Monday, December 31, 2012

Toast of the Town for I Might Make That AGAIN Monday

Erin Prais-Hintz's Toast of the Town convertible necklace
designed for Michael's
For the past couple of days I had been mentally composing two blogposts in my mind--one for my I Might Make That! Monday feature and one for New Year's Eve, totally forgetting that they were the same day. So this is a special deluxe combo post. Free for you! No extra charge!

Last Monday, Christmas Eve, I had planned to post some more Christmas ornament tutes for IMMT!M, but holiday preparations ran overtime and the post got canceled on account of temporary blogger overload meltdown forcryingoutloudIcan'tdo12thingsatoncesomething'sgottagiveitis. I obviously couldn't post those tutes today, so I started scrounging for something new. I had also planned to blog this week about a necklace I had made back in November but had never gotten around to photographing. I decided what the heck, let's combine the two.

Note that the title of this blogpost says "I Might Make That AGAIN Monday" because this is the first time I'm featuring a piece that I've already made, instead of a project for my my wish list. But I love this necklace so much I want to make several versions. Plus the name, "Toast of the Town," is so perfectly suited to New Year's Eve!

Some of you may already know this necklace, if you follow Erin Prais-Hintz of Treasures Found. She wrote about creating the necklace here back in September, noting that she was inspired by Design Seeds' "toasting tones" color palette. You can find the necklace-making instructions at that link, or check out the version on the Michaels website.

She later hosted a Toast of the Town bloghop (page down; it's at the bottom) and started a Pinterest board to show off the many lovely variations.

Without further ado, here's my version:

Mine is made of dyed howlite discs, quartzite beads in various coral hues, small faceted glass rondelles in peach and crimson, two sizes of gray glass pearls, antique silver fluted beads in two sizes, and assorted lampwork glass beads in shades of red and coral. (This necklace takes a lot of beads!) I think the gray really makes the coral POP! What do you say?

But you haven't heard about the ingenious part of Erin's necklace yet. It is actually two long intertwined loops. A toggle bar is hooked to one end of one loop. But the corresponding circle closure to the clasp is NOT attached. Instead, it is allowed to slide freely through the loops. This allows you to wear the necklace in many ways, depending on how you pull the strands through the circle.

When Erin blogged about this, saying you could wear the necklace at least seven ways, I just couldn't picture it. She showed a few variations--wearing it as two long opera-length strands, then doubling them for four strands, then twisting the strands into a choker-length torsade--but what were the other variations? Finally I decided I would just have to make one myself to figure out how it worked.

Above is the version showing four simple strands. Once I had an actual necklace of my own to play with, I could see that by pulling the strands individually through the floating circle, I could create a staggered effect, as shown below. 

My neckform is not long enough to show off the two opera-length strands, but I think you can visualize it from the pic of it lying flat on the sisal mat. My beads are too big to knot the loops, flapper style, in the long version, but I think with smaller beads that could be another variation.

My pictures of it as a twisted choker didn't come out well, but I have worn it that way (with the toggle as a jaunty off-center focal). I have gotten lots of compliments on this whenever I've worn it. 

Here's a closeup of the toggle bar and floating ring.  

And here's a closeup showing how the two beaded strands are interlocked.

And one last pic--of one of the photography assistants helping me on my photo shoot. (This is Pearl. Although she probably thinks her name is Get Off the Table.)

So that's the I Might Make That! Monday part. Here is the New Year's Eve part:

I launched this blog on New Year's Eve 2010, so today is my two-year anniversary--and my 140th blogpost. I am proud that I have stuck with it, even though there have been pockets of silence here and there.

Normally New Year's wrapups are times of reflections and assessment. This past month has been rough on me, spiritually, physically and psychically, but I don't want to turn this into a pity party. I am lucky in so many ways. One of the ways I feel lucky is that through this blog I've met so many wonderful people whom I wouldn't know otherwise.

I was feeling kind of depressed yesterday morning, thinking about all the things I didn't get accomplished over this break from work and school, despite my best efforts. I pulled out my Toast of the Town necklace and my neckform to snap some pics for this blogpost. Sigh, just another task on the long to-do list I had planned for the day. Then something magical happened.

As I played with the necklace, draping it on the neckform and on the table, I was reminded of how much I liked it. That designing it was a joy--rummaging through the beads, deciding on a color combo, creating the patterns in the different strands. I actually had to string it three times because of some boneheaded mistakes, but I had persevered and finished it. Whenever I wore it, people had admired it. One friend asked if I could make her one in blue.

I noticed that after taking several pictures I felt happy. It felt good to document and celebrate the art of creating.

This was a necklace that came about through the blogosphere. One talented designer had graciously shared her design, and months later, I had benefited. This necklace is a tangible form of what this blog means to me--my way of making connections and celebrating creativity.

Happy New Year to you, and may 2013 be a year of creativity and inspiration.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Might Make That! Monday--Festival of Lights Edition

I guess I jumped the gun a bit by featuring DIY Christmas bling right after Thanksgiving, forgetting that Hanukkah comes pretty early this year. (Our house celebrates both.)

Hanukkah, which started at sundown Saturday and lasts for eight days, does not lend itself to jewelry inspiration, as far as I can tell. Yes, there are menorah charms, but no one is going to wear a polymer latke around her neck.

But it certainly lends itself to plenty of crafts, from cutout cookies to dreidels. Here is a roundup of DIY menorah. The pretty one pictured above is from Martha Stewart and instructions to make it can be found here.

OK, these last two are here just because they made me smile.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The special Saturday edition of Need a Laugh Wednesday

I won't bore you all with uninteresting excuses of why I missed posting on Wednesday. Let's just say shit happens and move on, shall we?

I realized that last week's NALW installment on How to Wrap a Cat was premature. I neglected to share some of the preceding steps.

First, before you wrap your cats. You have to collect them. Here's one easy way.

Then, after you have your cats, you need sort and organize them. Here are several ingenious solutions.

(More ideas at Buzzfeed's 15 Ways to Organize Your Cats)

Before wrapping your cat, think about the recipient's taste. Does he/she like the Romantics or steers more toward Cezanne? Assign each cat to the appropriate giftee accordingly.

(More inspiration at Funny Cats Imitate Famous Paintings.)

Now you may proceed to wrapping your cat, following last week's video. On the attached gift card, please be sure to choose the correct cat font.

(More at Buzzfeed's 20 Cats as Fonts. And if you haven't seen the canine version, check out my blogpost from October on typography humor.)

[I promise next week's NALW will not involve cats. I don't want to develop more of a crazy cat lady reputation than I already have.]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wirewoven bail for I Might Make That! Monday

This is going to be a super-quick post, since I really need to devote my Sunday evening to working on a paper for class. I found a really cool wirework tute--I can't remember how I stumbled on it--to share. The site is called Shaktipajdesigns, by Perri Jackson).

The instructions are not for making the entire pendant, which would be far beyond a beginner's talent anyway, but for how to weave wire in tight spaces, and she makes the wirewoven bail for the pendant as her example. The tute, as a PDF, is here. Lots of wire-hardening tips and loads of very nice pics to help you see what she means!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oh, oh, oh Christmas trees for I Might Make That! Monday

Wire trees by Chris Wrinn

I appreciate everyone's patience while I dropped off the radar for what now feels like a very long time. We now return to our regular programming.

Black Friday is winding down as I type this a few days in advance of posting Monday. I don't do Black Friday--never have. I DO plan to do a little shopping on Small Business Saturday. One of the spots I'll be checking out is the Fenton Street Holiday Market in downtown Silver Spring. Want to do some scoping out to see if I am interested indoing this crafts show next year.

I also want to hit Accents Beads, a great little bead store in Rockville that is having a small-business Saturday sale. Although I know I can buy seed beads cheaper online, there's nothing like being able to see the color in person, and I do appreciate having a local store that's not a Michael's or other chain for buying such supplies. (Not that I don't drop plenty of $$ at Michaels.)

Because we're inching toward December, I do have Christmas on my mind, so here is a roundup of tannenbaum bounty. I wanted to find some patterns beyond the cliched stacked marguerites or the staggered swirls embellished with beads that you see everywhere.

WigJig Chandeliers
I love the simplicity of the simple wire trees shown above. They are designed by Chris Wrinn and are available as a free download from Jewelry Making Daily

And these here, to the right, are ordinary chandeliers, and the instructions from WigJig show them in several colors, but don't they evoke Christmas trees when made with green bicones? All it needs is a little blingy something right at the topmost point.

Beyond trees, there's a whole page of Christmas-themed patterns from WigJig, from a funky Rudolph to a moon angel.

I've already featured WigJig's dove pin, and last Christmas I highlighted these clever magatama tree earrings from Bead & Button.

Friendly Plastic trees
I'm not fond of plastic jewelry as a rule, but I do admire the artistry of these marbled ones here, made from a product I'm not familiar with called Friendly Plastic. The tute is very detailed with lots of cool pics.

I'll stop with this last one. This is intended to be a tree ornament, I think, but with fancier ribbons and blingier beads, I think this would make a lovely brooch. (No tute, but surely you can figure it out.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blingy things and big screens

I promise to resume regular programming very soon. Let me at least give you a peek into what's been occupying all of my free time these past couple of weeks (along with the usual job, grad school, etc.)

For those of you in the DC area, come visit the wondrous Holiday Shop at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria on Saturday and say. They have very high-quality crafts and the most helpful volunteer organizers.

I did this event last year and it was lots of fun. (Read about my Kumihimo-ing in public here.)

This same weekend is the Alexandria Film Festival. This project is a labor of love for my friend Patti, who launched this event six years ago, and a labor of friendship by those who love Patti and want to support her. I've been helping out with advertising and publicity.

There is a fabulous, eclectic lineup of local, international, ethnic, provocative, offbeat, outrageous serious, haunting and hilarious films. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance.

It starts Friday and ends Sunday night.

Now from reading about those two events, you might reasonably assume that I live in Alexandria. I do not. I live on the northern side of DC, in a Maryland suburb, and I always get lost when I drive to Virginia. But such is the power of my friend Patti, who does live in Alexandria, that I brave the border.

For those of you who don't live in the DC metropolitan area, it may be hard to fathom how Marylanders and Virginians feel about crossing the Potomac. I am more likely to drive to Baltimore than I am to cross over to Northern Virginia, which is less than half the distance. Every Marylander I know feels the same way, and every Virginian I know feels the same about venturing into Maryland. It's like DC, which separates us, is a kind of DMZ.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rings and running in circles

Ack, I wish I could blame Hurricane Sandy and a power outage for my lack of posting. She's partly responsible, in that she delayed my return from Texas by two days last week.

Amazingly, we had no loss of power. (I say "amazingly" because every piddly thunderstorm seems to knock out power in our leafy suburb. Above-ground power lines and mature trees are a bad combo.)

But my graduate class is in full throttle (paper due tomorrow) and the Alexandria Film Festival needs some of my attention. Plus I have a craft show coming up in two weeks. Oh, and I decided to throw an Election Watch party. So let's just say posting will be erratic for a little while longer and I'll get back to my I Might Make That! Mondays and Need a Laugh Wednesdays when things calm a bit.

The pic shows off my handiwork at Lexi Erickson's class in metalsmithing at Beadfest Texas. Most of the students were way more experienced than I was. But still it was a great intro, and I got to use a jeweler's saw for the first time, and learned proper hammering, filing and finishing techniques. The real biggie was that I got to use an acetylene torch in my first attempts at soldering.

In addition to making the three sterling silver stacking rings shown here, we made copper triangles cut from copper sheet metal that were supposed to be turned into earrings. My triangles were a little lopsided (but full of character), so I plan on using them to make a focal at a future point.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sneak-peak at a WIP

Hi everyone--just a quick note to say that I won't be posting for about the next 10 days or so due to travel--some work, some play--and the post-travel catchup I can already foresee.

Here's a kumi lariat I am working on right now. I'm doing this one on a foam disk, not the marudai, because although the marudai goes faster, it's not as portable, and I was able to carry this from room to room while watching TV, listening to the radio, etc. over the past week.

This is about 36 inches, made with size 8 seed beads and C-Lon cord, and I'm about ready to tie it off.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Going to Bead Fest Texas!

Hey gang, is anybody out there going to Bead Fest Texas next week?

I'm combining a business trip to California with a stop-off in Austin to see my lovely daughter for a couple of days, then a weekend in Arlington to attend Bead Fest.

I've never been to one of these shindigs before. There is one in Philly every year, which is much closer to where I live, but for the past several years I've had schedule conflicts. I'm determined to go to the big Kahuna (the Bead & Button Show ) in Milwaukee someday, but I think our summer vacation plans will interfere with this year's show, so that will stay on my bucket list for now.

In Texas, I'm scheduled to take an all-day workshop on metalworking with the fabulous Lexi Erickson. (Maybe I'll learn enough soldering skills to attempt that copper jewelry display I blogged about yesterday!)

I won't be blogging next week while I travel, but I promise to show off my stash when I return, plus my metalsmithy attempts.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Craft show display ideas for I Might Make That! Monday

Garden trellis--and perhaps a craft show jewelry display--from Reader's Digest

OK, smart reader that you are, you have deduced from the photo that I am not offering up jewelry tutes this week. I have craft shows on my mind, because I'll be doing one shortly before Thanksgiving. I spotted the above--a garden trellis--on Pinterest recently, and my first thought was that it would make an awesome jewelry display. Add a base, a few more horizontal bars...

Given that I have only about a month to prepare for the craft show, and I need to concentrate on making stuff, this is not going get done before mid-November. But for anyone interested, the instructions are here. They are not very detailed. It's really a supplies list and some tips, such as flattening and soldering the pipes together if you can't find four-way fittings, and mention of a glue that works on copper. But I'm filing it away for the future.

In the same vein is this display, which the pinner is using as a bathroom organizer but I think would make a great table display for jewelry.

Instructions are here (do you really need them?), and the tutorial shows some versions made with ceramic plates.

Oh Pinterest, you know I can't quit you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Serving up leftovers for Need a Laugh Wednesday

It never fails that whatever I choose as my topic for Need a Laugh Wednesday, invariably I later find something brilliant on that theme I wish I had included. So I'm serving up leftovers today.

My very first Need a Laugh was devoted to Beading Humor, so here's another serving. (I think I saw this on Mortira's Inspirational Beading Facebook page last week).

That was followed by some grammar gibes. So here's another heap o' snark:

Source: via Geneva on Pinterest

And here, let me freshen your coffee:

When I featured cat humor, I meant to include this video. At the time, our rascally kittens were really into unrolling the toilet paper roll every chance they got, and I was sure they would graduate to this trick. Luckily, they haven't yet!

Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew the bills weren't representative of their actual usage, and no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continued. Although they could see nothing wrong, they had everything checked for leaks or problems; first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes, underground pipes, faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc., all to no avail. One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed trying to rest but kept hearing water running downstairs. He finally got up to investigate and stumbled onto the cause of his high water bills.
Source: via Monica on Pinterest

And who among us has not mixed different leftovers together to create something new? Behold, a serving of combined grammar-cat humor!

Source: via Geneva on Pinterest

Some seasonal Pinstrosity:

And for dog lovers (all pet lovers, really), I'll share this link, which was whipping 'round the Web a month or so ago and is both funny and sweet: My Dog the Paradox.