Peek at My Week: July 22-28

I've been a bit lax in doing these weekly posts, but definitely want to try to get back to sharing these glimpses into my week. I feel like it adds a personal touch to my blog and helps me make a real connection with y'all. And, I really love making those connections.

What's been happening around here? Well, it's summertime so the days are almost unbearably hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms. Yet, this past week we saw a real lack of widespread thunderstorms. The ones that rolled through seemed to miss Silverlox (our property) entirely.  It was rather odd.
I worked some on trying to get the garden back in order. Weeds have taken over my raised beads so I pulled out the one vegetable I had planted there: carrots. Alas, you can see the result of my lazy gardening in the jumbled mess of carrots. I should have separated the seeds a little more. Lesson learned. Once those were pulled, I used the weed-eater to chop down the rest of the plants in the two overgrown boxes. I've since laid cardboard over what remains of the weeds and am hoping that will aid in smothering them so I can use the boxes to plant again in the Fall. 

I began to tackle one of the home decor projects that have been eating away at me. My generous sister-in-law gave us two pairs of chairs a while back. I wasn't super-keen on the cushions but was positive I could change them out to suit my taste. It really was pretty easy, and I may share the process on here later. The old look is the chair on the left with the new one on the right. This was just the first set, I have another set to go with some different fabric (as I am just using remnants).

I did quite a bit of tin work this week, experimenting with different ideas and techniques. I really enjoyed the process and result of the Harvest Moon Earrings I made in October so I toyed around with that some, fiddling with the process. As well, I made a pair of bead caps with tin (they're blue and just above the white paper in the picture above.)

While at my mom's one day, I worked on other projects from my bead box. I'll have an update on what's new in there very soon. I also took one of my nieces to the DMV (joy) to get her driver's permit!

And, then there was more tin jewelry experimentation as I layered mismatched discs for a patchwork flower look. After that, it hit me that I could create a bail with tin too. Oh yeah, there will be more of these, possibly with more layers.

We've also been watching Castle Rock on Hulu and the newest season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. We're REALLY digging Castle Rock! It's from Stephen King and JJ Abrams...what's not to like about that?

I've shared quite a few tutorials and other inspiration via social media:
Other Crafts
I'm itching to dive back into the tin, so that's all from me for now. I hope July has treated you well. Can you believe it's almost August and time for school to start? I cannot.

Index Card a Day 2018: Cards 4, 8, 12, 16, 19, & 20

I've been steadily participating in Daisy Yellow's Index Card a Day challenge for this year since its start on the first of June. There have been a few hiccups and fall-behinds, but for the most part, I'm doing it! I shared my first three cards with you several weeks back, and have a few more ready to share. In fact, I've already posted process videos for them on YouTube but wanted to make sure y'all got to see them too.

To be honest, I'm only showing off my favorites as there are some real ugly not-so-pretty ones in the collection. 

Card 4 is definitely high on my list of favorites. The combination of the ephemera in the background and the altered and sewn-on seam binding give it a yummy grunginess. 

I love how Card 8 happened by accident - kinda. I really just grabbed some things that were sitting around the craft room, and it came together so perfectly.

There's really nothing super special about Card 12, but the bright pops of color absolutely catch my eye.

The blending and splotchy-ness of the primary-colored inks in Card 16 are so yummy. And, the addition of one of my hand-carved stamps really adds so much. 

I don't even know what it is that draws me to card 19. It's so...random. 

Card 20 was inspired partly by my niece encouraging me to do a "galaxy" painting and partly from that day's prompt of "Greetings from...". I think it came together perfectly.

Working on a small canvas like a 3x5 index card is so less intimidating than some other spaces. It's given me the opportunity to try out techniques, materials, and supplies that I've either forgotten about or been hesitant to use.

Those are all the favorites that I have uploaded with videos at the moment. You can view the videos by clicking the links below each photo or view my ICAD 2018 playlist on YouTube. Feel free to see the rest of the collection on Instagram. I've got quite a few more I'm hoping to share as soon as I can get the videos edited. Please let me know if you have any questions about my process for these or the materials I used. I'll do my best to answer them. 

Jewelry Making for Beginners Part 10: Using Memory Wire

Making simple pieces of jewelry can be easier than you think if you just know a few of the key materials and techniques. Over the past several months I've been sharing that exact information here on the blog as well as in videos on my CraftyHope YouTube channel.

Other Supplies

Opening and Closing a Jump Ring
Making a Simple Loop
Making a Wrapped Loop
Using Crimp Beads

In this post, I'm sharing another basic technique that will help you make a completed piece of jewelry: using memory wire!

Memory wire is a type of wire that is designed to hold its shape. It can be found at most craft and bead stores and is probably one of the easiest jewelry materials with which to work. You can often find memory wire in necklace, bracelet, and ring sizes. As well, I've seen the bracelet size in an oval rather than a round shape (as wrists aren't actually round.)

Keep in mind that the wire is quite sturdy as it is made of steel, and you will want to use tools that are heavy duty enough to manage it. Your standard jewelry tools are often not made for memory wire and could be damaged by it. However, you need very few tools and materials to work with it.
Along with your beads (not pictured), you will need memory wire in the size/shape you want, strong wire cutters, and sturdy round-nose pliers. There are tools that are designed specifically for working with memory wire, but I've found that the ones I've shown will work just fine too.

To begin, you'll use your wire cutters to cut the memory wire down to the size you want to use. Then, use your round-nose pliers to form a loop on one end.
 Be aware of which way you form your loop. Once it's created, it is difficult to impossible to undo with memory wire. I prefer to turn my loop outward from the natural curve of the wire. However, it is perfectly acceptable to turn it into the curve. You'll want to curve your loop in the same manner when the piece is completed.

If you prefer not to make the loops, there are bead caps designed to finish the ends of memory wire. Some of them glue onto the wire, some are screwed onto it. However, looping the ends is the method I use.

Once your loop is made, you can add your beads and other design elements. Make sure to leave enough wire at the end to create your second loop.
It is important when you make both loops to ensure that the loops are completely closed so that your beads do not slip under them. From there, your piece is complete, but you may want to add charms to the loops to dress them up a little.

You can see me walk you through the process of using memory wire in this video.

This tutorial was the last of the jewelry techniques I had planned to review in this Jewelry-Making for Beginners Series.  However, if there's a skill or technique you want to learn or watch me teach, please don't hesitate to let me know. From here, I was planning on beginning to share process videos of how I make some of my jewelry. But, I am more than happy to review any of these techniques or teach other ones. Just leave a comment!

Cheers to July - We're All Ears Challenge Reveal

It's been almost a week since the end of our vacation. While it was a staycation, that didn't stop us from having a good time. The "Cheers to July" We're All Ears challenge from Erin at Earrings Everyday has helped me ease back into my routine. I was able to get back into the swing of the work of making jewelry and blogging while still thinking about the summery beverages we drank during our vacation. 

Back in April, I made earrings inspired by two of my favorite summertime beverages (Mojitos and Bushwackers) for the Paradise Calling Challenge. This time around I focused on our July staycation and the many beers we enjoyed while floating in our pool.

We've decided that the best beer for the pool and the beach is often a simple, light Mexican one (preferably in a can as bottles are prohibited on the beach and we don't particularly like the glass around the pool.) As such, the below image from Unsplash (as Erin recommended) was the perfect visual inspiration for my earrings. 

Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash
It really was my jumping off point. Once I saw the photo, I recalled the tin partial circles I created as part of The 100 Day Project. The blue was reminiscent of the pool and the yellow of the foliage around it. To each, I added a cultured sea glass bead and a brass bead "floating" above it from a chain. As well, the brass echoes the color of the beer.
These Poolside Tin Earrings are currently available on Etsy

I know that these may not scream BEER to you, but I absolutely see it. Of course, you may just need to get in the pool and grab a cold one to really get it. 

A big thank you goes out Erin and the folks over at Earrings Everyday for the challenge. Make sure to swing over there to see what everyone else created.

Bead Box 3 - Reveal

Not sure when I'll be inspired or when I'll lack creative motivation altogether, I try to keep a box of designed-but-not-assembled jewelry pieces ready to go. I first stocked the bead box in October to keep me busy in the hospital waiting room. And, I've been re-stocking it as needed since. 

The last time I re-stocked the bead box was back in March (though I didn't share it until April). This was the third time I had stocked it up, and I wasn't particularly feeling inspired so I used the March Bead Challenge from Fusion Beads to help spur my designing. In this post, I'm revealing how those designs turned out in a before and after reveal.

First were an "easy pair of earrings" from a textured and colored Vintaj blank and beads. 

Using chain as a main component was easy with this super chunky chain. I really love that the touch of color from the beads add a bit of feminity to an otherwise industrial design. 

Designing a set was hard for me as it's not something I usually do. While I love how well the stone beads match the enameled bead, I'm not sure how I feel about this design altogether. It feels forced and may need to transform into something else. 

I had to use bicone crystals for this piece, and it really worked out. I feel pretty lucky that I had just enough crystals to make these pretty earrings that are already available in the Etsy Shop. 

Since I don't have Super Duos (whatever those are), I used these three-hole copper beads (but just used two of their holes). I really dig the faceted Czech glass beads with the copper, but my use of wire with the components makes the whole bracelet twist and tangle on its own. I'll either have to figure out how to fix that or scrap the whole thing.

I thought that learning to make a wrapped cord bracelet would be fun. However, I found myself almost instantly frustrated with the process. Honestly, I think it was the thread I was using as it kept tangling on me. When I stepped back and looked at the unfinished bracelet, I do really like it. So, it's getting added back into the next bead box to be completed when I feel up to it.

The inspiration for this was to use a "flat spiral stitch". Yet, that's another skill I lack. Instead, I let myself be inspired by the word "Spiral" and chose beads with that in mind. It works!

I was to fix or finish a project. These domed tin earrings were waiting to be pulled together with jump rings. I think they're a lot of fun. 

You've likely already seen this necklace in my reveal for the March SJ Designs Honey Do List reveal. It's one of my favorite things to come out of this bead box!

Ah, another unfinished piece. Again, it was tedious and pulled my creativity into a pit at the time. So, I stopped. But, since I still like the idea, it'll make an appearance in Bead Box 4.

Here's another favorite of my finished designs. It was to feature charms. I didn't go too charm-crazy with it as the large loop is a bit heavy, and I didn't want to add too much weight. It works, and I LOVE IT!

This design showcases my favorite color - that yummy peacock blue. And, there's text too! These are another favorite design to come out of the box. 

As for the other five designs in the box, I didn't get to them before I was heading out of town and wanted/needed to re-stock. So, they've been added along with the two tedious ones for the next box. I hope to share that with you very soon. 

How do you keep your bead designs and ideas prepped and ready to go?

July Art Challenges and Inspiration

Trying to keep up with The 100 Day Project and Daisy Yellow's Index Card a Day (icad) challenge has kept me from participating in some of the monthly challenges I also enjoy. Since there are only two more days (today and tomorrow) of #The100DayProject, I'm hoping I can devote a little more time to some of these other creative inspirations. 

  • Over at Earrings Everyday, Erin has proposed "Cheers to July" as the inspiration for We're All Ears. The idea is to be inspired by your favorite beverage. (I kinda did that for the "Paradise Calling" prompt in April. Ha!) The reveal is set for July 20th. 
  • Here's a new challenge site I stumbled on the other day. Paper Artsy (a paper art site) currently has a Transfers challenge with a July 22nd deadline. I can see transfers being used in a variety of mediums so it can apply to so many of you!
  • Each month Sarajo's (of SJ Designs Jewelry) husband Eric offers up a "Honey Do Challenge" that consists of a photo he's taken. This month it's a pair of crows in a tree. The deadline is  July 23rd. 
  • Sun, Moon, & Stars is the inspiration at the Artisans Create Together Facebook Group. Make sure you upload your pictures to the album before July 30th. 
  • You've got until the end of the month to make and share your creation for the July Monthly Challenge at Art Bead Scene. Remember that your creation must include an art bead. I think the art inspiration this month is very cool. You should check it out!
  • July's Theme is Seed Pods at Art Elements. This intriguing challenge is also open to any medium and the reveal date is July 31st. 
  • Facet is also hosting a design challenge with the theme of "Road Trip" to commemorate your summertime trip(s). This challenge is for July and August so you have until August 29th to submit a design or two. 
Those are all the challenges I know of right now. If you're hosting or participating in one you want to share, please don't hesitate to let me know so I can add it to the list. 

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...