Thursday, August 25, 2011

A few thoughts

I have been resting this week and haven't accomplished much.  The loom is sitting in the hallway waiting for me to finish warping it.  The orange and black scarf showed the need to practise working the edges so I am making one the same size only in two shades of pink!  We will see if I can improve!

Went to the doctors and I've lost 15lbs, losing a pound a week!  The trick is not to find it again!  The secret to losing is that I can't eat something I haven't made.  That sounds silly but for me eating ice cream and pastries has been the reason for the weight gain.  So instead of getting a dozen donuts or an eclair, I have to get off my butt and make the goodies myself.  So it gets me moving and I don't put nearly as many calories in yummy stuff as the stores.  Most of the time a purchased pastry tastes like eating a bowl of sugar.  We have forgotten that a pastry has many more complex flavors.  By throwing sugar at everything companies can use cheaper and less tasty ingredients.  Last night I made a carrot cake that was wonderful!  By using unsweetened pineapple and coconut it had just the right amount of sweetness and there was no sticky frosting to ruin the taste.  So the trick to having cake and eating it is to get back to less sugar in everything!  The best thing of all is that not only does it taste better but it also doesn't have a lot of junk in it to stabilize the ingredients!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Houndstooth, an adventure

Thursday night I decided to make a scarf.  It was late and I should have been asleep but I really needed to make something.  So I got out the loom and started to figure out how much yarn I would need to make a scarf 6 by 72 inches.  Going into the craft room I found a skein of black and orange yarn just sitting there, great contrast for a houndstooth scarf.!  So I started measuring out 24 six yard pieces, 12 of each color.  Finding the center of the heddle I started warping the loom alternating the colors and making sure the right side started with black.  It took two hours to measure and warp the loom.  I was so tired I should have stopped there but I wanted to see the pattern and make sure I had it right.  So I started it weave and realised that my smallest shuttle was 21 inches.  Definite over kill for a six inch scarf.  So Lee made me two twelve inch shuttles from an old broken yard stick!  I then started to weave the pattern two rows black and then two rows of orange.  But something was wrong!  In basic  weaving there are three setting, up, down and neutral.  I couldn't find down!  It had been a while since I used this loom but I didn't remember have trouble with down before.  So I made my own down with a shed stick and started to weave.  After 90 minutes I had gotten quite a lot done.  So I went to bed.

Friday morning I was more coherent and realised what was wrong with the down.  I wasn't putting the heddle into the right slot.  Now I felt really stupid!  For non-weavers what I was doing was like driving a car and when I wanted to go into reverse I had set the car in neutral and got out and pushed!  I must have been very tired.  Friday was spent weaving more slowly because of all the aches cause Thursday night.  It took a total of 5.5 hours in total to make the scarf.  Here are some pictures.

Lots of fun!  But I need to rest!  Hopefully I will be able to start another scarf soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Some more jewelry I've been working on!

This is jewelry I've been working on in the last month.  This first piece is very different from what I usually make.  Sometimes the project just has a life of it's own and lets the crafter know what it will be.  I've learned over the years that trying to force a project to do what it doesn't want is why some art never looks right.  This was made with copper chains, beads and end caps along with fire agates.  Fire agates are agates that are dyed a deep orangish color and then fired to create white web like cracks in the stones.  Very pretty!

The necklace is hanging on my dress maker model

Here is a close up of the drop and tassel

This is a closeup of one of the fire agates, you can see some
of the wirework on the bead

This is a closeup of the clasp I made.  I wanted it to be large and strong looking like the necklace itself.  The necklace can be put over the head without using the clasp, many people tell me that they like not having to us a clasp.

These next pictures are my attempts to do chain mail and is why my hand has been hurting!  I wrapped the wire around knitting needle and the cut them with handheld wire cutters.  Slowly I am getting better at this and work hardening the jump rings.  This does take quite a bit of hand strength so I can only work for a few minutes at a time on these.

This is an example of byzantine chain.  The reason it looks so open is I do not have the size of the jump rings small enough for the wire gauge.  It still looks nice and it is easier to learn the pattern.

Here is a plain double link chain, it does have a nice clasp that I made.

Closeup of clasp

I don't remember what this chain is called but it is really lovely.

Here is the same chain but from a different angle.  The chain forms links into a square pattern.

A lovely day

It was a lovely day out so I spent part of the day working on watering the fruit trees and breaking small olive wood branches.  Over the last few weeks a friend has been trimming the giant olive tree in the front yard.  About a third of the branches are now on the ground!  I would love to be able to carve but it is dangerous.  We can't seem to give away the wood so far, really wish a wood carver would take the largest branch.  Right now it is doubling as a bench and is big enough to support even my bottom!  So if no one wants it we may just keep it as a rustic bench.  The smaller bits I am working on will go through the shredder and will be mulch for the plants.  Next the almond and pecan trees need a good trim.  So there will be lots to work on in the yard the next few months.  Here is a picture of the log, if anyone knows a wood carver in the Santa Maria area please let them know about this blog!  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cake left

I baked a chocolate cake with a powdered sugar frosting and there is still some leftover!  I did share too!  Last night I tried making free form paper beads.  Some came out interesting anyway.  It will take some more trials before I have what I want.  Another concern is how to seal them.  I would rather not use any harsh chemicals.  Beeswax might be interesting but not in hot weather : )  If they were left unsealed I can just imagine them disintegrating in spilled soup!  Paper beads are beautiful and light weight, I've made them with words on them and out of flocked paper.  The possibilities seem endless and it makes a fun project for kids.  Making beads out of unshaped scraps of paper is a challenge.  I have had to cheat a little because you do need a strong start to the bead, this part wraps around dowel and cannot be glued.  Some of the free form pieces are fatter in the middle and end up being glued to the dowel!  So some shaping is necessary.  To get around this I am tearing the pieces rather than cutting them which give a lovely edge and still looks free form.

I have a ton of ideas for making these beads.  Take the tissue paper that is to light weight and decoupage it onto other paper beads or wooden beads.  Using the die cut for a bow take metal pieces and cut out.  Then cut the ribbon sections in half and roll them with the pointed side on the outside of then bead.  They could even be embossed on the ends.  Make a paper bead with a wide center and then working from the middle out curl the ends of the beads, need to do this and post a picture.  So many different things to try.  These will truly be love beads because they will be a labor of love.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chocolate cake kind of day

I went over to my sister's blog paperplates and she is making papercones in chocolate brown, white and blue.  They made me want to eat some chocolate, very yummy!  So I think I will bake a cake today.  My hand is still swelling and hurts so no crafting today.  So I'm going to work on organizing and working on photos.  Here are a few I found today!

These feathers are in my craft area, they were a gift from a friend who used to raise peacocks!  It was such a generous and kind gift.

This is a picture of a copper necklace I made for a friend's birthday.  I love the coiled hearts.

Here is a picture of my silly cat Caramel.  He looks sweet but don't let that fool you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finally some pictures!

Just posting what I'm working on and showing few pictures makes it rather a dull blog.  So I am going to try and take more pictures as I'm working on making lovely things.  It has been hard to get pictures that are in focus because I shake so much but this week I think I've gotten the hang it!  Currently I'm taking a break from crafting because I may have a hairline fracture in my hand.  It always concerns me that I can feel pain while taking endocet, and I'm not stopping the meds to see how bad my hand really hurts.  So I am catching up on my blog and updating my website while my hand heals.  So here goes nothing : )

This first picture is of my first cabochon.

I didn't have any green seed beads that matched the stone, which is dyed serpentine.  So I used gold plated size 11beads around the outside.  Then used size 11 silver-lined gold seed beads and finally size 15 silver-lined gold beads which had a slight rose tint to them.  I wasn't sure the bead colors would work together but they blended rather nicely.  It has several problems but is not bad for a first try.  Now I need to add the backing and pin when my hand is feeling better.

These next pictures are of the goddess I've been working on.  I used heavy copper wire and bent it into the shape of a goddess.  This was done without a pattern.  Then I used 30 gauge copper to wire the ends into the middle of the piece.  With the 30 gauge wire I then strung beads and wired them into the inner shapes.  Like making a mosaic.  The bodice piece is formed with wire weaving and the crown was tatted on a needle in the same 30 gauge copper.  Unfortunately I accidentally cut the wire and the crown will need to be remade.  But the goddess was lots of fun to make and used a lot of beads I had left over from other projects.

I hope that this blog entry has been of interest and maybe even inspiring!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Really Busy

The jewelry is finished but it still needs to be photographed.  This week I'm taking it easy on my hands after making some chains from scratch.  The chains are beautiful but it isn't the easiest thing to do and is painful.  Right now I'm working on an idea for making paper love beads.  This will be a recycling project to get rid of paper bits from previous projects.  Each bead will be made of a different paper and shaped from paper bits without cutting them first.  Freeform beads!  I will also go through wire bits and odd seed beads to decorate the love beads.  I may also try forming beads from aluminum scraps from a diecut jewelry project.  Right now I need a nap!