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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Jack-o-lanterns

I like to carve cool jack-o-lanterns. Every year, the last couple nights before Halloween, I would carve at least three pumpkins. I would stay up for hours working on my pumpkins since I wanted to do them close to October 31 so they wouldn't get too old too soon. I always hated having to throw my pumpkins away that I had slaved over for hours. I always took pictures of my jack-o-lanterns, but many were before I had a digital camera. I need to find my older pumpkin photos.

And then I started buying the craft pumpkins at JoAnn's or Michael's. I'd carve two or three each year and be able to keep them from year to year, increasing my collection over time. I bought another pumpkin about a week ago, since the sale prices had already started. I haven't carved that one yet, but I thought I would share these photos of my jack-o-lanterns from previous years. I'll have to look for some of my photos from past years and scan them to post one of these days.

Most of these patterns are from the Pumpkin Masters books. The Kansas City Chiefs logo pattern was in the Kansas City Star several years ago. (I have a folder of jack-o-lantern photos, articles and patterns, in addition to the Pumpkin Masters books.) And I have also found patterns online.

Last year, I started buying the little battery powered tea lights. Because of the way the tea lights flicker, it was hard to make them bright enough for a good photo. Most of these pumpkins have three battery powered tea lights in them. I think the last photo I took had four lights in the pumpkin.

So here is my collection of jack-o-lanterns. I love looking at jack-o-lantern pictures. Please let me know if you have some pictures to share, too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Basement Craft Room - Part 2

Here are pictures of my finished craft room. Well, mostly finished. I still have some things I want to put on the walls, furniture to paint, etc. But it is mostly organized and very usable. Today I will show you the basic features of the room. In future posts, I will talk about my furniture and storage.


The corner on the right side of this picture is the corner where the two unfinished walls came together. The wall on the left is the new wall built to separate the craft room from the furnace/storage room. All we had the builder do along the back wall the camera is facing is install a countertop and a sink with cabinet underneath. I wanted to be able to have rolling storage carts under the counter rather than built in cabinets all along the wall.

My husband and I went to Home Depot or Lowe’s (I’ve forgotten which, we’ve made so many trips to both!) to buy the brackets and shelves that we installed over the counter. I saw pictures of craft rooms with shelves for open storage and to hold decorative items and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.


This area of our basement has lots of corners and zigzagging walls, so I played around with the best layout for the furniture for a long time. On paper, before we actually moved all the furniture into the room.


The closet is the area under the bay window. We didn’t have the walls inside the closet finished, just left them concrete, since it’s just a closet. We had the builder provide and install the shelving in the closet since it had to be installed on the concrete walls. Not something we wanted to tackle ourselves.


The wall behind the desk is where the opening to the old hallway used to be. The doorway on this wall is the existing doorway, we just had the door turned around so that it opens outward instead of into the room.


As I said in my previous post, the basement refrigerator was going to stay in my room. I still have plenty of room with it in its same corner as before.


Since the house already had a central vacuum system, we had another outlet put into the craft room. It has already proven to be very handy! And very easy to vacuum up threads or whatever from the tile floor. The outlet is on the wall next to the blue chair.


I have an 8-foot long table in the middle of the room. That's my main workspace.


I had also read that it’s best to have different types of lighting, so along with the fluorescent lights, I also had halogen spots that can be pointed in any direction installed over the work surfaces. (Photos above and below).


And those are the main features of my room. Coming soon will be how I furnished my room. I’ve decided my craft room posts will have a much better chance of being finished if I write in multiple small pieces.

If you’re thinking of building a craft room or converting an existing room into one, I highly recommend the book Organizing Your Craft Space by Jo Packham. It’s got lots of wonderful pictures showing many features of many craft rooms (including those of people I’ve seen on the Carol Duvall show). I spent hours looking through this book and reading and rereading every word while planning my room. Reading this book and planning my room were almost as much fun as working in it is now. (I said ALMOST.)

Come back soon to learn more about my room and to see my Halloween jack-o-lanterns! I’ve got a couple other projects in progress that MUST be done before Thanksgiving. I’ll be showing them soon, also.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Custom Baseball/Softball Jewelry

Well, I said my next post would be to show my finished craft room. I need to take more "after" pictures (after I clean up my room a little!). I will do that this weekend. But meanwhile, I thought I'd share my latest sales from my etsy shop.

My son, who is a junior in high school and wants to play baseball in college, plays on a competitive summer travel team. They also play in the fall and work out and practice during the winter. He's been on this team a year, and it's a great team with great coaches. To offset the cost of the tournaments, we do various fundraisers throughout the year. One of my ideas was to sell baseball jewelry and donate the profits to the team. I'm in the process of putting together a flyer to leave in the baseball academy that sponsors the team and to have other players and parents hand out. But as soon as I came up with the idea, I made a sample necklace and bracelet and listed them on etsy. I can also make basketball, volleyball and soccer jewelry, but only the baseball/softball jewelry is part of my fundraiser. My first jewelry is for younger players to wear and features their player number, sport and team color. Then I want to move on to nicer jewelry for moms, grandmothers or any other adult fans.

Last night, I got my first order for two softball necklaces. I made them tonight and have them all ready to ship tomorrow morning. I'm very excited by how they look and by the fact that my baseball fundraiser has now officially begun, so I decided to show the necklaces here in my blog. Here they are.

If you have a baseball/softball, basketball, volleyball or soccer player, if they're into their sport, at a certain age they love this kind of thing, boy or girl. And I have eight team colors to choose from. It's not too early to start shopping for holiday gifts. And this would make a great birthday gift, too. I have bracelets, too.
Here's the link to my kids sports jewelry section of my etsy shop.
Please go check it out! And remember, profits from the baseball/softball jewelry go to support our team. Thanks for your support!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Basement Craft Room - Part 1

Hello, again! In my first post, I pointed out that we remodeled our basement and included in that remodel was my very own craft room. It was finished about 6 months ago and I’m still as excited about it today as I was when it was first completed. I still have some walls to decorate, some furniture to paint, etc., but I’m usually too busy crafting to take the time to finish these things in my room!

Today I’m going to share some “before” pictures and some pictures of the work in progress. My next post will show you what the room looks like now.

My room started with an area of the basement that was about 19 X 13.5 feet. It had quite a few corners and turns in the walls. Since this area is in a corner of the house, two of the walls were the concrete foundation walls. This area is under a bay window in the dining room, so there was also a bay-shaped area that became my closet. (See photo above.)

There were a couple partial walls that were the unfinished sides of some finished walls. The door in the picture above leads into the area that had been previously finished (although not very nicely - the reason for the remodel). There was a long hallway to the left of this door leading into another unfinished area.

The refrigerator that was left in the house when we bought it also occupied a portion of my space.

A wall was built so that there was no longer access to the long hallway. Another wall was built to the right of the refrigerator, but leaving a doorway into what became the furnace/air conditioner/water heater/storage room. The new wall is to the left of the ladder in the photo below.

Here are some additional photos of the work in progress.

We decided the refrigerator would stay in my craft room since it was a convenient part of the basement for it - close to the stairs, so it was easy to run down to the basement and get something out of the freezer, and just around the corner from the new wet bar in the other room, so it was handy to store extra food or drinks here.

Since there are no windows and natural light in this area, I decided to paint my room a nice light, bright blue.
I wanted my tile to be in a quilt pattern. Have you ever noticed how many quilt patterns involve triangles? The builder told me that cutting tiles into triangles was not a good idea because it's easier for the little pointed corners to come unglued, so I looked for a pattern involving only squares. Not a lot to choose from so I decided on this basket weave pattern.

And here is my room when it is almost done!

Come back soon for pictures of my finished room!

Friday, October 17, 2008

About me and my new blog

Hi! My name is Mary Ann. I've been crafting and making things as far back as I can remember. My mom always had some kind of creative project going on and that's what I grew up with. She taught me to sew when I was in 8th grade or so and I used to do a lot of sewing. Over the years, I have taught myself to knit and crochet, I've done needlepoint and counted cross stitch. I tried to put it off as long as I could because I didn't need another craft, but I finally gave in and started rubber stamping, which then led to scrapbooking. After that, I bought a mat cutter and figured out how to mat pictures. I've taken a floral arranging class. If it involves hot glue, ribbon, sandpaper, paint or any number of other tools and materials, then I probably like to do it.

But my real love is beads and jewelry. I don't remember exactly how I got started on beading, but now that I have, I love it. In addition to stringing, I've done loomwork, knitting with beads, peyote stitch (I love tubular peyote!), bead crochet (very hard to figure it out the first time, but addictive once I got going), counted cross stitch with beads, work with a wire jig, wire wrapping and beaded netting on Christmas ornaments. Next I want to make ear wires, but I haven't done that yet.

About three years ago, I decided I wanted to sell my jewelry. I set up my company, Prized Possessions; got my tax id and opened a business checking account. I made quite a bit of jewelry but had trouble finding a way to sell it. I showed it to some small local shops, most of whom liked it but said they had plenty jewelry just then. I sold a little bit to people at work and at a church event for people who had their own businesses. But I didn't really make the time to figure out how to market my jewelry.

Then this year, two things happened. When we remodeled our basement, I got my very own craft room. I practically live in it. I decided that I was going to really focus on finding a way to sell my jewelry. The second thing that happened was when a lady at work told me about etsy. I had never heard of etsy and couldn't believe I'd never heard of it with all the bead and craft magazines I read and web sites that I visit. But better late than never! I spent hours every night after work learning about etsy, researching the site, reading the forums, learning about PayPal, etc., and in a few days, my shop was open. www.PrizedPossessions.etsy.com. I'm having the time of my life making jewelry and dealing with all the things concerning my shop and my jewelry. I just love it!

I started noticing that other etsy artists have blogs and I've been reading a lot of them. I found many of them very interesting. I've really enjoyed learning more about these people I will probably never meet in person, seeing how they do their work, how they get their materials, etc. It seems to add a little more life and reality to the products they sell. And I thought about some of the topics I researched online and wished I had found more info on, like when I was laying out my craft room, ideas for craft storage, etc. My husband and son live in the new home theater we bult while I live in my craft room. There is a wide doorway into the theater and I wanted to make a curtain for it. I looked online and only found one theater curtain I really liked. The curtain I made was the first project I did in my new craft room, so I thought that would be something else I could share. And now I have a whole list of topics for my new blog!

Being new to blogging, my blog is pretty basic right now. I want to pretty it up, add additional features, and learn what all blogger has to offer. And tackle that list of blog topics. Come back soon to see pictures of my craft room and storage ideas, my theater curtains and the other projects I have already done in my new craft room. Carol Duvall, watch out!