Friday, October 29, 2010

Felt wool white frosted berry brooch

It's Christmas season and we will eventually get some snow here in Virginia. Coming from Russia I personally love snow. There are so many things one can actually do in winter. And don't forget about beautiful winter forests! Trees are covered with snow, one can see frosted berries here and there, animal traces. It always feels like a fairy tale in a winter forest.white frosted berry felt pin
White felted beads are plush, durable and beautiful. They are easy to work with and there is this natural feel about them. Felted beads are made from wool using eco-friendly techniques and, thus, are ideal for eco-conscious and nature-loving individuals.white felted beads brooch

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chocolate raspberry felted brooches as Christmas gifts

For me Christmas season colors are white color of snow, red color of holly berries, green color of pine trees and brown color of trees' branches. The combination of brown and white is especially typical for winter. It's always nice to add red and green to make it more colorful! Bright cranberries and holly berries are what we need. Perfectly shaped and small they look fantastic on white snow.hand felt raspberry chocolate brooch
Christmas holidays are approaching and we all start thinking about gifts for our loved ones. I hand felted a few bright red beads and attached them to pieces of wire covered with chocolate brown wool. My creation turned into a brightly colored brooch. Pins and brooches are great gifts as they could be used not only to add color to an outfit but as home decoration and ornament as well. Such a brooch could be hanged either in a kitchen or living room or even an office cubicle. So much for a Christmas gift idea!cranberry felt pin

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fine jewelry inspired by Northen beauty from Arctida of Sweden

While searching for beautiful jewelry items created by European artists I came across Arctida, an amazing jewelry designer from Sweden. All her items are absolutely unique and inspired by white and snowy Northern winters, short and intensive Northern Summers and the beauty of country's deep blue lakes and rich forests. I'm always curious to learn more about talented artists, their everyday life and creative processes. I'm very grateful when they are willing to share their experiences and insights as this knowledge enriches us all!
sterling silver pendant with green agate quartz and peridot
Q: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Alecia and I'm a mother, wife, scientist, jewelry designer, photographer and a digital artist. I live on the beautiful East coast of Sweden with my husband and our sweet baby girl in the 750 year old city of Stockholm. I have M.S. in Molecular Biology and during the day I do cancer research at Karolinska
in Stockholm. During the night, however, I dive into my world of handmade and digital creations.
My Etsy shop is called Arctida. The name refers to the hypothetical polar continent that is believed to have existed in the geological past of our planet. I was born far up to the North and it felt right to name my shop after a Northern legend.
sterling silver necklace with green Quartz Agate Citrine Peridot
Q: How long have you been designing and creating jewelry?
I've been designing jewelry for over 9 years now. Gemstones of different colors and shapes are my passion. I started to make my own jewelry as I could not find any fine jewelry with high quality gemstones of different colors here in Sweden. Ever since I stumbled upon Eni Oken and Iza Malczyk tutorials, coiling and wire work have had a major influence on me. I should admit, however, that I occasionally use torch in my creative process as I love to combine styles, techniques and materials. To make life easier for other jewelry designers I started Arctidas Supplies shop on Etsy that sells high quality precious and semiprecious gemstones of different cuts and colors, pearls and precious metal findings. I know how hard it is sometimes to find reliable suppliers that offer quality gemstones.
white rose
Q: What inspires you?
My main source of inspiration is Northern nature with its crisp polar nights and gleaming Northern lights. Northern sun almost never goes down during summer days creating unique and beautiful white nights. Our lakes are vast and blue and our sky is infinite. All these beauties are ideal sources of inspiration!
I also enjoy studying Mythology of different cultures and from time to time create pieces of jewelry inspired by different myths, legends and folktales.

Alecia, Thank you for sharing!
Alecia was interviewed by TonyaUtkina

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flowers in lilac and purple

Flowers are beautiful. They are so fragile and exquisite! Every flower is different and there is no way one can find two similar ones! They come in different colors and shapes. It's amazing how creative nature can be! My favorite Fall flower colors this season are lilac, purple and yellow. flowers in lilac
Fall colors tend to be warm.
They remind us of the last sunny days before winter strikes. This feast of colors is our last chance to picture all these yellow, purple, red shades and hues before we enter a monochrome world of winter.purple flowers
Don't forget about animals, insects and birds of the sunny Summer and Fall days! Some of them are as vivid as any flower or brightly colored Fall leaf. Some damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies remind us of flowers and some look more like exotic aliens from different planets but they all add beauty to our everyday life.
blue damselfly green dragonfly

Monday, October 18, 2010

Artisan bread recipe for your holiday dinner

Have you ever tried to bake your own bread? It's not as complicated as you might think. All it takes is time and a dutch oven. It can be a great addition to your holiday dinner as it not only tastes good it looks fantastic!

We love nice and fresh artisan bread the type you cannot find in regular supermarkets. That's why my husband made a simple research on-line one day and found a great New York Times article about baking simple artisan bread at home. We tried to bake our own and the result exceeded all our expectations. From that time on our home baked artisan bread is a staple in our house and my kids simply cannot do without it. We try to bake it once or twice a week as it doesn't last long in our family!
artisan bread for christmas dinner

This bread is relatively simple to cook. You will need 500 gr. of unbleached bread flour, 375 gr. of water or 75% of the flour weight, 1 and 1/2 tea spoons of salt and 1/4 tea spoon of yeast. To bake it right you will need a dutch oven that can be actually used for cooking a lot of other fantastic dishes later on.

The secret is in precise measurements! The water amount should not exceed 75% of the flour weight!
artisan bread for holiday table

We mix up all ingredients just enough for flour to get wet and put the mixture aside for 15-18 hours depending on your room temperature. We, thus, give yeast enough time to work on flour in a natural and old fashioned way.

After full 15-18 hours our raw bread is pretty much ready. We create a baker’s envelop on a table and then form a loaf out of our mixture. The stove should be preheated to 500F and our dutch oven should be already inside hot and ready. If you plan on baking bread don't buy a dutch oven that has anything plastic on it. All this plastic will melt away! And please be careful with that hot dutch oven! It’s very very hot!

The actual cooking time is 30 minutes. After that we leave our dutch oven inside the stove for additional 15 minutes but take the lid off for our bread to get a beautiful and crunchy top crust. It makes sense to decrease the stove temperature to around 420F so that our bread doesn't burn.

artisan bread recipe

That's pretty much it. We always give our bread time to cool down although it is hard to do with our kids circling around. When you bake this artisan bread your home fills with unbelievable aromas that make you think of holidays, family gatherings and feasts.

This bread tastes very good and it's quite simple to bake. It's definitely worth trying!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Holiday house decoration ideas

Holidays are approaching and we all are about to start decorating our houses. There are millions of ways to do it and tones of ideas how to make our homes cozy and beautiful. Here is one of the house decoration ideas for you to consider.
white acorn christmas
I've been felting for a while now. Let me tell you that it's quite easy to create felted wool balls. It's a matter of rolling felting wool between your palms occasionally wetting it and adding some soap. When squeezed these felted balls take shapes of ovals and fit perfectly into acorn heads. The result looks super cute. These felted wool acorns will last forever unlike real acorns! They could be of different colors and sizes. One can hang it on a Christmas tree, next to a computer, on a book shelf or just put them next to his or her bed.
A good idea is to decorate a holiday table with bowls of felted wool acorns as a tribute to all natural and eco-friendly. For a romantic dinner one can always hang acorns on a beautiful tree branch in a vase, lit a few candles and voila you've got a perfect date!

There are so many ways how wool felted acorns could decorate your house! Just use your imagination and you will add uniqueness and style to your sweet home!

My First Fall GIVEAWAY results

Thank you for participating in my Red Berry handmade earrings Giveaway. Believe it or not but the number generated by Random Generator was 66!
Red Berry earrings giveaway winner
Let us congratulate Lee who won Red Berry handmade earrings today!!! Congratulations Lee!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween countdown gifts on Etsy

It's Halloween countdown and we already started decorating our house for the upcoming holiday. My kids are very excited and a bit frightened by all the spiders and witches hanging on our neighbors' doors. It's a lovely holiday and so much fun for both kids and grown-ups. I picked up a few nice Halloween gift and decoration ideas on Etsy to share with everyone looking forward to this great holiday!
halloween countdown
I featured the following wonderful Etsy artists in my collection:
CheekieBottoms, FleetingStillness, KarisaGraphic, YuliaKazansky, TonyaUtkina, bumblestore, honeypunk1, TomBjornDesigns, FineEmbroidery, ArtHarmony, socksandmittens, CityCrochet, cushyadornments, katrinshine, graphicland, CuffeShop

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tutorial how to make felted wool acorns

Have you ever thought about hanging acorns on either a Christmas tree or next to your computer in your cubicle? I have!

A sunny Fall day is ideal for a stroll in a park. That's what we frequently do on weekends when our family goes to one of many wonderful parks in Richmond, VA. Every such stroll normally ends up with a whole collection of stones, acorns and sticks picked up by my kids. With plenty of acorns in every corner of my house I suddenly realized that I can actually turn them into something bright and vivid. Felted wool acorns are beautiful, durable and could be used in many ways. They add color and style to one's house and make it look cozy and friendly.

So where do we start?
First of all we need a few good acorns. They can be picked up in pretty much any park these days. It's acorns' season!
acorn head
Next we will need a bit of wool suitable for wet felting, soap and hot water. I usually try to use wool of as many colors as I can find as it helps to create a whole array of multicolored, bright and vivid acorns. For wet felting I normally take a small piece of wool make it into a soft ball, wet it with hot water and add some soap to it. After squeezing and later rolling this ball between my palms for good 10 to 15 minutes wetting it and adding soap from time to time I get a felted firm ball that could be gently squeezed into an oval to look like an acorn.
multicolored felted wool
The last step is to connect our acorn heads to felted wool ovals. I use a mercerized cotton thread to sew them together. This type of thread is very strong. Chances are slim it will ever tear apart. The thread enables us to hang acorns anywhere we like.
felted acorn
I personally like acorns to be of different shapes and sizes. They look genuine as they pretty much are. Bright wool colors make them look festive and jolly. They are a perfect gift for anyone you love or care about!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chained Rose collection by StudioElenus

I came across this wonderful Chained Rose collection by StudioElenus on Etsy one day and completely fell in love with it. All StudioElenus necklaces, rings and brooches look so stylish, well crafted and inspirational. Luckily I got a chance to interview this talented Etsy artist and can now share StudioElenus' creative insights with the whole blogosphere. booming roses statement necklace

Q: Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Lena and I'm a stay at home homeschooling mom of two. I create my hand sewn jewelry at night when kids go to sleep. It works perfect for me as I can sew my blooming flowers, rings and rose brooches while watching a movie with my hubby or listening to an audio book.
As long as I can remember myself I was making stuff. I tried just about every medium that is out there. I could never stop and my creative nature takes over me all the time. I have a feeling my kids inherited this quality from me:) Art projects go non-stop in our house. They start long before I roll out of my bed in the morning. I wake up to glue and paper cut outs on the dinner table. We live in a creative chaos!blooming flower fabric brooch
Q: Could you please tell us a bit more about your Chained Rose collection?
For the last half a year I’ve been working on my Chained Rose collection. It features rolled chiffon rosettes wrapped up in chains, and bead embroidered blooming roses. I design statement bibs and day necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches and hair accessories. I started making jewelry for sale about 2 years ago using chains, semi-precious stones as well as glass beads, and decided to incorporate these materials in my fabric designs. That is how the Chained Rose was born which uniquely combines bohemian chic of vintage inspired fabric rosette and luscious glamour of contemporary jewelry trends. It makes a statement without going overboard, and is light weight and easy to wear unlike most of the statement jewelry.
fabric rose ring
Q: What are your main sources of inspiration?
I am inspired by many things natural and man made. I recreate color combos I see in the streets and in scrapbook paper, I leave the botanical garden with hundreds of ideas, I look through fashion magazines to make a note of hottest influences to come home and create something that supports some fashionable idea but is unlike anything you will see in stores.
I take pictures of the jewelry during the day in natural lighting. I use shabby chic wooden boxes and boards to create Victorian inspired aura and to emphasize romantic charm and elegance of my designs.
beaded chain rose necklace
It's always so rewarding to learn more about unique artists and things that inspire them every day!
Lena, Thank you for sharing!
Lena was interviewed by TonyaUtkina

Thursday, October 7, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Red Berry Earrings

Fall is a lovely season with so much vivid and beautiful colors around us. It will be followed by a rather colorless winter so let's enjoy this feast of color while it lasts! I handmade this juicy Red Berry earrings of bright Czech glass and silver plated wire. They are absolutely unique and each piece is carefully crafted in an eco-friendly and inspiring berry earrings
I'm hosting my first Fall giveaway! One lucky giveaway participant selected by True Random Number Generator will win my handmade Red Berry earrings next Thursday, October 14, 2010.

To enter:

Please visit my Etsy shop TonyaUtkina and leave a comment about your favorite item in my Etsy shop. Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you in case you win. Your e-mail info will NEVER be used for any other purposes!!!

Extra entries:

Please leave one separate comment for each entry. (So if it is 2 extra entries for example, leave 2 comments, etc.)

1 entry - follow my blog with Google friend connect

1 entry - follow me on Twitter TonyaUtkina

1 entry - like my Facebook Fan page TonyaUtkina Jewelry

1 entry per day - retweet the following message and post a comment about it (just copy and paste the following into the twitter window). Can be done daily:
RT @tonyautkina GIVEAWAY Red Berry Earrings! Visit my blog

2 entries - grab my button and put it on your blog

3 entries - blog about this giveaway

No purchase is neccessary, but if you happen to buy something you will get extra 5 entries .

Open to US and Canada only. Winner will be chosen by online random generator. Winner will be notified by e-mail on Thursday, October 14, 2010 and will have 3 days to reply or another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!:)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Halloween findings on Etsy

I just created a Happy Halloween collection featuring bright orange Etsy findings. It's amazing how many wonderful pieces are created and sold on Etsy every day! It took me some time to locate these favorites as there are so many great items to choose from! My children love Halloween. I suspect they love it more than Christmas. Although I doubt if it's possible! Ok! They love Halloween at least as much as they love Christmas! So here is my tribute to Halloween!

I featured the following great Etsians in the Happy Halloween treasury:
MyWayToSay, FleetingStillness, graphicland, SilkMagic, bumblestore, Oksa, VitalTemptation, TomBjornDesigns, Beautyland, CuffeShop, FineEmbroidery, katrinshine, KarisaGraphic, cushyadornments, CityCrochet, herbolution