Mar 212009

Been a busy couple of weeks here on the ranch…between traveling for Bree’s bridal showers, the Art & Soup show, and everyone in the family having their own version of The Plague, I haven’t had much time for blogging!

I’ll get caught up with “Everything from Weeks…” this weekend.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of my favorite tips on findings! For the last several years, I’ve been making my own headpins, ear wires, clasps and other basic findings. Rather than make a set of simple ear wires every time I make some earrings, or ball up a few headpins when I need them, I like to make in bulk and have on hand whenever I’m working on a project that requires those supplies.

Yesterday I made up 100 copper head pins…they’ll last me quite a while, so I may list some in my Etsy shop. Copper head pins take a little longer to ball up with a small butane torch than fine silver, but it is possible. Just make sure your torch has plenty of fuel and you turn the flame up pretty high.

I also made up 64 (32 pairs) ear wires while watching a movie last night. (Good Will Hunting, if you must know!) I can sit down with a beading mat, pliers, cutters and a spool of 22g half hard wire and feel like I’ve accomplished something!

For these “make in bulk” projects, I generally just make basic findings, nothing too fancy…but it’s always good to have plenty of basics on hand. When I find I’m getting low on findings, I’ll have a production day again!

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.

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!

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 132009

I was working on a bracelet using some scrumptious rubies from The Earth Bazaar yesterday, and thought long and hard about what to do for a clasp.

A nice swirl or S clasp would have worked, but just didn’t have the “oomph” that I wanted to add to this bracelet.

I remembered Lisa Niven Kelly’s “Tornado” clasp, and thought I could try something similar using my wire wrapping skills.

I had a plain toggle clasp that I’d gotten from a while back, and decided to make it sparkle using 30g sterling wire, tiny rubies (also from T.E.B.) and 3mm sterling silver round beads.

Basically, I just wrapped the rubies and silver beads around the front of the ring of the toggle. I didn’t plan out any design, just added beads as I went along, and used the wire to stabilize the beads in place.

Wrap, wrap, wrap…and I love the result! The bar for the toggle still fits well through the ring, and snugs up nicely when worn. Since the toggle is now weighted down with stones and beads, it stays at the inside of the wrist – although I wouldn’t mind if it slid up to the top either!

I’m thinking about doing a few more of these, maybe even use for a focal on a necklace. The wrapping wasn’t horribly difficult (although I do have wire cuts all over my fingers!) and the results are really unique.

Jan 112009

Week 2 was busy! I worked on a special commission of pendants and earrings, and was pleased with how they turned out.

Next up, I made 5 pairs of little earrings. Instructions will be posted on the blog in the next day or so. These are cute and feminine…dainty!

Finally, I made up a pair of earrings to match last week’s Iolite and Pearl pendant. Very simple.

Jan 042009

One of my goals for 2009 (oops…I need to post those, don’t I?!) is to be more consistent in taking photos of my work and posting it on my Etsy site. On one of the jewelry message boards I frequent, there is a member who posted “Everything from Week ##” throughout 2008, and I thought it was a great way to journal a year’s worth of work.

So look for “Everything from Week ##” from me, beginning this week.

Up first is a wire woven pendant using some yummy iolite stones (tiny, tiny things…I fell in love with them when I saw them!) and freshwater pearls. The style is taken from an Eni Oken tutorial that I picked up a couple of years ago. I tend to stress about what to do with pendants…I’m not fond of most 100% beaded necklaces with a pendant – I think they take away from the focal – but sometimes I really like to have something that’s finished, not just a pendant for someone to hang on a chain.

I like the way this finished up, with the addition of some iolite and pearl eyepins to a light chain I purchased in bulk from Fire Mountain Gems.

A work-in-progress this week is the chain for a copper pendant that I also made this week. The pendant was created from 14g, 16g, and 26g copper wire – I call it “A Song in My Heart”. I was inspired by Eni’s Jewelry Lessons site challenge for Valentine’s Day…still going to work on the design a bit before submitting.

The chain is a tiny, tiny version of the Jens Pind Linkage weave. I had a hard time getting this weave down, and when I finally did, it was one of those epiphany moments of “Cheese and crackers…what did I think was so darn hard about THAT?!” It’s classified as micro-maille (3/32″ 20g rings), and I can only do a couple of inches at a time before my eyes start to cross.

So, at the end of the first week of 2009, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Join me in the challenge of posting your weekly jewelry making!!

Cleaning jewelry

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Oct 212008

Is your jewelry looking a little dingy?

I wear a sterling silver Half-Persian 3-in-1 bracelet nearly 24 x 7, and after a while it starts looking just a little greyish. Depending on how much time I have to clean it up, I use a couple of different methods:

Couple of hours to overnight – drop it in the tumbler with some clean water, a squirt of blue Dawn dish soap and stainless steel shot. After even just 30 minutes, it’s looking a lot better; an extended bath makes it sparkle like it’s brand new.

If I’m a little more rushed but want to clean it up, I’ll use the jewelry cleaner from – I love this stuff and it works nearly as well as the tumbler! Here’s a little about Sunshine’s jewelry cleaner:

Professional Jewelry Cleaner – safe for fine jewelry, gold, platinum,
silver, pearls, opals, soft stones, antique jewelry, costume jewelry and of
course diamonds.

This amazing cleaner contains 100% biodegradable cleaning agents plus
banana and coconut oil. The cleaner rinses film free; that’s why it brings
out 100% more sparkle, color and brilliance to your diamonds, cubic zirconia’s,
crystals, rhinestones, and all stones; opals radiate more fire, and pearls
impart more luster. It is mild enough for pearls, yet powerful enough to
bring back that “brand new look” to all of your jewelry.

**NOTE** Do not soak soft stones for any length of time. Use the cleaner on
soft stones to just wash them then rinse with water.

Safe to soak diamonds overnight to loosen any dirt that may have settled
under the prongs.Our Jewelry Cleaner can also be broken down one third cleaner
to two thirds water in a spray bottle for cleaning crystals, glasses, and
mirrors. Cleaner acts as an anti-fog for glasses and mirrors.

I really like Sunshine’s cleaner, and it lasts a long time as well. I last ordered a large container nearly two years ago, and I’m still using it!