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.

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.

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?

The 100 Day Project - Earrings 21-40 PLUS GIVEAWAY and Winner

So. . .if you're not sure what all this is about let me start by explaining.  I'm participating in The 100 Day Project. It's taking place on Instagram, using the hashtag #The100DayProject. The purpose of the project is to participate in creativity for 100 days. Each participant picks a project or activity to work on for the 100 days, chooses an original hashtag of their own, and shares what they've done each day for the 100 days (using both the project's hashtag and their own.) I've selected #Make100Earrings as my hashtag as I'm working on making a pair of earrings each day.
So far, I've been able to keep up with the challenge. But, I don't want to jinx myself so I won't dwell on that too much. If you want to see the first twenty, check out that post.
Now, here are 21-40

Days 21-24
21: I only vaguely remember making these. What I recall is the desperation of making them. I had worked on creating something else that just wasn't coming together before finally forcing myself to "just make some earrings already." So, these fell together.
22: It's entirely possible that the copper beads in these were the ones I struggled with the day before. I made myself take a different look at them and they became these using turquoise beads and large textured links from a chain.  
23: After seeing a bunch of black-eye Susans on the side of the road, I was inspired to throw these golden floral earrings together. While they don't look like my inspiration, I think they're pretty fabulous.
24: These were made on such a busy day. Just before we headed out to dinner, I stacked these beads to go with my outfit and threw them in my ears.

Days 25-28
25: Once again, I had a crazy-busy day.These beads happened to be on my desk, leftover from the Bead Peeps Swap-N-Hop. They came together perfectly as earrings (even if they look similar to the ones from the day before.)
26: These mis-matched pieces of tin were in a drawer of other bits I had made. However, I thought they matched just enough to become a pair of earrings. A few beads and lengths of chain finish them. 
27: The large shank buttons in these earrings were the pieces that had stumped me a few days prior. Digging through the craft room, I discovered a couple sets of beads I had sorted for earrings. This set looked perfect to pair with the button.
28: I was in the mood to play. Iced Enamels were coated on the bottom of a few small bezels before rhinestone accents and resin were added. I hung these simply from Chinese crystals and a few rhinestone spacers on an eye pin.

Days 29-32
29: Something called me to the red drawer of my bead cabinet where these large plastic beads spoke to me. The butterflies are Tim Holtz rub-ons that I sealed with mod podge matte. A few black beads finish them. 
30. Since I created pink and red earrings on the previous days, I decided to make orange earrings. All the components came from my prepped box and simply fell together.
31: I let the fact that it was Star Wars Day inspire me and made a pair of lightsabers from green bugle beads and a few antiqued silver tone beads. They were fun.
32: Before realizing it was Star Wars Day the day before, I had started these yellow earrings to continue my ROY G BIV pattern. It didn't take much to finish this pair. Yellow is always a challenge in jewelry-making for some reason, so I was proud to have these made.

Days 33-36
33: Green was the next color in the pattern. These long plastic beads screamed out to be used. A few gold tone beads dangle from the bottom to complete the pair. 
34: I was called to my stash of altered blanks. These have a yellow-tone to them, thus making them slightly hard to work with. The addition of a couple of neutral white beads made it easier.
35: Turning to blue as the next color on the spectrum to tackle, I discovered these pretty little floral beads. They were stacked with bead caps, spacers, and a pair of black beads already on my desk. Done!
36: Wanting to make something a little more. . . mixed media, I fished out these washers that were altered with maps and sealed with ice resin. Large links of chain and a few bone beads complete the unique pair.

 Days 37-40
37: Desperate to really play, I used Iced Enamels again. This time I used raspberry, chartreuse, and turquoise on a couple of small keys. I think they are way fun and bright!!
38: I was away from home when I made these and dipped into the prepped box again. The ceramic beads have touches of indigo on them, working back into my rainbow pattern. I added the gold tone rings thinking that I would add bead dangles from it, but the rings look simply divine just as they are.
39: I had not an ounce of inspiration in me when I finally got to making these. So, I went for my favorite colors: purple and blue. The little star charms added a little something extra. 
40: My inspiration returned with a vengeance. I snipped these from tin, filed and sanded, hole-punched, and aged them. Taking the blue from the tin, I added bead dangles. I LOVE these!

So, that's been the last 20 days of earring-making. There are some stunners and some so-so pairs. In all, I think this set is better than the first twenty. Speaking of the first 20 earrings. . . I promised a giveaway. There were 14 entries.
And, using a random number generator
The Winner is Clare from ClaresCoffeeTime!! Alas, Clare...I don't have your e-mail as requested. So, PLEASE get with me this week so I can send you your prize. If I don't hear from you, I will draw another number.

Now. . . as mentioned above, I'm having another giveaway for some of these earrings. Once again, this will only be open to US residents. Let me know what your favorites are in this group of 21-40. Please pick two or more and leave me your e-mail address. I just want to know what people like. I appreciate you taking the time to take a peek!! The deadline will be Friday, June 2nd. I will announce the winner on the 3rd.

Have a fabulous day!

Jewelry-Making for Beginners: Cords, Ribbons, and Laces; a Guest Post from Divya N

As I work through this series on Basic Jewelry-Making, there are going to be subjects on which my knowledge is limited. When I covered materials for jewelry-making, cording was an area that I left somewhat open. Divya from Jewels of Sayuri has kindly offered to guest post and fill in some of those blanks. Thanks to Divya! Here we go!

Of Cords, Ribbons and Laces
The secret to unique jewelry designs is in how you select and put together materials. Apart from beads of various shapes and sizes, supplies that can significantly alter the look of your designs and add pizzaz to them are stringing materials. Stringing materials can be majorly classified as wire, cord, ribbon, lace and thread. Hope had previously covered wire classificationsIn this post I will be covering those that come under haberdashery trims. 

Before we begin to source these materials, we must understand the difference between cords, ribbons, laces and yarn as these words are commonly interchanged. 

A Cord is a strong linear yarn like material that is normally round or square in cross-section. A cord can be plain or braided and it could be with or without stitching on one side. Cords could have a core material that is enveloped by an outer covering. A round leather cord or Regaliz (Portuguese Cork cord) enveloped by cotton fabric are good examples. 

Cords are used to string beads and pendants or used as tieups. Popular jewelry making cords include cotton cords, hemp cords, satin cords (rattail), and leather cords. Paracord (Nylon Parachute cord) is often used to make bold macramé bracelets. Newer entrants to the market are denim cords, velvet cords and silk fabric cords.

Twisted silk cord necklace, Crocheted textured yarn necklace and Rattail tassel earrings

A Lace is a flat (sometimes ruched) elaborately decorative trim that could be woven, knitted, or made using non woven techniques like crochet or needlepoint. It is a lightweight openwork structure patterned, either by machine or by hand. In Jewelry, laces are typically used to make Victorian Chokers and cuffs. 

Leather Lace
These are tapes that are ironically referred to as Leather Lace even when they have no openwork pattern in them. They can be flat with a colored edge, braided or even simple lengths of suede. They are great for making wrap bracelets.

Braids are trims that come under the non- woven category. Braiding is a technique that can be seen in cords and threads as well. Soutache thread is a narrow, flat braid trim in a herringbone pattern.

A Ribbon is flat and flexible mostly woven band often used in making bows and other small embellishments. Velvet ribbon, organza ribbon, satin ribbon or grosgrain ribbon are some commonplace examples of finished ribbons. However, you can cut any fabric into narrow strips to make ribbons. Sari Ribbon and shibori ribbon are made that way. If you want your fabrics ribbons to stretch and fray less, you can cut them on bias (45 degree angle). Alternatively, for a professional look you can get a ball hem, pico or overedge finish for the edges. A Rik-Rak (Ric–Rac) is a zig zag band that also comes under ribbons.

Tapes are also flat trims much similar to ribbons. However, they are usually narrow unlike ribbons which can be even 3”- 4” wide. Tapes are also thicker and could be edged as in the case of leather tapes. 

Thread & Yarn
Threads and yarns are fine string like materials that are used to create cords, ribbons or tapes. But they can also be used by themselves as stringing material or to create embellishments. Silk beading and knotting thread and transparent filament yarns are often used in beadweaving and beadwork. Yarn can be used to knit or crochet trims like rosettes. Pompoms can be made using woolen or acrylic yarn. Embroidery thread or silk thread could be used to make tassels or to wrap cords for bracelets and necklaces. Zari thread (combination of metallic yarn with silk or cotton thread) can add shine to your piece and make it feel luxurious. 

Bottle necklace with hemp cord and suede tape, braided cord and Gota ribbon pendant, and silk thread bangles
The world of fabric and fiber jewelry is vast and is waiting for you to explore. I have only written about the tip of the ice berg here. Though the wide array of available trims can make it confusing for a beginner, working with them can be truly pleasurable. As you embark on this journey, I invite you to visit my blog Jewels of Sayuri, facebook page, and Instagram handle for eclectic inspiration.

Author Bio: Divya N is a Fashion and jewelry designer who loves to travel, read and sleep in. This amateur photographer and blogger from India spends her days teaching fashion communication. 

Huge thanks to Divya for sharing her knowledge and wisdom on this subject! Feel free to ask any questions you may have. And, as I go through this series, let me know if there's a topic you can cover in more detail than I have. 

I'm sharing this post at the Create Link Inspire Linky Party at The Crafty Blog Stalker and Recipe & DIY Linky at The SITs Girls.

(Un)Finished Objects (UFO) Blog Hop 2

Karen Williams of Baublicious is hosting this UFO (UnFinished Object) Blog Hop. The point of the hop is to dig out some of those unfinished items (we all have them) stashed away and actually completed them. This is her second of these hops this year.

I mentioned this hop when I shared some of the challenges ahead of me. I even showed some of the hidden UFOs I was contemplating working on. Now, it's reveal day.

As admitted previously, I had several lengths of completed kumihimo that needed to turn into actual jewelry.

I took a little time and one became a FINISHED bracelet!
There wasn't much to this except to get the bead caps on the ends, add a clasp, and attach some chain to extend it a little. BAM! Done. Maybe I'll get to the rest before another 5 years passes me by.

In addition, this collection of items I had been toting around was transformed.

Instead of a jumble of bead supplies, it became an actual necklace. How about that?
One whole side of the chain was completed. I just had to copy it for the other side then connect everything with jump rings. I don't know why I stalled out on this one.

As well, I had these bits and pieces assembled in a baggie.

The completion of it took a little longer as I had very little of the Vintaj Arte metal wire and something about the whole thing felt off. I finally decided it was the two gauges of wire. I had used 20g on the tarnished beads because of their large holes and 24g on the buttons because of the amount of wrapping that was involved. While that seemed perfectly reasonable, the result left something to be desired. Instead, I started anew with 22g hematite wire and replaced the tarnished beads with some metallic-looking e beads for a more cohesive result. As well, I only used that for the front section of the necklace and created the back with the e beads and gunmetal eye pins.
It looks lovely now!

Finally, I had a set of earrings on my desk that simply needed ear wires. I can't fathom what took me so long to slip those on them.
I'll add these to my growing pile of earrings from The 100 Day Project. But, since I didn't MAKE them as part of it, I won't be counting them.

Oh, make sure to head over and enter my earring giveaway. That is, after you've checked out the rest of the UFO participants.

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Francie Broadie,  FAB
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz Hart, Treetop Life
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
You are here --->>> Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Christi Carter, Sweetpea Path
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books

I can't wait to see what everyone else was able to accomplish. And, it's such a relief to have a few of my own projects completed at last.  Thanks to Karen for the opportunity to be a part of the hop and actually finish a few things!!

Winding down the 100DayProject

I awoke the other day with many thoughts about the 100 Day project and decided to jot them down here to share with you. Some of the bits I g...