December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

Wishing you a Happy New Year and only the best for 2011!

I'm bringing in the New Year with some of my favorite people and in my favorite place.  Life is very good.

Thank you for visiting my blog, following along and encouraging me on my creative journey. 

Thank you for supporting my business and using my beads in your amazing creations.

Thank you sharing your trek into this fun and wonderful bead-filled world.

May 2011 bring peace, happiness, health, joy and dreams fulfilled!

December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope your holiday is filled with:


Wishing you the best and brightest for the New Year!

I'm off to enjoy my holiday vacation and will see you in 2011.

December 20, 2010

The Best Christmas Present Ever

In March we'll set sail for the 6th annual Bead Cruise!  After the holidays the cruise is my big focus.  There are kits to put together and plans to finalize.  Along with running the show on the cruise I have two classes I will be teaching.  I work hard to bring you an event that is fun, creative and relaxing.

Above is the polymer clay pendant class that I'm teaching.  You'll learn to make tropical flower canes, beads, create a bezel pendant and embellish it with Vintaj brass and crystal components.

Another class I'm offering is a bracelet and necklace focusing on asymmetrical design.  Learn my secrets for fearlessly combining beads without a pattern!

I've gathered together 5 other amazing instructors including Dallas Lovett, Tracy Stanley, Marcia DeCoster, Beverly Herman and Jean Campbell.  Classes range from beading, resin, polymer clay, metal and wire work.  There is something for everyone.

I put together this awesome mini-magazine for our guests.

It's filled with projects, tips and resources.  Last year I used components from our sponsors in each project.  (If you are a bead shop or beadmaker you can become a sponsor for next year, click here for details.)  Our guests receive gift bags that are filled with goodies from our sponsors.  Ornametea donates a cool tote bag for us each year.  We love our sponsors!

We are heading to three tropical islands next year: Cozumel, Jamaica and Grand Cayman.  In Cozumel we have an optional day planned that includes going to the state park, there are gardens, beaches, snorkeling and eco tours there.  We'll enjoy lunch on the beach and shopping in town after our day at the ocean.

On the cruise along with classes, workshops and demos, we have a Bead Bazaar with shopping with Bello Modo and our instructors.  There is also a fun cocktail party, group photo, casino night and time to bead together and work on projects.  It's 7 days of beady fun with like-minded bead-obsessed creative people.

Oh and then there is this whole amazing cruise ship to enjoy with delicious meals, shows and all kinds of entertainment and parties.  You'll need a vacation from your vacation!

We still have a limited number of spaces available.  Just think about what your hometown looks like in March?  I live in Texas and it's cold and bleak still.  Now think about sitting on a tropical beach, drink with umbrella in hand, surrounded by beady friends?  Ready to give yourself that gift for Christmas?  Head on over to the Bead Cruise website for all the details.  I would love to have some of my blog friends join me!

December 18, 2010

My Holiday Wish List

Hello dear readers!  I hope you are having a fab holiday season and not driving yourself too crazy.

Here is my holiday wish list:
1. snow
2. playing cards with my family
3. goofing off with my brother
4. baking with my sister (I wonder if I can talk her into cherry fudge?)
5. seeing my girl's faces when they open their gifts
6. a candlelight church service with traditional hymns
7. time to recharge my creative batteries
8. sleeping in
9. time to read & sketch
10. a week to not think about deadlines!

So how about you, what did you ask Santa for this year?

My Christmas elf and I can help! 
(That's Jesse in case you were wondering.)

Tomorrow is the last day to order from my Etsy shop for Christmas delivery. 

If you don't need it by Christmas I'm offering free shipping until the 20th.

If you need it by Christmas you can upgrade to priority mail at a discounted rate.

I have almost 50 last minute gift items in stock and of course there are around 80 beads to make your holiday merry and bright.

After the 20th my shops will be closed as I take some time to spend with my family and enjoy the festivities.

Merry Christmas!

December 17, 2010

Last Minute Gift Project - Wordy Bobby Pins

Here is a super easy project to whip up for last minute gifts or stocking stuffers. I knew I had a hit when my girls were trying to sneak away with their favorites. I made a dozen or so for nieces and my daughter's friends.

You'll need the following:
Plus: paper towels and small bowl of water.

To finish them you can use an acrylic matte varnish or Renaissance Wax.

Optional: 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

Skill level: beginner

1. Condition a small amount of clay until it's soft. Roll a pea-sized ball of clay and press it into the bezel.

2. Use the cutting blade to cut the clay flush to the bezel - skim the blade over the bezel horizontally to cut off the excess clay.

3. Stamp with the letter stamps.

4. Bake according to the manufacturers directions.

5. After they cool, brush on a thin coat of paint and wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Let dry and coat with varnish or wax.

Variations: I used a headpin to draw designs into the clay like the leaf and snowflake here and owl above. The dots were made with the headpin and the owls eyes were made with the flat end of the headpin.

To create the distressed look I rubbed the painted design on the sandpaper after it was dry.

To create an antiqued finish like the "why not" set above, coat with a second layer of dark brown paint and rub off the excess.

Remember to create a left and a right side bobby pin when using letter stamps.

Depending on the design you create these are perfect for toddler through teen.

All my gifts have been created, the tree is stuffed with goodies underneath awaiting the big day. I'm looking forward to taking some time off to spend with my family. My last day for orders is the 20th and I will be on vacation until January 2nd. Hope you are finding some joy and peace amid the hustle and bustle!
Forgot to mention that all items can be found at Hobby Lobby both in the store or online.

December 11, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Future

We are about to say goodbye to 2010 and I'm looking forward to a very exciting 2011!  Big changes and new adventures are coming my way in the next 12 months.  Did you know you can get a calendar with a year's worth of my art work?  Check it out here.

And speaking of the future - I'd like to introduce you to the bead magazine of tomorrow.  Handcrafted Jewelry Studio eMag is a new online publication from Interweave.  I didn't get past the 4th page before my socks were blown off!  It's so not like a pdf that you would download, it's completely interactive with videos, projects to download, clickable features and you can click right to products on the web that are shown in the issue.  I think that's one of my favorite parts.  I wrote a polymer clay beadmaking project for this issue - you can see a sneak peek above.  I even picked up some tips for tools that I have been using for years.  It's filled with good stuff - I promise!

What's your favorite adaptation of the Dickens' classic?  I think mine is Scrooged with Bill Murray - it's so funny and how many times around here do we say, "like Niagara Falls baby!" I did enjoy the latest one that is out, The Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey.  We watched it in 3-d and it was unexpectedly good!

God bless us, every one!

Stocking Stuffer Sale

Today through Sunday at midnight - stock up on beads and gifts with 20% off in my Etsy shop.  Use discount code LASTMINUTE20 when you check out.  This is my last sale of 2010!  Check out this post with some gift ideas for the bead-obsessed on your list!

December 10, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Presents

Wrapping presents - now that is something that can haunt you this time of year!  Sure you need to get it done, but you can have the package as awesome as the gift with just a little bit of effort.  Don't worry, I'm here to help.  First check out my Wrap It Up treasury, pictured above.  Second, take a gander at my packaging post from the Art Bead Scene a few weeks ago.  And thirdly, because I really do love ya - here are two sets of free gift tags to download and print out.  Print them out on card stock or sticker paper, cut them out, punch a hole and add them to your gifts with twine, raffia or ribbon.

Click here to download.

Click here to download.

Hmm, do they look familiar?  Yes, the gift tags were inspired by my beads!

December 9, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Would you like over 30 free projects to inspire your last minute gift ideas?  Well, it just so happens I have 3 years worth of links of the Art Bead Scene's 12 Days of Christmas projects to share with you today.

On the 1st Day of Christmas: A-Layin' Pendant

On the 2nd Day of Christmas: Peppermint Earrings

On the 3rd Day of Christmas: Golden Bird Ornament

On the 4th Day of Chrismtas: Lampwork and Chain Charm Bracelet

On the 5th Day of Christmas: Frosted Window Pane Earrings

On the 6th Day of Christmas: Handmade Ornament Hooks

On the 7th Day of Christmas: Cardinal Pendant

On the 8th Day of Christmas: Simply Silver Earrings

On the 9th Day of Christmas: Holly Lariat

On the 10th Day of Christmas: Art Bead Cards

On the 11th Day of Christmas: Beaded Garland

On the 12th Day of Christmas: Squirrelin' Away Pendant

On the 1st Day of Christmas: Art Bead Place Card Holders
On the 2nd Day of Christmas: Funky Flower Pin
On the 3rd Day of Christmas: Finding Connections

On the 4th Day of Christmas: Simply Midnight Pendant

On the 5th Day of Christmas: Holiday Bracelet

On the 6th Day of Christmas: Jingle Necklace

On the 7th Day of Christmas: Seven Colors Ornament

On the 8th Day of Christmas: Holiday Icicle Earrings

On the 9th Day of Christmas: Christmas Decorating Magic

On the 10th Day of Christmas: O-Ring Bracelet

On the 11th Day of Christmas: Fun Felted Headband

On the 12 Day of Christmas: Winter Branches Necklace

On the 1st Day of Christmas: Charmed Scarf Pins

On the 2nd Day of Christmas: Decorative Ornament Hooks

On the 3rd Day of Christmas: A Pair of Swinging Earrings

On the 4th Day of Christmas: Earthy Pendants

On the 5th Day of Christmas: An Art Nouveau Pendant

On the 6th Day of Christmas: Mitten Holders

On the 7th Day of Christmas: Gift-Wrapping with Beads

On the 8th Day of Christmas: A Flurry of Christmas Ornaments

On the 9th Day of Christmas: Mix and Match Necklaces

On the 10th Day of Christmas: A Filigree Pendant

On the 11th Day of Christmas: Snowguy Necklace

On the 12th Day of Christmas: Candy Cane Ceramic Necklace

December 8, 2010

More Bead Ornaments

I just couldn't stop at two!  I have two more ornaments to share with you today.

First I created a pair of filigree ornaments with brass pieces from Paloma Antigua.  There are all sorts of great painted filigree pieces in this shop!

I added a glass bead, rhinestone rondelle, one of my disk beads, a bead cap and a fire polished glass bead to an eye pin. I attached the hanger and filigree with 13mm jump rings.

The filigree is super lightweight so it won't weigh down your branches.  The filigree comes in sets of 2 so you can make for your tree and one for a friend or give them as a set.  I could see them done in several different colors and given as a special gift.

The second, is missing any art beads, but I have these round beads I need to use up.  The ceramic rounds were on a bargain table at a local bead show and I ended up getting two strands of these huge beads that I will never use for jewelry.  Sometimes that the danger of shopping at a show!  After I made the nest, I attached a wire hanger and tied on a bit of silk ribbon.  LOVE these! I want to make a dozen or so of these for my tree. 

The nest is created with steel wire and the curly wire work on stop is done with a softer craft wire in a bright silver finish, both are 20 gauge.  If you don't know how to make a nest here are two tutorials - 1 & 2.  I do kind of a hybrid of these two styles.  The nest is about 2" wide.

The back side of the nest.  I have a set of tiny teal birds that my daughter and I made a few years ago, they will look so cute on the tree with the nests.  I could see these on top of packages too instead of bows.

So how are you doing with your holiday decorating?  Is it a major affair or do you keep things simple?  My only requirement is a real tree - I need that fresh pine smell to feel like it's the holidays!

December 7, 2010

Ornament Blog Hop - Let It Snow!

Let It Snow Ornament/Pendant

This is a necklace that can hang on the tree with a gift tag for the big day.  These would be such fun gifts for guests visiting during the holidays. 

32mm brass blank
2 pewter bead caps
1 blue lace agate bead
1 polymer clay disk bead
1 2" gunmetal eyepin
1 7mm gunmetal brass jump ring
1 13mm gunmetal brass jump ring
1 18" gunmetal chain
Paint dabbers in teal and white
Renaissance wax
Gift tag with large hole
Steel wool

You'll also need letter stamps, a ball peen hammer, a small Phillips head screwdriver and a bench block.

Disk bead: Humblebeads. Brass & Gunmetal findings: Rings & Things.  Wax and paint: Bello Modo.

Step 1. Flatten one of the bead caps with a hammer - instant snowflake.

Step 2: Stamp your message on the blank.  Turn the blank over, position the point of the screwdriver into the metal and tap the end of the screwdriver with the hammer to create a dot pattern. Rub a small bit of steel wool on the front of the blank to highlight the dots and letters.

Step 3: Use the paint dabbers to dab on the teal paint, wipe off the excess with a paper towel.  Repeat with the white paint.  After the paint is dry apply a thin coat of Renaissance wax.

Step 4: On the eyepin string the disk bead, spacer and stone bead, create a loop on the other end.  Attach the snowflake bead cap, metal blank and dangle together with a 7mm jump ring.  Attach the 13mm jump ring to the top of the dangle.

Step 5: String the chain through the large jump ring twice.  Attach the gift tag and close the chain.

Alternative: Use a larger blank and a ribbon instead of a chain for an ornament option only.
Please visit the rest of the bloggers participating in today's hop. Pass the marshmallows, my cocoa needs some fluff! 

The blog hop participants:

December 3, 2010

Humblebeads Spring Collection

I put together these two photo sets for a client and thought I'd share them here too.  It's Humblebeads for Spring.  Ah, so sweet.  You can find all of these in my Etsy shop.  I've brought back my Purple Martin bird, there in the corner and a new color of branch beads in periwinkle blue. Tomorrow I will add the new tiny eggs to my shop.

Tonight was the first night of Hecho a Mano.  The crowd was steady and busy shopping, two good traits for a holiday market.  I will try again tomorrow to take photos of my area.  It's not a booth, but a shelf.  A really, really long shelf at eye level.  Pretty cool and something different.  They try to use pedestals and walls as much as possible to make the show look more 'arty'.  I would prefer a booth and a table, but I'm trying to roll with it.  Sometimes when things don't work out like you want them too, you just have to smile and pretend it's awesome.  I enjoyed talking to folks who were excited about my jewelry and even sold a few favorites tonight. And visiting with the artists is always fun.  Tomorrow will be a long day of selling, but I'm ready!

December 1, 2010

Woodland Bracelets

This bracelet design was featured in Stringing earlier this year, I thought I'd whip up a bunch of them for the show.  I love working with the eggs lately, they are just so cute and whimsical.  They remind me of Cabinets of Curiosities, little scientific specimens plucked from nature.  I loved this story from NPR about a man and his helpers who collected 8000 bird eggs and categorized them in cabinets.  They were tucked away in a library cabinet for over 80 years before being donated to a university.

Revisiting another woodland design with Squirrels and Hedgies.  This squirrel is paired up with a ceramic bead from Earthenwood studios, a few stones and wood.   I used links of chain to end this bracelet so that it could be given as a gift.  I have to admit, it never occurred to me to do that until this year.  So it's true, old dogs can learn new beady tricks.

And here is the same design with a Hedgie and a disk bead from me.  I met someone at Bead & Button last year who had a hedgehog named Fern - seems like the perfect name for a cute little hedgie.

LOVING these big chunky brass leaves from Ornamentea.  They come all bright and shiny, but just a quick dip in liver of sulphur and they take on this wonderful earthy, organic quality.  I added in one of my branch lentils and disks along with a few glass beads.

Giveaway Winner:
Shannon C. from For My Sweet Daughter is the winner of the Modern Forest Toggle!  Thanks for playing along everyone.

November 30, 2010

Nests & Twigs

I want a twig ring for Christmas, which had me looking around on Etsy and sparked the idea for nest rings created from wire.  Here I created them in copper and antiqued them.  It took a few attempts before I came up with a design that I liked.  My girls were smitten and that's always a good sign.  This was my first attempt at rings, I finally had a chance to use my ring mandrel!

I love them too and will have to make one for myself after the show.  I'm also thinking of some folks on my gift list who would like these.  I'm so glad I have more girls in my family than guys!

A few in sterling silver.

Yep, my booth is going to be full of nests this weekend.

My twiggy wish list:
1. Spring Twig Ring  2. Tiny Twig Hairpins  3. It All Stacks Up (Yes, I'm dreaming!) 

November 29, 2010

Earring Invasion

I have been like a little Christmas elf over here burning the midnight oil.  I'm doing a show this weekend - Hecho a Mano here in San Antonio.  I think this is my 5th year.  A portion of the sales benefit the Guadalupe Cultural Center.  I've made 85 pairs of earrings over the last week.  As you can see, I take one design and do it up in 3-6 different colors.  I work in assembly line fashion to get them done quickly.

Here are 3 new styles for this year using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, I used the entire spool that I snagged from Rings & Things!

Spirals - these are my favorites, they look like little pieces of candy.

For these ones I made a ball at the end of the wires and hammered them.

And ones that have hammered paddles on the bottom.

Tagged and bagged.  (Okay did I mention Jess watched a 1/2 a season of Warehouse 13 while I worked on these.  What a goofy show, it's like X-files meets Eureka.)

Hecho a Mano (means 'made by hand' in Spanish) is Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I will list the earrings left over in my Etsy shop next week.  I'm looking forward to meeting people, seeing the art work and doing a little Christmas shopping myself!

Today is the last day to shop for jewelry in my shop, everything will be taken down until next Monday.