Monday, November 29, 2010

Bring It On Giveaway!

And the winner of the CSN Gift Card is… Angela!
Congratulations, and I hope you'll have fun getting that new cast iron skillet! 
  The winner was picked with the Random Number Generator.
Thank you to everyone who participated and Happy Holidays to you all too! *Ü*

I don't know about you, but I hate the holiday shopping frenzy this time of year! Not that I mind shopping for gifts for all my loved ones—I love that part!—but the craziness of the crowds, searching hopelessly for a decent parking spot, fighting with some stranger to get the last whatchamacallit on sale, etc. just isn't my favorite winter sport. LOL This year, I'm trying to do more online shopping and using the time I've saved to work on my handmade gifts, decorate the house, and just relax (for a change! ;-D).

So, to help spread this new shopping philosophy, I'd like to introduce my "Bring It On Giveaway" this week. It's sponsored by CSN Stores, which features over 200 online stores where you can find everything from holiday decorations, a leather briefcase, great cookware, and even space heaters for those of you who make beads in their cold garage like me! The folks at CSN have generously offered to give one of my readers a $35 gift card in the form of a promotional code that can be used on any product on their site. All you have to do is leave a comment (maybe something on your Christmas wish list?) and a way to contact you by this Saturday, Dec. 4th, and on Sunday I'll draw the name of one lucky person to receive the gift card. Just think of all the cool things you could order with it—to treat yourself or give as a gift for Christmas?!

I'm planning on doing more great Giveaways like this in the future, so if you'd like to make sure you don't miss hearing about them, you can join my email list, "like" me on Facebook, and/or add me to your Twitter follow list.

Please note that I don't receive any compensation from CSN for offering this Giveaway. I'm just a lucky blogger that got picked for the opportunity to share free goodies with my readers. Works out great for me too, as I love to give presents! *Ü*

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Still a bit of work to do around the house before 10 other family members come over to share Thanksgiving dinner with us today, but I'm still thinking thankful thoughts this morning! *Ü*

Some of the things I'm thankful for today:
   1. Having a great family network of relatives and friends
   2. A warm, safe home where the power is still on after the winter storms
   3. Healthy, smart children
   4. A wonderful and supportive hubby
   5. Good weather for a smooth drive to our house
   6. All of God's other blessings in my life!

To celebrate, I'm also starting my Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend sale a bit early, at 8 pm tonight! Everything in my Etsy and ArtFire shops will be 10% off though the weekend, until Monday night. So if you've been searching for some great handmade beads or finished jewelry for people on your Christmas shopping list, I hope you might find something in my shop? ;-D

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends too!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Taste of Winter

Over the past few days, we've had our first Fall snowfall of the year—which started out small, then came on with a vengeance yesterday and ended up causing quite a stir on the highways with slick, icy roads and downed power lines. Luckily, Kraig has been taking off a few days for the Thanksgiving holiday, and didn't have to drive through all that!

This morning, we woke up to a pristine white wonderland and it is so beautiful! I love fresh snowfall… as long as I don't have to go out into it for very long. I'm much more of a "stay inside with a warm cup of cocoa, a cozy sweater and slippers" kind of gal! But I did slip on some boots and a coat so that I could run outside and snap some quick photos of our yard:

Even before the snow came, I've been inspired by the winter theme in my bead making. Here are a few sets that I've been having a lot of fun making:

Snowballs & Ice Blue Disks
Ice Blue Ribbed Sparkle Spheres
Silver Gold Sparkle Cubes
The girls were thrilled that school was canceled and begged me to come outside and make a snowman with them, but the snow was so light and powdery, nothing would stick together. But it's supposed to stay cold for the next few days, so maybe we'll get a chance to make one later on? I hope all the rest of you who may be experiencing similar weather are staying warm and enjoying the wintry fun too! *Ü*

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Baby Is All Grown Up?!?!

Well, it's official—our oldest daughter, Katie, can now be considered a legal adult!?! I'm still feeling a little shell-shocked by the reality that my "baby" can now run off and join the military, get married, or *gasp* get that tattoo she keeps talking about. ACK!! Seriously—where does all the time go?! It doesn't seem that long that she was just a newborn in my arms, and I was a scared young mother, afraid or dropping her. (We won't even talk about the time during that first week, when my hubby asked me out for ice cream and I said, "Sure!" and grabbed my purse to run out the door—only to have him gently ask me if I was forgetting something? I replied that I had my purse and was ready to go, and then it hit me… I almost forgot to bring the baby?!)

To celebrate, we planned a surprise party for Katie, and had all her best friends meet us after school, and then I whisked them off to see the new "Deathly Hallows" Harry Potter movie that she was dying to see. Afterward, they all came back home to dine on fine pizza cuisine and birthday cake, open presents, and generally hang out and act like typical crazy teenagers. She was definitely surprised and I think she had a great time. She certainly loved her new cell phone and probably racked up at least 1,000 texts already by the end of the day! LOL

We're so proud of our girl and all that she's already accomplished in her life so far. We know she has many other wonderful things to look forward to and we love the beautiful young woman she's become! xoxo

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pantone Fall Trend Color: Golden Glow

What could be richer sounding than "Golden Glow" for a color? It brings to my mind images like rays of warm sunshine, golden metals like brass and antique gold, the rich colors of the desert, and gooey butterscotch caramels. Sounds like Heaven now that the weather here in Washington consists mostly of grey skies these days! To translate this color in glass beads, here are a few suggestions I think work well:

A new Effetre color called "Butterscotch Sparkle" that was recently introduced fits this hue perfectly! It is a creamy translucent glass, with just a hint of shimmer inside that reminds me of fresh honey. Unfortunately, it was a limited run and is now very hard to find. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to snag some of it right after it came out, and you bet I'm hoarding it like Midas! ;-D Here are some beads I made with it:

Butterscotch & Cream Pendant
Butterscotch Spacers

Another glass color I would suggest is called "Ghee" by Creation Is Messy (CiM). This glass looks more like a pale yellow in rod form, but when melted, it turns a deeper color that gets darker as you work it in the flame—much like how butter changes when melting it in a skillet. I like this color a lot, but it can be tricky to get consistent color from bead to bead because of the way it tends to darken in the flame.

And finally, another fun way to add this golden color into your beads is through a frit blend, such as "Safari" from Glass Diversions. I love how this blend also has some of Pantone's "Chocolate Truffle" color mixed into it for instant pizzazz, as you can see in this set. I added a touch of sparkling goldstone ribbon before swirling the colors together and pressing them into oval lentil shaped beads.

Wild Enchantment
Wouldn't this color also look stunning combined with some of the others in the Fall palette, such as Lipstick Red or Purple Orchid? hhmmm…I suddenly feel the urge to melt several of these jewel tones together to brighten my day! *Ü*

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pantone Fall 2010 Forecast

Well, I'm running a little behind on my take on Pantone's Color Forecast for Fall 2010, but I thought it would still be fun to show all the beautiful colors people are wearing and decorating their homes in this Fall season. One of the things I love about the Forecast is seeing the new palette of color trends for the upcoming seasons and using it to inspire my bead and jewelry designs. I can see the jewel tones also working well through the Winter season (and I promise to get to the Pantone Spring 2011 Forecast in a more timely manner!).

So over the next two weeks I'm planning on highlighting one or several of these colors in separate posts and hopefully share some great design inspiration for you too!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog Giveaway Winner!

Today is the day I can finally announce the winner of an exclusive 30% off coupon from Brenda's Jewelry Box! My daughter, Ashley, drew names out of a hat and the winner is…

Congratulations, and I'm sure you will find something wonderful from Brenda's Etsy shop to pick out as a special treat for yourself or give as a gift! (Quite frankly, I'm feeling a bit jealous. ;-D)

And I'm also excited to announce that the winner of a 20% off coupon to my own shop, chosen from comments left on Brenda's blog, is Cara! Congrats!
Thank you again to Brenda, for being such a good sport, sharing a bit of your life and creative philosophy with me and my readers—I'm so lucky to have found a "kindred spirit" like you to be my Etsy Bootcamp Buddy! And I wanted to send out a big "thank you!" to everyone else who participated in my first ever Blogger Interview GIveaway and left such nice comments for both of us. I am definitely planning on doing more of these, so stay tuned, folks! *Ü*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Find: Vintage Keys

I looooove to walk around flea and farmer markets—hunting for "finds" that I can capture and drool over in delight like Gollum and his "Precious." Some of the things I've always enjoyed collecting over the years are vintage skeleton keys—I love how they're all different, have their own personalities, and reflect a sense of gentler days gone by. I didn't really know what I would use them for, but I kept collecting them, figuring something would eventually come to me. (I need HELP, people! Is there such a thing as a "Collectors Anonymous" program? LOL)

When I started making my own glass beads, I was over the moon when I discovered that people were using skeleton keys to create unique lampwork pendants. Bingo! But it took me over a year to give it a try—because as many a kindred collector knows, it's hard to give up a special object you've been hoarding for so long! ;-D But several months ago, I took the plunge and made some Key Beads—and I think they turned out rather well!

Key to My Devotion
This type of project is a little more difficult to do if you're a novice lampworker because it can be awkward to turn the key evenly as you work—but it's not that hard if you take your time and work slowly. First of all, you need to make sure the key is made out of a hard metal like steel or brass that can stand up to the high temperatures of the torch flame. Then you need to thoroughly clean it with some soap and water and a wire brush to get rid of any crusty build-up or rust. I don't like to clean mine so hard that it loses the nice vintage patina that gives it character—just enough so my bead release will stick properly.

Siberian Tiger Key Bead
 There are two ways you can go about adding a bead around a key:

1) Heat up the key like you would a regular mandrel and add the glass directly to it. The bead will be permanently attached to the shaft and will not be able to move.

2) Dip the entire key shaft into bead release, let air dry completely, and then heat up and form your bead on it. The advantage of this method is that after the bead release has been cleaned off, the bead will be loose and able to spin freely. I prefer this method because I love being able to play with the bead while I'm wearing it as a pendant.

With either method, you need to properly anneal your key bead immediately after finishing it. Otherwise, you may have problems because the metal and glass may contract at very different rates if they cool down too quickly.

One of the trickier issues to deal with is how to hold the oddly shaped key so that you can work with it in the flame? I use a simple handmade steel tool made to hold short lengths of glass rods, clamped around the barrel end of the key. Some people use hemostats, and there is a mandrel tool made specifically for key beads you can buy from Etsy seller Jelveh Designs HERE. I also read about a lampworker who sticks a regular mandrel directly to the key with the bead release so that they're sort of "glued" together as they dry. I might have to give that a try next time!

Even if you're not into making glass beads, I can see many wonderful possibilities for similar designs using other materials such as polymer clay, paper mache, or felt. Leave it as is for a classically simple design, or add a couple fun doodads, ribbons, or charms to create a more eclectic look—the sky's the limit!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering our Veterans

Reflecting back with heartfelt gratitude and pride on this Veteran's Day… the courage my Dad, uncles, and father-in-law demonstrated many years ago through some very difficult times. Much appreciation goes out to all the other men and woman who have also served and protected our great country in the past and present.

Thank you and God Bless!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest Interview & Giveaway: Brenda's Jewelry Box

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a new friend and my very first Guest Blogger interview: Brenda's Jewelry Box! *Ü* I first met Brenda online a few weeks ago, through the Etsy Bootcamp challenge we've both been participating in. I was searching for a "Bootcamp Buddy" for one of the first weekly challenges and when I read her profile and saw her beautiful jewelry, I just knew she was the perfect pal for me! We've been having a great time, getting acquainted, motivating and encouraging each other as we work to make our Etsy shops the best they can be.

Brenda asked me if I might be interested in doing a mutual guest blog article on each other and I thought it was a fantastic idea. I've never tried this before, but she's a real pro at it, and I've been having so much fun interviewing her, I know this is something I'd like to do more often! So here goes… 

Pretend we’re sitting down together over a cup of coffee and tell me a little about yourself? 

Hi, Lori, it's really great meeting you! I was born and raised in West Texas, but I reside in Eastern Washington State. I get homesick sometimes, especially when I hear a southern draw, but I love it here. I raised my son here, and I met my best friend here whom I married 11 years ago. I love my family, my friends, my pets (which are my babies) and I’m following my passion for making jewelry. (Great coffee… I think I hear a slice of apple pie calling my name! ;-D)

How did you get started making jewelry? 

I first started by making earrings as gifts for Christmas in 2006. I chose to make them because my financial picture wasn’t very bright, and I had a big box of beads and supplies stashed away that was given to me by my Mother. I didn’t have a clue about making jewelry, nor did I think I could do it… but with the loving support of my husband and my late brother, I gave it a try and the rest is history.  

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs? 

Oh gosh, inspiration comes to me from so many avenues! It can be the colors of the season, a shape of an object, the current holiday or reading an inspiring story. Ideas come to me in my dreams a lot and sometimes, right off the top of my head. Beading and craft magazines are a great way to get inspired! Not by copying the designs, but learning from them and putting your own spin on a project of your own.  

Share three photos of your work that best describes your personal style and tell me why? 

“Gwyneth” Bracelet: I love the way this bracelet turned out! It reflects my vintage style with the mixture of antique brass, copper and the soft brown and golden colors. 

“Forest Fairy” Necklace: This necklace reflects my eclectic style. It shows that adding a little flair, such as the fairy charm, to a sophisticated gemstone necklace can be fun to wear.

“Mary Rose” Bracelet: This bracelet reflects my feminine style. I love the soft blend of green peridot, pink rose quartz, and antique copper.

What artist or designer (past or present) would you  love to meet?

There are actually two jewelry designers I would love to meet, Vicki at Orion Designs and Nicole at Beadwright. I admire both of these ladies for the strong and positive women they are and for their amazing talents. Also, I admire their strong worth ethic and successful businesses. I feel very fortunate to call them my friends.

Where do you see yourself a year from now?

Hopefully, I’ll be more successful with my jewelry business. A couple of my goals are to try my hand at selling in a few craft shows at the local fairgrounds next year and to expand my items to local boutiques. A new shop on is in the works, as well as possibly adding some of my items to a surf shop in Florida. I recently found out I’m going to be published in the April 2011 issue of Bead Trends. I’m so excited!

Thank you so much, Brenda! I'm excited for you too and I know you have a wonderful future ahead of you!

If you love this small sampling of Brenda's work as much as I do, please check out all the other wonderful goodies she has in her Etsy shop, Brenda's Jewelry Box. She's also generously donated an Exclusive Coupon for 30% off any one jewelry item in her shop for one lucky reader who will be picked in a random drawing by me. (This does not include sale or Clearance Bin Section items.) And when you visit her blog to read her interview of me, you'll see that she'll be doing a drawing for my own 20% coupon off one in-stock item in my shop too!

To enter the drawing for Brenda's coupon, just post a comment here on my blog. 
To enter the drawing for my coupon, leave a comment on Brenda's blog HERE.

DEADLINE: Please post your comment by Saturday, November 13th.  
We'll draw the winning names this Sunday.

You can also get a few more opportunities to win by:
1) help spread the word about my and Brenda’s shops and our special coupon drawings on your own blog, and/or 
2) “like” my Facebook page (see my box in the right-hand column of my blog), and/or
3) “follow" Brenda's blog and add a link to her site on your own blog.

Please add a separate comment if you do any of these extra things and include a link back to your site, along with your email address so I can contact you if you’re the winner. 

Good luck! *Ü*

          Thursday, November 4, 2010

          Acorns and Oak Leaves

          Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and I love to see all the changing colors, feel the crisp air, snuggle into my warm sweaters, and have a good excuse to drink all the hot cocoa I want. One of the ways I like to celebrate this time of year is to make glass acorn beads. The acorn is the humble beginning of a mighty oak tree, which symbolizes quiet strength, endurance, shelter and growth—qualities I would like my own life to represent.

          Last year, I focused on traditional colors in various shades of tan and brown, along with a special version that includes gold metallic scroll work. This year, I "upped the ante" with a new crop of colors in rich shades of ivory, caramel, green, and dark chocolate, like these:

          All along, I planned to create oak leaves out of bronze metal clay to coordinate with my acorn theme, but something always got in the way and I struggled to find time to work on all the ideas brewing in my head. Well, it's been at least three weeks in the making, but I finally have some finished leaves to show you, with some other fun things thrown into the mix!

          Here's what bronze clay looks like when it's unfired on the left, and the charms on the right are what they look like after they've been fired and tumbled to a satin finish:

          Don't you just love that gorgeous golden color?!? And here's a sampling of the oak leaves, with the three on the right showing what they look like after getting a stinky liver of sulfur bath to give them a darker patina:

          I think they turned out even better than I was hoping for! I left them with a slight "rustic" surface to contrast with the smooth shine of the glass beads and here's what they look like paired together:

          Isn't this a match made in Heaven?!? I'm working on some handmade bails next so I can create some finished pendants and necklaces to put in my Etsy shop soon. But in the meantime, I'll have some of these sweet guys listed in my shop later tonight, if you'd like to pick up a few to create your own designs? ;-D

          If you'd like to try your hand at bronze clay too, I highly recommend a book by Yvonne M. Padilla called "Bronze Metal Clay," published by Lark Books. I checked it out from my library and it's a wonderful resource for people like me who have never tried this medium before. While I was familiar with working with Precious Metal Clay (PMC), bronze clay is an entirely different animal and I learned a lot of helpful information and was inspired by all the great projects featured in this book.

          If you like these charms, wait until you see the rest of what I have up my sleeves to show you! I have a variety of bead caps, sentiment charms, and personalized pendants—just to name a few of the other goodies I've been working on. I promise I'll write and share them soon—right after I get done prepping, rolling, stamping, trimming, shaping, refining, sanding, firing, tumbling, adding patina, and polishing them all up! *Ü*

          Tuesday, November 2, 2010

          Notes to Self

            1) Wake up early to make sure girls don't miss the bus… again.

            2) Catch up on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and emails.

            3) Verify am really registered for CHA and didn't single-handedly crash their site yesterday after feverishly signing up for the workshops.

            4) Prime laundry room cabinets and 6 doors.

          (Note to self: plan to tell hubby you're not happy with how he forgot to clean up after sanding the cabinets and left you to do it before painting.)

            5) Run some errands, pick up a healthy salad and Diet Coke for lunch, and sneak in some delicious McD's french fries.

          (Note to self: try to resist the french fries next time!)

            6) Take advantage of the sunny, clear day and impulsively run outside to take photos of the gorgeous fall colors in the yard before everything disappears.

          (Note to self: I really should do this more often!)

            7) Turn on kiln to prepare to make beads.

            8) Realize you forgot to close the heat vent in front of the torching area the last time you made beads, and that's probably why the bedrooms have been so cold the last few nights.

          (Note to self: maybe now wouldn't be such a good time to criticize the hubby for his sanding faux pas—so let's just call us even.)

            9) Stuff kiln full of new beads and cross fingers they still look good in the morning.

          10) Have a mild panic attack because the entire family is coming over for Thanksgiving dinner and the house is not even close to being ready.

          11) Self-medicate with leftover chocolate from Halloween.

          12) Work on new bronze clay charms and prepare a blog post about them.

          13) Take a much needed dinner break and spend some time with the family.

          (Note to self: thank God again for a hubby who enjoys cooking dinner.)

          14) Make a new "to do" list for tomorrow.
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