Tutorial: Artistic Meditation

Feeling stressed? Try a little artistic meditation to relax and unwind while creating a stunning piece of art.It's no secret that when I have an episode of crafter's block I usually turn to paper and pencil to regain a bit of focus and inspiration. I guess the process is similar to the latest adult coloring book craze. There is something deeply meditative about adding color to a blank page and watching a design grow.

During a recent craft slump I got out my watercolor pencils, paper and a quilt design book. The finished artwork looks quite intricate, but the process is not as fancy as you would imagine.

Materials




Directions


I started by drawing a quilt block design called Double T onto a sheet of vellum. If you are not comfortable with the drawing part, you can save and print a copy of my Double T drawing onto vellum. Or, if you want to try something different, Quiltivate is a great resource for geometric quilt block patterns that you can save and print.
Next, center a square of watercolor paper over your drawn or printed design and hold in place with a couple pieces of painter's tape. Your watercolor paper should be at least 1 inch larger than the geometric design. Place the papers onto a lightbox so you can see the design through the watercolor paper.
Use watercolor pencil(s) to lightly sketch smaller shapes and doodles onto the watercolor paper using the larger quilt block shapes as a guide. I work in small sections and enjoy drawing a variety of teardrop shapes, but there's no right or wrong way to do this.

Also, I like my design to be symmetrical, but there is no law saying it has to be.Take your time. This is all about relaxation and watching the shapes gradually fill the page.
Remove the papers from the lightbox and color in your design.

Again, take your time and enjoy seeing each little shape fill with color.
Use a liner brush and water to "paint" over the colors.

As the colors soften, let yourself relax.
Repeat the steps. Sketch some small shapes to fill the next section.

It's not a race, so slow down.
Fill the shapes in with color.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Add water and let the colors soften.

Aah...

Repeat the process as necessary until the entire design is filled.
You can use as many or as few colors as you like for your individual meditative masterpiece. In this demonstration, I only used two colors and varied the darkness of each. There is no right or wrong way to create.

Feeling stressed? Try a little artistic meditation to relax and unwind while creating a stunning piece of art.

Breathe. Relax. Create. Be happy!


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Tutorial: DIY No-Tie Shoelaces

DIY no-tie laces so you never have to stop and tye your shoes again
Our annual Disneyland trip is just around the corner so I recently purchased a new pair of sneakers so I will have plenty of time to break them in before we hit the parks. Comfy shoes are a really high priority for me this year because last year I stupidly fractured my foot on Day 1 of our trip and spent the next two days limping from ride to ride in my favorite Converse and agonizing pain. But I digress.

I bought a pair of Ryka Studio Ds, which I already love, but I am just not a fan of round shoelaces. They always come untied and I don't want to spend my vacation time tying shoes when I could be whizzing around Big Thunder Mountain.

This project is so quick and easy, I am a little disappointed that I didn't think of it when I had a little kid in the house.

Materials




Directions


I'm a bit of a craft supply pack rat, so I actually had a pair of cord stops from a bag that wore out.
Remove your old laces from the shoe and cut two lengths of cord. The cord can be slightly shorter than your old laces.
Loosely lace up your shoe with the cord.
String the cord ends through the cord stop.
Adjust the cord and cord stop so you can slide your foot in and out of the shoe while the cord stop is set against the top of the shoe.
Tie both cord ends snuggly in an overhand knot so that the knot is very close to the cord stop.
Trim the cord ends. You can add a couple dots of glue to the cord to make sure it doesn't untie, but if you have pulled your knot tightly, this is not required.
To tighten your laces, simply press the cord stop, pull the knotted end and release the cord stop. You can tuck the extra length of cord underneath one of the laced crisscrosses.

DIY no-tie laces so you never have to stop and tye your shoes again

Now I am ready run!


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Workshop Update

Private knitting, crochet and sewing lessons in Tucson, Arizona.

I'm taking a little hiatus from teaching my monthly craft workshops, but that doesn't mean I'm not available to give you a little one-on-one crafty inspiration and instruction.

I am currently taking appointments for private lessons in knitting, crocheting and sewing, all levels, beginner to advanced.

For those of you in the Tucson area, I am able to schedule appointments on weekdays, evenings or weekends. My current rate is $25 for a one hour session or $40 for a two hour session.

Send me an e-mail to schedule your appointment.

Happy crafting!


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Crafty Saturday Favorites: What's Cooking?

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses

Share your items or shop for more one of a kind items at the link-up:


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Book Review: The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide

The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide by Marie Segal is a must have reference for clay crafters of all skill levels.

Over the years, I have dabbled with polymer clay projects. Kindly speaking, my creations have been primitive at best. For some reason, I always thought of clay as a simplistic kid's craft. I am learning that polymer clay is a quite versatile material and can be enjoyed by crafters of all skill levels.

My favorite clay crafting reference is The Polymer Clay Artist's Guide by Marie Segal.

If you are a newbie to polymer clay crafting, the book has very clear explanations about the materials used  as well as the different types of tools needed. It also simply explains some very basic techniques to get you started with making beads or even jewelry pieces.

And then the real fun begins! There are pages and pages filled with stunning photos and step by step tutorials for creating different effects and designs that you would never imagine possible. I was wowed by the directory of effects ranging from textures and printing to caning and mosaic.

At the end of each section are photographic examples of how the 50+ featured polymer clay artists incorporated the effects into their own real world creations.

Every image in this book will get your creative juices flowing and there are enough different techniques described that as a casual crafter you may never get through them all, but won't it be fun to try?

Happy crafting!


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Simply Organized Craft Supplies

Hi! My name is Ellen and I am a craft-a-holic. Lucky for me, I have an entire room in our house dedicated to my obsession. Even though it doesn't always look like it, I try very hard to keep my tools and supplies organized so they are easy to access when the creative bug bites.

For the most part, I'm able to keep my supplies organized by craft type (i.e. sewing, drawing, beading, etc.). But sometimes it can be hard to contain all of the little bits and pieces I have collected over the years. My secret? I use small lidded organizers to compartmentalize all my notions.

Most beaders are probably already acquainted with using this type of container for storing their supplies. I have three of these Darice organizers for my beads so I can keep all my gems and findings sorted by type.

Quick tips for keeping your beads and findings neatly contained.

I also like to use ArtBin Storage Containers. My small clay cutters and tools fit neatly into a single box instead of rattling around in the bottom of my clay cubbie, just waiting to jump out and slice my finger. My polymer clay is separated by color and brand into multiple boxes. (Oh yeah, there are four more boxes of clay that didn't get invited to the photo shoot!)

Quick tips for keeping your polymer clay and sculpting tools neatly contained.
 
For sewing, I wrangled all of my snaps, rivets, buckles and clasps into a single bin making it so much easier to see all of my sewing closures in one spot without having to open a bunch of little baggies and packages.

Quick tips for keeping your sewing notions neatly contained.

How do you store and organize your craft supplies?


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Crafty Saturday Favorites: Love Birds

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses


Share your items or shop for more one of a kind items at the link-up:


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Featured Artist: Knots and Sparklez

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft.When I think of macramé, the first thing that comes to mind is a kitchy, 1970's era, jute plant hanger dangling from the ceiling and filled with a sprawling spider plant. At least that used to be the case until I discovered Knotz and Sparklez on Etsy.

Vicky, the shop's owner, adds a modern twist to macramé, along with some sparkly bling, creating intricate jewelry designs that are sure to change your opinions about the retro craft.
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Vicky and I’m originally from Genoa, Italy, right on the Mediterranean Sea, I have also lived in Germany for 10 yrs by the beautiful Bavarian Alps and reside now in NYC with my family.
What do you create?

I’m a macramé artisan, my specialty is micro macramé, namely I create jewelry and accessories by knotting tiny cords in various patterns and adding other components like beads, crystals, charms, more to make my pieces unique.

I have crafted necklaces, chokers, bracelets, arm bands for watches, rings, pendants and hair accessories and I plan on adding much more in the future.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What is your favorite craft or hobby and how did you learn it?

I have always been crafty, it is in my family and we were taught as kids to crochet, knit and do embroidery, we also did macramé in summer camp, these were daily activities for us much like kids now plays with electronics. My mother and sister are both crafters, they can make just about anything, and my grandfather was very crafty as well, during WW2 he supported his family by crafting things out of what he could find, fixing anything he could land his hands on and bartering those services for food for his family. So these were programmed in our genes I don’t think however that I have a favorite.


Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What or who inspires you in your crafting?

Just about anything, a pattern I see on someone’s clothing, a color pattern on a store window, someone wearing a piece of metallic jewelry that gets me wondering if it can be reproduced in fiber form.

What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

Not sure I have one, I’m not that great at philosophy… but I would say persevere once you start something.
Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

I would say a bit of everything, right now it has to be my business since I’m a stay at home mom and I dedicate what little free time I have to my little crafting adventure I called Knots and Sparklez.

This allow me to be creative, generate some income and most of all by doing it from home I can still take care of my family, even though at times it is hard to combine all these tasks seamlessly.

Maybe once I can return to work it will be my hobby.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. How did you choose your brand or shop name?

For a while I sat thinking what a good name would be but I was sure it had to have the word Knots in it being that it is what I do, then looking at a pile of sparkling crystals it came to be so I added Sparklez and so Knots and Sparklez it was called.
What is a typical day for you?

A very long one…lol… I try to do some actual work early in the morning when the house is quiet and I can focus, knotting and counting, measuring and jotting down notes, figuring out patterns and how they work with different beads, requires a certain amount of focus unless you want to redo the same steps over and over. Then there is marketing, posting on social media, answering messages and emails, sending invoices and packaging items, the list is endless, and usually in the afternoon I have more focus on family, homework, dinner etc. In the evening I go back to work for a while with whatever requires my attention.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. What projects are you the most proud of?

The ones that gave me a hard time at first and I almost gave up on, but after setting them down for a while, I picked back up and like magic everything came together. It is just about the right time, sometimes if something does not seem to work, I know it is not the right time yet, but eventually an idea will come along at the right time.
What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

I don’t think anything strange in particular. I have recently been asked to craft a watch armband by a lady without actually having the watch face with me, so creating the arm band only was a challenge but with the lady’s help we figured out how to do it.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. Where do you do most of your crafting?
On my office chair. I have a little corner in a room where we keep our computers and desks, and that is where I spend most of my time.

Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside?

Not really, I usually have to force myself to set it aside, before we lose ourselves in the house! So I take care of what requires my attention and then get back to it, with a list of items I absolutely have to make that is a mile long! Unfortunately not all turn out to be feasible.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

Taking care of my family and keeping the house with a minimum of order, being that our household is comprised of mostly disorganized individuals…lol… If I have time I love to read that is the only other thing I love aside from crafting.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft. Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

I would say if you want to start one, try to find something unusual that sets you aside from everyone else’s. There are tons of businesses and to be noticed you have to be different.


The other thing is learn as much as you can about marketing, social media and venues you can use to sell your crafts. There is so much to learn, but it is doable, just learn first so you will be ready. There are many Facebook groups geared toward specific crafts where you can interact with other crafters, ask questions, read and learn a whole lot. I know I did find very valuable information that way.

Meet Vicky from Knotz and Sparklez. She is a micro macramé artist putting a new twist on a retro craft.
Stay Connected with Vicky
Website

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Tutorial: Beaded Ladder Bracelet

How to make a simple beaded ladder bracelet.Back in November, hubby and I enjoyed an afternoon browsing the shops in Tubac, an artist community just a bit south of Tucson. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. Lots of neat shops and plenty of tasty restaurants.

We left empty handed that day, but I did get some inspiration for a project. Almost every shop that carried jewelry had a display of beaded ladder bracelets in a variety of eye catching colors. With a few basic supplies and a little bit of time, you'll be surprised how easy it is to create your own beaded bracelets.

Materials




Directions


Begin by measuring your wrist. Mine is about 6 inches around.
Fold your cord in half and tightly tie an overhand knot to create a loop that is large enough for your button to pass through.
Secure the loop under your clipboard clip.
Fold your thread in half and tie it in a knot close to the cord knot. wrap the thread around the cord a few times and tie another knot to secure the thread.
Use a small binder clip to secure the cord at the bottom of your clipboard.

Once you get the hang of this beading technique, you may not need the bottom of the cord secured, but as you are getting started it helps your work remain untangled.
Insert the ends of the thread through the needle.

Lift the left cord and pull the thread under it.
Slide one bead onto the thread.
Lift the right cord and pull the thread under it.
Slide the needle back through the bead from right to left making sure your needle comes out above the left cord.
Pull the thread tightly to secure the first bead.
Lift the left cord and pull the thread under it.
Slide two beads onto the thread.
Lift the right cord and pull your thread under it.
Slide the needle back through the two beads from right to left making sure your needle comes out above the left cord and pull the cord tightly to secure the beads.
I bet you're starting to see the pattern here.

Lift the left cord and pull the thread under it.
Slide on three beads.
Lift the right cord and pull your thread under it.
Slide the needle back through the three beads from right to left making sure your needle comes out above the left cord and pull the cord tightly to secure the beads.
Continue adding "rungs" of three beads onto your ladder bracelet until the beaded length measures the same as the length abound your wrist.
Finally, add a rung of two beads and then a rung of one bead to complete the beaded section.
Tie the thread and knot it around both cords. wrap it around the cords a few times then knot it again.

To conceal your thread ends, string them back and forth through a few rungs of your beaded ladder, wrapping around the cords on either side. Carefully trim off the remaining thread.
Tightly tie an overhand knot in the cords as closely to your wrapped thread as possible.
Slide a button onto the cords.
Tightly tie an overhand knot close to the button to secure it into place.

Trim the cord close to the knot.

If you want to ensure that the final knot never unties (Trust me, you do!) add a few drops of G-S Hypo cement around the knot and let the glue dry completely.
Your bracelet is ready to wear!

How to make a simple beaded ladder bracelet.

If you really want to get fancy, you can use your favorite findings to secure the ends instead of a loop and button. I really like magnetic clasps for bracelets because sometimes it's tricky to grab those little lobster claws.

How to make a wrapped, beaded ladder bracelet.

Another option when securing the thread before and after beading, instead of wrapping the thread around both cords at once, you can do a fishtail braid. Just wrap the thread in figure eights around one cord and then the other.


Get really fancy and make a wrap bracelet.  For a double wrap, you'll need 36-40 inches of cord and about 20 feet of thread.


Happy Beading!


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