1/26/15

Wire: An Addict's Confession



Hello my name is Molly and I am addicted to wire. All types of wire: copper, silver, colored, oxidized, shiny - you name it and I've worked with it and probably have it in my stash.

The new wire colors and tools that have come out in the past few years have made working with wire even more fun and accessible to the masses.  In fact, I made this bracelet with just a few supplies and a fantastic book, Totally Twisted by Kerry Bogert.

Here are the supplies I used:



Prima Bead has other tools to help you expand your wire-working skills:


And one of my favorite wire coiling tools, the Coiling Gizmo.

I hope you have as much fun playing with wire as I do!  For even more wire supplies, check out Prima Bead's selection!

1/22/15

30 Words Thursday: Bloom


When I don't know what the 
future
holds,

When I can't see what's
in front
of me,

That's when I need
to bloom;
to be content

where I am planted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

1/21/15

Feeling Sentimental...


I love teapots. All sorts of them. Old, new, fat, skinny, tall, short - it doesn't matter. I love the graceful lines of their spouts and the feelings they invoke inside me. Growing up, I used to drink tea with my Grandma. Actually, you couldn't really call it tea - mostly milk and sugar with a little Earl Grey mixed in. We would get our tea ready and Grandma would let me sit and drink it in her living room watching TV, and I would feel very grown up and special.

Grandma died a few years ago after nearly 10 years of progressive dementia at the age of 96. It was a strange emotional experience for me. I haven't lived in my hometown since I left for college nearly 30 years ago, and didn't get to see her very often. Yes, I got home to see my family at least once a year, but I didn't see Grandma on a regular basis like they did, and when I did get to see her, most of the time, she didn't recognize me. I guess in my mind, the woman I knew had passed on years before, and her actual death didn't seem as much as a loss to me as it might have otherwise.

A few months after her death as I was getting ready for a show, I finally grouted a teapot I'd glued the pieces to months before. I love how it turned out. I used old English china, along with a lot of other bits and pieces, and it turned out great. The black grout really showed off the bright colors of the beads and glass in the piece, and highlighted the broken china patterns beautifully.

Usually I get a chance to live with my pieces for a while before I sell them, but this time I needed to make sure I had enough mosaics to take with me, so I brought the teapot along. In reality, most of my mosaic sales from that type of show are for commissioned pieces, and I usually don't sell a whole lot of my higher-priced already-made pieces, so I was not expecting it to sell anyway.

Wouldn't you know it - the teapot sold right away. As I was packing it up to give to my customer, I was struck by a sadness that came out of nowhere. I had no idea what had caused it, and that bothered me a little. Later in the day it hit me - not only did I not get to spend time with this piece before selling it, but I realized that when I created it, it had been a love letter to Grandma. Finally I felt it - the loss of a wonderful, amazing woman who had given me a loving place to just be who I was, without apology or affectation, for my entire childhood. My heart filled with love and loss, and I finally grieved.

I miss Grandma, and at that moment I finally let myself feel that loss. I think I'll do another teapot - just for me this time - and have a cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar now and again to remind me of her and the love she gave to me.
______________________________

This post originally appeared on this blog on May 2, 2008.

1/19/15


I have to say that being a Cousin Creative Circle Ambassador is not only an honor, but is a fabulous way to be able to play with some really cool beads and materials!

This set I'm showcasing today is a casual, asymmetrical necklace set in spring colors accented by espresso colored leather and bold silver-toned framed medallions.  

Here is a list of the materials I used:




This is a simple set to make, and will compliment just about any casual friday outfit!  I made two bracelets, just to highlight the versatility of the medallions:




The matching earrings are simple yet impactful:


Don't you just love those green and turquoise glass beads? 

Check back next week for more Cousin/Prima Bead projects!

1/12/15

Rustic Rhinestone Wrap Bracelet Tutorial


Here's a quick, simple bracelet tutorial that will have you making stacks of these little beauties to wear with just about everything in your closet!

Materials Needed (click on the material name for links to supplies):

Tools Needed:
Wire cutters
Needle-nosed pliers

1. Cut a piece of leather that is 2x the size of your wrist.  For example, if you have 7.5" wrists, you will want to cut a 15" piece of leather.

2. Cut a 15" piece of the 20g wire.

3. Fold the leather in half and, using the 15" piece of wire, wrap the folded end, forming a loop, leaving the long end of the wire attached and hanging with 2 leather strands:


4. Cut a length of the rhinestone chain that is 1" shorter than the size of your wrist

5. Keeping the two strands of leather tightly side-by-side, lay the rhinestone chain in the little 'valley' between the leather strands and begin to wrap the wire tightly around the leather strands, between each rhinestone link.

6. Continue wrapping to the end of the rhinestone chain and wrap two times around just the leather strands.

7. Fold the remaining leather in half to form a loop with both strands and continue wrapping the leather, making sure to include all four strands of leather (see picture above).

8. Trim off the excess wire, making sure to tuck in the end and secure it tightly with needle-nosed pliers.

9. Add your clasp and you are ready to go!

Try using other color combinations and make a whole bunch of these!  If you decide to try this tutorial, I would love to see your results, so post them online, comment below with the link, and I'll share your pictures here!

1/7/15

A Blogger Tutorial for Social Media Icons and Bead Table Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you all have recovered from the holiday craziness.  To kick off the new year I decided to redesign my blog with all new colors and a clean-up of all of the clutter in the sidebars.  One thing I really wanted to do was to update the look and colors of my social media icons, and I searched for tutorials on how to do it.  The two best tutorials I found were good, but I still had to do a lot of tweaking to get it to look right, so I thought I'd share what I did to make it work:



How To Add Basic Social Media Icons To Your Blog:

Before you can add the icons to your blog, you need to have your icon pictures  (the little pictures you will be using as buttons for people to click on to go to your social media sites) stored on an online storage site for this to work, so you need to pick one that works for you.  The one I use is Photobucket.  You can do a search for "free social media icons" to find a million and one different kinds and colors.  I found these at A Typical English Home.  (There are other great Blogger tutorials on her site, but the one for installing social media icons on your blog needed a few tweaks for my blog, and is the reason I am writing this tutorial):



- Now you need to upload your individual social media icons to your photo storage site (which for me is Photobucket).   And now that you have uploaded the icons you plan on using, you are ready to add them to your blog!  Here we go:

1.  Go to your Blogger Dashboard and choose the blog you want to work with (I have multiple blogs, so this time I am choosing "Beautifully Broken Me"):


2.  From the "Overview" section, choose "Layout":



3.  From the "Layout" view, choose "Add A Gadget":



4.  Scroll down and choose "HTML/JavaScript":



5.  You should have a window that looks like this:


Now you are ready to enter the HTML code (don't you feel technologically savvy saying that?):

6.  Fill in the "Title" line with whatever you want to call this section (for example, "Where You Can Find Me").  You will notice that I left it blank on mine.

7.  Copy the code below and paste it into the "content" window:

<a href="https://www.facebook.com/your facebook page name"><img src="enter the direct link to your facebook icon picture here" width="40" height="40" /></a>
<a href="https://www.twitter.com/your twitter name"><img src="enter the direct link to your twitter icon picture here" width="40" height="40" /></a>
<a href="http://instagram.com/your instagram name"><img src="enter the direct link to your instagram icon picture here" width="40" height="40" /></a>
<a href="http://pinterest.com/your pinterest name"><img src="enter the direct link to your pinterest icon picture here" width="40" height="40" /></a>
<a href="mailto:enter your email address here"><img src="enter the direct link to your email icon picture here" width="40" height="40" /></a>
You will need to fill in the BOLD areas with your own information, making sure you don't leave spaces.  When adding the direct link to your picture from Photobucket, you can copy that information in the individual picture's page that looks like this (make sure you choose the DIRECT link):



Once you have filled in all of your information, click "Save" and then "view blog" to make sure it looks OK.  If the sizes of the icons need to be tweaked a bit, you just need to change the "width" and "height" sizes to suit your needs.  I have chosen mine to be 40 pixels wide x 40 pixels high, but you may want yours to be smaller or larger.

As I stated above, this is what worked for my blog.  If it doesn't work for yours, or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you with an answer.

____________________________________________________________


In addition to redoing my blog, I'm reorganizing a whole lot of things in my workshop right now, and am posting this BTW picture to shame myself into finishing up:


Yep - that's my workbench, and I can't get anything done until it is picked up, so that's my project for the rest of the day.

Have a very happy Wednesday my friends!

12/12/14

Get Your Doodle On!

If you haven't tried it yet, you need to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and try Zen Doodling.  I have the privilege of having two of my drawings published in Zen Doodle: Oodles of Doodles from Northlight Books, and also of having one of my published drawings, I Have A Purpose featured on the cover of the book, as well as on their blog (here is the link).

Below is the blog post that was originally published on the Create Mixed Media blog on November 24, 2014:

I Have a Purpose
by Molly Alexander
I have a purpose final 500
5¾” × 8½” (15cm × 21.5cm)
Mixed media on ephemera


I Have a Purpose is actually taken from a page in my art journal. I love working with vintage books and dictionary pages because they give instant texture and interest to a design. The word purpose is one of my favorites and just happened to be at the top of this page. I started drawing and filling in patterns, and ended up with the finished piece you see here. I love the freedom I have when I doodle. I’m not a huge rule follower, and this art form allows me to wander freely through my mind as I work through the repetitive design elements of a finished piece.
i have a purpose step 1
1. Glue down an antique dictionary page, leaving the top side without a decoupaged finish. Using a graphite pencil, draw in the main elements of your design. Then, using watercolor pencils and water, fill in your large elements with the color wash of your choice. Allow to dry.
i have a purpose step 2
2. Start filling in the larger elements with your doodle designs using the graphite pencil. Using a fine-point black gel pen, draw over the penciled-in lines.
i have a purpose step 3
3. Continue to fill in your flower parts with doodles until the picture feels finished. Then, using a thicker black gel pen, go over some of the lines, making them thicker than others and filling in backgrounds behind some of the doodled elements.
(This demonstration was previously published in Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles edited by Tonia Jenny, copyright 2014. It is republished here courtesy of CreateMixedMedia.com and North Light Books.)
_________________

Here is a little more information about the book, Zen Doodle: Oodles of Doodles:

Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles

By Tonia Jenny (Editor)

You will love this Zen Doodle book if:
You are a fan of Zentangle®
You want to explore zen doodling techniques for relaxation
You want to find new doodling inspiration
Get your doodle on and find a little Zen at the same time! Explore stunning doodle art from around the world with more than 100 original designs. Enjoy gorgeous patterns brimming with the latest tangles and techniques that will sure to spark your creativity. Discover the stories behind each creative tangle while immersing you in the world of Zen doodle. Then take your tangle to the next level with step-by-step instructions for creating everything from traditional doodles to your favorite tangled art. Don’t wait; order your Zen doodle book for oodles of doodling fun! 

Inside Zen Doodle Oodles of Doodles you will find:
Step-by-step instructions to help you on your doodling journey
100+ Zen doodle art pieces from 49 artists
A gallery of featured artists to learn more about your favorite Zen doodle artists!
This book would be a great Christmas present for the creative people in your life!