Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top 4 reasons why I love crafts

beading crafts projects
Seed bead bracelet in progress

Lately, I've had a lot of job stress that's made me wish more and more that I had the courage to throw caution to the wind, turn in my notice, and turn my crafts into a business.

Here are the biggest reasons why I love making crafts:

Reason 1: It's calming ... Eventually

When I am in the "what am I going to make phase?" my stress level goes up as I struggle to think of something new to try or to create a new pattern for an old project. But once I know what I'm making and can settle in and work on it, I feel a calmness I don't normally feel during waking hours. It's a peaceful, relaxing way to spend an hour or two ... Eventually.

Reason 2: Completing a project feels good

Recently, my grandma asked me to make earrings for a woman at her doctor's office. The woman had requested some, knowing that my grandma knows a few people who make authentic Native American jewelry, but she wasn't specific beyond just saying she wanted "round" ones. Knowing Grandma had an appointment coming up, I made some circular earrings that have feathers on them and ran into a few problems on the way. The rows didn't line up; the hook didn't stay on. I got them done just hours before she left for the doctor. Despite the problems and the tight deadline (a stressful project that made it one of the rare exceptions to reason no. 1), I felt proud that I was able to problem-solve and, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work." Ultimately, the woman who requested the earrings said they weren't what she had in mind, but another woman at the office really liked them and bought them. Which brings me to ...

Reason 3: I love when someone likes what I've made

I'm a sucker for compliments, but then, who doesn't feel good when someone tells them they've done a good job?

Reason 4: It's a family thing

My mom makes earrings, headdresses, bunholders and key chains. My brother and nephews make dream catchers, my big sister makes earrings, bracelets, and dolls. Even my daughter gets in on it, making necklaces, drawings, and other things daily.

What do you enjoy about making crafts? Let me know in the comments section below.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Halloween glow-in-the-dark pumpkin necklace

I have to give my 5-year-old some credit on this. I could tell before I even started on the pumpkin that the pony beads would make it too big for a child her age to wear as a bracelet, so I thought of making it a necklace instead. However, once I got the first row complete, I thought it would be too big for a necklace too.

But I moved forward anyway and figured I'd decide what it would be when I was completely done with it.

It was my daughter who said she wanted it to be a necklace anyway, no matter how big it wound up being. So I told her I would put a string in it so she could wear it as a necklace. I was going to make the chain in all black beads, but she suggested three black then three orange.

The end result, I think, looks pretty good. And it really doesn't look as huge as I thought it was going to, so hats off to my little girl for creative savvy.

I plan to make more, but I need to buy more beads first. The package of glow-in-the-darks I bought comes in many colors, so I'll have to dig through to see if there is enough orange left to make the pendant.

I'm experimenting with video some, too. For those who might be interested in seeing this project come together, here's the video I made of it.  https://youtu.be/_ux2zZ4dS9E

It's not a how-to and it's a little rough, but I'm still learning.

Monday, August 8, 2016

My laugh for the day

For the first time in a long while, I fired up my Beader's Canvas software to map out a pumpkin in peyote stitch.*

In no time flat, I had the basic pattern, and then I printed it off.

This is how it turned out.

That is a regular-size, 8.5x11-inch sheet of paper, and that printout -- see my tiny little jack-o-lantern in the upper-right corner -- doesn't help much.

My husband and I had a laugh over that, and then I remembered that to get it the size I want, I have to save it as a JPEG then print that file out.

Hopefully I remember that next time, because I can't afford to have to print everything twice.

*I decided to use brick stitch when I started the project.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Glow-in-the-dark beads

Beadwork with glow-in-the-dark beads
Glow-in-the-dark pony beads*

I've had my eye on glow in the dark beads for more than a year. After getting an Amazon gift card for my birthday in July, I finally got them. Yay!

That's the good news.

The bad news is that they're bigger than I expected. I knew what size they were -- pony -- when I bought them, but because I work mostly with size 10 and 11 beads, I didn't realize just how big pony beads are by comparison, which is too big to create the patterns I had in mind for a bracelet for a child my daughter's age. So, rather than make bracelets, I think I'll use the patterns for necklace charms and wall decor.

Hopefully little girls will still like them.

*I tried to have a little fun with my new glow-in-the-dark beads by getting photos of them, but alas, my smartphone camera is not good enough to truly capture them aglow.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Beading, binges and being more productive

Do you binge-watch while working on crafts?

I do. I’ve watched whole seasons of Netflix shows “Orange is the New Black” and “Bloodline” as I plotted out a bracelet or stitched together a pair of earrings.

But do you know what makes watching TV while working on a project tough? It's the back and forth between watching what you're doing and keeping your eye on the TV screen enough that you don't miss some key detail.

Perhaps that's why most projects I work on seem to take far, far longer than I estimate. For instance, just one of the feather earrings I've done will take two hours. That's not one set of earrings, that's just one earring.

So, I think I'm going to test whether the TV is too much of a distraction.

A few months ago, I checked out an audio book from the public library so that I'd have something besides music to listen to while I painted the walls in our master bathroom. I loved it. It was fun to have a story play out in my imagination while I worked.

And so, I've been thinking I might give it a try while I work on my bead projects. I'm eyeing "Go Set a Watchman," though I'm nervous after everything I've heard about it, so I might ultimately choose something else.

And once I decide on what to listen to, I'll see if I can get one of those earrings done in half the time.

Do you watch TV or listen to podcasts, audiobooks or music while you bead? Tell us in the comments field below.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My daughter's first handmade Father's Day crafts

A heart my daughter
made for Father's Day.

Yesterday, with less than five hours left until Father's Day, my 4-year-old whispered in my ear that she wanted to make a heart out of clay for her daddy and cover it with glitter. We had none of the supplies at home, but, because the idea was hers entirely, I wanted her to be able to make it. We headed off to Hobby Lobby for clay and glitter, making our way to the checkout just as the store closed.

When we got home, I settled in to balance my checkbook, while she molded the heart. Every so often, she'd call out, "Mommy, come look!" to show me how it progressed. I'll be honest, it looked a little rough, but she's just 4, and she was proud and so was I.

She made the bulk of the heart out of pink clay, adding three purple clay hearts on top. She used up the bulk of the pink clay for the project, I had a feeling that using that much clay would prevent the heart from drying in time, but she was so proud of what she'd created, I decided to say nothing and hope I was wrong.

A picture frame my
daughter made of clay.
When she finished, I noticed she had set aside a small amount of clay, a mix of both purple and pink. I made a mental note to grab it when I cleaned up. We set the heart out to dry, and she got her PJs on and did the whole bedtime routine.

I forgot about the extra clay until this morning, when I noticed it had been formed into a second, smaller heart. Because I had no idea when my daughter could've made it, I thought my husband had. He denied it, and sure enough, my daughter later came up to me and said, "Mommy, did you see what I made for you?"

She told me it's a picture frame, and she wants me to cut out a photo of her and glue it to the back. I cannot express how much this little heart makes me smile. I still don't know when she managed to make it for me.

When we went to inspect the heart she made for her daddy, as I feared, we found it was still not dry. But, today being Father's Day and not wanting the gift to be late, we set to work putting on the glitter anyway.

I have very little experience with glitter. In all the years I've done crafts, I don't think I've ever bought any. But she and I hunkered down on her bedroom floor with the glitter glue bottles, and that's when I learned that glitter glue, at least the brand I bought, comes out as glue mostly. The glitter kind of got gunked up in the nozzle and stayed there. So I squeezed the bottle as hard as I could to get the glitter out.

Bad idea. The nozzle popped off, and just like a big mucus-filled sneeze, glitter glue splatted all over the heart, the newspaper we had underneath it and on her bedroom carpet.

We cleaned the mess, then continued glittering as best we could. She added the word "Dad" to the top (technically, it says "Dab," but I give her points for trying), and then presented her daddy with his gift.

A little while later, the two of them got into a pillow fight, during which one pillow got smacked into the still-wet glitter glue, giving the heart an even more disheveled look and leaving me to wonder if the glue will come out of the pillow as well as it did the carpet.

The heart, by the way, is still not dry. It still looks a little rough, but I gotta say, out of all of the projects I've worked on, this one is my favorite, because it was the first one I've done in which my daughter had taken the lead.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Next project: Round earrings or an "N"?

Round beaded earrings.
My grandma called a few weeks ago to ask if I had any round earrings. She was asking on behalf of a woman who works in her doctor's office who likes Native American crafts.

I told her I had some but no longer do. She told me her next appointment isn't for six months or so, so I've got plenty of time to make some for her to take to show the woman.

I made round earrings once before, and they took a long, long time.

On the day I started them, I invited a niece and nephew over to keep my daughter entertained. I foolishly thought I could knock out a pair or two over the two hours the kids played together. Instead, I got just one only half finished.

I loved the way they turned out, though. So I plan to have some for my grandma to take the next time she goes to the doctor.

My other project in the pipeline is an "N" for my daughter's bedroom door. On a recent trip through Target, my daughter got very excited when she saw wooden letters in the crafts section and begged my husband and me for an "N" because that's the first letter in her name.

I'm not sure how to create one, unless I do a square with an "N" in the middle, but I've decided to surprise her with one, maybe by the time her birthday rolls around.