Sunday, July 21, 2013

Asian Inspired Mystical Charm Bracelet

My Asian Inspired Mystical Charm Bracelet.

Inspired by a charm I made from a bead that I thought looked like a Chinese lantern, I decided to create an Asian Inspired Mystical Charm Bracelet. As I was creating it started to be based on a vacation our family took in the summer of 2008. No, we didn't go to an Asian country, but to Santa Clara, California if you can believe that. We went to Santa Clara with our son who was participating in a week-long Classical Guitar Certification course to become a Certified Suzuki Guitar Instructor. If you don't know anything about the Suzuki method of teaching young student music, check out the Longay Conservatory of Guitar in Santa Clara, California for more information.

The classical guitar is a beautiful instrument and I have participated in my son's guitar studies since he was 5 years old. I love the soothing sound of classical guitar. I was also my daughter's coach during her Suzuki violin lessons until she graduated from all the levels when she was 18.

So while my son attended training, my husband and I had too much time on our hands and had to figure out inexpensive activities to do in the area to keep us busy. The only problem was this was 2008 at the beginning of the recession, and gas prices had gone up to about $4.65 a gallon suddenly which we weren't expecting.

Also during the drive to Santa Clara, while driving through Yosemite National Forest in 2008, there had been a forest fire close to the road. The smoke was very thick and at times it was difficult to see the road. We hurried through the forest, not noticing that the bumpy road had jiggled the entire housing of our van's back tail-light completely off. When we arrived at our destination we realized our entire back headlight and cover was gone!?!

So even though we were strapped for cash and in need of a car repair, we were still optimistic as we had arrived safely at our destination, had checked into our inexpensive motel close to the "Our Lady of Peace" statue, and our son was busily attending his certification course at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

So back to the bracelet.

So each of the charms brings back various memories, which is why I enjoy creating charm bracelets.

The bracelet reminds me of the peace I feel now when listening to a classical guitar piece played well, or the peace I felt touring the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose. The lantern reminds me of someone wise holding up this lantern in front of a quote by Dr. Suzuki which has always reminded me that the end goal is not as important as the journey. It brings me peace and reminds me that during all the years of practice with my children, all the years of sitting in lessons after work, waiting in cars, back-stage duties, hauling equipment, noisy venues, eternal talent shows, endless junior high performances, it was the journey with my children that mattered most. Whether they could play beautiful music was just a side benefit, but the actual value came from the journey with them. Their journey in becoming beautiful people.

"The main concern for parents should be to bring up their children as noble human beings. That is sufficient. If this is not their greatest hope, in the end the child may take a road contrary to their expectations. Children can play very well. We must try to make them splendid in mind and heart also."
Shinichi Suzuki

For those of you that have gone to music lessons with young children and helped them to practice at home the phrase "Enjoy the Journey" is easier said than done. While my children were young, I used to regularly curse Dr. Suzuki and his optimistic ways!

The latern reminds me to have more wisdom and to enjoy each moment of the journey, even the journey of the new tail-light.

So our first day we went in search of a local automotive parts store and they ordered the tail-light part for us that we were able to install a few days later with some tools borrowed from a local Sears.

Since we didn't have enough money to eat out every day, we went to a local fruit market / swap meet and purchased local fruit and veggies that we kept in a cooler in our room.

We scoped out some local parks and found the beautiful Japanese Friendship garden in San Jose that we went to several times. It was beautiful and peaceful, even though it was very hot outside, the water made it feel cooler. The fish charms remind me of the Koi fish in the pond, and many of the beads remind me of the park.

We went to all the local museums. I recommend the San Jose Museum of Art. They had some great exhibits. We also went to the crazy Winchester House. We contacted the San Jose Chamber of Commerce and got some local discount tickets. It was interesting. We laughed because we had recently finished some do-it-yourself house remodeling that felt a lot like the Winchester House remodel gone wild! We went to parks, stores, and kept entertained during the week. We got bored one day and got a kick out of looking at million dollar homes for sale in San Jose, that just looked like the regular 3 bedroom budget homes anywhere in the U.S., except in San Jose they were priced at $1 million dollars. These were not extra-nice neighborhoods, but just regular residential areas, next to a busy street with a 7-11 close by. Very strange.

Even though this wasn't a typical family vacation I would have planned, it turned out great because in the evenings each day when we picked up our son he would tell us about all the great people he worked with that day and was very enthusiastic about his training course in becoming a certified teacher.

In the evenings we attended several concerts associated with the training where young people played in classical guitar ensembles. The last day, we were able to attend a great concert by Bill Kanengiser who is a member of the LA Guitar Quartet (LAGQ). Check out their music, it's awesome!!! Scroll down in their player and check out the snippets below from their cd "LAGQ's - Guitar Heroes" if you are new to classical guitar, or listen to snippets from "LAGQ's - Latin" which is a very popular. My son has learned many of these songs over the years as he looks to them as the ultimate classical guitar ensemble!

So after this concert my son got to meet Bill Kanengiser and later learned one of the songs from this concert that he performed in his Junior Recital in college.

Here is a link to my son as he was learning to play the song, "Missing Her, by Fredrick Hand" right after we returned home.

After the training was finished, we all went to San Francisco a few times and walked around China Town, and ate some great Chinese food. We rode the "Cal Train", got lost a few times, and had a good time.

I love the "Happy Cat". The dragon fly reminds me of summer, and I hear it also symbolizes "Victory". There's another fish made of cinnabar that reminds me of the pier, and all the coins and symbols remind me of the many shops and things for sale.

We even drove clear down to Monterey and ate dinner one night for out last big splurge before going home. We enjoyed watching the sea otters swimming around outside the restaurant. 

The cat charm reminds me of my neighbors cats that come and visit us at home and so I made a sushi charm for the cat which is on the left that you can't see very well in the photo. The dragon charm reminds me that in every situation there is a darker side of life, and to be mindful of that. In China-town we got slightly lost and I cut through a small park area and saw a guy on a bike at a drinking fountain shooting something into his arm. I hurried away but always felt bad for that young man, hoping it was insulin, but realizing it probably wasn't. 

So I love the new charm bracelet that all started with the chinese larnern charm with the chain fringe I made.

There are several different kinds of lantern charms I made, along with lots of different red flowers. The chinese lanterns also remind me of my grandma who worked in a retail dress shop, and she liked to eat lunch in a chinese cafe with lots of laterns when I was young. Her favorite colors were red and black.

I make all the charms from beads and wire. I wrap the wire to form the loop at the top. There are a lot of tutorials online that can show you how to make charms. It's fun to collect little treasures that remind you events in life.

I will close this posting of my mystical Asian Themed charm bracelet with a recent video of my son performing all 8 parts of a "Mystical" metallica medley in front of stonehendge, which is not Asian Themed, but is still mystical, and ends with a small explosion!

So this is my son's one-man tribute to Metallica, as well as the L.A. Guitar Quartet, at the same time, except this is a guitar octet. I'm sure both groups would approve!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Steampunk Spells mini-trunk

I love the new graphic 45 paper "Steampunk Spells"!!!! I used some snippings from the new paper line to spice up my painted wooden mini-trunk.

To make the mini-trunk, first I painted and papered a small wooden box purchased from "Michaels". It's a small recipe card size box.

I painted it the edges with Tim Holtz distress paint and distressed it a little. I used colors broken china, vintage photo, black soot, and tarnished brass. The distress paint works great on wood. It's very fluid and easy to work with. Then I covered the box with paper from the "Poetic Postage" paper pad by The Paper Studio.
I used scotch quick dry adhesive to glue the paper onto the box. After the paper has been glued onto the box, I seal the paper with a matte decoupage glue. After the paper has been sealed and has dried overnight, then I varnish over the entire box with a water-based matte varnish like Americana DecoArt duraclear matte varnish. Be careful not to close the box while the varnish is still wet!

I decided to use the paper with the more subtle colors for the background of the box, so the brighter steampunk spells paper images would stand out. I cut out little snippets, distressed the edges with distress ink, and glued them onto the box. To antique the box edges I used a technique called dry-brush where you take a dry brush and dab it in a tiny bit of black paint, and rub most of it out on a paper towel until there's not much paint left. Then lightly brush the dry brush around on the edges of the wood and edges. Since there's not very much paint on the brush, and it's kind of dry, you can control how much paint goes on by brushing it more times on the wood. I can't explain it very well, you just have to practice it. It's like putting powdered blush on your cheeks...kind of...well you know.

I even painted and finished the bottom of the mini-trunk.

I've already filled the mini-trunk with many secrets. I'm making a new charm bracelet and it's holding all of my charms for the new bracelet. I will share the secret and mystical bracelet in my next post.

Love the steampunk spells paper! I'm sure I will make many more creative items with it. Maybe even a new Halloween Table!!! Hey, I'm feeling like it's time for Halloween in July! I could use some fall weather about now. Today it was 104 degrees out today!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 2013 Tag based on Tim Holtz tags of 2013

Here is my July tag based on the Tim Holtz July 2013 tag tutorial!

I tried making stripes with red and blue distress ink with the brayer. It worked pretty well but you can't see it because I ended up covering it with my dollies and other paper. I used the Tim Holtz Seasonal Impressions paper because I had some and they have some Patriotic Sheets. I made a paper flag from some Tim Holtz paper and a skewer stick.

The star is the small sizzix 3-d star die. I covered it with the crackle stuff, so it kind of looks like a tin star, but it's just paper with some cardstock on the back to make it flat.

I love the little vintage paper dolls.

I stamped on the crinkle ribbon and inked it up in red white and blue, like the tutorial!

It's an Inkadinkado stamp called mini patriotic eagle. There are 2 stamps on the sheet. It was $1.99! That's what I'm talking about!

After I posted the above tag, I finished my second patriotic tag! Here it is. 
Lady Liberty!

Then since I was still getting the hang of the ink and brayer technique, I completed my patriotic goofy owl on chipboard.

Happy 4th of July!

Band Update!!!!

Here's a link to my son's band performing at the "Stadium of Fire" celebration opening up for Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelly Clarkson!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ahoy Mateys - check out the pirate charm bracelet!

This was the first charm bracelet I made back in the year 2009. I had been collecting little beads and charms for several years, but finally dared to put them all together during the boring parts of a car ride to Disneyland in California. I made 2, I have one and my daughter has the other. Notice the black pearls, as I think the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were popular at the time. I was just learning to make bead-drop charms with wire and pliers.

Here's how I made the bead charms

Here's how I put the charms on the bracelet.
(I used the "wreck the fingernails" method to put the charms on this bracelet, but have since purchased the split ring tool which makes it much easier. I used split rings on this bracelet to make the charms more secure as some were heavy. Now I usually just use jump rings and save the split rings for charms that are heavy or need to be very secure.

Here's how to use the split ring tool

Here are the types of supplies you need to make a charm bracelet.

So here are some of my other pirate crafts. During the 1990's my children became pirates for a few years, I think around the time the move "Hook" came out. I made pirate costumes, and they loved the old Martin Martin version of the play Peter Pan we had on VHS. Our family dressed up as pirates for a 4th of July children's parade and won an award for "Best Family Entry" and a trophy. My then 4-year-old son was captain hook riding a tricycle pulling a giant inflatable crocodile on a skateboard following him. I was his sidekick smee on rollerblades. My husband was peter pan on rollerblades and my daughter was tiger lilly on rollerblades. We felt silly, but the children who came to watch the parade LOVED US!!! They thought we were real!

During that time I painted a pirate nutcracker from a pattern by decorative artist Juanita Denton. I love my pirate nutcracker. Brings back good memories!

My pirate nutcracker needs to be dusted very badly!!! He's up on a high shelf so he's hard to reach. I made his hat out of felt and attached some loopy captain hook hair to the hat. He started out as a plain wood unfinished nutcracker from a craft store in Salt Lake City called Zim's. I still have a few unfinished nutcracker projects that I will have to finish one day!

Here are some close-up's of the pirate bracelet

I love the lampwork skeleton beads. I got them at oriental trading but I don't think they have them any more.

The monkey makes me laugh!

I Love the carved skull, and the blue lampwork skeleton, and the sand dollar!

I've made many other bracelets since my first pirate bracelets. You should give it a try. Start out with a few beads you like and a few charms and give it a shot. It's very addicting to collect themed treasure. This gives you a chance to wear your treasure, AND it doesn't take up too much space. It's fun!
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