Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I've started working on a new series of pendants, and this is the first:

I made the pendant itself from a swirly, sparkly blue polymer clay, then hand-painted a couple of snowflakes.  The word "brr" was printed in a type-writer style font, then torn out to get that nice, ragged edge and decoupaged to the pendant.  The whole thing got several layers of Mod Podge for shine and durability.  Then I made a bail from silver-plated wire and strung this little beauty onto an adjustable-length black hemp cord along with a few blue and crystal glass seed beads. 

I'm currently working on a Valentine's-inspired pendant in the same style, so if pink is more your color, keep your eyes peeled.  I should have it listed later this week.

In the meantime, let me know what you think!
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Legend of the Christmas Pickle

When I was in the fifth grade my teacher told us about an old German tradition - the Christmas Pickle.  Every Christmas a special ornament shaped like a pickle was hidden within the branches of the tree and whichever lucky child found the pickle first received an extra treat from Santa.  And in one of my favorite school activities ever, we got to make our own pickle ornaments.  We used a green air-dry clay and little, black beads for their cute little pickle eyes.  I thought they were the best thing ever.

So I proudly took my pickle home and shared the story with my family, who found it just as delightful as I did.  Mom hid the pickle and come Christmas Eve, the hunt was on.  I didn't have any competition that first year, as my little sister was not yet with us, but it was fun anyway - and challenging!  Pickles have excellent camouflage for hiding in trees, let me tell you.

And so, the Christmas Pickle became a cherished family tradition.  Alas, over the years, the mice developed a fondness for the pickle as well and ate much of his adorable backside.  My mother happened to find a glass pickle ornament, and though it certainly held up to the mice better, it lacked that adorable pickle face.  It had no pickle personality.  And I kept thinking, "I should make a new pickle!"  But by the time I thought of it, I was usually ensconced in making gifts and goodies and all that holiday madness and just didn't have the time.

Now I'm approaching my second Christmas in my new home, and while we're making our own traditions there are many that I've brought with me.  I'll soon be making buckeye balls, and I'm thinking about whipping up a cheese ball too.  We've got a ham to cook and a carton of egg nog.  And yesterday, I made a pickle.

I happened to remember that I'd bought some green polymer clay, so I whipped it out and sculpted this little guy.  The eyes are glass beads, and I used an orange stick to give him some pickley dimples and add the rest of his features.  After baking I gave him a thin coat of acrylic paint - in Metallic Christmas Green, of course.  I didn't have any red ribbon on hand, so I just made him a wire hanger for now.  

I'm so pleased with how he turned out that I'm already planning on making more - one for my family to replace their bland, expressionless, glass pickle and some to sell to pickle-less families around the world.  Ok, so I'm a little late for this year, but it's definitely on my to-do list for next year!

And now I'm just dying to know - do any of you hunt for the Christmas Pickle?  What other wacky Christmas traditions do you have?  Or not-so-wacky?  Share your stories in the comments!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Motivator: Two Heads

They say two heads are better than one, and I've got to agree.  My roommate is a pretty crafty person herself and when I was rushing to finish the last few necklaces for my big order on time this weekend, she gladly jumped in to help.  And it was wonderful.  I showed her the various techniques for the design I'd been using and we finished one necklace together.  And then, the very next day, she totally blew me away with two awesome new designs of her very own.  And I mean awesome.  This girl is a wire wrapping genius.  Just look at this:

Isn't it awesome?  Like some sort of tiny, fantastic, abstract sculpture.  I just love it.  But I digress...

In addition to making necklaces, we also did some shopping (there was a "buy one get one free" sale on craft books at one of our awesome local shops) and a whole lot of brainstorming.  There were so many ideas bouncing around between us...  Ideas about designs and techniques and somewhere in the middle of it all, the concept for a whole new shop was born.

We've already started planning and setting things up, so I'll give you more details later when things have developed a bit more.  What I can tell you now is, there will be some restructuring happening over the next few weeks.  Some of my jewelry will be coming with me to the new shop and I'll be moving my graphics to their own dedicated shop as well.  The Ash Grove will remain home to my accessories and hand-lettered goods.  I may also be moving to a new main blog, but I'll definitely keep this one and post news specific to The Ash Grove, at least.  We'll just see what happens.

In the meantime and in case I don't get the chance to post again before then, I hope everyone has a very happy holiday!  Save me some of those cookies! ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Crapton of Craftlace

What is it about the holiday season that makes time seem to fly by even faster than usual?  One minute you're thinking "Gosh, isn't it a little early for lights?  It's not even Thanksgiving yet!" and the next you're thinking "Oh, crap!  I've only got a week to do all my shopping!"  Been there, done that.  But not this year.  I got all of my shopping done early this year.  What I didn't do yet is a lot of stuff for the shop.  Like posting here!

I just realized it's been two weeks!  Goodness.  I meant to post last week and show you all my newest items - craft lace zipper pulls in Hogwarts house colors.

Honestly, I was never a big fan of craft lace.  Sure, it had it's uses, but they were rather limited.  I used it a few months ago in a jewelry commission for a costume.  I only needed two colors for the project, but I was on a deadline and had to shop locally (read: at Wal-mart).  Fortunately, they had plenty of craft lace, but only in multi-packs.  And of course, the two colors I needed only came in the huge MEGAPACK.  So I got stuck with a metric ton of craft lace and no idea how to use it.

There were the obvious keychains and lanyards and such, but I really wanted to do something... different.  So I wracked my creative little brain and searched online for ideas and inspiration...  and finally wound up making keychains anyway.  I broke down one day and decided to try one of the braids that was shown in the little pamphlet that came in the box and I suddenly saw the appeal.  It was fun

I made several keychains and zipper pulls and whatnot, tried out some different patterns, and decided that I ought to add these to the shop.  They didn't take long to make and the materials were very inexpensive, so I wouldn't have to charge much.  And they're a useful item.  I know I always feel better about buying something if it's useful and not just purely decorative. 

And as I was pondering color schemes, I realized what I had to do:  Hogwarts house colors.  There was a new Harry Potter movie coming out, so the timing seemed perfect.  And besides, I'm just a big Harry Potter fan.  Plus it would be another "geeky" item for the shop, something I was wanting to add more of.  So there you have it. 

I'll soon be adding keychains as well and I'm already pondering new color schemes (if you have a specific color scheme you'd like to see, leave a comment and let me know!), so you can definitely expect to see more of these.  In the meantime, I'm off to work on some necklaces.  And I promise it won't be another two weeks before you see me again!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Freebies

Remember those printable freebies I mentioned? They're here! No need to spend your hard earned cash of gift tags, folks. You can download these babies and print as many as you need! Just click the download link below to grab the PDF file. And let me know what you think! I want to be sure my freebies are fun and useful to you, my dear readers. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Back to Business

Well, Folks, I did it.  Yesterday afternoon, around 3:30, I reached my goal of 50,000 words and became a NaNo winner.  Actually, my grand total was 50,162 words, and I did it in 27 days - not to brag or anything...

Oh, heck.  Who am I kidding.  Yes, I'm bragging.  But I like to think I've earned it.  =P

The funny part?  I had my whole plot outlined beforehand, but before I could get to the main plot, I had to do some setting up and explain some things.  In the process, I discovered a whole host of new characters and subplots, and I didn't wind up getting to the plot I had planned until a couple of days ago, about 45,000 words into the story.  So it's starting to look like I might be writing a trilogy rather than a single book.  Which would be pretty cool, actually.  I kind of have a thing for trilogies...

But I digress.  I bet you're wondering what's happening on the crafty front.  More than you might think, actually.  Yes, I've been focusing on my writing, but I have made a few things as well.  And I took a lovely trip to Hobby Lobby a couple weeks ago to stock up on supplies, so I have plenty of new stuff to work with.  And boy have I got ideas! Here's a peek at what's coming:

  • Zipper Pulls & Keychains - I'll be listing these in the next day or two, and I'm quite excited about them, so I'm keeping the details secret until then.  Suffice it to say, they're another dose of geekery for the shop, and I think they're really cool.  
  • New Polymer Clay Pendants & Necklaces - I say polymer clay because that's what the base will be, but I'm actually envisioning these as sort of a mixed media mini-collage.  They look really cool in my head, and I can't wait to actually experiment.  Hopefully, I'll be able to whip one up in time for the holidays!  
  • Monthly Freebies - This is an idea that's been bouncing around my head for a while now, and I've finally decided to do something about it.  In fact, I'm going to get to work as soon as I've finished writing this.  As a way of saying "thank you" to all the awesome folks who read my blog and/or subscribe to my newsletter, I'm going to offer up a themed set of printable freebies every month.  One sheet will be up for grabs here with a second available only in the newsletter - so be sure to subscribe!
So there you have it - a taste of what's to come and proof that no matter how busy I may be with other things, I'm always thinkin' crafty.  :)

Now tell me, how was your November?  Did you eat too much turkey?  Go turkeyless?  What have you got planned for the holidays?  Talk to me people!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but this blog is not the only thing I write.  Nope.  Far from it.  Actually, I have a few other blogs and journals that I do my best to keep up with.  And I write fiction, which is what I really love.

A lot of times, though, it gets placed on the back burner - because there are blogs to write or because there are  "more important" things to do.  This blog and my Etsy shop take precedence most of the time.

But not this month.  This month is all about writing.  Not writing just anything, but writing my novel - the one that's been bouncing around the back of my head for months, waiting for me to sit down and really work on it.  That's just what I'm doing.

But why now?  Because it's NaNoWriMo!  What the heck is that?  National Novel Writing Month.  It's a magical event that happens every November during which a whole bunch of completely nutty people set out to write an entire 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.  Or, in my case, 27 days.  I got off to a late start.  But I've met my goal every day since I started, and I'm making great progress.  So long as I can keep up this pace, I should have no trouble finishing on time.

Of course, that means you probably won't see much of me around here.  I will, of course, stop by for occasional updates.  But for the most part, I'll be over here with my coffee and my chocolate and my laptop, typing myself silly and trying to stay remotely sane.

Click the graphic above to by taken to my NaNo profile page, where you can read a synopsis of my novel and an excerpt.
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