Oct 272008
 

Here in the Midwest, we’re right in the heart of the fall season – gorgeous colors in the leaves everywhere! My friends and I went to Monroe Reservoir yesterday, and I photographed some amazing colors of leaves…maples and other trees that I can’t identify off the top of my head.

At the Reservoir, I walked on some rocks out to the center of the creek and took a photo of the trees…I can find so many great color combinations that would be great in fall jewelry!!!

Oct 262008
 

I missed a couple of days here, but with good reason! This past weekend was my annual “girls only” trip – meeting up with friends from all over the country to just relax and have fun.

We’re here in Bloomington, IN, home of the Hoosiers. On Saturday, we visited downtown Bloomington, stopping at Emporium Beads. Emporium has more than just beads – treasures from all over the world! I was seriously in love with some onyx goblets, but decided to hold off on them for now.

Emporium offers a nice selection of beads, both in strands and loose (single) bins. Basic tools, findings, and other supplies like wire and beading thread are also for sale. Prices are reasonable, and while I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, my friend Sara discovered some lovely glass AB beads in shades of purple, blues and bronzes that we turned into a pretty earring and necklace set.

Cleaning jewelry

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Oct 212008
 

Is your jewelry looking a little dingy?

I wear a sterling silver Half-Persian 3-in-1 bracelet nearly 24 x 7, and after a while it starts looking just a little greyish. Depending on how much time I have to clean it up, I use a couple of different methods:

Couple of hours to overnight – drop it in the tumbler with some clean water, a squirt of blue Dawn dish soap and stainless steel shot. After even just 30 minutes, it’s looking a lot better; an extended bath makes it sparkle like it’s brand new.

If I’m a little more rushed but want to clean it up, I’ll use the jewelry cleaner from www.sunshine101.com – I love this stuff and it works nearly as well as the tumbler! Here’s a little about Sunshine’s jewelry cleaner:

Professional Jewelry Cleaner – safe for fine jewelry, gold, platinum,
silver, pearls, opals, soft stones, antique jewelry, costume jewelry and of
course diamonds.

**CONTAINS NO AMMONIA, ACID OR ALCOHOL**
This amazing cleaner contains 100% biodegradable cleaning agents plus
banana and coconut oil. The cleaner rinses film free; that’s why it brings
out 100% more sparkle, color and brilliance to your diamonds, cubic zirconia’s,
crystals, rhinestones, and all stones; opals radiate more fire, and pearls
impart more luster. It is mild enough for pearls, yet powerful enough to
bring back that “brand new look” to all of your jewelry.

**NOTE** Do not soak soft stones for any length of time. Use the cleaner on
soft stones to just wash them then rinse with water.

Safe to soak diamonds overnight to loosen any dirt that may have settled
under the prongs.Our Jewelry Cleaner can also be broken down one third cleaner
to two thirds water in a spray bottle for cleaning crystals, glasses, and
mirrors. Cleaner acts as an anti-fog for glasses and mirrors.

I really like Sunshine’s cleaner, and it lasts a long time as well. I last ordered a large container nearly two years ago, and I’m still using it!

Oct 202008
 

It’s always fun to get good stuff in the mail. Today, amongst the credit card offers, grocery ads and a statement from my dentist, I got two small packages.

And you know what they say about small packages 😉

The first was a pack of 10 lampwork pumpkins that I ordered from an eBay seller. They were a little larger than I’d thought, but will still work swell for some fall/Halloween earrings.

The second was a small box of rings from The Ring Lord…although I like making my own rings, I do order specialty and tiny rings from TRL – in my opinion, they have The Best Rings out there! This order included some tiny (3/32) sterling rings, some 14k gold filled and some rose gold rings. MMMMMMMMMMM I was drooling all over the table!

A couple of things to keep in mind if you are ordering rings from TRL. First, if you want nice, flush cut rings (suitable for jewelry), you need to order SAW cut, not MACHINE cut. It sounds backward to me, but believe me, you don’t want to make this mistake! With the saw cut rings, properly joined jump rings will appear to have no cut – I pride myself in nearly invisible joins and have had fellow jewelers compliment me on my joins.

Also, make sure you add a note in the comment field to mark gauge, metal type and ring size for all rings. If you don’t, TRL will just drop your rings in the bags and you’ll be on your own to figure out what’s what.

What’s in YOUR mail box today?

Oct 192008
 

I’m so excited – I was notified last week that I’ve been accepted into the Omaha Visiting Nurse Association’s annual Art & Soup event! Sixty artists are invited to attend, with 50% of sales going to the VNA. In addition, chefs from 25 restaurants create incredible soups to taste while patrons browse the gallery. It’s a very exclusive event, and I’m ecstatic to be taking part!

From the VNA’s web site:

Our compassionate staff provides care to all individuals regardless of age, color, creed, neighborhood, or ability to pay. For more than 110 years, the VNA remains true to its mission to develop and maintain innovative programs that bring comfort and healing to the sick, frail, young, injured and the dying. Our overall goal is to provide peace of mind, quality of life, and independence for the client, their family, and their loved ones.

The VNA provides wonderful services for those in need – and I’m pleased that I’ll be able to help them in their goal to raise over $100,000 at the event.

VNA’s Art & Soup is February 22, 2009. Save the date – I hope to see you there!

Oct 182008
 

One of my sidelines is teaching continuing education classes at my local community college – the classes are fun, I get to know some incredible people, and it’s a good way to spread the knowledge of jewelry making!

Next Wednesday I have a beginning jewelry class – in the class, students learn to crimp, make wrapped loops and open and close jump rings. Everyone gets to make a matching bracelet and earring set which is completed in class.

I structure my classes pretty loosely – a quick intro into who I am, how I got started making jewelry, some of the techniques students can “grow” into. I also cover some basics, including where to buy supplies, tools, and a little jargon. Once we get through the intro, it’s on to jewelry making!

Each student gets to pick from a variety of kits that I make up from beads in my “stash”. I have LOTS of beads, and try to “design” kits that have fun colors and beads in them. Early attendees get first pick out of the kits I have made up!

So today (among the 547 other things I need to accomplish) I’ll be making up a few more kits – it’s going to be a big class, and while I have some kits made up, I like to have more than enough on hand to give everyone plenty to choose from.

To make the kits, I use a piece of beading wire (about 9″ long) and string the beads in the design that I have in mind (students are told that they can follow the design, or make up a design on their own). Instead of crimping and finishing up the bracelet, however, I lay out the mock up and take a quick photo. I unstring the “bracelet” and drop the wire, beads, two crimps and a bowed toggle clasp into a zippered baggie. For the earrings, I put matching beads, two headpins, and ear wires into a smaller baggie and place it in with the supplies for the bracelet. After printing up the picture of the mock up, I put it inside the larger bag, and there’s my kit!

If you aren’t teaching a class, but are traveling or just want to put some beading projects away for a rainy day, you can use this method to have everything on hand when you are ready to bead. Also great for kids, kits give them something to follow and all the beads are right there for them to string and wear!

Easy Earrings

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Oct 182008
 
Whether you are making them for yourself, for gifts, or to sell, earrings are always a hit. My favorite earrings to make (and wear!) are simple dangles – just a headpin with a single bead and a wrapped loop at the top. Hang from a pair of french wires, and you’re done! Dress it up with some spacers or a bead cap if you’d like.

Tonite I made up several pairs of simple dangle earrings for my fall shows. I like using my fine silver headpins (no tarnish!) and earring wires that I’ve made myself – it really adds to the individuality of the piece, no matter how simple.

I strung one 6mm freshwater pearl, a Swarovski crystal wheel, another pearl, and finished off with a sterling 2mm round bead. I’ve got the Swarovski wheels in several colors, so I made up a few colors to offer in the same style.

Simple, stylish, classic. I love this style!

Recycling

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Oct 162008
 

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe my life right now. My FT job is very demanding (which I love…I hate being bored!), fall shows are in full swing, planning for my daughter’s wedding, and just trying to keep things in semi-organized chaos around the house are a challenge.

But I’m going to seriously attempt to blog, even a teeny weeny bit, on a daily basis for the next week. Get me back in the habit and I’ll probably do it on a regular basis!

Speaking of challenges…I’ve been seeing a number of challenges and contests lately for jewelry using recycled items. There are so many ways to recycle using jewelry – from mixed media projects made from found items, to redoing flea market finds – I know you can come up with some great ideas!

One of my favorites was the floppy disc charm bracelet I made for my friend Amy. Geek Chic used the metal from old 3.5″ floppy covers and it makes a great conversation piece!

Another favorite recycle project was the set of bracelets that I made from an old necklace of my grandmother’s. I used the light blue Swarovski crystals in her necklace, added some clear crystals and “garden” themed beads (dragon flies, flowers, butterflies) and made bracelets for my daughter (who’s named for my grandmother), my mom, my sister, my brother’s daughter, and me.

Look around you – is there something you don’t use, or are planning to throw away that might make great jewelry? Use your “green” eyes and repurpose something!!