Feb 272007

From Rings N Things today:


We’ve extended the deadline for our annual design contest, so there is still time to share your best creations with us — but time is running out! All entries must be submitted online or postmarked by 11:59 p.m. (PST) Monday, March 5.

Prizes range from $50 to $750 Rings & Things gift certificates. In addition, all winners and additional top picks are featured in our online Design Gallery, and some designs may be featured (with credit to the designer) in our catalog and promotions. That’s exposure to over two million people worldwide, which you can use for “as-seen-in” promotions of your own!Enter up to three pieces, and choose from six contest categories. For details and to enter, see: http://www.rings-things.com/contest/2007/index.htm

Feb 262007

I had a GREAT jewelry weekend…taught a class on Saturday and today we were “snowed in” (I could have gotten out but chose not to!)…so I worked on jewelry instead. Fruits of my labors:

– Resized three stretchy rings for a coworker
– Finished up another half-Persian 3 in 1 bracelet that I started last night (left)
– Got caught up on Year of Jewelry projects – weeks 7-8 are now done, photo’d and blogged
– Started a necklace that will be interesting when it’s done. Sort of a butterfly weave with labradorite beads.
– Photographed two pieces for the Rings N Things annual contest (due February 28!)
– Cut about 300 sterling rings and tumbled

Back to reality tomorrow!

Feb 252007
Last Sunday, I took my first PMC (Precious Metal Clay) class, and it was so much fun! If you have never played with PMC before, look for a class in your area…serious good time, and what a great jewelry-making medium!

If you are not familiar with PMC, it’s basically clay that’s been infused with pieces of fine (.999 pure) silver (gold is also available). You simply work the clay as you would polymer, or even clay used for making pots etc., and then fire it. The clay burns away, leaving behind silver in the shape that you created it. There is a shrinkage factor, depending on what type of PMC you are using, but even the impressions you make on the clay are evident on the silver.

In the class I took at Eyebeads and Gemstones on Sunday, we created earrings, pendants, and then were free to create at will using the extra clay. Because the instructor had to fire the additional pieces, I’m only able to share a picture of the earrings I created at this time. More as soon as I pick up my finished pieces from the shop.

I’m not quite done with these earrings yet, but working with PMC was a rewarding and fun experience and a medium I’d like to continue to explore. At around $40 (US) for a small package of clay, it’s not cheap, but given the quality of the finished product, I’m anxious to continue to “play” with the clay.
Feb 222007

Had a couple of good questions in my inbox today that I wanted to share.

From Holly:

My crimp bead will be fine for a day or two, but after wearing my bracelet for a
couple of days the crimp bead keeps breaking and the wires it is holding come
free. This has happened on several of my bracelets. Do you have any ideas for me
on what I am doing wrong or anything I can do differently to make this work?

My suggestion to Holly was to be sure first of all that she’s using sterling
silver, not base metal crimps. I’ve used both, and found that the base metal
crimps don’t hold, don’t take a nice crimp, and frequently break. My advice
is to spend a few cents more and buy sterling crimps – well worth the

If the crimps she’s using are sterling, I also suggested that she try a larger size. I’ve also found that smaller crimps don’t work with heavier wire – it can wear and eventually break.

From Malissa:

I am new at beading. What is the metal thing called on top of the bead. I sent
pictures so you could see what I was looking for.

Malissa’s “metal thing” is a bead cap – used to “frame” beads on pendants, drops, or even within a bracelet. they can be used on one end, like the one in her photo, or smaller caps can be used on both ends of a bead.

Feb 182007
Yesterday was sort of clean up day – I did two repair jobs I wanted to get done, a commission that needs to get sent out in the mail, my week 6 Year of Jewelry entry (I’m a week behind, yikes!), and a display idea I’ve been playing around with.

I am taking some jewelry to a local winery, Breezy Hills Vineyard, and instead of the usual boring black velvet displays, I wanted something more fun and appropriate to the winery atmosphere.

Enlisted hubby’s creative mind (he’s good at bouncing ideas back at me) and came up with the display at left. Unfortunately, photos don’t really do it justice, but I really, really like the way it turned out. The only thing I’d like to add is lighting, but I’m not sure at this point if the winery can support that or not.

To start with, I used two empty wine bottles from the winery, a couple of hunks of viney-garland wound around each. The mid section is a 36″ piece of aluminum that was bent into two “posts” to sit inside the wine bottles and suspend between them, a little like a clothesline. I curved the “clothesline” so that it has a little more depth (that’s what’s a little hard to see in the photo), and used ornament hangers to hang bracelets and shorter necklaces from it.

Viola! an inexpensive, interesting display that can be altered for whatever purpose you want – if you don’t want to “promote” wine, you can use interesting bottles from other foods – how about olive oil or regional syrups (clean out the bottles really well first!) or a couple of heavier glass bud vases with smaller necks.

Feb 172007

We haven’t been hit as hard with snow as some of you, but it’s the end of February, and I’ve had enough. I’m ready for green grass, budding trees and allergy season, LOL.

To push spring along a little faster, I’ve decided to hold a spring contest – details are available on Beading Help Web’s home page. Essentially, make something using beads on the topic “Is it Spring Yet????” and submit a photo between March 1-31. If you have the judge’s favorite entry, you’ll win a $25 gift certificate to Artbeads.com!

Looking forward to seeing YOUR entry!!!

Feb 172007

If you’re a beader, hopefully you’ve encountered Katie Hacker! Katie is the instructor for PBS’s Beads, Baubles and Jewels, where she instructs viewers in beading techniques in a fun and informative manner. She’s also a best-selling author – her most recent book, Hip to Bead, is a great collection of fun beading ideas that are trendy.

While perusing Bead Unique‘s most recent issue, I came across a cute bracelet and earring project of Katie’s – she’s got an easy style that I really like.

Katie also writes a fresh and energetic beading blog – I enjoy reading her stories (one about “my dog ate my jewelry” made me LOL) and seeing what she’s up to. This June, she’ll be teaching at the Bead & Button Show – don’t miss it if you are in the area!

I had the opportunity to catch up with Katie this month, and got some great answers those questions that “enquiring minds want to know”. Read the full interview.
Feb 162007

I had a request a few days before I went on vacation for some beaded rings. A few days after I returned, I got an advance copy of Beadwork Creates Jewelry – 40 Beaded Designs in the mail. One of the projects was a beaded stretch ring – just what my friend at work was looking for.

I followed the instructions (and modified just slightly) and decided the results were just delightful! The shank of the ring is made up of 4mm Bali daisy spacers, and the focal is a pearl with two crystal wheels on either side of it.

All in all, it’s very comfortable to wear, looks great, and took me only a few minutes to make!

Look for an in-depth review of the Beadwork Creates Jewelry book, which will be released in April 2007, on the media page of Beading Help Web in the next few days.

Feb 142007

I just spent a long weekend in Florida with friends…nothing like sunshine and warm temps to bring back my spirits!

This weekend is an annual event and one of my favorite short vacations – it’s a “girl’s weekend escape” and we do silly things like go to the beach, sing in the car and shop. I know it’s hard to believe, but I asked if we could visit a bead shop, and we found a delightful one in Fort Lauderdale – Beads, Beads, Beads. Look for a review on the store soon. 🙂

While on vacation, we also made time to visit the Fairchild Tropical Gardens, which were featuring glasswork by Dale Chihuly. When someone had first suggested going to see the exhibit, I nearly fainted at the thought…Chihuly’s work is simply breathtaking, and I was not disappointed. While there weren’t any beads ;-), there was plenty of inspiration in the colors, shapes and textures of his artistry. A couple of examples at left.

I was welcomed back to Iowa with a nasty winter snow storm, but I felt rejuvenated and ready to start diving into some new projects and reviews.

Feb 072007

I got an email from a gal who is going to take my Basic Jewelry Class this month.

“I inherited some of my Grandma’s necklaces and would like to make a bracelet and earrings from one of her double strand necklaces. Is that possible? I think if I practice, it would make nice keepsake for my daughter and my niece.”

What a great idea!!! And you know what…this is a terrific and original idea for Valentine’s Day! Whether you are creating for a sweetheart, a daughter, or son, look at “heirloom” jewelry to see if you can create something special from a piece that’s been in the family for a while.

Back in November 2005, I’d written some tips on retooling heirloom jewelry. Take a look…and send me photos of your old to new pieces! I’d love to feature them in a future Beading Help Web article!!!