Jul 242010

Heh.  Make rings.  Finger rings, that is…not jump rings for once!

Rose Ring by Lynn Kvigne

Rose Ring by Lynn Kvigne

These cute little “rose” rings are made using 2 6″ sections of 20g craft wire.  I found that putting my ring mandrel in a vise helped with production, as I’m not always fighting to keep it stable.  My next show is our local county fair, and these go over pretty well with the fair crowd…so I made up 21 of them last night in about an hour.

You can make these pretty quickly once you have the hang of twisting the wire.  Here are the basic steps:

1. Cut 2 pieces of 20g wire (craft wire, copper, silver) 6″ long each.

2. Using a ring mandrel (or a dowel a little larger than your ring size if you don’t have a mandrel), wind both pieces, side by side around the mandrel.  Wind the wire at the size mark that is 1/2 size larger than your ring size.

3. Twist the four ends around each other in a knot.  Twist again, making a double spiral.

4. Remove the ring from the mandrel.

5. Wind the ends (two on either side) around the ring band twice.  Clip the ends.

6. The raw ends will be a little sharp!  You’ll want to either gently file them or put your ring in a tumbler with stainless steel shot for about 30-45 minutes.

Wear it with pride!

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


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.

May 272009

I had so much fun designing these new “french post” earrings, I made about 8 pairs of them the other day!  A clean and classic design, and comfortable to wear make them a winner in my book!

Instructions are very easy – simply take two headpins with a ball end and thread a wafer-style bead on them.  On the back of the bead, bend the wire at a 90° angle, and then use a round nosed pliers to form the “post”!  Hammer just slightly at the front, file the end to eliminate any burrs, and you’re done!

I found with my handmade headpins that Sterling Silver (22g half hard) worked better than Fine Silver – while the Fine Silver pins will work, they’re a little less stable than the Sterling ones.

Have fun with this design – I can see loads of possibilities!

May 252009

Thanks to my friend Vicki Cook, I’ve discovered fold forming…taking a sheet of metal and making lovely designs by annealing, folding, unfolding, tapping a bit with the hammer…and then starting all over again in another spot.

The results are really cool.  Of course, every piece is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.  So far, I’ve made a couple of pendants, a pin, and two pairs of earrings.

If you are comfortable with a torch, it’s easy to get started.  Basic instructions are:

  1. Cut a small piece of 30g copper sheet.  About 1 1/2 to 2″ square is a good starting point.
  2. Anneal the copper sheet using a torch.  Wave the hottest part of the flame over the sheet slowly and evenly, watching for the color to change.  I anneal for about 30 seconds.
  3. Let the sheet cool slightly, then pick up with a pliers and quench in cool water.
  4. Here’s where the folding comes in…I use a small vise, placing the sheet in the jaws of the vise and folding to a 90° angle.  Remove the sheet from the vise, and continue to fold it over until both sides are folded against each other.
  5. Using a rawhide or rubber mallet, gently tap the crease until it is tight. (Think about when you crease paper with a fingernail so that you can tear it straight…same concept!)
  6. Open the fold from the back.  You may find it easier to use a thin piece of metal (Vicki suggests using an oyster knife, which I think is brilliant!) to unfold the piece.  I also use a pair of flat nosed nylon jaw pliers to pull the fold apart.
  7. Gently tap the crease and unfolded sheet on either side of the sheet.  You’ll want the fold to continue to be a bit convex, but the sides should flatten out.
  8. Repeat from Step 2, creating a fold in another spot.  Experiment with crossing the folds over each other – you’ll be amazed at the results!

Fold forming is a lot of fun, and after you’ve created a sheet, the possibilities are endless.  Sheets can be punched out with a disc to make circles, cut with a saw, or just drilled and hung from ear wires!

Apr 202009

I posted these cute earrings in a couple of forums and was asked to create a tutorial for them. They are fairly quick to make, and have loads of possibilities! Add a simple loop at the bottom and drop another dangle below the main stone.The first version I made using 20g gold-filled round wire and citrine stones. The wire hardened up after tumbling enough that I felt it was stable. In this version, I’ve used 22g half hard sterling wire, which is what I usually use for earring findings.

While you will want to be careful not to “chew” up your wire with the pliers, don’t worry about bending the tail up a little.

Knot Your Average Post Earrings

Level – Experienced Beginner – should have some experience with wire work

6″ 22g HH round sterling silver wire
6mm beads (2)

Round nosed or stepped pliers
Flush cutter
Chain nose pliers
Nylon jaw pliers
Cup Burr

1. Cut wire in half so you have two lengths 3″ each. This will be longer than you will need for your posts, but I find it’s much easier to work with longer lengths for this project. Instructions below are for one earring; therefore, you’ll just be using one length of wire and one bead.

2. Make a tiny hook on one end of the wire using round nosed or step pliers. Close hook using chain nose pliers to make a head pin.

3. Thread bead on wire, allowing it to fall to the bottom.

4. Make a small loop at the top of the bead, using the round nosed pliers. I use my fingers as much as possible to pull the wire at this point, which decreases the stress on the wire and keeps it as straight as possible. The loop needs to be just high enough above the bead to allow one wrap around the “neck” of the loop.

5. Wrap the tail of the loop ONLY 3/4 of the way around the neck.

6. Using the tip of your round nose pliers or the smallest section of the stepped pliers, make a small U shape in the tail, very close to the neck of the loop. This will make it easier to complete the final pull through the loop.

7. Bend the tail so that you can guide it back through the loop.

8. Carefully pull the tail through the loop, making a knot at the base. This will get a little fiddly, you can use your chain nose pliers to pull it through or to hold the loop at the top while you pull the tail through.

9. When the tail is nearly through, I use my chain nose pliers to help push the U (created in Step 6) all the way through the loop.

10. Hold the top of the loop with your chain nosed pliers. At the same time, straighten the wire tail using a nylon jawed pliers until you have most of the bends out, and it’s at a 90 degree angle from the loop.

11. Mark the tail at 3/4″ from the back of the loop using a Sharpie.

12. Trim the tail at the Sharpie mark.

13. Use a Cup Burr to file the end smooth.

14. Repeat for second earring.

At this point, I would also suggest tumbling the earring at least a short time to ensure the ends are perfectly smooth, to harden the post and to give it a nice shine. Add a plastic backer to hold the earring in place.

Apr 172009

Got a question from someone on one of the jewelry forums about soldering jump rings. I know there are many methods, but here’s how I do it. If you have pointers, please share!

1. Close jump rings completely. Hold them up to the light, look at them from every direction. The join must be PERFECT!

2. Line up rings on a fire block. I do 25-30+ at a time, depending on size, 5 or so lines of 5-6 rings in a line. When you are placeing them, VERY CAREFULLY ensure you have all the joins at the same position – I like to have the join at the top (12:00) of the ring. Because you have done such a good job in Step 1, you may not be able to easily see those joins, so it helps to have them all in the same place.

3. Flux the join for all rings. (Doing this now ensures the flux dries before you apply the torch.)

4. Cut solder. I use easy level wire solder for jump rings. I don’t use a pick, although I’ve heard that’s even simpler to do.

5. Place solder on each jump ring just outside the ring using a tiny paintbrush that you’ve put some flux on.

6. Turn on the torch (I just use a baby butane one) and keep your flame fairly low.

7. For each ring: Heat the inside of the ring just until the solder flows. I actually sort of heat the fire block and let the heat “bounce” back into the ring. Pull away the heat immediately after the solder flows and move to the next ring. You’ll find that as you move through the lines (I go bottom to top, left to right) you’ll get the additional benefit of the heat on the block from the last ring(s) and it will go fairly quickly.

Occasionally you might want to take a short break and let everything cool down just a little. Depends on how far apart your rings are from each other, and how many you are doing.When I’m done with the entire block of rings, I place them in a container of cool water, then drop into pickle until they are shiny and pretty. Tumble for a bit to harden, and voila.

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.

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 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

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!