May 312009

Earlier this week, I wanted to order some copper watch faces.  I went to my trusty supplier, HHH Enterprises, but was disappointed at the selection and what was actually in-stock.  (Plus, I’ve always HATED their web site, it’s one of the worst I’ve ever encountered…)

Off to Google, where among other sites, I checked out JIT Enterprises for inexpensive watch faces.  They had a number of copper watch faces that I liked, and at $3.99 each, I couldn’t beat them!  (Not all watch faces are $3.99, but there are a lot that are in that range.)  Additionally, the site was easy to manuever, and I had no trouble with “out of stock” on the items I was looking for.

I placed my order on Thursday, hoping to get it in within a week so I could get some watches made up for an upcoming show.  A pleasant surprise in my mailbox today – Saturday – my order had arrived!!

The watch faces were good quality for the price (Geneva brand, same as HHH Enterprises), and while they didn’t ship with an extra battery (something HHH began doing a couple of years ago), there was a nice little stopper on the stem, so the watch doesn’t inadvertently get turned on before it’s purchased.

Good prices, user-friendly web site, nice product, fast shipping…all add up to an A+ from me.

May 272009

I had so much fun designing these new “french post” earrings, I made about 8 pairs of them the other day!  A clean and classic design, and comfortable to wear make them a winner in my book!

Instructions are very easy – simply take two headpins with a ball end and thread a wafer-style bead on them.  On the back of the bead, bend the wire at a 90° angle, and then use a round nosed pliers to form the “post”!  Hammer just slightly at the front, file the end to eliminate any burrs, and you’re done!

I found with my handmade headpins that Sterling Silver (22g half hard) worked better than Fine Silver – while the Fine Silver pins will work, they’re a little less stable than the Sterling ones.

Have fun with this design – I can see loads of possibilities!

Link It! Book Review and Project Results

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May 252009

I recently received Link It! (Susan C. Thomas) as a gift from my daughter, along with a great bracelet she created using one of the project tutorials in the book.  Link It! uses stretchy rubber or neoprene rings with metal rings to create colorful and unique chainmaille designs.

I was instantly intrigued…I’d made “stretchy” maille bracelets before, but nothing like the projects in the book.  My previous projects had been mainly metal with some rubber tossed in for stretchability…Thomas’s projects were mainly stretch rings!

The book starts out with some basic techniques, including tools and supplies needed to complete the projects in the book.  Basic techniques include how to make the “elements” that comprise the great looking jewelry pictured in the book.  Also included in the book are lists of suggested suppliers (I use Fire Mountain Gems to purchase rubber rings.)

Speaking of pictures, the photos in Link It! are great.  Colors used by the author for the various projects are imaginative, and you’ll be tempted to go out and buy hundreds of colored rubber and aluminum rings.

I have to admit, being an experienced chainmailler, I thought making the projects in Link It! would be a piece of cake.  However, this is *not* your average maille, and it’s more challenging than I expected!

I did find Thomas’s instructions somewhat difficult to follow, even with colorful pictures to accompany the text.  My daughter said she had the same problem, but was able to figure out the patterns between the picture of the finished project and the directions.

Regardless, I recommend Link It! as a starting point for making jewelry using these techniques.  I quickly moved from creating pieces using Thomas’s patterns to making up my own, like Black and Blue, and Rubber and Road (green, black and copper) men’s bracelets.  Jewelry inspired by Link It! is great for anyone – men, women, teens – and no clasp is needed!

May 252009

Thanks to my friend Vicki Cook, I’ve discovered fold forming…taking a sheet of metal and making lovely designs by annealing, folding, unfolding, tapping a bit with the hammer…and then starting all over again in another spot.

The results are really cool.  Of course, every piece is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.  So far, I’ve made a couple of pendants, a pin, and two pairs of earrings.

If you are comfortable with a torch, it’s easy to get started.  Basic instructions are:

  1. Cut a small piece of 30g copper sheet.  About 1 1/2 to 2″ square is a good starting point.
  2. Anneal the copper sheet using a torch.  Wave the hottest part of the flame over the sheet slowly and evenly, watching for the color to change.  I anneal for about 30 seconds.
  3. Let the sheet cool slightly, then pick up with a pliers and quench in cool water.
  4. Here’s where the folding comes in…I use a small vise, placing the sheet in the jaws of the vise and folding to a 90° angle.  Remove the sheet from the vise, and continue to fold it over until both sides are folded against each other.
  5. Using a rawhide or rubber mallet, gently tap the crease until it is tight. (Think about when you crease paper with a fingernail so that you can tear it straight…same concept!)
  6. Open the fold from the back.  You may find it easier to use a thin piece of metal (Vicki suggests using an oyster knife, which I think is brilliant!) to unfold the piece.  I also use a pair of flat nosed nylon jaw pliers to pull the fold apart.
  7. Gently tap the crease and unfolded sheet on either side of the sheet.  You’ll want the fold to continue to be a bit convex, but the sides should flatten out.
  8. Repeat from Step 2, creating a fold in another spot.  Experiment with crossing the folds over each other – you’ll be amazed at the results!

Fold forming is a lot of fun, and after you’ve created a sheet, the possibilities are endless.  Sheets can be punched out with a disc to make circles, cut with a saw, or just drilled and hung from ear wires!