New Year Update January 11, 2021
My first New Year’s posts tend to be full of hope and felicity for all the good things to come. Goals, possibilities, plans, and dreams. I have to admit that I am struggling to see more that ten feet in front of my face these days. Perhaps because that’s about the length of the rooms in our home, which I rarely leave. I have never seen myself as a Pollyana, nor a Debbie Downer, but someone pretty even tempered, searching for the reality, and trusting God’s guidance in leading me through circumstances. My trust in God is not shaken, but recent events of the past few months have surely shaken my faith and assumptions of the strength of our democracy to stand. Anxiety is a frequent companion these days. Forgive me if this is not what you stopped by to read in my blog. This is a record of sorts about my journey as a jewelry maker. What I see, feel, hear, touch, and think affects this. That is all.
I currently have the attention span of a flea, but have managed to make some simple things. These offer some welcome distraction and pleasure, for which I am grateful. Here’s a look.
Sterling silver hoops with a touch of gold
Sterling silver with chubby fluorite stones.
Brass chain and painted cross.
Silver wire frame with freshwater pearls.
Sterling silver frames and small beads.
Mixed metal earrings with Amazonite.
Gold hoops with chunky silver nuggets.
My new favs… Rough, raw garnets with feathers!
Crystal rosary chain with fun flower charm.
Sincerely wishing you and yours a peaceful and healthier New Year. God help us.
Sometimes less is more… October 31, 2020
I’ve found myself ready to tackle jewelry projects more often these days. But in shorter spurts of time…I mean like making earrings that take no more than 15 or 20 minutes. Some days I head into my studio three times a day for these short creative breaks. Last week the final products were mostly riffs on a wire frame theme. Easy to wear teardrops, in different sizes and metals. I love the teardrops to wire up fancy, but also I gathered a bunch of paired beads and stones to make them ‘convertible’. The beads easily slip on and off frames that are 22 gauge. Hard to tell in these photos, but some are silver and some gold craft wire. If you make larger frames with 20 gauge wire, many larger holed beads work well. These would make wonderful gifts, wouldn’t they? One pair of wire frames accompanied by 3 or 4 sets of beads.
I also made some omega wire frames. Love these!
And lastly, a simple pair of face-framing, curved connectors.
What are you up to these days? Hope there is space and time, however small or short, for you to get creative. Stay well, friends!
Time Out Time September 30, 2020
After last night’s emotional rollercoaster, I put myself in time out today. In my happy place, creating something new.
And I feel so much better now!
These earrings use my new favs…African glass pink opal seed beads from Lima Beads.
So lovely and luminous.
There was some satisfying pounding, and scrubbing to these brass hoops before decorating.
I was asked by Melody on my last blog post for instructions on how to wire wrap seed beads onto a frame. Beadaholique has an excellent video with clear easy instructions.
I hope this inspires you to give this versatile technique a try!
Earring Frame Tutorial September 22, 2020
Since I posted yesterday, I was kindly “poked” to create a tutorial for these earring frames. I did see a tutorial on line, but darned if I can find it again…so I decided to try my hand at it. I would request that if a few of you give this tute a tryout, please give me some feedback. Much appreciated.
18 gauge wire, any soft wire will do. I used silver plated craft wire, but copper would be gorgeous!
Wire cutters, ruler, fine tipped marker, chain nose pliers, nylon jaw wire straightener, round nose pliers, bench block or other firm surface.
Step 1: Cut two pieces of wire the same length. Flush cut each end.
You can see that I cut these at 4 1//2 inches. These frames will be smaller than the ones I made in yesterday’s post. You can adjust the length to suit your desired finished frame size. These could be so cute made much smaller, maybe in 20 g. wire.
Step 2: Use the round nose pliers to make a closed curl at each end of the wires. Be sure the curls face each other.
Step 3: Measure the center of each wire and mark with a sharpie. I don’t show this step…oops! But for these wires, it was at the 1 and 7/8 inch mark.
Step 4: Use the chain nose pliers and bend the wires in half. They can be a little wonky at this point.
Step 5: Use the nylon jaw wire straightener to gently squeeze the bend together. The goal is to make this bend as pointed as possible. Again, a little wonkiness is okay.
Step 6: Use your fingers to gently spread the wire ends apart to make a V shape, while keeping the points nice and closed.
Step 7: Now the fun part… go on a treasure hunt and find something around your house to use as a mandrel. I ended up starting with a glue stick, but it didn’t give me as rounded a shape as I wanted, so I switched to a thicker paint bottle. You have noticed that I am doing each step to both wire frames. This gives me the best chance to have the frames as identical as possible. So, in this shaping step, I held both frames together as I pushed and shaped the wires around the bottles.
Step 8: This is also important…work harden the wire. It’s wonderful to use a soft wire for all the above steps, but you’ll want the frame stiffer as you work your beading magic. Using a leather mallet on a hard surface will do the trick nicely. It will work harden (stiffen up) the wire, without changing the shape. Now, that said, if you did want to add some dimension and texture to the wire, by all means, go ahead and use a hammer. That would be beautiful!
So, there you are… All ready to decorate a hundred different ways, from simple to sublime!
Give me feedback, please. Send me photos. I’d love to hear from you!
NEW UPDATE: These are more modest earrings designed with the earring frames made in this tutorial. They come in at 2 1/2 inches in length and are stunning when the cobalt blue glass is back lit by the sunlight!
Whiplash! September 21, 2020
Sometimes something will catch my eye. A color, a texture, a pattern. And I have to do an immediate turnabout, which can almost cause me a bit of whiplash. In this most recent event, it was a shape of an earring on Pinterest. A beautiful arabesque of wirework. I’m positive I have seen it many times before…maybe you have as well. But for some reason in this moment, I really, really noticed it.
Which drove me immediately into my workspace, which has been sadly neglected of late. It took me a little bit of experimenting to figure out how to replicate the shape. And then, re-replicate it. Sometimes this is the trickiest part of wirework. Matching design shapes when creating pairs.
Then, came the fun of digging through my beads to select these pretty blues for wrapping around the frames. I used non-tarnishing silver plated wire for the frames (18g) and wrapping (24g). This wire is soft enough for easy wire wrapping and shaping. I did use a raw hide mallet to harden up the frames before adding the beads.
After finishing up one, the second earring was a breeze!
These are 3 1/2 inches in length. Not for the shy one.
They were a joy to make. It felt really good to be back in the workspace. I’m hopeful that the creative energy will continue to flow!
A pinch of this…and a dash of that July 29, 2020
Not only is this how I tend to wing it when cooking, it now feels like this is how my “corona days” are going. Making do with the little things around the house and yard. Trying to fill my time with lots of little tasks and routines. I am very aware of this sounding like a “privileged life problem” and millions have many more crushing problems they are dealing with. Heartbreaking.
My one huge life line outside home is the app OverDrive that allows me to borrow library books on my iPad. Maya Angelou said that as long as she could get to a library, she’d be alright. We have a Little Free Library in front of our house and the neighbors help keep it stocked for both adults and kids. Love watching people stop by and borrow or lend books.
Oh, and Pinterest! I’ve pinned tons of recipes (made a few too), jewelry inspirations, crafty project, garden art, and more. I find it helpful to see what others are creating. It’s life affirming to know that people are “out there” making.
Spoiler alert…there is very little jewelry in this post. But I am also “inside here” still making stuff. And I hope you are too, wherever you happen to be.
First, the jewelry…
I ran across a small bag of ugly, dull brass rings in my craft closet. Don’t even remember why or where I bought them. (sound familiar?) After a good beating with a hammer and a scrubbing with steel wool, I decorated them with Czech glass and seed beads. The pendant also has a wired on amethyst shard.
Next up, something I spied on Pinterest…Lots of posts about these shell trinket dishes. Lots of people selling them on Etsy and blogs with DIY directions. Oyster, scallop, and clam shells work for this project. I had thoughts of selling them as jewelry trinket dishes if and when Fall craft fairs open up, but that doesn’t seem very likely now where I live.
Finished dishes about 4 inches in diameter. Thank you, Amazon, for all the shell options.
Some Mod Podge to coat the papers, a spray of lacquer to seal it, and a pretty edging of liquid gold leaf.
And the secret ingredient…pretty, pretty cocktail napkins for the designs.
Dishes in progress. I did paint one coat of white acrylic to even out the shell coloring.
And last for now, I’ve been making lot of soups and lots of bread…hence a bit of Corvid spread around my belly. I love bread! And again, Pinterest has been a great source of my current favorite. Using a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. The basic recipe is just flour, yeast, salt, and water. But this can be jazzed up any number of ways. This one is my favorite…Cheddar Cheese Bread. Great with all the soups I’ve been making!
With all this making-do, piece-meal, stop-gap, stitched-together living I’ve been doing, I realized this week that I’ve looked at this as biding my time until things get better and I can get back to my former and very satisfying life of in person community volunteering and lots of time with family, church activities, and friends. And realized that this won’t be happening anytime soon. Therefore, I need to do some serious thinking about how to make this time in my life also rich, satisfying, and mean something more. There’s lots to do and I have confidence. “Ora et labora”. Pray and work.
We’re in it for the long haul.
How about you? How are you all doing?
Well, this has been a mish-mash of a post. If you are reading this, thanks so much for hanging in there with me. Bless you.
Happy Sunday! June 28, 2020
Thank you so much for responding and commenting on my last post with the little giveaway. I provided me with some much needed joy and fun during the week.
A-n-n-n-d, here are the winners!
Please email me with your addresses at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
If you’re counting, there are twelve instead of nine winners. I decided to make it an even dozen.
The necklaces are all packed up and ready to mail as soon as I get your info. I do know one will be heading to France and one to Australia. Imagine that!
Pray all continues to be well with you. It’s not over, so please stay safe and let’s keep protecting each other!
How is everyone??? June 20, 2020
Another month gone. Does time seem to go more slowly to you?? Or has it sped up??
For me, I cannot believe how quickly the weekends come around again, especially when I don’t really do nearly as much as I used to before this quarantine. How the heck does that work?
My jewelry making this week has been even more minimalistic than usual. Very simple silken strands with a small bead or few beads for spark. During the big clean of my jewelry studio this month, I found about eight packages of silk cord that ‘got lost’ for years under stuff. The real fun was poking through all the beads for a few to add to these simple necklaces. Stones, pearls, glass. All about 16 inches in length. Could be perfect for layering with other necklaces. Each package can make at least five.
So…I find that I have many, many to share. For a give away! All nine of them! Because they are so small and light-weight, they can be easily mailed in a regular envelop with a stamp and I can afford to mail these babies out to the world without breaking the bank.
If you’d like one of these little cuties, just comment below by Saturday, June 27th. Your name will be included in the drawing. If you are one of the nine winners, I’ll contact you for a mailing address.
I cannot guarantee which one you’ll receive in the mailbox, but a little surprise is always nice…right??
If you’re willing to take a chance, sign up!
Hang in there, friends! It’s a rough time for sure.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Simple Stretchy Fun! May 19, 2020
I’m not tackling anything too difficult these days with jewelry. Just looking for some easy fun with supplies that I already have. I haven’t used stretch cord in a very long time, so these were a bit of fun yesterday. Got out all my seed beads and smallish beads. The knots ended up too large to slide inside the seed beads, so I camouflaged them with a dangling charm. Beaded 14 inches of pre-stretched cord so they can easily double wrap on my wrist.
Added note…I wanted a random look for the aqua-green and gold bracelet with the palm tree charm. I learned this easy trick to do this. Pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but it’s been awhile.
First I decided on a number sequence with 1-5.
I chose 4-1-3-5-2.
Using this number pattern for the greenish beads, I put a gold bead between each grouping. EX. 4 greens, 1 gold, 1 green, 1 gold, 3 greens, 1 gold, etc… Keep repeating the pattern until you reach the desired length.
Does that make sense? Visually you get a random look with little effort and without the worry about the outcome. Works like a charm every time!