Saturday, April 19, 2014

week 9 of 10 in metalsmithing class

In the last post, I shared how the copper looked after being annealed. In the next class, I soldered the two pieces of copper together. See all those tiny silver pieces in the first photo? Those are the solder I snipped and, using tweezers, placed in the flux on the copper background. It's a tedious process, for sure, and this class has given me a whole new appreciation for the jewelry we see at art and craft shows, and the prices attached to that jewelry. 

Making jewelry by hand can be time intensive. It's also a wonderful way of honoring the human spirit. Personally, I enjoy wearing something I know is truly one of a kind. How about you?


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

week 8 of 10 in metalsmithing class

I mentioned in my last post that hubby and I have been taking a metalsmithing class at our local art center. The instructor is extremely knowledgeable and skilled at both jewelry making and teaching. The first two nights were lecture. The rest of the sessions are all hands-on in the studio, making whatever we desire. 

My goal for the class is to learn to solder metal, which is vastly different from soldering stained glass pendants. The first night of open studio, week three of class, I started a ring, which would require soldering a butt joint. Silly me.... it's much tougher than it looks. The joint has to be PERFECTLY aligned for the solder to join the two edges. I filed and worked on that @#$% butt joint for three class sessions and it still didn't line up as precisely as it needed to. The instructor told me she's had new students use up all eight studio sessions on something like this. Egads! Not wanting to use up any more class time on a ring I didn't want in the first place, I changed gears and started work on a tree pendant. Things started to get fun. 

Last night, I finally got to use the acetylene torch - not to solder, but to anneal. Here's how the underneath side of the copper looked after annealing and before pickling and cleaning: 

It's pretty enough I could have just washed it up, shaped and sealed as-is, don't you think? You can see what it looked like before the annealing process in the bottom photo - it's the rectangular piece near the front. In this photo, I'd just finished pushing it through the rolling press to give it the appearance of bark. It's going to be what you see through the tree cut-out in the pendant. 

In summary, last night's class was FUN and I can't wait to for next week's class to do more! I hope you're doing something fun these days too! 


Saturday, March 29, 2014

new etsy listings

For March being craft month, I didn't spend much time crafting. It's ok though, because my organizing business was busy, so I had fun even without as much crafting as I'd intended. The good news is I was able to fit time in to complete the pendants I started late in January. They are listed in the etsy shop as of this evening. YAY! 

Did I tell you hubby and I are taking a metalsmithing class at our local art center? The first sessions have been a lot of review of things I'm familiar with, but hopefully this week I'll get to solder sterling silver and copper with the torch. It's very different from stained glass soldering and I'm looking forward to trying my hand at it. It should be fun! 

I hope your week ahead promises something fun too! 


Monday, February 24, 2014

in the beginning

This morning I came across this photo of the north side of my craft studio about 10 years ago. When I started di-did-it, I primarily sold floral arrangements, and this is how I stored my materials. The tubs were originally stacked on the west side of the studio, but it was a hassle to move the ones on top to get to the ones down low. The system shown above allowed the tubs to rest on wooden slats and pull out like drawers -- so much nicer. I kept the lids loosely on them just to keep dust at bay. Yes, I'm grateful for my talented hubby -- just told him exactly what I wanted and he built it. He surprised me with the ribbon storage made from wooden dowels slid into special grooved holders.... very similar to the tension rods you now see on Pinterest. 

Today this area of the craft studio is where you'll find my sewing machine and treadmill (click here to see a photo). It seems my craft area is always changing as my interests change. How about you? Do your creative interests change over time or have they remained fairly consistent? 

Here's to creative outlets, however long-lived they are! :)


PS - If you want more craft area organizing tips, check out Location Matters on Facebook

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"failures are interesting"

James Dyson was on Science Friday this past week and I was surprised by how interesting the interview was (not to mention how dreamy his accent is). He went through 5,127 prototypes before completing his first bagless vacuum. That's one tenacious dude and a great example for all us. There was one exchange where Ira Flatow says, "Failure then is an option. Failure is very important in the inventing business." Dyson replies, "Yes. There's no option. You fail all the time... but failures are interesting if you welcome them and try to understand them and watch them." He goes on to explain that examining our failures helps us learn from them. I couldn't agree more! I've had several failures in my craft studio the past few weeks. Lots of lessons indeed. In hindsight, I wish I'd taken pictures of the failures so I could share them with you (as well as document them for my own future reference). I'll try to do that in the future. For now, I'll share a photo of my current WIPs. With some luck, they'll be completed and ready to list on Etsy in the next week or two.  

So what have you tried and failed at recently? Care to share? 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

if it matters to you, do it

As I was reorganizing the north side of my studio this weekend to accommodate the sewing machine table, I dug through my stash of odds and ends for a shelf to use. This little one was just the right size, and was my favorite Aunt's so it brings wonderful memories each time I look at it. The issue is... I'm just not a bright brass kind of girl. What to do, what to do... 

Experimentation ensued and after a little playing around with alcohol inks, India inks and the heat gun, the leaves are now richly colored. 

At this point, the shelf is up and I'm ready to sew with ease when the mood strikes. At the moment, however, I'm itching to work with metals or some mixed media. It's the scanner* in me -- loving a wide variety of crafts. How about you? Do you focus on one or two or do you flitter about among several? 

* Scanner is a term coined by Barbara Sher for those of us with "hit and run" obsessions, eager to explore many paths. The trait comes with pros and cons, as most things in life do. And as with most things, it's best to embrace it as part of who we are and make the most of it. 

I'll end with this quote from Queen Latifah: 

"I wish every woman would love herself 
and embrace what she was given naturally." 


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

let's table it

A couple months ago I found this folding sewing machine table at a local thrift store (one that supports animals in need, something near and dear to me). I mulled it over and decided it would improve the odds I'd sew more since my current setup is impractical (click here to see where I had been using the machine -- it's covered with navy fabric behind the pasta maker [for clay] and bench vice at the far right of the photo). 

To my joy, the table was still for sale when I returned a couple weeks ago, and this time, 50% off. It wasn't until I got it home that I realized it's a Pfaff table (which is why it's exactly like the one my Mom used with her Pfaff machine when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s). I have a Kenmore machine - an oldie from the 80s but it still works fine. Lucky for me my hubby is handy since my Kenmore didn't fit on the table. Hubby modified the table and I'm in business! Well, I will be once I rearrange the studio to accommodate this purchase. Woo-Hoo! I love to reorganize my craft room -- it gets me all stoked to create. This weekend can't come fast enough (grinning with eager anticipation). 

In the meantime, I want to wish you all a safe, healthy and freakin' fantastic 2014! 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

card again

The craft room didn't get much use this month due to holiday activities, so I stripped out the organizing portion of this week's post on my organizing blog (!blogger-feed/c130bso the post could perform double duty. My apologies for the duplication if you happen to follow both blogs (and if you do, thank you!

* * * 

If you are like me, you enjoy receiving holiday cards from family and friends. It warms our hearts to know someone is thinking of us, and if they include a letter or note telling how they're doing and what's happening in their life, it’s icing on the cake. It's a simple way to stay somewhat connected.

Each year I find a new way to display the cards as they arrive, having not yet landed on the ideal location. What is consistent every year is saving the cards themselves. When the holidays are over and decorations come down, I cut the fronts off and place the backs in the recycle bin. The card fronts go in a folder for next year’s holiday. This year I used a round punch to capture images from the prior years' cards and then used the cut-outs for gift tags and embellishments on plain packaged gifts.

If you'd like more holiday card ideas, search Pinterest or Google “recycling holiday cards” and you’ll see countless ideas for other ways to repurpose greeting cards. If none of these float your boat, an alternative to recycling them is to donate them to a charity, such as St. Jude’s Ranch.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

experimenting with lava bright silk

So I'm at the Woodsmith Store with my hubby the other day and I spot this really beautiful stick of acrylic (Lava Bright Stick). Hubby tells me it's for making pens. I think it would make cool jewelry, ask if I can cut, sand and and drill it, and when told yes, purchase it. Last night I pulled out my baby table saw and dremel attachments and started experimenting. The saw blade cut through it just fine but man oh man did it make a mess and stink beyond words. The saw blade left marks so I used the baby belt sander, which also made a mess and stunk up the whole house. The belt sander left scratches so I proceeded to use a series of dremel attachments to end up with a smooth and polished product. You can see the mess in the photo below (guess you can't actually see all the plastic shavings all over, but they're there). 

Doing some research online today, I read that wet sanding is recommended when turning the acrylic for pens. Doesn't matter. At this point, the majority of the product is in the trash. The house wreaked so bad that, even though the temp was in the teens, I had to open windows and turn on fans (in case you're wondering, yes, I wore goggles and a face mask when I was sawing, sanding, etc.). Long story short, I'm hoping to salvage the pieces I worked on and make a few pair of earrings (the acrylic really is absolutely beautiful stuff) but after that, I don't ever plan to work with the stuff again. 

The shop area of the studio is back in order (smile). 

So after that little exercise, I yearned to work with something I'm familiar with and enjoy not only the process but the results. If you guessed metal & Friendly Plastic, you're right! Here's a sneak peak of the current WIP: 

So, tell me, what new thing did you try or learn about this weekend? 


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Etsy shop now open

Woo-Hoo! My Etsy shop opens today, just in time for Small Business Saturday. Come on over and check it out, won't you? While you're there, check out my husband's new shop too. I think you'll like what you see. Oh, and for my blog pals, use coupon code BLOGPAL2013 and receive free shipping through the end of this year (my Etsy shop only). 

Monday, November 25, 2013

pendants in progress

November studio time has been spent on glass pendants. There are several separate steps to each pendant and thus, I've found it best to make several of them at once. What's involved? 

1. Select, cut and grind glass into various shapes and sizes. Once in awhile I'll use pre-cut Ranger Memory Glass -- it's thinness pairs well with thick backgrounds. Most of the time, however, I'm working with textured glass. 
2. Stencil, stamp and/or ink various metals or other materials to create the background. 
3. Attach the glass to the background with copper foil and burnish.
4. Solder with lead-free solder. 
5. If desired, grind off some of the solder for a worn/weathered look. 
6. Either make bales from wire and attach with solder or glue on a purchased bale.
7. Apply glaze and let dry. Repeat as many times as needed to achieve the intended look and feel. 
8. If desired, add embellishments such as wire, beads, charms, etc. 

The photo below shows the current set of pendants drying after the first round of glaze. 

Perfection is not the goal here - in fact - the imperfections are what add character and highlight the fact it is hand-made and one of a kind. Each piece is unique, just like each of us. 

I'm planning to announce the Etsy store opening soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

repurposed table cloth

What do you do with your table cloths when you replace your old round kitchen table with a rectangular one? Make napkins from the ones you love best and donate the rest! This project couldn't have been simpler and I just love the results. Oh, and a shout out to my old Kenmore sewing machine. It was purchased in the late '80s and still works like a charm. 

What was your latest 'repurposing' project? 


Saturday, November 2, 2013

5th blogiversary

country fireworks  7/3/11; photo by di-did-it
Today I'm celebrating the fifth anniversary of the day I started blogging. Looking back through the posts over the past five years, there's been a lot of growth in various areas, which makes me feel proud. I've gained friends, skills, experiences, a broader perspective, more courage and self-acceptance -- all good, wonderful things. What's next?

This month I'll be opening an Etsy shop to begin selling some of my handmade items. Instead of a give-away today to celebrate my blogiversary, look for some kind of special when the shop opens. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote: 

"You don’t have to be great to get started, but
you have to get started to be great." ~ Les Brown 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

life is a medley

The mixed media piece I started 9/15 is complete. It's called "life is a medley" and it was a good reintroduction to several techniques and mediums I hadn't used in quite a while. Not having done much in the craft studio the past year or two, I've gotten quite rusty. The old saying of "use it or lose it" rings true. Last night I ruined one of my favorite brass stencils using it with Friendly Plastic. Silly me forgot to apply a releasing agent of any kind first. Live and learn. If anyone knows how to remove FP from a brass stencil, would you please let me know? I've already spent more time on it than the stencil is worth, but they apparently don't make this one anymore. I searched online as well as our local Michael's and Joann's today to no avail. The local stores no longer carry brass stencils at all. It would seem they had to make room for the hundreds of new items they've added since my last shopping trip many moons ago. GEESH -- talk about being a kid in a candy store! I couldn't believe all the cool stuff the stores are carrying these days. I'm going to have to get busy setting up my Etsy shop in order to earn some spending money! 

On that note, I'm putting on the craft apron and heading to that side of the room. I hope you all have a glorious week ahead. If you're a Snoopy fan like me, don't forget "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will air 7pm CT this Thursday, 10/31. Happy Halloween, everyone! 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

kitchen remodel

If you've been following my blog for any length of time (goodness, can you believe next month will be the 5th anniversary?!), you've heard me mention our kitchen remodeling project. We started demolition in June 2012. With the exception of some drywall help (special thanks to hubby's brother and nephews for their mudding/texturing expertise), hubby & I did all the work ourselves in the evenings & on weekends, completing in June of this year. Gotta brag -- my husband and his mad skills truly ROCK -- he custom-built everything. I've held off sharing the before & after photos until I could get some evening shots, when the room is most beautiful. After putting out a few fall decorations this past Sunday night, I grabbed the camera... 

These are the before shots: 

The during shots at various stages: 

The daytime after shots: 

And some evening after shots:

And did you notice the blank wall behind the table? Looks like a perfect spot to display some artwork, doesn't it? I think it's time to play in the art/craft studio or grab the camera and go exploring [grin].


Sunday, September 15, 2013

art for self-improvement

Patience is not one of my strengths, which is why mixed media is good for me. The drying time necessary between layers forces me to practice patience. Of course, there's nothing that says I have to succumb without a bit of a fight -- like a fan rigged up to hasten the drying time. 

Today is my first time getting paint on my fingers for many months. Feels good! My thanks go out to my pal Sheila who had an old board game at her altered art supply sale yesterday, which looked like an excellent beginning background to me. It will be interesting to see how this piece evolves. Heck, it's always interesting -- they rarely end up how I envision them to begin with, IF I even have a beginning vision - ha! Sometimes, you just have to start somewhere. Hey, that makes me think of a quote... 

"I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew.
Writing a poem is discovering."  ~ Robert Frost 

If you create mixed media (or any other art/craft that can't be completed in one sitting), what do you do during the drying time? Do you have several pieces in various stages so you can move from one to another? Is that tough to shift gears? I'd like hearing from you. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

seasonal blue moon and an announcement

Did you get to see that gorgeous full moon last week? We were lucky in Iowa to have clear skies so I grabbed my camera & tripod and headed off to the local reservoir. What a beautiful evening! Too bad the park closed at 9... I could have stayed much longer and soaked in more of that beautiful summer night. 

While I prefer color photography, next year's Photography Salon for the Iowa State Fair will be all black and white (it's their 75th anniversary so they're doing a salute to Ansel Adams). Since I'd like to enter next year, I need to learn and practice black and white shooting. If you have any experience in this area you care to share, I'd welcome your input. 

On a totally different note, I'm excited to share with you that I've been pursuing a long-time entrepreneurial dream of having my own Professional Organizing business, which is why there haven't been as many creative endeavors and posts on my blog the last couple years. The new business officially opened this year and I'm having a blast helping others. If you're interested, you can find the website here and my Facebook page here. The Facebook posts won't all be specific to Central Iowa, so please, feel free to follow along. You just might like some of the tips that will be shared -- some will be specific to creative spaces. 

"We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream
to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true,
as long as we keep believing." ~ Louisa May Alcott


Monday, July 15, 2013

her crown

Enjoying a quiet moment in the garden this past Friday night, a movement caught my eye. To my joy, a pair of goldfinches had found our coneflowers and stopped for a nibble. Luckily, I was able to take a few photos before our pooch scared them off (my little protector -- always on duty). Here the female looks like she's wearing a crown. 

May your summer days be filled with unexpected delights! 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

first lily

So excited for my first tiger lily! My dad gave me some from his garden a couple years ago. Last year when they came up, the bunnies ate them all to the ground. This year, I put chicken wire around that section of the garden and it worked. This is the first of several blooms yet to come. Isn't that color rich? Do you see the ant on the stem? You can click on the photo to enlarge it. Endless life and activity in the garden -- such a delight to observe. 

My "creative" time recently has been diverted to a new business endeavor. More news to come... for now I'll leave you with a quote from the remarkable Eleanor Roosevelt: 

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt 


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


My family & I spent Sunday visiting departed family at various cemeteries throughout the state. This little fella (or gal, I'm not sure) was as curious about me that day as I was about him/her. I probably could've gotten closer, but wasn't about to take any chances with claws like those. Better safe than sorry. Squirrels sure can be fun to watch though, can't they? Especially when there's more than one and they seem to be playing tag.  

Speaking of watching, I jumped out to my blog reader yesterday to catch up on all the blogs I follow, and they were all missing. Hopefully, it's just a temporary blip with blogger -- I'm anxious to catch up on what you've all been doing. Until then, I'll remain curious. 


Friday, May 3, 2013

glass/metal pendants & glazed FP/metal pendants

Greetings! How is the month of May treating you thus far? We had a few days of nice warm weather at the end of April -- in fact I saw a couple college students tanning themselves in their swim suits this past Sunday, and today it's snowing (and accumulating). While it's a pretty snow, as I view it from inside my comfy home, it's Spring dagnabbit, and we're ready for snow to go away until Christmas.

These are some pendants I've been working on here and there the past couple months. It's been fun getting back into the swing, but slow going, for sure. Let me know what you think of these. I've been toying with the idea of setting up an Etsy store and donating all or part of the profits to an animal charity, either locally or elsewhere. Any suggestions for pricing items like this? The local animal shelter I volunteer at is opening a boutique and thrift store this month, so I might simply donate these to their cause. 

Again, please let me know what you think, and have a spectacular day!