Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Karen Snyder and I've been a crafter for about as long as I can remember. I am a stay-at-home-Mama of two beautiful children with a husband who makes my dreams possible.

This blog is about all sorts of crafting. I am a paper-crafter from early days, a jewelry-maker with an unending obsession for chain maille. I make chain maille purses, many of which will be chronicled in this blog as their future owners await their completion. I love metalsmithing. I am an indifferent beader and don't get me anywhere near seed beads... they scatter, screaming to get away from me. I love to try new things, have a short attention span so if its a long-term project... I'm probably not doing it LOL.

If you have questions, ask. If you have tips, share. Same with suggestions - share! I want this to be a great forum for people to brainstorm and problem-solve with a good attitude. Crabby Apples need not respond, this is a feel-good kind of blog :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Photograph

If you follow my Facebook page, then you've read me lament my lack of skill as a photographer.  I'm a hit and miss kind of gal when it comes to photographing my work and it makes me crazy.  That might be why I'm so appreciative of great photography.  One night about a month ago, I was browsing around a few new Facebook pages and came across something that literally brought me to tears.  It was this picture:

JAM Photography's image of a Mother and Child

This picture was, and still is, so powerful to me.  You see, I had a c-section with both of my babies and my memory is very fuzzy and disjointed for about the first 24 hours following each of their births.  As I looked at this image, I so wished that I'd had someone take pictures of that precious time for me.  The brilliant young woman who took this picture is Ashlie from JAM Photography.

Ashlie's gift unfolded before me as I clicked through the photographs on her page.  She has an eye for contrast that floors me.

The ring on the babies toe so perfectly illustrates how tiny and fragile are new babies.

She also has that special understanding of sexy and how to photograph a woman's sexiness without stepping over the line into crass or tawdry.

To me, this is sexy and glorious - the kind of photograph I'd want of myself to share with my husband.

Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of Ashlie's work.  You can find her Facebook page here, complete with a Payvement store where you can buy her still life work as cards, prints, even dry-erase boards!  Please take a moment to stop by her page and see her beautiful work - I promise, you won't be sorry you did.  She already knows I'm a fan!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And The Winners Are.....

Wow!  I can hardly believe that a month has passed so quickly!  I started this with 160 fans and as of the writing of this post, I am up to 737!  What an amazing birthday celebration it has been for me and I have all of you to thank.  You've made turning 41 such a joy!

So if you read the full details on my Facebook Discussion tab, you know that I have more than a few things to give away this evening.  So here are the winners.....

There was a tie for the most referrals - how cool is that?  Teshia Wilkinson and Bette Luksha-Gammell each win a pair of sterling silver Romanov earrings with their choice of crystal color!  Congratulations ladies and thank you, thank you, thank you for referring so many new fans my way :)

I said I would choose one fan who was around before the Birthday Bash began and one fan who came in the flurry of new fans.  The "before" fan winner is Carla Krantz and the new fan winner is Jennifer Burke Vogel!  They each also have won a pair of sterling Romanov earrings with their choice of crystal color.  Congratulations to you two and thank you for all of the encouraging comments you leave on my page.

If you've been keeping track, then you also know that there is a pair of amethyst fidget earrings up for winning for reaching 700 fans.  The 700 Fans winner is Cyndi Taylor Cox!  Congrats Cyndi - I hope you enjoy wearing them as much as I enjoyed finally figuring out what to do with those gorgeous amethyst beads!

Earring Entry 8/28/10

Well here it is, the last daily earring entry!  I'm having such a wonderful birthday already and I want to take a minute to thank all of you for being a part of this great event.  You've made my birthday last all month long and it has been non-stop fun for me :)  So today, I want you to leave a comment and tell me about your best birthday ever. 

My best birthday was my 35th birthday, though I honestly didn't know it until about 6 weeks later.  As it turns out, I got pregnant with my first child, our son, on my 35th birthday :)  Best birthday gift I ever received and my husband takes all the credit LOL!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Earring Entry 8/27/10

Yes, it is time for the daily earring entry again.  Just one more after this, then its back to once a month again.  I am going to miss this!  Yesterday we talked about our pet peeves, so today let's talk about things that make us smile instead of frown.  Leave a comment on this post to be entered and tell me, what traits do you look for in a friend?  I think this has changed over the years for me, and now at almost-41 what I appreciate most in a friend is honesty and a forthright attitude.  I don't want someone to tell me what I want to hear, nor do I want them to sugar-coat the truth.  I also want my friends to be able to agree to disagree.  I've learned that there will never be anyone with whom I will agree on everything, and I can accept that -- but the other person has to be able to accept that as well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

700 Fans Give-Away - Let's Celebrate Some More!

I know you have been wondering what the give-away will be for reaching 700 fans, right?  Well here it is!  These earrings are a brand-new O. Sebastian design and I'm in love with them.  I've been on a "fidget" kick lately -- meaning that I've been fascinated with making jewelry with elements that spin, twirl, or otherwise give you something to fidget with while you are sitting still.  Did I mention I don't sit still very well?  I bet that doesn't surprise any of you one bit :)  These earrings are made with sterling wire, beads and findings and those focal beads at the bottom?  Those are 15mm gorgeous, dark purple amethyst drum beads that have been in my bead box for a long while, just waiting for me to do something wonderful with them.  (The beads approve of this design, by the way.)  The best part is that the drum beads spin like little wheels, so you can sit and fidget with them as you wear them.  There are also a couple of crystal AB 6mm Swarovski crystals thrown in... you know I can't resist adding a touch of sparkle.  Hope you love them too!

Wait?  What's that?  OH!  You want to know how to win them!  That's easy -- just leave a comment on this post over sometime between now (which is about 8 pm on Thursday, August 26th) and 8 pm (central standard time) on Saturday, August 28th.  That happens to be my birthday -- see how clever I am with all this celebrating?  When you post, tell me what you think of the earrings and leave me your email address so that I can contact the winner after I draw a name on Saturday.

Thank you all for being a part of helping me reach 700 fans -- I could never have done this without you :)

Earring 8/26/10

Here is your chance to enter for the day!  Just leave a comment on this post and tell me:  What is your pet peeve?  You know, that thing that annoys the heck out of you no matter who is doing it and why?  My major pet peeve is bad manners!  Please, thank-you, you're welcome... these are all such easy things to say and mean, yet everywhere I turn, people forget them.  (I would like to say, however, that my fans amaze me daily with their excellent manners!)  I am doubly-frustrated by children who lack manners altogether and often find that their parents will say, "Oh, I don't think that's important - they're kids!"  I often receive compliments on my childrens' manners and that makes me proud!  They may be 2 and 4, but they are growing up knowing that manners ARE important.  Okay, I'll get down off my soapbox now LOL.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Earring Entry 8/25/10

Here is your entry opportunity for today!  We've talked about our first crushes before, but surely our tastes have changed as we've grown older, right?  So tell me, who's your favorite celeb hottie now?  For me, it is Sam Elliott.  Let me take a moment here to fan myself!  I first saw Sam in a TV series called "The Yellow Rose," and he has only gotten better with time.  His voice, his smile, those eyes.... whew!  Everytime I hear the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercials with his voice, I can't help but think, "Oh that sounds good!"  LOL!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh Pretty!

Do you ever happen across something that makes your eyes widen and your creativity go through the roof?  Happens to me all the time!  There is an artist, however, who is always making things that inspire me.  I'm talking about Heather over at Blissful Garden Beads.  To be perfectly honest, I'd never really found much to like about lampwork beads.  They just didn't appeal to my creativity.  That was BEFORE I saw these:

Blissful Garden's Tulip Beads in Pink
You see, my favorite flowers are tulips and I'd certainly never seen tulip beads!  What I would find is that Heather is inspired by flowers and nature, meaning that she also makes beads like these:
Flowers from Blissful Garden in Blues

Blissful Garden Flowers and Polka Dots, Oh my!!

Needless to say, I've developed an extreme fascination for lampwork beads, all thanks to Heather.  If you've never visited her Facebook page, you can find it here.  You can find her beads for sale at her ArtFire studio here.  When you stop by, tell her that I sent you over to admire her garden.  She'll be surprised - she doesn't even know I'm writing this feature about her work :)

Earring Entry 8/24/10

Just four more days of entries left -- I think I'm going to be a little let-down when I go back to just one drawing a month after this!  As always, leave a comment on this post answering this question:  What do you like to do on a rainy day?  It's actually rainy here in Dallas today (gosh do we need it!) and the kids and I are going to go splash and play.  That is definitely my favorite thing to do on a rainy day :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Make Simple Jewelry Cards

I just put together a tutorial for making these simple jewelry cards.  They could also be used for hair clips and probably a multitude of other things that I've never thought of.  Would you like to try out the tutorial and give me an opinion?  This is the first tutorial I've written in a very long time, so I'm sure it needs some tweeking.  I have it all ready to go in a PDF file, so if you'd like a copy, please leave me an email address in comments below and I'll send it over.  I look forward to your feedback and thanks everyone :)

Earring Entry 8/23/10

Today's chance to enter is here!  Leave a comment on this post answering the following:  Let's assume you've won the lottery!  After you've done all of the responsible things like pay bills, take care of everyone's future, etc., what is the one self-indulgent thing you would do just for yourself?  I would go to every single artist whose work I love and commission a piece from them.  I can't think of anything that would be more self-indulgent than that :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And Tonight's Winner Is....

So I reached into the fishbowl of entries and what name did I pull?  Jennifer Micallef Allen!  Jennifer has won a pair of sterling Romanov earrings -- I'll be notifying her right away to let her know how to claim her prize.  For everyone else, there will be at least one more drawing before my birthday on the 28th, so keep looking for the daily entry questions!  Thank you everyone for participating :)

Earring Entry 8/22/10

Yes, here is today's chance to enter to win a pair of Romanov earrings.  Guess what?  I'll be doing a drawing tonight!  Yay!  Today, I want you to leave a comment and tell me your beauty secret!  What do you do to keep yourself looking and feeling beautiful? 

My secret comes complete with a recipe - aren't you excited?  Jewelry making (and house work and being a Mommy....) is hard on the skin, especially my hands.  I'm always fighting rough, dry skin on my hands, elbows and feet.  This recipe is something I've made for years for myself and is something you can do in your kitchen with just a few supplies.  I use this salve for everything -- it was the diaper ointment I used on my kids and daily applications while I was pregnant kept me from getting even a single stretch mark!

Super Salve  (makes approximately 4 ounces of salve)
1 teaspoon anhydrous lanolin (my local CVS carries this, if you have trouble finding it, there are plenty of sources for it online)
1/2 ounce sweet almond oil
1 ounce extra virgin olive oil
1/4 ounce beeswax (I find it at Michael's and Hobby Lobby in the soap making aisle)
6 drops of your favorite soap-safe aroma oil if you would like (can be omitted)

Combine everything but the aroma oil in a pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout.  Place the pyrex cup in a pan of water on the stove over low heat until the wax is nearly melted.  At that point, remove the cup from the water bath and stir it with a clean utensil (popsicle stick or a spoon) until thoroughly mixed.  Add your aroma oil (if you are going to) and stir again.  Pour into a clean jar (I use some I found at WalMart in the aisle with all the travel-size toiletries), scraping the sides of the pyrex cup to make sure you get it all into your jar.  Allow it to cool completely before capping and store it at room temperature.  Make sure you only dip clean fingers into it when using to prolong the shelf-life.

After a shower, I apply this liberally to my dry hands, elbows and feet.  I then put a pair of clean socks on and sleep in them and wake up to nice soft feet!  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Earring Entry 8/21/10

Sterling Romanov earrings with Light Colorado Topaz crystals
Here's your chance to enter for today!  Just comment on this post and answer this question:  Who is your personal hero?  Mine is my Mama.  She is a polio survivor confined to a wheelchair, but she doesn't see that as any kind of a handicap.  She is a 911 dispatcher, wife for nearly 50 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 6, a hugely talented artist who paints and draws and someone who never focuses on the negatives in life.  When I grow up, I want to be my Mama :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Kindness of (Facebook) Strangers

Bette's amazing wire work framing a heron cameo
Tonight, I'd like to introduce you to Bette from GemsCrystalsAndWire.  This post is going to come as a surprise to Bette -- I didn't tell her I was going to do it.  She'd have said thank you and then probably would have suggested someone else who would be a "better" candidate.  Ergo, I didn't ask

Bette creates the kind of jewelry that screams "Artist" so loud it echoes.  She's not had the easiest life, but that's not my story to tell.  My story is about a lady who reached out to a Facebook newbie, namely me, and helped me learn my way around.  She's been an unfaltering source of information, hints, tips and encouragement.  She has shared my work with so many others and brought fans to my page by the droves.  You'll see almost daily shout-outs from Bette about other artists who need more fans and whose work deserves more attention than it is getting.  I appreciate Bette on so many levels, but first and foremost, I appreciate her kindness and decency to me, a total Facebook stranger.  If you aren't already a fan, go check out her Facebook fan page here and you can see her beautiful work on ArtFire here.  Tell her Karen sent you over with a great big basket full of love and admiration :)

Earring Entry 8/20/10

Romanov Earrings in sterling silver with blue crystals.
Good morning and Happy Friday everyone!  Yes here's your daily question and chance to enter.  Just leave a comment on this post and answer this question:  When you were a kid and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you say?  From the time I was about 6, my answer was, "A Marine Biologist."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Enter to Win a Pair of Romanov Earrings

Okay Facebook, I'm following your rules! LOL! From now on, the entries for my contests will be posted here on my blog. As always, all you have to do is leave a comment to be entered to win. Today's Question is: What is your least favorite article of clothing? I DETEST bras! I never leave the house without one because... well, because my Mama made sure she drilled that one into me, never mind that it would be a huge act of indecency for me to walk about with the girls untamed. But the minute I'm in the house, off it comes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

How I Got My Awe Inspired

It all started by accident. I saw a post on another Facebook page about a contest run by Passion for Beads. I thought, "Well why not go check it out and enter something in the contest?" I did, and thus began the tale of How I Got My Awe Inspired. Bead weaving. Plainly put, I can't do it. Oh I've tried. I've sat down with all the materials, a good set of instructions and my best intentions and what did I get? Knots. And frustration. I can weave chain maille but I cannot weave beads. Sally, or Ms. Passion as I fondly call her, CAN weave beads and she does things with Swarovski crystals and pearls that simply astound me. If you have never seen her work, you can find her on Facebook here and on ArtFire here. Tell her that Karen sent you over and for heaven's sake, enter one of your items in her contest! She does a wonderful job of promoting it and the winner's prize is a week's advertising on her blog. The best thing to know about Ms. Passion is that she is a wonderfully nice lady who does much to support the Handmade Community. You'll love her :)