Category Archives: Handmade

Finally!

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A while back, I wrote about a piece I was just starting. I believe I even claimed it would be really cool. (read that post here)  Well, it’s finished. Finally. It’s been on my bench for about 6 months. Part of the reason it took so long was that I ended up needing to alter my plan. So it definitely does NOT look the way I had originally envisioned.

The jury is still out on whether this design is actually better than the original. Though, really, it doesn’t matter since the way it started couldn’t work. Want to know WHY it wouldn’t work? (you’re desperate to know, aren’t you?) Fine. You twisted my arm. I’ll tell you.

So. In my head, when I began planning this piece, I had intended for the two floral pieces to be touching in the middle, and to just finish the piece with some large chain and a clasp.

But… the spider web piece had other things in mind. With the way the web holes are, combined with the pattern on the floral pieces (which determined hole placement in those pieces) things didn’t line up the way I wanted. They were either going to be overlapping in the middle, or spaced farther apart. For what I hope are obvious reasons, I went with farther apart. Unfortunately, that spacing made the piece less stable, so it needed more base structure.

This is where I stopped for a few months. It’s really hard, when you have a solid plan in your head, that you think is going to turn out really well, it can be hard to switch gears. So, I put it down on my bench. I would pick it up from time to time, thinking how it still looked really cool, and was going to be an awesome piece when it was done. But then I would put it back down and do something else.

I’ve been in a funk for a while, struggling to create. That’s usually when I reach for my startedbutnotfinished pile. (anyone else have eleventy-seven unfinished projects to choose from?) So, a few weeks ago, I decided IT. WAS. TIME. I narrowed down my options to two. Either black leather, or a copper cuff. So I took some pictures. Posted them on Instagram. Got good reactions to both.

    Black Leather Base
Copper Cuff Base

 

And then I didn’t finish it.

I know, I know!!! Pathetic, right?

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Since then, my funk got a little bit funky. I would walk into my “workshop” (it’s a closet, remember?) and basically walk back out again. But yesterday, I had the day off work, and I went down and just got to work on the cuff. I had to improvise a little on drilling the copper cuff.

That is a dowel, plus a bunch of scrap leather stuffed inside the cuff to hold the dowel tight (enough) against the cuff. 

Thankfully it worked really well, and before I knew it, the whole thing was finished.

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And it’s fabulous. Don’t you think?

This piece (and everything else!) is for sale over at Facebook. And please follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Season’s Greetings

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Hello Friends! I’m sure you have been anxiously waiting for me to blog again. Right? (If not, just lie to me and say you were.)

I haven’t posted in a while (SHOCKER!) so why don’t I give you a quick run-down on what I’ve been up to since I posted last.

The main thing that has kept me busy the last 4 months *cringe* is that I got a job. Like the for-real, comes-with-a-paycheck kind. I’m just a substitute paraeducator, so I have a bit of freedom with when I want to work, but honestly, I have worked a lot more than I had expected to. Which is so great on so many levels, but it has also made the transition a bit harder. I haven’t had a job in 13 years. Boy, let me tell you, that interview was SCARY. Plus, you know, the sad little resume that I had to compile. And then there’s that whole “when do I do laundry?” thing, and all those other little things that I used to be able to do during the day. Well, I had the option of doing them, anyway. I can’t honestly say I kept up on housework THAT much better. I’m lazy. It’s one of my special gifts. But anyway, that’s the basic gist of what my biggest time-sucker has been. I must say, though, that I really enjoy hanging out with those kids, even with the behavior obstacles. It’s been a lot of fun.

We also had a couple rounds of company come through, plus a couple of ho-hum fall events. Then a family trip for Thanksgiving. THAT is always a blast. My whole family gets together, the cousins play, the adults adult, and we just have a wonderful time. I tend to unplug as much as I possibly can during those days. There’s just not really anything that important that I need to keep up with that trumps family time.

But. The day we got back. Things got real.

You see… my youngest child’s school hadn’t had a book fair in 4 years. We’ve been here for 2, and it took about a year of me waiting and waiting for the book fair to come before I asked when it usually is. Which is how I found out we hadn’t had one in a while. And let me tell you… that bothered me. A bunch. Which also says that it was my job to make one happen. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like something, and have the ability to change it, then it is YOUR job to do so. I don’t agree with sitting on the sides and grumbling about how much you don’t like something. Nope. That doesn’t sit well with me. So, this fall, I started the process of putting together a book fair. It was set for Parent/Teacher conference week, which just happened to be the week after Thanksgiving. Yippee!!! (please read that with plenty of sarcasm)

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There are so many things I learned, and even though it went far better than I thought it would, I have a lot of things to adjust and do differently. It definitely consumed an entire week, plus all the prep, so it was a lot of work, but it was so completely worth it to see how excited those kids were. Most of them had never seen a book fair. So even if it hadn’t been a huge success, it still would have been worth it.

But once that was done, I had what was supposed to be my biggest vendor event of the year. Last year it was my best event to date, so while I tried to not get my hopes up too high, I figured it would be a decent event. Well, it didn’t work out that way. In fact, it was really pretty lousy. But I had several custom orders come in, so sad, pathetic event aside, the holiday season went very well for me. And the orders keep coming in! I feel so so blessed. There have been so many times that I have wondered if it’s just time to sell the bulk of my supplies, and shut B.Accessorized down. But then I have a stretch like I have had the last 6 weeks or so, and it gives me a lot of hope.

Now, toss in a giant amount of running all of my kids to their various events/games/church/friend’s houses plus having friends over here, and Christmas, and all the other family type things, it’s been a busy few months. My days run from 6am until 8:30pm most days. It has made it hard to build much inventory. But I’m making it work.

Now, what are my plans for the near future?

Well, my main goal right now is to give Etsy another big push, and see if I can find more success there. We’ll see if I can really buckle down and get a lot of things up and on the site. I need to re-photograph pretty much everything, organize everything, and then there’s the dreaded description of everything. I’m hoping I can get into a good groove with it, and it’ll start to feel easier.

Here are a few of the pieces I have made recently…

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Stamped Cuffs
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My Challenge Entry!
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This is my most requested piece. And one of my personal favorites!
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These were a custom order. They are horse bridle charms stamped with each horse’s name.
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Custom order, in memory of a loved one.

 

Thanks for sticking with me! As always, follow me here, there, and everywhere!

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Facing a Fear

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A big thing that I struggle with in the world of jewelry making is messing too much with my plated brass findings. Plain ol’ brass, no problem. Add the super amazing finishes to them, and I have a hard time committing to actually using them. Sure, I pick them up and fiddle with them, dream a little about what they could be. But taking that next step and actually starting… umm, no. I think it’s because they are #1  so pretty already, and #2  that they cost more, so I want to make sure I use them right, and don’t waste or ruin them.

I. am. a. chicken.

Let’s take my current project as an example.

I ordered what is called a muse package from B’SueBoutiques. This one was focused on the current 2-month challenge, which was using what is called chocolate brass,

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Gosh… look at all the pretty things!!! And doesn’t it seriously look like chocolate?!?!?

mixed with this color palate:

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So, I of course procrastinated a bit, but eventually I came up with an idea. It was a pretty decent idea, if I do say so myself. BUT it involved messing with the beautifully plated choxie, which, as I mentioned before, scares the living daylights out of me.

I decided I wanted to play with these flowers:

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the little ones for sure. I wanted to start with earrings, and see how it went.

Now, this is going to seem a little silly, but the scary thing I had to do was punch a hole. No joke. (No laughing! Well… maybe a small chuckle. I deserve it.)

It seems like a little thing, that’s not really a big deal, right? Well, here’s the thing… That one, single, itty bitty hole that I had to punch would tell me if these would hang well or not. So if it worked, great. No big deal. BUT WHAT IF IT DIDN’T WORK? Then what? What do I do with this flower that has a random hole on one of the petals?

Now do you see my dilemma?

Yes. I know. It’s still pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. But it stresses me out. I made myself punch the first hole, tossed a jump ring in, and it hung just fine and dandy. So we’re cool. The project can continue!

 

Well, once that stress was over, it came together fairly quickly. I had more holes to punch, then a dangly doodad to assemble for each. I actually took the time to google methods for creating the dangle, and I’m glad I did. I usually make them look okay, but this was way better, with far less time on trial and error. I don’t make them very often, so I think that’s why it usually takes me so much time. (And time-saving on my end = $ saving on yours!)

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And since the earrings went pretty well, I decided to go ahead and make a matching necklace. I don’t do actual sets very often, so this was another small stretch for me on this challenge, which, in my opinion, is part of the point of a challenge.

So. Mission accomplished.

Here’s the finished set:

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I’ve had some great feedback so far on this color combination, so let me know if you agree!

As always, thank you for stopping by, taking a look, and supporting me and my fellow artisans. We appreciate you so very much!

PS: I just created a separate Instagram just for B.Accessorized, so be sure to give me a follow!

PPS: My Etsy shop is in vacation mode. I’m hoping to get it back up and running very soon. Facebook is the best place to shop right now. Thanks!

 

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Etsy.

Finding What Works

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See that? No mountains like Western Montana, but Eastern Montana is still gorgeous!

We were on vacation last week. We went to my hometown, where we haven’t been in 4 years. It was so much fun. But I was itching to get back to work today. It’s harder to carve out time when the kiddos are home during the summer. But it was Work Table Wednesday today, so it was a great excuse to take some time to work.

When I head to my closet workshop to work, sometimes I have a plan, and sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, it usually means a lot of fiddling, but not actually getting much done. Occasionally, though, it leads to something amazing, and usually more creative. I’m at the point, too, that when I do finally get an idea, I usually have a good idea of what tools and techniques I need to make the magic happen. And then I have a plan, and the thing gets made, and life is grand.

But (as my 10 year old currently says) NOT today, Son.

I had my plan, but part of it wasn’t working. Here’s my problem:

See this sunflower?

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Isn’t it pretty?

I am going to attach it to this spider webby thingy.

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Spider web thingy. =D Official terms only, of course. 

But the center of the sunflower is domed. The web thing is not. But I need them attached at the center.

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See the domed center?

Sooooo… I dapped the web a bit, which helped a smidge.

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Dapped… and not dapped (aka: flat)

But there was still a pretty large gap between the two pieces. So I dug around on my bench, and in my little drawer deals. After a few minutes, I came across package of brads that I had bought a few years ago, thinking I needed them, but never did use.

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And the little prong deals are long enough that there is enough to fold over.

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I don’t LOVE the way the top looks with the whole deal, so I am going to go look for some alternatives. But I think the idea just might work. I really hope so, because the piece this is for will be really cool when finished.

Well, in theory anyway.

Anyone have a suggestion for how to do it differently? I’m all ears eyes!!!

Thanks for stopping by! My Etsy shop is still in vacation mode, until I get some things squared away, but please give me a follow there, and on Facebook (where things are always for sale), Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Look What I Got!

 

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Is anyone else out there their own worst enemy? At least part of the time? I know I am.

Remember how I told you last time that we had company for two weeks recently? Well, being a total glutton for punishment, just before they were scheduled to arrive, I decided it would be a fine time to place an order from my favorite supplier. I had a purpose for part of my order, but the timing couldn’t have been much worse.

Do you have a website you love to shop at? One that once you start looking, you can’t stop? Yeah? Well, that’s B’Sue Boutiques for me. I made myself keep my order small, but I also needed to order from her back room at Etsy. (double torture…) I ordered the couple of things I actually had intended to buy, plus a few other small add-ons. Because shopping.

So on day 2 of my in-laws’ visit, my package showed up. Day 2 of 14. *sigh* I made myself wait until they left to open it, as the consequence of my stupidity. The timing of the order was terrible. If you read my last post, and some of my others, you know that it’s not the fact that I had visitors. They would have been totally fine with me taking time to work. But since my workshop is in the guest room closet, it was all packed up, and I had no access to it. Please feel free to roll your eyes at my decision on ordering when I did.

But, the day did come when I could open my package and admire my purchases. I was completely giddy, no joke. I have yet to receive something from B’Sue that I don’t absolutely love. Everything they sell is wonderful.

This is my order from the B’Sue Boutiques website.

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This is my order from the backroom at Etsy. The bracelet bar was intentional. The vintage hearts… couldn’t resist. I’m really excited to add some color to them, though they are gorgeous as they are.

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And these are my freebies from Etsy. Because B’Sue Boutiques rocks my world. They are so generous, all the time.

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So my orders were totally worth the wait. But man was it hard to stare at that package for nearly 2 full weeks.

Now, it’s time to play with my new pieces, and my old pieces, and do some makering. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for stopping by! And please give me a follow on Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter!

Back in Action

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Hello hello! I’ve been gone for a while (again…) but I’m hoping to be back in action regularly for a while to come. The last 6 months or so have been a little on the crazy side. But I THINK most of the crazy is over.

I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats, wondering what on earth has kept me away. Well, you can sit back and relax, and I’ll tell you. I’ll try to keep it short though.

After the holiday madness, including my best show to date, we had a couple of weeks off. Then, insanity began. We took a 9 day trip to Disney, which included getting snowed in on our way home. About a week after we got back, I had knee surgery. I had fully intended to keep up on blogging, etc., while I recovered. But I didn’t. I binge watched NCIS instead. And napped. There was a lot of napping. It was amazing.

For week 3 of my recovery, my better half had to go out of town for the week, so my Mom came to hang out with me. THAT was amazing. We had so much fun, even doing basically nothing. We played with polymer clay a bit, and might have had a few cups of hot chocolate… I don’t get to hang with my mom very often, so I really enjoyed having her here.

A few weeks later, we had company for Easter.

Then 2 weeks after that, we had more company.

I had a vendor event in there somewhere.

And my in-laws just came for two weeks.

I love having company. I really really do.

However… My workshop is in the guest room closet.

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This is what my workshop looks like when I have to pack everything into it. It’s a little scary.

So, as you can imagine, my things have spent a LOT of time packed away over the last several months. I did manage to make some newer pieces, and I also took some time to purge a LOT of stuff. When we moved from Ohio to Iowa, I did an initial purge, but it wasn’t enough. I went from a huge, for-real workshop to a closet. I really needed to scale back. I still have more I could probably get rid of, but for now, I’m just happy to have removed a significant amount of extra stuff I wasn’t using.

Now we just have baseball, the summer musical and all the rehearsals that go with it, swimming (at 6:45am. Super fun!!!), athletics camps, a mission trip for one of the kiddos, a family trip to Montana to see my folks (YAY!), and a trip to MSP to babysit my niece and nephews for a week. You know, a nice relaxing summer. There will be as many afternoons at the pool, friends staying over, and fire pit nights as we can manage. Most of the busy stuff is for the soon-to-be 13 year old. The boys have it pretty easy.

So, now I am hoping to get into a bit of a groove, and carve out some dedicated time for working.

I have an event coming up this fall that I have some ideas for. I will be making some fairly specialized pieces that I hope will really go over well. However, it’s my first outdoor event. I’m a bit nervous about it. If any of you out there in cyberspace have any tips for me, or recommendations for a canopy, I am all ears (or is it eyes?)

I’m really sorry I have been missing in action lately. I hope each and every one of you is doing well, and enjoying life. I know I am.

And feel free to nudge me if I’m not keeping up! And tell me what plans you have for the summer. =D

May God bless you all. Thanks for reading!

 

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Unintended Outcomes

A few weeks ago, I ordered some pieces from my favorite supplier. I had ordered similar things in the past, and had very specific ideas on what I was going to create with them. They would fit pretty well into the general look of what I do. I was actually quite proud of my order. In that past, I have done a lot of “Oooh, that’s cool! I think I’ll get it.” ordering. Not a good idea. You end up with stuff that is really neat, but it makes deciding what to make a whole lot tougher. (I might or might not have a decent sized stash of stuff I like but don’t know what to do with) So, this time, I knew where I was going. Go, Me!

I was not disappointed when I got my order. Then again, it’s pretty hard to be disappointed with what you order from B’Sue. I had ordered one more cabochon than I needed, so I could pick once I saw them in person. And I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a use for the extra.

The large filigrees I was using for this project were raw brass, which, in my world, needed to be torched. Have I mentioned how much I love coloring metal with fire? It’s SO fun. Anyway, they turned out really cool. I torched them at the same time, but used a bit more fire on one than the other, and got totally different results. Fire is fun, friends. (in a safely controlled manner) Awesome. I was so excited. Before I sealed them, I decided to fiddle around with composition. I had two filigrees and three cabs to work with.

 

And I didn’t like ANY of the combinations.

Well, drat.

*deep breath*

So I started digging. I pulled out a lot of different stuff and started trying various combinations. It took quite a bit of time. But eventually I found some things that I liked enough to start putting them together. I was really disappointed that my original plans weren’t going to come together, but that’s life, right? I had intended the pieces to be long necklaces. But that just didn’t seem right with the direction change. So, they are now bracelets. Well, one is. The other is a bracelet-in-training.

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Bracelet-in-traning

The one that is completed looks pretty stellar, in my opinion. I have had book chain for months, but it’s such a special item that I have been waiting to use it. It needed just the right project. And I could totally hear my father reminding me “measure twice, cut once.” Granted, I wasn’t actually cutting the chain, but the concept was the same. I wasn’t interested in attempting to re-attach any bits to the main length of chain, so I wanted to make sure I separated off the right amounts. The FIRST time. And good golly, that chain is worth every penny. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m so glad I used it, even though it was stressful (I hate wasting the good stuff. And this chain is definitely the good stuff)

The end results are slightly different than my usual style, but I think they still work pretty well with the rest of my pieces. What do you think?

 

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