Craft Room: Ear bling

3 07 2012

My sister heads back to San Antonio this afternoon, but we have had a blast being on the road in Rhode Island and Vermont, then back home crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets, napkin rings and t-shirt scarves!

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Craft Room: Necklace for Paula

31 03 2012

Last night I showed my friend Paula how to make the crochet wire + bead necklaces that I’ve been creating since last spring. She came up with the idea of crocheting just the center part of the necklace and attaching a chain instead of chain-stitching the rest of the piece. I thought it was a great idea—it would be easier to control the length and the necklace would be less resistant to metal fatigue in the crochet-only areas (plus—less beads, less wire and less time!). I made the simple matching earrings for her. This piece contains beads made of glass, hematite, cracked glass, glass pearls and metal. Paula has lots of experience in wire-wrapping, bead stringing and other jewelry skills so I learn far more from her than she learns from me.

© Cindy Dyer (with assistance from Paula)





“Caged” gems

17 01 2012

My friend Paula and I learned how to make these whimsical earrings in a workshop last spring with the Gem Cutters Guild of Baltimore. We spent the day at the workshop in Baltimore while Michael and our friend Karen went museum-hopping and had lunch. It also happened to be Karen’s birthday that day, so we were to meet up with them (as well as Paula’s husband, Ken) later for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the Inner Harbor.

Our instructor had us work with sterling silver wire (an extra $25 materials fee due to this!). In the class we also learned how to make earring wires, headpins (see the coiled headpin in the earrings below? I hammered the coil flat on an anvil to create this look), necklace and bracelet clasps, and a coiled wire ring. The earring wires shown here were commercially made and provided for the project. This is the only pair I’ve made so far, but with the instructor’s detailed printouts, I think I can tackle it again. It was amazing to see how some simple coiling techniques could make such a cool pair of earrings!

I found this youtube video here that shows how to make the caged beads like we did.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Saturday night beading marathon

9 01 2012

My sister Debbie hosted an all-night beading party this weekend. All but one beader stayed past midnight to help usher in Debbie’s birthday on Sunday morning. We started at 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon and disbanded after 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning! I made all of these earrings, plus a few more pairs as well as started a crochet silk thread and bead necklace (still unfinished because I got distracted by making all these earrings!).

You must forgive the rudimentary lighting on these pieces—they were lit with what I had available: a torchiere lamp, the dining table overhead lamp and a small flashlight. I also only brought over my little Nikon Coolpix L110 and set it on macro mode (with very good results). Debbie’s friend, Karen, served as my trusty photo assistant and was the lucky recipient of all the pieces below except the square green earrings. I made them specifically for her partly because she said she didn’t think she would look good with “dangly” earrings (she does) and partly because she re-sorted an entire box of my beads that I turned over onto the tile floor (no, not intentionally), scattering tiny baubles to the four corners of the room. How could I not reward her after that fiasco? After she said that she thought dangling earrings made her look like a “lady of the evening,” I asked her if dangling earrings were the only thing that she thought would separate her from being either a working mom or a working girl. I looked under the table to see her wearing low-heel preppy moccasins, and told her she didn’t have appropriate shoes for the latter profession, so it was safe for her to wear the earrings. We got several miles of laughs out of the dangling earrings–working girl scenario.

We didn’t have the lighting down pat for the top two earrings (shadows are way too prominent), but figured it out after that. Fun was had by all but I must confess that I barely made a dent in my bead stash. Beaders Anonymous, anyone?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Craft Room: Blue baubles for Bobbie

26 12 2011

Non-tarnish crocheted wire and bead necklace and earrings made with Czech glass, glass pearls, dyed stone, shell, lampwork beads, crystals, resin and metal beads © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Curse words from the craft room

20 12 2011

Last night I crafted these for my friend Judy to give as gifts to relatives this Christmas. She picked out the styles and together we figured out how to do them without instructions (eek!). I know how to make some projects, but this was my first attempt at making “cluster” beaded earrings. I just know you’ll love the first pair and if even one of you ask me to make a pair for you, I will gather my beads and head for the hills. Before I run, I will unfriend you on Facebook, screen your phone calls and block you from e-mail. You know I will.

In that first pair of earrings, each of those little beads has to be mounted on a headpin and a loop created to attach to a very, very tiny chain. When you attach them, they will fall off at least three times per bead. You will drop them on the floor, not find any of them (and pray that your cat doesn’t hoover them up), then have to start over with a new headpin, bead and loop. And when that happens often enough, you will utter words that will make a sailor blush. The process will take up more than two hours of your life. Just one pair of earrings. Two hours. (I tried to entice her with simple designs by promising to make her 20 pairs of them—she wouldn’t bite. And really, I could probably make 50 pairs of simple earrings in two hours!)

When you finish making this pair for your friend, and she says “Only two pairs to go,” you will tell her, with nary a blink from your weary eyes, that she will pick another style or suffer the consequences. And so she does, and in the process, you learn how to do two other styles that are not quite as torturous to your eyes, hands or psyche. Then you will fall asleep at 1:00 a.m. and pray that those teenagers appreciate that more than five hours went into creating these beauties, and that their aunt did not buy them at Claire’s Boutique in the mall. Even though you picked out the most complicated designs ever, I still love you, Judy.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms

2 07 2011

Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms was one of the exhibitors at the annual Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, held last month in nearby Crystal City, Virginia.

HAYLEIGH’S ROCKY START
Before Hayleigh Scott was born, a sonogram revealed that she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which displaced her organs. Her parents, Rachel and Andrew, were given options to terminate one baby, in-utero surgery, or to just “watch and wait.” They opted for the latter, with much prayer and support from family and friends. Her twin, Vienna, was healthy at birth; Hayleigh was not. She was in the ICU for two and half months and had to be quarantined for the first two years of her life. They noticed her hearing loss when she was 18 months old. She was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids (and decorating them!) ever since.

AN ENTREPRENEUR IS BORN
When Hayleigh was five, she decided she wanted to show off her hearing aids with some “bling.” She started drawing sketches with her sisters and a few years later, their mom helped them make the designs into jewelry. With the help of her mother, father, twin sister Vienna and younger sister Sarah, Hayleigh turned this kitchen table venture into a full-fledged business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. She encourages her customers to celebrate their uniqueness by embellishing their hearing aids and cochlear implants and not trying to hide them.

She and her two sisters make all the jewelry, which includes more than 50 hearing aid charms (see sample at left). They also create cochlear implant bling, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Their newest creations are colorful and fun Tube Twists (shown at right) and Snake Tube Twists. And they’re not just for girly girls (and big girls)—they create charms for boys and tomboys, too! The charms are reasonably priced—from $10 to $25—and shipping on all orders is free in the U.S. and international shipping is just $5. Hayleigh is committed to giving back to the community she serves—ten percent of all proceeds are donated to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community.

A PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Her parents then applied for a provisional patent for her invention. A three-year process, this meant she couldn’t wear the charms, promote them or advertise them during that time. Now that’s what I call an extremely patient entrepreneur. Hayleigh and her sisters are so engaging and lively, and their enthusiasm for their products and their business is contagious! As a self-employed person for more than 20 years, I can relate to their joy and enthusiasm for their passion. Their booth was always busy and Vienna later told me that they did really well in their first time as exhibitors at an HLAA Convention.

Audiologist Douglas Beck conducted an interview last year with Hayleigh and her mother about Hayleigh’s hearing loss and her blossoming business for The American Academy of Audiology website. From that interview, I learned that Hayleigh and Vienna are “mirror twins.” I wasn’t familiar with that term until now. It means they have opposite identical features, like left versus right handedness and their hair parts on opposite sides. Read that interview transcript here. Author Maureen Doty Tomasula wrote about Hayleigh in her article, Sharing Her Special Charm, published in The Hearing Journal in September 2009.

SHARING A COMMON BOND
Hayleigh may not know this, but she shares an honor that I was privileged to receive a few years ago. She is the first place winner in the Student Category of the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award. Congratulations, Hayleigh! I received first place in the Adult Category in 2008. Hearing Loss Magazine editor Barbara Kelley secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners and a guest to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

To continue in the “six degrees of separation” vein, I met my friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau while in Denver at the Oticon Awards event. She was a first place award recipient in the Advocacy Category. We became fast friends and her life story was so interesting that I suggested to Barbara that we profile her in Hearing Loss Magazine. She made her cover feature debut in the May/June 2011 issue, which I wrote about here.

I photographed the entire Scott family (including Hayleigh’s adorable cherub of a brother, AJ) at the end of the Convention. Look for Hayleigh and her family in a future issue of Hearing Loss Magazine!

All photos (except product photos) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.