saves time when you are hunting for something not to have to remove all of the lids to find the item. It also saves time when setting up to do a home show or fair.
While it’s usually best for customers to not have a barrier between them and your jewelry, in a time crunch the tops can be left on and they can still see what you have.
The tops can help with moisture and dust too…for some added protection.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Creative Jewelry Packaging Series - Clear Top Boxes – Part one

When looking for boxes to package my hand crafted jewelry I chose clear top boxes.
While a little more expensive than other choices I thought they would serve two purposes…Storage and display.
For me they have worked great.
I was lucky to find them at a local company that buys surplus items so I got a really good deal. I have also ordered some from popular jewelry supply and packaging catalogs.
The size I found to be the most useful is about 5 x 7 and about .5” deep. The clear top nestles into the box instead of on the outside for a clean look. I found that the cotton commonly found in jewelry boxes got caught on my findings and ended up looking messy so I chose not to order the cotton filling.
Instead I bought a large piece of felt and cut it to fit inside the bottom of the box. I also sometimes use colorful card stock to mount smaller items to so that there is more body and so it’s more rigid.
Look for more ides on how to get the most out of your clear top boxes in my future blog posts!