May 302007

Here we are, on a nice beach, and what am I doing? Why, looking for things to use in jewelry making, of course! In addition to being a nice momento from my trip, I love finding things like beach glass, agates and other nice smooth stones that can be wire wrapped, put in little bottles for pendants, or even drilled for a simple pendant.

Other things to find on the beach? Shells, driftwood, anything that can be worked into jewelry. Let your imagination run wild!!!

May 272007

We’re on the road this week…traveling literally across the country to visit friends and just take a nice quiet holiday.

While I travel, I like to look for new bead shops (and write up a quick review to help point you at great retail bead stores!) and pick up something to make for myself as a souvenier of my trip. Last year while in Manitoba, I got some pretty glass beads in an apricot color, and spent an afternoon sitting by the lake doing a wire coiled bracelet using the beads. Now whenever I wear that bracelet, I think about my trip! Much less expensive than a tacky t-shirt, and more fun too. 😀

More as we travel South…I understand there is a fantastic bead store in Savannah that is simply to die for!

May 192007

I’m always being asked how to oxidize (also referred to as antiquing, tarnishing) metals. There are a number of different methods. Permanent articles are posted on Beading Help Web’s Basics page.

Liver Of Sulfur is quick and produces excellent results. Purchase LoS at a jewelry supply store or rock shop (most craft stores, like Hobby Lobby or Michaels will NOT carry the chemical). LoS can be purchased in solid form or liquid. Use care with either method, as the chemical is toxic – gloves and eye protection are recommended. After immersing the piece in warm LoS or painting the components to be antiqued, rinse well and dry thoroughly.

Hard boiled eggs are also an easy to use method, inexpensive, and more environmentally friendly than LoS. The downside to “egging” your jewelry piece is that it takes a bit longer. I’ve worked with my egg method, and have found that using hot, straight out of the boiling water, eggs work best. Place the jewelry and unpeeled eggs in a ziplock bag, close the bag (but leave a small opening to allow for expansion), and crush the eggs through the outside of the bag using a spoon or bottom of a plastic cup. Close the bag tightly, and walk away. I like to turn the bag over a few times, about every 10 minutes, because the metal touching the surface that the bag is sitting on won’t oxidize as well.

Finally, a new method of oxidizing that I’ve found for copper is to heat it. An oven (NOT A MICROWAVE) can be used – experiment with different temperatures and length of time for different results. About 30 minutes at 300 will produce swirls of purples, blues, browns, and oranges…30 minutes at 400 will achieve a brassy gold color (I’m an alchemist!!!).

I generally oxidize finished jewelry, unless some of the components won’t mix well with the method I’m using. In that case, oxidize only the metal components that you want antiqued. Most non-porous stones will be fine with any method, but if you are in question, test on a spot or broken bead/stone first. With all methods, use tarnish remover, very fine (0000) steel wool, or a tumbler to remove tarnish from surface areas after oxidizing.

May 152007

I was pleased to find an advance copy of “Getting Started with Seed Beads” in my mail box yesterday, and browsed through the contents last night.

I’m the first to admit that I haven’t caught the seed bead bug yet, but this book really captured my interest! It truly is a beginner’s book and has great intro instructions, including the difference between various types of seed beads, threads, and tools. Now I’m anxious to try out some of the techniques and stitches to spread my beading wings just a wee bit more. 😉

Look for Getting Started With Seed Beads by Dustin Wedekind this month (May 2007) from Interweave Press. And look for my in-depth review on Beading Help Web’s media page as well!

May 142007

Aside from good company and good exercise (that walk turned out to be almost 4 miles around a lake in 90 degree weather!), my daughter got me Tammy Powley’s Mixed Media and Memory Jewelry. She’s already told me which projects she’d like to have made for her. 😀 (I hinted that she could come up to our place and we could make them together!)

The book is full of interesting ideas and projects that use components outside the normal beading box. I’ll write a more in-depth review for Beading Help Web’s media page, but glancing through, it’s got some great ideas! From soda can earrings to recycling Grandma’s old jewelry, I think jewelry makers who want to try something different will enjoy this book.

May 132007

Hope all my beading buddies are having a wonderful Mother’s Day. Whether you have children of your own, or act as a role model, THANK YOU for all you do!

I tend to have a simple Mother’s Day celebration, myself. Today we are visiting our grown daughter and her boyfriend, going out for a casual lunch and then taking a long walk at a state park. I’ll have all my kids: daughter, son, and #2 son (the furry one ;-)) so it promises to be an enjoyable, relaxing day!

May 112007

Well fellow beaders, it’s time to vote once again in the Land of Odds Ugly Necklace contest. There are ten doozies of ugly ugly neckware to choose from…and those nasty necklaces are accompanied by a poem that describes the, uh, well, “design”.

It’s not easy to create something hideous. I don’t know about you, but Cyndi Lavin’s “Queasy” definitely has my vote. Not only is her design deplorable, but the simple lines of her poem moved me to run for the restroom. And her photo is right in the spirit of things as well.

Have fun…let me know YOUR favorite!

May 112007

Time has totally gotten away from me…been busy with commissions and Mother’s Day items and have just lost track of time! A few quick tidbits….

Mother’s Day – it’s right around the corner! Is your mom a beader? Well, if she’s like me, she’d love a magazine subscription, gift certificate to an online or brick and mortar store, or a GC for a beading class. If mom’s not a beader, make her a great family-oriented gift…use crystals in birthstone colors to signify kids and grandkids in a ring, bracelet or necklace.

Tents and canopies…I could write an entire novel right now! I did quite a few outdoor shows last year, and sadly, the canopy that I’d gotten from a sporting goods store didn’t hold up. After talking to a number of folks, I decided to invest in an EZ-Up canopy with sides. At Sam’s Warehouse, it was around $199, and I do have to say it’s HUGE, plus it’s easy to get up and ready to go. A big thumbs down on the carrying case though…it’s nearly impossible to get the tent back in the bag, and the handles are in all the wrong places.

Summer vacations are right around the corner…for the last couple of years I have gone to a bead store or beach on vacation, picked up some unique beads or beach glass, and made myself a nice piece of jewelry. It’s a great souvenir and I have the fun of making something that makes me think of my vacation (a plus is when I can actually do the creation while I’m on vacation and think of the location whenever I wear it!)