Mar 272008

Time to sprout!

Earlier this month, I “teased” you with just a snippet of my Ornament Thursday project…and now it’s time to unveil the entire project!
My husband looked at this pendant and said “Sprout?” so I used my best PR spin to convince him. It’s made from a) a lentil bead (get it, like a seed?), b) has swirls at the top to represent the tender green shoots emerging from the earth, and c) a tiny little swirl at the bottom to root my sprout into the fertile ground and nourish it for life.
Okay, he rolled his eyes and said “If you say so”, but I convinced myself. 😀 And the design must be pretty good, because I’ve already had a commission from someone who spotted it and wanted it in another color.
With no further ado…here are the step-by-step instructions for this intermediate project. I’d suggest you have some familiarity with wire wrapping, and if you’d like, try it using copper or craft wire before moving to sterling silver.
“Sprout” Wire Wrapped Pendant


10mm lentil shaped bead
16g dead soft round wire (approximately 6″)
26g dead soft round wire (approximately 24″)
Level: Intermediate
Step 1: Cut a length of 2 1/2 inches of 16g wire. Create a wrapped loop at one end and set aside. I’ll refer to this as the stem from now on.
Step 2: Cut another length of 3 inches of 16g wire. Wrap the loop around a mandrel (I use a Sharpie marker) so that it makes an open tear-shaped frame, with the ends overlapping. Thread the loop from the stem created in Step 1 onto the wire.
Step 3: On both ends of the 16g open frame, create a loose, flat swirl. Bring the swirls close together at that the top of the frame so that they meet but do not overlap. There should be a slight gap between the two ends.
Step 4: Thread the lentil bead on the stem, letting it fall to the wrapped loop that you created in Step 1. Begin tightly wrapping the 26g wire on the stem above the lentil bead, and leave a tail about 1cm long at the end – you’ll create an open swirl on the face of the lentil bead to hold the wire in place. Continue wrapping until you have reached the base of the swirls.
Step 5: Begin wrapping the 26g wire around the outside of the swirls, with the stem secured between the swirls. When you reach the spot where the swirls no longer touch the stem, continue wrapping only the stem.
Step 6: Wrap the stem an additional 3/4 inches Use a flat-nosed pliers to make a bail, folding the wrapped wire back behind the swirls.
Step 7: The stem will hold the lentil bead in place, b
ut it needs to be secured to the frame. Bring the end of the wire back around the frame (to one side of the wrapped loop you used to thread it on the frame in Step 2.). Wrap the end of the stem around the frame a second time.
Step 8: Create a loose swirl against the lentil bead with the tail of the 26g wire. Create a loose swirl on the end of the stem, centering it below the lentil bead. I made these two swirls so they were going in opposite directions to create some balance.
As an optional step, you can oxidize your pendant using Liver of Sulfur or hard boiled eggs, or leave it shiny! I prefer the oxidized look with most wire wrapping, because it makes the wrapping stand out.
As a final step, I tossed my piece in the tumbler with stainless steel shot, water, and a squirt of blue Dawn dishwashing soap – this will smooth out any rough edges, give the piece a great shine, and harden the wire.
Check out what the other Ornament Thursday gals came up with for their Sprout projects this month…..
Alexa Westerfield – a.k.a. Swelldesigner
Now that’s it’s time for spring, ideas are “sprouting” all over the place. Alexa creates this eye-catching notebook to keep them in order.
Art Bead Scene
Some good karma is sprouting up at the Art Bead Scene with Heather’s Lotus Flower Bracelet
Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
The Brooklyn National Anthem sprouts every year when Cindy’s in Spring mode. See what it inspired this year!
Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie giggles and remembers a furry friend, brings back an old mold, and sprouts up a beaded LOLhammy ceramic ornament
Helen Bradley and Michelle Zimmerman at http design
It’s spring and we’re sprouting all sorts of wonderful art at http design. Michelle is toting her art to the market and Helen revisits a fun art school assignment for her inspiration.
Humblebeads celebrates spring with a Berry Good bracelet inspired by some juicy disk beads.
Jennifer Heynen of Jangles
Jennifer has come up with a cute little necklace to remind you of spring.
Katie’s Beading Blog
Create some spring flair of your own with this easy bead embroidery idea from Katie’s book, Hip to Bead.
Melissa J. Lee – Strands of Beads
What do Korean playing cards have to do with a sprouting spring? Check out Melissa’s blog to find out.
Savvy Crafter
Candie shares some happy spring memories with a cheerful felty flower idea!
Spring is Sprouting for Joolz by Lisa
Even without a green thumb, Lisa managed to “grow” a garden of sorts this month.
The Goddess ROCKS!
Inspired by a river rock shaped like an ancient goddess statue, Hali paints, melts crayons and adds glitter to create a sparkly celebration of Spring.
Vintage Girl Teams Up With Her Vintage Momma!
What does a gal do when she finds herself far from her crafting supplies? Why, she raids her mom’s basement and then puts dear old mama to work! Stop by and you’ll see why mom’s basement is fertile ground for things that sprout!
Mar 262008

Want to be a Bead Star? Well, you can throw your hat in the ring for a chance at over $12,000 in prizes, including a trip to Santa Fe for the 2009 Bead Expo!!!! Entries are due no later than May 6, and can be submitted via email.

Interweave Press, publisher of Bead Work and Bead Style magazines, has announced a Casting Call for the Bead Star contest. Winners will also have the opportunity to donate their work to an auction benefiting the American Heart Association’s women’s heart health initiatives!

More on the contest on the official Bead Star web site…good luck!!!

Mar 252008

If you’ve been following my posts for beginning beaders, you’ve now figured out what you need to get started, how to make a stretchy bracelet, and you’ve graduated to making jewelry with clasps.

Next up, learning a few tricks with wire! Making loops or wrapped loops is essential to making earrings, and once you’ve mastered that skill, you’ll probably be itching to try something even more challenging!

Wire is a great medium to play with – even with copper wire you can buy at the hardware store, or craft wire from a floral store, hobby store (like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), or fabric store, you can make easy rings. Again, no special tools necessary – if you don’t have a ring mandrel, use a wooden dowel or even a marker barrel to shape your ring! I love working with wire because it’s so versatile – alone, it can be twisted and turned into so many shapes and designs…add a few beads and you’ve got a unique work of art!


Mar 172008


Sticking with the basics, you’ve made a Stretchy Bracelet and you’re ready to move on to the next step: bracelets with a clasp. The first question many beginning beaders ask is “How do I hold the clasp on the bracelet? Knots? Glue? Special tools?”

The answer is easy: Crimps! Crimps are very tiny and thin beads that are specially designed to hold clasps of all kinds on the ends of jewelry. No glue or knotting needed, and you can get by with just a normal needle nosed pliers from the household tool box to start.

If you want to create the perfect crimp, you’ll need a crimping pliers. It takes some practice (as I tell my students…I’ve been making crimps for years!), don’t be disappointed if yours doesn’t look perfect the first time.

So pull out your beading board, gather some pretty beads, and get ready to make your first clasp bracelet. Once you’ve made a bracelet, making a necklace or anklet is super easy…just make it longer!


Mar 122008


Yep, that was the theme for the month of March…and I volunteered to be the Featured Artist and provide a teaser photo before I knew what the theme was.

Sprout. O-kay then.

So I doodled leaves sprouting from seeds. I googled “sprout” and found photos of the Jolly Green Giant’s sidekick. I thought about how much I like bean sprouts but detest alfalfa sprouts (they taste like DIRT, in my humble opinion).

And I wondered how I could incorporate Sprout into a piece of jewelry.

You’ll have to wait until March 27 to see the final product, but I promise to also post step-by-step instructions of my version of Sprout.

And honestly, I’m pretty darned pleased with the end result. Doesn’t remind me of dirt one little bit. 😉

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Mar 122008

You’ve just innocently wandered into the bead aisle of Michael’s or Hobby Lobby or a local bead store. You remember a pretty bracelet you admired on the wrist of a friend the other day, and that she said she’d made it. You think “That might be fun…I could probably make one too!”

Welcome to the world of beading and jewelry making…if you catch the bug, you will likely be hooked for life! But looking at the aisles of products to buy can be a little intimidating…what do I need? What’s optional? What’s a crimp bead and when do I use one?
Over the next few days, I’ll point you in the right direction to get started…and then you are well on your way to making professional-looking jewelry in your own style, favorite colors, and latest trends!


Mar 102008

I’ve been doing quite a bit of soldering lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what I’m doing. A few things I’ve learned:

1. You can make your own pickle (what you soak the quenched pieces in to remove any oxidization that occurs during the heating process) from vinegar and table salt. Keep the pickle hot – I know some folks who get small potpourri crockpots for their pickle – I’m using a Mr. Coffee mug warmer with an old coffee cup on it.

2. Don’t leave anything in the pickle when it’s not heated or it will discolor. 🙁 (Now I get to re-clean a pendant!)

3. Less is better with solder and flux – I was using too much, but just a tiny little pallion (square) of easy solder works perfectly well. You can always add more in subsequent spots. Flux – just paint on a little in the areas where you’ll be joining, don’t dip the whole piece in the flux.

4. Copper and silver heat at different temps, and it’s definitely more challenging to solder them together! Heat up the copper first, then add the silver.

5. Overheating causes big blobs in the worst case scenario, and reticulation (bubbles and deformities) in the best.

6. I’ve been using the following process for small pieces (clasps, wire pendants): paint flux, place a tiny piece of solder, use the torch to warm the piece (just until the flux starts to bubble), then spot concentrate heat on the section to be soldered. When the solder flows, quench immediately in cold water, then drop in the pickle. It does seem to be working well…not perfect, but I’m getting the process down.

Soldering is definitely addictive – yesterday I made up about a dozen clasps (S hooks, variations on Swan clasps) and once they were soldered I couldn’t wait to do another piece!