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!

 

Advertisements




When Mistakes Work

11 10 2010

Do What I Say…. Not What I Do!

This weekend I taught a fun new class which combined basic metal work with stamping and soldering, to create a personalized heavy gauge ring. I don’t always get to create a complete project in class, because I am focused on working with my students, but for this project, I had to demo every step, so I was able to make a ring of my own.

Caffeine.... Sorta!

So I decided that the chemical compound for CAFFEINE  (C8H10N4O2) would be kinda cool. I showed the class how to line up the letters, and I even told them that they need to watch for the direction of the stamp, so that no letters were upside down. So what do I do?! I proceed to stamp the “O” sideways… obviously I needed a little bit more coffee before class started!

So this became a lesson in “organic design” – sometimes you just need to accept your design, flaws and all, and love the uniqueness of what you create. And… the class decided that my representation showed a quirkiness that works!

Letter Stamps

Some letter stamps come with a scratch, or a mark on them, indicating the side that faces you when stamping, so that the letters line up correctly (example above left). The stamp set I used for my C8H10N4O2 ring didn’t have any markings, so basically you need to check each letter before stamping. Obviously, I got it wrong!

A simple tip… if your letter set does not have any directional indicators on them, then I suggest marking it yourself. I use a little nail polish (example above center) which shows up and withstands a bit of abuse. Because if you leave your stamps plain, like the one in the photo above right, you will surely create some “organic” designs yourself!





Sparkly, Shiny, Things!

15 09 2010

Ohhhhh…. Swarovski!

If you look at my jewelry, you’ll notice that my style leans toward natural, organic styles. And even though most of my jewley just doesn’t work with them, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to play with sparkly shiny things! So last week at Hooked on Wire, I was just as excited as everyone else to see the presentation from the Swarovski rep, and check out all the new products coming out. There were various crystal items strewn all over the tables to keep us in our seats! And even more fun, at the end of the presentation, WE GOT TO SWEEP UP THE TABLES!

Shiny Goodies!!

So look at what I got…! I have no designs in mind for what I’ll be doing with these, but I just couldn’t help myself – I wanted them, so I took’em!! Most of these will need to be set with prongs, like faceted gemstones, but some are flat backed, like the fabulous blue checkerboard crystal. Some styles have rivet backings, that require the use of a special setting tool to prevent the crystal from breaking. But I don’t have the special setting tool, so I had to see if my riveting skills would be good enough…

Silver Petals with Crystal Rivets

Aren’t these just so cute!? These crystals are only 4mm each (less than 1/4 inch), but they have a really great shine. They are pre-set in small brass multi-prong rivet seats, which makes them easy to use… ok, not real easy, but since I’ve been riveting tubes for a few years, I guess my riveting skills were just fine!

Side View Close-up

These look so cool from the side – the textured sterling petals (5/8 inch) are curved, creating a basin for the crystals. The brass seat has a cone shape, which holds the crystal up… I like that it gives it a more dimensional look.

Side View of the Crystal Rivet

At this angle, you can see the bottom a little. The brass seat includes a short tube, which was set in a hole in the silver, and then flared to hold the crystal tight. It’s a little tricky to flare the rivet without breaking the crystal, but I was able to get it done by going slow. The result is a very sweet pair of earrings. They measure less than an inch total, but they have a brilliant sparkle!





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!





Adventures in Tumbling

7 07 2010

I’ve been asked by some of my metal work students if  buying a tumbler is a good investment. A tumbler does not polish – if you have scratches, or damage to the surface, it will not remove them. But it will clean and shine up your jewelry so that it looks great, and my tumbler is a tool I would hate to give up. I will do a more in-depth how-to post later on, but this is a quick “before and after” to show what a tumbler can do.

Looking a Little Dull...

So here’s a few of my silver and copper favorites – a couple of  bracelets, some earrings, and a few pendants – stamped, hammered, etched and antiqued. I don’t use any kind of lacquer on my jewelry – I think that silver and copper get a warmer look when worn on the skin.  It’s obvious these pieces are well loved!

The Tumbler Cup

The tumbler uses a rubber cup…. this muffles the noise a little, and buffers the items when turning. I have about a pound and a half of mixed stainless steel shot in the cup along with the jewelry to be cleaned (ALWAYS uses stainless – regular steel will rust easily!).

In the Cup We Have...

Can you see the different shapes of shot in the cup? There are round BBs, saucers, pins, and ovals – the different shapes get into all the nooks in the jewelry once we get started. At this point, I fill the cup with water to about an inch above the level of jewelry, and I give a squirt of Dawn dishwashing detergent. Use the original (not concentrated) blue Dawn – this has been used by designers for years to clean their jewelry!

Ready to Rumble... er, Tumble!

Close up the cap tightly, put it on the tumbler, and plug it in! I love, love, love, love, love, my Lortone tumbler! I can’t imagine trying to go with a cheaper tumbler – this is a workhorse, and will run effortlessly for years.  I leave it going for about an hour, which is all I need to do for a basic cleaning.

Pretty, Shiny Things!

Pour everything out into a plastic colander and rinse. Be very careful when doing this so you don’t drop the shot all over! Dry off your pieces…. and they’re just like new – clean and shiny, and ready to wear again!





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!