Christmas Present - Beads Organized

Hubby and I received some gifts from the church he pastors (the church has been so loving, welcoming, and generous).  I was very happy to see this organizer in my bag - the ladies who picked everything out know I like to be crafty and make jewelry.  It is a shoulder tote with four organizers inside by Creative Options.

So I spent two days organizing my beads, ignoring the mounds of laundry and dishes that I knew I should probably take care of.  I just sorted beads and moved them from the tackle boxes I had them in to these awesome organizers.  What I like most about the organizers is that I can flip them upside down and my beads don't mix up.  I did have to take some the itty bitty ones out (mostly stone chips) to make sure this did not happen, but even E beads are safe and stay where I put them.  Here's a picture of the containers filled with my beads.

All four fit neatly inside the shoulder tote, and there are also front and side pockets to store my tools.  And I am ready to go with my beads any time I want....that is if I don't mind carrying 10 pounds of beads around with me.  That's right, the whole kit and caboodle weighs a total of 10 lbs. 

I am so excited about this bag, and having at least one small corner of my life incredibly organized.  Now I have to get one to fit all my metal components and wire into!!!!!  Here's a shot of the same bag I found at www.stuff4crafts .com.  It doesn't look quite so bluish in person. 


Upcycled Frames - New Bathroom Art

I have been trying to add some color to my house, something I can change out if I get bored with it.  I am not quite ready to go with bright colors on the walls, so I figured colorful art and frames would be the way to go.  I wanted to start in the bathroom and was trying to think of something cool that hubby would like on the walls when it hit me - Outkast.  Oh yeah.  So I went to work.  The first frame I bought did not work out well.  It was thin and I had painted it black.  So I trashed it in search of a wider more colorful frame.  And when I saw this little beauty at the thrift store I just knew it would work.

I know, it looks kinda boring and gross.  But give it a chance.  I got my brush out and went to work.  One thing that I did not do that I really should have is sand it down a bit and prime it with gesso.  Don't skip this step!!!!  I just took the art out and went straight to painting my base coat, Folk Art Aqua.

Had to pull up the nails to get the panel out. 

I did two coats of the aqua paint and let it dry overnight.

Then I came back and antiqued it with some thinned down black paint (used water to thin it).  I just painted the black paint mix down and wiped the excess off.  And here is where I had problems.  Because I did not sand and prime my frame some of the paint peeled off.  Not a big deal, I just went back and touched it up with the aqua paint.  I had to do that in a few different places anyway because the black was too much.  I let that coat dry for a couple of hours and then coated the frame with a spray acrylic gloss (which is kinda nasty and should be used outside or with a respirator - or both!).  I sprayed one coat, let it dry 15 minutes, then sprayed another coat.  I let it sit outside for a few hours before bringing it in. 

When I brought the frame inside I put my print in and placed the panel behind it, then bent my nails back in place.  It looked good on my wall, but I thought it would look better with another piece next to it.  So I took a small plastic frame I had, painted it, and made a print of a photo I took to place inside.

I love this little frame, and thought it would look great with a nice coat of red.  Since I was out of red spray paint, and I am trying not to use it right now (baby bump and all), I just used red acrylic on this one too.  Normally I would use Krylon spray paint on something like this.  I didn't prime this one or even gloss coat it.  Just two coats of Folk Art Lipstick Red acrylic paint and I was done. 

I let it dry overnight and then placed my photo inside and hung it up with my other masterpiece.  They are in my bathroom right now.  Here is a pic of them on the wall together.  Once I get some more art and decor in the bathroom I will show you a wider view of the room.  But for now this should do.

I would like to warn you....if you come to my house and know this song you may want to close your eyes when you enter my bathroom.  Hubby and I both come out of the bathroom with this song in our heads EVERY time.  Usually we sing it or whistle it for a few minutes before we even realize what we are doing.  I may change this up before too long, but for now i think it is just too cool to take down.


New Brooches - and a Giveaway!!!!!

I made some new brooches the other day and thought I would make a couple extra for my lovely bloggy friends.  I had to make 8 for a lady my husband works with, and I made two extra for a giveaway. 

Here they are in progress, just before I added the backs and pins to them.  I made two of each of the solid colors you see below.

The material for the solid colored roses is repurposed prom dress material.  Very nice and thick.  For the multi colored roses I used material I salvaged from a couple of shirts that originally belonged to a family member that I found in the attic in the 90s.  I used to wear them a lot, but there is a lot more of Shayna than there used to be, lol, so they no longer fit me. 

Here's another WIP shot, and a picture of the back of one of the brooches.  The material is hand cut and the edges melted with a candle.  Then I sew little beads in the center by hand.  Next I glue a piece of recycled leather (from old jackets) to the back and glue a pin on top.  I finish it off by gluing a little piece of leather over part of the pin to make sure it stays.

Now for the giveaway.  To enter you must leave a comment below. For extra chances to win, you can do one or all of the following...

1.   Follow my blog and leave me a note in your comment that you have done so (if you already follow just let me know in your comment that you are a follower and you too will get an extra chance). 

2.  You can also post a comment on my Flickr here for another chance to win.

3.  Post a link to this on your own blog and leave me a link to your post in your comment.

International players are welcome.  I will draw a winner on Monday, December 19th.  Keep an eye out for the post, I will give the winner three days to respond with an email containing their address.

If your name is drawn, you will recieve both flowers shown below.

Thanks everyone!


It's a boy!!!!

Hey there my bloggy friends!  Just thought I would share some ultrasound pics of our little boy.

His name is Grayson Phoenix Butler.  That's my hubby's choice. I got to name the first child, Talula Renae Butler (she is 2 and loves the baby in Mommy's belly).  We are so excited!!!!!!  I am 18 weeks along and due on May 7th, 2012.


Foggy Weather

We are having some sloppy, messy weather today and it sure did bring the temperature down outside.  Here are a few pictures I took of the foggy afternoon we had today.  This is my back yard.

Only thing we need to make this perfect are some creepy zombies out there somewhere....

Or some sparkly vampires. 

On a brighter note, tomorrow hubby and I will go in to my OB to find out what we are having. Yes, for those of you who did not know, I am pregnant. This is my 18th week, so maybe we will luck up and see enough to tell if it is a boy or girl. Our two-year-old daughter Lula will go with us. We are very excited!  I will let you guys know what we find out.


Skull Flower/Mandala - WIP

Here's a new project I am working on.  It is very similar to my owl flower - it is made the same way.  I start out with a drawing and estimate how many times I want to repeat it.  I then size and photocopy the drawing, create a flower center, and make a mock up with lots of tape and cut out photocopies.   Then I place it on my Lighttracer II light box to trace the final drawing.  Here is a photo of this step with the skull flower.

The next step is to trace the outline of the flower with a pencil.  I also add on to the drawing if I feel it is necessary.  I added a little heart tip to the petals of the center flower and some tiny flowers on the outside to make the drawing a little more full, and to tie the skull nose design in with the center flower.

When I am done with the pencil drawing I start to ink the entire illustration, starting with the outlines then filling everything in.  Before I would use a Staedtler pen set to do this, and I would burn through a set with every drawing.  Now I have my Koh-i-noor 7 pen Rapidograph set and I get more even lines, better details, and I don't have to worry about buying a $15 pen set for each drawing.  The pens were expensive ($70 at Hobby Lobby after a 40% off coupon), but they will pay for themselves after 5 drawings, and I really prefer them.   Here are a few pictures of the inking process. 

I am not quite done with this one, but when I get done I will post a picture for you to see.   I was hoping to have this one displayed in my house, but my good friend Julie has already spoken for it.  I do plan to make another one for our home, especially since hubby really likes it.


Cloth Paper Scissors Pages - My Art Published!!!!!!

So excited to share with you guys that my art has been published in the premiere issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Pages!  I just received my complimentary copy of the magazine today!

I have been reading Cloth Paper Scissors since the first issue in 2004.  I love the magazine and it has been a dream of mine to have my art featured in it.  These books were originally sent in for the Mini Book challenge that was published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue.  I was sorta bummed to find I was not published with the challenge until I found out that my books might be published in Pages.

The magazine is awesome!  It is so bright and colorful and features tons of books and art!  My favorite article so far is "Vintage Inspiration" by Renee Rogers.  I can't wait to get some of my vintage papers and books out and give it a try.  If you need inspiration, Pages is packed with 144 exciting pages of it.  You can order it from the Interweave store here, or check out your local bookstore to see if they carry it.  I know the Books-A-Million in our county does.  


New Pens!!!! - Koh-i-noor Rapidograph Set

Wow guys, I am super excited!!!!  Hubby is pastor at a local church called Faith Tabernacle, and we celebrated pastor appreciation Sunday.  We had a guest speaker (Brother Thrasher) and a nice dinner.  The church not only gave hubby a love offering, but me one as well.  And do they know me or what?  They got me a Hobby Lobby gift card!  I was so touched I cried.  They knew I love to make jewelry, but I decided to use the card on something I have wanted for a while but have not had the extra money to invest in - a set of Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pens.  There happened to be a 40% off coupon running this week, so I did not have to wait long at all to get this set of wonderful pens.

I read online for a couple of days to make sure this was really what I wanted.  After reading about 100 reviews I found there was basically two types of people - those who love Rapidograph pens, and those who hate them.  Really.  Here is a basic set of complaints:  the pens are hard to fill, the nibs break too easily, the pens clog easily and when they do the pen is ruined, too expensive, the components are too fragile.  But most people who enjoy the pens have used them for years and have found with proper care and maintenance the pens can last for years.  One reviewer had a set of pens for nearly 30 years!  Basically if you clean your pens often, use them regularly or clean the ink out of them between uses, don't draw too hard with them (they require only a light hand), and don't shake them, they will last for a long time. 

I read reviews and watched videos of people using the pens.  I also did a Google search and a Flickr search of illustrations and drawings done with Rapidograph pens.  By the time I went Tuesday to pick them up I was practically drooling!!!!! 

I got them home, opened them, scanned over the directions, and started filling.  I found that could not get the reservoir off the pen.  I tried but couldn't open any of them.  I reread the instructions and they said to remove the reservoir with a "slight twist."  I tugged and strained for a moment, then went back to the instructions.  Duh!!!!  I had really just glanced at the pictures - which are in black and white.   I was forgetting to unscrew the colored clamp ring from the holder.  So simple once I figured that out.

I got my pens filled and started doodling.  Here is an illustration I did with the .25 and .50 sizes.

And one I did using just the .30 size.

I love how much detail I can get with these pens.  So far the performance is far superior to any of the pigment liners I have tried.  The line width is consistent, and the ink flows easily.  My pen set came with Trans-Mix Media Brilliant Ink which I like, but I would like to try Koh-i-noor's india ink as well. 

One thing I did not find was a close up of the tips or nibs of these pens.  So I thought I would post one of the smallest and one of the largest tips.  Click on these pictures for a full view.

Wow, so far these pens are awesome!!!!  One thing I did notice is that one of my pens leaked a bit.  It was the one I used the most yesterday, but I also notice that the clamp ring was loose.  I cleaned it and tightened the clamp ring.  I will keep you guys posted on these pens and their performance.  


New Lino Cut - Submission for Cloth Paper Scissors

I am so excited about the current Reader's Challenge for Cloth Paper Scissors!  It's the Carve It Up! Challenge and you can read all about it here.  To sum it up, you can use any carving material you wish and make a stamp that is 6"x6" or smaller, make a print, and mail it to their offices.  I decided to use linoleum for my carving material so I can also offer prints of the image as freebies in my shop.  I like it because it is firm and durable, and I can readily find it already mounted to a board. 

Here are the sketches I prepared for my carving.  The smaller one is the original, and the larger one I resized with my all-in-one printer and did a bit more doodling on.  The sketch is actually a reverse image of my original pencil sketch.  You have to remember that when you print it your image will be a mirrored image of what you carve. 

Once I had my basic sketch the size I wanted it, I used carbon paper to transfer it to my linoleum.  I use a Staedtler carving tool in size 1V to carve more detailed cuts, and a larger V tool I got in a wood carving kit at WalMart to do the larger cuts. 

Here is a picture of the carved linoleum.

I did a test run of prints, but I think I will do another run before I select my favorite print to send off to the Cloth Paper Scissors offices.  Here is the first run of prints.

Keep an eye out for my post of the second run because I will be giving away four of these prints!  Until then, here is a closeup of the print.  It is a 4"x6" image on a piece of 5"x7" drawing paper.


Skull and Sparrows - New Painting

A friend of mine requested an original painting.  She wanted a Day of the Dead inspired painting that combined a sugar skull, sparrows, daisies, swirls, and rainbow colors.  I did a bit of research and here is the thumbnail sketch I came up with.

This painting took me forever to do.  I experimented with a few different techniques, and they took me a long time to figure out.  First I worked on my backgound layers, a step that I had previously not put much effort into.  I was inspired by a video by Regina Lord of Creative Kismet.  You can view the video here.  I collaged layers of sketchbook paper with gel medium, coated them with a light brushing of gesso, then added some yellow with watercolor crayon.  I wish I had taken of photo of this step, but I did not.

Next I did an underpainting in white.  I have never done this, but after seeing this underpainting by David Lozeau I decided to give it a try.  You'll notice his is much, much, much more detailed than mine.   It was more work, but I like how it brightened all of the colors in my final layer.  Here's the underpainting.

Next I did a sketch in pencil over the underpainting to use as a guide.  This is usually where I start, then I do detail work, then try to paint the background in.  You can imagine that this really limited the amount of detail I was able to include in my background.  I much prefer this newer method.

Once the sketch was down, I began painting.  I also had two lovely birdies to paint.  These were thrifted vintage, and I believe they were from Homco circa 1970-something.  They were golden, so I added layer of gesso and painted the the same colors as the sparrows in the painting.  Here's the end result.

I learned a lot with this piece, but most of all I learned that acrylic is a labor of love.  I think my next project may be watercolor, or maybe just a simple ink drawing.  I need a break!  Hey, let me whine just a little bit.  I am 11 weeks pregnant and exhausted.


Charmed Brass Book Necklaces - WIP

Okay, I finished these last week for a festival, but I don't have pictures of the finished necklaces.  I sold a few, but I will get some photos of the remaining necklaces and post them later.  Until then, here is a look at them in progress.

Here are the charms that hang over the cover of the books.  I used antiqued brass filigrees from aka Lula Beads, vintage West German stackable flower beads from Lee Bell, and resin cabachons from aka Lula Beads.  I put these together using my secret weapon, a scrapbooking brad.  Yup, that's right.  Works a lot better than a head pin, but a lot of times I have to increase the size of the hole in my components with a small diamond file so the brad fits through.  These were attached to small jump rings.

Here is a picture of the books without embellishments, and one of the crazy way I went about sorting them and keeping them separate.  The brass covers are made from blanks that came with a few sets of vintage brass stencils that I had.  I cut them with metal snips and sanded them for a smooth edge.  I used 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper for the pages.  Each book has about 24 sheets.

Pretty books all in a row, waiting for their embellishments.

And the assembled pendants ready for soldering (of the handmade jump rings), then chain.