Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adieu to August and hullo to September!

Hihi!  All is well at the Clifton house!  I've had a busy few weeks (heck, months!) with new ideas, new projects, new tutorials, new tools (squeeeeal!) and new duties.  I'm also running the roads taking the kids back and forth to school- my son to college and my daughter to highschool.  I have 4... 4! new tutorials in the works so hopefully I'll be releasing new stuff soon!  Life is so busy lately!

Oh, we got a new kitten!  His name is Virgil (to go with our other male, Dante).  He's a spunky one who never seems to sit still.  He thinks our dog is his momma.  :)  He also has a crush on Caprica, one of my females.  He's being neutered next week.

I've also got a few new designs in the works for other tutorials.  My "to write" list is long!  Inspiration comes to me in great, huge spurts and I can barely keep up with my ideas.  Sketch pads litter every surface it seems... if I don't sketch my ideas quickly I lose them forever.  They go into the ether, never to return.  My head is like Swiss cheese, hah!  :)

I've revamped and re-illustrated one of my favorite tutorials, Corona!  I've always loved that design and since I now use better software, I decided to remake it with prettier diagrams.  Eventually, I plan to redo all my embarrassing older designs with my fancy, schmancy illustration software.

In August, I also made my mom a pendant and I think she really likes it!  It's in her colors- cobalt and crystal.  I've also made it in another colorway.  I will be illustrating that tutorial very soon and I hope to get things moving- these I'm working on finished- so I can write more.

I've also made a cute little pair of wreath earrings using St. Petersburg stitch and Peyote stitch.  I may or may not write the pattern.  It's fairly simple but cute.

Hmm, what else?  Oh!!!  August was a great month for me tool-wise!  I've gotten a new bench vise, a new anvil (with horn and hardee hole), a new pair of Wubbers graduated cylinder pliers (I call them cone pliers) and the new Wubbers Artisan's Mark hammer set!   Oh, let me tell you:  When I got those hammers I felt just like a kid at Christmas!  They're so beautiful and so neat!  I plan to get in my studio soon to play with them and work on wire working tutorials!  That's right!  Soon I will have a few minor wire working tutorials, both in my shops and on the Wubbers University website.

The last few months I've done a lot of reading.  A. Lot.  :)  I mean, more so than usual, and I pretty much read anytime I can get free time.  Lately, I've been slacking on my duties and reading every single night.  I do this when I get overwhelmed so it's pretty normal for me to go months with books and maybe a few weeks without books- lather, rinse, repeat.  It's a sickness, I tell you!  :)

I've recently had a chance to beta read a book or two, and I do love it!  I'm considering signing up to review more books.  I'm reading them anyways so why not?  :)  Do you think it would be odd for me to start reviewing books?  I love to read, so I figured why not?  I don't know what kind of things to expect in the book reviewing world and I don't really have time for politics, snark and drama with other reviewers, but I wouldn't mind reading some books and giving an opinion on them.  Like I said, I mow through books anyways.  :)  I'm thinking on it and I'll get back with you.

That's all for now!  I'll have more projects to showcase in the September blog post- I'm working on a pretty neat birthday present for my friend and I can't wait to show you!  So, what are you up to?  Are you getting ready for the Holiday gift season?  Are you already frantically beading up a storm?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And July is Gone!

Hi, all!  Woo!  Another month has come and gone!  Time flies so quickly lately that it's hard to keep up.  July is over and the harried month of August has come.

July in retrospect:  We got my son, Thomas, enrolled in his first term of full-time college, woo!  His classes begin in just a few weeks and we're all so excited.  I can't believe I have an adult son who is in college.  He will always be my baby boy.  He's majoring in business computer systems to start (AS).  Then he will go on to University for his BA in computer science with a minor in History, and then on to his Master's in Library Science.  He will one day have my dream job.

My lovely daughter is soon to follow!  This August she begins her 11th grade year!  She has 4 college courses (she dual enrolls) and some AP classes to boot, and she will be well on her way to a medical profession of her choosing.  She's dithering between immunology and pulmonology, both of which are important to her.  She has a while to narrow it down to something she really wants to do.

Let's see... besides mad dashes to get school squared away for both kids, I've designed quite a few new pieces, started a few tutorials (and finished none, isn't that just the way???), and outlined two books that I plan to self-publish with the help of a treasured and witty friend.  I've sketched ideas, including some metalsmithing ideas... I've bought a few new tools for my studio and rearranged furniture to prepare for the holiday gift making season.  I'm sketching ideas for a gift for my mom's birthday, which is this month, too, and I'm currently working on 3 tutorials simultaneously.  My mind is flying in a ton of different directions lately so I end up working a lot yet getting nothing done.  I'm riding the muse wave- you have to design while the iron is hot, and work out the kinks later, eh?  I have a ton of tutorials to write when my muse quiets down a bit.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying myself.  I'm proofreading a book or two for author friends, and rabidly reading anything I can get my hands on during any bit of spare time I get!  One can never have enough books!

Would you like to see what I made in July?

This is a collar, Ignus.  Tut is in the works!

I've also created a "V" neck version (not pictured).

This is the matching bracelet, and I've forgotten its name.  ><

I have a new ornament tut in the works, too!

This is for my St. Petersburg stitch tutorial.
Well, that's it in a nutshell!  I have all the illustrations done for 3 of these and just need to write the words.  I'll see you again in my August recap post at the end of the month!  Enjoy your August!  ~Val

Monday, June 2, 2014

CRAW Basics!

Hi, all!  I'm working with the wonderful Wubbers University this summer on a series of basic stitch tutorials and this is the first!

Cubic Right Angle Weave:  The nemesis of many a beader!  It's really not difficult at all, and hopefully I can help!  I know there are tons of tutorials out there, but I'm giving it a go anyways.  :)  This workshop will explain the mechanics of the CRAW stitch, illustrate how to create corners with CRAW and show how to join two ends of CRAW.

This is a wordy tutorial so you will want to download the file.  I assure you that the .pdf will have clean graphics, unlike these screenshots.  The downloadable/printable .pdf is available here!  Please respect my copyright and share links instead of documents.  :)  While you're at it, check out my newly revamped website and pick up any tutorials you've missed!  Enjoy!

So, now that I've gotten your attention, I'd like to wish my wonderful son, Thomas, congratulations!!!  He graduated High School this year and he will begin college in the Fall with a scholarship.  :)  We are so very proud of him!

Now:  I need stitch ideas!  Any requests?  Any stitch you've wanted to learn and have had trouble finding?  Let me know!   ~Val

Thursday, May 8, 2014

New Happenings! New Tuts!

Hi, all!  I know, I know, I did it again.  Honestly, it's too taxing on the brain to remember to keep up with all the social media out there but I do love this blog.  I'll try to be more verbose in future.  Buckle up, I have lots to share!

So, I've totally managed to skip April but wow, was it a busy month!  I got back into the metals studio and made a lovely (and huge) pendant as an ode to Calcifer, a flame from Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki.  It's an anime.  Gotta love it!

Where did I get the gorgeous flame agate stone?  Why, from my first ever rock and gem show, that's where!  :)  In April I teamed up with my friends Bethany and Eliza and went on my first ever road trip!  I was a Nervous Nelly, knitting in the back seat so I couldn't see Beth's crazy driving!  We had a blast and I'm so glad they talked me into coming!  Here's a huge crystal we saw there!  The vendor offered to let me hold it but I was afraid of dropping it so I took a photo of him holding it instead.

Oh, the beads we saw!  Beads everywhere!

And that's nothing!  The very next weekend we three went to ANOTHER bead show!  We spent so much money.  Here's my haul:

I went for pearls mostly (crystal pearls in an oblong shape) but I got a few great, huge focal pieces and some crystals to boot!  It was a great weekend and we had a blast.  I just love my beady gremlins!

What else?  Hmm... I remade my Hortus pattern in eye-pleasing spring colors!  I used neon blue Super Duos that look like velvet.  I love them so much!  I paired them with yummy apple green and pale blue Super Duos.  It's amazing what color can do!  Click the picture to see it in my shop!

 Hortus bracelet in my ArtFire studio

We also got a new puppy!  Her name is Daisy, despite what my hubby calls her (Nugget?  really?)  and she is fast friends with Coco, our other dog.  They loved each other the day they met and they've been friends ever since.  Daisy is a Chihuahua puppy and boy, is she a spunky little thing!!

The kids were so happy to see her.  I surprised them when they got home from school.

I made a few new tutorials!  Mitzi is a bracelet I designed for my friend Mitzi (see what I did there?)   It uses Czechmate tiles and Super Duos.  :)  Click the photo to see it in my shop!

I just finished my Ruda pendant tutorial.  It's a big-'un!  I designed this one for my friend Ruda (I'm so easy to figure out, no?).  Just for kicks, I designed it in two sizes.  :)  Clicky picky!

What's next on my plate?  I will be writing my newest tut on new software because my current software is giving me issues (freezing up, losing my hard work, instability) and it will be my Ginger earrings!  Here is a preview photo, and it's based on my Hortus bracelet pattern.  I got the idea while teaching a Hortus class in April.  My student, Ginger, used a gorgeous colorway of pinks and green and I loved it so much I designed the earrings using her colors and named it after her.

Coming soon!!!
Also coming soon is my beaded bead design using a wooden oval bead.  It looks like an Easter egg but that's coincidental.

Coming soon!!!

Also on the roster are a beaded button pendant, some Christmas ornaments, some new bracelets... the work never ends.  What are you up to?

Hoping you are well,  ~Val

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wow, does time fly!

Hi, all!  I know, I know, I'm supposed to keep up with this blog!  I'm so sorry- I'm in a whirlwind lately, never knowing if I'm coming or going.  So:  lots to catch you up on!

I left the Bead Mavens group due to time constraints (I'm not kidding when I say I'm a busy bee!) but I still give them much love and respect.  :)

I'm still happily working with Mirrix as a share sponsor for their latest contest, the Social Market for a Mirrix campaign.  Many congrats to the 3 lucky winners!  I'm also a Mirrix Ware representative, so if you're local and want to see how a Mirrix looks, feels and works, let me know!

Things are moving along so nicely with Wubbers University!  (<--link) I will soon have 5 classes on the site (several are in editing mode now) and I also just obtained my Wubbers Certified Instructor certification and badge, woohoo!  I'll be putting it on my website when I get a copy.  I worked with the WU President, Lexi Erickson and the wonderful Kat Kramer (editor extraordinaire) on the writing of 2 larger classes on WU, the Bead Encyclopedia, parts 1 and 2.  Part 2 will be on the site soon, but you can find Part 1 there now!  I'm quite happy with the results.  They are an entry level introduction to bead types, brands, qualities, shapes, sizes, finishes, textures and vendors (where applicable).  I wrote both parts simultaneously, over a month or so, and people seem to love them.  You can find my classes under my name if you search by instructor, or just look in the "Beading and Stringing" section under the course listings.

Oh, and Tom is doing fantastic after his surgery, Sarah got her hair cut, we got a new couch (LOL)... and all is well at home.  :)

OK, I also spun out several looong tutorials and a few short ones, plus created all sorts of beady goodness, but I have a class soon and have to go, so I'll just post a few pictures of my new goodies and you can check out my shops (in the sidebar) if you're interested!

Ruda, tutorial not yet available (I'm debating on making one for this)

Flame and Darkness Pendant tutorial set

Alternate colorway for the Flame and Darkness necklace

Nox pendant

Stella Obscura earrings

Just for show- not available as a tutorial

Orthanc chain variations from the Flame and Darkness tutorial set

Much love!  Much hugs!  ~Val

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January in retrospect

Hi, all!  I know, I know, I don't post very often lately.  Due to my other blog duties and my busy schedule, I may only do monthly reviews until things settle down.

January!  Oh wow, what a month.  This month we had a family crisis, which my family and I are still slowly recovering from.  My son had emergency surgery on Jan. 4th and is slowly recovering.  He's doing well now- he has to take breaks more often and due to the major surgery and huge incision, he won't be up to par for 6-8 weeks, but it's been 3 weeks post-op and he is doing quite well for what he underwent.  Tomorrow he returns to school for the first time since mid-December when they went on Christmas break.

Due to our being in hospital for 8 days (I wasn't about to leave him alone there), I am slowly getting back on track with my own work and projects.  I have a lot of catching up to do and several projects in the works that need attention.  However, it will get done!  It's just taking me a while to adjust.

In amongst my returning to work and working on projects and my busy schedule, I got my hair cut, hah!  It's short and I love it.

What will I be working on next?  First, I need to finish a project I'm working on for Wubbers University.  Once that is done, I will be working on the tutorial for my latest design, the Eye of Sauron pendant based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Hang in there and thanks for your patience while my family and I adjust to life again.  :)  ~Val

Monday, December 30, 2013

News and a Freebie!

Hi, all!  Wow, it's been a long time since my last post.  I've been knee deep in other projects and my poor blog comes up late in the queue.  The good news is that I've been working on good things!  Onward and upward!  :)

I'm sure everyone knows by now because I've been shouting it from the rooftops, but I have just been chosen (and invited, and of course I screamed an enthusiastic yes!) to be an instructor at Wubbers University, an online jewelry school!  Wubbers University teaches metalsmithing, wire working, beadwork, metal clay work, you name it.  I'm so honored and excited to grow and evolve with this school!  My first class is being prepared and after the holidays I will be in their rolls as an instructor.  Squee!

Now for the freebie!  ~fanfare~  This is my Holiday/New Years gift to you, my loyal friends, family, fans, clients, colleagues.  Enjoy these and I'd love to see your finished earrings!  My email is in the tutorial if you'd like to send me photos.  I have a Client Showcase album on my fan page on Facebook  and I would love to share your photos.

Please respect my copyright and don't redistribute this tutorial.  You can easily link your friends to this blog and they can get their own copy.  Thanks so much!

For a downloadable and printable copy, you can find the tutorial on my website's Free Tutorial Downloads page.  Grab the other freebies if you don't have them, also!  My apologies for the ugly black frames- I can't seem to get rid of them in Blogger.  The downloadable version is prettier.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!!!  <3  Val~