Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Vintage Doll Bed Up-Cycle

A couple of months back I found my old doll bed in my parents attic. I remember this bunk style doll bed so clearly but had no idea it was still around.

It brought back such memories of my childhood as I remembered it being an important place for all my dolls. This would be around 1960 or so.

It was in decent shape except for the supporting slats. And other than being a bit dirty, it was otherwise intact. After debating whether to keep it as is or to up-cycle it, I decided it needed a new life.

I chose a light blue chalk paint with a coat of dark wax for a distressed and aged look. Some would argue that it should be kept in it original condition, but just as I have changed since 1960, it needed change too.

So here is how it went:

First I put it in my garage, surveyed it and cleaned it. This is what it originally looked like:

Here is a picture of the supporting slats for the bottom part of the bunk bed:

Unfortunately, the slats for the top portion were broken - really beyond repair. So I carefully measured, then went to Lowes and had two pieces of wood cut to use as supports:

I selected a light blue chalk paint by Americana Decor called "Serene" which I found at Michaels. I also bought a clear and a dark wax. The clear wax is for protection and the dark is to give it a distressed and aged look - I used a flat brush for the blue paint and a round brush for the wax:

After cleaning the bed with a damp soft cloth I applied two coats of the blue chalk paint:

Then I applied a coat of the clear wax followed by a coat of the dark wax. Both the paint and the wax really dry fast, so I did not wait long between coats. I let the blue chalk paint and clear wax dry about 20 minutes between coats. After applying the dark wax I almost immediately rubbed it down with a soft cloth. This removes most of the dark color but leaves just a bit for that vintage aged look I was looking for. Here is what it now looked like:

Now it was ready to move inside the house. And here is what it looks like painted and with the new supporting boards:

I really did not like the look and feel of the raw unpainted wood. So I bought some large pieces of white foam board in the school and office supplies section at Walmart. Then I just cut two pieces to fit over the raw boards. I did not photograph this part but here is a picture of what I'm talking about with white foam board:

Now it just needed mattresses and pillows which I found on Etsy. The seller is Bonita Abernathy at NaNaBeezGifts.  Bonita is excellent - she makes doll and pet bedding as well as wedding favors. Here is the bed with new mattresses and pillows.

The two Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls were mine - I had other dolls that I wish I could find but alas they were not in my parents' attic. But at least I found these two little friends.

Now it just needed some coverlets and pillow cases. Bonita had told me she could make some custom bedding, so I had her make these pretty reversible coverlets, pillow cases for the pillows and some small decorative pillows.  They turned out beautiful as you can see below!

Now all I need is a grand daughter to enjoy this doll bed. Although I don't have any grandchildren yet, I hope to have them one day!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Vintage Hot Pink Beaded Lanyard

My newest Etsy listing. Vintage Hot Pink Beaded Lanyard: 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tutorial: DIY Infinity Jewelry Links

In this tutorial, I'm going to show how to make infinity S-links to use in your jewelry designs.  First, let me give you the link to a tutorial that I used to first learn how to make these components:  Lisa Yang's Jewelry Blog.

Lisa's blog post is excellent and shows how to make a pretty Infinity Love Bracelet.  Her bracelet is made up entirely of infinity links and jump rings.  But these little guys also come in handy to link beads, chain and other components.  I use them in earrings, bracelets, necklaces, stickpins, etc.

Here are the tools and supplies you need:
  • 18 gauge wire of your choosing
  • Round nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Jewelry file and steel wool
  • Ruler

I also like to hammer the links - for this you need:
  • Chasing hammer
  • Jeweler's steel block and sandbag

Okay, so here's how you do it:

Cut your wire into one inch pieces. Make sure both ends are flush cut so there are no sharp edges. I like to make several at a time. Here I am using a combination of gold and silver colored artistic wire. You can use any type of craft wire.  You can also use sterling silver or gold filled wire - but it really needs to be 18 gauge no matter what type of wire. That just seems to be the right weight and thickness for these links.

Next use your jewelry file to smooth the ends. Make sure to slide the ends in the same direction instead of going back and forth. Going in the same direction keeps the edges smoother. After filing the ends, jab the ends back and forth through your steel wool - this further smooths them.

Now it is time to make your loops. Make a small loop at one end of your wire using your round nose pliers like so:

Then make another loop on the other end going in the opposite direction:

This is what your loop will look like - it might be a bit crooked but we will fix that in a moment.

Use some nylon jaw pliers to straighten and correct any defects. Sorry I did not show them pictured in the introductory pictures but here you can see how I used them below:

Now your link should look like this:

Next I like to hammer the links to flatten and more importantly harden them. Use the larger part of your chasing hammer to do this:

Here are a bunch of silver, gold and copper links after I hammered them:

Now you are ready to use your infinity links in whatever project your imagination comes up with. Here's a pair of earrings and a bracelet I made using them:

Pink Vintage Beaded Earrings

Two-Tone Gold & Silver Glass Beaded Bracelet

Copper & Aluminum Infinity Bracelet

What might you use these pretty infinity links for?  I would love to see whatever designs you come up with. Send them to me and I'll be sure to post them.

Till next time!

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and Facebook too!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Repurposed Vintage Earrings

In my last post, I showed some of my mother's vintage costume jewelry that I have been sorting through and photographing. In this post, I will show a few more pieces and walk through the repurposing process of one of the pairs of earrings.

The picture above shows a summarization of the repurposing process I used for my earrings.  I'll go through details of the process in a bit, but first let me show some collage photos of a few of the treasures I came across and photographed from my Mom's collection.

Many of these pieces are in really great shape! The first one is a collection of faux pearl and white beaded necklaces:

This second collage is a collection of pink beaded designs - also mostly in really nice shape. My mother's favorite color was pink and she had a good quantity of pink jewelry - not all of it is pictured here but here are a few:

I'm not sure yet which of the above pieces I might decide to repurpose. Some of them are so pretty, I might just leave "as is."

But I came across these ear-bobs below and knew they needed repurposing ... they were in pretty bad shape:
 The large center beads were already disconnected from the ear-bobs, and the clip-on backs were missing. As can be seen, there is also a good bit of corrosion and debris on the metal backings.

First thing was to disassemble the beads and components - the beads were held together on the brass backings with some very old and disintegrating wire.  I just cut the wire with a pair of wire cutters and wound up with this collection of pieces:
Next I cleaned the beads, the metal backings, and the gold colored bead caps. I first used warm soapy water and a toothbrush which helped some.  Then I tried a technique I had read about using worcestershire sauce to soak and scrub. In the end, I couldn't get the metal backings totally clean but was able to restore the bead caps to a fairly good shine - although some of the gold plating was worn off:

I decided for my design I would make a pair of dangle earrings out of some of the beads and bead caps. I used some gold plated wire to make a knotted headpin and added some wire-wrapping around the top bead. The earring wires are made of gold colored craft wire which I formed into a pair of french hook ear wires:

And voila! Something new from something old!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Mother's Vintage Jewelry

Two years ago I started going through my mother's vast collection of vintage costume jewelry. These beautiful treasures were passed on to me after her passing in 2013. I wrote about some of these pieces in a blog post two years ago - you can click here to read that post.

Well I put the jewelry aside for a while and am now revisiting the adventure of going through all these marvelous pieces. My attention was redirected to the jewelry after my brother and sister-in-law found even more of my Mom's jewelry while helping my Dad sort through some things at his home.

This spectacular necklace is a triple strand of dark cream faux pearls and aurora borealis crystals. It is a choker style measuring 15 inches plus a three inch extender chain. I love this piece for its bold deco styling!

This next piece I'm pretty sure was one of my Mom's favorites because it is in her favorite color which was pink!  It is another triple stranded faux pearl necklace in several rich vibrant hues of pink.  There is hot pink, light pink and some hints of purple and lavender in some of the beads. The eclectic mixture of pearls, glass beads and fire-polished crystals is just my Mom's style! It is a choker style measuring 15 inches plus a two inch beaded extender.

Now I need to decide on whether to keep these pieces "as is" or to disassemble and repurpose them into something different. Comments and suggestions are welcome!

And if you want to see more pieces from my Mom's collection, you can visit my Pinterest board dedicated to her collection.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Make Your On-Line Photos Pop With This Photoshop Tutorial!

If you sell anything online, you know how important it is to produce high quality images to showcase your designs. In this post, I will show how I use Photoshop to edit my images to give them a little pizzaz.  You can take an ordinary photo and transform it into something truly amazing like the BEFORE and AFTER photos above.

Let me preface this tutorial by saying that I am using the approach that you know very little about Photoshop. If you are an advanced or experienced user, you might find it overly simplified.  That being said, I have tried to break every step down incrementally to show you exactly how it is done.

In this tutorial, I am using a Mac computor with Photoshop C6. Since I design and sell jewelry, I will be using a photo with a pair of earrings as an example.

Okay, let's get started!
First make sure you have a high quality photo that is crystal  clear. Here is my original photo without editing other than cropping the size down.

1.  Open up Photoshop. Here is a screenshot of my Photoshop screen:

2.  Create a new file. To do this click on File at the top of your screen and in the drop down menu click New:

3.  A pop-up window will now appear prompting you to name your file.  By default it is called Untitled.  Rename it - I am naming my file Earrings1. In the same pop-up window you can set the size.  The size will likely be a default size, so be sure to check and change the size if you need to. I have set the size of my file to 1200 pixels width by 800 pixels height.  Now click OK.

Here is a screenshot of my new blank file:

4.  Duplicate your layer by right clicking on Background layer, then select Duplicate Layer.

You will now want to work in your Background copy layer. Notice the Background Copy layer at the right side of your screen is highlighted - this is how you know that you are working using that layer and not the original Background layer.

5.  Now working in your Background Copy layer, choose a foreground color. To do this, click on the Foreground Color icon at the left of your screen - it looks like two little colored squares.  Clicking on the top little square of this icon will cause a pop-up window to appear labeled Color Picker (Foreground Color.)  Note that if you click on the bottom little square, you will be selecting a Background Color instead of Foreground Color.

What's the difference between Background and Foreground?  Photoshop uses the foreground color to pain, fill and stroke colors.  The background color is used to fill in erased areas of an image.

Now in the Color Picker window click on a color of your choosing.  Since I want some contrast against the somewhat light grayish white background in the photo, I am selecting a medium to dark gray background color. Press OK to confirm your color choice.

6.  Next click on the Paint Bucket tool on the left side of your Photoshop screen.  Left click the little paint bucket over the white background with the paint bucket to "paint" your foreground.  Here is my new gray colored foreground:

7.  Now drag your photo to inside the file.  You will have a big X across the screen until you have finished placing the photo.  To place the photo, click on the check mark at the top of your screen.  

After placing it, the big X across your photo will disappear:

8.  Click on the Ellipse tool and place your cursor in the middle of your photo and left click.  A small box will pop up prompting you to Create Ellipse. By default, the size  of the ellipse is set to 100 x 100 pixels as shown below:

Go ahead and change the size to 1200 x 800 pixels.  Then click OK:

9.  You will now see an elliptical oval encircling your photo. Now right click anywhere outside the ellipse shape and click Make Selection in the pop-up window:

A small box will appear entitled Make Selection. You will see an option for Feather Radius which by default is usually set to zero.

I am setting the feather radius to 110.  The higher you set it the more "feathery" the edges of your photo will be against your darker background.

9.  Now right click again outside the dotted elliptical shape and click on the option Rasterize Layer.

10.  Next click on the word Select at the top of your Photoshop toolbar.  Then from the options given click Inverse.

Now your file will also have a dotted line around the entire file looking like this:

11.  Click on Edit at the top of your Photoshop tool bar and from the options click Clear.  Here is what your image will look like:

12.  Now you are finished except for Saving your file.  To save, click on File at the top of your Photoshop toolbar, then click Save As and unless you want to change the name of your File name just click Save.  Be sure to choose from the options given where you want to save your file to.  In the example below I am saving it to Work Folder but you can save it just to your Desktop if you prefer.  Note that this will save it in PSD format which will enable you to have this file to come back to and edit if needed.

Now you need to save the file in JPG format.  To do this, again click on File, then Save As, then change the format to JPG and click Save:

And here is your finished photo:

If you like more definition in the different foreground and background colors, just lower the feather radius from step 8 in the tutorial.  Here is another photo of the same earrings using a lower feather radius of 30 instead of 110:

There are lots of other ways to individualize your photo. For example, I used a neutral gray foreground color in the example above.  Here are some photos of the same image using blue and pink colors for the foreground:


Although I am far from being an expert in photo editing, I do hope this tutorial has been helpful!  I have been using Photoshop for about 2 1/2 years and have learned to love it. But it has at times been a love-hate relationship.  It is not a very intuitive program for someone like myself without any formal education or training in photo-editing.  Put simply, it is not always easy to figure out what I am doing. I have learned and continue to learn techniques literally millimeter by millimeter. So this is why I wanted to share this one small technique.

I welcome questions, comments and feedback!

Till next time,