Quick! Grab Some Beads!

One morning I was trying to get some jewelry inspiration and it just wouldn’t come. All these trays of beads just wait to be partnered up with their friends, and I was just at a loss. 

Had my creativity decided to leave me? Instead of writers’ block, did I have beaders’ block? Jewelry makers’ block?

I kept looking at the boxes, opening them up, staring at the beautiful colors and shapes. Beads I’d bought with a plan, and some I’d bought just because I really liked them. Even though some of them seemed to be saying “pick me!” nothing really seemed to stir in my creative side.

Why is it that when you’re really in the mood to create you just can’t get past that final hurdle? Has anyone else felt this way?

So I started looking through random pictures I’ve collected of bracelet styles for inspiration, not to copy those styles, but to spark the creative me back to life. 

Those of you who’ve seen and bought some of my creations know I tend to design on the more conservative side. Most of my jewelry is designed with conservative patterns. A center focal bead or group of beads or charms, with equal amounts of beads and styles on each side. Very symmetrical. Almost predictable. 

Looking at some more of the newer designs I’d saved, I noticed quite a few looked like a hodge podge of colors and different shapes and sizes of beads. Almost like they were randomly thrown in a little pile on a bead board, and then strung together and in whatever order the designer picked them up.

And they were really interesting. In fact I liked several of the styles.

An idea struck me. Could I really be adventurous enough to just grab a few beads at random and throw them together to see what I could come up with? After all, that is so not like my style…

So…I figured what the heck..I can always put them back in their correct little homes.  And some I hadn’t even cut apart yet from bringing them home.

But you get the idea. Maybe it was my time to step outside the box, as the saying goes. Or outside the beader’s box.

So I started to try my new ideas. And one bead led to another. I fought the urge to make the bracelets in a pattern, repeating the same ones in the same order. And for me, that’s not easy. 

But I finally found myself playing with them more. Moving them around on my board until I liked the arrangement.  It takes longer to do a piece this way, because the beads have to complement each other, but blend well together without following a specific pattern.

It’s like creating a piece of art you can wear. And it takes patience which I’m slowly learning to develop.

Everyone has their own artistic style. Some of us try a medium we think we’d do well in and don’t do too well. Some of us try several different mediums before we find the one we really enjoy and find we have a talent for.

For me, at least for now, it’s creating jewelry (as well as writing my blog).

Here’s some more pictures of the jewelry I’ve recently created.

Now that you’ve heard more about my jewelry art, what kind of art do you do?

Let’s Make a Hat

As a little girl I loved playing “dress up”. So did my daughter, and now her own two daughters. And of course that included hats! 

I particularly liked playing with my mom’s hats, thinking those hats made me look so fashionable! Mom had a lot of them, because in the 50’s almost all women wore hats to church, and she was no exception.

And of course, as little girls, we always had to have new hats for Easter Sunday, to match our new dresses and shoes. We all looked so great, or we sure thought we did.

Back then the department stores even had separate hat departments with tables and tables of ladies hats to select from. After finding the perfect one it would be lovingly boxed in a square or round hat box which was also used to store those special hats in bedroom closets.

But wearing hats sort of gradually went out of style in the 60’s, but my mom still kept those hats in the attic, and I found several of them when I cleaned out her house 15 years ago. 

Sure wish I’d kept them! Because we could’ve used them for our latest project.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with all of the fancy hats that are regularly sported in England at royal formal events, and other special occasions.

And then there’s the Kentucky Derby. Famous for the spectacular horse race itself, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, but also famous for the magnificent if not often outlandish hats worn by the ladies, and some of the men as well.

Now it’s become increasingly popular around the country to have Derby Day festivities at local restaurants, wineries, and breweries, featuring televised races, various contests, and now…hat making!

A few years ago my best friend and I had a Mother’s Day hat-making tea party which was a lot of fun. Of course mine was a work of art featuring a flamingo. What else!?

This year was even better! My best friend Karen Gould has her own marketing and event company, Main Stream Events, and on occasion I help her out for certain events.

This year we held a Kentucky Derby hat making event at New Realm Brewery in Virginia Beach. And we had a great time! I had made several hats for the event to use as displays. It’s really not hard. All you need is a hat, a glue gun, and ribbon and flowers. Or anything else you’d like to add!

To say the event was a big success is an understatement! Not only did we have a great time helping our participants, but the hat designers had a great time as well! They were all very creative, and put together their own personal masterpieces with very little help from Karen and me.

We even had men as well as children decorating hats! 

I think we may even have some new fashion designers! What do you think?

Flamingos Love Jewelry

Designed just with them in mind!

Seriously… they were begging! And have you ever seen a flamingo on her wings and knees? Almost crying for me to make some flamingo bracelets and necklaces for them.

It was really a sad sight to behold. So what choice did I have? After all, it’s not nice to disappoint the flamingos!

But I had to have the right beads or I couldn’t create the perfect collection. It had to be just right. Something fun, but casual. Bright colors to match their bright feathers. Lots of pink, of course, but I also needed touches of contrast, white and yellow were good, but I also tried a few other color variations. Some worked. Some…not so well.

The biggest problem, however, is how to make bracelets and necklaces that the flamingos can actually wear. Their wings don’t have wrists at the end, so bracelets are a bit of a logistical problem. Necklaces are a bit easier, though, as long as they have someone to fasten them around their necks.

I finally was able to make a couple necklaces, and of course they loved them! Now they’re fighting over who gets to wear them first since I’ve only made two so far. 

The problems of being a flamingo mom….they just don’t end.

But I have managed to make several bracelets for them. And actually by trimming the feathers on their beautiful wings just a tiny bit, they’ve managed to get them on. 

You should see them flouncing around and showing them off! But they refused to let me take pictures of them wearing their new jewelry because, well they didn’t want all the other flamingos to be jealous and squawking for me to make some for them as well!

But they would let me show them off on this beautiful jewelry stand our daughter gave me for Christmas. What do you think?

So now I’m busy sorting out beads and charms to use in their new Flamingo Jewelry Collection. They haven’t said yet if they’re going to let me sell any of them or not, but just in case, here’s one that’s already listed in my shop. But don’t tell them yet! 

However, if you want it, it’s your chance to be the first one to own a bracelet from this exclusive collection! 

And please don’t tell them about the flamingo styled farmhouse garland I made. I have them listed for sale as well, but if they find out they’ll not give me any peace until I either make some for them to use at their dinner parties or take them out of the store and give the garlands to them! Decisions, decisions….

All I can say is, “keep thinking pink!” Because there’s more pink coming!

Crafting an Egg Tree

An Easter Egg tree, that is!

After doing my wine cork Christmas trees, I still had a few styrofoam cones left over and was wondering if there was anything I could do with them besides save them for next year.

Then I looked on Pinterest. There were a lot of Easter Egg trees in there, but they were either all made with pieces of ribbon or those big plastic colored eggs that open up to put candy in. That didn’t really do it for me. Too big and bulky.

So now that I had an idea…how to carry it out? And when I have an idea, I don’t rest until I figure a way to do it.

So I decided to check out my first go-to stop for non-jewelry making projects. Dollar Tree, of course. And luckily they had bags of small pastel colored foam Easter eggs. How perfect! I didn’t have a clue as to how many I’d need, but I figured I’d make several different sized trees, so I’d start with 12 bags. Each had a dozen eggs in them, so I figured I was good.

Then I realized I needed something for the top. I couldn’t use my leftover Christmas tree stars for Easter, but I found some Easter bunny heads on dowel sticks, probably designed for sticking in flower pots, but they were perfect for my trees!

Pleased as I could be with my purchases, I went home and planned my tree. The next day I set up on my kitchen counter and got to work. I don’t use hot glue in my craft studio because it’s too messy and my craft table has a tablecloth on it, and well, you can imagine what a mess that could turn out to be!

Gluing on the eggs was fairly simple; just time consuming. I hadn’t counted, though, on the glue dripping slightly through the eggs on the bottom row and sticking to the counter (it didn’t do that with the wine corks!). Fortunately dried hot glue isn’t that hard to get off if you do it quickly.

What I  hadn’t thought about, though, was how many of those little eggs it took to complete a tree. I’d started making a medium sized one which was almost finished when I realized I probably hadn’t bought enough eggs to quite finish two trees. Oops!

Then I remembered I’d bought over half of the bags of eggs they had at the dollar store, and I knew if I waited, I wouldn’t be able to get enough to make all the trees I wanted to do.

So I headed back to the store and got…eight bags. All they had left. Now what?

Fortunately there was another dollar store a mile or so away so I headed there, hoping they still had them. And as luck would have it, they did!

I bought 32 bags. Almost all they had in the store! I think the cashier thought I’d lost my mind. And I probably had.

But now I had enough to make another set of three trees as well as two more small ones for our granddaughters!

Egg tree assembly is really fairly easy as you can see from the pictures below. You just glue the eggs on in a row starting from the bottom. There will be gaps because of their shape, so I used bits of green moss to fill in the areas where the foam showed through. It’s a bit messy, but when the hot glue dries, trim the moss up as needed. And now you’re ready to put your bunny toppers on. I cut the dowel sticks off the bunny heads from the dollar store and substituted floral wire to make it easier to stick in the foam. And please pardon the quality of the pictures, because I just don’t get the best pictures when I’m creating at the same time!

And one last hint. These take a lot of hot glue, so be sure you have enough glue sticks on hand! I lost count of how many times I had to refill my glue gun! But at least it’s now ready for my next project!

Trying Something New

What do you do when your best friend asks you to go with her to a slumping class!?

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “You like wine, and collect wine corks and wine bottles. You’d really like this.”

I must’ve looked at her like she’d lost her mind. Then she smiled and showed me what she’d made at the slumping class she’d gone to a few nights before. And it was definitely something I wanted to try. 

Even though I’d never heard of the term or never even thought about such a project. Even though my daughter had given me a slumped wine bottle for Mother’s Day last year. 

I just hadn’t known what it was called then. And neither did my daughter or my best friend.  

But then she found a shop to display and sell her craft items and their main business product involved slumping. She found out later they’d been doing it for ten years.

Has anyone looked up slumping yet to see what it is, or did you just scroll down quickly to find out?

Slumping is a technique of heating glass in a kiln, to about 1300-1500 degrees, in this case mostly wine bottles and decorative liquor bottles, letting them cool, then decorating them to use as cheese boards, jewelry holders, candle holders, etc., or displaying as a piece of art, either on a stand or hanging on the wall.

I’d seen the finished products before at craft shows and gift shops, but had no idea what the process was called. But being a craft minded person, I was always ready to try something new, so I said why not?

So that’s how my friends Karen and Mary Jo ended up in a slumping class a week ago. I had no idea what to expect, but it’s always fun to learn something new.

I was skeptical at first, but our instructor Tina made it so much fun, and explained everything to us in detail in a really fun way before we got started. 

There were probably a hundred or so already slumped bottles for us to choose from to use for our creations. We each chose something different of course. Not that we knew what we were doing, but Tina assured us we could do it

The idea was to take either decorative papers or fabric and mod podge them on the back of the slumped bottle. The paper or fabric shows through the glass to make a really great piece of art. 

The tricky part was actually choosing the paper or fabric we wanted to use with our bottles. After all, there were probably over 500 pieces of paper and fabric to choose from. A bit overwhelming, I must say. Plus since we were mostly making cheese boards, we also had to select a small cheese knife to go in the neck of the bottle as part of the finishing touch.   

Of course you know I had to choose a flamingo knife; what other theme would I come up with?

Karen decided on sunflowers, her favorite flower. Mary Jo decided on a mermaid theme to go with the fish bottle she’d selected. Let’s just say actually designing the background, selecting the materials, then cutting the various papers or fabric to the correct size, and positioning them just right  took the majority of the time. The cuts had to be fairly precise, and involved a lot of trial and error before we were ready to actually “glue” them on with the mod podge.

One little trick we learned was the addition of paper on the back as well, printed side out, of course, to add an extra bit of interest. Or in my case, to hide the printed price on the back of the paper, using what else but a few more flamingos.

Tina’s technique involves 3 separate applications of thin layers of mod podge smeared quickly over the paper or fabric with a sponge brush. After each application the bottle was placed on a wire rack she called a grill, which has heater under it to more quickly dry the piece to a tacky feel before the other layers are done, one at a time. 

Once the “grilling” was complete, little round rubber feet were placed on the bottom so the finished piece can be used as what it was intended for, without scratching the table or countertop.

The last step was decorating the neck of the bottle. And there were at least three drawers of beads, buttons, wire and twine to select from. A crafters’ heaven! I chose to use silver solder to do a wire wrap around the top of my bottle with pink and green bead accents. The others used a combination of twine and beads.

So here are our finished products. I think we did a good job! And yes, I may try it again.

Christmas Cork Crafting

Since I have a large collection of wine corks I decided to do something more with them this year  than the garland and ornaments I’d already made a few years ago.

So I got the brilliant idea to make some of those wine cork Christmas trees I’d seen all over Pinterest. How hard could they be, I asked myself? They really look fairly easy.

Sort of. But what you don’t realize is that wine corks aren’t all the same size. Some are longer than others. Some are thinner. And try as you might, they don’t always fit on that styrofoam cone the way you want them to. It was a bit of a challenge at first.

But I was determined to make it work, and I finally did. They aren’t perfect, but then again, that’s part of the fun of crafting. Each piece I make is unique, my own creation. And I’m probably my own worst critic, not always happy with what I make, even though most people don’t notice the imperfections I see.

It was also a bit of a challenge decorating them, because I wanted to do something different. I’ve had a collection of large metal beads for several years that I’d originally bought for wine cork bottle jewelry, and while those turned out well, they just weren’t that popular. So what to do with the leftover beads has been a challenge. They weren’t quite right for most of my bracelets, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of them.

However they were just right for my wine cork trees. Their slightly curved shape fit perfectly around the corks in strategic places that needed a fill-in or a pop of color. So I ended up designing the trees around the beads.

And no, I’m not going to sell any of them this year. I’d have to charge too much for my time! But they are fun to make, except when I get the hot glue all over my fingers. That hurts!

I’ve also just completed my first wine cork snowman, based on more photos on Pinterest. He was a lot easier than the trees, and I think the plaid Christmas ornament hat (from the dollar store of course) really makes him festive! And even better, my husband painted the corks white for me. And if you try it, be sure to paint it after your snowman is assembled and glued together. Much easier and it saves on paint.

What next? Well I do have some styrofoam cones left, so you never know….

Or I may find another hat and make another snowman. Or I could just make my own hat for him. You can still use snowmen after Christmas!

Have you done any special crafts this season? Or maybe some wine cork trees? Feel free to post pictures in the comments section. We’d sure love to see them!

Behind the Scenes

“Oh that bracelet is really pretty! Maybe I should try doing that. It really looks easy.”

Well, it is. Sort of. 

But you don’t know what goes into the making of a bracelet or necklace. It’s what you don’t see before the bracelet is finished. 

I didn’t know what went into it all before I became hooked on making bracelets and necklaces. 

At first, I’ll admit, I copied designs I found online. Well not totally copied, but fairly close. But those were for me, and certainly not to sell. 

Then I started making my own designs, which was a lot more enjoyable and creative. 

Getting ideas and then finding the right beads is a lot of fun. Usually. Unless you can’t find what you’re looking for. So many times I’ve had a particular color and style of bead in mind, but can’t find it in the local craft stores.

Ordering online is the only other option. I don’t paying for shipping, but sometimes there’s no other choice if Amazon doesn’t have what I need. And I hate waiting, but what other choice do I have?

Now I do have a rather large assortment of beads in the studio,  since I’ve been doing this for awhile.  

 But it seems like there’s always something else I need.

Putting the design together is usually easy, as long as you have an idea what you’re going to do. I use a bead board to plan the jewelry out which allows me to not only see the design as I go but also make sure the size is correct. Which is very important.

Then comes the part I really don’t enjoy. Stringing is not that bad, and I have several different kinds and sizes of beading filament and wire that I use. 

Note to newbies: be sure to allow yourself enough filament to have at least an inch of filament at each end so you’ll be able to tie off the bracelet without the beads coming off. Yes,it’s happened to me many times, and I scold myself for doing it every time! You’d think I’d learn eventually. If the ends aren’t long enough to tie your knots correctly, you’re going to regret it. 

And be sure to use a bead stopper on each end of the almost finished bracelet or necklace. My favorite are the “bead bugs”. I like the name, but they really work well. I probably have 20 sets of them so I can make a lot of bracelets or necklaces at one time. Then complete the final steps with several pieces at a time.

Because for me, the most difficult part of finishing a stretch bracelet is gluing the knot, which is an extremely important final step to be sure that knot holds. Why is it so difficult? 

For one thing, it’s very precise, and the smaller the beads, the harder it is to tie the knots and position the glue correctly. I use a brand called G-S Hypo Cement which dries quickly, and because of the type of applicator, it’s fairly easy to get the right amount on there. Let the glue dry for a few hours, snip the ends off, and you’re done.

The problem, you may ask? Getting  the cap back on the tube in exactly the right place. Plus my astigmatism makes it even harder! You can see from the picture below that it’s very slim and tiny. I love the way you can manipulate the drop of glue, but let me tell you, putting that cap back on is not easy.

The other closure types, lobster claw or toggle clasps, can be easily as frustrating until you master the art of the crimp. (Just make sure to include the clasps in the overall length of your jewelry.) Putting the actual crimp bead on isn’t really that difficult. But finishing it off with a crimp cover? Let’s just say I haven’t mastered it as well as I’d like. The crimp covers are small, and have to be positioned just right to cover the crimp. And with astigmatism, it’s worse than putting the cap on the glue!

And if you mess up on these last steps, well, you sort of have to start over. Which is certainly not fun.

But the finished products are definitely worth it. 

Be sure to visit my store NotOnlyBracelets to see – and purchase –  some of my creations.

Gratitude, Thankfulness, and a Little Spice

We’re already well into fall. October is already gone and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Where’s the time going?

For me it’s going too fast. I don’t have nearly the time I need to get ready for all the festivities and shows that are just ahead. 

Creating jewelry for the fall has lagged behind a lot more than I wanted, with all the other projects I’ve been involved with. But the busy-ness of life is just that. Busy-ness. Sometimes it takes over your life to the point that you are so busy being busy, you don’t accomplish anything.

However, these last few days have enabled me to have a spurt of creativity, and I’m delighted to introduce our Fall/Thanksgiving bracelet collection. 

Only one of a kind of each piece. But they’re all created with love as well as attention to color and detail. And we do take custom orders; just be sure to get them in in enough time for me to make and ship them.

Working with the Heishi beads was a bit of a challenge at first, I must admit. They go together much differently than regular glass or gemstone beads. But once I got started on this collection, I found it to be a fun challenge to come up with the right words to use with my bracelets. 

I love the personalization, and although none of this collection uses actual names, they can certainly be custom made. As long as I have the letters in my bead collection, that is.

I’m discovering as I go along that the alphabet beads don’t always have enough of the letters I need for certain words. Especially the multicolored beads, and as you can see, I’ve had to combine beads from other sets to get the word I needed. But it works, and adds a few unexpected pops of color as well.

Just don’t do what I did and spell a word wrong if you’re making your own personalized jewelry. I did that and had to redo half of the bracelet…fortunately I caught the mistake before I’d finished it off!

Heishi bracelets are designed to be worn in stacks, 3-4 at a time. Although they look equally nice being worn one at a time. Personally I love the stacking because I can show off more of my creations at one time.

Here are some of the collections I’ve just posted in my shop. 

Welcome Fall

Fall leaves, pumpkins, and fresh-baked apple pie. What sounds more like fall than that combination? And don’t forget the Gobble (for the turkey, of course)!

With Gratitude

Thankful.  Grateful.  Gratitude. Isn’t that what the Thanksgiving season is all about? Why not buy one of these for yourself as well as for a special friend?

Spicy

This was a fun set to create. It was harder figuring out what spice names to use than actually doing the designs. These would make a great gift for someone who really enjoys cooking.

You may click on the link NotOnlyBracelets or in the home page of this blog to go directly to the store.

And check back often to see what else we’ve come up with. Christmas is coming, you know!

Obsessed With Beads

Once you start collecting a few beads…you just can’t get enough of them. There are so many styles…colors…shapes and sizes…so many different materials. You want them all. But then what do you do with them?

That was my situation. But let me start at the beginning.

When my husband decided we needed ANOTHER Christmas tree several years ago (we already had SIX!) he wanted to do a wine themed tree. Which led me to start collecting wine corks so I could make a few garlands to put on the tree the following year. Well, my cork collection grew as friends contributed their corks, as well as my asking for wine corks at restaurants when we went out to dinner, and I soon had a large collection of them. Then I started buying a few beads to add to my creations.

One thing led to another, and I found myself making not only wine cork Christmas garland, wine cork Christmas ornaments, but also wine bottle hanging “jewelry” and other cork creations, combining any number of my colorful beads with the corks. I even started collecting champagne corks (and a few Petron corks) and making what I call “corky people.” It was so much fun!

But I quickly became obsessed with all the bead choices and eventually decided to expand my creativity into making my own jewelry. At first I only made bracelets and a few necklaces just for me, and for my granddaughters, but one thing led to another, and I realized I had to sell some of my creations in order to fund my obsession/hobby. After all, how many bracelets can you wear at one time? Three, four, maybe five in a stack, but when you’re working remotely you don’t get to show them off as often!

I already had an online shop called The Beaded Cork which sold my corky people, corked wedding cake toppers and wine bottle hangers as well as diaper cakes and cupcakes, but I’d put that on hiatus for a little while. 

So I renamed and redesigned my store, which was not the easiest thing in the world to do, but after several weeks of categorizing products, taking photos, and pricing and writing up product descriptions, NotOnlyBracelets was finally launched on Etsy.

The shop has an assortment of farmhouse garland, beaded corky people, necklaces, and of course all sorts of bracelets, including kids’ bracelets. More styles and selections are added each week as I find time to design and create them. Some for me, and some to sell.

And a former bedroom has now been turned into a craft and jewelry studio where I can play with my beads in my own space without having to move my unfinished work to make room for other things. Plus I have room to create other items when the mood hits me! (Which is what the vase of silk flowers is for that’s sitting on my table.)

With my own space who knows what else I’ll come up with as I go along!

You can visit my shop through the link in this post or by clicking Shop – Not Only Bracelets in the menu of this site.

And if you have a particular jewelry or garland idea in mind, contact me and we’ll see what we can come up with.

And now, back to my studio. The beads are calling.

Why These Bracelets?

According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society (October, 2021), there are some 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.  It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among  American women. Breast cancer became the most common cancer globally as of 2021. And it is estimated that in 2021, 281,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S.

And even more frightening, about 43,600 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2021 from breast cancer. That’s 43,600 too many.

While I have not had it, I know far too many women who have, or who have family members who have. Because of early detection, most have fortunately survived, and several of these women are already past the five year marker. And some, sadly, were tragically lost.

It wasn’t easy on them, or their families. They were naturally scared, and yes, terrified, when they received the diagnosis, but yet they were determined to be a survivor. But it was a long, hard road.

There were surgeries, of course. Lumpectomies, partial mastectomies or full mastectomies. There was radiation and chemo. All of them were sick from those treatments. Some worse than others. Some had to stay in bed a few days or weeks after each one because they were so ill. They missed work, children’s and grandchildren’s special events, birthdays, weddings, and holidays.

And of course, there was the hair loss. A side effect from all the treatments, adding insult to injury, as the saying goes. They wore wigs and scarves, and while the wigs were almost undetectable as not being their own hair, THEY knew.

Their families supported them, but obviously they were worried as well. And who wouldn’t blame them?

Most of the women I am referring to survived, as I said previously, but not without a hard-fought battle. And they don’t forget what they went through. They go to regular checkups with the thought always in their head…”what if it comes back

My mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer when our daughter was young. Because she lived so far away, our daughter doesn’t even remember meeting her.

Why these bracelets? They are designed not only to honor women who are fighting this disease, who have survived this disease, or unfortunately lost their battle with this disease, but also as a reminder that we’re all in this fight together.

These are available in my shop, NotOnlyBracelets on Etsy. Or you may click on the link on my home page to take you to the store.

Custom orders can be designed and personalized with yours or a loved one’s name.

Please ladies, get your annual mammograms. Check your breasts monthly. And if you suspect something is wrong go to your doctor immediately.

We don’t want to lose any more of you to this disease!

Just A Frustrated Baker

This post was actually written a couple of years ago about a side business I have called Cake-A-Bye Baby. I make towel cakes and diaper cakes for bridal showers and baby showers. When I have the time, that is. I thought it appropriate to re-post it here, since I’m working on another diaper cake creation for my own daughter, and haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like.

And anyone who knows me well know that I really don’t enjoy cooking – I have to be in the mood. Writing is much more fun.

I do enjoy baking though, but usually only Christmas cookies. The whole month of December our house has the best smells – and containers of all kinds of tasty cookies piled all over the kitchen, waiting to be devoured by family and friends or packed up and given as gifts! You’ve seen some of those recipes!

But secretly I’ve always wanted to learn the art of cake decorating. I’m always just so amazed at the beautiful cakes so many bakers turn out, seemingly on a daily basis. Pinterest can sometimes drive me crazy because I see all these fantastic sugar creations that other people have made. If only…..

Pinterest Wedding cakes
pinterest2

Here’s a treasure chest a friend of mine made for a birthday party, and she’s not even a professional baker!
birthday treasure
Aren’t they incredible? So why not me….?

Well, probably one main reason. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just cannot frost a cake. No matter what I do there are always cake crumbs stuck in the icing. Really attractive! I’ve tried many times to make frosting flowers, and we won’t even discuss those fiascoes! And certainly I have no pictures!

I have friends who turn out masterpieces from flour and sugar – and they’re just amateur bakers who should really open their own businesses. I have other friends who are professional bakers and create beautiful wedding cakes and birthday cakes. Like this magnificent creation from a collaboration between Jessica from Cake Delights and Catherine from Catherine’s Distinctive Floral Designs…layer after layer of gorgeous wedding cake with fresh roses in between each layer!

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So this frustrated baker gave up! Try as I might, there was never any question that whatever cake I made and decorated certainly involved no help from ANYONE else!

But then…problem solved! With no oven or other cooking skills involved. It was perfect. All I needed was a set of towels or a package of diapers, and a couple of trips to the craft store. No ingredients to spoil. No pans or bowls to wash. No recipe to follow. Nothing to refrigerate!
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And I can even use actual cake pans to put the diaper cakes together!

Best of all, I can do the decorating at my leisure; and if I don’t like the way it looks, all I have to do is unpin a few things and re-arrange them. If I find items in the craft store I like, I can buy them and keep them on hand for future creations without worrying about them spoiling or going stale!

So who wants a cake? Guaranteed it won’t be underbaked, burned on the bottom, and it can be kept around for a long time without it going bad!
Cakes and Cakes
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Want to hear something really funny? I actually received a postcard a few years ago from a local culinary school addressed to “Pastry Chef” at Cake-A-Bye Baby! I have it sitting on my desk! I’m deciding whether or not to frame it!


Photo Sources: Top Row: Photo 1-2: Source Unknown; Photo 3 – Foodista.com Second Row: Photo 1-2: Sweetcakebox.com; Photo 3: Likeitshort.com – Treasure Cake: Personal Files – Rose Tiered Cake: Cake Delights – Remaining Photos: Personal Files

Bouquets – Beads, Buttons, or…Corks?

Back when our grandparents, and even our parents, got married (or, let’s be honest, that can also include my husband and I and lots of our friends) there was absolutely no doubt about what our wedding bouquets would be…a collection of gorgeous fresh flowers, usually mostly roses, and almost always in white! After all, it was a wedding, and usually the only colors in the wedding party were worn or carried by the bridesmaids!

While I’m not fortunate enough to have photos of my grandparents’ weddings, and I’m not sure there were any photos even taken that long ago, I do have a couple of pictures of my parents’ wedding day, and you can see what her bouquet looked like! They were huge, and gorgeous, yes, but my how times have changed!

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Almost thirty years ago when my husband and I were married, I carried a simple arrangement of just five RED roses. Perfect for the small family ceremony we had.

These days, though, brides and florists are much more creative with their bouquets. There’s no right or wrong color/style anymore. Many brides elect to carry arrangements with pops of their wedding colors along with the traditional white flowers, while others will carry bouquets all done completely in their bridesmaids’ colors and have their maids carry all white arrangements. Or each bridesmaid carries a bouquet in matching flowers with different shades of the wedding colors. The variations are endless!
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Flowers are not always the bouquets of choice for today’s brides. More and more brides are electing to carry jeweled brooch bouquets which can be placed on permanent display after the wedding, and easily passed on from generation to generation as the “something old” for the bride to carry. Many brides even use jewelry passed on from their mothers and grandmothers and other family members to construct a very special piece just for them, while others commission these bouquets to be custom made, or even make them themselves. Some even use a combination of real flowers with a smattering of jewels!
Brooch Bouquets
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Don’t worry….these brides also use a smaller “toss bouquet” made from either fresh or silk flowers when it’s time to throw the bouquet! Otherwise, there could be problems!

Buttons are even being used to make bouquets. My grandmother had a huge collection of buttons she’d saved over many years, although I have no idea where those buttons are now. I can only imagine what a bouquet could have looked like made from that collection! Would you like to carry something like this?

Button Bouquets

Many beach brides elect to carry bouquets either made entirely from seashells, or incorporating sea shells into the overall design…either in a traditional bouquet itself, or even simply carrying a large conch or nautilus shell filled with beautifully arranged flowers.

Shell Bouquets
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Since we love flowers here at The Beaded Cork, we came up with our own unique bouquet style, combining beaded corks (what else!) with either silk or fresh flowers to create gorgeous bouquets, with table centerpieces to match.

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These are perfect not only for a wine themed wedding, but also add a unique touch to any bouquet for the bride who wants something just a bit different and unique. Beaded cork picks, as well as silk bouquets made with the picks, are available in any number of styles and colors and of course are ready to be inserted into your bouquets by your individual florist.

And of course, coordinating wine cork boutonnieres are also available for the guys in various styles and colors! Or just come up with an idea of your own and we can make it for you!

Cork Boutonnieres

What ideas can YOU come up with for bouquets and boutonnieres for your special day? Remember…it’s YOUR wedding! Your style.

Now….I’m sensing another new bouquet style waiting to be created. Check back with us!

Photo Sources: Parents Wedding Photo: Personal files – Row of Bouquets: Google Images- Hydrangea Bouquets: AmandaHedgepethPhotography.com – Row of Brooch Bouquets: lilybudsbouquets.com; bluepetyl on etsy; silverstems on etsy- Flowers with jewels: Squidoo.com- Button Bouquets: ABrideLessOrdinary.com – Row of Shell Bouquets: ProjectWedding.com; BoHo Bridal on etsy; liberiangirl1blogspot.com Nautilus: YourWeddingCompany.com-Cork Boutonnieres: Personal Files