On Sunday I attended a jewelry class I had been looking forward to for a while. It was on free-form stone setting, and it was the first time they had offered the subject at my favorite bead shop, Dava Bead (they have tons of classes, but they fill up quickly). It wasn’t addressed in any of my jewelry-making books, and even if it was, I’m often hesitant to try out a totally new skill without someone to show me the ropes the first time. So I was really excited for this class, and it didn’t disappoint.
The class was only one afternoon, so I didn’t have time to file, sand, and polish up my pieces, but I got to set several stones. I did the green beach glass first, but it probably would’ve been easier (and smarter) to start with something larger. Oh well, that’s how you learn, right? After I had gotten the hang of it a bit I moved on to my stones.
I didn’t know this before the class, but the stone-setting technique we learned is done basically the same way that stained glass is made. Come to think of it, this agate slice would look pretty hung in a window like stained glass, wouldn’t it?
These druzy earrings are my favorite item I made in class. Even though they’re not properly polished and finished, I wore them home.
It always amazes me how easy something can seem when you have a good teacher to make it less intimidating. Actually mastering the skill is a whole ‘nother story, but learning the basics can be really rewarding. And now I get to experiment with this technique on my own (well, after I get a soldering iron and a few other supplies).
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me that I have a bit of a craft/DIY book collection. From practical, old-school home maintenance guides, to kitschy ’70s craft encyclopedias, to beautiful, modern books filled with knitting and sewing patterns, my collection runs the gamut. But with so many great tutorials and patterns available online, why do we still need books? Victoria Hudgins, the author of Materially Crafted (and the blog A Subtle Revelry), argues that with the sheer volume of incomplete and often contradictory information online, it can often be difficult and time-consuming to figure out what you need to know to work with your chosen materials. So she wrote Materially Crafted to help fill this gap. Divided into chapters by material, the book walks you through the basic tools and skills you need to know to successfully complete projects with paint, plaster, concrete, paper, thread, wax, wood, clay, glue, fabric, and metal. That way when you come across an inspiring project image online, you can quickly refer to the relevant chapters here for advice on how to begin replicating it. After all, while it’s easy to pin projects you plan to make one day, actually getting started can be the real challenge.
If you’re short on ideas, Materially Crafted also includes advice on how to get inspired, plus a few creative home decor projects for each material. My recent cake stand project made me especially excited to see the instructions for a concrete cake stand (pictured above), and I was intrigued by the stitched wooden chair. My only complaint is that I wish there were more tutorials, but I think I’m just being greedy. Plus the end of each section has links to more projects online, including, I should disclose, my waxed tote bag in the “Wax” section.
Even without my tiny contribution to this book, I can honestly say that it would be a great addition to any craft library. It would be especially perfect for a beginning DIY-er, but even as someone who has done a lot of projects, I found a lot of new tips and inspiration.
Materially Crafted is published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book. I was gifted a copy for review.
Recently I saw some striped bars of soap, thought they looked cute, and had the classic, “I could make that!” realization. I had soap base leftover from my coffee mint soap, so all I needed was some soap colorant. Turns out it’s just as easy as it seems: pour colored soap in layers, then slice it up to reveal the stripes. Super simple, but the graphic stripes really make an impact.
Soap base – I used this Goats Milk Glycerin Soap.
Soap colorant – I used this ArtMinds colorant, in blue.
Soap mold – I used a mold I made out of cardboard and tape.
1. Cut the soap base up into chunks, and place it into a microwave-safe container. Melt the soap according to the directions on your package. I melted mine in 30-second increments, stirring between heating, until it was fully melted. The amount will depend on the size of your mold, but I think I used about 2 1/2 cups of melted soap, total. Divide into two equal amounts.
2. Add colorant to one container of the melted soap, and stir until the color is evenly distributed. I originally wanted a navy blue color, but even though I used most of the bottle of colorant, the soap didn’t get much darker. If you want dark, saturated color, you might want to try different colorants.
3. Pour the first layer, using half of that color. This will ensure that your stripes are even. I didn’t keep very good track of how much soap I was using, so my stripes aren’t the same sizes. Also I probably could have done one more white stripe on top for perfectly-proportioned bars. (Perfectionism is a disease!)
Let the layer cool until solid. I stuck my soap in the freezer to hurry the process along. Then pour the next layer. Repeat until you’ve poured all of your layers.
4. After you’ve poured all of your layers, let the soap fully solidify overnight before removing from the mold. I had to destroy my mold to get the soap out, but that’s ok, since it was from the recycling bin in the first place.
5. Slice up your striped bars.
Wouldn’t these be great in a nautically-themed bathroom? And you could put together a great little gift set with a bath tray, some bath bombs, and a couple of bars of handmade soap.
My name is Rachel and I live in wonderful Portland, OR. Transient Expression is about fashion, style, and DIY. I love to share craft projects, cute outfits, recipes, and inspiration for living a handmade life.
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