More Mead!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, December 30, 2010 9:45 AM

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

So, the holidays are pretty much over now. *whew!* Here are the ingredients for the next mead recipe I want to try. I got a large can of blackberry puree that will be perfect! Actually, a honey and fruit wine is called a melomel, so this recipe is for Blackberry Melomel:

Yield: 1 gallon

Ingredients:
3 lbs. blackberries
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
3 bags of blackberry tea
2 lbs. honey
1/8 tsp grape tannin
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
Package of yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1.5 cups orange juice at room temperature

I think for my blackberry mead I am going to use a Champagne yeast from Northern Brewer, an excellent resource for all things brewing!

I will be posting the instructions a bit later!

Small Mead Update

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, December 16, 2010 12:58 AM

So I started that Maple Mead a bit ago and racked it a week ago, but I am not quite sure how it is going to turn out. Sadly it smelled quite acidic, so something might have gone wrong along the way. Definitely going to give it a bit longer before testing again. It should be ready to rack again in a month or so, so we shall see what happens then!

If the Maple Mead doesn't work out, I have a recipe (which I will definitely post later) for a Blackberry Mead that I am just dying to try!

That is all for the moment! I definitely need to find a new jewelry tutorial to try!

Ear Cuffs Again!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, November 11, 2010 1:15 PM

Finished two! Yay!

Here are my first attempts. I actually really like the way these turned out! The hardest part about making these is finding the right size to clip on to the ear. The first one I made (not pictured) was actually waaaay too small. These turned out just right!



I decided to add a garnet bead to the second one I made. Just a bit of extra ornamentation!



Definitely going to have to play with these more!

Oh, and the picture above? Extremely hard to take when you are wearing the ear piece and trying to take the picture at the same time!!

Ear Cuffs!

Posted by Laurel Collins 1:51 AM

It's time for a new tutorial!

The other day on etsy I ran across pictures of some amazing ear cuffs made by gailavira which made me really want to try and make some wire ear cuffs. I found this tutorial on CutOutandKeep.net and realized that ear cuffs can be quite simplistic and that maybe a tutorial for them really isn't necessary.

I am definitely going to play with this style a bit tomorrow and will post my experiments.

The Meadmaking has Begun!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, October 29, 2010 1:37 PM

I finally started my Maple Mead a few days ago. Yay! Sadly, though, I had a bit of a mishap with the stove/boiling honey. It boiled over quite a bit, so I lost a bit of the water/honey/maple syrup that should be in the jug. Well, it will be ready to be tested in a month when I rack it (move the liquid from one jug to another to filter out the particles), so we shall see if it is the right sweetness/taste then. If not.... then it will be time to add in a bit more honey and maple syrup!



So exciting! The one thing I find frustrating with brewing though, is how long it takes to make a mead. Many recipes I have seen call for the drink to sit for a year before it can be consumed! Crazy!

In all this mead should take three to four months before it is ready. I can't wait for the taste testing!

Moving on...

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, October 14, 2010 4:05 PM

Here is another wire wrapped labradorite pendant! This time I added in a bit of copper and I am really loving the effect!



Additionally I have been trying a new type of crafting. Recently my boyfriend has become interested in brewing. It is an interesting process, so I am going to try a bit of brewing myself. He likes to make beer, but I am interested more in wines and mead, so this weekend I am going to start the process of creating a Maple Mead. I found the recipe here. Should be interesting and I definitely can't wait for the taste testing!

Finished Oxidized Pieces

Posted by Laurel Collins , Sunday, October 3, 2010 12:39 AM

Here are a few of my finished items using oxidization. I just love how it makes a wire wrapped piece look so elegant! I think I am going to keep doing this technique with future pieces I make. It gives them a depth that you don't see in a normal polished piece.



Oxidizing Metal Wire

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, October 1, 2010 5:07 PM

So, I think it went quite well today! My first oxidizing experience seems to be a success! It was crazy how quick the oxidizing process takes. As soon as I dropped the metal pieces in, they were already turning black! Here are some photos:

Before:


After:


Later after a bit of polishing:


I seriously love how these turned out!

Liver of Sulfur!!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:27 PM

It's been a bit again since my last update, but this next one should be a good one! I have decided to try oxidizing both copper and silver using liver of sulfur. This experiment will hopefully be taking place tomorrow.

I found this page here that explains the process pretty well.

I will have both before and after pictures to post tomorrow! Should be exciting!

Not again!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, September 7, 2010 5:18 PM

Hee hee! Yep, been a bit since I posted last! Vacation lasted a bit longer than I thought it would, so there was a little lack of crafting.

Anyways, I am back now and have crafted a few things since my last post. I am so enamored with the labradorite cabochons, that I went on a wire wrapping spree and finished wrapping all five stones that I purchased. I'll post the three newest ones below. Two were still working from the original tutorial that I had posted.





The newest is slightly different, but I definitely like how it turned out. I would love to try it again with a thinner stone.



I am so attracted to these stones, that it is hard for me to want to try and work on anything else. I think after a few more of these, the novelty will wear off slightly and I will be able to move on to a new tutorial. I have a few already in the queue, but I am not sure which one will be next. We shall see!

Tried again!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, August 3, 2010 1:13 PM

I tried the wire wrapped stone tutorial again, and these are what I came up with!



These ones are probably twice as big as the first one I made. I think, personally, that I like the smaller one best, but I just love the colors in these stones! I need to work a bit more on the sizing, but I think they turned out nice.



I think that these ones will probably end up in my etsy shop since they were done nicer than the first one... I still have three more stones left that I can wrap, and I can't wait to try some more!

Finished my first wire wrapped cabochon!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, July 30, 2010 2:17 PM

Let's see... I tried out the tutorial below for the Wire Wrapped Rock, but unfortunately I had the wrong sized stone. I had to do things a bit differently, but for my first wire wrapped stone pendant, I think this one turned out well! It didn't turn out quite like I had hoped, so I think I will just end up keeping this one.... Here it is!



I just love labradorite! Such pretty colors. I have a few more labradorite cabochons coming in the mail, so I will have to try this tutorial again! Also, I think for my next one I am going to try oxidizing the wire afterwards for an antiqued look. I guess I will update again when I get a chance to test this next time.

Next Tutorial

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, July 27, 2010 3:45 AM

I have been looking around and have found quite a few different projects to try. Of course, I just don't have the right materials for most of them.

This is the one I would like to try next: Wire Wrapped Rock. I have most of the materials for this one, but I am waiting for a few things to come in the mail, so it will be a bit before I can get started.

The author of this tutorial, Dev Khan, has done some amazing work and I can only hope that in the future I can become even half as good an artist as her!



And now it is 4 am. Really need to stop posting so late when my writing and brain functions become fragmented....

Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot to mention that I did finish my second crop circle pendant! Here is the finished product:



It isn't exactly like the crop circle pictured, but I think it turned out well! Need to find a new one to start on!

Sea Turtles Restoration Project!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Sunday, July 18, 2010 9:20 PM

Wow, it has been a bit since I last posted. I'll try not to do it again!

Anyways, on Etsy I am a member of TeamBPAL. This week a team shop was set up where members could donate items to be sold for a cause. At the moment, the shop is filled with ocean/sea themed items. Each item sold will have all the proceeds donated to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. I decided to donate two items of my own.

Both items are shell necklaces like those I have made in the past. The one pictured above has already been sold! Yay!

I think it is great to donate to such a cause and can't wait to participate in others for the future! Here is another item made by Elements & Artifacts on Etsy that I think is just fabulous!



So, it has been awhile since I have experimented with a new technique/tutorial, so I am going to search out one to try next. Also, I am thinking about trying to make some chainmail jewelry in the future. Haven't gotten any supplies for it yet though. Someday!

Wire Wrapped Lapis Ring

Posted by Laurel Collins , Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:22 AM

Here is a quick spur of the moment project I finished a few days ago. I only had a little bit of silver wire left, so I decided to try and craft a ring! Here is what I came up with:



It was a bit difficult to get the wire to cooperate, but I think it turned out okay in the end! I used small lapis lazuli beads for this ring since they looked so nice with the silver.



I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to post the picture of me wearing it... I always feel like my fingers look silly in photographs. Silly fingers!

Here is the video that I first saw explaining how to make wire wrapped rings: Auntie's Beads. This tutorial is quite helpful in showing the basics! And wow there are loads of tutorials up on YouTube! Will have to check out a few more later.

That is all for tonight! It is late and I should be asleep... *sigh*

Finished the First Crop Circle...

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:48 PM

Yay! I finished my first crop circle pendant and added the chain. I feel like it turned out pretty nice! Kinda big though, the pendant itself measures 2.25 inches in diameter. I guess if anyone were to wear it, it would make quite a statement! Hee hee!



Also, I just finished using my new glass etcher! I seriously love it! It is just like drawing on glass.



And lastly, my next project I am currently working on is a new crop circle! Here is the inspiration photo:



Here is what I have completed so far:



All I have to do is attach the two pieces, maybe add another bead or two... We shall see!

Crop Circles Continued...

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, June 11, 2010 5:04 PM

Getting close to finishing my first crop circle pendant! This one took quite a bit of work to make!

Looking at it now, I think it is actually a bit bigger than I had originally expected to make. I like it though! I found some pretty garnet beads for embellishment and everything seems to have come together quite well. I still plan on wire wrapping the surrounding circle as well.



At the same time, I am around halfway through knitting a scarf for my grandmother! I made a scarf for a friend at Christmas and while I was making it, my grandma loved to come by and pet it. She is a better knitter than I will ever be, having made me two blankets and a huge lovely afghan for my mom, but I don't think she has ever had anyone knit anything for her. I chose a multicolored purple yarn for her since purple is her favorite color. Sadly, me being me, I started this scarf back in January. I stopped knitting on it months ago, but now I am determined to finish it up for her! It will definitely be ready by winter! Hee hee!



I used this pattern called the Tipsy Rib Scarf. I love this pattern because since it is so repetitive, I don't need to carry around instructions. Great project for beginning knitters!

New Idea...

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, June 4, 2010 2:41 PM

I have been having lots of fun with wire jewelry recently (for evidence, see my Etsy page...), so I think I am going to play with this medium for awhile.

So, I have been watching X-Files recently and was thinking.... What about wire crop circles? They always have such interesting designs and there are loads of different kinds out there. I can try to make them out of wire, right?

Well, I have already started! This is the first one I am playing with:



I found this crop circle picture here. Right now I have the main shapes done, but a long way to go to finish the rest of the wire wrapping. Also, I need to find some interesting new beads to add on....



That is all for the moment. Back to the crafting!

Etsy!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Friday, May 28, 2010 9:36 PM

I listed my first four items on Etsy!! Yay!!

I have around 6 more finished to list, but I haven't had the chance to write up little blurbs about them yet. It actually takes quite a bit to get the pictures and everything in order to actually get the listings completed, so I will be more prepared for that the next time around.

Also, it seems that I need to learn how to take pictures specifically for Etsy... Some of them aren't centered quite right. And I need to be more creative with the naming.... *cringe*

Anyways, nothing new to report on the crafting front. It seems that I have taken off with the jewelry making at the moment. Need to actually do a few knitting projects as well. Also, on the etching front, it seems the glass etcher I ordered wasn't the kind of item I was looking for. I ordered a Dremel Engraver which is quite a bit more heavy duty than my old Inland glass engraver. I decided to return it and am going to reorder the same Inland model I used to have. It is a great little engraver that is perfect for random etching projects. It probably isn't as durable as the Dremel, but it works perfectly for etching wine glasses and such.

That is all for the moment. I have to go do the dishes now. *sigh*

Crafting up a storm!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, May 25, 2010 4:02 PM

So, I have been crafting up a storm (all jewelry items) recently in anticipation for listing my first update on my Etsy store! Yay! A more detailed post will be written up as soon as I have posted things on Etsy. The hard part right now is deciding how to price the items...

I haven't tried any new tutorials recently, so there isn't anything to report at the moment on that front. Just embellishing on the techniques I was playing with earlier.

That is all at the moment. I hope to have everything ready within a week!

Oh, and lastly there is going to be a large Bead and Button Show taking place at the beginning of June in Milwaukee, WI. It sounds exciting and I can't wait!!

More Necklaces!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Wednesday, May 19, 2010 4:10 PM

Found my camera! Yay!

So, first of all I finally put that copper wire pendant I made onto a chain. Also added a few beads. I really like how this one turned out and I almost hate to send it away.



This next one was made with picasso jasper beads with a few turquoise beads thrown in. I just love how every jasper bead is so different! Also, I got the idea for the clover head pin from this web page. Apparently there is a tool called a WigJig that is specially made to form wire loops, but it is quite easy to get the same effect using only a pair of round nose pliers.



Lastly is a necklace I whipped together using these pearlescent glass beads that have been sitting around in my jewelry kit for years. Quite a simple design, but I just really like these colors.



That is all for now. Just waiting for my new glass etcher to arrive in the mail! Yay!

Continuing on some more...

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, May 18, 2010 8:03 PM

Well, I have turned my apartment upside down looking for my glass etcher tool and it is quite lost. *sigh* Well, when the new one arrives in the mail, I am planning on etching the first wine glass with something simple, yet pretty. Maybe something like this. I am really liking swirls at the moment!

In the meantime, I have finished up a few beaded necklaces. Yay! I will be sure to take some pictures. I have had these wooden and pearlescent glass beads sitting around for quite awhile, so I decided to string them on wire in interesting patterns. They will definitely be ending up in my etsy shop since I find that I rarely wear jewelry myself.

I have also been sketching patterns for a line of wire pendants much like the copper one pictured a few entries ago. I just need to acquire some more 16 and 18 gauge wire. It seems that all the supplies I actually need are always missing! So inconvenient!

Next project....

Posted by Laurel Collins , Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:53 AM

I have decided what crafting project I want to continue with!!

I have an assortment of blank wine glasses that I have been meaning to etch for awhile now, so it is time to decorate them! The only problem is, I think my glass etcher tool was in one of the boxes my movers failed to deliver when I moved across the country. Darn. Well, I guess I will have to find another one on the internet. Anyways, while I search for the etching tool around here before committing to purchase a new one, I am going to search around and look for some design ideas. Additionally, I am going to continue making different pieces of jewelry with the random assortment of beads and wire I still have laying around.

Here is a sample of a wine glass I etched in the past for a friend:

Etsy Shop!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Monday, May 10, 2010 7:34 AM

So I have finally decided to open up my own shop on Etsy.com. Besides the knitted hat, the things I have made so far aren't going to any use right now. By putting my crafted items on Etsy, I hope to raise money for other crafting projects in the future. Makes sense, right?



That is all for the moment. I am finding it difficult to come up with a new project to start, so I need to go find some inspiration!!

New Wire Pendant and Finished Hat!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, May 6, 2010 2:45 AM

So here is a picture of the hat on my boyfriend! It fits perfectly! Sadly I just realized it is kind of hard to see the fit in this picture, but it really does look great on him!



In other news, I had some 16 gauge wire left over from other projects, so this next pendant kinda made itself... My first time making anything like this!!



I found a great tutorial on basic wire weaving techniques from Jewelry Lessons which gave me the idea for the woven parts. Otherwise, it was made purely with my own imagination!



I am thinking about finding this pendant a black chain to hang from since I think that would make it "pop" more than a copper chain.

For the next project? I really have no idea at the moment....

Fuzzy Knitted Hat and Rosette Rings!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Monday, May 3, 2010 1:33 AM

Managed to finish the hat! Yay! A fairly easy project that actually turned out really nice! It also fits my boyfriend's head perfectly! Now I just need to get a picture when he isn't asleep....

I was browsing for new jewelry tutorials yesterday and came across one that looked simple, yet pretty.

The Rosette Wire Wrapped Ring

This tutorial is fabulous! It calls for 22 gauge wire, but the closest I had was 20 gauge. I feel like this made the rings I made a bit more difficult to shape, but they actually turned out quite nice!



I would love to experiment with this more. Possibly by mixing copper and silver wire together or adding small beads. I definitely need to acquire 22 gauge wire as well as a ring mandrel. I ended up using a Burt's Bees lip balm container to wrap the wire around and it would probably be better if I could get the sizing a little more accurate.

Excellent tutorial from McFarland Designs!

Working on the Warm Fuzzy Knitted Hat!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Sunday, May 2, 2010 3:01 AM

Well, I managed to actually get quite a bit of it done today. Judging from the pattern I am maybe a bit less than halfway done! Yay!
So far I am really liking this pattern. It is fairly simple and would be a great pattern to start out on to learn how to knit in the round. Originally the pattern called for me to use double point needles, but I kept having trouble with my knitting slipping off the needles and unravelling, so I switched to a set of circular needles. Much more manageable!
Otherwise, things are going well and I hope to finish the hat within the next few days!

Continuing on to some Knitting!

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, April 29, 2010 8:37 AM

Well, I still haven't found the right clasps to finish off those necklaces. Will have to keep looking!

So, now I have decided to move on to a bit of knitting! Back in November, I promised my boyfriend I would knit him a warm hat for when we moved to Wisconsin in January. Being me though, I have put it off until.... now. He actually mentioned this project this morning, so now I definitely feel obligated to start! I decided to use this pattern that I found on Ravelry:

Seaman's Cap Pattern

I have some incredibly soft alpaca yarn in a nice, dark red. Once I get into the actual knitting, I will definitely have to come back here with pictures!

I should also mention, this is not my first time knitting in the round, but definitely my first try making a hat. Here's hoping it turns out well!

Finishing a Few Necklaces

Posted by Laurel Collins , Saturday, April 24, 2010 3:55 PM

Well, it's been a bit since my last post (bad me!), but now I have a few pictures to upload!

Managed to create a few necklaces, but sadly I realized that I have very few clasps... These are all in their final stages though! Just need to acquire a few different kinds of clasps.
So, here is the first one I put together. Didn't use any of the wire wrapped shell pendants for this one. I had a few pretty green glass beads laying around and since they looked so nice next to the copper wire, I had to put them together!



The next one I chose to assemble was one of the shell wrapped pendant necklaces. I also chose to attach a few hematite beads strung on wire as a few little accents. I really like how this one turned out in the end.


The last one I have mostly completed so far took a bit longer, but again I think it turned out quite well.

Yay! Still need a few clasps to finish these projects up, but I think they are turning out better than I had hoped!

Here is a handy tutorial I used to get the loops that I made using wire in order to string the beads on each of these necklaces. Using this technique it is easy to get near perfect loops every time!

Wire Wrapped Shell Pendants

Posted by Laurel Collins , Thursday, April 15, 2010 5:25 PM

So, I found this project to be quite easy and fun. I had a few different colors of jewelry wire in different gauges (16, 20, and 26). It was quite hard for me to shape the 16 gauge wire, so I think that I will have to wait on using it again until I gain a little more practice. The pieces are arranged in the order I made them. The ones on the left being my first attempts! I think they turned out okay.


This project is great for those who don't have too much experience since most of the crafting is pretty freeform. The 26 and 20 gauge wires were great and are easily bent in a design of your choice! Just play with it! You will need wire cutters as well as a pair of needle nose pliers to help with the shaping, but most of the work is done with your own two hands.

So, I am feeling pretty good about this first project. It didn't take me too long, yet I feel accomplished!

Hmmmm, thoughts for the next project? Well, since every pendant needs a chain to become a necklace, I think my next project will be to string each of these pendants on chains. Maybe add in some other decorative touches?

A New Beginning

Posted by Laurel Collins , Wednesday, April 14, 2010 3:54 PM

So, after watching the movie Julie & Julia, I felt inspired to make a blog. I rarely finish things, like the main character, and lately this problem has been making me feel quite worthless. This blog is for me to track and review different crafting projects. I have so many tools, project ideas, and supplies for knitting, jewelry crafting, sewing, etc. that have been languishing in the dark corners of my closet, under my bed, and hidden in the drawers of my desk.


It is time to make a stand and start using these things. I must get my house uncluttered!!

My first project:
Wire wrapped shell jewelry pieces.

I need to start with something small and easy to finish. As the proverb goes, "From small beginnings come great things."