Tag Archives: crafts

Creative charge: Tree of life

Last weekend, I needed a break from writing. I love trying many different crafts, both because learning new skills is fun, and because it gives me a creative boost to create something beautiful. So I took a few hours to just let myself try something new.

I’d been seeing a variety of wire-wrapped pendants pop up on my Pinterest digest emails, and thought I might be able to make one (given a good tutorial). I ended up on YouTube, where I found this lovely, easy to follow video: https://youtu.be/IEQTRvha7dI

I had almost all of the needed supplies, but ended up making do with wrapping two 20-gauge wires together for the frame. All in all, I think it turned out pretty okay for a first attempt:

Plus, sometimes it’s nice to start and finish something in the same sitting. Now back to the never ending task of writing and editing my manuscript, though with a bit more creative juice flowing.

Happy crafting!

#StainedGlass window is finally done! #crafting #inspiration

This is it! The 6′ x 3′ window I’ve been working on since 2010 is finally done.

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The pictures speak for themselves, so you can stop reading if you don’t want to know any more, but below I’ve put a few thoughts on the process.

IMG_1155 Finished piece waiting on the table in the garage.

Why did it take so long? Life gets in the way. Given the amount of time I have to work on this type of project, had I done it straight through (meaning, had I not gotten pregnant had a small baby, and taken a couple of years off of glass crafting because it takes time and concentration, both of which I didn’t have), I think it would have taken a couple of months. But it’s that much sweeter to see it hanging in our morning room knowing that it’s been waiting for me for a while now.

This has been my largest piece to date, and one that I did every step entirely on my own (other than installation; my wonderful husband and father did that for me) — all my own cutting, foiling, soldering, etc. Feels really good to have accomplished it!

IMG_1186 One of the boys working on installing the window.

A few lessons I learned along the way:

1) Making your own design is fun, and doesn’t have to be hard. I don’t think of myself as an artist, but I couldn’t find a design that quite did what I needed it to do (i.e. covering the strips that were already between the glass in the window this went in front of). Turns out, you don’t have to be a great artist to make your own design — just try it and see what you get. Plus, unless you go crazy on colors and textures, just about any glass looks nice together.

2) It’s always good to consult with professionals. The advice I got from the glass shop (Leaded Glass Design over in Cuyahoga Falls) was invaluable. For example, I did not know the value of an exact cardboard template until the people at the glass shop mentioned it. I actually ended up taking a “large panel” class there to make sure I did everything right, and it was very helpful.

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Finished window, installed. Cardboard template is resting on the scaffolding below.

3) Don’t be afraid of the glass. I also got great advice from a professional installer (who ended up telling us we didn’t need to pay him to do it, but instead told us how to do it on our own). There’s so much fear when you’ve put this much effort into something. Mostly fear that it will break. The installer told us to be careful, take precaution, but he said that if you’re afraid of the glass you’re much more likely to drop it than if you lift and carry it as if you’re not afraid.

All in all, it’s been a great journey. Now I get to decide what my next glass project will be!

Happy Crafting!

You can do it too! #Kumihimo with #beads, #beading

Looking at some of the amazing beaded Kumihimo* projects in the book I have (see below for a link to it), I was initially a little bit nervous. But when I finally tried one, it turned out not to be so bad. Here’s what I made on my first try:

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Here’s what I learned from it:

1) You can’t tell, but that’s two colors of beads (white and light green). Unfortunately, the mint-colored thread I used overpowered the white beads and they all ended up looking like the same color. I’ll use white cord if I’m using white beads next time.

2) I used a ton of cord to make sure I’d have enough and it ended up being way more than what I needed. There is a way to figure out how much cord and how many beads you need, which is shared in this book: Braiding with Beads 2 – Braiding Solutions on the Kumihimo Disk by Karen DeSousa.

I ended up capping the ends right near the beads and turning it into a bracelet. In any case, I’ll definitely try another beaded project as this one was fun and turned out looking beautiful. 🙂

Happy Kumihimo-ing!

*If you don’ t know what Kumihimo is, check out my post on the subject from a few weeks ago: What is Kumihimo?

Any day now. Finishing my #StainedGlass #window

This is the 6ft x 3ft (see my husband standing behind it to get a sense of the scale) stained glass window that I designed to fit in front of a particular window in my house. I’ve been working on it for… what year was my son born? That’s right. I started more than three years ago.

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It hasn’t taken so long because it was particularly tricky to make. It’s just hard to work on glass projects when you have a baby and a curious toddler in the house.

But the kids are getting older, and this is the year. (You hear me, Amy? We’re really doing it this year!) I’ve just got to finish the edging along the bottom, fit the two halves more permanently together, and install the darn thing.

Wish me luck!

Happy crafting.

GREAT site for #Kumihimo designs!

I recently stumbled on a site that allows you to create your own patterns for kumihimo round braids. The general site is http://friendship-bracelets.net. With just a little bit of searching, I discovered a number of kumihimo patterns that others have created at http://friendship-bracelets.net/kumihimos.php.

The patterns have anywhere up to 40 strands, but the braiding process for all of these patterns is exactly the same as for an 8-strand round braid (right down, left up, turn; right down, left up, turn; etc). I was able to quickly and easily make this flowered bracelet with a pattern I found:

Flower Bracelet

On the kumihimo page, there is a place to click that takes you to a page where you can make your own pattern:

kumihimo generator

It took me a little while playing around with it to figure out the most effective way to use it, but once I did it became very fun to try different patterns and see what would happen.

I found the easiest for me was to clear out the default pattern before I started creating:

Step 1) click in the “fill color” box and a color chart will pop up

Step 2) select the color “white” by dragging the little color indicator circle all the way to the top left corner, or by typing “ffffff”

Step 3) start clicking on the circles in the flowered pattern until everything is white

Now you’ve got a blank canvas to start designing!

My first pattern looked like this:

original yylb

I had already determined that trying to make do with a 32-space disc for more than about 16 strands wasn’t going to work. Luckily the site has a “wheel designer” section (http://friendship-bracelets.net/wheeldesigner.php) where you can tell it how many strands your braid requires and how big you want your wheel diameter to be, and it creates a template that looks like this (I’ve made this smaller for the purposes of the post; the actual template will be the actual size you asked for in terms of diameter):

wheel designer

I then proceeded to make a cardboard template because that was a relatively stiff material that I had handy.

Cardboard template

I don’t recommend this. Though stiff, it was not as stiff as the foam disc I usually use, and thus the strands wouldn’t stay as taut as I wanted them to. That made it very frustrating to use, and the braid came out lumpy.

finished yylb braid

The lumpy braid was only one reason I ended up ditching the pattern. The other, as you see, was that with so many strands, and given that the pattern wraps around, in bracelet form it didn’t end up looking like yin yangs as much as it had done on paper.

I still haven’t figured out the disc problem for making patterns with more strands, but if I do I’ll be sure to share. Or if anyone else has done this and has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

A few hints about using the website:

1)   If you don’t create a user name you can’t save your patterns. I didn’t want yet another log-in, so I worked around this by just taking a screenshot of my pattern and saving it to my desktop.

2)   There are tons of great patterns that others have made, but it’s hard to search through them. I suggest, if you’re looking for something particular, to use the filter function on the left side of the patterns page to help weed through what you don’t want.

3)   The pattern maker was frustrating at first, but can really be fun once you figure it out. Play around with it for a while and you’ll see.

Happy kumihimo-ing!

What is #Kumihimo?

A couple of years ago, I found out about a really cool method for making braids that can be used for jewelry, pet accessories (collars, leashes, etc), belts, cording (to use as trim, etc), and more.

It’s called Kumihimo. It’s based on ancient Asian braiding techniques that generally use a large, wooden loom (called a maru dai) that looks something like this:

kumihimo_loom-wo-bob

Nowadays, there are small foam discs available that can be used as mini handheld looms. They’re usually round our square, but my favorite one that I’ve ever used is called the KumiLoom (available from Primitive Originals) and looks like this:

supplies163a-small

The coolest thing about the resurgence of the interest in Kumihimo is that there are now tons of supplies available (check out Amazon, Joann.com, Primitive Originals, or just about any other craft store or site) so you don’t have to go searching for specialty sites (though there are lots of neat finds available on some of the specialty sites).

I started with the beginner’s kit from Primitive Originals, which got me the disc, some bobbins, and enough supplies to make my first project, plus a book that gave me the basics on how to do it. It’s a satisfying craft because you can make a simple bracelet in a single night while watching a movie, or you can create much more complicated patterns when you add beads or embellishments, or start braiding with wire.

Some of my favorite Kumihimo books (I’ve purchased all of these through Amazon):

A Complete Guide To Kumihimo On A Braiding Loom: Round, Flat, Square, Hollow, And Beaded Braids And Necklaces
by Kathy King James
–This is a great starter guide with instructions for all of the basic braids. I consult it almost every time I start a project. WELL WORTH the price!

Kumihimo Wire Jewelry: Essential Techniques and 20 Jewelry Projects for the Japanese Art of Braiding
by Giovanna Imperia
–There are some AMAZING projects in here. I haven’t gotten the wire technique down quite yet, but have even used floss for some of these and they still come out beautifully.

Braiding with Beads 2 – Braiding Solutions on the Kumihimo Disk
by Karen DeSousa
–I wanted to get some bead advice, so I picked up this book. This author has a lot of great advice, particularly see the section at the beginning on how to measure how much supplies (floss and beads) you’ll need to complete a project. The booklet was a little bit slimmer than the other books I’ve purchased even though it cost just as much so I don’t know if I’ll buy another one by this author, but it’s got some unique ideas and so it’s definitely worth it to have this one.

Any other suggestions for Kumihimo books or resources you really love?

Happy Kumihimo-ing!

A go-to for the #StainedGlass crafter: #Celtic hearts #wedding piece

I wanted to share the below pattern. I’ve used it to make gifts for two weddings now (different color schemes to match the tastes of each couple), and I love it. Here’s one of my finished pieces:

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It’s a teensy bit complicated, particularly when it comes to foiling the tiny squares between the knotwork, but well worth it when you see the look on the face of the people you’re giving it to!

The only problem with literally sharing the pattern is that I freehanded it off of a finished piece I saw somewhere, and because of that the pattern itself is a little skewed. However, I took this picture as straight-on as possible, so if you want to try to freehand your own pattern off of my photo, you are welcome to it.

Happy crafting!

Victorian Lady Cross Stitch

Almost done with the Victorian Lady counted cross stitch I’ve been working on since March 2010. Just need to get the outlining done.

Yes, every single square is stitched with either a full or half cross. I’ve put my hand in the pic so you can get a sense of how big the completed image is…

Victorian Lady