Saturday, January 31, 2009

On a Personal Note - Shameless Self-Promoting

It all began when I saw Triz's photo of this "to die for" necklace. This is one of those pieces I just had to have. Can you see why?

Anyway, because I have this rather "no longer manageable" urge to own a piece of her work, I've been thinking about my word for the year. Focus. So far, it's been going pretty good. I do find myself repeating that word as needed throughout the day. Sometimes, it has to be aloud in order for me to "hear" it!

And now I have a very clear reason for staying focused - not that I didn't before - but this time it's personal. Do you remember as a kid earning an allowance and thinking about (or actually "visualizing" about) what you were saving up for? Well this is my allowance money, so to speak. I began thinking about my Etsy shop, and other markets like 1000 Markets, Trunkt - the list seems to be growing these days for sure. But, I thought I'd try something new and right at home in my Etsy shop. A tutorial. And a bead frame. I've been making this style necklace for a while now and thought maybe there are others who'd like to learn. So, staying focused (this was really a test to see if I could stay focused that long!) I began the process. I took many photos, edited, re-edited (several, o.k. many times) and so forth and finally have my new tutorial. It's called (what else?) "How to Make and Frame a Polymer Clay Pendant".

So, I now have a new goal. This is my personal challenge. One week . . . enough "allowance" money so I can splurge. I'm staying focused and I'm stickin to it. Triz - get those fingers ready! ;o)

Beat the Winter Blahs

I admire when people are creative and that sure is the case with "An Optimistic Beauty". She's running a "Beat the Winter Blahs" event. There, you'll be able to enter to win various products from skin care to jewelry. I'm listed as day 14 and here are a pair of my earrings that you might possibly win - well, what are you waiting for? Time to shop and enter! ;o) The winner for my earrings will be selected on February 5th at 11:59 p.m. EST. The contest is open to everyone in the U.S. and Canada.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Feeling the Love Fridays

It's Friday and time to honor my fellow Etsians for their endless creativity. The first treasury was curated by emmarts. "Sharing the Attitudes" featured my lemon lace bead - what a happy treasury!

If my mailbox had something in it from emmarts, I'd hope it would be her Oyster Mushrooms!

And the other treasury from this week was curated by chrdesigns. It's another beauty! This one is a "Cardinal Collection". My twilight earrings . . . poof!

If Joe the mailman put a package in my mailbox from chrdesigns, this is what I'd hope for!

I'm going to burst if I don't say a little something. I've been working on a new project for my shop - you may want to catch this. I've been real busy taking lots and lots of pictures - stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Out of the Studio Wednesday

No school - yay! I love the feeling of hibernation when I hear the "no school announcement". Lily usually has a friend over and I get some serious studio time.

Today, I was working in greens and browns. Here's what developed . . . and no, these are not 14 beads, they're only 7 turned over!

I've been listening to audiobooks in the studio for the past 6 months or so. I love it because my mind goes somewhere else (is it ever where it's supposed to be?). I thought it might be distracting but there's something really cool about being read to. The first one I listened to was "Kite Runner", read by the author. I knew when the book was done, I'd miss his voice. Now I'm into serial killers - James Patterson style. That's normal, right? :o)

Monday, January 26, 2009

BAO Item of the Week

It's Monday, and that brings us to the Item of the Week from the Bead Art Originals group. This week, I'm offerring free shipping on my purple and green yin yang reversible bead.

And here is the photo of all the other members' specials. For specifics on their specials, click on the image!

Marvelous Monday

"Music was my first passion. It gave me a vehicle for expressing deep feelings, and it taught me the necessity of bringing discipline and clarity of vision to my work. Sculptural coiling allows me to create a kind of visual metaphor for the music of my life."

Debora Muhl is a self taught basket artist from Pennsylvania who uses the technique of coiling in her baskets, wall hanging baskets, and her new collaborative work with glass artist David Licata. She has a website where you can see more of her work. Here are a few of her wonderful baskets to inspire you! Enjoy and have a marvelous Monday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Feeling the Love Fridays

Due to the bead show last weekend, I never had a chance to do my treasury posts from last week. Time to honor my fellow Etsians! The first beautiful treasury was made by Njema. She called the treasury "It's True". There, you can see my "Patterns and Colors of Mali" bead. Njema's (sorry I don't know her name) shop is filled with beadweaving. If I could have anything from her shop, this is what I'd choose! Head on over to see all her gorgeous creations.

Next, I was in the "I've Got Sunshine" treasury by BellaBeadsOriginals.

And if I could have anything from her shop - this is what I'd choose!

And then my Bead Art Originals pal from AKDlampwork made a cool "Such a Diva" treasury. Divas unite! This treasury had my "Purple and Green Yin Yang" bead.

And if I could have anything from her shop, I'd choose her Wicked Rose!

And finally, SudioSu made a treasury called "I Had No Idea". In it my "Black Cherry and White Chocolate" earrings (ok, so I was fantasizing about food, specifically sweets. . . again).

And if I could have anything from Sue's shop, it would definitely be this gorgeous painting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Layer Masks - Working with Adjustment Layers

Here's a simple example of what adjustment layers can do with a background that you do not want. Here's the bead I want to work with.

First, for illustration purposes, you need to make a blank file the same size as your picture. Mine is set up at 1024 pixels x 768 pixels. I changed the resolution from 700 to 72.

Now I converted this layer from a background layer to layer 0 by double clicking the background layer in the layer palette. In the next photo you'll see I set my foreground colors to white and purple (bottom left). Then I went to layer, new fill layer, gradient. I clicked ok for the gradient.

I then clicked the gradient drop-down menu and I selected the foreground to background at the top left of the choices available (note how you see the colors I selected before) and hit o.k. Then hit file, save, changing it from a PSD file to a JPEG file. Next I'm going to work with my bead.

So I open that file. Then I double click on background and get layer 0 in the layers palette. (I later found I didn't need to do this step). Then, using the lasso tool, hold down the alt key and I began to select my bead. You can see how it looks as it's selected below.

So now that you have it selected, click edit and then copy. Then I need to bring up the purple gradient background that I made. So I click file and open. Once I've found that file, I just click edit and paste. Here's the results.

Using this same method, you can take and picture, select an item from that picture and place it on another document. You gotta love photoshop! How about you, any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tutorial - Using Layer Masks in Photoshop Elements 7

Layer masks is a pretty powerful tool in Photoshop. My photography has usually been done on gradient photo sheets. I've used blue tack and/or clear earplugs to adhere my beads to the photo paper. Over time they have gotten ruined by all this schmutz!

I had tried to use layer masks in the past, but never was able to quite manage it. Turns out, Photoshop Elements does not have this function. But there is a way around it. It's easy to mimic the effect using masks. First of all, I usually enhance the color contrast to "fix" the image color.

I clicked enhance, then auto contrast as shown.

Next, you need to make a copy of the background. So in your layers palette (bottom right corner) double click on background. Layer 0 will come up, click ok.

Now you want to make a duplicate layer. At the top of the screen, click layer - then duplicate layer.

Then click ok.

Now your layers palette should look like this - you will have a "layer 0 copy".

To this layer you just created, you want to make it blurred (which will in effect get rid of my messy background). So here, you click on the filter tab at the top of the screen, then click blur, then click gaussian blur.

After setting the blur to about 13 pixels, your image will now look like this.

In the layers palette, click on the icon that looks like a half moon. This is a way to create an adjustment layer. Or, you could click on layer, then new adjustment layer at the top of the screen.

Either way, click on levels and then say ok.

Your screen will now look like this.

Now what you need to do is click and drag the layer 0 copy and place it above the adjustment layer.

Your screen will now look like this.

The next thing you want to do is group the top two layers together. You do this by clicking the control key and the letter g.

Your screen will now look like this. Notice how the top layer has moved to the right. This is how you know they're grouped together.

Now this is where the fun begins. Select your brush tool (from the tools on the left of the screen) and set the brush to around 300 and make it a soft brush (as shown by the blurred brush sizes). If 300 is too small or too large, adjust the size.

Now in the layers palette on the right, be sure to click on the white rectangle.

Now begin to remove the mask by moving your brush on your image.

Here's the photo after I've erased the mask to allow my bead from the layer below to appear in focus.

Side by side before and after.

This tutorial is not just for removing schmutz. It's really about creating a lovely soft effect. If you really want to have some more fun, start bringing in several documents and overlay people or things onto your photo. Or, bring in other background paper for a different effect. The possibilities are endless!

This whole process should take just a minute or two once you get the hang of it. Tomorrow I'll be blogging about backgrounds.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aspiring to Spire - Marvelous Monday

Spire - a tapering conical structure on the top of a building. A simple yet strong shape. I've been thinking a lot about spires lately and how I could incorporate them into my work. I'm sure Freud would find some, well, deep meaning here. But I'm a big fan of spires, particularly modern spires. So for this week's inspiration I found some beautiful spires to aspire. To what do you aspire?

Have a marvelous Monday!