Peek at My Week (March 22-28)

How are ya hanging in there? All this social-distancing and self-isolation is making me a little batty. But, I realize it's for the best. And, I really hope you're out there making good choices, washing your hands, and staying healthy. Let me give you a peek of what I've been doing with myself this week to keep busy. 
Sunday started off cloudy like Saturday, but the afternoon turned beautiful. So, we headed outside to get started on some yard work. On the way to the pole barn to get our tools, I spotted this little bunch of clover flowers and couldn't resist snapping their picture. Don't they just make you smile?

As Pat helped me trim away the bamboo and weeds in the old burn pile, we discovered this beauty of a bird's nest. We waited several hours before removing it to make sure it wasn't occupied. I was mesmerized by the craftsmanship. The outer layers are made of small sticks and twigs. Then, there's a layer of leaves. Finally, the inside is a comfy layer of straw and grass. It's beautiful!

On Monday, I took my niece in Mobile to the dentist for a root canal. Afterward, we picked up lunch and hung out before deciding to get a little crafty in the kitchen.
Y'all! I forgot how easy it is to make rice crispy treats. We added M&Ms for an extra level of yum.

Tuesday was all about catching up on chores and errands. I did get this beauty of a necklace into the shop too.
It's already sold!

I've been walking the property in the mornings to kick the bamboo shoots. It's the only way we've been able to keep bamboo from taking over the backyard. And, it's good for me to get outside and move around a little. Plus, I get to find treasures like this while I'm out there.
On Wednesday morning, the bright blue of this tiny feather stopped me in my tracks. 

I let the beauty of it carry on through my day as I worked on both some jewelry and a page in one of my art journals.
I was tickled that they ended up with a similar theme. But, I shouldn't have been surprised as both the tag and the sticker are Tim Holtz products. 

Once I got some business handled and lunch taken care of on Thursday, I let myself give in and picked loquats for jam-making.

In the process of cleaning and chopping the fruit, I remembered why I was so hesitant. It takes forever to process loquats. But, once it was all said and done, I think it was probably worth it.
Mmmmm, Jam. 

Friday is always big-chores-day for me. I knocked out as much as I could before lunch and was ready for something yummy. Pat and the niece wanted leftovers, but I was in the mood for something...lighter.
A snack plate seemed perfect. And, ohmyggodness, it was so good!

After a little more work, I grabbed a beer, some watercolor supplies, and my phone and headed outside for a mini Instagram concert from one of my favorite music artists. 
I've been seeing more and more of these little performances, and they warm my heart.

Saturday was all about the Gnome Reveal for the Art Elements Theme Challenge. 
It was a beautiful day outside, but I was feeling crummy. So, we stayed inside and indulged in a couch-day. As busy as I've been lately, I think it was well-deserved. 

I hope you're allowing yourself to indulge just a little too. If you're looking for some inspiration, here's what I found over the week.

That's it for me this week. I just finished all my shopping for the week and hope to spend the rest of it hunkered down deep in my craft room - or out wandering the property. I hope you're making the most of this unusual period in time. What's inspiring you right now?

Gnome Sweet Gnome (AE Reveal)

Taking up challenges has done a lot to give me inspiration. And, now the challenges are helping save my sanity as I stay home as much as possible. When I saw that Jenny had selected Gnomes for this month's Art Elements Theme Challenge. I didn't hesitate to hop on board. For one thing, I knew I had at least one project already done that would suit the theme but was certain I could come up with more.

Recently, I went on a soldering spree and wrapped up a ton of stuff in copper tape. Then, I happily sat at my desk and soldered it all together. Several items in that batch ended up in my Bead Box #7. What a coincidence that this was in there.
I'm not sure what pulled me to the gnome image when I worked on the soldered pieces, but it was a wonderful stroke of luck. I believe that image is from Dover Publications, but I can't be sure. It was just one in a stack of things I keep around.

It took me no time to create the chain for that cutie of a gnome pendant with the beads I had already selected. The clear and white beads ensured that the pendant would be the focal point of this necklace.

I really love his whimsical nature with the butterfly on his elbow. There's a butterfly image on the back of the pendant too. 

Knowing that the necklace was complete, I didn't stress too much over getting something else made for this reveal. However, I had a list of ideas that included making a cloche gnome scene with an old cheese plate, creating a gnome silhouette with a jar and a tea light, and assembling a simple paper gnome collage. I even kept my eye out for gnome figurines on the few trips out of the house that I made.
I picked up the above little guys thinking they would incorporate well into my first two ideas.

And, when I spotted this piece of bark in the yard, I thought it would be perfect for the jar idea.
Even after baking the bark in the oven I still couldn't bring myself to combine the pieces into a whole project.

So, these guys will have to wait.
Actually, the largest gnome has become an on-desk companion of mine. I just love him. So, he'll likely stay as he is. But, he needs a name. Do y'all have any suggestions?

While those first two ideas never made it to fruition, I couldn't get that third one out of my head. And, once I had an idea drawn out, it was just a matter of sitting down and making it happen.

You can see me make it for yourself in this Easy Gnome Collage tutorial on YouTube.
I'm pleased as punch with how he came together.

I used pastels and florals for this gnome to give him a happy, spring-like feel. But, it would have been just as easy to have selected papers for any other season, holiday, or theme.

He was made on a 5x7 inch canvas board that I painted with acrylic paints. But, a sheet of paper would have worked fine too in a pinch. I drew out my idea, to scale, on a piece of copy paper. So, I just cut those shapes out to create templates for the patterned paper. 

Once I traced and cut out all the patterned paper, I just used a glue stick to piece my gnome and his mushroom together. 
A Stabilo all-pencil was used to add some shading before I added a mother-of-pearl button for his nose with E6000 glue. 

He's cuter than I had envisioned and was easier than I imagined. Thanks to Jenny for the inspiring theme! I definitely needed the distraction right now. 
I hope you go get distracted and take a gander at what the other participants made. This is Blog Hop after all!
AE team: MarshaCathyJenJennyLesleyClaireNiky
Guests: TammyLindaHopeCatSarajo

I hope you're staying home right now. Let me know what you're doing to occupy your attention: creating, organizing, binging, cleaning... I think we could all use all the ideas we can get.

March Honey Do List Reveal

The Honey Do List is a challenge hosted by Sarajo of SJ Designs Jewelry. Basically, Sarajo's husband, Eric, gives her one of his photos each month from which to draw inspiration. It started as a challenge for her, but Sarajo now shares it with the rest of us. And, I love it!
The moment I saw this month's inspiration photo, I knew where I wanted to start.
Isn't this door from Prague amazing!?

It had me chomping at the bit to run a piece of old tin through an embossing machine, color it, and add layers of filigree. And, that's just what I did!

Oh, y'all! I'm so in love with this piece! It had its ups and downs though. I even recorded my process for creating this fun altered and riveted pendant so you could take that roller-coaster ride with me.

To accent this amazing pendant, I selected just a few beads in a mix of metals (like the filigree) and added a length of gunmetal-colored chain.

Yeah, I'm pretty smitten with it.

I especially love the matte and worn feeling of the red on the tin. I had to mix that color myself using Vintaj Patinas. It looks like SJ did the same for a few of her pieces as well, though we used different colors to add to the garnet. The video shows you just what I did.
Making this beauty was a welcome distraction. I hope you're staying safe and secure behind your own doors right now!

Now, head over to SJ Designs Jewelry to see all the beauties she made along with the links for those who were also inspired by Eric's photo.

Peek at My Week (March 15-21)

So, how are you doing with the social distancing and staying home? It's got its ups and downs for me. I don't really have a problem finding ways to entertain myself at home, but hate not having the option to just run out for a few things if I need them. It's a little maddening, but I totally get it. I can't say I stayed home all week, I did have to run out for a few things like groceries, but have been pretty good otherwise. Take a peek. 
We started Sunday with a filling breakfast of another ham and cheese frittata along with some fruit. Yum! 

That fueled us up for a day of yard work. Pat focused on the pool and mowing the grass while I tried to clear some of the "burn pile."
That "pile" is mostly weeds with a bunch of bamboo growing in it. As such, my main task was cutting down the bamboo. Don't worry - there's still plenty of it on the property. 

One of the things that had me so motivated to clear that area is that it's one of the best places to find treasures. And, I let myself do just that as I cleared the bamboo. 
I did pull that birds nest out of the bamboo and discovered a few metal pieces. However, there was also quite a bit of garbage that the previous owner apparently tried to burn (you should see the piles of carpeting that we're going to have to pull out of the grass to throw away!)

Monday meant grocery shopping, and it was a madhouse as you might expect. I got what I could. Not knowing how this virus business might impact my business, I'm still listing things on Etsy for the time being. These pretty earrings went into the shop on Monday.
They even sold the other day and have been shipped out!

I made a special trip to the local coffee shop to use their internet to upload a few videos.
I was surprised to see how many people were there. But, who am I to talk since I was there too?

As I walked the property on Tuesday, I spotted a bright pop of white among the pine straw and dead leaves.
It was a tiny hatched egg and a great reminder that life goes on.

I also took a moment to sniff the wisteria.
It's one of my favorite flowers but its viny nature means that it has invaded much of the property. We've been fighting it since we moved to Silverlox, and realize that we'll likely never be rid of all of it. But, we're going to do our best to keep it from taking down any more trees. (Wisteria had invaded and suffocated at least two trees that we ended up having to have removed.)

Before heading to my mom's on Wednesday, I enjoyed my morning ritual on the back porch swing. In the mist and dew of the morning, I spied this tangle of a web on the swing's frame. 
That's two weeks in a row that I've shared a spider web! Y'all might need to start worrying about me! I spent the day with my nieces and baked cookies that were intended for a bake sale. About the time I got the last tray in the oven, I got a text that the fundraiser was postponed. Ah well, that just meant more cookies for us!

While I was at my mom's, a packaged arrived at my house.
Pat and I broke down and ordered an air-fryer. We figured with staying home, it would be the perfect time to play with a new toy. And play I did!

I made four different kinds of chips. 
I started with a half of a raw sweet potato that I had leftover. However, I sliced it too thick for it to crisp up on me. The red potato chips and kale chips were the hit of the day. I also made chips from flour tortillas to go with the tortilla soup for dinner. Those were. . . fine. Since then, I've also made wings. OMG! Those were AMAZING! And, we're not even big wing-eaters. But, now we're converts as it was so easy and so yummy. I also fried some zucchini slices last night. Pat and my niece really liked them. I thought they were okay. 

I ventured back out into public on Friday as I needed to upload another video and pick up a few things at the store. I tried the same coffee shop, but they were only allowing carry-outs. So, I got my smoothie to go and sat in the car while my video did its thing. Back at the house, I got creative with what was in the fridge and made some fried rice. 
It's such a great way to use up that leftover rice and any leftover veggies and meat. In fact, I usually make more rice than we need for a meal just so I can have the leftover rice to fry it later. (What is UP with me frying everything!?) And cold, leftover rice fries so much better than just-cooked rice. I promise!

While the pool isn't swim-ready yet, I spent a little time out by it that afternoon and noticed that the loquats are almost ripe.
I'm still trying to decide if I want to make jelly again this year. I need to make that decision before I start picking. If I'm not up for it, I'd rather let the birds have the fruit. 

I had hoped to get a bunch of yard work done on Saturday. But, we woke up to rain, While the rain stopped before too long, the clouds lingered and smothered my motivation to work outside. I did tackle a few tasks in the craft room and worked out playing Beat Saber on the VR headset. And, when I ventured outside to snap a few photos, I found that the bees weren't suffering from a lack of motivation.
I spied a few large bumbles who were busy pollinating the tiny flowers that have recently bloomed on the Japenese Maple. 

By the afternoon, I was itching for some fresh air, so I grabbed a beer and a beading project and enjoyed all of it on the back porch.
After dinner, Pat, the niece, and I watched a few episodes of Locke & Key on Netflix. Have you seen it? I'm really enjoying it! It's just my style so far and somehow a mix of Stranger Things and The Haunting of Hill House with a dash of family-friendliness like in Sabrina the Teenage Witch

So, that was my week. What are you doing to stay busy? Here are some links to hopefully inspire you!

That list may keep you busy for a while. I'd like to know what's keeping you busy and your spirits up during this crisis. Please share with me and the rest of us. It's going to take all of us to get through this! Wishing you a healthy, happy week!

How to Seal Dark Wire

When it comes to making jewelry, I have a real love for using darkened and aged wire in my pieces. I've previously shared how I Age Wire for Jewelry Making. But have neglected to elaborate on what I do with hardware store wire that's already been darkened. I'm speaking specifically about Dark Annealed Steel Wire. It comes pre-darkened but often some of the black coating will rub off on your hands. To treat the wire, I take a few precautionary steps.
To begin, cut down the wire into manageable lengths. Then, simply use a soft cloth to wipe off any oils or any of the coating that might be loose on the wire. From there, use another cloth (or another area of the same cloth) to rub on a paste wax. I use either Johnson Paste Wax or Renaissance Wax. Allow the wax to sit on the wire for a few minutes before buffing it. This simple practice should help protect the wearer of your designs along with preventing the wire from rusting or breaking down in some other manner.

I did do a quick video of my process of How to Seal Dark Wire.

As well, here are a couple designs in which I've used some of my sealed Dark Annealed Wire.
Honeycomb Necklace

Blue Sari Hoop Earrings

Emerald Abyss Earrings

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to let me know!

In the Booth and on Etsy

While we're all encouraged to stay home, I thought it might be nice to share some eye candy with you! Of course, all of these items are for sale too. If you're not aware; CraftyHope jewelry can be found in only two places: a booth at Southern Antiques and Accents (SAA) in Fairhope, AL and online in the CraftyHope Etsy Shop

I want to start by mentioning some of the changes at SAA because of the virus. 

  1. The monthly Ladies' Night that was scheduled for this evening has been canceled. However, there are plans to make it up to local shoppers with a month-long small business celebration hosted by the city of Fairhope along with a weekend vintage market event for SAA vendors. Stay tuned for details on all of that. 
  2. For now, SAA is open its regular business hours and the store will be sprayed and cleaned at regular intervals throughout each day. 
  3. For those locals who don't want to come into the store, make sure to follow SAA on Instagram and Facebook to get peeks at what's for sale. The staff is willing to take orders over the phone and you can receive your orders via curbside pickup or delivery. Or, they are willing to store the item(s) until you can make it to the store. There are SO MANY OPTIONS!
Since this is the case, why don't we take a look at the booth!

My booth consists of six cubbies/shelves. The top one simply displays the name of my booth since it's too high to be reached easily. Below that, I have my featured shelf.
It's also fairly high, so it holds only a few items to catch your attention. 

The rest of the shelves are organized by some of the materials used in the jewelry designs. First is the Found and Salvaged cubby.
I recently swapped out all the jewelry in the booth to give it more of a brighter, spring feel. 

Below that is where you'll find my upcycled tin jewelry.

Then, there's a general mixed-media shelf of jewelry.

And, finally is the bottom shelf of sale and bargain bin items.
While I just re-stocked the bargain bin, I've had a lot of sales from it in the last week.

You should be able to click on any of the above pictures to get a closer look at each shelf and shop your heart away!

Of course, this is a little more difficult if you're not local to Fairhope. That's where the Etsy Shop comes in. 
Simple Beauty Necklace

Textured Tin Earrings

Simple Bead Bracelet

New Again Necklace

Brass Wine Earrings

Those are just a few of the pieces available. You should really head over to the CraftyHope Shop to see what might just make you smile. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of my jewelry. I'm here to help!

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...