Jan 312008

Exciting news! The wonderful group who organized Ornament Thursday over the 2007 Holiday Season has expanded the project for all of 2008, and I have been invited to join in!

The project is a little different from the 2007 weekly commitment, with a new on theme “ornament” or craft project to be posted by artists on the last Thursday of each month. While I wasn’t able to commit to January’s project (between teaching, birthdays and other commitments, the deadline came up way too quickly and I didn’t want to disappoint!), look for a couple of Valentine’s Day themed projects very, very soon.

So here we are – off to check out what the Ornament Thursday Gals have been doing! Enjoy.

Ornament Thursday Blog January is coming to an end and Valentine’s Day is looming on the horizon. Whether you wish to shower the people you love with love or show yourself a little well deserved affection, the Ornament Thursday Gang has a bevy of beautiful ideas to inspire you!

Art Bead Scene The designers at Art Bead Scene have two jewelry love stories for you! Elaine Ray links together a little love with her ceramic heart components while Melanie Brooks Lukacs tells a little tale of romance in a Gothic Garden
Cindy Gimbrone Beads Cindy’s Love Story is about a hook and beads
Earthenwood Studio Bead Blog What is sweeter than a mix CD for your Valentine? A yummy gift box in which to present it, filled with candy themed decorations, including a cute bracelet and cell phone charm!
Hali’s Blog Hali’s flowers of love in Ancient Bulgarian. Two paintings in stylized Cyrillic spell out L-U-V.
Heart mobile painted paper pulp hearts
Humblebeads Heather shares her favorite bracelet design in a Valentine inspired color scheme.
Jennifer Heynen of Jangles Jennifer has made a fun “Ornament” for her neck that looks good enought to eat.
Joolz by Lisa This “Love Story” will last all year long! Lisa shares how beads and books work together.
Katie’s Beading Blog Here’s a happy little heart project for you – use it to embellish a bag or your jeans, or as inspiration for a necklace or bracelet.
Kriss Cramer – Art Interrupted Grow Love! Nuture and care for your loved ones every day. Use this heartfelt book, you can make yourself, to remind you of all the love you have to give.
Linda Augsburg at Make It Mine magazine Linda’s love story project is a dress she embellished by stenciling dancers and a big band along the hem. Read why and learn how to do it yourself on the Make It Mine blog.
Michelle’s Love Story… The band is getting back together again! Ornament Thursday celebrates the story of love…
Savvy Crafter Candie’s love affair with big rings continue…she’s making her own now! Love Stories and more over at the Savvy Crafter! XOXO!
Snap out of it, Jean! There’s beading to be done! Ah, Love ! This satirical creation of Jean’s immortalizes certain women’s profound affecton for their … handbags!!!
Strands of Beads Love speaks many languages. Learn how to say “I Love You” in an untraditional way with Melissa Lee’s whimsical jewelry project.
SwellDesigner Alexa shares with you her truly swell and punny Valentines!
The Impatient Blogger Love is in the air at The Impatient Blogger! Margot shares two vintage inspired jewelry designs that are oozing with romance…in a good way!

Jan 312008

Today’s preview is for Simply Modern Jewelry, designs from the Editor of Stringing magazine, Danielle Fox.

Targeted toward intermediate beaders, Simply Modern Jewelry gives design a new edge. I like where this book takes my mind – away from the ordinary, and close to the cliff, but not quite over it. There are asymmetrical designs, symmetrical but fun, mixed media, and twists on traditional stringing that will help your imagination go wild!

Some of the exact components depicted may be hard to find (for example, there are some very cool earrings that use PMC charms; you can make your own, or buy something similar in silver) but I don’t think exact duplicates of the designs are what Fox had in mind.

A little of a coffee table book to flex your design power, and a little of a how-to book, Simply Modern Jewelry is a good bet for anyone looking for fresh new ideas.

Jan 272008

I was asked by a few people to post pictures of my first soldering attempts – here they are:

Three silver rings (I made one other, but I gave it to my daughter before taking a picture!) and another little silver ring with swirls on the top and bottom.

I know I’m no where near good at this yet, it’s one of those things that’s just going to take some practice! But I am really enjoying it – and even if I can’t sell my first creations, they are good enough to give away or wear myself. 🙂

The round rings turned out a little large after I got done hammering them to add some texture, so they will probably end up as earrings, or maybe a link in a pendant. Or I could use my saw to cut a chunk out and resize them!

Making the rings gave me some practice not only in soldering, but in sawing as well. Even though I could have used a flush cutters and then filed the ends of the rings, I think it’s a lot more accurate to use a saw and get a really tight join on the rings.

More to come!!

Jan 252008


After reading SBS Jewelry Workshop the other night, I had decided I really HAD to try out some of the techniques…and why not try something that involves toxic chemicals, fire, and sterling silver (currently hovering over $16/oz yeeks) for starters???

So after working out, spending an hour finishing up the book Sybil at the dojo, and cleaning up the house after I got home, I decided to make a ring.

The results weren’t perfect, but I’m pleased. I purposely made it big, for my pointer finger or thumb, and I love it.

I used 12g sterling silver wire, silver solder (purchased from my Local Rock Shop today), and hammered the wire for a nice texture. Before the flux (also purchased from the LRS) was painted on the ring and solder chip, I made sure I had my jeweler’s tweezers, a small container of cold water (for quenching the ring) and pickle (made from a bit of vinegar and salt and heated in the microwave), and a wooden popsicle stick to pull the ring out of the pickle.

After three tries (I had to work at where to place the solder, what point of the flame to use, and how long to leave it on the solder before I did get it to work), I had a very good solder…there is a slight line where the ends of the ring meet, but the ring is solid and it’s not going anywhere!

If you haven’t guessed, I had fun doing this, and I plan to do more soldering in the near future. I’m really excited that I have finally tried it out!!!

Jan 232008

I am sooo excited. I have not been this excited about a book since I got my copy of Bead on a Wire, which introduced me to the fantastic world of wire working.

Oh, yeah. What am I’m so excited about? Step-By-Step Jewelry Workshop: Simple Techniques for Soldering, Wirework, and Metal Jewelry. I just had about an hour to browse through the book while my son was in his karate class, but I was wishing I was in my studio to start trying out the techniques right then and there!!!

Pictures (350 of them!!) are GREAT. Really excellent step by step instructions. The wire working section was meh, I already know that, and there was a section on bead stringing that really seemed out of place, but there are detailed instructions on soldering, cutting, piercing, doming, riveting, forging and more more more.

SBS Jewelry Workshop will be available April 2008 from Interweave Press. At $24.95 US, it’s well worth the price. Put it on your “wish list” now. 🙂

Jan 202008

This beaded chain is so lightweight, you’ll barely know you have it on! Use tiny beads, in any color or combination you’d like. I designed this necklace to benefit a local charity, Parents United, using the awareness colors for their organization. While I’ve labeled this project as Intermediate level, if you have mastered wrapped eye pins, you’ll find it a snap.

Level: Intermediate

Sterling silver lightweight cable chain
Sterling silver lobster clasp
4mm beads (4)
22g sterling silver wire
4mm sterling silver jump rings (7)

Step 1: Cut 15 inches of chain for a 17 inch necklace.

Step 2: Make beaded links using the 22g wire and the 4mm beads. I leave my wire on the spool to eliminate waste. String a single bead on the wire, and allow it to fall to the spool. Using a round-nosed pliers, make a loop approximately 1cm from the end of the wire. Wrap the wire around the neck of the loop.

Step 3: Move the bead so it is tight against the wrap that you just completed. Make another loop about 5mm above the bead, and wrap the wire around the neck.

Step 4: Clip the wire close to the last wrap, and use a crimping pliers to bring the end in close to the rest of the wraps if necessary. This is your first link.

Repeat steps 2-4 to make the other three links.

Step 5: Connect the links using the jump rings. Connect one end of the linked section to one end of the chain, using a jump ring. Connect the other end of the linked section to the other end of the chain.

Step 6: Hold the necklace so that the links are centered, and determine where the center of the chain is. Cut the chain in half.

Step 7: Attach a lobster clasp to one end of the chain using a jump ring, and attach the remaining jump ring to the other end of the chain.

Jan 192008

Interested in entering a contest this year? Was it one of your 2008 goals?

Rings N Things offers a fun contest every year, with several different categories to choose from.
Mostly Metal
Polymer Clay
Metal Clay
Alternative Materials

There are rather stringent guidelines for photos, but they can be submitted online. Winning entries take home prizes (in R&T store credit) from $75-$750!!! Entries are accepted February 1-29, 2008. Visit Rings N Things “Your Designs Rock!” for more details.

“Owl’s Eyes”

Last year, I submitted three entries, and was excited to receive an Honorable Mention for “Owl’s Eyes” as well as having “Sweet Denim Blue” chosen as one of Polly’s Picks. I received a really nice certificate, store credit, and had a lot of fun creating contest entries!

“Sweet Denim Blue”

Jan 182008

How can you give back to your community as a beader? Here are a couple of ideas, based on some service projects I’m doing in the next couple of weeks.

Girl Scouts. A Girl Scout leader in my area who knows I make jewelry approached me and ask if I’d help the girls with a jewelry-making badge. We decided on a project (basically, my Clasp 101 bracelet), ordered some fun beads that were age-appropriate, and set up kits for the girls to make their project. Overall, it’s going to take about 2 hours of my time (ordering, organizing the supplies, teaching the girls), but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Tip: Make sure you pick a project AND supplies that are targeted to the group age. Older Girl Scouts might want to do Amanda earrings involving a little wire work, and Brownies might be better off making stretchy bracelets. Watch lead content on anything for younger kids.

Charity Fundraiser. Someone I work with had seen my work, and she asked me if I’d help design jewelry for her charity, using their “signature” colors. I was glad to do so, and came up with several designs for men, women and kids that incorporated the colors into the design. The members of the organization will join me in a “craft day” when we’ll assemble the jewelry, and then they plan to sell the work at a national convention later this year. Because I can utilize my buying power (Fire Mountain Gems and Artbeads got business on this one…assortability and free shipping were definite factors!), supply costs are kept low, and because my time is donated to teach them how to make the jewelry, there’s no overhead beyond supplies.

Tip: Get a budget and plan from there. Capitalize on suppliers who can give you the most bang for your buck. Also, make up samples ahead of time if you are having a “craft day” to assemble pieces…even if you have enough supplies to allow folks to be more creative, they will have a good idea of what to make, and guidelines will stretch supplies further.

Jan 112008

Yes, it’s almost here!

Online sign ups for classes at the June 2008 Bead and Button Show start January 15, 2008. I’ve been taking the time to peruse the class lists and find some classes that look interesting…and there are lots of them!

From PMC to basic metal working to stringing to bead weaving…the B&B Show, sponsored by Bead and Button magazine, has it all, taught by some of the best known beading and jewelry artists in the industry! Names like Katie Hacker, Lisa Niven Kelly, Dallas Lovett…just to name a few.

Classes fill up QUICKLY, so do your planning now, and remember to stop back at the site on January 15.

See you at the show!!!

Jan 082008

Ami (Amigail Designs) recently posted a picture of a multi-strand necklace that she’d made recently, and I was so excited by the colors she’d used that I wanted to try something along the same lines myself.

The base colors (red, turquoise, yellow, orange, lime green and purple) I picked looked like a bright holiday – something tropical and summery that were sure to raise my spirits and make me feel warmer on a cold winter’s day – and I was excited to try something COMPLETELY different from my usual style.

There’s very little rhyme nor reason to the design, which is part of why I love it so much. I picked out colors, used different shapes and sizes of beads, and added some Bali silver here and there to break it up. The two strands of the bracelet use the same color scheme, but different types of beads for each color.

Tied together with an interesting turquoise toggle from Fire Mountain Gems, I’m loving the totally unique and eclectic design of this bracelet.

Now, my challenge is to each of my readers to use the same colors (red, turquoise, yellow, orange, lime green and purple)…let’s see what you can come up with!!