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Random Sunday

I am having a random kind of day and wanted to share random things over the last week or so. Some of these may have been a post by themselves. But let's face it. I stink at blogging every day due to time constraints. So, you lucky people get it all. at. once. Commentary will be short because I have things I want to get done before the big game the Colts are going to win tonight.
This sign was created by my 8 year old daughter because she noticed blue card stock in the pile while we made Valentines the other day and it is impossible for her to leave craft supplies alone. Oh, and because if she wasn't rooting for the Colts, we would probably have to disown her.
Arts United in Fort Wayne kicked off a fund drive by having a community mosaic. Meaning, people in the community could sign up for a 3'x3' wall space and create a piece of art with the theme of Arts Unite Us. It was free to participate and the kids did this for Art class. My son...he is very technical. He complained about having to do this because he claims he is not creative or artsy. This resulted in a pep talk about how map making is very artistic, his idea for Ft. Wayne having a subway is a way to unite the community due to ease of transportation, and probably the mayor (and possibly even the city council) would see it on display. He was on board after that.
Here they are at the Opening in front of their creations:
Jennifer Ledford of Tocadora Leather is a friend I met online and featured on Open Studio Friday. We did a trade. I sent her some beads, she made a cuff with one of my beads. Isn't it super awesome?
I've been working on knitting a pouch for my Kindle this week. I got the idea when my friend Carol Dean Sharpe mentioned she was sewing a pouch for hers. I loved the idea, but don't sew. I pretty much winged the design. It's mostly done now except for weaving in the the 5000 ends. Ugh! I am going to then felt it and sew a Lisa Peters button to it-assuming it shrinks to the right size because I didn't actually do a test swatch. If my engineer brother is reading this, he's probably about to have a fit. haha!
I finally added the button eyes to my the frog bag I knitted for my daughter. I started this bag December 30, and finished knitting it about two weeks ago. This is the most difficult thing I've ever knitted. Actually, it's the ONLY difficult thing I've ever knitted.
One day, I got a package from UPS I wasn't expecting, and this was in it! WhooHOOO! I won GLITTER!!!!
We got sproutage! We should be eating corn, peas, and sunflower seeds in no time! haha! See the puzzle pieces peeking out? They are growing these on top of the puzzle we've been working on. Guess that's put on hold for a while.
Making valentines for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We got the addresses from the Any Soldier website. See the large pink heart? It is actually a scratch off made with 2 parts acrylic paint to 1 part liquid dish soap on the non sticky side of clear contact paper. Cool, right? You can find the project here.
Nothing says "let's go ride our scooters" like blowing snow!
I got a new lens Friday night that my sister in law recommended. I took a bunch of random photos trying to figure it out. I liked this one of my favorite child (yes, I have favorites. Whichever one lets me sleep the latest, talks back the least, and chews up less stuff. Oscar wins.)
Yesterday my husband got called in at 4am and didn't get home until 9pm. I got to shovel the driveway. Actually, I don't even care if our driveway gets shoveled because I drive a Suburban. A little bit of snow doesn't bother me! But I think it might be frowned upon by everyone else. So, while I shoveled about 3 tons of snow, all the male neighbors were out with their snowblowers. Hey! Thanks for the help, guys!
Here was the bright spot in all that. My daughter wrote "MOM" with her feet. I took a break to get the camera and take a photo.
I took some other snow day photos, and when I turned around, she was working on "I love you" awww!
Here's my least favorite child. She's as sweet as can be, but dumber than a box of rocks. Plus she's a kleptomaniac-she steals all our dirty clothes. The good news is we can find them easily because she piles them in the great room. The bad news is it's the great room, and the first room you see when you walk into our house. I took some pictures of her looking really pretty and regal. But this one is my favorite from yesterday:
The frog prince is buried!
While my son was skiing with the boys scouts yesterday in Michigan, the girl child and I went to my favorite place in Fort Wayne. DeBrand. Best chocolate in the entire world. Really. I should know because I eat a lot of it ;o)
The family wants to get me the "I Have OCD" shirt. OCD stands for Obsessive Chocolate Desire.
The look I get about 500 times a day. This time I got it because I took a camera out of my bag. bwahahaha!
This is why we had a mother daughter trip to DeBrand-vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate fudge, raspberry sauce, dark chocolate bowl and pure bliss:
Hope you all have a great week!

Birds and Nests and Eggs, Oh My!

Fact: birds and bird nests are all the rage for crafters and being used on just about 50% of online banners. I don't know why the obsession with birds and nests, but I admit to liking the trend too.I have seen a few bird nest pendants made out of wire while perusing Etsy and thought about trying a nest myself. I mean, how hard can it be, right? In December, Stampington posted a how to project similar to designs I've seen on Etsy. The one thing I loved about the project on Stampington is the two birds flying in opposite directions away from the nest.The big difference between other designs and my own is I used lampwork beads instead of pearls most everyone else uses. In fact, I sat down to torch specifically to create beads for this design. That pretty much never happens. Usually I make whatever beads I feel like making and leave it up to other designers or my own whims for how to use the beads.I did change a few other minor things, but the design is basically the same with a few personal touches and preferences. I am keeping this one for myself. But I see all kinds of lampwork "eggs" in my future (when it isn't so cold outside!).

HOT Video

No, I'm not spamming with suggestive blog posts. I came across this super awesome video called Glass is Liquid. It really is a visual delight and the music is really good too.

Glass Is Liquid. from Mike Call on Vimeo.

I'm just jealous I don't look this hot while making beads ;o)

Skeletons in the Studio-Special Edition Open Studio Friday

I am completely obsessed with organization. I will share the secret of why. See this photo? This is what the jewelry making area of my workspace looked like a couple weeks ago when I decided to clean it. (by the way, my "use the muse" piece was in the shot if you notice the weird white blurry spot. I wanted to make sure no one could see the muse.)Here's the routine. I organize everying. I make sure everything is labeled. Then I work on a piece or two or ten. Then I add a kitchen towel or paper towel on top of the previous mess and work on top of that. This may continue several layers deep until I can't find a single thing I need to complete a piece. Or it continues until I completely avoid the jewelry making area altogether. See the pile on the far left of the photo? The rectifier I use for electroforming is buried under that mess. Hmmm...wonder why I haven't electroformed anything?Here's a photo inside the cabinet directly above the rectifier with all my electroforming supplies on the top shelf, ready to be used. By the way, I am 5'2". I can't even reach the electroforming supply shelf. No wonder I don't bother to dig the rectifier out.Here's the cabinet directly underneath the jewely workspace with all my non lampwork beads and findings boxes. Nicely stacked and labled. I should have taken a before shot. This was after I put them away. This cabinet was completely empty, boxes open and scattered all over the floor, other counter tops, chair, etc. The thing to keep in mind is this photo was taken after I started making more jewelry again. It should have a few more boxes in there...
Another reason I was compelled to clean was my 8 year old daughter wanted to play with polymer clay while I was working in the studio. That would require me taking a shovel to the area where I play with PMC. Yes, I never clean up after myself. I am worse than a kid. I didn't take a before photo of that either.
However, I did take a photo of a couple (no, not all of them...that would just be plain embarrasing!) of the drawers where I store my pmc toys. I don't actually do scrapbooking, but they have some of the most awesome toys ever! I have a serious rubber stamp addiction, but don't actually use them with ink...except on VERY special occasions.
A 2nd drawer overflowing with texture sheets, clear rubber stamps, cutters, and so many goodies I don't even know what I have! Most of these stamps and cutters were laying out on the counter when I promised my daughter I would clear a spot for her. That was an ALL DAY project...
Here is my jewelry workspace today. I just took this photo and am still on the first layer in spite of making a few things since cleaning up.
I was tumbling some finished pieces in our family room yesterday. My husband asks me why the tumbler isn't in my studio. Wellllll....it was in the same area as my former PMC area which has been taken over by our daughter's polymer clay. Here is her workspace. Apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

Look what a Customer made with my beads!

I have the honor of showing off what a customer made with this set of beads:
Look at these fun and funky earrings created by Jaclyn using 2 of the 6 beads from the set:
Jaclyn also has a blog called Snap, Crackle, Pop in which she told an entertaining tale of how these earrings finally came to be. You really must read it. I totally sympathize with the trials and tribulations of jewelry design and getting it "right"

March of Dimes Fundraiser

Last week was the Fort Wayne March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. My husband was the chairman for the event this year and I was so nervous for him! However, there was no need to be nervous. It was a huge success! The location was perfect and decorated beautifully, the food delicious, the silent auction packages the best I've ever seen (I've been to a few of these now), the auctioneer hilarious and so much more.The highlight of the entire thing for me was getting to have some of my family members there with me while James was off running around being a good host. Another highlight was Tanya Hand, the director of the March of Dimes Indiana Chapter and her husband Jon, the former Indianapolis Colts player sitting at our table. Both were incredibly wonderful people and Jon so patient with making the trip to all 11 of these events in Indiana with Tanya. That must get a bit tiresome. However, he was gracious and pleasant about it. I told him it was good for his wife to have him as arm candy for these things ;o)Speaking of the silent auction packages, I offered two. The first was a bracelet and earrings set. I chose purple because that is the color for the March of Dimes (notice the one bead with murrini applied? LOVE that stuff! It's Lady Slipper by Lori and Kim if you want some for yourself). I got two more orders for these after the silent auction closed and they lost. My step mom bid on these a couple times and I don't think anyone wanted to bid against her. LOL!
The second auction package I donated was this necklace designed specifically for the event. I am offering this same necklace on a made to order basis with a $5 donation going to the March of Dimes for every one of these necklaces I sell. I am also offering free worldwide shipping.
After making the original, I decided I wanted to also offer a simpler version for those that don't want the extra beads or just prefer a more sleek, modern look. So I am offering a hammered and a non hammered variation in my etsy shop. These are also on a made to order basis, $5 donation to the March of Dimes, and free shipping. These would make excellent Christmas gifts too! I will even throw in free gift wrapping. Your shopping and wrapping would be finished in a couple quick clicks and you would be helping the March of Dimes.

Murrini

I have an addiction. Ok, yes, I know you know I am addicted to glass. That one is obvious. However, this addiction is new. I am not admitting this as part of some 12 step program because it's an addiction I am not ready to let go of just quite yet. The addictions is murrini. Not martini, but MURRINI. I am not going to go into a big long explanation of that it is, but will tell you it's glass, created with different colors of glass being layered together into a cane and then cut into usable pieces. These pieces are then used to decorate other glass things...like beads! Because of this new addiction, I have been buying lots of murrini in just about every color combo I can get my hands on. Theoretically, I could make it myself. However, my time at the torch is limited. murrini are time intensive, and there are others that make and sell fun color combos that I am more than happy to buy from. A couple of the sellers I have personally purchased from are Lori and Kim and Feng Frit Factory. Both have fast shipping and gorgeous selections. One thing to keep in mind is half of the Feng Frit Factory duo lives in the Netherlands. The murrini she creates ships directly from there. However, the portion of the order from the Netherlands arrived more quickly than I thought it would. One of the other issues of collecting lots of different colors of murrini is organization and storage. I am obsessed with organization. I think mostly because I am so unorganized myself and don't like it. Here is what I came up with for the murrini: Using my 40% off coupon at Michael's I purchased this bead organizer. And look at that! I have room to expand! I LOVE it when I have extra space to fill! Because I am so anal retentive about stuff, I also peeled the labels off the baggies the murrini came in and attached them to the jar where they were relocated. Some labels did not peel off very well, so I will need to make labels for those jars. This will help me with reordering in the future.
For those of you who do not work with glass, you may not realize that the type of glass I work with is called "soft glass" and it shocks more easily than borosilicate (aka pyrex). See the photo below for proof with all the bits and pieces of glass on my bench in front of my torch from shocking. The worst is when a tiny piece shocks off and lands on the arm, or down the shirt....
The murrini likes to shock, even with gentle heat introduction (hold it far out in the coolest part of the flame, wave it in and out of the flame). So I solved this problem by placing a candle warmer next to my torch. I plug it in and turn it on when I start ramping up the kiln for the day. I haven't had a single murrini shock since using this candle warmer. Perhaps I should start using it for all my glass rods!
The bead shown at the top of this post was created using murrini and completely melting it flat. This next one the murrini were melted in, but left slightly raised, then a blob of clear added on top to magnify. A very cool effect! Both beads can be found in my etsy shop.

Look what a customer made with my beads!

Kristen Latimer makes GORGEOUS jewelry utilizing lampwork in her designs. You may remember when her studio and work were featured on Open Studio Friday. I really appreciate Kristen for buying her lampwork beads from artisans rather than from mega craft sellers that sell cheap, poorly made import lampwork.
Kristen bought this focal from me a couple months ago and I have been waiting very (im)patiently to see what she does with it. A couple days ago my (im)patience paid off when she unveiled this beauty! She really made that focal look awesome. She might list it in her etsy shop, so keep an eye out and while you're there, check out what other jewels she has available for personal adornment or gift giving.
Also, if you are on Facebook, I highly recommend you become a fan of her page because you will get to see Kristen's designs there before anywhere else and she sometimes has contests just for her fans. In fact, I won the pendant below from her last summer. I meant to show it off here, and totally forgot. I know...I totally dropped the ball on that one! It is so fun to wear, I just love it!

March of Dimes

The internet is a funny thing. You hear about internet evils every day in the media. However, I want to tell you a good story about social networking. Remember the Open Studio Friday about Ken Rieves the photographer? I "met" Ken on Twitter, even though he lives in the same city as me.
My husband is on the board for the Northeast Indiana Chapter of the March of Dimes. He is also the committee chair for the big fundraiser of the year, the Chefs Signature Auction. I am not on the committee and didn't volunteer to help. However, I was volunteered anyway ;o) I am happy to help because the March of Dimes is a program that is close to my heart, but I will explain why in a minute-just bear with me.
I emailed Ken about possibly donating a photography service to the silent auction portion of the fundraiser and maybe even taking some photos in a local NICU for a slideshow to run during the "tasting" portion of the event. He agreed immediately and has already put in SEVERAL hours working on this project. Here are a couple photos he posted on his blog. You can see more here

Photo by Ken Rieves

Photo by Ken Rieves
If you are within the greater Ft Wayne area, please consider attending the chefs signature auction. It really is lots of fun! It's like going to several restaurants for one meal. Each local chef serves a "signature" dish in small portions. The food is delicious, the desserts awesome and this year will include a wine tasting! There will be a silent auction during the "eating" portion of the event, followed by a short presentation and a live auction. Usually each chef offers up a package for a party of 8 (give or take) people in their restaurant. There will also be some other fun stuff. Even if you are not interested in supporting the March of Dimes, it will be a fun evening and a great date night! I already have my outfit picked out ;o) OK, it's the same outfit I wear every year because it's the only time each year I need to dress up. LOL!
I promised to tell you why the March of Dimes is important to me. The next couple photos were taken by my husband 12 years ago. Our first child was born 16 weeks premature. We named him Caleb. He weighed a whopping 2 pounds and lived 11 days. I have better (although very few) photos of him, but I like this one because this was the first time I got to see him. When I touched his little hand, his fingers curled around my one finger.
And this here is why I support the March of Dimes...because if we can prevent one family from going through the same heartache that we went through, it will be worth it. That casket hidden beneath the spray of flowers? It's the size of a shoebox.

I am able to talk about my experience because we have been blessed in more ways than I could possibly count in the last 12 years. And, quite frankly, time heals. It does. I will admit that most of the time when I think about it, it seems more like a really bad dream that didn't actually happen. But when I look at these photos, the memories and the pain all come rushing back.

There are a few photos that are so beyond my ability to cope that I cannot look at them, I don't share them with anybody, and those stay boxed up. Maybe someday I can look at them...but probably not because they show the pain etched upon our faces as we held our dying son for the last...and only time.

New Friend in the Garden

It's that time of year...the time to cut back some of the unruly perennials. I had started selectively "dead heading" the hydrangea bushes late in the evening last week. (I like to leave many of the blooms on the bush all winter because it makes for a more interesting landscape, particularly after it snows!)Anyway, I was about to cut this particular bloom off because it is so much higher than the rest. I don't like ball shaped bushes, but I also can't stand it if one branch is really long. As I was getting ready to snip, I noticed in the twilight that there was a weird green spot in the center. I looked a little closer...and it's a bright green little frog. Isn't he cute? So I tortured him by taking like 50 pictures-using the flash because it was way too dark and I didn't have a tripod handy.
Then I left the bloom intact. I couldn't destroy his resting spot!
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