Saturday, July 22, 2017

My splurge: Sizzix Big Shot Plus

Sizzix has been making a big push with Interweave to entice jewelry makers as a new audience for its Big Shot system, which has many fans in the card-making and scrapbooking world. When I visited Tucson earlier this year for the Gem and Mineral Show, there was a booth featuring the Big Shot Jewelry Studio. I have long been tempted to buy a die cutting matching but I always deferred, thinking I spend enough money on my beading habit, why start a new one? But it kept calling my name until I finally broke down earlier this month and purchased the Big Shot Plus and the Jewelry Studio Conversion kit.

Like many other hobbies, the main tools are just the price of admission and then you have all the accessories. In the case of jewelry making, the accessories come in the form of dies which allow you to cut perfect objects.

I am proceeding slowly so I don't end up with a stock pile of materials I will never use but I did buy the Bigz Flower die shown here, thinking it would be versatile for paper crafting as well as jewelry.

I wanted to see how well the die would cut fabric so I put some scraps of ultra suede through the machine using the Bigz Flower die and riveted them to leather bracelet bases I had on hand. I no time at all, I came up with two bracelets I will be gifting to my nieces.

Candie Cooper has also been featuring the Sizzix Jewelry Studio on her blog and mentioned that Michaels Stores would start to carry many of the jewelry-making dies.

Candie Cooper Blog Article on Sizzix

I am guessing Candie will have some new articles on how to use certain dies along with design ideas so I will pop back once I make some new items.

Here is the Interweave Sizzix package that comes with a Big Shot machine and the platforms you will need to get started. It comes with the machine, a magazine with instructions for the design shown below, leather and the dies to make the design.

Interweave Big Shot Jewelry System and Add-ons

I decided to shop around and buy my items from different vendors. First, I opted to buy the Big Shot Plus thinking its larger size would be a bit more versatile and then purchased the Jewelry Studio Conversion Kit separately. I got my Big Shot Plus from which had a great sale and, because their warehouse is in Arizona, I was able to pick it up. Then I bought the Bigz Flower die from Sizzix and the Jewelry Studio Conversion Kit from Amazon. I did find that it pays to shop around unless you like to get started with a package system like the one Interweave is offering.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Back to beading and books

We are in the lull between the baby shower and baby arrival so I am catching up on my beading and books. How many books do you read at one time? If you look at my Goodreads shelf, it looks like I have reading ADD.

Paula's Goodreads Shelf

I have finished two of these books and just need to mark them as read. I usually have two or three books going at once. If you are a book lover and haven't found Goodreads yet, I would highly encourage you to visit. Not only do I find suggestions for many new books, I find the ratings are more accurate than Amazon which seems to love everything. Recording what I have read prevents me from buying the same book again and again - and yes, I have done that!

As far as beading, there is nothing too taxing: a pair of earrings and a pin idea I am playing with.

Interlace Pods Earrings Design: BronzePony Beaded Jewelry
Earrings are the perfect project to get the old beading muscles moving again and these are from a YouTube tutorial by Stephanie of BronzePony Beaded Jewelry.

The necklace is a yoga length based on an earlier tutorial I shared. I added the LOVE pendant by the Lipstick Ranch and think this will be perfect for my niece's birthday.

The rose on the right is an idea I am toying with to add beaded art to greeting cards. The design is from Diane Fitzgerald's The Beaded Garden and is just one of many delightful floral motifs. I thought it would be fun to include this as the centerpiece of a greeting card and will post the final result after I make the card.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cave Creek Beads and Crochet?

When my stepson got married three years ago, I knew their next milestone would be a baby. Remembering the beautiful baby items my mother used to crochet, I pulled out my old how-to-crochet books and began practicing. Most of my early efforts were crochet baskets covered in one of my posts last August. Earlier this year, we learned a baby was indeed onboard and this inspired a whole flurry of posts describing the baby shower.

What I held back were the first couple baby crochet items I made. Take a look at these ruffle booties and diaper cover.

The booties were from a christening set by IraRott who is one of my very favorite crochet designers. Her tutorials are fantastic and you will see another design further down.

The sweet little diaper cover is by Annoo Crochet and here is a link to her YouTube tutorial.

Now we have my all-time favorite so far. Dana's baby shower and the baby's room uses an elephant theme. So how could I resist this design for the Josephina the Elephant Rug by IraRott?

Josephina the Elephant, design by IraRott, crochet by Paula!

I sort of went crazy buying patterns from IraRott's store and made this one for my sister who shares a love of owls.

Retro Owl Rug, design by IraRott, crochet by Paula!

I've been crocheting so much, I think I developed crochet thumb, if there is such a thing. So I need to lay off for awhile and do some beading while I recover.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Diaper cake tutorial

This past month, I was diaper-deep in baby shower preparations and did not have much time for beading. Instead, I spent lots of creative time making shower decorations and I thought a few of my beading buddies might enjoy a tutorial on how to make a diaper cake. There are quite a few YouTubes on this topic but sometimes it's nice to have everything all written out. If I found something especially helpful on the Tube, I linked it in the tutorial below.

It is also helpful to have a couple assistants and my nieces were called into action as chief diaper rollers. Here you see them rolling away!

The detailed instructions are for a smaller “mini” diaper cake as shown below, about seven-eight inches in diameter. If you want a bigger cake or multi-tier, just increase the number of diaper rolls. Excuse the photo quality of this guy, which was taken on an iPhone at the shower. I thought it would be fun to show the confetti decoration which I sprinkled on the plates as a finishing touch.

Materials for mini diaper cake size:

  1. About 17 rolled size #1 swaddler diapers per mini cake. I bought an economy box of about 160 diapers which were enough for six mini cakes and two two-tier cakes. Source: Walmart.
  2. White loom bands (very inexpensive, come in packs of about 600!) Source: Walmart. See below photo.
  3. Larger rubber band to stretch to the diameter of your cake. You want a nice snug stretch but not too snug as to distort the diapers. You can probably find these in random drawers around the house. Because I am neurotic, I bought rubber bands in the color scheme for our shower. This is totally unnecessary since they are covered with ribbon. Source: My junk drawer and Office Max.
  4. Patterned papers to match color scheme. At least two sheets per cake, one for the bottom and one for the top. If you are making the two-tier cake, buy three sheets per cake. Source: Joann Fabrics or any craft store.
  5. Assorted ribbons and tulle in color scheme to make decorations such as bows, flower pom-poms. Source: Joann Fabrics or any craft store.
  6. If you are good with photo editing software, make round medallions created from the event invitation. Mine are copied below.
  7. Topper to match theme. I used a TY brand beanie named Whopper since our theme was elephants. You can find these on sale at Joann Fabrics and they are the perfect size (and softness). I made medallions to tie around the beanie neck as a memento of the event and will provide directions for those too. These make a nice thank you keepsake for all the folks who helped organize the event. I needed six mini cakes for our shower and two two-tier cakes. Source: Joann Fabrics.
  8. A charger plate or other flat surface to show off your cake. You can always go without the charger plate and just use your decorative paper as the cake base but a larger plate allows you to sprinkle decorative confetti without making a mess. You can buy these at the dollar store and spray paint them to match your theme or if you don’t mind spending a bit more, you can just buy them in the colors you need. Tuesday Morning and Party City are good sources.
  9. Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
Here's a photo of the loom bands:

And a photo of the decorative paper I used for the base and topper:

The front and reverse side of the beanie medallions:

Whopper the Elephant by TY - a perfect cake topper:

An idea of the decorations I made to glue on the band around the cakes:

For two-tier cakes, these additional materials may come in handy:

  1. Craft dowel sticks – one stick per cake
  2. E6000 glue
  3. Shredded paper in your color scheme
  4. Straight pins
  5. Circular image about seven inches in diameter in the appropriate theme, copied onto heavier stock paper. If your home printer will accommodate card stock, use that for greater stability. You will need two images which will be glued onto the dowel, reverse sides together.

For custom medallions:

  1. Circular image – my circles were 3 inches in diameter but you can size them to scale with the item you selected for your cake topper
  2. Pellon heavy interfacing
  3. Leslie Riley’s Artist Transfer Paper
  4. E6000 glue
  5. Ultra suede in complementary color
  6. Embroidery thread in complementary color
  7. Yarn in complementary color for a crochet border (optional). I used a #4 worsted weight yarn.
  8. Needle and 3.5mm crochet hook

Making the Mini Diaper Cake:

  1. Roll diapers and secure with a small loom band. The diapers are folded in half in the box. Lay diapers out flat with the wider sides tucked in and roll. Keep your rolls neat so they are pretty uniform in size when you stack them on their end.
  2. Once you have rolled the number you need (I used 17 size 1 diapers for the mini cake), stack them on their ends. Holding about four in your hand, put the larger rubber band around them. Then insert the remainder tucking under the rubber band. For the diapers on the outside perimeter, make sure to face the end of the diaper to the inside – it just looks a little prettier that way.
  3. Now you are ready to decorate. You may want to make some ribbons and cut-outs ahead of time. Above are a sample of the cut-outs I printed on my computer on a heavier-weight paper. I traced the little elephants onto a sturdy template and just traced those onto some pretty pattern scrapbook paper.
  4. Cut a length of at least 1-inch ribbon to fit the circumference of your cake with an inch or so extra. This ribbon will be placed directly over the larger rubber band holding all your diapers together, hiding it with a decorative flair.
  5. Heat up your hot glue gun. Use a straight pin to hold the starting end of the ribbon about an inch in from the end. Holding the end steady with your non-dominant hand, put a dab of glue on the outside of the ribbon. Continue to lay the ribbon covering the rubber band and hold the remaining end on top of the glue tab until it cools and is secure. Gluing in this manner preserves the diapers so Mommy-to-be can recycle them for their intended purpose! 
  6. Then glue your decorations to the ribbon.
  7. Once you are satisfied with the cake, cut two pieces of complementary paper. Size the bottom large enough to fit on your charger plate. Mine was 12 inches in diameter, shown above. I just traced a doily on the reverse side of the paper to get uniform scallops. Your second circle should be smaller – mine was six inches in diameter. For this one, I traced a plate that was just the right size. If you look around your house, you will probably find similar objects that will serve as perfect templates.
  8. Then figure out what you want to use for your cake topper. As I mentioned earlier, I really liked using the stuffed Beanie. I was able to find these on sale for about $4.00 but if you don’t want to spend that much, you can really use any baby-type object like a rattle, a teether, a smaller car or truck – just wonder through the aisles of your local discount store and find whatever works in your price range.
  9. For my Beanie elephant cake topper, I made custom medallions to tie around the Beanie’s neck that turned the cake topper into a nice memento of the event. To make these, I used Leslie Riley’s Transfer Artist Paper (how I love this stuff) to copy the image I wanted to use. If your image has writing, be sure to use your photo editing software to flip it so it will transfer properly. Then I transferred the image to some Pellon interfacing. This can be a little tricky due to the fibrous nature of the Pellon but the thickness really makes a nice medallion. Then I glued some ultra suede to the reverse side, punched a hole with my crop-a-dial and installed an eyelet. To finish I did a blanket stitch around the edges with embroidery thread to secure and crocheted a border using the outside thread of the blanket stitch with a regular worsted. Below are links to instructions on how to install an eyelet, how to sew a blanket stitch. My crochet border was just one row of single crochet. If you don’t crochet, you can always secure the outside using a beaded sunshine edge or just leave it with the blanket stitch.
  10. Use some pretty ribbon to tie the medallion around the Beanie’s neck and voila! You have a customized cake topper.
  11. Most likely you will need to transport your cakes so at this point, stack your charger plates and papers and then load your diaper cakes and toppers.When you arrive at the destination, assemble your cakes by placing your larger paper circle on the charger plate, then the cake then the smaller paper circle then the cake topper. If you really want to go crazy, you can also sprinkle some confetti on the rim of the charger plate for a festive touch!

For Two-Tier Diaper Cakes

Here's a photo of the mini and the two-tier cakes:

  1. My two-tier cake used 35 diapers: 20 on the bottom layer and 15 on the top.
  2. Follow steps 1-2 above to prepare your diapers and assembling into two cakes, one with 20 diapers and the second with 15.
  3. Cut an extra piece of pretty paper to place between your layers. Use an awl or other sharp object to poke a hole in the center. The hole should be large enough to accommodate the dowel you purchased.
  4. Prepare your dowel decoration. I used Photoshop to make seven inch circular designs which I copied onto a heavier weight card stock. I cut out the circles. You will need two so the design is visible from front or back.
  5. On the reverse of one circle, use E6000 to glue one dowel leaving 2-3 inches inside the circle and the remainder protruding from the bottom of your design. Allow to dry.
  6. Apply E6000 glue to the reverse side of the second image and make sure the images are aligned so the bottoms are both pointing in the right direction. Gently rub over the dowel to secure and smooth. Allow to dry.
  7. Then decorate both layers as described above.
  8. When you arrive at your destination, assemble your layers in the order:
  • Charger plate
  • Larger decorative circle on paper
  • Bottom tier of diaper cake
  • Circle on paper, with the hole poked in the center
  • Smaller tier of diaper cake
  • Insert the image secured to the dowel through the center of the top layer, down through the hole in the middle layer of paper and into the bottom layer of the cake. You may need to fiddle a bit with the diapers to make sure to position the dowel in the center.
  • I made some gathered tulle pieces to tuck inside the top later of the cake to puff up around the circle-shaped topper but this is optional. You could also add some shredded paper if you like.

Helpful YouTubes:

How to Make a Mini Diaper Cake:

How to Make Bows:

How to do a Blanket Stitch:

How to Make Tulle Pom Poms:


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Three Grand-ma's and a Mommy-to-be

The baby count-down is underway. Our new granddaughter is due in about two months and festivities are in-progress. Last month, I talked about the baby shower plans and how Mommy-to-be selected this cute elephant as her theme.

I wanted to make some special pieces for Mommy-to-be and the grandma's. There are many ideas online about corsages out of ribbon. But beads are my wheelhouse and I was "strung up" on doing some kind of beading to commemorate the baby shower.

So I started with the elephant in mind and ordered these pendant findings. The caption links you to the Etsy seller but beware they are in China so leave plenty of time for shipment. I wanted large enough pendants so the design would be easy to see and had the idea to use them as a pin component with the tops of the pendants at the bottom to hold a dangle instead of a bail. I think the X's around the end look like hugs or kisses - whichever one the X is!

Etsy shop for AngelaDIYjewellery

Here's what they looked like after I had sized the design to fit in the pendant, sealed and then covered with resin.

And here's the finished pin. I love the lacy edge treatment, learned from a Jamie Cloud Eakin book, Dimensional Bead Embroidery. The link is to Jamie's web site in case you're not familiar with her amazing work.

I went with a simpler edge treatment for the Grandma pins mostly because I was worried that I would run out of beads. I made the little rosettes out of super duos with a 4mm crystal as the center.

And what would a session of beading be without some earrings? This design is inspired by Stephanie at BronzePony and her Summer Daze earrings. But I added the elephants and bi-cones in the center. As my brother once said, I know how to get a theme and run with it!

Next post, I'll share some of the items I made for new baby girl!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

44 beads to crazy

Hah! I hope the title captured your attention. Just check out this adorable beaded charm designed by Potomac Bead Company. If you want to go crazy with me, the link is in the caption below.

Charm Design on YouTube

There are just 44 beads in this design unless you count the bail which can be as many beads as you choose. I thought these would be adorable favors for a baby shower I am helping with. I thought I could whip up a bunch, no problem at all. Yet it just gave me fits last week-end. It is not a design flaw. It is a moi flaw. I was simply all thumbs. Anyhoo, after about three stops and starts, I realized I was making it much harder than it needed to be and here is my version. I added the sweet bow in front of the bail since the shower is celebrating a baby girl.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

'Nuff said

Hot off the presses!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

It's raining elephants!

Our son and daughter-in-law have announced that our first grandchild is expected later this year and....

So the other two grand-ma's to-be and I are planning a baby shower and Mama to-be has selected an elephant theme. Who knew there are so many adorable elephant items? We have been heating up the Pinterest boards with more elephants than you can shake a trunk at.

I offered to make shower favors and found these sweet little elephant beads on Etsy. I included the shop link in the caption below because this seller had the best communication and service of any I have experienced on Etsy, and I have experienced quite a few!

SmileyBoy Shop on Etsy

So here are the favors I am making as well as a thank you post card for packaging!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Closing out National Craft Month

Since March was National Craft Month, I thought it might be fun to close out the month by reminiscing about the various crafts that have engaged me over the years.

As a young girl, I watched one grandmother sew gorgeous outfits and another crochet and knit like a champ. I don't think I ever wore store-bought gloves until I was in high school. Does anyone remember the smell of wet wool as gloves lay on the radiators, drying from a day of playing in the snow? My mother could pretty much do it all: sewing, crochet, doll-making. The wedding dress she made me is still one of my life's great treasures.

Here's one of my grandmother's crocheted table clothes. I think this must be 40 years old and it is still beautiful. I used it regularly until we replaced our rectangular dining table with a round one.

In high school, I started embroidery and needlepoint and continued that into my early 20's. I made many beautiful wedding and baby keepsakes and wish I had thought to photograph them. Here's a more recent wedding keepsake I made for my step-son and his wife. The photo quality is a little fuzzy but one of my favorite things is the little beaded pocket in the left corner where I have stored a ring that belonged to his grandmother.

I didn't discover beading until my mid-40's. Can you say late bloomer? But what I lacked in early years of experience, I made up for in enthusiasm and in purchases! And now I have started to mash-up my passions. Photography, Photoshop, embroidery, beadwork and even a smattering of sewing here and there all combined like in the wedding gift for my cousin Anna.

And just like my Mother and Grandmother, my family and I are involving the next generation in learning the joy of making. Here's a photo from last fall where I joined my sister-in-law, a champion knitter, her mother, a champion quilter, and three nieces to craft away a week-end. Apologies to Te-te for catching her with her eyes closed. She's such a terrific quilter, she could probably do that with her eyes closed!

And speaking of my sister-in-law, she's also a champion cook. Here we see her with a yummy mid-crafting snack she just seemed to throw together. After all, crafting is hard work and we needed sustenance to finish our projects.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swoon: metallic suede gold

It all started with this YouTube by Stephanie of BronzePony Beaded Jewelry. It calls for about 30 grams of mini duos which I did not have so off I went to order them. I order most of my beads online and I'm sure others can relate to the disappointment of something that looks very different in person than it does online. It's not because sellers intentionally steer you wrong, it's just the alchemy of small photos and computer pixels sometimes trip us up.

Summer Daze Necklace

I was so happy when the metallic suede gold beads I ordered were even better in person than they looked online. And even more so when I realized that the drops and 11/0's from my stash complemented them perfectly.

So off I went to start the project and I am so enamored with this color, I had to restrain myself from placing more orders.

Here's the finished necklace with earrings to match.

And, obsessive that I am, I started the matching bracelet that Stephanie posted last year. These designs are absolutely addictive, especially the bracelet which has a puzzle-like satisfaction when you connect the round daisy shapes.

And yes, I had to place another order to finish up the bracelet. Yay for metallic suede gold!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My beady St. Patty's Day

I was not among the revelers drinking green beer or other similarly-colored libations yesterday. Instead, I took a break from one beading project to try another one. I really need to stay away from YouTube for awhile because it sure doesn't help my beader's ADD when I see project after project I want to try. I came across this tutorial by Spoiled Rotten Beads for a yoga necklace. Now I haven't done yoga for years but I loved the look of the necklace - especially the cute little tassel.

Spoiled Rotten Beads Yoga Necklace Tutorial

And they even have another tutorial that tells you how to make the tassels. Since green was the color of the day, I grabbed some green cord and made these tassels.

Then I remembered that one of my shipments from Bargain Bead Box had some perfect little St. Patrick's Day charms.


The design uses knotting between the beads so it gave me a chance to use my knotting tool. And here is the finished necklace. The tutorial suggests that you make the beaded portion about 30 inches and, as I was making it, that seemed a little longer than I wanted, so I made mine about 23 inches. I should have followed the instructions because a little more length would have been ok but it looks just dandy and it gave me a chance to use some beads and charms that were languishing in my stash.

St. Patty's Day Yoga Style Necklace

Friday, March 10, 2017

Self-improvement by Rob Reiner

Friday, February 24, 2017

Simpatico with Pantone's Greenery

I had a moment of delight opening my Beading Daily email this morning to read about the Pantone Greenery color palette for 2017. I usually gravitate to a certain bead palette and am not typically governed by each season's changes. However, for once I am completely simpatico with Pantone's Greenery palette. In fact, it feels like most things I have made this year so far have been somewhere in this spectrum.

Beading Daily Features Pantone's Greenery

Actually, the green in the below ring is more olivine than those in the Greenery palette but I included it anyway since I really love the design by Stephanie at BronzePony Beaded Jewelry.

Here's another of her designs, which I whipped up in no time: the Interlace Band ring. This one is great on a middle finger but I had a terrible time trying to photograph my own hand! Clearly, I will never be a hand model but this gives you an idea. And, thanks to Photoshop, I removed the age spots on my hands. Wish it were that easy in real life!

Interlace Band Ring, Design by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry
But here's the green that really reminded me of the Pantone palette. This design is by Lisa Kan from the December 2016/January 2017 Beadwork Magazine. Lisa's designs are beautiful but usually a little fussy for me. A beading buddy was working on it and requested my thoughts about the pendant bezel which is made from cubic right angle weave - a bit tricky. In fact this entire pendant is not for the feint of heart. The design wasn't graded for difficulty but I would say it is definitely an intermediate-level one. 

Lisa Kan's Radiance Necklace Design

Do you have any Greenery designs on your bead board this month?
© Cave Creek Beads