Jul 302006

Had a call from a client this week…she was looking for a “build on” jewelry item. She heads up a sales force, and wants to reward them for acheiving levels of success. She tasked me with coming up with an easily repeatable, unique piece of jewelry that could be used to build upon…when her representatives acheive a level, they get another piece of the jewelry.

My first thought was a charm holder necklace. I developed a prototype and made some sample charms out of scrap wire. I wore it at the fair today and really liked it…while it had 7 charms on it (only 5 in the photo), it was lightweight, and really looked attractive! I can see anyone easily adding to the charm holder and making it something really personal.

I’m still thinking on the idea…but this remains one of my personal favorites, and I will probably make one for myself! Instructions soon on Beading Help Web.

Jul 282006

Children’s Jewelry

I get a lot of requests and interest in children’s jewelry – especially little girl’s bracelets, even for infants and toddlers. There’s just something really appealing about those little tiny bracelets and anklets!

A few pointers when you are making children’s jewelry…keep the design simple, and keep in mind comfort and safety. I can’t emphasize enough that any metal beads need to specifically state that they are lead-free…many pewter beads and charms are NOT, and no matter how cute they are, don’t use them for your children’s jewelry.

More tips on safety and design considerations can be found on Beading Help Web – Making Children’s Jewelry. And if you need some inspiration, this adorable pink Swarovski and Pearl bracelet is sure to catch any young girl’s eye!!

Jul 272006

Just a completely personal note here tonite…my sometime jewelry partner and I set up for our county fair today. We have a nice space in the commercial exhibits building and I really like the way our booth turned out. Showing is through Sunday evening.

It is hotter than the blazes. I’m trying to spin a way that two women, not bad looking, witty and personable, can attract buyers when it’s almost 100, no AC, no breeze in sight. But it’s not really working.

So the first night was quiet…too darned hot…one woman even almost got away from the Pampered Chef queens across the way from us because she stated that she was “too hot” to fill out a raffle entry (they got her by stating “BUT WE HAVE FANS!!”).

We have way cool stuff though. Between the two of us, we have some interesting displays (I’ll ask Angie if I can post her new necklace displays, they are pretty unique) and great jewelry.

Cross your fingers that the fairgoers agree. 😉

Jul 262006

Cell Phone or Backpack Charms

Even I was surprised at how big these went over with my test audience! Tonite while my son was at karate, I took some old glass beads my mom had given me (she’d made them years ago…they are torched onto copper tubes), put them on headpins using a wrapped loop, and attached to Rings N Things cell phone lariats. The beads themselves I classify as “orphans”…even though there are some that are the same colors, the shapes are a little off and the beads are less than “perfect”, but still, they are very nice beads!

I thought the final product was pretty cool and might go over well for the female tween and teen crowd at the fair this weekend, but I didn’t anticipate my son, and his MALE friends at the karate class going ga-ga over them.

I had 8-13 year old boys hanging around looking at what I’d done, picking out their favorites. My son nabbed one, then another and finally asked if he could have a third. Those big puppy dog eyes, how could I resist? Back home, he instantly attached it to his backpack for school (which starts up again in about 3 weeks!) and pronounced it “sweet”.

You won’t have any of these particular beads in your boxes, they’re one of a kind, but my point is that these charms are a great use for those oddball, won’t go with anything else beads. I also think charms or beads shaped like soccer balls, basketballs or footballs would be great for boys…unfortunately I’m thinking about it a bit too late for THIS show, but I’ll be hunting down some supplies for future ones!

Jul 252006

It’s not often I have an off day, and it’s even less often when I have one and try to create anyway. But today was one of those days…nothing seemed to really be working the way I was picturing it in my brain, so I finally decided either my brain, my fingers, or just my entire well-being was not in line…so I walked away. My table is littered with snippets of wire, perfectly wrapped jade leaves, a necklace centerpiece and tools. But there they will sit until my mojo comes back. 😉

Sometimes that’s just the way a day goes. Everyone has them…the trick is to not try to create when your muse is taking a serious “sick” day. Once in a while I can work through it, but not always.

At any rate, the evening was not lost. I did manage to price all the items I’ve made over the last few nights, which was fun because I got to look at all the pretty and creative things I’ve designed. In doing so, I reaffirmed that I’m just “off” for a short period…it’ll be back “on” soon.

What do YOU do to work through your blahs, blues, or blechs?

Jul 232006

Tried something new tonite. The SO has made his comments, so I think it’s a good piece (the more vague he is abotu complimenting something, the better it seems to be, LOL)

At any rate, I had a vision of a circle frame pendant with twisted wire stems and stones. About 1/2 way around the frame, I got bored with this technique (and tired of the Lapis chips that I’d chosen breaking.) I put the pendant aside for an hour and thought about using another technique in the same pendant.

Somehow, I started coming up with a dream-catcher style idea for the other half of the pendant, and you can see the result. I’m still plannning to Liver of Sulfur the piece, but I have a bunch of pieces that I want to LOS together. I’m still debating if this pendant will end up on a sterling snake chain or on a leather thong (which is what it’s pictured on). If you have a vote, please let me know!

SO’s comment? Well, first he just kind of looked at it for a while. Then he finally said “It looks like a LOT of work. Not something I’d wear though.”

I’ll withhold my counterpoint. 😉

Jul 212006

“Boy is that UGLY”

Well, in some cases, it really is, and it’s supposed to be! Remember, voting in the Ugly Necklace Contest is open until August 15…and there are some doozies to choose from this year. And just in case you missed the deadline for the 2006 contest, you’re just in time to start dreaming, or maybe I should say “creating inspired nightmares”, next year’s entry. Entries are accepted beginning September 1, 2006.

Sent out an email newsletter for the first time today…I wanted to let my clients know about upcoming events and remind them I am here. Postage being as expensive as it is, I will still mail out postcards, but it’s nice to use email when I can. I offer special discounts to anyone who brings me a copy of an email, and I’m toying with offering an even more special discount to anyone who brings me a postcard and their email address.

At any rate, I’m gearing up for the start of a very, very busy season and it’s only the end of July. Between a county fair next week and my last scheduled show early December, I have a record number of events on my calendar. I’m looking forward to each and every one of them!

Jul 192006

Beading for charity…

Whether you make beaded goods, sell them and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity, or just donate the beaded items straight out, there are loads of ways to feel good about helping out your neighbors and others in need. A few random thoughts

Make cause jewelry, such as Breast Cancer Awareness jewelry, and then donate some or all of your selling price to an appropriate charity. Another alternative is to donate the jewelry itself to an appropriate charity for an auction or raffle to help raise money.

Make beaded stretchy bracelets with lanyard hooks on them and donate to area nursing homes. Residents can use them to put their keys on…so much prettier than those spiral stretchy key bracelets!

Donate time or money to an organization like CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund), which helps craft artists who have been affected by disasters such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

More ideas? I’d love to post them here and in a future article on Beading Help Web. Drop me a line at beadingpublisher@consumerhelpweb.com!

Jul 172006

Another tip on tumbling…watch out with long chains! They do require extra care.

When I tumbled my latest work, I was a little concerned about the chain tangling. I had done the larger necklace with the glass pendant, but also had a more delicate version (with 20g wire) that I wanted tumbled as well. I was a bit nervous about the chain I’d attached, but unlike the other version, it wasn’t detachable.

A fellow member of the Bead and Button community forum suggested I use bread ties (the plastic covered ones) to hold the chain together. Russ Nobbs, of Rings N Things, suggested I try wrapping the chain around a hard piece of plastic. Having neither bread ties or a piece of plastic, I decided to try using some scrap wire and the first method (I’ll try Russ’s method the next time).

I wired the chain every couple of links and twisted the ends of the wire together. Muttering a prayer to the tumbling gods, I dropped my necklace in the tumbler and turned it on.

About 30 minutes later, I pulled my necklace out. It was incredibly shiny, the wire was hard, and…..

…it was a ball of tangled mess. I almost cried – there’s not much I hate more than untangling chain (my husband and son love those tavern puzzles – I hate them and I think it’s the same concept) – but I gritted my teeth, put on my glasses, and started in.

Amazingly enough, once I located the wire “ties” and loosened them, the tangles seemed to come undone almost by themselves. Yes, the tangle still stole about 15 minutes of my life that I will never get back, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, and certainly nowhere near as bad as it would have been had I not used the wire ties.

Next time, I’m trying the “wrap around a piece of hard plastic” method…I can’t imagine that it would tangle at all doing that, which would suit me just fine. In the meantime, if you are tumbling chain, be sure to take those extra precautions. 😉

Jul 162006

Last night, I finished up my last piece for a client who gave me some free reign on work she wanted done.

It was a fun piece to make – first of all, I loved the design of the chain. I was poking around on some of the Four Seasons of Jewelry web site a few days ago, saw a necklace with open swirls, and put it in the back of my mind. My design incorporates a different style of connecting the swirls (16g wrapped double eyepins, don’t tell me THAT didn’t make my fingers ache!) and I created a Y commector to hang the pendant that I’m really proud of. (Use the technique for making wrapped loops to make the connector and double eyepins, just make a second loop at the bottom. Also, I don’t use a pliers to wrap anything over 20g, too easy to marr the wire.)

The other thing that makes mine unique is that the large rectangular chain on the back of it can be easily removed and worn as a bracelet. It’s a wonderful, versatile piece! I can’t wait to share it with my client.

I’m not happy with the scan yet…the one I’m posting looks closest to the actual color of the glass pendant than any of the others I tried last night, but it’s really a neat pinky/purple that adjusts color based on light and background.