Friday, June 27, 2008

Not feeling crafty

Life is moving along at a normal pace, but craftiness is not in the air at my house. A handful of times I've sat down at the Happy Table and tried to make things but it never pans out.

...Original content edited out after reconsideration....

We finally made a trip back to Okla last weekend. We spent Sat. nite thru Tues. a.m. at Mom's. After 6 weeks down here it was nice to finally get to visit. Aaron got busy replacing the entire roof on the old, leaky Happy Room. So it was also a productive visit.
Here are a few shots of the kids enjoying fresh watermelon on the front porch.
Emily My favorite son Garrett
Watermelon at Gammy's house Lydia mid-bite

And one last picture of them enjoying the red wagon in the backyard.
3 cuties in the backyard

I brought home a bag of beach goodies we had found in N. Carolina. Garrett wants a necklace made from the shark teeth he found. Maybe that will be the project push I need to start feeling crafty again. I'll let you know. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Took the camcorder plunge!

I am soooo excited!! I just ordered a new camcorder! Wheee!!! I've been nagging Aaron for 4 years about getting a new camera. We've comparison shopped (in the stores) several times and always walked away frustrated and totally confused. But I recently decided to stop putting it off (and complaining about not having one) and spend time properly researching and just buy one already.

The last time I bought a camcorder was 10 years ago. Oh my it's complicated nowadays! LOL! After weighing the pros and cons of mini dvd, hi def, mini dv, hard drive and all the options that go with....we decided to get a hard drive camcorder in the form of the Sony DCR SR85.

After I spent several days researching and learning about the camcorders, I spend another couple days reading reviews (and watching prices) on various stores featured on PriceGrabber. I just placed a phone order with Abe's and got a fantastic discounted price as well as a free camera bag and free shipping. (The free bag was only possible with a phone order.)

I'm so excited! Now, the free shipping option is for slow ground shipping but I can live with that. But still...I can't wait to start stalking my kids like the Mom Paparazzi! The last time I got quality video of them Emily was a wee baby. My Mom will have to buy some sort of DVD rolodex to keep all her home movie DVDs I'll be mailing her. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crimp Impaired

It would seem that I have forgotten how to use crimp beads. I am so frustrated. Granted it's been a couple years or more since I made crimped jewelry, but it's not rocket science. I seriously can not get one single crimp bead to crimp. (I cheated with the watercolor bead bracelet and only 1/2 crimped the ends...and the bracelet is slowly loosening b/c of it.)

At some point during our many moves in the past 4 years I have lost my old pair of crimping pliers. My trusty pliers that crimped a bazillion beads and made a 1/2 bazillion pieces of jewelry. Recently I bought a pair of inexpensive replacement pliers at Hobby Lobby. But I'm still using up silver plated crimp beads I got long ago from Fire Mtn. (I think.)

I believe the el-cheapo pliers package said they worked with 2mm or smaller beads. My beads are 2mm.

My problem is in the 2nd squeeze where you fold the bead in half. When I make the 2nd squeeze the bead gets pushed back open instead of folding shut. I have tried finessing it closed at several different angles but it never works. I NEVER had this problem in the past. Did I get a bad pair of pliers? I wondered if the U-channel is not deep enough. But I'm beginning to think it's just the operator and not the tool.

I even had Aaron give it a try. He had the same problem and decided the beads were too big for the pliers. Since he manipulates metal for a living I kind of trust his instincts. :) But here's a picture to let you see the size of the bead in the pliers:

(click to make bigger)

What do YOU think? Since the beads used to serve me well, do you think it's the pliers? What pliers and crimp beads do you use? I'd really like to hear what you think.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

But I passed Watercolor 101

After a 100% failure rate lately I finally made some good beads. I mixed up some 'citrus' colors in translucent and even found some cute silver flower accent beads at Michael's. It's been many many months since I've made any watercolor beads. It's one of my favorite's just beautiful. So I thought I'd give it a go in bright citrusy colors. Colors which don't translate accurately on the computer. The colors are translucent but really vibrant!

I used silver leaf in the layers this time. It's not quite as visible as I'd hoped, but I'm still super pleased w/them. This direct sunlight picture shows more of the sparkle.

I wanted flat, comfy beads so I made sort of a flattened peanut shape. (In hopes of any accent beads nesting snuggly beside them.) It wasn't until AFTER assembling the 4th or 5th version of the bracelet that I decided to forget the flowers and go with the bead caps. (Which meant the peanut shape wasn't so great.)

I looove this bracelet. It feels great on. The beads buffed up to a wonderful shine and the flat shape is indeed super comfy. I may restring it one more time though. It's a tad too loose. I like snug bracelets. I ended up with about a 6 1/4" bracelet and I only need 6". Here it is on and modeled atop my blossoming tum-tum. :)

You can tell I love the beads and bracelet...I took a lot of pictures. :) (Click on any of them for a bigger version.)

Flunked Shaving Cream 101

Lately I've been drawn to all beads speckled, mottled, variegated, and earthy looking. So I decided to try Gwen Gibson's shaving cream bead tutorial from an old Polymer Cafe. Sunday I went to Michael's and bought the Farmer's Market color pack of Adirondack Inks. Yesterday I decided to give the tutorial a try. I used some previously mixed off-white scrap clay and made some quick beads. (meaning I didn't mind the fingerprints) I had watched Linda Peterson's youtube video on shaving cream beads and wanted to try the heat gun technique.

After several different tries, and variations of everything, none of the beads speckled like I had hoped. Shield your eyes...these beads are uuugly.

I am so slow. Just now as I'm typing this did it dawned on did not use Pinata Inks, you big dummy. Perhaps not all alcohol inks are created equal. Duh!!

Was that my major problem? Using the Adirondack Inks instead?
I tried mixing more/less ink-to-shaving cream ratio.
I tried physically mixing more/less. I thought perhaps it effected the amount of air bubbles in the cream. So some beads got thoroughly mixed cream while others got very two-toned barely stirred cream.
I tried really glopping it on the beads vs. a very thin coating of cream, and everything in between.
I tried low and high heat with the heat gun.
I tried horizontally hanging the beads in the oven vs. standing them on end with toothpicks.
I even tried rotating the (horizontal) beads a 1/2 turn during baking.

The 8 beads on the right were mostly heavy cream coated. Some heat gun, some oven. I also gave them a single coat of Future to try to minimize the ugliness.

The 6 beads on the left were new Kato clay. Less ink in the cream. All oven baked. Actually...1 of those 6 was a heat gun bead. With a teeny thin layer of cream. It turned out the best! But then I ruined it by trying a 2nd super thin layer of cream on top of it. (Duh!)

The 3 small beads used leftover cream mixtures with a few drops of Posh Impressions metallic inks added in. Those beads actually speckled better than the rest but the metallic inks left a raised icky residue. was a totally disappointing afternoon at the clay table. I googled the subject and found that I'm not the only one who had less than great first results. But I am an instant gratification gal. With the exception of my 13 years in a classical ballet studio, I am NOT a try try again person. If it doesn't work perfectly the first time...I'm moving on! :)
Sadly, the last couple weeks at the clay table have been failed experiments. After this shaving cream flop yesterday I was totally frustrated and ready to pack it in. But then...I made some great beads! Which I'll share with you tomorrow. ;)

As for the shaving cream you have any advice to share? I'd love to hear it! I was really excited to make some pretty speckled beads, but I must admit that my enthusiasm fizzled almost as quickly as the hot shaving cream.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Can't Touch This

This is totally unrelated and non-crafty...but it makes me giggle every time the commercial comes on. Mainly b/c bald white boy gots moves! :)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Bracelet for Mom

I made some prototype beads a couple weeks ago. It all started with one little sculpted bead that I planned to make a mold of. I did not get a great mold made so I started using the bead as a stamp. The first stamped prototypes were in earthy browns. (I didn't like them.) So I opted to try black with orange. This way IF they turned out cute, my Mom could get a new OSU bracelet out of the experiment. :)

Bracelet for Mom
(It's hard to photograph a floppy bracelet that doesn't fit my own wrist! I took a dozen shots and these 3 were the least sucky.)

Originally I had planned on a simple, casual, stretchy bracelet. Then I decided to try and dress up the beads with lots of silver. I didn't have any silver beads that thrilled me, so I pulled out the wire.
Overall I like the bracelet. It's totally swirly and that always pleases me. But I am concerned with how well it will wear. I was going for low-profile and comfy for typing/computer work. There is a lot of tangle potential with all those S-swirls and jumprings only time will tell if my guinea pig, er..Mom, finds it a comfortable piece of jewelry.

Have I mentioned I'm not a jewelry designer?! I'm a bead maker. I suck at designing and engineering finished pieces of jewelry. I just don't *see* it. (I can't decorate my house either!) So I will probably try more of the little flower beads with different bracelet ideas. Probably. Well, maybe. I've got a brand new page of idea sketches sitting on the clay table that are begging to be tried. (ADD strikes again!) :)

New treasury

I happened upon a treasury spot today. It's been ages! I had no themes in mind, so I went to my favorites and just started picking. Which was harder than I thought it would be.

So...would you like to have a look and do the clicky-clicky thing?! :) You might find something you just gotta have!