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Greetings, friends!  I propose that it's time to start thinking about handmade gifts.  This recycled necklace gift can charm nearly anyone: a simple matchbox turned into a secret-compartment pendant.




The awesomeness is threefold.  1.) It's simple and eco friendly.  2.) Customize the art to your loved one's style and interest.  3.) Because there's a tiny secret compartment, you can include an additional mini-gift inside!  Here's the secret drawer:







Aren't they fun?  Want to make one?  Here's how.

Tools:
jewelry pliers
wire cutters
something pointy for poking holes

Materials:
a matchbox
clear packing tape
acrylic craft paint
craft wire
1 or 2 headpins
a tassel
glue or mod podge
1 or 2 accent beads OR a strip of recycled plastic
spacer beads
optional: a bit of chain

The DIY

1. Embellish.  Paint the matchbox's outer sleeve.  If you like, paint the inner drawer as well.  Then embellish!  Adhere something delightful to the top of the matchbox - anything you like.  (A few ideas at the end of the post.)

2. Reinforce.  Reinforce the matchbox drawer with clear packing tape: cut 2 strips and crisscross them in the back, wrapping the tape over the edges and into the inside of the drawer.  Reinforce the inside of the matchbox sleeve with a bit more hidden tape (that you tuck inside and smooth down).

3. Turn it into a pendant.  First, poke two holes in the top of the inner drawer.  Thread craft wire through the two holes and make two loops at the top.  It's easy!  Like this:



To finish the bottom, there are two versions.

ONE HOLE VERSION: At the bottom of the inner drawer, poke one hole in the center.  Add a spacer bead to a headpin, thread it through the hole, add an accent bead and make a loop.  Add a tassel.  It will look like this:






TWO HOLE VERSION: At the bottom of the drawer, poke two holes.  Using the same headpin method as above, add either two accents beads or, as in the Lucky Cat version seen below, a rectangle of plastic with two matching holes.  Make two loops underneath.  Add a bit of chain, with a tassel suspended in the center.  Like this:





Functional Note: the accent beads or plastic strip should be just a bit wider than the matchbox.  This prevents the sleeve from sliding off.  (My accent beads in these examples were repurposed rubber washers, because I liked how they looked.  But any bead is just fine.)

Ideas for how to embellish the pendant:
Modpodge some original or found art.
Paint it, glitter it, doodle it.
Glue stuff on, like charms or buttons.
Add a polymer clay panel. (I made my Japanese-themed panels from polymer clay, impressed with rubber stamps I bought at a 100 yen store in Tokyo.)

Ideas for mini gifts inside the matchbox:
Photos
Love notes
Funny coupons to be redeemed
Candy
3 carat diamond earrings
Ca$h

Who can suggest some more tiny gifts for inside?

Alrighty, you guys - thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed this one!




  
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Check out my latest little brainwave!  A cool metallic dreamcatcher that looks it's woven with wire.



I've always loved dreamcatchers, but never tried one before.  Probably because I didn't want to figure out the knotwork involved.  (Q: is there an award for laziest crafter?)

So I came up with a simple five minute hack for the 'web' part of the dreamcatcher.  After that, it was all embellishment - the part of crafting I really enjoy.

Here's the DIY.  I began with a loose-weave metal strainer spoon.  I found mine at an Asian market for less than two bucks.  Try your favorite kitchen shop or dollar store for something similar.



First I squished the center of the spoon inward.



Then I flipped the spoon over and squished again, flattening the small inner bump.  It created a pattern of concentric circles in the mesh.



I untwisted and trimmed the handle wires.  Then I made small loops with the trimmed ends, like so:




Tip: that two-loop bail was the one tricky bit.  Because the handle wire was so curly, I had to straighten it with pliers before turning the loops.  You could simplify by just cutting the handle short, and turning a plain loop.

If you like the bright brass color, your dreamcatcher web is all done and ready to decorate.  I took one extra step: a dark jewelry glaze to add an antiqued look.


Tip: If you don't have glaze or patina, a simple wash with brown or black craft paint will work, too!

Then I had a great time with the adornments.  Metal feather charms, flying hearts, filigree and a tassel went into the final result.




And my dreamy catcher was ready to hang above the bed.


Of course, this is just an example.  You might prefer to include more traditional elements.  Bone beads, feathers, shells or other natural objects - there are lots of different styles when creating a dreamcatcher, with personal meaning for each maker.

Consult your own taste, aura, and sense of magic.

Now wouldn't this make a great gift, especially for a guy or someone who isn't really into jewelry?  Or hey - I would even count this as a handmade Christmas ornament.

OK, people, thanks a bunch for visiting!  See you again...maybe in dreams.







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Here's a five minute craft for summer!  Something fun and creative from the brain of my husband.  A psychedelic painted sun hat!



The story: for 4 years, he has been wearing the same mesh sun hat for working outside.  Even though it went through the washing machine regularly, it was stained and unsightly and, well, take a look at what I mean...



Ew, right?

A few days ago I spotted him heading for the back yard, clutching three cans of spray paint and the hat.  I grabbed my camera and followed.

Hijinks ensued.





Isn't it awesome?  His colors: teal, purple and bright chartreuse.



I loved it so much, I made one for me.  They only take a minute, you guys!  I started with this dollar store straw hat:



I went with a slightly different color scheme - I kept the teal and chartreuse, but added touches of bronze and antique silver.



The paint dried in 10 minutes and the hats were ready to wear.



They look super cute hanging in your house, too.




Tips:

*Start with just a light spray, don't blast on heavy coverage.  (That way the hat will still breathe.)  If you want deeper color, add one or two more very light coats.  

*Don't paint the underside - you don't want to wear spray paint against you hair or skin.

*These won't go in the washing machine, but cloth hats can still be spot cleaned on the inside.  (Maybe even hand washed in the sink; I have had good luck with hand-washing spray-painted fabrics.) 

Okie dokie, I hope you liked Jeff's quickie idea.  Try it, have fun!  Give a sad old hat a whole new attitude.






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Hi, all!   This week I made two jewels from hardware store ball chain.  I did it using a fun trick with a finding meant for a different purpose.

First the jewels, then the trick!






I started with this beautiful multicolored ball chain, isn't it the prettiest stuff?



I found it at a local Ace Hardware.  (If anybody knows an online source, leave it for us in the comments, eh?)

The finding in question is a type of bead tip (typically used for adding clasps to ball chain or strung beads).  This is the kind that closes sideways instead of folding in half.



Now for the big trick.  I clamped a bead tip onto the end of a short length of ball chain, like so:





And...welp, that's it!  Simple, yes?  And there are tons of ways to create jewelry from this interesting component.

To assemble an earring, I used these ingredients:




Using jump rings, I added the ball chain segments to a filigree.



Then I connected the fishhook ear wire to the top.



If you have two ears, make a second earring.   Done!



Note: if you have been coming here long enough, you know that I don't have pierced ears, so instead I wear ear cuffs.  Here's my ear cuff version:



Either way, these earrings are awesomely swingy and surprisingly light to wear!

The necklace went together pretty quickly, too.    They key difference: put bead tips on both ends of each ball chain segment.  This close-up shows the construction a bit better.



I made three double-ended chain segments in graduated sizes.  I threaded them onto craft wire, separated by silver beads.    I finished with a small loop on each end - and added more ball chain for the necklace.




If you can't find the colorful chain, use regular silver or gold tone.  Just think how many ways you can use these little ball chain segments!  How about fringe at the bottom of a large multi-loop pendant?  How about individual skinny ball chain earrings?  How about a great big tassel?

Let's hear your suggestions!

Alrighty, then, that's today's project - thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed!

p.s. Interested in making your own simple ear cuffs?  Check out this tutorial.







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Well hi!  Today I thought I'd show you the quickest, simplest beaded home decor project evah.  It's practical, it's pretty, it's economical - heck, there's even a little element of upcycling in there for good measure.

It's a scarf hanger system, for storage and display.


The DIY takes about a minute.  You will need:

-a buncha big beads
-an old shoelace

Ready?  Go!

Thread 16-20 inches of big beads onto an old shoelace (or any bit of cord or ribbon you happen to have handy).  Tie a bow, and double-knot it.


That's it, baby!  Hang one (or three or six or ten!) on your wall, as demonstrated here...


Then just add scarves.

I hung mine on a cute 3-hook coat rack, but you could hang these up in a number of ways.  Use little nails, or individual hooks, or even those removable hooks for apartments.

I was looking for a way to use up a vast quantity of not-so-thrilling wooden beads, and this was just the ticket.  I'm a VERY scarf-y person, so it's something I actually need and use - daily!


It could also be a fun project to do with kids, tweens or teens.  Let them choose beads to suit their personal style to make hangers for their own rooms, or to give as AWESOME handmade gifts.

Hope this one catches someone's fancy.  See ya!


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Hello again!  I used some kids' air dry clay (mine was Crayola brand from the drugstore) to make a fun and weird little creature skull pendant.  Take a look!


Want to try something like this?  Well, here's what I did.  First, using my nearly-non-existent sculpting skillz, I molded the plain white clay into these vaguely reptilian skull beads...


I'm still not sure if they are tiny dragons, baby gators, or lizards of an identified species.  As you can see, pretty much anyone could whip these up.  Bring in a kid to help if you aren't feeling skullish.

I left them to dry overnight, and then they were ready to decorate.

I sat down with my mom and some Sharpies, and we each did a skull.  Mine:



And Mom's:


I always LOVE what she does, without being able to do anything similar myself.  I adore how our artistic styles are so different - it's like we come from different creative planets!  

Next step: I made a curlicue on the end of some craft wire, and threaded it through the skull bead.


I finished up my pendant with a little bead tucked into that depression to protect the hole, and a loop for hanging.


Then I added it to a bright glass bead necklace.  Because the critter obviously wasn't colorful ENOUGH, right?


Here's a wider shot of the full necklace:


I've already gotten some compliments on it.

I hope this inspires somebody to grab a blob of air dry clay and make a big focal bead.  It's fun and quick!  Let it dry overnight, then Sharpie at will.


Later, gators!





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Hi!  Today I have a frugal and easy makeover for you.  First let me show you the end result: these pearly, coppery little necklaces.



I've been wearing them a lot lately - they are subtle, so simple and go with everything.

Here's another design, this one a bit more shmancy:



The makeover began with this (sorta, maybe, kinda) cute elastic bracelet...


...which I probably would never wear in real life.  Not that it was awful, just not my personal style.   But I do love the individual segments.  Such a pretty dark copper color and a nice silhouette.


So I turned them into necklace focals.

For the simple version, all I did was thread two headpins through the focal.  At the top, I turned two small loops.


I added chain and pearls to complete the necklaces.


The fancier, tasseled necklace went together differently. It's created with flexible beading wire (tiger tail), covered over with hollow coiled wire.  You can see this a bit better in the closeup:


The coils are a cool way to disguise the plain tiger tail underneath, don't you think?  (In case you're curious, here's where I bought the coil stuff.)

I had lots of fun raiding my stash for copper-toned treasures to tie onto the tassel.


Btw, those tiny rusty flower buds began life as mini jingle bells - click here for the how-to.

Anyway, you get the idea - you can harvest eight (or more!) focal pieces from one bracelet, and go nuts coming up with various necklace designs.

As frugal as this is, it could be a great party project or craft night challenge: how many different ways can a bunch of people use the same focal?

Before I go, one more makeover to show you - and this time, the bracelet in question is genuinely ugly.


Yuck!  No.  Just...no.  But maybe the individual segments had potential.

So here's what I did with one of them.  Step one: string a few beads on craft wire, and thread the wire up through the two holes:


Make wrapped loops on top.


Add some ribbon, a chain, or a length of cord, like so:


And what is it?  Why, this - an eyeglass holder necklace.



I definitely think it's an improvement on the dreadful original jewel!  Not to mention useful as heck.



And hey - I have nine more sparkly segments to experiment with.  Got any suggestions?







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You know those magnetic bookmarks, right?  The kind with two flat magnets that stick to the edge of your page.  Like these woodland cuties.



They are always embellished with some type of nicely laminated art;  you can find them in thousands of adorable designs.

I have a funny little hack for turning them into necklaces.  As an added bonus, they are interchangeable - switch out the bookmarks to a different design in seconds. Wanna see?  Sure you do!

Begin by making a simple wire piece with a loop on each end.  The straight section of wire should be the same width as your bookmark.  (Optional: add two small decorative spacers.)  Here's how it should look:



Now add the wire piece to a necklace or a chain.



Open a bookmark, slip it over the wire, and let it fall closed.  That is it!



Switch it to another bookmark in the blink of an eye.



It's a great beginner's wirework project.  Couldn't be any easier - two loops and you're done.  Try it with a teen or a tween, or a jewelry-making newbie!

This would be a fun gift for a book lover: give a set of bookmarks and a convertible necklace to go with it.

I'm sure you can find an elegant bookmark out there to match anyone's taste.  Something sophisticated, or whimsical, or literary...

Or you could go in a different direction.



!!!Omg puppies!!!

Bye for now.

p.s. thanks for the puppy ones, mom!
p.p.s. fellow blogger Divya suggested making them for your book club - great idea!


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Hi, all!  Check out these flittery, fluttery butterfly earrings.




This design is really at its best when worn - the true effect is a little hard to capture in a photo.  That's because they have lots of movement and, when hanging free, tend to cascade in almost a spiral.  This pic shows it a bit better:



I know it looks complex, but it's not really so difficult, I promise.  Tutorial begins now!

Put four butterfly beads on headpins, with one pin a little shorter than the other three.  Turn a loop at the top of each one.  You will end up with four butterfly dangles, with empty lengths of pin exposed.  Like this:



Swivel open the loop on one of the long dangles, and add it to the empty section of the short dangle.  Close the loop.  It should look like this.



Do the same with the next two dangles, adding each butterfly to the empty pin section of the one above it.  You will end up with this interesting geometry:



Now add an earring finding to the loop at the top of the cascade (the short butterfly dangle).



If you have two ears, make a second earring.  And you're done!



Aren't they fun?  I used some little polymer clay butterflies from a bracelet I took apart, and some carved beads in a stone called strawberry quartz.  There are so many cute butterfly beads out there, I bet you find just the thing to make your heart flutter.

In a good way.  Not in a tachycardic kind of way.

Hope some of you decide to give it a try!
  


  
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Hey, here's something I've been meaning to show you for a while.  I have a lot of these ranged around my studio.  Penny-pinching, earth friendly, practical jewelry displays...and they do brighten everything up!



Can you picture the top of the tissue box and how I used it?  Got 5 minutes, scissors and a stapler?  Here's the ridiculously simple DIY.

Cut the top and sides from a square tissue box, like so:


Cut a piece of scrap cardboard to cover the opening.


Glue or tape the cardboard to the inside; I use packing tape because it's a strong hold.  Then poke a couple of holes near the top.  Here's how it will look when flipped right-side-up:


Now staple together the two sides - one staple at the top, one at the bottom.  And that's it!  Here's your 3-D frame seen from the back:


Hang earrings inside and stand it up.  So darn cute!  And it's fun to match the earrings to the frame.


Tissue boxes are so pretty nowadays.  Find one you like and give it a second life.


Later, gators.


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