Category Archives: presents

Season’s Greetings!

Well, my husband is sick and family Christmas time is postponed, so here I am blogging about some little gifts I made for my niece and nephew, respectively.


I think this will fit a six-year-old. Well, I hope so. I made this with a super cheap and crappy set of alphabet stamps I got from a big box craft store with a 50% off coupon, so they were like 8 bucks. Mind you, a good set could run at least 75 dollars or more. I’m not terribly happy with them, but I knew what I was getting into, and they’ll be good for marking things and experimenting, anyway.


My nephew is into sea creatures these days, so I dug around in my Ravelry favorites until I spotted this sweet Little Blue Lobster pattern. I’d have liked to use blue yarn, but I actually don’t have any since I’ve been working on a scrapghan. Fortunately, I did have just the right amount of scrap bulky red with a charming fleck in it–and ah, sadness, I think I got it from my knit night friend who has just moved away as her husband has a new job in Chicago. So he turned out super cute and the pattern was easy, fast, and enjoyable.

And just because I’m too lazy to write a separate post:


Here’s a bracelet I (finally) just finished up. I don’t think I ever talked about it or took progress shots, but I’ve been working on that box clasp since last fall. Actually, I finished that a while ago. I found it easier and more enjoyable than stringing up beads and putting crimps on (I don’t even know how I got the tongue end of the clasp on backwards, but I did on my first attempt.) I might get those little c-shaped crimp covers you put over them and squeeze down with pliers, but we’ll see. Anyway, I’ve had those red creek jasper beads for nearly two years now and I’m glad I finally did this–and I have four beads to spare, so there might be some fun with them in the coming year.

And so it’s not been the best year, but it’s been a creative one, and I can’t complain. See you in January!

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Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, crochet, metals, presents

Teeny tinies!

You might remember that a year ago, I made earrings for my Mom’s birthday. They weren’t huge, but they did look best with those plastic disc earnuts in back to keep them upright.


Well, the size wasn’t really a problem, but the weight was. My mom wore them a few times to be polite, then gave them back. She’s used to small post earrings, so I thought I’d try to make some for her for Christmas. And here they are:

postearringsTiny enough for ya, Ma?

I melted down some scrap to make balls, hammered them a bit flat, with rough, nuggety edges which I like a lot–but my mom probably won’t. Then I stamped them, drilled off just a little divot on the backs with a bur bit like so:

postbacksAccidental trefoil motif courtesy of the honeycomb fire brick I melted these down on.

. . . soldered the posts on, put black max on the designs, and polished the crap out of them. I like both pairs. A lot. And I don’t think my mother will, so maybe I’ll just keep them.

But wait. I remembered something she wanted.

Some time ago, at her request, I ordered her some gold filled earnuts because she’d lost a few of her own over the years. She was using them with her inherited diamond earrings–and by diamond earrings, I mean these tiny 1/8 carat total weight studs that are so small they were in danger of passing through my grandmother’s ear holes and were once mounted on screwback posts until I had them reset (also as  a Christmas present.) Now they’re a little fancier, but my mom really liked how they looked against the flowery earnut back. Could I, she wondered, find a piece like that to use as an optional enhancer, or make one from another pair of backs?



I still had a few pairs in the pack of earnuts* I’d bought, so I trimmed off the two curly parts and cleaned up the edges as best I could. You can see how they’ll look with a stud on the right, there. So, at least I got some kind of jewelry project done for her.

And now class is over until mid-January. I think I’ll spend the time wading through the Land of Unfinished and Forgotten Projects. Can’t wait to see what I finally get off my work bench.


*”Pack of earnuts” really needs to become a common insult.


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Deez Beads!

I’m between classes right now–the new round won’t start until October–so what better time than now to dive back into the ol’ bead stash?

As usual, this is a messy proposition.

beadsetcNot pictured: boxes and boxes of my stash.

This was some really fun, unstructured playtime. When I bought a lot of this stuff, I thought I could make jewelry to sell, but I’ve since realized that the quality just isn’t there. I love me some junk jewelry as much as the next person who grew up in the 80s, but when it’s time to go pro, well . . . not this. In fact, I suspect I’ll be giving most of the beads away to my niece when she’s a little bit older, but until then, at least I feel free to dive in and make whatever comes to mind. Like this, with some “copper” beads and “copper” chain and a copper plated clasp:


That was a relatively quick and easy bonus project; what I really spent a lot of time on was figuring out how to make earrings from some Day of the Dead charms I thought my friend Lupe would love, as she’s a DotD collector. I wanted to incorporate tiny glass flower beads, but not make the whole earring too heavy or crazy. Had a few false starts, but in the end, I think I did pretty well.


I’m just going to mail them to her in a couple weeks as a surprise with some seeds from my garden to hers (she’s a hardcore gardener.)

Tonight, I think I’ll get back into sawing. I’ve got a few riveting projects in mind . . .


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Ha! I did finally muster up the nerve to rivet amethyst beads into the earrings I was working on a couple weeks ago, but first . . . oh crap, I completely forgot my mother-in-law’s birthday is coming up! She likes my stuff; what do I make her?

Well, thanks to my classroom friend Beverly (who you might remember as the nice 85-year-old lady who made broom straw cast pendants with me last winter) I got my hands on a nice dichroic glass cabochon. Beverly makes them, and she had donated quite a few that she couldn’t use or didn’t quite like enough to the classroom. The one I picked out was Just. The. Thing. So pretty, and so fancy all on its own, it called for a simple wire setting. And so:


I regret having forgotten to take progress shots, but I did something quite similar to this old copper ‘n’ glass practice piece from last year:


prongpracticeI’ve recently ground down these prongs and made them a bit nicer, by the way.

For the dichroic pendant, I kept the middle wire long on both ends to create a bottom prong and a top loop (which curls in the opposite direction of what you see in the green glass pendant.) The problem with that was, the stone could slip out the top, so I had to (carefully!) solder a bit of wire up top and make a prong of it. Well, that was cool and all, but I neglected to realize the pendant won’t lay flat with a big old loop on the back. Duh. Something to remember for next time, because this sort of pendant is definitely something I plan to revisit again and again.

Now. Back to those earrings. Boy, was I scared. Especially since Bob told me amethyst is easily shattered and I’d need to be careful.




I actually worked it out, though! And thanks to my trusty new smoothy-smooth steel bench block, I barely messed up the backs of the domes doing it.

And so, here we are at the end. Yay!



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Well, my niece just had her baby, a little girl named Evelyn Anne. I’d been working on-and-off on a sweater for her in a six-months size (approximately) and decided I’d better get it done because it seems a touch small and I’m terrible at baby sizes anyway. Because I still have a lot of Red Heart Unforgettable yarn left, I also threw in a pair of booties in my favorite go-to bootie pattern, Simple Baby Booties by Jessica Felton:


technobootiesIt’s all sort of crazy but she’s a cute baby and I think she could pull off such a vibrant colorway.

In other news, I’ve taken up drawing/sketching/designing again after at least six years of not really doing that at all. Mostly I’m just interested in playing around with color and pattern ideas, and getting into a mindset where I can design my own jewelry instead of picking up a little of this and a little of that from things on Pinterest. I’m not doing anything great (which is beside the point, really) but the cat sure is interested in hanging around.

sketchingwithlaoThis is what you do instead of feeding me?

Other than that, I’ve been making it a point to sit down at my jewelry bench every day. I’m making some rivets and also experimenting with my tube-cutting jig, which makes 45 and 60 degree cuts. Hmm. I found three old silver rings I bought in the 90s; they were always a bit too big and I used to wrap rubber bands around them to keep them on. I cut out a segment of each band and will be soldering them together again–because I can now, and why not get the practice? Otherwise, I’m tempted to just melt them down. They do appear to be solid sterling, but it is true that you never can tell if something you got at the mall or a street fair truly is, so maybe it’s best not to add that metal to any casting I’m about to do.

Cuttlefish casting tonight! I’ve got a pattern all made up, a nice simple one. Let’s hope I’m not total crap at carving, which was never my strong suit.


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Cruel Summer

Well, spring session of my jewelry class wrapped up a couple weeks ago (and I had to miss the last one to go out of town to see family).  I was looking forward to getting an email when summer registration opened, but that never happened, and by the time I looked into it, my teacher’s class was already full.  Balls.

But, I’m over it.  I’ll be renting some studio time next week with Jane to finish up the second attempt of the ring I couldn’t get to work the first time around–

meltyin case you needed to refresh your memory

–and is looking much, much better now.

ovalring1Focus heat on the sheet, not the bezel, and the solder is much less likely to blorp upwards.  Seriously.

I’ll keep working on jewelry projects Monday nights at home for three hours, like it or not.  I also think–finally–I’m going to make good on my promises to learn how to take better pictures and come up with some sort of schedule for that. Two years of crappy photos is far too long.

And in the land of yarn, I’m plugging away at these socks I started on my aforementioned trip out of town:


This is Rye again, with the garter panel modified to a checkerboard kind of thing (five rows of k2 p2, followed by five rows of p2 k2, etc.) The yarn is from my formerly-yarn-hoarding friend, and it’s a nice wool called “Classy,” which is silly, but I like it quite well.

And one more thing . . . a family member saw a Michaels project sheet that her kid really liked, so she asked me to make it. Seemed simple enough, although I don’t use a loom as per the instructions, and I couldn’t find a single craft store in town–Michael’s or no–that carried a small plastic zipper like that.  I did find a red metal one at JoAnn Fabrics eventually, and got to work improvising.

zippermouthThe kid requested three eyes.  I am accommodating.

If I had to do it over, I think I’d just crochet it for a nice square shape, because the 1×1 knit rib is kinda stretchy-distorted.  Then again, maybe crazier is better in this instance.  I think he’ll like it though.  Maybe, if I have time, I’ll even think of little things to put inside before I mail it off.

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Filed under knitting, metals, presents, ring, socks

Ammonia Blue and Other Small Things

So, last week I mentioned I was trying out a patina recipe to get green on copper.  It involved putting sawdust in a plastic cup and adding a mixture of vinegar and ammonia (1:3 ratio). You bury your piece under the sawdust and let it sit for one hour to one day.  Well, three days later, I gave up because nothing happened (except the heat patina from annealing came off).  My guess is, either the red oak sawdust I used was the wrong kind of wood, or the “janitorial strength” ammonia was either too strong or not strong enough for the ratio. I do know this: fuming a piece over ammonia will get you a blue color very quickly, and this mixture stank of ammonia (I had a cut on my finger that would actually burn every time I took the lid off to check it.) So I used a bit of plastic netting from a bag of onions to suspend this leaf over the mixture, covered it, et voila! Blue. Then I sealed it was spray automotive enamel and now I’m done.


Still wish it was green, though.

I’ll be on the lookout for more recipes.  Meanwhile, I’m still practicing wire wrapping.  This cheap, repro Roman coin (which my husband was going to get rid of!) doesn’t look terribly bad in this picture . . .


. . . but there’s some wonk to the wrapping wires.  I guess pressing them against an uneven coin is going to produce an uneven result (who’d have thought? Ha.) Lesson learned:  I need some dowels in larger sizes than what I have.  Maybe I’ll hunt around the house for some things. Also, next time I try this particular wrap, I’ll bind the sides. I’m not going to finish this piece . . . no, wait.  I’ll save it in case I have a new bail idea and I want to do a practice run first.

And finally, here’s something I fold-formed in class this week:


I didn’t get too into this, because I learned about t-folds and their variations last summer, and I had other projects I wanted to do.  But . . . I learned that if you wrap a dowel in the middle of bit of sheet metal, clamp the ends of the sheet into a vise, remove the dowel, and then gently use a mallet to make a “pillow”, you can decorate said pillow by dimpling it with dapping punches. What you see here is the reverse side, which has a strange, alien-intestine look to it. I was thinking of making a pendant with this–not unlike a bolo tie, with a cord on each side, but maybe I’ll wait and make a better one next week. I just pulled back the edges and wrapped them toward the back to see what it would look like; now that I’ve got an idea, surely I could do better.

And finally, I may have learned something about copper solder that will make it look better!  I’ll try it Monday and post results.

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Filed under experiment, metals, presents, wire