Jul 182009

I LOVE Sunshine polishing cloths.  I buy mine from Fire Mountain Gems, and they are really the best for getting a nice shiny finish on silver, copper, bronze, brass, even gold!

The best thing about Sunshine cloths is that they last FOREVER.  I have a couple that I’ve used for several years, and even though they are black and tattered, they still polish up my metal very nicely!

To use, simply polish the metal with the cloth.  Store the cloth in a zippered plastic bag, and don’t wash it, no matter how “dirty” it looks!

Another great use for Sunshine cloths is to use them as a giveaway to your customers.  You can cut a large square into 2-4 pieces, put in a zippered bag with your business card, and it’s a great way to thank customers for buying your jewelry!

 Posted by at 2:13 am
Jul 122009

In Auguest, I have an art show at a wine tasting event, and wanted to offer some “winey” items to patrons.

In addition to the obvious Wine Glass Charms, I thought about some wine-themed jewelry, and stamping was the first thing that came to mind!

Using some medium-sized sterling silver disks, I stamped a few phrases that I thought might catch the eye of wine-lovers – “Wines Constantly” (I actually have a t-shirt that says this, LOL), “Pop My Cork” and “Vineyard Vixen”.  I’ve asked some friends on Facebook and some of my jewelry boards for ideas, and have gotten some other good ones.

Stamping is a lot of fun, and you can be VERY creative!  Not only in what you stamp, but how you place the letters, extra designs you can work in (notice the “I” in Vineyard is dotted with a spiral?)….plus I’m thinking color could easily be added using different colored Sharpie markers to “antique” the stamps.

Detailed free instructions for stamping are available on Beaducation, Lisa Niven Kelly’s fabulous site.  Try stamping, you’ll be hooked!!

 Posted by at 1:49 pm
Jul 102009

Got an email from my beading buddy Heather of HeHe Beads telling me about the Kit of the Month program, available from Simply Beads.

I took a quick look, and for $15/month, it’s probably not a bad deal for someone who wants to start dabbling in various methods of beading.  Some of the designs were not particularly my style, but I would hope that if you didn’t like the design, you could return the kit for a full refund.

Overall, it’s a great sales technique (sign up, get 50% off your first kit and then have recurring kits automatically sent to you monthly) that would appeal to someone who doesn’t want to hoard extra beads, doesn’t have space or desire to have all the supplies on hand, and would like to learn various techniques.

Myself, I’d prefer to get a couple of good books or do the research and find projects that appeal to me online and buy the supplies.  But I’m sure Simply Beads Kit of the Month has it’s niche and is a good program for someone!

Jul 072009

Opened up the latest issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry this weekend and saw a new project from Sally Stevens – Bird’s Nest Pendant.  Using just a bit of wire and a few colored beads, you can use Sally’s instructions to create cute little nests!

The technique is a little different from the one I’ve been using (tut by Cathe Holden), but the result is the same – a tiny little wire nest with “eggs” that you can use as a pendant, ring, earrings…the possibilities are limitless!

Stevens’ instructions show a new twist – placing the nest on a branch that becomes the bail for the pendant, and I’m anxious to try something similar.  I made several nests before the Grand Cities Art Fest in gunmetal craft wire (pictured), copper and sterling silver, and they were GONE in short time….people love them!

Regardless of what method you use, making wire nests is easy and fun.  The hardest part for me was “allowing” myself to have kinks in the wire, which made it look more like the not perfect nests that are created in nature.

 Posted by at 1:41 pm
Jul 022009

I was really excited when I saw the box from Interweave Press in my mailbox yesterday.  It always means a new comp book to review!  And the title of this book – 101 Wire Earrings – by Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry editor Denise Peck really caught my interest!

Sorry to say, however, that I’m glad I got a free copy.  I would really regret spending $19.95 US on this book.

The intro and basics sections are good…Peck writes well and I liked her style and the advice she gave.  I diligently read through the techniques, tools and materials sections with little critique.  Good info for someone starting out in wire-working.

Moving into the projects, however made me reach for something to settle my stomach.  Nice pictures of the finished product, but nothing but step-by-step instructions to get me there.  I’m an experienced wire-worker, and found most of the instructions lacking…photos of what the designer was doing (or even in some cases, a photo of the back or side of the project) would have helped immensely!

In some cases, I can see serious “designer flaw” in the earrings presented.  For example, the initially pleasing “Marquis” design (page 35) looks like it would irritate one’s ear lobe…and there are many examples (including the “Marquis” design) that would result in losing the beaded dangle from the ear wire the first time the earrings were worn, or when they were stored.

While I’m not a proponent of WigJigs or jigs of any type (I prefer to use my pliers and practice to get a uniform result), many of the designs could have benefited by using a jig.  I showed my husband the Steel Starburst design on page 107 and laughed when he made the same “ewwwww” face that I had made seconds earlier.  (They seriously look like they were designed by a 3rd grader….)

On the positive side, I did find a few designs that were inventive, interesting, and gave me inspiration.  Plus, each project lists where to get crystals, lampwork beads, etc., to complete the project, which I found very helpful.

Overall, I’d give 101 Wire Earring Designs a C-…for the money, I think you can come up with most of these designs on your own, or wait for it to come up on Amazon.com (used) for a coupleabucks.

 Posted by at 4:04 am
Jul 012009

I made up some adorable Wine Glass Charms using silver-plated earring hoops (from Rings ‘N Things) and small patches of a European 4-in-1 weave last night.  I love the way they look, and they are very colorful!  All but the yellow patches are made using Anodized Aluminum rings from Blue Buddha Boutique.  (I can’t say enough great things about BB…Rebeca’s rings are fantastic, and she ships PRONTO.)

The yellow rings were some leftover Anodized Niobium rings I’d bought last summer, and I remembered that they were a bit tough to work with…but, HOLEY COW!  I about tore up my hands just doing this little patch.

Lesson learned.  No more niobium, no matter how cool the colors look!

Make your own Chained Up Charms using my simple instructions below!

Chained Up Charms


1″ silver plated or basemetal earring hoops

23 18g 5/32″ jump rings (per charm – use different colors for each charm)

Make a patch of European 4:1 chainmaille that is 5 rings across (3 closed, 2 open) and 5 rows down.  Attach to the earring finding by running the earring wire through all 5 rings on the right side of the weave.  Use a pliers to bend up the end of the earring finding so it will securely attach to the hooked end.