Quick and easy: My kind of project

March 31, 2011, 15:55 pm  Posted by Lark

Still a beginner beader and jewelry “assembler,” I’m attracted to projects that have the words “easy,” “quick,” and “step-by-step.” That’s when my brain says, “Ok. Maybe this might really be for the person who can’t even crimp a piece of wire without it looking like it was done with their teeth!”

So I will provide you with links to my favorite project videos and books that say, “No, really. You CAN do this. No in-depth skill or 5-hour block required!”

The following is an adorable video of how to put together earrings from a necklace. A great and simple idea that made me say, “Duh. I should have thought of that!”


A really easy way to make bracelets and necklaces that don’t require clasps is to use a cord that stretches, like Stretch Magic. (The size you buy is determined on how big the hole is in your bead.) The key is to know how to tie knots that won’t come undone. Depending on the weight, you can use the overhand knot, square knot, or surgeons knot. Make sure to pre-stretch the cord and after you tie your knot, put a dab of clear nail polish or jewelry glue, like e6000 on the knot to secure it more. Here’s a video that helps clarify tying knots:

For step-by-step instructions to refer to, here are some of my favorite books to check out: 30 Minute Necklaces, 30 Minute Earrings, Simply Charms, and Steel Wire Jewelry.

beginner jewelry books

Here are some titles that any beginner can pick up and end up with some beautiful pieces.

If you’re new to jewelry making, I hope I’ve inspired you to start experimenting with new jewelry-making techniques.

Talya Baharal, Oval Brooch, 2007

Talya Baharal, Oval Brooch

Talya Baharal, Second Skin, Sculpture

Talya Baharal, Second Skin, Sculpture

Talya Baharal, Urban Landscape

Talya Baharal, Urban Landscape, Pendant

I recently had the pleasure of working with metalsmith and sculptor Talya Baharal. She has established herself as one of the nation’s top creators of unique works of wearable art. Not only do I appreciate her work from the perspective of another maker, but she is such a kind and giving individual with great integrity. I think that is why we value handmade work. I don’t believe there is a way for an artist to make a piece and not leave their personality or a shadow of who they are as evidence in their creation.

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Spring Studio Tour: Susan Wasinger

March 30, 2011, 09:00 am  Posted by needlearts

Welcome back to our Spring Studio Tour series. For the past few Wednesdays, we’ve been taking you on a journey across the country to visit some of our authors. They let us take a peek at their spaces, so we can all see where the magic happens! This week we’ll visit the dreamy space of Susan Wasinger, author and designer extraordinaire. Susan’s latest book, Sewn by Hand, goes on sale out any minute now.

Creativity is just another word for controlled chaos. On any given day, my studio is filled with things to sew, cobble together, photograph, or write about. I have to be comfortable living with many things brewing and stewing and bubbling over all at once. One project overlaps another in this space, and the hardest thing to find is free piece of tabletop. There are large windows or French doors on all four walls. This makes for beautiful light, but it makes storage a bit of a nagging issue.

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Candie Cooper!!!

(One of my jobs is to keep an eye on inventory and sales of our jewelry and beading titles. A few days ago, when I looked up Candie Cooper’s classic book Metalworking 101 for Beaders, the beautiful exact round number of 15,000 net [plus another 3,300 for the craft club] shipped from our warehouse caught my attention and prompted me to contact Candie and ask her a few questions.)

Candie, Metalworking 101 for Beaders is one of those rare books for which sales actually build — sales in Year 2 have outpaced sales in Year 1 — as word about the quality of the title has spread and great reviews have come in. What do you teach in the book?

First of all, this makes me smile BIG because it means people are playing with metal! It is my favorite material because it looks good next to anything — glass, fiber, you name it.

In Metalworking 101 for Beaders I show readers how they can make their own findings in a super simple, low tech fashion. Most of the projects have one- or two-step soldering (if any at all), rivets, sawing, lots of texture, and forming.

Metalworking 101 for BeadersWhat’s your goal when you teach? For you, how does teaching in person differ from teaching in book form?

How does teaching in person differ? That’s easy: a lot of laughter and chocolate!

When I teach in person, I want to show jewelry makers how easily they can make awesome pieces for their jewelry, plain and simple. Another goal is for their own style to emerge, so I give them options in their kits for creating their pieces. One of my students recently wrote to say she appreciated my laid back but technically correct teaching approach to metalworking. Now that’s a compliment!

Teaching through a book is different, because while I try to create a personal, caring, encouraging atmosphere on the pages, at the end of the day I’m not there to pat readers on the back or ease their worries when they feel like chucking their piece out the window. I find myself writing over and over that practice and persistence is what it’s all about.

Fanciful Feathered Friends brooches project from Metalworking 101 for Beaders

What feedback have your received about the book, and do you have any special stories about it to share?

I’ve received some wonderful feedback! No kidding! Lots of people took a class years ago in college, and they’re picking it back up again.

The one thing I’d like to apologize about, though, is the pencil torch. I get many emails asking for that and sadly — very, very sadly — BernzOmatic decided not to manufacture it anymore. I’m still searching for a neat little torch.

You’re very active as a craft blogger at http://candiecooper.typepad.com/. Why? What are you trying to achieve or express through this platform?

My blog started as a way to let my family know I was “alive” while living in China for 3 years. I had no idea other people would read it!

I’ve found that blogging is a place for me to focus on the positive, to show the different things I’m working on, and to give people a little bit more of the inside skinny. I took a blogging break when I went through a divorce, and I can now say I’m very happy to be back in the blogging saddle again.

There are about 30 projects in Metalworking 101 for Beaders. Which is your favorite, and what makes it special?

Are you really asking me to play favorites, Ray?!?

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Fresh Flickr Finds: Circles, Rings, & Things!

March 29, 2011, 10:42 am  Posted by Lark

I’ve been quilting for a while now, but when it comes to circles, I’m still completely awestruck and (I’ll admit it) a wee bit intimidated by those curvy seams! And, of course, there’s plenty of temptation out there on flickr, waiting to inspire me (and you!) to try. Check out this fine collection of quilted circles, wedding rings, and things from some of my flickr faves. I love how some of these blocks and patterns aren’t actually made with curves, but they take on a round shape once they’re put together into the quilt.

(Click the links below to see more work from each of these artists.)

1. Tacha’s block, 2. Turquoise Circles Quilt by Peppermint Pinwheels, 3. “Single Girl” quilt top, 4. Wedding Ring, 5. Gypsy Kisses, 6. porthole quilt finished, 7. Kaleidoscope Quilt, 8. “Japanese dinner” twin quilts- the Mixed Sushi Roll, 9. Gobstoppers Quilt, 10. Broken Cogs, 11. doll quilt DONE!!!, 12. Green Sunburst Quilt, 13. DQS9 Complete, 14. Kandinsky Quilt, 15. spiderweb quilt top, 16. circle around quilt


Needlearts Video Roundup: Pimp My Dog

March 29, 2011, 01:17 am  Posted by needlearts

After checking out our pet bowl free project last Friday, I got the urge to see what other cool canine accessories were floating around online. Fun and mostly easy, these six stitch and fabric video tutorials might bring the fashion police down on your dog, but she’ll love the attention.

How to Turn a Large Sock into a Tiny Dog Sweater from Howcast

How to Turn a Large Sock into a Tiny Dog Sweater (and hat) from Howcast

1. How to Turn a Large Sock into a Tiny Dog Sweater

Weren’t small dogs just made for dressing up in human clothes? Tremendously easy, this no-sew pup project from Howcast would be great to do with the kids. My brother and sister-in-law recently adopted an adorable chihuahua named Ren (remember Ren & Stimpy?) to be a friend to their first chihuahua, Frida (named after Frida Kahlo). They already have some snazzy collars, but I think they’d look sharp in some little sock sweaters. Maybe I could get my niece in on it. There’s even a turtleneck option in case Fido likes to wax philosophical. Find the right sock for your pup, make a few simple cuts, and get stylin’!

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March 28, 2011, 12:40 pm  Posted by Craft Your Life Team

Our etsy round -up this time around is rather obtuse…and acute.

Perhaps it is in response to the overpopulation of the organic/woodland themes we have been enjoying for a while now (have you run out of things to put a bird on yet?), or maybe it’s an attempt to seek order out of chaos, but it seems as though the trend of geometry in art and crafts is going strong. The vibrant designs and motifs in this collection vary in media and approach, but they all share a love for the basic shapes that define our world.

top row L-R: ASecondLifebluebiciclettaBooandBooFactoryboosterseatdesTroyfashionsticker

middle row L-R: kyanos, leahduncan, letsgoawayforawhile, LovelyPiecesDesign, MarKhed, RACHELelise

bottom row L-R: SiriusGrafik, SoFino, spinthread, spoonfulofmint, StudioFludd, thecellophanes


Make a Ring in 30 Minutes

March 25, 2011, 19:19 pm  Posted by Lark

Every Friday evening, I post a set of project instructions (okay, okay, most Friday evenings).

Marthe Le Van, the author of on-the-verge-of-releasing 30-Minute Rings, has asked me to feature something from that book on this blog post. How difficult it was to choose! The book contains 60 über-cool projects for gussying up your digits—colorful rings, whimsical rings, artsy rings, pretty rings, modern rings, tuff rings, sparkly rings, rings from unexpected materials. And you can make every one of these in a half an hour or less. Well, I couldn’t pick just one, so over the next few months, I’ll be posting seven different ring projects. Stay tuned!

In honor of springtime, I decided to go with a colorful project today. Aren’t these fun, as well as clever? This design by Nicole Jacquard give new meaning to the word “rubber band“—ring band, get it?! (Boy, am I hammering you over the head with it, or what?…)

Get the instructions here. Jewelers, to your stakes!


Felt Letters Giveaway

March 25, 2011, 13:11 pm  Posted by Lark

Want to win the word F-E-L-T in handcrafted 3-D? Or how about a felt fridge magnet alphabet created by yours truly? Keep reading for the story behind the felted letters you see above and for details on the exciting giveaway … and for more on how YOU can enter for a chance to win.

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Yarn Bombing at Lark

March 25, 2011, 09:39 am  Posted by Lark

I’m going to throw some terms at you–see if they resonate familiarly with your sense of creativity:

Street ArtYarn BombingKnit GraffitiFlash Mob.

If your ears perked up at any of those mentions, then you’re in the know about a wildly wonderful vein of art that is defining towns, regions, artistic movements, and the ever-expanding world of creativity. If your ears sort of leaned in curiously (but didn’t recognize those terms right away), let me share with you a Wikipedia definition.

Street art: any art developed in public spaces–that is, “in the streets”–though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives.  Typically, the term street art or the more specific post-graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art. (more from wiki)

knitted tree - from hciere

knitted bike - from erindoyle

Yarn Bombing and Knit Graffiti are types of street art, and (as you might have guessed) involve knitted and crocheted cloth (instead of spray paint or stencils, etc). Yarn bombing is often about adding expression and color to sterile public spaces, and many of the guerrilla artists behind these fiber creations choose to remain anonymous. Like all art forms, everyone yarn bombs differently.

We were lucky enough to witness some awesome yarn bombing right in front of Lark’s office!! The incredibly talented artist StreetColor traveled to Asheville from Berkeley, California, with the specific goal of sharing her work in our fair city. Within minutes, she affixed a pre-knitted cover around the pole of a parking meter on Broadway, and just before that, she’d gifted a stop sign on Wall Street with a similar (colorful!) knitted tube.

StreetColor's work on Broadway

StreetColor's work on Wall Street

StreetColor prefers to remain anonymous, which was pretty cool (sort of like an artistic Batman or Spiderman–we’ll never know who you really are, StreetColor). On behalf of everyone at Lark and the fine people who walk, drive, hop, run, scoot, and meander past the parking meter on Broadway, I’d like to say THANK YOU! We love admiring this knit graffiti and the creative spirit behind it.

Rock on, StreetColor; we salute you.

For more info about StreetColor and yarn bombing, visit her blog: http://streetcolor.wordpress.com/

*photo of knitted bike found here: erindoyle’s flickr page

*photo of knitted tree found here: hciere’s flickr page

yarn bombed parking meter in front of larkyarnbombed meter on Broadway

StreetColor's tag