You can bead more than just jewelry

October 21, 2008

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You’re a beading diva, totally into what you are doing and loving every minute of it. The problem is your swimming in all the jewelry you’ve made. You’ve got necklaces, bracelets and earrings up the ying yang. And not only are you up to your neck in jewelry, your friend’s jewelry boxes are full too. Don’t think that you have to quit though. There are so many other things that you can create with beads.

Accessories You can take your old belts, handbags and hair accessories and breathe new life into them by adding some embellishment. You can even make a handbag or belt entirely out of beads. If you need an evening bag to hit the town with use some crystal beads, metallic beads or gems to add to the bag. To jazz up a belt take smaller beads that have an ethnic flair to them. As for hair accessories you can make barrettes, headbands or bands out of beads using elastic. You can also take a plain band and hot glue some beads to it to spice it up a little.

Beaded Basketweave Crocheted Belt
Creative Commons License photo credit: picable

Fabric and paper art You can create your own unique masterpiece by grabbing a piece of elegant paper, silk or other fabric and a needle and thread and just sit down and go to town. If you feel like you can’t create something without a design or pattern you can always look online to find one.

Home accessories You can use beads to add some pizzaz to things you have laying around your house that have been there for awhile and need a new look to them. You can add beads to things like cabinet knobs, candle holders, vases and baskets. It’s easy and quick too. All you need is a hot glue gun and some crystal beads or a collection of gems. Napkin holders can be made entirely out of beads or decorated with them. If you have some glass beads those will work perfectly on picture frames.

A little South Africa
Creative Commons License photo credit: sara.atkins

Holiday decorations How about adding a unique touch to your holiday tree? You can create snowmen, snowflakes, angels, stars, Santa Claus and more out of beads. Once you’ve created them you can add them to your tree. You can even make Valentine’s Day gifts out of beads. You can create many different holiday type decorations out of beads.

Create real, usable pieces or art.  You can add your own unique flair to a lamp by adding some beads or crystals. You can also adorn candle holders and cases with beads to create a different look.

It’s amazing what you can create with beads once you think other things besides jewelry. All you need is your favorite beads, your glue gun, some non jewelry items, your imagination and you’ll be surprised the works of art you begin creating. Have fun with it.

Easy Soap Making Tips

October 13, 2008

Soap making is not only a fun way to spend your time but it’s also a way to tap you’re your creative side. You can get creative and make a product that is usable. Often time’s people start making soap as a hobby only to turn it into a business eventually.

Creative Commons License photo credit: savor_soaps

Here’s how to get started.

You need to look at soap making from a couple different angles. The first angle is a simple strategy of using natural soap or unscented soap, melt it down, add your own ingredients and make it your own. If you choose to go this route you will need some basic supplies. Those supplies include:

•    Colorless bars of natural or fragrance free soap
•    Essential oils of your choice – these will scent your soap.  Choose scents wisely.  Lavender is a calming scent, citrus or mint invigorates.
•    Food coloring
•    Vitamin E oil
•    Blender
•    Soap molds
•    Double Boiler
•    Wax or parchment paper

Once you have the supplies you’ll need grate the soap in a blender and then use a double boiler to melt it down. Add oils and coloring to it to suit your preference. You can really do whatever you like. If you want to add glitter, go for it. If you want to add some toys, you can. Do whatever you feel led to do to create your own personal touch. After you’ve added whatever it is you are going to add, it’s time to add the water. Add water until the soap is thin enough to pour into a mold. The mold will need to sit for at least 48 hours and then you release it onto wax paper.

If you decide that you would go the second route when creating soap which is creating it from scratch, it’s a bit more involved but still just as fun. You will need some supplies and those supplies are:

•    1 oz. coloring dye
•    Thermometer
•    1 lb. coconut oil
•    1 lb. olive oil
•    3 lbs. lard
•    11.2 oz. of lye
•    1.5 oz. fragrance
•    32 oz. water
•    Rubber gloves
•    A stainless steel pot
•    1 plastic container
•    Protective goggles and an apron
•    Thermometer

Using a three to one rotation you are going to add lye to water in a large plastic container. It’s going to be one part lye and three parts water. It’s important that you mix in an open are that is well ventilated and make sure you have goggles on. The mixture will get hot so you have to let it cool before proceeding to the next step.

In a metal pot, place the lard and oils. On the stove, over medium heat warm it until the fat melts. Using your thermometer keep track of the temperature until it reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the lye to the melted oils very slowly to combine. Make sure you continue stirring as the mixture will change consistency. Add your dye and fragrance. Now it’s time to pour into your molds and let sit for 24 hours. Once it’s cooled for 24 hours pop the soap from the molds. Voila you now have bars of soap!

It might take a couple times of trying before you perfect your recipe. Just don’t give up, keep trying and eventually you can try different shapes, textures, fragrances, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to your creativity and making soap.

Books to help you get started:

One of my very favorite candles on Etsy ~ Soy Candle - Handcrafted Ceramic - Key Lime Scent - by MadHattersPottery

soap stall
Creative Commons License photo credit: cype_applejuice

Great picture of a row of handmade soaps

Getting started with beads and findings

October 10, 2008

Have you ever complimented someone on their bracelet, earrings or necklace only to find out they made it themselves? There is some amazing jewelry out there that people have made themselves with beads and wire. If you think you can’t do it yourself, think again. Here are some tips to get you started.

Instead of going out on a whim and purchasing a bunch of beads and getting home and not knowing what you want to do with it, you should consider going to a bead store once you have a project in mind and planned out. Probably the easiest thing to start with is a bracelet.

Purple Passion ~ Available
Creative Commons License photo credit:

A bracelet is a great beginner item to start with. Before you go to the bead store make a list of what you are going to need. A list of supplies you will need to make a simple bracelet include:

•    Elastic Cord
•    Beads Of Your Choice
•    One Bead With Three Holes
•    Scissors

The first thing you need to check is to make sure that the cord will fit through the hole in the beads. Once you’ve strung all the beads on the cord all you need to do to finish it is tie a knot and trim the ends. If you are using what is called a three holed bead the process is going to be a little different. You will have to push the cord through both sides of the bead and then up through the top. Finishing the bracelet off will be the same as above – tie an overhand knot and trim the ends.

Next you can move onto the other types of jewelry – earrings, hemp jewelry and wire jewelry. After you have decided what project you would like to tackle it’s time to head out for the supplies. Sometimes your local bead store won’t carry the items you are looking for. Don’t lose hope, you can probably find what you are looking for online. In the event that you can’t find what you are looking for you can probably find a variation of it at your local bead store.

Let’s say for example the project you want to do calls for a three holed bead and you can’t find any. You could use a two holed bead instead. Finishing it off will be a little different in that you will loop one of the ends of the cord through the end bead and then pull it up through another bead before making your knot. The string will be exposed so you will need to choose a string that matches your beads.

Once you start creating your own beaded jewelry it’s addicting and hard to stop. There are endless bead supplies out there and so many different project ideas. Just remember to start small, plan your projects and make adjustments as you go.

Millefori flowers bracelet
Creative Commons License photo credit: Harbor Area Designs

The amount of beads you can find will get addictive! I’ve been beading and making jewelry for about twenty years now and have a large collection of beads, findings, chains, etc. I love seeing something and being inspired and with luck I’ll have a smiliar bead or whatever it was that drew me to the item - then I can create my own. I am glad to have kept all the beads because they don’t go bad and you can always use them for something!

Here is a quick bracelet I made a couple of years ago ~ I used various beads and memory wire. I love this bracelet! It’s colorful, easy to wear and always brings compliments.

Memory Wire Bracelet

Teach Kids to Crochet or Knit

October 7, 2008

Teaching your children to crochet or knit may seem like a tall order to fill but these two crafts are not only fun to teach them but they also teach your child how to focus, set goals and accomplishments. They’ll also learn how to design plan and follow through! I taught my daughter how to crochet last summer. She caught on quickly and wants to crochet scarves for her friends and clothes for her dolls. I have yet to learn how to knit but once I do, I will teach her that as well.

Crocheted Hook Caddy 1
Creative Commons License photo credit: Crafts By AP

If you have a younger child crocheting is the best place to start. In crocheting you only use a single needle so children as young as four can be taught this craft. Here are some required supplies:

• Size J hook
• Favorite color worsted weight yarn.
• Beginner pattern.

You can find hooks in different varieties, from plastic to metal. Smaller hands will probably have better luck using a lighter weight hook. Teaching a child to crochet will work best if you can use a couch so you can be sitting side by side. Make sure that you turn the TV off so that it’s not a distraction to the child. Something important that you need to keep in mind is pay attention to what directions you pick up because they will vary for left handed and right handed people!

Patterns for a beginner are usually placemats or blankets. You want to start small and you should be prepared for frustration. Start small and set a time limit or create a goal. For example, start with a 4X4 square, this will allow them to feel like they’ve accomplished something when they finish.

Before you start you should make your yarn skein into a ball, learn a few knots, practice them and master them.


Knitting can also be a great way to teach children not only a craft but it also teaches them discipline, focus and gives them a sense of accomplishment. This is also a great distraction to pull your children away from video games, the computer or the TV.

• Knitting supplies:
• Size ten knitting needles
• Yarn, preferably wool
• A knitting pattern or project

A beginning knitter will need to start with an easy pattern such as a hat, a scarf or a potholder. Like crocheting you will need to start somewhere comfortable, such as a couch so you can sit side by side. It could also be beneficial to have your child sit in your lap. This will allow them to emulate your hand motions

Small hands will be able to work more effectively with larger needles that are lightweight. Also, choose needles that don’t have sharp pointed tips but rather rounded tips.

You will need to exercise a certain amount of patience when it comes to teaching your children to knit or crochet. Frustration will often come out when small hands find it difficult to master knots. If you become frustrated your child will too. Not only will you be spending quality time with your child and bonding with them, you will teach them how to experience the joy of crafting and the joy of creating something with their own hands.

Use Everyday Stuff for Great Crafts

October 3, 2008

Everyday Stuff = Great Crafts

Do you remember how imaginative you were as a child? How you could pick the simplest things up and turn them into some sort of artwork. Imagination is one of the great things about children. Take the three R’s – recycle, reuse and reduce and put them together with a child’s imagination and they will have loads of fun. Here are some ideas to help get them started.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Orin Optiglot

Use recycled cardboard tubes to make crafts with your kids

Plastic Pop Bottles:

Butterflies – The size of your pop bottle will determine what size butterfly stencil you need. For a large bottle (2 liter size) a four inch square butterfly stencil is a good size. For a smaller bottle (12 ounce size) a two inch square stencil will work best. Trace the butterfly stencil onto the bottle and then cut it out. You can pierce the center of the cut out butterfly with a needle and then hang them either inside or outside.

Ocean in a Bottle – For this project you will find that smaller bottles work best, the 12 ounce bottles are perfect for this project. Start with non toxic oil like canola oil and fill half the bottle with it. The other half of the bottle gets filled with water. Now you can add glitter, food coloring, lightweight plastic items and even confetti in the shape of your child’s favorite animal. Once you have everything added make sure to place the cap on and recap tightly.

Cardboard Tubes:

If you find yourself stuck in the house on a rainy afternoon, have some fun with rainsticks. Here are a list of supplies you will need:

• Masking tape

• Paper towel tubes
• Tempera pain
• Elmer’s glue or other white craft glue
• Rice, lentils, or other small beans

Follow the directions below to create your rainstick:

1. Paint the tube and allow to dry
2. Poke toothpick sized holes into tube
3. Cover one end of tube with tape
4. Place handful of rice or beans into tube
5. Cover other end of tube with tape

You can now let your child play with their rainstick. Make a couple different ones, using different materials. You’ll notice that different materials make different sounds.

All you have to do is take a good look around the house and you will surely be able to find items that can be used to create a masterpiece. Think about egg cartons the next time you use all the eggs up and go to throw it away. Save it instead and you can craft some tulips or bells. What about tin foil? Did you know that you can wash it and make picture frames? Instead of wasting old newspaper create some paper mache. Baby food jars can be used to make luminaries and snow globes. Use tin cans as planters for starting seeds.

Make sure that you let your children use their imagination to come up with their own ideas. You might be surprised what they come up with. Maybe they’ll turn a paper grocery bag into their very own suit of armor. You never know but it’s important to allow them to use their imagination and creative thinking skills.

45 Re-Crafting Projects

Creative Ways to Arrange Silk Flowers

September 30, 2008

If you like the look that flowers add to your home but don’t like the fact that real ones die so quickly silk flowers are a great route to go. You don’t have to worry about silk flowers dying, fading or keeping up with them maintenance wise. You can have the warmth of real flowers with no hassle by using silk ones.

Washington, llilies
Creative Commons License photo credit: Robert in Toronto

You can find silk flowers just about anywhere, even at a local Target. You can also find them in gift and flower shops. You’ll find more of a selection in your gift or flower shops than you probably will at Target or a store similar to that. Silk flowers come in many different varieties. You can find a simple daisy or something as elegant as an orchid. No matter what your taste is, you’ll be able to find something that works for you.

To get started making a silk flower arrangement there are a few supplies necessary. They include:

• Floral foam
• Hot glue and hot glue gun (for adhering the foam to the bottom of your vase, basket or container)
• Moss to cover the foam
• U shaped floral pins to adhere the moss to the foam
• If you’re working with a basket as a container, line it with newspaper first so the foam doesn’t fall through the basket weavings.
• Wire clippers

Once you’ve gathered the tools and equipment needed there are a couple simple designs to begin and experiment with.

Triangle arrangements A triangle flower arrangement is probably the most common in floral design. Your flowers will always be taller than they are wide and the final product will resemble a triangle. To begin, start by establishing the width and height with some of your smaller flowers.

The flowers that are larger and have a bigger circumference should be positioned lower. This will create weight and visual focus to the floral arrangement. If you need to fill in space, do so to create the final look you are looking for.

Vertical arrangements When you are creating a vertical arrangement you want to make sure to position your tallest flowers should be three to four times the height of the vase. For example, if you have a vase that is 5 inches tall then your tallest flower needs to be 15 or 20 inches tall. To create the desired effect you are looking for fill in space as needed.

Horizontal arrangements This arrangement will work best with a shallow vase or container. Usually greenery is used to establish the flow of the piece. It should be fairly symmetrical on both sides. Greenery and flowers will be arranged so they droop over the sides while focal flowers are placed in the middle of the arrangement. You will need to fill in the space to create the desired effect. You do not need to add height because this is a horizontal arrangement.

Experts recommend that you follow these rules:

• Keep space between the flowers to avoid an overcrowded effect.
• Use flowers and greenery in all stages of development, from bud to full bloom.
• Gently bend the flowers and open and separate petals and leaves for a more natural look.

If you take proper care of your silk flower arrangement it can last many years. You should use an ozone free aerosol spray cleaner. Not only is this the quickest way to clean a silk flower arrangement it will also help keep the vibrant color.

50 Easy Projects with Silk Flowers & Permanent Botanicals

How to Scale a Knitting Pattern

September 29, 2008

work in progress
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lex in the City

So you found this great knitting pattern, a pullover you know will look great on your sister and a cardigan pattern you love for yourself but the pattern is the wrong size. While most patterns vary in sizes, if you are plus-sized or have unusual proportions finding a pattern that will be a good fit might be a bit difficult at times.  There is a solution - scale it to the right size.

Scaling a knitting pattern to fit is simple in principle, requiring only a swatch, a ruler, and some simple math which is explained below.  It’s important to remember you have to look at all aspects of the pattern when you put it into practice so you get the best fit possible.

Here are the steps to help you scale a knitting pattern:

1)  To resize a pattern correctly, you’ll need to knit a swatch first.  This square piece should consist of twelve rows of twelve stitches.  This is the only way you can take into account the behavior of the yarn when knitted.  Once you’ve completed the swatch, stretch it just enough to straighten the sides, then measure it’s width at the cast-on side.  Once measured, you’ll need to figure out how many stitches per inch you’ve gotten. Do this by dividing the number of stitches by the width.  Say for example your swatch is 4 inches wide; you’d divide 12 by 4 and get 3.

2)  Measure how large you need the piece to be in inches (if that’s the unit you used to measure your swatch, just make sure you use the same unit method).  Multiply that by 3 and you get 96.  That’s how many stitches you’ll need to do to make it the correct size.

You might have to adjust the number depending on the knitting style you’re using.  If you are using a pattern that uses multiple of 4, you will have to round up the next multiple of 4.  In this case, no adjustments are necessary, but say you came up with 94, you would have had to go up to 96.

To get a proper fit, you’ll have to repeat this process for each piece.  Don’t forget to take into account the finished product such as if it is designed to be shaped.  In complex situations such as this one, it’s often easier to simply go ahead and just redraw the entire pattern prior to beginning.

Dishtowel Crafts

September 4, 2008

dish towel
Creative Commons License photo credit: qmnonic

Dishtowels. Okay so you’re thinking dishtowels equal washing and drying dishes. But wait, put a little imagination into it and I’ll bet you can come up with some great crafts to make with them. Let’s get your creative juices flowing with these five. I’ve always loved the crochet dishtowels one can usually find at a local craft fair.

Make something that is decorative and useful for your kitchen.



* Dishtowel
* Small piece of ribbon
* Needle and thread


1. Fold the dishtowel so that it is the size of a standard potholder.

2. Sew around the edges.

3. Sew the ribbon to a corner or side to use for hanging.

Make your little one feel like mommy with her own little apron you’ve made especially for her.

Child’s Apron


* Dishtowel
* Iron
* Needle and thread
* Scissors
* 2 yards of narrow ribbon


1. Place the towel face-down, fold the top corners inward to create an apron shape, and use the iron to crease them.

2. Sew a seam about an inch from the edge of each crease.

3. Using a dowel or pencil, thread the ribbon up through one seam and down through the other. Leave a loop for the child’s head, and knot the ends of the ribbon.

4. Fold the bottom up and sew to make pockets if desired.

Let’s think other family members. Try this dishtowel baby bib for your little one.

Baby Bib


* Dishtowel
* Ribbing
* Needle and thread


1. Cut a hole about 4 inches in diameter in the towel, about one-fourth of the way down.

2. Cut ribbing to fit around the hole, and pin it in place.

3. Sew the ribbing into place.

And who doesn’t like bunnies? You are going to love this dishtowel bunny craft.


* A dishtowel
* Two washcloths
* Some ribbon


1. Lay the dishtowel down wrong side up, and fold it in thirds lengthwise. Then fold it in thirds again.

2. Roll one washcloth from the corner inward, stopping at the center. Do the same with the opposite corner, meeting the other roll in the middle.

3. Fold the top of the dishtowel down one-third of the way. Lay the washcloth inside the fold, grab the ends, and pull them up.

4. Use some ribbon to tie a bow on the washcloth, as close as possible to the dishtowel. Tie another bow on the dishtowel, directly under where the bulge created by the washcloth ends.

5. Roll the other washcloth starting at one side and ending at the other.

6. Slide this washcloth up between the back and front of the dishtowel, keeping it centered. Tie a bow on the dishtowel underneath it.

7. Bring the ends of the second washcloth around to the front and tie with ribbon.

And how about a Tote Bag? Another easy dishtowel project.

Tote Bag


* Dishtowel
* Scissors
* Needle and thread or sewing machine


1. Cut the towel to 14 by 27 inches.

2. Fold the towel in half so that it is wrong side out. Sew from the fold to the top edge on each side.

3. Cut two 2 by 27 inch handles from the excess material. Fold them lengthwise wrong side out and sew the length of the handle. When finished, turn them right side out.

4. Sew one handle to the inside front and one to the inside back of the tote.

So the next time you hear the word dishtowel, don’t think boring, think creative.

Crafting with Duct Tape

June 26, 2008

Duct tape certainly has its practical uses. People use it to adhere posters to the wall, connect the ends of wires or ropes and fix or temporarily fix just about any household crack or repair. Admired globally for its ability to hold just about anything together duct tape has been used to make a variety of um…shall we say unusual items. Here are just a few of the unique things people have crafted with duct tape.

Duct Tape Wallet This is actually a common use of duct tape and duct tape wallets can be bought online in just about any color imaginable. It probably began when someone repaired their wallet with a strip of duct tape. As the wallet wore down, they continued to add duct tape until the entire wallet was covered which likely prompted the thought, “why don’t I just make a wallet out of duct tape” and duct tape history was made. Here the quick instructions on how to do it.

o Ruler
o Scissors
o Duct tape

Measure out a ten and a half inch of duct tape, cut it, and lay it sticky side up. Cut another strip of the same length and place it on top of the first strip sticky side down leaving half of the sticky tape facing up. Fold over the top edge. Flip over the now connected strips and place a third strip sticky side down covering the remaining sticky part of the second strip. Flip the sheet again and continue the process until you have a sheet that is approximately eight and a half inches tall. Trim the edges, fold the wallet in half and tape three of the sides, leaving one long side open to slide your money in. The project can be complete now or you can add spaces for your credit card on the front by creating smaller sheets and simply taping them into the wallet you’ve just created.

the prototype ipod duct tape case
Creative Commons License photo credit: indigotimbre

The instructions aren’t here, but look at this cool duct tape iPod cover! That would be easy enough to make with duct tape, scissors, craft knife and a tape measure.

Duct Tape Skirt Stumped for what to wear to that special event? How about a duct tape skirt? Sure, that shiny metallic tape comes in a variety of colors and is ultra durable. Best of all, if something is spilled on it, it can just be hosed off, patted dry and you can return to the party. To make a skirt out of duct tape you’ll need:

o Fabric tape measure.
o Scissors
o Duct tape

Take your own measurements, hips, waist, and the length of the skirt and write them down. Measure out a strip of tape half the width of your hips, (it’s wise to add an inch or two because duct tape can be trimmed to fit). Lay the strip on a flat surface sticky side up. Cut another piece the same length and lay it on top of the first piece leaving about half of the first piece exposed. Continue layering duct tape strips on top of each other, sticky side up, until you reach the desired length of your skirt.

Once you’ve reached the desired length of your skirt, or a little longer so you have room to trim, begin cutting strips and laying them on top of the sticky sheet you just made. This time lay the strips sticky side down. You’re creating the front side of your skirt. Continue the process until a full sheet has been made. Repeat the process to create the backside of your skirt. Fold a strip of tape over the top and the bottom of the skirt to create an even seam and tape the two sides together. Tape them well. You wouldn’t want to lose your skirt halfway through the night. Cut a slit in the top so you can easily get into your skirt. Tape the slit sides so they don’t fray. You can use sticky back Velcro or a button to fasten the skirt. Voila, you’re ready to hit the town.

These are just two of the many crazy things people make with duct tape. Use your imagination and I’m sure you can come up with more ideas. Have fun!

How To Make A Chocolate Box

June 4, 2008

Here is the latest video published by Holly Endress, my guest on Crafter Cast Show #11. This one is how to make a chocolate box which will hold three pieces of chocolate. Her blog is Inka Dinka Doodle and shows various stamped cards as well as video tutorials.

YouTube Preview Image

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