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Archive for June, 2012

All A-Twitter About Sale Fabric

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
By Twistie

Are you in the market for fabric for your next quilt, outfit, or home improvement project? Then you’d better head on over to and check out their latest sale. Right now you can get an extra 30% off all clearance fabrics with code: CLEAR612. Spend at least $35.00 (and who can’t spend that even in discounted clearance fabrics when making a quilt?) and you’ll get free shipping, too.

There are plenty of fabrics to choose from, both practical and whimsical. For instance, this cotton fabric based on Twitter is regularly $9.99 a yard at most sources. At it would usually sell for $8.48 a yard. Not bad. But now it’s on clearance for just $4.24 per yard… and then you can take a further 30% off of that! They’re practically paying you to take it away.

So if you’re looking to add to your fabric stash or need a couple yards to complete a project, go check out the sale. You’ll be glad you did.

Buy a Munny, and the Money Goes to Charity

Monday, June 11th, 2012
By Twistie

Crafts are big these days. It seems sometimes like everyone is doing them, and some big name celebrities have come out of the crafting closet to tell us what they like to do. Julia Roberts will be drawing on her actual knitting skills in an upcoming film, Tom Cruise bought Katie Holmes a sewing machine for her birthday… and Rosie O’Donnell is making art out of Munny Dolls for charity.

The whole point of Munny dolls is to take a blank shape and breathe your own life into it by decorating it in any way you see fit. O’Donnell uses Sharpie markers to paint them in unique designs. She then sells them in her Etsy story for $200.00 a pop.

Of course Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t need the money for herself. Star of stage and television with books on the market… yeah, she’s got plenty to live on. Instead the money goes to her charity, Rosie’s Theater Kids, which brings instruction in music, dance, and acting to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to performing arts programs. As a one-time drama jock, I heartily approve this idea. Arts programs are being cut all over the country, and kids need access to more than just the three r’s.

I also approve the idea of someone using art to support the arts.

Hmmm… Sounds Familiar To Me

Sunday, June 10th, 2012
By Twistie

On June 26th at 10/9C, TLC will be rolling out a new show that bears a striking resemblance to an old show that should have lived a lot longer than it did. Craft Wars will star Tori Spelling. In it, three crafters will go head to head against one another and the clock to make crafts out of items chosen by the producers. A panel of judges will then award points. The top two go on to a second round after which the winner of the episode is crowned.

Yes, this looks like a bigger budget Craft Corner Deathmatch without the Craft Lady of Steel or the gloriously grungy crafting cage. Plus there is apparently time for Spelling to mentor the crafters a la Tim Gunn.

In other words, it looks like they took the premise of a great show that was light years ahead of its time, sucked the genius right out of it, and turned it into just another reality contest show, only without giving us time to care about the contestants.

Still, I tend far more to optimism than pessimism, and I’ll give it a go at least once to see if things turn out better than I fear.

But I can tell you right now I already miss Amber.

Bead Week Quickie Question: Favorite Beaded Item?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to the final installment of Bead Week. Sorry it’s late, but WordPress kept spitting me out yesterday, alas! Still, better late than never.

Beads are great of course. We love them. They’re pretty and fun and useful. But many of us also have beads or beaded items that mean a lot to us personally. I happen to have several beaded items that hold personal meaning for me. All the same, there’s one that matters more than the others. That would be my Great-Great Aunt Anna’s jet necklace.

Of course there’s the sentimental value. I inherited the necklace from one of my all-time favorite relatives, and it’s a piece of family history on its own, besides. Still, there’s another layer to my fondness. I have something of a fascination with mourning ritual, and jet jewelry was designed for mourning purposes. When that necklace was first created, the only reason to wear it was because one was in mourning for someone who had died.

Most of us don’t follow a lot of traditions surrounding death, anymore. A few of us might have attended – or held – a wake or sat shiva, but I’m guessing that the most many more of us have done is attend a funeral or memorial service or two. When my Great-Great Aunt Anna was alive, there were rules about how you dressed, what social engagements you were allowed to participate in and which you’d best not join in until the mourning period was completely over, and just about every aspect of how to live life. That necklace, made of the only material deemed appropriate to wear during the mourning period, is a tangible reminder of how differently life was lived not so very long ago.

So what about you? Do you have a bead or beaded item that means a great deal to you? Or one that just makes you happy whenever you wear/look at/fondle it? Tell us all about it!

Bead Week: Pearls of Not So Great Price

Thursday, June 7th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to day four of Bead Week on Crafty Manolo! Enjoy your stay.

Pearls have always been greatly prized jewels. Whether set as cabochons or drilled to make beads that can then be strung together or sewn on clothing, there is no natural jewel considered so elegant, so subtle, or so timeless.

Because of that beauty, elegance, luster, and association with Very Rich People, the pearl was also one of the first jewels that people tried very hard to reproduce out of lesser materials.

In ancient Rome, the method tried was to take glass beads coated in silver and then coat them in another layer of glass.  Not a bad idea, actually. By 1300, ‘pearls’ were being produced using a combination  of white powdered glass mixed with egg whites and snail slime. I shudder to contemplate how that last ingredient was gathered in sufficient quantities!

The real breakthrough came in the 17th century when one Jaquin of Paris came up with a process using hollow blown glass balls coated in varnish mixed with fish scales. The balls were then filled in with wax to make them sturdier. Jaquin got a patent on the process, and people of both sexes began wearing a lot more pearls. Those who could not afford the real thing, used the Jaquin jewels. Those who could afford the real thing did so… but also sometimes used the Jaquin ones for everyday clothes with a massive profusion of pearls. Many rich folk used the fake pearls and paste jewels for daytime wear and saved up the real diamonds and pearls for evenings and special occasions.  Some imitation pearls are still made using Jaquin’s method of varnish and fish scales.

I love it when an old method stands the test of time so very well.

Bead Week: Roll, Blow, or Craft Your Own

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to day three of Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! Set a spell and see if something appeals.

Sure, it’s fun to buy beads. That’s something I enjoy doing on a fairly regular basis, often with no clue what I’ll do with them later. I just like having lots of beads to choose from when I decide on a project.

But what about making the beads themselves? Most of us never do that. And why not? I can’t think of a good reason. Maybe if we all take a look at ways beads can be produced, some of us will find a way that appeals to our crafting genes. Even if we don’t, we’ll certainly have more appreciation for those who do the job!

Over at Shermo Beads, Ann Sherm Baldwin has a great visual tutorial on making lampwork glass beads. She recommends (and I heartily second this advice!) that if you want to try it yourself, it’s probably better to take a proper class. Still, this tutorial will not only help you see whether this is a craft for you, it will also give you a better appreciation of the work involved in making those gorgeous beads. So put on the pretty, sparkly safety goggles she has thoughtfully set out, and take a look.

Art Trader Magazine Online has a good tutorial on using polymer clay to make Pandora style beads. Wendy, this is for you. Wouldn’t this be a great way to come up with beads with big enough holes to use for your knitting?

I’m just sayin’….

Paper has a terrific blog on techniques and projects for paper beads. I found myself kind of intrigued with the idea of using posterboard, which is how these beads were made. Learn how here.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make wooden beads? eHow has a clear set of instructions for free. Oh, and if you’re looking for wood and carry your own saw, I’ve got a tree out back that could really use a good pruning. No, really, I do.

You can even make beads from beads. Somehow I’d never really thought about using seed beads to make bigger, more elaborate beads, but the results can be amazing. Check out how with this peyote-stitch bead tutorial on Beading Arts.

Happy beading, everyone!

Bead Week: Do It Yourself… Or Let Tamara Do It

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
By Twistie

Bead Week Continues. Enjoy!

Like this beaded leather cuff? I certainly do! It’s fun and funky and a bit retro and terribly Boho, which is a look I’ve always loved. Anyway, you can buy the cuff for $145.00 from Tamara Scott Designs on Etsy, or…

You can buy the instructional PDF for just $20.00 and choose your own materials and colors to work with.

Don’t want to spend full price and don’t want to go finding all the bits yourself? No problemo! For $80.00, you can get the fully supplied kit in your choice of the black or the brown colorway.

Just add tools and talent, and voila! Awesome jewelry and new techniques to learn!

Oh, did I mention that while this looks a lot like bead embroidery on leather, it’s actually beaded motifs attached to leather? Looks fun to me.

And if leather cuffs aren’t your thing, not to worry. Tamara has a lot of great jewelry (in finished, pattern, and kit form, depending on your preference) to show you.

Go thou and check out this great work!

Bead Week: Where to Get Them?

Monday, June 4th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to Bead Week at Crafty Manolo! All week long we’ll be talking about where to buy them, how to use them, beads in history, and, well, whatever else I can think of having to do with beads.

I love beads. They’re pretty, they’re fun to play with, and you can usually pick up a fair number for a relatively small amount of cash. Today I thought I would share a few favorite sources of gorgeous beads.

The one above is a lampwork bead from Shipwreck Beads. It’s a 27mm dichroic glass bead in shades of blue with a 2mm hole. I love the color, the shape, and the subtle sparkle in it. The price? A quite reasonable $9.99 each.

Shipwreck carries a wide variety of gorgeous beads (glass, wood, ceramic, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, and many, many more materials), findings, tools, books, and even finished pieces of jewelry. If you need a bead or a way to use it, this is a great place to start.


Crafts Help Heal Veterans

Friday, June 1st, 2012
By Twistie

My father was a two war veteran.

He was sixteen when Pearl Harbor was raided by the Japanese. He ran away from home, lied about his age, and joined the navy the next day.

After WWII, he attended the California Maritime Academy. Then he rejoined civilian life.

He was recalled to active duty for Korea.

I don’t know what he did during either of those wars. He would talk about the boredom of shipboard life, the pranks he and his shipmates pulled on one another, the time when the only film they had to watch for six long months was State Fair. After a while, they turned off the sound and members of the crew played the different parts. The pig was considered the absolute plum role.

One day when I was about ten or so, I asked him why he wore that big, bushy walrusesque moustache. He just gruffly said ‘I can’t shave it off.’

I’d never looked carefully before, but that day I finally saw the huge, welty scar that ran the complete vertical length of his upper lip on one side. I asked him what happened. All he would tell me was it happened while he was in the navy. No year, no battle, no accident, not even which war.


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