Hello My Name Is: Crafty

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I am the queen of what my lovely aunt refers to as UFOs, or "Unfinished Objects."  I guess it is hereditary because she could definitely relate. I once went through a mosaic phase that prevented my family from walking barefoot in our own home. Later, I made a scrapbook page for every day of my son's life thus far.  Good thing I stopped at age nine...we were running out of space.  Next came a needle-felting phase that left my fingers with more holes than swiss cheese; but I have some awesome ornaments to show for it. I made so much jewelry that I have many Rubbermaid totes devoted to carrying the hundreds of dollars in beads, chains, hardware, tools and settings I purchased during the course of this hobby. There are even more that hold the finished products.  I still experience the thrill of creating something, but it tends to be less committal...like, say, a batch of cupcakes.

The fruit of my needle-felting phase.  I made dozens of these for family, friends, and the staff at my son's school

Three years ago I decided to go back to school.  Playing crafter and stay-at-home mom didn't suit me.  My picture could have been next to the definition of "stir-crazy" in the dictionary. I sincerely admire and respect moms who do.  I simply can not be in my own head that much.  Before I figured out what would really, truly fulfill me, I turned to craft after craft and hobby after hobby to find something to occupy my time and brain space.  Although each has a special place in my past, I would end up discarding one and proceed to search for my next "fix." For a while I sold my creations on Etsy.  Then I created a second Etsy account to sell my excess supplies. 

One of my MANY bead totes

After enrolling in college I packed up my supplies, let my listings expire and haven't looked back.  However, now I'm feeling the urge to purge (hey, that rhymes!), so I've dusted off the old Etsy account and reposted some of my items.  If they sell? Great!  If not, that's okay, too.  But in doing so, I felt a spark of sorts...perhaps the remnants of the excitement crafting once provided for me.  I definitely don't have the time now, but I realized that I'm not ready to give it up on it completely.  Maybe some day I'll find a way for it to be fun again without being all-consuming.  In my attempt to channel my restlessness, I burned myself out.  I didn't just make earrings, I made earrings all day and all night.  I was chasing a dream...I just didn't know what it was at the time. The thing is, I was really good at all of them.  Maybe not a professional, but definitely good.  I'm not saying I am a natural, either.  But once I decided to try something, I typically practiced a lot.

One year I made earrings for the teachers at my son's school.  The next, I needle-felted snowman ornaments.  They absolutely loved them, and raved every year about how much thought was put into their Christmas gifts.  They were not always ornate, expensive, or too time consuming, unlike most of my hobby habits; but they definitely came from the heart.  Much like a mom who loves, loves, loves her child's homemade cards it is about the thought put into the gift rather than the gift itself.  So I'm not hanging up my crafter's hat just yet. Rather, I am just putting it on hold for now.  Besides, school is my hobby right now.  And I don't think I'll ever abandon it completely, as unique homemade Christmas gifts have become a tradition over the last few years.  If nothing else, they are a great bonding experience for our family.

In going through my jewelry to decide what to repost on Etsy, I came across those fruit earrings I made for my son's teachers several years ago.  I made oranges, apples, blueberries and cherries...oh my!  They went over really well and tend to get a lot of views on Etsy.  They are super simple to make, so I thought I'd share with you.  I'm not a jewelry whiz, I swear!  If you were already thinking they look amateur, well, you are not wrong. If you can improve on them, do it!  I won't cry myself to sleep...for long. What is amateur, however, are my photos.  I didn't try hard enough.  But I wanted to post this, so I sacrificed beauty for content.  It's what is on the inside that counts, right? These are sweet, unique gifts anyone can make with the right tools and some practice.  And should you decide that you like them better when I make them, well, my Etsy account is now back in business.  Until I burn out again.

"Hi Ho Cherry O" earrings

"Blueberries for Sal" earrings

"Orange Blossom" earrings

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make my "An Apple a Day" earrings.  They are so cute and fun.  Gosh, that sounded a lot like I was tooting my own horn.  I promise I wasn't.  But I'd toot yours in a second. They make great gifts and look professionally made...so everyone will be amazed that it was little old you.  The sky is the limit!  If you can imagine it, you can make it, and it doesn't even have to be real fruit.  Get funky and make a lemrazeach.  They'll love it.

First step? Choose some fun, colorful beads.  They don't have to be fancy!

Decide what tone of metal you want to use.  For these I went with antique gold hardware, but there are tons of different shades to choose from.

I found some great bead caps that reminded me of leaves and used them.  Think outside the box!  Check out Etsy...there are some great sellers that carry jewelry-making supplies. You will also need a small pair of pliers.  I like a small traditional pair to cut the wire and one with rounded tips to shape it.  Don't spend a fortune!  The Home Depot or Michael's carry them for just a few bucks.

Take your chosen pieces and simply stack them in whatever order looks good to you.

Finally, add the earring hook, trim the excess wire and curl it around on itself.  Tuck the end into the bead hole as much as possible so it looks seamless.

There you have it!  Super easy!  I promise!  And the recipient will be so touched that you made them something.  Just because we are past the finger-painting phase in our lives does not mean we can't make something for the people we care about.  But don't be surprised if you develop a beading fetish.  I did.  One piece would inspire another and before I knew it I was scouring the internet for crazy and unique beads and hardware.  Don't say I didn't warn you...

What are your favorite do-it-yourself gifts?  Share! Please!

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