Friday, June 24, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of a Blythe

Did you know my first interest in photography was when I was 16. I learned to develop, print and put together a portfolio at that age, when I was in school. I had a private teacher because I had chosen to do this for my independent study project. I used a camera which was my instructor's: an Olympus Pen D. You have to be my age to know what one of those is!
I stopped photographing when digital photography rolled in, because I didn't understand it. Initially, a digital camera was very expensive, as well. This is a huge disappointment to me now because it would have been so great to get those wonderful shots of my beautiful kids, as so many young parents have now!
I am terrible with my cell phone but I am working on it! It is why I wanted to upgrade my cell phone in the first place.

These photos are simply shots taken with my dependable Canon Powershot--it has a high enough DPI to suit me (after working with magazines I understand why this is important), and I get it.
This pictures are of Regina, who is a custom by Moon Rouge, my dear friend. Regina is wearing a dress and headband with scotties by Fae, Pomme Pomme on Etsy. Fae is in Tokyo for the Blythecon taking place there.  How exciting!  Here is the link: 
Regina has a scottie with her--a little dog from my original Bow Wow Trad Blythe--get it? Scotties all over!!! --  jean

Moon Rouge make the most gorgeous eye chips!  :)


Beading Arts
Cyndi experiments with using the new albion stitch to add beads to objects. It's easy, fast, and fun!

Snap out of it, jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a soon to be released book with an original twist: Manga Origami!

Make It, Wear It
Crafty Princess vlogs about how jewelry designers need to wear their own jewelry designs.

Custom Size Card How-to 
Don't feel locked into the size or proportions of a card layout that you're fond of. How to easily create custom size card using mockups.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jean reviews a soon to be released book: Manga Origami: Easy Techniques for Creating 20 Super-Cute Characters

Super wonderful Origami book with a twist!

Learn more about the Japanese art of Manga, comic books, and Origami by studying this super fun book, Manga Origami: Easy Techniques for Creating 20 Super-Cute Characters. Manga characters are intended to be adorable, and when you check these out, you will immediately see that they are!
Get some brightly colored paper, learn the basics, including the folding directions and how to print out the eyes, and you are on your way! There are 20 characters to work with, such as Ronin Samirai, Tea Picker, and Shrine Maiden. I find that all of them are extremely charming and interesting.
All the characters you will be making share a common head and body, which is an excellent extra balance if you would like to create you own collection, for learning and for eye appeal. All of the characters are approximately four inches tall.
Got a rainy summer day coming up during vacation? Make sure you have your materials, this book, and some friends to join you. You will all have a ball learning from this wonderful book by Origami masters Márcio Hideshi Noguchi and Seth Friedman!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of a Blythe

Sadie is a girl who traveled all the way here from across the pond a few years ago. She is a custom by jenink from Australia and arrived in a dramatic black princess dress, made by jenink, and matching black princess crown, She has three colors of  hair, cut in an edgy style.
Sadie the queen of everything
There is a little chair next to her in this photo that you can barely see, but if you enlarge the photo you can see it better. It adds to the regalness of Sadie's je ne sais quoi. 
I took a few photos recently of Sadie wearing red, black and magenta--I am really happy with that color 
combo on her! --jean

gitl with attitude beyond attitude!


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jean reviews Colorful Wirework Jewelry: Twist, Wrap, Weave by Kim St. Jean

Do you love color? Is it one of the number one reasons you make any sort of art, including jewelry?
This lively book understands you! Kim St. Jean has been involved in creating super things since she was a little girl, when she made doll house crafts like little baskets from scraps of telephone wire. Moving forward, she became an Swarovski Ambassador. When she eventually revisited wireworking, it had changed notably. We all love the colors we can work with now, which only just a while back were not available to us.
Kim shows us how to use these to their best effect in her playful, charming, and even glamorous designs. Get ready to rev up your jewelry with colored wire!

Colorful Wirework Jewelry is a book for all level designers. The reader will learn wrapping, coiling, and weaving. The projects are less expensive than ones we all learned on when silver was the only game in town, but that doesn't mean that they are any less elegant at times. The author has an excellent eye for unique designs which are artistic, drenched in color which has tons of joy, and will urge you to look forward to making them.

The reader will learn how to expertly cage a focal (like a smooth rock or a bead). He or she will be spiraling in orange wire, making the prettiest earrings in town!
Don't miss the "How It All Began Ring"--it is a collection of super colorful spirals you will love making!
In the Coiling Section, soon you will be curling and coiling in hot metallic ( the hip "Bold and Bitters" earrings). Then you'll be making a matching set of earrings and a bracelet in a soothing shade of blue with brown accents which are so calming and pretty, resembling the ocean (the "Blue Fish" set). It is a delight to proceed on to making a charming charm-like bracelet called the "Beachcomber's Bracelet", which is fascinatingly full of real shells of all sizes and colors, wired with a number of sizes and techniques of colored wire.That bracelet has matching earrings as well. It couldn't be prettier.
When the reader arrives at the Weaving section, it is a wonderful treat to learn how to weave with colored wire. Not many books offer weaving with wire--get this book for this reason alone--it is great!
The large cuff on the cover is a woven bracelet, "The Mardi Gras Bracelet", offered in two colorways. It is very charming and guaranteed to get compliments galore!  Viking Knit is also offered in this section, in a bracelet in lime green with blue and purple, and in some earrings which are made to match but really can stand alone.

Kim St. Jean has a project in this section I found very funny as it is called "The One that Got Away".
It is a ribbed and coiled wire fish that you make and wear on a rubber necklace--charming!
As you near the end, do not miss her dragonscale bracelet or her "Groovy Godseye" pendant.

The cover says: "Twist, Wrap,Weave" and that is what you will be doing, all in color, when you learn from Colorful Wirework Jewelry Twist, Wrap, Weave by Kim St. Jean. She is a very special teacher who clearly has enjoyed every second of her colorful life and successfully shares it with all of us!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jean reviews Discover Torch Enameling: Get Started with 25 Sure-Fire Projects by Steven James

My image here of the cover of this book doesn't show how brilliant and full of depth the design is. More than "just jewelry",  it is like an art work. You will see and understand it far better when you hold this book by Steven James in your hands. And another piece of wonderful news is that these projects are easy to make. This is torch enameling: the author uses a hand-held torch and easy to find materials. In Discover Torch Enameling  the reader will enjoy 25  super-fun projects, well taught, very clearly, so you don't lose your way.

Steven James begins his introduction with one word which says a lot about the kind of teacher he is:
"PLAY!"  He explains that in our work-oriented culture, we just don't get enough of that. He even invites the reader to contact him if he or she gets stuck and really needs a hand (although his projects are so well explained, I doubt that will happen).
Discover Torch Enameling begins with a comprehensive section of basics: tools, materials, and even something the reader will really appreciate later on: the scientific explanation of "COE" which is imperative for understanding how glass melts or softens, as well as its fit with the metal you are using. It sounds confusing the way I have written it, but it isn't, and the reader will catch on fast. I appreciate the mindful way it is pointed out by the author.
The five chapters in this book entice you before you even get to them by introducing you to the projects with thumbnail photos and the names of the projects, along with the pages on which they are located. Even if you begin at the beginning (always a great way to learn), you will be able to look forward to what to expect down the road. And the author has an great imagination and tons of artistic energy to inspire you !
Love comic book art? Be prepared for your next Comic Con with his very first project, the "Embedded Metal Comic Book Earrings". Although they sound funky, they are extremely chic the way he has designed them.
The author repeatedly takes the reader by surprise with his originality and artistic flair.
One of the projects I was extremely fascinated by is in Chapter 2: the "Ready to Raku Bracelet".
As an art glass collector, I have loved the raku style in ceramics since forever. However, the author has added another dimension to raku by using torch enameling. It gives an aged effect to this bracelet, which is made of copper plumbing tubes which have been cut apart and enameled. They are then attached to each other using jump rings and a 2-strand bar clasp to make a cuff. This cuff looks ancient and exquisite. I picture myself wearing this with a toga, wandering the streets of Rome, in 500 AD. Or maybe I just picture myself wearing it with a T shirt and jeans, any place, any time.

If you are a "delicate flower", consider the elegant "Bouquet Garni" necklace in Chapter 3. The author got his inspiration for this necklace after a day of yardwork. He was working with nature's best when he designed this, The wire is enameled in blues and greens, and shaped to resemble rosemary. What a feminine, pretty look this has! The colors are dreamy, too.\
Chapter 4 has a divine heart bracelet for those of us who adore anything with hearts. This design is enameled in lavenders, reds, purples and pinks. The hearts alternate in shape from convex to concave as they link. This is flat-out pretty and it isn't trite in any way. This could easily become your signature bracelet.
Chapter 5, the final chapter, offers a bull's eye ring which will knock the reader's socks off. It is shown three ways. It is easy, has great impact, and, as the author says, "your finished piece will be right on target!" This is so true. As will all the other projects, this has marvelous appeal. Anything which the reader makes from this book will be commented on by everyone, and if given away as a gift, completely loved.
Discover Torch Enameling: Get Started with 25 Sure-Fire Projects, by Steven James is  a great introduction to this form of easy enameling. I hope the author writes a follow-up to this wonderful book very soon!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jean reviews Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel

What is Hubble Stitch? As the author explains, it began as a blend of herringbone and ladder stitch, with a close cousin of right angle weave (RAW), all rolled into one. There are two phases (or two passes) based on what she calls her "super picot", which remains perky because of the double pass. The biggest difference this causes is that each stitch is individual, "allowing lots of movement and slinkiness to the textile formed". This is what gives the beautiful, lacy quality to the Hubble Stitch, as developed by author Melanie de Miguel. If you like what you see on the cover, this book is for you!

The author states in her introduction that each chapter is a progression through the basic forms of Hubble (an astronomy fan, she named her stitch after the telescope, which she hopes will inspire all her readers to more complex and interesting forms of the Hubble stitch).

Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel  will progressively introduce the beader to basic Hubble, 2-Drop, 3-Drop, Spaced Out Hubble (both Horizontal and Vertical), Hubble-in-the-round (Circular and Tubular Hubble) and Inverted Hubble. The author mentions that she has been continuing to explore Hubble Stitch, and that we all can look forward to a second book shortly. Having read the names of the progressive stitches she has come up with for this book, I am looking forward to it!

Chapter One explains Materials and Terms in a brief but thorough manner, with some very nice photos.

Chapter Two continues on with the basic Hubble Stitch and four beautiful projects, from a rainbow colored cuff, to a cool frilled eyeglass holder, to a curvy third bracelet with a variation in colors suggested, to a lovely pair of earrings in an elegant fan shape.

Once the reader gets the idea and becomes familiar with this stitch through working her way through this early chapter, the fascination really begins!

Chapter Three offers 2-Drop and 3-Drop Hubble Stitch  instructions. Here is where you find your total wow: Project 5 is "Mercury", the cover girl bracelet, and what a gorgeous piece of work you will enjoy making, here. As the author says, "the Mercury cuff really shows off this textile to the max!"
Mercury alone is totally worth the price of this book.

Chapter Four continues on, however, to amaze and engage the reader further. This is where you will be learning Horizontal Spaced Out Hubble, also know as HorSO. This beautiful variation of the Hubble Stitch truly shows off the individuality of each stitch. The author likes it for its integrity, as was mentioned earlier, and also because it is great for beaded beads and bezelling cabochons. There are two projects to help the reader understand how lovely this variation is.

Chapter Five is Vertical Spaced Out Hubble (VerSO). The author explains that this is great for minimizing the passes you make through the beads, "and create really beautiful filigree beadwork especially when bezelling crystals." The Christmas Cuff in this chapter is truly delightful, in greens, light greens, reds, pearl tones and silver lined crystal tones (for a sprinkling of snow)!

The reader is greeted with a whole different look when encountering Chapter Six, Hubble-in-the-round (or Circular and Tubular Hubble). The opening project is one of pretty snowflake earrings, That gets you ready for some beautiful Hubble ropes and a striking scarf ring with pretty crystals.

Chapter Seven addresses the stitch called Inverted Hubble, and what a stitch this is. Inverted Hubble, according to the author, is simply Hubble upside down, however it enables you to "bezel crystals and cabochons in utterly delightful ways".According to the author, learning this technique will lead the beader to many interesting possibilities. From the photos of the projects, including the final project in the book, "Solar Flares", that is certainly the case. This pendant is a beaded rivoli bezelled with size 15 beads in two different colors. The reader will be employing numerous techniques she has learned in this book and will end up with a pendant which is drop-dead gorgeous. If you like, you can continue on from there and make a bracelet of multicolored Solar Flares, which is jawdropping. Earring are suggested too, as is a necklace.

I found this book, Hubble Stitch, Instructions & Inspiration for this Creative New Lace Beadwork Technique by Melanie de Miguel to be fascinating and beautiful. Just like the Hubble Telescope brings us closer to the beauty of the cosmos, Hubble Stitch gives us a chance to get closer to a different sort of beauty. The delight of learning a new beading stitch!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Beadbloggers and photos of Blythes by Jean

Maggie May...

This girl above, whom I have named Maggie May, is my first "faux Blythe". She is a cheap fake! They are known by many names, and they flood eBay. Basically what they are is cobbled together parts and pieces of Blythes which are actually from real Blythes, or, alternatively dolls which have been made from taking a mold of a Blythe (therefore they are not quite the proper size). I got this one because I used to have a real Gentle River (GR). Mine looked like this: 
I took the photo above for a magazine in Australia I was writing a column for. I made the Peace necklace and dressed her in my own choice of clothing. I never would have sold her, but I needed the money. The Gentle River is one of the top Blythes, popularity-wise and --  expensive? You bet. I miss Gwenny (my real GR) but am happy to have Maggie May--she is good enough for me!--jean


Monday, May 16, 2016

Jean reviews Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers by Vickie Howell

Vickie Howell is a favorite knitting teacher, well known for her craft books and her delightful charm. Here, in Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers, she presents garter stitch 28 different ways, all for babies. Vickie learned this stitch when she was expecting her son. It is a simple stitch, but can be translated into all sorts of different looks. As the author explains in her introduction, "When paired with crisp palettes or watery pools of color and simple shapes, garter stitch's clean ridges and textural bumps create a truly modern-looking piece. Nurture the stitch with advanced skills like short rows, stranded colorwork, or lace motifs, and that simple stitch evolves into something unexpected."

The projects in this book are endearing and adorable. Each one of the creations offers garter stitch as part of the design. No worries if you are a newbie, there is a nice section at the end of the book with a lot of techniques demonstrated. As with the projects, they are very well photographed and clearly explained. This isn't entirely a beginner's book, more for a knitter who is bit familiar with the territory, however the reader who is motivated should give it a try and/or save it for later, as it is so darn cute.  

The author's personality shines in her comments, which the reader will note on the little tags on some of the pages. Here is an example: "Oh neon and neutral! We heart you!"
Well, after seeing that cardi, if I didn't before, I do now! 

The projects, which feature baby models, range from blankets, to socks, to cardigans, to hats, to the most awesome mini moccasins ("Mini Mocs") I have ever seen. That one is categorized "easy" (one up from "beginner") and offers a template for the front embellishment. 

It is astonishing what the reader will be motivated to accomplish after paging through Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers.  Do you have a baby diva in the family? Check out the "Gaga Glam Cloche", precious and sassy, with a felt applique you'll be gluing on to finish it.
Do you have a rambunctious baby who dislikes getting dressed to go out? Try the "Poncho Pal". Complete with a peaked hood, it is easy to throw over baby's clothes when you two need to race out the door. As the author says, "a good poncho is a parent's best friend".  She's right! And this one is unisex and as cute as a button.

One other project I found especially clever is the "Horseplay Zebra Mat". Fresh and zingy in zebra stripes knit from a chenille-like yarn, it is one of the projects in the "easy" category, and it makes a great gift or a present for your own baby. It is an animal shaped, striped mat (complete with ears)  any baby would love to play on when visiting friends or at home.   

Although there is only one project categorized as "beginner", the ones which are "easy" are about equal in number to "intermediate" and there is only one "advanced" I noted. That one is designed for a toddler, so you can practice to your heart's content on the simpler ones and wait a bit for baby to grow before you tackle it. 

Everything in Wee Garter Stitch, Must Have Knits for Modern Babies & Toddlers by Vickie Howell is wonderfully inventive and appealing. What a great way to anticipate a new addition to your family, or to a friend's family--making something super sweet and beautifully designed from this book!

Here are the kind of knitting needles best used for the projects in this book--aren't they cool? These particular ones are for the bib!