Feb 182009

We had a blast tonight at Iowa Western Community College!

I had six students, including my awesome hairdresser Tammy, her daughter Jess, and her mom Dianne. Everyone got to create a unique bracelet and earring set, and it was totally a fun “girl’s night out” activity.

As a bonus, I showed the class how to make their own ear wires…they finished their projects early, a first, so in the extra time, we chatted and I gave them the “extra lesson”.

I’m really excited about next week’s class, which is a beginning chainmaille class. So far, there are 8 students signed up, and I’m limiting the class size to 10. I think it will be easier to teach, but I want to make sure I have enough supplies on hand for each student to complete a bracelet.

Are you interested in teaching? Read about some ideas to set up a class (and questions to ask yourself to find out if you should really be teaching!).

If you’re interested in the projects we completed tonite, check out the Bracelets 101 and Simple Dangle Earrings tutorials on Beading Help Web.

Feb 172009

Wrap up for Art & Soup….just two bracelets.

#1 is Rhodonite and Fine Silver links that I shaped into squares to match the stones. Very simple, but I was quite pleased with the clasp on this one.
The photo is not bad, but doesn’t show the nice pinky-grey of the stone.

Next, what I call a Caterpillar weave…others have called this Cleopatra or Snakeskin with Bead. I love love love this bracelet, it’s so slinky! I may just remake one for myself…..

The weave is just tiny – 4mm round beads with 7/64 and 7/32 rings in sterling silver.

That’s all for week 7…hoping to get a couple of pieces made next week to put “on the shelf” for upcoming shows!

Feb 102009

Not a ton of production going on last week, but it’s probably close to my final push before the Art & Soup show.

The leather and Byzantine necklace were one of my two accomplishments of the week. The other is a fine silver link bracelet.

This design was the result of some doodling during a staff meeting last week. We recently took Emergenetics personality tests, and one of the things that came out about me is that I will doodle and draw during meetings, but people shouldn’t assume that means I’m not paying attention. Rather, it’s how I do concentrate and process the information that’s being relayed.

Nothing like having your quirks validated to your boss by an official test, LOL.

Any way…I loved this design…it’s 14g fine silver that I simply cut lengths of, blobbed the ends using my torch (much as you would in making head pins!), worked into the swirls and hammered. Jump rings hold together the links.

I don’t usually “name” my work, but this one begged to have something other than “Fine Silver Swirl” attached to it. A forum friend, Carina Veling of Violet Moon, said she liked my “@” bracelet…and I thought it was the perfect description and name for this piece! Carina makes the most incredible earrings and shares her designs on a regular basis…matter of fact, she’s the inspiration for the “Everything from Week of…” posts! Please check out her work.

This week I’m concentrating on getting my inventory tagged – I’ve come up with (yet another) tag for bracelets and necklaces – this one feels like the end game, however. (In other words, “I think she’s got it” a la ‘enry ‘iggins….) More on my new tags in the near future.

Feb 072009

I love the look of chainmaille (duh) but necklaces can be a bit daunting to make. For one thing, all that silver (or copper!) adds up in cost, making a simple chain necklace out of most people’s price range. And while I love working on maille, 16-18″+ of Byzantine weave gets a little boring!! Finally, there’s the weight…unless you use micro-rings, you’re going to have a necklace that could double as an anchor if you are ever out in a boat and forget to bring one along.

This week, I found a solution that solves for all of the above – and it looks great too! I’d really love to wear this with an open color blouse…any color will do, since all you’ll see is the silver of the Byzantine weave!

Leather and Chainmaille Choker

Level: Intermediate

1.5mm Greek Leather – 22″ (for 16-18″ necklace)
Sterling silver lobster clasp
Sterling silver soldered jump ring (I used 4mm)
20-22g sterling silver wire (round, dead soft or half hard)
Sterling silver jump rings for chainmaille weave

Cut leather in half.
Fold one piece of leather in half, so you have a loop at one end. Use the 20-22g wire to wrap the loose ends together tightly. Add the clasp to the wrap and rewrap to secure. Use a pliers or crimper to secure the ends of the wire. Run your fingers over the wire to ensure there are no ends poking out!

Repeat with second section of leather, adding the soldered jump ring instead of the clasp. Add one 5/32″ 18g jump ring to the soldered jump ring for easier fastening.

Begin your chainmaille weave, using one of the leather sections as your anchor. I made a Byzantine weave, using 5/32″ 18g jump rings. Try a 2-in-2 weave if you are just starting out, or a Jens Pind Linkage if you feel daring!

The leather sections total 11″, so make your chainmaille long enough to finish the length of the necklace. My necklace is 17″, so my chainmaille section was 6″ long.

Attach the end of the chainmaille to the second piece of leather.

To finish the leather, I wrapped the 20-22g wire around the loop end (nearest the chainmaille) 3 times, and secured the ends. The loop is now tight enough that the leather doesn’t look sloppy, but loose enough to allow the maille section to move a little with your body.

I also think this would look great with the chainmaille oxidized, but keep in mind that you’ll want to create your chainmaille section OFF the leather, oxidize, tumble and then attach the rings to the leather sections.

You can easily adjust the leather length for a shorter or longer necklace. I also think the black Greek Leather would look great with copper – just substitute copper jump rings and wire!

Feb 022009

Another busy week! For one thing, I made that tiara last Sunday…and added a bracelet and four pairs of earrings to my inventory.

The bracelet is Blue Peruvian Opal, with a design inspired by a project in Sharilyn Miller’s Bead on a Wire.

One of the things I have never been able to get good at are hoop earrings. With some help from my pal Jeri, I finally have some hoops I’m pleased with!

Finally, a pair of Egyptian Coils earrings.
On to another week of jewelry fun!

Feb 012009

My baby turned 15 today.

We spent the day at a wrestling tourney, and the evening watching “Bad Movie of the Week” on Sci-Fi, playing “Trash” (card game) and eating pizza. All his favorite things.

Mom and Dad gave him all clothes – we felt badly and thought we should have gotten him something “fun”, but fought the temptation. He was actually Very Pleased with his new hunting gear and Under Armor.

Maybe he’s actually growing up. 🙂

Well, maybe not……