Preventing Tunneling in Beeswax Pillars

Preventing Tunneling in Beeswax Pillars

I’ve been learning a lot in my creative adventures about different materials. Last February, I was inspired to make candles by creating a mold using my 3D printer. After doing some prototyping, I was up and running in the (chrism!) candle business.

I purposely designed my candles to be pillar style candles that wouldn’t completely burn because of the image on the outside. If attended during the burning process, the candle should be lit from within to make the art on the outside glow… but that’s when I realized that I had NO experience “carefully attending” any burning candle. I was a White Barn/Yankee candle glass jar candle girl who was very (very, very) low maintenance. Thank goodness for me, I married a former altar server who understands and appreciates what it takes to maintain a candle properly.

[Total aside, did you know those metal things on the tops of the candles at church are called “chasers” and are designed to do exactly what I’m about to describe with relatively little maintenance? Former altar servers. They learned *so* much…]

For those of you who are like me, I took some pictures about how to roll the candles in during the burning process to prevent tunneling and allow for the maximum beeswax burn and thus burn time.

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The candle pictured above has been rolled after every burn. Essentially, you just take the warm wax and push the wax down into the burning area. Carefully. Wax is hot. (I don’t doubt you knew that. I say these things because I have a 2.5 year old son.)

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The candle pictured above here is tunneling. After the initial burn, it wasn’t rolled in. If allowed to continue to burn like that, it will create a very narrow tunnel to the bottom, leaving a lot of unused beeswax and wavering all over the path of the pillar.

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To begin to roll a candle, trim the wick before lighting to 1/4 inch. Allow the candle to burn for at least one hour during ever burning session.

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I am impatient. It’s a weakness I really must work on and I know it. Rolling a candle in while it’s lit is dangerous. You can easily burn yourself. I have burned myself. These pictures are a testament to how many prayers I could use to overcome my own headstrong nature (read: stubbornness) and impatience.

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My own character flaws aside, you can see that you can use your thumb to push the warmed but not melted wax into the pool of melted wax. The wax that has lightened a few shades is warm enough to be shaped.

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I let mine burn for a little bit after I shaped the wax and then extinguished them. You can see below that both candles are burning almost completely, except for a narrow band of solid wax on the outside. Leaving that narrow band will keep the art outside preserved and the melted wax from pouring out all over the surface the candle is sitting on.

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Hopefully this will help you get maximum life out of your Salem Studio candles.

 

A special thanks to my husband and best friend for teaching me all the things that they learned as altar servers. ūüėČ

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Decorating Ideas for Cookies

Decorating Ideas for Cookies

I’ve had quite a few people tell me “Oh, I can’t decorate that well!” when they see my cookies cutters. Other people say “Oh I don’t like that icing” (or a few derivations on that theme). Never fear! There are quite a few ways to go about decorating cookies made with Salem Studio cutters. You definitely don’t need to be a masterful decorator and you don’t need to use royal icing if you don’t like it.

I designed my cookie cutters with detailed impressions because I wanted cookies that actually resembled the object or person they were intended to represent but I definitely don’t have the confidence in my own decorating skills to make that happen. With the impressions, you can definitely leave the cookies plain.

If you’re inclined to have plain cookies but want to look like you’ve made some effort, you can always just add a drop of food coloring to your cookie dough. Voila.

 

Each of these cookies just has a few drops of AmeriColor Gel food coloring added to the basic sugar cookie recipe that I send with each cookie cutter order.

For cookies that are just a little bit more decorated than that, sprinkle them with sanding sugar. Using a pastry brush, the sugar can be gently brushed into the impressions and off the surface of the cookies before baking.

 

It’s also possible to have multiple colors of dough as you roll out the cookies. Divide the dough into as many colors as you want. Add a few drops of color to each different dough ball.¬† Shape the different colors into strips and fuse them together. Roll the result into narrow strips.

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These are just a few decorating ideas for Salem Studio cookie cutters without a DROP of royal icing in sight!

I’d love to see your decorating ideas! Feel free to share!

Cinnamon Ornaments

Cinnamon Ornaments

So it’s day four? five? six? of unending heat. This joyful heatwave is seriously taking a toll on our sense of well-being around here. Our general routine is post-breakfast play time outside and then another afternoon adventure outside whether it be a walk to the mailbox or riding bikes to watch the horses or simply sidewalk chalk. Whatever it is, it’s as my Grandma George said: “Go outside and blow off the stink”. When it’s so hot we can’t go outside for extended play safely? Insert EVER distressed emoji here! (Also: why did we come home from the beach? WHY?!?!)

While I eagerly anticipate the “cooler” temperatures that Rich Luterman promised last night on the 10 o’clock news, I do recognize I HAVE to do something to keep the toddler entertained indoors. We’re getting pretty tired of playing tractors and trains. Ok, I’m getting tired of playing tractors and trains. This morning we decided to do a little “Christmas in July” action complete with Frank Sinatra’s rendition of Jingle Bells. It bought us an hour or so of no fits or whining. I don’t know about you but I call that a success.

I had to modify the recipe ever so slightly because we were just a bit short on ingredients. The whole thing is very simple, really. It’s three ingredients (or in my case four). Here’s the recipe:

  • ¬†4 ounces of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of glue

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I was short a half an ounce of cinnamon so I made up the difference with pumpkin pie spice. It goes without saying (but unfortunately sometimes it must be said), given the fact there’s glue in the recipe, these aren’t edible.

Just measure the ingredients, mix them all up and get rollin’. I rolled mine a little bit too thin. I rolled out to about a quarter inch but I think a half an inch is probably wise. These are thin and likely a bit fragile. They also curled a little bit as they dried.

Once they were rolled, we used different Salem Studio cookie cutters to cut outlines. Once they were arranged on the cookie sheets, we punched a hole for hanging in the top with a straw. Then we pressed the impressions into the ornament “cookies”.

It was an awesome change of pace– no dough chilling and no sticking. The nature of the recipe doesn’t make it sticky at all. The impressions were clear and distinct and not a single one stuck.

After we rolled out ornaments (and the remnant dough was used as PlayDoh… for quite some time….), we put the sheet trays into the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. Of course, you can always let them air dry for two to three days but I have an almost-three year old. The patience for that doesn’t exist. In hindsight, the trays could’ve gone out onto the deck in the sunshine. If it’s 93 degrees outside, I’m sure in direct sunlight it would be plenty hot to dry the ornaments. Again though, opening the patio door would’ve been an invitation for kiddo to make a break for it.

If I get brave, maybe we’ll hit these with some glitter glue… though since it can’t be done outdoors, maybe it’s not brave. It may just be foolish.

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What are your favorite ways to pass the hot days?

Mama Made

Mama Made

 

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About two months ago, I began labeling all of my packages with this sticker before shipping. Two words. Simple. Succinct. But those two words represent so very many more ideas. They contain the purpose as well as the hopes and dreams I have for this little shop.

I started Salem Studio just before having my first kiddo. Shortly after, I quit my almost ten year teaching career to stay at home to direct my child’s formation and raise a future saint (fingers crossed!).¬† Fast forward and add another kiddo and that’s where we currently are. I started by making things I wanted around my own home to help my own faith life and to assist my family in liturgical living. I continue on with that inspiration but it’s become so much more. Those sweet faces that keep me home watch me as I sketch and sew and iron and paint and wire wrap beads. They see me update listings and email customers. They help me pack orders and accompany me to the Post Office as I drop orders in the mail. I keep working knowing they see my love and my labors. I hope I make them proud.

My dream for this little business isn’t to get rich. I’m not looking to make some huge profit off of selling devotional items. I want to help other people live their faith. I hope I bring them beauty and joy. Financially, I hope that this little shop is able to help pay part of the tuition for the Catholic school of my dreams for my kiddos. I know I could homeschool but I don’t believe I could teach my children as well as the lovely Dominican Sisters at Spiritus Sanctus Academy. The love of Christ and the pure joy that the Sisters share is positively infectious. As I labor, I dream that my kiddos will be infected with that love and joy.

Thanks for joining me on the journey and supporting my dream! With your help I hope I can turn Mama Made (and Mama Hoped and Mama Dreamt) into Mama Achieved.

Using Salem Studio Cookie Cutters

Using Salem Studio Cookie Cutters

When I designed my first cookie cutters, the intention was only to be for my personal use. After I made my first Easter cookies using my cutters, I realized that there were probably other families who would like to have cookie cutters that they felt were more relevant to liturgical living than what’s readily available at most big box stores. That’s when I decided to make them available for purchase in my Salem Studio shops.

I do know that I have a lot of practice in baking that most people probably don’t have just because it’s a passion of mine. Knowing that, I wanted to make sure that if people did decide that they liked my cookie cutters, they felt like they had all of the information they needed to use the cutters with minimal frustration and maximum success. Since my background is in education, it only makes sense that I would put together a little “how-to” for your reading pleasure.

For this tutorial, I’m using the cookie dough recipe that I have posted as a PDF in the FAQs section and that I’ve written a previous post about. It’s reliable and easy to work with.

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The essential items for rolling the dough are your rolling pin, a nice area of counter space for working, cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, a sifter and powdered sugar. Lots and lots and lots of powdered sugar. I know, you’re thinking “Powdered sugar!?!? All the other 3D printed cookie cutters I’ve seen say ‘Use plenty of flour’.” I just can’t do it. The more flour that is incorporated into the cookies, the tougher they’ll get. I’ve been rolling all my sugar cookies out in powdered sugar for years. If they’re chocolate sugar cookies, I roll them in cocoa powder. I just can’t sacrifice the cookie texture for appearance.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper cut to size. I love the Kirkland Parchment Paper from Costco because I use an absurd amount of parchment. It’s great quality and a fantastic value.

Sift powdered sugar over your work surface. Be generous. You can use a bench scraper to clean up the mess later. Better to be generous now and have dough that you can get off the counter rather than stingy with a big, sticky mess.

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Only remove one disc of dough from the fridge at a time, as you need it. Unwrap the dough and save the plastic wrap for any dough scraps to be re-refrigerated.

Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch. If you roll any thicker than that, the dough won’t hold its impressions well and the impressions will get stuck when you press them. That seems to be the ideal thickness from all of my prototyping. If you need to estimate 1/4 inch, use the impression that came with the cutter — it’s about 0.3 inches.

Use the outline cutters to cut as many cookies as you can from your first rolling of dough. Line the cookies up on your prepared sheet pans, keeping like-sized cookies together on the pans. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 10 minutes. This is easy to do while you roll the remaining discs of dough. Create a disc out of the scraps and wrap them in the plastic wrap you saved. Place the disc back in the refrigerator.

After at least 10 minutes have passed, take the first tray out of the refrigerator. For sticking, it’s incredibly important that your dough be cold and firm. Dust the top of the cookies with powdered sugar and dip the impression into powdered sugar. Line the impression up on the cookie and apply even pressure. Don’t press too hard or your cookie will get stuck to your cutter. If you’re careful and quick and have cold dough, you can simply pick the cookie up and peel it off the impression. If you’ve pressed too hard, you may have to re-roll that dough. The trick on this step is definitely cold dough, a dusting of powdered sugar and an impression that’s been dipped in powdered sugar.

This is one of many instances where practice, practice, practice makes perfect. The first time, it seems complicated and time consuming. After a bit, you’ll get the hang of it.

If you didn’t press firmly enough, you can always line the impression back up and press again. I’ve done that more than a few times.

Remember as you work through the cookies on the sheet, the first ones will require more pressure than the subsequent cookies. As they come to room temperature (which will be fast), you’ll need to apply less pressure. If you take too long, just put the tray back in the fridge to chill for a bit.

Don’t worry about excess powdered sugar on the surface of the cookies. You can use a pastry brush to dust off large amounts. Small amounts will bake right into the cookie and not sacrifice the taste or the texture of the cookies.

For the most clear impressions, place the cookies back into the refrigerator to chill before baking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 6 to 8 minutes, rotating at 4 minutes. The larger cookies will require a longer bake time. You’ll know that the cookies are done when the edges turn very lightly golden.

If you have tips, tricks or techniques that work better than what I’ve described here, please do share!

Sugar Cookie Dough

Sugar Cookie Dough

So I’ve had “sugar cookie blog post” on my to do list for… weeks? It maybe even going on months. Between production for my shops, vacation and a progressing pregnancy, I’ve been juggling just a few responsibilities. It’s the mom life, right?

Now that our 3D printer has arrived and has been set up and configured, there’s no time like the present to write this post. I’ve made the dough a few times in the past week so I could prototype cookie cutters and I’ve even been smart enough to take some photos along the way… so without further ado, I give you my go-to sugar cookie recipe. I’ve been using it for at least 10 years without fail for all of our major holidays and celebrations. Definitely a keeper.

First: welcome to the kitchen in Chez Bloomfield. We’re glad to have you.

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I’ve had a recipe card printed for this recipe for every cookie cutter order that I’ll mail out and I’ve also included a PDF of it here¬†for your printing reference. It’s pretty straight forward and doesn’t contain any unusual ingredients.

Sugar Cookie Cutouts

  • 1.5 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • confectioner’s sugar for rolling

 

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It seems like it should go without saying to gather all of your ingredients before you start making the recipe… but there. I said it. It’s also very important that you start the recipe with room temperature butter and eggs. I set my butter out the night before I plan on baking. If the butter isn’t room temperature, you won’t get the right consistency when you cream the butter and sugar.

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Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. If your butter is properly room temperature before you start, you don’t need to beat the butter before the sugar is added. Use the paddle attachment of the stand mixer and combine until the mixture is light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary.

There’s a good visual of “light and fluffy”. The combination will be very, very pale yellow. That’s your indication that you’ve beaten it enough.

Add the vanilla and eggs. Again, it’s important that your eggs are room temperature. If they aren’t, adding them to the butter mixture will only harden the butter you worked to beat air into. I generally add the eggs one at a time and then mix until combined before adding another egg.

 

The butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla should all be well combined. Stop to scrape the bowl just to be sure. Don’t forget to scrape that little dent at the bottom of the mixer bowl that always seems to collect unmixed ingredients. If it were a wine bottle, it’d be called a punt… on the bowl of a stand mixer? I suppose “dent” is adequate.

Add in the flour, baking powder and salt. I usually measure them all out in a prep bowl and give them a brief stir before I add it into my stand mixer bowl. Mix until just combined. If there’s a little bit of flour on top of the paddle, that’s ok. You can incorporate that by hand. I like to avoid mixing too much at this stage because over mixing in a stand mixer can be easily done. It’s a bit more challenging to over mix by hand.

Incorporate the remaining streaks of flour by hand and then divide the dough into thirds. I wrap each third in plastic wrap in disc shape and then refrigerate them.

If you’re in no hurry, they can be stacked in the fridge. If you’re trying to do this in one afternoon, don’t stack the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour. I find the dough is much easier to work with if you refrigerate overnight. It can be kept unbaked for up to three days in the fridge, so it’s a great make-ahead recipe.

It’s reliable. It’s easy to work with. It comes together quickly. Those are all the things that I need in a recipe. I hope you love it too.

Polishing a Stainless Steel Pendant

Polishing a Stainless Steel Pendant

So I was pretty excited a few days back when UPS brought my most recent Shapeways shipment with a load of new pendant designs. It’s so much fun to actually hold them after hours of ideating, sketching, digitizing, and tweaking.

I ordered quite a few pendants in two different finishes: stainless steel and matte bronze stainless steel. The matte bronze steel was pretty much exactly what I had anticipated. The stainless steel pieces were beautiful but not quite what I had in mind. The nature of the 3D printing process means that sometimes the mix of metal is more silver in appearance and other times it’s more bronze. Some designs just don’t lend themselves to a good polish through the Shapeways tumblers. They’re just too delicate. I had prepared myself with all of the necessary jewelry findings to make necklaces that were silver in color: silver-filled chain, sterling silver jump rings, silver eye pins. What did I get? Bronze-toned pendants.

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The stainless steel as delivered

So what’s a girl to do? Take a quick run to the hardware store and into the tool room and get polishing.

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The necessary supplies for polishing

I decided that the best solution was to hand polish all of my stainless pieces. It’s pretty tough to get a perfect mirror finish– they are pretty thin and there’s only so much material that can be removed before compromising the integrity of the pendant. But with the right tools and patience, getting a pretty nice silver finish isn’t terribly difficult.

The whole process requires a selection of abrasives. The rotary hand tool (aka the “off brand” Dremel) isn’t strictly necessary. You can achieve the same effect with a lot of elbow grease and several different grits of sandpaper. I took the easy route: rotary hand tool. Mine came with tons of different attachments. I experimented with the different discs and grits to find the one that removed material fast enough that I didn’t lose patience but slowly enough that I didn’t completely destroy the pendant. I also used super-fine grit sand paper for finishing, 0000 steel wool, a polishing buff attached to our drill and yellow and white polishing compound.

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Step one: gently removing the outer layer

It would be irresponsible of me not to say that if you’re endeavoring to do this on your own, safety first. Respect the power of a power tool. And don’t forget: eye protection! You can thank my science background and childhood obsession with Norm Abram for that disclaimer.

I tried several different attachments to see which worked best for removing a very thin layer. I found the fine grit sanding discs to be the easiest to use. Granted, if you have a fear of dentist’s offices, you might want to stick to hand sanding. It’s the lovely whirring noise that’s reminiscent of the dental drill.

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After the initial sanding

After the first bit of sanding, the stainless steel showed its silver appearance but it also showed some of the classic pitting that you’d find in unpolished stainless steel. This would be a great time to apply a bit of liver of sulfur and end up with a nice patina for a fun antiqued look. For this particular piece, I was hoping for more of a high shine, not quite classic car bumper shiny but as close to a mirror finish as I could get.

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Finishing sand paper

To make sure that I didn’t remove too much material, I decided to hand sand the pendant. Beware: it can be a little bit messy. This is where patience is key. It took some time to sand some of the deeper pits until they were smooth.

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Steel wool time!

A little bit of very fine steel wool took the last bit of the very obvious pits out. Because of the nature of the design, it was easiest to continue to sand in the same direction. The steel wool did get stuck here and there in some of the smaller parts of the design.

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A pretty smooth finish

After the steel wool, I was pretty happy with how smooth it was. At this point, I decided that all it needed was a bit of polish.

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Yellow rouge

Yellow rouge is meant for stainless steel. I applied yellow rouge to a mini cloth polishing wheel and polished the pendant at medium speed. There was a bit too much rouge on the wheel so it deposited on the pendant. A quick rinse under hot water melted the excess rouge off.

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White rouge on a cylinder buff

After I dried the pendant from the yellow polishing rouge, I used white polishing rouge to apply a high shine. For the white rouge, I used our drill and a cylinder buff. Since I had multiple pendants that I wanted to polish, I decided using two different buffs was easier than cleaning the buffs between the different rouge compounds.

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A bit of excess rouge to remove

Again I had excess rouge on the pendant so I held it under hot water until the rouge softened and pliable enough to be wiped off. All that was left was to give it a good hand buff with a polishing cloth.

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She’s so shiny!

I find the difference between the beginning and the end to be pretty remarkable. The whole process required a bit of a time investment but I’m confident it was worth it in the end. Next there’s more fun to be had: time to design a necklace!

Making a Necklace

Making a Necklace

In my first post, I described everything that went into a design from sketch to the final pendant file. To create a metal pendant, I upload that file to Shapeways, a 3D printing partner based in New York. I order a single prototype of each design before I post it for sale in their Marketplace.

Whenever I post a pendant available for sale on Shapeways, it’s always something that I believe should be completely customizable, whether that customization be done by me or whoever orders it.

I was really excited yesterday when the mail arrived. I’ve had a 14K rose gold plated pendant of Our Lady of Guadalupe for a month or so now that I had ordered as one of those prototypes. I tried to source some rose gold materials locally to finish the design project but didn’t find anything that I felt was just perfect. After some searching online, I found just the chain and findings that I wanted and placed the order. The trip to the mailbox was like Christmas morning when it arrived yesterday.

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The pendant, rose gold beads, and chain– time to choose beads
I spent the evening working on picking the right combination of beads to match the pendant and findings and then assembling the necklace. Of course, this is thanks to a patient husband and best friend who prepared dinner: pizza night!

For this particular necklace design, I needed one lobster clasp with a ring, two 24 gauge 1.5 inch eye pins, nine 22 gauge 3 mm open jump rings, twenty inches of 2 x 1.6 mm cable chain, 2 metal beads and 2 pieces of moss colored agate. All of the findings I used are 14K rose gold filled.

I started the design at the center where I hung the pendant. I decided to frame the pendant with two rose gold metal beads. To add them to the necklace, they had to be placed on an eye pin which was trimmed and then looped. I saved the trimmed pieces of eye pin to use for the agate beads later. The proper pliers for this job were essential.

Once the beads were prepared, I used a pair of wire cutters to cut three inches of the rose gold chain. I opened a jump ring and placed one of the beads on the ring. I threaded the chain onto the ring and used pliers to close the ring again. Once that was done, I slid the pendant onto the chain and repeated the process with the jump ring and bead on the other side of the chain. The focal piece of the necklace was complete.

I don’t make it a habit of wasting scraps of things while I’m working so I saved the eye pin trimmings from the rose gold beads to create my own eye pins for the agate. I just used my pliers to loop an eye on one end, slid the agate on and then looped the other side.

I opened a jump ring and placed it on the unfinished side of one of the rose gold beads. I trimmed two 1.5 inch pieces of rose gold chain, attached one to the open jump ring, and then closed the jump ring. I used another jump ring for the other side of the chain piece, threaded the agate eye pin and closed the jump ring. After that side was completed, I mirrored the process on the other side.

I trimmed two 7 inch pieces of rose gold chain. I used two more jump rings to attach these pieces to the unfinished sides of the agate beads.

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A lobster clasp and jump ring
On one side of the unfinished chain, I attached the rose gold lobster clasp by opening the ring included on the clasp, threading the chain onto the ring and then closing the clasp. I opened the final jump ring, threaded the chain and then closed the ring again.

Once the clasp was added, the design was complete. I really like how delicate the chain and rose gold bead are and how the moss color compliments the rose gold metal. It’s so hard to not keep the necklace for myself but I fear I would have a very full jewelry box. Maybe the next design!

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The finished necklace
I mentioned that the right pliers are essential. This is the tool kit that I used. I love them. They’re great, sturdy pliers and are a great price on Amazon. It’s the Beadstone 18 piece jewelry making kit.

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Everything I needed and then some
Creating a necklace really isn’t a particularly intimidating project if you have the tools and patience to work with small parts. If you see something you love or have an idea but no desire to do the work yourself, let me know! I’d be happy to work with you on customization.

 

New Ideas for Cookie Cutters

New Ideas for Cookie Cutters

While I eagerly await the delivery of my 3D printer, I’ve been trying to get everything ready to produce cookie cutters as well as logistics for wrapping and sending cutters once they’ve found a home. In the meantime, I’m also trying to think of new ideas for different cutters.

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Current Cutter Prototypes

Right now, I have two Easter cutter prototypes: the Pascal Lamb and the pysanky. Those I think are the most true to my family celebrations of Easter. I also have the prototype of Our Lady of Guadalupe I developed for a fundraiser dinner.

I’ve been trying to think of other holidays and feasts that are lacking cookie cutter designs that are relevant to my family celebrations. I know that an abundance of Halloween cookie cutters exist (and don’t you worry, I own plenty of those…) but I know that at school age, my kids will be celebrating All Saint’s Day with their friends and at the parish. For Christmas, I have some truly beautiful Springerle molds but I know that as a cookie they aren’t for everyone and they’re pretty labor intensive. Valentine’s Day has an abundance of hearts, lips and cupids. Saint Patrick’s Day has shamrocks and pots of gold. Those don’t really seem to be really accurate representations of those holidays. And for baptism I know there are a couple of dove designs (that do double-duty for Christmas). I certainly used those for the baptism of my little guy. I’m just not in love with it.

I’m hoping that for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, I can create sketches of the saints and create cutters similar to the cutter I developed for Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m guessing that I’ll add a few more saints cutters to the list and those could be used for All Saint’s Day as well. Whoever I decide to represent, it’ll include the symbols associated with each particular saint so they’ll be a great learning tool for little ones too.

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Saint Sketches

I’d like to develop a one or two options for First Communion parties as well. I’ve been thinking about a chalice. I’m not sure what the second option would be. It’ll take some research, I think.

I’m excited at the opportunity for Christmas cookie cutters. I think it’d be a lot of fun to put together an entire nativity scene. I’m picturing something that could be used to construct a gingerbread nativity instead of the traditional gingerbread house. I’m going to start with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and then build from there. I’d also like to add an angel, shepherd, donkey, lamb, wise men and a camel.

Are there any other cookie cutters that would be helpful for your family? What other celebrations and feasts are lacking cookie cutters that would be useful? If you have any ideas, please share! I’d be glad to add them to my sketchbook list.

 

 

 

Developing Cookie Cutters

Developing Cookie Cutters

So anyone who knows me knows that I love to bake. Legend has it that the passion began because of my mom’s refusal to buy me an Easy Bake Oven when I was a little girl. I think the story goes something like this:

Like many children growing up in the 80’s, I requested an Easy Bake Oven for a birthday. And I’m sure I badgered. And badgered. And badgered. Let’s just say that people might use “stubborn” or “strong willed” to describe my personality. I like to consider it tenacity. So after what was undoubtedly a completely unnecessary amount of begging, my mother finally said absolutely not. If I was going to bake, it was going to be with the oven and we were going to make things that people actually wanted to eat.

Sprinkle in some very formative Saturdays spent with my grandmother who could bake like nobody’s business and the heart of a baker is made.

Fast forward to present day and you’ll find a mom who likes to bake for any purpose, reason or occasion. And there are a few recipes that I’ve done so many times that I could likely do them in my sleep, much like my beloved grandmother and her apple pie. For me, one of those is the classic simple sugar cookie. If there’s a holiday, there’s a good chance I’ll make sugar cookie cutouts for it. You can see some examples of the things that I’ve done in my gallery.

This past January, my best friend asked if I could help out by baking desserts for a Pro-Life dinner fundraiser being held for the Guadalupe¬†Workers. I happily agreed to bake (again: any purpose, reason or occasion). I decided on a variety of petit fours. But then I had an idea. One of my very first designs was a print of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had already digitized it for embroidery. Why not see if my 3D printing whiz of a friend could help me fashion a cookie cutter? Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn. They’re the *Guadalupe* Workers. And so I got to work.

The cookies above were the result of the first version of the cutter. There definitely needed to be some tweaks and modifications to make a repeatable process. Since I was already working on tweaking the first version and I knew Lent was quickly approaching, I started to think about other designs that I had printed and could digitize for Easter. I’ve been making rabbit and chick shaped Easter cookies for ages. Why not try my hand at something a bit more relevant to the way my family celebrates Easter? And so three new cookies cutters files were created from that inspiration.

I tested those cutters out and found that there were still some necessary modifications. Can I tell you how patient my dear 3D printing friend is? He’s been great about all of my ridiculous emails and all of the tweaks I’ve made here and there.

So the final products came out pretty reasonably, for a prototype. The cookies of Our Lady of Guadalupe were delivered for the fundraiser and I was pretty proud of them. My Easter cookies were a lot of fun too. I really enjoyed decorating them knowing that they were my own design.

My husband was fantastically supportive of my cookie cutter designs. So much so that he suggested finding a way to manufacture them. I thought that he might be a little bit crazy (and that he must love me a whole awful lot) but it also seemed like a reasonable idea. There’s all sorts of cookie cutters out there but how many of them are really accurate reflections of the religious holidays that we celebrate? And we can’t be the only family that wants to fight the secularization of holidays as we raise our children.

So what does that mean? Well, we bought a 3D printer! It’s currently backordered. (Must. Be. Patient.) When it does arrive, I’ll be prototyping cookies and rolling them out to Etsy and Peter’s Square as quickly as my increasingly pregnant self can.

I cannot tell you how excited I am to grow this part of my business. It’ll be a fun adventure. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!