Making buttons for leather bracelets from old coins

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Bracelet being woven with beads on my home made loom
Bracelet being woven with beads on my home made loom
The Buffalo Nickel Button is attached to the leather lace first.
The Buffalo Nickel Button is attached to the leather lace first.

While at the Minnesota State Fair, we visited a vendor who had made some really cool jewelry from old coins. As my BFF is a coin collector who knows where to find old coins cheap, we decided to try making our own unique designs with old coins. He bought me a bag of Buffalo Nickels that are too worn to be valuable to practice with. Then, we found a coin dealer who sells old coins for 20 cents a piece, and I bought five of those to play around with.

On YouTube, you can find lots of ideas for making jewelry. After some searching I found a video on how to make a wrap bracelet using a loom. She was using buttons as a clasp, so I decided to make my coins into buttons.

Using some leather from my stash, I made a bracelet with Turquoise beads, cotton thread that was the same color. I attached the beads to the leather using simple macrame square knots.

The loom is a piece of wood that I bought at the lumber store. Using picture hanging eye hooks and wooden dowels, and cup hooks. I got the idea for the loom from this YouTube Video.

To make the coin into a button, clean and polish the coin. I used a dremel polishing felt pad and polish to make it shinier. The shank was maderfrom a piece of 20 guage jewelry wire. The end of the shank wraps around the front of the coin to hold in tightly in place. I cut a piece of leather larger than the coin, and glued the coin with the shank attached to the leather using E-6000 glue. The glue needs to set for 24 hours before you can trim the leather. Using a sharp exacto knife, I trim the leather from the coin. Using a lighter, I gently burn the leather to darken and seal it.

Coin after being glued to the leather
Coin after being glued to the leather

The bracelet is still a work in progress, but, having fun with it.

Watercolor Landscape Painting

Rum River Bridge

Rum River Bridge Poster at Zazzle

Rum River Bridge Postage

I painted the Rum River Bridge painting after taking a class on mixing colors in watercolor. The course taught me about using a limited palette of the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue to create all the colors in the painting. The advantage of this method is that all of your colors are unified and you have greater control in color mixing. To start using a limited palette, first you must experiment with your paints.

Discover which three primary colors mixed together will create a true grey or a shade of brown.

Begin by selecting your truest red, yellow and blue. Then, start making a color mixing chart, labeling each color as you mix. Mix red with yellow to create varieties of orange, yellow and blue to create varieties of green and blue and red to create varieties of violet.

Then start mixing the compliments to create varieties of grey, which are used for the shadow colors in your paintings. Mix orange with blue to creates shades of orange and blue, mix green with red to create shades of red and green and mix violet with yellow to create shades of violet and yellow.

When you have discovered your limited palette choices, you are ready to get started. Have fun!

From apartment to studio

Well, a lot of happened in my little apartment this year. This Spring, I just couldn’t stand how difficult it was to find my stuff to make more stuff. The problem was that it was set up in the traditional kitchen, living room, bedroom and office layout.

All my art stuff, jewelry making, fabric art had to be taken out and then packed away because I didn’t have enough work area for everything at once. Hmmm, what to do. I decided that what I needed was a studio with lots of work spaces, shelves for my stuff, an office that was organized so I could actually get some work done. So, I did.

The picture at the top of the page was taken in early January. The month when all the holiday parties are over, and it’s time to do your taxes. My craft table was set up in my small office which was crowded. My cat, Kitty, likes to watch me as I work. Later in January, I made this YouTube video of my cats, Cats.

My kitchen is now my where my antique school desk serves as my writing area. I bought this old desk when I was a teenager in my home town of Aitkin, MN. It came from the one room school house in the town. One of my favorite pieces of furniture.

After giving a lot of stuff away, and rearranging everything about a hundred times, I’m finally there, it’s a studio.

Photoshop Elements – Designing with layers in mind.

Recently, I bought a book on the art of Calligraphy. In the book, it suggests to place tracing paper over the rough draft of your work to use as a guide for a more professional result. It also suggests to use paper that has a grid to keep your letters evenly spaced and in neat evenly spaced lines. I happened to have some tracing paper with very light grid lines, so I started to practice different styles with it.

Now, I wanted to use my new skills to create a new image for my new Zazzle Store, Rosie’s Card Shop. This store will feature paper products with floral designs in the botanical style.

I did some research on the Blue Geranium flowers that I have published in the past, and discovered it is a wild species also known as Cranebill. I placed the tracing paper over the drawing and drew the proper name for the plants.

Original Geranium drawing after editing
Original Geranium drawing after editing

After scanning the text, I cleaned up the image by removing the background with the Magic Eraser tool in Photoshop Elements. Then, with the original drawing file, I added new layers to copy and paste the text elements over the original drawing.

Calligraphy to add into the original drawing
Calligraphy to add into the original drawing

This is the final result after editing, which is now available on products in my new store.

Completed design
Completed design

Please visit my new store to see more designs using this technique.

Watercolor painting is a fun adventure.

Whenever I need a little “me” time, I take out my Art Instruction books for inspiration on maybe a new painting or to improve on an idea that I started but not finished. Usually, my paintings are never really finished, they are just stepping stones. One drawing or painting becomes a new one with a little modification. Yesterday, I had some quiet time with the book Watercolor 1, Learn the Basics of Watercolor Painting by Caroline Linscott from Walter Foster Publishing.

Although I have been painting with watercolor for more years than I like to admit, this book is a nice review and gives me inspiration to try something new. Sometimes, I can get so wrapped up trying to make a “perfect painting” that I lose sight that this is supposed to be fun. As Caroline says in the introduction,

“The unique properties of watercolor make it an exciting, spontaneous, and interesting medium.” Caroline Linscott.

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My Zazzle MySpace Merch Booth

Zazzle has a promotional widget called the MySpace Merch Booth. It is found in My Zazzle on the Store tab under Promote Your Store To Boost Sales. It gives the customer the ability to design their own products using their own images and text.

When designing my Merch Store, I decided to create template images with the recommended resolution printed on the image. One for T-Shirts, one for key chains and another for posters to make it easier for the customer to create their own products.
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