I Heart Hearts!

16 01 2011

Valentines day is just a few weeks away, so I figure now is the time to post a tutorial for making a simple wire heart pendant! This is a basic heart, but once you create it, you can embellish it however you want…

You will need basic wire jewelry pliers (chain or bent-nose, round nose, cutters), a small file, a hammer and steel block. You will also need 16g wire and 24g or 26g wire, and a mandrel about 1/2 inch diameter… a fat marker works well.

Preparing the Wire

To start…. cut a piece of 16g wire 5 inches long, and file the ends so that they are flush. Then bend the wire using your chain nose pliers, so that one side is 2.25 inches, and the other is 2.75 inches.

Shaping the Heart

Now use the mandrel (ie: fat marker) to shape the sides of the heart. 16 g wire is a bit difficult to work with, so don’t get discouraged….! Start by holding the wire tightly on the marker, and then rolling (you are pushing – not wrapping!) the wire until you get a nice rounded shape – repeat for each side:

 

Shaped Heart Sides...

Once the sides are rounded (one side will be longer than the other), it’s time to turn the ends further inward, using the round nose pliers. It is very important to make sure that you don’t pull open the shape you just made on the mandrel! This may take a bit of practice since 16g wire is a bit difficult to work with.

 

Turning in the Ends

It is more effective to grasp the end of the wire tightly in the round nose pliers, and then PUSH the wire around the pliers, rather than trying to pull the wire, which will warp the shape of the sides and pull them straight.

 

Shaping the Heart

After you turn in the ends, you can shape the sides by PUSHING the ends toward each other, and gently pushing the sides out a bit, until it is the shape as shown on the right.

 

Hammering - the Final Shaping Step

Using a nice slightly rounded hammer and a steel block, flatten the heart frame – the ends may open a bit, and the sides may separate a little… that’s normal, you just need to tighten up the ends and bring the sides back together, as shown above. Next, we will use thin gauge wire to wrap the sides together, so the heart doesn’t open.

 

Closing the Heart

Cut about 4 inches of the thin wire (24g or 26g), and make a small hook at one end, then start to wrap the sides of the heart, as shown above. Wrap the wire through the loops on each side 3-4 times, and pull the wire taut, using your pliers as needed. Decide which side will be the front, and make sure that you pull the wire through, and cut both ends on the back.

 

The Wraps on the Back

The photo above shows the wraps neatly cut, and pressed down on the back… the only thing left is to add the bail, and hang on a chain.

 

Shiny... or Antiqued - Either Choice is a Winner!

I made a simple bail by wrapping a piece of 16g wire twice on the base round nose pliers, cutting and filing the ends, and hammering it a bit for texture. I then opened it and slipped it thru the loop of the higher side of the heart, so that it hangs balanced. Personally, I’m a fan of the antiqued look! If you have some wire wrapping skills, you may want to embellish the heart with additional wire wrapping, or adding some beads.

 

Bold Heart!

This photo shows a heart frame with spirals (the technique is similar), which is then wrapped with some faceted garnets… this is a class I’ll be teaching locally next month… just in time for Valentines Day!

You may want to check these posts for info on Hammering and on using Liver of Sulpher for Antiquing.

 

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Consignment… the Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly!

13 01 2011

Sorry… no photos this time – just an important public announcement!

Whenever someone buys one of my pieces, I get a thrill. I admit it – there is something very exciting about having a customer part with their hard earned money to own something I designed and crafted.  All of us who sell our creations feel this way – believe me, it’s waaaay too hard to be doing it just for the money!!

Most artists and craftsfolks depend on a variety of venues for selling their items. I have my StudioDax Etsy store, and I sell at a few shows during the year, but I’ve made alot of my sales in the past by selling on consignment thru other stores. Consignment can be GREAT! It offers an audience for my jewelry that I probably wouldn’t reach any other way, and it keeps my pieces visible in places where people shop.

When consignment goes well, it is a wonderful partnership between the creator, and the seller. By focusing on the creative side, I am able to design more, and improve my techniques. The store takes care of the selling, tax collection, and marketing, and always has a supply of unique items that keeps their shop fresh. Both of us benefit – and the customers do to!

But sometimes it doesn’t go so well, and unfortunately, the artist is usually the one who gets impacted for the worse. If the store owner doesn’t have good business sense , or has financial problems, they may not pay for the items that have sold, or may not return the items that don’t sell. Sometimes, they don’t have time to manage their inventory well, or they just don’t care enough, and items get broken or stolen. And in some very troubling cases, store owners are just sleezy, and take advantage of people, with no intent to do the right thing. For these people…. I only hope that Karma wrecks havoc in their life!

I have been lucky. I’ve done consignment with 4 stores, and each one has been wonderful, taking care of my pieces, paying me on time, and returning my items when they didn’t sell. But I’ve been reading some disturbing posts about stores that have been contacting Etsy sellers, signing contracts, and the sellers send off their pieces in good faith, only to find out that they’ve been robbed.

As a business, as an etsian, as an artisan, and an honest person… these actions both sadden me, and really piss me off. So  as a public service announcement,  I am posting a link to a website that highlights the financial, moral, and legal issues that some folks have been exposed to, from working with a store called Queen City Emporium in Missouri. I hope that none of my readers have been scammed by them – if you have please make sure to connect with the site author, who is compiling complaints about this store.

There are so many great shops to consign with, and the benefits are great. Unfortunately, it’s the bad ones like this that get the attention…





How to Store It

9 01 2011

or…. where the jewelry sleeps!

I recently posted about my terribly crowded workbench, and if I wasn’t too embarrassed, I’d show you the other places I’ve been encroaching on to store my supplies, materials, and tools! The dining room has my shipping and packaging area, I keep my photo set-up in my bedroom, and I have various items boxed up in the living room, the laundry room, and the garage. I even have a bench shear on a small workbench which lives in a hallway… the house is taken over!!

But once an item is completed, and ready to be sold, I like to make sure that it is safe and secure, and easy to find. At least most of the time!! So I keep my “FOR SALE” jewelry in a case specifically made for storing and transporting jewelry…

Jewelry "Salesman" Case

This is a softsided salesman case – the trays inside can vary in depth, and have interchangeable inserts. Most of mine have velvet pads, but I also have some trays with separated compartments, and one has a foam insert for rings.

2 Half Trays at the Top

Most of my trays are full sized, but I have a few half sized trays. I like to keep my rings in a smaller tray so that it doesn’t take up much room on my show table – my ring tray has a foam ring insert, and it’s the only one I pull out and leave on the table “as-is” for selling. I have a divided tray for the other smaller tray – I currently have a few pendants and bracelets residing in there.

Bracelets, Cuffs, and Bangles.... Oh My!

It’s not a mess… it just looks like it! This is a single, deep tray, and most of bracelets “live” here, although I usually store the ones with chains in ziplock bags. I like to work with alot of different things – you’ll find metal work, wirework, bead stringing, and some leatherwork in here! I also have quite a few bead crochet bracelets, but most of them are kept with my teaching materials as samples for classes.

Earrings.... Part I

Earring... Part II

I have ALOT of earrings – and I keep most of them in these 2 inch deep trays. I made the divider inserts with heavy stock, and I’m able to store up to 15 earring cards in each section, or for hoops or dangle styles that I don’t keep on cards.

Just Hanging Around!

I am always looking for ways to store my chain necklaces w/pendants so that they don’t get all tangled up – placing them all in individual ziplock bags would work, but it takes waaaay too much time to take out and put back for shows.I think my latest method works well – each chain had a tag, and each tag is strung on a hook (see it at the top right side). I use twist ties to bundle and keep the chains together, and then store the pendants of each group in a large ziplock (I removed the bags for the photo). To set them out, I just grab the hook, untwist the bundles, and hang them up by the tags. I have 5 trays like this for different styles, but I figure one is sufficient to show you!

Everything in it's Own Compartment!

Some trays have specialized compartments that fit inside, and are used to keep items separated  – I show here one with a necklace/bracelet insert, and one with small squares that fit standard pre-fab earring cards. I use it instead to hold my extra pendants that are not on chains, or to keep the pendants on very thin chains from getting tangled up.

So – this is my method of storing my finished items once they are priced and tagged, which works for transporting items for shows. This is pretty much an industry standard for jewelry, but it took me years of using plastic shoeboxes and ziplock bags before I finally gave-in and purchased this set-up, and I wish I had done it earlier!