Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Words to grace my every day

Our mantel - the "believe" stays up all year long
As I begin to pack up Christmas 2019, I realize that so many of my decorations from ornaments to dishes to placemats and signs, have words on them.  Wishes of the season for peace, aspirations of attitude to believe and to be merry and even sentiments of weather such as “let it snow” are on mugs to mangers. I am sad to see the words “Peace”, “Believe” and “Joy” (and others) get put away, only to be waiting to be brought out again in 11 months. Why is it that for a few short weeks of the year, those words can be our mantra, our hope, our heart?  But when December 26thcomes around, those very same words seem to be all used up, ready to be remanded to the storage bin in the attic to wait until the words hold meaning and can usher in the holiday season once again.

There is a famous quote that wants us to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long-but just exactly how do we do that? Christmas trees all year long will make us grow weary of pine needles, tinsel and it will take up space in our home.  The beauty will fade as the tree becomes commonplace.  Do we continue to sing of silver bells and white Christmases into the bloom of Spring?  The songs will be out of step with the season and the melodies will become tiring to our ears.  So, in what way can we keep Christmas in our hearts, if we cannot keep it in our homes? 

There is another famous quote that says a picture paints a thousand words.  To me, a word can paint a thousand pictures.  When words such as “Peace and Joy” are on display, the reader can think of a time of peace or the need for a peace or better yet, how to bring peace to their daily life.  When joy comes into view, joy can be a moment or a memory.  Joy in one’s view can become joy in one’s heart.  This perhaps is the best way to keep Christmas all year long- in our hearts and in our view. Those words can be our mantra, our hope, our heart – all year long, all life-long.

 My home is filled with words. From one-word signs, to scriptures to even a real street sign stating “cell phones prohibited.” (It hangs in the kitchen/breakfast room—there has to be some humor, right?).  I actually have a word wall in one of our guest bedrooms.  I have found that when good, right and hope-filled words grace my every day, there will be more grace in my day, a steady flow of hope, and peace and joy and love.   So perhaps as you’re packing up your Christmas decorations, leave peace and joy out a little longer, perhaps a lot longer and see that Christmas can be in our everyday! 

May you find words to light your path and live in your heart. -Psalm 119:105

Until next time, 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Unlikely Inspiration from My Garage

Dried Paint Chips from Rustoleum and ICE Resin

Unlikely Inspiration from My Garage

Remodeling and Renovation can be overwhelming! While cleaning out and packing up seem to be a huge undertaking, it also is a time where inspiration begins to appear.  I don’t know if it is because everything is all out in the open or the new materials are delivered, but it happens every time we start a new project. And this time inspiration came from an unlikely place -  our garage!  

Over the holidays, my husband and I thought of our next renovation even though we had just finished our kitchen just 2 months earlier in October.  My husband thought of new floors, I thought of wall to wall wood shelves with curtain rods added so vintage quilts could hang to add character (well, really to hide garage stuff) to the space.  My metalsmithing workshop will be on the far side and hopefully the cars will be on the big side, (no guarantees).  

Well, we packed up the contents and the floor company arrived.  As I watched them grind away the dirt, cracks and grease, a new floor was on the horizon and new inspiration was emerging.  I had done a little research on the coatings used on concrete floors and what I found out was that they use resin and dried paint chips...Well, I use resin (on a much smaller scale)  and then just like that …Inspiration appeared…could I find these beautiful paint chips? What would they do in Resin? What would it look like in a Bezel? On Paper??? The wheels were turning..

A quick trip to the Big Home Improvement store and with a few dollars spent, I had the beautiful flakes in hand.  Working with Bezels, I decided to paint a first layer just as the floor guys had done. I learned that in this smaller scale project, that part wasn’t necessary.  Once the paint had dried, I poured a little ICE Resin® to act as a glue, so my paint chips would not float in the resin.  Then adding a large amount of chips to the bezel, gently pushing them down as I filled the bezel with the rest of the resin, inspiration became reality - the focal point of a new jewelry piece.  With a sprinkling of German glass glitter in the resin, the bezel shines.  Finishing with leather and wire wrapped glass beads, this necklace will be a reminder that inspiration can come from the most unlikely places and that what’s in the garage doesn’t have to stay in the garage.  

Let’s Gather

ICE Resin®, disposable cups/stirrers
Nonstick craft mat
Bezels of choice
Colored Chips for concrete coatings (found at the Home Improvement Store)
German Glass Glitter
18 gage silver wire
Glass beads, silver beads and charms
Leather (1mm)
Leather adhesive
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Wire cutters

Let’s Make

To create the bezel

1.     Prepare ICE Resin® according to package directions. After mixing, wait 4-5 minutes to let the bubble settle down
2.    Pour a small amount of resin in the bezel.  With the stir stick, evenly spread a thin coating on the bottom.
3.    Using a spoon, fill the bezel with paint chips and gelntly push them down on to the thin layer.
4.    Fill bezel with resin
5.    Sprinkle German glass glitter on the top of the resin
6.    Set aside to dry (8-10 hours)

To create the wire wrapped beads,

1.    Cut a desired length of wire, being sure to add extra to allow for the wrapping. 
2.    Using round nose pliers, create a loop through top hole of the bezel.  Bring the short end around the wire and begin to wrap as desired.  
3.    Place beads on the long end of wire and create a top loop. 
4.    Using the long tail of the wire, wrap either tight just above the top bead or bring the wire around the beads.
5.    Trim any excess wire. “tuck the tail” of the wire so as not to have any rough edges exposed
**Add more bead dangles, word charms as desired**

Finishing with the leather cord

1.    Cut 3 cords in desired length that will fit over your head. Add extra for the knot and tassel ends. 
2.    Slip the cords through the top loop of the wired beads and secure with an overhand knot. 
3.    To secure the knot, add a little glue inside the knot
To create the slider clasp

1.     Cut 2 cords in desired length as in step two, being sure to add extra for the slider.
2.    Place the middle of the cords through the top loop of wired beads.
3.    Using silver wire, wrap the middle cords together.
4.    Divide the cords (2 on each side) and thread the cords in opposite direction through the large silver focal bead
5.    On each side, string a silver bead through both cords and knot the cords together
6.    Add a little glue inside the knot to secure the closure

Close up of wire wrapped beads

Blue paint chips

Wire wrapped beads and charms

Monday, September 17, 2018

Red- Letter Words in Nature’s Beauty

Red- Letter Words in Nature’s Beauty 

The little limerick “What is black and white and red all over?”– kept coming to mind as I created these bezels.  A few months earlier I had been drawn to the simplicity and depth of black and white nature photos and thus, the gathering and collecting began-- nature books, photos and even stationary.  As I began to work with the images, I knew they needed a little something but I did not want to take away from the beauty of the trees.  As I thought of what would complement, and not compete with these bezels, words came to my mind- encouraging and simple,  yet words with depth- Words that would stand out amongst nature’s beauty.  Red letter words- often words written in red have a deeper meaning and draw the attention of the reader into the passage. These words seem to lift off the pages and find their place into our hearts.  

Creating the appearance of lifting/floating words is a 2-step process.  First, I created a word document with words such as love, life, joy, grace, peace and more.   Then I printed these words onto tissue paper (see note in the technique instructions). The second step is using ICE Resin® in the bezels after placing the tissue paper word inside.  With this resin®, the white background disappears – so all that remains are the red-letter words! 

In keeping with the color and simplicity, one red glass bead was added as a drop to each bezel.  This bead emphasized not only the color but also the word while maintaining the simplicity of the black and white images. Finishing these pieces with antique gold and silver chains, kept the cohesiveness of the bezels, images and colors. While the answer to the limerick might be the newspaper – for us the answer is clear.  What is black and white and red all over---a nature inspired, red letter word bezel that can be read (and worn) daily!

Let’s Gather

Black and white nature images
Bezels of choice
ICE Resin®, disposable cups/stir sticks
Non- stick craft mat
Scissors, pencil 
Tissue paper 
A tape runner or repositionable tape
Glossy Accents™
Stamps-sentiment of choice 
*a stamp was used on the heart bezel 
Stazon™ ink in cherry red
Red glass beads – 1 per bezel
Wire- 18 gage
Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
Wire cutters
Chain necklace – 1 per bezel
Jump ring – 1 for each bezel that has a top loop

Let’s make

1.     Cut the image to fit inside the bezel.  Either trace the outer edge of bezel onto the image or Ink the top edges of bezel and “stamp” onto the image. 
2.    Place a little bit of Glossy Accents onto the back of the image and place in bezel. This  will keep the paper in place so it will not float in the resin.
3.    Cut the tissue paper words and set aside.
4.    Mix the ICE Resin® according to package directions
5.    Place a thin layer of resin over the image.
6.    Lay the trimmed word onto the image. 
7.    Fill the Bezel with resin, making sure it is level to the top edge of bezel.  Set aside for 8-10 hours to dry. 

To create the tissue paper words

1.     Create a word document with various words, sizes and fonts.  Be sure to change the color to red.  
2.    Print a test page onto regular paper.  Trim the words to see if they will fit in the bezel. *You are not using this paper. This is only a test page. 
3.    Adjust the words/size/font if necessary.
4.    Cut a piece of white tissue paper to the size of your regular paper (8 ½ by 11)
5.    Using the tape runner, run a line around the 4 edges of the regular paper (not the middle); place tissue paper on top of paper and tape. Being sure to smooth it out as you go. 
6.    Now place the taped tissue paper into your printer and print the words. 

**If using a stamp, stamp image with Cherry Red Stazon™ ink onto white tissue paper.

To create bead dangles
1.     Cut a desired length of wire.  Thread the bead to the middle of the wire and bring both sides up and lay one end of wire over the other and begin to wrap.  
2.    With longer end of wire, create a loop through the lower loop of bezel. Bring wire around and begin to wrap the excess.  Trim and make sure to “tuck the tail” of the wire so all edges will be smooth.

Finishing the piece
1.     Add one jump ring to top loop of bezel.
2.    Thread the chain through the jump ring and fasten the clasp.

*To see a few more photos, the necklace below appears in Stampington's Belle Armoire Jewelry Fall 2018 issue.  I am honored to be included with so many talented jewelry designers and artists.

Until next time, Make it a red letter day!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday's Treasures - A new way to do your To-Do Lists

A little over 6 months ago, I began a new way to do my to-do list. You see I had just recently hosted the Texas Gathering, a weekend full of art and friendship.  I had planned and prepared for this event for months.  I anticipated a great weekend, I planned a great weekend and I prepared a great weekend…My anticipation, preparation and expectations were greatly surpassed by the love, laughter and friendship that we created that weekend, let alone some amazing art!!  However, no amount of planning, anticipating or “to-doing” would have predicted how much of a lull came the morning after everyone was gone…I had forgotten what the end feels like, when all the hard work, the gathering and the sharing are over…So when I began my morning with quiet time, I knew it would end with my “to-do” list which would involve putting away, taking down and cleaning up…ugh!!  So, at the top of my list, I wrote

To Do -Day 1

 And then the page sat blank…the lines were there, the endless tasks were there, but my pen would not write them there… I didn’t want business as usual, diving into chores, swimming upstream through the waters of daily life.   I began to think that my list needed to start differently- to reflect the day in which I was presently in, to honor the gathering of just days earlier, the feelings I wanted to capture… and from those thoughts began a new way to start my list…It went like this

-Breathe          in and out, slow, to catch up
-Be                   Grateful
-Enjoy              the moment
-Reflect           on the memories
-Smile              at the sun
-Hear               the water
-Savor              the coffee
-Let                  my heart be filled.

As I wrote those words, emotions came quite differently than the usual thoughts from my usual to-do list such as… “Oh today’s already taken. I’m already running behind with all the chores, errands, emails, calls,…”.  Instead of frantic, frazzled and finished – my day began with this…” Breathe (just saying it brings calm…try it, say it slowly, breathe in and then out), Be…Enjoy…Reflect…Smile…”. What a difference my day and my list looked and felt like.   Ever since that day in October, I have begun my lists this way and I can see where my heart lives in each day, my focus on first things and to know that there will always be enough time for what truly needs to get done…seeing others and savoring moments, delighting in today and letting go of yesterday, embracing the daily and encouraging the soul.  Lists have a funny way of finding out what is in our hearts and on our minds, what needs to get done and what can be left behind, what is our purpose and what is living life on purpose.  I hope that in sharing a few of my lists (feel free to make them yours), your “to-do’s” will let you catch your breath and begin to breathe with a new-found way to start you day. Here are Days 2-5 of my journal just as I wrote them. And just to let you know after my first things, the list began to look like this…make beds, get ready, empty dishwasher, etc…Just want to keep it real.  The fascinating thing was (and is) each time I went back to my list to cross off a completed task, I read and re-read my firsts list…how it changed my days! I hope it will change yours...

Until next time, let your list light your path to a breathing-easier, loving-deeper, gratefully-living “to-doing” kind of a day.  Let's savor the coffee and begin a new list...

To Do- Day 2

-Breathe          in and out, slowly, deeply, restfully
-Pray                faithfully, honestly
-Enjoy              this moment of renewal
-Embrace        this day
-Focus             on just today, the needs and cares of this day
-Give                Grace to others and to myself

To Do- Day 3

-Breathe          slowly, meditate
-Be                  thankful for all I have
-Live                in the present
-Do                  not worry about the future
-Be                  forgiving to one another
-Let                  go of what I can’t change
-See                 the beauty all around me

To Do- Day 4

-Breathe          take my time
-Remember     it doesn’t all have to get done today
-Find                time to create
-Be                   thankful for all that is around me
-Take               time to listen
-Know              that I am enough

To Do- Day 5

-Breathe          to find calm
-Be                  present to meet the needs of others
-Listen             to the words being spoken and, in the silence, too
-Believe           I am enough
-Pray                for my “to-do” list (the Lord can handle it)
-See                 the blessings in each day.      

© 2018 Chantal Johnson