Saturday, June 17, 2017

DIY Shrink Plastic Firefly Earrings (We're All Ears June Inspiration)

When Erin at Earrings Everyday posted that June's "We're All Ears" Inspiration was Fireflies, I knew I wanted to play along. I immediately recalled childhood summer evenings in an open field, my family, and a couple of jars. I knew what I wanted to make.

I took the inspiration almost literally. And, I even considered adding little LED lights. However, I just didn't have enough time to search out and get the lights. Instead I worked with materials I actually had on hand. I have to admit that I'm a kid when it comes to lightening bugs. When we moved into our house almost two years ago, I was such a big kid on the porch squealing with delight over the fireflies. As such, this project is a bit kid-like; perfect for crafters of all ages!

Start with Staz-on ink, a rubber stamp, colored pencils, and your shrink plastic. For this project, I'm using Prismacolor pencils as they work beautifully on shrink plastic. Also, please note that the plastic is Shrinky Dink's Frosted Rough-n-Ready. This type has a 'rough', sanded side that makes it easy to color with the pencils.

On the frosted (not shiny) side, stamp your image using the Staz-on ink.

Draw/color your image with the colored pencils.

Grab a pair of scissors and a hole punch.

Cut around the image. I cut slightly out from the stamped lines, but you can cut closer if you wish. Punch out a hole at the top of the image. I would have made a tab for the hole at the top, but stamped too close to the edge initially (oops!) Instead, I punched the hole inside the lid of the jar.

Prepare to shrink. Shrink Plastic can be shrunk in an oven/toaster oven or with a heat gun. For small projects like this, the heat tool works just fine. I like to work on a piece of tile and use a metal knitting needle to hold the plastic in place so it doesn't blow all over my desk. As well, keep a flat-bottomed glass on hand to press on the plastic as soon as it's done shrinking. This helps make sure it's good and flat, not wonky.

Once the plastic is shrunk down, it is much thicker.  This is why you want to make sure you cut and punch the holes before you shrink it. It's impossible once shrunk. Just as it started, the Rough n Ready plastic ends up with a matte side and a shiny side. I like the shiny side for this project as it makes the jars actually look like glass.

Add jump rings and ear wires to the holes to turn your shrunk images into earrings. And that's it: trapped fireflies for your ear lobes.

Of course, you don't have to make jarred lightening bugs. The Shrink Plastic is so versatile. You can use any stamp or even draw your own image to make charms with the plastic.

Make sure to check out the Lightening Bugs Reveal at Earrings Everyday to see how the other participants interpreted the inspiration.

Have you ever worked with Shrink Plastic? It really is so fun, easy, and versatile!

I've linked this diy on the Saturday Sparks Link Party at Pieced Pastimes, Saturday Sharefest at The SITS GirlsDare to Share at Pam's Party and Practical Tips, and the DIY Craft Link up at Pleasures of the Northwest.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jewelry-Making for Beginners Part 3: Findings

One of the hurdles in learning to make your own jewelry can be as simple as figuring out all the supplies that are out there and what the basics are to get started. My aim with this jewelry-making series is to help get you past those hurdles and on your way.

I've already covered Tools and Materials as well as had a guest poster go over cords, ribbons, and laces. In this part of the series, I'm covering jewelry findings.
Let me start by explaining that jewelry findings are the pieces used to help join together your components and finish your design. They are the backbone to your jewelry-making. I'm only covering the basics in this post as it is intended for beginners. There are many, many more findings out there that you will discover as you learn more. Please note that though I've shown these findings all in a silvertone or antiqued brass, findings can be found in an array of other metal types: gold, copper, gunmetal, etc. Check you local bead store or craft store and you'll see what I mean. As with my other two posts, I made a video to show you the findings in more detail, but this blog post has more concise information.

Though it's a bit out of order, this post follows along with the order of findings I shared in the video.
Clasps: Used most often with necklaces and bracelets, clasps help close and finish your pieces. The more commonly used and recognized clasps are springs clasps, lobster clasps, toggle clasps, and hook & eye clasps. The photo above shows these types along with several others that can be found fairly easily. However, clasps are not limited to the ones pictured. They are also not limited to metal.

Earring Findings - Earring findings are generally limited to use in earrings. Though, I have seen clip-on earrings interchanged with shoe clips in a few instances. 

Fish Hook or French Hook: These earring findings are generally shaped like a hook with a loop at the bottom. Usually, the easiest to find ones have a small bead and a coil of wire on them like the one pictured above. Some people do not like to wear this type of earring as they are known to come out of ear holes. A small rubber/plastic "back" will help prevent this from happening. These backs have to purchased separately.

Lever Back: With a lever that closes the ear wire, this type of earring finding is more secure than the fish hook. However, they are a little harder to find and a tad more expensive.

Clip-on: This type of earring finding is typically for those without pierced ears. However, individuals who don't want to fiddle with getting the wires into their holes will sometimes wear them as well. They work much like the levered back ear wires but without the wire. These have become less popular as more and more people have pierced ears. As such, they can sometimes be hard to find. While the one shown has a flat surface for gluing items, other shapes exist - including ones with loops for hanging components.

Post: Anyone with pierced ears is familiar with the post earring. It is the most basic as it is simply a stick coming off the back of the earring. Post earrings should always be worn with an earring back.  The backs usually come with this type of finding. The example pictured above has a flat surface for gluing. However, there are other shapes, including types that have loops for hanging items.

Basic Findings - These pieces are used in making most any type of jewelry. They are definitely what you want to start with in your learning process.

Head pins: "A stick with a stopper on the end" is probably the easiest way to describe a head pin. Most likely, you'll find head pins with a small flat surface on the end. However, ball-end head pins (one is pictured above) will have a balled end. The ball is usually metal, but sometimes you can find glass or rhinestone ones as well. Of course, you could call those glass-end or rhinestone headpins too. In addition, a headpin that's completely flattened on the end is usually called a "paddle" head pin. No matter what the shape of your head pin, they are usually for stringing beads on to create dangles and are finished by creating a simple or wrapped loop.

Eye-pins: Much like a head pin, eye pins differ in that they have a loop (an eye) on the end. This loop makes it so that the pin can be connected to other findings or components in the design. Like head pins, they are for stringing on beads and are finished with another loop.

Jump rings: A loop of sturdy wire with a small opening is all there is to a jump ring. The ones pictured above are circular in shape, but jump rings can also be found in other shapes (ovals, squares, triangles, etc.) As you can see, they come in a variety of sizes. This gives you options for each of your projects. The purpose of jump rings is to connect one component to another. Though, they can also be used as design elements or in chainmaille designs. Jump rings can be found in almost any jewelry project.

Crimps and Accessories - The above findings are used with a variety of specific materials (beading wire, cord, leather, etc.) and help finish off their ends.

Crimp tubes and Crimp beads: These two are interchangeable. They are used specifically with beading wire (though can also be used on other thin materials like thread and fishing line) to loop off the ends of the wire and keep beads from falling off. Crimp beads and tubes work by sliding onto the wire, the wire is looped back through it, and the crimp is flattened to seal the hole. Crimping pliers are often used to crimp and flatten the beads/tubes, but are not necessary.

Crimp Covers: Crimps themselves are not the most attractive, and some feel that they detract from the beauty of a design. Crimp covers help remedy this problem. They are basically open, hollow beads that slip over flattened crimp beads and tubes. Smashing them closed seals them over the crimps and makes them look like little beads in the design.

Wire Guards: These U-shaped findings are also used wth beading wire. They go on at the ends of a piece where the wire is looped back through (especially at a crimp bead/tube). The open ends of the U are pushed together where the wire comes together. Wire Guards help protect beading wire from wear and becoming frayed. They protect the wire but are not necessary.

Fold Over and Spring Coil Crimps: These are two other examples of crimp types. They are most often used with cord, fiber, and leather. The material is fitted into the crimp and then it is smashed. In the fold over ones, the raised tabs are tightly folded over the material. For the spring coil ones, the end of the coil is squeezed down to secure the material. In both cases, glue can also be used to further secure the material in the crimp.

Again, there are tons more basic findings out there: bails, bezels, other clasps and earring findings, connectors, crimp types, bangles, blanks, and more. My aim is simply to cover some of the most-used items and break them down for you so that you aren't overwhelmed. I trust that as you get more involved in jewelry-making, you'll learn about these other jewelry findings.

To those out there who do make jewelry, let me know if you feel I've omitted or mis-represented any findings. Please ask me any questions you have about findings and I'll do my best to answer them. We'll get to working with these jewelry findings very soon!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The 100 Day Project - Earrings 41-60 (GIVEAWAY and winner)

Yesterday was Day 60 of The 100 Day Project. This project takes place on Instagram with the intent of creating something everyday for a hundred days. Its purpose is to open you up to creativity. Each participant picks a project, chooses their own original hashtag, creates everyday, and shares what they've created for the 100 days. My hashtag is #Make100Earrings but you can see some of the other creativity with #The100DayProject. I've already shared Earrings 1-20 and Earrings 21-40 here on the blog. Today, I want to show you earrings 41-60.

I absolutely feel like this endeavor has helped me become more creative. I'm using materials I haven't touched in a while and others that I've just been collecting for ages. Take a look.

Days 41-44
41: Created on Mother's Day, I needed earrings to go with the dress I was wearing over to my mom's house. They are quite simple with glass pearls, silvertone spacer beads, and Czech glass beads.
42: Playing with tin once again, I cut out these two heart shapes, distressed and aged them, punched holes, and hung them from two pieces of chain.
43: Tin ruled my desk. Two of the triangles and the circle were just sitting there. I cut out a few more triangles, punched holes, and riveted them together. These were a lot of fun to make!
44: I was away from home and working from the travel box. The altered blanks spoke for themselves. I only added rhinestone spacers and chain. 

Days 45-48
45: I was prepping for the New Kids on the Block concert and wanted some fun, funky earrings. The pieces from Petra of Scorched Earth on Etsy spoke to me. I added labradorite beads, Chinese crystals from, rhinestone spacers, and seed beads as dangles to complete this pair. 
46: The morning of the concert, I simply wanted earrings to go with what I was wearing on the ride to New Orleans. The button and glass bead earrings worked well with the blue shirt with black polka dots.
47: After a walk through the French Quarter, a brewery tour at Lazy Magnolia, and dinner in Mississippi; I arrived home fairly late. Something drew me to the copper drawer of my bead cabinet, and I threw these together.
48: Feeling rather inspired after the few days out of town, I grabbed a different tin from my stash and cut it apart. These earrings emerged. I had to be fairly inventive with seed beads and wire to hang them once I punched the two holes in each. Though, I think I may have distressed them too much as the images on them are fairly faint. 

Days 49-52
49: I wasn't feeling very inspired but still wanted to use something a little different. Pulling out a little piece of filigree, I cut it in half, snipped away some of the sharp edges, and hung tiny pearls. The chain was minuscule and fidgety so I didn't get the middle jump ring through it like I wanted. As such, these move around a little more than I had hoped.  Maybe I can fix that when my patience isn't frayed. 
50: At the halfway point, I jumped on the Earrings Everyday challenge and made these beer can earrings
51: After making such involved earrings the day before, I simply stacked a few beads. The top ones in these are enameled ones I received from Cheryl Foiles as part of the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party.
52: I worked on taking apart old jewelry that hadn't sold and/or I no longer liked. The faux peals had a spacer of garnets and amethysts that I remember being pretty hard to make. I couldn't bear to take them apart. So, with some crystals that had been in the same necklace, I made these earrings.

Days 53-56
53: These were practically thrown together in a rush with the matte beads and bead caps from and some other faceted glass beads.
54: We had a bunch of people over to our house for a party and the day almost got away from me. At the last minute, I rushed into the craft room and connected these mother of pearl buttons with antiqued copper jump rings.
55: Wanting to use some of my collected old jewelry, I grabbed a single clip-on earring. These were a cluster of little flowers. I clipped off two of the flowers and looped the backs. They were hung from a couple of crystals from an old rosary. Unfortunately, the flowers don't hang quite right when dangling. I'll have to fix that later.
56: I had been wanting to play with shrink plastic for days but the long weekend and visitors made it difficult to be in the craft room for long. My original idea was a bit different, but these came together eventually. It was fun to experiment and play.

Days 57-60
I first have to say that this last bunch just scream of summer to me!
57: After some Pinterest inspiration, I used thick gauge copper wire to make a frame and thinner gauge wire to wrap on bright-colored seed beads. These make me smile!
58: When taking apart jewelry the other day, I threw some of the pairs into my travel box. Both of the bead types for these earrings had just been added. They're both from While the blue hues aren't the exact same, they definitely work well together. 
59: I wasn't sure what to do on this day. Rummaging through the bead cabinet, I happened upon these Arte metal daisy charms from Vintaj. I colored them with Vintaj Patinas to look even more like daisies. From there, white and yellow beads were added. 
60: Using some altered paper on my desk and UV resin, I made charms. These hang simply from black faux pearls.

So that's the latest 20. Now for the giveaway from the last reveal.
The entries:

And, the random number selected
Congratulations Pezz!!!!
I'll get with you about getting your prize to you.

Now for the next GIVEAWAY. . .
If you'd like to enter win some earrings from this current group, leave me a comment letting me know which 2 or more of the earrings in this post are your favorites. Make sure to leave me your e-mail address. Also, I'm asking that you live in the US to enter the giveaway. You have until the end of the day on June 22nd to enter, and I'll pick a winner on June 23rd. Even if you can't enter, I'd love to know where you're from and what your favorites are. I'm curious.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kindness in the form of Craft Supplies

Is there anything better than new craft supplies, even when they're simply new-to-you?

I have the most kind and generous online friends. Jenna of The Painted Apron is the perfect example. On her blog, she shares her amazing art, yummy recipes, and inspiring decor along with much more. In addition to all that talent, she's one of the kindest people I've ever met.

After leaving a comment on one of my blog posts, Jenna e-mailed me with a question. Working on downsizing and minimizing her stash, she wanted to know if I was interested in some of the craft odds and ends she had been collecting and was ready to part with. Obviously, I jumped at the offer. We met a few weeks later at the Eastern Shore Art Center, where we briefly admired the work of another artist. After chatting for a bit, she graciously bestowed two heavy plastic boxes upon me.

Oh, the treasures inside!

I will admit that before I took these pictures, I did a quick sort through the goodies with my niece - pulling out the very few items I knew I couldn't use and letting said niece keep a few for herself. Rest assured that the unused items will be donated, and there's still so much awesomeness.

I've already got ideas for a couple of the items in this awesome stash. But, I definitely need to go through it more to let the bounty inspire me. There's just so much!

The bulk of it is costume jewelry, but there are also bottle caps, glass tiles, knobs, dominoes, and so much more.

To Jenna, thank you SO MUCH for the craft bounty, all the fun I'll have sifting through it again and again, and the inspiration contained in these two boxes. I encourage the rest of you to check out Jenna's blog, The Painted Apron, and her Society 6 Shop which features her artwork on various materials.

Here's hoping you're having a fabulous week and that much kindness comes your way also.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Earrings Everyday Trash Transformed Challenge

Each month, the team at the Earrings Everyday blog offers up a We're All Ears challenge to the blog's readers. For May, the challenge is "Trash Transformed".  Basically, make earrings from trash or found objects.

When I read about the challenge, I knew it was right up my sleeve. However, I let the deadline (this past Friday) get away from me. I was in luck though. While looking through blogs this morning, I noticed that the linky tool was still open for a few more days. I made it my mission to make today's earrings using 'trash'.

If you know me at all, you know that I often work with found objects, even going so far as to call myself a Pick Up Artist. That being said, I didn't want to work with something I already had on hand intended for jewelry-making purposes. Instead, I wanted to focus on the trash-to-treasure idea. I quickly thought through some of my options then sifted through the recycling. The bin out by the pool held my substrate: a pretty beer can from Chandeleur Brewing Company.

An awl was used to punch a hole in the back of the can so that it could be cut apart.

Once I had a large, flat section; I CAREFULLY washed the aluminum with soap and hot water. Then, the metal was cut into smaller, easy-to-handle sections. From there, I played around some by running the metal through a die-cut machine in an embossing folder. It made an amazing texture on the metal.
The metal was cut into the shape/size I wanted, ensuring that there was a little extra to fold the edges. You see, since the edges of the metal were sharp and jagged, I decided to fold them all over as a safety precaution.

I used pliers to fold and press down the metal and a metal punch to make holes. Then, I bent the metal around a large paintbrush to give them a curve. After that, I added beads (for weight) and ear wires.
I totally dig these earrings. The bright pops of color is just what caught my eye in the first place.

Oh, and so you can see the folding, here's the backs.
The texture definitely adds interest, but the folding looks a little sloppy. I might considering using cans again, but perhaps in a different manner. I'm glad I decided to work with a medium I hadn't used before and experiment.

Now, go check out what the other artists who played along made at the Earrings Everyday May Reveal.

I also linked these up at the Sweet Inspiration Link Party at A Crafty Mix, DIY Salvaged Junk at Funky Junk Interiors, and Saturday Sparks Link Party at Pieced Pastimes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Giveaway update and other news

Unfortunately for her, I don't think Clare ever saw my last post and that she had won the first earring giveaway. However, that means another lucky reader has been selected. Don't worry though Clare, there are still a few more giveaways to go. The second giveaway is going on right now! Make sure you leave your e-mail when you leave a comment thought!
Number 4 is Al! I'll be e-mailing Al about getting her prize to her. Congratulations!!

In unrelated news, my middle school dreams came true this weekend as I went to New Orleans with some friends to see New Kids on the Block! As an added bonus, Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men were also part of the show! 

We had some pretty amazing seats in front of a second stage toward the back of the venue.
Yup, that's the New Kids RIGHT THERE behind me! And yup, I was geeking out! 

Anyway, the last bit I want to mention is that I should be sending out my first newsletter in the next day or two. Make sure you're signed up!

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I think that's all for now. How was YOUR weekend?