The Crafting English Prof…

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Dollar Tree… the untapped crafty resource 25 September 2010

Filed under: Crafting — Rana Wilson @ 7:42 pm
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Seriously, it is… I cannot tell you how many things I have found at the Dollar Tree that have, eventually, made their way into a craft of some kind (including a pair of earrings that I have gotten more compliments on!  Pics in a minute…)

I’ve bought scrapbooking papers there, jewelry findings, stickers, weird knicky-knacks, frames, flowers, clear pumpkins (one of the latest purchases!) I even found adhesive there once (okay, it wasn’t great, and either the Stampin’ Up! Adhesive or Glue Dots work WAAAAAAAAAYYY better, but it’s perfect for testing stuff and then ripping it apart again!)

I’ve seen several discussions recently about craft stores and whatnot, and thought it was time someone came out and said it–sometimes the cheapest supplies help you create the niftiest things.  With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to post pics of some of the things I’ve made, and have gotten complements on, that I’ve used Dollar Tree supplies in.  Hope you like them!

Okay, so ages ago, I decided I wanted some blingy earrings.  This is what I came up with:

The Carousel Earrings--made possible by the bead cap there, which came from Dollar Tree. The rest of it--sterling chain and swarovski crystals!

So, I found the end clips, where the card hangs, for these lanyards at the Dollar Tree, in a mix with key chain loops:

The hooks came from Dollar Tree, everything else from a craft / bead store.

So I mentioned key chains? Yeah, here they are:

The key rings, and possibly the tiger tail, all from Dollar Tree...

And papers!  They have awesome scrapbooking papers (sometimes; admittedly it can be hit or miss). In fact, I’ve never used the more expensive papers I have, but I’ve used Dollar Tree papers in every major decoupaging project I’ve done:

the tea tray... The base was from Michaels, the papers are Dollar Tree...

All the papers used in this project came from the Dollar Tree...

Again, the box came from Michaels, but all that beautiful bright paper came from the Dollar Tree... and maybe the ribbon, too... I can't remember...

So you see?  It’s a wonderful resource!  If you haven’t been, you should go wander. And don’t feel discouraged if you don’t find anything.  Maybe they’re just having an off day! (and don’t get me started on the storage possibilities for all your crafting stuff from the Dollar Tree…)

RLW

 

Super Crafty Fun Weekend!!!! 13 September 2010

Yup, I had a super-crafty-fun-weekend! and it was grrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaaat!!!!! (insert Tony-the-Tiger voice here…)

Okay, so, first, I decoupaged a box that that I’m using as a jewelry box for the pieces I want to sell (you know, rather than the cardboard box I had them in).  I even put a little handle on it and mirror inside it! It’s really cute.  Here it is:


All finished!

Now, of course, getting to this point, what with the Mod Podge and the cutting and the mess (you should see my sweat pants–covered in modgy fingerprints.  Oh yeah–and I used paint, too!) was quite a bit of chaotic fun!

I started with all my shtuff…

Like how I laid it all out so nicely for a pic? 🙂

And then, of course, about half-way through, I realized I needed more shtuff. No pics of that, though… So then I got to painting the inside.  Also, no pics.  There was far too much mess going on to pick up the camera. I’m gonna wait a few more months before I get paint on it.

And then I had to measure.  Well, sort of.  I did measure the sides so I wouldn’t waste too much paper, cause it was all pretty and stuff! But of course, I only measured the one time, and so my measurements aren’t all spot on. My father would be so disappointed (he’s a pro at the measuring thing…) But in the end, I did find a use for most of those left-over paper bits I did end up with (more on that in another post. Tomorrow, maybe…)  So, after all the measuring and the cutting and the modgin’ and the podgin’ was done, I ended up with this:

kinda cool, if I do say so myself....

So then, for the finishing touches.  I really wanted a handle on it, and I had visions of a suitcase like handle, but I have no spare suitcases, so I had to improvise something else.  I also wanted it to have a bit more interest goin’ on up top there, and I have these large chip-board butterflies.  I have no clue where they came from, but they’ve been in my stash for awhile. So I took some of that paper and ‘podged it up, and painted the ugly cardboard sides.  While I was at it, I took a length of pink ribbon and raided my bead stash for some large hole beads.  I found some great wooden ones, and strung those on the ribbon.  Then, to the toolbox I wandered!  With the help of my trusty staple gun, I attached the ribbon, and then used my E-6000 epoxy to attach the butterfly on top.  And wah-lah! A handle and some interest!!!

gotta love E-6000!!!!!!!

As the glue dried, I was pondering the inside.  Okay, truth be told, the glue wasn’t so much dried as still very glue-y when I thought “Hey, a mirror would be cool!”  And it just so happens, I had a perfect mirror to use!  Back to the E-6000, slapped some dollops on the back of the mirror, press it into the inside top, prop it open, and then a few minutes later, discover that the glue from the butterfly is now dripping onto the coffee table.  Oops!!!  So I flipped the whole mess upside-down! Eventually, it dried.  well, the butterfly bit did.  I discovered the next day, after I closed the  lid for a few minutes, that the mirror bit was still oozing.  So, back open it went!  Finally, that all dried.

Then, I realized, there’s no easy way to see yourself in the mirror if you’re playing with jewelry, since it just flipped all the way open… so, I had to add some catcher-thingies… I’m sure they have an actual name, but I know not what it is.  Anyway, I used more ribbon, E-6000, and eyelets.  And let me say, I need a punch that will punch a hole in ribbon… that was not fun… and in retrospect, this part should get done BEFORE the mirror goes in… But I made it work:

Just hammer those eyelets in there! And use the E-6000 to make sure they stay!

And that was it!  Here’s some more close up shots, after the fact:

And finally, filled with stuff!

You know, I’m really tempted to make another one to use as a purse. It’s too cute!! And more on the rest of my crafty weekend soon!

RLW

 

End of Term Mania 1 May 2010

Well, the end is nigh. the end of the session, that is.  And as usual, I can’t get motivated.  So instead, I started working on a beading project!  Cuz, you know, I don’t have ENOUGH work, let’s make more! I mentioned in my last post that I had finished the piece for the Art with Heart contest, but the piece I ultimately created wasn’t AT ALL what I had originally planned.  Normally, I’m okay with that.  But this time, the idea of the original design just will not leave my head! The original plan was to have the cab-and-filigree focal hanging from a beaded arrow-shaped bib-type necklace thingy… I can see it in my head, I promise. And it was awesome!  But as I worked on that piece, as will often happen, I just kept changing my mind and redesigning. So I ended up with the crazy cuff-type bracelet instead (speaking of that piece, I still need to name it.  I suck at names…)

So, this idea is stuck in my head, and I’m trying to realize it in actual beads.  I’ve started with a square stitch, done in sections to make it good and tight.  It’s about 4 inches long, and every few rows, I’m decreasing it by a few beads.  The kinda fun part about this one, though, for me, is that I’m literally using every color seed bead in size 11 that I have.  All of them.  Even the black.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but the more I play with it, the cooler it looks. Now, to consider the focal.  I have a vague idea that I’d like to play with the skulls (I have a lot of skull beads.  I love them… apparently, it’s kinda my thing…), but I really want to do all the shades of pink with my little wooden skulls.  Another project I can see in my mind, and let me tell ya, it looks cool.  But what to do with this one?  Since I’m totally not sure, and I have a feeling this will be an ongoing, evolving project, I’ll just have to keep pondering. In the meantime, I have a request for a lanyard I need to ponder, and several sets of essays and whatnot to grade over the next week.  Oh, and lets not forget getting ready for summer session! oi….

RLW

 

Pricing myself… 29 April 2010

Filed under: jewelry,Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 10:55 am
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Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking… that’s NOT what I’m talking about… What I AM talking about is pricing my work. Whether it’s my work as a resume writer, my work as an employee and professor, or my work as an artisan, I have trouble pricing myself.

For example: It took me, quite literally, years to figure out what I should charge for my resume services.  I knew what the company I used to work for charged (thousands….) and I knew I was good at my work, but what to charge?  And more importantly, what will people pay? I finally hammered out a price list that I feel comfortable with, and I have it in writing on my resume business cards. Unfortunately, I still have trouble sticking to it.

Another “pricing” issue I have when it comes to myself is when I’m looking for a job… you know, that part in the interview where they ask the dreaded, “well, how much are you looking to be paid” question? I hate that part. I suck at that part.  Thankfully, in academia, that’s a moot point, as it pretty much depends on what level of education you hold.

And finally, the problem I’m having most often lately, is deciding how much to charge for a certain piece.  For example, earrings.  I love to make earrings, because for the most part, it’s an immediate gratification kind of a craft. Unlike bead weaving, where the piece takes shape over several days sometimes, I can make a nice pair of earrings in about 15 minutes to an hour, usually.  And I think I make some pretty kick-ass earrings.  But what to charge for something that is, to me, an easy craft? Yes, there are the purely logical concerns–how much did I pay for the supplies, etc., but that doesn’t reflect the skill required to put the piece together, or to imagine how this bead will look with that chain and that focal and toss it all together in the melting pot of my brain. That’s where I begin to have issues.  After I figure out the purely logical stuff–you know, in order to make a profit, I have to charge at least x amount of dollars to cover the cost of the piece, what do I then charge for my time and skill? That’s my concern…

Consider, I don’t want to overprice a piece, because then it will never sell, and no one will ever see the work, and I would ultimately rob myself of any other sales.  But at the same time, I don’t want to underprice a piece, making it seem, in the eyes of the consumer, to be “cheap.” How does one hit on the happy medium? Well, so far, I’ve relied on my best friend and her husband, basically asking questions like “How much would you pay for this?” For earrings, I’ve settled on a fairly simple stratagem of starting with a base of $10, and then, depending on how complicated and involved a piece is, going up from there.  But what about necklaces?  And bracelets other than the elastic variety? Those pieces are more time-consuming to make, and to plan.  And bead-weaving?

I have a bracelet I recently made for the charity beading contest Art with Heart over at the Beads-n-Blessings blog… it’s a rather fussy and involved affair of woven Toho’s and delicas (I think I love delicas) with bugles and fringe and a cab and filigree focal (pics later, still need John at Paparazzi Entertainment to take ’em for me…).  It’s a beautiful bracelet (although Amy did say it was over-the-top 80s but awesome) and I don’t think I’ll sell it, simple because I don’t really want to part with it just now.  Several weeks worth of work and planning went into it’s creation.  And although I’m not planning to sell that piece, several people have asked “how much?” Which is really what brought me to finally writing this article.  I created the piece mainly to see if I could, and because I enjoyed it. How do I put a price on that enjoyment?

So, as I continue to struggle with this whole concept of pricing, while I also devoutly wish someone would just come do it for me, I’m trying to keep track of the things I can control easily–like the cost of supplies (got all my receipts in a file folder. whoo-hoo! LOL) In the meantime, I’m just going to continue enjoying beading and learning new techniques, and worry about the rest of it later.

RLW

 

Why a blog? 20 April 2010

Filed under: Ponderings,Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 9:08 pm
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So, I’ve told a couple of people I’ve started a blog. Most are enthusiastic (although my mom’s comment of “for people to read?” cracked me up. her emphasis was on the “people” part…) but the question I keep getting asked is “what’s it for?”

Honestly, I hadn’t really thought that far ahead, and if I had, I think it was just for me. Like I said, I’m an English teacher, and so I tend to both read and write profusely.But, I don’t just want my blog to be about teaching.  Yes, I’m a teacher, but I’m not just a teacher.  Likewise, I make jewelry… but I don’t want my blog to be just about jewelry… So I guess, if I must categorize myself (although, really, I defy categorization…) I would say that my blog is about me.  About my interests.  About the ins and outs of my life (but not necessarily the daily minutiae of that life).  Some things I hope to discuss is the difficulty I have in pricing myself, the oddities of discussing plagiarism in college classes, what I want… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s so much out there that’s interesting to me, and there’s so many things I ponder.  So I guess this blog is about my ponderings…

Should be fun, huh? 😀

 

Use the Muse IV & a sneak peek of the piece I created

Filed under: jewelry — Rana Wilson @ 2:49 am
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So I entered this contest a few months ago, called “Use the Muse,” created by Scarlet Lanson at “The Beader’s Muse” and sponsored by one of the most awesome beading sites I’ve found, Artbeads. The premise is that you receive a kit full of sheer awesomeness in the bead realm, and this very cool Muse piece, but you can’t reveal what the muse is until all is said and done…

Still something of a novice beader, I nevertheless thought it would be fun to try.

The detail of the sectional spiral rope.

So there it is.  A sneak peek.  Now, having never woven beads at all, I decided to try my hand at spiral rope (I’ve never even made a daisy chain…).  I created what I’m calling a sectional spiral rope, to try to incorporate some of the kit beads, and a few beads I had on hand already, and give it a bit more interest. I have to say, I’m rather proud of this piece, and I had a blast making it. So much so, I’ve entered another contest, I’m learning more beading stitches (I really like square stitch and African Helix), and I can’t wait for Use the Muse V…

RLW

UPDATE

Well, the Muse was revealed last week, along with the winners. As expected, I didn’t win, but then, that’s not why I participated either. So, no foul. The Gallery of all the designs can be found here. I admit, I’m rather in awe of the company in which I find myself with this contest.   This group of artisans is phenomenal in their ability to see the possibilities in the muse piece.  Here are some full pics of my piece:

A Leaf Falls

Detail on the muse, the drops, and the beaded flower focal.

I really love this piece. It’s my first asymmetrical piece, and my first piece really incorporating a variety of styles…

Take a look at the gallery, and have a great day!  ~RLW

 

The random thoughts of a random professor… 19 April 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rana Wilson @ 6:42 pm
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Hello all!  So, I’ve finally done it.  I started a blog.  We’ll see how I do, I guess.  So, if you know me, you’ll know all this stuff I’m about to tell you; if not, then hey, I think you should know all this stuff I’m about to tell you.  Just sayin… 😀   I teach, I read, I craft, I love my friends and family, I torture college students with Shakespeare, I drive a way old Ford Explorer, I have 2 monster kitties that keep me on my toes, I have one beautiful niece and 5 gorgeous nephews, and I love my life.  Mostly.

So why a blog?  Well, I teach English, I write constantly, and thought it was about time to try getting some of those thoughts that keep jumbling about in my head on “paper” in a coherent form.  I’m trying to start an online jewelry business, and as I learn more, I’m finding I want to discuss those techniques, and what I’m finding to work well, and where I’m finding I need more assistance.

That’s enough to be going on with, I think.  I’ll post more later, on the many varied interests I have… Enjoy!

 

 
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