Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Woodland Ring Silversmithing Class

I have been making jewelry for the past 3 decades.  (Yes, I'm old....LOL.)  In all of the years that I have been creating jewelry, I have never taken a jewelry making class.  Not one.  I pride myself on being a self-taught designer.   In fact, I used to teach jewelry making classes when I lived in Arizona.  However, recently, I became aware of an opening in Deryn Mentock's Woodland Ring two day silver-smithing workshop.  I have long admired Deryn's jewelry designs, and when I saw her latest ring creations, I JUST KNEW I had to take this workshop.  So...I did. I have no regrets.


I made the 10 hour drive from my home in Northwest Arkansas to Katy, Texas; the workshop was held at Multiplicity Studio there.  I learned so much about silver-smithing from Deryn, in addition to  her tried and true techniques for this process.  Diane Cook, who is a metal jewelry designer in her own right and also the Creative Workshop Coordinator and Metals Instructor at Multiplicity, also assisted the class in soldering and operating a rolling mill to emboss our ring bands (among other things).  Let me tell you, both of these ladies are fabulous and they left quite an impression on me.

I not only enjoyed the camaraderie of the classroom, I appreciated the ability to learn new techniques (such as making the nifty little rose embellishment for our rings) and branch out from my comfort zone. I completed most of my ring during class.  I still have to add another embellishment to the ring, apply a little patina to it and set my stones and I will be done!  

This is my almost-completed ring:

My ring - almost done!
 I will share the finished design here on my blog - so please stay tuned...

These are Deryn's rings that inspired me to take my first ever jewelry making workshop.  Aren't they gorgeous???

Deryn Mentock's Woodland Rings - aren't they gorgeous???
Be sure to check out Deryn Mentock, Diane Cook and Multiplicity Studio at the following links:

Deryn Mentock - Something Sublime
Diane Cook - Rosa and Josie's
Multiplicity - Studio

Thanks for stopping by and "see" you soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Weekend Projects - Sandra Evertson's Relics & Artifacts

This past weekend, I worked on a myriad of projects - many of them "UFO's" (Unfinished Objects.)  You name it, I have a gazillion projects in various stages of completion all over my craft room.   I decided to use my free time this past weekend to work on some of these, in addition to custom orders and the like.

Some of the projects I have been dying to work on for quite sometime are items from Sandra Evertson's Relics & Artifacts line.  I fell in love with several of the resin pieces in her line when they were first released a couple of years ago and have been stocking up on the collection ever since.  I literally have a huge storage box full of them - I kid you not.  Between attending college, working full time, traveling to Europe, spending quality time with my young grandsons and being preoccupied with my brother's terminal cancer, life literally got in the way the past couple of years and I did not get to spend as much time doing one of the things I love the most - creating.

I realize I am behind in the art world as far as designing with this fabulous collection. Several of my artist friends have inspired me with their interpretations of designing the Relics & Artifacts into gorgeous jewelry pieces, accessories and home decor.   I finally jumped on the bandwagon this past weekend and made a few pieces of my own.  I am pretty pleased with how they turned out. 

This set of Sacred Hearts will be made into necklaces.  I was going to decorate the hearts with rhinestones, velvet and other embellishments, but I was so happy with the way the colors turned out, I think I will leave them alone for now.  (Why mess up a good thing, right?  Sometimes, less is more.)

Sacred Hearts

Sacred Heart - Turquoise and Red

Sacred Heart - Aqua and Red



I painted the hearts with a base of brown paint and allowed them dry. I then coated the hearts with crackle medium and painted them in bright, cheery colors.  Once the crackle effect kicked in, the brown color of the base paint showed through. I really love this effect.  If I didn't know any better - I would swear the hearts were made of ceramic.  They are stunning in person.

I also experimented with making little face blanks (also from the Relics & Artifacts line) into Frida Kahlo jewelry components.  I used Apoxie Sculpt to mold Frida's hair.  Once the Apoxie Sculpt dried, I painted the components and glued tiny little roses to her hair.  These will be made into earrings. Here's a brief look at the creative process in making these components:

Sculpt hair with Apoxie Sculpt

Cover the back of the face with Apoxie Sculpt; add finding at top of head.

Wa-la! Frida Kahlo earring components!

These are just a few of the projects I worked on over the weekend.  Stay tuned - I have several more to share with you in the coming days.  See you soon!

P.S.  If you want some awesome inspiration from other artists utilizing the Relics & Artifacts collection, you might want to check out the Relics & Artifacts Tribe group on Facebook.






Sunday, September 9, 2018

Soldered Christmas Ornaments

Recently, I informed you that I have picked up soldering again after years of being away from this medium.  I wanted to deviate a bit from jewelry this time around, so I made some soldered Christmas ornaments.  Both the front back of the ornaments depict Christmas themes so they will look pretty hanging from the tree when viewed in any direction.  Here are a few of them:

Retro 30's Ornament - Front

Retro 30's Ornament - Back

Santa Ornament - Front

Santa Ornament - Back

Victorian Girl Ornament - Front


Victorian Woman Ornament - Front

Snow Scene Ornament - Front
Singing Family Ornament - Front
Singing Family Ornament - Back
 
For added sparkle and interest, prior to soldering, I embellished several of the images with glitter glue. The solder was also colorized and a Christmas charm was attached to the front of the ornament. A complementary ribbon hanger was added for the final finish.

All of the ornaments are being listed on Etsy this week. You can easily get to my Etsy shop by clicking the "shop" link header at the top of this page or on the link in this paragraph.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blog Redesign and Name Change!

Hello, everyone and welcome to my newly redesigned website/blog!    As I announced on the Two Crafty Mules Facebook page last month, this blog was redesigned in order to mirror the Wanda Maria Designs brand.  In addition, I wanted to make it more user-friendly and easier for readers to find tutorials, recipes, and the like on my page.  So - here we are!!!

 Cat Russell of Studio Paisley Cat redesigned my blog.  If anyone is in need of a blog/website redesign, I highly recommend her.  I am technically challenged - I will be the first to admit it.  Cat held my hand during the redesign process and gave me guidance as it related to various aspects of posting pictures and information here.  She was really wonderful!  Cat can be contacted through these sites:  Facebook, Design Studio, and Blog.

By the way, I have officially deleted the Two Crafty Mules Facebook page.  Please follow me on Facebook at Wanda Maria Designs if you have not already done so.  I have a lot of new designs, recipes and tutorials to share with you!  Thanks for sticking it out with me.  I am most appreciative. :)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Soldered Jewelry Designs


It seems like a million years since I have posted anything artsy on my blog.  For those of you who have stuck it out with me - thank you so much!

I recently got the itch to solder jewelry again. The last time I soldered was about 8 or 9 years ago. For some reason, I just decided to pick it up again.  Of course, being the kind of person I am, I don't just solder jewelry, I have to embellish my pieces with paint, filigree, rhinestones, rhinestone chain, stampings and other decorative details.  I have been attracted to bling ever since I was a little girl.

This evening, I posted several of my new soldered jewelry pieces to my Etsy shop.
While most of the pendants dangle from ball chain necklaces, others (which I am still working on) will have more extravagant beaded chains.  (Please stay tuned for those.)  Without further adieu, here are some of my newest designs:

Soldered pendant with painted/sanded filigree and rhinestones.

Three versions of blinged-out Our Lady of Guadalupe pendants.

Virgin Mary with rhinestone chain and painted/sanded filigree stamping.

Rhinestone chain and metal stamping Virgin Mary necklace.

Rhinestone chain and painted/sanded filigree stampings.

Painted solder and Swarovski crystal rhinestones.

A collection of soldered and painted pendants.

Blinged-out soldered glass pendants.

Filigree-embellished soldered glass pendants.

Simply painted soldered pendant.

Side one of a reversible soldered necklace - Immaculate Heart.

Side two of a reversible soldered necklace - Sacred Heart.

Please check out my Etsy shop to look at all of the new designs. Of course, you can also follow me on Instagram, where I share my work and travel experiences on a pretty regular basis.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Graduation, Europe and Loss in 2017

I realize I have not posted anything new here since July of last year.  For me, 2017 was a year of joy, sorrow, adventure and pain.  Last year at this time, all of my focus was on graduating from college with my bachelor's degree.  School literally was my first priority above everything else. I figured if I could successfully graduate from college at my age (51 at the time), I would be ready for anything.  Last May, not only did I graduate from the University of Arkansas, I did so with honors.  It was a very proud moment for me.

Earlier in the year, as a graduation gift to myself, I booked a 3 week fall trip to Europe, specifically, to Germany, France and Italy.  I was thrilled not only to visit my favorite place in the world (Italy), I also planned on visiting the small town in Germany where my family hailed from, along with France for good measure. 

My happiness was short-lived, however.  My youngest brother, Jason, had been experiencing pain in his shoulder, which numerous doctors attributed to a pinched nerve from weightlifting.  He had been having trouble performing basic tasks such as tying his shoelaces, and he had fallen a couple of times.  On July 5th, as he was leaving his most recent doctor appointment about his shoulder pain, Jason was involved in a minor car accident. His left side had gone numb while driving and he ran into the person in front of him.  He was taken to the hospital by ambulance where tests were conducted.  That night, I got the news that he had a brain tumor.  Doctors had to conduct brain surgery to remove the tumor, but also, to see what kind of tumor they were dealing with.  The following week, the doctors gave my family the dreaded diagnosis.  Jason was diagnosed with the deadliest and most aggressive form of brain cancer - grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (the same cancer Senator John McCain has; he was diagnosed one week after my brother received his diagnosis.)  Jason was given 14 months to live.  I was told he cried when he got the news.  After he got over the initial shock, he announced that he was going to fight this beast with everything he had.

Jason Christopher Tillwach
Jason before his cancer diagnosis.
 Jason and I talked on the phone and texted several times shortly after he received his diagnosis.  He lived in the Phoenix area, along with my parents and another brother.  I live in Arkansas.  During one such phone call I received from Jason, I was seated in the lobby of my doctor's office undergoing tests for my own cancer scare, while Jason was preparing to undergo his second brain surgery later that morning.  My parents kept me posted on Jason's progress as he went through chemo, radiation and physical therapy.  The chemo and radiation proved difficult for my brother.  Once a healthy, intelligent and muscular guy who worked out at the gym several days a week, he lost the ability to walk.  The treatments resulted in his heart being damaged, blood clots in his leg and a significant loss of muscle mass.   It seems like the treatment for the disease was just as bad as - if not worse than - the glioblastoma itself.

In September, I departed for my trip to Europe, which shifted from a vacation to more of a pilgrimage on behalf of my brother.  I visited numerous churches and resting areas of incorrupt saints who are known for their powerful intercessions and miraculous healings.  I prayed hard and asked God to heal my brother. I even bargained for him to take me in my brother's place.  I remember sitting in the pew of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg, France, tears running down my face, begging for my brother to be saved, asking for a miracle.

It was not meant to be.  While in Rome in early October, I received the dreaded phone call from my mother informing me that Jason's condition had significantly worsened.  I cut my trip short, cancelled my remaining hotel reservations in Italy, and flew to Phoenix to spend time with my brother, who was now staying at a hospice facility.  Although I was fully aware that my brother might be unrecognizable due to his significant weight loss, I was not prepared for the other ravages caused by the cancer.  Jason - who was a radio personality in the Phoenix area for over two decades - could no longer hold a conversation.  Any attempts he made to communicate were limited to just one or two words, and those were spoken in forced whispers.  The cancer had spread to his spine and testicles; he was in immense pain, so he was on morphine.  Also gone was the mischievous light in his eyes.  Ever the jokester, Jason's eyes used to reflect his fun-loving personality.  His eyes were now dull and emotionless and resembled those of a mannequin.   Before flying home to Arkansas, I said my goodbyes to my beloved brother; I had a horrible feeling I would not see him alive again.

Jason - at his son's first birthday party.
Jason - ever the jokester...
 A few days later, my mother called me with the awful news that Jason passed away.  She was crying; I could hear my dad sobbing in the background.  I had just returned home from my daughter's baby shower.   I don't remember a lot about that weekend; I think I was in shock.  I couldn't cry.  I just remember sitting in my dark living room for the rest of the weekend, shades drawn, mourning my loss.  My brother had been given 14 months to live, but we lost him just 3 months and 2 days after his cancer diagnosis.  He never stood a chance against the beast that ravaged his body, mind and personality.

It has been five months now since I lost my baby brother.  I think of him everyday.  They say that time heals all wounds, but I don't necessarily believe that to be true. I have my good days and bad days. Some days, it is all I can do not to slip into a deep depression.   Fortunately, I am cognizant of what happens when I start to feel depressed so I force myself to get up and get moving; it's all I can do some days to physically get up and do something to ward off my melancholy.

I fully intend to start blogging again on a regular basis.  I have so many things I want to share with my readers, including new DIY projects and recipes.  For those of you who continue to follow me - even during my prolonged absence from blog-land - I want to thank you for coming back time and again.  It is most appreciated.  ♥








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