Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weather Watching

See that big red path there? It goes right over my house. We started preparing for lots of rain and wind last night. The usual things, like bottled water, batteries, weather radio. Hopefully, the tree trimming I had done two weeks ago will make sure that no branches fall on the house in high winds, or take out the electricity. But it's good to be ready, just in case!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saving for Winter

I'm so happy with my garden right now. The tomatoes are geting ripe! I planted for a fall garden of beans and cucumbers, as the ones I planted in spring are pretty much done right now. It had been really, really hot, but last weekend we got some nice rains. And that lowered the temperatures a bit. So what do I do with this wealth of tomatoes?

 I got myself a food dehydrator! First I dried a whole bunch of basil leaves from the herb garden. It takes about 18 hours or so, with my dehydrator, to dry those wet basil leaves. Then, I cut up some of the tomatoes and put them on the dehydrator screens, sprinkled with the fresh dried basil and some sea salt, to give them some flavor.
 I have four trays for the dehydrator, and it sits on top of the clothes dryer. It's not too noisy, and I just fill it with fruits and vegetables to make dried snacks and un-sun-dried tomatoes.
 I put some of them in olive oil, and they turned out really well. Pretty soon I'll make some spicy tomato chutney, too. Storing the summertime harvest for later, when the tomatoes are just a fond memory, makes me feel very productive!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party Celtic Spring

 I haven't sat down with a pair of jewelry pliers in my hand in a very long time. One reason I decided to participate in this Bead Soup Blog Party was because I needed some motivation to get me to sit down with some pretty beads and make jewelry! And the lovely lampwork beads from Lara Lutrick were a great inspiration, along with the other goodies she sent to me.
 I was inspired by the spring-like colors to create something that reminded me of my garden. I used flower-shaped beads and ones that resembled snail shells, to go along with the flower and leaf design in the glass beads Lara sent me. I knew I wanted to feature the clasp, a Bali silver heart shaped toggle, and make the viking knit wire front and center.
 The pretty blue ribbon was used to give some softness behind the neck, the toggle is attached to it and tied to one side of the necklace. I like to wear necklaces with lots of color, and Lara's beads gave me tons of options to pull from. I like to keep things simple, so I used wire wrapped connections to make a single strand of color at the center.
 The celtic knot in the focal bead reminds me of the pattern of a wrought iron garden gate! All in keeping with the spring garden design idea.
 I started working with sterling heavy-gauge wire on the focal bead first. The wire is some sterling that I brought back from my trip to Ireland - I wanted to use it for something really special. From the center, I started working out, using Lara's beads and some from my stash, until I had a long enough strand to attach with large wire-work loops to the ends of the viking knit. That way, both the glass focal and the sterling wirework could be front and center in the necklace!
With the knotted ribbon off center in the front and the toggle showing - why hide it behind my neck, it should show up where it can be seen - I like the fact that it can easily be shortened if I wanted it to be choker length, by adjusting the ribbon tie. And very dainty and feminine it is, too. I also like that the focal bead is free to rotate, as both sides are very pretty and unique.

It will be great to wear with a dress, or with jeans and a t-shirt ... Or a lace camisole!

So there you have my necklace from the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Check out Lori Anderson's blog if you want to hop over to the many other participants, from the 1st, 2nd or this 3rd reveal. Click the link to see all of the participants of this 6th Bead Soup Blog Party Fiesta!

And many thanks to Lara - it was fun, and you are very talented!Be sure to drop by her blog and tell her how much you liked her beautiful lampwork beads ... If you want to see what she created with the pewter I sent her, take a look!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shop Talk

I like to create these faux cameos. I get to mess around with shapes, colors and paints.
When I start on them, I don't always know how they will look when they are finished, what color they will be.
 I create the inserts in polymer clay, to create blanks with a design that fits inside the reproduction optical lens bezel.
 Polymer clay is so versatile, it can reproduce the looks of so many different kinds of vintage items, like ivory, jade or carved bone.
To make them shiny and not matte, I use my Foredom buffer. Sometimes it grabs the little round painted piece and flings it randomly across the studio, if I don't hang onto it very tightly!
That gives them a nice sheen, and a little bit of a worn look, too. And each one is unique. I can get close to reproducing them, but since they're handpainted, each one turns out a little bit differently.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bead Soup Bounty and Beauty

 I've never participated in the Bead Soup Blog Party - I always seemed to miss out on the date to sign up. This time, I almost did again! I managed to figure out how to join on the last day. I hesitated - what if I couldn't make this work with my schedule? But I went ahead and signed up. See how lucky I am? These are the beads I received from my partner for the Bead Soup Party!
 They were sent to me by Lara Lutrick. She's a lampwork glass bead maker. I do envy those people who can bend molten glass to their will and make such beautiful beads! And there's a lovely ribbon in a beautiful blue color, and some viking knit strands! I will be working with these in the next couple of days to make up at least one, and maybe more than one, finished piece of jewelry.
Don't you love her celtic impression in the large focal bead? She's very talented, and has a great sense of color. I will be working on the finished piece(s) in the evenings after work, putting my hand to making something fun to wear. I have to look up the date of the next reveal and I'll share that, too, so you can all take a look at everyone's Bead Soup Party finished work!