Sunday, October 11, 2009

12 Weeks of Christmas

Penelope Designs is being featured in Week 3 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas, a great giveaway blog contest by SewArtsy.

Each week for the 12 weeks before Christmas, SewArtsy is featuring a different Etsy artisan and a free giveaway item from that seller. Head on over to her blog to see what to do to to enter the contest!

For my part of the contest, I am offering a red, white and blue button bracelet and matching earring set from my Etsy site. Great to wear on patriotic holidays, or any time you feel like showing your country pride

Head on over to and enter now, and good luck!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Art on the Avenue!

Tomorrow is Art on the Avenue, a fun festival of food, crafts and music on Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. There will be dozens of crafters there, including yours truly, hoping against all hope that it doesn't rain!
I have been knitting like crazy for the past several months to get ready for this show, ramping up my baby hat collection, as well as introducing fingerless gloves, coffee cup sweaters, and my newest favorite, puzzle balls!
Come by and visit if you are in the neighborhood - I am in booth W172 between Hume and Uhler Streets.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Buttons, Buttons, Buttons!

Well, it's been a while, mostly because I have been so busy making jewelry, that I haven't had much time to post anything. I have become enamored of buttons recently, and been finding all kinds of fun ways to use up all those extra buttons that seem to come with your outfits that you will never be able to match up when you really need them, all those buttons that your mom has hanging around in her sewing box, and all those craft buttons that you thought you would use with your kids in a crazed, inspired moment, but never did....

So I have been going crazy finding ways to use them in jewelry, since I love the way they feel against my skin, especially during the summer.

Button bracelets:

Made using silver plate chain and large (10 mm) jump rings.

Button Earrings:

And even button necklaces:

Made using gold plated chain and jumbo jump rings!

If you can think of other ways to use buttons, please post here. Would love to see other photos and ideas!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crocheted Wire and its Many Possibilities

My latest passion is making jewelry with crocheted wire. The possibilities, given the different gauges and colors of wire available, are endless, especially if you combine them with different beads or stones. My favorite colors to work right now are blue and aqua. Here is an example of what happens when you use a bead soup of Indian glass beads and combine them with three strands of fine gauge silver plated wire.

It is really fun to experiment with different gauges of wire, since you never know how a piece is going to turn out. Generally, I use very fine gauge wire 30) with swarovski crystals, pearls and semi precious stones, 208 gauge with beads like the ones above, and thicker gauge wire (26) with chunkier stones. Anything thicker than 26 gauge and my fingers can really feel it!

Here is an example of work with very fine gauge wire and smaller stones, using black instead of silver wire. The beads I used here are rose and strawberry quartzes, jade, pearls, and moonstone. Very different look, no?

Here is an example using gold plated wire and autumn colors, for a very elegant and sophisticated look. I used bronze and pink pearls, seed beads and crystals and made a matching set of earrings as well.

Finally, here is what a chunky piece using vintage jet beads and red accents comes out looking like. This piece was braided at the ends, so that the focus is on the red and black in the middle. Hope this gives you an idea of the extensive possibilities of crocheting with wire!

Most of these pieces can be found on my Etsy store at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My First Tutorial: Wired Beaded Hair Thingies!

Well, since my creative urge came back today with a bit of sun in the afternoon, I figured I would dive right in and try a tutorial. I have been on the look out on line for instructions for some fun summer hair thingies that would involve beads, but they are few and far between. I did find something I liked on, but have decided to adapt it a bit, since the directions weren't the greatest, as I started trying to make it. Also, I don't know about the rest of you, but I am a very visual learner, and need a lot of pictures to go with what I am doing, so there will be lots of photos with each instruction. This is something that even the most basic beader can make, with just a few tools, so enjoy!

Items needed:
Thick elastic ponytail holder (I like Scuncis)

An assortment of seed beads in your favorite colors (I used size 11 in these pics, but I'm sure you can use any size you like). I like to mix them up in a shallow bowl.

Craft wire (22-24 gauge is good)

Knitting needles of various sizes, or pencils

Round nose pliers
Wire cutters

1. First cut the wire into 3 equal lengths of 8 inches. The original tutorial called for 6 inches, but I found this too meager.

2. Put your assortment of beads into a little bowl or on a beading mat.
(see photo above!)

3. Curl the end of each wire with your round nose pliers so the beads don't fall off!
4. String the beads in random order onto each wire, leaving about 1.5 inches at each end.

5. When you are done stringing, curl each end with your round nose pliers.

6. Then make each wire into a U shape, and push the beads towards each end, leaving a space in the middle.
7. Take all three wires and twist them together.

So they end up looking like this -

8. Take the Scuncii and carefully twist the trio of wires around it.

9. Take each wire and coil it around a knitting needle, pencil or dowel. On some of these, I used a variety of different sizes of needles, and on others, I used all the same size. The coils should go in a bunch of different directions, depending on your inclination.

10. That's it, you're done! Now wasn't that easy?

This is how it looks with a different colorway of beads. These make great end of the year teacher gifts, by the way!

Please send me any comments, photos of your work, etc. I would love to see different takes on this!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FaceBook marketing tips for rainy days

Does anyone else find that rainy weather makes them more or less creative? For me, it is definitely less. Which doesn't make sense, since on sunny days I should be out in the garden or pool, but I love sitting in my golden filled sun room, looking at my beads and figuring out what to make next. On rainy days, like today, all I want to do is sleep....

To combat that, I use rainy days for marketing my Etsy products. Today, I figured out how to use Facebook to list a new Etsy product on my Business Page. It is actually pretty simple. First, of course, you have to have a page for your business. If you are already on Facebook, go to someone's (anyone's) business page. On the bottom left corner, you will see "Create a Page for my Business." That could take a while to fill out all the necessary information, so once you're done with that, come back to me....

OK - now that you're done with that, you want to post a link to your Etsy product (or anything else you want to link to). If you click directly on the box that says "What's on Your Mind", little icons that say "Add link, photos,", etc. will show up underneath. This is where you can put a photo, a link to your new listing, product, whatever. Then just press Share and then this will show up on your regular FaceBook page and your Fans' pages as well! For some reason, this didn't show up on my page, and I had to press "show hidden posts" for this to show....don't get all the ins and outs of FB yet, but I am trying!

Well, that used up most of my evening, and now I am off to knit in bed. I can knit no matter what the weather!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wow - finally starting a blog!

OK - So I am diving in with all rest of the millions out there and starting a blog. What the heck will I write about that is different from any one else? I have no idea at this point, but everyone says "start a blog!", so I do what I am told, and start a blog, and hope the ideas will flow...

What will I write about?

Well, I can write about what inspires me in life - my kids, my husband, my dog Scout, my garden, my wonderful friends...

I can write about the constant pull between want to create beautiful things and the need to actually make money to support my family....

I can write about what a pain it is to market these beautiful things and sell them, when all I really want to do is make them and have them sell themselves so I can keep using my time to create them...

I can write about why it is that one day I feel like making several pieces of jewelry, and the next, I feel like knitting, and the next, all I want to do is crossword puzzles or get under the covers and sleep all day...

So I guess there is enough for me to write about - now all I have to do is "just do it", as they say...