Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holiday Hysteria and How to Come out Alive - By Karen McGovern

Happy Holidays! Whatever.

Yes, I know Thanksgiving is this Thursday. BUT, I only realized that on this past Sunday. That sound you heard around 1:00 EST wasn't a cat being boiled alive--it was me screaming because my husband pointed out that T-day is THIS FREAKING THURSDAY. I swear, I had no idea. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that the holiday was near-ish, but THIS THURSDAY? Naw.....Seriously? I DIDN'T EVEN MAKE A HAND-TURKEY THIS YEAR! Sigh....

This gives you an idea of just how out of touch I am with the calendar. And how I end up in a mad scramble to fulfill social, work and family obligations during the holidays.

Like many of us artist-types, this time of year is usually one of two things--a happy time of blissful creativity or a total black hole of whatever the complete opposite of inspiration is...Anti-inspiriation? That's me this year. I find that whenever I feel like I HAVE to make art, I can't. I feel totally tapped out and have no muse whispering great ideas in my ear. It's like my brain RESENTS feeling obligated to pump out work because of a season or holiday. Maybe my muse is secretly the Grinch, I have no idea. Holidays are tough--I haven't been in the studio for over 2 weeks now, even though I have custom stuff waiting to finish and a couple galleries asking for holiday work. BLAAAAHHHHHH. I need an elf (preferably an adorable guy elf that bears a REMARKABLE resemblance to Colin Farrell (that ACCENT!)) to come kick me in the ass or something....maybe if I drown in enough peppermint mochas from Starbucks (with an extra shot of espresso because, holidays) I'll get in the spirit. Wish me luck...

He's so DREAMY...

BUT, I have some go-to ideas that I will share with you now that still let your friends and family know that you are an artist in real life and want to give a lovely gift that reflects that, yet won't kill you to create while trying to keep a smile on your face that doesn't make you look like a frustrated serial killer. 

My best, bestest, BESTEST friend during the holidays are the plastic (or glass if you are feeling super fancy) clear round ornaments sold at Michaels and just about every other store selling holiday ornament stuff. These babies are PERFECT FOR SOOOOOO MANY THINGS!! So, here are three things you can do this year using clear ornaments that are easy, fun, and totally gift-worthy even for your picky, judgmental Aunt Sarah.

1. Jewelry inside the ornament. Pop the aluminum top off the appropriately sized ornament, add a loop of wire through the holes already in the top and hang a dainty pair of earrings or a pretty little bracelet (that YOU MADE) from the hoop, then slip it all back inside the ornament. Create a pretty tag to add to the top and hang on the tree. VIOLA! You just ROCKED CHRISTMAS.

2. Print some cherished family photos, loosely curl them till they fit inside the ornament. Pop the aluminum top off, place the rolled up photo inside, then open the photo using a chopstick. Old black and white photos are amazing displayed this way, perfect for the family member who just got married, had a baby, got a new dog, cat, monkey, lion...whatever. Add a tag, hang on the tree. YOU ARE THE COOLEST FAMILY MEMBER IN THE ROOM.

3. Get totally FANCY, ECO AND STUFF by creating tiny terrariums using these ornaments. It's actually VERY EASY. Stuff some moss (available at any garden center) in the ornament, then add tiny air plants or succulents. Click the link for a detailed how-to on creating terrarium ornaments. I love this idea sooo much. Craftsy, but not boring, and beautiful. Add the tag, hang on the tree and GET USED TO SAYING "YOU'RE WELCOME" OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Is this cool OR WHAT?????

If that doesn't float your boat and you want to make something a bit more time consuming but very cool and fun, make ornaments using your scrap wire and sheet. This is great for using up bits of mixed metals and wire. Stamp or etch the date, cold connect or solder, go crazy. Look at your  pile of wire and scrap sheet like puzzle pieces and create some super-cool ornaments ala Picasso, or Dali. Cut a simple shape from scrap sheet (star, round, heart) then cold connect bits of this and that using micro screws or rivets. I love the star and heart shown here. The heart is made from two layers acrylic sheet (available at Home Depot) with music sheet sandwiched inside, then riveted together. EASY AND SO LOVELY! I can imagine doing this with my favorite poem or holiday text. Make something personal!!!! Dream catcher-style ornaments are also especially beautiful and fun to make. Use mid gauge wire (14 to 16) to create the hoop, use finer wire (20 to 22) to create the spiderweb inside (wrap it and go nuts, there is no "wrong" way to do this), then dangle chain, beads, feathers and whatnot below. The nice thing about this idea is that the finished design can be kept out and displayed any time, not just the holidays--AND you used up scraps in a great way!

Do you have fun, go-to craft/gift ideas for the holdiays? DO SHARE!!! I hope  you all have a peaceful, joyous holiday season and spend an embarrassing amount of time hugging your friends, family, pets and total strangers. It's good for the soul.....


Friday, November 20, 2015

Holiday Shopping - Handmade Style

by Sherri Stokey

We usually focus on handmade jewelry here at Love my Art Jewelry, but holiday shopping is well underway at my house and not everyone on my list is into jewelry.   I'm on a mission to buy as many handmade gifts as possible and having a great time shopping!  Want some clever ideas?  How about a book purse?

How awesome is that!?  Karen at Novel Creations repurposes used books into purses that might just be the perfect gift for the avid reader on your list, and she has a a great selection from classic literature to vampire romances from which to choose!  

Do you have a music fan on your list?  Dave at LP Vinyl Art takes iconic records and cuts them into intricate designs that are seriously cool.  If you're not into Fleetwood Mac (shame on you!), he's got lots and lots of other options and will even work with you on a custom order if you can't find the perfect one.

Rasure Prints has these maps printed on cork so the recipient can keep track of all the places they have visited (or dream of visiting).  Adena has several variations available including world maps, USA and individual states and you can even have her include the thumbtacks if you like.

Got someone on your list who is far from home?  Diane at iiwii emporium makes jewelry you can have customized with the coordinates of home.  Is there any sweeter message on the inside of a cuff bracelet or a little pendant to be worn close to their hearts?

The little critters on your list can be warm and cozy no matter how cold the weather gets in a crocheted hat from Christine at RhinoSaurusRexKnits.  She makes each one from her own designs and offers all kinds of critters for people small and large (yes, she has adult sizes).  

Don't you love this little box?  Mary at ColorCantHurtYou paints her original paisley designs everything from boxes and vases to shoes and picture frames!  Once you get a taste of color, you can't help but fall in love with these Mason Jar Lanterns from MK Connection:

Gosh, I'm in love with those!!  Monique has other sizes and colors and patterns available, but they all have the gorgeous, vibrant hues and the henna inspired patterns. 

Aren't these great ideas?  And I'm not even finished yet!  We all have those people on our lists who are impossible to buy for.  My go-to is usually a food gift from one of the big companies, but this year, I'm going off the beaten path.

How good does this cranberry dark chocolate shortbread from Butter Blossoms look?  Fresh baked to order from their signature shortbread recipe and then tucked snugly into your choice of packaging and sent off to the lucky gift recipient.  What a great solution if you don't have the time (or the talent) for holiday baking!  And speaking of edible gifts:

I'm positively atwitter at these edible game tiles!  Jason and Andie from Andie's Specialty Sweets offer a set with 16 letter tiles (you get to pick the letters!) and two racks made from their own candy recipe (you really can eat your words!).  They also have edible sand and seashells, chocolate vintage buttons (be still my heart) and the cutest little acorns ever.

Last, but not least, if you're a traditionalist and like to give a little box of chocolates, these organic dark chocolate paisley swirls are the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time.  Mackenzie at map chocolate creates her chocolate herself, starting with the beans.and offers products from hot chocolate mix, cacao for brewing and even an artisan chocolate baking kit.  I want one of everything!

So what do you think?  Have I convinced you that there's a perfect handmade gift for everyone on your list?  I'm just worried I'm going to run out of names before I run out of ideas!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Art is a Blessing: Polymer Play and Mixed Media Musings

by Staci Louise Smith

Art is such a blessing.  I think someday's I take creativity and that I get to do this for a living for granted.  Art is such a huge part of who I am.  I see art in almost anything.  I take in colors, and textures and composition no matter what I look at.  It leaks into all parts of my life, and for that, I am grateful!

It's that time of year, where I have spent the entire year making beads and jewelry.  I try to allow myself some playtime around the holidays.  It allows time to make gifts for people and get out some of my other art supplies.

One of the blessings, is that my children get to be creative too.  they learn the fun of play, and the business of selling their work too.

To start off the season of creative playtime, Julia and I worked on some polymer pendants for the Hereford Bazaar.  It's a craft show her school puts on.  All three of my kids made stuff for it and I got them a "real" crafter table there!  

It was a lot of fun to prep for a show that was NOT my own.

Now, Julia (age 11) is not known for her organizational skills, and she brought me these bags of polymer clay.  They contained every color of the rainbow and then some.  So I said, how about we mix them up and swirl them, and then she could use that as a base to stamp her designs onto!  

We had a blast putting odd colors together and running them through the pasta machine and finding the  surprise patterns that arose.  She is a color junkie, so she was in rainbow heaven!

After that was done, she stamped them and cut out the circles to add to her bezels.

I had so much fun with the kids in the studio.

Collin (9) made little owls and got to use alcohol inks for the first time.  I showed him how to make these easy little "squish" owls and he picked it right up!

My oldest, Aiden (14) makes jewelry.  
Here they were at the show- they all did really good and had a blast, and I must say, IT WAS THE MOST FUN SHOW I DID ALL YEAR!

Here they all are, and yes, I am a proud mama!

Here are Collin's key chains and bracelets he made

Here is Julia's set up, with magnets and necklaces in polymer

 And here is Aiden's work.  He loves working in gemstones and beads, but has started doing more wire work and polymer too

So, that was a great week to get the creative juices flowing.

As you may know, I have dabbled in mixed media before.  But I have wanted to add more of my polymer into the mix.  I have had ideas, but no time to try them.  

So finally I gave myself a week to play.  It's almost up, and I am almost done these piece.  They are finished, all but the three in the lower right corner.  I hope to make a few more today and finish these, and then its back to business for a week.

I love being able to pull from all the different media I have worked in to create art.  It is such a blessing to my soul to be able to freely make what is in my head and heart.  It is also nice to know that I get to use all those things I have learned through the years, a million different ways.  I REALLY encourage you to always keep learning new techniques and mediums.  You never know when the skills you learn will pop back up!  

So be blessed and create art!  Never stop learning and playing.  It's all part of the process.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Less is More

by MaryAnn Carroll

I stole that slogan from somewhere, but I am pretty sure it isn't owned by one particular person. Anyhow, it is something I have made myself remember for many years now. I tend to have a habit of overdoing sometimes. After years of practice I have gotten much better about recognizing when I am heading down a busy road the wrong way.... Put on the brakes, turn around and head back to some tranquil spot that existed before you took that path.

I have had such crazy stuff happen to me in life. Not unlike some others, but it often seems like I am in the minority with the things that other people fear will happen has happened. Sometimes people wonder how I can do it and how I haven't dropped dead yet. I guess the answer is acceptance of what I cannot control and also to simplify what I can. Seems deep, right.

Well, lucky for you I am not going to get too deep right now (that usually comes after a glass of wine or two). I will stay focused on what I do outside of the chaos. That is beadmaking and jewelry. I say try because I always seem to have roadblocks thrown in the way, but when I find myself truly back into it, it is so enjoyable.

Just recently, I have gently removed those roadblocks that were piling and quietly tip toed back down the road of tranquility. Maybe I will be able to hang out there for awhile if all goes well.


I decided to redo my website that has been hurting for a couple of years. In the past, I used GoDaddy. It was a great experience for me because it was not too easy to learn. I had to teach myself many things about codes, javascript, etc. It all seemed so darn overwhelming at the time.

This time around, I wanted to keep it simple. I don't know if it is as complicated as it was a few years back, but I needed a change. I decided to check out other website builder services. I looked up reviews knowing that those may not always be accurate, but went for web.com since it had a high ranking. I fiddled away and entire day with it to discover that the cheap price was going to be ridiculously I found web.com. Given the name, I rationalized that it would be easy. It was, but when I went to publish I learned that my $4.95 a month was going to become $24.95 a month. I chalked that one up to more experience.

I cannot remember why I tried wix.com, but I an assure you that I am so happy that I did. The website builder is incredibly user friendly, For $8.95 a month (paid in full), I got everything I needed and more. I think one of the biggest things that I like is that there are free apps. Etsy is one of those. Yay!! You can literally add your Etsy shop to make it look like part of the website. If you read this blog often, you might remember the post about returning to Etsy.

It might not be the prettiest way to sell online, but it sure as heck is convenient.

So, for those of you who are hoping to simplify your own life, but you would also like to promote your shops, etc. I am going to give a confident recommendation for wix.com.

My site still needs some work, but for what it is worth, here it is.

My link was done using the jewelry template. Also, you can fix the site to work with mobile phones. I haven't gotten that far yet, but that looks pretty simple too!

Good luck!

WORD OF CAUTION: Once you choose your template, you are "kind of" stuck with it.

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