Nov 282009

Throughout the year, I take photos of my work.  It not only helps me to remember what I did, but if I sell something, I can use the photos for “show and tell”!

Plus, it’s kind of silly, but I actually find it inspires me to look back and see all the cool things I’ve done in the past…I’ve looked at some of my pieces and thought “Hey, I really liked that!  I should make something similar again.”

Last year I made myself a calendar using the software that came with my HP printer.  I hung it up in my studio where I could be inspired all year long.  This year, however, I’m thinking about going a little higher tech and ordering a calendar through Shutterfly.  I’ve gotten posters and my daughter has created scrapbooks using her own photos,  and I’ve been amazed at the quality of the finished product!

Here’s a sample of the posters I ordered.  You do need to have pretty high quality photos to end up with a decent product, but the software will tell you if the photo you’ve chosen won’t work for a specific layout.  (I’ve found that changing the style or size of the photo layout may allow me to use a photo that was giving an error message in another layout.)

A great gift idea for a jewelry maker would be to hijack their computer for a day, create a calendar for them using photos of their work, and then watch their eyes light up when they see the calendar.  Whether you use Shutterfly or software you already have on your computer, it’s really thoughtful to give something so personal.

Have fun!

Nov 202009

As I finished up a batch of my Holly Jolly earrings this morning, I thought “geez, if people really knew what goes into these things…” and had a brainflash. What if I took a photo of all the materials and tools used to make them? I started gathering…..

Wow…for a cute and seemingly simple little pair of earrings, it’s amazing what it takes to make them! After I took the photo, I realized that I forgot a couple of things – a round nosed pliers, a punch pliers, 22g wire, and I didn’t include my tumbler.

Starting with the copper sheet I punch out the discs, then stamp them using letter stamps.  After stamping, holes are punched for the ear wire and dangle, then I carefully file the edges to remove any messy little bits.   A Sharpie marker is used on the stamping to accent it, then I use one of the little white polishing squares to clean off the excess Sharpie.

The discs are then domed, using the dapping tools.  I make all of my own head pins and ear wires, so at some point, I use my butane torch and 22g wire to make the headpins that hang the crystals.  After the dangles are complete, I use 20g wire to make the ear wires, hammering them just lightly.

Last step is to toss the earrings into the tumbler for a last polish and remove any excess burrs.

I’d love to hear what goes into YOUR handmade products…and the next time someone stops to look at your work, or asks about it, be sure to tell them about all the details that go into making handmade!

Nov 132009

I love working with wire…the challenge to take something so ordinary as a simple piece of wire and turn it into something spectacular is so much fun!

I prefer using my pliers to a WigJig type tool, and had long ago graduated from using round-nosed pliers to make my loops to using stepped pliers.  My favorite pliers had three steps, and were terrific for making consistent loops, bends and curves!

About 6 months ago, I wanted to “step up” my stepped pliers, and ordered a pair that had SIX different sized jaws.  I instantly fell in love…I could go from teeny tiny loops to large loops just by flipping around a single pliers!

These guys are perfect for making ear wires, just use one of the two smaller sized jaws for the loop to hang your components from, and then the larger sized jaws for the shepherd’s hook that goes through your piercing.

I have to say that I love these pliers so much that I decided to become a distributor for a tool company (Euro Tool) that sells them.  I recommend these pliers to students in my Continuing Education classes, fellow jewelry makers, and jewelry forum friends.