Saturday, January 31, 2009

I think I've got it...finally (scroll down--there ARE photos in this post!)

It was a really big deal that I agreed to join Trish's Romancing the Charm Swap, as I had vowed off swaps for many reasons.
One is that it's just too stressful to put myself out there to be judged.
Call it insecurity or fear or having problems with criticism...but giving or selling my art has never been a motivating factor for me.

Another reason, is things just don't always go as planned.
And that's what has happened this time.
I came up with an idea (which I will blog about soon), and I decided to make soldered glass charms.
That's sort-of biting off more than I can chew, in that I've only made those one time before, and I wasn't even sure if I could pull it off.

Anyway, the process would be comical were it not so frustrating.
First I ordered the glass.
I ended up buying pieces of one inch square glass from Volcano Arts (a really friendly and informative place. The website is filled with ideas and tutorials).
Then I ordered what I placed inside the glass (more soon...).
I already had the copper tape, soldering iron, and flux.

I wanted to attach paper labels, and drove around TWO HOURS one afternoon searching the things out.
None at Michaels, none at Kinkos, sold out at Office Depot...
I finally found some at Joann's, and by that time just nixed the printing and used silver glitter pen to write them out.
Okay, as the money is ching ching chinging away....

I went to solder the charms, and all I got was carbon dust and burned tape.
What is going on????
I drove all the way to the north county to buy new tips for my soldering iron, only to discover the stamping store no longer sold that item.
I drove all over town yet AGAIN, this time looking for another iron.
The least expensive version at the stained glass store was $82!
Luckily I had a coughing attack and had to leave before I could consider it.
I ended up buying a lower wattage version at Michaels, just to have something.

I tried again. Same result.
In the meantime, Trish was supposed to have received these a week ago.
Okay, the glass, the material, the new iron, the tags, the pens, the sterling silver jumprings and sterling silver loops...I was already creeping up to $100.
Then I got some soldering books from the library, and they said to use non-leaded solder for items that would be handled often, like jewelry.
The solder I already had, and the solder that the stamping store uses, is 60/40.
I drove to the stained glass store and bought a tiny spool of Silvergleem for $29.
Holy crap.

And still I have no charms to mail. Geez.

I dropped by a beadstore, and I called the stamp store, asking if anyone could help show me what I was doing wrong.
They suggested I take a class.

So today I took Beginning Soldering. Again. A $35 class.
The good thing is I can finish my charms now.
It was also good information to learn from a second teacher, because she had different ways of doing things, and it's always interesting to learn new techniques.

I only made one charm today.
The solder is lumpy because this teacher prefers it that way--she taught us to touch the iron along the edge repeatedly.
I've seen in books where some artists like to drop dots of solder along the edge.
I prefer it thin and flat.
It's more fragile that way, but I like the look, so the charms for the swap will be nicer (I hope anyway).

Seagull charm
The lady feeding the seagull at the ocean, and the larger seagull to the right are from actual black & white vintage photographs.
Not very colorful, perhaps, but I love these images.

Charm back
The silhouette is also from an actual vintage photograph.
The quotation (author unknown) seemed appropriate with this imagery.

This one was just for practice, the charms for the swap are completely different.
I will blog about those next.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Photo Friday

Chain mailbox
(click on image to enlarge)
My mom, my dad, and Nanny (my mom's mom) at our house on Crestland Drive (in San Diego County, near Mt. Helix).
This was taken, I believe, in the early 1960's.
My dad had made the mailbox post from welded chain.

I love how both ladies are dressed in heels, my mom in an apron.
It's so lovably kitsch.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Chews Recipe

Two years ago, I posted a recipe for Peanut Butter Chews.
Several people from San Diego contacted me, hoping it was the infamous recipe that used to be made by San Diego City Schools.
It isn't.
BUT...I found THE ONE!
Very exciting. I'm so proud of my ability to find just about anything on the internet.

As a side note, I was listening to a radio show the other night about how the percentage of peanut allergies has gotten to practically epidemic proportions, and how there is no way that many allergies are legit.
Very very few people actually have an acute reaction to peanuts.
Authorities seem to feel it's like hysteria.

I think that's really sad, because that's probably one of the reasons this cookie is no longer sold at the schools (that and people hyperactive about dieting too).
The radio show was interviewing a doctor, who said keeping kids away from nuts is actually counter productive--we need to be exposed to a certain amount of things to develop a tolerance.
Too, overall nuts are a really healthy snack.

This recipe makes 32 bars.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons margarine, butter or shortening (the original recipe probably made a huge amount, hence the weird quantity)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons peanut butter
4-1/2 teaspoons very hot water

Combine butter, sugars, peanut butter, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
Mix, creaming well.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Add rolled oats and mix well.
Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Mix until well blended.
Spread batter into a greased 12-by-18-inch cookie pan with sides (meaning a 'half sheet' baking pan).
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not over bake.

For the glaze:
Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter.
Gradually add hot water.
Spread glaze on warm Peanut Butter Chews.
Cut while warm. Cookies will be of a chewy consistency.
(From the San Diego Unified School District Food Services Department.
(recipe found here)

Update!: I just a posted another version of this recipe.
Find it in my October 2010 post:

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Symbolism in oranges

I know it's past Christmas, but this is such a fun article, I wanted to share it.
It's by Carrie Lamont, courtesy of a wonderful gardening website called Dave's Garden.
It's about the tradition of placing an orange in the toe of Christmas stockings.
(linked with permission)

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

A beauty at only 15!

I am soooo proud of my friend debs' daughter for getting signed with a local modeling agency.

I am thrilled for her too, hoping she has some amazing experiences.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Photo Friday

Gramps' handmade scooters
My Grandfather ("Gramps") was renowned for making handmade scooters.
This photo was taken in the 1960's.

All the kids in the neighborhood wanted one of those scooters.
I wish I still had mine.
I do have a kid's table and chairs that he made, and a small stool.

I used to have this awesome side table, but my mom gave it to the Goodwill in some fit of insanity when I lived in the Bay Area.
I can't believe she didn't know I wanted to keep it.
It was painted a sea green color, and was sort-of Eames-inspired amoeba shapes in tiers.

But those scooters...they were the best ever.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

01-20-09 The rebirth of hope

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government"

Entire text of Obama's inaugural speech here.


Monday, January 19, 2009

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Baptist Minister and Civil-Rights Leader. 1929-1968


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nothing says Love like a letter

I am playing around with ideas for making charms, since I have to create 19 completed charms for a Valentine swap later in the week.
One idea was to make little tiny envelopes (love letters) out of soda cans.

I ended up not using this idea, but I think it's fun to play around with trying new things.
I'm presenting this in its raw form--meaning it's scratched and imperfect because I was just trying out the form.
Ignore the lines that aren't perfectly straight, as I have yet to iron out the details.
I may indeed, however, go further with this in the future.

I started with an aluminum can of Japanese strawberry soda.
I made a paper template first, then etched it onto the can, and cut out the template with cheap craft scissors.
I scored the fold lines, folded, then flattened with a bone tool.
If you try this, watch how hard you score and fold, or the metal pieces may break at the line rather than fold.
On the edges that showed, I folded under as I would have done with fabric, so there were no raw edges.

For this first attempt, I simply scratched "Love" onto the front side, as this is only a prototype, but for actual charms I would use metal letter stamps to indent the word into the aluminum.
If it's going to be used as a charm, make sure to punch a hole for an eilet and a jump ring at the upper left corner, or solder on a loop of some kind.

The finished envelope is one-and-a-half inches by one inch.

It could be sealed with glue or soldered.
It would be cute to add a drop of red wax and to press it like sealing wax.

An alternative would be to make the envelopes out of pink linen stiffened with fusible interfacing and embroidered.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


It's so exciting, in moments when I'm cruising through blog sites or websites, or Flickr, and I come across an idea that just makes me stop and say, "wow".

Like this photograph by Andrea, aka abracapocus pocuscadabra on Flickr (used with permission)
Andrea made a dress from an old historical pattern, then the photo was deconstructed in Photoshop CS3 to make it look weathered.

And this photo, taken in an orchard.
The dress is another vintage pattern.

I love this idea of making an image timeless.
The year is in question--it could be decades past.
I love the simplicity of it, the gentleness, the sweet innocence.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

A ban on handmade clothing????

As of February 10, a new law will ban the resale of used clothing or toys for children aged 12 and under unless it is tested for content of lead and phthalates (phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable).

Um, whaaat????

Okay, I'm sure whoever wrote this ridiculous law (and the idiots that passed it) were filled with good intentions.
But at what cost?

In addition to thousands of thrift stores not knowing what to do with donations, this law would also impact small businesses who cannot afford the thousands of dollars required for testing, as well as crafty moms who make extra cash selling handmade clothing and toys on Etsy or eBay.

In dire economic times, what families need is an opportunity to save money on necessities like clothing, and to be able to purchase them on ebay, or Goodwill, or garage sales.

Too, the last thing our landfills need is a huge quantity of toys and clothing.
What about people who love and collect vintage items?
And isn't the source for most of the lead stuff from China anyway? How about fining the source instead?

Must the government moderate our every move?
If you feel you must, print a big frickin' label on something with a warning it might contain lead for goodness sake.
Funny how the generation before us seemed to survive perfectly well, thank you very much, with lead in everything from their dishes to the paint on their walls.
I am so tired of being 'protected' from everything.

read more here

It looks like some voices are being heard, and eBay may still be acceptable at this point
see exemptions that are being considered, here, and here.

Please write and call your local representatives and complain about this stupidity.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Crafting with scarves

I have a new challenge posted on my purse blog--this time it's to make a bag using one or more scarves.

I hope you consider participating, and please pass on the info to your crafty friends!
It's a challenge just for fun, as even offering prizes didn't generate additional participation (so why bother with prizes?).

As always, I will be posting inspirational ideas along the way.

But it's a great blog (if I do say so myself), with an entire sidebar filled with tutorials from across the net.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Earth friendly idea

Reusable makeup remover pads
For Christmas, my friend Michelle sent a flat rate box absolutely FILLED with goodies (SO fun to open!).
Among the pads of paper, neckties, fabric markers, lingerie, fabric, washcloths, and ornaments, was this fun item.
It's a crocheted bag filled with crocheted rounds for removing make-up.
Just wash and reuse.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Shabby Chic ideas

I just finished reading Vintage Style: creating a complete look for your home, by Cath Kidston.
Not only are the images inspiring, but so is her story.
The bedroom of her girlhood had curtains and duvets in luscious floral fabrics like cabbage roses, but in the early 90's when she was looking for contemporary fabrics, the ones she loved were no longer in vogue.
She decided to make a reproduction rose fabric on her first project--ironing board covers.
The covers were so popular, Kidston stepped into a full blown, and now very successful interior design business.

What I admire about that the most is that she didn't shy away from what she intuitively loved.
She wasn't swayed by popular thought.
Her story, therefore, is a wonderful example of staying true to yourself.

Here are some ideas from the book that I find inspiring:
New life for vintage linens
(click on images to enlarge)
For her own kitchen, Kidston chose a palette of red, white, and blue.
She uses vintage linens, even if the edges are frayed or the sizes are off.
For tablecloths that are too small, she just adds fabric borders (sometimes white, sometimes gingham, sometimes a contrasting color).
For cloths with frayed edges or worn spots, she adds crocheted trims.

Memo board
She made a memo board in her office from a large cork piece covered in foil then crossed in a grid of black elastic.
The piece now becomes a focal kitsch, a work of art, a collection of ideas and photographs.

For a fun gift idea, or a display in a guest room, make padded fabric hangers.
Padded hanger
Kidston says it's easier to cover a hanger that is already padded, then you can add embellishment if you desire (artificial flowers, beads, etc).
Another idea would be to stuff the padding with fresh lavender, especially if you grew it in your own garden.

Food cover
A friend made her this fabric food cover, using a vintage scrap of fabric.
The edges are trimmed in rickrack, then weighted with pieces of a broken necklace.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Photobooth Friday

Photobooth frame
(click on image to enlarge. Icon over flickr image, 'all sizes' will enlarger further)

Christmas gift from my friend Tracie to three of us (the group was originally six, now four).
We've been friends since the early 80's, and take photobooth pics at the fair every year, so there are MANY strips after all this time.
This is sort-of a showcase over all those years.

I will replace the large photo in the center though--not very flattering.
But this is a fun idea.

Tracie modge-podged copies on the frame, then sealed it.
In two places, she embellished with rhinestones.
I'm particularly fond of the photo on the upper left, where we're so young!

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wow, 2009!
New Year's Day is my favorite day of the year.
A clean slate, a fresh start, hope of a year filled with promise, adventure, goodness.

I love to start out the year with The Rose Parade.
People across the country watching it, always want to come to Southern California.
Today in Pasadena it's 70 degrees.

I can't get in Channel 5 anymore, the Los Angeles station, and I don't know who they had commentating this year, but I'm sure I would have been disappointed.
To me the parade will always be Bob Ubanks and Stephanie Edwards--no one can ever top that duo.
They always offered the best coverage, the most information, the most interesting comments.
This year I kept switching between HGTV and NBC, and both came up short.
Please don't race past the equestrian entries.
Please give more detailed information of who is riding the float and why, and what organic materials are used.

I love the Americana of the event.
Bands playing "California Dreamin'", cheerleaders, excitement, animatronics, tinsel, kids in the grandstand waving and laughing.
Red, white, and blue.

Pics of the actual floats aren't up online yet, but here're the artist's rendering of my two favorite floats this year.
The skateboarding bulldogs on the Natural Balance Pet Foods float, featured real dogs Tyson and Tillman on a circular track.

Also Huntington Beach's entry, "Surf's Up".
This one, captured in flowers, was magnificent, with sprays of white flowers representing the spray of water at the tip of the wave.

Collectible pins of each float design, band, etc are available for purchase, and the actual floats are open to viewing for the next three days.

The rest of my day today...
no, it's not bowl games.

The Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel. Woohoo!
I never tire of the ingenious thoughts of Rod Serling.

I didn't end up going out last night.
My bottle of Prosecco is yet unopened.
Hopefully there will good reason to pop the cork soon.

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