Saturday, September 29, 2012

Halloween beads for all!

These little character beads are fun for me - I love to make them, but I'm always left wondering what exactly to do with them.  The window for Halloween beads is fairly short so I decided I better get them all done before October 1.  Several batches of skulls, mummies, pumpkins, spiders and witches with glow in the dark elements later, I barely made it.

Ben has had these Angry Birds beads on a zipper pull on his backpack for several months, so I switched them out for the new Halloween mix.  While I was at it I decided to send a set to each of my youngest nieces for them to add to their backpacks (or sparkly purse, to be fair to the youngest one).  The fight to be the favorite aunt is a never ending battle in my family.  So my sweet sisters, while you were resting I was plotting.  Good luck catching up--I hardly sleep.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rings and skulls. And skulls. That glow in the dark.

Last weekend was a good one for bench time; I got quite a few pieces finished, some new ones started, and several sessions of glass work done. 

I keep saying that I don't really make a lot of rings, then make a bunch of rings. I just can't seem to stay away from making them in different metals, textures and finishes.  Maybe it's because there are too many options...

I started with spinner rings and used a chasing tool on the sterling band of this one.  The spinner is made from  hammered 14g wire.

I ran some copper through the rolling mill with sandpaper (that is ridiculously messy--all of the little granules pop off!--but I love the outcome) for the spinning band of this ring and used one of my texturing hammers for the sterling.

...and then made a little infinity ring out of 14g wire.

Since October is just around the corner, it's time to start churning out the Halloween character beads.  Ben is ready to switch out the Angry Birds set of beads on his backpack and after starting with a small group of a skull, spider and witch, I decided to do more skulls.  Lots of them.

But the best part of Halloween beads is the added glow in the dark component around the eyes - I love these little guys!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Creative blogger award

I've been awarded the Kreative Blogger Award by a friend I met through an online jewelry forum, Melissa Muir.

When you receive this award, there are a couple of rules to follow that help keep the momentum going to find other blogs that might be of interest to readers. So here are the rules:

1. Post a link to the person who awarded you

2. Share three random things about yourself

3. Grant the award to three other deserving bloggers and let them know

Ok. I've adjusted the rules just a bit on the rules...the truth is, I read lots of creatively centered blogs but some of them are not very active. I decided that I could either try to come up with TEN bloggers to award and never actually post this or adjust it to three who I really admire and keep the ball rolling. I visited and started following most of the blogs listed by Melissa in her Kreativ Blogger Award post and think it's a great way for people to find other artists they may be interested in.
Three things about me:

  • I often get up really early on the weekends to start on my projects. Like by 4am early. I wake up and start turning the ideas over in my head and finally give up on going back to sleep. It gives me a great three or four hour space of time to myself to act out on my crazy ideas.  I *do* have a rule not to start any hammering until after 7am...just because I get up and start going that early on the weekends doesn't mean the other families in the cul de sac want to do the same thing.
  • When I was really young, I used to pick up random chewed gum and start chewing it myself. Yes, you read that correctly...chewed. By someone who was not me. I picked it up off the sidewalks and actually have one memory of pulling it off the bottom of a table in a fast food restaurant.  Disgusting.  Maybe it helped build my immune system? As an adult I'm somewhat of a germophobe, so apparently I grew into that because it must not have been an issue early on.  
  • My day job is all about data.  I work with databases, spreadsheets, web forms...and I love it. Since I could barely hang in there for any of my math classes in high school, this evolution in my work life has been a surprise.  I love the creative stuff because there is no right answer and not just one way to do things, but I love the data work for exactly the opposite reason.
Here are the links to three creative blogs that I love to read - don't forget to go check these ladies out!

Hally Crangle chronicles her life with amazing images.  She sees the world through a creative lens and her photos are always interesting.  She is young, positive, and has recently married and moved to a different you need to know more to go check out her blog?!

Pam at Cookie Crazie makes incredibly detailed decorated sugar cookies in every shape imaginable. I've only made decorated cookies a few times, partly because the amount of work and patience involved almost sends me over the edge every time.  Pam's artistry and creativity are incredible.  Even more impressive is her willingness to share tips and ideas with others; she has lots of step by step tutorials and shares her recipes.  

Melissa Muir is a friend I've made online through a jewelry forum.  She makes amazing, intricate jewelry and has a gift for teaching.  The first time I ever tried tube setting stones, I did it after reading one of her blog posts about how to do it.  I didn't have any questions when I got done reading - she even provided information about what supplies were needed.  Her tutorials on her blog and her YouTube channel are a wealth of information, and she's getting geared up to offer jewelry classes in an online format.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wedding cake....jars

When Hally started planning her wedding I told her I would make her cake as my gift to her.  I had images of a tiered cake that I would bring deconstructed and assemble on site which could be tricky since that car would also need to bring four people and all of their crap for a several-night stay.  But I knew it would work out, mostly because Lowell will do whatever it takes to support my ridiculousness with no complaints.

In the end, Hally made it so much easier by requesting jarcakes and a small cutting cake.  We settled on four flavors and I made them over a couple of weekends, tossing the finished jarcakes in the freezer.  We still had to figure out how to drive them three hours in 100 degree heat without them completely disintegrating but stacking the boxes of jars in coolers worked great.  I brought the cutting cake and frosted it during the reception.

Since it was such a hot evening and the reception was outside, we waited to put the cake out until it was time to serve.  During the reception one of the guests asked my mother where the cake was and she said, "in a bunch of boxes on the counter inside" (hee hee!).  I was a little nervous about getting it all set up but with a little help it was quick work (thank you, Andrea and Gage!).


I used chalkboard contact paper and a chalk pen to label the groups of flavors, which seemed to work fine.  Everyone left the jars behind, so we washed them and now I have lots of jars to use to shower my family with cupcakes shipped to their doors over the coming year!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chocolate Legos

I made these chocolate Lego pieces to go on top of brownie cupcakes (that's fancy speak for brownies made in cupcake liners for easy transport) for my sister's wedding weekend. The brownies were the dessert at the rehearsal dinner, selected because my brother-in-law has always loved building with Legos and is now an engineer.

These are incredibly easy to make - I melted and colored white chocolate, then poured them into molds like these:

Building Bricks and Minifigure Ice Cube Tray or Candy Mold --for Lego lovers

Once they are poured, the key to making them presentable is to lightly pick up and drop the mold onto the counter about one thousand times. This brings all of the air bubbles in the mold up to the surface and out of the piece.  If you don't take this step, sometimes the air bubbles will take over and make your pieces look like something has been gnawing on them.  I generally make several more than I will use so I can allow for error in terms of the air matter how careful I think I am, there are generally pieces that I decide to leave out like the one below.  The more detailed the mold, the more air bubbles you will have to deal with.  Almost every piece will have a small bubble here and there and I just go through the entire batch when they are all done and keep the best ones.

After the air bubbles are taken care of, I put the molds into the refrigerator to set up.  These are thick pieces, so I left them alone for at least an hour.  Then they just pop out of the molds and they're ready to use.    I dusted these with an edible silver powder to add some shimmer since they were going on top of the brownies (Ben told me this was a horrible mistake because it made them look less like real Legos).