Monday, June 24, 2013

Yay, It Worked!

I am excited to say, my first attempt at handmade buttons was a success.  My nichrome wire arrived the other day, and I immediately loaded my kiln.  I only put in a few buttons, just to see the outcome and answer my questions- would the wire support everything, would the glaze drip, would the beads and buttons stick to the wire?  Everything came out great, and no bad surprises!  Most of the buttons I've seen on Etsy, that I've admired so much, use homemade glazes, so the colors and tones are much richer and earthier than mine.   But for now, I'm still working in the realm of commercial glazes that I buy online.  I am a long way from learning how to make my own.

So now that I have this new venture to focus on- to add to my repertoire of tiles and small bowls- I was trying to think about presentation and how to "package" them in groups to sell. Recently when James was working in the yard, he found a wire that was sticking up out of the ground.  Oddly enough, we followed it to find, it was buried but wasn't attached to anything at all! We pulled it up, yards and yards of it, and when I saw the bundle of four small copper wires insulated and sticking out of the end, I decided to save it and see if I could use it for anything.

Stripping it to get to the tiny copper strands inside, has been monumental and SO time consuming, but once it's done and cleaned up (there is some kind of greasy goo inside the black covering)- I've ended up with tons of these perfectly shiny wires snipped down to usable pieces. I am sure at some point, I will use them in another craft project. But I thought, the way these bend, they are perfect for threading through the button holes and attaching the buttons to something.

The idea for that "something" came to me the other day at Hobby Lobby when I was strolling through the scrapbook section, and found a paper punch in the shape of an old-fashioned price tag.  I have a lot of paper leftover from the days when I used to scrapbook obsessively, so made up a few tags with the punch, adding a second stronger piece of paper square.  I am going to thread the wire through the paper, through the button holes, and tie it off in the back.  When I'm done, I'll have 3-4 buttons attached to the card stock, ready to go.  I haven't made any completed ones yet, since I just have the one set of buttons glazed.  But I spent a day punching out and assembling a few dozen of these tags- one of those days where I wanted something mindless to do while I watched a few reruns of Bones on TNT in the afternoon.

I will post again soon when I have bunches of buttons to show off and ready to list on Etsy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Buttons And Beads

Has anyone else heard anything about Blogger going away on July 1st?  I'm not sure, I've read a few articles and saw on someone else's blog that they were redoing theirs and getting it off Google before they lost it.  I am going to carry on as though Blogger is here to stay- I don't know enough of what to do, to move the blog anyhow.  :(

I unloaded my kiln this morning, after the first firing of all the jewelry pieces I've been making.  Pendants, charms, beads, buttons.  Whatever you want to call them.  Now they are ready for glazing.  Last night I ordered the wire that I will need to use, to suspend the beads and buttons for the glaze firing- so the glaze won't stick to anything in the kiln, like the shelves.  I had ordered a bead rack from a pottery supply website, but the wire that came with it, had a diameter that was at least twice as big as the holes in my beads.  So I went direct to an electrical supply outlet online, and ordered much smaller wire.

The wire is nichrome wire, which I think it short for nickel chromium?  This type of wire can withstand the heat of the kiln, and seems to be what everyone uses to make beads and buttons. The glaze, I guess, does not stick to the wire- at least I hope not. But, since this is just still experimenting, I will find out soon!  The downside of a smaller diameter wire, is that the heat will make it bend more than the thicker wire, especially when the weight of the beads is added.  I think I will have to use very short pieces of wire and support them well on both ends.  This is why I wanted my own kiln- so I can learn and experiment and not worry about screwing up someone else's kiln.  But, I sure do miss the expertise and guidance from my old pottery teacher Dianna back in South Carolina.  I don't have anyone here to ask questions, and I have to rely on what I can find online.

Other than pottery, James and I have still been working in the yard.  I have a few more plants that are in pots, that I'm getting into the ground in the new flower beds. It's been slow going for me, because I have to wear the brace on my right wrist whenever I'm working in the yard right now.  But after I get all the plants in the ground, we'll get everything mulched for the summer.  Then it will be on to the never-ending maintenance of trimming the shrubs and pulling weeds.  But I am trying to look at it as great exercise and a daily dose of Vitamin D.

I may plant a few more perennials later on this year, depending on what fun things I find at Lowe's.  Every year they seem to have plants that I've never seen before, and throughout the summer they get in new plants every few weeks.  I will probably wait until later in the summer, to see what arrives.  It seems like every year I buy up plants early, and say I won't plant anything else, then in August and September I start seeing new perennials in the garden center that weren't out earlier in the year.

This past weekend we went to a flea market in Atlanta, and James lucked up and found a nice Troybilt rototiller at a great price- about a third of what they cost new at Lowe's.  We've been wanting one for awhile, and have been watching to see if they went on sale anywhere, but never could find one in our price range.  And for something we will only use a few times a year, we didn't want to pay $600 or $700, or worse, the inconvenience and cost of renting one every time we needed it.  So, this is a fantastic- and budget friendly- addition to our garden equipment.  It will come in handy later on this year when we go to dig up and make beds around our new trees in the front yard.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Roof, The Roof !

Well it's not on fire, thank goodness.  Just a leak that is becoming a pain in the butt.  We noticed cracks in the paint of this arch a long time ago, very subtle at first.  It's right at the door to the back deck, and we blamed it on our closing the door too hard.  We thought it was just the paint only.  The other day when my folks were here, my mom said, are you sure you don't have a leak in the roof?  We said no, the paint has been cracking for a long time now, probably a year at least.  Again, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as the photo below, from today.

Last week we had a hard hard rain, and to our surprise, we watched water running down our walls inside the arch.  Oops. Guess we do have a leak.  Monday James called our home owners insurance company, and they sent a team out right away.  One team to dry everything, and another team to patch up the roof. Turns out there is no hole, it's just where several different roof angles meet, and water is gathering up under the flashing.  He said it's quite common on a house with so many steep pitches. They sealed the area and put on a tarp for good measure.

The blowers and dehumidifier have been running nonstop since Monday, and someone comes to the house every day to check the progress of the drying.  So far, this is all that's been done.  The repairs haven't even started, and that will entail replacing drywall, trim, hardwood floors, and carpet- and repainting.  Joy. The blowers put off an insufferable amount of heat, during our first week of weather in the 90's.  They are so loud, I feel like I'm at a Nascar race when I try to talk to James at the dinner table- we have to yell.  

I will be glad when they are gone.  However, it's kept the cats entertained.  The air bubbles and water moving through the clear plastic tube of the dehumidifier have become a fascination for them, especially Romeo, and he has spent almost every minute of every day, perched over the tube chasing the bubbles as they travel on their way to the sink.  Yes, my kitchen sink has been commandeered all week too, for drainage.

So lesson learned.  If we had gotten this checked last year, when it was simply a very minor issue, I am sure it would have been a lot less headache.  Not sure when it will be over with, but as James said, it's a minor inconvenience and thank goodness we have insurance!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I've been looking for new ideas for my pottery.  Since I still don't have a wheel (or have any idea of how to use one!), everything I am doing right now- from bowls to tiles- is still by hand.  I've seen some beautiful jewelry on Etsy made with pottery pieces, and I've decided to give it a try.  I have a huge collection of rubber stamps so I've been making a few pieces to use for necklaces or bracelets. I have no experience in jewelry making, so I haven't decided yet if I will try to finish these pieces off into actual jewelry, or just sell the pieces as is for anyone else out there who makes jewelry.  

Everything is still in the drying stage (below), so once I have everything fired and glazed, I'll see how it all turns out.  I see that Michael stores offer jewelry making classes, I may go see about signing up for one.  The last one they had was way way too expensive for me, plus I don't have any jewelry making tools currently.

I've also decided to try making my own beads as well.  I made these not long ago but got stumped on how to glaze them all over. So I've ordered a small bead tree that will fit in my kiln.  It's basically just a rack with wires that will withstand the high temperatures of the kiln.  That way I can have glaze all over the bead and suspend it on the wire, and not worry about the glaze dripping or sticking to the kiln shelves.  If that works out, I might make more beads to sell, or to use for myself if I decide to make jewelry.

Right now I am struggling with the pottery, since I developed problems with my right wrist that will require surgery- soon.  I have a brace I have to wear, which makes it totally impossible to work with the clay.  If I take the brace off, it's very painful to use my right hand to do anything that requires me grasping or holding objects.  Sigh.  

Well, the Etsy store is still empty, but I continue to plow forward with hopes of finding my niche.  Now that I am home full time, I feel this is my one shot at making a "real" attempt at any kind of success online.  But, gotta have something to sell!  Carry on!