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  • Mixing Up My Media

    October 16th, 2013 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Events, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

     

    Remember as a kid the fun and excitement of going to a friend’s house and playing with all their cool toys that you don’t have? That was my weekend.

    The friend: Fine artist, writer and photographer Christine Goldbeck

    The house: PA Guild of Craftsmen Center for American Craft

    The toys: paint, canvas, rubbing alcohol, Liquitex sealer, stamps, putty knives, basting brushes, sand paper, paper towels, tissue paper….the list goes on.

    Truth be told, I didn’t know Christine until this weekend. My friend Jessica and I took the Experimental Media Painting class in Lancaster and Christine introduced us to color theory, painting techniques, aspects of focal points all in a few short hours.

    I am not a painter. Nor do I intend to be. I signed up for the class hoping to jump start my creativity by experiencing a type of art with which I am unfamiliar. We painted. We scraped and sanded. We Mod Podged, we spritzed with rubbing alcohol and sprayed with water. We colored with oil pastels and chalk pastels. We painted some more. We cut and glued paper and stuck anything and everything to our canvases. I added horse hair (of course) and deer antler pieces. There were angst-y moments of worrying we’d “ruin” our work and also the realization we can always paint over it and start anew.

    As you can see, my masterpieces can still use a lot of work but I have every intention of finishing them. Christine insisted. November is my month to do that. In fact, I’m hoping to make November a month creation and hope to create something, anything each and every day. This is payback for the year my husband did NaNoWriMo :)

    Happy crafting!

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    Candy Corn Tree

    October 29th, 2012 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Kids, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Who knew candy corn grew on trees?

     

    Over the years, I’ve made some pretty amazing things with my own two hands. And yet, I think the object that has most impressed my family by far is this Candy Corn Tree I whipped up during our DIY segment of Sticks and Stones #13.

    With a glue stick, $3 (candy corn was on sale!) and about 8 minutes, I was able to create something that my family thinks is crafting genius. And I can’t even take credit. I saw a similar picture online and re-created it with my own spin. A word of warning: if the environment gets really humid, the candy corn melts off the branch. But you can always glue more on to it.

    I’m not sure what to take away from this lesson. That it doesn’t take much to create something spectacular? That I already knew. That maybe I shouldn’t try so hard? …..maybe. Or that candy, especially candy corn, always wins.

    Whatever the lesson, check out how this bit of fall fun was made at Sticks and Stones podcast through our website or on iTunes. Happy Halloween!

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    Dyeing for a Change

    September 10th, 2012 Susan | Posted in About, Crafts, Fabric, Kids, Tutorial | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    A little food coloring yields a brand new lunchbox.

    By now you probably heard that I’ve been working on the video podcast Sticks and Stones with my friend Julia of Wee Sheep Knits. We share our creativity with the world by giving insight into projects we’re working on and providing a DIY segment for the folks at home to try.

    In Episode 9, Julia taught us how to dye wool yarn using food coloring. It was right up my alley. (Truth be told: we may have burned out my microwave setting the dye, but it was still a blast.) It’s one of those projects that leaves you hunting around for other objects you can dye. And find something I did: my kid’s lunchbox. I decided to give dyeing whirl beyond the yarn when my daughter and I dyed her lunchbox.

    The original light pink lunchbox that’s about to get a makeover.

    The lunchbox began life as a pink LL Bean nylon lunchbox. My daughter got it when she was in Kindergarten and after 4 years of use it shows no signs of giving up (go LL Bean!).

    The problem is that my now 4th grader is not the pink princess she used to be. We decide to pour on the food coloring and see if we could give it a makeover. I’m happy to report that it was a success! Here’s how we did it.

    Tools:

    • Wilton icing colors, available at craft stores or online
    • Popsicle sticks
    • rubber gloves
    • boiling water
    • towel
    • vinegar
    • heatproof container large enough to hold the lunchbox
    1. Preparing your supplies: Boil the water and have it waiting in the wings for Step 3. Rinse the lunchbox so the nylon is completely saturated.
    2. Dyeing the nylon: Wearing rubber gloves (so you don’t dye your hands), use a Popsicle stick to spread the icing dye across the nylon of the lunchbox. We did this procedure in our kitchen sink to keep the dye contained so it wouldn’t color unsuspecting bystanders like the kitchen counters. We found that rubbing the dye on directly gave a brighter color. You can also dilute the color in water. Sticks and Stones Episode 9 gives more insight into this process.

      My artist painting food coloring on her lunchbox.

    3. Setting the dye:Pour boiling water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio into the heatproof container and then place the lunch box in the container as well. I used an aluminum cake pan, adding vinegar until the pan was about 1/4 full and then adding hot water until it was 1/2 full. I poured warm water inside the lunch box so it would remain submerged. Put the lid on the cake pan and wrapped the whole thing in a towel so it stays hot longer. Once this mixture cools, I emptied the cake pan and add a new batch of hot water and vinegar to the cake pan and flipped the lunch box over to submerge the lid, as the whole lunchbox didn’t fit in the pan. Again I lidded the cake pan and wrapped it in a towel.
    4. Rinse cycle: Once you’ve set the dye with hot water and the water has cooled, it’s time to rinse out the excess dye with running water. Hang the lunchbox on the washline so it dries completely.
    5. Laundering: Finally, I washed the lunch box in the washing machine with regular detergent to make sure all the excess dye came out.

    I let my daughter apply the colors to the lunchbox. She chose sky blue and leaf green Wilton icing colors. The butterfly patch did not dye at all, but the nylon lunch box did. And laundering the lunchbox removed the bits of dye that got inside the lunchbox. So now I have a happy kid and a few more years before I have to buy new school supplies.

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    Playing with Resin

    June 27th, 2012 Susan | Posted in About, Crafts, Jewelry, Tutorial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    An Alexander Henry owl and Amy Butler dots preserved beneath resin become stylish necklace pendants.

    My sister-in-law loves fabric, so when I saw a post on Craft about how to use fabric and embroidery in jewelry, I knew I’d found the right birthday gift for her.

    Lisa Pavelka Magic-Glos really is magic when it comes to quickly making a pendant or earrings.

    Instead of using a frame pendant used in the Craft post, I used a double-sided pendant from Hobby Lobby and two single pendant frames from Rio Grande. Then I employed Lisa Pavelka’s Magic-Glos UV Resin. This stuff is so easy to use and it cures in the sun in 5 minutes! Who could ask for more (except for maybe a sunny day).

    On episode 4 of Sticks & Stones, the collaborative video podcast I’ve been working on, I talk about how I created the pendant. Below are the official directions:

    1. I found fabric my sis-in-law loves, in this case Alexander Henry’s Spotted Owls and a classic dot pattern from Amy Butler. Then I embroidered parts of the design with sewing thread and embroidery floss. After experimenting a bit, I found it’s better to¬† embroider a few areas of the design rather than all of it. The resin mutes the texture of the stitching, but the stitching brightens the pattern a bit. It’s also a good idea to cut a template the size of the inside of the pendant, so you can move it across your fabric to decide which part of the design you want to use.
    2. Iron fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric and then cut the design to the size of the pendant. Use the template you created to cut out the design.
    3. Place the design inside the pendant.
    4. Use Magic-Glos to finish the pendant. Several thin layers of Magic-Glos work better than one thick layer. Cure each layer in the sun before applying the next layer.

    The original owl pendant.

    Truth be told, I messed up the pendant I showed on Sticks & Stones so I had to make another pendant for my sis-in-law’s birthday. I ended up making her two pendants so she can choose which one she wants to slip onto the necklace.

    Magic-Glos covers photos, metal, found objects, just about anything you would want to collage onto a pendant. You can also use it for inclusions, such as sprinkling in glitter between the layers of resin. This maybe be my new go-to birthday present for friends and family.

    See Episode 4 of Sticks and Stones

     

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    Handmade Birthday

    May 19th, 2011 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Jewelry | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

    Double wrap watch, password journal and handmade card.

    Double wrap leather band watch, password journal and handmade card.

    The package containing these gifts arrived in New Hampshire today. I sent them off to my sis-in-law Kris for her birthday, admittedly a little late, but I hope she thinks they’re worth the wait.

    Kris commented on a similar watched she liked in a catalog a few months ago. Bingo! Perfect birthday gift! Bingo! Challenge for me to re-create it from scratch. I just love a challenge.

    Sometimes my challenges are like a comedy of errors. I go out and buy the supplies I think I need only to get home and realize they’re too big, too small, not the right color. Such was this challenge.

    I thought I was on it. I sprinted off to the leather store and found leather strap (already cut!), got a new leather punch (smaller holes!) and a buckle (perfect size for the leather!). Off to another store for the watch face. Not what I was planning exactly, but it looked good. Home to the studio, ready to work.

    And I’m off…

    Except the buckle is reversed so it curves in and would irritate the wearer’s wrist. I have not idea what this kind of buckle is used for, but I am now the proud owner of one. It will sit in my sewing draw until it finds its calling among my creations.

    I didn’t want wait a few days and spend the $10 on shipping to get a $5 buckle. I also didn’t want to drive the 40 miles round trip back to the store to search through all the buckles again (that would cost me $10 in gas!). I refrained from cutting the buckles off my daughter’s perfectly good shoes, though I seriously, seriously considered it. Kris’s daughter would have suffered because she gets all her cousin’s hand-me-downs.

    Instead I used my crafty prowess (which I should have consulted in the first place) and traveled the 1.3 miles to the crafter’s mecca of supplies: the thrift store. I bought an old pair of shoes and cut the buckles off to complete the watch.

    Whew!

    The present also included a card I made during a girls weekend excursion and one of my newer brainchilds (brainchildren?), a password journal (more on that in another post). Happy birthday, Kris!

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    Out of Our Hands Drop Off

    November 28th, 2010 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Horse Hair, Jewelry, Shop | Tags: , | No Comments »

    This weekend I dropped off a bunch of new items at Out Of Our Hands in Emmaus, PA. The store sells a variety of handmade items, including my jewelry.

    Check out the adjustable horse hair bracelets, perfect for a woman or man. I also created some colorful new porcupine quill earrings inspired by my friend Jessica.

    While I was there I bought a few handmade items and crossed a few names off my Christmas list.

    If you missed Small Business Saturday, it’s not too late! Stop by Out of Our Hands or any shop in your area and buy local, buy handmade for the holidays!

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    The Great Pumpkin Speaks

    October 20th, 2010 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Kids, Seasons | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Anyone who knows me, knows I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love it when it works, I hate it when it doesn’t work.

    And for me … it doesn’t work often.

    In fact, I possess a rare anti-technology aura that causes computers to seize up, sputter and spit at my mere presence. How I ended up marrying a web guy is beyond me (yin and yang?), but that’s another story.

    Yesterday my anti-technology aura was at warp speed. I won’t go into the gory details, but eventually I abandoned my computer tasks in lieu of making pumpkin chains with my little guy.

    I’ve been thinking about making them all month, but PTA meetings and managing homework, driving to soccer practice and more mundane tasks like painting the porch and laundry got in the way. Basically, creativity seems to take a back seat to the everyday tasks required to maintain the status quo.

    Once I started cutting, coloring and taping, I couldn’t stop. My little helper and I have added pumpkin patches to nearly every window in our house.

    My technology time-out made me realize how much I’ve missed creating over the past few months, how much I missed making goofy projects with my kids. Creativity is the antidote to my hyper-organization gene and my family might tell you I can back off from the organization right now.

    As the season changes to fall, hopefully my creative hiatus will also morph into a creative time spilling over with new, fun projects (it can get messy here!), and you’ll see that here in my blog. (Unless my anti-technology aura obliterates it.)

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    Tassel Mania

    September 23rd, 2010 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Events, Horse Hair, Jewelry, Kids | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    30 horse lovers + beads + cones = lots of horse hair tassels.

    Tuesday night I introduced the Timbertalk Trotters to the art of horse hair tassels. This Montgomery County 4-H horse club has members from 8 to 19 years old and all of them had a blast making tassles. Even the moms joined in.

    Some people brought their own horse hair and a few donated mane hair, which makes soft, fluffy tassels. I set them loose on a box of beads and the kids turned ordinary tassels into one-of-a-kind pieces of personal art.

    Three of the members of this 4-H group are proud owners of Red-Tail Designs Horse Hair Jewelry. One just received her horse hair bracelet with name plate in June as a high school graduation gift from her mom.

    My budding horse lover came along to help me teach and to get a glimpse of 4-H. She begged me the whole way home to join. I see 4-H meetings in my future.

    If your 4-H club, Girl Scout troop, Boy Scout troop or other group would like to learn horse hair tassel making, contact me.

    Even the moms were in on the action of making tassels.

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    Drops of Spring

    April 12th, 2010 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Jewelry, Seasons | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

    In fall my friend Courtney added these beautiful Swarovski briolettes to our Rio Grande order, and I just had to have some, too.

    This is how I envisioned this necklace from the moment I saw those sparklies and here it is finally! Fresh from the creative cave just this morning.

    My studio is almost done, the taxes filed and the house project caught up (as much as house projects can ever be caught up) so this morning I just played in my refurbished studio.

    The Lehigh Valley Guild of Craftsmen I belong to is having a Craft Challenge with the theme being “Spring.” I just may submit this as my entry. Looks liked drops of spring to me.

    Unfortunately these photos don’t show the intense sparkle of the all the cuts of these gems. Anyone know how to capture that with a camera?

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    Just in Time for Halloween…

    October 31st, 2009 Susan | Posted in Crafts, Horse Hair, Seasons | Tags: , | No Comments »

    MummyHorse…a mummified horse.

    My new product line? Stay tuned and see.

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