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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Month's Giveaway - Jewelry Featuring Candy!

Halloween will be upon us before you know it. In order to help celebrate the coming change in season, the beautiful fall colors and the fun of Halloween, this giveaway features "2" handmade resin jewelry pendants which feature candy! The first contains 2 pieces of candy corn - something you will no doubt see a lot of within the next few weeks. The second features a single M&M set in a candy sprinkles background in fall colors.

To win one of these cool items, all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me your favorite thing about the autumn season. That's it. On September 15, the names of all who left comments will be entered into a random drawing and "2" lucky winners will be selected. Please be sure I have a way of contacting you in case you win, so I can obtain your mailing address. This will help ensure you can have your jewelry to wear in plenty of time for Halloween and the fall season. Oh, and did I tell you, the 15th happens to be a FULL moon.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Itty Bitty Book Swaps - You Can't Stop At Just One

I've been actively involved on Flickr since early 2007. I initially thought I'd be sharing photos of my designs with other people who have similar interests, but it turned out to be so much more than I'd ever anticipated. I have made many new friends on the site; in addition, I have discovered the "Itty Bitty Book Swaps" through FLICKR and boy, am I hooked.

Basically, the swap is limited to 25 or 30 people. A theme is decided, and participants contribute one small page (front and back) for each book. Some participants opted to make all 30 pages from scratch; others, like me, made one original copy of the page, photocopied it, then decorated it with embellishments, glitter and anything else to accentuate the designs. On my page, I used tulle and glitter glue for the dress, and added a little acrylic star to the sky.

After the pages are completed, they are sent to the swap hostess, who binds each book, then mails one to each participant. The book pages are small in size but the books themselves end up being really chunky because of all of the embellishments added to the pages.

I joined the group when it hosted it's second swap, "Vintage Prom Dress." I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my book which which should be here any day now. I have also signed up for 3 more swaps through the group - "Sweet Marie" (which is Marie Antoinette/French-themed); "Halloween" and "Vintage Christmas".

I invite you to come check out the group and participate in one (or more) of the swaps if you dare. But - consider yourself warned - this is EXTREMELY addicting. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vintage Halloween ATC Swap - Taking Sign-Ups Now

Halloween is such a fun time of year and I thought it would be a great time to host our first blog swap with a vintage Halloween theme. This swap is a 3 for 3 ATC (Altered Trading Card) swap. What is an ATC, you ask? An ATC is a miniature work of art (the size of a playing card) which people swap with one another. The size of the ATC is always 2 1/2" by 3 1/2". It can be decorated in any form or fashion, including painting, decoupage, collage and the like. If you have not made an ATC yet, I warn you - it's really addicting. Thankfully, they are inexpensive to make, so you can craft your heart out and not break the bank.

Here are the rules for this swap:

1) This is a 3 for 3 swap. This means you will make 3 ATC's and get 3 ATC's in return. The theme is Vintage Halloween - think witches, ghosts, pumpkins, black cats and anything else that conjures up thoughts of Halloween from days past.
2) Swap sign-ups close on September 6th. If you'd like to participate, please comment here or email me at: craftymule@yahoo.com and I will add you to the list.
3) ATC packages must be in the mail to me by September 30. After all, this is a Halloween swap and it would not be fun if we swapped afterwards. Once I get everyone's packages, I will swap out the ATC's and mail them out to you ASAP.
4) Please include a self-addressed return envelope for your ATC's and include enough money or stamps (if you are in the United States) to cover the cost of shipping. (This shouldn't be too much - $1.50 or so.) Please don't send postage meter strips. The post office doesn't accept these if they are being used to mail a package from a different state. If you live outside of the United States, you can still participate, but instead of sending me stamps, you can send me a payment through Paypal to cover the cost of shipping.
5) That's it! Let the sign-ups begin and have fun! Whoo hoo! I will keep a running list of participates on this post, so please be sure to check back for updates.

(Pictured are ATC's I designed and traded in a Halloween swap last year. Just a little something to help you get your creative juices flowing.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Resin Troubleshooting Tips - Preventing "Wet Out"

People often contact me for tips on the resin making process. In this resin making series, I hope to touch on some of the common problems that occur with the process and offer solutions on how to correct them. Much of what I will share with you is based on my own trial and error in making my own projects.

One of the most common issues which occurs is something called "wet out." "Wet out" occurs when the resin makes contact with images. It can make your image look like it got wet, and in severe cases, it can make your whole image turn transparent. The photo to the right shows "wet out" where the angel's wings meet her dress. As you can see, it ruins the whole design.

The chemicals in resin break down delicate items such as paper. In order to preserve your images, you have to protect them by coating them with sealant before you place them in resin. Coating both the back and the front of the design with white glue is usually a popular method given in books to prevent "wet out" from occurring. I was not satisfied with this method. I experimented with several different brands of white glue to seal my images and still encountered problems. The first problem was that "wet out" still occurred; the second was that I had applied the glue too thickly to the image, which resulted in it appearing as though a milky substance was floating over it.

Another method that was recommended in a book I read is to cover both sides of the image with clear packing tape. Trust me when I tell you that this suggestion definitely does not work, as the resin still seeps into the tape and damages the image at hand.

My favorite method to prevent "wet out" is to use glossy (not matte) gel medium. I have used both Golden's and Liquitex gel medium brands and they work equally well for this process.

Here's the step-by-step process I use to protect my images:

h sharp scissors, cut out the images you will be embedding in resin.

STEP TWO: Tear off a sheet of wax paper.
Lay it on a flat working surface. Place your
images face down on top of the wax paper. Brush a thin coat of glossy gel medium on the back of each image. Let dry.

over the images so they face right side up. Brush a thin coat of the gel medium on the image. Let dry. Note: The gel will look milky white when it is wet, but it will dry clear.

STEP FOUR: Carefully peel the images off of the wax paper. You will have dried medium that extends past the image. With scissors, carefully trim off the excess medium but do not trim the image itself. If you accidentally cut into the image, you will need to reapply gel medium to the cut area. The cut area is susceptible to "wet out" damage from the resin. (Trust me on this one, I learned this the hard way.)
And there you have it. Please be sure to check back for additional resin making tips and projects (among other cool crafty things). Happy creating! :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tontitown Grape Festival

Tontitown, Arkansas is just a stone's throw away from where I live in Northwest Arkansas. Every year, they hold a Grape Festival which features craft vendors, amusement rides, carnival-style food, used book sale, grape flavored ice cream, homemade spaghetti dinners (made from scratch--no boxed spaghetti, here), grape stomping and live entertainment. Catholic Mass is also held for those who wish to attend. This year, the 110th annual celebration was no different.


Beginning in 1895, Italian settlers established a colony in Tontitown. They established farms, their first general store and a post office. They successfully grew strawberries, apples and grapes. In 1900, the men of the town worked together to build a church. Each August, the settlers would celebrate their harvest with a Mass of
Thanksgiving in the little church. They'd sing and dance, and the women served the tastiest meals that their provisions would allow. These little celebrations continued to blossom and every August, without fail, the Grape Festival is held on the grounds of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. With something for everyone, this celebration is one that the locals look forward to attending year after year.

Homemade Spaghetti Dinner:

My husband and I attended last night's celebration. We started the night off with the delicious homemade spaghetti dinner. Women work for weeks before the celebration making the pasta from scratch and hanging it on racks to dry. Their efforts are very much enjoyed by the locals, and we were no different. Fresh pasta has a taste all it's own. Our dinner came with homemade fried chicken, tossed salad, rolls, butter and a beverage. It was absolutely delicious. Thank goodness I wore my shorts with the stretchy waistband!

Oh, and did I mention? Packages of the dried spaghetti were also for sale for those who wanted to make it at home. I picked up a couple of pounds so my entire family can enjoy it for a yummy dinner to come.

Used Book Sale:

While my husband set up our chairs outside the entertainment stage, I checked out the used book sale. The sale boasts all kinds of books, music (in the form of LP's, CD's) and even some puzzles and games. The items cost anywhere from 25 cents to 50 cents so you can stock up on all sorts of goodies and not break the bank. I walked out with 2 bags of books and LP's. Now, in all honesty, the LP's really aren't anything I would listen to, but the kitschy album artwork was just screaming at me. In the near future, I am going to transform them into something cool, like tote bags or clocks.

Live Entertainment:

The live entertainment for the night was provided by a local band, Whit Landers and the Hillbilly Connection, and country music singer Bryan White. The stage consists of a large trailer from the back of a semi truck. There's nothing quite like listening to live music under the stars in such a homey atmosphere. The first time I saw Bryan White in concert was in 1998 in Arizona, when he toured with LeAnn Rimes. The one thing that struck me both times - then and now - is that Bryan really is a nice guy. He's very down-to-earth and just one of the boys.

After the show ended, Bryan chatted with fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs. I took the opportunity of slipping him my business card and he promised he would check out my original jewelry designs. I would love the opportunity of making him and/or his wife some personalized jewelry with their little boys images on it. Now, I don't know if I will actually be hearing from Bryan or his wife, but if you don't ask, it's a definite "no", right?

Survey Results

I recently asked readers to take a brief survey to let me know what they looked for in a blog. More than one answer could be selected.

The results were as follows:

85% - Craft projects/recipes
64% - Participate in swaps/giveaways
57% - Helpful information
50% - Make friends/network
14% - Get coupons/discount codes

Thank you to everyone who voted. Stay tuned for some great projects, swaps and helpful information. (You asked for it, you've got it, my friends!) :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nesting Doll Earrings Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone to stopped by to comment on my blog. I appreciate all of your wonderful comments and hope you will continue to pop in and visit.

And folks, everyone that commented was entered into a drawing for a free pair of handmade nesting doll earrings. The drawing was held tonight and.....

(drumroll, please.......)

The winner is Susan Hickam! Yay, Susan! Congratulations to you! Susan also has a new blog. Please stop by and say hello to her at: http://sweetpeasuescottage.blogspot.com/

Oh, and Susan, please email me with your address and I'll get your earrings out to you ASAP.

Thanks! :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

My New Banner Rocks!!!

I LOVE my new blog banner! Isn't it awesome? It was designed for me by the very talented Mel Latthitham. (Thank you, Mel!)

Mel creates all sorts of really fun designs with a retro, pop art feel and he can tweak them to meet your individual specifications. And, if you are looking for some personalized stationary utilizing similar designs, he can do that, too.

Please check him out at his Etsy store, malien00:

I assure you, you will not be disappointed. :)
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