Archive for January, 2012

January 26, 2012

Get Crafty ~ Word Cloud Art Cards

Last week I posted about how to make World Cloud Art using a simple website. (If you missed it you can see the post here). It was so popular that I wanted to share a new project today using the same idea.

You can easily turn your word cloud art into a tool to create sweet little cards! Today I made tiny little thank you cards to add to my jewelry orders from my Etsy Shop and I think they have a personal feel and gives me the perfect way to add a handwritten note of thanks to my amazing customers!

So easy to do. First just visit Tagxedo to create your word art for any occasion. Right now Valentine’s Day is on everyone’s mind but you could create a get well card, baby shower card, or a personalized thank you card like I’ve done. Save the image to your computer and use your program of choice to insert the image onto your document to create a card.

I would love to hear what else do you create with Word Cloud Art! Leave a comment below to let us know!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

January 26, 2012

Contest ~ Pin And Win!

Are you as addicted to Pinterest as I am? If so then this is the perfect contest for you! (It’s a great one too if you’re just learning about Pinterest)

The rules are simple and the prize is a great one!

~ First, you must be a member of Pinterest. If you’re not a member and you would like to be, then send me a message and I will send you an invitation  to join so you don’t have to wait on their waiting list and you can join in the contest.

~ Second, pin what you love from my Etsy Shop Sea Flower Studios. You must pin atleast one item for entry, but each item pinned is an entry into the contest. You can use the Pin It button you probably have in your toolbar (if you don’t have one in your toolbar see the instructions here how to get one), or you can use the handy “Pin It” button Etsy Provides on each product listing.

~ Leave me a comment here with a link to your Pinterest Account so I can see what you’ve pinned! Also make sure to leave me your email address so I can contact the winner!

~ This contest is open worldwide and ends February 5th, 2012 at Midnight EST. The winner will be announced on my blog and Facebook wall on Monday, February 6th.

What’s the prize? It’s this gorgeous Inverted Round Chainmaille Bracelet valued at $35.00! This was one of my top-selling items at Christmas so I know you will love it. It’s comfortable and will go with absolutely anything in your wardrobe! Good luck!

Win this Inverted Round Chainmaille Bracelet!!!

January 24, 2012

How to Choose the Right Silver

With the recent increases in the cost of gold, silver is more popular than ever. But even the price of silver has gone up drastically in the last year so you want to make sure you’re purchasing the right silver for your needs before you make the investment. And that means whether you’re buying a finished piece of silver jewelry or purchasing silver to create your own handmade jewelry.

I’ve recently started working with silver wire and I wanted to share just a little of what I’ve learned about the variety of silver available!

Large Teardrop Argentium Silver Hoops

Plated Silver ~ Plated silver is a difficult category to generalize because there are so many different variables which can affect the quality. Plated Silver has been around for hundreds of years and it’s often used to offer a lower cost version of a jewelry piece with keeping the same silver look. It’s common to find jewelry findings such as chains, jumprings, clasps, etc. available in plated silver. The different processes of the plating, what material is used as the base and the quality of the silver can all affect the quality of the plating. The process may commonly include using heat and pressure to fuse a thin layer of silver to another metal such as copper or electroplating where electrons are used to create a film of silver.

In my many years making jewelry I have come across some very poor quality silver plated components that easily chip and show the copper underneath. But also I have been lucky enough to find very good quality plated components as well. Some plated silver contains nickel which many people can have reactions to so it’s best to look for nickel free products. I use silver plated jumprings for many of my chainmaille pieces because the cost can be prohibitive for some to purchase the same bracelet in solid sterling silver. The jumprings I use are a high quality 925 Sterling Silver plating over a white brass base and with an anti tarnish coating. Although the colour does darken slightly with wear it is a good quality plate and has years of life in it. If you’re purchasing silver plated jewelry or components just ask a few questions from the maker/seller to find out the quality of the item. I have one of my chainmaille bracelets that I have worn almost daily for over a year and wear it at shows so I can show customers how well it stands up to time. (I find many people actually prefer the look it takes on after time!)

Double Byzantine Chainmaille Bracelet from 925 Sterling Silver Plated Jumprings

Sterling Silver Filled ~ This isn’t a brand new product, but is becoming more common recently with the rising costs of sterling silver. (Gold fill has been popular for several years.) Silver fill is composed of sterling silver on the outer layer with a white brass or copper core. It’s contains 10% sterling silver which is 30 times the amount in plated silver. This product tarnishes, oxidizes and polishes in the same way as sterling silver. From a jewelry makers point of view if you are using silver fill wire you can cut, shape, hammer, solder, texture, tumble and work harden it the same way you would solid sterling silver (you may be able to see the inner copper core at the cut ends). The cost is clearly higher than plated silver but is approximately half the price of solid sterling silver.

Sterling Silver ~ Sterling silver probably the most commonly known and trusted for jewelry. It is made up of 92.5% pure silver (which is why it’s marked with the 925 identifier). The other 7.5% is made from other base metals most often being copper. The copper content is the reason sterling silver tarnishes because when copper is exposed to air the reaction causes oxidation. For jewelry making sterling silver is a versatile metal available in different forms and hardness levels and can be oxidized to give a darker patina. It can be hammered, soldered, cut, shaped, textured, tumbled, fused and work hardened.

925 Sterling Silver Lotus Flower Earrings

Argentium Silver ~ Argentium silver is very similar to sterling in that it contains 92.5% pure silver. The difference is that in the other 7.5% the copper has been replaced by germanium. By replacing the copper the silver is more resistant to fire scaling and does not tarnish. For jewelry making it can be treated in much the same way as sterling silver. It can be cut, hammered, textured, soldered, shaped, fused and tumbled. One difference is that hammered and tumbling doesn’t work harden the silver as it would with sterling. Instead it can be heat hardened in your kitchen oven. Argentium silver is slightly higher priced than sterling silver but some think the resistance to tarnish make it work the extra cost.

Fine Silver ~ Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver. Because it contains no other metals such as copper (as in sterling silver) it is very soft and malleable. It stays soft even after working with because it does not work harden the same way sterling silver does. Fine silver is preferred for fusing because it has a lower melting point so fuses much easier and it doesn’t firescale with heat. It also does not tarnish which makes it a good choice for intricate projects like wire crocheting. Just like sterling, fine silver can be enameled, cut, shaped, hammered, textured, fused and tumbled. Because of its high silver content it is of course more expensive then sterling silver.

Fine Silver Delicate Knotted Ring

Precious Metal Clay (PMC) ~ Precious metal clay is fine silver. It’s a clay like substance that combines precious metal clay particles with an organic binder and water. It can be molded and formed by hand or in molds. It’s then dried and fired in a kiln or with a butane torch to burn away the binder leaving pure silver. After firing PMC can be soldered, tumbled, enameled and polished.

Hope this helps explain the difference between the types of silver so the next time you are purchasing a piece of jewelry or silver materials to design jewelry with you can make your decision with a little more confidence! I would love to know what your favorite type of silver to wear or work with is!

January 18, 2012

Featured Follower ~ Play Me Mama Crafts

It’s time for a Featured Follower! This week I’m so excited to introduce you to Play Me Mama Crafts!

Jennifer is a creative business owner from Toronto. In her Etsy Shop you will find handmade, affordable and Eco-conscious products. As a mother of two she creates child and family friendly products that are often made with re-purposed or organic materials.

She offers a line of dress up cloths for those kids who dream of being a super-hero or a butterfly…or maybe both!

T-Shirt Superhero Cape

 

Silk Wings

 

You will also find her adorable “Got Snot” Cloth Hankies. Who doesn’t need these during cold and flu season. Made from soft organic fabric these will be so much nicer on runny noses then scratchy tissues! And so much more attractive!

 

Cloth Hankie

Cloth Hankie

Check out Play Me Mama Crafts’ Etsy Shop here to see more!

Featured Follower is a regular feature where I feature someone who is following and interacting with me on one of my Blogs (Sea Flower Studios and Handmakers Haven), Facebook Pages (Sea Flower Studios and Handmakers Haven) or Twitter Accounts (Sea Flower Studios and Handmakers Haven). To have a chance to be featured follow me and be sure to leave me comments!

January 16, 2012

Get Crafty ~ Fabric Bento Box Tutorial

I came across Lark Crafts today. It’s a site full of crafty ideas and projects. I just love this cute Bento Box and it makes me wish I had better sewing skills! For the free pattern and full instructions how to make your own visit the site here. Have fun! ♥

 

January 11, 2012

Get Crafty ~ Upcycled Drawer Bulletin Board

I love this great use of an old drawer! So often you see dressers or desks headed to the landfill, but why not rescue a drawer or two for this project! A quick easy project and the perfect way to fulfill that resolution to get organized! Have fun creating! ♥

For more information about this project and other creative bulletin boards visit Better Homes and Gardens.

January 6, 2012

Freebie ~ Create Word Cloud Art with Tagxedo

I came across a blog today that posted about creating Word Cloud Art using the website Tagxedo. We’ve all seen so many versions of word art lately but this is a simple and free way to create your own! You can personalize your list of words, colours, shape and fonts so quick and easy. I decided to test it out and create a little word art for my new little niece and this is what I made in about 15 minutes!

If you want to read some easy to follow instructions and tips head over to Sugarsugar House to see the original post.

I plan to make many more of these great little artworks! Have fun! ♥

 

January 4, 2012

Get Crafty ~ Make Your Own Pencils Tutorial

I saw this today and it’s something I definitely will try! To keep costs down I would imagine you could even use recycled newspaper. For the full tutorial check out the post from Scissors.Paper.Wok here! Have fun! ♥

January 3, 2012

A New Family Favorite…Herb and Apple Bread Pudding Stuffing Bake

The craziness of the holidays are over and it’s time to get back on track. I hope everyone had wonderful holidays full of fun with family and friends!

This year I played host for two Christmas dinners which meant lots of cooking and also gave me the opportunity to try some new recipes along with the traditional family favorites! Christmas Eve was a family dinner with my parents and brothers family for which I cooked my first ever turkey. I’ll be honest, I was more then a little nervous about ruining it or even worse making everyone sick! But I’ll admit it turned out wonderful and was one of my favorite turkey dinners ever! The turkey was much easier then I thought it would be. All I did was rub it with a butter and lemon zest mixture under the skin which made it nice and juicy and I cut up a couple clementines that I stuffed the turkey with. It had a subtle citrus taste and was moist and delicious.

The star of the dinner turned out to be the new family favorite recipe I’m going to share today! I definitely didn’t want to cook the turkey with the stuffing inside (because I’ve heard that can be when you run into trouble with under cooking and food poisoning) so I hunted for a tasty stuffing bake. This recipe is a cross between a stuffing and a bread pudding and is absolutely delicious! Because it’s more then a traditional stuffing I can even see making this to go along side pork tenderloin or a variety of other meat dishes. The original recipe came from Good Housekeeping but I made a couple small adjustments to suit tastes of my family members. Feel free to check out the original recipe here if you would like to use it without my changes. Whether you make this as part of a Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner or just for a regular dinner I’m sure you’ll love it! I know this will become a staple of any Holiday dinners in my family! Enjoy! ♥

 

Herb and Apple Bread Pudding Stuffing Bake

8 cups bread (such as multi-grain calabrese loaf) crusts removed and cut into ¾ inch cubes

¼ cup unsalted butter

3 ounces pancetta, cut into ½ cubes

2 cups (1 large) sweet onion

1 ½ cups (about 3 large stalks) chopped celery

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped into large cubes

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Salt and Pepper

½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

5 extra large eggs

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups (8 ounces) freshly grated gruyere cheese

½ to 1 cup toasted pine nuts (or almond slivers) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange bread in single layer on a large cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned, set aside.

White bread toasts, in 12 inch skillet, heat butter on medium-low. Add pancetta; increase heat to medium and cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add onion, celery and apple; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup stock, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Meanwhile in a very large bowl, beat eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 ½ cups gruyere. Add bread, then vegetables mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 30 minutes to allow bread to soak.

Add toasted pine nuts and stir mixture well. Transfer to a 9 x 13 (2.5 to 3 L) casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. (To make ahead assemble bread pudding, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 day before baking).

Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350 F until top is brown and custard is set (when knife inserted in center comes out clean). Serve hot or warm.

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