On the Soldering Block….

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I’ve decided to start a series of “in the studio” posts.  I’ll be honest, after my first show of the year on May 10, I’ve kinda been in a funk.  I did a lot of cramming trying to finish my very first collection in time for that event.  It all came together nicely (ooh which reminds me, I still need to load the items to my online shop, oops!) and I was so excited to show it all off, along with my revamped display.

The show went well and now, after a few weeks of slacker time, I need to get back at it.  Here’s the very first thing to come off the block after my little hiatus.

 

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There are 3 others along with this one…and they’re taking a spin in the tumbler right now to get them all nice and shiny!  One will be a pendant, and the other 3 will be a trio necklace (like the one in my logo).  These are a special order from a customer at the show.  🙂

I’ve got some ideas dancing around in my head right now for some new earring designs….and I’m itching to get back to playing with sheet metal again and try out the flex shaft tool I bought months ago and have yet to use.  So stay tuned….the next items to come off the block will be brand new designs!

Karen

 

 

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Jewelry Designer Interrupted…to make edible floral arrangements

What?  Can there possibly be more to life than jewelry making?  Ha.  Of course there is!  From time to time I’ll post about other things I’ve done or made, sharing my successes (or perhaps even failures) with you.  Today’s post is of a recent success!

I typically get my mom and grandma flowers for Mother’s Day.  That was my plan again this year, until my mom said, just a week before Mother’s Day, DO NOT get me flowers!  :O  That threw a wrench in my plans!  She had a very valid reason…they’ve got 4, yes, FOUR cats at their home, and they love to chow down on a good flower bouquet.  So, instead she said she wanted “one of those fruit bouquets.”  Alrighty then.  Well, a search online led me to Edible Arrangements, and there was one conveniently located near me.  But one look at the prices and I cringed.   The cheapest starts at about $50, and to get a size that actually makes it look like you care was $63.  I couldn’t justify spending that much money on fruit.  “I could do this myself” went through my head, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do all that.  I turned to my friends to see if they had seen any alternatives.  Not really.  So, I turned instead to Pinterest.  Ya gotta love Pinterest, it never lets you down!

I found an awesome bit of pinspiration where a pineapple was used as the vase, and I was sold on that concept.  I also saw pins using melons as the base, so I decided I would do that as well, since I also wanted to make one for my grandma too.  On Friday night I went to Woodman’s, my favorite grocery store, and bought all the fruit I needed.  This allowed for some ripening time, but I had an event to sell my jewelry at the following day, so it was also to save time.  Sunday morning I awoke and started working on the bouquets first thing.  FOUR hours and 2 achey feet later, they were finished.  I found out later on that that four hours I spent were entirely worth it as the bouquets were an absolute hit.

If you are thinking of making your own DIY fruit bouquet, I can help you out with some tips and advice based on what I learned making my first ever fruit bouquets.

Here’s the finished product (and I actually had enouh fruit to make 4 of them with all of the fruit I bought.)

DIY Fruit Bouquets

My DIY Fruit Bouquets

Here’s a step-by-step photo tutorial, just click the image to enlarge.  Below this picture you’ll find my detailed instructions.

DIY Fruit Bouquet Tutorial

DIY Fruit Bouquet Tutorial

 

DIY Fruit Bouquets

What you’ll need

  • Chocolate covered strawberries (I used 3 on each bouquet)
  • 1 orange
  • 2 pineapples
  • 2 cantaloupes
  • grapes, green, red or both
  • strawberries
  • pineapple
  • watermelon
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • kiwi – however I was not able to use it, more on that below…
  • any other fruit you may want to use
  • leafy lettuce (decorative purposes)
  • pkg of 10″ wooden skewers
  • cookie cutters – hearts, stars, butterfly, flowers, biscuit cutter (smallest size)
  • Utility scissors (something that can cut the skewers)

(Note that these steps do not identically match the steps in the photo tutorial.)

Step 1:

Gather all of the fruit you will need!  Choose which pineapple stands the straightest to be your “vase”.  If you are making the melon base arrangement, choose the most round melon for the next step and cut the other in half and seed it.  (I cut mine cross-wise, so you have 2 “butt” ends.)

Step 2:

Prepare all of the “cut out” fruits.  Cut the head and bottom off of one pineapple, then slice the remaining into about 3/4″ slices.  Using the cutouts or biscuit cutters, make the cutouts.  TIP:  some of my slices were a little thick or crooked, and I had a hard time getting the cookie cutter to go all the way through.  It also helped to use a folded up kitchen towel to press down on the cutter, as it hurt my hand otherwise.  I used a sharp knife to cut away any slivers of pineapple that were stuck on the cut-out shape.

Take the other melon and cut it into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices.  Remove the seeds and use a small cut-out or the smallest biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the melon.  I also cut out “v” shapes in mine, kinda “pacman” like but that was to be artsy and resemble flowers.  I did the same to pineapple to use up the slices after I had cut out hearts.)

Cut the orange into thick slices.

A word on the kiwi.  Mine were too ripe.  Even after cutting them in thick slices, they still fell apart and right off the skewers.  If you want to use kiwi, make sure it’s firm.

Salvage the remaining fruit by cutting it into chunks that you can use as filler in the arrangement or eat as fruit salad later.

Step 3:

Using the skewers, carefully place the fruit cutouts onto the flat end of the skewer.  TIP!  After I had several skewers placed I realized that the bouquets looked a little sparse and went back on some of them and put grapes or blueberries on the skewer, then the “main” fruit on top.  This also helps to prevent the fruit from sliding down the skewer.  So, save yourself some time and load your skewer up first.

TIP:  Be careful with the skewers.  Some of mine had slivers and I didn’t want to use those.  I ran them under water to dampen them before cutting.

Odd numbers are always appealing to the eye, so work in odd numbers when placing the larger pieces.  I put the orange in the center and worked around that.

Cut the skewers just as you would real flower stems to vary the height.

Step 4:

Place 3 (or 5) chocolate covered strawberries evenly and at varying heights.

Step 5:

Use the remaining fruit to fill in the rest of bouquet. TIP:  Raspberries need help staying on the skewer so I made sure I had something else underneath it and then put the raspberry at the end.

Step 6:

For the melon arrangement, I realized it looked a little naked, so I ran out and got some leafy green lettuce.  I washed it, dried it with toweling and then ripped it into large pieces.  I stuffed the pieces in between the skewers to cover up the melon.

If you’re not using these right away, be sure to refrigerate them!

I got 4 bouquets out of all of the fruit I bought.  With the 4th one, I used a small slice of cantaloupe and put the head of the pineapple on top of it.  You’ll see the finished bouquet under step 6 in the tutorial photos.  This arrangement did not need lettuce as it was shorter and the pineapple leaves added greenery.

Enjoy!  These were a HUGE hit with everyone.  They looked very impressive and my mom was super happy to get exactly what she wanted for Mother’s Day.  I don’t think I’d go through the trouble of making these often, but for a special ocassion, or for a different  backyard BBQ dinner centerpiece, etc. this DIY flower bouquet would be perfect.  I’m sure it’ll go a lot faster the next time I make one.  And you can’t beat the price.  I made 4 arrangements for less than the price of one from the brand name store.

Blast from the past

Well, I managed to dig up some oldie moldie photographs from about 20 years ago!  I mention in my About page how I grew up going to craft fairs with my mom and grandma.  We made all sorts of things back then.  My mom made afghans, berets, baby sweaters and booties, among a whole ton of other things.  My grandma did a lot of plastic canvas.  I also mentioned how I was making paper beads before they were cool.  😉  Well, lo and behold, I actually have a couple pictures of those beads.  Here they are on the top shelf in this photo.   They were made from wallpaper.  I would go beg the wallpaper suppply stores for their old sample books that were headed for the trash.  They were kind enough to let me have them.  I remember I had a lot.  It made for a very wide selection of colors.

Handmade Stuffed Animals

Handmade Stuffed Animals from the early 90’s

What’s amazing to me about this picture is how I totally forgot that I used to make those stuffed animals!  That was kind of a pain trying to sew through that fur.  (Plus I’m sure I broke a few sewing needles.)  And I have to laugh when I see the basket on the bottom shelf.  My mom used to make cobweb dusters that you put on the end of a broomstick.  It was a knit or crochet (not sure) “sleeve” with a pompon on the end.  We got a lot of “what are these?” questions when people would pick them up to examine them.  Let your mind wander to the gutter for a moment and you’ll realize it could double as a sock for a you-know-what.

After the stuffed animals and paper beads, I moved on to cross stitch and that was my focus for quite a while.  Here are a just a couple of the pieces I had done.  The top one was a wedding sampler that I would personalize after purchase.  This photo was taken at a booth we had at a craft mall in Greenfield, WI.  Eventually I learned how to cut my own mat boards so I could finish my pieces on my own vs. having to go to a gallery or craft store and have them do it.

I apologize for the blurriness…the original photo wasn’t so good!

Cross-stitched pieced

Cross-stithced pieces I made in the 90’s

Oh and here I am in my tye-dyed looking MC Hammer pants (thank God you can hardy see them, what was I thinking, and I wore those things a LOT!) and a horrid never, ever, EVER again perm.   And of course I’m standing proudly in front of my wallpaper beads.  🙂

Craft fair in the 1990's

Stop! Hammer Time! Here I am a craft fair back in the 1990’s

Hey!  I have that red ribbon bonnet pin cushion on my beading table right this very moment – so some of these things have stood the test of time!

Oh the good ol’ days!  I have no idea what happened to all of those beads, either.  What didn’t sell probably ended up in the trash.    One of these days I’ll try the same concept with copper sheet….not having to get my fingers all sticky and gross with glue is a plus.

A Glimpse Inside My Studio…

Here’s the first installment of a Glimpse Inside My Jewelry Studio

I will try to post these periodically to give you the inside scoop of what a jewelry designer’s studio is all about.  I’ll warn you now, it’s sometimes pretty out of control.  Viewer discretion is advised.  😉

A jewelry designer’s studio tends to get a little crazy.  When that creative mood strikes, it takes over and organizing and straightening up usually fall to the wayside.  In March of 2013 I decided my jewelry studio needed an overhaul and I’m pleased to share with you the results. (And yes, that’s a cat litter box you see in the photo…the cat and I “share” a room because we have a dog (that the cat doesn’t like) and dogs will eat ANYTHING if you know what I mean.  Plus, it’s a rather horrific experience chasing him around the house with it in his mouth.  EWW!  Having to account for space for the cat’s things provides a challenge as space is a premium with all the stuff I have in this room!)

My old jewelry table setup (top left) was a little precarious.  I was afraid my hubby may find me buried under it one day if I wasn’t careful when I went to take something out.

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My NEW jewelry table  is still organized in my “climbing up the wall” fashion.  But this time it’s a lot more stable!  I used white closet organizer cabinets and cubes (I’m a pro at assembling those suckers now!) so at least now I’ve got one unified color scheme and not a mish mosh of things I scrounged up.   This area is always a work in progress, however.  After I started working at the new table, which is several inches higher than the previous one, I needed a new chair (bye bye green electric company office chair, you’ve served me and Miss Kitty well) .  I also realized that my setup didn’t allow for a whole lot of work space, so it has actually been rearranged since then and it’s working out much better.   Also, shortly after my big jewelry studio reorg happened, I got into working with metals and soldering and realized I didn’t have enough room to fit that in.  So I added a “penninsula”  to expand.

And as a side note, seeing these photos of my nicely organized, clean studio is making me feel really guilty about what a mess it’s in right now.  But not guilty enough to make me go clean it.  😉

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