Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Toggles and a Give Away

Oh no...,I just accidentally hit the delete button instead of the publish button on about 5 comments just now (Wednesday night around 6:45 central time) if you left a comment but don't see your name, please do it again. I'm soooooo sorry.

Have you guys seen the Fall issue of Stringing Magazine? They have the 100+ must have jewelry-making accessories and tools in this issue.

It was my lucky lucky day that my handmade copper toggles were featured in the clasps section.
Do you remember these clasps? You can still find them on my Etsy store.

In the mean time, I finally got some of the copper clay toggles listed for sale on my Etsy store. I love these and the textures.

So in celebration, I want to do a give away for a set of two handmade copper clay toggles. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing on Saturday morning. I don't usually have a lot of comments left so you've got a great chance of winning!  Here is a pic of the toggles you can win.

So Caiden brought home school germs a few days ago and I have been knocked out for two days getting almost nothing done in the beading world. I hate being unproductive but in a way, it has been nice hanging out in bed all day chillaxin.

Speaking of chillaxin, I have a cool find for you. Have you ever heard of a Hydro Flask? My brother discovered these and had bought our Mother one as a gift. She liked it so much that I had to buy us a few.

It is basically a magical insulated water bottle. These are the best thing since sliced bread. They can keep ice and water cold for up to 24 hours. I can fill it up with water and ice at bed time and when I wake up in the morning, there is still ice in the cup!!! Nothing like waking up in the middle of the night or early morning to an ICE COLD drink. I take mine in the summer hot car and many hours later, I can get back in the car with over 100 degree temps and there is still ice inside.

I bought mine at Amazon. Just do a search for Hydro Flask. Oh, and I recommend the add on pop top lid for another $6. I don't like having to screw the lid off every time I want a drink. If you get this lid, make sure you order the "Standard mouth" size Hydro Flask. We have a few of the 21oz sizes. I also bought the smaller 12oz size for Caiden to take to school. His teacher lets them have a water bottle in class and now he has nice ice cold water all day long. He loves it and I feel like I'm being a good mother:-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Loving Fall Festivals

I forgot that this time of year brings all sorts of fun festivals to light. Something entertaining to do for the kids and a great way to enjoy this excellent weather we have been having. Yes, I'm still on count down to when the pool closes and it depresses me every time I think about it, but there is also joy in changing seasons and we are having fun tapping in on the activities.

Yesterday was our little town centre's annual Founders Day celebration. Complete with a parade. Connor decided that when he is "old" he is gonna join the Shriners Club so that he can drive one of those little cars. They were loaded up with candy and ready to start their day. There were no big floats and extravagant affairs but for a local community, it was fun and we had a great time watching all the local sponsors from the Cub Scouts, the local Ski Club, HS Cheerleaders, dance squads, horse clubs, vintage cars. Well, you get the idea.

Poor hubby is in the middle of rebuilding our front porch steps so while he and Keegan were working on that, the other boys and I ran up to the Towne Center to see the old time car show, and walk around and soak up the great weather and see all of the activities. It was a hopping place.

So, being the good and patient mother ( I did mention patient right?) that I am, I stood in line for about 1 hour and 15 min. so that the boys could get these extravagant balloon shapes. My dogs were barking (feet) and the line moved so slow because there was only one guy making the balloons. But man, his creations were incredible. What else did I have to do with my time? (insert smirk here). But in the end, they got these cool creations and Caiden was sooooo excited with his monkey on a palm tree and felt so special walking around and having everyone ooohhhh and aaahhhh over his balloon.

I waited in line a long time for these balloons darn it. So I've gotta show more than one photo to help justify my time:-)

Last weekend we went to a festival in Historic St. Charles. It was huge with tons of vendors and loads of food. The weather was perfect and we spent several hours as a family enjoying all the booths. Which is saying a lot considering we now have a 14 year old in the house and even he seemed to have fun.

Historic St. Charles is a long, long street that is loaded with lots of small mom and pop shops where you can find everything from quilting stores, knick knacks, all things England store, an Irish store, Florals, Crafts, and wonderful restaurants. The streets are still paved with original brick roads. If you are ever in St. Louis, this is a great area to visit.

On one side of the street, most of the homes have been converted into shops. Although there are still some private residences intertwined within. I always think that would be so cool to have a house right there but you would really lack the privacy.

We alway love when we see the craft tents that have all of the metal creations turned into animals and objects. I was totally coveting this plant monster creation. If I would have had some spare $ to drop, he would have been in my car!

There was an entire other shopping area down a level by the Missouri River. I had the fortune of meeting a local lamp worker in person too - Peri Hogrebe  Holy cow. Her booth was huge and I had never seen so many lampwork beads from one artist all in one location. She had so much to look at. I think I have maybe .2% of her inventory. She had some beautiful things and it was great to meet her.

So if there are fun festivals in your area, make sure to go and visit them. It's a great outing and helps support so many local artists, local businesses, and organizations. We came home from this trip with 3 waxed cast hands that the boys made at one of the art studios, a back scratcher that Caiden just had to have (yea, I know. strange) and 2 jelly fish necklaces for 2 of the boys that are made out of real tiny jelly fish encased in class and they glow in the dark.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Copper Metal Clay beads and Glass Owls

Life is slowly getting back into a school routine and I think I have worked more in this past week than I have all summer. Which isn't a lot but it's getting there. The weather has been stunning in St. Louis this past week.

So as our thoughts turn to Fall, I thought I would make up another set of Owl beads to sell on Etsy. These are so cute and whimsical and totally make me happy when I look at them. They are available now.

And, I've had a chance to fire the copper clay beads that I made the other day. As with any new medium, there are always trials and tribulations. The toggles I'm still working on but these discs in the photo below were just listed on my Etsy Store and are available now.

So my trials have been with the toggles and then making a few of these 2 layer disc beads that Gail Crosman Moore taught us in her class. I thought the beads in the center supporting the top disc were pure copper. They were described that way but in fact they are not. After I polished them, it looks like they were brass with copper plating. They did not like the 1725 degree temps of the kiln and turned into these disgusting pitted and melted pieces. I had made 3 of these and every one turned out like this. Total bummer because they were cool up until that part. So now I have some real copper spacers and will give it another go when I get a chance.

And the toggles...well I made a bunch of metal clay copper toggle bars but realized after they were fired that they are just a hair too short which means that they can accidentally if they arrange themselves just right, slide out of the toggle and come undone. That would be bad for jewelry so now those are back the drawing board to be remade. I might just whip up some of the copper wire toggle bars for this batch.

It's all a creative process and I do enjoy learning and discovering new things. Keeps the juices flowing. I made a few new molds this morning from a nature walk with the dog so excited to see how those turn out. I have orders I need to work on though so it will be a few days before I try again.

AND.... don't forget that tomorrow is the third and final Bead Soup Party Blog reveal. Loads of great inspiration here. The next one won't be until January. Here is the link to Lori Anderson's Site that has the list of all 400 participants and links to their web sites. Scroll down to see the participants for the Third reveal to see all the new fresh and exciting creations.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back To School Sale

Time to celebrate Back To School. I'm having a sale on my Cassie Donlen Etsy Store. This sale is for any item that is already made and "In Stock". These words are put in the title of every item that is ready to ship. You can easily view these choices by doing a search within my store with the words "In Stock" and all the listings of what is in stock and available to ship now will be displayed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rearranging for more work space

Well the boys survived their first day of school. 8 year old Caiden was informing me all morning that "he wasn't eating breakfast and he wasn't getting dressed" and every other tactic he could come up with to not go to school. I'm thinking it is going to be a grueling long year if he already has that attitude.

I spent my first day of school at Panera Bread Co with about 8 other moms after school started celebrating the first day of school. We broke up around 11 a.m. but I didn't feel like going home to a quiet house. So I just did some random shopping and errands for a few hours. It looks like Home Goods was the store to be in as I saw a few other school mom's there enjoying the first day shopping. I'm still in shock that summer break is over.

So I spent a good chunk of timing cleaning and rearranging the small enclosed workshop that is connected to my regular workshop the other day. Yes, I know when hubby sees this post he will yell at me as this space was supposed to be his but when he wasn't looking, I moved myself into his room. I needed more space. Well, actually my pretty official workshop room is well, so clean and pretty and I didn't want to muck it up with all these tools and soldering station and messy stuff.  I love this space and honestly love hanging out in this room all of the time. When it was finally finished, I was ready to move my bed into the room. I've shown these photos when the workshop was completed earlier this year but just couldn't resist sharing my bit of beading heaven again. It only took almost 4 years for hubby to finally finish it all. Well worth the wait in the end.

What started the whole thought process was that I decided I needed a space to work with metal clay. I had been using the metal clay on the kitchen table for years but it is a pain cleaning up and packing it all away every time I want to use the stuff. So I decided to make a space in the little workshop (aka hubby's former workshop:-). So I moved all my glass rods that were in the cases. Removed pounds of glass rods in colors that I have never used and stored some more in a box that isn't worthy of the everyday use. These were sitting on a prime workbench just taking up space that could be better utilized.

So all that glass on the left of the photo below was moved over to the back wall of this room.

And now I have this clean work table freed up that will be a perfect additional work station.

I was so excited to have this new found space. And, I feel like a big girl now as I finally bought a flex shaft machine and hooked up the stand on this table. So this teeny tiny room now has two work stations. A beading heaven.

When we were at Home Depot, I bought some of this adjustable shelving rack system. I need hubby to install it. This area is still a sore spot with him and when I bought the shelves he started scolding me because he had plans to finish off the rest of the walls and dry wall that has been hung and now he can't do it with all my stuff in the way. No way I'm moving out though as I may never get back in it!

So I played with some copper metal clay the other day (on the kitchen table:-). Here it is before it was fired in the kiln.

It did a lot more shrinking that I expected. The package says around 20% but it sure felt like 30%. My plan is to offer more findings and bead components for sale. All the beads with the center holes are supposed to be turned into toggles. With the price of silver being crazy, it seems challenging to find "cool" alternative metal findings.

Here they are below after they were fired in the kiln and polished up. They come out of the kiln very dark. Like they have had a nice long bath in liver of sulpher. They still have a matte finish instead of a high shiny gloss. I think I like that better than the shiny copper. I had cleaned up one pretty good and heat treated it with the butane torch to get that more reddish with rainbow colors. I liked it a lot but couldn't decide which way I liked better. I was kind of leaning towards just the patina matte look. Any thoughts?

I need to make the toggle bars. I was thinking of doing just the handmade looped ones but then was thinking these look pretty cool and might be deserving of a better toggle bar. I should probably make some toggle bars out of the copper clay to take them to the next level and make them look more artisan.

I didn't put make any holes in them before firing them. I figured this way it leaves options open on how to use them. It is really easy to just use one of the 2 hole screw down punches to make a nice clean hole. So stay tuned to see how they evolve.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Bye Summer:-(

Tonight is a school night. It was a depressing day in the Donlen household today. Tomorrow is the first day of school. Sigh....where did the summer go? I will miss the lazy mornings and late nights. My kids take after me and are not morning people. The big boys leave for school at 7:00 a.m. YUCK! So the routine has started tonight of getting clothes set out and breakfast bowls and the table set up.

I'm looking forward (no not really) of a routine but the boys get out of school at 2:20 so by the time I drop Caiden off at school at 9 a.m. and go to the gym, I turn around and the boys are at home. It isn't really like I have my days free. And then sports and activities take up every single evening. Thus, the sadness of having school start. Oh well, it is what it is so I better get used to it.

I listed a few new things on Etsy today. I love these enamel bracelets. I made a duplicate of the blue and red flower one for me. It is so comfortable on the wrist and super fun to wear.

We went to Kansas City last week to visit my Father In Law. It ended up being a fun little trip. We usually do Destin, FL during this particular week but decide to save the money. I was really feeling blue about missing that too but then I felt better yesterday as friends or ours went during this same week and said it rained the entire time because of Ernesto and then I felt so happy that we didn't go.  My FIL had made that model airplane and gave it to the boys.

We did some shopping while in KC and while at Dick's Sporting Goods and for whatever reason, the boys (including hubby) were on a mission and picked out all the bright clothes and shoes they could find and had Connor try them on and then titled him. "HIGH VISIBILITY MAN".  Glad to see they can have fun where ever they end up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Romantic Relic Frames

At the beginning of the summer which now seems like ages ago as I face the reality that the kids go back to school 1 week from today, I signed up for an on-line class with Riki Schumacher to take her class Romantic Relic Frames.

I was doing one of my random web searches that kept leading to different places from different sites and somehow stumbled onto the website for Artful Gathering Online Art Retreat. I had never heard of it before but it looks like it had been around for a few years. I was so impressed and loved seeing all the great instructors and class offerings available. When scrolling through the classes, I saw the coolest looking picture frames class that had me drooling. So I excitedly signed up for the class.

This was the first class on-line class that I had ever taken. It lasted for 6 weeks and you had full access to all of the videos upfront and then access to the instructor this entire time also. I'm so glad I did it. Riki was fabulous and her videos were top notch. I was so impressed with how involved she was and if you posted on the forum, she was there answering questions within minutes. When I had registered, even teachers from other classes took the time to send me a nice message welcoming me to Artful Gathering. It was all very impressive.

The only downside to taking an on-line class from my perspective is that I was a big procrastinator. This summer was so crazy busy that I felt like I was always playing catch up. So the last few nights before the session ended, I was busy finishing up my projects which was good that it had an ending otherwise I still wouldn't have had them completed!

So here is what I made in class. We started with a base of copper sheet and cut out the frames following a pattern. Then we flooded it with solder, soldered on rhinestone chain (which I never get very good it) and then gave it a patina finish and dolled it up all kinds of decors.

The first frame I made I tried to make more my own and reflect my personal work so I added lampwork and an enamel flowers. For the "glass" part we used mica sheet for it. I hadn't put the backs on these frames yet when I took the photos. This frame I ended up putting at The Porch where I sell my jewelry locally just with my personal info inside it.

This is the second frame I made and I have a confession that I still haven't made the back or the stand for it. It's sitting on my beading desk just begging me to complete it. After school is back in session, I will have a more consistent work schedule.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cool Beading Cubby Idea

So I mentioned the other day that I found an old Pepsi create that was used years back to hold the glass bottle sodas at the Pink Elephant Antique Store. This has been the coolest find. Each cubby is a great size for holding bead stuff and keeping it at a close reach. I have plans to add some cool designs for decorations to it but that will have to wait a bit until things slow down.

So I've seen these creates on Etsy before. Just do a search for wooden soda create or coke create or pepsi create. Make sure they have all of the divider slats as there are a lot on there that are just an open box. Here is a link to one vintage soda create on Etsy. It is kind of pricey though as I have seen them in the $30 range often.

Oh and that stack of silicone cupcake liners are fabulous for beads. I use these almost everyday. Found them at the grocery store. What I like about them is that they are rubber and can be shaped and molded to pour beads (awesome for seed beads) into containers or stacked up with different beads inside. When I have a lot of beads to wire wrap, I always gather them up and put them in the cup. Perfect for staging projects in various stages of completion.

Well those are my few personal bead organizing tips for the night. Hope they peaked your interest.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Bronze Clay Class with Gail Crosman Moore

I was lucky enough to go on another adventure a month after Bead and Button and it was a blast.

While my fab buddy Joan Labue and I was shopping at Bead and Button and hanging out at Gail Crosman Moore's booth (which I won't mention that I bought more sequins while there. I think I now have more than her and you might have noticed that I don't use them in my designs but I have a fetish for them. They are soooo cool). We learned that she was teaching a bronze metal clay class at Fine Line Creative Arts Center in the Chicago area.

So after some juggling of schedules and getting the kids all lined up on both sides, we signed up for her class. We had so much fun.

I usually fly up to Chicago from St. Louis but the last time around left me so frustrated with the airlines and all the hassle that it involves that I decided just to drive the 6 hour trip. I was surprised how much fun I had driving by myself. I got to listen to what radio stations I wanted to, stop when I wanted to, and didn't have to entertain the kids. The drive was in the late afternoon and it was just beautiful outside.

The Fine Line is only about 20-30 min. from Joan's house. She is so lucky to have access to all the classes they offer. The place is so cool. Gail was so much fun and there were about 10 of us students in class.

These are the pendants that we made in class.

I walked out of class just thinking about textures and all that you could make with the clay. These focals are large. Maybe around 1 1/4" round. They are 2 layers and each layer is separated by copper rice beads. The one on the left side is made from a mold of a walnut. Go figure. I think the one on the right is a button but now I don't remember.

I didn't take loads of photos in class but while we were waiting for the kiln to fire these focals, I had some extra bronze clay and Joan and I made these and I fired them at home.

Just a random class photo. That is Gail in the Orange shirt.

Then Joan had snapped this photo of me when I was using the flex shaft to polish. I about cracked up when I saw it. Can you say Mr. Magoo?

It was a quick in and quick out trip. Only one full day there for class but I love Joan and it was so much fun to be able to take a class with her. She is so much fun. Speaking of fun, make sure to check out her etsy store Joan Labue Designs to find her great creations. I think I have about 15 if her awesome belt buckles. They are so cool.

So on the way to Chicago, I saw this antique store and I knew that I would so be stopping there on my drive home. How could all this stuff not catch your eye?

So I think the outside was way more fun than the inside. The antique store was an old school that had been converted. So yes, the name of the antique mall is The Pink Elephant.

Ice cream anyone?

So I must admit that the outside is way cooler than the inside. The place was jammed with stuff but for in the middle of no where, it was pricy and not a lot there was calling my name. But I did score on one item that I had been wanting for about a year. One of the old time wooden soda crates. I'm a Coca Cola girl but this one was an old Pepsi create. It has 24 cubbies that I turned on it's tall side and it's sitting on my beading desk as a storage place for whatever I desire. It actually works out awesome. When I get some spare time, I'm gonna bling it all out!! I'll have to share a photo later as I forgot to take one when writing this.