Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beads of Courage Donation

Remember my mentioning that I had braved the cold a few days ago to make beads for Beads of Courage (BOC)? If you've never heard of BOC before, please check their website out and watch the touching video they have on YouTube. I first heard about and donated to this wonderful organization in 2009 and it has become one of my favorite charities.

I've been collecting beads in a special jar for my next donation and was getting ready to send them off. But then I recently heard about a contest Marcy Lamberson of Studio Marcy was doing and decided to make a few more beads to send in so that I had a nice even number to enter it. ;-D I made several of my "Magical Mice" beads that I thought the kids might like, but the weather got colder and I haven't been able to make as many new beads as I had hoped for. Next time, I'm going to make a bunch of animal prints and faces to send in…

What's her contest all about? For every 25 beads or $25 someone donates to BOC, that person gets a raffle ticket to win a GTT Cricket torch! I had a Cricket last year for a few months and ended up moving to a Nortel Mega Minor, but now I'm wishing I had kept my Cricket too. But even if I don't win, this is such an amazing cause and I applaud Marcy for giving me and so many other people such a fun incentive to help put more smiles on the faces of these children!

If you'd like to donate something yourself, the last day to enter is tomorrow, Feb. 28th and you can find all the info you need HERE. I'd love for you to join me in giving what you can too! *Ü*

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Find: Words to the Rescue

Wow, two posts in one day?! ;-D But I didn't want to miss out posting about a new "Friday Find" that I thought you all might enjoy as much as I do…

I had the pleasure of meeting author Steve Fadie when I went to the Craft and Hobby Association trade convention (CHA) last month. His booth caught my eye and we got to talking about his book and how its purpose is to help those of us who need a little help with clever ideas to write on a card. As a card maker and scrapbooker, I think this is such a wonderful resource! The book is organized into 12 chapters like Anniversary and Friendship, as well as a "Fast Phrase" section for a quick boost to get your words flowing on demand.

Packed full with a wide variety of sentiments, quotes, and proverbs, I can totally see using this book not only for cards—but also for layout titles, letter conversation starters, my blog posts—and even on mixed media jewelry. If you're a fellow book lover like me, and/or struggle with finding the right things to write to someone, then you should check this book out! *Ü*

A Crazy Week

This past Monday, Katie had all her wisdom teeth pulled and I've been playing "nursemaid" all week to try and help ease her suffering (poor thing still looks like an overstuffed chipmunk!). When she came back from her surgery, it was obvious that she was having a strong reaction to the whatever drugs the doctor gave her—as she proceeded to rant on for over an hour about fantastical things like unicorns eating her flowers, bears, shock over having a beard (the ice pack around her cheeks), and claiming she was the "Fairy Princess who rules over Pansyland." Too bad we didn't think to grab our video camera and capture her hallucinogenic trip on film before she finally fell asleep again.  

ummm…actually, we did! LOL

When she woke up a few hours later, we were very relieved to see that she was back to her normal self mentally. She didn't believe all the things we told her had happened until we showed her the video—and we all had a good laugh over it together. Ashley teased her the worst, but we know that Katie will have fun getting back at her when it's her turn to get her wisdom teeth out! ;-D

Katie: minutes before leaving for her surgery…

Both girls have also been out of school on President's Break and the weather took a turn for the worse and brought several days of below freezing temps and snow—which means it's been waaaaaaaay too cold for me to feel like making beads in my garage studio. I did manage to brave the cold yesterday because I wanted to make some more beads to donate to the Beads of Courage organization. I'll post some pics of them soon, but in the meantime, here are some I took of my yard this morning…

The sun is out today and the Weather Man tells me that it should get warmer over the next few days, so I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio for more torching sessions soon. I hope you're all staying safe and warm wherever you are, and have a great weekend too! *Ü*

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One World One Heart Blog Winner

I can't believe how these past two weeks have flown by as I've visited almost 900 blogs during my OWOH travels! This has been such a fun experience and I've met fascinating bloggers from around the world, enjoyed learning about their lives and creative outlets, and felt that I connected with several "kindred spirits" as we traded comments with each other. If you're new to my blog, you can read all about this event in my previous post here. I'm a little sad it's all over now, but I'm also excited to announce the winner of my European big-hole charm bead giveaway:

Elizabeth (and her lovely cat, Bleubeard) from Altered Book Lover won with comment #114:

Congrats, Elizabeth! I hope you enjoy wearing my bead and remembering the fun experience you had during OWOH. Thank you to everyone who also visited my blog and left so many wonderful comments—some made me laugh, others touched my heart—and I loved reading each and every one of them! *Ü*

Pantone Color Forecast: Chocolate Browns

Yum! I think this will be my favorite Pantone color review ever—except for the fact that it has the potential to totally ruin my diet by the time I'm done typing this! LOL I promised a while ago that I would feature more of the Pantone fashion trend colors, and in honor of our recently celebrated Valentine's Day, I thought a "chocolate" color review would be an appropriate theme for this week…

L to R: Adamantium Unique, Medium Brown, Devardi Dark Brown, Vetro Dark Brown, and Choco-lotta

For Fall 2010, Pantone featured a color called "Chocolate Truffle" and boy, did it get me inspired to make some beads that look like real chocolate candies! A rich, deep velvety brown, it looks just like the dark chocolate treats my husbands loves so much. I'm more of a milk chocolate girl myself—and the Spring 2011 forecast of the creamy, lighter brown "Russet" is more my style. But both shades never fail to make me drool!

It is surprisingly hard to find a true chocolately brown color in soft glass. So I pulled every shade of brown I had in my studio, and created a bunch of yummy samples to see which ones came closest to the Pantone colors. The first one I tried was CiM's Adamantium Unique #1, which is the diamond-shaped bead on the far left. Regular Adamantium is more of a dark grayish brown, but this Unique batch has a warmer tone that I thought might work well. It's very close, but is still a little too gray.

CiM: Adamantium Unique #1

The next two colors I tried are from Devardi Glass, which is a U.S. based company that manufacturers their glass supplies in India. They have a lot of affordable, great colors that aren't offered by other manufacturers, but the rods can vary in thickness and shape, and are often shocky because they are all pulled by hand. I find pre-warming them in your kiln or a rod warmer is a good idea before you attempt to melt them into beads. The next two beads from the left were created with Medium Brown, which has a slight reddish tone and gets dark brown streaks when melted. Interesting results, but I think it would work much better when I'm in a "caramel" bead making mood. ;-)

Devardi: Medium Brown Opaque

The other Devardi color I tried is one of my favorites: Opaque Dark Brown. This one is probably the closest match to "Chocolate Truffle" and was very easy to work with. Isn't it lickable looking?! Lauscha Cocoa is a similar color, but it has a grayish undertone and is harder for me to strike to a consistent brown shade. Unfortunately, both the Devardi colors are currently sold out, but I've heard that more will be coming in soon.

Devardi: Dark Brown Opaque

Next, I tested out Vetrofond's Dark Brown Special. It's a nice medium-dark brown, but has a tiny hint of red in it. Effetre offers a Dark Red Brown Special color that is very similar and a few years ago I was able to handpick out rods from a batch that had a nice true brown variation mixed in. I'm still kicking myself that I didn't stock up on more of them when I had the chance.

Vetrofond: Dark Brown Special

And finally, the last bead on the far right in the group photo was created with Effetre "Choco-lotta." This was a limited, one-time run and I was lucky enough to snag some before it completely sold out. This was the first time I had really played with it and was pleasantly surprised at the color variation this glass has. It starts out dark in the rod form, then gets lighter the more you heat and strike it. There is a slight dark brown streakiness to it, but I kinda like it and think it gives a more organic feeling.

Effetre: Choco-lotta

This is probably the best match I've found in glass for Pantone's "Russet" and of course, it's no longer available?! *sigh* But I have a couple more colors I've just ordered that I'm planning to test out, so I'll be sure to post about those later on. In the meantime, I'm having so much fun thinking of other ways to decorate my chocolate beads and will begin offering them in my Etsy and ArtFire shops soon. I've even had to stop myself several times from taking a bite out of one of them—they look so deliciously real! *Ü*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just popping in to wish everyone a wonderful Valentine's Day, filled with love and affection…

beautiful fresh-smelling flowers…

and loads of yummy candy and chocolate (zero carbs and calories, of course!)

*Ü* Lori

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fire Divas Jewelry Challenge: Time to Vote!

The Fire Divas have some phenomenal entries in the latest jewelry challenge. The theme was "That Special Bead" and the entries we've received are special indeed, with a variety of styles and interpretations. Voting is going to be extra difficult!

In The Garden
Entry #1 by Scott Bjorge
Designer Info: Scott Bjorge. Gallery 
Designer's Description: As we enter the heart of winter it is nice to think of our beautiful Spring gardens to escape the cold and snow. This lovely focal bead by Ashlyn Design inspires that feeling with it's blend of an array of lovely colors. Designed with a sterling silver 's' hook accented with two more beads from Ashlyn Design brought around to the front to become part of the design.

Eye of Horus necklace
Entry #2 by Michelle Plumb
Designer Info: Michelle Plumb Gallery Contact: maplumb1 {at} wowway (dot) com
Designer's Description: Eye of Horus necklace, with focal by Holly's Folly and eye murrini from Janel Dudley Beads. I’m fascinated by ancient Egyptian history, so this bead called me immediately. The necklace was made with Holly’s Eye of Horus focal, graduated lapis lazuli rondelles, turquoise rounds and gold-plated rounds. Fit for a Pharaoh!

Entry #3 by Mary Elam
Designer Info: Mary Elam / Stella's Blossoms
Designer's Description:  Boro Blues is inspired by the beautiful blue fire within each of these lovely beads by Janel Dudley. The brilliant shades of blue and aqua truly radiate goodness from within. Each Boro bead is accented with Bali Sterling silver beadcaps. I've included my favorite Bail sterling silver focal bead in a unique oval shape to compliment the design. Swarovski crystals add extra sparkle. A thai silver toggle closure is included.

Twisted Heart
Entry #4 by Gretchen Coats
Designer Info: Gretchen Coats Etsy Blog  Gallery
Designer's Description:  This 24" necklace is made up of close to 600 3mm swarovski crystals in a double spiral. The Focal bead is made by Holly of Holly's Folly Glass, and the crystals and seed beads match the blue and pink of the focal bead perfectly! Heart is actually hollow, and upon closer inspection you can see the smaller beads run through the center of it!
Romance in pink
Entry #5 by Helen Aresik
Designer Info: Helen Aresik / Helen's Atelje
Designer's Description:  Romance in pink. This design is based and inspired on the beautiful and wonderful, handmade lampwork bead made by Holly's Folly. When I look at the Focal bead I think of a beautiful garden with pink flowers. I’ve chosen beads and other findings to match the pink and green tones in the focal bead. I made some beaded beads myself with pink beads with a green bead inside, inspired of the deep green color inside the focal bead. I also used chain and findings in sterling silver, swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls and other glass beads and leaves.

Voting: Please vote once on the right side of the Fire Divas Blog. The voting poll will be up for one week and the winners will be announced shortly after the polls are closed. *Ü*

Monday, February 7, 2011

A New Baby

Over the weekend, Katie brought home the newest member of our family—a baby mini Lion Head bunny. She named her "Lion," but I am opting to give her a more feminine name and calling her "Lyla"—Lyla Lion has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Katie has been working on us to let her have a pet bunny ever since she found out they would be doing a section on rabbit care in her Animal Science class about a month ago. We used to have two Mini Lops (who have since passed on to Bunny Heaven), and I wasn't sure if I wanted to start with the whole "nagging to clean the cage" thing again. But she insisted she would do a better job this time around and I—being the huge animal lover that I am—eventually broke down and agreed to adopt yet another hairy friend (it wasn't that hard! LOL).

Katie picked her out on Friday and will bring her home for the weekends, but she'll have to go back to school during the week as her ongoing class project. The first time I got to see and hold Lyla, I fell totally in love with her. She has such a sweet personality and feels so tiny and delicate in your hands. She's like one of those soft, fluffy puffs you use for patting on powder—only with eyes and ears added on. Honestly, how could anyone resist this adorable face?!?! *Ü*

Friday, February 4, 2011

Eye Candy

Hmmm…I was looking back through my blog and realized that it's been a while since I've shown some of my newest beady creations. Now that's not right, is it? I bet you've been starving for some new eye candy, eh? ;-D

Here are some sweet earrings I just listed in my ArtFire and Etsy shops today—perfect for last minute Valentine's Day gifts…

Pink & Black Dot Heart Earrings
Veiled Rubino Heart Earrings

And here are more of my European big-hole charm beads (BHBs) that I recently cored with sterling silver. These are turning out to be so addicting to make! They can be used for those popular Pandora add-a-charm bracelets, or strung on a ribbon or cord to create an instant necklace. I'll be listing these in my shops shortly, but if you have your eye on a certain one, please email me and I'll be happy to hold it for you. I am definitely planning on creating more of these and have several other design ideas I want to try soon.

Black Opal (the camera just can't capture the gorgeous opal quality!)
Mysterious (this has a lovely pink mother-of-pearl shimmer inside)
My favorite! An encased tiger bead with pretty brass scalloped bead caps
Pink Pearl (simple, but so pretty with a swirly shampoo shimmer)
Watercolor Rose (no, it's not painted on!)

This last one is a much larger, round BHB that I'm keeping in my own personal collection. I wore it strung on a simple black leather cord and received a lot of compliments on it when I wore it at the CHA show last week. I used the same brass bead caps I used for my Tiger BHB, but in a darker patina. If you love these too, my friend Ann Chambers makes them in several other finishes, and you can snag some for yourself from her Etsy shop HERE.

If you have any favorite colors or designs you would like to suggest I try, please leave me a comment here. I love a challenge! *Ü*
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