Monday, January 30, 2012

Awesome Animals in Knit & Crochet

My sister recently picked up knitting, which is something I've told myself I won't get into because I have so many crafts already!  Anyway, she went from knitting lovely scarves to knitting animals - from patterns she made up herself!  Here is a sample of her newest creation:

Her talent blows me away!  If she decides to start selling any of her work or her patterns, I will post a link.  Right now she is making animals for fun, for gifts, and for her new baby!

My sister's work is also the inspiration for my feature today:  Awesome Animals in Knit & Crochet!  Each animal has been handmade by the featured crafter, or is a sample from a pattern made by the crafter.  I love the variety, the cuteness, and the realism in these fabulous pieces!

These are just a few of the talented crafters out there, but I hope you've enjoyed looking at their work as much as I enjoyed finding them!

For more information on any of these talented people, or to see more of their creations and patterns, please follow the link in the image title.  The link will go directly to the crafter's Etsy shop!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Creating!

Monday, January 23, 2012

SouthEast Idaho Artisans & Crafters on Etsy

As I search for local craft fairs to attend or participate in, and then go to them and spend money on wonderful handmade items, I realize there are many, many talented artists and crafters in my region.  Today I've decided to show off some of these items that seemed particularly unique, well-made, and/or creative and I hope you enjoy looking (and maybe shopping....) as much as I did!  As you can see, I particularly enjoyed finding unique children's items.....

The children's clothes found in this shop are very sweet - they vary from bright and fun (as shown above) to classic and romantic!

I've been admiring Jas Glass Art for a while now - the pendants are new since my last perusal, but I still love the unique window art as well.

There are more than just wonderfully fun and detailed hair clips at this store, but the flower headbands grab my attention first every time!

Gemstones, lampwork beads, typewriter keys, and other fun and/or classy jewelry can be found here!  It's a marvelous mix of whimsical and elegance all in one design.

I love the precious knit hat and blanket designs made by Red and Company - they also have some beautiful quilts!
Find fun, colorful, original art ready to hang, as well as hats, bags, and mittens!
ADORABLE baby boots and booties can be found in this store, as well as hats and skirts in fun prints and warm knits!

I thought this was a fantastic idea - a little roll up pouch for crayons!  It even comes with some colors already inside.  Find other baby items, such as fun printed bibs or burp cloth sets, or check out the children's Craft Bucket!

Each artist and crafter shown today is a part of the SouthEast Idaho Etsy Team and they have shops open and full of finished goods ready to go if you find yourself interested - just follow the link in the titles.  You can also find out more about each product or shop owner just by clicking on the shop name or profile on Etsy!

If you are like me, and buy some items and enjoy making others, be sure to check out some of the SouthEast Idaho Etsy Team members who sell patterns as well as products!

Happy Creating,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

DIY: Simple Wire-Wrapped Ring Tutorials

One of my first rings:  Simple Wire Spiral

I've been exploring wire-wrapping more and more recently.  Most of my attempts have been simple and probably amateurish, but also fun, good practice, and great learning experiences!  One of the simplest designs is a wire ring - once you get the hang of the pattern, you can make cute, fun, and/or elegant rings quickly, easily, and with startling variety just by choosing different focal beads!

Another early ring design - still simple, but added a flat square bead!
If you are just starting out with wire wrapping techniques, I'd suggest learning to wrap beads before undrilled stones/rocks or cabochons.  It's easier for beginners to make wearable and durable projects with beads because the wire will go through the bead, whereas stones and cabochons require tight fitting wire and usually a gentler touch with tools to place the wire setting without damaging the stone.  Cabochons are beautiful - but more complex to wrap.  Stones can be "messy" wrapped pretty easily, but the technique is not as versatile as the ring tutorials I'm showing off today! 

I started with this tutorial from the Instructables website:

I found the directions and photos easy to understand and follow.  I chose to wrap the ends of my wire around the ring shank, however, instead of just tucking them under the spiral.  I think this makes the ring sturdier and less likely to get caught on something and pulled apart while wearing it - but maybe I'm just too paranoid!

The next type of ring I made was one with a bead.  My first attempts were!  I'm not sure the exact tutorial I followed, but this one by Lytha Studios is awesome:

You can see the variation in the look of the ring just by varying the type of metal used or the focal bead, too.  Pearls, crystals, glass, round, square, faceted, etc. - they all look good and can really change the feel of the ring from classy to earthy!  In this tutorial, you wrap the wire around the base of the bead several times.  

 A natural stone focal - Aqua Terra Jasper & Copper

I have varied the look at times by crossing one of the wires over the top of the bead instead:

 Square Sodalite Focal with Copper Wire Accent

For an extra dressy look, try this technique - add some bead caps!

Alternative Example by Lytha Studios

 There are many tutorials and different types of wire-wrapped rings out there - in books and magazines, on internet blogs and websites, or even at your local bead shop.  These tutorials are just the basics - consider playing with the design and technique to make a ring that is truly unique and you!  You can add more beads, vary the wrap technique, mix metal colors, or even add more curlicues to the design.

3-Bead Focal Ring

Additional tips that I found useful:
  • Start with soft, cheap wire - you really want your 1st ring to turn out and be immediately wearable and show it off - I know!  I did too, but the reality is that practice makes, well, more perfect.  Plan on re-wrapping your first rings a couple times and throwing away used wire (or recycle it!).  Re-using wire is possible, but kinks remain in the wire that give a rough and shoddy appearance to the finished piece.  Wire also hardens with each use, so breakage is more likely if you re-use it.
    • aluminum wire is the softest there is - it makes practicing easy.  I used aluminum wire 1st and still make tester pieces from it before moving on to more expensive and stiffer wire.
    • copper wire is the next easiest for practice.  It's still relatively cheap compared to the precious metals and it comes in "soft", "half hard", and "hard" designations.  Just know that soft is easy to bend and form, while hard is difficult to manipulate!  Each type has it's uses in wire-wrapping techniques, however.  
    • Other benefits of using copper wire: 
      1. Copper hardens with use and over time (unlike aluminum) and makes a fairly stable ring.  You can also texture or flatten it with hammer and anvil or other shaping/dapping/stamping tools.
      2. Copper wire comes in many colors and sizes - look for non-tarnish varieties, enameled (colored) variations, or even silver & gold plated types!  Artistic Wire, Beadalon, and Parawire all make copper wire that is perfect for wire-wrapping.
      3. People with metal allergies and sensitive skin can generally wear solid copper, enameled copper, or plated copper jewelry because there is no nickel.  Most metal allergies are due to a high nickel content in craft wire and some jewelry findings, not to all metals.  Fine silver and 14K gold (or higher) is generally safe as well.
 Rondelle Focal Bead w/Wire Spiral Technique

  •  Practice Practice Practice! I think this is pretty self explanatory - the more you play with wire, the better you understand how to manipulate it.  Try these tutorials, but also others or your own designs.  Don't be afraid to try something new - the worst that happens is that you take it apart and try again!  I've done this so many times, myself, but I always learn a little something, too!
  • Start simple - I love jumping into difficult projects, and I learn a lot in the process of figuring the pattern out, but I would have also saved myself a lot of frustration and heartache and wire if I'd started simple and moved up more slowly to the difficult things!  Knowing and understanding basic techniques really helps improve your intermediate and advanced designs - both in execution and in polish!
 Adjustable Ring Design w/Beads
  • Use the proper tools - I know most people don't want to jump in spending over $100 on tools for a project, and neither do I!  You don't need the top of the line pliers to get started in wire-wrapping, but you do need some basics.  Even cheap jewelry pliers from your local craft store will work just fine for months before you might need (or want) to purchase nicer tools!  A kit is usually available with the basics for under $30.  And once you do purchase nicer tools, keep in mind that they will last a lifetime if they aren't abused - I've had mine for over 10 years and they still work great!
    • Do Not buy pliers from a hardware store and expect them to work for jewelry.  Many hardware pliers have teeth on the jaws and these will mar your wire very fast!
    • Cheap alternatives to nylon jawed pliers for wire-wrapping include using masking tape on the jaws or dipping them in a rubber tool coating such as Tool Magic.  Benefits include flexibility as tape and coatings can be removed or reapplied as necessary, while nylon pliers are always nylon pliers.
    • The Basics - round nose pliers, rosary pliers (also called chain-nose pliers), flat nose pliers, and flush cutters (to cut flush wire ends - these are different from hardware store wire cutters!).  Extras that are handy, especially for ring projects, include a ring mandrel, ring sizer, and bent nose pliers.  Any round object in the approximate size you want the ring will work, however - when in a pinch check over the tools you (or your neighbor, father, etc.) have.  I found that a ratchet & socket set worked very well!
 Socket & Ratchet Set - works in a pinch as a ring size guide!

Most importantly - HAVE FUN!  If you are getting frustrated, take a break, come back later, and try again.  Enjoy playing with the wire and picking out specialty beads for your amazing ring projects!  Oh - and dream of the day when your rings take off to new heights - such as these fabulous designs by artists on DeviantArt:

Happy Creating!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tetrahedral Coin Purse - A Fun & Puzzling DIY Project!

I came across a tutorial for this tetrahedral coin purse a few months ago.  In the holiday lull (I know, what lull, right?!?!), I finally had a chance to make one!  It's now in the possession of one of my sisters and I hope she's enjoying it.  I have to find more ribbon and make myself and my daughter one, too - they are not as time consuming to sew by hand as one may think and the final product is so much fun!  It's like a little brain teaser to carry around in your purse - and it's useful too!

I wanted to share photos of my project and point you all toward the original tutorial.  I stumbled upon (I really do like that button....)  the pattern originally at Craft Passion.  If you haven't visited this awesome site of easy patterns and tutorials, you should!  The purse is called a Zip-Itself Coin Purse on Craft Passion, and the directions are pretty easy to follow.

Some alternatives you may want to try 

Use 2 ribbons, one inside and one outside, instead of fabric.  Craft Passion used a ribbon on the outside and a fabric liner.  I used 2 ribbons and I think it worked out well.  However, make sure your inside ribbon is just a little smaller than your outside ribbon, or that you sew the far enough away from the zipper teeth so the zipper doesn't get caught on the ribbon liner!  I had to re-sew a portion of my purse because of this.....

Use other sizes of ribbon - I used 1 inch ribbon.  It helps to have some sewing experience if you are going to change the pattern, but it's doable.  Grab a longer zipper (I think I had 24") to make up for the difference in pattern sizes.  Be prepared to finish the ribbon BEFORE the end of the zipper.  Just trim off the excess zipper and finish as per the directions!  It's really important to follow the "shaping" portion of the directions if you change the pattern, too.....just zip up your purse periodically to see how it's coming along!

Machine stitch some of the ribbon to speed up the process - This would be pretty easy on the straight portions of the pattern.  Some things to keep in mind include matching your thread well because it will show more than hand-stitching and you will still have to hand stitch the liner to keep the purse looking nice.  OR machine stitch the liner first - I don't know how hard this would be.  I actually hand stitched the whole pattern even though I really don't enjoy hand-stitching.  It took maybe 2 hours, so it wasn't that bad and I got some practice!  Some others who have used Craft Passions tutorial were able to machine sew some of their work.

Add a zipper pull!  I love my beads and had to add a little something more.  There are a couple options for this - make a permanent pull by stringing on beads to an eyepin and closing the eyepin over the zipper (pictured) OR make the eyepin and attach that to a clasp, then attach the clasp to the zipper.  This one would be interchangeable!

And one final hint - some ribbon melts under a flame really nicely.  Depending on your ribbon, you might consider finishing off the cut edges of the ribbon via flame, instead of folding under and sewing as per the directions.  It works for me, anyway!

Happy Creating!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jade Louise Designs: FEATURED!

Whoo!  Two features in a month - I'm on a roll and feeling so lucky and grateful to these wonderful ladies who have featured my store.  Check out the latest feature, and other features, on Jade Louise Designs blog!  She interviews the winners and writes up a nice post every Tuesday with new shops from Etsy.  Her other articles are also well-done and fun to read!

Thanks so much!