Year of Crafting Edition 1: Week 1-10

This year, I vowed to complete one craft (or one stage for longer projects) a week. I love to craft and on January 1st I realized I hadn’t spent much time crafting during 2016. I was going to change that for this year and my goal is to finish up some crafting projects (Disney vacation album), try some new crafts (painting, Deco Mesh wreath making, and use the fabric I bought for projects but have been scared I’d mess up and waste the money I spent so I’m letting all my lovely fabric and patterns just hang out in my storage unit. No more! I realized it’s no more of a waste to not use the fabric and patterns as it is to make a mistake sewing the item (cute patterns for purses I really want to sew). The only way to get better at sewing is to sew.

Here are the projects I have completed so far:

CP 1 and 2 Megan's winter setWeek 1-2: A matching scarf and messy bun hat for my younger daughter. The messy bun hat I used a pattern, and the scarf I made using the double crochet stitch.

CP Week 3 Messy bun hat BrittanyWeek 3: A messy bun hat for my oldest. She saw a picture I posted of her sister’s hat on Facebook and wanted one. I used the same pattern as the one for her sister but this time I used the front and back post stitch for the brim.

CP Week 6 My ScarfWeek 4-6: I’ve been crocheting a little over a year and I hadn’t made myself anything yet. I crocheted blankets, mermaid tail blanket, scarfs, a cozy for a Beta fish tank, but nothing for me. I wanted to use a Caron Cake and on the sleeve of one of the Cakes was a pattern for this scarf. The completed scarf is 70 inches long so I broke it down into steps as I wouldn’t be able to complete it in one week. I love the fringe!

CP Week 7 Alex ScarfWeek 7: When I was crocheting my scarf, my favorite little guy saw it and asked if I’d make him a blue and green one. Of course! I used a scarf knitting loom, and stepped way out of my comfort zone by creating my pattern. I love how it turned out.

CP Week 8 Spring Deco WreathWeek 8: Deco Wreath. I’ve always wanted to make a Deco Mesh wreath and as this 2017 is my year of crafting I decided to give it a try. It also helped that the day I was at AC Moore the supplies for the wreaths were 50% 0ff. I like how the spring wreath turned out and I have supplies to make a Frozen inspired wreath.

CP Week 9 Mardi Gras Cricut CozyWeek 9: I’m donating a basket filled with goodies for a prize at the crop I’m attending and I sewed a Cricut dust cover to add to it. I went with a Mardi Gras theme as it matches the cover of my book Masked to Death as it’s also included in the basket. I’ve sewed some Cricut/Cameo dust covers before but this was the first time I sewed on an embellishment–sequined ribbon.

CP week 10Week 10: This week was a very crafty week for me. I attended a three-day scrapbook retreat so I completed some layouts, and the night before the crop I took a painting class with my oldest. We had a wonderful time and I’m hoping we can make time to go to another one. I dubbed my masterpiece Tinkerbell in Paris.

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Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

Christmas Craft Projects

It’s the time of the year when I plan out–and hopeful start –the Christmas gifts and decorations I want to make. So far, I have five on my list (four I’ll mention as one is gift that I think she reads my blog). I’m debating on a sixth but with a book in progress, tax training to complete, and wanting to spend time just enjoying the holiday season, I don’t want to become overwhelmed. I enjoy crafting and don’t want a long must-make-list to turn it into a chore.

ornament-for-christmas-project-postProject One: Christmas Ornaments for our ornament exchange party.

Last weekend, I attended a wonderful craft day and learned to make this ornament. It was a fun and simple process, and even better I have most of the supplies on hand. All I need are some plastic ornaments, but I couldn’t pass up this fabric ornament-materialwhen I went in search of supplies for Project Two. I think this design will make an awesome Christmas decoration. The only problem will be I’ll probably want to keep them instead of adding them to the ornament exchange.

 

harry-potter-fleece

Project Two is one that was a request: Harry Potter Fleece tie blanket. I had made one as a birthday gift and my daughter requested I make another one as hers has been permanently borrowed by a very adorable little girl.

She hopes that gifting one to the borrower will mean she’ll get her blanket back. To make sure that happens, I bought the exact same fleece and will make it the same size. I’m a little concerned if I make it in a child size that  the little one will want to keep the larger blanket.

mermaid-tale-blanketAnd that isn’t the only blanket I’m making this year. For Project Three, I’m crocheting a Mermaid Tale Blanket. I have started it and am halfway done with the first section of the tail (the main body–the easy part). I’m hoping when I get to the fins, it goes as smoothly. I’ve only made basic blankets and I’m hoping I can decipher the pattern enough to have it look like a mermaid tale.

The final project on my list (that I’m going to talk about) are gift tags. I made some cute ones last year for a giveaway and am planning to do the same this year–and keep some for myself. I really enjoyed making them especially since I can use my Cameo and/or Cricut Explore Air 2 (which is on its way to me) to cut them out.

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part I

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m having a guest blogger introduce you to the art of  in Trompe l’oeil.

by Sybil Johnson

The next book in my Aurora Anderson Mystery Series, A PALETTE FOR MURDER, features a trompe l’oeil (pronounced “Tromp Loy”) class. That means “trick the eye” or “fool the eye”. It’s any painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.  Those clouds on ceilings in Vegas casinos and faux finishes such as marble and bricks fall into this category. To get a feel for what else can be done, here are some masterful 3-D illusions using chalk on pavement by various artists: ://www.boredphttpanda.com/5-most-talented-3d-sidewalk-chalk-artists/

Go ahead, check them out. I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Amazing, right? My favorite is Ice Age.

While working on PALETTE, I was reminded that I’d bought a pattern book and wood for a much simpler project, a cherry pie on a stool, years ago. Yep, years ago. I decided now was the time to work on this project. I thought I’d take you along on my journey into trompe l’oeil.

Here’s what I started with, a pattern/instruction book by Peggy Decker and an unpainted wood side table:

JohnsonImage1

I started by staining the wood. The instructions said to use Minwax Polyshades, Gloss Finish, in Pecan. It’s a polyurethane varnish with the stain in the product. I’d never used the product or even stained anything before, so I approached it with some trepidation. I pulled on my big girl pants and worked away. It took me all of 30 minutes to screw it up. Okay, it was a little longer than that, but not by much.

When the table dried, the top was a mess, not smooth at all. I thought I’d read the instructions carefully, but turns out I didn’t really. Luckily, wood is fairly forgiving so I stripped the top using Citristrip, sanded it a bit and I was good to go again. This time, I made sure I read and reread the instructions.

The next step was applying the pattern using graphite and basecoating with DecoArt White acrylic paint. I was a little worried about the acrylic painting adhering to the Polyshades, but it worked out okay. In between coats of white, I used a bit of paper torn from a brown paper bag to “sand”. Yep, a good old paper bag from the grocery store. It’s rough enough to smooth the paint a bit, but not so rough that it takes the paint off.

Here it is after this step:

JohnsonImage2

Next came a coating of light gray followed by the stripes on the cloth, painted in FolkArt Rose Chiffon. Liner work is not my favorite thing to do. I’ve seen brushes at conventions that have two brushes on one handle, that produce two parallel lines. I don’t have one of those, but I decided it wouldn’t be hard to make my own. I taped together two 10/0 liner brushes and voila! I have my own double brush.

JohnsonImage3

This is where I am so far on the project.

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Doesn’t look terribly exciting yet, I know. Projects never do at the beginning. Next time I’ll be working on the pie at the center of the design. Stay tuned.

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press.

National Craft Month: Cropped to Death Excerpt

I had hoped to have a crafting blog post ready for today but it’s been hectic at the office this week and my hours work hours needing shifting around, so I didn’t have time to finish making my project. This month, I’ve celebrating National Craft Month by alternating between different hobbies: scrapbooking, crocheting, and coloring. I had thought about chatting about my experience with making a photo book through Shutterfly, but as we don’t have the book yet (and I did a scrapbooking post last week) I thought it better to wait.

CROPPED front smSince Cropped to Death is currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, I thought I’d share an excerpt of Faith preparing for a beginning scrapbooking class–and she gets interrupted.

Excerpt: 

I headed into the paper racks, weaving through the reds and yellows to reach the browns. The hues ranged from sand to a brown so dark it could pass for black. What shade and texture should I use tonight?

A smoother paper worked better for beginners, as it was easier for tearing and for making other embellishments, but I had no idea the skill level of the women signed up for the contest class and mini crop. A texture cardstock added an extra dimension to the work and gave the beginning layout a little edge. If using it for a border, tearing the texture paper added a nice jagged effect with feathering detail.

Maybe a sheet of both styles using a monochromatic scheme. That worked. A deeper beige mixed with a sand almost white shade. Neutrals worked well with any photos. I’d take a look at the students’ pictures when they arrived and pull complementary colors showcased in the photos.

Time to pick embellishments. I gathered up sheets of letter stickers in a variety of fonts and colors for the layout titles. I stopped in front of the clear stamps and picked out an alphabet set. I’d buy the stamps and share them tonight with the class. Hopefully, they’d love them so much, the two attendees would want a set for themselves. To save some money, I’d go with standard neutral paint colors. If the croppers wanted a hue with a little more pop, they could purchase it.

The bell above the door jangled. I took the items out of the basket and arranged them in piles on the tables. Before the crop started, I wanted to check on the amount of choices offered for the class participants. I snapped my fingers. Items for the prize basket.

A shadow fell over me. I jerked upright, and the wind whooshed in my ears even though I was inside. This fear issue was getting annoying. I hated feeling vulnerable. Taking in a deep breath, my heart rate slowed to normal as I realized a new customer, not a stalker, entered into the store.

A dark-haired woman in her late teens hovered behind me. Two splotches of red bloomed on her cheeks and she stammered. “I was wondering if. Well, if you could…would you mind…”

I smiled and waved my hand over the products on the table. “It’s not too late to sign up for the crop tonight.”

She pushed a piece of paper toward me. “I was wondering if…”

I held my pleasant smile and waited.

“If I could… like… get…”

The smile strained my cheeks.

“Your autograph.”

“My what?” I kept my reaction in check, uncertain if amusement or anger was more appropriate.

“Aren’t you the owners’ granddaughter? The one mentioned in the paper?”

I went with anger. Before the scolding exploded from my mouth, the young woman turned and fled out the door. Why couldn’t the store reach celebrity status because of our awesome customer service rather than because of murder?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, and is able to enjoy their families and their hobbies.

 

Glass Bead Making with Janice Peacock

In 1992 I learned to make glass beads after a disappointing trip to a bead shop.  I was making a chain bracelet with different beads hanging off each link, charm bracelet-style.  I had figured out exactly what I wanted the bracelet to look like, but unfortunately the bead store didn’t have what I wanted.  I had particular shapes and styles in mind, and as I looked at the beads I’d purchased I wondered to myself:  Who makes these beads?  How do you make beads?  And that’s how it all started—I wanted to make glass beads, but had no idea where to start.

For those of us old enough to remember, there was no Google in 1992. The only way to research something was using an old-fashioned telephone or mail, and I don’t mean email.  So, I started making phone calls.  The first place I found that worked with glass told me I needed a furnace that could melt hundreds of pounds of glass at a time and would need to run 24×7 at a cost of several hundred dollars a month.  This was definitely not an option for me.  The next people I found said I could learn glass fusing from them, but I didn’t want to make flat things like plates and tiles.  I wanted colorful round beads with holes in them. After a long search I found the perfect class.

It was at Dan Fenton’s studio in Oakland, California, not far from where I live.  There was a two day workshop with a glass bead maker named Brian Kirkvliet, and they had one spot left in class.  So, I signed up.  The first time I saw the teacher light the torch and melt glass, I knew that this was what I wanted to do.  And twenty-four years later it is still a passion of mine. In the many years since I melted my first glass rod, I’ve made and sold hundreds, if not thousands, of beads and participated in many exhibitions and gallery shows. Working with glass beads has been a life-changing experience. In fact, it is such a part of who I am, I can’t imagine a life without glass bead making.

The process of creating glass beads is called lampworking or sometimes called flameworking.  I’ve created a short video of me making a glass bead so you can see what it is all about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc_PkahjQpM

Since the video doesn’t show me working at my torch, I thought I’d include this picture as well. It’s a little different than the mild-mannered author headshots of me you’ll see around the web these days. Janice at torch

When I first decided to write a murder mystery, I wanted to take the advice of many authors before me and “write what I know.” I knew glass bead making and knew many of the unusual and funny real-life characters that inhabit the bead world. I’ve always loved mysteries and have had a special fondness for cozy mysteries. So, it was easy to figure out what I wanted to write, and that’s how the Glass Bead Mysteries started.  Two books—High Strung and A Bead in the Hand—and a short story—Be Still My Beading Heart—were published by Booktrope in the last few months. The books have been well received and are available in paperback and eBook formats on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. I’m busy working on the next book in the series—Off the Beadin’ Path—which will be released in Summer 2016.

I enjoy sharing my love of glass beads with everyone who reads my books and I hope you’ll join Jax O’Connell and her friends as they search for clues, one bead at a time.

beadHere’s the finished bead I made in my demo.

You can see pictures of my beads and larger glass sculptures at www.janicepeacockglass.com and learn about my books at www.janicepeacock.com

You can find me in all sorts of places on social media:

Janice Peacock

Glass Artist and Author

janice.e.peacock@gmail.com

 

www.janicepeacock.com

www.janicepeacockglass.com

Facebook.com/JanicePeacockAuthor

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: JanPeac

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Jax O’Connell from A Bead in the Hand

bead in the hand large banner448

I’d like to give a warm welcome to Jax O’Connell. She’s stopping by The Self-Rescue Princess today to tell us a little bit about her adventure at a bead bazaar.

BEAD IN THE HANDPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

A bead bazaar turns bizarre when I discover a dead body beneath my sales table. Suspected of murder, my friend Tessa and I scramble to find the killer among the fanatic shoppers and eccentric vendors. We have our hands full dealing with a scumbag show promoter, hipsters in love, and a security guard who wants to do more than protect me from harm. Adding to the chaos, my quirky neighbor Val arrives unexpectedly with trouble in tow. I hope I can untangle the clues before I’m arrested for murder!

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No! I’m an artist—a jewelry designer and glass beadmaker. The last thing I thought I’d be doing is discovering who murdered the woman I found beneath my sales table at the bead show in Portland.  And this is not the first time I’ve had to use my sleuthing skills.  A few months back I had to uncover a murderer after a young woman was killed in an alley behind a bead shop in Seattle.

What one piece of advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

My advice is that you don’t have to settle in life.  If you don’t like how things are going for you, you have the power to change them. Me? I lived in Miami, had a boring job, and a boyfriend that more or less ignored me, that is, when he wasn’t out drinking with his pals.  I found a way out of that unfulfilling situation and moved to Seattle. Now I’m pursuing my dream of living a life full of creativity with people who love and inspire me.  Since I’ve moved, I have had some of the best years of my life. Yes, it was scary, but if I hadn’t stretched and stepped outside my comfort zone, I’d still be in Miami wondering to myself if I could have had more, if I could have been happy, had I been brave.

Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing?

My friend Tessa is always trying to convince me to step back and try not to save everyone all the time, until she’s the one that needs help.  I don’t really consider what I do to be a career choice, since my career is actually something more fun than solving murders.  I’m a glass beadmaker, which means I’m used to wielding a 2,000 degree torch to melt glass that I sculpt into multicolored glass beads. Working with molten glass has made me fearless, well not exactly fearless, but to have some fierceness. It means I stand up and fight for what is right, and that I’m not afraid to find the truth so that justice can prevail.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess means to you.

To me, being a self-rescue princess means that you can’t wait around for problems to be solved by someone else. That someone is you.  Being a self-rescue princess means that you can’t stand idly by while others take actions and make decisions on your behalf.  You must be responsible for your own destiny, rather than hope that someone—a knight in shining armor, perhaps—will come your way at just the right moment. I think the rest of being a self-rescue princess has to do with making sure that the other women around you know that they have the power to take care of themselves, too. When you and your friends support each other, together you can fight the harshest foes.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Can we start with my weaknesses?  I’m addicted to coffee.  It’s pretty bad, I seriously can’t make it through the day without at least four cups. The worst thing is, I’ve also turned my cat into an addict, but not coffee, which I think may be deadly for our feline friends.  My cat, Gumdrop, is addicted to catnip. It can be quite embarrassing when he needs a fix.  Another thing: I’m a really bad cook, and my housekeeping skills are questionable.  But seriously, those things don’t matter that much in the big picture. And that’s probably my biggest strength—the big picture. When I’ve been in situations when there is a problem to solve, or a crime for that matter, I try to look at all the pieces and how they hang together.  Then I try and figure out which pieces are missing and which are out of place.  It’s kind of like designing a necklace—I can tell when everything works, when all the pieces work in harmony.  I think that’s what has helped me be a good sleuth. I can see where there’s a mismatch in the events that have led to a murder—that’s where I need to look to solve the mystery and bring everything into perfect balance.

If you’d like to get to know Jax, take note that High Strung, the first book in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, will be 99 cents from Feb 7th through 11th and $1.99 from Feb 12th through 15th.  Be Still My Beading Heart, A Glass Bead Mini-Mystery short story is free on Amazon and iTunes. A Bead in the Hand is available for the discounted price of $2.99 through February 15th.