Sunday, December 18, 2011

Packaging is Everything

Years ago I used to take a lot of time to create special Christmas paper (brown Kraft paper that I stamped and painted)  to wrap my presents in and make elaborate bows with decorations, but in the past few years it's been purchase the bag at the dollar store and stuff the gift in with some tissue paper. Well not this year. Since this is a handmade holiday, I figure the bag needs to be handmade also. I got the idea from a Pin on Pinterest to the Purl Bee's blog where they featured a tutorial for a 20 minute tote. If you want the instructions, which I pretty much followed, check them out Here. My handles are a couple inches shorter and the bag width is also a couple inches less.

Here is a picture of their totes, great fabric by the way.

Here is mine. I used left over holiday fabric. I didn't want to have to go out and buy fabric just for a gift bag so am using what I already have. These are great as they can be used over and over.

My next special thing besides the totes are the embellishments. I had painted tags a couple of months ago, see post here, to use and now I just needed a little decoration/ornament type thing. These are so super simple to make and can be worn as a pendant, charm or hung on your tree.

Soldered glass charms. I used microscope slides that someone had given me along with holiday card stock and some vintage images. I'm loving the ones that are the simple gold glitter embossed paper and am thinking I'll just have to keep this one for myself.

I think I'm almost finished making presents, but you never know what I'll dream up to make next. 

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, just click the button on the right. If you don't know what Pinterest is.... well you can go to their web site and ask for an invite or just leave me a message and I'll send you one. It's a great place to get really cool ideas for decorating, cooking, crafts, art, you name it, and it is probably there but it is also a place for you to bookmark all those things you find on the Internet that you want to remember or share which is called Pinning. It is quite fun and now quite addicting.

Well I have lots more to do tomorrow and this week to get ready but when I have a bag all filled and embellished, I'll post another final picture for your viewing pleasure. Until then, have a great week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Hum Drums

Has the stress started yet? I do know a few people in my family that haven't even started thinking about Christmas yet.... come on people it's only 2 weeks away. We hit the big warehouse store today and got a few things for our open house on Christmas Eve. I think DH said we spent more in this one trip than we did the entire month last month but I have a good start on the fix'ens. I even started looking through my gift pile to see what I still had to make before the big day. I still have a couple of hats and wrist warmers, dish cloths and a few hot pads. We'll see if I get to the dish towels.....maybe that will be a plan for next year.

So how are you doing? Have you made all your big plans, traveling or staying at home?

I do have a new item for Christmas this year, it is a notebook/journal with pictures by DH and myself from our travels. If you need a quick gift for someone, there it is. You can order it directly from Blurb and get it within about 5 to 7 days so there is still time.

I'm thinking next year of doing one of my paintings as a weekly calendar although I like the idea of the notebook as it isn't date specific and you can use it for just about anything. I do still have a recipe book of DH's moms favorite dishes in mind to do. I know the family would enjoy that one. Ideas?

It's been Christmas Party after party for the past week. Saturday we went to our gem and mineral club's annual party... lots of good food, awards, gift exchange and the new officer installation. It's always a fun time. We also have an ornament contest and unfortunately I didn't win again... :-( I made these great little bird nest ornaments with gemstones as the eggs. They were fun.

We have one more party this coming Wednesday which will be a little different as we haven't attended one from this group before. They have a white elephant auction for charity, so that should be a riot. I'll be sure to take a few pictures.

I'm currently trying to get my classes scheduled for next year at Shipwreck Beads and new classes written up. I've already submitted one new class which is the Falling Leaves Bracelet.... tutorial was posted last month. Other than that, I'll still offer my Standard Gem Tree, Pine Tree and Holiday Tree. New tree classes that I'll be writing up is the Crystal Willow and maybe the Lace Leaf Maple. I've had students interested in learning them so I guess I should get busy.

Stay sane and safe. If the stress gets too bad just have a glass of wine and watch a good holiday movie.

Monday, December 05, 2011


This is not my usual post, so if you don't want to be depressed, don't read it.

I was all geared up for writing this post and not caring who was offended but am thinking better of it....may change my mind as I go but I do want to talk about expectations and not just any, but those we impose on others.

Do we place unfair expectations on those we love? How do we communicate what those expectations are or do we just assume they know what they are? It's a dilemma. We want to do the right thing and think we are then bam!!! out of no where comes this accusation that we are bad. Most of the time I don't have a bad bone in my body and DH doesn't either, so where does it come from. Frustration? Past experience? It's not even about them, which is sad. I was fighting mad (crying actually) earlier and I don't get mad too often but now I just feel sorry for them and us. So, I sit here with tears, of not just frustration but of loss. How do we communicate what we want without being thought of as greedy, bold, heartless, aggressive or just plain rude? At this point, I would say that communication would have gotten you everywhere and I wouldn't be sitting here writing this crying and being frustrated.

There will be words. I'm sure more words then either of us want to hear and more tears.... mine of course because I don't think they cry.... I take that back (still a little mad), I'm sure they do, but why would they want to cause hurt. Of course, it comes back to that EXPECTATION, one that we don't know about. We would never say you are terrible or you are bad at (whatever you do) because we love you no matter what you do or say.

Now it appears that we have lost you, given up on a relationship and now that frustration and sadness has turned into sorrow, mine because DH has given up. We will never have that friendship, relationship, family love and support that we once had and not only is it because of expectations but now it due to lack of communication.

I do hope they have a Merry Christmas because I doubt we will see them. I do find that the holidays are always more stressful. Maybe that's all it is, but somehow I think it goes deeper than that and that's something none of us can fix.

So, if you have gotten to the bottom of this post, then the message must of meant something to you or you want to make sure we are okay... Well, we are okay and I'll be better tomorrow but today I will feel sorry for myself and those I love and for the loss of something we probably won't have in the future.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Pacific NW ArtFire Guild

Today I was a guest blogger on the Pacific NW ArtFire Guild blog. Check out my interview with Rhonda from Roban Studios.

If you look back one posting on that blog you will find my interview.

Here is a sneak peak at some of Rhonda's work from Roban Studio.

I hope everyone is having a great week. By the way if you are still purchasing Christmas gift my ArtFire studio will continue to offer FREE SHIPPING for the month of December. Go shopping. Shop Handmade and Shop USA.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale

Well I wouldn't be a very good marketer of my own creations if I didn't tell the world about my wonderful sale. This will be the first time that I have put everything in my shop on sale.... may be the last so here is your chance to get that piece you have been drooling over.

Now through Cyber Monday, November 28th, everything is 30% off plus you will get FREE SHIPPING to anywhere in the US. If you live out of country, you will still get the 30% off.

Wouldn't you love to have this Ruby necklace.... yummy and perfect for any holiday gatherings you might go to. Original price is $90.00 but with the 30% off that would make it $63.00.... WOW, I'd be tempted myself.

How about this beauty. Turquoise and Sterling silver. Turquoise is December's birthstone or at least one of them. Original price of this piece is $80.17 and the sale price would be $56.12. I must have lost my mind since I can't even make a piece with sterling silver in it for that price anymore.

Oh well, my loss is your gain. Better grab it while you can.

Use coupon code BlackFriday2011 for the sale. SHOP NOW BEFORE THE GOOD STUFF IS GONE.

Here is the link to the shop.

Special orders do not receive the discount. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tangling with Zentangles

Okay, so now you are wondering what that title is all about, well Zentangles is a drawing art form and has a growing following. If you are a doodler then you are probably doing a form of zentangles and didn't even know it. Rick and Maria, the zen masters of this art form explain it as a method of creating beautiful images by repetitive patterns. There's lots of information on Zentangles out on the web but if you want to check out the official site, just go to

So why am I talking about this now? Well I found a Zentangle instructor, Laura Harms who is celebrating her 200k hit mark and giving away 3 prizes of zentangle goodness. The prize packs are great and would make a wonderful gift for the holiday season to get someone started or for something special for you. Here is the link to her celebration post, just leave her a comment and you'll be entered.

Now I bet you are wondering what a Zentangle looks like, well here are a few of mine that I have done on ATC size paper. I'm not very good but hey you don't have to be good to tangle.

There are a lot of books out on the market to help you create the patterns. The one I have is called Totally Tangled by Sandy Steen Bartholomew.

I haven't done any tangles in awhile but I always keep my book, pen and paper handy.

So, what have I been doing, well making Christmas gifts. Here is a sneak peak..... no looking family members.

Since I know I can't trust my family members to not look, I won't say who they are for but I've crocheted several scarfs, made a jacket and aprons. I still have lots to do but I at least have a good start. 

If you are interested in crocheted items, here is a link to a quick and easy scarf.

The apron is a McCalls pattern and is really easy. Here is the link to the pattern but you can also find it at any fabric store that carries patterns.

The crocheted hat is one I found on-line and is also super easy to make. Lion Brand Yarn lists several on their site as well as the one I used. It is call the Blue Tweed Hat.

I have a couple of other things I'm working on such as the scarf pins (still need to do that tutorial) and some coasters. Okay, so now would be a good time for those family members that have special requests to send me an e-mail or give me a call otherwise I can't be held responsible for what you will get.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End of Season Show

This past weekend we did our final show for the season. It was the Opal, Gem and Mineral show held in Puyallup at the Fair Grounds. It is a pretty large show in comparison to other rock shows and usually you can find some good material. I started out making jewelry on Friday then on Saturday and Sunday moved to making gem trees with hubby.

Our find of the show was some Ethiopian Opal chips that a vendor sold to us cheap since it was too small for them to sell for jewelry making. It has lovely color and flash. We purchased 200 grams and it came in assorted colors so I sat one afternoon separating it into three color piles. My favorite is the yellow/amber color but I have more of the white/clear. It's all quite beautiful even in this small size and it will make a beautiful gem tree.

One of the other demonstrators at the show was Cheryl Matson a glass artist. She teaches at the Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle. Along with admiring all her beautiful works of art I did happen to purchase some of her orphan beads to use in my designs. Here are some of her beautiful pieces from a glass garden to beads.

Don't you just love this necklace. Such beautiful colors and this is all glass. If you are interested in the Pratt School and what they might offer, here is the link.

I would just love to take some of their classes but plan to do a lot of traveling the first part of the year. Maybe I'll look at something from them this Spring or Summer but in the meantime I enrolled in Sketchbook Delight an online class by Alisa Burke. I really need to learn to capture my ideas for designs whether it is for gem trees or jewelry down on paper so that I don't forget them later. Alisa offers several on-line classes and if you would like to check them out here is a link to more information. So, in future posts, don't be surprised if I show you glimpses of my sketchbook and how it is progressing.

I've been trying out this new blogger template for the past week and am still undecided as to whether I like it or not. I miss having my banner and all the links and buttons on the sidebar but it is a cleaner look for those visiting and wanting to read posts. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Making a List and Checking it Twice

I've finally started making my Christmas presents for this year. I had wanted to get them completed this past Summer but nooo I had to wait and now I'm stressing over everything I have yet to do. I did find a great little quick crochet scarf pattern that I've worked up and altered for three of the gifts, a scarf, infinity scarf and a neck warmer along with some wrist warmers which are kind of like a fingerless glove. I love them so much I may have to make me a pair.

After making these few things, I decided to make a list of who I was making for and what I was making them. What an eye opener, I can't make these scarves for the men as they are too lacy, so now I'm in a quandary.  What to make the men and I have more men than women? My list of ideas for men weren't very good or even original but included hats and BBQ aprons.Now what to do? I think I'm in need of big help in the idea department. Once I get my list together completely, I'll share the links to the tutorials I find or other ideas.

If you read my last post then you will be wondering where those photos are of the Museum of Flight. Well here are a few from my phone camera. This was my first visit but I'm sure it won't be the last.

Here are a couple more that hubby took with the nice camera..... he did a little photo editing to jazz them up a bit.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Falling Leaves Bracelet

I haven't written a tutorial in quite a while and thought it was about time. I just love these little leaf charms and wanted to make a bracelet so here it is.

Don't you just love the Fall colors. I made this one with Copper wire but you could use Gold, silver or bronze and it would be fantastic.

Supplies Needed:
· 20 Gauge copper wire (soft)
· Various crystals or Fall colored gemstones
· Head pins
· Open jump rings
· Premade Copper Chain Bracelet
· Round nose pliers
· Ruler
· Wire Cutters
· Chain nose pliers
· Jewelry Hammer
· Stainless Steel block or anvil
· Wine cork to use as template

1. Gather all your materials.
2. Cut several lengths of wire to 4 1/2” depending upon how many charms you want on your bracelet.
3. Wrap one wire around the cork or 3/4” dowel leaving one end shorter and twist tightly.
4. Remove the wire from the cork.
5. Cut the short end off.
6. Make a wrapped loop with the other wire.
7. Shape your loop into an oval.
8. Using your round nose pliers twist towards the center of the loop twice on each side to form the leaf.
9. Harden the leaf on the stainless steel block with your hammer.
10. Add beads/crystals/gemstones to headpins and make a wrapped loop.
11. Add 3 dangles beads with your leaf to an open jump ring.
12. Attach jump ring to bracelet.
13. Finished bracelet has a total of 9 leaf charms.

I wore this bracelet out tonight as we went to the Museum of Flight in Seattle and it was very comfortable and lightweight. Hopefully I'll have a few pictures to share with you of the museum tomorrow but until then enjoy the tutorial.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Our Days are Numbered

I can't believe that it is almost November. Yes, our days are numbered, the holidays will arrive before we know it. I have been seriously thinking about what to do for gifts this year. Last year I made most everything from aprons and placemats to a daily planner. This year I'm kind of at a loss but if I'm going to be making things I best be getting started. I did make some cute decorations that I'm going to hang above our mantel this year.


I used acrylic paints vs. my normal watercolors that I'm used to but I think they turned out cute.

I did finish a couple of necklaces yesterday one for me and another one for a birthday present. Not saying who it is for in case they are reading this. I hand knotted each crystal with silk before adding the chain at the back. Not sure if I think it is finished but for now I like them the way they are.

So now I'm all about planning my next projects. I have lots of yarn so I may try my hand at some crochet scarfs for some of the ladies in the family. If they work out I'll post the link to the pattern and share my quick tutorial on a scarf pin. I still need ideas for the men so if you have any, leave me a comment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holiday Swaps

For the past week I've been having fun working on some art charm swaps first my Autumn Quick swap and now the Christmas Ornament swap. For the Autumn swap I made some wire leaves and some tree of life charms.

I had a hard time coming up with any ideas for a small ornament charm so I made three different styles. Then since this is beginning of the holiday season I painted some holiday tags to go with them. I love the tags so I'll probably make more to put on my packages this season.

The small tag charms are wood that I covered with holiday scrapbook paper, painted the edges, glued a metal sentiment on the front and sealed the whole thing with Glamour Glaze. The round balls are scrapbook paper rounds that I folded in half and then glued to shape a ball, then inserted a head pin with a small pearl and then sealed it. The third charms are swirls of gold tone wire with a large amber crystal in the middle. Now to put these all together and get them mailed to the swap hostess.

Hopefully everyone is having a great week so far. Today I had to take the little monster Leo to the vet to get his annual shots. He was such a good boy and now is crashed out on the pillow on the couch. He wasn't about to look at me so that I could take his picture...humm I think he might still be a little mad.

I'll leave you tonight with this great shot from our vacation of the locks at the Panama Canal. Hubby has really gotten into HDR photography and this is one of my favorites that he has altered.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Make and Takes?

Okay, I have a show coming up first weekend in November and I want to do something a little more interesting so I thought about having a Make and Take. Has anyone tried this and are they usually free or do you charge a little for them to cover the supplies? Here are some ideas I was trying out.

First is the wire wrapped beaded cocktail spoon. The spoons you can get for around $1.00 and then it is just adding some 20 gauge wire and beads, so not a lot of cost. The second is a wire pendant. Using copper in 14 gauge wire, I made a few curvy bends with a loop at the top and bottom then added a large gemstone as a drop. The real cost here was the stone as not much wire was used so about the same cost as the spoon but I could use cheaper stones. The third option is the key fob. The corks I have a ton of so no cost there, just the copper hardware, some 14 gauge copper wire and a few beads. I already had the copper washers but I could probably get the silver metal tone ones at the hardware store cheaper.

Which would you be more inclined to sit down and make? Any other ideas? I would love to have your opinion. Oh and thanks goes out to my good friend Glenda for the beaded spoon idea.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New on Kindle

Now you can buy my book "Gem Tree Sculptures" on the Kindle. I went out today and purchased one... now isn't that sad that I have to purchase my own book. If you have a Kindle and have been wanting to get a copy of my book this is the perfect way and it is only $9.99 vs. $17.99 for the paper copy. The book's photos and graphics are in B&W so they look just as good on the Kindle as the book. Here is the link to the Kindle edition.
Okay enough blatant advertising. How about a few more pictures from our trip through the Panama Canal. We took a 19 day cruise on Holland America from Vancouver, BC to Fort Lauderdale. So the last pictures I shared were of our stop in San Diego and next we went to Puerto Vallarta. We did a city highlights tour and I think the highlight for my hubby was when he took this picture. I really just wanted to pet the iguana and next thing I knew it was on my shoulder and a gecko was on my head.

We did go to the city center and see Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. There were so many visitors but the church was definitely at the heart. The pictures we took of the church didn't turn out as well as we would have liked due to the sun being in the wrong position.

There was lots of shopping to be expected and I would say aggressive vendors but not as bad as other places. We just had to learn to walk away if it wasn't the price we were willing to pay.

Here is one of the vendor shops located right at the port.

Lots of colorful wares but we held back and didn't buy anything..... at least not at this port.

Stay tuned .... more vacation photos coming.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Today's Collection of Artists

Today's collection of ArtFire artists are from all around the Pacific Northwest. So, the message is buy local and buy handmade. Click on any of the pictures to view that artists shop.


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