Dec 292009

Just found out that the Rings N Things “Your Designs ROCK” contest is accepting entries beginning January 1, 2010!  Early entries get a great perk – if your entry is received before February 3, you’ll be entered in a goodie giveaway!  Additionally, first time contestants are entered into a special drawing as well.

Wondering what to make?  Some info straight from the source:

  • 2010 categories are glass & crystal, gemstones & pearls, mostly metal, metal clay, and found objects/miscellaneous.
  • You don’t have to be a Rings & Things customer to enter. You do need to include a majority of parts in your design that are available from us.

Details are available on the Rings N Things web site. Contest deadline is February 28, 2010…so get working on the designs that rock your world!!!

(pssst….R&T has a great “5-day” sale going on through January 3!!  Check it out for fantastic bargains that you can use to create your contest entry!)

Dec 272009

Now that all the presents are unwrapped, the cookies are eaten, and the guests have all departed, it’s time again to challenge yourself with the annual Fire Mountain Gems jewelry making contest!

Those of us who love metal are in for a treat – this year, FMG has separated out the ArtClay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain categories into their very own contest.

Grand Prize is $1000 gift certificate…and there are also prizes for the first three placements in each category (see below)!  Your winning piece could even be featured in a future FMG catalog!

Contest categories:

Necklace: Let your ingenuity and creativity shine. The sky’s the limit on the number of strands, length or techniques used. As long as you can wear it as a necklace, it qualifies.

Bracelet: Showcase your best work with an innovative bracelet design and take this classic accessory to a new level.

Earrings: The right pair of earrings complete any look—from long, short, hoop, cluster, chandelier and every style in between. Create one-of-a-kind earrings that make a statement.

Home Décor and Doll: Bring jewelry-making into the home with throws, pillows, beaded chandeliers or centerpieces. Give porcelain, clay or soft dolls radiance as you dress them in beaded elegance or create from scratch with Kato Polyclay™.

Wedding and Holiday: Go beyond the traditional to create over-the-top wedding jewelry. Celebrate your holiday spirit through jewelry—any holiday is included (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.).

Fashion Accessories (including rings, brooches, hairpieces and accessories): There’s no such thing as too much embellishment. Incorporate beading into clothing and accessories with beaded embroidery, crochet, adhesives, knitting and more.

Looks like fun, but hurry!  Contest entry deadline is January 12,  just around the corner!

Dec 082009

A frequent question new beaders ask is “what is the best beading wire to use?”  I’ll admit, it can be confusing…there is wire, beading wire, seed bead thread (Nymo type), and different weights or thicknesses of all!  Here are a few tips to make sure you are using the best wire for your project!

1. Start with the right type of wire.

If you are stringing beads for a bracelet or necklace, you’ll want to use one of the multi-strand, nylon coated brands such as SoftFlex, AccuFlex, or Beadalon.  These are most commonly referred to as “beading wire”.   These wires are flexible and strong, and even under the toughest conditions, I’ve found they hold up well!

Seed bead projects will use something more like a thread or even like fishing line.  Look for brands like Nymo (thread), Supplemax or Fireline (monofilament).  Flexible and thin, they can be re-threaded through beads multiple times for complex seed bead projects.

Wire wrapping is the one type of project where you will choose actual uncoated wire.  Use fine gauge wire (24g or smaller) to attach beads to a wire frame or clasp.

2.  Select the right gauge and number of strands in your wire.

I’ll focus on stringers in this post…it can be confusing, especially if you are new at making jewelry!  As far as gauge goes, the best rule of thumb is to use the thickest beading wire that will fit through your beads.  Remember that at the end of your bracelet or necklace, you’ll want to run the wire back through one or two beads…so don’t make it too tight of a fit!

Another good general rule is to evaluate the weight and size of the beads you are using, and determine what size wire will work best.  Heavy beads, like the river rock and silver in the first bracelet pictured, need a stronger base.  I used .019 Accuflex for the tan bracelet pictured.

Lighter or smaller beads can use a smaller gauge wire – .014 beading wire was used for the pink necklace comprised of 4mm coral and glass beads.

When it comes to the number of strands in the beading wire, the more strands, the more flexible the wire.  So…49-strand (7 twists of 7 wires!) will be more flexible than 21-strand.  You will usually want more flexibility in a bracelet than a necklace, but 49-strand is a good pick for most projects if you are trying to limit the number of spools of beading wire you have on hand.

 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Dec 022009

It’s been a few years since I began making “mother’s bracelets” using engraved beads from Generation Gems.  I love their products, and their customer service simply cannot be beat!

My most popular design is a women’s bracelet, using hematite, Swarovski pearls and assorted Bali silver beads.  Neutral and understated, most of the folks who look at the sample I have of my own mother’s bracelet have a harder time pronouncing my daughter’s name than deciding on what style to order!

But lately, I’ve noticed a trend…can you believe guys like to brag too?!  Why yes!  I have more and more men who are interested in (and order!) my chainmaille version of the mother’s bracelet.

So I’ve started calling these Brag Bracelets, after a friend ordered one for her husband and used the term.  Recently, a client named Brad ordered his own version, using beads with the names of his children and his wife in a strong Byzantine weave.  I can’t wait to deliver it to him this week.

After all, Real Men like to brag about their family too. 🙂