Apr 202009

I posted these cute earrings in a couple of forums and was asked to create a tutorial for them. They are fairly quick to make, and have loads of possibilities! Add a simple loop at the bottom and drop another dangle below the main stone.The first version I made using 20g gold-filled round wire and citrine stones. The wire hardened up after tumbling enough that I felt it was stable. In this version, I’ve used 22g half hard sterling wire, which is what I usually use for earring findings.

While you will want to be careful not to “chew” up your wire with the pliers, don’t worry about bending the tail up a little.

Knot Your Average Post Earrings

Level – Experienced Beginner – should have some experience with wire work

6″ 22g HH round sterling silver wire
6mm beads (2)

Round nosed or stepped pliers
Flush cutter
Chain nose pliers
Nylon jaw pliers
Cup Burr

1. Cut wire in half so you have two lengths 3″ each. This will be longer than you will need for your posts, but I find it’s much easier to work with longer lengths for this project. Instructions below are for one earring; therefore, you’ll just be using one length of wire and one bead.

2. Make a tiny hook on one end of the wire using round nosed or step pliers. Close hook using chain nose pliers to make a head pin.

3. Thread bead on wire, allowing it to fall to the bottom.

4. Make a small loop at the top of the bead, using the round nosed pliers. I use my fingers as much as possible to pull the wire at this point, which decreases the stress on the wire and keeps it as straight as possible. The loop needs to be just high enough above the bead to allow one wrap around the “neck” of the loop.

5. Wrap the tail of the loop ONLY 3/4 of the way around the neck.

6. Using the tip of your round nose pliers or the smallest section of the stepped pliers, make a small U shape in the tail, very close to the neck of the loop. This will make it easier to complete the final pull through the loop.

7. Bend the tail so that you can guide it back through the loop.

8. Carefully pull the tail through the loop, making a knot at the base. This will get a little fiddly, you can use your chain nose pliers to pull it through or to hold the loop at the top while you pull the tail through.

9. When the tail is nearly through, I use my chain nose pliers to help push the U (created in Step 6) all the way through the loop.

10. Hold the top of the loop with your chain nosed pliers. At the same time, straighten the wire tail using a nylon jawed pliers until you have most of the bends out, and it’s at a 90 degree angle from the loop.

11. Mark the tail at 3/4″ from the back of the loop using a Sharpie.

12. Trim the tail at the Sharpie mark.

13. Use a Cup Burr to file the end smooth.

14. Repeat for second earring.

At this point, I would also suggest tumbling the earring at least a short time to ensure the ends are perfectly smooth, to harden the post and to give it a nice shine. Add a plastic backer to hold the earring in place.

Apr 202009

Well, I’ve missed a few weeks, but wanted to share a couple of things I’ve worked on this week. First up, some citrine post earrings made with gold filled wire. I’m pretty happy with this design, which uses just one piece of wire for the entire piece, and is comfortable to wear. I’ll post a tutorial on how to make the “Knot Your Average Posts” earrings tomorrow.

Next up, a copper ring that was commissioned. This uses 18g wire, I start with about 9″ and tie a knot in the center and finish off the ends. Off to its new owner tomorrow.

Finally, a simple but very special bracelet using Stretch Magic and assorted beads. Years ago, I got a necklace from my grandmother that had these pretty blue beads in it. I tore it apart, and made bracelets for my mom, sister, daughter and niece…but never made up my own version of the Grammie Bracelet. I did mine up last week and will wear it to Bree’s wedding on Saturday. 🙂

Apr 172009

Got a question from someone on one of the jewelry forums about soldering jump rings. I know there are many methods, but here’s how I do it. If you have pointers, please share!

1. Close jump rings completely. Hold them up to the light, look at them from every direction. The join must be PERFECT!

2. Line up rings on a fire block. I do 25-30+ at a time, depending on size, 5 or so lines of 5-6 rings in a line. When you are placeing them, VERY CAREFULLY ensure you have all the joins at the same position – I like to have the join at the top (12:00) of the ring. Because you have done such a good job in Step 1, you may not be able to easily see those joins, so it helps to have them all in the same place.

3. Flux the join for all rings. (Doing this now ensures the flux dries before you apply the torch.)

4. Cut solder. I use easy level wire solder for jump rings. I don’t use a pick, although I’ve heard that’s even simpler to do.

5. Place solder on each jump ring just outside the ring using a tiny paintbrush that you’ve put some flux on.

6. Turn on the torch (I just use a baby butane one) and keep your flame fairly low.

7. For each ring: Heat the inside of the ring just until the solder flows. I actually sort of heat the fire block and let the heat “bounce” back into the ring. Pull away the heat immediately after the solder flows and move to the next ring. You’ll find that as you move through the lines (I go bottom to top, left to right) you’ll get the additional benefit of the heat on the block from the last ring(s) and it will go fairly quickly.

Occasionally you might want to take a short break and let everything cool down just a little. Depends on how far apart your rings are from each other, and how many you are doing.When I’m done with the entire block of rings, I place them in a container of cool water, then drop into pickle until they are shiny and pretty. Tumble for a bit to harden, and voila.

Apr 152009

I love doing micro maille…little tiny chainmaille using little tiny rings. My regular Wubbers do the trick, but I’d been wanting to pick up some of the Baby Wubbers that I’d seen on WiredUpBeads.com.

Working on a recent project, I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet and just order a set. (For the record, I ordered the “chainmaille” set – one flat nosed, one chain nose, one bent nose.) I did my normal “are they here yet” dance for a couple of days, stalked the UPS guy, and came home one day to find a nice sized box that I suspected contained my new pliers.

Opened the plain brown box (LOL, that way no one knows about my addiction to tools!) and found pretty teal, purple and white tissue paper (that I can recycle 😀 ) enveloping my purchase.

Baby Wubbers! Patti and Trudy even included a personal note and a freebie with my cute little pliers and their handy stand. Even though I didn’t really have a lot of time (I had an engagement that evening and barely had enough time to make dinner for the guys and run out the door), I went to the studio and worked on my project (Jens Pind Linkage using 20g 3/32″ rings…miniscule!!!) for a few minutes.

The Baby Wubs were perfect for getting those tiny rings open and shut, and getting them in the right position for the weave! I think I got more done in 15 minutes that night than I had in previous evenings and with considerably less frustration.

My only wish is that the handles were longer. I love the tiny tips and padded handles, but they are shorter than the regular sized Wubbers. Having longer handles might make them even more ergonomic.

But the Baby Wubs are getting some major loving from Beading Help Web. I still love my “grown up” Wubber pliers, but they will be reserved for “big wire” projects.

Apr 152009

Got a note in my email today from Jaime Guthals of Interweave Press. Not sure how I missed this contest, but here’s the scoop on the Bead Star 2009 Challenge:

Interweave Announces Last Call for Entries to the Bead Star 2009 Challenge

Deadline May 1! Grand prize is an all-expense paid trip for two to Bead Fest Santa Fe 2010 and $1000 shopping spree from Fire Mountain Gems

Loveland, Colorado, April 15, 2009: Interweave announced today the final casting call for all beaders and jewelry designers in the United States and Canada to enter the second annual Bead Star challenge—an exciting competition with more than ten thousand dollars in prizes and a Grand Prize all-expense paid trip for two to beautiful Santa Fe for Bead Expo 2010, $1,000 in beading supplies, and the cover of the new magazine, Bead Star (www.BeadStar.com).

The deadline to enter is May 1, 2009 and no entry fee is required. “It’s as simple as uploading a photo of your design from our website,” says Bead Star Editor Leslie Rogalski.

Winning entries will be published in the second annual issue of Bead Star, the first-ever beading publication comprised entirely of prize-winning designs selected by beaders worldwide, available on newsstands nationwide this December 8, 2009 from Interweave.

Watch the YouTube.com Slideshow Presentation of the 2008 Winners at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAfXtM8ej0g

Beading Daily Editor Michelle Mach describes Bead Star best: “It’s like
American Idol for beaders—but better. You won’t have to forgo your morning
shower and stand in line with thousands of other sweaty contestants for
days as you wait to audition. Simon Cowell won’t be judging the finalists—the
much nicer editors of Beadwork and Stringing will select them. Instead of
phoning in your votes, everyone on Beading Daily—readers from all over the
world—will get a chance to vote online for the winners.”

It’s Up to the People to Choose the Winners

The editors of Bead Star, Stringing, and Beadwork magazines will select the
top 20 finalists among submissions in each of nine design element categories:
Crystals, Seed Beads, Glass, Pearls, Stones, Metals, Plastics, Designs Under
$25, and Designs with a Heart. Then enthusiasts around the world will be able
to log on to BeadStar.com May 15-30, 2009, and cast their votes for their
favorite designs among the finalists.

“We want real beading enthusiasts from around the world to participate in the
selection process,” says Rogalski. “So, after our editors select the finalists,
we’ll leave it up to the people to pick the winners.”

A first-place, second-place, and third-place winner and two honorable
mentions will be awarded in each of the nine design element categories. All
first place prizes are valued at $500, second place prizes are valued at $300,
and third place prizes are valued at $100. One Grand Prize winner will be
selected by the Grand Prize sponsor, Fire Mountain Gems, from the first-place
category winners. This Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to
beautiful Santa Fe for Bead Expo 2010, win $1,000 in cool beading stuff, and
see his or her design featured on the cover of Bead Star magazine.
Bead Star’s 2008 Grand Prize Winner

Last year’s competition garnered more than 1,000 entries and the finalists
were voted on by nearly 10,000 members of the Beading Daily community.
The Bead Star 2008 Grand Prize winner is Valerie Aharoni, whose project, “Gild
& reGild,” was featured on the cover of Bead Star 2008. Aharoni’s first-place
project in the Seed Beads category was chosen by Grand Prize Sponsor Fire
Mountain Gems and Beads among the nine first-place category winners.

“The contest was totally no-stress,” says Aharoni. “There were no entry fees
and the guidelines were clear. Bead Star made it easy for beginners like me
who have never entered a contest before.”

Additional details are available on the Bead Star web site…my entry is in…is yours?!?

Apr 072009

In my snail mail yesterday…a sample of Beadalon’s newest product – SilveRose (TM) Beading Wire. Created to “show through” your beading designs, it is available in 7-strand .018″ (30ft) spools.

From the Beadalon Press Release:
SilveRose is the newest wire innovation by Beadalon and it creates a new design element for your jewelry. Soft rose gold and silver colored wires are spiraled together to create this variegated, fanciful new beading wire – part of the 7 Strand ‘Metallic Series’ of wires that provide a rich finish and brilliant shine. The warm, two-tone color of SilveRose complements gold and silver components and adds a hint of color to clear crystal and glass beads. Made in USA by Beadalon.

I’m excited to give this new product a try – look for a new project in the near future and my full review of the SilveRose (TM) color wire!

Apr 072009

Disclaimer: No jewelry is involved in this post. If you don’t want to read my mini-review and go to a link for a good current work of fiction, carry on.

I won’t go into the long, involved story about how I acquired Sean Doolittle’s latest novel Safer, but it involved three Barnes and Noble employees, my bad memory, and a sudden AH HA! moment.

Any who….

Sean’s a local guy…he’s published four previous novels, with Safer being his first hardbound book. I wanted to pick up the book mainly because I see him every day – he works just down the hall from me (in our daytime, non-creative jobs, LOL), and because I was curious. Not to drop names, but he’s collaborated with the son of a certain Famous Writer who happens to be my favorite. 😉

Read the book. Enjoyed the book. Recommend the book.