Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude, Rose Petals and Mud Balls

Hello all,
I know this is a busy week as well as a time of reflection for many.

I have found that for me, reflecting on my experiences, even those that are sad or painful, is good for me.  To sort it all out and really think about how something has affected my life, helps me to either appreciate the great aspects of an event or if it's something sad, it helps with the healing process.  I have had such a busy year that I haven't done as much of that as I should have.  Which of course means that I find myself doing it now.  Bear with me, please.  I know that I seldom write about personal stuff.  Just not my style. Well, other than grill wrestling and fossil wrangling.  And I may rethink and delete all of this, but for now, here goes.....

These are my reflections of the last few weeks.  As I think back on my year of transition in a new state, a new home, with everyone I meet being a new acquaintance, new places and completely unknown to me-cultural references, I find myself longing for familiar places and people.  I'm certainly not meaning to diminish the many wonderful things and people I've discovered here in Texas.  Especially lately, though, each time I walk into the room which would have been my dad's room when he came to stay with us, as was planned, my heart aches anew.  I don't believe I've mentioned that one of the main reasons we chose this particular house,  is because there is a room here perfectly suited to his needs.  And the reason we're in the state of Texas, (as opposed to choosing the other option we had at the time) is because my dad lived just a few hours away.  So that we could be close.  How easy to transition him into his inviting room with a sunny sitting area where he could have watched the birds flitting about.  The perfect window to catch a glimpse of the hummingbirds and butterflies on their favorite bushes right outside those windows.  It would have been ideal for him in so many ways.   As the year anniversary of my father's passing approaches this Thursday,  I think more often of the whirlwind of activities a year ago.  How hopeful and excited we were at the prospect of finally living near him again.  The mad race to get the house painted and ready so that we could move in.   The enormous exhaustion we felt at the thought of unpacking all of our boxes and setting everything up.  That morning, on our way to the house, we had stopped at the store to pick up milk so we would have something to drink at the house as we unpacked.  While we were at the store, that's when we got the call.  Sadly, my dad never saw this house.  It seemed such a cruel twist that he passed away the very next day after we got all of the boxes and stuff to the house.  Before we had a chance to get it ready for him.  As the days of this week take me back to this same time a year ago, the sheer missing those that I've lost, creeps in at unexpected moments.   I am thankfully, reminded of one of my favorite sayings.

"Pain and suffering are inevitable.  Misery is a choice"

 I don't know who wrote these wise words but I often repeat them to myself when the feelings of sadness invade.   We all have a story about when our personal heartbreaks happened.  We all have mountains we are climbing in our own lives.  Big hurdles.  Whatever our mountains are, they are situations that challenge us.  I continue as many of us strive to do, to live a life of gratitude each and every day, despite the problems I may encounter.  To focus on the blessings and not the struggles or losses.  To choose happiness and by so doing, to squeeze every bit of beauty that I can out of a day.  Because each day of life is truly a gift.  It might not always turn out as I expected, but it can still be the best joy-filled life I can imagine.  A wonderful and amazing life filled with hope no matter what surprises I encounter along the way.  So my friends, whatever hand life deals to you, my sincere hope is that your happiness will be abundant and your sorrows few.

Whoa...didn't mean to go waxing poetic on you.    See what happens when I reflect?!  Ack!

I know, I know, you came for pretty pictures.  Hahahahaha.  They're coming.  Lots of pictures- though you'll have to decide if you think they are pretty or not.
So this week, I'm sneaking in a quick (yeah right) post.   Shall I get to it?

Hmmm let's see...what's new since last post?  Alot!  Autumn (winter?)  has arrived in Texas.

There might be a few blossoms stubbornly clinging to the rose bushes, but not many.  
We did have ice pellets yesterday, after all.  
Which don't compare to the "dagger-like drops of rain" that accompany hurricanes in Florida.  
Right Bond Girl?  You know what I'm talking about.  
ALL the weathermen tell you to "hunker down"
during the storm and then get all dramatic about the dangerous rain drops.  
You know they do. Part of the job description, I think.

A few people have sent me pictures of the castings they've made using the technique outlined in my 
Metal Casting tutorial.
I am delighted when you guys take the time to do this.

By Cheeky Magpie
why yes, that is a cast hummingbird skull.  Too cool!
You'll see my version a bit later.  They look quite different.
If you prefer a nice smooth finish like she has achieved here,
do what she does...
you can ever so quickly polish your castings with a quick kiss of the flame from a torch.
Gotta be quick or at best you'll lose detail and at worst, you might melt your casting.

These are by the talented Kristi Bowman.
Urchins and ammonites....her trademark and favs of mine too!
Notice the casting that looks like she foldformed it?
So very clever!

The next ones are by Melinda from Bees on Pie.

Oh my goodness....Fleur de lis, hands, roses, birds...
she achieved amazing detail and all of the castings she made are wonderful!!


It's always exciting to see what you make.
Even more so when I see that you guys seem to enjoy the same designs as much as I do,
yet all of our work is uniquely our own..
Thank you for sharing your photos with us.

Speaking of tutes, by now you are probably all aware of pipnmolly's new tutorial.
In case you aren't.....

Hmmm, don't know why the title got cut off.
It all about soldering tin to make those beautiful tin beads Tracy uses in some of her earrings.
And tin bangles, and tin components.
So if you ever wondered how she does it or wanted to know how to make them yourself..
grab yourself this fabulous tutorial.
Lots of helpful tips and step by step photos.
So many design possibilities and it looks like fun!

I also ran across these interesting things the other day....

 From the etsy shop- EJR Beads.
They dissolve.  Then they disappear.
Scratching your head wondering why you would want to dissolve beads you just paid for?
Here's why...
They are used to form hollow poly clay beads around the dissolvable form.  
After making and baking your poly clay beads, 
you soak them and pull out the little bits of fiber that might remain.
Viola!  Hollow beads.
How cool is that?!

and now
here's what I've been up to....

My oldest daughter has done such a beautiful job creating her own website,
as well as editing and formatting my tutorials, 
that we decided to see what she could do about updating my website.

All I can say is 
 I am beyond delighted with what she's done.
Complete with moving pictures. .I Know!!!
Well lacking Flash, they don't actually move in their nifty slideshow on my ipad or iphone, 
so there's also some still photos for those gadgets.
Yes, you're absolutely correct.
She didn't get her tech skills from me.
But boy, she has some impressive tech skills ....links and everything!
It doesn't just look great, it's fully functional.
As in, I can update it myself!  
Happy dance.
Please check it out and let us know what you think.

 and finally....
here's those pictures I promised earlier.
Most appear without what has become my usual listing descriptions, 
because that monumental task hasn't been done yet.....
and because I'm feeling too lazy to do the copying and pasting for those that are already listed.

No, no ,no.
What am I saying?
NOT lazy. It's exhaustion from all this making.

Bluhealer lampwork beads and Scorched Earth beauties

Sterling and Bluhealer beads

 Numinosity uber long headpins, Havana Beads headpins, 
Debbie Sanders lampwork, fossil mammoth bone, tektite

Roller printed aluminum, soldered wreaths, sterling and apatite nuggets

Roller printed aluminum, Bluhealer, Scorched Earth

Kingman turquoise, Bluhealer, Scorched Earth

Bison teeth,  glass eye headpins and upcycled tin shields

Vintage mother of pearl, silver embellished coin purse, rhinestones, vintage components
and various pretty black and white stones necklace.

The coin purse opens to a striking red leather (?) interior.

My version of a cast hummingbird skull paired with faceted rubies, a vintage buckle, vintage tintype,
coin pearls, rhinestones, vintage mesh beads and sterling.

Foldformed focal piece with Bluhealer ammonite beads, and stone beads.

Roman glass, Bluhealer, copper barbells and sterling

Vintage mother of pearl buttons, hand connectors, vintage mesh beads and
vintage silver filigree.

Hessonite, turquoise, coral, chrysocolla and Scorched Earth

Assemblage, secret compartment necklace.  You name it, it's in here....
a vintage bird brooch,  a wire bird nest, freshwater pearl eggs, mother of pearl blossoms,
a lampwork blossom by Victorian House, czech glass, hand-dyed silk, rhinestones...
what am I forgetting?

a cold enamel bird, rosary style quartz chain.....

The art deco style secret compartment.
This is how it opens so you can hide your tiniest treasures inside.

Watchhands, Scorched Earth, hand-dyed silk ribbon wrapped metal wreaths.

Scorched Earth red and black hearts from her "Alice" series, 
bullet casings, hand-dyed silk ribbon, ivory acrylic roses

Kingman turquoise and Scorched Earth

I've re-worked these lace and Scorched Earth nail earrings.
I added lustrous mother of pearl teardrops, faceted crystals and smoky grey teardrops.

Vintage etched brass with patinated brass stampings, 
Scorched Earth droplets glazed in wonderful mottled green,
vintage green headpins, hand-dyed silk ribbon and czech glass.

Vintage carved peach pit baskets (I love these charming bits of folk art),
vintage silver filigree, Bluhealer lampwork beads.
One basket is a bit larger than the other so let's call these assymetrical, shall we?

Stamped and oxidized brass, Scorched Earth spikes in scrumptious shades of greyish blue,
Lampwork beads by Bluhealer and hand-dyed silk ribbon.

Sterling silver, etched and oxidized copper, roller printed aluminum
and porcelain, platinum glazed droplets by Scorched Earth.

Incised spikes by Scorched Earth dangling from
hammered and soldered copper rings.

Vintage patterned brass with hints of red and green,
with a croc glazed spike from Scorched Earth hanging beneath an arc of
raw brass.  They look to me like they have a bit of an ancient vibe.

Stamped and oxidized brass, patinated brass stamping, a copper barbell
and red, black and white sticks from Scorched Earth.

Vintage sewing bobbins embellished with text, glass eye headpins,
ceramic discs and vintage metal vessel beads.

Mercury glass, lampwork discs by Debbie Sanders and mismatched headpins by Havana Beads.

The most gorgeous keishi pearls I have been able to get my hands on.  These have an
amazing luster and the sweetest cupped shape.
Paired with sterling silver and wee soft white freshwater pearls.
Oxidized to a soft matte greyish-black to compliment the white luster of the pearls.

Simple and rustic.  Roman glass paired with porcelain pods by Scorched Earth.

This picture doesn't do justice to the colors in these earrings.  
Multi hued ceramic drops by Scorched Earth, textured aluminum with a streak of multi metal foiling 
that compliments the colors of the drops, all framed by multi wire hoops.
Adorned by a single butterscotch rhinestone.
Oxidized to a deep brownish-black and sealed.

Yummy faceted ruby teardrops, roman glass and sterling.

From rubies to.....

Septarian nodules (fossilized mud balls with crystals formed in cracks within),
magnesite teeth beads in multi wire hoops.

and a necklace to match...

This larger nodule sports a drop embellished with a fossil mammoth bone bead.
The double strand brass chain fastens in the front with a vintage mother of pearl clip.

Like so.......

Last but not least.....

Treasure necklace.
Brass filigree, vintage lace, hand-dyed silk ribbon, rhinestone wreaths,
a vintage rhinestone embellished button, onyx teardrop,
lampwork headpin by Havana Beads, vintage twisty pearls,
a double peanut pearl with a soft blush of subtle pink.........

with a small metal receptacle for your precious treasures.

Almost forgot to mention that I'm having a sale in the Attic.
15% off anything over $8.00 until December 8, 2013.
Just apply this discount code at checkout: (all capital letters)
And that brings us to the conclusion of this going and going and just keeps on going, 
seems like it will never end post.
Yeah, I know, if I didn't let so many weeks go by between posts.....
They could be more manageable.
Naw....don't you remember?
I'd still fill it with pictures.
Lots and lots of pictures.
It would just be more often.

Hoping you all have a wonderful few weeks until we meet again.

("enjoy" in French)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Metal Casting So Easy Anyone Can Do It!

Oh Blogger Blogger, why do you torture me so?  I've just had an entire post evaporate!  Sigh. 

Hello All.

Now now, no need to be dramatic!
Pick yourselves up off the floor.  It's not like I've never written two blog posts in one month.
Just not recently.
Hey, did you guys notice I actually responded individually to your comments on my last post?
I know!
The sky is so thick with flying pigs I can barely see the sun.
Oh wait, it's a bit overcast.

Ok down to business.
You know, I sure do enjoy writing a post the first time, interjecting fun quips, chatty dialogue and pictures of Mr. Wonderful in his Polarbear club mode.
Not wrestling BQQ grills this time, other winter-water sports.
But nope, just don't have it in me to re-create the entire post.
Here's the necessary highlights without the usual, well to be accurate, unusual fluff...

Do you remember in my last post I mentioned a new article I was working on?
As they seem inclined to do, it morphed.  Kept growing and growing until it became a tutorial.
This tutorial.....

Truly it is.  Easy and fun!
Here's the semi-official description....

This is an easy technique to master, using materials that are readily available in your craft, hardware or stained glass store. There are no specialized tools or equipment required to make these metal castings. Nor is prior experience casting or working with metals necessary.
In no time at all, you will be producing your own metal castings that can be used in your assemblage, jewelry, scrapbooking or other craft projects.

In addition to learning how to cast metal, you will also learn how to make your own customized high temperature molds as well as how to construct an assemblage style cuff bracelet.

Yes indeed, for those of you who might be wondering if the molds you made
based on the directions in the Faux Raku tutorial will work for this technique as well.
They sure will.
Do you recognize this mold?

This is the casting made from a sea urchin mold.  
It produces an organic, raw texture that I just love.
I've attached it to an etched brass cuff....

Here's the finished bracelet.

This tutorial has links to the suppliers I used so that you can easily find all the goodies I used, like those lampwork eyes by NightSide Studio.

This octopus tentacle casting has been attached to a dimpled brass cuff
and adorned with these fabulous lampwork headpins by Numinosity Kim.
If you haven't tried these headpins yet, please do!
They are wonderful to work with.

Step by step directions for making this assemblage bracelet
 are also included in this tute.
Adorned with a beautiful lampwork raku leaf by Havana Beads,
a gorgeous enameled floral headpin by CeMaries
and hand dyed silk ribbons for a rustic romance effect. 

If you decide to give this technique a try, 
you'll be surprised at how quickly you can make 
an armful of ooak bracelets embellished with unique metal castings  .

The weather has cooled down enough to get back into the garage for a bit of torch-time.
This delicious small window of time when it's not too hot or too cold to work out there.

These earrings feature hammered sterling silver ovals, to which handformed sterling earwires have been soldered. Embellished with amazing polymer clay pods by still point works'  Claire Maunsell.  The detail and depth she achieves in her polymer work is extraordinary. Adding intriguing texture and subtle colors but little weight, it is the pods that make these earrings wonderfully unique. 
There's a bit of a feeding frenzy when she lists her pods, but if you can manage to snag some, 
they are a joy to work with.

These foldformed earrings feature heavily textured sterling silver drops, sterling disc beads and wee freshwater pearls in crisp and lustrous white hanging from sterling earwires. I have oxidized the silver, then lightly buffed it, to highlight the texture and the hammer marks in the form-folded metal .

These striking earrings feature hammered sterling silver rectangles, shaped and textured to resemble ancient artifacts, to which handformed sterling earwires have been soldered. Embellished with ancient Roman glass in the softest, luscious shade of light green with a subtle iridescence, Scorched Earth ceramic twisty spikes and matte black Czech glass beads. These earrings have an ancient/modern elegance about them. Looking as if they could have been excavated from an archeological dig or found in a contemporary gallery.

These handmade earrings feature hammered sterling silver ovals, to which handformed sterling earwires have been soldered. Embellished with platinum glazed Scorched Earth ceramic sticks and matte black Czech glass beads.  I am so addicted to Petra's platinum pieces.  They look great with anything and everything.  You have to see this luster firsthand to truly appreciate it.  She's recently made some new styles of beads and drops that she's finished with this fabulous glaze.  Run don't walk to grab some.  You won't be sorry you did!

These earrings feature hammered sterling silver shields and handformed sterling earwires. Hanging below the textured shields, the earrings have been embellished with bronze glazed spike drops by Scorched Earth.  I think Petra calls these "poking tongues".  Whatever we call them, they are wonderful.  A soft light-green wash framed with aged bronze.  Perfection!

These earrings are a lovely combination of vintage handwork and beautifully faceted stone beads. Encased within oxidized multi wire hoops, I've used soft purple vintage micro-mosaics with turquoise and white flowers as the focal. They are accented with rare faceted tanzanite beads, faceted pyrite beads,  labradorite onion-cut teardrop beads and faceted labradorite donut beads.

These striking earrings feature beautiful hollow glass beads that have a beautiful mercury glass effect. Paired with highly textured black lampwork headpins by Havana Beads, ceramic disc beads in gunmetal gray and oxidized coiled beadcaps, these contemporary, ooak earrings will add an edgy elegant touch whenever you wear them. The texture in the beadcaps harmonizes with the mottled pattern in the silver and the organic texture of the headpins in a fascinating and captivating way.

I've had some inquiries about these glass beads.  No, I didn't make them.  But you can be sure I will be making some, as these weren't available anymore when I checked on them a few days ago.

This charming assemblage bracelet features a beautiful, highly detailed, 3-d brass bird attached to an Art Nouveau style floral brass piece. This lovely piece reminds me of a bird taking flight amidst a lush garden.
Adorned with a delightful ceramic birds nest, filled with speckled brown eggs by Scorched Earth on Etsy, a black and white lampworked floral bead by The Victorian House, a vintage butterfly wing bezel set component with the mysterious silhouette of a pine tree, an actual game commission bird band stamped with the numbers 1345, a vintage mesh encased black bead accented with enameled green vintage bead caps, a carved stone turquoise colored rose, vintage brass enameled petals that I've stacked to form a fantasy flower, a carved stone bead, a rhinestone encrusted brass filigree bead and finished off with a clasp in the shape of a hand.
This bracelet was a joy to make.

These wire wrapped earrings are a unique combination of old and new combined within oxidized multi wire hoops. I've added lustrous white coin pearls with faceted ruby in zoisite natural stone beads. They are adorned with pink rose-enameled vintage brass components that have a wonderful vintage-chippy-patina. Extra visual appeal is added with the wee moss green freshwater pearls and gold Czech glass teardrops.

Yup, still on a micro mosaic kick.  Can't go wrong with these beauties.
 I've used beautiful micro mosaics as the focal. They are unusual in the shapes, settings and colorization. Encased within lacy edged marquis shaped bezel settings, the soft purple mosaics with turquoise and white flowers add an elegant vibe. The oxidized double hoops adorned with turquoise magnesite teardrops and wee moss green freshwater pearls lend a modern, boho chic feeling .

Any of you wonder whatever happened to the rattlesnake?
We recently got it back from the taxidermist, 
an engaging fellow with lots of interesting stories about local history.
This is how he handed it to me....

I couldn't wait to get home and see how it looked.

Very cool!

The rattle will become a "Thank you, Paula" keyfob.
Guess I should have realized this but didn't,
it still rattles!
Shows what I know about rattlesnakes, eh?

Fantastic texture and sepia-tone color.

Guess I'm not the only one who thinks that snakeskin is beautiful.
Check this out...

If I was just a bit more ambitious I could make a dress like this, eh?
Story goes that she killed 144 rattlers when she found herself in a nest of them!
Then made a dress.
The ultimate up-cycler.
Looks to me like she made herself a bear-claw necklace too.
Feisty lady.

Thanks to my imaginary friend Kathy for the picture

Well, that's all folks!

I'm hoping that hitting the "publish" button this time won't mean "evaporate".

Hoping you all enjoy yourselves till next time.

Why yes that is a praying mantis on a fern bicycle, just as you suspected!

"Bye-bye. Till anoda time"
(Pidgin English)