Friday, June 26, 2009

Fourth of July Memories

In honor of the 4th of July holiday, this flag listed on my website is being offered at a sale of 15% off the regular price. Mention this blog posting on your order form to get this special price!

As another 4th of July quickly approaches, I'm reminded of days gone by. Our 4th of July celebrations have always started with the big parade held every year in Winslow (our hometown). We have participated in this parade over the years as well as being observers.

One year, my son Adam, agreed to let me create a huge banana split made out of various fabrics to place over a riding lawn mower to drive in the parade. We owned an ice cream shop at the time and felt it would be good advertising. Adam was a hit in the parade, doing 360's with the banana split to the delight of the crowd.

Another year, Kim, an employee of ours, agreed to let me create yet another ice cream product, this time for her to wear in the parade. I created an ice cream cone, again with fabric and a hula hoop to support the brown fabric ice cream on top of the cone. She wore a red baseball cap as the cherry on top. She handed out discount cards and was a great sport. It is a long parade and the day was one of our warmest. She walked the whole parade, waving to the crowd and really enjoying herself. Some people did think she looked like a cupcake though because she isn't very tall.

Another year, Adam & Chris (my other son), decorated a golf cart from my in-law's driving range next to the ice cream shop with signs advertising the range. In the back of the cart, they made a golfer out of two by fours, who was wearing a golf shirt, shorts, & cap, and holding a golf club - teeing off. Other employees carried water guns to cool off the crowd. Again, it got applause from the spectators, who were also welcoming the relief from the heat. They also through out candy to the young children, who were chasing all of the floats to see how much candy they could collect.

One of the most memorable July 4th's included a parade again, but not the parade in our hometown. This one was just as much fun but on a much smaller scale. My mom had suffered a severe stroke and had other serious health issues as a result afterward. She unfortunately was unable to live alone any longer and we all had to make the most difficult decision of having her move into an assisted living facility. It was a lovely place, but it is never like home...

In the two years that she lived there, I got to know quite a few of the residents quite well. They looked as forward to visits by my brothers and sisters and I as my mother did. Some of them did not get alot of company because their families did not live close by. I come from a family of six children; 4 of us who lived fairly close by and visited all the time.

Ironically enough, most of the residents were women. Mom and I decided to form a Red Hat group at the facility. She was the Queen and I was her right hand. I received a generous donation from the company that I work for and used it to pay for the membership as well as buy several red hats, some ribbon, & assorted red & purple flowers. I then decorated the hats with the flowers and ribbon to give to the members as they were signed up. We signed up quite a few ladies, although some were hesitant at first and didn't really know what the Red Hatters were all about. I'll talk more about our group - The Red Hot Mama's in a future blog posting.

This particular year, we decided to have our own parade right in the circular drive in front of the assisted living building as most of the ladies hadn't been to a parade in many years. We purchased flags for the ladies and some decorations. We decorated many wheelchairs, walkers, and canes in red, white, & blue streamers. I enlisted two of my brothers and their wives and small children to participate in our parade. They decorated the children's wagons and bikes and gave them balloons and flags to carry. Any of the Red Hatters that wanted or could participate did. Some were pushed in their wheelchairs and a couple of them walked with their walkers. They wore their red hats and carried the flags with pride. The other ladies lined up on the front porches to participate from the sidelines. My brother John had recorded marching band music, which we had playing from the porch.

The ladies were so thrilled with our homemade parade that we went around the circular drive twice in time to the lively music. We followed it up with an ice cream social in the dining hall for all the residents. It was the highpoint of the weekend for all of them as well as for us!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hydrangea's On The Lam

I have been known to do various craft projects in some unique places - crocheting an afghan or knitting a "to-be felted" purse on a plane flying somewhere over the Atlantic; making jewelry at a picnic table while camping in our favorite place - Cathedral Pines in Eustis, Maine; making bracelets after hours at a dining room table in a hotel in Dachau, Germany with a friend from Finland; a "Mom jewelry workshop" in between matches at a high school wrestling meet at an all-day competition & one other time hand-stitching tea stained snowmen, again at an all-day wrestling meet; and probably the funniest - at my day job during lunch - prepping for grapevine wreath making.

I know that lunchtime at work doesn't sound very funny, but you had to be there. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we were eating our lunch at the picnic table in front of our building! Another "addicted" crafter (like myself) and I were noticing that the hydrangea bush at work was really full with blooms this particular year. We decided that we were going to make up some grapevine wreaths with the lovely blooms but they needed to be dried at least a couple of weeks before using them.

We gathered up as many of the cream & pink flowers in various sizes as we could fit into our arms and headed for the file retention room on the ground floor of our office. After all, you need a dark, undisturbed place to dry the blooms before you can use them. This was the perfect room. Hardly anyone ever went down there, there were no windows, and we would have plenty of room & time for drying our treasures, or so we thought!!

We taped the stem of each flower to the front of the tall two-door cabinets that were all around the room. We must have had over 50 to 60 blooms and were anticipating making a few wreaths. We were chuckling as we taped them up to dry. We thought we were so clever... It just looked so pretty when we got done!! We still left plenty of flowers on the bush because we didn't want it to look stripped clean...

Wouldn't you know it, at the end of the 2nd week, just when the flowers were almost to the point that we could use them, we had one of those impromptu audits by our payroll auditors. They were planning to go over some of the files from the year before and the files that they needed were - (you guessed it) down in the file retention room...

I didn't even know that they had gone down to the file room until my supervisor came into my office later that day and asked if I knew what all those flowers were doing taped to the cabinets. Busted!!! I shared our master plan with him; he laughed, fortunately, and told me to get them out of there - it wasn't a craft room!

Needless to say, I finished drying them at home and the wreaths came out lovely!!!

We Have A Winner!!

Congratulations, jenuinejems for winning my Flag Day giveaway!! The drawing was held a few minutes ago and your name was drawn. I will be sending you the lovely Red, White, & Blue Kumihimo Bracelet to wear in time for the 4th of July. Thank you for following up on my post and checking into my website. I hope you visit often!!

Thank you!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's My Birthday - June 14th - Win A Bracelet!!

June 14th is also known as Flag Day in the USA

If you want to take a chance to win this bracelet, check out my website at and browse thru my jewelry selections.

Go into my blog and tell me which piece is your favorite under the comment section of this posting and make sure to provide either your website or email address.

I will draw a name from all the entries on Monday, June 15th and the lucky winner will receive this lovely bracelet in plenty of time to wear on the 4th of July.

If you want to leave me a heart or follow my blog, that is welcome too!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bring Your Husband To Class Night

My husband is such a good sport. He has put up with my “need to create” for the last 29 years. He is very patient and easy going even though I know that sometimes he doesn’t understand my craving for crafting. He doesn’t say much even though a lot of the time my jewelry making tools and bead stash are sitting on the kitchen counter. I have a day job, so the only time that I can really create jewelry pieces are in the evening or on the weekend. I hate to put everything away and then have to “dig it out” again.

I have a craft room but do you think I use it? I can barely walk into that room. I NEED TO GET ORGANIZED! If I say it often enough, maybe the little craft elves will visit me and clean up my room. I just can’t bear to part with anything - you just never know when you might need it…. I have remnants from many of the craft projects from the past and “potentials” for the future. “It’s a good deal” or “they might run out of it”, is what I find myself saying as I slip the “must have item” into the shopping cart. And if I go into a bead store without a list, it’s all over. I need to have my list with me and I try to stick to the list for the absolutely needed items. And if you’ve been to a bead store recently, you know the feeling – almost hyperventilating, with all the ideas & creativity flowing around you. That’s how my “bead stash” was born!!

I’ve sidetracked from my Blog title…. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, I teach jewelry making at our local high school, Adult Ed program. I really enjoy teaching. The hard part is trying to be creative within a time limit. I usually try to plan in advance which projects we will make in the six week session and have demo’s made up to show the ladies the first night. Things don’t always go as planned.

This last semester, I had all of the projects made up except for the one we were going to do for the first week. I had ordered all of the supplies but didn’t get to make the demo until the Sunday before the Tuesday class. It didn’t look difficult so I figured I’d be okay. We were going to be trying our hand at stamping & texturizing metal – a new technique for all of us!

I had seen a cute free project idea for the pea pod pendant on a copper chain. I drew out a leaf pattern as instructed and traced it on to the back of the copper sheet. I hadn’t purchased any special metal cutters because my husband is in construction and has tin snips, which we thought would work. Problem – you can’t make turns while cutting with tin snips – only straight lines. Here I am rushing to Wal-Mart in hopes that they have something strong enough to cut the copper sheet. Fortunately, they did and we proceeded, or should I say – he proceeded to cut out 16 leaf shapes. Then, he had to drill two holes at each end of the leaf as the instructions required.

The next steps were fun – stamping the words SWEET and PEA on the now trimmed up piece of copper and texturizing it with the special hammer. When I went to bend the leaf shape into a pod, I ran into another problem – I didn’t have the strength to bend the copper. My husband had to use one of his “carpenter tools” to bend the shape in half vertically. My flat nose pliers just weren’t able to do the job. After that, I was able to finish up the pendant on my own – (big deal, there were only a few small steps left). He actually had 3 hours into this project already.

The final problem came to me the night before the class. It dawned on me that if I couldn’t bend the leaf shape into a pod, most of the other ladies in class wouldn’t be able to either. I asked my husband if he would come to class just long enough to bend the copper shapes – now how many husbands would do that? So the next night, he gave me an hour to get everyone to the same point on their pendant and showed up at class for about 15 minutes to take part in MY project (yeah, who are we kidding….). I told the ladies that it was “Bring Your Husband To Class Night”! They got a kick out of his coming to their “Ladies Night Out” and thanked him for coming.

I bought him a Peanut Buster Parfait after class to thank him for all his help (it really didn’t compare but he does like ice cream)!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kumihimo Brings People Together

These beautifully Kumihimo braided necklaces have a tradition dating back over 1200 years. They were used originally by Samurai’s to tie scrolls and clothing. Today they are still used by the Japanese for the narrow belt of the wide obi sash that wraps around traditional kimonos and as jewelry, key rings, and embellishments on clothing and dolls.

I really have enjoyed making these braided necklaces and bracelets. The satin cord comes in so many beautiful colors. The technique is not difficult to learn. I really find them relaxing to make and the stresses of the day are forgotten once I get into the braiding of the cord. They really end up being quite a conversation piece.

The ladies that I teach in my jewelry class might disagree if you ask them about making bracelets using the same technique but using wire instead of the satin cord. In the first semester of the jewelry class that I teach at our local high school adult ed program, we made a satin necklace in the ladies' choice of colors. Some finished them off with a pewter pendant or a beautifully decorated silver tube from Thailand. It was their first introduction to the art of Kumihimo and after the initial trip around the special foam disk, they were feeling pretty comfortable with the braid. They left the class with a brand new piece of jewelry to wear the next day and show off to their friends and be able to say with pride that they had made it themselves!

The second semester, where many of the same ladies had returned for another six-week session, feeling more adventuresome, they had insisted that we make a Kumihimo braided bracelet that I has shown them during the first semester, made out of thin silver or gold filled wire. They started with the same enthusiasm as in the previous semester, but that was short lived.

They discovered that the wire was not as easy to work with as the satin cord had been and there was much sighing & complaining going on for the two hours that we were together. This project also required them to add a glass bead to a certain wire strand in each of the braided sections. This also caused them some grief. This project ended up being a "homework assignment" for most of them and probably won't be something that they run out and make another one of any time soon. I assured them that the next one would go that much faster, but I didn't get any takers.

They weren't totally discouraged, though, because most of them are returning in the fall and have already requested another Kumihimo project; this time another necklace with satin cord but adding beads in the center for a different look. They like the technique but don't want to deviate too much....

Kumihimo was also responsible for the meeting of another crafter from my hometown and the two of us collaborating together on seven necklaces that are on both my and her websites. Her name is Sharon Carpenter and she has a business called Kaleidoscope-Kreations. Her website is She is the designer of beautiful dichroic glass pendants.

Laurie, a previous student of mine, as well as being a good friend, met up with Sharon one day and was admiring her pendants that she had brought to school to show the teachers and staff. Sharon happened to mention that she was struggling with what to put her pendants on to make up as complete necklaces. Laurie knew that I had just finished teaching the class on making Kumihimo cord necklaces and mentioned my name to Sharon, asking her if she knew me.

We had never met before but ironically enough, a week later, we both happened to have tables at the same craft fair. She came over to my table and introduced herself. She asked to see my Kumihimo necklaces and loved the cords and thought that they would be the right size for her pendants. I happened to have materials there to braid with while at the fair (imagine that) and made up a cord that day that we slipped perfectly into one of the bails on her pendant and our first collaborated necklace was created. After that she gave me six other pendants to make necklaces for and they now appear on each of our websites!

I also just finished making Kumihimo bracelets for my niece, who just graduated from high school. She is one of a group of five girls who have been very close friends during their time at high school. Three of them were graduating and going off to parts unknown. They had previously all been on a class trip to Canada for their French class earlier in the year and had really enjoyed themselves. They referred to themselves as "The Canadians".

My sister, Donna, thought it would be a nice idea to give each of them a matching bracelet in the school colors, with a silver Canadian maple leaf charm. On the bracelets of the three that graduated, I put an additional charm with a graduation cap and 2009. Donna gave them to each of the girls after the graduation ceremony; they were thrilled. Even though they will be separated and might go awhile without seeing each other, they just have to wear their bracelet and it will bring memories of their good times to mind.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Bio

I have been making many types of craft projects for most of my life. I have done tole-painting, sewing, knitting, basket making, dried and silk flower arranging, some wood working, and for the last seven years, jewelry making.

I was inspired by my grandmother at a young age because she could make anything. She made the best mittens, the prettiest braided rugs, could knit, sew, made the best Bread and Butter pickles and relish, was a great cook, and made wonderful jewelry pieces. She loved making gifts for her family and friends and was always working on a craft project of some sort. She instilled a love of crafting in me at a very young age and that passion has continued within me ever since!

I absolutely love making jewelry, because it is such a fun, rewarding, and creative outlet. I feel under-dressed if I leave home without some sort of jewelry on. I wear each piece I make with pride, and I want anyone who wears my jewelry to feel the same way too.

My biggest fan and supporter was always my mother, who passed away a little over a year ago. She was the one I went to for her opinion about each new piece and she was always encouraging. She was also the recipient of many "new jewelry items" and she wore them with pride.

I am also blessed to have a very supportive and understanding husband, whom I bug frequently for his input as well as his skills for display building, use of his carpentry tools, or to join me in trips to the jewelry supply store in Freeport. He has become a well recognized customer in that store and he always has a funny comment for them.

I am the mother of three grown children, who have put up with their Mom always doing some type of craft project over the years and have survived!

I started making jewelry about seven years ago and became totally addicted to it. I love the fact that you can make beautiful pieces to match any outfit that you have or, in some cases, buy an outfit to match the jewelry....

I began teaching at Winslow High School Adult Ed about five years ago so that I would have an outlet for all the new techniques that I keep wanting to try and to support my beading addiction... Many of the ladies in my classes are repeat students and have now become as crazy about jewelry making as I am!

I find it so fulfilling to create beautiful keepsakes for people to enjoy day after day at reasonable prices. I also love the challenge of making new pieces with a certain color or theme in mind from requests from new or old customers.

I recently started a joint crafting venture with Sharon Carpenter of Kaleidoscope-Kreations, the designer of beautiful Dichroic glass pendants. I have discovered the wonderful world of Kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique, and have used it to make necklaces with beautiful satin cord, and paired some of them with certain pendants made by Sharon.

Over the last seven years, jewelry making has become my passion and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you!