Sunday, October 30, 2011

Julie At The Textile Center's Holiday Sale

So, it's been a while since I blogged about submitting work to be juried for the Textile Center's Holiday Sale. I did, indeed, get accepted and instead of blogging about it immediately set to work creating beads and jewelry for the show. But now it's been sent in and the show will be starting next Tuesday. I will have earrings, bracelets, sweater & shawl pins, and necklaces available and all feature her handmade, annealed lampwork beads. The show will be a great place to look for special handmade gifts that you might not have time to make yourself, and I certainly hope something of mine might be perfect for someone on your list!

Textile Center
3000 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414 (Map)
Telephone 612-436-0464

Holiday Sale November 1 to December 30, 2011
Free and open to the public
Gallery & Shop Hours are
Mon-Thu 10-7,
Fri & Sat 10-5

Grand Opening Weekend for Holiday Show and Sale
Nov. 11, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 13, 12 to 4 p.m.

textile center sale display
The textile center says this about the sale, "If you love buying and giving finely crafted, artist-made work, this show and sale is perfect for you. The Holiday Show and Sale features high-quality fiber art by more than 150 artists from Minnesota and across the country. Artwork ranges from unique knitted mittens, felted ornaments and beaded jewelry to stunning art quilts, woven placemats and shibori-dyed garments. No matter your holiday budget, you will find plenty to give and treasure."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jury Anxiety

Last Monday the 18th I submitted three groups of work to be submitted for the Textile Center's Holiday Sale. It's a juried show, which means that a group of people sit down and look at your work to see if it meets their criteria for show worthiness. Normally, as I submit something, I feel pretty confident. But as I wait, during the days the jury is looking at the work and afterward waiting for the official notice (which will be mailed August 10th), I start feeling increasingly anxious.

I learned about the sale from the MNArtists Newsletter the week before and immediately started drawing out designs and making components for the July 16th (yup, the both dates in this paragraph are correct) deadline.

Other people may be more efficient than I am, but when I conceptualize or sketch designs that feature lampwork beads, I have to add at least three extra days to the production cycle beyond the time I need to plan and put the designs together. That's one day to make the beads, annealing during the night, then cleaning the next day. If those don't work out there's that second evening to recreate the beads, annealing again through the night, and cleaning the new beads on day three. That's assuming I have a clear idea of the beads I'll need and how I'm going to make them. Fortunately in this case I knew exactly what I wanted (borosilicate glass bobbins) and how to make them (I've been practicing disks a lot lately, so creating a smooth tube with disk ends was no problem). So, with six total days my schedule was really tight, but if nothing else got on the schedule (like work or family), I'd be okay.

Being the Textile Center, they were particularly interested in work that, "Honors textile traditions and promotes excellence and innovation in fiber art." Fantastic! I have several designs that (I hope) promote excellence and innovation in fiber art.

Three pieces from my I-Cord Jewelry collection. Notice that they do not match.

The sticky wicket in this case was that knitting up cuffs to felt or knitting I-cord takes time and I wanted to make new, matching, I-cord cables, and several cuffs to go with my new line of lampworked buttons. Did I mention I was on a tight schedule to meet the deadline? Plus, family and work are always on the agenda. Saturday came and I wasn't close to done, so I set the projects aside, making a mental note to work on them more for next year, and started working on other things with upcoming deadlines (like the Lampwork etc. silver glass murrini challenge that I needed to send out Saturday, too). I thought that was the end of the story.

Those of you who know me know that I think voicemail is pretty much the stupidest thing on earth. If you need to get a hold of me, phone is never the best method and voicemail ... you should just know you ought not hold your breath to hear back from me becase chances are it'll get deleted from the system before I check it. So Monday I was at work and Adrianne called for her morning check-in and asked if I got her voicemail Saturday.

Now that you're done laughing, let me just clarify that the answer was "um, no." More background information: The store where I work, Knits & Pearls is a bead and yarn store. As might be expected in a world that is becoming more interconnected every day, one of our fabulous regular customers, Terrie, is very closely acquainted with the manager of the Textile Store. Being that the Holiday Sale at the Textile Center was both beading and knitting related, I had mentioned to the group of ladies that comes to the store for the Wednesday Knitting Clinic that I was working on putting work together for the jury process. When Terrie saw her friend on Saturday (the day of the deadline), she asked if I had submitted my work. I hadn't. However, the Textile Center friend told Terrie that she would extend the deadline to Monday for me. Terrie called Adrianne, Adrianne called me, and if I had seen that she called and checked my messages I'd have had plenty of time. Something else to chalk up as a life lesson.

When someone extends a deadline just for me, I do my best not to totally blow it. Thus, Monday was chaotic. When I told Adrianne on the phone that I didn't have the pieces complete she said, hoping that if I become better known in the community the store will also, I should focus on getting my pieces ready to take in. While I was and am very thankful for that opportunity, doubt was born as I was scurrying to gather old samples and make new ones that would fufill the requirement that we have up to three categories of distinctly different items with a maximum of three examples of each. The I-cord pieces were very close to what I had in mind to submit. The two wire sweater and shawl pins weren't what I had thought I should submit, but it is a good supplement to the theme of fiber products. The wire jewelry wasn't, in the least, what I had invisioned submitting. On top of that, because I was hurrying, I didn't feel like I was producing my very best work. While the already-made pieces I gathered were fine, I had been hoping to have new, matching pieces to submit.

Jurying is based on the following criteria:
• General appeal
• Workmanship
• Price
• Relationship to Textile Center mission (Honoring textile traditions and promoting excellence and innovation in fiber art.)

I feel that, on general appeal and price, that I'm fine. On workmanship and relationship to the Textile Center mission, I'd have to honestly admit that I'm not confident that my work was able to stand up to the kind of scrutiny I'd expect it to and I'm very disappointed in myself for that. Granted, at some point you have to submit what you have and try, and let the competition do its work. But, in the end, I'd like to think I'm capable of achieving goals that are higher than settling for good enough. Is it wrong to hope the jurors thought I accomplished that?

Three pieces from my Wire & Lampwork collection

Friday, July 8, 2011

Please, please do NOT finish your ends like this!

As the jewelry instructor at Knits & Pearls, where I also work as a sales assistant, I do all of the jewelry repairs, redesign, and restringing projects that come in. One of our customers brought in a pretty garnet and sterling necklace today, made by a local Twin Cities designer, to be split into a two strand necklace.

If you're familiar with my blog you know I have a serious, serious beef with designers selling jewelry that looks like they just got out of their first jewelry making class at the big box craft store. Let me show you a picture of the necklace and explain what I mean.

Please, please do NOT finish your ends like this!
No, I'm not going to let you see who it is. That's just not nice.

Crimp beadsmashed flat with pliers not the crimping variety.Arrrrgh! It looks bad, it leaves four corners to scratch you, and it doesn't capture the beading cable as efficiently as possible. Crimping pliers are specially designed (like the much-larger pliers designed for the industrially used ferrule) to minimize work hardening and stress on the metal, which in turn helps prevent breakage. Additionally, the crimping pliers bends the crimp tube in a way that creates redundancy in the way it captures the stringing cable, better ensuring that the crimp bead holds the cable without being prone to breakage.
Crimp coverNoneWhy should you use a crimp cover? Besides covering the crimp bead to create a more polished aesthetic, it creates a buffer around the crimp bead by absorbing and diverting a lot of the stress caused by movement of the bracelet and clasp, helping prevent accidental breakage.
Wire Guardian or French WireNoneLike with the crimp cover, this finishing component offers both an aesthetic and practical purpose. Most beading cable, unless you purchase the sterling silver cable, doesn't look particularly pretty, so it's nice to cover it up. In order to hide the cable many designers just pull the cable tight, tight against the jump ring (bad) or clasp loop (double bad), putting an enormous stress on the crimp tube, which often causes the crimp tube to fail. Third, it prevents abrasion of the stringing cable by the movement of the clasp, again preventing damage to the cable and increasing the strength and integrity of the bracelet. In this case the designer did not pull the loop particularly tight, but it is still less-than-attractive and susceptible to abrasion.
Beading CableLooks like SoftFlex 0.018That's a good brand of beading cable with a really durable coating and in a heavy enough gauge to help prevent the natural gemstones, with their often-rough beadholes, from abraiding through the cable. However, look at the way the ends were cut - out in the open right next to the crimp tube. This is a problem, first, because those ends can rub against the skin and cause irritation; second, because cutting the ends so close to the crimp bead can put stress on the crimp tube if cut too close and doesn't give the wearer any insurance against losing the beads should the crimp tube fail. Whenever possible, you need to weave the beading cable back through several beads before cutting.
Jump RingPresentHooray! It's there. It's small enough to be unobtrusive, yet large enough to easily accommodate the clasp and allow movement, which prevents stress of the clasp and crimp bead. It's also of a heavy enough gauge to minimize accidental deformation or opening. While some artists would claim it's much more secure to attach the clasp directly to the bracelet without a jump ring, I'd counter that a properly-chosen jump ring is just as secure, serves to absorb and divert stresses caused by the movement of the clasp and bracelet away from the crimp bead, making the bracelet much more secure, and makes alterations of the clasp and bracelet much easier to perform.

Why do I care? It's primarily self-interest. As a designer, I want buyers to feel confident when they look at a handmade piece of jewelry. I don't want those consumers to become jaded from buying my work because they've purchased other handmade jewelry in the past that has broken. It's the designer's responsibility to be aware of all the tools and findings at their disposal to make their work more beautifully finished and durable. While there are certainly very saavy buyers out there, they shouldn't need to do metallurgy research before going out to purchase a bracelet. Making jewelry to give away to your friends is one thing, but being a professional jewelry designer involves much more than being able to pick out pretty beads and assorting them in manner pretty enough for others to notice; it's about being able to give your honest, informed appraisal that the work you are selling will never physically irritate the wearer, snag hair or clothing, nor break from expected wear and tear.

Did I include everything a designer needs to know about jewelry design here? No. There are additional concerns involved with the mechanics of putting a bracelet together, such as making sure the distribution of weight around the piece keeps it in the orientation in which it's meant to be worn. I haven't even touched upon the principles and elements of art and design: rules that should be understood well before they're broken. Any design choice should be a result of careful reflection, not because you didn't know a different or better way to do it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Standards Do You Use To Judge The Quality of Handmade Jewelry?

Have you heard that I'm hosting a design contest with my lampwork beads? If not, you should check it out.

I've just finished creating the detailed contest scoring rubric to go along with the basic scoring criteria that I originally posted for the contest. Even if you aren't participating I think its good to share what other artists think defines excellence and what separates that excellence from $@#$. I acknowledge that some of these criteria are project specific. In my case the point of the contest is to get pictures of jewelry that showcase even my B-Squad, Junior Varsity beads, so the prominence of those beads is weighted heavily. Additionally, since it's my website and because it will make it possible for me to judge projects more consistently, I am enforcing that the participants adhere more to my own aesthetic of clean design, balancing simplicity with interest.

The comments in the rubric reflect the thinking that would lead to the assignment of a particular score. Where I thought it might be necessary, I added some clarifying points on what would cause me to think such thoughts.

Whether the world will cheer this on as the standard against which all jewelry shall be judged, or cast stones upon me as a heretic, the rubric will stand for the contest. But I'm interested: what do you think are important criteria to consider when judging the quality of handmade jewelry? Which criteria do you think are the most and least important and how should different criteria be weighted? Let me know!

Prominence of lampwork beads30%
Creative use of materials20%
Balance of simplicity and interest20%
Refinement of technique20%

Contest Rubric: What Julie is likely to be thinking as she assigns points ...

Prominence of lampwork beads weighted 30%
100% Points The eye is immediately drawn to the lampwork beads and, boy, do they look g.o.o.d!
75% Points You have to hunt a little to find all of the beads, but they are still well-displayed.
50% Points Where are ... oh, okay. I see them. kind of.
25% Points Okay, I think I see a lampwork bead or two in there, but where are the rest? They weren't THAT bad, were they?
0% Points It is impossible to tell that there are any lampwork beads included in the design. Are there lampwork beads included in the design?

The main purpose for this contest is to obtain photographs of finished jewelry that feature my beads so I can post them on my website. While primarily selfish, the best designs will be the best ambassadors for my beads, so I would like the designs to be as close to professional in quality as possible with my beads as visible as possible.

Creative use of materials / Originality of design weighted 20%
100% Points I never would have thought of that, but boy am I glad you did! That looks astounding!
75% Points I've pondered that technique, and I've seen other people do something similar, but you really rocked it and made it yours.
50% Points I've seen other people try something similar, so I'm glad you gave it a shot, too, but it's not particularly original, unfortunately.
25% Points I know I've seen that before, almost exactly the way you've done it. However since I can't remember exactly where, I'll give you a break ... this time.
0% Points Not only have I seen an exact copy of this design before, but I can name the artist without a Google search.

While I gave you the challenge of using my B-squad Junior Varsity beads, I do know that not every design needs to have the theme of bright and shiny. Pick a theme that suits the beads. Sometimes you need to go organic or industrial, for example, to make the beads really speak out. Once you pick your theme you want to pick materials that simply and accurately speak to that theme, but you want to do it in a unique and original way. (Plus, I don't want to get sued for copyright infringement, so I can't post an image of your design if you submit a design that copies someone else's creative intellectual property.)

Balance of simplicity and interest weighted 20%
100% Points Is it possible to say that I love every component of this design best? I can clearly see every component and every component draws my interest.
75% Points Yeah. I like it. You maybe went a tiny overboard somewhere, or could have added a little extra oomph, but that's just me wanting to see and appreciate every part.
50% Points Okay. It's probably me, but I am a little confused about what you were trying to do with this piece. It's not bad, but it's not ... well ... good, either.
25% Points Interesting start, though this piece is either too "simple" or too "interesting". (see comment below)
0% Points The point of simplicity is so you can see the perfection of what you have done with the space, not what you have not. Similarly, the point of including embellishments is to draw the eye and have aesthetic purpose, not to drown the eye then poke it out.
Refinement of technique weighted 20%
100% Points I am weeping with joy and envy at the perfection of your technique.
75% Points You should be very proud of this! Only one or two barely noticible mistakes. Well done!
50% Points Really excellent effort. I can tell you've been practicing and with a little more practice you'll be great at this.
25% Points Well, okay. We might need to work a little more on effective practice. I can tell you're trying, but, well ... you are trying, aren't you?
0% Points Interesting effort. Altering a technique because you can't do the technique doesn't count, unfortunately.

While I hope that I don't need to explain this, what I mean by refinement of technique is: that it appears technically correct in every way and that you could go to any other teacher of the technique and they would be impressed; that the piece is structurally sound, that you selected the proper materials for the job; that you took the time to care for the material as you worked with it so it didn't get worn, dented, frayed, discolored, kinked, or otherwise abused as you tried to manipulate it. Feel free to examine the tutorials or blogs of experts inthe technique you are using for clarification on the expectations for excellence (or the signposts of poor execution) in that technique.

Finishing weighted 10%
100% Points Perfection! No sloppy or sharp edges anywhere, surface finish is consistent and fits the theme of the piece, all strings/wire are tucked where they are supposed to be and everything that should be covered is covered; this could be sold at a high-end boutique.
75% Points With the exception of a couple of fingerprints or a slightly sloppy edge or two, maybe some bare material where some feature could have been added, I only notice because I'm a perfectionist! Your friends would fight each other to buy this!
50% Points Okay, it looks like you might have been rushing a little to finish. Surface looks cleaned, but not polished or finished. Edges are sloppy, but not particularly sharp or dangerous. In a class Julie would have probably let this slide, but wouldn't have given praise, either.
25% Points It's pretty obvious other things were on your mind. Most edges are sloppy and some are sharp, or beadwork strings weren't trimmed enough. Surfaces weren't cleaned. In a class, Julie would have made you fix this.
0% Points Watch out! This piece is downright dirty and dangerous! Are you trying to kill me?

Finishing includes all of the little details that differentiate a practice piece from something I'll have to fight the Smithsoanian to photograph. It's the cleanliness of the piece, not just freedom from dirt but also freedom from loose ends that didn't get properly secured; its filing anything that might be abrasive on the skin or clothing; the finish - whether shiny or patinated, textured or smooth; it's also selecting closures and findings that speak to the theme and complexity of the piece, and not choosing them haphazardly from your stash.

I hope it goes without saying that I don't want to assign 0% points, or even 25% or 50% points to anyone. The comments are honetly meant to help you better understand what not to do, not to tempt you to deserve them, so please ask yourself if you have done everything in your creative powers to avoid that. I want you to be able to get those free beads from my Etsy store!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The End Of An Era

As you may have read in some of my previous Facebook posts, my sister-in-law, Stacey, is fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk this year. She's having a garage sale this weekend and I was thinking of what else I could donate to the cause. Two things I thought of were the coffee table and TV stand that were in my parent's living room when I was a little girl. Sentimental, to be sure, but not something I can think of a use for and so they should probably go. But, before they do, I wanted to document what has been somewhat contentious issue in my family: I was not the deviant 5-year-old grafitti artist that my mother claims.


You see, I've had artistic inclinations since I was a wee little girl. And, yes, there were moments when my genius was misunderstood. How was I supposed to know my parents wouldn't appreciate the crayon mural I created on my bedroom wall? I would also argue that lipstick is a perfectly legitimate medium for bathroom mirror art. Yes, I DID attempt to clean the furniture with rubbing alcohol at one point, which you can see in the photo, but THAT was well-intentioned. The ALLEGED incident in question was when I was kindergarten-aged and my mother had punished me, or something else I didn't appreciate, and so I took a marker and scribbled swear words on the bottom of the living room furniture.

I am innocent of the claim and I have the proof.


Does this look like profanity to you?



Okay, so there is some original artwork ...


You're welcome, Stacey. Price accordingly.

... and what appears to be the plot sketch of an early work of fiction ...


I might have been a bit precocious.

... but not the egregious blasphemy of which I have been accused.

So now the tables go, and so goes, I hope, these undeserved accusations of a depraved childhood of reckless self-expression. So misunderstood. ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Staying Cool, Staying Busy

Here in Saint Paul, MN today, it got hot. Way hot. Over 100 hot with around 50% humidity H.O.T. So, Sawyer and I needed to find some indoor diversions. Normally, when I'm at home with Sawyer while Sean is at work, I don't get to work on my Work. Today, however, was unusual in more ways than the heat given that Sawyer seemed content to stay inside, to partake in independent play time, and he took an extra-long nap. It was a perfect storm of productivity factors and I felt like I got a lot done on the work-front today.

Since I have a lampwork trunk show scheduled at Knits & Pearls on Tuesday June 21 through Thursday June 23, I thought I ought to do some of my inside-tasks, namely photographing some of the focal beads I've been making.

The current iteration of my bead and jewelry photography setup.

Sadly, this is the best picture I got of my beads all day.

Unfortunately, while my current photography setup does a gangbusters job of lighting jewelry, it's hard to get my camera to focus on beads. Wanting to avoid overwhelming frustration I decided to move on to another project.

Playdough is one of Sawyer's top-three favorite indoor activities, so I decided to introduce him to my pasta machine, giving me an opportunity to try the Mokume Gane technique on polymer clay, inspired by Angela Design on Etsy. I found a pretty good tutorial on YouTube. I didn't make anything too fancy, but I was pleased with my first-try results. The take-away lessons were:

  • don't make the layers too thin; there seems to be a perfect layer thickness that I will have to play to find.

  • While it is easier to get deep impressions with smaller stamps (a 1x1" compared to, say, a 3x4" stamp), it is hard to get all of the individual stamps equally deep.

  • a very light touch is required with the tissue blade. You have to pay attention that you're only shaving off the raised portion of the design and not accidentally go underneath.

  • Interestingly, it turns out that the pasta machine was good for conditioning the old Playdough as well as the polymer clay.

    Playdough ... less doughy than it should be.

    Feeding the Playdough through the pasta machine.

    Added a splash of water to the surface

    Keep feeding it through until all traces of water are gone.

    Repeat the last two steps until you reign victorious over the crustified Playdough.

    And that is the fun we had while staying out of the heat today.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    A Mother's Day Design

    While I was at work I came up with a Mother's Day design idea for our customers looking for last-minute, personal gifts. I just wanted to share that with you all, too!

    mother's day necklace

    For this Mother's Day Birthstone Necklace you'll need the following tools and materials:

    basic jewelry making tools
    (from left to right) round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers, and side (wire) cutters.

    parts for my mom's mother's day necklaceheart charm

    The quantities will depend upon the number of stones you'll be using in your necklace and whether or not you want to include spouses and grandchildren.

  • Crystals (or stones) in your family's birthstone colors

  • 24" fine chain

  • Clasp

  • Small jump rings
    a minimum of four are needed: two for the heart charm and one for each end of the chain. You don't need more if you're just doing siblings, but add two for each spouse/grandchild group you want to include.

  • Large jump rings
    You'll need one for the chain end, one for the heart charm, and one for each sibling.

  • Heart charm

  • Headpins
    one for each person.

  • Here is a table that shows the Swarovski birthstone colors with a chart of the birthstone names for each month:

    swarovski birthstonesJanuary
    blue zircon

    To make a charm, simply slide the crystal or stone onto a headpin and use the round nose pliers to make a 3/4 loop 3mm above the crystal. Attach this loop to a large jump ring; if you are just including siblings you won't include the small jump rings and chain. Holding the loop with the flat nose pliers, use the chain nose pliers to wrap the tail around the wire between the loop and crystal. If you are unfamiliar with the loop and wrap technique, you can refer to this online tutorial Julie posted September 2010.
    attach charms

    If you are including spouses and grandchildren, attach the spouse to either the large jump ring or the small jump ring attached to it. Attach the grandchildren to the small jump ring on the end of the chain connected to the large jump ring.

    Slide the large jump rings with crystals attached onto the end of the necklace chain (which you can now cut shorter, if you wish). Open a short jump ring and pick up one end of the chain and the clasp. Open a second small jump ring and pick up the second end of chain and a large jump ring; the large jump ring makes it easier to close and keeps the charms from sliding off the necklace.

    slide on charms and attach jump ring with clasp

    mother's day necklace
    Have a great Mother's Day, everyone!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Lampworking Class Details

    I neglected to provide these important details about Saturday's lampworking class in the last post:

    Location: Knits & Pearls

    Time:10:30am to 4:30pm with an hour break for lunch

    and again, the date is Saturday, March 5th.

    You'll need to wear close-fitting natural fiber clothing, like cotton or wool and, if applicable, have your hair tied back.

    If you have questions regarding the class, please e-mail me. Finally, if anyone out there is interested in the 12th, please let me know today or tomorrow.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Lampworking Class This Saturday, March 5th.

    Julie is very excited to announce that we've gotten enough interest to hold a lampworking class this Saturday, March 5th, with a second class scheduled for Saturday, March 12th for anyone that can't make it on the 5th or wants a second practice session with help. We still have a couple of openings for anyone else who might be interested.

    sterling and lampwork necklace

    What is lampworking? Lampworking is the name for making handmade glass beads with a torch, glass rods, and a mandrel around which you wind the molten glass. You'll learn about safety, glass properties, and how to make beads that are symmetric around the mandrel in the morning, then in the afternoon you'll learn about using thin stringers of glass to decorate the beads. Julie will do several demos, but the class focuses on hands-on practice time with instructor-guidance when needed.

    Tropical Fun

    The class costs $30 and you'll need to purchase a lampworking kit for the class, which will cost $120 (call to ask about rental options). It includes everything you'll need to make beads at home:

  • 4 Ounce Bead Separator

  • Hot Head Torch

  • Torch Bench Clamp

  • Dual Action Marver

  • Bead Hole Cleaner

  • 10 Pc. Mandrel Set 3/32” X 9”

  • 1/16” Stainless Steel Rake

  • Mandrel Rest

  • 8” Tweezers

  • Fiber Blanket

  • 12 Pc. Moretti Rod Pack (Mixed Colors Approx. 13” Long)

  • Safety Glasses

  • 1 cannister each of MAPP and Propane gas

  • If you have any questions, Julie is working today, Wednesday, and Friday from 10-4pm. You can call the store at 651-282-0099.


    Friday, February 11, 2011

    PANTONE Fall Colors 2011

    It does not pay to dawdle when you're a designer. At least I got one Spring 2011 post in before the fall colors were announced. But, for your visual enjoyment, here are the colors PANTONE has announced for Fall 2011


    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    PANTONE Spring Colors 2011

    Since the PANTONE color forecast came out I've been testing glass colors. Until now I've just been trying to find and playing with individual colors to see how well they matched the forecasted colors.

    PANTONE Spring 2011 Color Forecast

    I'm still not done finding and testing glass to match all of the colors but I did find some I was really excited about and, after receiving my new Beadroller sampler (which is perfect in every way), I was motivated to create a set with the colors I'm done testing.

    pantone spring 2011 bead set

    This bead set was made with the colors:

  • Russet (Effetre Choco-lotta)

  • Coral Rose (Effetre Coral Mango Special)

  • Lavender (Effetre Periwinkle Pastel)

  • Regatta (CIM Electric Blue)
  • I'm excited about these colors so far, but stay tuned as I continue my pursuit of the best glass colors for Spring 2011, including tests with CIM Celadon, CIM Butter Pecan, Effetre Gray Pearl Pastel, and Effetre Butternut.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Dryer Lint Clay Buttons

    Today an old fencing friend, Sarah Gray from Gray's Fabric & Notions in Boston, posted a blog about making buttons from casein. The casein is made from milk and vinegar and forms a plastic-like (Cheese?!) substance. Of course the idea totally inspired me. While I was reading the comments on the Instructables page to which Sarah linked I came across another substance from which buttons could be made: dryer lint clay.

    Drier lint clay, after a brief Google search, is a clay-like putty that seems to have two recipies: one with lots of water and uses flour as the binder and one with less water and uses glue and liquid soap for the binder. What I like about the idea of dryer lint clay buttons is that the dryer lint provides strength, like rebar in cement, is easy to make, and employs the idea of recycling something you normally throw out.

    Since I don't particularly want to order any button molds, I think I'm going to try making some free-form buttons since I just some large buttons to use decoratively on my knitting projects or as focal beads. If you want to try making some molds for your buttons take a look at this post from Sarajane Helm.

    Stay Tuned ...

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Art With a Hammer

    Lori Anderson from the Pretty Things blog is having a giveaway for this fantastic set of metal letter stamps.

    If you haven't given metal stamping a try, this is a great opportunity to get some of the tools to give it a go. Otherwise, sign up for the Knits & Pearls newsletter so you get the February/March class schedule coming up. I'm planning to teach a metal stamping class in March to help you get a start thinking about great Mother's Day gifts.

    A stamped pendant I made for my aunt with my cousin's name and birthdate.