How-To Video Roundup: Embroidery Stitches

January 31, 2011, 19:50 pm  Posted by needlearts
Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread (How-To Videos)

Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread (How-To Videos)

In honor of our Doodle Stitch Along with Aimee Ray (see free patterns from week 1, 2, 3, and 4), I’ve scoured the internets to bring you some useful how-to embroidery stitch videos.

First stop is Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread. You’ll find well-organized, clear videos on over 60 stitches ranging from bands, line, chain, fly, and buttonhole to knots, detached, and filling. It’s a clean site and super easy to navigate!

To fill in the gaps on a few stitches I couldn’t find on Needle ‘n Thread, I did a little extra searching. Find more how-to videos and vote in our most fun-to-do stitch poll after the jump!

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How about this for a magnificent Lark Jewelry & Beading giveaway? Our first three books in the 30-Minute Series — the best-selling 30-Minute Earrings, the newly released 30-Minute Necklaces, and a very special advance copy of the not-yet-released April 2011 book 30-Minute Rings — all signed by author Marthe Le Van!

Each of these books includes 60 jewelry projects by dozens of top designers; together, they offer an incredible wealth of jewelry-design inspiration and instruction. With these 180 — !!! — projects you can add sparkle and splash to your wardrobe … and without delay! Featured designers range from Boris Bally to Brenda Schweder, Ingeborg Vandamme to Sim Luttin, and Nina Dinoff to Sara Westermark!

How to enter for a chance to win this fantastic bundle of signed books? It’s easy: Leave a comment on this post by 9 p.m. EST on Monday, February 7.

Any post will do, but how about this: Tell us what your favorite material is for jewelry, whether you’re making it or wearing it! One winner will be selected at random and announced on Thursday, February 10. Click here for the official rules. Good luck — and get designing!


Congratulations to Wendy L. Starn of Alexandria, Louisiana! Wendy was randomly selected as the winner of an advance copy of Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery. The book formally releases in April, but if you’ve been following our blog you’ve been seeing great opportunities to preview it:

Read a great interview with Sherry Serafini

View a PDF sporting six of the beautiful jewelry projects from the book

Download a PDF of the Rock Star Cuff project from the book

You can pre-order the book on BN.com and Amazon.

Thanks to all of the 250 people who left comments for a chance to win an advance copy of the book: We appreciate you being a part of our community, and we’re glad to be a part of yours!


Doodle Stitch Along: Motif #4!

January 28, 2011, 14:08 pm  Posted by guestblogger

logoHey guys, it’s Aimee Ray again, with another Doodle Stitch Along post! Can you believe we’re almost done? This is week number 4, and the last of the free patterns is up for grabs: a super cute toadstool house. Thanks to everyone who participated in our gnomes vs. toadstools poll… gnomes are just too hard to beat but enjoy anyway!

Be sure to visit our Flickr group and check out all the awesome embroidery being done by our Stitch Along participants! You guys are really blowing me away with your work! It’s great to see all the different variations. Come back and join us once again next Friday, as we wrap up our Stitch Along with a project you can use all of your stitched motifs in. Here’s my motif set from last week (at left).

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Gwen Diehn Journals

January 27, 2011, 09:00 am  Posted by Lark

Author Gwen Diehn doesn’t just live life, she journals it. She creates and then packs her handmade journals with notes, paintings, sketches, and memorabilia. For Gwen it’s a method of expression, a place to capture ideas, make observations, and organize thoughts. For the observer, it’s a fascinating feast for the eyes. Her journals are lovingly created using a variety of materials for the cover and the pages, the size and binding technique depending upon the intended use.

Recently Gwen was asked to curate an exhibit on journals at BookWorks in Asheville, NC. One interesting aspect of the entries is that they are all actual working journals. The journalists created and then used them with a specific purpose in mind, not ever expecting them to be viewed by others from an artistic appraisal point of view. Theirs are examples of  journaling in the truest sense. Below are a few examples of these works. Visit Gwen’s blog to see more images.

Elizabeth Simmonds, Black Mountain, NC; travel journal

Justin Waldstein, Brooklyn, NY; renderings from life in NYC (mostly on the subway)

Eleanor Anderson, Colorado Springs, CO; Graphical Objectives: Sketchbook 1

Gwen Diehn is the author of The Decorated Page, The Decorated Journal, and most recently, Live & Learn: Real Life Journals.


The Penland Book of Jewelry: Master Classes in Jewelry Techniques

Back in 2005, Lark’s senior editor handed me an advance copy of The Penland Book of Jewelry and said, “Congratulations on your Masters thesis.” She was joking, of course, but her comment was somewhat true.

I had never worked on such an ambitious project, and I had many reservations. Coordinating 10 authors and 10 photo shoots, each in a different city, was daunting. (I had to buy a wall-sized dry erase board just to manage the details!) The final product, however, exceeded my expectations and remains one of my favorite books to this day.

Fast forward six years…and, drum roll, please…The Penland Book of Jewelry is now available in paperback! (One of those fancy Flexi-bind paperbacks that stays open flat on your bench.)

The book includes many red-hot techniques, such as electroforming, die forming, casting, and fabricating with steel, all presented by celebrated metalsmiths who have taught workshops at The Penland School of Crafts.

Marilyn daSilva, The Trouble with Magic

Marilyn daSilva, The Trouble with Magic

John Cogswell, Tomato Server

John Cogswell, Tomato Server

Rob Jackson, Chanterelle, 2007

Rob Jackson, Chanterelle

The table of contents reads like a “Who’s Who” of American studio jewelry.

Marilyn da Silva Nontraditional Color on MetalJohn Cogswell ForgingJaime Pellisier Alloying Rob Jackson Fabricating with SteelHeather White van Stolk CastingJan Baum Die Forming Tom McCarthy Alternative Stone Setting Maria Phillips ElectroformingMary Ann Scherr Etching Douglas Harling Granulation •

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Stitch Along Inspiration

January 26, 2011, 13:58 pm  Posted by needlearts

The Doodle Stitch Along keeps movin’ along, and we’re really enjoying all the photos in the flickr group. There’s lots of creativity and variations on the designs! In the spirit of different stitch styles, I thought I’d share some of our recent Etsy embroidery favorites. Did we miss anything you love? Let us know in the comments!

Zodiac Constellation hoops by Miniature Rhino:

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Giveaway: Making Handmade Books

January 26, 2011, 11:44 am  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden

Thanks to everyone for leaving such thoughtful comments on our first Making Handmade Books giveaway, and congratulations to this week’s winner, Pam. Your copy of Making Handmade Books plus the You Are It tags by author Alisa Golden are in the mail.

For everyone else, don’t dismay: Enjoy the following Q&A with Alisa Golden, and leave a comment on this post by 11 pm EST on Tuesday, February 1st, for a chance to win this week’s Making Handmade Books giveaway. Any comment will do, but maybe you would like to ask Alisa a question of your own.

We’ll select a winner at random, and announce the results on February 2nd, along with Alisa’s answer to your question. Official rules are here.

Tell us a little bit about your education and background.** People used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’d say, “a writer and an artist.” Then I would get a lecture about how you couldn’t make a living being a writer and an artist. I also wanted to be a teacher, but was told by my favorite high school teacher not to do that either. Meanwhile, I always had art lessons, I always wrote, and I worked with kids constantly.

Spotted One Day, 2009, by Alisa Golden

When I enrolled in Betsy Davids’ letterpress class and her creative writing class at California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) I found that finally I could merge both writing and art by making books. During my two-and-a-half years at CCA(C) I made about twelve books, some with linocuts, some with screenprints, some with handmade paper, but all with handset type printed via letterpress.

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Brenda Schweder

Brenda Schweder is the author of the newly released Steel Wire Jewelry, a book of 30 fun, inspiring jewelry designs that riffs on jewelry made of steel. Want to get a sampling of the book? Click here for a PDF of the book’s instructions for the Butter(Really?)Fly Ring, and click here for a PDF of the instructions for the Zulu in Teal Necklace. Want to get a sampling of Brenda? Read the interview below, and then visit her website to see more of this teacher, author, and designer’s work at www.brendaschweder.com.

How do you describe your jewelry, Brenda? In what ways has it evolved over the course of your career, and where are you headed with it now?

Oh, boy! I’m interested in designing with objects that are unexpected, and I choose to highlight the mundane or overlooked. I enjoy creating jewelry scenarios that illustrate irony or whimsy or works that tell a story.

That’s really been the underlying current of my work, and it’s evident when you view my published work over the past few years—especially my three books together. You can see how I’ve evolved in (three) nutshells.

My next direction is considering narrative works, exploring the pairing of recognizable found objects and weaving contemporary fables.

Then again, I’ve applied for graduate study in jewelry and metalsmithing, so all bets are off when I start to explore my jewelry making on an even deeper level.



Steel Wire Jewelry by Brenda Schweder

Steel Wire Jewelry is your third book, after Junk to Jewelry and Vintage Redux. What are you trying to accomplish with this new book? What would you like readers to take from it?

Steel Wire Jewelry may seem like a bit of a departure from my first two books, but when you know me and see the direction of the book’s projects, it makes perfect sense.

Working with a lot of found objects—and only cold connections—means you have to get creative with how your components are captured and physically relate to each other. While Junk to Jewelry and Vintage Redux both showcase up-cycling, Steel Wire Jewelry takes the leap to the next level of art jewelry.

The works utilize no manufactured components or findings—actually, I believe there is one (hee!), so here’s a call-out to those who may be interested in a Steel Wire Jewelry scavenger hunt—other than the found pieces and wire. The finished wire, then, both advances and recedes depending on what I need to communicate with the piece.

I’m also more interested in the beauty of a thing for its history and origin than its intrinsic value, so along with loving steel for its many user-friendly characteristics and its economy, it’s also more befitting my style and the style of my work.

Brenda Schweder's Butter(Really?)Fly Ring from Steel Wire Jewelry

How has the high cost of metals impacted jewelers? What about the state of the economy vis a vis jewelers selling their pieces? And, speaking in the broadest terms, do you think together that’s having an effect on the kind of jewelry being made today and even the aesthetic of that jewelry?

I read somewhere—and I completely agree—that the inflation of metal prices will force designers to amp up their problem solving around this dilemma and therefore produce more creative works.

The economy has and will continue to shake things up. Some designers won’t know how to manage working around it, but others will benefit and flourish. The problem solvers—those who “push through”—will prevail. I plan to be part of the latter group!

Regarding the kind of jewelry being made as a result of the economy (and the choices made due to it), I believe common metals and materials are indeed now more heartily embraced and used more frequently.

For me, it goes back to that intrinsic value thing. I appreciate designers whose work is valued for its creativity and inventiveness, not for the monetary value attached to its elements. That’s not to say that the finest gems aren’t used in the most creative settings, but in my mind, there’s more of a challenge in designing with the humblest of things.

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Free Candlemaking Project to Warm a Winter Night

January 25, 2011, 11:43 am  Posted by Lark

Winter has descended with plenty of chill in the air and abundant snow blanketing the ground. As someone who grew up in southern Georgia, I have a hard time getting through these cold, cold months. It makes you want to nestle up inside, and turn to anything that will give you a little extra warmth. I’ve found that candlemaking is an ideal craft to bring some a glow and added comfort this time of the year.

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Each year, after celebrating Hanukkah, I enjoy gathering up any leftover candle wax and making candles for next year’s festivities. It’s certainly good to recycle what’s at hand, but it’s even better to spend some post-holiday time fostering the meaning, making and miracle of warming lights. You can take a peek at my own process in the images above.

Whether or not you’re looking to recycle some leftover wax or simply seeking a way to cut the chill indoors, there are many delightfully warming projects in Candlemaking the Natural Way by Rebecca Ittner. What room in your house wouldn’t benefit from a little candlescape?

To help you along the way, we’re offering up an easy and accessible free project from the book:

Tissue Paper Transfers by Cathie Filian. Just click on the project name at the left, and you’ll be good to go. Have fun, but I warn you: if you’re as much of a cold curmudgeon as I am, you might find yourself with a houseful of homemade candles!