Freeing the Beaded Jewelry

Blogged under Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Tuesday 25 February 2014 at 2:56 pm



Recently, I have been organizing my home office and crafting work area, and with that comes lots of purging. As you can imagine, after many, many years of making jewelry, well, it adds up! I used to sell my work through small boutiques, online, and through art shows. So I had to make a lot of jewelry back then. Eventually, I started writing about making jewelry, which brought me to make more jewelry, and the more success I found with designing for publication purposes versus for selling purposes, the more finished jewelry I had around here. Plus, I often have vendors send me free components to use in designs, so even if I wanted to sell my jewelry, it would not be ethical for me to sell finished jewelry when I did not pay for the parts that made it up.

So what to do with all this jewelry? I found lots and lots and lots of it when I was reorganizing. Some of it is pretty nice. Some of it, well, it’s okay. Some of it is just ready to be taken apart. But before I ventured down that road, I decided to give away some of my jewelry first. Obviously, anything made with high end metals or super expensive stuff that I purchased or jewelry pieces that I rediscovered and want to claim for my own, I have kept. The rest, though, I put together in a zipper thermal pouch (it’s really a Thirty-One lunch box, LOL) and brought to work for my fellow faculty and other co-workers to take and share and enjoy.

I’m freeing the beads! I decided that seeing other people wear my jewelry will give me much more pleasure than having it sit untouched packed away somewhere. I hope each piece finds a good home.

Amigurumi Frogs Hopping Around

Blogged under amigurumi by Tammy on Sunday 23 February 2014 at 2:43 pm



I’m watching knitting podcasts and whipping up a few of these cute frogs. (Homespun House is on in the background, and I have to cover my ipad cover w/a catalog because Chanel kept coming over and kneading it!). My college craft club is going to have a little mini-boutique for spring with proceeds going to one of our charity projects, so we are making spring related items to sell.

These frogs are very fast to make. The basic pattern is from Lion Brand, but I changed a a little of it. I used thinner yarn so used an F size (versus an H) hook. The eyes are simply 18 stitch circles that I stitch flat onto the body, and then I usually either glue on black felt eye or googly eyes. The green yarn is some kind of mystery stuff that was donated the club years ago, and the white yarn for the eyes was also donate. We usually make a few small amiguruimi items like this and sell them for just $3. They are fast, and because we get yarn donations (lots of acrylic of course), they don’t cost us anything but time to make. In fact, this guy is even stuff with scrap yarn!

It has been a nice, lazy Sunday!

Kumihimo, Soutache, and Inspiration

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 23 February 2014 at 10:55 am

Resin Crafts Blog
Sometimes it is best to just use resin as a glue!

Art Bead Scene
Have you always wanted to try Kumihimo? Try out guest blogger Ema Kilroy’s handy tutorial for combining Kumihimo and art beads!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Stamping on metal, Andrew created a series of pendants that have a positive message with the newsprint letter set from ImpressArt.

Downton Abbey Inspired Earrings & Bracelet
Truth be told, the set wasn’t inspired by Downton Abbey. The earrings were inspired by a moonstone ring for which Eileen couldn’t find matching earrings. The bracelet was a recycling project of a filigree link removed to tighten a belt. But don’t they look quite Edwardian?

Charlene Sevier Jewelry
Yes, you too can learn to solder and make gorgeous jewelry using techniques traditionally used to make stained glass. Charlene reviews a book that shows you how.

Snap out it,Jean! There’s beading to be done!
Jean reviews the fascinating jewelry design book, Soutache & Bead Embroidery by Amee K. Sweet-McNamara

Mixed Media Artist
Dryer sheets? DRYER SHEETS?? Yup…they’re great!

Beading Arts
Cyndi shares part one of her tutorial on how she integrated soutache braid into her bead embroidery.

Carmi’s Art/Life World
There is a truly exciting way to create a scarf that does not require you using knitting or crochet needles. Take a peak at what you can make with water soluble stabilizer.

Mixed media quilt project
Cherie continues the middle squares of her anniversary quilt.

Durathon Iron Review and Giveaway

Blogged under CFEs/Contests,Crafty Products by Tammy on Friday 21 February 2014 at 11:40 am


I was recently contacted by the folks at Hamilton Beach and asked to test out and review a product called the Durathon Iron (#Durathon). Believe it or not, I iron fairly regularly, and I’m not just talking about when I pull out my sewing machine or cross stitch (which I have not touched in awhile since I need to get a good lamp/magnifier to order to be able to see well enough to work on it). Just about every week I’m ironing a shirt for me or my hubby, and he also has to wear ties almost every day, so I have to touch those up after he has worn and mangled them.



I have to admit that my old iron was…well…ancient! I won’t say who the manufacturer was because it is a really old iron so it’s not like I was using the latest and greatest version, but even when it was new, I was not able to get it to work as far as the steam part. I ended up having to spray with a water bottle. I was very happy to see that I could get the Durathon iron’s steam and other elements, like the spritzer, to work pretty easily. It comes with a small manual, which I found very easy to understand. Some other items I liked about this new iron is that it has a retractable cord, so when I put it away, I don’t have the cord going everywhere. The safety feature is also really good because if you leave it on for a period of time and it is not being used a sensor will shut it off. Simply put – I love this iron!

Anyone who sews or is involved with other types of needle crafts knows how important stopping occasionally to iron your work can be to the outcome of the finished product. Even yarn folks can use an iron to steam and block some finished items, so a good iron is really just like any other important tool in your craft room – necessary.

Okay, now for the giveaway info! Hamilton Beach has agreed to give one of my readers a #Durathon iron! Squee! To enter, just answer any of the following questions in the comments section of this post no later than March 7th, 2014 midnight eastern time:

Do you ever use an iron when you craft? If so, what do you use it for?

Do you iron cloths or other items for the home or your family? If so, is there anything about your current iron that drives you crazy?



Make sure to include an email address so you can be contacted if you win. The winner must reply back within 3 days of me emailing her/him, and I am not responsible in anyway, shape, or form if the winner does not reply back in a timely manner. Spammers will not be included in the drawing, obviously. One entry per person, etc. etc. The winner’s name and mailing address will be forwarded by me to the company who will then send out the prize.

Jewelry Book on the Horizon!

Blogged under Publications from Moi,writing by Tammy on Sunday 16 February 2014 at 6:10 pm



I got the laser copy (aka galleys) of the new edition of The Complete Photo Guide to Jewelry Making. This was sort of my weekend project in between feeling sick and also getting other crafting done as well as a little housework.

This is a step in the publishing process that is kind of interesting but also very tedious too. The interesting part is that you get to finally see it all put together after sending parts and pieces of documents, images, and finished jewelry to the publisher for months. The tedious part is that you have to go through and review/edit/proof everything! This is my one chance before it hits the printer to make sure everything is right, and of course, that is not really possible. I try. I am actually known as being very detail oriented. (Any place I ever have worked I used to drive people crazy with this in fact. Don’t ask me to read over something unless you really want to know what I think, LOL!) But, of course, I’m not perfect.

That said, it looks pretty dang good! There are a ton of new projects and a whole new gallery section. This is the largest book I’ve ever worked on. It’ us HUGE! It is packed with loads of techniques and projects. If I’m counting correctly, this has 49 projects.

I’m not 100% sure when this will be out. Possibly we will see it on bookstores this April, but as soon as I do know, I will be telling everyone. I actually have not worked on any jewelry books in awhile and thought I needed a break from them, but I am now thinking otherwise. Wheels are turning.

Clay, Charms, Bezels, Soldering

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 16 February 2014 at 11:21 am

The Writing an Art of Andrew Thornton
Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, Andrew created some polymer clay heart pendants.

A Bead A Day
Tweet Me Valentine! Lisa found the cutest group of charms that are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Chipboard Heart Bracelet and Earrings
Eileen made this heart jewelry set with Valentine’s Day in mind, but loved it so much, she wore it early. Her friends asked where they could get one. She said, “Make your own.” Eileen wasn’t being snide or nasty. These are fun and inexpensive to make. Check it out!

Carmi’s Art/ Life
There is nothing like a fabulous bezel to inspire an equally fabulous felted collar.

Resin Crafts Blog
This week I had an opportunity to experiment with a new medium, Powertex, which allowed me to turn crocheted doilies into bezels I can pour resin into.

Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
Jean has a giveaway of a fantastic book, Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories by Lisa Bluhm ! Comment on her blog and get a chance to win this classic! It is truly a terrific book!

Mixed Media Artist
Maleficent the Dragon is joining Disney’s theme park parade this spring, and Cyndi’s daughter had (more than one) hand in helping to construct her!

Beading Arts
Cyndi has ventured into the exciting world of working with soutache, and has worked up some practice exercises to sharpen our skills!

Postcard: Thanks to the Lord
Cherie works on postcard art for June’s mail exchange.

Book Review: Croceht at Play

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Good Books by Tammy on Saturday 15 February 2014 at 2:02 pm


Crochet at Play: Fun Hats, Scarves, Clothes, and Toys for Kids to Enjoy is published by Running Press and came out this past October. It’s written by Kat Goldin and focuses on fun patterns for babies and toddlers. It retails for $20 in the US and $23 in Canada, though the current Amazon price is about $15. There are 30 projects included, all of which vary as far as difficulty and size, but considering the number of projects, I think the price is pretty good.

The beginning part of the book covers a lot of crochet basics such as how to do the various stitches and techniques, starting with chain and moving up to working in the round. It also covers the “anatomy” of a stitch, which is a super important concept for beginners. While I did not see anything unusual in the illustrations for this section, I do think with maybe a few YouTube videos to supplement, a beginner could learn to crochet with this book. Plus, there are a lot of beginning level projects.

Beginning level projects (hats and wearable toys for example) are mixed also with a few more advanced ones, such as sweaters. These are marked mainly as “intermediate,” but I would say some of those (like the Wolf sweater) are probably more leaning towards the advanced level, just my opinion there. Many of the projects (like a number of the hats) are stitched using amigurumi style stitching in the round.

All of the projects are really super cute. They mix functionality with fun. For example, the Wolf sweater project I mentioned earlier has a hood with little wolf ears on it. The Baby Ballet Slippers project can be teamed up with the Tutu project. The Witch/Wizard/Princess hats are some examples of the easy design that a beginner could tackle, or if you are more experienced and need a quick gift for a new mom, who wouldn’t love a cute wizard hat?

I like that there is a good range of designs here (both for girls and boys), so you can make something fast and simple, or if you want to go all out, you can take on something more challenging. For anyone who regularly finds her/himself needing to whip up a baby gift, this would be a great book to have in your library. Your gifts would be easy to make but very unique and whimsical too.

Try It Again Sunday

Blogged under Jewelry Designing by Tammy on Sunday 9 February 2014 at 2:28 pm

Sometimes I don’t get a project right the first time. This includes crafting but also other projects, for example, house organizing projects. Today I decided to fix two projects that just did not turn out right. One is for the house, and the other is a jewelry project gone wrong.




First, I tackled a small hall closet that was full of odds and ends, mostly items that are kitchen related but we don’t use that much. This included some China and Depression glassware, the kind of dishes I would put in a China cabinet if I had one. I put them in the closet with the notion that when we might want to use some of it, we could just take it out and use it. Well, no big surprise, we rarely if ever used any of it, and it just collected dust. Plus any time I pulled something like a sheet or whatever out of the closet, I would worry that I might knock over something breakable.



Last month Thirty-One had a special on its organizing products for small spaces, and I had gotten a Junior Cube with a spring add on kit (for consultants only) I had purchased. Of course, I loved all of the products in the kit, but the Junior Cube and Lid were just what I needed to organize all these dishes. I used the cube from my kit for some jewelry making supplies, and I purchased two more cubes for the closet. I washed and dried all the dishes, and I put our wedding China all in one cube, and the other cube is mainly glasses. I also pulled out some dishes for us to actually use now. They are not super expensive, so why not use them? And I purged some old dishes from our kitchen as well plus decided to pack up a set of China I’ve had since I was about 20 and donate it to Goodwill. It is not a complete set, I’ve used it maybe two times, and I think it originally was some kind of grocery store deal, something like spend $10 get a plate. Yup, time to go and find a home somewhere else.



The closet is not perfect, but between the cubes and some utility totes, it’s getting better.

My next “try it again” project was this necklace. I actually think this was a project I did when I was writing for About.com. It is a double strand, and while I like the look of double strand chain-style necklaces, admittedly, I have trouble wearing them. I just get them all tangled up no matter what I do. So I would try to wear this, it would get tangled, and I’d pull it off and throw it in a jewelry box. But, I love the beads in this, and the charm is so cute! So I pulled it out this weekend, and while looking it over trying to figure out what to change about it so I’d wear it, I noticed a massive boo-boo: one teardrop bead is orientated in the wrong freakin’ direction! How did I just now notice this?




So out came the pliers, and I took the two strands apart and repositioned the bead that was facing the wrong way. I was so glad I made this with unwrapped loops and not wrapped loops, so it was very easy to disassemble.



There were 5 bead stations in the center of the necklace originally, so I took one of the stations and moved it to hang from the center. Then I removed the charm from the chain strand and connected it to this center bead station.



Basically, I reworked the necklace and simplified it into one strand that I think will be much easier for me to wear. I also dug around because I wanted to make some matching earrings, and wowie, I found a pair I had made already. Now I love this set, and I think I will wear it more comfortably.

Charms, Beads, and Hearts

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Saturday 8 February 2014 at 3:14 pm

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew was recently interviewed by Jennifer VanBrenschoten for Beading Daily. The article is the first in a series called, “Boys Who Bead”. Check it out!

Stamped Valentine’s Day Card Tutorial
Hurry! You still have time to make a few of these for your loved ones.

Art Bead Scene
Check out this month’s new challenge artwork – The Rose Garden by Paul Klee. You will not fail to be inspired!

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi FINALLY got around to finishing up a photo quilt that she started…*years* ago!

Beading Arts
Cyndi set off in search of a way to combine the “charm” of a charm bracelet with the control of a cuff.

Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done!
jean reviews a great jewelry book compiled by Karin Van Voorhees: STYLISH JEWELRY YOUR WAY. There is even a super DVD which comes along with it! You will love it!

Anniversary Quilt – The Middles
Cherie works on the middle squares of her mixed media quilt project.

Book Review: InstaCraft

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Sunday 2 February 2014 at 1:04 pm

InstaCraft: Fun and Simple Projects for Adorable Gifts, Decor, and More is written by Alison Caporimo with photography by Meera Lee Patel and is published by Ulysses Press. It retails in the US for $16.95 and in Canada for $19.95. The Amazon price at the time of writing this is $9.99 for the Kindle version and $13.44 for a paperback. Since receiving my review copy, I have sat down a number of times and flipped through the 50 projects in the book.

The title, InstaCraft, is perfect for this because all of the projects are amazingly fast and simple to do. Most are very child friendly, so I could see this as a great resource for days when you want to get your kids off the computer and have them actively create something with you. Besides the fact that these are all very easy and fast projects, one of the big points that I like about this book is that most of the supplies are easy to find and inexpensive. She recycles a lot of items too like empty jars, Tic Tac containers, glass bottles, and torn tights. I’m just naming a few here, and those items that you would need to purchase are not pricey at all, such as acrylic paint or card stock.

Though most of the projects are very easy, a few that use fingernail polish I am not too sure about as far as longevity. She uses fingernail polish in a few project to paint on metal. I’m not an expert on polish, but I would worry about it chipping and flaking off like it eventually does on nails.

Other than that, however, I found most of the projects to be very clever. Most are geared toward decor items or products you might use in the kitchen. For example, she shows how to turn cookie cutters into picture frames, how to make an instant collage with photos and a clip board, and how to turn light bulbs into glittery ornaments. Each project is set up so that it has a minimum amount of instructions, and these are very visual. So not much reading is involved. The photographs of the finished crafts are also really good. They clearly show the finished items and are not overly “artsy” to the point that you don’t get a clear view of what you are attempting to make.

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