52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week 19: a little off track

This week I'm rather horrified to write that I simply don't have my project done. I was going to drill through scrabble tiles, string them with faux pearls and beads and decorate an old black wire bird cage that my mother gave to me a few weeks back. I love bird cages and I knew that I wanted to put mine out on my front porch. The bird cage faces the house of the wack job that lives next door. When I look at the bird cage I also am forced to look at her house and I decided that I would string some positive words around the cage since I just have to believe that there is something good to come out of living next door to such a disturbing human being. The bird cage even came with a little felted bird in a nest. I have been drooling over those sweet little cloth birds that I see artists sewing up all over blog land. I was even planning to sew up a few from my fabric scraps and put them in the cage too. But here's what happened:

The past 2 weeks have totally escaped me. Last weekend we went to Breen's triathlon and I found myself stealing moments in the car and hotel room to get my wind chime finished. I posted later than usual and I was not pleased. This week we had to leave on Friday for a three hour drive to a family wedding. We've been gone for 3 days and I haven't been in the position to work on my bird cage at all. As soon as we got home from our 3 hour drive today, Breen had to turn right around and go to New Jersey for a theatre meeting. On Friday morning Breen offered to drill the tiles for me. The drilling was not successful and there was no time to set up the work space properly; we were really rushed to get all of us out the door. At the same time Breen was attempting to drill the tiles, I found a pattern on the internet for those sweet little cloth birds. I printed it, cut my fabric pieces and sewed it up on my machine. It turned out nothing like the pictures I saw and the directions were poorly written. By this time we had to leave in a half hour. My intention was there but "I got nothin'" for you this week. I've noticed that several of my projects so far have involved Breen's technical help. The mistake I've made is not learning how to do all of the components by myself. I love my husband madly and deeply but it's not fair to expect him to get all of my things done when he has too much on his plate already. From here on in, I'm going to plan my projects much better so that I'm not starting them a day before and I'm going to pick things that require me to do all of it.

When I first started 52 Projects I was so pumped up it was unbelievable. I am still completely committed to this project. I've seen how some interest has declined and even stopped but I still believe in this regardless if I'm the only poster or there are a dozen. I suppose I'm only human though and I have my weeks where I really have to push myself to get this together. I'm sorry for the past two weeks. For those of you who keep coming back each week, I owe you a world of thanks. Your participation makes it so much more meaningful. I love to read and be inspired by all the projects! With summer officially around the corner, I plan to step back up to the home plate with my enthusiasm and get moving on so many things that I've been wanting to do. Hopefully we've seen the end of these very busy weekends for while and I can get back on track.

I'm going to try my best to get those scrabble tiles drilled this coming week and a few birds made. I'll post them when it happens. What did you do this week?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week 18: Garden Candy

My project this week is really two-fold: a whimsical wind chime made out of old forks and a mason jar lid and a tin dragonfly to adorn the potted plants. Together though, these things make for lovely garden eye candy.

I've been in love with wind chimes of all kinds for as long as I can remember. I suppose I've known about wind chimes crafted out of old silverware for years but I was really inspired when I passed a house on my power walks for the past two weeks that has the most funky spoon wind chime hanging from an old wooden ruler on the front porch.

For the wind chime, I gathered together an old mason jar lid, five vintage forks that I've had for years, a strip of glittering emerald green rhinestones and oodles and oodles of beads. Lucky for me, and no surprise really, that I have boxes and bins of seed beads that I've collected over the years.

To get the project started I had Breen drill holes in each fork and in the mason jar lid. I decided that my wind chime would be even more eye catching if I beaded each string attached to the forks with metallic silver seed beads and blue crystal accents. In terms of stringing material, I ended up using a very durable beading thread that I had on hand. Perhaps when I make another I'll try fishing line. I started one fork and had to pack up the other four plus all my supplies to take on the road to Breen's triathlon in the mountains.

Lucky for me (but not so lucky for Breen) it rained all morning during the race which gave me time to sit in the car during parts of the race and finish the other forks.

I then attached them all to the mason jar lid.

On the lid I glued the strip of green rhinestones around it.

I'm so happy with my new set of wind chimes and they make me smile every time I glance at them near the plants on the front porch. I can't wait for a nice windy night when I can lay in bed and hear the happy clanging of the forks.

Now for the dragonfly. A few weeks ago I had already worked with recycling aluminum cans when I made flower pins. This week I cut dragonfly shapes out of the soda cans and used E6000 epoxy to attach them to a cut piece of shirt hanger. Just poke them in a plant!

What did you learn this week?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tomorrow's 52 Projects

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick note to let you know that Breen and I will be out of town today and are not coming back until early Sunday afternoon. He has a triathlon in the mountains. However, I will be working diligently on my project while we're away and I will be posting tomorrow later in the day. Check in anytime after 4pm. I've got a great project that will make your smile!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 17: learning how to solder

This week's project was something I've wanted to try since March 2007 when I purchased an on line instruction book on how to make soldered glass pendants. I was so enamored with those little glass pendants. I don't care if they are "so three years ago"; I still love them. The instruction book sat in my email all this time but when Breen purchased me my very own soldering iron for Mother's Day, I knew the time had come. For this particular learning experience, I decided to try my hand at soldering a larger piece until I got the feel for it. Soldering on jump rings on a 1x1 inch piece of glass seemed a bit daunting on my first try. Boy was this an interesting project with many learning experiences.

I had purchased an old book with vintage circus poster images that were the perfect size of 4x6 inches. I removed the pages from the book, scanned them on to my computer and printed a few out on heavy card stock. I made a trip to the hardware store in town and purchased a few pieces of 4x6 glass. I had a large roll of 1/4 inch copper tape (which you need to adhere the two pieces of glass together) left over from years ago when I was making wire wrapped glass pendants with slide glass. Note that I just used the term slide glass. Herein lies the key to my failed attempt at soldering for this project: 1/4 inch copper tape is fine for putting together 2 pieces of thin slide glass but NOT two pieces of much thicker plate glass. I simply did not take in to accounting the difference in the thickness of the glass and the width of the copper tape required. So when Breen sat down by my side and we started to melt the solder we soon realized that the 1/4 inch tape was not giving enough coverage for the solder to grab on to. We had to abort our mission.

It was a strange feeling writing up this project because for as much as I have never considered myself a perfectionist, I suppose I am. I learned something about myself in this project: mistakes are okay and actually a very necessary part of learning new things. I would love to be able to show you a perfect pair of beautifully soldered circus paper weights but it just didn't turn out that way. I still love the images of the Barnum and Bailey circus posters and I'm definitely going to get back to soldering them in to paper weights or over sized coasters once I can get my hands on wider copper tape at least 5/8 inches wide. As for the existing 1/4 inch copper tape? I'm off to buy some slide glass at the bead store and try my hand at those adorable little pendants that I love so much. The soldering part is actually fun. Just make sure you have all the correct supplies before starting any project and never give up if you make a mistake!

What did you learn this week?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week 16: participating in an art show

This week’s project was something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Weeks ago on my way to meditation, I drove by a local library that was looking for vendors for an upcoming art show out on the front lawn area. I went in and inquired. For a $35 entrance fee, I grabbed an application and signed up. I knew it would be a very small show with limited traffic but for me it represented the perfect opportunity to jump in and get my feet wet. For starters, although I make lots of things, I don’t have a huge inventory at the moment. If I had selected a bigger show, I wouldn’t have had nearly enough inventory. As we all know I’m a Jack of all trades and master of few. Variety is the spice of life and being able to show such a range of art was actually a nice way to see what other people are drawn to and what would be nice to make more of.

All week long, I worked every day to add a few more things and finish some old projects. I had to figure out how to display all the items, how to price them, what to tag items with and how to pack them. I learned that there are so many small steps and considerations to be made in preparation of a show. And this was just a small show. In addition to prep work, I kept checking weather.com since the event would be held rain or shine. Every day this past week was sunny and gorgeous. But yesterday called for thunder storms and heavy winds.

When I woke up yesterday morning, the skies were gray. I delayed driving over to the library until the very last minute possible due to impending storms. When I finally got there, I scouted out the lawn and claimed my spot under a nice tree. I unloaded my car and set up shop. My sun dance must have worked because it never rained all day. The wind was an entirely different story though. The show was set to run from 10-4. By 12:30 I had to pack it up because the gusts of wind were so strong that my displays were blowing over constantly leaving two vintage cake plates and a hand painted wooden bowl broken. Nevertheless, I walked away with a nice cigar box full of cash in the few hours I was there.

Valuable things I learned yesterday:

I learned great tips on “what to do” for future shows from other vendors. There is such value in networking with other artisans. I’ll be emailing one in particular who is in the know with all the shows.

I learned that shows with higher entrance fees get more foot traffic and better advertising.

I learned that some shows are perfect for my eclectic venue while others are geared towards very specific art and craft.

I learned that there are an abundance of shows taking place almost every weekend and that it’s a good idea to visit lots of shows to get a feel for what would be best to enter.

I learned about bartering with other vendors.

I learned that an inexpensive canopy tent from Wal-Mart is an essential for any show artist. If I had one yesterday I probably could have stayed for the duration of the show. The smart vendor at an outdoor show knows to come prepared for a number of unpredictable weather elements.

I learned that doing these shows on a regular basis could be a full-time weekend job in itself.

I learned that my work is better than I give myself credit for.

I learned that there are a lot of jewelry artists but not as many artists that have a big eclectic variety like me.

I learned that the items I think will sell like hot cakes are the very items that get overlooked. My funky and adorable recycled flower pins barely got noticed. At $8 a piece, I thought they would have flown in to the shoppers bags instead of all over the lawn.

All in all, I am looking forward to doing another show again in the future. I’m going to continue to build my inventory, seek out different venues and network with others. It felt really good to share my happy creations with others. It felt even better to make a few sales and meet new people. Most important is the fact that I got over my fear of putting my work out there and took a small leap yesterday.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 15: working with two part epoxy resin

I've been wanting to work with two part epoxy resin for a few years now in hopes that it might be the answer for a particular and complicated jewelry project. But for this week, I decided to experiment with something simpler: a bottle cap. There is a local artist that decorates and embeds tiny objects in bottle caps, fills them with a two part epoxy resin and puts them on ball chains. They make the most whimsical necklaces!

So off I went this week to Michaels. I searched all the glues and found Easy Cast Clear Casting Epoxy which is a boxed "kit" containing one bottle of epoxy resin and one bottle of polyamine hardener. Truth be told, I'm still not 100% sure if this is the same two part epoxy that is used in these little art projects but I gave it a whirl and purchased it for $11.99 (ouch!!). I gathered all of the supplies: the easy cast, a few bottle caps, a drill for making holes in the bottle caps, a black choker cord (purchased for 1.99), a print out of an old family photo and some small findings.

My original idea was to cut out a picture of me as a little girl to fit inside the bottle cap. The directions on the epoxy stated that pictures had to be coated with 2 coats of craft glue before pouring the Easy Cast over it. Unfortunately, the craft glue lifted the ink off of my photo image so I had to scrap my original idea. I ended up going through my beads and filling the bottle cap with tiny seeded costume pearls. Breen was so helpful as usual. He drilled the holes in the bottle cap and mixed the two part epoxy resin. Mistake number one: we should have drilled the holes AFTER the epoxy solution set for at least 24 hours. As soon as Breen carefully poured it in to the bottle cap, it started leaking through the holes. We ended up grabbing some Saran wrap to put the cap on. Mistake number two: when I woke up this morning to check on the progress of the bottle cap pendant the Saran wrap was completely glued to the bottle cap. All in all, the jury is still out as to whether or not I'll give this two part epoxy resin more play. It is extremely messy and sticky, it's a little on the pricey side and the warning signs ALL OVER the bottles make me a little nervous about its unhealthy properties. Here is what I am hoping the pendant will look like after the epoxy fully sets:

But for now I have it attached to a big clip until it dries:

Here is something wonderful that happened though while we were working with the epoxy mix. I still wanted to go with the idea of making a pendant with my childhood picture in it. I remembered I had found an old mashed up Budweiser beer cap on one of my walks this week and I had the rest of the supplies in my jewelry supply storage. So Breen drilled a hole in the bottle cap and I decorated it with a gorgeous little crystal flower. I made a wire wrapped glass pendant and put it all together. On the back of my pendant, it reads: Honor the child. Be the woman. This is powerful for me and the old mashed up bottle cap reminds me of my love of rescuing old unwanted things and making them beautiful again.

So even though the two part epoxy resin may not have worked out the way I planned, there was something even better that resulted from the learning process!

What did you do this week?