Friday, May 1, 2015

Bookish April!

Hi, all!  I already pretty much showed you what I created in April (jewelry-wise).  I haven't come up with anything new lately so I'm gonna do a little something different with this post.

I don't have a book blog and I don't plan to create one.  It's too much work and effort and I just can't summon the energy to be all gung-ho and promotional all the time.  I can barely promote my own stuff.  :)

However, I do love to read.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've become friends with a raving fan-girl to several authors lately, and I'm greatly enjoying the interaction with people who, if I met them in person, I'd likely fall mute and starstruck.  I've joined a few author fan groups on Facebook and I've befriended several of my absolute favs, and I'm reading more than is healthy.  I help promote when I can, but I do have a business to run and things to design and teach, etc.

What I figured is that I will just start tracking my read books each month and share them with you.  Take note:  My tastes vary greatly, from Young Adult to smutty-mic-smut-smut to dark and dangerous books to sexy paranormal books to... well, everything.  If you have delicate sensibilities, you've been warned.  :D

So, while I won't be blogging about my beloved authors per se, I'll be showing you a monthly tally of my read books.  April was a heavy month for me reading-wise, but it won't always be that way.  I need to pick up the pace with my work and my own business, so vacation time is over and it's time to get back to the daily grind.  I have my own things to write and author and design.  So without further ado, here are my April books:




It's important to note that I read several of these books twice through (the Fallen Crest series, Tool, More Than This and a few others).  I also have Kindle Unlimited and I don't track all of those books if they're short novellas.  I highly recommend Tijan's Fallen Crest series.  I love, love, love it!  I bought the audiobooks, too, so I listen while working.  I also heartily recommend Jay McLean's More Than series.  Oh, she's good.  So very good.  I loved them so much!

In other news, I'm so sad to report that my beloved Cabby has died.  She left with a piece of my soul, and I'm heartbroken.  Her death was unexpected and quick, and we are all traumatized over her loss.  RIP my sweet baby.




Oh, I also decided to close the shop on my website.  I still have my etsy shop, of course, and I will be uploading my files to Craftsy slowly over time.  I have written over 50 tutorials, so this process will take time.  It wasn't worth the cost of the web administration fees to maintain my own online store when my Etsy shop has a good rate of sales.  For now, Etsy will be good enough.  :)

Soon, I will have exciting news to share with you.  Stay tuned!  I'm waiting for the official announcement before I blab.  Much love and hugs,  ~Val

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

March and April Shenanigans

Oh, wow!  I forgot to post my end-of-month blog for March.  Geez...  Here it is almost May, too.

What did I do in March?  Hmm... let's see- I did a few pieces for magazines (metal, to be seen later); I organized my studio a bit, umm... I worked on a newsletter article and a large art piece necklace!  Then I took a much-needed vacation.

First things first:  I did this:




I cut around $2.50 worth of PVC pipe (by hand, using a hacksaw) and attached the segments using screws to my new, huge stump.  I thought it would be pretty good storage for my hammers.  The problem?  I have way more hammers than I do stump real estate... so I branched to other stumps and still have to use my old hammer rack.  I think this will work fine for my most-used hammers, but it's not that feasible for me.  My tool collection grows by leaps and bounds every year so eventually I'll build another, larger rack or something.  For now, it works.  It's nice to just be able to drop a hammer into the pipe.  Quick and easy access, but not really good enough for me.  I have ideas on another type of PVC hammer rack when I get a spare bit of time, so stay tuned.  :D

What else?  Well, I was invited to write a newsletter article for Wubbers.  The subject?  Sort of a 2-part stash busting/finding inspiration article.  I had a blast!!!  I started with a bead stash (really, just a small section of my ever-growing hoard) and ended with an art necklace.  The article was published around 2 weeks ago to email subscribers.  You should subscribe!!!  I won't re-write the whole thing, but here's the stash before:




And I made a big pot of bead soup:



And this is what I created!  Copied from my facebook album (because today I'm extremely lazy):

 "This necklace has a treasure trove of copper pieces, shells, glass beads, pearls, wooden beads, shell spikes and even a vintage goldfish earring that I used to make a toggle clasp. The base is macrame with African trade, sand-cast, recycled glass beads and white hemp rope."




On Lucy, my naked mannequin:




That's pretty much my March.  Since I'm here though, I'll give a brief recap of my April happenings up to this point:

My step sister got married and I made her wedding rings.  I also made a keepsake ring for my little niece, Athena.



I also made a riff on my Reina pendant design (from the Feb. edition of Digital Beading magazine) and came up with something that seems to be very popular amongst my friends and facebook peeps:




A tutorial for this pendant is in the works, and also an alternate colorway.  :)

So far for April I'm working on a bunch of new projects, including some metalwork (piercework especially), some beading, and some work with a new type of bead that I hope to show you soon!  I'm also developing a new design for my May class at the gallery.

I'm also reading.  A lot.  A ton.  I mean, heaps of books.  I took a vacation in late March/early April after all the magazine stuff and newsletter stuff, and I just spent a few weeks doing nothing at all except for reading my beloved books.  Well, I did get into the studio to make the wedding set and the above pendant.  Otherwise, I took time off for me and my favorite activity:  sitting down with a good book... or a dozen.  I think I needed it after all my recent activity and stress and deadlines, commitments, etc.

I've joined a bunch of author fan pages and increased my library.  I'm having a blast, and I'm loving my new author friends.  Life is good, and books are a huge part of it for me.  Books are my escape, my drug.  :)

Vacation time is over and I'm headed back into the studio this week.  I hope to have some goodies to show you, so keep an eye on my fan page on Facebook for the latest news.  On that note, I have a bracelet to make!  Muchas Huggas!

~Val

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Marching into...March!

Hi, all!  LOL I know, this post title is sad.  :)  I couldn't resist.  I can do corny with the best of them!

I forgot to do my February retrospective post!  So much has been happening this year, and it's only March!  Let's see:  Since December, I've published or contracted to publish 6 pieces.  From out of the blue, it's just happening!  I'm still in shock.

Some of them you've seen, like my two issues of Digital Beading, and some are a secret surprise that I'll spring on you after publication.  It gives you something to look forward to.  :)  Speaking of which, I haven't yet shared my latest publication in Digital Beading Australia's Feb/Mar issue!!!

I kept this project a secret (except to my nearest and dearest) and I'm so excited to present my Reina pendant!  It's designed to look like an old brooch.  Here are a few screenshots:  This is the cover of the issue where my Reina is featured (Issue #14).




And this is a screenshot of my first two pages of the spread.  This issue has 8 pages of my project, and even a bio and photo of me.  :)




Here's a better shot of the pendant.  I will be listing this tut in my Etsy shop toward the end of March, and I will also be teaching the class on Saturday, March 21 at the SRACF Dragonfly Gallery in Milton, FL.



So that's one piece of news down.  Ready for more?

I will soon have several undisclosed pieces published in an undisclosed magazine at an undisclosed time.  LOL!  Something to look forward to, and this one is a super secret that I'm not sharing with anyone until after publication.

What I can share with you is a new development!  Yesterday I was contacted by another magazine editor!  I can't even tell you what it's like to be receiving correspondence and phone calls from multiple editors.  It's surreal, and I can't get used to it.  OK, back to my news:

I was offered the COVER of a magazine!!!  That's right, me!  On a cover!  Of a magazine!  Plus, they don't mind if I tell you all about it.  :)  I made sure to ask.  The details?  I'm keeping the piece in question a secret.  I will say that it's a coppersmithed piece and it will grace the October/November cover of RitzyToo digital magazine.  This magazine has bead work, metal work, wire work... a little of everything.

Never heard of it?  You should check it out.  Why?  Well, for one, it's a FREE digital magazine.  Plus, if you click the recent issue and enter your email address, they DELIVER the FREE magazine to your inbox every two months.   RitzyToo also has an archive of free jewelry making tutorials for you to peruse and use.  So, while you're waiting for my October cover, you can see all the other issues and find some cool new pretties to make.  You can't beat that!

I love, love receiving newsletters and magazines and blogs in my inbox.  It's the only way I can remember to read them, and I always subscribe to my favorite blogs, etc. via email.  Best. Thing. Ever. (hint:  you can follow my blog via email by sticking your email addy in the box in the upper right corner of my blog!  I only post 1-2 times per month so you won't be bombarded.)  *batting eyelashes*

What else?  I'm working on a secret project that will be revealed later this month or early next month.  It's gonna be good, and I hope you'll enjoy it!  I'm also working on a new tutorial in between all these fun, exciting projects.  I hope to finish it very soon.  It's about time to put some new stuff in my shop, don't you think?

Have a wonderful, joyful, fun, splendid, awesome day!

Much love,

Val~



Sunday, February 15, 2015

From Shoe Carousel to Hammer Carousel

Hi, all!  As some of you may know, I recently visited a thrift shop and purchased a shoe carousel for $5.  I had this hare-brained brilliant scheme to put it in my studio!  I had the idea to turn it into a pliers rack, because well... I luff my pliers and I have tons!  This is sort of what I bought, except it only had 2 tiers and was wonky and wobbly.


photo courtesy of Walmart.com

I have a few stumps in my studio:  some have things bolted to them (like a bench vise) and some are for other purposes, but I had a spare one so I chiseled out a hole (I don't have a full size drill.... can you believe it?  Me!  No drill!) in the center and plunked the pipe down into the hole.  Yes, I went psycho on the rack and tore it all apart.  :)   It's important to note that you need a skinny stump so the handles, when in the rack, clear the stump.   

Anywho:  the tiers spin freely on the center pole, so I cut off a length and seated the pole well into the stump and stacked the tiers together.  Why?  At first, I planned to use it as a pliers rack and I needed 2 layers of wire to keep the pliers from going all wonky.  It worked!  I mean, the pliers fit the rack and it spun, etc. but I just loved my old pliers rack too much to get rid of it.  I'm thinking I will have to make a two-tiered pliers rack (out of wood) very soon.  Future project idea!!!

So I decided to hang my smaller hammers from the revolving rack.  Why only the small ones?  Because lately I have a lot of small hammers and I really love them for texturing and forming (like my Wubbers Artisan's Mark hammer set).  


Please excuse the glare- I'm still figuring
out my studio lighting setup.
Plus, I really like my other hammer rack that I made from free wood and a few L brackets, but the small hammers liked to fall through (see in the background my other hammer rack).  I also found that the wire contraption I created holds my ring mandrel and my Garson mallet nicely, which never fit into any of my other hammer racks.  




The wire rack also holds my stakes and design stamps.  I can fit little containers into the rack also.  Overall, did I need it?  Meh, not really.  However, it does clear up some table space on my work bench, so it's not horrible.  




I forgot to mention that I folded the shoe...things... inside.  If you're making one of these for larger hammers, folding them outward works very well.  I had all my hammers in the rack before I decided to put the big ones back in their original rack.  It's really up to you if you want to cut the things off or bend them inside or outside the rack.  Some are bent slightly inward but up enough to slide my Garson mallet and my ring mandrel into for security.

Will I keep this?  Eh, I dunno.  I plan to build a large, floor sized (like bookshelf tall) hammer rack one day.  For now, it's a keeper.  It only cost me the $5 and it did clear up some bench space, and it revolves nicely, so yeah.

The point of this post is this:  It can be fun to re-purpose old things into new uses.  Think outside the box!  Look at things with a creative eye, and above all, have pride in your ingenuity.  I took something destined for the scrap heap and made something that's at least usable.  Plus, it's rather fun to spin.  :)

Have a great day, all!  xoxo!  ~Val

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Happenings! New Pretties!

Hi, all!  Wow, I forgot my January post.  ><

2015 has been hopping for me!  My metalworking is taking off, and I'm very busy, much of which I can't divulge just yet.  As things develop, I'll be sure to post here, so stay tuned!  I'm such a tease.  :D

New things!  I've made new things, of course, and for January (and now, and continuing into 2015) I'm concentrating on designs that feature pierced work (I'm getting pretty good at it!) and concrete!  Yes, concrete!  I've been having a blast playing with new ideas for concrete.  I've tried molding it, inlaying it, and I have many ideas to explore.  Seriously, not enough time in the day.

Concrete?  What concrete?  Why, Wubbers EnCapture (TM) Artisan Concrete, of course!  You know how I have a Wubbers tool fetish, and it's extended to their line of concrete mixes, which include pigment powders.  Oh, the things I have planned!  Just you wait!

Before I show you what I've made so far using their awesome cement, you can find the EnCapture kits on the Wubbers University Shop website in both Natural (grey, with black, green and brown pigment powders plus tools) and White (with pink, blue and yellow pigment powders plus tools).  Click the color names for links.  :D

My first piece which featured the EnCapture Artisan Concrete is the Lunar Eclipse pendant.  I polished the concrete for this piece, so it doesn't really look like cement, but it is.  Guess what?  I also wrote a tutorial AND published a template (which accompanies the tutorial) for the metalwork, so you can create the exact pendant I designed!  The tutorial can be found on the Wubbers University website for site members, and also in my Etsy shop (and soon to be on my website).  The tutorial can be purchased here.   Introducing Lunar Eclipse!




Another idea I had for the concrete was to inlay it into a pierced project.  I have to say that this is my very favorite way to use the cement so far!  (concrete, cement... I use the terms interchangeably.)  My debut piece for my technique is a shield I created featuring the White Tree of Gondor from the Lord of the Rings.

This piece is for my own personal collection.  I don't own the tree design, obviously.  Since this is a piece of fan art, I won't be offering the design for this piece.  However, fear not!  I have drawn my own pierced work design template, and I will be writing the tutorial for it (and I will provide the template).  This piece I'm working on will also feature concrete inlay, and I'm so, so excited to show you once it's finished!  In the meantime, take a look at my Gondor shield, featuring the EnCapture White Artisan Concrete:




What's next?  Well, today I'm working on my latest concrete inlay piece.  This month I'm full of ideas and projects, some of which are super secret.  Stay tuned for the next inlay piece though!  I'll be showing that soon.

Oh!  I also have a beaded pendant, which will be published in this month's Digital Beading Australia within the next week or so.  I can't wait for you to see it!  It's something I'm pretty proud of.

I hope you enjoyed my concrete work!  I'm so excited and I'm brimming with ideas!  What are you working on?  Any big plans?  New ideas?  New directions?  Hopes and dreams?  I'd love to hear about it!

Much love and hugs,

Val~

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Eve Bling Earrings Freebie!

Hi, all!  I promised my beady peeps a free tutorial for blingy earrings, didn't I?  You didn't think I'd forgotten, did you?  Fear not!  These earrings are so quick they take less than oh... 20 minutes to make.

I wanted some earrings to accompany my Lagoon bracelet, which appeared in the Dec. 2014 issue of Digital Beading Australia.  I made a rather pretty version of my bracelet in black and gunmetal colors, and I also made some dainty little earrings to match.  Ta~da!




Here's a closer shot of the earrings.  They're simple yet cute, and they swing nicely on Wire Guardian findings.  These aren't just for necklaces anymore!  :D




Here's what happens if you switch crystals for pearls and vise versa.  Here I've used roundels (6x8mm) with 4mm silver beads.




The two together show that you can experiment to your heart's content and have cool earrings in a jiffy.




One last photo:



OK, so, if you like these, the tut is available as a free .pdf download on my website, here!   Here's a quick little screenshot of the tut:




There's still time to make a pair if you're looking for something to wear to any celebrations tomorrow night.  :)  Happy New Year!!!  Love and Hugs,  ~Val

Friday, December 26, 2014

Post-Christmas Freebie!

Hi, all!  Today I have a little something for my metalworking friends.  Well, 2 somethings.

This season I made all my gifts out of copper!  I usually do beads and I thought I'd give my friends and family a little break, since they always get beaded items (though there's nothing wrong with that!).  I made flowers for my beading group and my mom and MIL.  They went over really well!  My ladies loved them and so did my metalworking group on Facebook!




After several requests for a petals template, I published it on my website for free.  I didn't really announce it, so I'm doing so now.  Free petals template!!! Just look on my website in the "Free Downloads" page.   :)  Experienced metalsmiths will know what to do with it.  BTW, I only ended up using the 3 smallest petal shapes for my flowers.  For new metalsmiths and aspiring metalsmiths, I am working on a step-by-step tutorial to make my flowers.  Stay tuned!  I have a magazine project to finish first.  I'll be busy in 2015!  Sneak peak at the template, which only has to be printed and glued to the copper for sawing:




OK, so that's #1!  Now!  Another gift I made was a copper photo frame.  I decided to make a template for it and publish it (also for free) on my website's magical Free Downloads page.  You really should check it out some time.  :)




Here's a sneaky peaky at this template, which I created for two sizes:  the one you see in the photo above and a smaller one, too.  Simply print this as full size or "fit to page" and you're good to go.  I glue them to my copper, saw the shapes out, and use the hole guides to help with placement of my drilled holes.  Texture to your liking (or don't), stamp if you wish, and you'll have a sturdy frame.   Easy, peasy!  Coincidentally, you could use this template with stiff plastics or card stock to make frames, too.



Both of these templates were hand drawn by me using my beloved CorelDraw Graphics Suite X7.  :D

Beady friends:  Fear not!  Stay tuned!  I'm working on another cool freebie just for you, and it will be ready tomorrow or the next day.  You didn't think I'd leave you in the cold, did you?  You will have a fabulous new bit of bling in time for the New Year's Eve parties!

Much love, y'all!  Merry Day-After-Christmas!  <3   ~Val