Monday Madness: Weekly Earring Project 2

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Jewelry and Bead Artists are constantly looking for new and unique ways to make their jewelry and beads. I, for one, find myself pacing the aisles or my local craft store, meditating over all kinds of plans of making wondrous creations with the strangest of supplies.
Recently, I strayed upon the idea of Chipboard Jewelry. Scrapbooking enthusiasts know chipboard is a dense cardboard, often printed with nifty designs. Coated with a sealant, chipboard provides a fantastic and lightweight canvas for any kind of bead, pendant or charm you can imagine.

What's The Plan, Stan?
As with domino pendants, there are literally limitless options with Chipboard Jewelry. For this tutorial, I'm going to keep things simple. However, stay tuned for many more creative, fun projects, expanding upon this same idea. 

  • Chipboard Circles (I purchased some very inexpensive -$0.70- ones at Michaels)
  • Silver Metallic Ink
  • Clear Embossing powder
  • Silver Pearl Ex Pigments
  • Small mixing tray (I used the top of a clean baby food container)
  • Acrylic paint/gesso
  • Floating medium OR water and glue mixture
  • Glossy Accents
  • Two silver plated jumprings
  • Two earwires
  • Two beads OR Modified Clasps
  • OPTIONAL: Pressed Flower , Fine Black Sharpie
Tools of the Trade
  • Drill with extra fine bit
  • Scrap piece of wood
  • Heat gun
  • Floral Stamp (I got a fantastic one at Michaels in their Dollar Bin! Woot!)
  • Paint Brush
  • Drill each chipboard circle - you'll want to have the hole as close to the edge as possible without weakening the piece - using a scrap piece of wood underneath to protect your work surface.
  • Prep the surface: coat both sides of chipboard with acrylic or gesso (or a mix of the two) If you get paint in the whole, that's fine, just poke a pushpin or unfolded paperclip through it and you're golden.

  •  Mix clear embossing powder with a pinch of silver Pearl Ex Pigment in your mixing tray (or baby food container top :)
  • Stamp one side of the chipboard with silver metallic ink. Sprinkle with embossing powder/Pearl Ex Pigment on top of the stamped image and heat with your handy dandy heatgun.

  • Once the chipboard has cooled entirely, you can either play around with the colors, using Pearl Ex Pigments or you can leave it as is.
    • These earrings were left at this step

    •  To make these earrings: Gently go over the entire surface with Blue Russet Pearl Ex Pigment (it's actually an antique-like rusty red), which has been mixed with floating medium or water and glue. (Use a soft paintbrush for this, like a watercolor brush) Then, add a wee bit more pigment to your mixture and go over some of the details on the earrings - I covered the flowers and a few of the loopy lines - with a fine paint brush.

  • Back side option: You could leave the back blank. OR you could get creative and personalize your earrings. 
    •  To get this effect: Coat the backs with a layer of glue. Apply Misty Lavender, True Blue and Blue Russet. Allow to dry. Coat the back of your flower with glue, set and coat top with glue. Allow to dry. Add your own phrase to the edge of the chipboard. I wrote 'Made With Love'.
  • Once everything is dry (and it's really important that it is before you move on!) Begin the Glossing! Apply Glossy Accents to both sides. MAKE SURE THE GLOSSY ACCENTS HAS DRIED COMPLETELY BEFORE TOUCHING IT! Ahem... otherwise you will royally screw it up. Trust Me.
  • Once the glossy accents has dried, you have a few more options. You can attach a small jumpring and be done, or you can add an accent bead. Here are two examples of the latter design:
  • For one pair of earrings I used one half of two silver plated clasps - I think they make sweet metal findings! For the other pair, I used an undyed howlite round (around 6mm I think), and  a silver plated bead cap. Experiment with complimenting and contrasting accent beads and metal findings.

Bead Artist Showcase
  • Your work could be pictured right here! Submit your own completed Victorian Inspired Earrings to Creativity In A Nutshell via email at Feel free to include plenty of pictures, new stuff you tried and any sweet new ideas or suggestions you may have :)
More Similar Fun Stuff

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Classic Decadence - Vintage Inspired Earrings : Project

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I am a huge fan of beautiful vintage prints, mixed with chic modern style. You can find this artistic influence all over the web - just take a peak at your favorite artsy blogs. Many of these prints make use of delicate florals, and from this, I have drawn my inspiration for this this project.

What's The Plan, Stan?
In this project, we're going to make relief-stamped images on scrabble tiles using a beautiful floral stamp for some fantabulous earrings.

  • Two wooden scrabble tiles (or similar)
  • Alcohol inks (one or two colors)
  • Alcohol ink blending solution
  • Clear Embossing Powder
  • Silver Pearl Ex Powder
  • Glossy Accents
  • Two ear wires, two eye pins
  • Two beads, matching ink colors you're working with 
 Tools of the Trade
  • Drill and small bit, small piece of wood
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Heatgun
  • Drill each scrabble tile in the top left corner
  • Stamp the blank side of the scrabble tile with silver ink. Sprinkle with the mixed embossing powder/silver Pearl Ex Pigment. Heat with heat gun :D (I love this part!)
  •   Give it a minute to cool down. Splotch the embossed tile with one (or two) color alcohol ink. The ink will dissolve the embossed image, simultaneously creating a relief image, and floating the pearl ex pigment over the top in cool patterns. 

  • Add Alcohol Ink Blending Solution to lighten the color - dab with paper towel as necessary.
  • Once you are satisfied, allow the tiles to dry completely.
  • Coat each surface with Glossy Accents. Remember to let each side to dry completely. Drying time can differ widely, depending upon weather conditions. For example, it has been pretty hot when I've worked with Glossy Accents in the past, so it has dried much faster. Today, however, it's been frigid and rainy - so it's taken much, much longer to dry. 
  • Once the Glossy Accents has dried, attach a jump ring, then eye pin, with a matching bead. Attach your ear wires and TaDa!

Bead Artist Showcase
  • Your work could be pictured right here! Submit your own completed Victorian Inspired Earrings to Creativity In A Nutshell via email at Feel free to include plenty of pictures, new stuff you tried and any sweet new ideas or suggestions you may have :)
More Similar Fun Stuff
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Release Your Inner Show-Off: Submit Your Fantastic Creations to Bead&Jewelry Artist Showcase

10:05 PM Posted In Edit This 1 Comment »
Yes, that's right: Release Your Inner Showoff.
We all learned it's good to be modest, to compliment others' work while quietly comparing your own. I think it is vital for our development as Bead and Jewelry Artists to share, boast and show off our accomplishments. So, go ahead, digg in! Send your fantastic projects (either corresponding with tutorials and projects listed here or entirely unique) to me, Callie, via email at . Let everyone see the amazing stuff you've done :)

My Crafting Helper, Chance, has no problem releasing his Inner Showoff...


You Lookin' At Me?

Get Your Sparking Hues With Pearl Ex Pigments : Product Review

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"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake..." 
Sir Frances Bacon
Try expressing your own sparkle and luster in your beading creations with Pearl Ex Pigments

  • What the Deuce IS It?
    •  Pearl Ex Pigments, made by Jaquard (who also make Lumiere Light Body Metallic Acrylic Paints) are color-concentrated powders with lovely bits of shimmery mica. That's all there is to 'em. And that's the beauty. You can mix them into anything, layer them on top of anything, and create some really fantastic designs while you're at it.
    • According to the Jaquard Website, you can mix them into:
      • Pearl Ex Varnish
      • Gum arabic
      • Oil paint
      • Acrylic paint
      • Gouache
      • Varnish
      • Clay
      • Poly Clay
      • Melted wax
      • And almost any other medium out there :)
    • Check out for more information.
  • The Good, Bad and Ugly
    •  Pros:
      • They come in tons of beautiful colors (over 50)
      • As noted, they are highly concentrated, so you really don't have to use all that much.
      • You can create a wide variety of effects with them
      • They're color fast
      • They're light fast
      • They're non-toxic
      • They're acid free
      • They won't tarnish
      • And They're Beautiful!
    • Cons
      • They are pretty pricey
      • You have to apply them with a medium that is going to hold them (as a binder)- so while you may make some kind of paste with just water, once the water evaporates, the pigment will just fall off.
      • Some of the hues just won't look quite right on lighter backgrounds. Most watercolor artists will understand the importance of hue-contrasts and value-contrast, so really, that's to be expected. Try using all the colors on light and dark backgrounds to see what effect you like best.
  • Verdict
    • Pearl Ex Pigments are super fun, relatively easy to work with and will add sparkle and beautiful to any project.
  • Try It Out!
  • Go Get Some!

Product Review: Glossy Accents

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Made by Inkssentials (Ranger) Glossy Accents is actually a scrapbooking product. However, it was discovered by jewelry/bead artisans as a sealant for beads.

  • Relatively easy to use - pop off the cap and you're ready to go
  • No fumes! This is great for me since my "studio" is also my bedroom, and I don't want to smell nasty unhealthy fumes all night.
  • Acid Free & Non Toxic (Good for the Planet; Good for You)
  • Inexpensive - I think I got mine for around $5 (a 2 oz bottle)
  • Dries quickly - However, I tend to think it has dried a bit before it has - it comes out kind of milky, and as it dried it clears. Do not be fooled! Let it set for as long as possible so it can dry to a hard finish.
  • Doesn't react with alcohol inks - domino crafters know how important this is :)
  • You can't coat a 3D object in one swoop
  • BUBBLES! (Remember the yellow fish in Finding Nemo? He would have loved Glossy Accents!)
  • Uneven surface - I have noticed, especially with my scrabble tiles, that the Glossy Accents has not dried in a smooth coat, but in a slightly uneven, lightly textured surface. It's not terribly noticeable, but still, I wonder why. I had read that you can have issues with Glossy Accents if you use too much, but I didn't use that much on the tiles.
  • Water soluble- this is not a water-proof product. So, if you were to suddenly get caught in a downpour of rain, I couldn't promise that your pendant wouldn't begin to get sticky. However, I have never done a water test, so I don't know how much exposure will how much cause disintegration.
Of all the products I have tried so far, Glossy Accents has been the easiest and most convenient. I know most people love Modge Podge, but I am not a fan of the inevitable brush or makeup sponge marks left behind. The bubbles you can work with, by being careful to not shake the bottle, and using the applicator tip or a needle to pop them. I have also reconciled myself to the fact that there will be bubbles. 

Fun Tutorials and Projects using Glossy Accents:

Additional Information

Where to Purchase:
Michaels or other similar craft store (though I didn't find any at my local JoAnn's)

Project:: Scrabble Tile Bracelet

8:17 PM Posted In , , , , , , Edit This 2 Comments »

  • 7 scrabble tiles
  • 7 various pictures/images of one theme (I used vintage portraits of women in this project)
  • Scrabble tile template
  • 22 open jump rings
  • Lobster clasp
  • Glossy Accents (or similar)
  • Pearl Ex Pigmants
  • Tacky Glue (or similar)
Tools of the Trade:
  • Drill and small bit 
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Paintbrush
  • Pallet (or other non-porous dish)
  • Drill two holes in each of the scrabble tiles according to the directions in the tutorial
  • Select your images and cut them out using the template.
  • Glue them onto the tiles, allowing them to dry.
  • Coat the images with a thin layer of lightly watered glue, or other sealant. 
  • Apply pearl ex pigments for extra detail, if you wish. For this project, I left the images as they were.
  • You may also apply pearl ex pigments or acrylic paint to the sides and back. Again, I left the tiles as they were.
  • Coat each side with Glossy Accents (or similar) Make sure you allow the side to completely dry before turning or touching - - I learned the hard way. :-/
  • Once the tiles are completely dry, put a jump ring in each hole. This may be a bit tricky, depending on how close you were able to drill the holes to the edge. Link each tile with a jump ring. Add the lobster clasp and an extra jump ring on the end to complete the clasp. 
  • Voila!

Project:: Scrabble Tile Jewelry

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  • One large image with several interesting parts Or several small corresponding pictures
  • Scrabble tiles or similar
  • Tacky glue or similar
  • Glossy Accents or similar
  • Pearl Ex Pigments
Tools of the Trade:
  • Step One : Pick out your image - you should plan to make 7 or so beads/pendants for this necklace project. (I suggest holding onto the scraps - you may be able to use them for earrings or a bracelet.
  •  Step two: Using your scrabble tile template, select seven pieces of the picture to use - cut these out with an xacto knife. Line them up with an eye for composition - try to consider how you will place them in the necklace.
  •  Step Three: Glue the cut pictures to the scrabble tiles
  • Step Four: Cover the sides and backs of the tiles with Pearl Ex Pigments (I used a crimson and a gold color) using lightly watered down glue. Allow to dry completely and coat with a layer of watered down glue, other other sealant.
  • Step Five: Cover all sides with Glossy Accents (or other sealant)
    • IMPORTANT: Allow each side to dry before touching or turning. I learned this the hard way. 
  • Step Six: Once the tiles are entirely dry, attach jump rings to each hole in the tiles.
  • Step Seven: Arrange your tiles on a beading flocking board. Select additional beads to match colors already in the pictures you used in the tiles.
C'est Fin!

Tutorial: Scrabble Pendants and Charms

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There are literally tons of stuff to make recycled beads out of!  Similar to domino pendants, Scrabble tiles are all the rage with pendants and charms. These step-by-step directions will lead you through the basics of the process, which you can add on to. Feel free to post links to your own scrabble tile work!

  • Scrabble tiles or similar
    • NOTE: I have found that the trickiest part of this fantastic craze is getting your hands on the scrabble tiles themselves. Ultimately, it's my opinion that upcycling old tiles (raid yard sales, second-hand stores etc) is best, however, there are plenty of other options out there.
      • has 'em for just under $7 (I don't know about shipping costs)
      • Michael's sells Scrabble Tile Look-a-likes for $4
      • You can also find pre-drilled scrabble tiles on under supplies
  • Picture or other image 
  • Tacky Glue
  • Glossy Accents (or other glossy sealant, like Modge Podge)
  • Pearl Ex Pigments
Tools of the Trade:

  • Drill and small bit
  • Scrap of wood
  •  Xacto knife or similar
  • Thumbtack
  • Paintbrush
  • Pallet or other non-porous dish to mix on

  • Step One: Make a template of a scrabble tile using a thin piece of cardboard and an xacto knife. 
  • Step Two: Take your chosen picture, and trace the template over the design you want on your pendant or charm. Cut this out, using either scissors or an xacto kife.
  • Step Three: Mark your scrabble tile by first measuring a line down the middle. Then, make two dash marks three or four millimeters from the edge of each side. 
    • NOTE: If you are using imitation Scrabble Tiles, or the ones you're using are worn, you may want to lightly sand them, using a high grit sand paper. 
  • Step three: Drill two holes where you have marked.
    • VARIATION: If you don't want to drill holes, feel free to use a bail instead. I've found that metal bails can be pretty expensive. I saw an example where someone used a scrap-booking brad.
  • Step four: Coat the blank side of the scrabble tile with glue (via a small paintbrush and a tiny bit of water) Let the glue set and become tacky - this should not take long.
  • Step Five: Set down the image, smoothing it out over the tile. Allow it to set for a few minutes. If there is excess hanging over the edge of the tile, place it face down on the scrap of wood and trim the edges with your xacto knife.

  •  Step Six: Gently pierce through the image with a small thumbtack.
  • Step Seven: Coat the top of the tile with glue, lightly watered down, using a paintbrush. Allow to dry completely. You may wish to apply one or two additional coats. You may, alternatively, wish to use modge podge or a varnish rather than glue. This step will seal and protect your image.
  • Step Eight: You may wish, at this point, to further enhance the image you have chosen. Use Pearl Ex Pigments, with watered down glue, like watercolor paints, to add further details. You may also add more layers of images in a collage-type style for added interest.
  • Step Nine: Coat again with a thin layer of either watered down glue or varnish etc...

  • Step Ten: Cover each surface of the tile with Glossy Accents (or other) allowing the surface to dry completely before turning.
  • NOTE: If you're using a bail rather than drilling holes, you'll want to attach it at this point, using a strong epoxy. I recommend E6000

  • At this point the pendant/charm is complete!
Check out these related blog posts:

A Side Note on Images:
I chose to use magazine pictures from the art&antiques magazine. However, if you are planning on selling your pendants or charms, you should create your own images, or use only non-copyrighted images. If you don't have photoshop to edit pictures for the correct size etc, try GIMP :

More Stuff on the Information Highway:
This website has great stuff to print out and use on your scrabble tiles (or any other collage beads, charms, pendants)
Go Green - Scrabble Tile Charm Earrings

Technique: How to Dry Flowers

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The best part of making your own beads is being able to used recycled and found objects - including stuff you find in your own backyard. You can, of course, take this practice to what I consider the ultimate maximum. However, you can also just stick with drying leaves and flowers. I chose to do the latter of the two, since bugs kind of freak me out, and I really don't want to kill a spider just so I can make a necklace.

Anyways, here are some quick steps to making your own dried/pressed flowers, rather than spending the big bucks in the scrapbook aisle.

Stay tuned for a great project using these pressed flowers :)

  • Either a flower press (I used to have one made of two pieces of wood and four bolts) Or a big book
  • Wax Paper (if you're using a book)
  • Flowers 
  • Scissors
  • First go out and collect your flowers. As you experiment with drying your own flowers, you will notice that some will retain their color better than others. I am sure there is some scientific reason for this... .... which I couldn't tell you :)

  • Next, cut off each flowers, leaving as little step as possible, while allowing the flower to remain intact.
  • Place the flowers onto a strip of wax paper, and fold into a little packet

  • Stick the packet into a book - feel free to fill up the book with as many of these packets as you want. Leave the book in a dry place for a couple weeks. Voila! You will then have fantastic pressed flowers for your beading delight - all your own!

Additional Information:

Crafters Going Green: Revamping Your Vocabulary

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Whether you believe in Climate Change or not, most people will agree that we could all benefit from decreasing waste and our individual carbon footprint. After all, starting when we were young, we all learned and repeated the popular mantra, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It seems, however, that modern artists and crafters are taking up this initiative to "Go Green" in their unique and Environmentally-Friendly work.

Interesting in purchasing some of their handy work? Better yet, interested in making some "Green" pieces of your own? Here are some new vocabulary words that have been added to the mantra since we were kids, and a refresher on the old ones:

Reduce: Cut down on the products you are already using, which are harmful to the environment. For example, I love to use the Alcohol Inks made by Adirondack. However, you have to apply the inks onto little bits of felt. Rather than throwing away the felt after every use, I hold onto them, and any time I use the same ink combination, I use the same piece of felt, thus reducing the amount of felt I throw away. 

Reuse: Don't just throw things away - find other ways to use them. For example, I am reusing an old type-setting drawer to hold beads and small inclusions for resin beads, rather than going out and purchasing a plastic organizer. The important thing to remember is, if you're reusing, the object is retaining the same exact appearance - it's function, however, may have changed. Many people feel this option is even better than recycling, since there is no additional process (which generally involves releasing chemicals etc into the environment) to make the products into some usable.

Recycle: Anything that can be broken down/melted down into something else. Plastics, generally, fall into this category. For a jewelry maker, bits of metal wire etc can be melted down, old plaster can be powdered and reconstituted etc.

Upcycle: This is a new term, and one which I am just getting the hang of using. It can be applied to any of the previous three "Green" actions, but only when they are used to create something artistic. So, if you are reusing a soda ring for a pair of earrings, you are not just reusing, but you have created an upcycled creative piece. For example, a while back I had ordered some beads, which were actually quite large and rather ugly looking seeds. There was no way I was going to work with them, but rather than throwing them away, I am going to cover them with paper and reuse them.The jewelery that I make from those new and improved beads will be upcycled. It's a very popular and catchy phrase.

Blog Posts of Interest:

Additional Information:

Monday Madness: Weekly Earring Project

11:10 AM Posted In , , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
Wow! Last week went by in a blur.
Each week I'll post a new, fun earring project with step by step directions.
This week's earring project is Summer Flowers

Project "Ingredients":
  • Two 1 1/2 inch wooden disks (you can get these at your local craft or building supply store)
  • Tacky Glue (or similar)
  • Glossy Accents
  • Floral Scrapbook Paper
  • Pearl Ex Pigments
  • Metallic Acrylic Paint or Metallic Marker

Tools of the Trade:
  • Scissors
  • Small Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Plastic Pallet (or other non-porous surface)
  • Drill and Small Drill Bit (May also want small clamp and scrap piece of wood)

  • Step One : Drill small hole in the top of each wooden disk
  • Step Two : Trace the wooden disks on the scrapbook paper (you will need two circles of paper for each disk - one for each side) Cut 'em out  - try to make them as round as possible, but reconcile yourself to the fact that they won't be absolutely perfect, and that's part of the charm.

  • Step Three : Using a brush and a wee bit of water, spread Tacky glue on one side of the disk. Lay the paper on the disk, and center it. Cover the paper with more glue. Use a thumb tack to pierce a small hole in the paper where you drilled a hole in the wood. Repeat on the second disk.
  • Step Four : Let both wooden disks dry. Flip the disks and repeat the previous step on the back.

  • Step Five : Set out the Pearl Ex Pigments, matching the colors already in the scrapbook paper. Mix some glue with a wee bit of water on your pallet, and mix in your pigment colors. Use like water color to add sparkle and added depth to the scrapbook paper. IMPORTANT: Make sure that any pigment you add, has glue mixed with it. If the pigment is applied with just water, when the water evaporates , the Pearl Ex pigments will just dust off. When you are happy with the over all affect, allow to dry completely. 
  • Step Six: Paint the edges of both disks with a metallic acrylic paint. I used Emerald by Jacquard Lumiere Acrylic Metalic Paint. Allow to dry
  • Step Seven: Cover one side of each disk with Glossy Accents. - Don't cover the hole - Allow to dry. NOTE: The dry time will depend upon how thick you apply it. I generally give it a couple hours, or overnight to avoid smudging etc. Flip 'em over and coat the opposite side. I suggest also coating the edges.

  • Step Eight : Put a large jump ring through each hole. 
  • Step Nine : Add an accent bead. Pick a color that matches one already in your beautiful, one-of-a-kind accent piece. Attach your ear wires and you're done!

Suggestions for more Projects:
  • Try using different kinds of scrapbook paper. I love the florals, but there are so many other options out there. I also love a lot of Japanese Origami paper.
  • Use different wooden shapes and sizes.

Resin Casting Project

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I found this fantastic resin casting idea from ResinObsession - a fun blog dedicated to casting resin (supplies and projects). For my first resin experiment, I decided to play with this idea.

(You can see on the Resin Obsession blog that this project actually came from another blogger, Monika Rose, and her blog is:

I got all my supplies in order, making sure to cover my work table, which, was a really good thing as I tend to make a mess and resin casting is no exception. As always, I opened the windows and turned on a fan.
So, the basic Ingredient List:
  • Pearl Ex Pigments
  • Casting Resin and necessary mixing supplies
  • Molds (I used ice cube trays) and Mold Release (I used cooking spray)
  • Toothpick or unfolded paper clip
  • Extra cups to mix different pigments in
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Heat Gun
  • Gloves
  • Any extra embellishments or inclusions (I used a seashell)
Basic Procedure:
  • Mix your resin, following the directions. For Ice resin, it's a 1:1 ratio of resin to hardener. I used a recycled plastic baby food container to mix the resin and hardener together. 
    • TIP: Fold/mix together gently to prevent lots of little bubbles. I didn't pay attention to this and so I got... lots of little bubbles. For this project though, I kind of think it works.
  • Using a dry popsicle stick, measure out tiny amounts of Pearl Ex Pigment into different cups. I used the lids of recycled plastic baby food containers. 
    • TIP: The fewer pigments you use, the more pronounced each color will be in the finished product. 
    • TIP: A little big goes a long way, baby. The amount I show in the picture was really too much for what I was doing. Mix up smaller batches - you can always make more.
  • Pour a small amount of the clear resin into the mold. Then, using either a toothpick or the paper clip, swirl in a few drops of pigmented resin. Experiment with different amounts of color.
    • TIP: Too much pigment, and the colored resin will sink in the clear resin.
  • You can add any extra embellishments you like. I organized all the embellishments I thought I might want to play with on the broken mancala board - I think it's quite handy. I decided to add a small seashell for this project.
  • Once you are satisfied, let the resin begin the curing process in a warm, dry, non-dusty place. (Sorry about the blurry pic). You may want to put your molds under a clean cardboard box.

Other Resin Casting Tutorials

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Here are some links to some great Resin Casting Tutorials and Information I have found. Check them out and let me know what you think:

This etsy store has some great pendant settings:

Basic Resin Casting Tutorial : Candy Inclusions

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Resin Casting is a super fantastic method of making your own unique beads and pendants. This tutorial will walk you through the process of casting resin using candy inclusions. It is important to remember that resin casting is a process; each step will take it's own time. If you're short on patience, I suggest working on multiple casting projects at once. Start a casting one day, then another the next. You can rotate steps and get to work on something new and fun each day, rather than waiting for what can seem like ages.

For this fun and unique project you will need the following materials:

Ice Cube Trays - There are plenty of different shaped ice cube trays, which work just as well as candy molds, or molds used for poly clay etc.
Cooking Spray - Or you can buy a much more expensive bottle of spray mold release
Casting Resin - I used Ice Resin for this project, but feel free to use whatever casting resin you can find or have worked with already
Candy - I will be using Sprinkles (AKA Jimmies) for this toutorial, but you can try various kinds in your own resin casting. Try M&Ms, Nerds, Swedish Fish, whatever strikes your fancy.
Other Inclusions - Fun things like jewelry findings, other candy etc 
Cardboard Box - Something like a shoebox
Gloves, Disposable Cups, Trash Bag, Paper Towels, Popsicle Sticks

Part One : Get yourself organized and prepared!
  • You want to start by preping your work surface. Cover your table (or what-have-you) with a trash bag, or plastic table cloth. (It's worth noting that I save all the trash bag and use it for as many projects as possible.) I also lay down an old sheet which was donated to the messy art cause a couple years ago.
  • Assemble all of your materials - resin does not begin to cure super fast or anything, but it can be a bit of a messy process, so you will want to have everything close at hand once you have begun. Make sure you also have a trashcan nearby, and lots of ventilation. Resin can smell pretty strongly - if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, take reasonable precautions.
  • Prep the Molds :) Some molds don't really require any sort of releasing agent - mainly those that are soft and can easily be twisted so the cured resin will pop out. If you are using certain types of plastic, or molds that will not really allow for much "twisting room" take the easier road and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Remember, a lot goes a long way. Wipe out the excess with a paper towel and you will save yourself tons of time and stress. (Not to mention molds!)
Part Two: Mix your resin
  • You need to do this following the exact directions that came with your resin. Slight changes in the catalyst or hardener to resin ratio will mess up the entire batch. Play close attention to what you are doing. 
  • Measuring Tip: The Ice Resin Kit comes with four liquid medicine cups for measuring out the resin/hardener. If you're out of the cups, or your kit didn't come with any try this: pour water into a disposable plastic cup - about half the total amount of resin you plan on using. Mark the cup with a sharpie. Pour the water into a second cup and mark the level. Pour out all water and dry out cups. Use lines to measure the equal amounts of resin/hardener as per the directions that came with your resin.
  • Mixing Tip: Fold or gently stir the resin and hardener (or catalyst) together to prevent millions of totally unnecessary bubbles from forming.
Part Three: Let the Creativity Begin
  • Start by pouring a thin layer of resin into the mold. This will ensure that none of the candy is exposed. Let it set for a bit. I suggest doing several pieces at once - it's more economical with the resin, and it won't be a complete loss if, say, one of your pieces doesn't make it.
  • At this point, you may have tons a wee little bubbles in your resin. Try gently waving a heat gun over 'em to bring the to the surface and send the little buggers packing. Just don't get so close that the resin goes flying out of the mold.
  • Next, if you are going to add any inclusion, other than the sprinkles (or other "base" candy") add this now. Working in resin can be a lot like working in layers of paint. Think of this as like the foreground to a painting. Anything you add after this point will be like a mid-ground and background.
  • You can add another thin layer of resin at this point, or you can just sprinkle on the sprinkles. When it comes to thickness, it's up to your preference. I personally don't really like big thick and chunky pieces. Also, I think you are more likely to have complications  with the resin curing process if the pieces get too thick.You can experiment to find the best thickness for your resin.
  • Once you are satisfied with the candy inclusions, add a final layer of resin. This will seal in the candy for good.
  • You've added more resin, so you may have more bubbles. Follow the same technique, but be extra careful not to let the heat gun get too close - remember that candy melts.
Part Four: Let it Cure
  • At this point, you have completed the most fun part, and you just have to let the resin do it's thing - it's got to cure. Just like with plaster of paris and concrete, the liquids in resin don't evaporate, but rather a chemical reaction takes place which casues it to solidify - thus the curing process. Curing will be affected by environment conditions. Here are some general rules to keep in mind:
    • The cooler the environment, the longer the curing time. It may also result in as sticky finish on the piece that will never really go away. You may try wet sanding though...
    • The warmer the environment, the shorter the curing time, however, if it gets too warm, the resin won't go through it's normal curing process and can turn a gross yellow.
    • A humid, damp environment can cause the resin to get cloudy.
  • Set the resin molds in a safe place where they won't be disturbed, and protect them from dust by covering them with a clean, upturned box. They will need to cure at least over night, depending upon the resin you used and the thickness of your pieces. You may be able to remove them from the mold prior to the complete curing time, but be careful to not damage them, as they may still be slightly soft or sticky.

Organizing Your Crafting Supplies! (A Crafter's Nightmare!)

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What is the most difficult and challenging aspect to crafting? This is not a question I get very often, but if I did... the answer would be: ORGANIZATION!

Beads and bead making things tend to be small and numerous and everywhere! There are many, many solutions to these problems out there. I'll show you some of mine :)

I should also note that while it may seem easy to head out to the store and buy every sort of nick-nack bead and craft organizer, I have kept my eye on re-usable and upcycleable options. I find that most of these fun organizers look neater (since my crafting room is also my bedroom) and they tend to be much cheaper or even free.

For most of my bead making supplies, I am using an old jewelry box my Mom gave me several years ago. About a year back, one of my darling kitties managed to break one of the glass doors on the top. I didn't want to throw it away, so I stashed it in the back of my closet for a while and then it hit me - these little compartments were perfect for storing bead supplies! If you don't have an old jewelry box of your own, check out some second hand shops, or consignment shops. You might even find a good deal at an antique shop.

I found this beauty at a consignment shop - it's an old type drawer. Granted, it's also much, much smaller than the average ones, but this one could fit right into my desk drawer, and only rang in at a measly $8. I was thrilled with the find, and, as you can see, it fits all the little stuff - not to mention that it provides a use for this drawer that  Iwasn't using at all. You can still faintly see the letters makred on the bottom of each little compartment. I think it's pretty darn cool.
This is another one of my upcycled sort of organizational finds, altough, it clearly isn't all that organized, at the moment. This is an old cabinet, which was rescued from my Great Uncle's barn after he passed away. I actually think it's a very interesting peice, though it could use some sanding and a fresh coat of paint. Right now it serves to hold my larger art supplies. Hmmm. I really should take the time to clean that out. See what I mean?

Well, I am just as susceptable to the easy, affordable plastic organizers as the rest of the world. :-/ I store my smaller beading organizers on a shelf in my closet. These three plastic guys hold my organized "natural beads" "glass and ceramic beads" and "gemstones" (this one is fantastic, because each compartment is removeable, with it's own cover and everything). The top yellow one is actually and old tackle/bait box that someone gave me ages ago and now serves to hold all of my base metal, copper and brass findings.

Right next to the beads, I keeps this mini three drawer organizer, which holds all of my plated and stirling findings. Notice how each drawer is labeled (I was going throug a phase). Inside, I have little plastic containers - purchased from the Dollar Store - which further break down the findings into what type they are (jump rings, clasps etc). You can't really see it, but next to the three drawer organizer, I've stashed an old Mancalla board. Do you remember this game? I used to love it! Well, sadly enough, the wooden board broke, however, it is perfect to use when setting out your beads for designing a project. I happened to have one at home, but you may be able to find one at a yard sale or a used/consignment store.

Alcohol Ink Pendants

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So, I got my set of alcohol inks and finally had time to play with them yesterday :) Alcohol inks are fantastic!

(I know what you are thinking. What the deuce are alcohol inks?)
Welllll.... they are alcohol-based inks. This is great, because, unlike water-based inks (you average scrapbooking/stamping inks) these will not come off with water/soap etc. They're really beautiful too, translucent and brilliant. The inks will not mix together at all unless you add the handy dandy blending solution. (Which costs a whole 5 extra dollars.)

Things to keep in mind when working with alcohol inks:
  • They stain. Everything. I used a trashbag to cover my art table, and wore gloves the whole time. You can pretty much get them off most things using rubbing alcohol, but for pourous stuff (like wood) good luck.
  • The ink itself dries quickly, which is great when adding multiple layers of color and designs, but not so great if you've squirted a whole bunch of ink on your felt applicator and most of it dries before you can use it.
  • Experiment! I quickly realized that the best results I got, happened when I just kind of went at it, rather than being careful.
Here are some of my results:
(From Left to Right, Up to Down) These first two were made using just the Wild Plum and Stram inks. Oh and I added in some gold as well. The last one was made with Wild Plum and Butterscotch. You can also see the inkstains on the trashbag underneath. :D

The next three were made with Stream and Butterscotch ( I had to admit I love the names of these inks!)