I really loveInstagram. I love posting random pictures, and I really love seeing the random pictures other people share. There are a lot of talented artists putting their work out on IG for the world to see and I love it! (Evidently, this is also happening on Pinterest. I thought Pinterest was just for sharing party decor tips and recipes, but my friend Jane told me otherwise. I haven’t checked it out yet because the one thing I don’t need is another social media distraction.)
Last night, two San Francisco artists I follow posted on Instagram, inviting people to a fun event going on at their local dive bar, the El Rio. It was called “social sketch”. Doesn’t that sound super cool? They went to the bar and broke all their gear out onto a big table and a group of them made art. How awesome is that? I do not like to use the word “jealous” because its meaning is negative, but I so wished that I lived somewhere where that was a thing. That sounds like a fabulous way to spend an evening.
When my sister and I had our art & craft studio, my favorite part was the workshops. I am very keen on getting together with fellow makers and artists to play. I doubt I will ever have a studio like that again, but one of my goals is to start a salon of sorts where my cohorts and I can get creative.
Do you have a favorite place where you can get together with fellow makers and artists? Please share in the comments!
I am a fantastic employee. I really am, or at least I was until I started working for myself. At my old job, there were very clear goals and a defined structure. In my new “job”, I bounce around from task to task, not ever really sure what my priority should be. Making jewelry? Blogging? Marketing? It is exhausting.
One thing is for sure, I am not going to get far without some sort of blueprint. This week I have been taking steps to truly turn my passion into a business, because so far it’s been pretty much a hobby. It is time to treat it like a real business.
And so, I am sharing this with you and the whole wide world. My goal is to get my business on track and running like a real honest to goodness business, even though that stuff is really boring and hard. Just like everything else, though, it will get easier as I get better at it.
If you are interested in going from busy to happy, click here to check out this new 21-day productivity mission put together by April Bowles-Olin and Mayi Carles, the superstars of Connecting The Gaps. It sounds like so much fun, you probably won’t even notice that you are learning and developing good habits. Like when you put zucchini in your kids mac n cheese so they don’t know they’re eating vegetables. Sneaky.
Have you ever wanted to try 2-part resin? Let me show you exactly how to do it!
Resin is awesome, and will take your game to a higher level, but it can be downright intimidating at first. You are creating a chemical reaction, and it’s a little tricky because it is absolutely imperative that you mix equal parts of resin & hardener or it will not set up right. If it doesn’t set properly, you are basically screwed, there is no salvaging the project. But, if you follow these steps it should greatly increase your chance of success. And we all hate fails, so let’s get going.
The first resin I started playing around with was 2-part epoxy from the 99¢ store. They had this contraption which was basically 2 syringes, one full of resin and one of hardener, and you pushed down the plungers to squirt them out in equal amounts. Kinda cool as long as you don’t accidental squeeze out a huge air bubble and jack up your ratio (I did this). Also this type of resin almost always dries yellow or amber. That would actually work well for some projects, but then the store stopped carrying it so onto Plan B. After some Internet research, I discovered ICE jewelers’ resin, and so that’s what I use now. It’s pretty easy to use & give nice consistent results. I am a big believer in reading the directions first, however there are no instructions on the package. I sort of winged it at first, then I found their website & followed the instructions there. This tutorial is based on the manufacturers’ instructions with some helpful tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Step One: Be very prepared! Resin is messy, sticky and permanent. It becomes unworkable within a few minutes. Once you start, you must keep rolling or abort the mission. Cover your work surface with several layers of paper, wear scroungy clothes, have everything you need within arms reach. Glove up (with nice snug gloves) & tie your hair back.
Step Two: Make sure your area is as dust free as possible and have something clean to cover your project as soon as you finish. Make sure your materials are dust free as well. I have sadly watched dust settle on pieces while I was still working on them. Dust is your #1 enemy when playing with resin. I happen to live in Southern California so there is no escape from dust, I just try to minimize it as best I can. When working on a project that has to be perfect (such as a custom photo bracelet) I always keep the piece covered, even in between steps. Also, doors closed and NO FANS, no matter how hot it gets. I’ve had to do this on days when it was so hot, sweat was literally pooling in my gloves. Try not to sweat onto your project.
Step Three: Have your materials prepped. If you are using paper ephemera or photos, pre-seal with something like Mod Podge or gel medium. Resin will soak into your paper, sometimes in arbitrary spots, and can ruin the whole project. Sometimes it can work to your favor, if it looks nice and antique-y, but why chance it?
Step Four: Everything ready? Let’s go! Glove up before you even touch the resin bottles. Pour equal parts of resin & hardener into your measuring cups. I use disposable portion cups which are readily available & pretty cheap at Smart & Final. They are easy to measure with and give me just the right amount of resin for my projects. If you are molding with resin, you may need to mix more that just 2 ounces. Let the 2 parts settle before mixing to make absolutely sure they are equal. The hardener is less viscous than the resin and will settle faster, and therefore will hit the measuring mark faster. Give the resin a second to settle at the measuring mark before proceeding.
Step Five: Pour the hardener in the mixing cup first and scrape out every bit. The resin is stiffer and stickier, so if you pour it into the measuring cup first it tends to stick to the bottom and makes it that much harder to get it good and blended. Mix carefully but completely for 2 minutes, but try not to get it to bubbly. Bubbles are your #2 enemy when playing with resin. Scrape the bottom and sides to be 100% sure it is well blended. The resin may look milky-ish when you first start stirring, but after mixing for 2 minutes, it will become clear.
Step Six: Let it sit undisturbed and covered for a minute or 2 so that some of the bubbles work themselves out. It will begin to get a little warm. Get psyched to start pouring.
Step Seven:Carefully pour the resin into the mold or bezel of your choice. Get bubbles out by gently blowing on your resined piece through a straw. You can also use resin to seal flat surfaces, as I do with my bracelets. In that case, make sure the resin is evenly coating your piece. You can use a stir stick or paint brush to spread the resin around (use a burner brush, there’s no way you will be able to use it again after this). Immediately cover your work. Also, resin works best when the temperature is above 72º, so if you are doing this on a cold day, you can help the process by putting your work under a desk lamp that gives off some heat. I have a couple of high-watt light bulbs that I use just for this purpose.
That’s it, now just wait 24 hours for your resin to be completely hard and you are golden. Here are some pix of me using resin to make rings and/or magnets from bottle caps. Fun, and so easy you can fill your jewelry box with fancy custom rings. Impressive!
Here is a popular post from back in the day. I have an iPhone now but the process is still the same. In fact, here is a pic I took just the other day…
How to Photograph Jewelry and Other Small Items…
Here are some tips I use for taking great pictures of my bracelets using a regular old point-and-shoot camera. Mine is a Kodak EasyShare I’ve had for probably 10 years –
Use the “close-up” or “macro” setting on your camera. They all have one. On my camera, it’s represented by a little flower icon.
Use natural light! This is probably the most important tip. I happen to have a skylight in my bathroom, so all my photo shoots take place in the shower, but any place where you get indirect natural light works.
No need to buy on of those fancy photo studio deals they sell in catalogs. A plain white piece of paper makes a great back drop. Prop it up against a white back ground like this (I’m using a ream of paper. It’s perfect.) The pros call this a “seamless”, and it eliminates the horizontal line in the background.
Place your item on the paper and get your camera up there real close. If you have shaky hands like me, you may need to brace yourself. Any jiggling while in macro setting will make your pix blurry.
There you have it. Great pix to showcase your beautiful creations!
Just so happens that Marie Forleo’s MarieTVthis week was about “Big Dreams vs Small Dreams”. Spoiler alert: Marie thinks small dreams are just as valuable, and so do I.
My dream was to make a beautiful beaded snake. I had never made one, and had never even seen one before a friend shared a picture on Facebook of a beautifully realistic snake made by fabulous bead artist, Veta Tall. But as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. If you know me or have read this blog before, you know I am a craft fiend. I want to make it all! I wish I could try EVERYTHING, but sadly that is not super realistic because there are like millions of crafts. (Have you seen Pinterest?) There are times, however, like with this snake, that I am so smitten I become obsessed.
I really wanted to make my own snake, and more than that, I wanted to enter it into the San Diego County Fair. Sure, why not? I’d never done bead weaving on this scale before, but I am not the type of person who considers lack of prior experience or knowledge a sufficient reason to not try something. Like my mother taught me, “There’s a first time for everything”, so I set the goal and I figured out what I would need to do to achieve it:
Find a suitable pattern.
Buy the right beads and lots of them.
Learn the bead stitch.
Work it until it was complete.
Enter it into the Fair by the deadline.
There, not so complicated once you break it down. I was excited and proud that I had taken on a new challenge, and had finished what I started. I had put in the effort to make this dream a reality. Sure, it’s not Earth shattering, but it made me feel good, and that’s what dreams should be about anyway.
This Sunday was Father’s Day and my very talented niece was performing at the Fair with her school’s show choir, so we made plans to go and watch her perform. (She even got the honor of singing a solo! We were all SO proud of her.) And, of course, while we were there we would visit the Home and Hobby Show to see my beaded snake on display.
As we were getting ready, a thought popped into my head, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to get an ‘Honorable Mention’ ribbon?” I mentally brushed that aside. “No, Richelle. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Just seeing your work on display is accomplishment enough”. I wasn’t just saying that to myself, that is how I truly felt. So we get to the Fair and meet up with my Mom, sister and niece. Greg and I were starving, and dang if the Fair isn’t the perfect place to satisfy your appetite. I had a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato and Greg had one with pulled pork and mac n cheese. I know that might sound disgusting to some, but it was actually good and the lady at the grilled cheese stand said it was their most popular sandwich. Of course, dessert was the maple donut with bacon sprinkles I have been talking about for a year.
After our brunch, we all headed over to see my entry on display. You could have knocked me over with a feather when we found the display and I realized that my little snake had won a 2nd prize ribbon!! I was beside myself with joy. I honestly never imagined winning! I actually teared up a little, I was that happy. I think winning second place was even better than first because first is a blue ribbon and second is a red ribbon.
Then, check this out, my Mom tells me that they had gone up to see it before Greg and I got there. They sat through our entire meal, never letting on that they already knew I had won a ribbon. Sneaky little devils.
So there you have it. Dream big, dream small, just keep dreaming and when you dream a dream that feels right, work to make it come true. Because it is awesome.
Not to sound cocky, but I am pretty good at most crafts. I am not afraid to try new techniques, in fact my bucket list is basically places I want to go and crafts I want to try.
I suck at plenty of stuff like math, video games, figuring out the right size Tupperware to hold my leftovers, but I am usually pretty good at the craftiness. There are a few key skills I can’t seem to master. Not that I haven’t tried, because heaven knows I have.
Crocheting or knitting – My daughter taught herself to crochet and makes some truly amazing things. Not just hats and scarves but full on amiguri. I have been “taught” to crochet like five or six times. Maybe more. I can crochet a simple chain, but beyond that, I am worthless. And I really want to learn! It just is not in my skill set.
Garment sewing – I love sewing! To me, it’s almost like magic. Take two pieces of fabric and magically make them one! Problem is, I am terrible at measuring. You know the old adage “Measure twice, cut once”? Yeah, well I could measure twelve times and still somehow mess up. My sewing style works much better for stuff that doesn’t need to be precise. I’m pretty good at “hacking” clothes, and love to make quirky rag dolls. I also make oxygen tank covers, which are simple enough that I can make them right every time. I still need a LOT more practice before I try to follow a clothing pattern.
Wood working/building – See above. Not sure what my problem is with measuring. It’s something I have always struggled with. Oh well…I guess there are worse problems.
I still hold out hope that I will some say be able to crochet at least a set of dish rags. I told you about my obsession with red, and it is impossible to find red sponges or dish cloths. Drives me crazy.
So, how about you? Are there any skills you wish you could master but just haven’t yet? Please share in the comments!
I love it when bloggers post lists of things I didn’t know about them. It almost always proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover. In many ways, I am an open book.
But I still have my secrets…
When I was a kid, I hated my name because it was different. I didn’t meet another Richelle until I was in my 30s. It was so annoying that I could never find “personalized” stuff with my name growing up. I am over it, though. I love my name now.
I learned to read when I was four, and my favorite thing to read was the encyclopedia. I still read only non-fiction. I am a knowledge junkie.
Although I am totally the person who walks into a room and cannot remember what I went there for, I have a bizarre memory for certain things, like numbers. I have memorized my social security number, my husbands, my driver’s license, my library card, my 10 digit numerical wi-fi password and my debit card as well as random phone numbers and addresses. I also rarely forget names.
Although my theme decor is kind of goth (my sister calls it “Addams Family) I do NOT like scary movies or gore of any kind.
As well as anxiety/panic issues, I have Fibromyalgia. I never use these as an excuse for self-pity, because I realize how good my life truly is. My favorite aunt lost her only son, my beloved cousin Brandon, in a tragic accident. My plight is nothing compared to that.
I am a total foodie. I love trying new food. That’s probably not a secret, but I bet you didn’t know that I cannot eat the skin of a peach. Even thinking about it makes me gag.
Some people might call me a hoarder, but I like to think of myself as a collector. My current collections include travel bars, Ouija boards, cowboy boots, Alice in Wonderland memorabilia, cookie jars, Vans and pretty much anything black and red . I have over 20 pairs of Vans. Most of them are black or red or both, naturally my faves are red & black plaid.
You already know I love black and red, but did you know that I love all things cherry? My dishes (two different sets, actually), my wallet, of course a bunch of handbags, the curtains in the Tiny Trailer, and my favorite, a complete set of luggage. Just to name a few.
I love animals. When I was a little kid, I considered becoming a vet, but reconsidered when I realized what that entails. I have had some strange pets over the years, like snakes, tarantulas and my precious Sphinx cats. Right now we have 2 Boston terriers, three chickens (one ‘regular’, one Silkie and one Showgirl) and Frank, our Sulcata tortoise. If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know this.
I am obsessed with Hello Kitty. Probably more than a 48-year-old woman should be, but hey I’m only like 20-something on the inside. Did you know that according to her back story, Hello Kitty’s name is Kitty White and that she lives in London?
In my shop I sell jewelry, but I also make and sell oxygen tank covers. When my dad Bob became dependent on oxygen after losing a lung to cancer (see #5), he hated lugging that hideous tank around so I started making them for him, and then for others too.
I met my husband, Greg, at work when I was 18. We have worked together for about 25 years all told, at three different places. We have been married since 1987.
I have a strange aversion to the color blue. No idea why. I had to change the graphic for the blog hop from blue to red. I do not allow blue items to be displayed in my house, never write in blue ink and basically don’t use blue products. I have the world’s greatest organizing binder, but it is blue and I cannot bring myself to use it. I tried several times before I finally just had to get rid of it because I knew it would never happen.
Alright, so now you know my deepest, darkest secrets. Just kidding, there are so many more that you will never know. I am a Scorpio, after all.
An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery.
Reading my myriad emails one day, I saw that PhotoJoJo was promoting a contest to win a fancy camera. I personally only use my iPhone to take pictures (and, up until April 2013, my Motorola Razr!) but my husband is a photographerand he’s always saying he needs another camera, so I entered. The contest was run by Snapknot, a blog for photographers, and of course, to enter you needed to sign up for their newsletter. This was not a problem for me, being a serial newsletter subscriber. I figured I could just as easily ignore their newsletter as I could the dozen others that pour into my inbox.
One day, though, Snapknot promoted a free online class for photographers, maybe it was for Photoshop, I can’t remember, but being a knowledge junkie I clicked the link and ended up at the creativeLIVE home page.
It may as well have been Heaven.
Free classes for creatives? Five channels? Every Day? Yes, please! I immediately created an account and started RSVPing for classes. My first was “The Art of Selling What You Make” by the ultra fab Tara Gentile. After that, I was hooked. I watch creativeLIVE just about every day now.
So, a couple months back, I was checking out the calendar and saw a new class listed, April’s class for bloggers. Of course I RSVP’d. Then, for some reason, I decided to take the next step and apply to be in the audience. I do stuff like that sometimes. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would actually be chosen so imagine my shock when I got the email from producer Kate welcoming me to the studio audience. I instantly panicked. Side note, I have suffered from anxiety for a while, but this past year it has ramped up to pretty much full-blown panic disorder and mild agoraphobia. So I was all sorts of stressed out, which I blogged about here. But, I love living life and collecting experiences, so I just knew this was something I had to do, whatever it took.
I worked out all the details, made the plans and traveled with my husband from San Diego to San Francisco so I could be a part of the adventure. I am so glad I did. Besides the amazing information, instruction and encouragement that April graciously shared with us, I got so much more out of it. I built relationships. Working from home, I felt very isolated at times. I didn’t have the “tribe” that my mentors spoke of. That all changed with this workshop. I met some truly amazing ladies; my fellow front row participants and April, all the wonderful people at creativeLIVE, and the fantastic community that was built from the vast online audience. I found my tribe and it rocks.
The greatest takeaway from April’s workshop is the relationships. They are vital to creating a successful blog and a successful business. In particular, the friendship with the simply marvelous Jane Dolan. We became “accountability partners” after meeting at the workshop and it has made a huge difference for me. I need to be kept accountable and Jane is the perfect partner. Not too hardcore, not too laid back, and I don’t want to let her down. We click. If you are struggling with keeping on task, I highly recommend getting a compatible partner to help you stay accountable.
And my friend Kimberly, shown here wigging out with April at a CL wrap party.
I’ve also kept in touch with Sage Grayson and her wonderful blog, Shasta on Twitter and Instagram and Jennifer‘s blog. I try not to be a creepy stalker and “like” everything they put out, but they are all really good at what they do.
So, when I say that entering that contest changed my life, I am not being hyperbolic. My life changed. I have learned so much from creativeLIVE and from April’s class, and a lot of it was stuff I learned about myself.
When in San Francisco, we almost always stay at the same place: a charming, fleabag motel called the Royal Pacific Motor Inn. It is the definition of divey (Sorry, RP!) but it’s clean and affordable but best of all is its cherry location, smack dab on Broadway where Chinatown rubs up against North Beach. We get a King Balcony room overlooking the human zoo that is Broadway. On of my absolute favorite experiences there was the two nights we stayed after ten days of camping at Yosemite. The juxtaposition from the peaceful wilderness to the manic urban jungle was bracing.
Staying in the same place every visit allows us to live like locals. We have “our places” We start our day with coffee and pastries at Stella Pastry & Cafe (world’s best cheese danish), always get a cheesesteak from Buster’s (world’s best cheesesteak), and we used to go to O’Reilly’s Irish Pub for after-dinner pints of Guinness. I say used to because O’Reilly’s recently, suddenly, unexpectedly closed.
It is not uncommon to see businesses shut down when wandering the streets of San Francisco. It is an expensive city, and there is lots of competition for restaurants. But when I see a well established business, like Caesar’s, Steps of Rome and Sam Wo it is shocking and sad. O’Reilly’s had occupied it’s spot on Greene Street for over 20 years, it was always bustling when we were there and it had a prime location half a block away from America’s longest running show “Beach Blanket Babylon”.
How could O”Reilly’s close? Maybe they will open again, as the owner hopes to do. Maybe not. I suppose we shall see…
I’ve been itching to paint. It’s a nagging urge that I haven’t been able to satisfy because of my hectic schedule, kind of like when you are so hungry your stomach growls but you just can’t eat whatever reason, maybe you’re in class or driving home from work or waiting for your turn at the DMV. I finally put the painting in my schedule and told my accountability partner about it, told her to hold me to it. The next question was “What should I paint?” Upon hearing of O’Reilly’s closing I knew. This will be my painting. Hold me to it.