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 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.

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. 

Jul 302008

One of the fun things about making jewelry in the 21st century is belonging to online groups who share interests, knowledge and sometimes challenge other members!

In addition to several other online jewelry message boards, social networks, and groups, I am active on the Michaels message board. I’ve gotten to know a terrific group of beaders there, and we hold a monthly challenge, which anyone is welcome to enter!

July’s challenge was especially fun. Each member assigned a three-color combination to another member, and the challenge was to make a piece of jewelry using those colors.

My challenge came from CrazyKat, an energetic and fun beader who asked me to make something using pink, purple and blue. Not my usual color combinations, but I was up to it!

I decided to use Swarovski crystals in the three colors, and keep the overall design very simple. Fine silver headpins, and a fine silver link that was fused and hammered. The overall design was organic with some bling, and I was pleased with the end result.
If you’d like to join the Michaels message board and one of the challenges, go to the Michaels website and click on the Beads tab, and then on the message board link (bottom of the page). You’ll need to sign up (free) to post comments.
Jul 192008

Yesterday, I posted photos of making headpins. It’s really quite an easy process, and sort of fun (DH thinks that I’m goofy to think it’s fun, but I’m easily amused….)

You’ll need:
Fine silver wire (I use 22g for most headpins)
Cutting pliers
Heat-resistant pliers
Butane torch (get them at any hardware store, just the little one!)

Clean and straighten wire using a polishing cloth.

Cut several lengths of wire in approximately the same length – I like to cut about 2″. It seems to be about the right length to give me enough wire to work with after I’ve “balled up” the end, without too much waste. I generally do at least 2 dozen headpins in one sitting…since it takes very little time, I will even go up to 100.

Prepare your working area.
Keep safety in mind – tie back hair, wear clothing that won’t accidently fall into the flame, protect your eyes, and have some water nearby!
You’ll also want to have a small cup of clean, cool water to quench the headpins in after they’ve been torched.
I have a firebrick under my work area, just in case I drop a headpin or heaven forbid, the torch falls over.

Time to get started.
Once you are ready, go ahead and turn on the torch, using the setting to keep it running hands-free.

Using the heat-resistent pliers or tweezers, hold one headpin by the end. Place the opposite end directly in the flame, just at the tip of the blue part of the flame.

Very quickly, the wire will start to glow – don’t blink! You’ll see a tiny ball start to form at the end, and it will begin “chasing” down the length of the wire. When it’s the size of a small BB, remove the pin from the flame, and immediately drop in the cup of water.

Continue until you’ve done all the headpins…I hold about 6 in my left hand, sort of fanned out so that I can grab one as soon as I’m ready for it. Less butane wasted when you can move quickly from one headpin to the next!

Make them Superman Strong!!
After quenching, you’ll need to strengthen your headpins – they will be very soft (too soft!) after being annealed in the flame. I toss mine in the tumbler with stainless steel shot, water, and blue Dawn dishwashing liquid overnight. After removing from the tumbler, I straighten using a nylon-jawed pliers (hold just above the ball with a chain-nosed pliers, pull the rest of the headpin through the nylon ones). If you don’t have a tumbler, just pull through the pliers several times.

You now have some *fine* headpins!!!

Jul 182008

Ornament Thursday’s heating up with the July project teaser for our monthly theme of RED HOT….check out Lisa’s little snippet!

Today’s jewelry making activities included making about 60 fine silver head pins. I set up my camera on a tripod and attempted to capture the process…will check out the photos over the weekend. I’d like to put together a tutorial for making headpins using a small butane torch – it’s not hard, but a little intimidating until you’ve tried it. Will try to get that done this weekend as well!

Finally, my own Ornament Thursday project for July will be a little outside the box…can you guess what I’m going to focus on? 😀 Be sure to check back on Thursday, July 31 for the entire OT roll call.