Tuesday 5 January 2016

Happy Birthday Dad

How to start? I've been wanting to write again, but I've been finding it hard to get back. 
The last time I wrote I had been away for a while because I lost my father.  I took his loss much harder than I expected. In an effort to pull myself out of my grief I joined the first ever annual "Bead Peeps Swap n' Hop".  I was looking forward to it and enjoyed putting together a package for my partner Natalie of North Shore Days. It was fun to make up her package and send it out to her.  I think that might be the most fun part of any Swap. I want my partner to love their package and have fun creating with it so I really put a lot of thought and care in putting everything together and hand make at least one of the components as I'm sure most participants do.  Then I sit on pins and needles and start second guessing my choices for them and hoping they like it. I'm not sure if many others feel that way but I was glad when Natalie told me she did.  
Between the time Natalie and I exchanged our packages and the actual Hop came around a lot was going on in my life. 
My father in law passed away; shortly after that my Mom got sick and ended up in the hospital so I took an emergency flight and headed back "home" to be with her and my family.  She pulled through but I managed to get pneumonia while visiting and missed the Hop.  I made sure to let Natalie know why the delay and she was very gracious. I had planned to get the "Big Reveal" posted but before I could pull myself together enough to get it done I got another call and had to go back home. This time to say goodbye to my Mom.  I was fortunate to make it there before she passed. My brother and sister and I never left her side until she passed away peacefully in her sleep. In less than a year we lost both my parents and my father in law.  It's been a long hard haul finding my way back from it all. I've been doing better lately and was almost surprised to realize Christmas was hard this year because so much has changed.
This was my first Christmas without them.  Everything seems strange now, and just a little "off".  One day while out Christmas shopping, I caught myself saying to my husband that I didn't know what to get for Dad B. this year. Then it hit me we wouldn't be getting anything at all. The tears come at the most inopportune times. I don't why I keep being surprised at the depth of my grief. I keep telling myself what I would tell a friend. "It's OK. We need to process in our own time, not someone else's timeline." Some days I even believe myself.  When I think of how deep my grief touches me, I can become overwhelmed with how deep my sister's grief must be.  I don't know how it hasn't crippled her. She has always been very close to both our parents and was their full time caregiver, friend and confidante for the last decade. She still lives in their house. Char, you are an amazing woman and I love you. I hope you find peace.
I'm coming to realize there will always be a piece of me missing and I now have to find my new normal. I'm slowly finding my way.
I wasn't going to share about all this but I promised someone I would post something this week and felt frozen, I couldn't be glib and sail into the "jewelry talk".  I felt like I was going to fail and not do it. . .  again. So here I am. Hopefully this post has broken the barrier. Today is my Dad's birthday. This is the day. Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Bead Peeps Swap

For those attending the swap:Janice has pneumonia and will be back as soon as possible. She's sorry to miss all the fun. Please come by again if you can. 

Thursday 19 March 2015

Good To Be back!

I've gone through a lot in the last few months so It's good to be back. Real good. After what feels like forever, I'm excited for things that are coming my way soon.
I'm happy to say that I joined the first ever Bead Peeps Swap n' Hop.  It's a brand new Blog Hop that was started in response to the cancellation of Bead Soup Blog Party.  It's a huge undertaking and our lovely host Linda Anderson of From the Bead Board is doing a magnificent job of organizing everything.
 It runs on much the same premise as the BSBP. (The only blog hop I've ever done) There was an open invitation to enter and luckily I saw it just in the nick of time.  I got in just under the wire! Well, maybe I  squeezed in right as the door was shutting. ;)  I'm so glad I got in though.

My partner is Natalie from NorthShore Days, where sun, sand and creativity reign. I remembered her right away because I loved her creations so much from last year's BSBP.  Her blog is fun and encompasses all things crafty.  I really love her style as she is so often inspired by the ocean and does lots of  'beachy' crafts. No wonder! She lives on the beautiful North shore of New Zealand, just minutes away from the ocean.  My dream to be sure! Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the ocean.  It fills my soul and frees it all at the same time.  I can't even imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to take a short walk and feel it's energy every day.  Some day perhaps...*sigh*
I've had a bit of fun stalking her and playing detective to see what kind of jewelry she makes and trying to get a feel for her style and favorite colors and hoping to find and make things that will fit her style. I can't wait for her to get my package.  I hope she likes it!  I'll post a sneak peek soon. Until then, have a bead- iful day!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

How to Make Your Own Texture Hammers

I'm teaching a beginners metal class at our local bead society. They don't have any materials at all. I needed at least 10 textured hammers. Anyone that has priced these types of hammers knows that they can range from $30 for a low end hammer to $70 for a Fretz. (the Cadillac of hammers in my books) I couldn't afford nor justify the cost of that many hammers. 
My Mom used to always say, "Necessity is the mother of invention and my wonderful sister added to that recently with, "You are the Daughter." I loved that!
So I did the only thing I could think of. I shopped around and
 bought a bunch of inexpensive hammers. I found some 8 oz.ones on sale at Canadian Tire  and 10 oz. ones at Home Depot. I bought both. 

Try as I might I couldn't find any ball peen hammers anywhere that would be light enough for what I wanted. They would have been my first choice.
These are the hammers I bought.

I received quite a few requests for a tutorial and orders so I"ll share with you the tools I used and some of the process. Please understand that I am not an expert . There are quite possibly better ways to accomplish this. I don't have the benefit of experience or formal training. This isn't so much a tutorial as a walk-through of what I did.
 I muddled my way through and found what worked best for me. My hope is to provide a bit of guidance and perhaps encouragement for others to do the same. One thing I love about working with metals is the process and finding out what happens when I...
I'm a firm believer that there is always more than one way to get a job done. I am often confined by limited knowledge or skills and a lack of proper tools but I am armed with determination and of course my trusty Dremel and flexshaft attachment. 

Tools & Materials Required:
  • Dremel or Flex shaft 
  • Vise
  • Fine tip Sharpie
  • Cut off wheels 
  • Various grinding stones or sandpaper
  • Diamond ball bit
  • Diamond wheel point, knife edge bit
  • Polishing bits 
To be honest I made do with what I had and hoped for the best. 
Please remember to always use safety glasses and a mask when working.

First I decided what pattern to apply and marked the hammer with a Fine tip Sharpie.
Put the hammer into the vise. The pattern you choose will help you decide which grinding wheel or bit will suit your needs. For the smaller lines/stars I used the thinnest wheel I had. Be warned these things snap very easily. It seems if you look at them the wrong way they fly apart.

Notice the sharp edge. That will need to come off. 

Close up of the cut off wheels used for the pattern above

This bit also makes nice tiny lines 

Be careful that your cutting and grinding doesn't wear down one side of the face more than the other.  Once I finished the pattern and was happy with it. I used a grindstone to take off the sharp edges all around the face and top to remove any burs.  I used varying degrees of stone from coarse to fine. This could  be done with sandpaper too.
(I mostly applied what I know about metal work and jewelry to accomplish my goal.)  For the dimpled hammer, I used a diamond round ball bit. I placed the dimples randomly. To make the larger dimples I rotated the bit in every direction, slowly enlarging it. For the smaller dimples I kept it straight up with very little play. 

This is an opportunity to play and see what gives you the look you want. I discovered if I didn't like something I could grind it out and start over.
I used these for shaping and for grinding away the sharp edges in progressively finer gritsAny scratches or marks left on the hammer face will transfer to the metal you're texturing. The more you polish your hammer, the more it will burnish your piece as you work.

Once I was satisfied with the overall look and had sanded out the burs and scratches I moved onto the polishing. 
I used the rubber polishing bit then the nylon bristle brush to clean up the grooves. They were what I had on hand.  In the future I would use the 3M Radial Bristle Brushes in varying grits. I've heard great things about them.
Rubber Polishing Bit
Nylon Bristle Brush

 From the very beginning I was too intimidated to try to cut off the claws. I thought I didn't have the proper tools to do it. I asked my husband,  but he didn't think he had anything either.  It was nagging at  me all the way through, that I only had the one side of the hammer to work with.
It was only when I was finishing my 12th hammer that I decided to bite the bullet and see what would happen if I tried to cut the claw off.   So I took out the heaviest cutting disk I had and my last hammer.  It went through those claws within minutes.  It was awesome! I was thrilled with the results and pulled all the other hammers back out to finish it up right. :)
Be warned though; sparks will fly like a Canada day sparkler!  The sparks didn't burn and once I got past my initial trepidation it was lots of fun.
Fiberglass Reinforced cut off  disk 
or as I called it, "Big Daddy" 

A short video demonstrating how the sparks can fly, so you know what to expect. ( not on the technique itself)

 This was a great fun project and for the price of one mid-range hammer I now have 13 new hammers to add to my repertoire. They're not Fretz but they'll do me just fine. I encourage anyone that works with metals to try it. You'll be glad you did.  


List of materials :
(with links)
Diamond bits
Fiberglass Reinforced Cut off Wheels 
Carborundum Cutting Wheels
Rubber Polishing Bits

Quite a few people have commented on their confusion about what the different bits are used for. I found lots of good info here
All Things Dremel (Lots of info regarding the various bits and accessories)

If you prefer to order your hammer instead of making it, please leave me a message. Thank you!

Friday 9 May 2014

Bead soup Blog Party~ The Big Reveal

The 8th Bead Soup Blog Party shows you what happens when jewelry designers swap their stash.

Thank you LORI ANDERSON for hosting this blog party! This is the first time that I participate in the Bead Soup Blog Party. I've loved it every inch of the way!
Participants from all over the world were paired up and they sent each other "soup ingredients"~any beads, findings, elements they chose. The only mandatory items were a focal and an art clasp.
Once you receive your "soup" you let things simmer and unfold on the Reveal Date.
This is the day I've been waiting for!

 This party is designed to challenge you and help you to grow as a designer and maker.  From the word "Go" that's exactly what it has done for me.  From the selection of beads and the making of the pieces I wanted to include in my partner's soup.  Whenever I do a swap I always worry whether my partner will like what I send.  People have such varied tastes and styles, it can sometimes be a little intimidating. 

My partner is Regina Santerre of Regina's Writings and she gracefully gifted me with beautiful ingredients.
Here's a reminder of the amazing soup she sent to me.

As I mentioned in a past post there is a process I go through when I make something.  For some reason I got hung up on the idea that I needed to 'string' a necklace and try and use all the components in one piece.  Stringing is not my forte and I really wanted to do justice to that pendant.  Another handicap I have is I can't draw or envision what something will look like until I actually do a mock up. Strange, I know.  If I do have a vision I rarely end up with that as my end result.  I don't usually mind this because my biggest pleasure comes from the process itself. The only drawback to that is that it takes me a little longer sometimes to decide on my final design. So after a few false starts this is what I came up with.  It's a little out of my comfort zone but thank you Regina for making me think outside my own design box.

I had really wanted to use the clasp as a bail but it covered a little more of the dragonfly than I wanted so I switched that idea for a little button I had in my stash.

I really liked the clasp Regina sent me and wanted to highlight it, so instead of using it on the dragonfly necklace and hiding it in the back, I used it as a focal on another little beaded necklace.

Once I finished the main piece I was able to relax and play a little in my own comfort zone and this is what happened.

I used copper tubing to make a channel/anti-clastic  bracelet.  As much as I enjoy using pearls in unexpected ways something felt a little off with this bracelet. 
When I got word that the party was postponed I decided to see if I could give it a makeover.

 I think this works a little better.  What do you think?

I still have a work in progress to use the rest of those lovely pearls, and Vintaj links, but I ran out of time, so I'll post that as soon as it's finished.

This whole experience was a lot of fun and has really challenged me and taught me quite a bit.  I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to participate.  I can't wait to see what Regina and everyone else have come up with! Thanks for stopping by.  Please remember to stop by Regina's blog to see how she used the soup I sent her.

If you'd like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.  It's super easy, no need to register or use those annoying little Capchas.

Happy Blog Hopping, everyone!

For a list of all the participants you can go to the link below.  It's right at the end of our hostess' Lori Anderson's Soup Reveal

Sunday 4 May 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party Postponed

If you are looking for the Bead Soup Blog Party reveal post, it has been postponed by one week to Saturday, May 10th 
Sending, our hostess  Lori Anderson of Pretty Things lots of positive energy and healing vibes. 

To be honest I'm actually sighing with a little relief here, I could use the extra time to get my projects and pictures finished.  I was finally successful in carving out a work space.  So, now I just hope I can do justice to my partner,Regina's mix she sent me.  If you'd like to see the soup I sent her you can check it out here.

Stay tuned!  

Sunday 27 April 2014

Life Happens and Sometimes it's Messy, Messy, Messy

I'm in full panic mode tonight.  There's been a series of "life happens" events that have kept me hopping for the last couple of months. Up until today I had been feeling pretty good about my 'soup' so far.   I absolutely loved the process of deciding upon and making my partner Regina's soup.
I learned so, so much from that side of the exercise and had lots of fun in the process.  I was pleasantly surprised at the lessons and the process surrounding this side of the soup mixing.

Then my soup arrived and I was loving it and ideas were bouncing all over the place!  I seem to have a set of stages I go through before I actually sit down to create something.  Phase 1 is when I go through my ruminating stage where I just let ideas flow in and out as they will.  I don't try and direct it. I probably couldn't if I tried.  I just let it take it's course.  I told my husband it's like having Creative A.D.D.   Most people would probably call it brainstorming but because I don't actively try and direct it I call it A.D.D.    There's no real telling how long this stage will actually last.  It can range from a few hours to a few days, sometimes more.  I'll even dream about the possibilities.  Did I mention I might be a tad OCD?  Sometimes I have to rein it in and just sit and pick one to start.  I was finding this project challenging because I don't do much stringing and for some reason I got locked on the idea that was what I needed to do. So I sat down and concentrated on giving  my ideas a little more focus
I knew time was creeping by and didn't want to get caught at the last moment so I settled on a few design ideas and put a couple of them together to see how well they'd work without actually constructing them because of other pressing things that needed my attention.  The day before I left to go visit my Mom for her 89th birthday I had narrowed my ideas down to a couple of designs and got them ready to assemble when I got back.  I was still feeling fairly confident and enjoying the process thoroughly even though I knew I'd be gone 10 days.  The plan was to get down to brass tacks and put it all together once I got back.  The designs were fairly well set and all that was left was the mechanics. I was excited and looking forward to it. I got home today,  BUT...  this is what I came home to.

This is the main door to my Jewelry Room, all sealed shut to try and minimize the dust that's going to soon permeate what will feel like every corner of the house.

Door 2: A different kind of barrier but almost as effective.

We've been waiting for a while now to have this work done and unfortunately the contractor called at the last minute and wanted to start work the next day.  So Claude made an executive decision and piled everything from the first room where the work is starting into the jewelry room.  There weren't a lot of other choices.   Once the first room is done then we'll have to move everything from the jewelry room into the first room so they can finish my room too.  Phew, I get tired just thinking about it.

A curio cabinet, full length mirror, tall dresser, bookcase, and 3 wardrobes along with the normal     
                                               workroom furniture make it a tad cluttered.

Yes, my soup is buried in there somewhere.
That's what has me worried.  I'm hoping things will look better in the light of a new day and that I'll find everything I need to get cooking tomorrow morning and find a way to carve out a small workspace somewhere. Wish me luck!

Oh.  One more, before I head to slumber land.  This is the progress on the other room.

Not one little bit of insulation in that wall!  No wonder heating is costing a small fortune.

Sweet dreams all.  Wish me luck for the morning.