Monthly Archives: July 2011

Whimsical Whirled Wire Candle Holders


Sometimes I try a project and it doesn’t work out.  In fact, sometimes it is just a big fail.  Well, these wire candle holders have been frustrating me for the last three weeks!  A friend had received a hanging wire candle holder as a gift and then copied it and given several as gifts.  She had supplies left over from this project and generously passed them on to me.

I am all about getting free craft supplies and I loved how the loops and curlicues of wire looked.  So I pulled out my jewelry pliers and started twisting wire.  Or rather I started putting angles and crimps into wire.  And getting a bit annoyed. The wire was fairly stiff and hard to bend and I felt clumsy and inept.  I asked my friend for some guidance and tips on how to bend wire.  She  gave me different, softer wire.  She suggested wrapping the wire around the barrel of a pen, or a piece of doweling.  She was very encouraging.

Newly inspired I starting bending wire again.  Oh, the soft wire made lovely, fat, round loops and spirals. It was easy enough to bend with my fingers.

However, when I tried to hang the resulting chain and candle holder with glass votive it was so soft that it sagged and straightened out. I was beginning to feel like a not-very-crafty Goldilocks: “This wire it too hard! This wire is too soft!”  One part of me wanted to chuck the whole idea but another part wanted to dominate the wire.

I looked online for information on bending wire.  I saw wire-bending YouTube videos.  I discussed wire properties with a helpful saleswoman at the bead store.  I bought new wire and some nylon-jaw pliers.  I learned about work-hardening wire.  Wire comes in different gauges or thicknesses and in different strengths or degrees of softness or hardness – both of these affect how easy or difficult it is to bend the wire.  I learned that you can make wire harder by drawing it through the flat jaws of nylon-jaw pliers (kind of like a flat-iron for curly hair, but without the heat).  Wire is also hardened with heat and by hammering with a plastic or rawhide hammer.

Once again I worked with the wire.  I curled it, I twisted it and I even tried hammering it and heating it.  The nylon-jaw pliers were wonderful for smoothing crimps out of wire.  They do seem to make soft wire a bit stronger.  I even bought some baby-food so I would have the jar for another variation (the bottle of cream I bought at the Farmer’s Market was like a half-sized milk jug and will look very sweet holding flowers but was too heavy for this project – believe me, I tried that too).

In the end I created some wire candle holders.  I used some gifted and some newly purchased supplies.  I used some tools I had on hand and some I bought for the project. I created a new wire hanger for a pretty blue glass candle holder that had been hanging from a badly formed, bent wire hanger for years.  But, my friends, if you are inspired to craft a hanging wire candle holder, you’re on your own!  If there is one thing I learned is that I’m not the person to give a tutorial on this project.

Thanks for stopping by!



Filed under Crafts

We Have Winners!

Congratulations to Tina in Greenville, South Carolina and Carson in Kirkland, Washington, winners in my second Giveaway! Tina has won the fabulous fused-plastic-bag tote which is above on the left.  Thanks again to my sister Kathleen for sewing this because I wasn’t up to the task.  Carson will be getting the awesome fused-plastic-bag zippered pouch in the photo on the lower right. YAY! If you want another look at the fused-plastic-bag post, just go here.

Thanks to all who participated including Kathleen’s dog, Ruby, who loaned props for some of the photos on the original post.

1 Comment

Filed under Life

I Wasn’t Born Yesterday

As proof to the heading of this post, I offer a class picture from 1965-66, of my kindergarten class at Wade Thomas Elementary School in San Anselmo, California.  That’s me, missing a few teeth, in the upper right.  But I’m just wondering why more people aren’t interested in the free stuff I’m giving away.  That’s right, I have some very cool fused-plastic-bag items (a zippered pouch and a small tote bag), and I am planning on giving them away.

Maybe you meant to comment on this post: Goats and Giveaway Number Two but then you had to walk the dog and just didn’t get back around to it.  Or perhaps you were at a good place in your book and wanted to finish it before you commented. Believe me, I understand!  I just don’t think it was because you aren’t interested in getting cool free stuff!

So why don’t you take a minute or two to take a look back at that post, take another look at those really awesome fused-plastic-bag items and then comment on that post and tell me which one of the June 30 Days of Creativity projects you just might make.  And do it now because tomorrow, June 27, is the deadline.  So walking the dog  can wait a few minutes and you can finish your book after you post your comment.

I am delighted to have you reading my blog and I’d be delighted to send you something for free.  Just because it’s fun and I think you’d like it!  I wasn’t born yesterday, ya know.


Filed under Life

Goats and Giveaway Number Two!

Yes, this is the second time in four months that I’ve held a kid in my arms – kid as in a young goat.  I went over 50 years without holding any and now I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure two times.  Or three, since I held both Otis (above) and his brother Nana yesterday.

Rem and I went to visit a friend and see the newest members to his menagerie, 13-day-old twin baby goats.  We also saw their mama and two other adult goats, one donkey and two llama’s.

It was delightful to see these two kids bouncing around, exploring their world, playing with each other and butting heads with their elders.

They were the very definition of frolic: Play and move about cheerfully, excitedly, or energetically. What a great way to start the weekend!

Now how about another giveaway?

UPDATE: This giveaway is closed and winners have been picked and are being notified.  Thanks to all who participated!

This time I’m going to give a fused-plastic-bag zippered pouch (pictured above) and a fused-plastic-bag tote (pictured below- giveaway is for tote bag only, not the leash, dog treats, water bottle or tennis ball)! I will pick a winner for each item.  Check out my post on making fused-plastic-bag items here.

These items were made as part of my June 30 Days of Creativity project.

Here is how you enter the giveaway: In the comments section of this post, write down what project from the 30 Days of Creativity you might actually make yourself.  If you’ve already tried one (or more), put that too. All of the projects can be found in the archives under June.

You have until Wednesday, July 27 to enter.  To pick the winner, I will number the comments (omitting my responses and anyone who either doesn’t want to participate or doesn’t follow the rules) and randomly pick a number for the winner of each item with this nifty free random number generator.  I’ll send an email to the winners and they will have three days to respond.  If they don’t respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have my winners, I will get their shipping address via email and send them the fabulous fused-plastic-bag items!  Good luck and feel free to share this with your friends.

I hope you’re having a good weekend.  Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Pancakes and Pizza

Here are two cards I’ve made recently: a stack of pancakes with a pat of butter and golden brown maple syrup pouring over the top.  The pancakes are simply polka-dot paper (it seemed like the best color) with an edge of pale yellow paper.  I’m really proud of how the syrup turned out.  I colored the shape for the stream of syrup with markers on heavy vellum card stock than used dimensional adhesive (I’m pretty sure it was Diamond Glaze but it might have been Crystal Effects from Stampin’ Up! – I have both) to make it look shiny and translucent. Once it was dry I cut out the syrup and adhered it to the card.

Maybe you’d prefer a slice of…

pizza!  I saw this tutorial from Create with Christine and used that as the basis for this cute slice of pizza card.  I particularly like the olives (punch the holes in black paper using a regular size hole punch, than punch the circle around the hole with a circle punch) and the speckled slices of pepperoni.   I punched the pepperoni using a circle punch and made them a bit convex by embossing them on a mat with a stylus then added little spots of white gel ink, and brown and yellow markers.  A little brown ink sponged on the edge of the pepperoni makes it look crispy.Finally, I attached them to the pizza with foam adhesive dots.

The lid of a yogurt container makes a great template for the curve of the crust and I embossed it the same way as the pepperoni.  A sanding block rubbed on the crust and some ink sponged on makes the crust look like it is dusted with flour and a bit toasty.  Are you craving pizza yet?

Oh, what the heck, here’s a reprise from another post.  It fit with the theme of today’s post: cards that look good enough to eat: an ice cream cone card.  This was actually has scratch ‘n sniff chocolate sauce and a scratch ‘n sniff cherry (I wrote about scratch ‘n sniff  here) with an embossed waffle cone.

Thanks for stopping by.   Coming later this week: another GIVEAWAY from the 30 Days of Creativity projects!


Filed under Crafts

Fantastic Paper Creations

As you may recall, I created a small paper dress as part of the 30 Days of Creativity inspired by the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave.  She had a competition for things made out of paper and this is a link to her Facebook page and the photos of the entries.  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Crafts

Marbleized Paper with Shaving Cream

This is a fun and easy crafting project that results in beautiful marbleized paper.   You start with shaving cream, dot on some ink, swirl it around, smoosh paper into it, then squeegee the shaving cream off the paper and that’s it!  You never know exactly what you will get until you scrape off the layer of shaving cream but the results are usually delightful.  Clean up is super easy which is another plus.

I crafted with my friend Margaret today and we were having so much fun that we didn’t want to stop. Playing with the lemon lime scented foam and the beautiful colored ink was both relaxing and satisfying.

Update: For a look at marbleizing using gouache and acrylics, check out the blog by Wayside Artist where she experiments by replacing the ink with thinned down gouache and acrylic paint.

Marbleized Paper with Shaving Cream


Rimmed Baking Sheet for your work surface

Shaving Cream (not the gel type – and I prefer the lemon lime scent)

Reinkers  in several colors (small bottles of ink used to re-ink stamp pads – mine are from Stampin’ Up! and are water-based dye inks, but I’ve read that alcohol-based inks also work)


Food Coloring

Plastic Spoon for smoothing out the shaving cream

Chopstick or popsicle stick to swirl ink in shaving cream

Squeegee, plastic scraper or rubber spatula to scrape shaving cream off paper

Paper Towels

White Card Stock or White Printer Paper – cut to size for your projects – 8 1/2 x 11 cut into quarters is usually a good size for greeting cards, but some projects will need a larger size sheet.


The baking sheet is your work surface.  One one half you will have the shaving cream and on the other a relatively clean surface to squeegee the shaving cream off the paper.

Spray some shaving cream onto one half of the baking sheet and smooth it out into a rough rectangle a little larger than the size of paper you will be coloring. Smooth it out with a plastic spoon and drip some ink onto it.

Now use a chopstick to swirl the ink around. You don’t want to mix it completely, but just swirl the ink lightly into the surface of the shaving cream.

Once all the ink spots have been swirled around, lay a piece of white paper on top of the shaving cream and tap it into the surface so the paper is fully in contact with the shaving cream.

Lift it off and lay the paper face up on the clean side of your baking sheet.

Using a squeegee or other scraper, gently scrape the shaving cream off the paper, revealing the beautiful marbleized design.

A quick wipe with paper towel will get any excess shaving cream.  Set paper aside to dry.

The colored shaving cream can be re-used, often without adding more ink.  Just swirl the chopstick around through the inky shaving cream and if desired add a few more drops of color and swirl again.

I find it best to stick with two or three colors in adjacent shades. As you mix more ink into the shaving foam your base or background color will be a light version of the original colors which can be even more stunning.  If your colors are too far apart on the color wheel, your shaving cream can become muddy-looking pretty fast.

I also tried this method with food coloring.

The colors aren’t the same as the ink refills, but it still produced nice results and folks are more likely to have it in their kitchen.

When you’ve got swirled ink covering all your white paper or your shaving cream has become loaded with so much color that you want to start fresh, it is quite easy to wash the inky shaving cream down the drain, rinse off your utensils and start again.

You’ll end up with inky fingers and a bunch of beautiful paper that you can now use to cover little notebooks, line envelopes and make cards, like this!

Try it out!  Thanks for the visit.  And thank you, Margaret, for being being a willing hand model and great crafting partner today.


Filed under Crafts


The first of my 30 Days of Creativity Giveaways has a WINNER!  Congratulations to Emily in California who will be receiving a bottlecap necklace and a few other little goodies I threw in for fun. Wishing happy crafting and collage creativity to Emily.

Since the response was so small this time I’m contacting all those who participated for their shipping addresses and will send them each a little tag that I made.  Thanks to those who took part and watch for another giveaway soon.


Filed under Crafts

Things I Didn’t Create

Some Things I Didn’t Make During the 30 Days of Creativity:

  • Newspaper Blackout Poem.  I tried several but couldn’t finish one.  Have you ever made one?

How to make a Newspaper Blackout Poem: (from the site of Newspaper Blackout Poet, Austin Kleon)

Grab a newspaper.
Grab a marker.
Find an article.
Cross out words, leaving behind the ones you like.
Pretty soon you’ll have a poem.

  • Driftwood Candle-Holder.  I have the driftwood.  I found the candle-cups online.  I need to decide which ones, order them and put it together.
  • Wire & Bead Votive Candle Hanger. A friend has the supplies and we just didn’t connect in time for this to be part of the 30 Days.  But I’m hoping to do this sometime and will post it when I do.
  • Monogrammed Notecards.  I couldn’t decide on a style.  Or a medium.  Rubber stamped? Stencils? Iron-on letters?  Or who to make them for. Probably won’t do these unless I can figure out answers to those questions.
  • Small Needle-Felted Critter.  I’m finding that working with wool in the summer doesn’t interest me that much. But I expect I’ll work with needle-felting again when the weather is cooler.
  • Cute Bento-Box Style Lunch.  I’ve packed some pretty little lunches and thought I might do that as one of my projects.
  • Furoshiki. This is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth.  I saw on Pinterest someone made a very sweet reversible one with a matching cloth napkin.  That would be more sewing.  I don’t sew.  I have two of them and sometimes wrap my bento-box  type lunch containers in them to carry to work.
  • Soap.  I’ve thought of making soap before and I’ve seen some beautiful handmade soaps.  But this idea didn’t grab me enough to even look up a recipe.
  • Something Growing.  I live in an apartment so I don’t have a garden, per se.  But I considered doing something growing in a little pot, or doing something to a pot or set of pots, or of planting some small succulents in tiny containers (miniature clay pots? teacups?) and giving them to friends.   It would have been nice to have a gardening aspect as part of the 30 days.
  • Mosaic Item.  I’ve done mosaic and enjoyed it, but it seems like it is more than a one-day project.  On the other hand, I could have done each stage as a day.  Oh, well.  I didn’t.
  • Large Fused-Plastic-Bag Tote Bag.  I still want to make a larger fused-plastic-bag tote bag but I’m so pleased with the pouches and small tote we made using that technique that I can check that off my list and will get to that again sometime in the future.

Some Things I’ve Done Since the End of 30 Days of Creativity:

  • Gone to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Read two books and started a third.
  • Taken several naps.
  • Read a bunch of the blogs by people who subscribed to mine.
  • Surfed through craft blogs without taking notes for possible projects.

What project have you not quite gotten to?  What craft have you been meaning to try but just haven’t yet?

What have you done instead of crafting?

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts, Life

Cool Comment Giveway and Gazpacho Recipe

Happy Fourth of July!  It’s HOT here today and I’m doing as little as possible.  I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning and bought some wonderful produce.  I fixed gazpacho for dinner and peach ice cream for dessert.  Delicious.

I’m looking for feedback!  I’m going to give away several of my 30 Days of Creativity creations and the way you enter is by making a comment answering a specific question.  Here is the first item I’m giving away:

UPDATE: This giveway has a winner and is now closed.  Thank you!

From Day 28 of the 30 Days of Creativity project this is a bottlecap necklace featuring a snippet of map with my town, San Rafael, California, highlighted with a little red jewel.  It is on a cord and accented with some aquarium tubing beads.

Here is how you enter this giveaway: In the comments section of this post, write down what your favorite creation that I made from the 30 Days of Creativity was and why.  It doesn’t have to be something you would make, although that is ok too.  If you don’t really want the necklace, you can put that too, but I’d still love your feedback.

You have until Friday, July 8 to enter.  To pick the winner, I will number the comments (omitting my responses and anyone who either doesn’t want the necklace or doesn’t follow the rules) and randomly pick a number with this nifty free random number generator.  I’ll send an email to the winner and they will have three days to respond.  If they don’t respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have my winner, I will get their shipping address via email and send them the necklace!  Feel free to share this with your friends.

In the meantime, here is my gazpacho recipe.  I believe I got this from Sunset magazine years ago but I can’t find it in their online archives or in my own well-thumbed collection of recipes.  In fact, this is hardly a recipe and more of a method… You need delicious tomatoes and warm weather for this cold soup to really work.  This is a build-your-own-bowl gazpacho and it’s a perfect, cool supper for a hot, summer day.

Build-Your-Own-Bowl Gazpacho

Serves 4 to 6


3 – 4 ripe tomatoes

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup cucumber, diced (I prefer English cucumber with the skins left on)

1 bell pepper (red or yellow), diced

3 -4 stalks celery, sliced

1 avocado, cut in chunks

1/2 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped, including stems

2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced

3 cups low-sodium tomato juice

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

a lime, cut in wedges

salt and pepper

chile flakes (optional)

Tabasco Sauce (optional)


Peel and seed the tomatoes and cut into chunks, saving as much juice as possible.  Put the tomato chunks and juice in a small serving bowl.  Arrange the other cut up vegetables on a platter.  Put chopped cilantro and green onions in small bowls.  I usually just put the can of tomato juice and the broth right on the table but if you want to be fancy, you can put these in pitchers.

Each person puts whatever combination of veggies in their own bowl that looks good to them, and pours in their desired amount of tomato juice and some broth (or not) and garnishes it with whatever mix of lime, cilantro, olive oil, and chile flakes they desire.  This way, if one person doesn’t like cucumber and another would prefer to omit cilantro, everyone can have it just the way they want.

In fact, Rem didn’t have any at all and so I’m going to enjoy another bowl for lunch.  I know many gazpacho recipes call for croutons, bread crumbs or stale bread in some variation.  I prefer some good bread on the side.

Mine included orange bell pepper and some pea shoots.  Shrimp is an excellent addition to this salad-like soup.

Stay cool and good luck with the contest.  I will post a winner once I’ve heard back from them and have a shipping address.


Filed under Crafts