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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How the Leather Ends…?

29 05 2010

I love making pendants…. wire wrapped, metalsmithed, riveted and etched – I just love ’em! And hanging them from leather cords is my favorite way to wear them. There are many different techniques for ending leather cord – here’s one of my favorite ways, which gives me loops on the ends, so I can add a big wired hook:

The Start....

The first thing you do is make a loop in a piece of wire, and then bend the loop 90° to the stem of the wire (for reference, this is 20g wire, and 2mm leather). Then lay the end of the cord into the wire loop, and fold the tip of the cord back to make a loop in the cord. Keep the stem of the wire parallel to the cord, and make sure that the cord loop is sized for your project, since it is not adjustable! Then, wrap the wire around the cording (and the stem of the wire), making the wraps go DOWN the cord (don’t wrap the wire up the cord loop!), keeping the wire smooth.

And The Finish...

Continue wrapping the wire, keeping it smooth and taut – try not to have any gaps between the wire wraps. If you do have gaps, squeeze them together gently with chain nose pliers. Make 4-5 full wraps with the wire, and cut it flush as it aligns to the center. Press it close to the cord if needed, being careful not to mar the wraps. Cut the center wire stem, lightly file the ends as needed, and cut the leather tail close to the wrap, if you like.

Some Tips: If you have trouble, practice using 22 gauge wire. If you have gaps when wrapping the wire, pull the wire lightly toward the loop as you bring it around the cord,. If your wraps aren’t tight, then the cord can pull loose – try pulling the wire up taut, then pull tight around the cord.





I’m a Very Dirty Girl…

26 05 2010

But luckily, there’s always ways to get clean! As anyone who makes jewelry knows, working with metal is dirty work! Soldering, etching, fabrication – all of these make my hands look like they’ve been playing around inside a car engine, and most soaps can’t get them clean. And the ones that CAN clean them up always leave me feeling like sandpaper….

Grease Monkey Soap by Soap Scentsations

And then there’s Grease Monkey! I got this soap from a fellow Etsian – Soap Sensations (I always like to support the handmade community!), and the soap works great. Specifically made to clean you up after you’re doing your messiest, Grease Monkey is a cold processed soap made with natural ingredients, which leaves your skin soft, and has a clean minty scent (nothing wussy here!). And i to make my point, I thought I’d embarrass myself by showing you what I look like when working:

Where Have These Hands Been??

Just a little soldering, a little fabrication, a dip in Liver of Sulpher (LOS – for antiquing), and a bit of metal cleaning with some very fine steel wool – and my hands get pretty nasty looking. Wow – look at those nails… they look so much worse in a close-up!!

And After the Grease Monkey!

But a little Grease Monkey, a little scrubbing with a nail brush, and everything is pink and new! So I guess I clean up pretty good… huh?

So what was I working on that got me so messy? One of my favorite projects – an Initial Pendant, for a friend who is moving, and will be missed…

Bye, Bye Susan...





I’m Hooked on Wire…

20 05 2010

…And you can be too! Hooked on Wire (aka: HOW) is an annual wire retreat held in the San Fransisco Bay Area – imagine what you can learn by spending three days (Sept 10-12), with some of the top wirework artists in the country!! This year, Lisa Niven Kelly, Dallas Lovett, and Barb Switzer are the fabulous workshop instructors, and I’m thrilled to be joining HOW this year as one of the evening instructors! My project will be a little bit of a break from all the wire working done during the day – you’ll get a chance to play with some metal and create a fun “FAN-tastic” pendant :

What a "FAN-tastic" Pendant!!!

Hooked on Wire is a wonderful opportunity  to expand your skills, meet great people, and have a whole lotta fun! So check out the website for more info on projects and tickets, and plan a mini vacation – you deserve a few days for yourself! This is the 7th year for HOW, and it just gets better and better…!!





Goody, Goody…. Buying Goodies!

16 05 2010

One of the fun things about creating jewelry is that I get to go to go to wholesale shows and shop for all kinds of goodies! Since I also teach, “buying things for class projects” is my favorite excuse for going overboard!

You Can NEVER Have Enough Silver!!

ABOVE: Although I make many of my own components, I prefer buying some pre-fabricated items… I really hate to make jumprings if they are made with wire thinner than 18g, so I tend to buy them in bulk and stock up. And I loved finding these fun shapes – marquis, ovals and squares – they make fun earring components, and my students love them!

One is Enough!

ABOVE: I teach several classes where we make wire wrapped pendants, and these large sized bead strands are some new stones I found. From the left, they are: American Jade (this may be a descriptive name…. I think it is probably a jasper of some kind), African Bloodstone (these have some wonderful pyrite inclusions), dyed Trucolor Jade (again, this may be a descriptive name…. I think it is probably a quartz), and Red Jasper.

Some Pretty Things!

ABOVE: These are what I call “fun and trendy” strands… they work great for earrings and bracelets, and make a great accent for metal work. The bright colors don’t need too much else, and they look fabulous paired up with the silver shaped jumprings above! From the top, they are Dyed Quartz (a warm green), Dyed Quartz (this pink strand is a great imitation of expensive Rhodicrosite, complete with cream colored striations!), Crackle Etched Agate, and 3 strands of brightly Dyed Jasper.

I will be creating some new pieces using these components and beads soon – I’ll make sure to post a few examples here when I add them to my shop!





“Will Write Tutorial For Tools….”

5 05 2010

Fun with Forming Block!!

Last month, I was thrilled to be selected as a “tools for tutorial” match… basically, a great vendor on Etsy who sells tools (Evie’s Tool Emporium) was looking for someone to show folks how to use one of their new tools by writing up a brief tutorial. A wonderful blog called Totally Tutorials acts as the go-between, and I am pleased to now post this “Simple Formed Pendant” tutorial using a very cool metal mini-forming steel block. I tried to keep the project simple so that if you are unfamiliar with metalworking, you’ll find this to be a fun to make, but even experienced metalsmiths will enjoy using the forming block, and adding this technique to their skillset.

Project Tools

These are the tools I used: sponge block and green scrubbie (to clean the disc), a spring-loaded center punch, the forming block, a twist hole punch, a hammer and a mallet, and some punches (shown are a transfer punch, a nail, and a doming punch). You will also need a metal disc for the pendant – for this project I am using a 15/16 inch diameter circle in 24g copper. Please note that 24g – 26g works well with this tool!

Pendent Disc on Forming Block

Clean the disc with the sanding block or green scrubbie, and place it over one of the valleys in the forming block, laying a punch over it. I am using a doming punch, but if you don’t have one, you can use a regular steel nail, as long as it fits easily into the valley.

Hammering a Fold into the Disc

Hold the punch firmly in place, and hammer it on the disc, into the valley, forming the metal (repeat to get a good crease).

Flattening the Disc Edges

Remove the punch, and flatten the disc edges using a wood or rawhide mallet. If you don’t have a mallet, lay a piece of leather over the disc, and use the hammer.

Formed Disc - See How Easy!!

Making the Hole for the Bail

Make a hole in the disc using a twist hole puncher or a drill. If you don’t have a hole puncher of a drill, you can lay the disc on a block of wood, and hammer a sharp nail into the disc. This can cause the disc to warp, so you will need to flatten it out.

Adding some Texture

Lay the disc onto the forming block, laying the crease into a valley, as shown. Use the center punch to create a pattern (you can mark the pattern on the disc with a Sharpie, like I did). I like to file the tip of my punch, and punch on the BACK, so that the pattern is in relief on the front, but you can create a pattern however you like! If you don’t have a spring-loaded center punch, you can hammer the pattern with a regular center punch or nail

Adding the Finishing Touches

Add a bail (I used a simple jumpring), and antique/buff to highlight the details, and voila! You have a cool metal formed pendant!

Another Pendent - This One in Silver

After I made a few in copper, I decided to make one in silver, using the same basic steps. You can also add some other techniques, such as stamping in a word or design, or adding some beads or dangles. It takes a little practice, but just have fun with it!