Monday, March 31, 2008

More than one way to get beads . . .

So, I never did make it to the Bead Expo this weekend - which is probably all for the best! I had a wonderful time at the SWAN event making collages and encouraging other people to make collages . . . it's so interesting to me how people will encourage their children to take the time for art, but don't feel like they have enough time to stop and make art . . . here's an adult collager at work - she found last year's PIX Patisserie calendar . . .

And here's one made by a woman who said she'd always wanted to a be textile designer:
Well, I gotta tell ya - I'd love to buy fabric with Hindu goddesses and William Blake quotes on it . . .

And here's one of mine done while staffing the table (how could I resist all those collage supplies laid out?!):

Ok, so I didn't make it to the Bead Expo. But, friends, the Bead Expo isn't the only way to get beads . . . I made this necklace almost entirely from beads that I collected in Nepal. (Ok, going to Nepal isn't the only way to get beads either, but it sure is fun!)

I got the large center turquoise bead when I was trekking in the Annapurnas above Jomosom. I only had "large" bills (each bill worth less than $20). Now, carrying cash was weird enough - I'm the kind of gal who uses a credit card to pay for everything, but most folks in remote Himalayan mountain villages don't take Visa, so, hey, I had cash - and the idea that my bills might be too large never even occurred to me! At a small teahouse where my guide Mana and I had stopped for a break, the owner didn't have enough change to break the bill I handed her to pay for our tea. The owner seemed a bit panicked, but my guide brokered a solution - perhaps I might like to look at some of the beads that the proprietress had, and take one as part of my change? Heck yeah! I selected that beautiful turquoise bead, and everyone was happy!

And here is my lovely guide Mana, pausing for a photo op in the little village of Marpha, Nepal.
(PS - and that photo actually isn't a composite - she's just backlit funny!)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bead-o-Rama! or Get Your Craft On This Weekend

Here a few of my glass beads - I got most of the antique ones locally at Knittn' Kitten and Beads at Dusti Creek, and got some of the fancy handmade ones while I was in Venice last year. (See the little balloon-looking ones with the white stripes? Wow!)

I pulled these out to remind myself that I do not necessarily need to go down to the Portland Bead Expo at the Convention Center this weekend and buy even more beads . . . no matter how tempting it may be! Especially since my copy of Bead Simple, the new book by local craft luminary Susan "West Coast Crafty" Beal is on its way to me as I write! Must . . . practice . . . self . . . control . . .

Other cool arty-crafty happenings this weekend include the local celebration of SWAN Day - Support Women Artists Now Day - as part of the Energy Trust Better Living Show down at the Portland Expo Center. (If you visit the SWAN site, there's a cool video with actress Sandra Oh talking about how Bjork has inspired her.) And yes, I'll be there from 2-5 on Saturday, March 29th along with a bunch of other great local artists, musicians and performers! Check out the whole local line-up here - it's all free! I'll have a table set up so that women artists, the people who love them, and the people who want to be them when they grow up, can come by and make their own collage! (Did I mention this was all free? Unlike the beads?)

And if that's not enough, the artists who make these amazing things will be there!

Tammy Paladeni - visit her site here:

And Lauren Black - check out her work here:

Of course, I may still have to drop by the Bead Expo on my way over . . .

Now, my Sunday will probably be spent with the Sweetie surfing blogs . . . and I just wanted to send a special shout out and thank you to the folks over at the Craftzine blog (if you haven't seen this blog or read the magazine - do! Very inspiring stuff!) and Leah at Creative Every Day (who helps me remember that all the little things add up to a very creative life - and who keeps recommending cool books I need to read!). Both of these folks had nice things to say about my recent Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry DEMO! Thanks!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Double DEMO!: Part 3, Recycled Bike Inner Tube Earrings


You will need: bicycle inner tube, sharp scissors, masking tape, StazOn Opaque ink, rubber stamps, two kidney earring wires, two small beads, Bead Fix glue (optional), 1/8" hole punch or sharp craft knife, small pliers.

Visit Part One of this DEMO for more information on finding materials and preparing your inner tubes for making into jewelry. This is just one of the many techniques I cover in my Junk Drawer Jewels class, and is the project I demonstrated recently on AM Northwest - click here to see the video.

Start by picking out a couple of rubber stamps - for this earring design, I chose two text patterns - one sort of big and loose (below) and another one that was much smaller and more dense.

Take a clean piece of rubber - one that's about 4" wide and 5" long will work well, though you can use almost any size. Tape it down to your stamping surface using masking tape. Stretch it a bit to get it to lay flat. For my stamping surface, I use a piece of friendly foam stapled to cardboard - fancy! Ink up your stamp with StazOn Opaque ink, and stamp away! Tip: The interior of the inner tube will provide a smoother stamping surface, but the exterior is generally a darker black, leading to higher contrast. You can also stamp both sides for a reversible bracelet!

Next, I made some leaf-shaped templates from paper. You can also cut one free-hand, and then use it as a pattern for your second one.

Either way, you need to end up with two leaf shapes of about the same size and shape. These are about 1 1/2 " long.

Next, cut some diamond/fountain pen-tip shaped pieces from the contrasting stamped rubber. This piece features a stamp of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Again, you can use a template or cut them free-hand. I made these shapes about 1" long.

Now, you should have two larger leaf shapes and two smaller contrasting shapes. Hopefully, yours aren't as blurry!

Next, stack the shapes so that the small shape is on top and the shapes are aligned in a pleasing way.

Using a 1/8" hole punch, punch tiny holes in the top of the rubber shapes. If you do not have a tiny hole punch, you can use a sharp craft knife to cut a tiny hole in the rubber.

Next, trim the tops around the hole. I like to round the edges, and leave only a narrow border around the hole.

Now slide the pieces onto the kidney wire.

And slip the pieces to rest in the notch loop at the base of the kidney wire. If it doesn't fit, trim the edges a bit more.

Using small pliers, crimp the notch loop closed.

Now, slip a bead on the kidney wire, ending so that it rests on top of the rubber pieces and the notch loop.

You can put a drop of Bead Fix glue inside the bead to hold it in position, or you can just let it float.

And you're done!

Option: Why not add the rubber bands from your produce into the mix? It's a whole new reason to buy fresh broccoli!

Be sure to visit Part Two of this DEMO to learn how to apply these techniques to make bracelets!

Double DEMO!: Part 2, Recycled Bicycle Inner Tube Bracelet


You will need: bicycle inner tube, StazOn Opaque stamping ink, rubber stamps, scissors, masking tape, snap setter, snaps

Visit Part One of this DEMO for information on where to find materials and tips on preparing your recycled bicycle inner tubes for jewelry-making. This is also one of the many techniques I cover in my found object jewelry-making class, Junk Drawer Jewels.

Start by picking out some fun rubber stamps - I tend to like ones that create textures, broad patterns, or have an image that can be easily repeated, like these birds (and the swirls that appear later on) from the Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz collection.

To start, take your clean piece of rubber and make sure it's big enough to fit around your wrist with about an inch of overlap. You want it to be a little loose - tight rubber is generally not that comfortable (unless you're into sweaty wrists!). I find that starting with a piece that's about 3" wide and 8"-9" long works very well. Tape it down to your stamping surface using masking tape. Stretch it a bit to get it to lay flat. For my stamping surface, I use a piece of friendly foam stapled to cardboard - fancy! Ink up your stamp with StazOn Opaque ink, and stamp away! Tip: The interior of the inner tube will provide a smoother stamping surface, but the exterior is generally a darker black, leading to higher contrast. You can also stamp both sides for a reversible bracelet!

The ink will take about 5 minutes to dry. Once it's dry, trim the edges and get a good fit around your wrist. Remember that you'll want about an inch of overlap.

Now, get your snap setter ready to go! I recommend using Dritz prong snap size 25, Snap Source prong snap size 16, or other similarly sized snaps. Instruction for setting the snaps will be included in the package.

Details: There will be four pieces that make up each snap - two pieces that form the male, bottom, or attaching part of the snap; and two pieces that form the female, top, or attaching part of the snap. The female, or top, part of the snap will be the part with the decorative cover. The two parts of the male snap and the two parts of the female snap each sandwich one part of the material that you will be connecting. If that was confusing, here's a nice snap tutorial - I'm using the ones with prongs!

I start by putting in the male, or bottom, parts of the snap on first. You will want the little "stud" that forms the snap connection to be on the same side of the rubber as the image.

Once your snap parts are in the setter, position the snap setter on the rubber and squeeze to set the male, or bottom, snaps on the bracelet!

Do this twice, and you have two male, or bottom, parts of the snap attached to your bracelet! Now, you want to attach the snap tops.

Now, wrap the bracelet around your wrist to get a feel for how much you want it to overlap for a good fit. Take it off, close it up, and use the studs from the snap bottoms pressing into the overlapping rubber to mark where the snap tops need to go. As you set up your snap setter, you will want the decorative part of the snap to be on the topside, or decorated side, of the rubber bracelet. Tip: You can use a silver Sharpie to make visible marks for snap placement, as well as to add freehand decoration to the bracelet!

Center your loaded snap setter over the marks you've made, squeeze, repeat, and you have closure!

Next, trim the corners so that they're rounded and don't poke you as you wear the bracelet.

And you're done!

Option: You can also tape the rubber down to a cutting mat and cut patterns out using a very sharp craft knife, as I did with the bracelet in the center.

Now, go to Part Three of this DEMO for ideas on using these techniques to make earrings!

Double DEMO!: Part 1, Recycled Bike Inner Tube Jewelry

Today, you're getting a double DEMO - Bracelets and Earrings - broken into several parts for easier loading (though I couldn't seem to get them in the right order)! And, yes, they're both made from that most lovely of bike repair discards - old inner tubes. Got a flat tire? Make jewelry!

This DEMO includes the step-by-step for the project that I demonstrated yesterday on AM Northwest - you can click over to watch the video. Diane over at CraftyPod was also kind enough to highlight this project, along with the projects of some other great local crafters appearing on the show this week!

Part Two includes the instructions for bracelets, while Part Three includes all the instructions for earrings! Included in this post is all the info you need to gather and prepare your materials.


I gather my raw tubular materials from local bike repair shops (usually happy to see good use made of their discards - the folks over at City Bikes Coop were kind enough to donate this batch!). Sometimes, you can also find them at SCRAP.

I also make good use of StazOn Opaque stamping ink in Cotton White. Locally, I get them at collage, but it looks like you can get them on-line here (disclaimer: I've never ordered from these folks!). No matter which project you do, you'll want a pair of sharp scissors.

For the bracelet, the snaps and snap setter I'm using are from one of my favorite local fabric stores, Fabric Depot (though they don't carry them on the website). Any local fabric store should have a good assortment - I recommend using Dritz snap size 25, Snap Source size 16, or other similarly sized snaps. Instruction for setting the snaps will be included in the package.

For the earrings, I'm using kidney wires and small beads, both available on-line from Rings & Things. You'll also need a small pair of pliers. Bead Fix glue (also available from Rings & Things) is optional.


No matter which jewelry project you do, some basic preparation is in order:

Start by cutting the tubing into manageable chunks. I find that 6" to 12" pieces make a manageable start. 9" is about all you'll need for a bracelet, and by 12" it can get really tough to lay the rubber flat for working.

I cut my tubes open along the outer edge, though you can also cut along the inner edge. The pieces will lay differently each way, and I just find that they lay a little flatter if I cut along the outer edge.

When you open it up, there will probably be a whitish powder inside. Wash this off with dish soap and a scrubby sponge. Let the pieces dry flat on a towel, or wipe them dry, and you're ready to go! Visit Part Two to make bracelets, or Part Three to make earrings!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Night Lights, Big City: Long Day

Well, ok, it's a little city. Little enough that someone like me can be on TV - twice, no less! I started off the day today demonstrating a jewelry technique involving recycled bicycle inner tubes on local morning show AM Northwest. You can click here to watch the video or wait until tomorrow and I'll have a complete, step-by-step demo posted here on the blog! (My other five minutes of fame - demonstrating how to make memory magnets on the same show - can be viewed here, if this sort of thing amuses you!) And a big "Thank You" to Jen of DIY Lounge and Maria of collage for hooking me up with this sweet gig!

I ended the day on an equally arty note, this time with my Artmaking as Playful Prayer Class - we started in on shrines tonight, but I just had to give you a peek at what we did last week:

That's right! We made Guardian Night Lights with shrink plastic - the one above is kind of a fire dancer, and the one below, well, she's a successful and serene multi-tasker!

We started the class by talking a little about archetypes, and then dove into a writing exercise. I had folks draw two tarot cards (tarot decks are chock full of archetypes, by the way!): one for their Ally, and one for their Adversary. We did some writing about what we loved and feared in those figures - and it was pretty amazing what came out! And of course, I did the exercise too. My Adversary related to getting distracted by pursuing too many goals at one time - so I decided to embrace my Adversary, and turn her into a friend! Here, she is capable of doing the many things she loves, while still staying focused on the big picture and grounded in reality. A girl can dream, right?

If you want to do this at home, you can pick up shrink plastic at just about any art store (I, of course, get mine at collage - gotta support those small, local art stores!); I got the night light blanks from the kyle designs wholesale section!

Yes, I'm feeling a bit obsessed with shrink plastic lately . . . Maybe CraftyPod could do a show on it . . . if they haven't already!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some Random Things

So, a few weeks ago, I got tagged with a meme from Becky over at SoulfulArtisan. At first, I wasn't going to do it because I'd already done it once - and then failed to tag people to carry it on (mostly because it seemed like everyone I knew had already been tagged - and once again, this is still the state of affairs)! But then I got tagged again, this time by Sister Diane over at CraftyPod. Two times seems like a command - so, here is the encore performance of the Seven Random Things About Me Meme:

1. I actually think that I look pretty good with facial hair. As examples, I present a photo of myself wearing a chocolate goatee at the recent Scarlet Star Studios Meeting of the Muses:

And again, at a Princess Bride theme party many years ago where I am dressed as the first Dread Pirate Roberts:

And just as a random aside, here are some shots of the lovely FingerstotheBone with photo-shopped stubble (it's after all the nifty gocco printing info).

2. I lived in Germany from the time I was seven until I was eleven - I can still count to twenty and ask where the bathroom is in German.

3. I love houseplants, but don't do a lot of outdoor gardening. Plants that live outdoors and need more than watering are a bit intimidating to me, though I will still occasionally give it a go.

4. I lettered in theater in high school.

5. I have never learned to play a musical instrument or read music, but I would love to be a lounge singer.

6. I love composting and I love worms - the fact that both of my current compost bins are crawling with wiggly red worms fills me with delight. I have been thinking about pursuing vermicomposting where the worms are introduced intentionally.

7. When I was in junior high, I had my own humor column in the school newspaper. When I was in high school, my drama teacher suggested a career as a stand-up comedian. Scary. While I can make the Sweetie laugh, I'm actually not that funny.

Bonus! My new favorite place to shop on-line is Hannah Grey Curiosities and Dry Goods. What other single on-line store offers jewel beetle wings, Diamond Glaze glue, fake barbed wire, dried starfish, Ranger Inks, shrine die cuts, and coils of rusted wire?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buttons! A Peek in the Travel Souvenir Stash

I've been delighted and inspired by some recent posts on buttons from Sister Diane and Average Jane Crafter. Buttons - those delightfully detailed and colorful closures that open up all kinds of great art and crafting possibilities. And I was reminded of the fact that when I visited Thailand in 2001-2002, one of the souvenirs I picked up was buttons - found at a little sewing shop in the northern town of Chiang Mai!

And this got me looking at a bunch of other wonderful buttons in my button collection . . .

Some of which really need to be made into rings or bracelets . . . But then that reminded me of the wonderful Hill Tribe textiles that I also bought in Chiang Mai:

I took some of the fabric (I believe this is an Akha piece) and stretched it over canvas stretcher bars to make a wall hanging for my living room:

If you're interested in more detail, the Hilltribe Museum (which I visited while in Thailand) has a wonderful website with information about the different the Karen, Hmong, Mien, Lahu, Akha, and Lisu. And naturally, wikipedia has some interesting (and perhaps slightly better translated) information on the different tribes as well. I especially enjoyed the information on the Hmong. A great book on the various indigenous and migratory groups living in Northern Thailand and their traditional crafts is Peoples of the Golden Triangle by Paul and Elaine Lewis (I'll bet you can find it for less than this - this was just the page that had the picture!).

And that brought me back to using buttons in my own art - including this piece: a button-encrusted shrine to craftiness called "Frenzy" that's on display right now in the Agora room at CubeSpace (the opening is Friday, March 28th from 6-8 if you want to drop by!)

Well, I guess that closes up this one . . .