Monday, January 28, 2013

Jessie Barnhouse Of Sparkles And Mud

Jessie Barnhouse is the creative genius behind Sparkles and Mud on  She started her company in 2010 in Alesa, Oregon. She lives tucked away in the coastal mountain range with her Army National Guard husband, her two boys, a step daughter who visits from time to time and a giant dog who doubles as a foot warmer.  She pulls her inspirations from nature but also from modern industry and is a master at combining both, as evidenced by her work.  She has been creating art for as long as she can remember.  She comes from a creative family, including her sister who is a talented quilter.

Like most creative people, she admits to creating in uncontrolled chaos, devoting only 1% of her time to organizing her work space.  Out of that chaos comes work that is dramatic, whimsical, and her use of different materials enables her to create pieces that are both dramatic, striking and eye catching. 

She has been making jewelry for so long, she couldn't say when she made her first piece.  After she learned to sculpt with clay, she decided to include scraps of clay from her sculpting into her jewelry pieces.

This  Lovely Layers OOAK Porcelain Pendant   is a wonderful example of her talent and attention to detail.  The two different sized porcelain disks have been impressed with different textures  and glazed, then accented with an antiqued  brass center, bail, chain and lobster claw clasp.

 Impressions Of A Winter Fern  is another wonderful example of her work in clay.  The impression was taken from a live fern, then glazed and given a brass chain, bale and clasp.

This talented artist doesn't confine herself to one medium.  She is an amazing metal artist, as well.  These earrings caught my eye when I was browsing her shop on

 They are called Alternate Personalitys Earrings  They are disks of aluminum that have been embossed, then given a bronze patina.  Golden fresh water pearls and nickel free brass ear wire complete this fun and funky pair of earrings.

These Organic Geometry Aluminum and Brass Earrings would be a whimsical  addition to anyone's earring collection

 Jessie from Sparkles and Mud can be found on
Sparkles And Mud

Sparkles And Mud Website:  Sparkles And Mud

Face Book:  Sparkles and Mud On Face Book

I hope you enjoy wearing

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finn's Favorite Pull Toy Tutorial

I have a wacko Lab mix puppy named Finn MacCumhail (McCool).  He's about six months old and is one of the most aggressive toy chewer I've had.  He does fine with the hard toys, like Nylabones and the rubber ones like Kongs, but give him any soft toy and he destroys it in minutes.

He loves the stuffed toy animals with squeakers in them but they last all of a nanosecond with his sharp little chompers.  I've bought him several of the twisted or braided rope style toys.  He unties the knots and I have yards and yards of string everywhere.  Not to mention that I have to pry his mouth open to remove bits of string from his mouth.

I was looking on line for something that would suit his chewing habits when I came across a blog post using braided fleece fabric to make toys for dogs.  I didn't think the braided toys would be sturdy enough but I remembered the square knot that is used in making lanyards.

So off to the store I went to purchase some fleece to try out my idea.  I found some inexpensive fleece fabric at my local Walmart, $2.95 a yard.  I bought a yard of three different colors and set to work.

This is the result: Finn's Favorite Pull Toy

I made this over a week ago and it's still in one piece.  A miracle by Finn's standards.

For those of you who have a dog but are not inclined to make this great toy, I have it listed in my Art Fire shop.  Just click on the link.

Here is my tutorial on how I made this toy.  This is my first tutorial, so if you see any mistakes or have ideas on how the instructions could be clearer.  Let me know in a comment.

Finn's Favorite Pull Toy


4 -   4" wide pieces of fleece, cut selvage to selvage (the sides of the fabric that have a woven edge)  That's it!  Amazing, isn't it!

To make this toy for a smaller dog, cut the strips thinner, maybe 2-3" wide and adjust the length, as well.

Tie all four pieces in an overhand knot at one end.

On a flat surface,lay all four pieces out in the shape of a cross, with the knot in the middle.

Step 1:


Take the upper yellow piece of fabric  and fold it down, leaving a 2-3" loop at the top.

 The part of the fabric that hangs down from the loop end  will be called the tag end on the 2 yellow pieces of fleece. 

Step 2:

Take the lower yellow piece of fabric and fold it upwards, leaving a 2-3" loop at the bottom.
Step 3:

 Pick up the end of the orange fabric and pass it over the the left tag end and through the right loop.

Step 4:

Pick up the end of the purple fabric and pass it over the right tag end and through the left loop.

Tighten the knot by pulling on each piece of fleece alternately, starting at 1 and ending at 4. Do this until the knot is very tight.  Finn's toy ended up being 1" square.  I find that tightening a little at a time works better than doing it all at once.

Step 5:
Tighten knot

Step 6:

Fold strip 1 up to form a loop at the bottom.  Fold strip 3 down to form a loop at the top.

Pass strip 4 (purple strip) over strip 3 and through the loop of strip 1.

Step 7:  Tighten knot

Repeat steps 1 through 7 until piece is desired length.  I made mine approximately 33", including the fringe at either end.

To finish the pull toy, tie an overhand knot at the bottom end.  Trim the loose pieces at the top and bottom to desired length and let your pup enjoy!

Finn with the finished product!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dog Toy

So the other day,  I decided to make a water bottle dog toy for my puppy, Finn.  I'd seen these toys in stores, made from fake fur and other material.  Then, one day I saw one that someone had crocheted for her dog. I wish I could remember where I saw it.  I'd give her credit for the idea.  She said her dog had been playing with for quite some time and still hadn't destroyed it.  So I figured I'd give it a try.

I had an empty bottle from a batch of water from Walmart, so I started with that.  I crocheted a holder that fit snuggly around the bottle

The toy I'd read about had long strands of yarn attached to the bottom.
These strands were then braided.  
Then those braids were braided.
I, then, used a piece of tightly wrapped yarn to hold the final braid together.
Here's a picture of Finn enjoying his new toy.
Sad to say, the toy lasted all of 5 minutes before it had huge holes in it and I had to throw it away.

 I guess this is not the type of toy you give to a puppy who's an aggressive chewer.  But if your dog is not as destructive with their toys as Finn is, this might be a good idea for a new toy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Some of the Creative Minds Of The Jewelry Creators Unite In Numbers Guild On Art Fire

I belong to a few guilds on Art Fire.  I figure guild membership is a good way to promote myself and others in the highly competitive world of on-line selling.   Each guild is different and the participation level in each is not the same.  But the JCUIN Guild (Jewelry Creators Unite In Numbers), has a high level of activity. It currently only has 29 members but those members are highly motivated to promote themselves and others.

Most of the members sell jewelry, but many, like myself, have a variety of items in their shops.  Today, I'd like to feature a few of the gorgeous pieces that can be found in the shops of these guild members.

Elizabeth Anne is the creative mind behind Irish Expressions.  While she is originally from Ireland, she has lived in seven countries, America being the latest.  She attributes her love of color and beads to the fact that she has experienced so many diverse cultures from all around the world.  She began stringing beads in 2008 and creates not only jewelry but also book marks, angel clip-ons, and key rings, to name a few.  I've chosen a necklace and earring set to highlight here:  Hand Woven Necklace and Earring Set in Black and Silver

Crystal Bazaar is the brainchild of Sally who hails from the UK.  She creates her masterpieces in rural Suffolk, England, where she designs and makes her hand crafted jewelry.  Using her own hand made lampwork beads, or pearls, crystal or gemstones, she produces some truly beautiful pieces.  She also works in porcelain, stoneware and eathenware to produce handmade buttons and pendants. The piece I picked to highlight is a  Blue Grey Dumortierite White Mountain Jade Gemstone Bead Cuff bracelet:

Simple in form but complex in execution the next piece was created by the talent behind Melizabeths.
She has been creating for as long as she can remember and attributes her creativity to her mother, who was a  Graphic designer until WWII and the first of her siblings came along.  After studying art in college, she worked for the government for a while and is proud to be a veteran of the Army.  After retiring, she admits she went crazy, trying to master many forms of art.  I am highlighting one of her many pieces of wearable art.
Foldformed copper Cuff Bracelet

The force behind  Wagoner Wire Works     currently lives in Texas where she is in financial aid at a local college.  But her dream job is jewelry.  She started making jwelry after a serious car accident that left herr with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered elbow.  Her sister suggested that she occupy herself during her recovery time with making jewelry.  The creative process was perfect for her injuries.  The concentration needed helped to focus her mind and the physical act of jewelry making was wonderful therapy for her elbow.  Her dedication to her art is evident in this wonderful piece:
Zebra Jasper Copper Nautilus Pendant

I didn't realize when I picked this piece from Gina of Gina's Corner Crafts  that the flowers on this cuff were made from wood shavings.  That makes it more amazing.  Gina started making flowers from pencil shavings in 2000.  She took t hem to craft shows where the other crafters were most encouraging.  She had to stop for a while but her flowers were always on her mind.  Now she's making them again and selling them on Art Fire.

 Brown Leather Bracelet With Pencil Shaving Flowers