Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WIP Wednesday: American Blue Bloods

So last week I was on a "vacation" where I was house and dog sitting for friends. I didn't want to fall behind on the blog and didn't want to just watch television the whole time so I took writing materials and a bag full of craft goodies to keep me busy. Today's WIP Wednesday is a product of a week of tinkering and trying new things. It still needs a little something, like a pop of dismal red or pink and I'm not sure if it is a stand-alone piece or if I might attach it to something else.

It all started months ago with a metal tart pan shaped like a heart. I bought a few of these, not really sure what to do with them. Next I bought an antique iron rest that had some lovely rust on it.


After going through the photos from the old album a friend gave me, I knew these two were perfect for this project. I traced the heart around their photo and cut away. 



I wasn't sure what colors I was going for with this piece so I started off with a bit of Tim Holtz® Distress Stain in Walnut around the cut edges and then I coated the photo itself, wiping away excess with a paper towel. I liked it, but wanted more color.

 Tim Holtz® Distress Stain in Broken China was the ticket!

 I let it soak a bit into the photo and blotted it away, leaving some nice aging behind.
While that dried, I rusted the tart pan using Sophisticated Finishes by Modern Options. As the rust developed, I knew I wanted to add color so I dry brushed on some gesso.

This is where things spun out of control.I'm still learning and didn't realize my color washes would darken the rust. While I loved the blackish blue on the white gesso, I didn't love that you couldn't see the rust anymore. It was too dark.

 To fix the mess, I dry brushed on some ________________ and like how it brightened up the piece.



With the colors pretty much how I wanted them, I glued the heart onto the iron rest and attached the embellishments with E-6000 glue. I made sure to use it in a very well-ventilated area.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to add a layer of dimensional glaze or not so I didn't glue in the photo. I opted not to add the glaze so once I got home I glued it in place. I did want a bit of dark sparkle, so I took out my glitters. I have a very fine black glitter and a nice vintage-looking chunky black glitter. I opted for chunky but hated the result. I ended up scraping most of it off and adding Tim Holtz® Distress Stain in Walnut and Hickory Smoke to cover up any paper tears. I like how it toned down the glitter so that it almost looks like the tart pan is corroded or coated in burnt-on crud.
Tonight I'll add just a bit of that red or pink for a pop of color and let it sit while I work on something else. The piece looks great on a wooden easel so if I decide it is finished, you'll find it in my Etsy shop.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Maker's Monday: Brass and Blue Pendant

Well, it's Maker's Monday once again! I was on vacation all last week so today's project was thrown together at the very last minute. I've linked supplies to where I have purchased them but you may buy them elsewhere.


Supplies:
2 natural brass headpins (2 inches long)
3 4mm Swarovski crystals in Light Turquoise
1 natural brass connector/pendant
28 inches of brass-toned chain
3 brass-toned open jump rings (3mm)
1 brass-toned lobster clasp (not in photo)


Tools:
Jeweler's pliers (one or two pairs, depending on your preference)
Flush cutters

Instructions:

1.  Slide a crystal onto a headpin. With the tips of your pliers, make a 90 degree bend in the headpin just above the bead.


2.  Cut the excess tail from your headpin so that it measures just under 1/2 an inch long. 



3.  Here's a quick tip for cutting headpins so they are all the same size: when you have trimmed your headpin to the desired size, take your scrap end and line it up with another headpin. Hold them both in your non-dominant hand and cut your headpin, using the scrap as your guide. Repeat for the remaining headpin. They should all be the same length now. Go ahead and make your 90 degree bends in the remaining headpins.



4.  Now you'll make your loops. Line the very end of a 90 degree bent headpin and bead up with the mark on your pliers. Make sure the mark is facing up and clamp the pliers around the end of the headpin—hold the rest of the wire tightly with your other hand.  Line the headpin up on that mark and make sure the pliers are at the very end of the headpin.  Hold the pliers tightly and "roll" them toward you to make a loop.  You will notice that you can only roll them so far before you have to stop.  Readjust your hands on the pliers and make sure the pliers are snug in the loop you've started.  Finish rolling the pliers toward you. Repeat for the other two headpins.




 5.   Time to add the crystal beads to the connector/pendant! The pendant I'm using I got at the Vintaj booth at this year's Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, WI. If you make your own jewelry and haven't been to this show ... you need to get there! I was definitely on bead overload. After I got back, I checked Vintaj's website and I didn't see this particular style so it might not be available anymore. You can substitute another style/brand. Slightly open one of your loops by clasping it in the pliers with one hand and holding it firmly between your thumb and index finger of your other hand. Gently twist the pliers away from you and the ring should open.  Slide a loop onto a ring of the connector/pendant making sure the opening faces to the back side of the connector/pendant then close it by gently twisting the pliers toward you.  Repeat these steps for the other two rings.


6. Slightly open a jump ring and slide it through the top loop of the connector/pendant with the same push/pull twist you used to open your headpin loops. You can use two pliers if it is easier for you. Close the jump ring reversing the motion.
7.  Feed the chain through the jump ring.
8.  Add a jump ring to each end of the chain. Depending on which is your dominant hand, you will open one of these jump rings and add your lobster clasp.

Now you have a completed necklace! I hope you're inspired to make your own version of this necklace. What color would you have chosen for the beads?



Friday, June 24, 2016

Free Fiction Friday: The Art of Furniture Refurbishing

Seems like Free Fiction Friday comes around sooner and sooner.  This week's tale is about sanding away imperfections.



The Art of Furniture Refurbishing
Copyright 2016 Carey Burns
Melody plugged in the overhead fluorescent light, its hum and crackle chasing off the ghosts and shadows of the basement. Her father's work bench and tools, the shelves of chemicals and brushes stood before her waiting.
            She set the bent wood rocker on the aged canvas tarp and wiped her brow. Generations of her family have planted their rear ends on that chair, wearing the dark stain from the arms and the seat.
            The chair sat in her grandparents' house and rocked her as a sickly child in her mother's arms. It soothed her dying grandmother when her joint pain kept her awake at night. Before that it belonged to her great-grandparents.
            She pulled the sanding block from a shelf and set to work. With the grain, her father had taught her. Long, smooth strokes. Each 'shhh' of the block was a memory. Grandmother's chocolate chip cookies. Shhh. Dad watching old movies on Friday night. Shhh. Dad making a patio set for her mom. Shhh. Mom succumbing to the breast cancer that was supposedly gone. Shhh.
            The arms of the chair were naked wood now and Melody swallowed against the lump in her throat, moving the block to the head of the chair. Lip trembling, she continued.
            Dad's loneliness. Shhh. His withering spirit. Shhh. His sad eyes. Shhh. The call from the police. Shhh. The closed casket funeral. Shhh. The whispers and judgmental glances. Shhh.
            The professional cleaners did a great job cleaning up the mess from the walls and carpet and the chair, but the dark red stain remained. She could still see it.
            Melody stood back and studied her work. The chair was free of any color, smooth and naked. Over the course of the day she sanded with finer and finer grit, removing old scratches and scuffs in the wood.
            Sure, the patina was removed and the value lessened but her family's chair remained. With a final swipe of the tack cloth she smiled, pondering finishes. With the blank canvas, anything was possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Remains of Love Part II

Today's WIP Wednesday is tinkering with a project I put on the back burner. You may or may not remember "The Remains of Love" from May. This piece has sat on my desk, tormenting me with its colors. I finally decided to fiddle with it again.

I dry brushed on some gesso to the wood and hit the high points of the arrows and the crown of the heart. Cupid was too blah-looking so I added a bit to his wings and face and body. This is when I got a little crazy. I added some to the photo and then the pile of bones.

With the gesso dry, I added some Tim Holtz® Distress Stain in Mowed Lawn to the wood, arrows, and crown. The green and red roses was too much for my tastes so I added some Broken China which helped, but still wasn't great. After that dried, I added Walnut and then blended with a paper towel. The end result is a lovely verdigris that I can live with.





I applied the same color technique to the photo and pile of bones, sans the paper towel blending.




I'm liking this a lot more than before. I'm thinking of going over the bones with some gold or bronze to make them stand out a bit more and balance out the lock (which I love without any form of embellishment).


Monday, June 20, 2016

Maker's Monday: Brass and Blue Earrings

It's Maker's Monday! Today’s project is a pair of natural brass and Swarovski pearl earrings with a simple loop cold connection. Some people have sensitive ears so they may not be able to wear brass ear wires. Please substitute accordingly. I've linked supplies to where I have purchased them but you may buy them elsewhere.
Supplies:
2 natural brass fishhook ear wires
2 8mm Swarovski pearls in Night Blue
2 Vintaj Wandering Pathway embellishments
2 lengths of Vintaj 20 gauge Artisan Copper wire (about 5 inches each)

Tools:
Jeweler's pliers (one or two pairs, depending on your preference)
Flush cutters

Instructions:

1.  With the tips of your pliers, make a 90 degree bend in the end of one wire, roughly 1/2 inch from the end. 

2.  Line the very end of that 90 degree bend up with the mark on your pliers. Make sure the mark is facing up and clamp the pliers around the end of the headpin—hold the rest of the wire tightly with your other hand.  Line the headpin up on that mark and make sure the pliers are at the very end of the headpin.  Hold the pliers tightly and "roll" them toward you to make a loop.  You will notice that you can only roll them so far before you have to stop.  Readjust your hands on the pliers and make sure the pliers are snug in the loop you've started.  Finish rolling the pliers toward you.

Practise your loops! The more you make, the better you'll become!

 3.  Slide your bead down so that it is tight against your loop. 

4.  For these earrings, if you were to make your loops going the same direction, the embellishments
 won't face correctly. In the photo below, notice how the loop goes side-to-side ad forms an 'O.' Hold the tips of your pliers tight against the bead and push the tail of the wire away from you to form a 90 degree bend.
Follow the same steps of trimming and lining up the pliers against the mark and rolling the pliers back toward you. When you're finished, your newly-formed connector will look like this:
Repeat for the other piece of wire and bead.

5.  Now you want to assemble your earrings! Slightly open the ring of your fish hook ear wire by clasping it in the pliers with one hand and holding it firmly between your thumb and index finger of your other hand. Gently twist the pliers away from you and the ring should open.  Slide a loop of your connector onto the ring and then close it by gently twisting the pliers toward you.  Repeat these steps for the second earring.
Gently twist the loop so you don't weaken the metal

 
The scraps in the background are from a failed attempt at the connector!



6. Slightly open the unused loop of your connector. Slide the embellishment onto the wire and check to make sure that it "faces front." If it does, close your loop. If not, take the embellishment off and flip it around. 
Again, the color combinations, metals used, and bead types are numerous with this pattern. I hope you found this little how-to useful and a bit inspirational! Do you make your simple loops a different way?








Friday, June 17, 2016

Free Fiction Friday: Choice Cuts

I've got a serving of Free Fiction Friday for you today. Hope you like this tender morsel of a tale.



“Choice Cuts”
Copyright 2016 Carey Burns

A small bell tinkled overhead as Cal Thompson strode through the door of Choice Cuts, a specialty butcher shop in Chicago’s fashionable Bucktown neighborhood.  His gaze froze on the thin, uptight man standing at the counter ordering.  He’d never seen this man before and his gut was telling him something wasn’t right.  Cal crept forward until he was right behind the stranger.
“Two pounds of the ground chuck and two pounds of the back bacon.”  The stranger said, fingering a list on the glass countertop while watching the butcher weigh and package the meat.
Cal leaned in close, his breath hot on the stranger’s neck.  “You’re gonna love Kevin’s bacon.”  He said in a low, husky voice.
The stranger flinched and dropped his money on the counter before snatching up the white bundles of meat and bolting out the door.
Cal smirked at Kevin and leaned against the glass display case.  “Who was that?”
Kevin shrugged, wringing a white towel in his hands.  “He works with Eddie Mueller at the Mercantile Exchange.”
Cal tilted his head wondering why Eddie would tell anyone about Choice Cuts.  “You think he’s toying with him?”
“Let’s just say that he’ll be back, one way or another.”  Kevin smiled serenely as he wiped down the counter with the towel.  “What can I get you?”
“I’ll take the rest of your bacon and throw in a few links of your hot sausage too.”  He studied Kevin’s quick, precise movements as he wrapped the order in pristine butcher paper and tied them tightly with string.
Kevin’s voice was soothing.  “I added some extra fat trimmings to the sausage for flavor.  Hope you like them.” 
He grinned.  Kevin was a true connoisseur.  “I’m sure it’ll be great.”
“Okay, that’ll be fifteen even.”  He stacked the bundles next to him and adjusted his wire rimmed glasses while he waited for Cal to produce the money.
Cal grinned as Kevin snatched the cash from his fingers and handed him the packages.   “Here you are.  I’m going hunting this weekend so I’ll be seeing you soon.” 
“Looking forward to it.”  Kevin mumbled as he placed the bills into the cash register.  He watched Cal leave then slipped away into the back room where he did most of the processing and butchering.  He unlocked the cooler and waited for his fogged glasses to clear.
Rows of steel hooks hung from the ceiling, suspending sides of beef and whole hogs.  Kevin eased between them, the dead carcasses swaying to a silent danse macabre in the chilled air.  At the back of the freezer Kevin hefted an aged carcass over his shoulder and dodged the swinging animals on his way to the stainless steel table.
He flopped the carcass on the table, exposing the cleaned-out torso.  Kevin rolled it over and pinched a fatty portion of its back and smiled.  This one would make excellent bacon.  He reached for his knife, accidentally bumping its leg off the table.  As he moved it back into place, his glance rested on its purple toenail polish.