Mar 262009

It’s that time again, and the OT group is coming up with some beautiful Celedon (pale green) projects for you to make!

My contribution this month is a delightful pair of embellished ear wires – simple to make, and super cute to wear! I’ve used spring colors to symbolize all the flowers that are starting to poke up through the dirt, and soon will be blooming and bringing color to the drab landscape!

Easy Embellished Ear Wires
I found that a Czech glass bead, in the shape of a flower or bead cap, makes a perfect embellishment for a simple pair of French-style ear wires. Here’s how you can achieve the same look with your own wire and beads!Materials:

22g 1/2 hard sterling silver wire
Czech glass flower bead (2)
Decorative bead (I used a cat’s eye bead in a heart shape, pink color) (2)
4mm Swarovski crystal (2)
Sterling silver head pins (2)

1. Working from the spool of wire, thread a Czech glass flower bead on the wire, cupped end last.
2. Make a small loop on the end of the wire…you’ll use this for your dangle.
3. Let the flower bead fall to the top of the loop, and made a bend in the wire at the top of the bead to hold it in place.
4. Using a Sharpie marker or other round object (pen, knitting needle, mandrel), form the shape for the ear wire just above the bend.
5. Clip the end of the wire and file.
6. Create a dangle, threading the crystal and decorative bead on the head pin.
7. Create a wrapped loop at the top of the dangle.
8. Attach the dangle to the loop at the base of the ear wire.
9. Repeat for second earring!

In retrospect, I would bump up step #8 before #3 – it was a little hard to open the loop because of how it fit “into” the flower bead.

Mar 222009

What a week this will be!

– Rings N Things annual trunk show “Wholesale Bead Show” is in Des Moines, IA today and Omaha, NE tomorrow. I really look forward to this show every year – it’s fun to see and chat with the R&T staff, plus there are beads, beads and MORE beads! Check out the R&T site for a location near you!

– Ornament Thursday is March 26. This month’s theme is “Celedon” (pale green). I’m whipping up a quick project that may make your friends green with envy when they see you wearing it!

– Studio clean up was last week, but I’m reaping the benefits now. Once in a while, I like to go through the various boxes, bowls and piles of “stuff” that’s accumulated on my work bench and put away beads, sort through findings and toss projects that seemed to make sense into the scrap bowl. Sometimes I’m amazed at what I find, and it always creates at least a little inspiration for new projects!

Have a great Sunday…I’m looking forward to a great start to a wonderful week!

Jan 292009

Guess what?! It’s Ornament Thursday time again! This year’s Ornament Thursday team has decided to base themes on colors…and what a wide variety of colors we have in store for you!

One great addition for this year’s events – YOU are invited to join us! If you’d like to get in on the Ornament Thursday projects, contact any of the OT team and let us know you’d like to join. Blog entries are due on the last Thursday of the month, and we’d love to see what you can do!!!

Up first: Celeste – ice blue for January’s winter chill. My contribution dresses up a plain toggle clasp using gorgeous ice blue topaz from The Earth Bazaar, as well as tiny sterling silver round beads, miniscule freshwater pearls, and a few moonstone cubes tossed in for good measure. The clasp is then used as the focal for a simple sterling silver chain…and I think it’s the perfect neck “ornament” for an Ice Princess!

Celeste Wrapped Toggle Necklace

16mm plain sterling silver toggle clasp
30g sterling silver wire (about 40″)
Assorted beads 3mm – 4mm (I used round blue topaz and sterling silver, rice freshwater pearls and moonstone cubes)
Bulk chain (however long you would like your necklace to be!)
4mm sterling silver jump rings

My toggle ring was rounded, and wrapping is much easier on a flat surface, so I carefully hammered the larger ring until it was flat.

Next, I secured the 30g wire around the ring, about 4 wraps, leaving a good length of extra wire at the end for a tail.

After securing the wire, I began randomly adding beads, making sure to wrap both around the toggle and between previous beads to keep them secure. The wrapping wire is pretty well hidden by the beads, so don’t worry if it’s a little messy…the trick is to be sure it’s tight and holds your beads in place. Before adding the next bead, I wrap at least twice.

You can see here how I began loading up the toggle with beads and filling the gaps between beads.

To finish the toggle, I secured the wire around several beads and clipped it close to the toggle.

Next, I attached a fairly hefty chain to both the ring and the bar. The toggle can be worn at the front of the chain like a pendant, and the size of the necklace could be adjusted by winding the chain once around the ring and re-inserting the bar through the ring.


Dec 182008

Jeremy’s wrestling has all but eaten all of my free time, but I plan to update all my OT posts over the weekend! In the meantime, please enjoy the creative genius of all the other OT gals….

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva Make a Confetti Ring to Wear at Your Next Holiday Party!
Holiday Sparkly Fan Pull Lisa creates a dress up look for a ceiling fan
Poinsettia Madness Beautiful poinsettias in glass.
Strands of Beads Melissa has a quicker than quick snowball pendant for a perfect last minute gift.

As an extra special gift this year, our last Ornament Thursday project for 2008 will be published on Christmas Day!

Dec 122008

You’ll have to wait a bit for my project…but in the meantime, enjoy everything the other OT gals have put together this week!

Cindy Gimbrone Puts Up Her Xmas Tree! Fused Glass Xmas tree ornament sparkles from Cindy’s real Xmas tree.
Friendly Plastic Ornaments and Sew simple mittens This week in the countdown to Christmas, Michelle shares her recipe for Friendly Plastic Ornaments and Helen sews another tree ornament
New Beaded Ornament See our special guest’s beautiful creation!
Strands of Beads Melissa shows off a simple winter rose bracelet project this week.

Check back next week for more special projects!

Dec 042008

Seems we are all so stressed every holiday season that there’s no time for anything! Keeping in mind my own busy schedule (I thought I’d have all this time in December, but Jeremy decided to go out for wrestling and that’s eating up every spare minute!), my first Ornament Thursday project for December is quick and easy, but VERY festive!

Holiday Candle WrapHoliday Candle Wraps: Dress up your plain boring candles using just beads, wire and crimps. This is a 30-minute project – you can pick up the materials at any hobby or craft store (like Michaels or Hobby Lobby), and easily complete at least one in 30 minutes.

To kick off 2008’s holiday version of Ornament Thursday, all the gals are making fabulous projects…check them all out! Be sure to stop back each and every Thursday in December for more fun and festive projects!

Christmas Past and Needle Magic at Michelle is addressing the ghosts of Christmas past and Helen gets down and dirty sewing a Christmas ornament – stand well clear, she is dangerous with a needle.

Strands of Beads Melissa makes cute and quick Christmas tree earrings this week.

Nov 232008

Thanks to the folks at Boston Handmade for turning me on to the x-rite color hue test. In this test, you re-arrange the color chips in hue order, then click on “submit” to see what your score is. I scored 15 (0 is the best you can get). Nice little time waster that’s actually a bit of brain food!

Speaking of Boston Handmade, the Etsy Street Team is setting up a holiday gallery in downtown Boston…visit it if you have a chance! My extremely talented friend Nancy McCallum (nancyrosetta jewelry) is part of this group and I wish them the best of luck this holiday season!!

The ARTitiudes holiday gallery is winding down – our last day for sales is today, 12:00 – 5:00. I love being a part of this group – it’s hard work, but the gallery is so incredible! I did get some good pictures yesterday, but forgot to bring my camera home from Lincoln. I promise to post pictures soon! Yesterday I even got to be on TV (twice) – some local Lincoln news programs sent out camera crews to check us out. I’m not too fond of going on camera, but drew the short straw, LOL.

After today, shows are over for me for the fall. I’m looking forward to holiday get-togethers and relaxing…and Ornament Thursday will kick back in – fabulous holiday ornament projects every week beginning December 4! Stay tuned for more.

Aug 282008

This month’s Ornament Thursday theme celebrates the kick off of Back To School – Academia! I love to read, and fortunately my children have discovered this love as well. While I can just as easily use a scrap of paper or an old magazine subscription card for a bookmark, I prefer to do something a little more stylish! This month’s OT project is one that I’ve done over and over with great results – it’s quick, easy, and you can use up orphan beads for a design that reflects your personality!

This is also a great kid’s project, and they can use the bookmark that they make all year long!

Easy Wire Bookmark

Level: Easy/Beginner


12-16g wire (sterling, copper or craft wire)
Head pins
Beads, crystals, small bells, charms
Jump rings

Easy Wire BookmarkJust a note – sterling silver wire makes a sturdier bookmark, but because it will be continually exposed to air, it will tarnish. Copper wire can be hammered to strengthen, and oxidization will eventually color the wire to a warm brown. Craft wire tends to flop a bit, even after hammering. You can experiment with wire and find the type that you like to use best.

Cut a piece of wire 9″ long using a flush side cutter. File the ends smooth. Create a small closed loop at the end of the wire. Using a round object that’s about 1″ diameter, create a shepherd’s hook at one end of the wire. Slightly curve the loop outward.
Create a tight spiral at the opposite end of the wire: Make a tiny loop using a round nosed pliers and close the loop using a chain nose pliers. Create the spiral by holding the loop in the jaws of any pliers with flat inside surfaces – I recommend 2-3 revolutions around the original loop.

Hammer wire to strengthen.

To decorate your bookmark: Make wrapped loop dangles using head pins and beads, bells, or crystals. Attach dangles to the closed loop at the end of your hook using jump rings. Another option is to hang charms in a theme (gardening, wine-related, Red Hat) on the closed loop using jump rings.

That’s it from Beading Help Web this month! Check out the other OT gals projects…I know I am going to!!!

Michelle’s Edumacation
Michelle has yet another go at decorating Helen’s workstation, this month, less scary than last but oh, so funky

Aug 152008
I’m thrilled to be the Featured Artist for Ornament Thursday this month….here’s just a little sneak peek of what you’ll be seeing more of in two weeks! A tiny teaser – it involves wire, orphan beads and is definitely a 30-minute project!!!
This month’s theme is Academia…I’m excited to see what all the talented gals come up with! Full projects will be posted on Thursday, (of course!) August 28.


Jul 312008

When I started thinking about Red Hot, the OT theme for July, I of course began with the obvious. Red beads, red stones, red wire.

Then my little brain started going in another direction…after all, I’ve been playing with fire a lot lately, and what’s hotter than burning things?

The materials for this project are pretty simple…all you need is some 14g fine silver wire and a small butane torch (available at any hardware store, or even some of the “big box” discounters like Wal-Mart.)

Because you are working with super hot temps, you MUST follow some simple safety rules. Keep in mind:
Have water handy “just in case”
Use a fire-proof surface designed for withstanding high temps.
Use adequate eye protection – that flame gets bright!
Ditto ventilation – you don’t want to become overcome by fumes.
And if you have long hair, tie it back. Ixnay on the long sleeves (it’s SUMMER, for crying out loud, you’d best not be wearing long sleeves anyway!)

Here we go. Have fun playing with fire…..

Fine Silver Toe Ring

Materials and what else to have on hand:
14g fine silver
Butane torch
Heat-resistant pliers
Fire-proof surface
Small container of clean water
Ring mandrel or dowel large enough to make a ring that will fit on your toe
Cutting pliers
Tumbler or burnisher

Determine the your toe size. You can use a small piece of tape, wire or string to wind around your toe. Find the right size on your ring mandrel (mine was around a size 4) or a dowel that will be big enough. Wind the 14g wire around the mandrel or dowel, ensuring the ends will meet. I made several rings, so I wound the wire around the mandrel 4 times.

Cut the rings using a flush cutter. If the ends aren’t perfectly flush, that’s okay…you’ll be melting them, so the neat join you need to solder isn’t necessary.

Clean the rings, and slightly separate the ends. If your circle gets distorted a little, it’s perfectly fine. The key is that you don’t want to fuse the ends together, so they can’t be touching.

Set the rings on the fire-proof surface, and start up your torch. Work on only one ring at a time. You’ll want the entire ring hot, but only the ends need to heat enough to melt and ball up. Keep your torch moving slightly over the surface, focusing the tip of the blue part of the flame on the ring ends.

Soon you’ll see the wire start to turn a dull white, then it will begin to glow red (RED HOT, get it?!). Very soon after this (don’t look away or blink!) the ends will start to turn a shimmering silver and ball up. One end may do this before the other, don’t worry…you can move to the other side after you’ve finished one.

Watch the ball carefully – don’t let it get too big! When it’s about the size of a BB, pull away the flame. Heat the other side of the ring opening if it didn’t melt and ball up.

Once both sides of the opening are balled, turn off the torch, and pick up the ring using a heat-resistant pliers or tweezers. Drop the ring in the water, and let it cool.

If the ring was distorted, you can put it back on the mandrel and carefully hammer back into a circle.

The silver is likely a dull white-ish color at this point, so burnish using a brass brush or burnishing stick. Better yet, drop the ring in a tumbler with some stainless steel shot, water and Dawn dishwashing detergent and tumble at least 6 hours. The silver will anneal while you are working with the torch, causing it to become really soft. Tumbling will harden it, and it’s less likely to lose it’s shape.

There you have it! A Red Hot toe ring that will look stylish and fun all summer long!

Now it’s time to check out what the other Ornament Thursday gals have been up to:

Art Bead Scene ABS Editor Cindy Gimbrone Goes Red Hot Crazy!
Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva Trendy, Popular and Red Hot!
Katie’s Beading Blog Check out Katie’s Red Hot faux coral necklace! It’s a punch of color with a summery feel.
Savvy Crafter Hotsie Totsie Plexi-glass Flower pendant over on Candie’s blog!
Strands of Beads The heat is rising, and Melissa is making a Red Hot Firecracker necklace!
Too Red Hot Our own Michelle Zimmerman has been hard at work this month sculpting a devil of a project for your enjoyment.
That’s it for this month’s exciting Ornament Thursday…next month’s theme is Acadamia – publish date of August 28.