Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Learning new stuff

I love taking classes and learning new things. Over a month ago (Yes, I'm a little bit behind) I got to take a class with Joni Russell at Stamp Asylum in Plano. It was great, although it bordered on information overload at times. But that's okay, I'd much rather have too much information than not enough. We hammered metal and played with a butane torch and stamped letters and saw a demonstration of metal etching - and did I mention playing with the torch? I've never done anything like this before. I mostly stick to bead stringing and wire wrapping. But I can't wait for a chance to do it again.

Here's the necklace we made:

A few things didn't work out quite right for me - the hole in the heart is supposed to have resin and glitter in it, but mine kept leaking out during the baking process. And on one piece, when we were stamping the letters, I picked up the wrong one, and instead of saying "Life is good" it says "Life is goob." But for my first time playing with any of this stuff, I think it's not half bad. And most importantly, I had a great time doing it.

What new things have you learned lately? Or what new things do you plan to learn in the near future?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

New beads! (and the bracelet I made from them)

It feels like it's been forever since I actually made anything. I've gotten sidetracked, trying to get all our stuff on our new Artfire site and trying to learn everything I can about Artfire and everything they recommend as far as marketing and branding - there's a lot of information, but it's been very interesting. However, one day last week, I had time before work to head up to The Artful Bead in Carrollton, Texas. It's a great store, and someday I'd love to go in and just buy everything they have, but I settled for a handful of new beads. As you can see, I was drawn to blues this time.

My pretty new beads!
At first, I thought I'd do one bracelet with all the different shades of blue, but I decided to stick with the brighter blues for this one, and I'll do another with the darker blue and the little purple butterflies later.
So one day, I sat down to start working.  I don't normally work in front of my computer, there's just not enough room, but I had some stuff for my real job that I needed to do too, so I was multitasking.
I pulled out the tools I needed:

The white plastic thing is called a Chain-Sta - it holds each end of a bracelet or necklace so you can place the beads a little easier. Sometimes I use it and love it, sometimes it just annoys me. The cloth mat keeps the beads from bouncing everywhere if I drop them, which I usually do. And yes, that's three pair of pliers - two chain nose and a round nose - plus the wire cutters.

I used a plain silver-colored chain, nothing fancy, and a toggle clasp. I started out placing the biggest beads, so they'd be roughly evenly spaced. You can see a couple of the white beads on it already too in the picture below.

I didn't have an exact plan beforehand, I just started adding things as evenly as I could, depending on how many of each bead I had. From this point, I just wire-wrapped all the beads onto the chain using headpins (there are lots of tutorials on wire wrapping out there and they're much better than I could ever explain it, if you're interested in that).

And here's my one more or less successful attempt to get a pic of me actually working on it:

I think I'm forming a loop in the wire there, but it's hard to tell. I just had to put the camera on a tripod, aim it in that general direction, hit the delay button, and hope for the best. 

Here's the finished product:

Click to see it in our Artfire store
I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, please comment. If you didn't, well, please comment on that too. I'm still new at this blogging thing, trying to figure out what works best and what doesn't work at all. I don't want it to be just us selling stuff, I'd like it to be useful, or informative, or at least entertaining, I'm just trying to figure out how to do that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Buying handmade

Do you go out of your way to buy handmade items? If you're looking at this blog, you've at least shown some interest in our jewelry, which is handmade, but do you seek out handmade versions of other items? I had never given it a lot of thought until the last couple of years, really. I guess I would buy handmade things if I couldn't find what I wanted at a store, but I'd rarely sought out handmade goods, just for the sake of buying handmade. However, since we've started trying to sell online, I've realized there are a lot of people out there selling handmade stuff. So next time you're looking for something for yourself or someone else, why not try to buy handmade?

Need help finding handmade stuff? Try these suggestions:
1. Ask your friends and family - many of them have probably bought handmade goods before, they may have favorite sellers they've used
2. Google (or your favorite search engine) - just plug in the word handmade and whatever you're looking for.
3. Artfire - A collection of sellers selling handmade and vintage goods
4. Etsy - A collection of sellers selling handmade and vintage goods
5. of course, if you're looking for jewelry, we highly recommend our site: Pink Fish Designs

Whether you buy from us or someone else, next time you're looking for that perfect something, consider buying handmade.