Sunday, June 19, 2016

Resilient resin

Actually, the title should be Resilient Me from pursuing resin creations after some early fails. I guess that is the mantra of learning. Failure implies progression through the learning curve. Anyhoo, my latest resin creation incorporates one of my all-time favorite quotes.

I found these Tim Holtz frames and scanned them into Photoshop so I could re-size my quote photo to fit inside. I sealed the photos since I printed them on my inkjet and they would turn into a runny mess otherwise.

Then I applied some Swelligant to liven up the frame and placed the sealed photo into the first layer of resin.

The photo edge looked a little rough so I added a ball chain surround with a second coat of resin. Much better!

Here's another resin project that came out pretty well. It started with these heart shapes I found at Michael's. They sat for awhile waiting for inspiration to strike.

And then I saw these orphan teeny seashells in a drawer where I left them when I realized they didn't have holes for beading. I'm glad I saved them.

I arranged the seashells into the heart shapes, sprinkled in some random seed beads and then added the resin.

To finish, I put them on a ball chain to make great beach jewelry for my two nieces.

Art Jewelry Adventure Class #8: Tina Holden's Polymer Clay Necklace

I’ve been taking the Art Jewelry Adventure series of classes this year and blogging about my more significant learnings and fails. Tina Holden was the instructor of the 8th class, which was the third so far this year to use polymer clay. Here’s Tina with the class project, a polymer clay bib necklace with kumihimo straps: lovely!

Now I am a newbie to polymer clay and my first two classes resulted in pieces that more resembled science experiments than jewelry. The most important thing I had to do was calibrate the toaster oven I used to bake the pieces. It was running very hot and was scorching just about everything. I also watched many YouTube tutorials which offered great suggestions. So thus armed, I started my third foray into polymer clay. This piece uses a really interesting technique of creating a bead fringe on a separate piece of fabric which is then sandwiched between two layers of polymer clay. Ingenious!

So here’s the top layer. Don’t judge - I know there’s lots of room for improvement. The triangle centerpiece was created by another artist and was part of a big polymer purchase I made on eBay several years ago. This seemed to be a good place to use it.

Then here’s the bead fringe layer. Since beads are right in my wheel house, I just loved this part and used the purple center dangle from an old Andrew Thornton kit. The purple rondelles were from my April Bargain Bead Box shipment.

Here’s how it looks from the front after the final surface treatments.

And from the back:

You're supposed to sign it using a stamp or a piece of cane and, since I had neither, I just used a piece from a business card embedded in liquid Sculpey. Here's the finished piece from the front:

Things I liked about this experience:

  • I didn’t scorch my clay: Yay! 
  • Loved the idea of sandwiching the fringe between the polymer layers. I would use that technique again. 
  • Loved the shape of the bib with the added fringe and decided to try that on a different piece. Here’s a sneak preview. 

As far as Art Jewelry Class #8 goes, Tina is a great instructor and I give this class an A+.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Taking super duos in a new direction

Did you ever notice that most bracelets made with super duo beads run the beads in a parallel direction to the sides of the bracelet?

Like this:

And this:

I guess the turn is easier to do from this vantage point. So I was especially intrigued when I found this design for super duos running perpendicular to the bracelet.

Mystery Bracelet from Linda's Crafty Inspirations Blog

Apparently, there was a lot of bead chatter around this design attributed to Pascale G-Mikovic and discovered by Deb Roberti. With Pascale's permission and some limited guidance, Deb and Linda were able to reverse engineer the design and come up with instructions. After I made my first one, I compared it to Linda's design and discovered that I made an error in the bead direction and the second bracelet above is what resulted. Because the thread is showing on the sides of the end super duos, this is technically a beading no-no. I still like it. But I still wanted to make Linda's design so I started over and read the directions more carefully - usually a good idea.

So here's how you set up your first row.

Once that is done, it's a pretty simple repeat of right angle weave with a turn at the end, repeated for how wide you want your design. I really like the look of a wider cuff and made mine with five rows of super duos. I also came up with my own finishing approach and used decreasing rows of super duos to taper the ends with one end for the button attachment and the other for the loop. I really like this particular super duo loop closure and plan to use it on my future super duo designs.

I'm so grateful to Deb and Linda for sharing their instructions and especially to Pascale for coming up with this wonderful variation!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Keepsake mash-up: photos, beads and fiber

It’s the time of year when wedding bells start ringing merrily away and the pressure mounts to come up with a special gift.

I decided to try a mash up of three things I love: photos, beads and fibers.

Below is the keepsake I made for my niece's shower gift. If you are interested in doing something similar, I have provided a listing of the materials and techniques I used.

The most important decisions are the overall size of your piece and choosing the photos you want to use. Mariah and her fiancé, Josh, spent almost a year in Europe last year and their blog and Facebook posts provided me with a bonanza of photos. In this piece, I used a fantastic photo from their time teaching in Prague. Hands down, I knew this would be the centerpiece.

But I also wanted to incorporate a series of photos showing the happy couple at various points over the years, starting with their friendship in grade school. So I decided to use smaller photos around the focal. I also knew I wanted the photos on fabric so I could do bead embroidery around them but sent the main photo away to be printed by a professional since I didn’t trust my inkjet printer to do it justice. I chose the company Fotos on Fabric. Their turnaround and service were excellent and the price was really reasonable — about $20 for a 10x10 photo.

I assembled the other pictures I wanted to use. What a cute couple!


In addition to your photos, here are the other materials I used along with where I purchased the items:
  • Two half-yards of fabric in the color scheme you would like to use - Joann Fabrics
  • Décor Bond - Joann Fabrics
  • Pellon 72f Peltex Ultra Firm 2 double sided fusible interface - Joann Fabrics
  • Muslin fabric or other plain fabric for backing - Joann Fabrics
  • Threads and other fibers for embellishment - Stash/Joann Fabrics
  • Beads and charms for embellishment — Stash or your favorite bead store
  • Scraps of ribbons, lace for embellishment — Stash or fabric store
  • Transfer Artist Paper by Lesley Riley - Amazon
  • Tracing paper - Joann Fabrics
  • Access to photo editing program - I use Photoshop CC but you can use Picmonkey (free) or your preferred photo editing program
  • Sewing machine (to connect backing to piece)
If you want to embroider words onto the piece, select quotes or write your own. Then decide on their general placement.

Your Template

Your first step is to make a true-to-size template just to be sure the photos and other bits and bobs you want to incorporate will all fit into the allotted space. I made one on the computer and then transferred it onto a larger piece of cardboard cut to the scale of the piece.

Create Your Canvas

Then, set up your canvas. Using the measurements noted on your template, cut fabric strips that will frame the focal photo.

Using 1/2 inch seam allowances, sew the front of the photo to the front of the fabric strips that will frame it. On the reverse side, iron to flatten seams and trim corners so they lay flat.

Add the next round of fabric strips using the same process. Iron seams and trim.

Continue for as many rounds as specified in your design template.

Once the face of your design is ready, cut a size of Décor Bond that fits the entire canvas. Using the directions on the Décor Bond, adhere it to the reverse side of the canvas. This will stabilize the piece and allow you to more easily add your embroidered words, photos and embellishments.

Here's what my canvas looked like from the back as I started the embroidery:

Canvas from Reverse Showing Decor Bond

You can see how the Decor Bond gives a nice backing for your beading and embroidery work. Here's what it looked like from the front:

Starting the Embroidery

You can also use your sewing machine to stitch around the edges with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. The Decor Bond should do the job so it's a matter of preference along with the type of fabric you are using. I started out using the large embroidery frame shown above but found it too bulky and removed it pretty early in the process.

Embroider Your Quotes

If you are using quotes or any embroidery, create your template for tracing onto your canvas. I set up the phrases I chose on Photoshop, printed them, and then used tracing paper to get the design on the canvas.

Make sure the font is sized to fit your template and will suit embroidery. I also added some line guides to mine to make sure I could get good placement on the fabric. Once they are set up the way you like, print your document on regular printer paper. Here's what my template looked like:

Cut out the individual strips and carefully align each one to fit its preferred location on your canvas. Using the tracing paper, impress the words onto the fabric. I did one at a time, embroidering after each one, since the tracing image can smudge and wear away as you work on the fabric. Repeat for all the phrases you have selected.

Smaller Photos

This step is optional but certainly adds fun to the piece. Prepare your smaller photos by editing and re-sizing as needed in your photo editing program. Then print each one on the Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) which is then transferred to muslin. I had a couple fails on this so follow the TAP directions carefully for a good imprint. For extra dimension and stability, apply your muslin images to the canvas using the Pellon 72f Peltex Ultra Firm 2 double sided fusible interface. Below you will see my TAP fails and the better images.

TAP Fails

TAP Success
Now comes the fun: decorating the smaller pics. This is whatever you like. I used a little bit of a different technique on each photo. Although you have adhered the photo image using the Peltex, the additional beadwork provides additional security as well as interest.

Beadwork on Smaller Photos

I embellished each photo and then added more beadwork and beaded motifs as shown in the guide below:

Add Backing

Now you want to hide all those stitch lines and prepare your piece for framing. Cut a piece of muslin to fit the total piece and with reverse sides together, use a zigzag on your sewing machine to sew the backing to the piece.

Lightly steam with an iron to remove any wrinkles but take care not to flatten any of the embellishments on the front.

And voila! You are done. You can frame it at home using a quilting technique or take it to your local frame shop.

Here's another one that just uses one main photo and no embroidery.

© Cave Creek Beads