Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring is here and it's time to Craft! 30+ Project ideas for you to enjoy!

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It's almost here - just a few days away we'll be welcoming in Spring! In two weeks my kids will be on Spring Break.  I know they'll want something to do to keep their busy minds active and out of trouble.

Gather your craft supplies and spend some quality time with your kids - even if it's only for 30 minutes.

I've gathered together some of my favorite craft project tutorials and videos.  They feature everything from upcycling bottle caps into bird cages, dressing up your tea towels, upcycling socks to make fun little birds and of course on of my new passions - DUCT TAPE! There's so much to see!

Oh and how about the cute little centerpieces? or Make Cupcakes and add little handmade cupcake toppers? And Mom's,  I've even included some jewelry making links too, to give you some creative time and keep you sane.  I know how it is!

Some of the links feature artists from around the web.  Please let them know you stopped by and share some nice thoughts with them by leaving them a comment if applicable.

 Have Fun, Happy Spring - CRAFT ON!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make your own Jewelry with Friendly Plastic - Easy and Fun Glass Like Effects

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As I wrote this article for the Friendly Plastic blog, the weather outside is "not so delightful".  We're in the middle of a major ice storm.  But, you know me, I'll use anything for inspiration and I'll even make up stories to take me somewhere where it's not so yucky outside.  So the ice reminds me of glass and the not so yucky outside reminded me of my trip to Paris last year.....and combine that together and that's the inspiration for the write up on the Friendly Plastic blog which I thought I'd share with all of you.

It's a nice day to snug up and Craft! So, my peeps, get comfy and CRAFT ON!

In this free jewelry making tutorial, we show you how to make your own jewelry using Friendly Plastic.

Maybe you can sympathize with me a little here.  First of all, I'm not a purist at all in my artwork.  I love to mix and match various art supplies with my jewelry making supplies. I love to make something look like what it really isn't.  I'm also all about achieving gorgeous results without spending a lot of money.  What happens when  you combine all three of those ideas together?  Well, the result may just be this - creating the look of "expensive" dichroic glass with Friendly Plastic.

So with that in mind, imagine this scenario

You're shopping with a friend, and for the sake of upscaling this story and embellishing it just a little, let's say you're strolling through Paris in the springtime, taking in the beauty of the city, stopping for a luscious french pastries and a little tea and shopping along Champs Elysees - the upscale shopping area of Paris.

marie Browning and Linda Peterson

You walk into a boutique, gorgeous clothing and accessories, and then you see it, this stunning piece of jewelry, in your colors, it's artisan made, its gorgeous dichroic glass, blingy and you would just DIE to have it.  And then... you look at the price...... 450 euro's (which is about $580 us). the staff is looking you up and down and watching your every move, you gently set it back on the display....a little bummed...
A - O -K ...way outta your budget.  (a similar story happened to me on Rodeo drive a few years back)

So here are your options, sulk endlessly because you can't buy it or Take a picture of it with your brain and use it as an inspiration piece to create your own designer jewelry.  I say the latter!

Okay so maybe the story is a little far fetched but the reality isn't.  It doesn't matter if the piece of jewelry you like is $10, or $50 or whatever, if it's out of your budget and you want it - you can to make it.

So, with that story spinning around in your mind like a hurricane, here's a great way to make jewelry look like something it's not.  It's jewelry crafts 101!

You'll have fun with this project, because it combines pewter ArtEmboss metal with Wireform Modeling wire, alcohol inks and 3-D crystal laquer for a layered glass-like effect.

The slider pendant is so versatile and interchangeable.  And because I know you're going to go wild with this project you'll be able to change the look of the choker just by sliding on a new pendant.

Contemporary Faux Glass Choker

 By Linda Peterson
Friendly Plastic®–Metallic Gold, Metallic Fuschia, Metallic Mauve
AMACO® ArtEmboss®–Medium Pewter
AMACO® WireForm® Modeling Wire–Aluminum 1/8″
AMACO® Polyblade
3-D Crystal Laquer - Sakura
Double Stick Tape–ThermOWeb (1 sheet and 1/4″ wide roll)
Heavy Cardstock or chipboard
Alcohol based inks (Pinata–Magenta and Orange used in this project)
92% rubbing alcohol
Petroleum Jelly
Inkjet waterslide decals (optional)
Black and White clip art–filigree, scrolls (optional–only if using decals)
Makeup sponges
Bowl of cold water
Ball Peen Hammer
Griddle or electric skillet with thermostat
Heat Gun (optional)
Wooden stylus (comes with ArtEmboss)
Utility knife
Metal Ruler
Non-stick craft sheet
Metal file
Steel Wool
Hints and tips for working with Friendly Plastic®
Prepare the griddle by placing a non-stick baking sheet onto it. You might also want to set a non-stick craft sheet on top of this to make it easy to pick up the piece with pliers and set it in the cold water without touching it. Coat fingers and tools with a light application of petroleum jelly to prevent the plastic from sticking. Repeat as necessary. 
The warmer the plastic gets, the more gooey it gets. You will quickly learn how to use cold water and heat to control the softness of the plastic. You may want to practice first. To touch up areas, simply heat with a heat gun for a few seconds to soften the plastic.
Keep discarded plastic as it can be re-heated and used in several other projects. Nothing goes to waste. Pre-heat griddle to 200-225F. Because of the heat source, this project is not recommended for small children.
Center Stone:
Step 1
Using the utility knife and metal ruler, cut strips of gold, fuchsia, and mauve Friendly Plastic® approximately 1/8″ wide by the width of the plastic (these do not have to be exact).
Step 2
Lay gold strip onto pre-heated craft sheet. Allow it to soften slightly and then add other colors alternating, gold, fuchsia, and mauve. Repeat several times finishing with mauve. Place in water to cool.
Step 3
Cut a strip 1/8″ of the striped plastic. Cut a strip of gold plastic 1″ x 2″. Place a drop of magenta ink onto make up sponge then daub onto plastic. To create a watermarked effect, apply alcohol to clean sponge and lightly daub. Allow to dry for few seconds. Place onto craft sheet and set on griddle to heat. Place gold-fuchsia-mauve strips on each side…gold on top and bottom, fuchsia above and below gold. Allow to fuse together and remove.
Step 4
Coat PolyBlade with petroleum jelly and press into softened plastic to make cuts (see diagram). Slide blade back and forth creating a good solid cut. Place pendant in cold water.

Step 5
Soften a strip of plastic (any color) on griddle. Press cold pendant into center and allow to slightly bond together. Remove and cut off excess with Polyblade. Cool in water. Trim edges if necessary with scissors.
Step 6
Apply a thin layer of 3-D Crystal Lacquer  to top of pendant.  Allow to dry. Repeat two more times.  
Step 7
Print desired pattern onto waterslide decal.Place decal face side down onto pendant. Apply water and remove backing. Remove excess water with a paper towel. Apply several more layers of glossy accents allowing each to dry completely before the next is applied (it’s best to let it dry overnight). (You can also use a rub-on transfer or create your own image transfer according to the manufacturer's directions)
Step 8
Place pendant onto cardstock and trace around with pencil. Cut out design leaving a 1/4″ border. Apply tape to one side. Remove backing and place onto pewter. Cut out leaving a 1/4″ border. Cut corners diagonally and fold metal to back side. Apply tape to back side and remove backing.  
Creating the setting:
Step 9
Cut two strips of ArtEmboss® pewter–1″ x 2″. Fold edges to center. Press flat with wooden stylus. Wrap strips around wooden stylus centering onto back of metal pendant. Place metal pendant onto pewter and cut out flush. Smooth edges with wooden stylus. Apply double stick tape around perimeter of plastic pendant. Cut a strip of pewter 1/4″ wide and wrap around pendant. Smooth edges with wooden stylus. Apply tape to back and center onto top of metal setting.
Metal Choker
Step 10
The standard size is 15 inches however the aluminum will stretch slightly as it is hammered. You may adjust this to fit.
Step 11
Cut a piece of modeling wire 15″ long. Begin hammering flat against the anvil. Hammer ends flatter than rest of choker.  
Step 12
File and shape ends smooth. Hammer with the ball side of the hammer to get hammered effect. Gently massage to create curve. Bend ends down slightly to conform and rest on neck comfortably. Polish with steel wool.

Friendly Plastic also works with blank metal findings for your FREE DOWNLOAD of these gorgeous projects by Marie Browning Click the links below:

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Linda Peterson is compensated and endorsed by AMACO. The guests features may or may not have any affiliation with AMACO.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

TOP 6 Tips to Making Jewelry that Sells! The plain and simple truth!

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Top 6 Tips to Making  jewelry that sells

We women love jewelry! We love the way it makes us feel when we look at it, when we wear it, and when we make it.

If you are married, what do you think when you look at your wedding ring? Most likely you're taken back to two memorable events in your life; the day you were proposed to by the love of your life and the day you said "I DO!" to the love of your life.  Or maybe you have jewelry with birth stones?  Perhaps those are representative of your kids, your mom, your grandma.  Not only does jewelry adorn us and bring out our personality, but it also is a way of keeping precious memories alive.

We buy and wear jewelry because it has an emotional connection.

I commonly receive emails asking for advice on two different jewelry making topics:

  • What jewelry making tips do you have?
  • How can I sell my jewelry?

I have lots of jewelry making tips.  Recently I published a new video maximizing your metal findings by on coloring them with markets and inks. Take a look at my video

If you're not having any problem selling your jewelry, then don't read on - you're doing great and keep on doing what you are doing!  Rock on! However, if you are one of those who is beating your head against a wall because you have had limited success, then it's time to take a hard look at some of the following tips.  I  try to be nice when offering these tips, but I really don't sugar coat it.

Look for Jewelry Making and Design Trends

  •  Take a break from "making" jewelry and spend some time browsing the internet for ideas. Don't limit your browsing to jewelry making sites.  Google phrases such as  fashion magazines, browse online clothing stores such as Chicos, Cache, Boston Proper some of the higher end stores and see what styles they are offering. Browsing your local craft store will also give you an idea on what type of jewelry making is popular.  Now ask yourself, is my style gone out of date?  If it has, don't worry, just revamp it - it's not a lost cause!

    • Currently, I am seeing an trend in vintage jewelry findings and design.  I've also seen leather bracelets and cording becoming more popular in the market. So, why not combine the two? I did! - Below is my leather cording I made from Kudu leather from my safari trip to Africa. I combined it with my vintage findings and I think the results are quite stunning.  
    • I've also seen a trend towards making a variety of items like wallets, purses and jewelry with duct tape!  People do like fun and unique jewelry too!

Follow Color and Fashion Trend Forecasts

  • Search for PANTONE Spring 2013 or PANTONE Fall 2013.  You're likely to find a color forcast similar to the one below.  

    • So why design with these colors in mind? Maybe these aren't your colors. However, if you're making jewelry to sell, these are the colors that you will find most popular in the current fashion trends.  It may sound like a no-brainer, but wouldn't you want to have jewelry designs that match the colors of clothing that women are buying and have in their wardrobe?  Always look at the future color forecasts and plan accordingly.  If you have these colors in mind, you can stock up on good deals for supplies whenever they may come along.  

BE Unique - Be Original

  •  If you've ever been to a craft show or even a jewelry related show, you'll know that jewelry making booths are a dime a dozen.  And think back how many times you passed by a booth because of one of two things:
    • The overall booth design just didn't capture your eye - a few ideas on selling at arts and craft shows here
    • Or, been there - seen that! The jewelry looks like everyone else.
  • Has that happened to you? Are you one of the vendors that this is happening to?  If so, just take an honest and constructive look at what your offering.  This is business, not a personal reflection on you or your work.  Here's my advice:
    • Are you unique?  A lot of people, kids included, can string beads onto a wire, or headpin and create a pair of $5 earrings.  This equation equals - not unique - dime a dozen - people pass by except your friends.
      • If this is the case, it's time to peruse the internet for current trends and think outside the box. Can you change that boring one strand necklace with a focal piece in the middle to a multi-strand necklace with added texture such as chains, cording, more unique beads? Think Think Think! Remember this is business - not personal.
    • Who is selling jewelry and what type of jewelry are they selling, whose booth is packed? Chances are they are selling unique one of a kind pieces.  Perhaps they are selling jewelry made from antique silver spoons, copper and metal jewelry that they've made themselves, found object jewelry, jewelry mixed with common components but mixed with uncommon things to create texture?  This equation? Unique + Stand out in a crowd of other jewelry booths + People in your booth = SALES.
    • This advice is valid whether you are at a craft or jewelry show or whether you sell online.
    • Finding your Niche

      A niche is just a small segment of something larger.  For instance, making jewelry out of spoons is a niche of a larger jewelry making topic. 

      To be unique, you need to find a niche, something special, something unique.  If you are making jewelry and trying to please everyone, you are taking the slow boat to china!  The fact is, you are NOT going to please everyone, you just want to please SOMEONE and have that someone tell SOMEONE who tells someone and on and on.

      So who are you selling to? Is it the person who likes really big, gaudy, out there kind of jewelry? Are you designing for the business woman who needs something to accent her business sense.  Are you using only high end supplies?  

CONNECT - There are two ways to connect:

    • The personal way: Getting to know your clients and sharing stories - I share a bit about my personal journey in my latest book - Art + Life
    • The business way:  Getting their email addresses and contact information for later promotion.

  • Let's talk about personal just in brief:  This is especially effective at shows where you do have personal face to face contact with your potential client.  Say hello, smile and be friendly.  Take notice of them personally - love their earrings? compliment them?  Do they look handmade? Ask them if they made them?  If they did - talk about it, if they didn't ask them about the story of where they purchased it?  This opens up conversations, leads to personal connections and showing personal interest in the client.  This doesn't have to be a long drawn out conversation, but if they like you and feel a connection to you, they are more apt to buy from you. 
  • Now the business side, you've made a connection or maybe just a brief passing, build for future business, by asking them to sign up for your email newsletter.  Almost always they will.  Give them a business card with your ALL of your contact information - email, social media, website etc.  Again, building a connection, though this is more on the business side of things.  
  • Build a blog - I can make a whole website out of this topic of self promotion for creative people, but In short, get a blog, journal your creative journey, share photos of your work, you just never know who is out there and waiting to discover you!  

Have multiple price points

Without opening up a can of worms here about how to price your work because it depends on so many unique factors, such as where you live, the cost of goods etc. I want to give you this food for thought. 

While you don't want to try to please everyone, you do want to please the majority in your niche.  I believe it makes good business sense to have a range of prices in your work.  I offer my jewelry designs between $20-80 a piece.  You too want to have a mix of price points.  Most people will have $10 to $25 to spend on a piece of unique handmade jewelry.  Fewer people will have $50 and fewer yet $80 and up.  

It's the smaller, lower cost items that will keep you paying the bills while the larger priced items really add to your sales at the end of the show or month.  It's okay to have a $5 line as long as it's simple, quick and easy to make.  It's not okay to have a $5 line if the materials plus your labor is more than $5.  Only you can decide.  The point here is to have multiple price points so that you can help out those who are on a limited budget but do none the less appreciate your work.

You'll often notice on shopping channels that they have $10, $15, $20 and $30 price points - it' works!

I hope you find this rather lengthy blog post helpful.  If you do, kindly share it with your friends, pin it to pinterest and leave a comment below.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blogging 101 -Linda's 7 Tips for Right Brained People

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It wasn't that many years ago that I was in the same boat as many of you.  I was GREEN when it came to Designing, had no clue about blogging or internet websites, no HTML knowledge and certainly didn't know what SEO stood for.

Because we are right brained CREATIVE people and all we want to do is spend time making things, we can get rather overwhelmed with the thought of blogging, or website design or anything else associated with promoting your craft business.  I'm going to assume that it true of you, and pardon me if you are one of those blessed with having both a right and a left brain to work for you.

I am mostly right brained - I want to create ALL THE DANG TIME, but I also use this as a major part of my income - ALL THE TIME! So, thus begs the question, Should I Blog? and if I do, how can I get the most value from it in gaining followers and selling my work?

There are many aspects of Shameless self promotion and in general I give some basic tips on a recent blog post.  But today, I'm going to look at one piece of the big promotion picture - Blogging 101 and share the following basic tips, that I've learned the hard way, so you don't have to!

Before I go into detail on each aspect, I can sum up the basics with these 7 basic tips for right brained creative people.

  • Choose the right blogging platform
  • Determine who you are blogging to - what's your demographic
  • What are you blogging about?  Is it a niche subject? or does it have broad appeal?
  • Be consistant!
  • Connect with your reader
  • Think about what you can offer your reader vs. what your reader can give to you
  • Effective ways of self promotion

Blogging Platforms:  Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad are all blogging platforms that will host a blog for free as long as you don't mind their extention on the back of your url - for instance ""  or "" etc.  While I built this blog and website on blogger, I've since come to realize that wordpress is a much better choice - for many reasons, but mainly because the search engines like that platform better.  It stands to reason that if a search engine can not find you, well, no one else will either! And you'll be forever walking on the treadmill of cyberspace, spending alot of energy but going no where. Pretty easy to sign up and just follow the prompts.  Mostly these formats are all template based and it's a matter of dragging and dropping content.  For the sake of getting too techno geeky, I'll stop here on this subject.

Who are you blogging to?  Are you an occassional crafter that wants to share your story and journey through crafts? Are you blogging about a certain niche topic? Blogging is all about the connection.  Your audience must connect with you on an emotional level and share common interests.  But before you can connect, you need to write down a few ideas on who you are trying to connect to?

What are you blogging about?   You have about 3 seconds to make an impression to your viewer.  When someone lands on your blog or website, they must have a clear vision of what message you are trying to convey.  Be clear as to what you are offering and what your subject matter is.

I've taken several e-courses on blogging, seo, internet marketing and while I don't claim to be a master of it, I have become quite proficient at it.  All of the e-courses I have taken reiterate what I've already known - CONTENT MATTERS! Yes, what you write has to connect with the people you are talking to.  Through your stories, you will develop connections with your readers.  Write good content.  Generally the best content you will ever write is on a subject you are passionate about.  Find your passion - write about it.  Since I'm in the creative industry, I follow trends and often blog about these, places I've been, projects I'm working on and offer loads of inspiration through crafting.

GIVING vs GETTING:  I approach blogging as to what I can give, rather than what I can get.  If every post you make is about selling or what you are going to get out of blogging, or that everything you make turns out beautiful, sparkly and perfect, you might as well save yourself the trouble and not blog at all.  It gets old real fast!  Sure, you can talk about you on your blog, it is your blog, but talk about your life in such a way as it helps others. Do you have an inspiring story to share?  Have you overcome some obstacle that someone else might relate to?  Do you have a funny story to share?  Maybe a laugh at yourself - I did something really stupid kinda story?  These kinds of things make you real.  There's a certain amount of transparency that is good, a certain amount of vulnerability that is good.  Share these stories with along your artwork. Give GIVE GIVE!  You'll find that I share bits and pieces of my creative journey, rather long road off and on in the blog.  I also give alot of information away, lots of project ideas and such, because when I first started so much was given to me, now it's my turn to give back.

Consistancy.  If blogging on a regular basis won't fit in your lifestyle, then don't blog.  It's frustrating for you and for your reader.  Being consistant is another key to gaining readers to your blog that come back for more.  Blog at least once a week to keep a constant connection. Remember BE CONSISTANT!

Promotion - Well, really this topic alone is a whole book! But here's the basics to get you started.  You must be socially connected when you are blogging.  Join Facebook and twitter.  You can connect your blogs to these accounts so that every time you post, it will automatically feed into your social sites.  Let everyone you know about your blog.  If you are writing about a particular topic, search the google keyword tool to  find phrases that will help you get noticed with search engine - what we in bloggerville know as SEO (search engine optimization - another future topic)

I recently wrote a post about shameless self promotion that will also give you some tips on promoting your blog. It's really just the basics.  But the basics that can get you up and running!

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