Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday's Worktable

Hi! Contrary to what you might think, I haven't disappeared off the face of the Earth!

I do apologize for missing last week's worktable post, though. I was out of town. In fact, last week, I had the amazingly good fortune to be able to go see my family in Maryland. I am truly lucky to have a family I love--and that I enjoy spending time with! I am full to overflowing, and so glad that I got to go.

Rainy in the mountains--the entry into Maryland.

...That also means that now I'm staring at the pictures and memories that I want to share, and feeling quite overwhelmed. I went to the Baltimore Museum of Art with my mother. I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival with my sister. I spent time watching college football with my dad.

And there was so much bead shopping!

Table of beads!
...I wish I had an A.C. Moore here in Cincinnati!

I am exceedingly grateful for the wonderful people I know: my family and friends in Maryland, and the wonderful husband, in-laws, and friends I have here in Ohio. I live a ridiculously beautiful life, and I never want to take it for granted.

...So, on my worktable today is simply this: unpacking from my trip, preparing for Friday's Monthly Challenge reveal, sorting through pictures, and settling back into my craft room. All while listening to the sounds of rain, and reveling in the cooler temperatures of Autumn.

I am content.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday's Worktable

I have the cold that won't quit.


Oh well. At least I do have something on my worktable this week, even though I am not feeling all that great. My worktable project is even related to my September Monthly Challenge... Imagine!

So, what am I doing, you ask? 

I'm painting paper pulp beads!

Everything I need to paint the beads, neatly laid out on my back porch.

...Granted, the above picture shows how I started painting the beads. Then it started to get too windy, and my materials were getting blown every which way.

So, I moved my bead painting station to the non-photogenic table in the basement: 

...and there it has remained.

I've been having great success, though! I have painted five colors of beads so far--mostly with craft paint, although I have also been playing around with nail polish. (Because, why not? *grin*) I'm even getting to the point where I can actually start designing with the finished beads... Yay!

So, there you go! That's what I have been up to this week--painting beads in the basement.

Thanks so much for stopping by... Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - September Edition

I realize that I'm late in announcing my Monthly Challenge (again), but never fear--I do have a September project that I'm working on. Hurray!

So, what is it? 

Well, this month's challenge all starts with packing paper...

We moved almost two years ago, and I still have piles of this stuff.

...which I have made into beads!

Here they are!
They still need to be sanded and painted, but here they are!

...Now, I actually made these beads back in February/March. I even blogged about it! (The entry is here, if you're interested.) I haven't done anything with them, however... I've been super busy doing everything else, and they've been pushed to the side.

That is about to change, however, because my September challenge is to make something with them now! Yay!

Now, if you're curious, here is how I made the beads... You know, in case you want to play along! (Or if, like me, you just have tons of scrap paper lying around that you want to use. I've done this with both packing paper and phone book pages, but I'm sure it will work with most things paper. Oh, and I roughly followed the instructions found on this website--although I mostly just made it up as I went along.)

So! To start with, I shredded the paper sheets into smaller pieces and put them in a sauce pan: 

...Which I then covered with boiling water, and let sit for about an hour or two to start breaking down the fibers:

After soaking for a good amount of time, I put the mushy pulp into the food processor and gave it a few pulses. The goal was to break down the individual pieces and make it more of a fibrous dough.

I then squeezed the excess water out of the pulp (seen on the left) and added some ModPodge as a binder (seen on the right):

The directions I found online suggested Elmers or any type of glue that dries clear... ModPodge is what I had on hand, so that's what I used. It seems to work pretty well, too, so I don't have any complaints. 

I then mixed it by hand to create this concoction, which became the dough I used for the beads:

I then pinched off small sections of dough and hand-formed them into balls. They aren't perfectly round because I had to form them with my fingertips... Rolling them made them fall apart. Still, their irregularity gives them handmade charm, right? :)

Then, I let the beads sit for about a half hour. Once they dried just a bit, I went through and added the holes with a toothpick. 

One. At. A. Time.

It was a bit of trial and error, honestly... If the beads were too wet, they would just fall apart and I had to reform them around the toothpick. If they were too dry, it was harder to punch the holes and I was more likely to just ruin them. I often erred on the side of too-wet, which meant that it was a long and rather tedious process... But, all in all, they turned out all right!

Oh, and as a side note: the website that I referenced earlier just uses a drill to make the holes once they're dry... Without a drill, though, I used what I had on hand. Improvisation and all that. :)

Once the beads were completely dry (I waited about 3 days), I sanded down the rough edges...

...And came out with these:

So, there you go! That brings me to where I am now: with a pile of dried and sanded beads, just waiting for me to paint them and actually make jewelry with them!

...And make jewelry, I will! 

Come back on Friday, September 30th to see what I have made!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wednesday's Worktable

I'm back!

...Well, mostly. I'm still recovering from some sort of cold/flu/blechiness, which turned out to be part of the reason I was just so exhausted last week--you know, in addition to everything else that was going on. Still, I'm definitely on the mend... Yay!

Unfortunately, that also meant that I dropped a lot of balls last week... There was a lot on my plate that I just didn't get done. 

So! On my worktable today: picking up some of the balls that I dropped. 

...This particular project seen here is actually a challenge being run by one of my favorite Facebook bead sellers (it's a closed group, but it can be found here). The challenge itself is called Seas the Day, and the kits were based on the colors of a day at the ocean.

In the kit, there was a collection of glass beads, shell beads, seed beads--you name it! The challenge was just to make something using the materials provided. (And there's more than is even shown here; I didn't think to get pictures.) 

So, that's the challenge.

Oh, and the due date? Is actually tomorrow. 


I have no idea if I will be able to finish on time, but ah well. I am glad that I was able to rest last week, and who knows? Maybe inspiration will strike this evening.

Thanks so much for stopping by today... It's good to be back. Here's to feeling better and better and gaining some momentum!

Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Brief Hiatus

Hi, all.

I had three things I wanted to post this week: the reveals for the August SJ Design Honey Do List and the August Pretty Palettes, as well as the bonus reveal for my own Monthly Challenge

...But I don't think I'm actually going to get them posted in time. 

The jewelry is all made, the pictures are all taken... But life has tackled me to the ground, and I simply don't have the energy or time to do any of them justice. (Before you get worried: everyone in my life is alive and mostly healthy, my relationship with my husband is going well, and I have a lot to be grateful for. However, life happens--and that can be very overwhelming.) 

And so, I'm going to take a step back from blogging this week. 

I don't do this lightly... I've worked hard to get these reveals ready, and this blog means a lot to me. Still, I am learning my limits--and I desperately need to recharge.

So, I will check in next week--hopefully refreshed and renewed, and ready to share more lovely things. In the meantime, thank you so much for your understanding and your patience... I truly appreciate you!

Until I return, have a beautiful week everyone!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - August Reveal, Part 2

All right! It's time for the second part of August's Monthly Challenge reveal. 

I have now shown you the random--and beautiful!--beads that I received for this challenge... 

Want to see what was in this box?
Go to my previous entry, found here!

...And now I get to show you what I made with them! 


A quick overview: I made five necklaces overall, four of which have matching earrings, and three of which are going to be featured in this entry. They were all finished this past week--despite my grand plans to work on them over vacation. (Which is just as well--gave me something to look forward to, since coming back from vacation is never fun.)

So, without further ado: here they are! 

Necklace Set #1

Me on vacation--hard at work, or hardly working? 

This first set was the one and only piece I worked on while vacationing--although I didn't actually finish it until after I got home. 

Of all the beads that I received for this challenge, the golden bronze pearls were my mum's favorite... And so, I wanted to make a necklace for her. I matched them with garnet (also from my random FMG order), and knotted them on ivory silk.

I then made some earrings using the same materials, and thus the set was complete:

The overall length of the necklace is 17 inches. I made it that way specifically for my mother, since that is her preferred length--a nonstandard length that is particularly hard to find. It's always fun specially-making things for those I love! 

Necklace #2

This second necklace has a very similar colorway to the first, and was made using some of the tigereye and garnet seen above. Brown and burgundy, check!

The tiger eye focal is also from the random mix I purchased for this challenge--specifically, the collection of gemstone donuts.

The links are wire-wrapped with 26 gauge goldtone wire, making this a very delicate little 16 inch necklace. 

In fact, this delicate nature is why I haven't made a pair of earrings to match it... I couldn't settle on a design that wouldn't be too overbearing. After all, not everything has to have matching earrings. (I just like making them, hah!)

Necklace Set #3

This third necklace set was finished just this morning--and is definitely not a color combination I usually work with.

And why is that?

I have one word for you: pastels.

As with the previous items, this necklace and earring set was made exclusively with beads from the random mix I received. The materials include glass and quartz, as well as the mystery stone of the focal. (I can't remember what my father and I decided it was, sorry!)

Unlike the two previous necklaces, this one is quite long--with long earrings to match!

The construction is fairly straight-forward: wire-wrapping with a bit of chain thrown in. Even so, it is quite elegant when worn... and I am very fond of the shape of the focal!

So, there you go! Those are the first three sets that I made for this Monthly Challenge!

And I actually have two more sets to show, but I am running out of steam. I do hope you will forgive me if I post them over the weekend... Just think of it as a bonus!

I truly had fun doing this challenge. This has been a particularly rough week, and working on these pieces helped keep me sane. I do look forward to showing you the other things I have made, when I am more awake!

Thanks so much for stopping by... Have a wonderful Friday, everyone!

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - August Reveal, Part 1

Hi there! 

You might have thought that I forgot that today is the reveal date for my Monthly Challenge... but you'd be wrong! I'm just going slower at posting, since my desktop computer is, once more, not working. (Don't worry, it's in the computer hospital--hopefully it will be up and running again soon!)

As a refresher, this month's challenge was all about using random bead mixes purchased on mega-sale from FireMountainGems... and, I just realized that I haven't actually shown the beautiful beads I received! Oops. I got them right as I was leaving for vacation, and didn't have time to post them. 

So, before I share what I made, I need to share what I got to work with!

Ooo, what's in the box?

I bought a lot of beads... At super sale, it's really hard not to!

In my order, I received some stone donuts:

Some beautiful mixes of glass and semi-precious stones:

Some hand-cut gemstones from India:

...And pearls! Lots and lots of pearls! ($100 worth of pearls for $9? Yes, please!)

...Right before I left for vacation, I also ordered a package of random stone pendants--which I didn't get to look at until I was actually at the cabin. Here they are, along with all of the other beads:

Sorry for the rather crummy lighting...
Taking pictures in the cabin usually isn't the best option, but it was super cloudy outside that day.

Most of the beads came unlabeled, which meant that my family and I had a great time sitting around trying to figure out what the materials were. And I'm not kidding--we greatly enjoyed ourselves! My father collects rocks and minerals, and has a pretty epic collection of the same, so his insight was invaluable. :)

The bottom six strands are ones that I realized I hadn't actually photographed previously. Oops.
So much bounty, it was too much for my vacation-brain to keep up with!

So many wonderful things to play with!

...And I hardly did any beading while I was away last week. Hah. 

Still, after returning home, I settled down and got to work--if you can actually call it work, since I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

So, those are the beads that I received for this challenge--a beautiful collection of all sorts of colors. (And pink. Lots of pink.) Stay tuned, because later tonight, I will be posting what I made with this bounty--and I have hardly scratched the surface of what I received! Woo-hoo!

...Now I need to go write that entry. I'll be back in a bit... Until then, enjoy all of the pretty bead pictures! :)