Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting Ready for 2010

2010 has been on my mind a lot over this month. Part of it is what I want to set for my writing goals, but part of it is also what I want to do with my jewelry as well next year. There are new techniques I would love to learn, mostly working with resin and some basic metal working. It would be fun to cut shapes out of sheets of metal and do hammer and other finishes on it. I would like to learn how to make glass beads, but that's for another year's goals :).

Art wise, for 2010 I think I'm going to start out by organizing my supplies better. I keep my beads in round containers that stack on each other (Darice brand), and I keep all those containers in a Sterilite storage bin. The bead containers take up the whole bin, so I think I may have to bite the bullet and buy a second one, and more of the smaller containers. I have way to many beads in the little plastic baggies they came in from ordering online. (The nice thing about the round stacking containers is that only the beads I want to use are open, not everything in the same container).

Thumbnails of quick photographs of my bead storage containers. The nice thing about the Sterilite bin is that it's just a little bit taller than the Darice containers. And it also has one central handle on the lid for ease of carrying, as opposed to a Rubbermaid bin I have that has handles on the sides. The papers in with the beads are the baggie product labels. I usually cut them off the baggie then set it in with the beads. Makes it easier to order. (These pictures were taken back over the summer, and that's only my beads, not my components and Swarovski elements).

I'm also thinking of opening an online shop for my jewelery. Part of me isn't sure if I want the hassle of it, but I end up making more jewelery than I can wear. Before I do start selling I want to make sure to go over all the tax forms I'd need, so that I have that set first.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Purple Stoneware and Silver Necklace

One of the necklaces I made as a gift, which was given today, so I'm posting pictures. This one started with the purple stoneware beads, and it took awhile for me to decide what to do with them. While looking through my recent purchases, I realized that they looked nice with the silver-plated chain I bought. From there I decided to do some wrapped loops to have some Swarovski crystals with them.

The necklace is 18 inches long, counting the clasp.

Stoneware beads
Swarovski 6mm faceted clear rounds
Silver plated twist link chain
Teal jump rings
Silver Plated lobster clasp
Craft wire - probably 22 gauge (Yes, this wire was a gift, and the only labeling the package says is "blue craft wire".)

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Bracelet

I spent awhile taking pictures yesterday of some of my newest creations. Because just about everything is gift related, I'm holding off on posting them until the recipients get their gifts. Why spoil the surprise :).

This had been started as a gift as well, but I goofed and made it 6 inches instead of 7. I could almost get it around my own wrist, so I added a few more jump rings and decided to keep it for myself. Because this design doesn't use to many beads I figured it would be a waste of stringing material to pull it apart. I like the design but I have to figure out a better way to end it, right now it's a bit on the rough side.

For the picture here it's only draped over my hand. Once it's closed it's a snug (but not tight) fit. Yes, I have small wrists, I actually prefer 6 and a half inch bracelets to the standard 7 inches.


9mm twisted Toho bugle beads - gold
Size 6 Toho seed beads - Silver-Lined Smokey Topaz
Gold plated clasp
Various jump rings

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Green Wire Coil Necklace

Here is the necklace I made earlier this week. I'm happy with how the necklace turned out, and the pictures as well. The family room was nice and sunny, and I set the necklace out of the direct sun for the better photos. When it was in the sun, the shadows from the coil covered up the center of the pendant.

The image of the whole necklace is to the left, click on it for a larger version. The pictures are taken on my bead board, the numbers are for inches, with smaller "hash" lines for half inches.

Here is a picture of the necklace chain (again click the image for a larger version). I had fun making the various little segments then connecting them with the jump rings. Because the necklace is lighter weight, and I'm using 20 gauge wire, I did simple loops at the end of the segments instead of wrapped loops.

For the end of the necklace I used a silver plated clasp, and also put together an extender chain out of the jump rings. This way the necklace length can vary a bit. Whenever I make a little chain extender, I like to have something on the end, so that the clasp doesn't slide if goes around the rings instead of hooking onto one. With the ring size and the clasp, this probably won't happen with this necklace, but it still adds a nice touch. For the end of the chain I coiled my copper wire, strung a 6mm Czech glass bead, and looped the end.

For the coil pendant and the beaded segments in the chain I used 20 gauge copper wire. I bought it from my local bead store, and it has an anti-tarnish finish on it. The seed beads I used are Toho brand, which I purchased online from, I like that brand of beads, they are nice and even sized. When I made a similar necklace to this with random seed beads it took forever to string the beads on the wire. Because the size 8 beads just fit, any random smaller bead that gets stuck I have to set aside and grab another bead. But I didn't have that issue with the Toho beads. The bigger teal/blue beads on the chain are also Toho, but size 6. I also included some 6mm Czech glass rounds on the chain. The rings are from my local bead store, size D20EC 20 gauge with an AR of 4.0. I also used a few Swarovski Elements, bicone Erinite color 4 and 6mm.

To make the coil I used my coiling gizmo, which is sold various places. I strung the beads on the wire, then used the gizmo to make the coil, which I then shaped into the pendant. If anyone does want to try making something like this, be very careful when coiling beaded wire. As the wire turns the beads will slide slightly apart from each other. The first time I made one of these (this being the second), I put to much tension on the beads to keep them coiling, and one broke, the pieces flying away from the wire. Though the beads do need to be pushed a bit towards the coiling gizmo, otherwise only the wire will go around the shaft leaving bare spots.

The coiling gizmo, chain nosed pliers (times 2 - for the jump rings), round nose pliers, flush cutters, nylon jaw pliers. I do make my wire spirals by hand, starting the turn with my round nose pliers, then pinching the half turn closed with chain nosed. I do a few turns with the chain nose, then switch over to the nylon jaw pliers.

Yes, I had help with the picture taking process. Toby, one of our cats, followed me into the family room and was sitting on the furniture while I was taking pictures. Here he is taking a closer look at the necklace.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Wire Cutters

Both my online orders arrived earlier this week, and I've tried out both my tools from Rings & Things. I have to say I love using the new flush wire cutters I bought. I used them while making a new necklace, and they cut through my 20 gauge copper wire like butter. At $20 they cost a bit more than some of my other cutters, but $20 isn't unreasonable to spend on a useful tool. The cutting action was nice and smooth, and required less hand force than my standard cutters do for the same wire. When cutting multiple lengths of wire for a project, it's nice to have a pair of cutters that don't wear my hands out as fast.

The other tool I bought is a pin vise. I played with it a little bit, and it's pretty cool. I'll do more with it after I get done with my holiday gift pieces.

And yes, I'm hoping to get some nice pictures of the necklace this weekend, when I have some natural light to work with. This time of the year it's already dark when I get home from work.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gearing up for the holidays

Yes, it's that time of the year again, Christmas is fast approaching and will be upon us before we realize it. I have plans to do some shopping tomorrow, but I'm planning on making as many gifts as possible. It's more personalized when gifts are made, plus I enjoy making things. Win-win.

In anticipation of making, I did have to buy supplies. I ordered some really great beads and other findings from Artbeads Thursday after work. I just received the e-mail today that my order has shipped (I'm not the only one buying supplies for the holidays, they usually are ready to ship the next day). I also am trying out Rings and Things for the first time, and ordered a pin vise and a pair of flush wire cutters. I was impressed to find a basic pair of flush cutters that could cut 20 gauge wire for $20. I didn't have to spend to much on them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Found Art

This is something I made awhile back, but thought would be fun to post about here. One of the clubs I belong to over at DeviantArt had a monthly theme of found art. At first I wasn't sure what to make, but as I was rummaging through my odds and ends craft container I found belt pieces (the fish) that I bought and hadn't really done anything with. The round part the "fish" are attached to is a necklace form, which I didn't really like as a necklace. I pulled the beads off of it first - the clasp kept sliding around on the thing, I'm so not buying those types of necklace blanks again. But at least I got to use it for something else.

20 and 28 gauge gold colored copper wire, and 22 gauge blue colored copper wire, with Swarovski Indicolite bicone beads.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fixing up the old

Sorry no pictures for this post, the camera isn't quite unpacked from the move yet, and the cell phone is so-so anyways for pictures.

Anyways, for today's blog entry never underestimate giving new life to an old piece. I have two necklaces that had been hanging around for awhile without being worn. The one I wasn't to fond of the clasp, and the string was also getting a bit to slack. So I ended up restringing it, using bead stringing wire (Beadalon to be more precise) and getting a nicer clasp out. I cut the clasp off on one side and threaded the wire through a handful of beads at a time then would pull the string out from that section. That way I didn't drop any beads, and they were lined up well to make threading the stringing wire easy. I also added an extender chain to have more flexibility with the length.

The other necklace was more of a quick repair job. I simply added a new jump ring onto it for the trigger clasp to hook onto. I usually like to use split rings instead of jump rings in conjunction with trigger/lobster clasps, but there was already a finding on this necklace for jump ring to hold onto easily. I've had string and thinner wire slip out from jump rings, which is why I like to use the split rings. Split rings look like mini key rings, and while you need special pliers to open them for other uses, they aren't needed to have a split ring at the end of a necklace/bracelet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nylon Jaw Pliers

A handy tool for working with wire, one which sometimes isn't used as much as it could be. I have seen people recommend having a pair of these for straightening wire, a good reason for a pair on its own. However this tool is far from a one trick pony (to use an Alton Brown term). I have used them to shape wire in more ways than simply making it straight. I've done some shaping with my nylon pliers that I've done before with my chain nosed ones, with the added benefit of having the nylon to protect the wire. This means less scratching.

If you look at the close up of the "jaws" of this tool, you can see that the nylon comes to a nice right angle on the sides. Very useful in making a square shape out of wire. Simply hold the wire in the jaws and bend over the side. I have also done spirals with wire using this tool. Round nose pliers are still needed to get the initial curve to start the spiral, but once that is in place, the wire can be held with the nylon jaw pliers while bending it into a spiral shape. has a handy tutorial on making spirals out of wire, simply replace the chain nose pliers with nylon jaw ones. Depending on the wire, the first turn or two might still need the chain nose. If the start of the coil slips out of the nylon then work with the chain nose for that turn and try again with the nylon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sometimes kits can be fun

With beading growing in popularity finding supplies is easy. Be it online or in a local craft store, beads, findings, and even kits come in a wide variety of selections. Yes kits. Kits are great ways to try something new. Depending on where you shop, you'll get directions, and all the materials needed to make a finished piece. Some kits may not include stringing material, so double check. Also see what tools are needed before you are home and ready to craft.

A few weeks ago I picked up a kit on a whim at my local bead store. Glass Garden Beads is the company that created the kit, it's their fairy kit, the pink one to be precise. They had everything I needed in the kit to make the fairy, I only needed to use tools I already had at home. They even had enough of the craft wire for the "spine" of the fairy so that when I goofed on the wrapped loop at the top I was able to pull that piece out and start over. (The arms and legs were on head-pins, so luckily I didn't have to re-string the beads for them).

As far as tools went, I used my round nose pliers, wire cutters, and my chain nose pliers helped with the wrapped loop at the top. For someone just starting out, the round nose and cutters would have been fine.

Artbeads the website I like to buy online from, does have a tutorial on wrapped loops. For those lacking chain nose pliers, that first step can be skipped. The loop can be made without the 90 degree bend, it just doesn't look quite as neat. (And I think the bend helps more with a simple loop anyways then a wrapped).

Round nose pliers - These look like two cones on the end of a pair of pliers, handy for curving wire
Chain nose pliers - These look like needle nose pliers, only they lack the "teeth", leaving a flat surface inside the pliers jaws. While they are much less likely to scratch your findings then needle nose, they still can scratch. I have two pairs of these pliers, which makes opening and closing jump rings easy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Focus on: The Focal Bead

Do you have an odd bead laying around that doesn't have anymore like it left? Or do you have your eye on an expensive style of beads that would be to costly to string a necklace out of?

Welcome to the focal bead. A focal bead can be a useful design element in situations like the ones mentioned, or simply for a fun design. The trick is to have this single bead work with the other beads for the necklace you are designing. The focal bead can contrast the main colors, and have an accent color matching, or colors from the focal bead can be more predominate through the rest of the piece. Materials and shapes are something to keep in mind as well, in addition to color.

This is a necklace I made a little while ago (and haven't gotten a chance to take a nice photograph yet), where the focal bead is mostly blue. I stuck with blue for the rest of the necklace. The yellow from the focal bead isn't carried like the blue, which gives the focal bead something to make it pop a bit.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yet another Blogg

Yes, blogger makes it way to easy to create blogs, hopefully this won't be yet another spur of the moment blog which will be neglected later. And I was tempted to name it "Yet another beader", but beader looks misspelled, so I changed it to bead. Which still sounds fun.

As to the point of this blog, it'll be for posting about my bead work, and bead work/jewelry stuff in general a bit. I'll probably post pictures, but I plan on having posts discussing various projects I'm working on and such.