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Sunday, November 29, 2009


I had mentioned in a previous post that I had a special order for clear bottles for picture transfer. I wasn't at all happy with the bottles I had originally done, so I went shopping (at the recycle center) and brought home a few more clear bottles (plus a few pretty colored ones-who can resist?!), took extra care in cleaning them and took extra care in smoothing the kiln shelves. I ramped the heat slowly to slumping temperture, watched diligently as they slumped and crash cooled as soon as they were slumped to my specifications. I let them slowly cool the rest of the night and they are absolutely perfect. I'm so excited for my customer! I had to share my success story, since bottle slumping is such a trial and error craft, at least for me. There really is no solid directions for doing this and so many variables, I found that I am on my own. I'm pretty excited.

So, here they are, my perfect bottles. Hopefully a long line of similer ones to come :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I was slumping some bottles tonight and thought I would work on something in the shop since it seems like when I leave that kiln and work in the house, I tend to forget and overcook my bottles. Since I had some wire twisted, I went ahead and made this little number. It is a ornament holder to hold those really special ornaments you don't want the cats/kids/dogs to knock down and break or if you just don't have the room for a tree but want to show off the ornaments you have.

The ornaments I have pictured are pretty special to me. They are antiques that belonged to my sister. A Christmas when she had left home and had no food, tree or decorations. She opened up the door to her aprtment one day to find groceries and these ornaments. That was more than 20 years ago. My sister passed away and I still have her ornaments. I came up with this idea to keep them safe from 4 kids 2 dogs and a cat and still be able to enjoy them. I'll be posting this model in my shop as soon as I have it cleaned and painted.

Working hard

Hi there readers. I have been working hard on a couple special requests for customers and haven't been here to write as I should.

I am making some wine bottles for someone who wants to mount photos behind them. I thought this was a great idea and of course has to be done with clear bottles. What a cute Christmas present for a family member. Anyway, here is one of my bottles with a photo of my daughter behind it.

The bottle I used is a little "overcooked" and I wonder if the bottle looks more like a sloppy piece of glass than a bottle. I may have to do another batch.

The other thing was a request for a tree-like thing that a customer could hang her handmade cards from at craft shows. It's still in its raw stage, but basically, this is what I came up with:

As you can see, I have a lot of cleaning up to do, shaping and sanding etc before primer and paint. The idea is that a short beaded string hang from each "branch" with a hook or clip that she can attach her handmade cards to. people can look at what she has while being displayed really cool. I thought this would be a really neat idea for hanging jewelry from. Maybe painted white
or solid black. How pretty would it be on a dresser draped with pretty necklaces and rings? Oh...I may have another idea for a Christmas present.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday sale

Shop my store this weekend and recive free shipping on every item. Also, prices have been cut on all fall inspired items to make way for the winter holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Uocycled bird feeder

This is a simple and quick gift for the earth concious bird lover in your life.

I found this copper bowl at the recycling center and took it home. I drilled 4 holes around the rim and strung jewelry wire through to hang it. I drilled a drain hole in the bottom and hung an old art deco necklace piece from a wire. I then strung pearls from a upcycled old necklace and voila! A really neat bird feeder! If you don't have jewelry wire, use chain from old necklaces. I recently stuymbled upon a big box filled with broken rosaries at a thrift store. The chains are already beaded for you, so you can just hook them on!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Upcycled candle holder - CraftStylish

Upcycled candle holder - CraftStylish

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Edible Napkin Rings

I love, LOVE getting a brand new set of dishtowels, tea towels or napkins. Its the little things-and my little thing is clean, bright, starchy brand new towels or napkins. I have several family members that feel the same way, and a cozy kitchen basket with new towels and maybe a couple of cookie cutters and little sweet measuring spoons would be adorable. Here is how you can make it special:

First of all, find a nice big seasonal cookie tin leftover from a previous year, or a neat basket--anything that is shallow but roomy and would make a cute base for your project. I have several baskets I got from the thrift store. Sometimes they even give them away because they get a lot of these. Take advantage and be creative! Next, if you can sew, you can buy a yard of white cotton and sew some napkins/tea towels or you can buy them premade. The difference is a few dollars and if your trying to save money-do it yourself is always the better deal.

Now, you can give these plain, or you can decorate. Take an apple or a pear and cut it in half lengthwise. Dab dry with a cotton cloth or paper towel. Make sure to make it as dry as possible so it does not interfere with your paint-yeah! Paint! Acrylic paint is very affordable (a dollar a tube or less) and is permanent. Choose a color and paint the surface of the cut pear/apple. Choose a darker version of the base color and paint the lower edge of the pear/apple to give the illusion of shadow, and stamp straight down and firmly into the corner of the towel. Lift straight up so as not to smudge and you should have a really nice fruit print. You can go in after it is dry with black and pain small black seeds-then, when the paint is completely dry (give them a good 24 hours to be safe) lay an old dishcloth over your painting and iron to help set the paint. If you are doing napkins, you can also do this to plain white place mats to match.

Okay, so you have your napkins/towels and they are adorable. You have your cute basket or tin and its a matter of putting them together-here's where we can make this really special:

Make a simple yeast roll recipe and half it. One half stays plain while ground fennel seeds or poppy seeds are added and mixed with the other half. Roll all dough into long, narrow strips, like snakes. Take one plain and one flavored "snake" and twist together into strands, then make rings.

When they are baked, use your bread "rings" for napkin rings on your fancy new napkins, or you can wrap your bread rings in one of the tea towels and tuck the others around the package. CUTE!

Add a festive bow and a silk poinsettia blossom and you have a really sweet and yummy gift.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday tip for the movie buff

Good Morning!!!

Today I thought I would suggest an cute and easy gift for the movie buffs in your life.

If you are anything like me, a movie is a quick and easy and relatively inexpensive buy for your last minute gifts, but rarely are these ever bought as a main present, but more of a stocking stuffer or a movie in addition is how you can make that one movie a main event that your favorite movie buff will love.

First, dig out that flat cookie tin you got for Christmas a few years ago. You know the ones, everyone gets them, but after the cookies are gone the tin sits around taking up space because it's just too darned nice to throw out. Yeah, that thing. Make sure it is a nice flat one. You are going to spray paint it silver to make it look like a movie reel case. To make it super pretty, sprinkle some fine glitter dust over the top while the paint is still wet. Next, you want to wrap your movie in black paper, then embellish it with a collar, a white triangle for a shirt front and a black bow tie to make the whole case look like an usher's shirt. Its a matter of triangles and a couple of black dots for buttons. Experiment-this is where anyone can be creative.

After the tin is completely dry ( I would wait a good 24 hours) fill it with some home made gourmet pop corn. I love to buy the extra super butter microwave corn, pop it up, sift all the unpopped kernels out (those are never any good) and coat the whole works in white chocolate. YUM!!

Put your creation in the tin, lay your usher's shirt (movie) on top and tie off with a black, wide satin ribbon that you drew silver dashes on the edges to make it look like movie reel. TA DA! A super cute presentation for a super great gift! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday help #2

So, I got this great find for my sister and I wanted to share it with my frugal readers.

My sister always has cold feet in the winter. We are country living folk up here in Wisconsin and my sister lives in a 100-year-old-house with a wood stove in the living room for heat. Needless to say her house is really charming, really rustic and really, really cold. Wool socks are a staple for her but so are good movies on the couch. That being said, when I was walking through the local thrift store the other day, I spied this foot warmer/massager thing. It was not in the package, but it looks brand new and it was only $2.00, so I grabbed it up and started brainstorming as to how I could make this little thing special for Christmas. As you can see, it's just a super soft plush pad with pockets for your feet. It plugs in and there is heat and massage settings on the side.
It's a shame that isn't a pair of slippers right? Man...
Anyway. My sister has a TON of trouble with her feet in general. When she was little she had to wear special shoes because she was pigeon toed, but nothing else was done for her other than shoes, so at the end of the day, her feet hurt. I was thinking of packing the "foot pockets" of this little find with foot soothing stuff. I live for the dollar store and while I'm not the craziest about the actual bath and body lotions, soaps, etc. I do see microfiber towels, bath pillows, and roller massagers on occasion which can be nice for little things like this. I chose a roller foot massager and a pair of cotton hydration socks (you put them over your feet after lotion to keep them soft), a callus remover and some pedicure supplies. I then made her some peppermint foot oil which is sweet almond oil and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. If you do not have the supplies for this, it's okay. This is just a little something I have on hand so it really costs me nothing extra. You can also pick up a small jar of unfragranced Eucerine cream (or any vanishing cream-no fragrance) and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil for a creamier foot lotion without the expense of making your own base.
You can also add a few chocolates, or, since my sister is a movie buff and would be using this for movie nights, I added a DVD and a cute jar with popcorn kernels to pop up.
The whole gift cost me $15.00, but that is because I already had the stuff to make the foot oil and creams (the DVD was $10.00). You can buy some nice foot creams from the store for $2-$5.00 a tube, or you can buy the vanishing cream for $4.00 and the peppermint essential oil for $10.00 (not scented oil-but essential oils that can be used on skin is very expensive). PLEASE do not use scented oils for anything topical. Those are for home fragrance purposes only and are not made for skin. They are much cheaper though, and can be used for an entirely different gift at another time.
Do not be afraid to look outside of the retail circuit for your Christmas giving. There are some beautiful gifts to be found that can be given in little gift baskets with other things, or, with a little refurbishing, can be made into useful new objects. Being a recycle artist, I make things out of found objects all the time. You can check out my website to see what I mean: When I have an unexpected guest drop by during the holidays with a treat for me, I have a few of my wine bottle serving trays made up with cookies or chocolates, cocoa, biscotti or teas (depending on what I know about the guest's tastes) to send with them. It is a nice inexpensive thing to have around, and your guest will be pleasantly surprised that you thought of them too.
Also, know the person you are giving the gift to. All too often I see articles on what to buy the boss, the family doctor, that person in the next cubicle. Seriously? Keep it simple. If you think you HAVE to give the boss something, a nice heartfelt or handmade card is perfectly fine. Your family doctor can get the same with maybe pictures of the kids tucked inside. Otherwise, Christmas is for family and most importantly, the babies. Take the stress out of it and get to know the people your giving to. I guarantee you will be a success, no one will stop talking to you because they aren't happy with the gift, because they love you and they know you put an effort. Remember what Christmas is about. It is most definitely NOT about breaking the bank.

A little holiday help

I thought as a little addition to my blog, a few helpful gift tips might help get you in the spirit this holiday season. If anyone knows how to get through this happiest, but stressful of seasons without spending too much, it would be me. I am a maker and a lot of the time the gifts that I give are made by myself, but that should not stop you from cutting costs without cutting the snaz this season. Here is a good example of a really easy and lovingly made gift:

Home made bread in a bag:

It sounds silly right? but coupled with a bottle of wine or maybe some home made dipping sauce, you have yourself a great gift here. If you can sew, all the better because then you can make the bread bag yourself. I go to the local Wal Mart and buy the fat quarters for $1.00 a piece. I choose 2 contrasting squares and whip up a simple bag. I use the scraps for sewing a simple draw string and voilĂ ! You have a bread bag your friend can reuse over and over again. You can also cut up that blouse that hasn't fit you in years, but has such pretty fabric-oh yes you can! In the age of new, new, new I am a HUGE advocate for a good recycle. It does not make the gift any less special, if anything it's even more.

Now, if you can't sew, do not despair. The local dollar stores have very pretty wine bags that work just as well. During the Christmas seasons they are very festive, though the choice in fabric are not my favorites (velvet and satin) so when you place your bread inside these bags, I would put your bread in a plastic bag first. I only suggest this because velvet and satin are not as easy to clean as cotton.

If your not too keen on that idea, I have another suggestion: Buy a nice big cotton dish towel from the dollar store. and wrap your bread gift on the diagonal. You can even decorate your plain white towel with fabric paint. Use your imagination! You only have 1$ invested so far!

As for the bread, there are a ton of wonderful bread recipes on line that are very doable. Pick something out of the norm and braid it into a pretty log before baking, shape it into a long baguette or keep it a round loaf. Whatever you do keep it out of a bread pan and keep it rustic and hand made. It will add to the charm of your gift.

So, you have your bread, wrapped in your tea towel or tucked into your bread bag. With a cute tag, that could be enough. Like I said though, I'm a maker and I would probably add some dipping sauce, either home made (again, the Google gods know all about home made) or you can buy some for only a couple of dollars from the store. Try to buy some in a glass bottle and if your not in love with the label, with some warm water, a razor blade and some Goo Gone, you can take it right off. Tie a bit of raffia around the top of your bottle with a pretty tag stating what it is and your gift is still sweet as pie. If you have a basket laying around, put everything in there on top of an extra tea towel or 2 and add a couple of tiny glass dipping bowels (again 4 for a $1.00 at the dollar sore) and the most you have just spent for this sweet gift is 5-$6.00. The recipient will LOVE it. She can reuse the towels, basket and bread bag so it will be the gift that keeps on giving.

And you thought you weren't crafty!!! Happy holidays!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Holidays!!!

It's that time of year again. Cold, cold, coldness. The leaves are gone and it's time to get out your roomiest pants because now-for the next 4 months-we eat!

Okay, okay, I know there are the disciplined few out there reading this that can turn up their noses at Halloween garbage, Christmas treats and Valentine chocolates. Oh and lets not forget the New year's drinks. Who knew that something so wonderfully good for you like orange juice can be so violated by a shot of vodka? I wonder if you benefit at all from the juice vitamins, or if your liver waves the white flag regardless of your choices? Well, at any on...

So, it being as cool as it is outside, I am able to really fire up the kiln and mean it in my secluded upstairs studio. It being my only heat source at the time, I enjoy my kiln time these days. Anyway, after a visit to my local dump and a short conversation with whom I have always called "The Dump Dude," I learned that wine is a mighty popular drink here in the woods and after a little glass bin manipulation, I was able to score quite a collection of awesome wine bottles!!!

Some scrubbing here, and scraping there-a little Goo Gone to help finish those pesky labels off, and some sauna time in the kiln-HA! Serving trays! I have daydreams about loading these little beauties up with Christmas cookies and leaving them on the neighbor's door steps, or getting some of those holiday shaped cheese blocks from the creamery, or CHOCOLATES...not that I like know, biscotti and coco is good, or coffee and creamers...sausage and crackers...

The options are ENDLESS!!! Yep, I'm excited. So, here are a couple of pictures so you have an idea of what is going on here:

This one I etched a little snowman enjoying his holiday cheer-you know, tis the season and all...

While I really like the etched stuff, mostly because it's top shelf dishwasher safe, you really can't see the prettiness when you have your snazzy cheese log on there. On the other hand, you have the beaded ones that are really nice, though you have to hand wash :(. I should make some stands for these...

What you see here and more is posted on my website. Feel free to browse :)