Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Inspiration and Innovation

The project I've been working on this week was inspired by a cute mini-scrapbook shaped like a purse. It was made from two envelopes which became pockets to tuck in additional photos or memorabilia. Because I have two sons, I wanted to make a project that was more visually masculine (than a handbag) so I improvised and created a suitcase. If I had large brown envelopes, I would have just used them; but it wasn't hard to make my own by deconstructing an envelope and using it as a template. Eventually, I will post the instructions for the suitcase mini-scrapbook on our Ben Franklin Craft Club site (www. In the meantime, I hope that you will look at other people's work for inspiration. When you put your personal touch into a project, you can inspire others, too. This mini-scrapbook took awhile to get just right, but I feel that for me the pleasure of crafting is in the journey. Once I finish a project 'trip', I take a breath of pleasure and then I'm ready to take off on another craft 'journey'!

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Beading Information

I forgot to mention in my last post that the average bracelet has a finished length of 7 to 8 inches. I start the bracelet by unrolling about 12" of wire, but leave it on the roll with the plastic cover stopping the rest of the wire from unwinding. Then I string on the beads and end with a crimp and one side of the clasp. After going back through the crimp bead I use the crimping tool. Next, I cut the wire off the roll with about 4" excess wire to finish the bracelet. This method allows you to waste the least amount of wire. Don't use fishing line for your crimped bracelets because the crimps will cut through the line eventually. Guess how I know this? Also your crimp bead should fit snugly around the two strands of the wire before crimping. There are several sizes of crimp beads and wires so choose the right size so that the crimped bead won't slip. (Another lesson learned the hard way.) If you are using very heavy beads, look at the diameter of the beading wire to find the strongest one. The number of strands in the wire make it more flexible. I hope this information helps you with your bead bracelet creations.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leftover Bead Bracelets

As some of you know, I am a fan of the Bones TV show. Not only do I like the program, but I am fascinated by the jewelry that the female characters wear on the show. The necklaces are almost often organic-looking or perhaps like the beads came out of an archeological dig. I thought it would be fun to create some bracelets that have the 'Bones' look (even though the program rarely shows bracelets).

Pictured in this blog are two bracelets made by simply stringing beads on 7 or 19 strand Beadalon wire (silver plated and Bronze). I try to match the stringing wire to the findings so that the part of the wire that shows will blend in with the crimp beads and clasp. You can consult any beading book or magazine to learn how to properly crimp and attach a clasp. I'm sure that any of the Bead Shoppe employees can show you how to do it, too. I call these bracelets Leftover Bead because they can be made with all the odd beads leftover from projects you made using packages of Dress It Up beads or strands of Imagine It beads. Except for the large copper ball and the silver square with a cross on it, all the beads and findings were purchased from the Ben Franklin Bead Shoppe. I hope you'll try to make your own Leftover Bead bracelet and create a one-of-a-kind, wearable art piece.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crafting for the Holidays

All hardcore crafters know that now is the time to start crafting for holiday gifts or sales. The new Hero Arts background rubber stamps provided the jump start that I needed. These large rubber stamps are just the right size to stamp and attach to card fronts. Then with just a few embellishments.....voila! You have a card....and then a stationery set!

To me the most important element of card making is the color scheme. Try thinking of seasonal colors or get ideas from advertisements. I saw the salmon, light aqua, sage green, and brown colors on a stationery set that I really loved. Finding the right embellishment can be a challenge, but if you stick to a favorite color palette when shopping you'll probably have something in your stash. I tend to organize by color or companies (especially if they produce paper with matching embellishments).

If you are making cards for sale or gift sets, you will need to economize both supplies and production time. Once you produce a card that you like, make multiples by stamping a whole sheet of the design and cutting all your paper at once. Then you can assemble the cards in a factory line. By varying the embellishments, you can still make each card unique. For example, the four card set has flowers from the K and Co. paper punch out pad and some from Sandy Lion stickers. Also the word stamps came in a Hero Arts set but are general enough that they can be used for many occasions. Oh, be sure to use Merikan (Heiko) tape because it applies easily, is super cheap, and won't make your card warp like liquid glues or peel off like stick glues.

You can click on the photos to enlarge the images. Write to me through this blog if you have any questions about the cards or crafting in general.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inspiring Magazines

I just picked up an armful of craft magazines to inspire my imagination. In fact, one of my favorites is called Inspirations published by Stampington and Co. The current issue has a catalog of the company's great rubber stamps. I also found the magazine, Belle Amoire, (by the same company) to be a very lovely issue. This magazine has lots of clothing and jewelry ideas and is sort of a composite of the special issues for handbags, jewelry, and their other craft projects of wearable art. I purchased a copy of Cloth Paper Scissors too, because it always has wonderfully designed artwork. This issue had some great felting designs, which I will use to inspire me to make new felted projects for you. CraftStylish is a new (to me) company who is now publishing a magazine called Quick Stuff to Make. This summer issue has mostly textile and jewelry projects. Most of the ideas are colorful and simple. Good instructions for knitting and crocheting are included in it too. Although this was the first time I've seen the magazine, Creative Jewelry, it is actually the 7th volume. I think beginning beaders will like this issue because it contains very simple designs made with easy to find components. I've always admired right-angle weave beading projects but I didn't really know what it included. The new special issue by Bead and Button Magazine is titled Right-Angle Weave. I would recommend this magazine for serious beaders or someone wanting to learn a new technique. The projects are beautiful. I decided to write about my latest magazine finds now rather than include them in the next (fall) newsletter because that would be too late for you to purchase them. Happy reading!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spiral Links

No, this post is not about website links. It's about forming spiral jewelry links. While shopping on my vacation, I purchased a very simple necklace. The vendor said the piece was made in Peru. It had a primative, handmade look that I appreciated. The spiral links on the piece intrigued me for their functionality and simplicity. (See photo.) What I didn't like about the necklace was the dull finish of the metal (perhaps nickel). Also the spiral link had an undecorated straight piece of wire in the back, which I find unattractive. Using sterling wire and stringing a bead on the back wire were my attempts to improve on the design of the spiral link.

The fish beads and irridescent bead I used on one side of the spiral links could be replaced by any small flat bead. I used 24 gauge round sterling wire for most of the bracelet except the hook clasp, which was formed from 20 gauge wire. If your beads are heavy, you may want to use 22 gauge round wire. The fish beads are from Darice; the spiral glass bead was purchased at BF Crafts; and the others came from a package of Dress It Up beads called 'Key Lime Pie'. (See photo of finished bracelet.) I think I might make another bracelet in this style, using copper wire and ceramic beads. Write to me if you want a description of how to form the spiral link.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Soap Cake Idea

As promised, I will show you photos and explanations of what I saw or purchased during my recent trip. This first item was seen in a consignment craft store. It is a bar of soap made to look like a piece of cake. I think the creator poured a layer of opaque colored soap into a cake or pie pan and then poured a thinner layer of soap (with uncooked rolled oats in it) on top. Ben Franklin Crafts should probably have all the soap making ingredients you need to make a similar product. The soap was scented with something yummy (probably vanilla or coconut). Once the soap was removed from the dish (grease it with cooking oil or line it with plastic wrap); it was sliced into wedges and wrapped in plastic wrap. For decoration the original soap cake had raffia and artificial roses attached but I thought that Hearty Clay roses would look more like frosting and they could be simply glued to the plastic wrap. The consignment booth had lots of fun dessert items to make from soap (like pies, cupcakes and cookies) and I thought that crafters who like doing bazaars or craft fairs could make saleable soap items for Christmas.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On the Go

Where are the blogs? Yes, I know I just started a new site (where you can even make comments to me) and then I just stopped writing. Although I’ve been on vacation, I never really stopped thinking about crafts. During the past two weeks I’ve been shopping for supplies and looking for ideas. It will be a few more weeks before I start sharing my finds, but I think I have discovered some exciting craft stuff. I saw a consignment craft shop and perhaps the set-up could work for Hawaii crafters. The idea is not new but it maybe just what the craft community needs to stimulate more interest in handmade crafts. Even though the gas prices are high in Hawaii, I guess we should be thankful that the distances we have to travel to buy our craft supplies is rather short. I know there are lots of cyber stores on the internet, but I guess I’m still old-fashioned and prefer to touch and see the craft items in person before I purchase them. I also would rather pay for gas than postage/handling. Sometimes though, the convenience of shopping online out weighs the benefits of handling the merchandise. Have a firecracker of a weekend and take some time to make some sparkling crafts.