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

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,


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

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Beading Magazine Debut

Hi, all!  The December issue of Digital Beading Australia is out and my project begins on page 124!  I hope you'll enjoy it!

This is my first experience with a beading magazine (I've been in two issues of the Copper Wire Jewelers magazine).  It was a fun and stressful experience at the same time.  I was nervous about submitting to a magazine and seeing peoples' reactions to my project, but all in all it is a good thing.

Here's the piece I submitted:  Lagoon. I hope you'll like it!

You can find the magazine (Issue 13, Dec. 2014) here: 

Until next time, ta~


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wubbers University Blog- about me!

Hi, all!  I was recently interviewed by Wubbers University and today, on their blog, they posted all about me!  I'm so honored and touched.  I'm so, so proud to work alongside Wubbers University and all the staff.  They're such an awesome, hard-working group of people, and I'm honored.

My sweet friend Lexi wrote such an awesome introduction to the interview!  I teared up just reading it.  I'm so blessed to know her!

So head on over to their blog and see!  I'm so tickled!!!!

Much love,  ~Val

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November in Retrospect

Hey, all!  Wow!  November is gone already?  Holy cow!  Where does the time go?

November was a good month!  I made a few new things, got a few new tools, had a great Thanksgiving with my family and had some birthdays!  My darling girl turned 17 and I turned -cough- we don't need to know.  :D

I had a lot of fun with metal this month!  I made a leaf for my Mother in Law's birthday!  It was fun to create using fold forming and repousse/chasing techniques.  I experimented with using oil to obtain a rich, brown patina.  Here it is:

I also created a new pendant and tutorial!  This tutorial is not yet available on the Wubbers University website, but you can find it in my own website's shop and my Etsy shop.  I had a lot of fun creating "string art" using wire.  My tutorial shows how to create the back plate and bail, as well as how to create the wire design.

I also got some new tools!  I love tools!!!  They make me happy!  My latest acquisition is a set of the brand new Wubbers Apprentice Pliers!  They're so awesome!  I really love the size and they're shiny and pretty.  The Apprentice Pliers are mid-sized between the Classic Wubbers and the Baby Wubbers pliers.  These fit perfectly in my hand and feel good to grip.  They appear to be powder coated and are very nice indeed.  They come with their own stand, too!  I'm so tickled every day to be affiliated with this wonderful company!  Here's a link!

Photo courtesy of Wubbers, Inc.

Birthdays were had, parties were thrown, gifts exchanged.  Thanksgiving was awesome and we got so stuffed!  Lots of laughs, lots of family, lots of love.  :)

Kitties!  Binxy is fitting in well with the rest of our cat herd.  Our dog still thinks she's a cat and they all pile up on my bed and cuddle and snooze.  It's a good life.  :)

Let's see... hmm... well, I've read a lot of books!  I love me some books!  :D  Lots of book boyfriends, lots of fun and adventure and alternate worlds.  Good times.

We also received word that my son won an academic scholarship from the college based on his grades, woohoo!  His next term will be paid for, which is a load off my mind.  I'm so proud of him!

So:  What's in store for December?  Why, I'm glad you asked!  I was recently invited by the editor of Digital Beading Australia magazine to be in their December issue!  I'm working on a project for the magazine and I really hope you'll like it!  I've never been in a bead magazine before so I'm both nervous and excited.  It's a huge honor!

Also, December 1st marks my 23rd wedding anniversary with my hubby!  Every day, I'm so proud to be his wife.  :)

Y'all have a great last day of November!  Until next time, adieu!  ~Val