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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Would Happen - Part 3

Hello!  Today, I am continuing the series on the Design Challenge we ambassadors are working on.  In previous posts, I have introduced you to our design team challengers and showed you all the lovely supplies that were hand-picked by our design diva, Dawn Doucette.

Dawn fell into the Romantics team due to her style of designing.  Let me take a moment to reintroduce her:

Dawn Doucette -Victorian influenced, one of a kind designs, attention to the most intricate details, created works of art that become family heirlooms.
Dawn has been designing jewelry since she was a little girl. What began as loomed friendship bracelets evolved into a business of creating couture jewelry; Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry. Dawn works with gemstones, crystals, pearls and seed beads to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Her designs have been published in Beadwork Magazine; winning design contests and modeled by distinguished public speakers.

Dawn is giving us a glimpse as to what she is working on for our "Design Challenge". 

Summery colors for sure.  Even though these colors are bright and cheery, I find them highly relaxing at the same time.  They are like sitting in the sun on a beach enjoying a lovely breeze across the water. I love how Dawn played off the colors of the leaf with the coral colored gemstones totally unifying the look.  I really cannot wait to see the rest of this piece.  I know it is going to be amazing.  It looks like she also matched the bead backing to the color of the leather on the pendant as well.  Dawn's designs are very intricate and her attention to detail is unsurpassed.  I enjoy looking at all her designs.  Check out her site to see all her wonderful creations.

I have to say, I am really enjoying this challenge more than I thought I would.  I have been really spurred into creating things after being in a design funk for a while.  Thanks Dawn for helping me break through my designer's block.

Check out the previous posts:
What Would Happen?
What Would Happen - Part 2

Friday, February 27, 2015

What Would Happen: Design Challege Part 2

This is the second part to the blog series we as Creative Circle Ambassadors are doing for our "Design Challenge" issued by fellow ambassador Dawn Doucette.  In my previous post, I introduced you to our teams and showed you all the lovely goodies we received to create our pieces with.  Now it's time to show you a little of my design process and to tease you a bit before the big reveal at the end of March.

I gathered up a few of the supplies that seemed to just go well together and pulled from a few things I already had to accentuate what I was looking at.  I did make some changes to my initial design as some of the supplies didn't behave and want to play well with others.  The leather strap in the center was one of those supplies.  A few things shown in the background were also abandoned as the design took shape.  These supplies are available at your local craft stores and at Prima Bead.  Walmart carries a few of them as well.  I did accidentally inflict a war wound while working on this one.  My pliers slipped and scraped against my knuckle.

Don't you just love these copper paddles.

The next piece was a bit more complicated.  The beads are available on the Prima Bead website as well as your local craft store.  The sheet metal and heavy gauge wire (not shown) are available online from various retailers such as Rio Grande. I broke two saw blades cutting through the copper sheet. LOL.  I guess I wasn't holding my mouth right.  After the first initial cuts, I finished it up the cuts with my shears.

The design is purposely hidden underneath the copper sheet so you can't see what I am planning.
 Hopefully soon, I will let you know the progress of the other ladies. I am excited to see what they are up to.  Ciao for now!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Would Happen?

So what would happen if you gave eight very unique designers the same exact beads to work with?   We are about to find out!  One of our Creative Circle Ambassadors, Dawn Doucette, came up with the idea and hand-picked our supplies for us and a great job she did too.

We have been issued a challenge to create unique items using the same pieces. Okay...sounds fun.  Reveal date will be on March 30th.   We can do whatever we want using the materials given and adding in our own findings, beads, chains, etc. that make us happy. 

I do plan to blog along the way as I brainstorm as to what to create.

Below I have grouped our ladies into "teams.  Most of them have been grouped together by their styles and techniques.  The last grouping is of the last two remaining original Creative Circle Ambassadors.


The Glamazons:   It's all about the bling with these two.  The more sparkly, the better for them.  They can move between sharp, edgy, on trend designs to laid back girl next door styling.  They know how to bring the punch to their designs.

Allison Cooling - young, innovative, edgy designer of Quiet Lion Creation, skilled photographer, graphic designer, blogger

After obsessively scanning through Vogue and other fashion magazines, she became inspired by the designer jewelry that filled the pages. Wanting to replicate the look and feel of those designs; she found that after a few experiments, it was easy to do.

Allison aims to show the world that making cool, hip, and beautiful jewelry is fun, regardless of skill level. Her blog is devoted to DIY jewelry using all types of techniques and materials. Occasionally, Allison posts tutorials for men's jewelry, accessory DIYs, nail design DIYs, recipes and art inspirations.

Rebecca Grafton Utermohlen - young, feisty, vibrant, leans more towards the sparkles and glitter, DIY jewelry fanatic, marathon runner, dedicated blogger

Rebecca started making jewelry as a 12-year-old kid who was bored one summer and needed a hobby. As the years have passed, jewelry making became more than just a hobby; it developed into a true passion. Rebecca dabbles in all types of different crafts, but jewelry making remains her favorite.

The Romantics:  These ladies always seem to have that old world charm in their designs.  Romance exudes from all they create. They are laid back, calm people who love the world around them.

Dawn Doucette -Victorian influenced, one of a kind designs, attention to the most intricate details, created works of art that become family heirlooms.

Dawn has been designing jewelry since she was a little girl. What began as loomed friendship bracelets evolved into a business of creating couture jewelry; Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry. Dawn works with gemstones, crystals, pearls and seed beads to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Her designs have been published in Beadwork Magazine; winning design contests and modeled by distinguished public speakers.

Molly Moore Alexander - wire and mixed media artist, blogger

Molly is a self-taught jewelry, mixed-media and mosaic artist, and is the owner and designer of Miss Molly’s Designs. Here jewelry designs have been published in such publications as Bead Trends, Belle Armoire Jewelry, Jewellery Magazine and Jewelry Affaire, and can be found in public and private collections around the world.

Each of Molly’s pieces are created lovingly in her home workshop, incorporating copper, silver, glass, resin and natural stones with wire, fiber and found objects, resulting in unique, one-of-a-kind designs. Molly continues to push herself artistically, learning new techniques and working with exciting new materials whenever she can to keep her designs distinctive and current.

The Die-Hard DIY/Crafters:  These ladies bring a very unique perspective to the table.  They have the ability to switch back and forth between crafting and jewelry design with great ease.

Rachel Goodman Nielsen - DIY enthusiast, dedicated blogger

Rachel loves to create. Some of her passions include baking, building stuff, sewing, gardening, crafting and, of course, making jewelry. Rachel loves to try new things and a few years ago decided to give jewelry making a shot. Her sister showed her a few basic skills and she was hooked. She enjoys the process of creating a piece of jewelry and learning new techniques. Rachel shares what she creates with the readers of her blog, Adventures of a DIY Mom, in the form of step-by-step tutorials. Rachel is a wife and stay-at-mom to four kids, three girls and a boy.

Carolina Moore - DIY Fanatic, blogger

Caroline has been crafting all her life in a variety of areas including jewelry, quilting, and papercrafting.  She currently maintains two blogs dedicated to her crafting - alwaysexpectmoore and 30minutecrafts.

She is a newcomer to the Cousin Creative Circle experience.

The Silver Sisters - The last two remaining original Creative Circle Members.  We have been with Cousin from the beginning back in August of 2011.

Lisa Crone - laid back and very organized, author of A Bead in Time, blogger, bead fanatic, creates more classical designs with modern twists, beachy and nature themed designs

Lisa has been designing beaded jewelry for over 20 years. She is a self-professed bead fanatic and enjoys learning new techniques from other bead enthusiasts through books, magazines and classes or improvising as she goes.

In her book A Bead in Time Lisa shares her journey of finding design inspiration in nature, artwork, vacations and the craft store. She currently maintains a daily beading blog where the tagline reads, “appreciating the individual beauty of beads and the unique works of art they are used to create.”

Lisa blogs to share in the fun of the online beading community. She regularly showcases beads, techniques, projects, bead artists, designers and crafters.

Shelly Owen (aka Me) - jewelry designer, wire and metal artist, graphic designer, painter, design style varies, given to melancholy on occasion

Shelly is a self-taught designer with over 20 years experience in jewelry design.  Her designs have been seen on the CW's hit show "Hart of Dixie" and published in Crafts 'n Things magazine.

Monday, February 2, 2015

That's My Jewelry Making Passion

So....what is that one technique that I always revert back to no matter what?  Can you guess?  No?  I think the one technique that I can't live without and am always incorporating into my designs in some way or another is wire wrapping.  Why?  It's a very versatile medium to work in and I find it very relaxing.  And without even knowing it, you probably have done a bit of it.  You might be thinking, "NO, I haven't!" Forming loops on head pins to make earrings sound familiar?  Yup, that was your introduction into wire wrapping.  Wrapped loops to make beaded chains.....again, wire wrapping.  :)  See you have been doing it all along.  TUTORIAL ALERT:  Stay until the end because there is a EASY tutorial!

Some of my fun stuff!
Wire wrapping can be both a challenge and very rewarding at the same time. When you learn some of the vocabulary of wire wrapping, it does make it easier.  I had no clue as to what to buy at all when I started so I just bought stuff.  I didn't understand that there were different tempers and gauges of wire.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  If only someone would have walked me through wire wrapping, I think I would have enjoyed the experimentation a bit more than what I did.  I found it so frustrating at first.  So I am going to share with you a bit about wire that will greatly help you get started into the fun and rewarding realm of wire wrapping.

Wire comes in three tempers - dead soft (best for wrapping in my opinion), half hard (best for making ear wires, and ear cuffs), and hard (great for clasps).  Gauge refers to the thickness of the wire.  Temper and gauge of the wire you choose to work with will effect what you can create.

Earrings made from 20 gauge Red Brass wire.
Gauge can be a bit tricky since the higher the number, the thinner the wire.  If you want to do simple wire wrapping around beads or stones, I recommend a thinner gauge like 26 or 28 in a dead soft temper.  You can also use 26 gauge for wire crochet and knitting. 28 gauge or thinner can be used for beadweaving. If you want to make clasps, use 18 to 16 gauge in half hard or hard.  Once you get used to working with the wire, it will be easier to create what is referred to as "work-hardened" wire. What this means is that
through the manipulation of the wire, you have changed its temper from dead soft to more of a half hard temper and half hard into a more hardened temper.  This can be accomplished through hammering or repetitious movement of the wire. Sometimes, through polishing the wire with a tumbler the wire will harden up some.  Wire also comes in a variety of shapes such as round, half round, square, twisted and patterned.

Bracelet made from 18 gauge Copper wire

When I began jewelry making, the only medium I worked in was beads. It was all I knew.  String some beads, crimp, and go.

I branched out rather quickly into beadweaving and various other techniques using mixed media and fibers. I was intimidated by wire so I stayed away from it.  I had someone encourage me to branch into wire wrapping.  I went and grabbed a bunch of various gauges of steel plated copper wire not knowing there were different temper of wire.  I think I bought all half hard and hard. I wanted to give up, but then I found aluminum wire!  Super soft and oh so easy to work with... also easy to make a mess with due to it's super softness. 
Mixed metal wrapping and clasp

My new BFF quickly became copper. Copper is a very versatile wire....again it comes in various tempers, but even the hard copper wire is easy to manipulate.  I have since branched out into stainless steel wires, red brass (jeweler's brass), German Silver (don't recommend this one since it's almost all Nickel), yellow brass and enameled copper.

I love to mix beads into my wire wrapping and sometimes even a bit of metalwork. You can mix chain, metal shapes, and leather into the wire as well as seen in the photo below to the left.  You can also mix different colors of wire together to get a lovely mixed metal look.

 what tools would one need for wire wrapping?

PROTECTIVE EYE WEAR is a must have!
Various Gauges, Shapes and Tempers of Wire (readily available at craft stores and online)
Round Nose Pliers
Chain Nose Pliers / flat nose pliers (Chain Nose is also referred to as Needle Nose)
Flush Cutters and/or end nippers
Emery board or nail file

As you advance you may want to invest into the following:
Steel Bench Block and rubber base
Rawhide Mallet
Nylon Maller
Various Mandrels (Neck, Bracelet, Ring)
Ball Peen Hammer
Wire Jigs
Bail Making Pliers
Wire Twister (for making some really cool wire out of square wire)
Wire Cup Burr Tool (to remove sharp edges)
Finger Cots (to protect your fingers)
Painters Tape (for holding wire bundles together as you wrap)
Nylon Jaw Pliers (for straightening long pieces of wire)

With wire you can make bezels for pendants, beaded chains, bead frames, ear wires, bracelets, earrings, rings, and even your own chains and jump rings.  Your only limitation if your imagination.  There aren't any rules in wire wrapping, so have some fun!

 here is your tutorial I promised. I have been making these for a couple of years now and they are fun and easy to make and wear.

Tools & Materials:
Round Nose
Flush Cutters
Marker or Bail Making Pliers with a 10 to 12 mm barrel
20 gauge dead soft or half hard wire in your choice of color/metal (do not use Aluminum)

Measure and cut about 5 inches of wire and straighten with your fingers.
Measure from the end of the wire about 2 inches and fold the wire back over the barrel of your round nose pliers.  Measure about two inches from the bend and repeat to create a weird "Z" shape.

Take your round nose pliers and place at the end of the wire and make a loose spiral. Repeat at the other end.

Kind cute!

Press the wire firmly against the barrel of your marker or bail making pliers and wrap the wire around the barrel.

Make a slight bend in the folded ends of the wire using your round nose pliers.


Easy-peezy, lemon squeezy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Femme Fatale DIY Spike Necklace Tutorial

It has been some time since I have done a tutorial, so I decided as I was making this necklace to create the tutorial as I went.  It is a very easy necklace to make with just a few items most of which are widely available either online or in craft stores.

Femme Fatale Necklace

Craft Time - Under an hour

Skill Level - Beginner Intermediate

Skills Required
Cutting Chain
Jump Rings

Beading Wire (I used Cousin brand from Walmart)
6 Gold Spikes (34708503 from Prima Bead)
6 Black Spikes (34708560 Black Spikes from Prima Bead)
13 Silver plated pewter dagger beads from Hobby Lobby (or substitute these from Prima Bead)
Twenty-Four 4mm Black Pearls (7120003 from Prima Bead)
Two Crimp Tube from (3471905 from Prima Bead)
Three 4mm Jump Rings (3471905 from Prima Bead)
Extender Chain (3471905 from Prima Bead)
Two Crimp Covers
Silver Chain (63815134 from Prima Bead)
Art Deco Clasp (34719172 from Prima Bead)

Flush Cutters
Flat or Chain Nose

Measure and cut two 8" sections of chain.  The measure a length of about 10 inches of beading wire.  Attach the beading wire to one end of a section of chain using a crimp tube. Cover the crimp with a cover and close with chain nose pliers. Trim off excess.

String on your pattern of spikes and beads alternating between silver gold and black with a 4mm black pearl in between each one.

Finish by attaching the beaded end to the second section of chain using a crimp tube. Cover with a crimp cover and close with chain nose pliers.

Measure and cut a 3" piece of the extender chain from the starter pack and attach it to one end of the chain using a jump ring.  To the end of the extender chain, use a jump ring to attach the last dagger bead. Attach a clasp to the other end of chain using a jump ring.

Your necklace is finished!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Will Remember!

Today marks the anniversary of 9/11.  It was a day that will be forever burned in our minds even though it's been 13 years.  I can still remember it like it was yesterday.

The day started out like normal.  I was heading to work at the Winston County Journal in Louisville, MS.  I had no TV reception (no cable either) and the radio didn't work in my car. I hadn't heard the news yet.  I sat down at my desk and one of the sales associates was trying to get the radio on the station and we could hear a garbled news report, but just turned it off since we had no reception.  Then the phone rang.  It was our publisher and general manager, Dennis Palmer.  His voice was shaking and urgent.  He said to call the press over in Tuscaloosa and tell them not to print the paper until we resent them the front page and editorial/opinion page.  When I asked why, he paused and began to tell me what was going on.  He asked me to get the news team (which consisted of like one person) out on the street.  He asked us to close the shop and hit the streets as well interviewing everyone we could find about what was going on.  So we did as we were asked.

I went all over the place taking to everyone I could.  No one moved me as much as one of the last people I talked to.  I stopped in at the Western Auto and people were crowded around a large screen TV.  There was an elderly gentleman there in tears.  I asked him if he was okay and needed anything.  He turned to me with this intense pain in his eyes and said, "It's Pearl Harbor all over again."  He wiped his eyes that will forever haunt me and walked out.  This man had clearly seen so much in his long years on this Earth.  This one day shook him to the core as his words and eyes had shaken me.  I had to go back to the office and just sit.  That pain of seeing so many lives lost that was there in this man's eyes still brings me to tears even now.  Then the news came about the Pentagon....

A good friend of mine's son was working at the Pentagon that day.  I called him to see if his son was okay.  He couldn't get in touch with him.  I asked Mr. Crowder if he wanted to come hang out with us at the office so he wouldn't be alone.  He agreed and we waited....and waited....and waited.  He anxiously checked for text messages and emails from his son.  Then finally, an email came from his son.  His son had been sent on an errand and had left the building. As he was on his way to the parking lot, BOOM!  The force and the sound knocked him to the ground unconscious. When he came to, the sirens were blaring and people were screaming.  An emergency worker helped him up and he turned to see the building.  The blast had taken out his department.  Had he not have left when he did, he wouldn't be here today.  So many were not that fortunate.

I think about all those who couldn't get out of the Twin Towers.  Those poor innocent lives taken in such a violent act.  I think about the rescue workers who died in the line of duty.  I think of their families and how hard it must have been and still is to keep going.  When they went to work that day, they had no idea what would transpire.  They had no idea that their lives would be required of them.  No one is promised tomorrow.

So much about that day is still uncertain.  So much about now is uncertain.  What I do know is that we as a nation came together as one for the first time in a very long time.  There were no racial or class lines.  We were one.  We stood as one.  We spoke as one. We dusted ourselves off and stood tall, as one.  When 9/11 happened, we stood together as a nation praying on its face to an Almighty God.  We held hands in prayer vigils with complete strangers, cried on their shoulders, hugged them and shared our hearts with them.  We held the hands of Buddhist, Hindi and even Muslim Americans with heads bowed in prayer.  We knelt beside our fellow Americans, and we didn't see the color of their skin.  We saw only our fellow Americans.

After a few months, it all went back to normal.  Everything that had blinded us as a nation to the terror that had been at the doorstep and creeping inside blinded us again.  We complained about our jobs and the government. We moaned about the rising costs of milk and eggs. We whined about how high our electric bill was.  We blamed each other for our problems. The unity was lost.

As we look back and reflect on the day that took so much out of us and yet gave us so much, may we recognize that we must stand as one and be united again less that day repeat itself.  We have become so closed off to each other once again. We are prideful.  We think nothing can touch us.  We think that we will always have tomorrow.  Again, NO ONE is promised tomorrow.

How will you be remembered?  Will you be remembered in the ranks of those who gave all for this country to be FREE?  Will you be remembered as the one who always had a smile and a kind word for those around you?  We are remembered for our deeds long after our words have been forgotten.  What does your deeds say of you? Are you the one that always has a complaint about the boss or the one with the latest gossip?  Are you the one that always picked on the odd kid in school and still pick on those you think are less than you?  Are you the one you always takes from others and never gives anything in return? Or are you the one that speaks life to your fellow man? Are you the one who stands up for the weak when they are being trampled on? Are you the one who seeks the face of the Almighty on behalf of your neighbor, your church, your pastor, your state, and the nation?

If you don't like what your deeds say of you, it's far more easier to change than you think.  Begin with the little things.  Give away the thinks in life that are free like a smile, a hug, a pat on the bag, a kind word, a laugh at a stupid joke, love.  Give away something of yourself.  Give away time. Give away your life.  You may say that these things may cost you something, but the reward of which more than covers the expense.  It's never to late to change.  It's never too late to begin again.  Open your heart to the possibility that there is so much more that you have been missing.  Don't change for anyone but yourself.  Make the change for you!  No because someone says so or that someone commands it.  Show love always.

Yeah, it sounds like I'm about give you an invitation to change religions.  What I propose to you is NOT religion, but a relationship. A relationship not only with your fellow man, but with the Man that gave it all and forever marked history.  It's not religion, but a lifestyle.  It's an act of putting others before yourself.  If you are brave enough to jump off the deep end, then I invite you to jump with me.  Yes, I am a Christian.  I make no bones about it.  I live my life as best as I can in accordance to the Will of God.  Do I fail?  Oh yeah. Sometimes, miserably. But that's the beauty of the forgiveness of Christ.  I don't have to be perfect.  I just have to try my best.  I just have to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  That's it.  When I became a Christian, did everything automatically get better? NO!  But things did change.  Some things were gradual and others instantaneous. It was like someone turned on a light switch and I could see so much more clearly.  I have peace even in the most horrible of circumstances.  It's a peace I can't explain.  When 9/11 happened back in 2001, I was saddened by the events and the loss of life.  But I had peace in the midst of it. It's hard to explain and even harder for someone to grasp that has never had that kind of peace.  My friend and I prayed for the safety of his son while we waited to hear.  He had that same peace.  You see my friend and his son were and still are Christians as well.  Did Christians die during 9/11?  Yes, as did Buddhists, Hindi, atheists, agnostics and even Muslims (that had nothing to do with the terror attacks).  But there is only one that offers eternal security.  The choice is yours.

It all boils down to this, do you know what will happen if you were to draw your last breath today?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All Daintyfied and Super Cute!

Part of the fun of being a Creative Circle Ambassador for Cousin Corporation for America is getting to play around with some of the new product lines before the public gets to see them and design projects to go around those product lines.  Here are two (one easy, one a bit harder) projects using the new daintyfied™ line due to hit Michaels Craft Stores on August 15th.  The daintyfied™ program is comprised of itty, bitty charms and small, thin chains and bangles to serve as the bases.  A mixture of silver and gold charms, chains and bases provide the platform for hundreds of combinations to create and to get your creative juices flowing.

Project One:
daintyfied™ Freespirit Charm Bracelet

Two Pair Chain Nose Pliers

daintyfied™ #34778252 Bangle
daintyfied™ #34778226 "free" charms (or charms of your choice)

Craft Time:
5 minutes

Skill: Beginner

Jump Rings

Remove the charms and bracelet from packaging.  Attach the charms to the open loop on the bangle with their jump rings.  You can also just slide the charms on to the bangle itself so you can have interchangeable charms as well.

Project Two:
daintyfied™  Charmed Ring

Two Pair Chain Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Ring Mandrel or Large Barreled Marker
Flush Cutters
Rawhide Mallet (Optional)

daintyfied™ #34778226 "faith" charms (or charms of your choice)
22 gauge Craft Wire (I used Artistic Wire Non-Tarnish Brass)
Head Pins in a finish that matches your wire and charms.
4mm Crystals or Beads (I used Jewelry Basics #34721016)

Craft Time:
25 minutes

Skill: Intermediate Wire Wrapping

Jump Rings
Forming Loops
Wire Wrapping

Remove the charms from packaging and set aside.  Make four bead dangles by threading a 4mm bead onto a head pin and forming a loop.  Set aside.

Measure, cut and straighten 36 inches (91.44 cm).  Place round nose pliers at the center point of the wire and create a loop. 

Determine the size of ring you want to create and place the wire against the ring mandrel or marker barrel at the underside of the loop.  Wrap the wire ends around the mandrel two times each forming a ring shank. 

Take one wire end and bend at a 90ยบ angle.  Wrap around the ring shank five times.  Trim excess wire.  Repeat for the other side of the ring.  Push any rough edge of the wire down using the tip of your chain nose pliers.

Slide the ring back onto the mandrel to ensure that it is still round.  Hammer lightly with a rawhide mallet to harden the shank.

Attach the charms to the loop of the ring.