A Little Bling Bling

28 02 2011

A Little Bling Goes A Long Way….

It can be tricky to combine the sparkle of crystal with stark metalwork, but if you keep the design sleek and simple, then the materials work together really well. Back in September, I taught a class at Hooked on Wire, and attended a presentation from the Swarovski folks… I got loads of little crystal bits (see my previous post on this HERE),¬† and finally got around to creating a new design, which I really love!

I designed the piece using heavy gauge sterling silver (18g), which I gave a soft matte finish, and added a preset 7mm crystal rivet cup (NOTE: click on photos to enlarge):

Simplicity - Sparkle and Silver

Isn’t this a great look!?! I cut a simple triangle from some scrap silver sheet I had, rounded the edges and the corners, and used a combination of files, sanding blocks, and polishing papers to get the soft finish. I then drilled a hole so I could add the crystal (the crystal comes pre-set in the rivet setting).

A Modern Style, A Classic Look

From the side view, you can see a bit more detail – when I drilled the hole for the crystal setting, I beveled the edge of the hole to accommodate the angle and allow the cup to seat into the silver. I curved the silver lightly to balance the formed bale – the minimalist shape provides a graceful way to hang the pendant on a chain.

Best Not Seen... The Back!

The back looks a bit messier than it really is… the tube (rivet) was quite long, so I had to cut it’s length, and then cut down the tube to create tabs to fasten it to the silver. Since the rivet is brass, I was concerned that if I manipulated it too much, it would become brittle and crack. So I simply hammered the tabs down, and added a blob of E6000 to cover the tab edges so they don’t catch or scratch (E6000 is a thick adhesive).

Just Hanging Around

I love how this pendant looks – right at the collarbone, showing on the skin. The crystal makes it pop, and with the matte finish on the silver, this is a piece that looks great jeans and a sweater, or all dressed up – since it’s Swarovski, the quality crystal¬† sparkles however you wear it!

I gave this one to a friend as a thank you gift, but I’ll be making a few more, maybe even with different shapes, but the same styling. I just love when the end result looks better than what I imagined!

 

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Stitches: A Fiber Show

22 02 2011

I think of my jewelry as falling into the “metal arts” category – silver, copper, hammers, and torches – yep, that’s metal arts! I sometimes use beads and gemstones, but most of the time, they are the accents, not the focus.

I have 2 major exceptions to this, which I call my “soft” side – my bead crochet, which uses seed beads, and my kumihimo, which uses colored cords and fibers. And this past weekend, I indulged a bit in my soft side, and I attended Stitches.

Stitches is a convention of all things fiber: spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting – it is a huge meeting of the soft and fluffy yarns, the new wool blends, the natural fibers, and the hand-dyed… it is the opposite of a bead show, where all the materials are stone and glass and gems.

Aisles at Stitches (click photo for close-up)

Look at all the vivid colors – what you can’t see is the textures and the different yarns – the silks, the wools, the cashmeres, the soys, the cottons – absolutely wonderful to take in. I really love the weaving – it looks like something I could get into in the future, although I don’t know what I’d do with the fabric once woven! There were also gorgeous sweaters, jackets, socks, and blankets – available in patterns and kits… if only I was fiber-friendly!

Marion Jewels in Fiber Booth (click photo for close-up)

I spent one day roaming the floor, and checking out the goods… I bought some great ribbon style yarn, which I’m using for some kumihimo projects (I’ll do that in a later post), and I spent a day doing demo’s at a friends booth – Marion Jewels in Fiber. Marion has a great online store, where she carries an extraodinary selection of silk threads, as well as the full line of C-Lon cording. Also, she sells kumihimo kits, micro-macrame materials, tools, and my StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig.

My StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig - Demo Kit

After doing demos for a year or so now, I’ve pretty much got it down – my demo kit includes a couple of projects in different stages: the multi-purple bracelet is almost done (see the cords threaded thru the endcaps and focal bead), the solid green size 8 beads, and the 3 color spiral size 6 beads (peach, white, and bronze) are bracelets in progress, and the solid black teardrop beads that are still on the jig. The other pieces show how to remove the jig from the crochet rope (the multi-color stripes on the jig), as well as some examples of using the jig to make ropes with smaller delicas and size 11 beads. And I always have a sample of what it looks like to start a bead rope without the jig – you can see it on the right in the photo, below the awl – it looks a little like a knot of beads!

I appreciate all my customers that buy from my StudioDax shop , and I love when they leave me feedback letting me know how much they enjoy using the jig, but it’s great fun doing demos to show how easy it is to use, and having people buy the jig on the spot… instant gratification!!





Tools That Delight

13 02 2011

I’ve wanted to to post a review feature on tools for a while, so I decided it’s time to do it! This is the first in a series called “Tools that Delight” and they will be tagged for easy searching in the Categories menu to the right…

As a tool junkie, I mentally rate my tools into different categories depending on how much I want them. It is not unusual for tools to change the category they are in, especially when I learn new techniques:

  • Must Have: these are the tools I can’t work without
  • Gotta Get: these are the ones that I really want, that I will use alot
  • Cool Tool: usually very specific for one unique purpose
  • Next Level Tools: usually really expensive versions of tools I have
  • Big Boys: the tools that are really expensive, or take up alot of room!

First up… the nylon faced bracelet former pliers!

Cool Tool ----> Must Have

I considered these pliers a “cool tool” for many years, but over the years, they’ve become part of my “must have” toolset (yes – they are still really cool!). These pliers have nylon jaw pads that are shaped to easily bend thin metal and wire in a light consistent curve.

Smiling Jaws!

One side is convex, the other concave, so that they fit together when closed. Many of these pliers have replaceable nylon pads so that when you ding them up (and you will!) you can easily fix them – note the nylon screws that are holding them to the jaws.

Ready to Shape

These pliers are great for shaping both narrow strips of metal sheet, as well as wire. I can easily shape up to 12g – for reference, the copper strip above is 16g, and the wire is 14g. And using them is so simple – it doesn’t get any easier!

  • STEP 1: lay wire into nylon jaw
  • STEP 2: close pliers
  • STEP 3: repeat as needed

Shaping Wire

Shaping Wire from a Bend

So simple, and the results are so clean and nice and consistent! You can easily shape wire for a bangle, or to create a “frame” which can be hammered and wrapped.

Shaping Flat Stoc

For this piece, I had already finished the copper strip design with some letter stamping, texturing, and hole punching. I am going to use it as a link for a bracelet… look how easily it gets formed!

Curved Metal Strip

Doesn’t this look great?! Nice and even, with no warping or damage, and the nylon ensures that the strip doesn’t get scratched. I am planning on antiquing the copper to bring out the details, and will add some chain, or maybe attach some leather cord, to make up a bracelet.

Hopefully… I’ve shown reason why this pair of pliers has moved into my “Must Have” list – I have a few pairs with slightly different shapes – all of them are well loved!

I’ll be posting more photos of my favorite tools, as well as some info on how they are used – let me know if there’s anything is particular you’re interested in, and I’ll try to oblige!





Loving the Business… of the Business

2 02 2011

I love being an independent jewelery designer.

I love to design pieces and make jewelry – bending wire, hammering metal, playing with fire… it is so satisfying to indulge in chaos, and to just create. I can lose myself for hours reading my jewelry technique books, and I always keep a notebook with me so I can jot down my latest ideas when inspiration hits. I am a tool junkie of the worst (best?) kind – I covet all the latest new jewelry tools, and prowl the aisles of Harbor Freight and Home Depot, thinking of creative ways to adapt all their tools to suit my jewelry making.

And I love to teach too… I was “drafted” as a teacher many years ago, and surprisingly, I discovered I enjoyed it alot, and was pretty good at it. Luckily, I”ve been able to combine both my love for jewely making with my love of teaching – it’s great fun to develop new projects for classes, and very satisfying to see my students create and expand their skills. And I learn from them too, all the time.

I have been creating, teaching, and selling for 5 years now, and I still appreciate so much when someone is willing to part with their money, to own one of my pieces, or spend time with me to learn what I have to teach. It is always a thrill for me when I get a new customer or a student, and a real joy whenever a customer or a student returns back for more.

People always ask “why do you blog?” For me, this blog is an extension of my teaching and creating. I don’t post that often, but I try to post on topics that people will find interesting, and hopefully useful too. And just like with my customers and students, I get a little thrill every time I get a new reader, or a returning one…!