13 December 2011

Teaching... it's not for wussies....

So, on my weekly stop by Starbuck's yesterday, the barista taking my order asked if I was out doing my Christmas shopping....  of course, my first thought was, "huh?" and my second, for various I'm-an-adjunct-and-have-no-money-and-I'm-doing-a-handmade-Christmas-kinda reasons, was "Hells no!"  So, I nicely told her that no, I was on my way to Tampa to give an exam.  She, of course, as many do, misunderstood, and thought I said I was on my way to take an exam.  Happens a lot. Guess I don't look like a prof...  I'm okay with that, really...  So, once I had her understanding that I WAS the prof, and was GIVING the exam, she did the same thing so many others do... "Oh, well, that's easier than taking it."  Really?  For true?

Okay, maybe in some disciplines.  But, I teach ENGLISH!  For one, I don't actually give exams... I give Final Essays (usually on Shakespeare.  Cuz I'm evil and I can...  insert evil emoticon here... :)) On one exam day, I'm usually not just taking one essay from students.  I'm taking 2...  times the 15-20 students who have actually survived the class...  times 3-4 classes. Per college...  And they ALL have to be graded in 2-4 days...  Yeah.  Easier?  Not so much, really....  

Finals week has begun.  The week I hate.  The week I get emails from students asking for extensions (no.  there are NO extensions).  The week I send emails trying to track down that one (or five) student(s) who had almost everything in, and who I'm trying really hard to not fail....  (yeah, I'm a closet softie... don't let it get around...)

So, teaching? Yeah... It's not for wussies.  It's for folks with lots and lots of COFFEE!

and don't get me started on trying to deal with Christmas at the same time....

13 November 2011

Jingle Bell Rock!

It's been a jinglin' kinda week!   

First, I finished these sparkly, bead-woven ornaments for the Hive's Ornament Swap...

Then, because those were such a hit on my Facebook beading group, I made these jingling earrings!

One of the quintessential elements of Christmas for me is the jingle bell.  And in recent years, I've found myself moving away from the traditional Christmas colors.  So I just love these jingle bells in all these non-traditional flavors!  LOL!  

You can find the earrings in my Etsy shop!  


20 October 2011

Cake Pops really ARE good!!!

Okay, so the cake pop craze started a while back, and while I am a fan of the cake, all the cake pops I'd tried were just... eh, so-so.  Until today....

Jocelyn, of La Fuffie's Boutique, asked for some cake pop testers about a week ago, for two new flavors she'd created--Banana Nutella Dark Chocolate and Blueberry Banana White Chocolate.  I was so intrigued by the flavors (since they sounded like muffins or breads, and I LOVE breads) that I volunteered immediately!  

So, I received the samples this afternoon, and I gotta tell ya--Y.U.M.  Yummeh!!!!!!!  The pops were rich and moist, and full (and I mean FULL) of flavor!   The Banana Nutella pops covered in dark chocolate--positively sinful.   They smelled luscious to begin with, and the flavor--any chocoholic would swoon!  And the Blueberry Banana covered in white chocolate?  Yeah, see, I don't like white chocolate.  Never have... This I loved!!!  There were real, honest-to god blueberries in there!!!!  And the banana flavor, it just all worked so perfectly together with the blueberries and the white chocolate... just so yummy....

Ya wanna see the yummeh? Yeah, I took a pic--didn't get any before (I wasn't thinking... sorry. The yummeh-smells made me forget! LOL!) So here's the yummeh, mid-me-enjoying:

Disregard the fork--that's just my own weirdness..... See the blueberries?  I loooooooooove blueberries......
So, Jocelyn doesn't just make cake pops. She's got chocolate lollipops, and chocolate covered oreos (I really like these. So cute...) And, marshmallows!!!  Have I mentioned I love marshmallows?  Marshmallows are cool....  She even has Princessy ones!!!! The Disney freak inside me is going a little nuts right now!  LOL!   

So, yeah, you should TOTALLY check out La Fuffie's Boutique, for all your treaty needs!!!   (Oh, and she's on Facebook, too!!!)

Thanks for reading!! 

13 October 2011

The auction is on!!!!

So, a while back, I participated in a monthly challenge from Blissful Garden Beads.  Heather sent each participant an absolutely gorgeous set of beads, with instructions to create something.  But the best part of this challenge was the impending auction!  See, each participant agreed to not only create a piece for the challenge using the beads Heather sent, but to also submit that piece to an auction benefiting the Ordinary Hero Foundation.

Here's a sneak peek--

You can find the auction album here on Karen Snyder's O. Sebastian Facebook page! 

So, what are you waiting for?  GO BID!  And get a great piece (or pieces) of jewelry out of it!!!  


08 October 2011

It worked!!!! Finally!

Alright, so I had this idea a while ago about my painted bracelets.  See, as awesome as the focals are, sometimes the bracelet is JUST as awesome!  And sometimes, you just wanna change things up...

So, I thought there just HAD to be a way to rig the focal to come off the bracelet when you want it to...

Here's take 1:

The problem with this was that the focal was far too loose--it flopped all over the place, and was INCREDIBLY annoying....
Here's Take 2:

Fewer beads in all, and without the buttons.  Far more streamlined, and with a sparkly bicone or two! LOL!   
And here's the whole thing:

See what I mean?  Yes, the focal is awesome, but I LOVE the bracelet on it's own, too!!!
So there you have it! It finally worked!  I love it when a plan comes together!

(oh, and Picasa is kinda cool--I gots collages!!!! LOL!!)


21 September 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

I LOVE this!!!!!   Hand-painted focal, fall scene.  Complete with GLITTER! And a bead soup I made all by myself!  (without my nephew's assistance.  Who, btw, has an INCREDIBLE eye for color!)

Yeah, this one is gonna be all MINE!

Oh, and here's some earrings I made to go with:


Sampler Village ROCKS!

So, last week, I entered to win a Tiny Teaser Giveaway Bag from SamplerVillage over on Facebook (she has a website, too.) And, you know, awesomeness, I WON!!!  Woot!!!!!!

Anyways, my Tiny Teaser bag arrived on Monday, and I just have to tell you how nice the samples are!  Here's a few pics:

All the pretty cards and whatnot...

Just another pic to show you the samples you couldn't see above...
There is such a wonderful variety of items, and this is just in the Teaser bag!  Imagine what you could get in one of the boxes!!! (I'm hoping to be able to order one soon).  There's eyeshadow, lip balm, soaps, bath fizzies, a little keychain, an adorable flower on a velcro wrappy, scent tarts (and me without a tart warmer... I sooooo need to remedy THAT situation!)  Let me tell you--I opened the package and was just automatically in love with the scents!  And I hadn't even seen anything yet!!!

Now, this month, Traci is doing the "Boolicious Bliss" Sampler boxes, which I am guessing will have some awesomely Boolicious treats in them!  In fact, the boxes go on sale at her website today, on the 21st!

You should totally go check her out!!!  And next year, maybe you'll get a sample from me in there, too!!

20 September 2011

Best laid plans and all that....

So, ages ago, I made this pair of earrings:

I always kinda liked 'em (after all, I made them) but I never could love them, ya know? Then, last week, someone was looking through my box of pieces for sale; she pulled these out and asked if I could make a necklace to match.  I still had all the beads I'd used in the earrings, so of course I said yes!

I pondered the earrings for a few hours, and then, as often happens for me, the necklace popped into my brain in full glorious detail (in the middle of class, no less...)  I knew exactly what I needed to make to match the earrings.

And, because they looked so good together,

I decided to make a watch:

I love it when a plan comes together... :)

18 September 2011

Sad News (well, for me, at least...)

I have come to the conclusion, as much as I don't want to, that I need to let my Stampin' Up! Demonstrator-ship go for the time being.  I've not had the time to really devote to the business, and I don't want to give it less than my full effort.  So, while I love the company, and I definitely want to become a demonstrator again at another, more opportune time, now is not that time.

So, like I said, very sad... for me at least....

31 August 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday!

Hand-painted focal.  Maybe my most ambitious to date!!

Steps 1-3 (or so) are done!  Now for the hard parts!  Stay tuned! 

25 August 2011

Painting Gone Haywire

So, a few months ago, a friend of mine, LaRita Jacobs, convinced me to go to a painting class she's been attending for a while.  I thought it would be fun, while never imaging it would lead to anything.  But, I packed up all my craft paints, my rather horrible brushes, and tagged along.  That's where I met the phenomenally awesome Susan Kubes, who has become a good friend and one of my artistic mentors.

So, after my first 3 hour painting lesson, I had completed a dolphin (I posted about her here.) I was just so plum tickled with myself! I had painted a thing that looked like what it was!  How cool was that!!!!!  Since then, I've gone to painting classes almost every week, and have been getting awesome tips on blending, etc.  Susan is a remarkably patient teacher, and really let's her students progress at their own pace.  It's been wonderful!

But here's the haywire bit.  While I imagine some people begin with smallish projects and progress to larger, I've gone smaller.  Like, 1 inch or so...  Since I also make jewelry, I wanted to see if I could paint a scene on a small focal piece.  Lo and behold, I can!!!  Who knew!!  (And really, tiny palm trees are easier....) But now it's just going insane... I'm painting round beads now, too...

I honestly never knew I had any sort of aptitude for painting.  I mean, I never even considered that I could draw!  Me? Yeah, I was crafty.  I wasn't an artist.  And now, I'm actually starting to think of myself as an artist!  I actually get a little teary saying that! (I'm even considering better quality paint and brushes!)

Here's some new focals waiting for beadwork:

Okay, so not so much waiting for beadwork, as totally done...  oops... I love this bracelet... 

I'm going for a whole beach series... and wait till you see what I'm gonna do with the pink!  HA! It's gonna rock!!!!!!

Ladybug garden!  That bead is less than an inch tall....
So there it is.  Painting gone haywire...

Thanks for reading!

20 August 2011

I need your help!!!!!!

Awhile back, I was selected to participate in Blissful Garden Beads August Challenge.

I received these beads:

Pretty, yes?
and instructions to make an item using at least one of them.

So, me being me, I just had to weave something!

Here it is:

So, now for the part where I need your help:  GO VOTE!!  Go to Blissful Garden Beads and VOTE for my bracelet!  The Voting poll is at the bottom of the post, and my name (Rana Wilson) should be the last one there.

So please, GO VOTE!!!  Help a girl out!!!! And vote SOON!  Because voting ends this Tuesday, August 23rd, in the am!!!

And you should start saving your pennies, because soon, all these pieces will be featured in an auction!  You know you wanna bid on my bracelet!!! 


18 August 2011

Beading Stitches: Square Stitch

Another post on beading stitches!  This stitch, the square stitch, works really well for cuff-type bracelets, because you can pretty much make the piece as wide you want it to be.  Just keep adding seed beads until you have your desired width.  I've also just learned that you can do a tubular square stitch, which I really should've figured, since you just work in a circle, basically (for a fairly basic and straightforward tutorial on square stitch, go here.)

I also like the square stitch because, while it is very time intensive, it creates a very nice base on which you can add your embellishments.  Because with a square stitch you're really just creating a fabric (well, really it's more of a ribbon for me) to add pretty much anything you want to!

So, you can go relatively simple  and just add a focal in the center, like this:

Dolphin Dreams; hand-painted focal (by me!!!)

Or you can go a bit crazy like this:

Pretty in Pink

Or you can go REALLY crazy like the bracelet you can see here from Etsy seller StickLizardDesigns (FYI--this is gorgeous and I wants it!!)


14 August 2011

Fave Beads: Seed Beads

So, I've read a lot of info on line about different types of beads, etc, since I started on this awesomely awesome jewelry journey, but I thought it might be fun to give you my take on one of my favorite beads.

The seed bead....

This humble little bead is the staple of many of my jewelry making endeavours.  The funny part is--when I started making jewelry about 3 years ago, I saw no use for the seed bead AT ALL!  I mean, what did I want to deal with those things for!  My god!  So tiny and annoying!

Then, I discovered they make good filler when you're trying to extend a design into a necklace in the easiest and simplest manner (with simple stringing).  So, I bought some seeds beads in various colors.  Not too many, just some to make stringing necklaces and bracelets easier.

And as I continued to learn more techniques, and explore the world of handmade jewelry more, I learned about the gorgeous woven pieces I could make

And this time... "My God!! So gorgeous!  Love it! Hey, can I do that?"  And then, "YES! I CAN!  But I need seed beads to do it!!!  Oh dear....   But I don't like seed beads!"

Well, now I do... and here's why:  the seed bead, that humble, itty bitty, tiniest of all beads, is without any doubt in my mind, THE single most versatile bead ever created.  Now I admit, I've not gone so far as to research when and where it was for developed, etc (I'd imagine, sometime in prehistory, but don't quote me on that...) but ever since I started weaving, I can tell you seed beads have gotten more play in my designs than any other bead I own...

And the really cool thing about seed beads--they come in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes and sizes... don't believe me?  Go here.

So there you have it... the worth of the tiniest bead...  Now, I'm off to weave something!  With seed beads!!

05 August 2011

YIKES!!! I did it!!!

OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!  I did it!!! I opened an Etsy shop!!!!!!

OKay, yeah, I've had the Artfire shop for a while, and I have no plans to clase that yet, but I've never made a single sale from there (I get a LOT of views, though...) So, I've decided to try out Etsy.

You can see it here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/definitivedesignsrlw?ref=pr_shop

I only have 4 things listed so far, but that's a start, and I have plans for more!


04 August 2011

Beading Stitches: Spiral Rope

Okay, so I've been bead weaving for about a year, a year and a half, now, and I have to say, some stitches are pretty easy, while others are fiendishly difficult.  But my favorite, as I've said before, has GOT to be the spiral rope.  It's a very easy basic stitch, but is so, so, SOOOOOO versatile!  The basic stitch is a 4-4 loop, and you add one bead to the core for each new stitch.

There's a pretty good video tutorial of this stitch here by Andrea from Beadaholique

So, now that you've seen a basic tutorial, I just wanted to show how you can step this stitch up.  I have several different pieces, all bits of jewelry I've made, using this stitch, and embellishing it in different ways:

The basic weave, using the 4-4 ratio, but just changing up the colors as I went on...
A complete spiral set! 

4-4 spiral attached to a hand-painted piece...
A teaser pic!  using a 4-7 ratio.  Gave it that nicely lacy look! 

using bicones--a 4-5 ratio.  because of the size of the bicones,  though, it doesn't end up quite as lacy as the above...  kinda cool and chunky!

a 4-4 weave, with evenly spaced embellishment rounds...  I actually began this bracelet in the middle, by accident (that's the other nice thing about the spiral--it's very forgiving in length issues, and you can work in either direction from your beginning stitch...)

My latest piece!  a 4-7 focal with the three teardrops, moving to a 4-5 ratio for the length of the necklace...

with turquoise rounds alternating with solid sand-colored seeds.  The Beachcomber! Oddly chunky and delicate all at the same time... 

Just a pretty, simple bracelet with the center focal.  One of my favorites! 
There you have it!  All the same stitch, and yes, some obvious similarities, but such different and gorgeous pieces (if I do say so myself...)

Thanks for reading!