Aug 092010

Gotta share these…

Last month, I had a booth set up at the local county fair.  We’ve been in the commercial exhibit building for 5 or 6 years, and it’s a good opportunity to see folks that I don’t get to see every day!

Jeremy tends the “shop” during the day, and asked me to bring my stash of rubber rings from Fire Mountain Gems and some aluminum rings.  When I got to the fair on Friday, he showed me what he’d made.

Roundmaille…something I have only experimented with so far!  And the twerp just “made it up” from an idea in his head.

I need to work with him a little on his closures, but he did a fantastic job on the weave…and check out the eye for color!  I told him we’d put a price tag on his two bracelets and he could have the profit when they sell, but I’m tempted to snag that blue/purple/teal one for myself.

I’m pretty proud of his accomplishments.  I may have to hire him!!

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!

Feb 182009

We had a blast tonight at Iowa Western Community College!

I had six students, including my awesome hairdresser Tammy, her daughter Jess, and her mom Dianne. Everyone got to create a unique bracelet and earring set, and it was totally a fun “girl’s night out” activity.

As a bonus, I showed the class how to make their own ear wires…they finished their projects early, a first, so in the extra time, we chatted and I gave them the “extra lesson”.

I’m really excited about next week’s class, which is a beginning chainmaille class. So far, there are 8 students signed up, and I’m limiting the class size to 10. I think it will be easier to teach, but I want to make sure I have enough supplies on hand for each student to complete a bracelet.

Are you interested in teaching? Read about some ideas to set up a class (and questions to ask yourself to find out if you should really be teaching!).

If you’re interested in the projects we completed tonite, check out the Bracelets 101 and Simple Dangle Earrings tutorials on Beading Help Web.

Feb 102009

Not a ton of production going on last week, but it’s probably close to my final push before the Art & Soup show.

The leather and Byzantine necklace were one of my two accomplishments of the week. The other is a fine silver link bracelet.

This design was the result of some doodling during a staff meeting last week. We recently took Emergenetics personality tests, and one of the things that came out about me is that I will doodle and draw during meetings, but people shouldn’t assume that means I’m not paying attention. Rather, it’s how I do concentrate and process the information that’s being relayed.

Nothing like having your quirks validated to your boss by an official test, LOL.

Any way…I loved this design…it’s 14g fine silver that I simply cut lengths of, blobbed the ends using my torch (much as you would in making head pins!), worked into the swirls and hammered. Jump rings hold together the links.

I don’t usually “name” my work, but this one begged to have something other than “Fine Silver Swirl” attached to it. A forum friend, Carina Veling of Violet Moon, said she liked my “@” bracelet…and I thought it was the perfect description and name for this piece! Carina makes the most incredible earrings and shares her designs on a regular basis…matter of fact, she’s the inspiration for the “Everything from Week of…” posts! Please check out her work.

This week I’m concentrating on getting my inventory tagged – I’ve come up with (yet another) tag for bracelets and necklaces – this one feels like the end game, however. (In other words, “I think she’s got it” a la ‘enry ‘iggins….) More on my new tags in the near future.

Feb 022009

Another busy week! For one thing, I made that tiara last Sunday…and added a bracelet and four pairs of earrings to my inventory.

The bracelet is Blue Peruvian Opal, with a design inspired by a project in Sharilyn Miller’s Bead on a Wire.

One of the things I have never been able to get good at are hoop earrings. With some help from my pal Jeri, I finally have some hoops I’m pleased with!

Finally, a pair of Egyptian Coils earrings.
On to another week of jewelry fun!

Jan 172009

Didn’t get a chance to make much this week, but I was pleased with the two things I did make!

First off, the toggle clasp that I “dressed up” was attached to a sterling silver Tryzantine and ruby chainmaille bracelet that I really like a lot.  I like the fact that it’s a little snug, but it can be easily adjusted using additional jump rings on the bar end of the toggle.

That feature is something that’s important to add when you are either selling or giving jewelry as gifts – make sure there is a way to adjust the size up or down. While I make things for the “average” wrist, or an “average” sized necklace, I try to work a method of adjusting into the design.

To go with the necklace, I also made a pair of earrings, using the tiny rubies and really tiny (3mm) sterling silver round beads. I am working on making “sets” where ever possible – while one person might not want to buy both a necklace/bracelet and matching earrings, I like to offer them for potential gift giving. Either one does stand alone, so it really doesn’t matter to me if they sell together or not!

Jan 162009

Last night I picked up the mail, and found the new copy of the Rings N Things 2009 catalog. True confession, I don’t buy much through the catalog any more – I’m lucky enough to have their trunk show come to town once a year, and I load up on gorgeous R&T product then!

BUT, a new catalog just screams for paging through, and there are always some great finished pieces for inspiration!

So after I did some work around the house, I settled in for a little down time on the couch. Imagine my surprise when I turned page 37 of my catalog and glanced through page 38.

Something looked familiar…I did about three double takes and finally said “Hey! That’s ME!!!” (to an empty house…the boys were both gone and the dog was outside, LOL). It was my “Owl’s Eyes” bracelet, which was entered (and won Honorable Mention) in the 2007 Your Designs Rock! contest.

I was really thrilled and kept going back to page 38, even after I’d gotten far into the catalog.

Someone on one of the jewelry boards asked why R&T didn’t notify me that they were including it in their publication…well, when I entered the contest (in 2007) I’m sure there was a “we can and probably will use your images” clause, and besides, I don’t really mind it being a surprise.

What a great way to end the evening!!!

Dec 242008

We’re starting out with a light blanket of snow (maybe an inch or two last night) and not too horrible temps. While I won’t be making any jewelry today (I’ll be making meatballs – hey you could sing that to “I’ll be home for Christmas” and it works perfectly – and cinnamon apples), I have a couple of perfect ideas if you are looking for last minute gifts, or just something sparkley for yourself!

My Holiday Tree Earrings only require a little bit of wire and an optional Swarovski crystal to complete. I have given them to friends many times over the last few years, and they are always appreciated!
Melanie Ellis’s Christmas Dangle Bracelet takes a bit more time, but if your holiday dinner is already in the oven, this is a relaxing project that looks great!
A pair of Snowman Earrings are always festive…if you don’t have the silver stardust beads, use clear or pearls for a completely different look!
Merry Christmas from Beading Help Web!!!

Oct 182008

One of my sidelines is teaching continuing education classes at my local community college – the classes are fun, I get to know some incredible people, and it’s a good way to spread the knowledge of jewelry making!

Next Wednesday I have a beginning jewelry class – in the class, students learn to crimp, make wrapped loops and open and close jump rings. Everyone gets to make a matching bracelet and earring set which is completed in class.

I structure my classes pretty loosely – a quick intro into who I am, how I got started making jewelry, some of the techniques students can “grow” into. I also cover some basics, including where to buy supplies, tools, and a little jargon. Once we get through the intro, it’s on to jewelry making!

Each student gets to pick from a variety of kits that I make up from beads in my “stash”. I have LOTS of beads, and try to “design” kits that have fun colors and beads in them. Early attendees get first pick out of the kits I have made up!

So today (among the 547 other things I need to accomplish) I’ll be making up a few more kits – it’s going to be a big class, and while I have some kits made up, I like to have more than enough on hand to give everyone plenty to choose from.

To make the kits, I use a piece of beading wire (about 9″ long) and string the beads in the design that I have in mind (students are told that they can follow the design, or make up a design on their own). Instead of crimping and finishing up the bracelet, however, I lay out the mock up and take a quick photo. I unstring the “bracelet” and drop the wire, beads, two crimps and a bowed toggle clasp into a zippered baggie. For the earrings, I put matching beads, two headpins, and ear wires into a smaller baggie and place it in with the supplies for the bracelet. After printing up the picture of the mock up, I put it inside the larger bag, and there’s my kit!

If you aren’t teaching a class, but are traveling or just want to put some beading projects away for a rainy day, you can use this method to have everything on hand when you are ready to bead. Also great for kids, kits give them something to follow and all the beads are right there for them to string and wear!