Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween creativity

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Halloweens past! My parents would ask all 6 of us early in the fall what we would like to be for Halloween. Then, when we had finally settled on our heart's desire, they would magically make it happen. We won many a contest growing up, with our homemade costumes. One year, after much begging, my mom actually dug deep in her wallet and bought me an orphan Annie costume from the store (after I swore I would wear the dress after Halloween, which I never did). I am actually somewhat embarrassed when I look at the pictures from that particular Halloween!
I have decided to continue this tradition with the Lutes ladies! I do buy a piece or two (when the twins were toddlers, I needed to make an exception and buy their lion outfits) and alter some here or there, but the overall effect is going to be something created by us (my parents have often jumped in to help)!

That being said, I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane and share with you the Lutes ladies halloween costumes from the last 7 years...

In 2006, Bella was a train conductor. We needed to come up with a costume that would allow us to pull all three kids, and allow the twins to sleep if needed. So, we made the peapod express. The twins wore a peapod sack with two heads (the only costume I have attempted to sew). The front wagon was the engine, the back wagon was the pea car :D.
The next year, Bella was old enough to walk, so we only needed one wagon. That year, Bella was the lion tamer, and her sisters, the circus lions. Loved this one! My dad did an amazing job with the wagon that year, don't you think?!!!

A few months before Halloween 2008, I found an alligator costume at a garage sale. Since we often call Alli, 'alligator,' I had to buy it! This prompted the year of dressing each of the girls as their nickname. Bella became a 'bella-rina,' Alli an 'alligator' and Milana 'ana banana.'

Halloween 2009, we had moved to the Madison area. Our girls were very into dress-up this year, and some of their favorite options were dresses that Mike's grandmother had sewn for some of Mike's cousins when he was a kid. These dresses became the cornerstone of our costumes this year. Because the dresses looked like they were from the time of pioneers, we went with that theme.
Last year, my girls bucked all of my suggestions for cos
tumes. At first, I was annoyed (this had been so fun for me--deciding their costumes and creating them). But, then I remembered why Halloween was so fun for me as a kid--I got to name it and mom and dad got to make it! So, we went with it. Bella chose strawberry shortcake, Alli wanted to be a cupcake and Milana a love superhero (you know, they spread love all over the world!). Turns out it is great fun to let the girls name my challenge!

This year, m
y girls chose to be strawberry shortcake characters. Bella is being plum pudding, the strawberry shortcake outfit is being re-visited by Alli, and Milana is lemon meringue. Fun, fun, fun! Oh, and a shout out to Mike's mom, Dede, for knitting plum puddings sweater and helping with the leg warmers! I love that they chose a theme this year. This may be the last themed Halloween for a while in the Lutes household, that is unless M and I decide to dress up again! Happy Halloween, everyone! Enjoy the candy, fun and creativity this night brings!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jewelry re-do challenge

A few months back, I entered a do-over challenge through another jewelry designer, Jeannie Dukic. We all signed up, she sent us some of her early pieces that needed to be re-visited. All of us have those, our early attempts at jewelry making--before we found our style, got our groove and mastered our skills. My mom, sweet as she is, still pulls some of mine out and wears them to be supportive. She probably shouldn't :). Anyway, here is a picture of the 'before' necklace:

The pendant is rose quartz, and the beads were various glass beads. Our challenge was to re-work the design, using at least 50% of the original beads and pendant. This necklace posed quite a challenge to me--it was so far from my typical style. I really wanted to re-work it and have it look like a piece that would be hard to pick out amongst the rest of my work in my boutique. I sat on the design for a few weeks, trying to figure out how to use the pendant--the shape baffled me. Eventually, this is what i came up with, I hope you like it. I used a tiny glass vial that my friend, Nicole Mihalas found at a flea market--thanks, Nicole!

This was so fun to make, I got to smash the pendant and several of the beads with my hammer! Towanda (Fried Green Tomatoes reference :)! I then wrapped the neck of the vial with antique brass wire, stringing a tiny green bead in the center of the swirl. I chose an antique brass peanut chain, dangling some more of the beads randomly along the chain. I think it is quite fun how it turned out, and I truly enjoyed the chance to make up my own rules along the way! Thank you, Jeannie, for the opportunity. If you would like to blog hop and check out the other designers' re-do's, here is the list:

Donna's is on Jeannie's blog:








Monday, October 24, 2011

First vendor highlight for N's Whims' 3rd annual Open House

Poplin is going to be in the house! Nicole will be selling various adorable hand-sewn items, ranging from super handy baby items (perfect for baby gifts) to little ways for momma's to stay stylish. If you want to check out Poplin's merchandise, click here! Poplin will be giving away the coffee cozy above and the cute little flower pin below as door prizes, so make sure you fill out a card for the drawing at the open house! You need not be present to win.

Stay tuned for more vendor updates and sneak peeks at their creations and the door prizes they are donating. Woot!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What a really cool give-away!

Gaea ceramic beads are just gorgeous! I need to get my hands on some of these so that they can find their way onto your arms and necks!!! She is hosting a give-away for some bead bundles. SO exciting!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are you an artist?

Last week a customer asked me if I was an artist....
I immediately let her know I was not trained in art (meaning I did not study it in school), rather, my training is in psychology. She looked at me oddly and I thought about it some more. We both dropped it. Her question and confusion at my response have bounced around in my brain ever since. Am I an artist? I am a crafter, this I do know. I can sell my things at a craft fair, I have learned many of the skills of my craft. But, my jewelry has definitely evolved. When I began stringing beads, I immediately became a crafter. Now, am I more than that?

When I think of other jewelry makers I know, I can easily identify the artists amongst that group--why is it so hard to self-identify? I used to think that if and when I started making my own pendants and beads, I would classify myself as an artist. However, I manipulate my metal pendants, using paints and other mediums--does that count? Seeing as how my 5 year-olds can do the same, I have decided, no. When I learn to make clay pendants or glass beads, will I cross over then?! Or, will I think that I have merely acquired another skill, one that anyone else could learn and master. In my metal-smith class, I drew a design and then sawed out the design on a pendant. Am I now an artist? But, it was just a simple drawing.... Maybe the dilemna is that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe I don't truly believe that I can claim my jewelry as art--only as craft. Is art a skill or an ability--a magical ability that certain beings are gifted with?! And yet even those magical abilities get better with practice....

I have also had several people comment lately that I should take more pride in my jewelry--don't get me wrong, I really do like what I make. I am proud of each skill I have learned and mastered, and it brings me great joy to figure out how to manipulate something and make it work in a piece. This hobby of mine is so incredibly fulfilling. I can look at my early pieces and truly see and value my growth curve. However, it is just jewelry, and many possess the same skills. Bottom line is, I like what I make, and it makes me happy. If it makes you happy too, BONUS!

I still don't know how to answer the question, "are you an artist." Maybe thinking, "not yet" is what pushes me to learn and grow more.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Woot--check out our pendants from craft to give back night!

Last night was the October meeting of craft to give back--we started working on necklaces for the free store at Waunakee Neighborhood Connection. The intention is to provide super cool gifts for the kiddos to 'buy' for their moms for Christmas. Something the moms would be really excited to receive! Last night was step one of a 2 part series of craft to give backs.

First, Angela was rolling out the raised designs with the cuttlebug. She mastered it, if you ask me! I swear she was enjoying herself--although this picture of her doesn't show it! Next, the pendants were passed on to the other ladies to paint. You can tell how seriously they were taking their jobs by this next picture of Joy and Leah!Align LeftApparently, I wasn't working at all last night--or maybe they were driving me to drink :). While these first pendants were drying, we moved on to some resin pendants. Decorative paper backgrounds were chosen and cut out to fit the pendants and then glued in. I did actually mix the resin and then we set the designs in the resin (see, I did do something!). They are drying nicely now and will be ready to use in a few days.

ela also hammered a few initials on some tiny brass tags so that we can add them to some of the final necklaces. Didn't these turn out cute--the circles remind me of ornaments and the squares of presents. How fun!

Here are a few pictures of their completed pendants--see how easy it is?! You could be crafty, too!!! Once again, I do not think I could choose a favorite out of them--they all turned out stunning!

And, last but not least, here is a picture of the whole crew, actually looking like they were enjoying themselves :D

Thank you, ladies, for all of your hard work and willingness to learn a new skill! Next month's craft to give back, we will be picking out some beads and turning these beautiful pendants into necklaces. Woot! Stay tuned!