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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas Sale - 3 Days Only!

As a way of saying thank you to all of my customers - new and not so new - I am offering a 3 day sale of 25% off everything site-wide at my Etsy* and EBay shops.  This is a great way to purchase something for yourself or your loved ones for Christmas.  Hurry!  The sale ends on December 18, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.  Offer is good at Wanda Maria Designs on Etsy* and Two Crafty Mules on EBay.  Thank you and happy shopping!!!

* On Etsy, please use coupon code Christmas25

Saturday, December 12, 2015

DIY Waterproof Photo Tile Coasters Tutorial

I have been wanting to post this tutorial for awhile now.  Handmade coasters make great gifts for Christmas or any time of the year.  I will be the first to tell you that you can find other photo coaster tutorials on the internet and on Pinterest, but many of them are not waterproof.  This means that your efforts to create a beautiful DIY project are essentially ruined the first time someone places a glass on your coaster.   That is how this tutorial is different than the others out there.  Not only will I tell you how to make your coasters waterproof, I will also let you know about my product preferences based upon my own tried-and-true personal experiences.  (Why reinvent the wheel twice, right?)

I made this set of coasters for my parents, who celebrated 51 years of marriage this year.  They have everything they need so it makes it difficult to buy gifts for them.  I figured the coasters would be something they would not only  use, but also enjoy since they capture moments from their many years together.



Four 4x4 ceramic white tiles
Four 4x4 pictures printed from ink jet or laser printer (do not use developed photos)
Pencil or pen
White glue (I used Aleene's Tacky Glue)
Gold leafing pen or gold marker (I used Pilot gold marker)
Resin (I used Annie Howe's for this project)
Felt pads, round (about 3/4" inch in diameter)

Important Note:  Please make sure your work surface is covered with waxed paper, a plastic sheet or garbage bag, or something similar so you don't ruin your table!


1)  Select 4 white ceramic tiles that will serve as the base of the coasters.  Set aside.

2) On an inkjet or laser printer, select four photos for the coasters and print them out.  Make sure they are at least 4x4.  It's okay if they are a little bigger than 4x4, as they will be trimmed, just don't make them smaller than this size.   The ones I selected are memories of my parents over the years.

3) Using one of the coasters as a guide, turn the coaster upside and center it over the photo.   Trace around it with a pen or pencil.  Use scissors to cut out images.  Repeat this process for the remaining photos.

4) Use your desired type of glue for adhering the images to the coasters.  I prefer to use Aleene's Tacky glue on most of my projects.   First, it's tried and true - but it also works well for adhering paper-based crafts.

5) Squeeze the glue randomly over the coasters.  Don't go crazy - the idea with this is that you will have enough glue to spread over the coaster, but not so much that you have a dripping mess. 

6) Using your finger, spread the glue evenly over the coaster from edge to edge.

7) Carefully lay the photo on top of the coaster.  Run your finger over the image, ensuring that all wrinkles and bubbles are gone.  Let the coaster dry at least an hour.  (Tip: If you don't allow the coaster to dry before beginning the next step, you will cause your image to wrinkle and pucker. Trust me on this one. :)  )

8) Use the same technique as described in Step 5.  (Note:  Some people swear by using Mod Podge for this process.  I don't recommend it.  I have found that when using Mod Podge to decoupage images I print from my ink jet printer, the Mod Podge lifts the colors off of the image, making them faded and barely visible.  I have destroyed many a project by using Mod Podge for this purpose.  So - I just avoid using it all together.)

9) Use the same technique as described in Step 6.  Make sure that all edges of the photo are coated with glue.  Failing to do this will result in the photo becoming damaged by the resin and/or liquids.

10) When all of the glue has been spread over the photo, it will appear white.  (This will turn transparent as the glue dries, so don't worry.)

11)  Allow the coasters to dry thoroughly.  They are considered to be dry when there is no white showing.

Images after glue has been applied and allowed to dry.

12) Use the gold marker or leafing pen to apply a gold edging around the outside of the photos.  I like to use this technique because it gives the coasters a more finished look than when left plain.

13) Once completed, your coaster will look like this.  Allow the gold to dry for several minutes.

14) Use your resin of choice to coat the top of the coasters.  For this project, I used Annie Howe's Luxe jewelry grade resin.  I have had very good results with this resin.  It looks crystal clear when dried, and it does not turn yellow over time.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing the resin.  Use a Popsicle stick to apply the resin evenly over the entire top of the coaster.  Make sure resin is applied evenly from edge to edge.  You don't need to put a heavy coat on top of the coaster.  A thin one will do.  To cover 4 coasters, you will use approximately 4 ounces of resin (one medicine cup full.)  If you see any bubbles form after the resin has been poured, hold a heat gun several inches above the coaster.  This will help to dissipate the bubbles.  Let coasters harden thoroughly.  Depending on which resin you use, this can be anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.

15) Once the resin has thoroughly hardened, turn over coasters and stick one felt pad in each corner.     This will help to ensure you don't scratch your table top.

16)  And there you have it!!!  Your beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind coasters!!!

I hope you have enjoyed making this project as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.  Please don't hesitate to drop me a message if you have any questions about anything within this process.  Happy coaster-making!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hand-Painted Filigree Necklaces

I have shared my love of hand-tinting and hand-painting metal pieces for jewelry on past blog posts.  I recently had the chance to play with coloring metal jewelry components again.  This time, I took various-sized round filigree stampings, hand-painted each one and fashioned them into necklaces and earrings. Some of the filigree pieces were further embellished with metal stampings (which I also hand-colored); mini aluminum roses or mini crosses.

Here are some of my latest designs:

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Necklace.  I colored the filigree pieces with mint, white and aqua blue colored acrylic paints.  After base painting the pieces, I dabbed over each with a sponge that was dipped into complementary paint colors.  Once the paint dried, I sealed the filigree pieces with a polyurethane sealant. 

Saint Rose of Lima necklace.  This one was a lot of fun to make.  Since St. Rose is usually pictured with roses, I thought it would be nice to give her necklace a shabby chic look.  To achieve this, I used a base color of white paint on the filigree pieces, then sponged over each with green and medium pink paint colors.  Little pink aluminum roses adhered to the filigree pieces add extra interest to the overall design of the piece.

Our Lady of Guadalupe necklace and earrings set.  Once again, I tried to complement the colors from the image along with the colors used on the filigree pieces.  I used a rich shade of metallic copper, along with bluish-green and rusty brown paints as highlight colors.  Please note the roses along the bottom edge of the pendant utilize the same colors to bring everything into one cohesive design.

I should note that on all of the jewelry pieces shown here, I started off with plain silver-colored filigree pieces.  Once the pieces are painted, no one can tell what the original color was.

All of these pieces (and more) have been posted in my Etsy and EBay shops.  These are all one of a kind pieces and will not be duplicated.

Stay tuned for more new designs to be shared here later in the week.  And - as always - please be sure to join me on Instagram where I often show pictures of my work in process. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!  May you have an abundance of love, family, friends and good things on this wonderful day!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New Polymer Clay Halloween Designs!

True to form, with the hectic pace of being a full-time college student (along with all of the accompanying homework), plus work and all of life's little "things", I feel like I have been pressed for time in getting my holiday jewelry creations completed in a timely fashion.  I have just completed some new polymer clay Halloween designs, which were posted to Etsy and EBay this evening.  Without further ado, here are a few of them for your viewing pleasure:

Pumpkin brooches - hand carved by yours truly.

Candy corn charm bracelet and earrings.

Candy corn charm bracelet - detail pic.

Pumpkin charm bracelet and earrings.

Pumpkin charm bracelet - Detail pic.

Ghost earrings and necklace.

Country prim pumpkin earrings.

In the event you are interested, I have been sharing photos of my jewelry creations on Instagram as they are in the process of being created (among other things.)  Such as the image (below) of my pumpkin jewery pieces being treated with antiquing medium to give them a more rustic, prim look.

Pumpkins being antiqued - from my Instagram page.

I am happy to report that I also have started working on some new Christmas and Catholic jewelry designs - just in time for the holidays!  Stay tuned  - I am planning to share them here as they are completed.  :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Shopping for Jewelry Supplies & Embellishments in NYC's Garment District

Even though I love all things creative, when I shop for supplies, the things I buy most often are intended for my mixed media jewelry design creations.   Now don't get me wrong, if I notice a sale on beautiful fabric or trim, I don't hesitate to purchase it for my quilting stash; more often than not, though, my focus is geared towards jewelry supplies and beads.

Last month, I spent several days in New York City.  And lucky me - my hotel was located within walking distance of the Garment District.  Prior to my trip, I researched the internet and various blogs to find shops that carry jewelry supplies.  I visited a few of those, in addition to other places I discovered just by wandering around the area.  I want to share my findings with my readers and others who are interested in finding jewelry supplies in the Garment District.

Hai's Trim
242 West 38th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
(212) 764-2166
Hours: Monday - Friday from 10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m.
Website:  https://haitrimstore.com/

Although I visited several shops, my absolute favorite was Hai's Trim.  Although Hai's Trim touts itself as a carnival supplier and fashion design shop on its Facebook page, they have much, much more by way of embellishments and jewelry design.  You name it, they have it here.  There is an entire wall of metal chain by the yard, in a vast array of designs, shapes, sizes, weights and colors - many of which I have not seen in my local craft stores or on the internet.  And best of all, it is priced reasonably compared to other shops that carry chain in the area.  Another thing I love about this shop is the fact that they carry large sizes (for example, 10-11 mm sizes) of AB rhinestone chain in various colors and metal choices, including bronze, black, gun-metal, copper and rose-gold, which is generally hard to find.   I purchased several yards of chain here, in addition to metal stampings and crystals that will be perfect for my future creations.  A lovely girl by the name of Cynthia patiently assisted me during my visit.  She was quite helpful, informing me that the shop gives a 10% discount on purchases that total over $100.00.  In addition, they sell to both retail and wholesale customers.  Be sure to bring your resale certificate when you shop here.

Storefront view of Hai's Trim.

Large rhinestone chain sold by the yard.

An entire wall of chain - a jewelry creator's delight.

More chain.

And still more chain...

Just a small sampling of embellishments available for sale.

A view of just some of the decorative trim.

A view of some of the rhinestone chain I purchased here.

M&J Trimming
1008 Sixth Avenue (between 37th and 38th Streets)
Hours: Mon - Fri : 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday : 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday : 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tel: 212-391-6200

Website: http://www.mjtrim.com/

I have been on M&J Trimming's email list for several years.  It all started with an online purchase I made from them.  However, until last month, I did not have the opportunity to visit their physical location.  Let me just say that this store is chock-full of floor to ceiling ribbons, trim, buttons and other items.  The store's website offers several items for sale, however, it does not (cannot) represent anywhere near the volume of items available for purchase in the retail location.

Included in the vast inventory of this store is a decent variety of metal chain sold by the piece, foot or yard, depending on the item.  In addition, Swarovski crystal buttons, trim and flat-backs are sold here.  The service is good, too.  I was assisted by an adorable octogenarian who told me she has worked for the shop for over 40 years - and loves it.  I can't remember her name, but she was super sweet and very helpful.  Even though the main part of my purchase here was chain, I couldn't resist purchasing some of the decorative trim for my other projects.

Outside of M&J Trimming.

Storefront view of M&J Trimming.

One of the floor to ceiling ribbon displays. I couldn't fit it all into the picture.

A close-up view of ribbon/trim available for sale.

Gorgeous rhinestone trim.

A good selection of chain is available for purchase.

My sales lady - who is an octogenarian - has worked here for over 40 years.

One view of the store.

Tons of Swarovski crystals are for sale.

A sampling of Swarovski buttons available for purchase.

Buttons galore - more than meets the eye - are for sale here.

CJS Sales
16 W. 36th Street, 2nd floor (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)
(212) 244-1400
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Website: http://www.cjssales.com
NOTE:  Wholesale customers only; they do not sell to retail customers. Bring your resale certificate.

I recall reading about CJS Sales on the internet long before I ever had a chance to visit here.  This shop is iconic and there is nothing quite like it.  This is a wholesale warehouse that is jam-packed with boxes of vintage beads of all kinds including crystals (Swarovksi and cheaper versions), glass, Cloisonne, plastic, metal, pearls, etc.  CJS also sells metal stampings, cabochons, chain, bezel settings, filigree, components and so much more.

Upon entering the warehouse, I was given a tour of the warehouse by one of the owners, Carl Schimel.  Carl explained that he gives first-timers a tour in order to help them discern where everything is; people tend to get overwhelmed at the vast amount of "stuff" available for sale. This is great if you are searching for something in particular.   I ended up purchasing 14 pounds of goodies here; I was one happy camper.  Thankfully, CJS  provided me with a large sturdy bag to carry all of my items.  (I walked over to the nearest post office and shipped it all home so I wouldn't have to carry it around all day.)  If you plan to shop here, I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes and clothing that you don't mind getting dirty.  I'd also bring a water bottle and hand-wipes.  You will have to dig through thousands of items, and you will get dirty, but that is half of the fun.  You can easily spend an entire day here sorting through the vast inventory of items. 

Boxes of metal components and stampings are in these boxes; many are vintage.

Metal findings and components.

Tons of jewelry parts available for sale.

Chain, beads and components by the boxful.

Stone International
64B West 37th Street (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)
(212) 273-1126
To be honest, I don't purchase a lot of gemstones, simply because I don't normally utilize them in my designs.  While this shop is small, it appeared to have a good variety of strung gemstones on both walls of the shop.  One thing that caught my attention here was the variety of mini beaded rosary chains available for sale here.  This is unique because the bead size of the chain was approximately 3-4 mm in size as opposed to the 6-8 mm sized chain that is readily available for sale in craft stores.  I did find the cost of the chain to be quite steep at $12.00 and up per foot. (They didn't appear to be made with gemstones, just glass beads.)  I found a seller on Etsy that sells something similar for $1.25 per foot and up for what appears to be the same thing.  On another note, there were several items marked down on clearance in the front of the store.  I purchased a few strands of amazonite beads and freshwater pearl cross beads from the clearance area that I couldn't live without.

Storefront view.

Strands of gemstones dangle from both walls of the shop.

Rosary bead chain made with 3-4 mm beads are available for sale by the foot.

A detail pic of the rosary bead chain.
Mood Fabrics
225 W 37th Street, 3rd floor
(212) 730-5003
Hours:  Mon-Fri: 9am - 7pm, Sat: 10am - 5pm
Website:  http://www.moodfabrics.com/

Mood Fabrics is well known because it is the place where the up and coming fashion designers from the television show Project Runway purchase their fabrics.  The main reason I visited the shop was because I was on the hunt for zippers and quilting fabric for my daughter-in-law.  I found the zippers my daughter-in-law wanted and bought several of them.  While there is a huge selection of fabrics perfect for making clothing, Mood doesn't carry any type of cotton fabric that is good for making quilts, handbags and other projects.  I was, however, pleased to find that Mood carries a small selection of rhinestone chain and colored metal chain that can be utilized in jewelry making.  I also found some gorgeous trim that consists of small roses fashioned from organza, chiffon and other fabrics.  I ended up purchasing a few yards of this, as well.  I think they will make beautiful additions to cuff-style bracelets and bib necklaces.

Mood Fabrics

Rhinestone chain sold by the yard.

A view of some of the beautiful trim available for sale.

More trim for sale - and LOTS of it.

Metal chain is various colors is sold by the yard.

A vast assortment of buttons on display in the store.

More trim...

And more trim...
Bolts of fashion fabric are available for purchase.
B&Q Trimming
102 W. 38th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
Hours - Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Website: https://www.shinetrim.com/

B&Q Trimmings is not exactly touted as a bead or jewelry store, however, towards the back of the store, there is a small selection of rhinestone chain (the least expensive of all of the stores I visited in the area), crystals and other trims and such that can be fashioned into jewelry items.  I was helped by a woman who gave me several yards of trim marked at $1.95 per yard for $1.00 per yard.  When she saw me looking at particular trims, she made me the offer, and I couldn't refuse.  The trims will look cute on some of my jewelry pieces; the rest I will use for my sewing/quilting projects.

The Storefront.
Inside B&Q Trimming.
 All in all, I was really pleased with the purchases I made during my visit to the Garment District. If I had to offer one last piece of advice, I would suggest bringing copies of your resale tax certificate with you when shopping in the area (if you have one.)  Many of the shops are willing to accept these and you can save a lot of money on supplies you can utilize in your jewelry or craft business.
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