Friday, July 27, 2012

Bead Soup Swap Reveal

Bead Soup Reveal group 1 Day... Well the time has finally arrived for the big reveal of the creations that I made with the beads that Jennier Davies-Reazor sent me. Just as a refresher, Lori Anderson paired up about 400 of us with a partner and then we swap beads and create jewels with the swap and then we all do a blog hop and post what was created on a designated day to share with the community.

So this time around had me encountering beads that I have never worked with - Ceramic Beads. I'm not sure why as they are so popular now. But that is why these swaps are called a challenge as the goal is to stretch your boundaries. I find these so rewarding to do but also difficult as it really does become a challenge.

So just a quick reminder, this is the stash that Jennifer sent me. As you can see, she gave me the most fabulous collection and I was so excited opening the package. Jennifer has a great talent in creating her ceramic focals. She mentioned that she was in Bead Fest making mode and had sent me some for her inventory for the show. So ya know where you can go shopping to see them in person or she also has an Etsy Store for you to find her creations.

As you can see, there are loads of options here and it was so hard to choose my favorites. Although the tree focal and the night scene totally caught my eye and think those were my favorites at first. I had to wrestle these away from my 8 year old as he was trying to convince me to hand them over to him. 

I grouped the beads by colors and let them sit and simmer for a bit. The focals are so pretty and speak for themselves so I tried not to over do the designs by adding much of my lampwork beads to the mix. I happened to have an enamel flower and some lampwork head pins sitting on my desk and I picked them up and sat them on top of the "create" focal and knew that would become a necklace. Then I had some extra rhinestone chain sitting on my desk and I used it to hang from the extra hole on the pendant. So the only thing I added to the design that wasn't in her stash was the lampwork beads, enamel flower, enamel flower toggle, steel wire, and the 2 round blue beads. The rest came from the beads Jenny sent.

So a matching bracelet is always a good thing so I took one of her focals to make a bracelet. 

Then I focused on the reds and orange colors and created another necklace and matching bracelet

So the crazy thing is that I still have the other beads left to play with. I just ran out of time, but I think this bead soup is one that will keep on giving as I use the rest of her beads in future creations. 

Thank you Jenny for a wonderful Bead Soup Party swap. I had a ball playing with your beads. Thank you for the generous stash! 

New Head Pins...

I'm so excited. I just received a huge box of silver plated over iron head pins yesterday that I outsourced about a month ago. I think with the high cost of silver we have all been trying to find decent alternatives to silver and let's face it, silver plated over gold color brass doesn't cut it.

I have been starting to use a lot of steel wire, stainless steel head pins and iron jump rings in my jewelry designs. It makes for a fun cool look.  The stainless steel is a great alternative over silver plated over brass head pins but not quite as shiny and bright as regular silver. So having these silver plated over iron head pins is the next logical step in my progression.

I took 200 grit sand paper and rubbed off the finish on these new head pins. So much that they because flat instead of round. No gold color brass underneath. Just a slightly darker shade of silver. Not even hugely noticeable.

So what does that mean for us? That we now don't have to worry that these lovely jewels that we made with silver plated brass head pins will show wear and tear down the road bringing back an unhappy customer complaining about the finish wearing off.

So here are the details. You can purchase these over at my Tickle Me Beads Etsy Store. They are sold in packs of 150 for $5.75. But you will get more than 150 as I am including extras due to the fact that these came to me in plastic bags and most of them have curves or bends in them. They are easy to straighten out or if you are lazy like me, I just slide the bead over the curve and then wire wrap it up. But the extras will be included in case there are any annoyingly bent ones in the batch. 

They are 2" long and about a 20g in thickness. Which means that pearls won't fit through these holes. Even though they are slightly thicker, they are still pretty decent to manage to work with. I like the head  size. It is slightly larger which means you don't have to worry about beads sliding off the end. The photo above shows one of my lampwork beads that has a 1/16" size hole and works great with it. 

Below is a photo that shows a pack of the stainless steel head pins on the right hand side and then all of the other bags are the new silver over iron head pins. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Time For a Change?

Well....I have done it. At least I think I have. In one day, I've put forth more effort than I have into the other 2 blogs that I randomly started over the past years that never went anywhere.

 I'm excited. I guess it is time for a change. BTW, I really dislike change. Not because change can be bad but it takes time to learn the new changes and time is something that is always in short supply. So I'm going to give it a go and try hosting my blog on a hosting site vs. me doing it on my actual website and having my entire blog in html format. Which can be time consuming and limiting so maybe this will be a good thing. I can always go back to the original way so I'm not gonna sweat it but I have a good feeling this time around.

I think I will like being here. So I've had many people complain about not being able to leave comments on my old blog. So here ya go. You can comment now:-)

 I just copied and pasted my last few blog entries that I had previously done on my website. Here is a link to my old blog that has about 8 years worth of my life sitting there. That is partly why I hated to leave it. I like having my posts all in one spot. I like being able to go back and see where I've been and how I've changed and grown and how my children have changed and grown. I love reading the old posts.
July 21,2012
I laugh as I have sat down several times to get up to date and post here but I'm sure you can all agree how easy it is to get sucked in by the computer and I start surfing, do a few emails, check pinterest, go on FB, and whatever distrations come my way until my computer time is gone and I still haven't posted on my blog. It seems to be a reoccuring theme. Speaking of which, my Pinterst account is under my name Cassie Donlen if you have any desire to see my pins. I'm not super active as it is a big time sucker but I do love this site more than I care to admit. While we are speaking about different cool sites. I love Instragram. I take a lot of my bead and jewelry photos with this app so if you care to see any of my pics that I may or may not share here on the blog or FB, then you can find me here under "cassiedonlen" if you care to follow me.
So since I've posted, things have been the same normal busy. It is super hot and the drought has been reaching us too. It looks like this week is supposed to be in the 103-105 degree range again. The kids have finished up their summer swim team and had a great season. Now it is back to their regular year round swim team and they are in the 50 meter pool for long course and the practices are more of a 2 hour long hard challenge than the 45 min practice with many game days at the summer league. They have a meet on Monday and Tuesday night which means I have to work as a timer for 4 hours on the side of the pool. Which is fun as you are in the action but killer on your feet. Caiden and Connor are doing an Apple Camp at the Apple store next week where they teach the kids how to do iMovie and some other fun stuff for 3 days. It is a free camp and has great reviews.
I also drove up to Chicago last weekend to take a bronze metal clay class with Gail Crosman Moore that was a lot of fun. I'll post about that next time.
In the mean time, I said that I would post about what I mailed Jennifer Davies-Reazor for the Bead Soup Swap. The big reveal for us is I think next Saturday. So in all my spare time:-) I wanted to reveal how I prepared getting her beads ready to ship. I had a little helper for part of the job. You gotta watch the video below to see what I mean.
Click the 30 second video below to see me getting Jennifer's beads ready to ship to her.

Here are some photos of what I mailed her. I can't wait to see her creations. I have a confession that I was starting to covet the beads that I sent her and I had to make a duplicate set for me.

July 8,2012
It's that time again. Lori Anderson's Bead Soup swap has started again. There were I think exactly 400 participants this round. Crazy amount of people for a swap. Lori has it set up so that the reveal is broken up into 3 separate dates a few weeks apart so that people will have time to visit everyone without feeling overwhelmed. It is a big undertaking but lots of fun to see what people have created with their loot.
I'm in the first reveal wave which is scheduled for July 28th. Wave 2 is August 11, and wave 3 is August 25. So the premise of the Bead Soup swap is to be paired with a partner. The teamed up pair then send each other a fun collection of beads for the other to design with and then they each reveal their creations on the offical reveal date. You can click here to vist Lori's page that has all of the partcipants and their blog links set up for each and every particpant.
My partner this round is Jennifer Davies-Reazor. She is a ceramic artist and also has an Etsy store you can see here. The idea of the swap is to be challenged. I have always admired all of the incredible ceramic beads out there but have never worked with them. It gives a totally different look than is my typical style so I'm really pretty excited to create some new jewelry that is so divergent from typical Cassie work.
Jenny was extremely generous with her Bead Soup and I have a fabulous collection of ceramic beads to work with. Lots of different jewelry pieces can be created and she really helped me figure out which way i would like to go with the fabulous accent beads that she also included. As per my normal working pattern with Bead Soups, I let them beads sit on my desk and I watch them simmer as I ponder over what to do with them. Time will tell and I guess you will have to come back on July 28th to see if I was able to pull it all off:-).
Here is a photo of the entire stash that Jenny mailed. I told you that I hit the payload!

Here are a few close ups of the ceramic beads and the toggle. The swap rule is to use the focal and clasp as the requirement. I can't decide which bead I like more. They are all so cool. Little works of art.

I will post in the next day or two what I sent Jennifer. In the mean time, keep an eye on my Etsy store. I've been trying to post new things.
June 28, 2012
Crazy heat wave we are having. The weather forcast for today is 108 degrees. I don't think I ever remember seeing a forcast that high. I keep saying we should just move to Florida by the beach as it can't be any hotter in the summer than here in St. Louis. I love summer though and in the middle of winter I will be longing for these warm summer days.
I'm so excited as the new issue of Easy Wire 2012 will be released any day now. The digital edition is available right now on Interweave's website. There are some fabulous projects in included from some of my favorite designers such as Cindy Wimmer,Lori Anderson, Heather Powers, Kerry Bogert, Michelle Mach... well the list goes on. The designs are truly inspiring and the issue is full of inspiration and you will have a hard time trying to decide what creation to make first. The designs are supposed to be simple enough that even a beginner could make them but even the most novice can still appreciate and enjoy the design process. Plus, with summer always being such a crazy time, it is fun to have projects to make that are simple, fast, and fun.

I got a great surprise when one of my beady friends shot me a facebook note and email saying they saw that one of my bracelet's made the front cover. YIPPEE... Totally made my day. I'll be getting listings together on my Etsy store for most of the supplies if anyone is interested in making the cover bracelet or needing the beads for the other projects. Just a note though that the colors in the bracelet on the cover are saturated a tad more then in real life. It is more of a deep fuchsia pink vs a plum pink color.
There are six additional projects in the magazine that I was able to contribute.

A Disney Cruise on The Dream

June 12, 2012
I'm shaking my head realizing that the kids have been on summer break already for 2 weeks. It has been a whirlwind. We left the day after school was out for Florida. Then home for a few days and off to Bead and Button for a great shopping week and then yesterday we took the big boys to Mizzou college for a swim camp. Makes hubby and I wish we were 20 years old again and could go back in time but still retain our current mental capacity.
So my parents took my family and my brother's family on the Disney cruise ship the Dream. (Thank you Mom and Dad. You're Awesome!) It was a 6 day cruise that travels to the Bahamas, and it was an epic vacation and goes down in my top 3 vacations ever. I can't recommend a Disney cruise strongly enough. Especially if you have older kids. It is so much fun and offers so much for each member of the family.
I was worried that my oldest son who will be 14 next month would get bored because he didn't have a cousin to pair up with. But they have a teenagers area for kids 14-18 years old called The Vibe that we were able to get him enrolled in since he turns 14 in a month. They can come and go as they want. Their special hang out area is incredible. All of us adults was wishing we had an area like that. They even had their own private deck, a movie room, a stage, a bar for smoothies and there are activities going on until 3 a.m. Keegan teamed up with about 10 other kids and had the time of us life. He was so happy with his new freedom of running around the ship with these new friends. I don't think we even saw him much the last 3 days on the ship.
Here is a pic of their private deck and one of the rooms where they hang out. He is still texting the gang and they created their own facebook page and even found a girl he liked of course.

This is a photo of our stateroom. It had a queen size bed and then the couch turned into a single and a top bunk folds down from the ceiling and then there is another bed that folds down from the wall. There was a separate room for the bathroom and then another room with a sink and circular shower. Loads of drawers, closet, and storage space. We had a door between our room and my parents room so the kids could wander back and forth and our veranda dividers were able to open and all 3 of our cabin rooms could be accessed.

This is the send off party. The main deck is awesome and has a deep pool and this Mickey Mouse pool below was the kids pool. Check out the Aqua Duck water slide. It made a big oval around the deck. The kids loved this. I even did it.

The kids were running around on their own a lot. My middle child Connor who is 12 hung out with my niece who is the same age. They also have a kids area for 10-12 year olds that have lots of activities. The room isn't near as cool as The Vibe but they still enjoyed coming and going from it. They have a separate childern's area for 4-12 year olds that is beyond huge with tons of large rooms. This place was incredible. I didn't include any photos here, but I remember on the first night that Caiden was getting teary eyed because after dinner we weren't moving fast enough to take him to the kids club to play. All of these kids wear security bracelets that stay on the entire time. That is what they use to check them in and out. Plus it is a nice safety feature if for whatever reason they get separated from the parents then all of their information is on their wrist. So I would find pockets of time to hang out in the adult section. There I am on the bottom left sipping the drink of the day, reading a book, and looking out at the incredible view in that awesome recliner. Right at my feet they had a clear glass floor that let you see all the way down to the ocean. I gotta say that Disney know how to do it right. Even if you don't have kids, you can't go wrong on a Disney cruise.
The bottom right photo is one of the restaurants at dinner time. The top photo is at the Castaway Key island.

One night they had a pirate party on the deck. The ship gives everyone pirate bandanas. And most of the kids and some adults dress up too. I love the photo of little Caiden. He did not want to wear the mustache. Look at my handsome husband. Don't you love his teeth?!

This is just a mixture of other random photos. Including our shopping adventures on Nassau and Keegan trying on the local clothes, Caiden getting a wooden carved snake, and my brother and sister-in-law, my mom and dad with the boys. Caiden and my nephew. And the bottom middle pic is of a tile mural in one of the quick serve buffet restaurants who BTW had the best food. Another close up of the aqua duck slide. You sit on a raft and can have 2 people on one raft for a leisure ride around the deck.

So I used the collage feature on Pic Monkey for the first time. Gotta say so far I'm totally digging it. I forgot to resize the photos though. Sorry about that. I'm not going back and redoing it.
I got back on Sunday from a great weekend shopping at Bead and Button. I'll post about it over the next day or two and share more photos.