It’s A Wrap

There were about a million things I needed to be doing today, running errands, getting groceries in for the week, laundry, running the vacuum… however, the one thing I really wanted to do was wire wrap the seaglass I found last week along with another favorite piece I had been saving.

After I got the chores out of the way, I settled in with my seaglass searching buddy Fay out on the porch to begin wrapping glass. We both had some wire, tools, beads, and of course, jars of the frosty wave washed trash that beckons us to comb all shorelines.

The Set Up

Nothing fancy… just a table and a lot of light out on my porch makes the perfect space for spreading out and getting creative. I found a nice retro California pottery lazy Susan at Salvation Army a couple weeks ago which provided a perfect tray for separating my seaglass by colors, greens, whites, browns and more. We searched through the collections we both had to find the perfect shapes which would lend themselves to jewelry. Really frosty glass is considered jewelry grade.

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Shapes of Things to Come

Fay, being the nautical person she is, wanted to try wrapping a few pieces into a sailboat focal piece for her design. This is done by finding a couple pieces of glass that lend themselves to the shape of a sailboat and using a little wire. It’s remarkable how simple it can be and so true to shape. Often, seaglass will be triangular in shape when found. Here, a small piece of green will also serve as the boat body.

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I had a favorite piece of glass I had found north of Indian River Inlet, DE a few Summer’s ago when I was out with my niece, Stephanie. It has a sheer amethyst tint to it which I really love. I also had a heart shape piece I found from the area near Gibson Island, MD last week.

How It’s Done

Wire wrapping seaglass or cabochons is not really rocket science and you will find each piece is unique based on the shape you are trying to wrap. There are lots of styles for wrapping. You can make it really simple or very complex depending on what style you like. I tend to keep my wraps on the simple side. There are a few techniques I have learned that do come in handy if you want to add a little pizzazz to your work which I will show you.

You will need some wire in 20 gauge and 24 gauge if you want to use the spiral designs which I will show you. I use Beadalon Artistic wire that is basically copper wire coated in silver. Beadalon sells all kinds of wires in all kinds of gauges depending on your project. The colors are amazing…copper, gold, silver, aluminum, braided, flat, round and more. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the wire. I wrap my seaglass in 20 gauge wire to be sure to hold it snug. If I am lucky enough to find a nice piece of glass, I sure don’t want to lose it from a faulty wire wrap. You can find this at Michaels, Hobby Lobby or your favorite craft store. I always hit Hobby Lobby and always use a coupon for a discount. It’s nice to have a stash of it on hand all the time.

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A Really Cool Tool

I took a wire wrapping class with the Baltimore Bead Society and learned how to use a really cool tool to create the spiral coils found on wrap designs. I had often wondered how they mastered this technique with accuracy. I was blown away that it is really so simple. The tool is called The Coiling Gizmo and of course, it is made by our buddies at Beadalon.  It’s actually quite simple a tool and I envy the person who invented it. You can nab one on Amazon or at your hobby store. You will love it when you see what it can do.

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The Coiling Gizmo comes with a U bracket table mount, but I usually just wing it and use my hands as you will see in the photos.

I began by cutting a total of three pieces of 20 gauge silver wire. Two 6″  lengths and one 8″  length. I straightened the wire out a bit to work harden it and placed them side by side on a piece of felt.

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Next, I used the coiling gizmo and some 24 gauge silver wire to create a coil. It’s not hard to do, just wrap the wire lightly around the t-shaped pin in the size that you think you will need to fit over 3 pieces of 20 gauge wire. I use the smallest T-pin in the set. They come in 5 different sizes. If you hold it just right, you can spin it and the coil will form.

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After you make a short coil, cut a piece of it and slip it over the three pieces of 20 gauge wire you have already cut.

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Now comes the ninja magic you need to get your distinct piece of glass secure. As I said, it’s not rocket science, but you do need to employ a few techniques to make it secure. I tried a new design of creating a type of “cage” to secure my glass. This design places the coiled section centered at the bottom of the piece, then the three wires run up both sides. Two wires cross over each other in the front and back while the long wire runs straight up the sides.

I really wanted to make this necklace special so I added some sparkly purple bicone beads and a flat silver bead on the front to add some interest. I also used two small coiled sections at the tops of the cage area on the right and the left. This is my favorite piece of glass and has a lot of sentiment to it. It is very frosty and well worn and the shape is somewhat square. I felt the design needed to be more contemporary and not frilly as some wraps can easily become with all the loops and spirals.

Sorry, I skipped a couple photos of the process, but I think you can easily see how it began to shape out.

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Wrap the wires around each other at the top and cut away everything except the longest 8″ wire to make your bail.

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The Flip Side

One technique for tightening your wire wrap is to flip it over and use your jewelry pliers to create a type of kink in the wire. It will immediately begin to tighten your design down. These kinks are a bit artistic and can also be used on the front of the design. They look a bit like waves and I think they are cool.

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Making the Bail

The part of your design from which the piece hangs is called the bail. Bails can be very plain in design or more complex. I thought I would use the coiling gizmo to finish this off and wrap it all into a cohesive design. I wrapped about 2 feet of 24 gauge wire with the gizmo and ended up with just enough for my bail. Word to the wise, always err on the side of using more wire than less when you are working. You can always cut wire away, but it’s tough to try to add some when your wire is too short for your design.

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I use a pair of pliers called bail making pliers to hold the wire in place and I wrap it all around itself. You will need to hold it tight and wrap the entire coiled section toward the back and make a loop. Bring the rest of the section to the front and wrap it around itself a couple times with the ends in the back. Tighten it all down securely.

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There You Have It!

It takes a little adjusting, but generally it works out really great and is guaranteed to make you feel proud you made it. I really like the way this one turned out.

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How About the Sailboat Design?

Fay has been wrapping away on her sailboat design trying something new. She has done a remarkable job of securing two pieces of glass in wire and using the coiling gizmo to create an anchor on her wires. It’s not easy to wrap two pieces into one shape, yet she has done really well for her first time. Take a look!

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She decided to add an anchor charm to her piece to make it even more special. Charms can easily be added using a jump ring and utilizing one of the open wires at the top.

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If it Fits I Sits

It must have been getting close to feeding time because my cat Abby found us, walked through everything on the table top and finally settled in to one of my trays holding all my charms. There’s nothing like a cat staring at you to tell you it’s about time to literally wrap it all up and pay attention! After all, we had been busy most of the afternoon!

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We had great fun today and I hope you enjoyed this short session on wire wrapping seaglass and following along with us. I’m sure as I gain more wire wrapping skills and as I find more glass we will have more sessions to come this Summer.

Until Next Time,

Stay well and stay tuned.

Boni

 

Searching For Seaglass 2018

Today was a destined to be a spectacular day with the temperatures warming up to a whopping 56 degrees. I knew it would be a great time to head out to a new destination searching for some seaglass. Having been a cold winter here in the mountains, I was eager to walk the shores of some beach, somewhere for some much needed sunshine and seaglass searching therapy.

I contacted my best searching buddy Fay and with our new destination in mind we were off by 11:00am for Gibson Island, MD. Gibson Island is located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, situated at the convergence of the Magothy River and the Chesapeake Bay. I read about the area via www.odysseyseaglass.com a fantastic newsletter with reports from all over the world of lucky spots people have found some great stuff.

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Next Time Check The Rules

We arrived at Gibson Island in a little over an hour and a half. It was a lovely area with many large beautiful homes dotting the landscape. The security guard at the gate entering the causeway was pleasant, but very clear that Gibson Island is in fact, private. We were not allowed to enter the island at all. Oops. We asked him if there were any public beaches around sure enough he sent us up the road about a mile to John Downs park.

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After an entrance fee of $6.00 we were on our way to a very clean and inviting park area with lots of parking and plenty of other people out enjoying the day. Dogs are allowed on the small beach and people had their pooches out for a romp.

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Be Prepared

One thing I have learned when searching the cold shores of a beach in the winter months is that it’s best to wear a pair of rubber wading boots. I picked mine up at Goodwill for 6 bucks. Fay was well prepared with her boots too. We also had our own booty bags that I made from nylon woven fabric for stashing our treasures.

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Right Away is a Good Sign

As soon as we walked out on the little beach and looked down there was a small piece of green glass! Voila! How exciting! Things were definitely looking up and finding something right away was a good sign. We were very happy campers and started our walk to the left shoreline.

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What Are We Looking For?

If you are not familiar with seaglass I will bring you up to speed on this basically highly coveted trash. Seaglass is discarded broken glass that has ended up in the ocean or bay, has been tumbled over and over by waves and ends up on the shoreline with a nice frosty finish. The edges should be smooth and the shapes and colors greatly vary. Books have been written about it, crafters love it and beautiful jewelry and art has been created around it. There are seaglass festivals all across America that thousands of people attend yearly and gaze in wonder at these gems which started out manufactured by man and ended up refined by nature. Some colors are very common, like white, green and brown, (mostly broken beer bottles or glass bottles) However, some of the more rare colors are red, orange and the highly prized blue. What I love about it is that a great find often carries a lot of history along with it. I didn’t know it, but there were over 1,000 shipwrecks in the Chesapeake Bay dating way back to the pirate days. Heavy storms will churn up the waters and strong winds just might blow these treasures onto the shores. It’s so much fun to pick up a piece of history and even more fun to wire wrap it into a cool necklace or display it in a jar. Searching for seaglass is also very competitive. Inevitably, there will be another searcher out there at the same time you are and you will always have something to compare or chat about.  I study the tidal charts for the areas I plan to cover and plan to be there at low tide and especially after storms.

 

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Take A Buddy

I love going on adventures and I especially love adventures with my friend Fay. She loves the beach as much as I do and being a boat owner, she has a good knowledge of all things maritime. Some beaches can be a little deserted and it’s a good idea to take a buddy with you just to be safe. Fay is a great friend and easy to be with, she and I can comb separate areas and not feel left out. I like to walk fast and cover the shoreline quickly, Fay takes her time and has a lot of patience. We make a great pair of search buddies and I am glad to have her company.

More Than Just Rocks and Glass

The Downs Park beach had a quite a few pieces of standard craft grade glass that were well frosted, but I was really struck by the abundance of driftwood along the tree line. My goodness! I love driftwood! The colors were white washed and quite artistic in their natural environment. I use driftwood when I make sun catchers with beads and seaglass as well as cut and drill them to make wooden beads.

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What To Look For

If you are hankering to get out and there find yourself some seaglass I recommend you look for shorelines that have lots of pebbles and are not well traveled. As I said, seaglass is becoming more and more rare with people collecting now and pieces go fast for those who know where to look. Follow the shoreline and also something called the “wrack line”. The wrack line is the area where the tide stopped and left a line of deposits when the tide was in. The shoreline is of course, down closer to the waves. You can take a stick and noodle around in the wrack line as well as looking inside the rocks for treasures.

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The Shore Less Traveled

I knew when I looked to the south shoreline past those big rocks there was a small area of beach that most people don’t venture. I needed to climb over all those rocks and get my feet in the cold water (brrr) to gain access to that area, so I decided to take the chance. Those are the kind of places you need to look for, the beaches less traveled, the places where you might get lucky. They are rare but they are out there. Many people have secret spots they won’t share with others just for that reason, they want their luck to last.

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Bingo

Sure enough there was more glass on the South shoreline where not many people had been. Mostly, white and a few greens, very common colors, but a lot bigger and a lot more plentiful. I was having fun now.

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Then, suddenly I saw it! A thick piece of white seaglass shaped a bit like a heart. I was in love. I knew this would make a nice necklace. It was heavy and nicely frosted.

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In Addition

Another nice addition to your search is the occasional piece of pottery. The thicker the better and the more color the more valuable. I spotted a rather large piece of white pottery and upon close examination it showed a bit of age to it. I don’t think the people who come to this park are bringing ceramic dishes for their picnics in this modern era. My guess would be they are using their lunch boxes and plastic ware. This piece was interesting and I was very happy to nab it. Perhaps there had been a ship that sunk that had these plates in her galley? Oooooh, the mystery of it all.

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The Nature Center and The Real Deal

This park has a beautiful nature center that is open until 3:00 pm. I was astounded at how educational and well designed it was for learning about Anne Arundel County wildlife and the history of this particular beach. The bathrooms were clean and the park rangers were nice. I chatted with the girl at the desk and told her I was looking for seaglass. She politely mentioned to me that they don’t encourage people to take anything from their beach (oops) and pointed me to the exhibit behind me of all the cool things they had found over the years. I was blown away at all this great stuff that had washed up on their shores! We agreed that there had been many shipwrecks in the Chesapeake Bay and that there was bound to be a lot of cool stuff out there. (All this time, I was thinking how very glad I was that I already had stashed my booty bag in the trunk of my car. My bad.) Upon close examination, I saw chunks of white pottery mixed in with the terrific blues and red pottery shards. Wowzer. Lots of iron works, antique bottles, door knobs and more. A really stunning exhibit and worth the look for a beachcomber like me. It gives you hope that stuff is out there and you just need to keep looking.

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The nature center was complete with a snake, Woody. How very glad I was that Woody was behind glass. Seems he is a corn snake and currently not really “active” since it’s winter. Nice Woody, glad you are not active buddy, and REALLY glad you were not down there when I was rooting through all that driftwood.

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A walk through a nice memory garden before we headed out for some lunch. I imagine this is lovely when the flowers are all in bloom. The memory garden areas are lovingly maintained by families remembering their loved ones with little plaques. This was truly a nice park and I highly recommend it for a day out and bring the kids, the nature center is really nice.

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The Haul

My GPS took us to “The Picandillo”, a great little Mexican restaurant only a few miles up the road. This was a fantastic place to pour out our newly found treasures on some plates and examine our haul while munching down on chips and salsa. We did pretty good overall and we were happy with our finds. Most of it craft grade glass, but a few can be made into some wire wrapped gifts. I love the heart shapes too!

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In Conclusion

Jack Down’s Park is a great little park in Anne Arundel County that has an awesome nature center, a small clean beach where you can take your dog for a run, an open stage for concerts in June and September and a memorial garden for quiet contemplation. You can find some seaglass, mostly craft grade, but it’s there. Go to the areas where most people won’t venture. They don’t like you taking things from their beach, so know that ahead of time and be careful to respect their rules especially if the rangers are watching. The driftwood is notable and some of the best I have seen on the western shores of the Chesapeake. Learn about the shipwrecks and see the exhibit on the great stuff that has washed ashore there, you will be impressed.

One of the best reasons to comb the shorelines of this little beach or any beach is the lovely meditative time you will have walking and listening to the waves gently lapping the shoreline. I find it therapeutic and never tire of it.

Until next time,

Boni

 

 

New Life for Old Mistakes

Never Throw it Away Until You’ve Tried

Recently, I tried my hand at metal stamping on aluminum blanks. I have had a little success in the past with thin bracelets using Impressart Letter Dies and thin aluminum bracelet blanks. It takes a bit of practice along with holding your hand steady when you give it a slam, but the results are worth it and they make nice quick gifts.

A friend recently lost their pet and I wanted to make them a personalized gift of a bracelet and necklace with their pet’s name on it combined with the saying, “Always in my heart”. Unfortunately, I made a few boo boos when stamping the pet’s name accurately and ended up with two perfectly good circle blanks with “Rosie” on them. Since I probably can’t use the word “Rosie” in any pithy statement, I needed to revamp these blanks before I gave in and threw them away, after all, waste not want not, right?

Utilizing the Sunlight

It was a really sunny day out on my porch, so I took advantage of the sunlight all afternoon and decided to work out there while still hoping for Spring to make a landing. After many trips back and forth from the downstairs studio I had all the stuff I needed to begin.

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What Went Wrong

When stamping metal blanks it’s important to use the same amount of pounding pressure when you stamp to make the words even in depth. What I learned the hard way was the letter “I” will go a tad bit deeper into the soft aluminum than the other letters. After you make the impression into the blank it get’s inked with black ink. To me, the letter “I” was darker than the other letters and not the kind of quality I wanted to have in offering a gift.  I held onto the three, (yes, three) blanks I messed up and was ready for round two. As I said, it takes a little practice to get good at this.

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Tools of the Trade

I gathered the blanks, my steel stamping block, a rubber pad to fit below the stamping block to quiet it some, and a cool interchangeable hammer I got from Beadsmith for stamping textures.

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Working The Flaw Into The Design

I had the pleasure of learning graphic design from one of the greats, Jan V. White, a former architect turned graphic designer. I remember an all day seminar with Jan in Philadelphia where we learned valuable principles that have stayed with me all my life. One thing he taught us was, “When you have a flaw in your design, build the flaw into your design”. How creative and rewarding a challenge this has been! These flawed blanks needed some help, so I decided to smash the bits out of them with texture. My goal was to obliterate the words and produce something attractive. Here’s what started to happen as I was smashing away, (again therapy my friends…) You will also see a slight green patina on this blank which also was an experiment gone wrong. More on that later.

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Work It All Simultaneously

I found through a lot of trial and error that when you have more than one thing to alter and they all have to match when you are done, try to work simultaneously rather than one at a time. The last thing you need is one that doesn’t match. Here are the three former aluminum blanks after smashing texture into them. Not bad as they are, but I wanted to amp them up and learn more about patinas so I decided to paint them. You will also see that smashing with a texture hammer will alter the outer perimeter of the blanks, they will become thinner and a bit warpy looking. You may or may not like this, just good to know before you begin. Again, we will work this warpy outer texture into our design!

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Give It Some Color

After smashing, I tried adding some Tim Holtz Patina’s to the surface. Don’t get me started on Ranger Products by Tim Holtz! I love all his products and freak out if I see them at thrift shops in the dollar bin for cheap. I had bought these three at Hobby Lobby awhile back and had been saving for a day just like today. I tend to buy ahead of time and always lean toward beach colors just in case. These three are a nice combination of greens, Moss, Jade and Verdigris. I also love the color of natural green verdigris that forms on rusted things. The patinas are designed to work on metals, not paper, and they will leave a strong coating on the metal that does not wear off like other paints. On the one blank you saw, I had tried some paint earlier and didn’t like it, so I wiped it off, but there was still a little color left, hence the green tint.

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I painted them with the patinas and a brush. Remember, all three at the same time so they match in style. The good thing about these paints is they clean up with water! YAY! I have a tendency to start working without gloves and get paint all over everything, so when something cleans up with water I am pleasantly surprised and happy.

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Beachy Jewelry

The circles were very light to hold in your hand and I decided they might make cool earrings. They had a kind of rustic “pirate” feel to them, like something that had been in the bottom of a sunken ship. (ARRRR, Matey, these might be fun at the beach with the right outfit). I moved to the living room coffee table, (another favorite spot to be near Hugh) and  punched some holes top and bottom in the painted blanks with my Crop-a-dile eyelet and snap punch. This is a cool tool for cutting holes into metal, leather and anything a regular paper punch won’t do, as well as adding eyelets and snaps.

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Finishing Up

I added some copper chain and French earwires also in copper to the top and bottom. Voila! Up-cycled, not forgotten blanks, turned patina painted, pirate earrings! What a mouthful. These are light as a feather and will be going with me to Fenwick this year.

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Hope you enjoyed this post and remember…When life gives you lemons make earrings…

Until next time,

~Boni

 

 

 

 

Blogging My Life

Answering the Who, What, Where, When and Why

For a long time I have wanted to start my own blog but couldn’t quite come up with a theme. People ask me all the time, “How did you make that?”, “Where did you get those?” “I would love to be able to make one of those!”.  I figured the best way to allow all of you into my crazy creative world is to start a blog. I can’t tell you it will have daily posts, (although I am daily looking for opportunities to make something), however, I will document my thinking when a creative urge strikes me and take you with me through the creative process. With step-by-step DIY photos and running out together on scavenging explorations for supplies, I figure we can have an enjoyable time. Most importantly, you will learn how to do what I do and I will have you to keep me company. I live in the mountains of Western Maryland and it’s nice to have some company out here sometime!

As far as what crafts and DIY’s I’m into, it would be hard to narrow it down to just one. I like to:
design and make my own jewelry
paint things, (be it furniture or canvas)
sew and design my own clothes
design cool cards
create collage and mixed media work

So there you have it. I am a graphic designer and artist who likes to dabble in the funky side of things. The one thing you can be sure to find in my work is my joy of creating something new and wonderful out of something discarded, vintage or forgotten. I love to give new life to old things and “your trash is my treasure” has always been a catch phrase I take literally.

I am also a huge proponent of all things FREE. Free-cycling sites, free curbside grabs, the free section on Craigslist, (yes, they have one) and discard sites. It’s very hard to turn down something I know can be transformed. The bigger problem is where to store it all until you are ready to work on it.

You will follow me to the places where things are thrown away, the thrift stores, recycling pick ups and stores for treasures. I will let you know my secret strategies for findings as well as my critiques on those places who are offering.

I will take you inside my studio so you can see where I create and show you how to make things on your own. Crafting is fun and therapeutic! There is real joy in making something yourself and knowing you are an artist.

Come along with me and follow along as I share this new blog. I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you all. You can also reach me here with your requests and comments.

~Boni

 

A Look Inside My Sewing Room

A recent clean up and purging has made this photo possible. (My goodness, there was so much clutter). I have a nice Pfaff sewing machine and a serger, (a must have for the totally funky look in clothing design). The dress form was a must have and indispensable for shooting photos of my clothes for myfunkybohemian@etsy shop. I always have inspiration boards for quick ideas and this one was made from a salvaged vintage fireplace mantle painted white and filled with foam core covered with cloth.

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More Places to Spread Out

Unfortunately, I have taken over most table tops in our home. Anywhere there is a flat surface, you will most likely find my “stuff” spread out and a work in progress. This is my creative area in the basement where I do my jewelry designs and card making.  I have an area for soldering as well as mats for cutting paper. Storage is an ongoing challenge. I will show you some of the ideas I have for keeping things handy and how I utilize them. Plus, you will most likely always see a cat in my photos either live or collected. Cats just make it all more artistic!

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Things to Paint

I love to throw a coat of paint on something especially a resurrected piece. This is a small desk chair with “good bones” I got at an auction for a couple bucks. Sometimes they are even free. (People don’t seem to see the value. *sigh*) But I DO and you will too! I got a trunk load of free paint in a lovely assortment of colors from a Freecycle in Frederick. You might want to sign up for the TrashNothing in your area soon because if you follow me around you will need stuff…all kinds of stuff. This chair is a work in progress but makes me think of margaritas at the beach. Yum.

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All Things Beachy

When I am not in the mountains of Maryland, I might be beachcoming, collecting sea glass and driftwood or painting. Take me to a beach, any beach, and I am having fun. Here is a canvas I painted from a class I took at Michaels on seascapes. I’m tinkering with the idea of having one of those paint parties where we all drink wine and paint a scene, only I want to have mine actually out on the beach in Fenwick Island, DE my second home.

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My Mountain Retreat

It’s a little bleak out here in the Winter, but I have hopes Spring will be coming in soon. More photos to come when the flowers start popping out. Thanks for stopping by, ya’ll. Have a totally artistic day and see you next time.

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