Beading, die cutting and keycaps

Happy Halloween! I hope we get some trick-or-treaters tomorrow. (That anchor between the signs really cracks me up! So spooky!)

I’m on day three of a four-day vacation. It doesn’t hurt that a weekend gave me an extra two days. In that time I’ve said farewell to the 2018 Redmond Saturday Market season, made jewelry, broken out my die cutter and dabbled in keycaps.

The great thing is that most of the projects have made me stretch myself.

First I was sorting through my bead stash looking for beads to re-home, and I found these bright, candy-like beads. I tried pearl knotting and a few iterations of stringing before I remembered some shiny pastel spacers I had on hand. Once I worked those between the beads with some clear glass spacers, I ended up with something that I don’t hate. It’s very Miami/summer. I’m such a Seattle/autumn.

These tiny elephants weren’t really challenging, but I think they are adorable. Elephants, plus the word “love.” Swoon.

Next, the beau commissioned a keycap. Although it’s not complete, how to get the image on the keycap really caused me no small amount of concern. Once again, I remembered a product that I had on hand (and that seems to be no longer available) saved the day. Preliminary results show that the technique is indeed promising.

As for die cutting, I hadn’t done much in ages. It always feels like an event to cut out a bunch of small pieces of paper — even though the machine does most of the work. I’m excited to try something with vinyl. Unfortunately, I only have white vinyl on hand. Unless I’m going to print out an image of go-go boots, I’m having a hard time imaging using it. That feels like another personal challenge.

Of course I had to make a Bigfoot card. I hope the “bare” spots give him dimension, not the look of mange.
I’ve wanted to make card after card lately. I’m not sure why the embossing powder fell away at the bottom of the word hello, but I like that distressed look.

While marbling doesn’t stretch my skills, per se, it’s still fun to see what kind of results I get. Who knew I’d fall in love with the medium.

Again with the Bigfoot?!
Of course a cephalopod had to be marbled. The swirls create a good sense of movement.
While looking for something yesterday, I found these papier mache pieces that I’d created in molds. Why did I move them? Anywho, some of them kind of begged to be marbled.
Here are some of the papier mache pieces. The gray of the original background really dulls the colors.

It’s a bummer to think that tomorrow is the last day of vacation. I could use another month of this. I mean, holiday shows are coming up, and there are Christmas gifts to make. No rest for weary/wicked.

 

Keycaps and then some

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything.

The move is complete. We’re still adapting to the house. I am glad to report that living together is good and something we’re both enjoying. The cool fall weather certainly help. This house gets crazy hot inside when it’s hot outside.

I’ve been making a few things. A class about painting with alcohol ink led me to give it a try on keycaps. I had some varying results.

 

My tiny alcohol-ink landscape.
Alcohol ink design that may or may not look like a flower.
I just have to think “avocado” when I see this alcohol-ink painted keycap.
As if there’s any doubt that this octopus keycap would be my favorite.

 

Here’s a marbled keycap. I quite enjoy marbling keycaps. I have learned that solid spaces are way prettier when marbled than pieces that have open designs. I’m not articulating this well. Let’s just say that there will be examples to come.

 

I haven’t done much bead embroidery this summer. This focal piece is waiting to be finished. I wonder how long it will take to find the right home. It was my first time beading with crystal cup chain. I’m eager to do more of that! And, just more bead embroidery in general.

Lastly, to bring it back around to alcohol ink, here’s a sheet of yupo paper and some stenciled alcohol ink. It’s kind of ghostly and lovely. Must break out more stencils and alcohol ink.

Keycaps, keycaps, keycaps

Four months since my last post. What’s up with that? I can answer that, but first a keycap.

I started this year knowing that the beau and I would be taking steps to move in together. And so, I made a lot of jewelry to prep for the time when my supplies would be packed up, and I’d need a surplus of jewelry.

I won’t say there’s a surplus, but I made a lot. See!

And, I dabbled in keycaps (including a few custom orders).

The move is less than a month away. My place is mostly boxes with random unpacked items here are there. I go from thinking that “I don’t have that much more to pack” to “Holy cow! The movers are going to be very unhappy with me.”

With my supplies mostly boxed up, I’ve come home from work and felt indifferent about making something with the items I left out. Maybe it was a sillyl decision, but I signed up for the #stencilgirl #stencilfiedjournal challenge to keep me creating something, anything. This is how I handled the first prompt — stencil a page and cover it with circles.

Easy Marble has helped, too, to get me to make something. I love that stuff and kind of want to marble everything, such at these cabochons that I need to work up into something a little more substantial.

And these keycaps!

 

I think that I get results that are as close to Fordite as anything I’ve tried/seen.

On that note, it’s time to make “We’re moving” cards. Yup, an email notification just won’t suffice.

Let’s see if I can blog again before another month goes by.

 

A basic truth — or two

Oh the randomness! I printed out these images on shrink film years ago. Yesterday seemed like the right time to shrink them. In fact, I have a few more to shrink today.

The first basic truth about me is that sometimes I feel down, less than inspired because my crafty obsessions are pointless. I’m not so self-absorbed to think I’m alone. It’s just that sometimes I want to steep in it. And so when I wrote the draft of this post on Friday, my capital-BT Basic Truth was that Im a foolish time-wasting hack.

It’s nearly 24 hours later, and I’m feeling better (never mind the wish that I had all of next week off). Morgan has been ill, and that gave me time to dig into a few things. And, it helped boost my spirits, if not my confidence. So, take the below words for what they are: a snapshot of a moment, of a mood.

Here’s a basic truth about me: My day-to-day existence is nothing if not a roller coaster ride of feeling pretty good about myself and feeling rather down on myself. I know that doesn’t set me apart from anyone or make me special in any way.

I’m guessing that, like most people, it’s something I think about only when I’m in a “less than” frame of mind. You know, those days when you question yourself, your worth, your skills … your everything.

On the good days, I’m too busy making stuff and bouncing from idea to project and back again to think about myself. I’m busy thinking about beads, paint, paper, pens — pretty much all of the supplies.

So, how to harness the feelings of the good days? Or, how to ignore the doubt-filled messages that scroll through my head.

I’ve tried books. I recently finished Real Artists Don’t Starve. And then there was Make it Mighty Ugly that inspired me about two years ago. I really need to get to Life Without Envy. I have high hopes that there will be some message in there that works its way into my brain and becomes so deeply rooted that I can become one of those people who moves through the world with confidence and ease, not once surrendering to fear and skepticism.

I can say that, even at my lowest, I still manage to make things, even if I am unhappy with the results.

This bracelet, for example, is something I worked on despite being fearful that the result wouldn’t be perfect.

Sorry for the blurriness. This bracelet was too ashamed to be on the Internet, and this was the best I could do.

Even before I reached the halfway mark, I knew that I needed ot see it to completion, no matter how arbitrary that decision might have been. It’s a simple peyote stitch around a metal bangle. Those Delicas should be a uniform size, so I’m not sure why some rows stick out a little more than others. Oh well … It’s affixed and stitched up, and it is what it is.

I’m still thinking about soldering. Still trying to solder. Here are some of my most recent attempts. It is amazing how just a little practice makes a big difference. I also need to remember that burnishing is my friend. That said, I’ve burnished until my hand cramped, and the foil was still lifting. I wonder if my iron is getting too hot. Do I need a rheostat, which books and some online sources say I should have. Sigh…

Today I mostly worked with fused glass, broken “china” and some random titles. Here they are, waiting to be soldered.
Soldered. There is some lifting of the foil. There just awaiting jump rings. Ugh! Adding those is my least favorite part.
Jump rings — in all of their wabi sabi glory. The fused glass piece wit the copper back has me hankering for some affordable black-backed copper tape.
Is it some kind of sign that this glass cracked twice will making this. And always on the “Just be you” side. I finally got it to work. Whew…

Here are two keycap caps that I stitched up a couple of weeks ago. These I love, no matter how anyone else feels about them. They’re silly and make me smile.

Morgan suggested the bead to look like a ball on top of a knit hat. He’s very clever like that!
I am so smitten with this tiny pussy hat!

Speaking of keycaps, I have some new tools to put to use with keycaps: tiny stencils! I used them on keycaps and a few resin pendant.

Hold me closer tiny stencils …

 

Until then, here’s another basic truth (and then some!) about me.

• I’m a horrible housekeeper.

• I’m a decent baker and OK cook

• My feet are happiest in tennis shoes — after being barefoot, of course.

• I have a lot of bathroom rules. (Just ask Morgan.)

• I’m OK moving from baking to feet talk.

• There is no greater comfort than just being with Morgan. (Here’s one of his personal truths: No matter how motion sick he might be feeling, he is a rock, comforting me while I feel the same. Damn, I love that man!)

• I like making lists.

• I really like taking classes. And this week the universe is tormenting me with classes I would love to take, but can’t because they’re full or too far away.

There’s a class at Art and Soul in Portland this week that’s being taught by Laurie Mika about embellishing polymer clay that been put in molds. Man I’d love to have those skills – or boost the limited clay skills I have. Then, I visited Tracy Stanley’s site and after not have posted anything since last August, she has a relatively new post about classes she’ll be teaching in Milwaukee at the Bead and Button Show in June. It’s kind of breaking my heart to be missing those classes. She is local, however. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll find a place to offer them in the Pac NW.

All of that pining aside, I often find that trying to figure out something that I can’t learn in a classroom setting helps fire up my creativity.

If you have a basic truth — or two or 12, I’d love to hear from you.

Until then, enough with the navel gazing, it’s time to get back to making things.

Crafting rabbit hole

This is one of the first pieces I made that made me feel like an artist.

This week I went down a craft-related rabbit hole. Twice! On the same day! It wasn’t the typical kind of rabbit hole in which one project/idea leads to another which leads to another project/idea and on and on until it’s time to go to bed. No, this rabbit hole was born from my commitment to sort through books and magazine before the imminent move.

There are so many beautiful projects in this book. (The Costco price tag is a nice touch, too.)
First, I was looking at my copy of the book The Art of Forgotten Things by Melissa Doerman. (I am certain that when I bought it, some five or six years ago, that I wasn’t ready for those projects. While I’m not certain that I’m ready now, I feel certain that I can at least try about few things.) I love the look of the ribbon links, but I do not understand all of the steps. It could be that I just need to try it and see how it works. You know, like turning a heel on a sock. No matter how many times I do it, it’s still nothing shy of pure magic!
Anywho, I thought to myself, “Why not google her and see if there’s a way to reach her and ask about it.” I found that she’d died. Right around (or just before) the time her book came out. I don’t know her age, but she looked way too young to have died. (That’s a stupid thing to say, and I know it.) Anywho, I found several mentions of her online in remembrances. She seemed to have been loved and admired. I think that’s all that most of us can hope for.
Because I’m ready to try some of the bead-weaving techniques presented in the book, that one is a keeper. I also looked through a metal techniques book during the same lunch out. My passion does not like in working with metal, but there were just enough tips and good ideas to make that book a keeper, too.
This book lead me on a second wild goose chase done the rabbit hole. (I dig that mixed metaphor.)
I stumbled into the second rabbit hole later that night when I decided to look at Sally Jean Alexander’s Pretty Little Things. I took a soldering class with her years ago at my first Art and Soul. I’ll be honest, I was pulling some single-white-female action on my friend Jonna who was (is) a Sally Jean fan. It was the time when soldering was all the rage. I’d also taken a class at Fusion Beads around that time. Even though I had (still have!) all the fixin’s for soldering, it was something I never dabbled in on my own. Now that its no longer *the* craft to do, I’m ready to get back to it. Classic me. (I think I’ll have some time on Sunday to give it a go — if not a small bit of time this afternoon. As I recall, it was attaching jump rings that really broke my spirit. Let’s see how my patience holds up five years later. Will my flux still be good? So much remains to be revealed, and I’m looking forward to this new/old/new craft adventure!)
My first attempts at soldering in many years. Adding a jump ring is still maddening.
Anywho, because soldering isn’t the “hot” trend it was back then, I wondered to myself: “What is Sally Jean Alexander up to these days? Is soldering still her main thing?” I went to her site/blog, and it hasn’t been updated since 2013.
One link that does work on the site is the link to Mr. Sally Jean’s Etsy store for cut class. It’s taking a lot of self control to not reach out to him and ask, politely, for answers. In my search for answers I found some complaints online about no services/products for money given to her. There was also a suggested search of “What happened to Sally Jean Alexander?” so I can’t be the only one to wonder.
I am genuinely curious and truly hope that she’s well and just in need of some quiet time. Being the youngest in my family and having an MLS means I feel it’s my birthright to know what I want to know.
But, thinking about Melissa and Sally Jean got me thinking about celebrity, even craft-world celebrity, trends and what it really means to be a published author. What about this world of (over)sharing and how people like me start to feel like we know people through blogs and social media posts when we don’t know them at all. At best we know of them and of their work.
In any event, my tumble down that rabbit hole left me thinking that everything is so fleeting. Isn’t it?
So, add to the goals of being loved and admired/respected, the goal of doing what you love and having that be enough. (hmm … the German world for aim or goal is Ziel. Does the English zeal come from that? And what part does one’s zeal affect one’s Ziel?)
This piece needs one more finishing touch before I make it into a book/journal cover.
The lesson of letting the satisfaction of creating be enough is one I still struggle to master. Just last night the boyfriend and I talked about some collages I’d done. I won’t lie, I’d love it if he loved everything I do, but I know that’s not really the ideal. I’d much rather that he be honest about what he likes and why some things don’t speak to him. He isn’t really my customer, so I need to learn to hear his thoughts without feeling deflated. I need to learn to hear *everyone’s* thoughts without feeling crushed if there’s not a glowing review (or purchase). People like what they like and that’s the bottom line.
Pink and green plus animal print? Yes, please!
That is not to say that my learning journey is done and I can be satisfied with the knowledge I have now. I intend to keep growing, keep expanding my skill set and keep working on not taking everything so personally. And if people like what I do as I change and grow, great. If they don’t, it’s really OK too.
A very Brady bracelet plus some happy-color stripes.
And, for me, part of the key to accepting feedback is to keep putting my stuff in front of people. Whether it’s via the market, through Instagram posts or by posting pictures here, it’s a good exercise.