Saturday, October 31, 2009

2nd Etsy item up!

I'm having, like, performance anxiety issues with my Etsy jewelry. I think everything I put up has to be PERFECT. But I finally did get a pair of earrings that I decided passed muster. They are moss agate leaves:

(The listing is here.)

I was disappointed because I had a pair of big faceted quartz rondelles that I thought would make great earrings, and the second one turned out to have no usable hole at all. (Lesson: double-check the holes in gemstones before you start thinking you have an earring pair.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Can't. Stop. With the Halloween/DdlM Links!

Even though it's really too late to make much more stuff for this year, my excuse this time is that I want to remember this one for future reference:
HUGE round up of H'ween and Dia de los Muertos links!

Also, I love Cathie Filian's bat necklace
Cool DdlM dolls!
knitted pumpkins!!

Man, I realllly want to get in on this order of Alexander Henry Loteria fabric. Have I even mentioned here that I used to be a quilter?* I have not even been tempted by quilting fabric lately - except for this one. (I have a fair little collection of those AH DdlM-related fabrics. I was intending to make a quilt out of them someday, although the quilting has been on indefinite hiatus lately.)

*I ended up talking about that in the entry below this one, so look there if you're interested in hearing more about that!

NaBloPoMo (not NaNoWriMo)

Some of you will know what that word salad up there in the title means immediately - I suspect that many people won't have a clue. It's something you tend to know about if you've been blogging or journaling (the old-school word for it) for a long time; if you're new to this, not so much. But anyway, I have signed up for NaBloPoMo, which means National Blog Posting Month - which just means that you attempt to post daily for the month of November. I most definitely did not sign up for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which means you are going to attempt to write an entire novel during the month of November. The latter is obviously a much bigger time commitment.

Well, anyway, I am not an aspiring novelist, so I don't have much interest in that, but I am a fairly long-time blogger, so I am doing the much-simpler "post daily" one. In years past I have done it for more than one of my blogs, but things are chaotic again this year so I'm limiting it to just this one. In December I will probably do Holidailies, which is a sort-of-similar thing that focuses on the holiday season and is run by some friends of mine - but I will probably do that on my Livejournal like I usually do, unless I do go crazy and decide to try to do both places.

I mentioned having had multiple blogs, so maybe I should expand on that. (This may involve some back history on this corner of the web in general. I hope I don't bore you to death!) Sometime around 2000 or 2001 I discovered somehow that there were all these people writing online journals - some of them had already been doing it for several years, by then. Now you have to remember that back in the day these things were hand-coded - you largely had to write the html for it yourself, or have somebody do it for you. There was no Blogger, no Typepad... although there were starting to be some things, somewhere in this period, called Diaryland and Diary-X and Livejournal, all of which would more or less function like Blogger does today, in a very rudimentary way, and Livejournal, which was even more forward-thinking, also had some sort of proto-social-media functions - you formed communities, and that kind of thing. But all of that was in the future for me. All I knew, in the beginning, was that there were these people writing about their lives, and they were pretty interesting, and I kept going back to a couple of them. This one was one of my favorites: Bad Hair Days, written by a young lawyer in Sacramento. She had a live-in boyfriend and a couple of dogs and several cats, and her journal then actually looked an awful lot like it does now, except now she is married to the boyfriend and has a young daughter, and some of the pets are sadly not with them any more. She had that same logo at the time, though - and when I met her in person a couple of years later I realized that I subconsciously expected her to look like the girl in the logo, which she doesn't.

Well, anyway, it turned out eventually that Bad Hair Days had a forum/bulletin board thingamajig attached to it. I nosed around it once or twice, and was a bit intimidated - and then right about that time they changed over to another format that was much more user-friendly, and I joined and immediately was hooked. This was in August 2001 - I remember that because while I had been talking a bit before September 11th, there were people on the board with more immediate connections to it then mine and I shut up completely for a solid two weeks. Eventually I started talking again, and one thing I quickly learned was that since it was Beth's board, and Beth was a journaller, a whole lot of the other people who hung around there were too. And a lot of them had known each other for a number of years. But I fit in tolerably well, and it became my favorite way to waste time: go find out what they were talking about today and, well, express an opinion. I think it tells you something about the closeness of the group there that in 2002 (I think it was) the whole board crashed and the members immediately chipped in several thousand dollars to buy a new server, which was christened Belinda (after Belinda Carlisle - it was some sort of running joke which I can't remember the details of right now). Belinda is still running the board from Beth and Jeremy's basement today.

So the next thing that happened was that I decided I wanted a journal too, since, y'know, all the cool kids had one. Plus there was a journaling convention in Austin later that year that I wanted to go to, that was definitely a factor. This was in 2003, and I think I fiddled around with diaryland a bit before I decided that it seemed to mostly be populated by 15-year-old girls with pictures of fairies on their front pages. (It wasn't really true but it seemed that way.) So I settled on Diary-X instead. And that went just fine until Diary-X crashed and burned a couple of years later and it turned out that there were no backups and everything was lost. So that kind of sucked. But I had a Livejournal account by that time so I just switched to blogging over there about general things.

And sometime before that (in the fall of 2004, this was - what I'm not entirely sure about is when Diary-X did its swan dive) I started a quilt blog here on Blogspot. And I did that pretty regularly for about four years. I never had a huge, huge readership (this was mostly before "followers" and such on Blogger so it's hard to have any concrete idea) but I definitely had some regular readers, anyway. It's sort of heartbreaking for me to read back over the entries there because I started that up just before my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, and since my mother was also a quilter, I talk about her a whole lot there. And after she died in 2007 I never really quilted too much. I did do some but my life has been chaos since then - first I was busy being an executor, and then later that year we moved, and then there was the storm, as previously chronicled, and another move, and then my unexpected new life as a student. I haven't even set up the sewing machine! (I really need to do that one of these days.)

I started this blog last year - I think I partly named it thinking I would just use it to point to pretty things I found - and somehow at the time that never happened. Livejournal is getting pretty quiet - its future is sort of a subject of ongoing debate, really - but it's not dead yet and hopefully will keep limping along for a while, at the very least. Still, I think that's a factor in why I decided to pick this up again. I need a conversation! (So if you read this far, let me know, please!!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crafty Halloween linkage

Now that Halloween's getting close, I keep nosing around and finding adorable craft things I hadn't noticed before (or had noticed ages ago and forgotten about):
Panoplie's tiny little pumpkin earrings (So cute - makes me want to run out and buy orange druk beads!)*
Smilin' Jack cuff (found on Bead Art Originals)
Alexa's painted mini-pumpkins
ilovetocreate's necklaces made entirely of paint!

Kathy Cano-Murillo is the goddess (or something) of Day of the Dead. Her Crafty Chica blog is awash with it - go check it out!

I could keep going all day, but I will stop or Halloween will be over by the time I post this!

Oops, one more: notmartha's meatloaf hand. (My husband wants me to make him one of these!)

*No, no, no. No shopping allowed for me right now!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Terrorific Tuesday the Last (aw)

Terrorific Tuesday was so much fun, I wish I'd gotten in on it from the beginning! Maybe next year...


Trick or Treat!
Frame and post it note holder dressed for Halloween

Costumed Kokeshi Dolls
Try out a Halloween idea for a traditional Japanese doll with Crafterella

Halloween Mask
Phyllis Dobbs created a fun and easy Halloween mask - great for adults and kids!

Fun Halloween Lanterns
Stephenie Hamen accessorizes plain paper lanterns with her paper punches.

Black Widow & Bloody Necklaces
Pattie Wack uses 3-D paint to create chokers that will creep out your party guests!

Tutu Cute Halloween Wreath
Vanessa creates an inspired wreath made of tulle!

Mad Scientist Party
Amy of Living Locurto shares a slew of fun ideas to host your own Mad Scientist Party.

Halloween Zombie Dolls
Crafty Chica shows how to add some zombie love to your decor!

Boopsie Daisy shares some of the wonderful Halloween dollies that she dreams up!

Crafty Chica's Ghost Story!
Kathy Cano-Murillo shares a haunted crafty tale!

Halloween Cone Witches
Make these cute little paper cone witches for Halloween!

Halloween Leftovers
Mel takes the leftovers from last week's project and makes a cool Goth choker!

Brenda Pinnick Halloween Owls
Seasonal Owls for Scaring or Delighting Trick or Treaters

The Impatient Crafter
Margot creates another spooktacular mixed media necklace with a bite.

Halloween Batty Windchime
Heidi Borchers creates a super cute windchime with personality!

Kitschy Kitschy BOO
Add some Halloween flair to your day with this cute kitschy bracelet and earring combo!

Simple Halloween Gift Tags
Studio Mama makes a strong impact with these quick and easy tags!

Strands of Beads
Melissa once again gives some pretty flower beads a Gothic makeover with this simple earring design

Costume Fun
Sharron Westerfield shares her passion for costume-making and the joy it brings her grandchildren.

Return of the Birthday Zombie
Candace is cracking herself up with this ghoulish gift box idea

Doodle Pumpkin
Swelldesigner a.k.a. Alexa Westerfield shows you how to make a fun pumpkin on the fly!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween leftovers

It's not even Halloween yet, so how can I have leftovers? (you may be thinking) -- well, this is leftovers from my necklace that I posted last Tuesday - I took a bead that I removed from that necklace, and a chandelier finding that I didn't use, and some chain that I had on hand, and made something new.

Here's the bead I took off of the other necklace:

It wasn't because I didn't like it that I took it off. And in fact it's basically a bead that I made myself (out of a bead and a charm - I'll go into that a bit more below). Here it is on an early version of the Day of the Dead necklace:

I liked the way it looked on the necklace, but the problem was that it was the only stone bead on the necklace, and it wasn't in the center, and I decided the weight of it was making the necklace hang funny. The easiest answer would have been to just move it to the center, but by that time I had already put something I really really liked there, and I didn't want to change it. So off it came, instead. But I didn't want to waste it, so I decided to use it to make something new, and this is what I came up with:

The bottom part is a chandelier finding that I already had, and some little jet-colored glass beads I already had, and the chain is a couple of different gunmetal-colored things that I had bought lately. I'm really pleased with the results of my improvising, actually!


I'm new at writing tutorials for my jewelry, and I'm already wanting to edit the heck out of what I wrote below (which I mostly wrote at about 5:30 this morning). But it gets the idea across and I really have other things I need to be doing right now, so I'm going to resist the temptation to change it all up. Think of it as a tutorial-lite!

Here's how I came up with that bead in the first place: I had pulled out everything Halloween-ish that I had, plus all black beads - and I happened to notice that this charm echoed the shape of this big stone bead perfectly:

I know where that stone came from - I bought it from FMG in a bag of mixed stones that they don't seem to have any more. Most of them looked more like this but there were a couple in that star shape. The spiderweb charms came from one of my local bead shops but I've seen those charms all over the place lately. I don't know if you're likely to be able to find a similar stone bead but it occurs to me that you could do the same thing with other shapes - I was thinking that if you could find a flat black rectangle, a headstone charm might look good on it! I'm sure there are others that would work as well.

Anyway, what I did was, I snipped the bail off the charm with my regular wire-cutters - it came off pretty cleanly, but you might need to file it a little. Then I cleaned both pieces up really well, and I mixed up some 2-part epoxy. If you haven't used it before, it's easy to use, at least if you have the kind in my link where the two tubes are connected - I got mine from FMG but I'm sure other places sell it. It automatically squeezes the same amount out of both tubes, so that makes it hard to mess up too bad! It's good to use something like an index card to mix it on, and a toothpick works really good for doing the mixing and applying. It just takes a tiny amount, and you put a very thin coat where the parts are going to meet - I don't think I put any at all on the stone side, just on the back of the charm.. And you have at least a few seconds to wiggle things into the right place before it starts drying. There was a little epoxy on the front after it dried and I think I scraped it off with a piece of wire. And voila! A whole new bead to play with. And that stuff sticks like a rock, once it's dry. I tried to pry it off with my fingernail, just to see if I could, and I definitely couldn't.

So there's your charm. For the chandelier, you need to add your little beads underneath - I think I used 4mm jet bicones on the two sides and a 4mm and 3mm jet round in the center. I just put them on with simple loops, although of course wrapped loops would be fine too. And then to connect the two, I had a gunmetal (or maybe just dark-oxidized) headpin that was long enough - 2", I think - to do all the connecting I needed to do - I made a loop at the top and the bottom of the stone bead, connected the bottom end of it to the chandelier and then set it aside.

As far as the chain, I had two kinds of gunmetal chain - big links, about 20mm ovals, and a smallish rollo chain, maybe 2-3mm wide. I cut off about 9" of the big links - the most important thing there is that you have an odd number of links - and then attach each end to the rollo chain to that piece with jump rings. I still haven't cut the rollo chain down from what I started with, so I have several options on the length - but I'm thinking it would look really good at choker length or just a bit longer. Anyway, figure out how long you want the necklace to be and cut it your rollo chain accordingly, and then add a connector at the back with jump rings. I'm partial to S-hooks for necklaces, but other things would work just as well. Then find that center big link in the front, pull it downward, and attach the stone-and-chandelier piece to it, and you're done!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Unintended results

A week or so ago - maybe more, now - I was talking about the classes I've taken this year. I've taken quite a lot of them; it's partly intended to be an occational distraction from my real schooling that I have going on. Let's see, if I'm counting right I've taken 8 jewelry classes so far this year, with a 9th coming up next week. In the late spring and summer I took several from Kay Hand - her classes are a lot of fun and I'd like to take more of them if I can ever get my schedule synched up with hers again. The weird thing is that I never come out with finished pieces that are anything like what she taught in the class, really - but I've used a lot of her ideas in things I've made since then.

The first class I took was the Gypsy Diva Necklace - which is essentially the necklace on Kay's home page, if you follow that link above. That was an all-day class and it sort of had several "modules" - one was making painted beads out of Tyvek, which was a lot of fun and I have a whole bunch of them lying around, and I've sure they'll get used in something - or several somethings - sooner or later. The second module was making stamped tags out of sheet metal - those are still lying around too - and then you learned to put the whole thing together and make charms and a wirework clasp and so on. And I was adding charms and such like everybody else, but somewhere along the line I went astray! Basically, what happened was that the Gypsy Diva necklace eventually got turned into the Day of the Dead necklace, for me - at least, I think that was the class where she said something to the effect of, "Just cut into the chain anyplace you want and add a bead, and then do the same thing again and again until you get something you like." And that was essentially what I did with the Day of the Dead necklace. And I suspect that there will be more things forthcoming using that basic technique. The Gypsy Diva necklace got utterly sidetracked for me after I added the skull bead early on. I didn't want charms, I wanted more skulls!

This is pretty much the only existing picture of what was supposed to be my Gypsy Diva necklace:

I think that greenish long bead is still floating around my workspace, still attached to that same chain. I really should find it and start over. But the skull was long ago removed and is on the other necklace now. I think part of the problem, actually, was that I felt from the beginning like that wanted to be two different necklaces, but I was too stubborn to admit it at the time!

The second class was called something like Hammered Metal Pendants, and this is what I came home with:

and a second pendant:

They were intended to have lots of charms and things - typically for Kay's classes! - and while I am not at all against charms, I agonized over the first one for a long time and finally decided it was essentially finished. I like it like it is. (And I haven't gotten inspired about what to do with the other one yet. I figure it'll come, eventually.) But anyway, I almost took up metalwork on the spot, it was so much fun playing with these pieces.

And the third class was the Funky Charm Bracelet, which I think is going to have to be a separate post!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A family affair

My sister is experimenting with treating wooden beads with a sort of modified decoupage technique - these are early samples but I think they have promise!

She is going to give me some to play around with; if this goes well, you may be seeing jewelry using her beads in my Etsy store before long!

(Incidentally, the Etsy store is live, although there's only one item in it right now - the pink wire-wrapped piece I showed off yesterday. I am working on getting pictures of more items so I can add more listings.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Here's the piece I made in class last week - this was Annette Kinslow's intermediate wire class at Bead Boutique. This is probably the most labor-intensive thing I've done yet, but I have to say the results were worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Necklace details

I realized I didn't have detail pictures of the skull necklace, so here are a couple. This one shows the rusty bead at the bottom, which I adore, and also features the matching earrings I whipped up Saturday afternoon:

And here's more:

I wish I knew where that bone bead at the bottom right came from. I really like it.

Terrorific Tuesday

My skull necklace is part of Terrorific Tuesday this week! I'm so excited!

Spooky Spider House
Silvia creates a miniature haunted house that is spooky and oh-so fun!

Witchy Embroidered Postcard
Sharron Westerfield brews up a whimsical witch postcard

The Impatient Crafter
Vintage plastic owls become the focal point of a charming necklace you can wear for Halloween and all year round!

Pumpkin and cat felt treat bag
Felt bag that can also be made as a wall hanging or door hanger

Cheryl Ball's Halloween Door Hangers
Create these door hangers from inexpensive gloves for Trick of Treaters

My Big Mouth
Make a creepy wire tree just in time for Halloween!

Mel's Day of the Dead Necklace
Linked chain, skulls and spiderwebs for Dia de los Muertos.

Crafty Chica's Matchbook Shrines
Adorable little folding shrines that fit in your pocket!

Paper Pumpkin
Make a plump paper pumpkin from some strips of paper plus a little Halloween craftiness!

Polymer Clay Zombie
Candace's diabolical plan to populate the world with zombies continues!

The Impatient Crafter for iLoveToCreate
Make a retro style styrofoam ornament into a fab Halloween Party centerpiece! Madge shows you how using iLoveToCreate products!

How to Make a Spooky Spice Rack
Come make a spooky spice rack with Crafterella, she's sharing her unique labels with everyone!

Halloween Treat Tote
Conjure up a quick Halloween cupcake basket using new ScoreBoard dies!

Brenda Pinnick's Halloween Banner
A little scary, a little fun, this delightful banner celebrates all things Halloween. Made using Brenda Pinnick Sizzix dies, glitter and ribbon.

Creepy Candlesticks
Pattie Wack turns mini pumpkins into a boo-tiful Halloween lighting idea!

Strands of Beads
Melissa explores the holiday possibilities in a black and white checkered bead

Glow in the Dork Wall Hanging
Turn off the lights and have a laugh with this goofy wall hanging from Alexa Westerfield!

Picture Perfect Pumpkin
Vanessa Coppola turns a traditional pumpkin into a decopauged masterpiece!

If you would like to join in the fun next week, e-mail Alexa at and put in your subject line "Terrorific Tuesday". She'll get you added to the group!

A little organization

I cleaned up my jewelry table today. I'm not sure you're going to be able to tell, really, but here it is in its glory:

The post in the foreground belongs to my big Ott-light. It gets used a lot to hang necklaces on, as you can see. (Those are some of my crocheted Christmas necklaces that I've been playing with, that you can see there.) The gigantic bone dragonfly bead came from my last order from Szarka - it's so oversized I can't see wearing it, really, so I made it into a decoration. (I love dragonflies, though - I couldn't resist getting it.)

Well, anyway, you may notice that the table isn't exactly spotless, but it looks much better than it did. I wish I'd thought to take a "before" picture, but I'm not sure I would have had the guts to post it, anyway. It was pretty awful.

Below is part 3 of the shopping blitz from the quilt festival, Sonoran Beads. One reason the pictures are late is that I liked their packaging so much I had to stop and figure out where to get boxes like that before I would take it apart. I get a bit obsessive-compulsive about things like that sometimes. (Here's a paper version of those boxes; they are apparently called "pillow boxes" or "pillow pouches".) I'm not planning to copy their exact packaging, which involved the clear plastic version and a large postcard inside, but since I'm planning for my Etsy store I'm definitely researching packaging options. Anyway, here's their packaging that I liked so much:

Sort of simple but effective, I thought.

And here's what was inside:

Except for the little porcelain cubes on the left, it's all boro glass, and it's gorgeous. I could have bought way more stuff than I did.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day of the Dead necklace

I finally quit tinkering with my skull necklace and here it is:
(I lightened the picture up some so you could see it better. There's also a bigger version on Flickr.)

I wanted to write up a nice tutorial with very specific instructions, and I found that I just can't do it - or at least, not very specifically - because of the way I made it: I collected skull beads for over a year and then I just sort of winged it. But I can tell you what I did and how it's put together, anyway, and hopefully you can use some of these ideas to create your own version!

  • Skull beads in various sizes and materials (size range is about 6-20mm) (more on this below)
  • Jet crystal coin beads, 6mm
  • Antique brass chain – mine came from Michael’s and was unsoldered
  • Antique brass wire, if you can find it - if not, antique brass headpins will do the job just fine
  • Antique brass jump rings in sizes to complement your chain
  • Bar and toggle clasp – I used a bright copper bar and an oxidized copper toggle, from two similar sets (but note that if you do this you need to make sure they fit one another!)
  • Optional: charms - I used antique brass spider webs, and a brass lightning bolt

I made this necklace in a very informal way – since the chain was unsoldered, I just unlinked it at random(ish) intervals and started adding beads. I looked through my beads and charms for anything that looked suitable for Halloween or Day of the Dead, and anything black or goth. I really intended to use round Czech beads as well as the little coin beads, but I happened to try the coin beads first and they looked so cute I just kept using them. I think they give a bit of unity to the assortment of beads. I decided to put the clasp in the front – and the decision to use two different colors of clasp was mostly driven by the fact that the bar that matched the oxidized toggle had bent and wasn't really usable. I also intended to put far more than one charm on this necklace – I had a whole collection of charms by the time I got done – but when I added the rusty skull and the lightning bolt below that, it just looked finished, and I decided to stop.

As far as how it’s assembled, I just linked everything together with headpins and jump-rings and whatever I had on hand. I used both bought jump-rings and ones I had made myself. Mostly I just used simple loops - I wrapped a few, but since I only had headpins to work with and no wire that really matched, I didn't have enough wire to wrap with a lot of the time!

A lot of my sources were the places listed in my sidebar. Manto Fev is an especially good source for skulls. Or just try searching for "skull beads" on your favorite bead-seller's website, or on Etsy.
A few specifics:
Lightning bolt charms (The spiderwebs also came from the same seller, but she seems to be sold out, last I looked.)
Here’s a different rusted skull charm from the same seller I got mine from.
Copper skulls:
I think some of the other skull beads came from Elise Mathiesen’s Beads of the Month program (aka botmo) on Livejournal. I think the black AB glass skulls (which look like they might be pressed Czech glass) may have come from her.

About metals: my intention was to mix up my metals even more than I actually did. I decided that the antique brass chain was more in keeping with the mood of my necklace than the brightly-polished copper I started out with, but antique-finish copper or silver would probably look good too. I did use polished copper in the beads, and also heavily oxidized copper, and polished brass, as well as the antique brass; but no silver, in the end. This was more because of what I had on hand than any real design decision, though.

Note: I added a couple of detail pictures here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Still more shopping

This is part of the stuff I bought at the quilt show. For those of you who don't already know this, the big quilt show in Houston has sort of a "bead corner" - officially called Embellishment. There weren't as many bead vendors as there have been in other years, I thought, but there was enough for me to go seriously over budget with, just the same. (The show was earlier than usual this year, which probably threw everybody's schedules into disarray, I figure.)

This is basically in order from lowest to highest expenditure:

1. Beyond Beadery mostly specializes in seed beads, which are not my weakness, but I still managed to buy quite a few things. They had a lot of really cute charms and drops, plus I got this idea to use the biggest size of seed beads (3/0) to do something with a sort of 60s boho sort of vibe, as demonstrated at the bottom of this picture:

My mother had this really goofy necklace in those colors along about 1969, I guess that's why that screams 60s to me. Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with those wreath charms, quite, but I'm in love with tricolor things these days so I'm going to figure something out. And the others are probably earrings-to-be.

2. April Melody. Somebody on the Texas Beaders list said that April specializes in "fancy glass" and that's one of my weaknesses, but I tried to restrain myself by sticking with one color:

I love love love those both of those spirals, the green ones and the copper. (I'm wishing I had bought some more of the copper ones, they are too perfect together.) The rounds at the top are vintage. And I had a fake-Pandora bracelet that had room for a few more beads, so that's what the three silver-core beads are for. The beads I had already were blue and white, so the green goes really well with them. I'll have to remember to take a picture of it.

(And I don't have pictures of my third and most expensive stop yet. That will have to be a separate post.)

Oh, and in case anybody's thinking, "But weren't there any quilts at the quilt festival?" There were, and I didn't take any pictures again this year - I didn't even have my cell phone with me - but here are the quilts that won awards. (If you're a geek like me, you will especially appreciate the Tolkien quilt, which is on about the 4th row down - and you can click on the picture to see a bigger version with more detail. It's really really cool.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

More shopping

I'm going to do a quick post because I feel like I'm getting behind - these are the things I ordered from Lima Beads last week:

The Flickr version is all annotated, if you want to know exactly what things are.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What I was doing in March

Journal entry from March 7:
I took a jewelry class this week. I only got one pair of earrings (out of four) actually finished in the class, because I was sort of slow getting the hang of the technique, but I finally did, more or less, and I can now actually make wrapped loops. Which is something I've been meaning to learn for ages. So yay me.

Here are the three pairs of earrings I eventually got finished. The fourth pair was a chandelier with Swarovski bicones, and I was having trouble with them - like I said, I had a little trouble getting the hang of wrapped loops. I worked and worked on them, and finally I thought, "I don't really even want these earrings, why am I beating myself up over this?" And I took them apart and used the bicones on something else. I have the chandelier findings and I'll probably re-make the earrings eventually, but I don't wear chandeliers - I prefer just straight dangles or drops like the ones above - so they will probably end up as a gift for somebody. (Or you may see them in my Etsy store, even!)

I had signed up for two classes at the same time - that was the first one, above, and the second one was a peyote class. Now, as I think I have already noted somewhere below, I don't really do seed beads, normally, but I thought it wasn't a bad idea to know the theory. But I actually ended up making 2 peyote pieces, although the first one never quite got finished. That was this:

These are hex beads in sort of an iris color. I got this piece long enough to do a bracelet - which is what it's supposed to be - and then I decided it was really wider than I wanted for myself, and I made another one that was only 4 beads wide instead of 6:

And I did finish this one, as you can see, and I have worn it quite a lot all this year. (It actually has a little stripe woven into it, but it just really doesn't show up in most kinds of light. Every once in a while I'll see a little flash of it, but mostly not!)

And I will finish up by showing you another, non-class-related, bracelet that I made around the same time. It's kyanite coins from Magpie Gemstones, and it's actually one of my favorite things I've ever made, because these are just gorgeous stones.

(I also put my very favorite toggle on it, which I think came from the now-departed Bead Connection.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I need to go study and don't need to be writing blog entries instead, but I just wanted to point out my lovely new header, made by bearcengic. I love it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gifts and classes

I've been meaning to talk about the Christmas gifts I made for my family last year. Everything was sort of crazy and last minute and I didn't get pictures of a lot of them, but here is the necklace I made for my mother-in-law:

Just 8mm matte AB Czech beads in several shades of blue and green - I think those matte beads make up really pretty with just the beads and no spacers at all.

And here are a couple of things I made my sister (and she took these pictures):


As you can see, it's all pretty simple stuff, but everybody seemed happy with it. The top one is just Swarovski bicones on a headpin, which in my experience almost always makes a really cute earring. I made one of my cousins a pair using that "fire opal" color that were adorable. (It bugs me when I let stuff go without taking pictures; I need to make sure I take pictures of everything I make this year.) The other pair is just a 12mm Czech glass bead and some spacers, which is another simple idea I've used a lot.

I was thinking about registering some classes before Christmas last year, but the bead shop I had been going to (Bead Connection, in League City) didn't have any classes available, and I guess that should have been a hint, because after the holidays they were suddenly closed. So I had to find a new place, but driving up and down 518 in Pearland, I found one amazingly close to my house: Antiques, Beads, and Crafty People. They were very nice, when I went in. It's a small store - it actually was a convenience store, originally, I think! - but they have a lot of beads packed in there. I signed up for a class where we made this bracelet:

You have to remember that I took one basic beading class, where they taught you to make a simple loop and do a plain, flat crimp, and anything and everything I did in the two years after that I mostly just came up with on my own. So doing something like this that uses two wires was exotic to me. (I think this is a variation on right angle weave, isn't it?)

There's a journal entry in LJ in February where I note in passing that I signed up for more classes, and also that on the way home from my aunt's house in Bryan I was going by a bead store I hadn't been to before. That was Beadoholique, on the north side of Houston (which is not the same as the online beadaholique - note the difference in spelling). Beadoholique-with-an-O is a really nice store, maybe not quite as friendly as Antiques Beads - nobody is! - but they sure have some beautiful beads. And a really large variety of classes, some of which I'd love to take if it was a bit more convenient to me. Houston is a big place, though, and it's on the faaaaar side from me. It'd have to be a class I really, really wanted to take.

This is getting longish, and I need to go study, so I'll talk about those classes the next time.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Last night I made an Etsy store. I am not planning on going into business in a big way, but I thought I could at least start to feel my way between now and the holidays. I'm going to have to figure out how to do that and school too, though, which is going to be a trick. I'm just going to have to make darn sure it cuts into my free time and not into school. This partly started because I was looking around Etsy for a blog header, and I thought, well, while I'm at it I should probably get an Etsy header too, which meant I had to figure out the name issue, and one thing led to another. I'm not entirely satisfied with my resolution of the name issue, but I'm just going to live with it for the time being and if I come up with something I like better later then I'll think about changing it next year, maybe.

So this will be my Etsy store - although there's nothing there to look at but a placeholder right now:
It's sort of a clunky name, but DeliciousBeads and DeliciousJewelry were both taken (although neither one is an active store), and I sort of wanted to stick with the "delicious" name. I think I had actually checked on that last year when I started this blog, too, but I didn't try to reserve the name back then - maybe I should have! I even checked registered trademarks last night, and I'm in the clear on that, too.

(I thought about posting the picture of the Etsy header I bought, but since it's eventually going to be the blog header too, in a modified form, I'll let it be a surprise.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Halloween crafts, and a shoparrific day

Ooh, remember me saying (in that looong post about Hobby Lobby last week) that I really wished I could think of a use for a boa? Well, Alexa at The Swell Life came up with an adorable Halloween wreath made from a boa, as part of her 24 Halloween Crafts in 24 Hours marathon. (The logo is currently on my sidebar, but of course it won't be there forever, so I'll put it below, too, for future reference.) That wreath idea could easily be converted to use for other holidays, too, as somebody pointed out in the comments. She's really got some cool ideas, there - she's also had, so far, a really elegant vase and some cute button earrings and several things to do with pumpkins, and more! And I don't think she's even done yet!

OK, enough gushing. (I just like her taste, I guess.) I don't really have anything beady to report today. I went to Ikea and they don't have beads, unfortunately - although I still managed to spend plenty of money. I did buy some garland for my - still imaginary - Christmas tree. I keep eyeing trees in offbeat colors so there's no telling what I'm going to end up with. I bought a few useful things, like a dustpan and brush set, and then I bought a bunch of candles, because I really love candles this time of year, and a few children's Christmas presents, and some other odds & ends. The candles were what I really went for, because I have some candleholders in that jumbo-tealight size that nobody but Ikea sells the refills for, that I know of. And then I got an Ikea flyer in the mail that said they were having a sale starting today, and hey, I had an excuse and everything, so off I went.

Oh, gosh, I almost forgot, I did buy some beads today - I ordered from Lima Beads. I have been admiring their website without buying anything for some time now and I finally succumbed and ordered some stuff. Quite a bit of stuff, actually. So I'll report back on that when my order arrives!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not quite

You know how I said the skull necklace was done? Well, I changed it again. It was all balanced and then I decided the stone bead was throwing the balance off as far as the way it hung, so I took the stone bead off, and now the right/left balance is off. It's intended to be somewhat asymmetrical but right now the beads go further up on one side than they do on the other, and I don't like it. So I'm doing some more rebalancing before I declare it finished again!

In unrelated news, I really want a pretty picture to put on the header here. I don't really necessarily want to re-do the whole layout right now, but I need to think about the picture issue. I am always loath to play with layouts because I am not really html-literate - although I can do an href link, which I guess puts me ahead of a good many people these days! - and I am too cheap to pay somebody to do a layout for me. Hmm. I guess I'm going to have to decide which one of those is gonna give.

Aaaaand.... did I say that I ordered some more skulls from Ornamentea? Well, they came, and they are adorable. (They should be, really, 'cause they were not cheap, considering their very small size.) They don't go with this skull necklace, because they're very festive, candy-colored things and the not-quite-finished skull necklace is very earth-toned, but there is clearly going to have to be a skull necklace #2, anyway. And possibly some skull earrings, or more likely more than one pair!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Links and pictures

I added some store links and links to magazines - I'll probably add some links to other weblogs, too, later on. For the online stores, I mostly stuck to ones I've ordered from myself and had good luck with - and the ones with locations after them are local stores that don't seem to sell online. I also added a bunch of books to my Amazon store, just for fun.

I did take pictures; here's some of my Hobby Lobby loot:

And here's some other stuff I've bought lately: resin beads from Natural Touch Beads and Happy Mango Beads (see sidebar for those links):

Here are some (not near all) of the leftovers from my skull necklace - I didn't end up using many charms because I decided I liked the way it looked without them. Plus, I just have way more stuff than will fit on one necklace, period. Obviously there's going to have to be a series!

Some of these came from Bead Boutique and I think some from one of Nomadic Notions' San Antonio stores. Quite a few of the others I bought on Etsy. I also have tons of other skull beads left over, which I didn't try to put in the picture.

I would post the picture of my finished necklace but I'm not really happy with the picture; besides, I changed it after I took the picture. So I'll post a new one later. (If you can't stand the suspense and want to see, the ones I have are on flickr.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Craft shopping

Things I bought at Hobby Lobby:
First, the non-bead things -
  • a few Christmas ornaments
  • some fall-themed napkins
  • a candle in a Ball jar, in a cinnamon-y fall kind of scent
(I am a sucker for the seasonal department, in general)
  • a couple of rubbers stamps on clearance, also holiday-themed
  • a few pieces of scrapbook paper, which I've been using for photo backgrounds
I noticed that I am starting to think like a jewelry-maker even for things that aren't jewelry: I saw an ornament I liked, except that it was awfully elaborate - a glittery bow above a glittery pointy-oval shape. I like glittery but this was a little big for the small-scale tree that I am planning on buying (see below for more about that), and then I thought, "Oh, look, it's just connected by a split-ring - I can just take these apart and use them separately!" So I bought it. (It helped that it was on sale.)

and then the beady stuff:
  • two tiny silver bumblebees, which I found in the clearance section. I am into charms lately.
  • a tube of gold 6/0 seed beads, which I am thinking of as spacers
  • 5mm wooden rondelles (with a really pretty variegated effect)
  • a string of glass puff coins in purple, with a geometric design on them. I will have to see if I can get these to scan, or get a picture. I was thinking they looked like they'd make good earrings.
  • a string of filigree charms, all the same shape but different metal colors, gold, silver and copper all in one set. They had a bunch of these in various shapes.
  • some more of the Aunt Lydia's crochet thread, in green, this time. I have been doing some crocheted jewelry that I will be posting pictures of later.
I also took some notes while I was there. I always go wandering down random aisles in craft stores, when I have time, because you can often find cool things in some very odd places. So I figured I'd better take notes or I'd never remember again later. For example, I found some oversized buttons in the drapery department, in really cute colors, and I stood there for several minutes trying to think how I could use them. They are very big - there were round ones that were about 2" in diameter, and slightly smaller squared-off ones that I think were meant to fit on top of the round ones. They could make a very cute brooch, for sure - but they are too big for most other jewelry uses, I think.

I have also gotten interested in tools, generally, and so I was eyeing the tack hammer, also in the drapery department, of course. But I've already bought a couple of hammers lately (a chasing one and a nylon one) so I couldn't really think of a dire need for another one! They also had those lampshades with the self-adhesive surfaces, which are interesting.

In the needlework department, there were lots of things that interested me:
  • wool roving and premade felt shapes
  • magnifiers of all shapes and sizes (you pass 40, you get much more interested in these)
  • all sorts of crafts that I forget about, like plastic canvas and latch hook kits
  • another brand of crochet thread besides the Aunt Lydia's, which is what I've been buying, and also metallicized "Knit-Cro-Sheen" thread (which I think I remember from back in the 70s)
  • in the middle of the yarn, a book called Knit with Deborah Norville (I'm sure the knitters know about this one already, but it amused me)
Hobby Lobby has soooooo much decorative stuff - you know, vases and platters and picture frames and various knick-knacks. Somebody is clearly buying this stuff, but it sure isn't me.

Then there's the department with fabric paint and such - what would you call that, the t-shirt department? although clearly people are painting and decorating lots of things besides t-shirts; there are even items apparently specifically intended to decorate flip-flops. (When did decorating flip-flops become a craft unto itself?) Flip-flops don't interest me much, I have to say. They had all sorts of stencils and cute iron-ons and such, though, and that did interest me more. And boas in all colors, which I can't resist trying to think of a use for - usually without much success. (Maybe I'll get one to wear to Quilt Festival or something.)

I suppose the flip-flop decorating market would largely be kids - at least I think so. But it's not like I'm uninterested in crafts aimed at kids, in any case. (I mean, look at the above comment about boas. Honestly, I'm either 49 or maybe 9 years old, depending on the moment.) And we won't even discuss the Ed Hardy (temporary) Tattoo Shop. I didn't buy it. I didn't even look to see how much it was. But I definitely can't say it didn't cross my mind.

I found that one out on a main aisle, next to a bunch of kids' Christmas crafts. But on the main kids'-craft aisle there were interesting things too. I have a bit of a fetish for stickers - I have since I was a kid - and I spent a few minutes trying to think up a use for some of the foam stickers I found there, but I didn't really come up with anything. (I have been trying to replace my sticker habit with buying the occasional rubber stamp instead - at least they're reusable.) They had, like, everything in the world made out of foam - foam shapes and foam stamps and 5"-high foam letters in various almost-primary colors. I thought the colors were a bit odd - like the red wasn't really a bright red but sort of an orangy, dull red - but there was also special foam paint ("Won't crack!") to repaint them with, if you cared to. I was tempted by an set of foam alphabet stamps in a cute, funky font, but I resisted.

Oh, and the also on that aisle was the squares of felt, in every color of the rainbow. I have some adorable felt Christmas ornaments that my mother made when we were little (at least, I think I still do, if they survived the storm!* I need to check that) but it's not the kind of thing I'm likely to ever do myself.

In the jewelry department, I've already listed what I actually got out the door with. I used to be very snobby about HL's jewelry department, mostly because early on I bought some stuff that I thought was metal, only to get home and find out it was metallicized plastic. But I think all of the chain craft stores - that is, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and JoAnn's, which are the ones we have in this are - have improved their bead departments a good bit in the last year or two. Hobby Lobby now carries those short strings of beads very similar to ones you'd find at JoAnn's and Michael's, although they may or may not come from the same distributor. (I think they still could stand to label things much better. It's not too much to ask what the beads you're buying are actually made of!) Michael's still does the best, I think, on having a good assortment of "trend" kind of beads - like the vintage-looking ones that have been so popular the last couple of years, and stuff like that. But JoAnn's has a good bit of that stuff now, and HL is starting to get some too. (Even Wal-Mart has some now. But mostly I still think the quality of Wal-Mart's beading stuff is pretty inferior.)

I do think that those charms I bought were metallicized plastic, still. They're very light. But they were in an open package where I could shake them around and tell what I was getting before I bought them, so that makes it okay. And they're cute.

Hobby Lobby now also has Vintaj charms, but those were locked in a case, and I'm usually too lazy to hunt down an employee to get them to open it up for me. Plus, they weren't on sale, and I usually think it's a waste to buy anything that's not. I also was eyeing those Soft-Flex "Trios" of coordinating wire, but they seem really overpriced, to me. I'm not buying them without a sale, either.

Let's see, then... further down, on the other side of the kids' crafts, was an aisle with leather-tooling supplies. The thing I looked at there and didn't buy was leather laces - I've been meaning to try those out for necklaces. And then the next aisle down was the unexpected gold-mine - I guess I would call it the "miscellaneous craft" aisle because it had a bunch of different things - stuff for soapmaking, and to make your own stepping stones, and stained glass. And a lot of glass for mosiacs. But next to that was a line of stuff called Fuseworks, for making your own dichroic glass - has anybody tried this stuff? I may have to try it out, if I don't end up taking a dichroic class later. (Hmm, Annette seems to be teaching one later this month!) Across from that was the clay - several different brands. I need to watch for them to put that on sale, too! And a lot of supplies for that. I have been DV-R'ing Beads Baubles and Jewels and I have gotten very interested in clay, also. You see my problem? I'm interested in an awful lot of things!

* All the ornaments, and the two small artificial trees we had been putting them on, were in the utility room on the back porch during the storm. The ornaments and other decorations were mostly in plastic boxes but water got in some of them somehow, and I threw away a whole lot of ornaments, and both trees. (I figured the metal frames of the trees were liable to rust.) We did a good bit of decorating for Christmas last year but what we didn't do was buy another tree, and I've been planning to buy one this year. I need to get in those boxes and check to see what all is left before I go buying a bunch of ornaments. I had an awful lot of ornaments - we've been married over 20 years and I actively collected them for much of that time - so there are probably still plenty for a small tree.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My fun 2008

Here's some more of the jewelry I was making last year:

The earrings at the top are aquamarines - somewhat mismatched, as you can see - and the bracelet and watch are glass. I seem to have been on a blue and green kick last year. (I love blue and green; I always use them a lot, but it does seem like I was using them an awful lot at this time.)

So. When you look at my Livejournal for last year, there's this big gap in my jewelry-talk for several months. There's a lot of talking about other things, but very little about jewelry. And that's because, as I mentioned before, there was this storm. (Ike, I mean.) The somewhat-shortened version is this: we decided at the very last minute to evacuate. We spent a few days at my aunt's house and then figured out that we weren't going to be able to get home or go back to work for at least a week or so, and we took off on a big road-trip to visit my husband's parents in Ohio. (We hauled nearly all my beads all the way there, too, jumbled up with a lot of other stuff in the back of Rob's Toyota.) The only other bead-related thing, while we were being displaced persons, was that while we were in Ohio, my friend Karen and I decided to meet up, and since she lives in the Detroit area, we decided on Toledo as a good sort-of-halfway meeting point. And since I had mentioned bead stores, she found one for us to visit - it turned out to be Meant To Bead, which is an awesome shop. If you're ever in Toledo, I highly recommend it. I know I bought a number of things there, but the one that I have photographic evidence of is this string of Czech glass rondelles (which, as you can see, got made into a bracelet later):

I love those colors and I never would have thought of putting the purple in there, but it really works.

Well, so anyway - back to the story - we got home, eventually, and we found a wet apartment and a landlord telling us that everybody who lived on the first floor had to move out so they could gut the whole floor (I think they had to go right down to the beams) and start from scratch. I don't really think it was liveable, anyway, but obviously we had a bad scramble for a while trying to get a new place and get moved and clean up the old place. And of course we also had to figure out how much of our stuff was salvageable, which luckily was quite a lot. There wasn't nearly as much water in our area as there was in other parts of town - the FEMA guy who looked at it said he thought it was about a foot, although there wasn't a really clear waterline.

So we found an apartment on the mainland and we got moved; my husband said he didn't want to live in Galveston and risk having to go through that again someday, although he has relented a bit on that recently. Meanwhile, we also had to go back to work. We both worked for the university medical center, which had been heavily damaged - Rob went back to work more or less as normal, but my office was in a building that wasn't habitable, and so we went into temporary quarters for a while, and then we worked at home for a while, and then in November the shoe dropped, and half my office was laid off, including me. Rob's job was ok, although his job duties were shuffled around a bit in this same process. I decided, after some flailing around about it, that I wasn't going to look for another job as a secretary, and I have been a student all this year, studying medical coding, and I should be done in a couple of months. Luckily our financial situation was such that I could do this. So while I have not done a huge amount of jewelry-making over the past year (I always feel like I ought to be studying!), my jewelry-making story does pick up again at the end of last year. And I'll cover that part later!

Jet and jade

As I mentioned in the last entry, the black beads that I put in my watch weren't jet (but some sort of not-quite-jade, instead):

Interestingly, I was calling these jet beads but it turns out they're not. I did buy some jet, but this is not jet, it's "black jade" - which is actually some other stone treated to make it black. It just shows how easy it is to get mixed up - I got it in my head that it was jet, and jet it became. I wasn't intending to sell it anyway, so it doesn't matter for this particular piece, but if I make any more to sell I have to decide if I want to use this same material, or get real jet, or what. I just know I don't want to be the kind of jewelry-seller that sells pseudo-black-jade mislabeled as jet!

I only had one string of these, anyway, and there's not enough to do another one. And for that matter, I don't have another watch face at the moment. I did do a new Fire Mountain order and it has a couple more of a different style in it. I found some that were quite a bit cheaper than this that had Seiko movements in them, so I assume that means they will run ok, and I thought I would try those out. On the other hand, I like this face quite a lot - it has a nice "vintage" feel to it - so I won't rule out buying another one in the future, either. It doesn't have a brand-name on it at all, but so far it runs just fine.

(And that watch is still running fine, a year and a half later. Quartz watches are an amazing thing.)

To sell or not to sell

More of my first flurry of jewelry-making, from back in the dawn of 2008:

I made some more jewelry, but you may be happy to hear that I haven't taken any pictures yet! The latest is a silver(-colored) bracelet made out of these beads. (That site calls those beads spacers, but I made a whole bracelet out of them anyway - I did stick little teeny saucer spacers in between them, but that's it.) It came out really cute - I'm wearing it at this very moment. Actually I was rather pleased with myself because I didn't have a toggle closure that matched the beads at all, and then I had a silver lobster claw that would do, but nothing to fasten it to, and I made my own little split-ring connector to fasten the lobster claw to. It's the first time I've tried that, but it came out okay. It works, anyway, and it doesn't look bad at all.

Then the next day, this:
As I have said, I started making jewelry mostly so I could make it for myself, but I took this to a new height this morning - I actually made a pair of earrings to match my outfit. I put on a turquoise-colored shirt, and then I put on the bracelet that Rob gave me for Valentine's, which is turquoise enamel and silver, and then I thought, "I don't have any earrings that match!" I had already made one pair of turquoise-colored earrings, but they had antique-gold findings so they wouldn't do. But I had a couple more of the Czech glass beads that were the right color and in less than 10 minutes I had a silver pair, too. Luckily I was running early, for once.

I did find that bracelet that Rob gave me - I had a whole little bowl full of stretchy bracelets, and it was in there. It's cute - it's alternating squares of silver and turquoise enamel. Rob always picks out pretty cute jewelry, left to himself. (Usually when he picks out a gift for me, it's either jewelry or a DVD of some movie he knows I liked a lot. And sometimes flowers. I have a nice husband!)

Then a couple of weeks later, this longish bit - which is all jewelry-related so I'm going to give you the whole thing.

Wanna know why I am getting so much into jewelry? It's all Elise's fault. God, I love that necklace. I want to be able to make something like that someday. (And I also would like to be able to sell things that cost $700 and change, incidentally!)

I had a watchface I hadn't made up my mind what to do with, so I made a watchband out of jet beads for that, finally - which I keep forgetting to take pictures of - and last night I made two more bracelets and some earrings. My sister thinks that we should try to get accepted to sell at the Nutcracker Market this fall (big, big gift show held in Houston every November) so obviously I need to get to work. I'm watching very closely about what items I wear that people admire, and so forth. Doing something big like Nutcracker Market is going to be scary when I'm not entirely sure what's going to sell. I really think the little short dangly earrings that I've been making out of Czech beads will sell well to that sort of crowd, though. I guess I just need to make a lot of those in wintry colors and cross my fingers. (Which is not to say that that's all I will make, anyway. I will try out a number of things.)

Incidentally, I was telling my friend Col about my watch with the jet beads and we ended up discussing the Wikipedia entry on jet. (Jet is actually a petrified wood - sort of similar in composition to high-grade coal, oddly.) We is geeks.

Speaking of geeky, I am fascinated by stuff like this: Dino-Era Feathers Found Encased in Amber

Here's the watch, although I noted later that these beads were not actually jet:
watch with "black jade" beads
I still really like it, jet or not - I had it on today, as a matter of fact.

My sister never did sign us up for the Nutcracker Market, for which I am profoundly thankful. I think it would have been far more stress than I could bear. I had just started making jewelry, for goodness sake - I think it would have been premature to try to sell to an market like that one.