Everything Changes the Same…

31 08 2010

Well…. I’ve been really busy, and I feel great guilt at not posting all week. So I’m just gonna write a bit about a few things that have kept me from posting!

First, I found out that one of my two favorite bead shops is closing. I really love Beaded Bliss (in Danville, CA) – the owner is just wonderful, and has a great knowledge of beads and the beading business… it’s terribly sad that after 19 years in 2 different locations, she just has to let it go. This shop is 45+ miles from me, but I enjoy the customers and staff so much, that I have made the trip to teach classes for the past year. So I’ve got a few more classes before she closes… please come by if you are in the area.

A Last New Class...

My students have been asking me to create a Viking Knit project that has a “touch of Randi” in it, so I had to come up with an appropriate piece that also used some heavier wire. I love the result, and I really hope that my regulars are happy with this bracelet!!

I’ve also been getting prepared for my Hooked On Wire (HOW) class – I’ve just been told that the evening classes are open to folks even if they don’t sign up for the HOW retreat – I’m thrilled! HOW is Sept 10-12, and my “FANtastic Pendant” class will be the evening of the 10th.

Formed and Folded, Fan Pendant w/Crysta

This is a quick class – just 2 hours, and I’ll be showing some of the other fun things you can create with a microbrake/corrugating tool… I look forward to seeing my regulars, and hope to see some new faces too!

Then I participated in a small Boutique show, which was a real flop for me. I ignored all the rules… the entry was low, the table was being provided (I hate to lug the tables!), and the person putting on the show was very personable, so I just figured I’d do it and hope for the best!  The show was promoted as a Boutique and Rummage Sale, and the audience was definitely leaning toward the Rummage Sale end! I sold a few items, but I like to think that my time is worth more than $5 hour!

Although my teaching calendar is now scheduled, I’m still working up my handouts for new classes…. one of the new classes I created for The Beading Frenzy (in San Mateo) is a great donut project:

A Pearl, A Donut and Some Wire went to a bar....

I’ve seen photos of some similar projects, but I figured out the mechanics of it on my own, and tried to give it my own style a bit. I’ve got a few variations that I’m working on to incorporate a center bead, but I really like how this one came out, and hope it’s a hit with students too.

And lastly, I’ve been working on adding some tools to my Etsy Shop – I’ve had the Bad Crochet Starter Jig since the beginning, but have decided to add some items that I can offer, that have some value over what is already available.

"Kumi what?

I loooove kumihimo – it is a style of Japanese braiding using a disk. I wrote up a tutorial, which incorporates all kinds of extra techniques not readily available when you buy the disk. I send it out as a pdf via email to my customers, so now they can get everything they need to get started, all in one place.

It’s a busy time of the year…. and it’s only going to get busier with all the holidays coming up!





The Mannequin’s Earrings!

22 08 2010

As I mentioned last week, I’ve just started working with a jewelry mannequin to take  my photos. As thrilled as I am with how it all comes together, I gotta ask one simple question:

Do the people who design these things ever talk to the people who use them??

Not Quite Right...!

Take a look at this – I’m just trying to put an earring in. Nothing fancy… just a regular earwire. The mannequin has a hole in the ear, and the description specifically mentions that it’s for earrings, so I know I’m not doing anything wrong.

She's a Hard Headed Woman!!

Now this just doesn’t make sense – you have a hole for the earring, and yet… you can’t actually put most earring on! Probably a post earring would work, but give me a break! It would have been soooooo easy for the designer to make a slight adjustment to accommodate a majority of the earrings. The ear could have been made a bit thinner, or the area behind the ear could have been sculpted deeper, so that the wires wouldn’t hit. To me, if they would have tested this with peopl who actually use it, they would know that it needs to be changed a little.

The Fix...

So in order to use it, the earwires need to be bent and reshaped every time , and that’s unacceptable! So l have come up with a solution… not the greatest, but it’s the best fix I can think of – I now have a slightly shorter, and different curved earwire “permanently” stuck in the ear. Instead of manipulating the earwires on my earrings, I gently remove the hanging part, and put it on the mannequin’s earwire for the photo, then put it back on the real earwire when I’m done. This works for most of my earrings… but my designs with long soldered earwires will never get photographed on the mannequin!

I love how this looks, but the designer should have put the head in beta test!!





Dramatic Photo… Amateur Set-up!

16 08 2010

Over the past year, I’ve improved my photo taking abilities alot – I look back at some old pictures, and the difference I see is really obvious. The one thing I just never got was taking photos on models.. Now I know it’s important – it helps folks see the size of an item, and it shows how a piece lays. But I never felt comfortable about using real people. So I recently bought a jewelry mannequin, and I just love how my new photos are coming out!

Pink Ice and Crystals

I think this looks so cool…. of course, I love my jewelry (Simple Pink Crystal Earrings, Triple Crystal Necklace, and Pink Ice Crocheted Necklace), but I am so impressed with the dramatic look I got! But I am NOT a photographer…. I am a jewelry designer, and creating a professional shooting location is not something I can do now.

So I am going to embarrass myself and show you all the “great” set-up I finally created, which gives me such dramatic shots!

The Photo Set-up!

Lucky for me, I have great light in my bedroom, from the window on the left…. But I had a problem, since all my surface areas were against the walls, making it impossible to shoot with the light behind me (I close the curtains with the light behind me, which gives me diffused, but bright lighting). So, my TV has become my photo shoot stand!

Adding the Dramatic Black Background

I had a piece of heavy black board from years ago, and I just stand it up behind the mannequin – it’s a bit of a balancing act, but it works for me! I make sure to turn the TV (the stand is on casters) so that the light hits the surface straight on, which reduces the shadows and keeps the color bright.

Three Strands

I am so thrilled – the colors look so true on the white, and the whole thing just pops against the black, and I don’t even have to do any adjusting to the photos… Who would have guessed that I could get this result while balancing the mannequin on top of my TV?!





Tools To Go

11 08 2010

When I first started to teach jewelry making, I was always scrambling to pull together my tools before taking off to class. There is a standard subset of tools that I use for most projects I work on, whether wire work, or beading, or working with metal, so I decided to make up a simple tool kit with the items I use the most, so I can just grab it and pack it with my other supplies.

Ooooohhhh.... tools!

This is my tool kit… not some case with elastic loops (never big enough!), but a baby wipes container! Filled with the tools I use every single day…. And the case has a little extra room, so I can always add an extra tool when needed.

To Bend, To Hold To Shape, To Cut

You can never have enough pliers. Really…. I’m serious! I have about 25 pairs at my workbench – some are very very specific (prong benders), but most are variations of the basics.These pliers above are the ones I reach for most, so they are the ones in the kit:

  1. Nylon Faced Pliers: these are really really grungy, but I use them all the time to straighten wire, and gently form metal
  2. Flush Cutters: a sharp point, and a clean edge are a must! And these cut wire as heavy as 14g with no problem.
  3. Round Nose Pliers: I have 2 pairs, since I use a variety of gauges.
  4. Knotting Pliers: although these are intended for knotting, I use them all the time with wire. They are great for tucking in thin wires.
  5. Bent Nose Pliers: I have discovered that I reach for bent nose pliers so much more than chain nose pliers. I used to keep chain nose in the kit, but I don’t use them much – the bent nose work most times for me.

The Other Stuff I Use

Pliers are the basics, but they’re not enough! I always need files, and I found a small 3 piece set that has a great cut. There are also 2 awls (aka “pointy metal sticks!”) that I use all the time – the yellow handle one is thicker, and great for enlarging small holes in metal, and for breaking beads. The nail, at the bottom of the photo, has been altered… I cut off the point and filed, sanded and polished the end, so I could use it as a burnisher to smooth out metal surfaces. And the extendable antenna is my portable mandrel, used when I need to shape wire and make coils.

The Final Touch

I can’t begin to tell you how often I use sanding blocks… ! These are 1/4 size cut from a standard block, and I use them to soften a metal surface (wire or sheet) after filing. I also use them to add a subtle texture, and to clean off oxidation. The crocous cloth is something I was shown years ago… it is a textures grit “painted” onto a heavy denim cloth, and it is great to polish up metal apply a shine – just be sure to NEVER use them wet, because the grit will run!

For most classes, I also need to grab a few other items – for many projects I need to include steel blocks, stamps, punches, and hammers. But having all these basics in one simple case ensures that I all I need to do is add the project specific tools. And as a little time bonus, I keep this sitting in my living room, so whenever I feel a bit creative, it’s always where I need it!





Amazing Students!

2 08 2010

This weekend I had a really great class – a great fun project, alot of different wire techniques, beautiful beads, and just absolutely wonderful students!  In my class yesterday at Beaded Bliss (one of my favorite places!),the students created such great projects – I decided that this week I would focus on them, instead of me!

We worked in wire from 12g – 22g gauge, and did alot of design planning. To start, we learned first how to twist wire in different gauges, and then how to make perfectly wrapped coils…

Twisted up and Coiled!

Some folks used silver, but some decided to use copper instead, especially folks who were new to wire working. No one wants to spend big $$ on silver when you’re learning new skills, and aren’t sure how it will come out.

Kuchi, Kuchi, koo!

Once we mastered basic coiling and twisting, we learned how to make Kuchi beads from wrapped wire. I’m not sure where the name “Kuchi” comes from, but that’s what I’ve always heard them called.

Antiquing makes it come to life!

Everyone made up a nice selection of coils and Kuchi’s, and then those wanting to antique them, gave their components a bath with Liver of Sulpher (LOS). I love how copper gets such a rich look from the LOS – it changes the wire from “hardware looking” to jewelry grade!

So what was everyone making….? They combined their wire components with  some beautiful lampwork beads, natural stones, and a variety of metal, bone, glass, and ceramic spacers. And they made these beautiful bangles!

Copper Bangle 1

I love how these beads work together – the copper really works with the colors she chose, and the end result is a beautiful bracelet.

Copper Bangle 2

Aren’t these cool beads? The carnelians have some real unusual patterns, and they are balanced with the cool blue beads, and tied together with the cream accents. Another beautiful bracelet.

Copper Bangle 3

The beads and spacers in this bangle really work well together – the group of spacers next to Kuchi show such a wonderful variety of textures – when they are all together, they become a subtle focus.

Silver Bangle 1

This is a great bangle… the blue beads are amazonite, and they look fabulous with the carnelian and bone beads. The silver work is really well done – the very precise Kuchi and tightly wound coils provide a very clean look. The decision to leave this bright (not antiqued) gives is a wonderful light feel.

Silver Bangle 2

This bangle reminds me of the African Savannah! The colors, and the patterns on the lampwork beads – they look great with the antiqued silver wire, and ever time it moves on the wrist, you see something new – what a different look than the first silver bangle!

Silver Bangle 3

I love the neutral palette of this design… the lampwork beads have a very organic feel, and the green aventurine beads accent them really nicely. I like how the darker beads make the rest of the bangle pop

I never forget that students take classes for a number of reasons – they want to be among people who share their passion, they want to learn how to do something, and they hope to walk away with a new skill… and hopefully a great new piece of jewelry!

I was really thrilled with the amazing pieces everyone created, and I think they were too!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 602 other followers