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!!

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

Materials:

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.

Link It! Book Review and Project Results

 jewelry making  Comments Off on Link It! Book Review and Project Results
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!

Apr 152009
 

I love doing micro maille…little tiny chainmaille using little tiny rings. My regular Wubbers do the trick, but I’d been wanting to pick up some of the Baby Wubbers that I’d seen on WiredUpBeads.com.

Working on a recent project, I finally decided it was time to bite the bullet and just order a set. (For the record, I ordered the “chainmaille” set – one flat nosed, one chain nose, one bent nose.) I did my normal “are they here yet” dance for a couple of days, stalked the UPS guy, and came home one day to find a nice sized box that I suspected contained my new pliers.

Opened the plain brown box (LOL, that way no one knows about my addiction to tools!) and found pretty teal, purple and white tissue paper (that I can recycle 😀 ) enveloping my purchase.

Baby Wubbers! Patti and Trudy even included a personal note and a freebie with my cute little pliers and their handy stand. Even though I didn’t really have a lot of time (I had an engagement that evening and barely had enough time to make dinner for the guys and run out the door), I went to the studio and worked on my project (Jens Pind Linkage using 20g 3/32″ rings…miniscule!!!) for a few minutes.

The Baby Wubs were perfect for getting those tiny rings open and shut, and getting them in the right position for the weave! I think I got more done in 15 minutes that night than I had in previous evenings and with considerably less frustration.

My only wish is that the handles were longer. I love the tiny tips and padded handles, but they are shorter than the regular sized Wubbers. Having longer handles might make them even more ergonomic.

But the Baby Wubs are getting some major loving from Beading Help Web. I still love my “grown up” Wubber pliers, but they will be reserved for “big wire” projects.

Feb 172009
 

Wrap up for Art & Soup….just two bracelets.

#1 is Rhodonite and Fine Silver links that I shaped into squares to match the stones. Very simple, but I was quite pleased with the clasp on this one.
The photo is not bad, but doesn’t show the nice pinky-grey of the stone.

Next, what I call a Caterpillar weave…others have called this Cleopatra or Snakeskin with Bead. I love love love this bracelet, it’s so slinky! I may just remake one for myself…..

The weave is just tiny – 4mm round beads with 7/64 and 7/32 rings in sterling silver.

That’s all for week 7…hoping to get a couple of pieces made next week to put “on the shelf” for upcoming shows!

Feb 072009
 

I love the look of chainmaille (duh) but necklaces can be a bit daunting to make. For one thing, all that silver (or copper!) adds up in cost, making a simple chain necklace out of most people’s price range. And while I love working on maille, 16-18″+ of Byzantine weave gets a little boring!! Finally, there’s the weight…unless you use micro-rings, you’re going to have a necklace that could double as an anchor if you are ever out in a boat and forget to bring one along.

This week, I found a solution that solves for all of the above – and it looks great too! I’d really love to wear this with an open color blouse…any color will do, since all you’ll see is the silver of the Byzantine weave!

Leather and Chainmaille Choker

Level: Intermediate

Materials
1.5mm Greek Leather – 22″ (for 16-18″ necklace)
Sterling silver lobster clasp
Sterling silver soldered jump ring (I used 4mm)
20-22g sterling silver wire (round, dead soft or half hard)
Sterling silver jump rings for chainmaille weave

Cut leather in half.
Fold one piece of leather in half, so you have a loop at one end. Use the 20-22g wire to wrap the loose ends together tightly. Add the clasp to the wrap and rewrap to secure. Use a pliers or crimper to secure the ends of the wire. Run your fingers over the wire to ensure there are no ends poking out!

Repeat with second section of leather, adding the soldered jump ring instead of the clasp. Add one 5/32″ 18g jump ring to the soldered jump ring for easier fastening.

Begin your chainmaille weave, using one of the leather sections as your anchor. I made a Byzantine weave, using 5/32″ 18g jump rings. Try a 2-in-2 weave if you are just starting out, or a Jens Pind Linkage if you feel daring!

The leather sections total 11″, so make your chainmaille long enough to finish the length of the necklace. My necklace is 17″, so my chainmaille section was 6″ long.

Attach the end of the chainmaille to the second piece of leather.

To finish the leather, I wrapped the 20-22g wire around the loop end (nearest the chainmaille) 3 times, and secured the ends. The loop is now tight enough that the leather doesn’t look sloppy, but loose enough to allow the maille section to move a little with your body.

I also think this would look great with the chainmaille oxidized, but keep in mind that you’ll want to create your chainmaille section OFF the leather, oxidize, tumble and then attach the rings to the leather sections.

You can easily adjust the leather length for a shorter or longer necklace. I also think the black Greek Leather would look great with copper – just substitute copper jump rings and wire!

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!

Oct 202008
 

It’s always fun to get good stuff in the mail. Today, amongst the credit card offers, grocery ads and a statement from my dentist, I got two small packages.

And you know what they say about small packages 😉

The first was a pack of 10 lampwork pumpkins that I ordered from an eBay seller. They were a little larger than I’d thought, but will still work swell for some fall/Halloween earrings.

The second was a small box of rings from The Ring Lord…although I like making my own rings, I do order specialty and tiny rings from TRL – in my opinion, they have The Best Rings out there! This order included some tiny (3/32) sterling rings, some 14k gold filled and some rose gold rings. MMMMMMMMMMM I was drooling all over the table!

A couple of things to keep in mind if you are ordering rings from TRL. First, if you want nice, flush cut rings (suitable for jewelry), you need to order SAW cut, not MACHINE cut. It sounds backward to me, but believe me, you don’t want to make this mistake! With the saw cut rings, properly joined jump rings will appear to have no cut – I pride myself in nearly invisible joins and have had fellow jewelers compliment me on my joins.

Also, make sure you add a note in the comment field to mark gauge, metal type and ring size for all rings. If you don’t, TRL will just drop your rings in the bags and you’ll be on your own to figure out what’s what.

What’s in YOUR mail box today?

Jun 162008
 

What a weekend it’s been!

We arrived in Grand Forks Friday afternoon, and dropped off a few things at the Town Square location where we’d be setting up. Things were already bustling – artists and food vendors setting up booths and festival volunteers were everywhere to help and answer questions.

Because of the threat of rain Friday night, I decided to wait to set up until Saturday morning…we spent the evening visiting with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and had GREAT pizza at Mike’s Pizza in East Grand Forks.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny, and in the morning I had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Smith in person. Ruth and I met on the Michael’s message board, and it was terrific to match up her face and voice to her written words and jewelry creations! We gabbed about jewelry making, and I also met her friend Lynn…both are wonderful gals!!!!

I also got to chat with Mark Landa, who is a friend from “back in the days” when we both worked at the Target store in Grand Forks (we won’t go into how many years ago that was….). Mark is a great guy, and was actually the one who encouraged me to send in an application for the show!

Sales were great – pendants, earrings and rings were big hits. Chain maille (which I really highlighted) outsold strung and wire-worked items. I had a lot of positive comments, met a lot of wonderful people (Pixie and Sheila…can’t wait to see you next year!!!) and had a huge surprise and honor from the Downtown Leadership Group.

At about 11:00 on Saturday morning, I was told that I’d been chosen as “Best in Category” for jewelry, and was asked to be at the center stage for presentations and awards for “Best in Show”. When my name was called to stand with the other 8 outstanding artists (I’d seen some of their work and was absolutely amazed by it!!) I proudly held my burgundy ribbon while the names of the Second Runner Up and First Runner Up were announced.

The the big announcement: “Best in Show”….and my name. I was astonished, and thrilled that the show judges had deemed my work to be “the best” out of 130 artists who had been accepted into the show.

I was presented with a nice plaque, a monetary award, and told that for the 2009 Grand Cities Art Fest, I’ll be the Featured Artist – with a primo spot, photo shoot for the cover of the festival brochure, and my artwork will be used for the Art Fest t-shirts!

I’m still stunned…busy thinking about all the plans I need to put in place before June 2009…and all the jewelry I’ll need to be working on!!

Thank you so much to the Grand Cities Art Fest officials, the Downtown Leadership Group, all the volunteers, and patrons of the 2008 show…I am so excited to have been recognized and had so many wonderful folks stopping by and visiting with us.

See you next year!!!!

Jun 012008
 

I’m on a roll with anklets this weekend – two new designs to show and tell!

Super Easy Chain and Bead Anklet (30 minute project)
For this anklet, I’ve used some pre-made rolo chain, 20g sterling silver wire, and 6mm round peridot beads. Length is approximately 9″.

Cut four lengths of chain 2″ long.
Make three eye pins using the beads and wire.
Construct your anklet by attaching the eye pins to the chain.
Add a small lobster clasp and a dangle. Done!

 

Shining Silver Anklet
Full step by step photos will be posted on Beading Help Web, but I’ll walk you through the instructions…you can put this together in less than an hour, and it will go with everything all summer long!

Materials (shown for approximately 9 1/2″ anklet)
18 g 5/32″ jump rings (36)
20 g 7/64″ jump rings (71)
4mm sterling silver round beads with large hole (7) (Rings N Things #24-990-04)
Sterling silver flat lobster clasp (1)

This bracelet is an easy 2 in 1 chain, based on Japanese style chainmaille. A small round bead is added to the chain every five rings.

1. Open all 5/32″ jump rings and close all 7/32″ jump rings, using Beading Help Web’s Opening and Closing Jump Rings instructions.

2. Pick up an open jump ring, and thread two closed rings on it. Close the open ring. I like to twist a piece of scrap wire (or even an old bread tie!) to the first large jump ring now…it helps me to keep track of the end of the chain, and to hold on to it.

3. Pick up an open jump ring, thread it through the closed rings you added in Step 2. Add two small closed rings to the large ring before closing it. Repeat until you have four large rings in the chain.

4. You’ll be adding a bead to the fifth large ring in this pattern. The hole in the beads should be large enough to accommodate the jump ring wire and the curve of the ring (the Rings N Things product in the materials list worked perfectly for me with the 18g rings). Thread the bead on a large ring, thread the ring through the last closed small rings, and add two closed small rings. Close the large jump ring. Notice that your bead hangs to one side of the chain – this is the “bottom” of the chain. As you continue to add links to the chain, be sure your beads are on the same side of the chain, or it won’t hang right when you wear it!

5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until you have used all jump rings and beads. You will have one additional large ring and one additional small ring at the end of the chain.

6. Remove the scrap wire or bread tie from the first ring if you added them in Step 2. Add the lobster clasp to the first large ring, with the hook of the clasp on the top side of the chain. The clasp will attach through the last small ring on the opposite end of the chain.