Category Archives: Crafty Things

Good Clean Fun & Other Thoughts

I’ve been making loofah soap this week. This is a holiday tradition for me. I like to make up gift baskets of this soap, a salt or sugar rub, and lip balm. My family and friends keep asking for my little homemade goodies so I think this craft is a hit!

I use melt and pour soap because it’s faster than from scratch and you can add any scent you like plus color if desired. Soap crafting is fun and very practical, useable craft. All you need is a microwave, microwave-able measuring cup, knife and cutting board, pot holder, and your melt and pour soap!

Do you have a favorite quick and easy craft you make and give? I’d love to know what you are making as gifts! Please leave a comment!



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Quick Fire Fusing

I’ve been doing hot glass crafts for the past few years. I started with making beads on a torch, then began to do some fusing and slumping of glass since I had the kilns (beads must be annealed in a kiln before using them). I made these pendants (and coordinating earrings and a ring) for a jewelry special-interest magazine last year. I wanted to share them with you. >>Maria

One lucky person who posts a comment for this blog post will win one of my pendants that was published in Jewelry Creations II! Deadline to leave a comment is Dec. 1 at midnight ET.

Quick Fire Fusing

By Bo and Mo Given

Note: Who are Bo and Mo Given? This is a byline I often use when a design of mine gets published. It’s a tribute to my dogs and I know that’s a bit silly, but as a designer and writer I enjoy using several bylines that pay homage to my family and friends!

This beginner fusing project uses a quick firing kiln for speedy glass fusing.  The abstract design makes each piece a one of a kind.


Diamond International Wasser Glass: yellow, brown, light brown, tiger’s eye, gold, butterscotch, weathered, red flash, surprise, and heavy gold



Safety glasses for glasswork

Quik-Fire kiln

Kiln shelf primed with release


Rubbing alcohol

Lint free paper towels

Pin back, earring posts, pendant bails

Optional:  Thinned white glue or fusing glue


Firing Temperatures:

Wasser glass has a COE 90
(~±5°F and are dependent upon glass color and thickness)
Softening Point :1240°F (677°C)
Tack Fuse :1285°F (696°C) Orton std. lg. cone 18 (r/r 108°F)
Full Fuse :1340°F (727°C) Orton std. lg. cone 17 (r/r 108°F)
Annealing Temperature : 940°F (482°C)
Shrinkage Initiation Point :1360°F (738°C)
Balling Formation Starts : 1450°F (788°C)
Glass Lost / Shelf Intrusion : 1550°F (843°C)

1. If you do not have a kiln, check out your local stained glass or glass working studios as they often have fusing classes or offer kiln time. If you do not have a quick firing kiln, use the firing temperatures above. When cutting glass use caution and care. You are working with hot glass so be careful and consider all surfaces hot.

2. Cut glass into thin strips in various widths and lengths.  Most strips are no more than 1/4 wide and 3” long. As you design you might want to nip strips shorter. Remember that edges of cut glass can be very sharp.  Handle glass carefully.

3. Work on a clean surface and once cut clean all glass pieces with rubbing alcohol.  It’s important that the glass be oil and lint free when fired (heated).  Once happy with design, place glass onto kiln shelf that has been prepared with release (following manufacturer’s instructions for applying release).  It’s also important that glass be completely dry before setting on the kiln shelf or fusing (firing).

4. As you design your pieces make sure you include some small sets that can be turned into earrings.  You may want to leave some openings to turn the piece into a pendant or leave a place where a pendant bail can be glued.  As I made my pieces, I was thinking pins so I made sure there was a space that a pin back could be adhered. I do not use any type of adhesive as I design abstract pieces.  If a piece of glass moves as fired I consider it part of the abstract look, however, you can apply a watered down white glue or fusing glue to the back of glass to avoid glass moving.  Remember that glue must dry completely before you fire your piece(s).  Any moisture when firing may cause the glass to crack.

5. Place shelf into kiln, close kiln, and turn on. The quick firing kiln will get to full fusing temperature (Wasser 1340 degrees F) within five minutes so it’s important that you never leave a kiln unsupervised.  As the temperature rises to full fuse, put on your safety glasses and check glass. Never look into a kiln or torch without safety glasses designed for hot glasswork. If fused (fully melted together), turn off kiln and keep open until temperature is around 1200 degrees F.  You may have to vent several times to keep temperature below full fuse.  Allow kiln to cool completely.  Allow glass to cool completely. Your glass should be annealed (kept at a temperature for 20+ minutes so the glass is at its strongest, least likely to break or crack) if you didn’t open the kiln after you brought the temperature down to 1200 degrees F. If working in a studio, staff will most likely compute a sequence for the kiln.

6. Once completely cooled clean pieces with rubbing alcohol. Add pin back, earring posts, or pendant bails as you prefer.

Fusing is a great way to use small pieces of glass and a wonderful way to design pins, pendants, and other jewelry components for unique and personalized jewelry. Find a stained glass or glass studio in your local area for fusing classes.

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Faster Plaster Pumpkin Necklace

November 18, 2009 – Inspired at Home Pajama Party! This pumpkin is made with Faster Plaster, one of the coolest products I’ve enjoyed in ages. It’s not a new product, but I’d never worked with it before because I thought it would be too messy and take too much time. I was wrong on both worries. It was fun, fast, and not messy at all!

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Pumpkin Necklace

By Maria Nerius


  • Faster Plaster
  • Measuring Cup
  • Water
  • Country mold (Sculpey)
  • Orange, green, and brown paint paint
  • Glossy Accents (Ranger)
  • Toggle finding
  • Small jewelry bail (Aanraku)
  • Bead wire
  • 4 Crimping beads
  • Crimping tool
  • Assorted beads: 6 green E beads, 40 yellow seed beads, 30 orange seed beads, 40 tan seed beads, 50 brown seed beads, 20 moss green seed beads; 2 lady bug beads
  • Ring finding
  • Paint Brush
  • Glue
  • Scissors


  1. Mix 1/4 cup of Faster Plaster and pour into mold.  Follow packaging instructions. Remove pumpkin after dry to touch and use microwave to spend drying if desired. Make two pumpkins if you are going to make both the necklace and the ring.
  2. Paint pumpkin body orange, leaf green, and stem brown. Allow to dry and add a little shine by painting pumpkin with Glossy Accents. Adhere bail to back of pumpkin and allow glue to dry.
  3. This necklace is 13”. Cut bead wire to 20”. If you want a longer necklace, cut bead wire to your desired length plus 4-6”. Thread a crimp bead, 3 green E beads, a crimp bead, and one part of the toggle finding onto one end of the bead wire. Thread bead wire back through the crimp bead, E beads, and second crimp bead. Crimp with crimping tool. I like to double crimp for extra strength, but feel free to use a single crimp to hold your closure.
  4. String onto bead wire 5 yellow seed beads, 5 tan seed beads, 5 orange seed beads, 5 tan seed beads, 5 yellow seed beads, 5 brown seed beads, 5 moss green seed beads, 5 brown seed beads, 5 yellow, 5 tan, 5 orange, 5 tan, 5 yellow, 5 brown, a lady bug bead, 5 brown, 5 moss green, 5 orange, 10 brown, and pumpkin pendant to necklace.
  5. Reverse and repeat pattern of Step 4 starting with 5 orange seed beads.
  6. Repeat Step 3 to secure second part of toggle closure.
  7. Make a Ring!: Paint second pumpkin, allow to dry, adhere to ring finding!


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Felted Pumpkins

Inspired at Home Pajama Party
Duel Felted Pumpkins

By Maria Nerius for

I enjoy the colors and flavors of fall especially pumpkins! I always had the very best pumpkin patch as a kid and enjoyed seeing just how big those pumpkins would get! I decided to make some miniature pumpkins this year. My friend Marilyn and I enjoy making felt balls for jewelry and I decided to take some of our tiny orange balls and create a pumpkin! I did needle felt the stems so I’m calling these my Duel Felted Pumpkins. Enjoy!

Felted Pumpkins by Maria Nerius

  • The first step is to create felt balls using the wet felting technique. Fill a large bowl with several cups of water and add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the water and mix. Do not use anti-bacterial soap, just plain, inexpensive liquid dish soap.
  • Gather orange roving and wrap fibers into a ball. You’ll have some shrinkage so make sure your ball of roving is slightly larger than you want your pumpkin. Hold ball of raw roving in one hand over the bowl and with the other drizzle on the soapy water. You want to wet the roving not soak it.
  • Toss the ball of felt between your hands, the tossing action helps the fibers bond. Keep drizzling the soapy water over the ball. Once the felt has some “body” to it, you can roll it in your hands; this is the final stage of wet felting. You want a firm felt ball. Rinse until you see clean water and then set aside to dry.  The felting process can take up to 5 minutes and the felt will usually dry in 12-24 hours.
  • Note: You can needle felt a ball; gathering the roving into a ball shape and then jabbing your felting needle(s) into the roving to agitate the fibers to bond, but if you want to make several of these mini pumpkins, wet felting is the easiest way.
  • Thread a long needle with coordinating thread and knot off. Holding a felt ball in one hand, bring the needle through the ball at center top to center bottom (the knot will be at the top of the pumpkin). Now bring the needle center bottom to center top and back through to center bottom. This stitch will begin to make the sections of the outside of the pumpkin. Repeat as many times as you want sections. My sample has 6 sections. Knot off.


Felted Pumpkin How to by Maria Nerius


    • Take a small amount of green roving and wrap as a small snake. Needle felt until you have a nice stem. Then place stem at center top of pumpkin and needle felt the stem to the pumpkin.
    • I made several sizes of the mini pumpkins, so experiment and have fun!
    • Felted-Pumpkins-4

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