Christmas Swag redo

I made a Christmas swag several years ago and found it in the attic this year. The little boxes were all smushed and the teddy bear bow kind of bedraggled. I took those off and updated it with stuff in my stash.doorswag1

A cool curly peppermint striped pick found at a shop in old Occoquan VA, a wooden heart covered in vintage music paper (a project started and rejected), a vintage elf ornament who had lost one of his skis (but who needs skis?), a rusty snowflake and a “Peace and Joy” charm.  doorswag2

Add in a bit of ribbon found at Goodwill (I believe it was a Container Store sample) and my door looks very inviting now. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Bead and Button Show Part 2

I really wish I had the funds to purchase everything I wanted at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, but I don’t, and I don’t have the space for everything either.  So, although choices were hard, I did make them.

A new artist whom I had not seen before was Anna Chernykh of Russia.  She creates wonderful jewelry findings and pendants works under the name AnnaBronze.  Much of her work is very organic.  I selected two snail pendants and a pair of shell charms. annabronze

She also does wonderful steampunk work and I could not pass up her steamship pendant or the gear charms.annabronze2

I stopped by Green Girl Studios as well. I can’t seem to resist their pewter beads and charms. This trip I snagged charms in the shape of a mushroom, pea pod and dragon. I also purchased a dragon pendant.greengirl

An artist whose work I had heard about but not seen in person was Anne Choi. She does amazing silver work and I could not pass up this grasshopper button.annechoi

I don’t usually buy fancy clasps, but I was intrigued by those made by Jenny Ratcliffe of Hidden Treasures LTD. She creates silver clasps with vintage and antique buttons. I purchased three clasps. Not sure if the bat was originally a button, but isn’t he awesome! These clasps are made to be seen, not hidden at the back of the neck, so will have to design special pieces to showcase them.hidden

I also picked up some older items. The broken frozen charlotte dolls were probably from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.charlottes
The black trilobite, however, is a fossil piece. I have already made a mold of the trilobite and want to cast it in resin or precious metal clay.

I tend to be a supply hoarder and always want to save special pieces for a special project, which never seems to get done. I’m hoping to start breaking that habit and be able to show you what I’ve created using these special pieces.


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Bead and Button Show Part 1

My sister and I had a blast at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee at the beginning of this month.  We each took 5 classes and learned some great new techniques.  We also shopped, and shopped, and shopped.  So many great beads and findings to purchase.  My favorite section features the bead artists.  I always manage to pick up a bead or two from these creative folks.

I wish I could remember who made this lampwork frog bead.  I purchased this from the silent auction during the bead social and didn’t get a card with the box. I LOVE the detail on this bead and look at those eyes.  Can you believe it is only 1 1/2″ tall?


Maureen Henriques of Pumpkin Hill Bead always has wonderful lampwork. I can’t seem to resist her beads. This time I snagged an adorable hermit crab in a purple shell, a pair of tiny penguins and a selection of lampwork round beads.
























Another wonderful artist I purchase from is Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio. Her ceramic beads have wonderful natural motifs. This time I found a bee bracelet topper, dragonfly pendant, cranes cabochon and a pair of small starfish beads.


A new artist I discovered, also working in ceramic, is Andrew Thornton, of Allegory Gallery. I purchased these wonderful seahorse pendants.


I had seen the beads created by Vladislav and Kremena Ivanova of Golem Design Studio in Bulgaria before, but this is the first time I’ve purchased any pieces. I fell in love with the snail pendant and had to get the little matching ladybug beads. And since they were so well priced, I picked up the flower pendant as well. The color on these ceramic beads is so vibrant!


There is so much more to show you, but I’ll do it in my next post.


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Off to Philadelphia

I’m headed to the Quinlan Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Convention next week.  The convention days are Thursday and Friday, with workshops and seminars and the public show and sale is on Saturday.  I have four gallery pieces (which I will put up in a post after the show), plus six other new bears for the show. Most all of my bears are one of a kind works now, as I just don’t like making the same thing twice.  There are way too many cool mohair styles and colors to try. So meet some of my newest creations:


Darby is 11″ tall of curly gold mohair. Simply adorned with a beaded necklace that says “LADYBUG” and with a metal ladybug bell.


Sonny is 12″ tall of beige sparse mohair. He proudly wears a medal, but won’t tell me what it’s for.


Shelby is 10″ tall of tipped grey mohair. Her bow is made from a vintage silk scarf that belonged to my mother, and her pansy pin is also vintage.


Gilbert is 4 3/4″ tall of tipped grey/blue mohair. His boat is a thrift store find, spiffied up with a little paint.


Lottie is 4 3/4″ tall of gold mohair. Her collar is vintage crochet trim and accented with a vintage blue button.


Rosebeary is 4 3/4″ tall of blue mohair. She is adorned with scraps of vintage crochet trim and her wings are made from vellum paper covered with Ice Resin.

I will be bringing a few more pieces as well.  They are currently in my etsy store – ElizabethTaylorStudio.


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I Accept Your Challenge

I have decided to try my hand at entering online challenges. What are they? Usually, a designer, manufacturer or retailer posts a contest on their blog challenging their readers to create a project. The challenge may either be to use a certain product or tool; or to create within a specified theme. Tim Holtz has challenged readers of his blog to make something using his Tattered Florals die from Sizzix.

Now, I am an out-of-the-closet Sizzix addict. I have a large number of these wonderful die cutting tools and was trying to curb my addiction when Tim Holtz began designing for the company. His tattered florals dies is the second one I purchased (the first was the Fanciful Flight butterfly). So, thankfully, I didn’t have to go out and purchase a new die. Now, what to make and with what?

Let’s make this harder – try to tie in this challenge with the contest being sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabrics to Create with 8. Choose only 8 craft supplies (from a list of 20) and make a project using those 8 and only those 8. I looked over the list – chose and deleted from my 8; and finally came up with these supplies to use

  • unpainted wooden letter
  • acrylic paints
  • cork tiles or rolls
  • felt
  • wooden beads
  • buttons
  • scrapbook embellishments
  • net or tulle

Here is my completed project

The large wooden letter “B” was painted with acrylic paint and then sanded along the edges to distress it somewhat.  I used the tattered florals die to cut the cork and printed felt.  The die cuts four different sizes and shapes of flowers. Since I wanted extra small flowers available, I cut small pieces of the felt just big enough to cover that part of the die. I didn’t end up using the small pieces, but they can go on another project.

Cork and felt flower pieces are laid out to see which way they look best.

One of the cork flowers broke when I picked it up so I tore off the petals, painted them with lime green acrylic paint, and attached them to the back of a button which was highlighted with banana yellow and bright pink paint.  I added the largest of the flowers in both felt and cork and used yellow thread to sew all the layers together.

I attached some light pink and light blue nylon tulle to the bottom left of the letter, then attached the flower.  Underneath, I wired on some charms made from colored wooden beads and scrapbook embellishments.


At the top of the letter, I made a hanger from simple loop links of wooden beads, attached to the back of the letter.  I had a wood bird bead that I wanted to add – another charm was made with it and a few colored beads.  I wanted to hang this on the front of the letter, so I wired it on, but didn’t like the look of the wire on the front.  I grabbed my Atlas saw (a gift years ago from an aunt who worked at Atlas – a maker of toy trains) and cut one of the wood beads in half.

I attached this with Ranger’s Glossy Accents and set it aside to try.  I’m not very patient and normally would have probably messed with it, but it was time for dinner, so it was allowed to dry overnight. The bird hangs quite nicely now and the wire is camouflaged.

Now, pink is not normally my color but I am pleased with how this turned out. And the project was completed in time (Tim’s deadline is tomorrow, and Jo-Ann’s is the end of the month). Now – what will be my next challenge?

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Gifts for Treasured Friends

I have a large stash of beads and beading supplies.  This included several tubs of costume jewelry, old and not so old, waiting to be recreated into something new.  Many are bits that are broken; or earrings who have lost their mates; or beaded necklaces, out of style or missing clasps; but still all have great potential.  Digging through the stash, I was drawn to this piece first – a carved floral pendant with asian symbols on the back.  It looks like it might be jade, but I don’t know for sure.  I did know that it was the perfect piece to be the focal point of a necklace for my friend, Diane, who has Japanese heritage.

I dug through more of my stash, pulled out beaded necklaces in golds, greens and blacks.  I looked through all my green glass beads to find just the right shade, set them out and then found my go-to bottle of black glass beads.  Black goes with everything.

I didn’t use the necklace with the gold, green and purple beads, but I took apart the other two. I attached the pendant to a green/clear glass bead and attached that to a gold filigree bead from the now disassembled gold necklace. The layout began to take shape with large oval black beads from one necklace, the green glass beads, the gold filigree and tiny gold beads from the other necklace and lots of round black glass beads.

The completed necklace shows off the pendant beautifully, the rich black and golds interspersed with just a touch of the green.

Another friend had a birthday the same day and we were celebrating them together. Back into the stash for new inspiration.  I found a silver toned pendant, a beaded necklace (marked Japan on the clasp), some porcelain blue and white beads and lots of round silver toned beads. 

Now to take apart the blue necklace and layout a new design, using the cobalt blue beads from the necklace, the porcelain beads and the round silver beads.

The blue and silver are a stunning combination and yet allow the pendant to take center stage.  After I had given the gift, Nancy stated that blue is her favorite color.

So, old bracelet you never wear because the style is outdated? Or necklace that has lost the clasp or begun to come unstrung? An earring who has long lost it’s mate? The great thing about beads and baubles is that you can restyle them over and over again. Take apart that necklace and use the beads for a new one, or just use some and create a pair of earrings. Look for glass, porcelain or semi-precious stone beads in pieces at the thrift store – look beyond their current design and see if they can become something new.

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Inchie Graduation Cards and more

I’ve had four graduations to celebrate recently. Two from high school and two from college. I decided to create cards for them that had similar basic elements. All of the cards included small tags cut with a Sizzix die and stamped with “inchie” images. Inchies are 1″ by 1″ images and there are some great stamp sets available from Inkadinkadoo.

My niece Jenny graduated from Glen Burnie High School and will be attending the University of Maryland, studying architecture. I used paper with a blueprint design for the background. The silk leaves were stamped with a large script stamp using Stazon ink.









Our neighbor’s daughter, Maggie, graduated from Temple University. Maggie’s major was music, so that’s the design for the background. I also used stamped leaves on her card.










My nephews also graduated, Kyle from Lindbergh high school,







and Craig from Harvey Mudd College.







Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were also recent celebrations.

Mom’s card was made using silk flowers and leaves that I stamped on.  The flower centers were orange buttons from my stash, stamped with a flower image.

I made the hummingbirds by punching the shapes out of aluminum from soda cans, then coloring them with Ranger’s alcohol inks. I used a Fiskar’s punch – I love how easily they cut through the metal.


Here’s a close up of the hummingbirds. I wanted them to look like they were flying, so I used a bit of silver colored beading wire and coiled it around a pencil.  I attached the wire to the back of the birds with a glue dot and used another to attach the other end of the wire under the border.



Dad’s card for Father’s day this year fell upon a familiar theme for cards I make for my dad. Frogs just somehow show up in them. The letters are from Tim Holtz’s grungeboard alphabet, colored with distress inks.  The dragonflys are stamped with Ranger’s distress inks onto scraps of handmade paper, then cut out and mounted with tiny bits of foam.


Hope you enjoy looking at these as much as I enjoyed making them.

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Oh Rats!

I like rats.  I really do.  Not the wild ones that overpopulate DC and other urban areas and cause both men and women to shriek out loud and climb on chairs.  But I like pet rats and I adore a well made stuffed rat.
I purchased a rat made by Out of the Woods Originals at a bear show several years ago.  One became two, then three and I had a mini collection.  Then I wanted to design and create my own rat.

My first attempt was pretty good until I got a look at the body shape.  What is that?

Kind of triangular there, maybe?  This is where the sketch doesn’t quite translate into what I had in mind.  I made a few changes to the body pattern and I had Edgar.  (Edgar now lives with a collector in CA.)

Much better.  Rounded belly, not triangular.  Adding some depth with color around the eyes and ears helps with defining the character.  Oh, and the hat  – well, the hat makes the rat!

But in the back of my mind, there was one rat still not created.  My sister Tricia wanted a rat in red sneakers.  She had a name for him to0 – Vermincelli.  A gourmand of a rat, if you will.  But finding red sneakers to fit a rat isn’t easy and the project seemed to be continually on hold.  Until the past January, when I walked down an aisle at IDEX in Orlando and saw a pair of small red sneakers.  Made by Jaime Show for a 16″ fashion doll, I wondered if they might really work. Back home in the studio, I pulled out the patterns for the rat.  Now, Edgar was about 11″ tall – and the feet were way too big for these shoes.  So, back to the drawing board to design a smaller rat.

Yes, I think that will work just fine.  And maybe a few props for the photo shoot? Tricia is quite pleased with her rat.

The rats continue to multiply, as rats will do.  The newest is Nigel, a rat who is rather pleasant, as rats go.  He is a small rat, about 7″ tall.  He will soon be available in my etsy store.

And that, as they say, is that.



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Another Successful Surgery

Another patient came into the shop last week, from the same owner as the Character bear I recently repaired. This one was a much older bear that had belonged to his great aunt. It had sat in a drawer for over thirty years, waiting to be brought out, repaired and loved.

His major ailment was that his left leg had become detached from his body.  His fur was wearing in places and his stuffing was sagging some, but otherwise he was in great shape for a bear that had belonged to a child born at the turn of the last century.

In order to determine why the leg had come off and to reattach it to the body, I carefully opened up the back seam of the bear along the original closure.

Then I opened up the top of the leg.  I found that the jointing system consisted of hardboard discs and a large heavy duty brad.  The disc in the leg had broken, allowing the end of the brad to work its way out of the leg.

I replaced the original discs with new ones, inserted the brad into the disc and inserted that into the leg, then closed up the top seam.

Then I realigned the leg with the body, attached another disc inside the body and refastened the brad legs to hold the leg securely on. I closed up the back seam, repaired a few small holes in other seams, and added a few stitches to his one ear that was a little wobbly  I think he feels much better now.

I don’t believe he will have to live in a drawer anymore. Maybe he can hang out with the 1950’s Character bear and both will be handed down to family members in the future.

His shoe-button eyes have the look of an old soul and I won’t forget how much I enjoyed his company while he was with me. Do you have an old bear story? I’d love to hear it.

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Oops I used it again

I have too many rubber stamps to count – probably several hundred if not over a thousand.  So I really should be able to stamp for many years and never use the same stamp twice.  But as I looked over my card designs from the last few years, I found a few stamps did get used more than once.

Sometimes this is intentional when I want to convey a similar message.  My nephews Craig, James and Kyle are all very bright and are older now, so the cars, animals and robot themes seem a bit juvenile for them.  In 2009, when I was working on a batch of birthday cards, I came across an unmounted set of stamps I had picked up with an Einstein theme.  Perfect for these boys.  Here are two cards, one for James and one for Kyle  – with slight differences:

When my nephew Jacob was little, I called him Jake-a-bug. The Bugs & Kisses set from Stampin Up was perfect for his card:

Later, when I wanted a tongue-in-cheek “you bug me” card for my brother, I used the same set:

(And yes, inside I told him I loved him anyway).

Other times, I don’t realize until later that I had used the same stamp. Here are two birthday cards using the Stampin Up Tickled Pink set:

Another Stampin Up set – Ancient Art – provided the perfect theme for Susan’s card, as she likes southwestern art:

Then, when my niece Caitlin graduated from high school – the kokopelli stamp from that set seemed just right to convey the celebratory theme:

For get well and sympathy cards, I found I kept using the same teddy bear stamp from PSX – he has just the right expression on his face:

But the funniest coincidence happened earlier this year.  I was working on birthday and anniversary cards for a family reunion.  Many extended family members were celebrating milestone birthdays and there were anniversaries celebrating 20, 25, and 55 years.  I created this card for Susan and Dave’s 25th anniversary using the shore birds from Stampin Up’s Shore Thing:

Not until I was adding the picture of that card to my portfolio did I realize I had used the stamp for her birthday card two years earlier!

Wonder if she noticed?


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