Jan 292009

Guess what?! It’s Ornament Thursday time again! This year’s Ornament Thursday team has decided to base themes on colors…and what a wide variety of colors we have in store for you!

One great addition for this year’s events – YOU are invited to join us! If you’d like to get in on the Ornament Thursday projects, contact any of the OT team and let us know you’d like to join. Blog entries are due on the last Thursday of the month, and we’d love to see what you can do!!!

Up first: Celeste – ice blue for January’s winter chill. My contribution dresses up a plain toggle clasp using gorgeous ice blue topaz from The Earth Bazaar, as well as tiny sterling silver round beads, miniscule freshwater pearls, and a few moonstone cubes tossed in for good measure. The clasp is then used as the focal for a simple sterling silver chain…and I think it’s the perfect neck “ornament” for an Ice Princess!

Celeste Wrapped Toggle Necklace

16mm plain sterling silver toggle clasp
30g sterling silver wire (about 40″)
Assorted beads 3mm – 4mm (I used round blue topaz and sterling silver, rice freshwater pearls and moonstone cubes)
Bulk chain (however long you would like your necklace to be!)
4mm sterling silver jump rings

My toggle ring was rounded, and wrapping is much easier on a flat surface, so I carefully hammered the larger ring until it was flat.

Next, I secured the 30g wire around the ring, about 4 wraps, leaving a good length of extra wire at the end for a tail.

After securing the wire, I began randomly adding beads, making sure to wrap both around the toggle and between previous beads to keep them secure. The wrapping wire is pretty well hidden by the beads, so don’t worry if it’s a little messy…the trick is to be sure it’s tight and holds your beads in place. Before adding the next bead, I wrap at least twice.

You can see here how I began loading up the toggle with beads and filling the gaps between beads.

To finish the toggle, I secured the wire around several beads and clipped it close to the toggle.

Next, I attached a fairly hefty chain to both the ring and the bar. The toggle can be worn at the front of the chain like a pendant, and the size of the necklace could be adjusted by winding the chain once around the ring and re-inserting the bar through the ring.


Jan 262009

For some reason, today I decided I wanted to make a tiara.

I’ve never really been a tiara kind of girl, and I really don’t know what put it in my head. But there it was, and the little voice nagging just wouldn’t go away.

I googled “tiara making instructions” and came back with lots of ideas, but nothing that clicked for me. Also, most of the instructions required a tiara frame, and I didn’t have one. That nagging voice kept picking at my brain, saying “You have 14g copper wire, just use that!”

So I did.

I took about 18″ of 14g copper wire, and shaped it into a headband. Hammered the heck out of it to make it keep it’s shape. Now I had a tiara frame of sorts.

Now I needed to do some decorating…again using copper wire (this was a prototype!), I made three hearts and two swirls out of 18g wire for the centerpiece. After doing a little more hammering on each one separately, I started binding them together using 26g copper wire. At each join, I added a 6mm clear Czech bicone, which gave it some sparkle.

Next up, bind the centerpiece to the frame. I used 20g wire this time – it’s more sturdy than the 26g, but is still fairly easy to wrap. I started in the middle of the decorative part, being careful to keep it in the center of the frame. I wrapped one side first, added a final bead, and wrapped the tail to the last swirl. Time to wrap the other side to the frame, add a bead, and complete the final wrap.

Voila! I now have a tiara fit for a Queen. I’m wearing my tiara around the house tonite to see if it gets me any respect (not so far, LOL) and have decided I am now a tiara-wearing kind of girl. I will definitely do another version, perhaps using a different style centerpiece…this was a fun project!

Jan 242009

Busy week…I accomplished a LOT!

First up, earrings to accompany already created necklaces.

Citrine and Sterling


“Ruby Jade” Hearts

Labradorite and Sterling complements my Lab Works necklace.

Copper Swirls.

And finally, a chunk of amethyst crystals that just begged to be wrapped. Believe it or not, this is so snug, the stone is not going anywhere despite the open appearance. I really think it showcases the crystals nicely.

All of these pieces are being created for the Art & Soup show next month…I’m very excited about this show and hope it is successful!

Jan 222009

I’m a sucker for jewelry making contests and magazine submissions. I didn’t participate much last year, but I’m planning to toss my hat in the ring a few more times in 2009!

If you’ve never entered a jewelry making contest or submitted to a magazine, the best advice I can give you is to have good photos of the work you are submitting (this goes for juried shows as well!). Chances are, the person judging your work is only looking at that photo, and you want the lighting and setting to be as good as they can be.

Another important tip is to read the submission instructions carefully, and follow them to the letter. Many contests will specify the size and/or resolution of photos, some allow email submissions, others only want photos sent in via a CD, actual photograph or slide. Additionally, some will require that you send in the actual piece for “professional” photos if you win, so you will not want to sell the piece (unless it’s to someone that you can borrow it back from!).

Here are a few current contests and submissions to think about…heck, don’t just think about them, ENTER! And have fun. Lots of fun. 😉

Rings N Things annual Your Designs ROCK! contest submissions due Feb 1 Feb 28, 2009. I’ve already talked a LOT about this contest…the photo requirements are VERY explicit. Be sure you follow them to the letter or you will be disqualified!

Fire Mountain Gems 2009 Beading Contest. Entries due by April 15, 2009. Lots and lots of categories to choose from, and no limit on the number or pieces you can enter.

Jewelry Lessons Valentine’s contest. Post images to the site by February 1, 2009. Design something that is “Valentine” in theme and win prizes (there are lots of tutorials and products that are offered!)

Bead Trends monthly magazine submissions are ongoing, and while the “prizes” aren’t huge, you get the satisfaction of seeing your work in print, and a couple of copies of the magazine! Monthly submissions and themes are available on the site, usually due to the email address listed by the 25th of the month.

Good luck…and be sure to let me know what happens!!!

Jan 192009

Today one of my “tasks” was to create a gallery on my web site of work. I have a lot of photos of jewelry I’ve made and sold, or it’s not up for sale…and no where to display it. One of the problems with a site like Etsy is that you can only “show” pieces that are for sale or have sold through the site.

So I added 11 pages to my personal web site, and loaded 50+ photos of earrings, bracelets, pendants, and necklaces that I’ve made over the years. While I looked at the photos, I thought about the person who bought the piece or received it as a gift. A few pieces sold at art shows or consignment shops, so I’ll never know the story behind the purchase, but in many cases, I do…and it’s fun to reminisce.

The pendant pictured at the left was a gift for a very close friend. She loves pink, and this just shouted her name to me. I chose it for the opening page of the gallery because it’s a pretty piece, very unique, and it has a rich history for me.

I’ve received some positive feedback from some friends that took a look at my new Gallery, but I’d love to hear yours as well! And share with me some of the ideas you have in how to “show off” pieces that you no longer have – it would be great to hear additional ideas!

C-My Designs Gallery

Jan 172009

Didn’t get a chance to make much this week, but I was pleased with the two things I did make!

First off, the toggle clasp that I “dressed up” was attached to a sterling silver Tryzantine and ruby chainmaille bracelet that I really like a lot.  I like the fact that it’s a little snug, but it can be easily adjusted using additional jump rings on the bar end of the toggle.

That feature is something that’s important to add when you are either selling or giving jewelry as gifts – make sure there is a way to adjust the size up or down. While I make things for the “average” wrist, or an “average” sized necklace, I try to work a method of adjusting into the design.

To go with the necklace, I also made a pair of earrings, using the tiny rubies and really tiny (3mm) sterling silver round beads. I am working on making “sets” where ever possible – while one person might not want to buy both a necklace/bracelet and matching earrings, I like to offer them for potential gift giving. Either one does stand alone, so it really doesn’t matter to me if they sell together or not!

Jan 162009

Last night I picked up the mail, and found the new copy of the Rings N Things 2009 catalog. True confession, I don’t buy much through the catalog any more – I’m lucky enough to have their trunk show come to town once a year, and I load up on gorgeous R&T product then!

BUT, a new catalog just screams for paging through, and there are always some great finished pieces for inspiration!

So after I did some work around the house, I settled in for a little down time on the couch. Imagine my surprise when I turned page 37 of my catalog and glanced through page 38.

Something looked familiar…I did about three double takes and finally said “Hey! That’s ME!!!” (to an empty house…the boys were both gone and the dog was outside, LOL). It was my “Owl’s Eyes” bracelet, which was entered (and won Honorable Mention) in the 2007 Your Designs Rock! contest.

I was really thrilled and kept going back to page 38, even after I’d gotten far into the catalog.

Someone on one of the jewelry boards asked why R&T didn’t notify me that they were including it in their publication…well, when I entered the contest (in 2007) I’m sure there was a “we can and probably will use your images” clause, and besides, I don’t really mind it being a surprise.

What a great way to end the evening!!!

Jan 132009

I was working on a bracelet using some scrumptious rubies from The Earth Bazaar yesterday, and thought long and hard about what to do for a clasp.

A nice swirl or S clasp would have worked, but just didn’t have the “oomph” that I wanted to add to this bracelet.

I remembered Lisa Niven Kelly’s “Tornado” clasp, and thought I could try something similar using my wire wrapping skills.

I had a plain toggle clasp that I’d gotten from Artbeads.com a while back, and decided to make it sparkle using 30g sterling wire, tiny rubies (also from T.E.B.) and 3mm sterling silver round beads.

Basically, I just wrapped the rubies and silver beads around the front of the ring of the toggle. I didn’t plan out any design, just added beads as I went along, and used the wire to stabilize the beads in place.

Wrap, wrap, wrap…and I love the result! The bar for the toggle still fits well through the ring, and snugs up nicely when worn. Since the toggle is now weighted down with stones and beads, it stays at the inside of the wrist – although I wouldn’t mind if it slid up to the top either!

I’m thinking about doing a few more of these, maybe even use for a focal on a necklace. The wrapping wasn’t horribly difficult (although I do have wire cuts all over my fingers!) and the results are really unique.

Jan 112009

Came back from a quick trip to Kansas City yesterday. When I left Omaha, it was 28 degrees, but the ground was clear. (Our typical winter is: Snow, Melt. Snow, Melt. Most of the time it’s brown, not white outside!)

While I was out of town, we had a couple of inches of snow, so now it’s all white and pretty…but COLD!

Perfect for hunkering down with a jewelry project or two.

This afternoon I plan to work on a few projects, but I think I’ll make up some earrings that I created for a special project last week. Here are some written instructions  – quick and easy and really cute!

Orbital Bead Earrings

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

18g fine silver wire or 7mm 18g soldered jump rings (2)
3x4mm rondelle bead (2)
Head pin (2)
Earring findings (2)

To make your own fused jump ring, wind the 18g fine silver wire around a 7mm mandrel. Using a saw or flush cutter, cut the jump rings. Fuse ring ends together using a butane torch and quench.

1. Hammer rings slightly to give them a bit of texture. Polish with a Sunshine cloth.

2. Thread one bead on each headpin.

3. Using a round nosed pliers, start a wrapped loop on the headpin wire above the bead- don’t close the loop yet! Link the large jump ring through the loop, and finish the wrap.

4. Attach the earring finding to the wrapped loop, allowing the bead to fall inside the jump ring. Polish the entire piece with a Sunshine cloth, or pop in your tumbler for at least 30 minutes to bring out the shine and harden the metal.

Jan 112009

Week 2 was busy! I worked on a special commission of pendants and earrings, and was pleased with how they turned out.

Next up, I made 5 pairs of little earrings. Instructions will be posted on the blog in the next day or so. These are cute and feminine…dainty!

Finally, I made up a pair of earrings to match last week’s Iolite and Pearl pendant. Very simple.