Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm still here...

Although you'd never know it from the lack of posting here.

I've been busy, mostly working, but also making jewelry and starting a jewelry business with my sister. That's definitely been keeping me busy. We started out with our own website, but neither of us really has the time to devote to promoting it, nor did we really know how to, so I was really excited to find Artfire. It's sort of like Etsy, but not exactly. A basic account, which we currently have, is free. You can list as many things as you want, no charge, and relist them when they expire. I hope we sell some things to justify upgrading to their pro account soon, with it you pay a flat fee per month, and you can list as many things as you want, and they never expire. Plus, pro studios don't have ads along the sides of them and have a lot more flexibility in their design. Anyway, what's really made me happy is they have a lot of guides to help you learn how to optimize your listings so they get picked up on the major search engines, which should result in more sales. Hopefully.

Anyway, I hope to get back to blogging more regularly now. I'm going to Paper Cowgirl again this June, and I'm starting to work on my swaps now, so I'll have pictures of some of those, and I'm hoping in a few months to be able to do some redecorating in my home, so maybe I'll get pics of that too. For now, though, I just wanted to check in and update the blog a little bit.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Very late Paper Cowgirl posting - and jewelry!

I went to Paper Cowgirl about a month ago, and realized I've never posted about it.  Beforehand, there were swaps.  I signed up for four of them, so I made these flowers:

And these horses:

And this bracelet:

And some ATC cards I forgot to get a picture of.  Oops.

In return, I got some really cool flowers, horses, ATC's, and a gorgeous bracelet - but I need to get pics of all that, so I'll post them next time.

While I was at PC, I took two classes.  First up that morning,  Found & Rebound, taught by Deb Taylor.  We took the covers of old books and recovered them with pretty fabric and paper and added new pages to make a journal.  Mine's still not quite finished, I got it all sewn together, but I need to finish off the ends of the thread it's sewn together with.

After lunch, I took the Shabby Classy Necklace class, taught by Angela Berger.
We made this necklace:

I know this is a really long post, but I'm not quite done yet.  Yesterday, my sister Helen and I got together to try making some jewelry.  She finished two really pretty necklaces in the time it took me to do one bracelet.  And really, my bracelet was supposed to be a necklace, it just wasn't cooperating, so I decided to go a different direction.  When I was done, I had some beads left over, so I made a simple pair of earrings to match.  It's not perfect, but it's not too bad, given how new I am at making jewelry, so I'm okay with that.

Anyway, I think that's all I've got to talk about today.  I'm really going to try to update more regularrly, maybe once a week or so - but don't hold your breath.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting ready for Paper Cowgirl 2010!

I'm going to Paper Cowgirl at the end of June.  It's an altered art retreat, where we'll learn new fun things to make, meet new people, and eat lots of yummy food.  To get in the spirit of it, several people have started different swaps. Last year, I wouldn't do any of the swaps - I thought I'd never be able to make anything good enough.  This year, I'm still not convinced what I do will be great, but I'm doing several anyway.  I spent this week working on flowers for the Bag of Blossoms swap.  I'm not going to show what I'm making, in case anyone else in the swap reads this (plus, I can't find my camera anywhere. I'm sure it's around here somewhere, but I have no idea where. I foresee house cleaning and organizing in my immediate future. Yuck.)  However, when I was trying to decide what kind of flowers to make, I came across several that I liked, so I'm going to link to them, in case anyone wants to make their own. 

First, a crocheted  and felted version in bright, pretty colors - this pic is from YARNGEAR's author Meilynne - if you knit or crochet, check it out.  She's got some cute stuff.

Next, a very easy to make, mostly flat flower, good for cards or scrapbooks where you don't want something bulky, this picture is from SundayLDesigns.  Look for the How to make Wet Crumpled Paper Flowers tutorial.

This is a very elegant, pretty option from the Martha Stewart Weddings site - they've shown it as a ring pillow, but it wouldn't have to be attacted to anything.  This site had several patterns for pretty flowers, this was just my favorite.

These pretty carnations from the Folding Trees website look realistic, and they're incredibly easy to make, although mine may not have looked quite as pretty as these do. Maybe because I was making them at one a.m.?

And finally, I found two different tutorials for basically the same type of rose, one at Imagine, Create, Inspire:

These are only a few of the ideas I found, it's amazing how many different kinds of flowers people make out of simple things like paper or ribbon.  I've had a lot of fun making mine, although they're not quite done yet.  I'm still not convinced everyone else's won't be better, but I'm okay with the ones I'm doing, and that's all that matters to me at this point.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ATC's, anyone?

In my search for new ways to be creative, I found this site, ATCs for All. ATCs are Artist Trading Cards, little cards about the size of regular playing cards, that you decorate and then trade with other people. I signed up just to see how everything worked, and was surprised by how welcoming everyone has been. They really do seem to want their site to be for everyone, even people like me who think we have no artistic abilities at all.  I posted a few cards, and have already had someone want to trade for one of them.

Here's the one someone already asked for, called Ignoring You:

And another I did:
It's a neat site, I think I'll be hanging out there a lot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New directions

I've never thought of myself as very creative, but I've felt like I need to work on that lately. I'm not sure how that's going to work out, I tend to never think anything I've made is really good enough, so it's going to be tough. Last October, I decorated a shoe for a contest for breast cancer awareness, and I used seed beads for it. Since then, I've been wanting to find out more about using beads and making things from them.

That's lead me to several new websites, including one called the Bead Journal Project. This is a group of people who commit to each doing one project a month for a year, and it must use beads.  They're each making a kind of visual journal, some using just beads, some incorporating objects that have meaning to them or words they want to focus on, even one doing something each month that focuses on some form of meditation. They have some really beautiful pieces - you can go to their current blog to see the most up to date information. I find it really inspiring, and also kind of enlightening, in a sort of, well-duh-of-course-you-could-do-that kind of way.  See, when I think journaling, I think, notebook, pen, writing words about what I'm thinking and feeling. I never though about using any kind of art or visualization to journal, but I think it might be fun to try, so I think I may be working on that, not necessarily with beads, but something more creative, less logical. I'm curious to see whether I end up feeling differently about things that I express in a more creative way than I would if I just wrote about them.

Anyway, another site I've found recently is that of Linda Richmond, who designs and sells jewelry and kits and patterns for making jewelry.  I ordered one of her Learn to Bead kits, a series that's suitable for beginners who have never done any beadwork before.  I had my doubts, because it can be very hard to learn to do something from written instructions, but it truly was easy to follow.

The kit I bought was a complete kit that contained all the beads, thread, needles, instructions, and everything needed to make two bracelets. I just finished the second bracelet today, and I'm pleased with the results. I can also see me using what I learned from this kit to make these bracelets in different colors or with different sized beads, because it was easy to do and didn't take too long.

Here's everything that was included in the kit:

It was all packaged neatly, each color of bead in an individual bag, labeled so that you would know exactly which to use in each step of the instructions. The instructions were clearly written, and I had no trouble following them, even though I'd never attempted anything like this before. 

I'm not going to show the work in progress, since it's someone else's instructions, and I don't want to show anything that could be construed as a copyright violation or anything.  But here's the end results:

Bracelet number one:

And bracelet number two:

I definitely enjoyed making these, and I'm definitely going to try to order other kits or patterns from this site in the future.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life is good

At least for now. I'm still waiting for something to go wrong, but maybe it won't, at least for a while.

I rejoined Weight Watchers just before Christmas, and so far, I've lost just over 8 pounds, so I'm happy about that. I have been doing the lose, gain, lose, gain thing for a few weeks now, I don't know what that's about, but I'm working on it. I'm working on getting out of debt too, but it's hard not to spend money when there are so many things I'd like to do. I am going to splurge on something for the cats, though - a system of shelves and ramps for them to climb on that attach to the walls so they can be up high. They'll love it, and they need something, because Peanut keeps trying to climb the walls. Literally, he climbs up the wall and door frame in my laundry room - jumps as high as he can, and digs in his claws, and then slides down. There are gouges in the trim around the door frame. And it's not a one-time deal, he does it several times a week, that I know of, and who knows what he does when I'm not here. Silly cat.

Here's what I'm thinking about getting:

Or maybe some of these:

Anyway, that's all that's going on with me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book Review

Touchstone, Laurie R. King

I started reading Laurie R. King's work with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," less than a year ago, when it caught my eye at the bookstore, and quickly read all of the Mary Russell series, and then the Kate Martinelli series, and enjoyed both. So when I found Touchstone at Half Price Books the other day, I decided to give it a try.

The book is set in 1926 London, against a backdrop of tension between the working class and the wealthy, specifically in the time leading up to a strike by coal miners. An American Bureau of Investigation officer is in London, quasi-officially investigating a rising star in England's political scene whom he suspects of traveling to America to set off several bombs, one of which left his brother little more than a vegetable. He finds himself in the company of a WWI veteran who developed an almost psychic ability after a serious war wound, spending a weekend in a country house belonging to one of the oldest aristocratic families in England, watching the Prime Minister play charades, and trying to figure out what his very disturbing liaison in the British government is really using him for.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, although not as much as King's Mary Russell series. When I first started reading it, it reminded me of some of P.D. James' books, although I'm not exactly sure why, other than it just felt similar. Because of the various plots and counterplots and everyone seemingly using someone for one reason or another, I was never entirely sure who was really the bad guy as I was reading. I kept wondering if maybe there would be a major plot twist that would turn everything on its head. There was, but not the one I'd been half expecting throughout the book. I was a little disappointed at the end, which felt anticlimactic, although I suppose that is at least testament to King's ability to keep up the tension throughout the book and keep readers wondering what will happen next. I'd recommend this book to those who like historical mysteries or who are fans of King's work already, but if you haven't read any of her books before, I'm not sure this would be the best introduction to her work.