Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Favourite - Halloween Jewelry

In keeping with the theme of the day, I thought that I would share a few of the fun Halloween jewelry designs that I found on Etsy this week.

I was surprised that not many of the offerings really intrigued me. I guess I was looking for truly handmade and unique but found a lot of the 'same old thing'. I had to search through many pages to find the examples below but well worth the time spent, as you will see.

This Halloween bracelet, made by Dana (pawsintime) uses upcycled Scrabble© tiles with vintage Halloween images adhered to them. The pictures are covered with epoxy resin and there are glass beads between each tile. The letters inside the bracelet spell 'BOO TO YOU'.

These adorable Halloween cupcake earrings were made by Indelible Jewelry. They were sculpted and embellished by hand from polymer clay. They have been accented the with pale orange swarovski crystals and attached to closed-back surgical steel ear wires. So cute!

This necklace is made by Cathy (TempletonTreasures) from a vintage art reprint held between two pieces of crystal clear glass. The glass is joined with lead-free solder using a technique developed by Tiffany and Company to create their lovely stained glass lamps.

Designed by Kris (LaughingVixenLounge), this necklace would be fun to wear on Halloween. I love the glass ghost bead. This former hairstylist now spends all her time creating a collection of Retro Kitsch, Rockabilly Chic, Vintage Horror and Pop Culture Obsession jewelry to sell on Etsy.

Have fun and stay safe today. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jewelry Through the Ages - Ancient Sumer

Beads are one of the most common artifacts found in excavations of prehistoric villages in Western Asia. Presumably, they were used for the same range of decorative purposes as they are today; for jewelry and for sewing onto clothing.

The examples below were found in a royal grave in the Sumerian city of Ur, the southern region of modern Iraq, and date around 2500 BC.

The main materials used for Sumerian jewelry were gold, silver, lapis lazuli and carnelian. These elements were imported from other places, most likely Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, as none of them were available locally.

The Sumerians took great care to alternate and balance the different colours of stone and metal in their designs. The jewelry worn by the women of privilege would have included head-dresses of golden flowers and foliage, large crescent shaped earrings, chokers around the neck, and long loose necklaces, as well as, dress pins to fasten their clothing.

Sumerian necklaces and headgear discovered in the royal graves,
showing the way they may have been worn,
on display at the British Museum

Many of the motifs they used are quite popular today: spirals, flowers and leaves. As with fashion clothing designs, old is new again.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 43

In The Shadows
I don't know if it is the time of year with daylight fading into night earlier or the fog my brain is in from the cold medicine but I have been very aware of changes in light lately and how shadows tend to tell a story. This week capture what you find intriguing about light and shadows.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. 
~~ Rod Serling ~~

As human beings we are limited and only able to perceive the three spatial dimensions (length, width and height), plus time as the fourth dimension.

But what lies in the empty spaces and dark corners of our universe? What mysteries are hidden between the light and the shadow?

Physicists, theologians, scientists and theorists of all kinds have been pondering and speculating on these questions since recorded history and beyond. What do you think or believe? For that matter, what do I think or believe?

The only story this coffee mug is telling me right now is that it's empty and needs to be filled. *smile*

To see the exploration of light and shadow of the other participants, you can check out the links below...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 42

All in a Day
There are many things that can happen in 24 hours.
Many situations transpire.
Let's focus on 24 hours and see what goes on during your day.

Today would have been a good day for a group hug. Instead, I got rain and pain. *big sigh* Some days are like that, I'm afraid. There was no focusing on much of anything. Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day.

By the way, this is a photo from last summer taken by a friend. I'm actually in the middle there. *smile*

I did manage to install a couple of new features on my blog this week. There are Pin It buttons on all the photos now, and also 'You Might Like' links at the bottom of each post.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Favourite - Autumn Leaf Pendants

I love autumn with the burst of colour that come to the leaves with the first frost. One of my pending polymer clay projects is to make some red and orange and yellow leaf pendants. In the meantime, I thought that I would share a few of my favourites on Etsy.

I love this one by Vincent Desjardins (vpauld). The detailed description of how this delightful pendant was made allows you to see the amount of work that goes into a piece like this.

Orange and Red Autumn Leaves Pendant with Necklace
Vincent Desjardins

This next one was made by Mary Morris (MaryMorrisJewelry). She's taken a real leaf, then dipped it in copper and added an iridescent coating. Isn't it amazing?

Copper Plated Birch Leaf Pendant Necklace on Long Chain
Mary Morris

Next comes a lovely lampwork leaf focal bead by Debbie Altman (allmybeads). The texture and colours of this leaf pendant are perfect for the season.

Handmade Lampwork Glass Focal Leaf Bead
by All My Beads Autumn Beginnings
Debbie Altman

My first thought when I saw this next one was 'Wow, that's incredible!' What Kristie-Lou (sculptedwindows) does with polymer clay is nothing less than that. Entirely handcrafted, this leaf lady can be made into a pendant, bead or cabachon, as you decide.

Fall Leaf Lady Face Bead, Cab, Pendant, or Cabochon
in Orange, Aqua, Rust, Brown, and Light Ethnic
or Tan Fleshtone polymer clay

There are so many more to explore and enjoy on Etsy. Just search for 'autumn leaf pendants' and you will see. The breadth and depth of talent out there is unbelievable.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Polymer Clay - First Experiments

The tools and equipment have been in my house for months. Sculpey in several different colours has been waiting to be opened and turned into beads or pendants. I even bought a small toaster oven at the thrift store to bake them in.

Something was holding me back from launching into the world of creating with polymer clay, however. In retrospect, my fear and hesitation seem it always does after the fact.

Today was the day that I took the plunge! Here are the results of my first few attempts at making pendants.

These first ones were made with one colour of clay. I used a letter punch set to add words to the pendants. After baking and cooling them, I applied acrylic paint on two of them to enhance the lettering, then wiped the excess off.

Next, I tried a couple of different techniques using two colours of clay with very different results, as you can see. 

Well, why not try it with FOUR different colours, I thought. And here are the results of that experiment.

So, what did I learn through this whole process?

1. The mini metal cookie cutters that I am using are too large. I need to find smaller ones.
2. The clay sticks in the cutters and gets distorted as I'm pushing them out. I have to find a better way to remove them. And I need to cut my finger nails so that I don't leave marks on my creations.
3. Acrylic paint stains polymer clay if you don't wipe it off fast enough. To hide that error, I just painted two of the first ones all over to even out the colour.
4. I put too much pressure on the letter tools and the outer rim of them shows, which it shouldn't. I have to use a lighter touch next time, not press so hard.
5. Mod Podge will seal and protect items that have paint applied to them. The glossy type that I used gives it a shiny finish.
6. I now know the optimum time and temperature setting for the best results. Although the instructions say leave them in for 15 minutes at 275F, I found that 20 minutes works better with the toaster oven I have.
7. Fine grit sand paper is great for smoothing any rough edges left by the cutters.

And last but not least...

8. This is FUN and I want to experiment some more!

If you have any helpful tips or techniques for working with polymer clay, please share them in the comment section below. Thanks.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 41

We all have, make or witness connections every day. Connecting to one another makes us feel that we are part of something more, something great!! This week focus on the connections you make, the connections that naturally occur, a connection of things, your connection to your environment, craft or faith.

With this being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, the ‘connection’ most on my mind right now is my family connection. And I will be spending lots of time over the next three days connecting and conversing with close and extended family members alike, some that I don’t have the opportunity to interact with very often.

Earlier this year, we had a big family reunion for one branch of the family. I wish we could do it more often. Some of the younger members of the extended family are practically unknown to me, as am I to them.

As you can see from this photo though, there are a lot of us...and this was only some of the people who were invited. Many, unfortunately, were unable to attend. We live at such far flung parts of the province and country that getting together on a regular basis is not feasible.

I do like the fact that I have been able to connect with many of them on Facebook, and can follow along with their activities. During the process of researching the family history, I've re-connected with branches of the family that moved out of province many years before I was born and have established themselves out there, almost forgotten by those of us here.

So, family connections are my top priority this week. To see the connections of the other participants, check out the links below...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lampwork and Clay Blog Hop

I recently signed up for this blog hop hosted by Pine Ridge Treasures. Each participant received a kit in the medium of their choice - lampwork or clay. The kits contain a focal bead, a pendant, smaller beads or a combination thereof. Participants are encouraged to use as many of the beads in the kit as they can, along with beads and components from their stash.

My kit consists of a lampwork focal bead and 12 smaller matching beads by SheriBeads. Here they are with the colour palette that I created for them.

I'm going to attempt something different with my creation for the blog hop, taking my inspiration from the showpieces of Phaedra Torres. She works in mixed media, utilizing found objects and a free-form design style that appeals to me. This will be quite a challenge for me. We'll see how successful I am at it. *smile*

Created by Phaedra Torres

The first bead from my stash that I've pulled out to use for this design is a lampwork goddess bead created by my friend, Louise Ingram. The purples are more similar than these photos and colour palettes would suggest. I like the fact that I will be able to pull out some green for a pop of colour.

This week I will be searching through the rest of my bead stash for other co-ordinating pieces and start laying out everything in my bead board. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 40

Everyone can use a smile, better yet that smile may make you feel so good you may start to giggle and giggling is infectious; making the mind, heart and soul happy!
This week focus on the positive and give us a smile!

For many years, I was an avid doll collector. To be honest, I may have been excessively preoccupied with accumulating dolls. *smile*

I started out with porcelain dolls, which turned out not to be a good idea with two small boys and two rambunctious cats in the house. 

Ginny by Vogue Dolls entered my life next. These adorable, diminutive dolls captured my heart with their sweet smiles and cute outfits. They were not available in Canada, so I had to acquire them by mail order from the U.S.  When the exchange rate and customs duties became too ridiculously high, I had to move on.

Then came Barbie dolls, the fancy expensive 'limited edition' ones. As it turns out, they were limited to 10 million or more, I think, because they have no value on the secondary market. You cannot even sell them for what you paid for them.

For a moment, let's not speak about the boxes and boxes of dolls hidden away in my storage room OR the hundreds of dollars worth of dolls that I've donated to charity auctions just to clear them out of my house.

Did I mention my Leeann dolls? Designed by a Canadian doll artist, Denis Bastien, how could I not collect them? 

Gratefully, I have learned to curb my doll purchases to the bare minimum these days. There are still times, however, when I'm really tempted but manage to resist. Their smiling faces continue to draw me in though.

I found this little darling at a local thrift store recently and my resolve not to bring more dolls into the house was gone. She came home with me. Meet Rose, a high quality vinyl doll originally sold by Ashton Drake to raise money for breast cancer research. 

Her 'Mona Lisa smile' was too much for me to resist. To see the smiles of the other participants, check out the links below.

Friday, October 4, 2013

My Favourite - Scrabble© Crafts

I remember playing Scrabble© a when I was younger, but never did I think of using the tiles for creative crafting. Who knew you could do so many fun and interesting things with them?

How about these refrigerator magnets by WinterberryOriginals? Don't they bring back memories of playing Scrabble© as a child?

These pet tags were made by ScarletandCo. The Scrabble© ID tags are sealed with three layers of resin to help protect them from scratches and moisture.

The coasters were created by COOLBOYCREATIONS. Backed with original Scrabble© game board, they are sturdy enough to stand up to lots of use and coated with sealant to protect them.

Also from WinterberryOriginals are these personalized holiday tree ornaments. They would make excellent, unique gift tags too.


And here is the fun pendant by PiecesOfMePendants that first got me thinking about Scrabble© crafts in the first place. I might try to make some myself.