Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Winner of the Books! (Don't worry, more coming soon!)

The winner of 

The print copy of the book goes to 

Carole of 

The e-copy goes to 

Elm of

And the winner of 

Emmy of

You will be contacted by the publishers shortly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Handcrafted Metal Findings -- Book Review and Giveaway #2!

As promised, the book reviews and giveaways are still coming! It's so exciting to take a look at these publications and feel the beginnings of creative spirit start erupting!

Today I'm reviewing a fabulous book by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson. Both women are very well-versed in writing books that give you great instructions and usable components with lots of room to vary things to your own taste. Denise and Jane also wrote the book Handcrafted Wire Findings, which I love and recommend everyone get no matter what your skill level. Their newest book, Handcrafted Metal Findings: 30 Creative Components, is another must-have, and it's available as a regular book (my favorite kind) or an e-book.

click here to buy

One of the things my clients know me for is my use of creative clasps. Imagine how my heart sank when my two favorite vendors, both who made outstanding beads and findings, shut their doors. NOW what, I thought. I refuse to use a spring clasp or lobster claw clasp on a bracelet. As my considerable stash of cool toggles and findings began to quickly dwindle, Denise and Jane's first book came out and I devoured it. Now, they add 30 more excellent tutorials to make your design work so satisfying. To say, "Oh that? I made it myself," can really bump up the appeal of your work.

Below is a representation of the types of projects you can find in the book. There are charms, pendants, large end caps for things such as kumihimo or Viking knit, bails, ear wires, and clasps, just to name a few. There are beautiful findings on the market, but there's something about making your own that gives your jewelry an extra-special something, don't you think? And with this book, you'll never be stuck trying to find just the right size, metal, or design of difficult-to-find beads, such as triple-strand spacers.

Shown -- Sugar Skull Clasp, Crisscross Bead Caps, and Buttercup Bead Caps

I chose two specific tutorials to talk about. The first one is a gorgeous toggle clasp created by book contributor Cassie Donlen. It's called the Tectonic Toggle (say that three times really fast!) and I just love it. Made with copper, it incorporates punching out the disc using a disc cutter. I have used both the Lindstrom and the Pepe and they're both great. I can say the cheaper versions just are not worth the money if you plan to do a lot with them. I took one class, punched six discs, and threw the entire disc cutter in the trash. (Of course, your experience may be completely different.) If you click this link, you'll find your first way to make this design your own -- disc shapes like hearts and ovals! 

The tutorial includes photos so you can gauge your progress as you go along. You'll learn how to dap (or make concave) the toggle, but you could decide to leave it flat. You'll also learn how to pattern the disc, or you can choose to etch it or buy pre-etched sheets of metal such as those at Metal Me This. I would consider this particular tutorial to be for the intermediate designer, but do NOT let that stop you from trying it if you're completely new to this sort of work. Practice makes perfect, and in the end, you'll be thrilled to make your own toggles!

Tectonic Toggle in Copper with silver and aluminum accents

Next are Bubble Wand Head Pins by Denise Peck. I LOVE bubble wands. Zack and I have collected a lot of handcrafted ones in various shapes over the years and I firmly believe you're never too old to blow bubbles. (Little known fact -- blowing bubbles works best in humid weather.)

When I saw Denise's design, I immediately got a lot of ideas, and I bet you will, too! Not only can they be used as head pins, but you can bend the straight wire and instantly create cool ear wires.

Bubble Wand Head Pins by Denise Peck

This project involves simple soldering that I kid you not, anyone can do. I know the thought of using flame can be daunting, but it's no more difficult that lighting a candle. You use bead wire, so you don't have to solder each tiny sterling silver ball to each other (big bonus!). After winding the wire on a mandrel the size you want, you flush cut the rings and solder them to the straight wire using a small handheld butane torch, similar to ones you use to brown the sugar on creme brulee. (Yum.) 

There's a list of suppliers at the very back of the book so you aren't left stranded, I love this page on I've used all three torches shown and each is great, and there's a handy soldering starter kit you can buy. After you read Handcrafted Metal Findings, I'd be willing to bet you'll want to jump in immediately with both feet, so the starter kit is an awesome find.

Photo via Beaducation

At the back of the book are 34 pages with detailed photos, instructions, and templates on how to do all the metal work necessary to make every project. This is actually my favorite part of the book, as it's easy to follow, visually appealing, and gives you lots of information which can take you in so many creative directions. Most times, I skip these sections of books, but this book is an exception.

So you want this book, right?
I know you do. I can feel it.

Here's what you can do in order to win -- 
simply leave a comment below!
(Sharing on Facebook or with your friends would be SO cool, too!)

Please make sure your comment has a way to reach you -
check your blogger information and 
make sure your email is linked on your About Me page!

A book will be sent to ONE winner in the United States.
An e-book will be sent to one winner elsewhere in the world
(international, yay!)

Winners will be announced on Saturday, Sept 26th.

Now the fine print:

I was not paid to write this article, and all opinions are mine. 
I was given the book to review and write my honest opinion.

By Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

About the Authors

Denise Peck is the editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine and the author of101 Wire EarringsWire Style, and Wire Style 2. She is also the coauthor ofHandcrafted Wire FindingsThe Wireworker’s Companion, and Wire + Metal. Denise lives in Pennsylvania.

Jane Dickerson is the author of Chain Style, coauthor of Handcrafted Wire FindingsThe Wireworker’s Companion, and Wire + Metal, and a freelance editor, writer, and jewelry designer. She was formerly the editor of Step by Step Beads,Creative Jewelry, and Bead Starmagazines and a contributing editor to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway -- Knitless - 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects

Today I am kicking off the book blog tour of Laura McFadden's new craft book, 

Knitless - 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects

One thing caught my attention immediately -- stash-busting. I have a scary collection of yarn (and many unfinished projects) and I've discovered that a lot of jewelry designers and bead makers also knit. That shouldn't surprise me, because both yarn and beads are tactile and colorful. I've been known to buy a skein of yarn (or a bead!) and buy it purely because of how it feels.

Yarn from Blue Heron Yarn, a local yarn purveyor. 

The projects in this 208-page book run from super-simple to plan-ahead-a-little complex. Some of the embroidered yarn designs for pillows reminded me of seed-beading or soutache, lush and colorful and a great way to use up bits and pieces of yarn you have left over from projects. As with beads, I hate to discard remnants of yarn, and tend to hoard them because I KNOW I can find SOMETHING to do with them, if only to display them. I'm odd like that.

Some of my yarn stash waiting for a project to arrive.

There are lots of templates in the back of the book, so if you want to tackle a more difficult piece that requires embroidery, don't hesitate. I learned to embroider when I was a kid, and if you can thread a needle, you can do it.

There are a number of simple projects that certainly didn't LOOK simple. They are deceptively easy. For instance the pom pom chair. Adorable.

This is too cute for words. This requires a pom pom maker or you can make your own using some simple household items (click here). I use this one, and there are a lot of different methods to be found on YouTube. However you make the pom pom, though, once you get going, you'll probably be eyeing the room looking for something that needs some added fluffiness.

This scarf would make a marvelous gift.

In the above example, you simply twist yarn of different colors together. I love the colors, and I think this would be equally interesting if you used various weights and types of yarn. You can also choose to braid chunky bunches of yarn together, but for braiding, you'll need more yarn than the instructions call for the twist.

As a jewelry designer and knitter, I couldn't help but think how the various fibers that have fallen into the jewelry-making world would work equally well in this book. For instance, instead of embroidering a lampshade with yarn, I could see sari silk being used. So while you flip through all fifty of the projects, think beyond yarn -- leather, waxed linen, ribbon, sari silk, and even wire. 

If you would like to win a copy of this book 
(US only, I'm sorry!)
then leave a comment below. 

Feel free to tell me about your favorite places to buy yarn or share a link showing off your stash!

You can increase your chances of winning by visiting the rest of the book tour:

Winner will be announced at the end of the month.

Thank you to Laura McFadden and Running Press for allowing me the opportunity to review this creative new book. Per federal law, I state that all opinions are mine and I was not paid to write this.