Monday, June 25, 2012

Bridesmaid's Jewelry Sneak Peek

My wedding draws closer and closer every day! I'm slowly chipping away at the massive to-do list, which includes making the bridesmaid jewelry. I've already done bridesmaid jewelry for four weddings (and I'm still doing it, don't be shy to order! :P), so I want the jewelry for my own to be something really special.

YAY! What could be inside?

Now, as much as I love the Michaels Arts&Crafts Store, I haven't shopped there for jewellery supplies in years. I find shopping online yields cheaper and more unique products. And in bigger quantities. For example, buying a pendant at Michaels is around $5.99 (and on sale, too). Buying a pendant wholesale online, varies from $2 - $4.00, and you get around four pendants.

It's amazing that I can get so many unique craft supplies without ever leaving my house. A bunch of goodies arrived from Hong Kong the other day.

 I still experience childish glee whenever I recieve a package. I especially like packages from different countries, sometimes you find funny things. My supplies were all wrapped up in a sheet of Chinese newspaper.

Inside were some lovely bezels that I will fill with crystal clay for the bridesmaids jewellery!


Now I just have to order that perfect shade of orange to compliment their plum purple dresses. I also have some pretty glass flowers and crystals, but this is just a sneak peek, not an open house!

That's it for today. I had my first bridal shower yesterday and I am wiped. Just wait until my Stag&Doe at the end of this week, then I will be twice as wiped.

Oh, but I should update about my cat. Seeing as he's the star of this blog and everyone reading my posts is really just sifting through all the beads and sparklies to read about the cat.

Blood tests came back all negative! So at least he doesn't have cancer or anything. But we still have no idea what he has. The vet is fairly confident that it's a chronic case of colitis though, so I'm giving Nigel pills. Lots and lots of pills. Twice a day, then every day, then every other day. And if they work, then it will be once a week for the rest of his life. Let's hope they work!

Nigel, hiding by the stairs because he doesn't want to take any pills.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crystal Clay Tutorial

Finally, my long-promised tutorial! I was going to make this tutorial on a necklace, but I'll do that later. Right now I want to make a ring, so that's what you're gonna get! :P

(plus the clay only has a working time of 1 hour, so between me fumbling and trying to get good photos, I should do a small project)

Here's a basic tutorial from about how crystal clay works.

My tutorial will be similar, but I'll also include tips and tricks that I've picked up (aka all my horrible mistakes). Warning: I live on the west side of my house so the lighting in my room is very dim for most of the day. So apologies for the photo quality.

Continue reading to see my tutorial for this ring here:

Step 1: set-up

First of all, you need: a pack of crystal clay (I'll explain why there's two colours later), your components, a beeswax crystal applicator, rubber gloves, and crystal chatons. A package of crystal clay will give you all this and a few crystals (the big pile you see there, I bought extra)

Oh, and I forgot to include it in the photo, but you also need a wet Q-tip. This is very important!

At some point I used the clay (which also acts as a handy glue) to stick the two components together to make the ring. Um... actually I did it the night before to give it time to dry. This is the part from "Art-Attack" where the guy shows you all the stuff, then whips out the final product and your 4-year old self goes HOW DID HE DO THAT?

Step 2: mixing the clay

Using your rubber gloves, tear off equal amounts of each colour. The white stuff is the hardener, the pink stuff is the colour (duh). Once the two are mixed, there's a chemical reaction and in 12 - 24 hours this stuff will harden to a ceramic, rock-hard finish. So have your design planned out in advance.

Mix for about 2 minutes until the colour is even and the marbling is gone. The colour will get all over your gloves.

All ready! At this point I just used my bare hands to roll it into a ball. It will be VERY sticky. If this is a problem, just let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Step 3: pressing the clay into a "bezel"

A bezel is a pendant or component of some sort that has a dish or a pit where you can press something into. Clay, glass, resin, pizza, socks, whatever you want.

So I press my clay into the ring bezel. Start from the middle, press outward slowly. Notice that I tore off some. I ended up with extra. I just used that little bit to glue together another ring. So keep extra bezels or parts ready to use up extra clay. Don't waste!

... Done!

But you see, it's all uneven and my fingerprints are all over it. So just wet your fingertip, using a tap or bowl of water, and smooth it over by rubbing your fingertip over the surface to remove any cracks. I chose to dome the clay slightly.

See how smooth it is now?

- keep a wet rag nearby to wipe off your fingers. Otherwise you'll get the ring all sticky.

- your ring WILL get sticky. Use the wet Q-tip and clean off your ring. Otherwise the stuff will dry and it tacky and gross and h*ll to clean off.

- keep an eye out for any little fluffs or specks of dirt that got mixed in with the clay. Nothing is more annoying than putting all your crystals in, then seeing a dark fluff and digging it all out.

Step 4: adding crystals!

This is the fun part. I add shells, pearls, and metal charms too but that's a tutorial for another day.

Using your beeswax applicator, carefully pick up crystals one at a time and press them into the clay.

my little sister helped me take this picture. Sometimes I wish I had a third arm.

hurray! One lonely crystal later...

Put in as many crystals as you like! I like filling up the whole space. Make sure you press them in good, otherwise they will slowly pop out a bit. Push them back in periodically. You don't want to come back to your cured project and see the crystals have popped half-way out. Then your clay is dry and you can't do anything about it.

Aaaand you're all done! Ta-da.


Using a wet fingertip, smooth over the clay again and make sure the crystals are secure.

Now just leave it in a safe place and it will fully cure/dry in 12 - 24 hours! I'd suggest a bowl, and then seran-wrap the top to keep any dust from getting on it.

After that, give it a good polish with a cloth and it's ready.

Hope you enjoyed this rather wordy tutorial!

Oh, and this is what I made with that bit of extra clay. Cute!

PS: one more tip. If you are stupidly clumsy like me and like spilling crystals onto the floor (especially a carpet floor), keep a flashlight handy. Shine it on the floor and you should be able to see any tiny sparklies that you have dropped.

Update: Add me on Pinterest for more tutorials and updates!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Short Updates

Again, I've been very busy with the Stag&Doe.... there are now over 43 raffle prizes, and 3 door prizes.

AND, Nigel's blood test results are in! I just have to call the vet tomorrow and hopefully they'll have figured out what's the matter with the poor guy. I reallllly hope he's diagnosed soon. Half the frustration is partly due to not knowing what he has.

I'm going to post a tutorial on Crystal Clay soon. People keep on asking me how I do it, or thinking that I buy the pendants (a wonderful compliment! I like it when my pieces look professional).

Soooo I might as well show people how I made them! I'm thinking I should type up a thing and put it with the jewellery at craft shows, just so people know that I made them.

I'll post the tutorial tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Now it's back to the endless emails, phone calls, wrapping stuff, making stuff... all the fun stuff that comes with a wedding and stag&doe.

Just to tide you over 'til then...

Some crystal clay pendants I made:

I'll be posting tutorials about these soon. I especially like that middle one, the process was pretty cool.

Until then, cheers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I spoil my cat

Just a quick update, as I am VERY busy planning my Stag&Doe on June 30th.

HAVE YOU BOUGHT YOUR TICKET YET? :) There's a new BBQ and Keurig coffeemaker that just might have your name on it! And over 40 raffle prizes to be won.


I had time to be crafty today, so I sewed Nigel a cat-bed. I stuffed the bottom so it's like a pillow. I meant to make a flap to put a hot water bottle in, but that would be pushing me over the line between I-love-my-cat, and I-am-crazy.

Actually, I've been making lots of fabric boxes, only the ones Nigel were claiming were way too small for him so I took pity and made him his own. Not that this will stop him from trying to climb into the other ones...

He went right to sleep in it. Cat-approved!
I can has hot water bottle?

Oh, and here are some Crystal Clay goodies I have made. Once I put some chains on them, you'll be able to buy them at the Stag&Doe!

Yes, yes, I have to post a tutorial on this. I'm still trying to figure out how to take pictures of myself while crafting. I need a crafting assistant.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Crystal Clay

Soooo I caved in and sampled a new mixed media trend in jewellery-making.

Crystal Clay! Also known as Apoxie clay, or Epoxy clay, or DeCore Clay, depending on the brand. I tried to get the best deal. For example, a pack of DeCore Clay will give you 20g of clay for $10. A pack of Crystal Clay which is $15, will give you 50g, AND gloves, a beeswax crystal applicator, and a little pile of tiny swarovski crystals.

Alas, I was so excited to try the clay that I did not take in-progress photos (you only have a working time of 1 hour with this clay before it hardens). But when my next order of clay comes in next week, I will post a tutorial.

But basically, you get the coloured clay and a white-coloured hardener, and you mix them both together until the colour is even. Then you press the clay into a "bezel" (a pendant with a hollow in it to hold the clay), then press crystals into the bezel. The piece will cure in 12 - 24 hours and have a rock-hard finish. You can then glaze, varnish, paint, or drill it!

My first attempt was very basic and ended up like this:

As you can see, it's a very basic and boring design and I didn't space the crystals evenly.

 My second attempt worked out a bit better, and I got this pendant:

You will not believe how sparkly this is in person! Unbelievable.

I had some extra clay so I made this cute pendant for my little sister:

I actually didn't rub the surface with water prior to letting it cure. You can tell the difference!

Finally I made a matching set for the pendant:

All in all, I found Crystal Clay to be very fun! I still have a LOT of clay left in this colour to make projects, so the clay itself is not expensive and goes a long way. The real price is in the crystals.

I saw some glazed pieces at a craft show today, and I'm afraid it made the piece look overly shiny, in a plastic way, and tacky. If anyone out there has some better examples, throw me a line.

People have done some pretty amazing things with this clay, beyond the simple "stick crystals into clay" method. Like mixing in glitter, metal beads, painting it and stamping it. So hopefully my next examples will be a bit more creative. :)

Until next time!