Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jewlery Making Mojo Challenge Week 4

I have been trying this week to get caught up on the Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge.  There won't be a new challenge until the 31st and I am happy about that because I was two weeks behind.  

This week was all about handmade findings.  Findings are the things that make jewelry come together.  They are the ear wires, links, or those little rings you see on your pieces.  I have always purchased my findings from several jewelry supply houses or had special ones made for me.  Originally, I thought about skipping this week in the challenge because I don't have the tools (or the wire) to make my own.  But, after watching a tutorial in this month's BeadMe magazine, I decided to give it a try!

I decided to give making my own jump rings a try.  What is a jump ring you ask?  These are :)

Jump rings are used for all kinds of things in jewelry design.  I use them mainly as a method to connect one part of a piece to another.  Usually a pendant to the main part of the necklace or connecting a clasp.  Some people create entire pieces of jewelry out of jump rings.  If you get the chance, Goggle chainmaille jewelry, it is beautiful!

The first step in making my own jumps was the easy part.  I cut a length of wire about a foot long. The nice part of this process is that you can cut as much wire as you need.  If when you are done making the rings you find out you need more, just cut more wire and begin again. 

Next,  I wrapped the copper wire around the body of a pen.  Again, you can use anything you would like to coil your wire around.  Obviously, the smaller the diameter, the smaller the rings.  Since I was attempting this for the first time,  I thought a pen was a good size to work with.

Because I used a softer wire, the coils kind of fell into each other, but that won't happen with a thicker gauge wire.  I was able to straighten them out easily.  Next,  grab your wire cutters and start snipping each loop.  It is important that you snip each loop individually so you get a properly shaped loop.  I snipped each one at the top of the loop, and it took less than 5 minutes to snip all the way through my coil.

Ta Da!!!!  Cute little jump rings!!!  I am very proud of myself for actually trying to make these.  I had really thought I would never make my own findings, so it was fun to take a challenge and be successful.   Just as a side note, because the wire on these is thin, I won't be able to actually use these in a design.  From what I read, a minimum of 20 gauge wire is recommended.  Go ahead and give it a try!  It really is easy and lots of fun!
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Friday, March 21, 2014

We're All Ears March Project

Beatrix Potter

Earlier this month,  I revealed the March inspiration for the We're All Ears Challenge.  I loved Ms. Potter's books as a child, the artwork always enchanted me.   While I don't like mice...eeeek.... there is enough in this print to capture my interest and inspire a design.  I focused on the colors and floral designs on the fabric the little creature is sitting on.   When I peeked inside my bead box,  lilac and blue beads in all kinds of delicate shapes and sizes called to me.   

Nestled between two lilac faceted glass beads are two glass flower beads in a soft blue.  Dangling at the end of each earring is a wonderful bit of sea glass in a soft lilac shade.   I think that I not only captured a bit of our inspirational picture, but I designed sweet earrings just perfect for the arrival of spring.   Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to the next month's challenge!
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge Week 3-Go Back To School

A few weeks ago, I posted about my participation in the weekly Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge over at Humblebeads .  While I wasn't trying to find my mojo,  I was looking forward to embracing a weekly challenge that would not only allow me to challenge myself but would let me work at focusing to get things done.  Alas,   I am a little late turning in my week 3 post but that was a delay in shipping, not me putting things off.

Several weeks ago, I aquired a Vintaj BIGkick machine (it is actually a Sizzix machine, but this is the Vintaj limited edition) and I have been wanting to experiment with it.  

Sizzix Vintaj BIGkick

I have been curious about using metals and embossing them for some time.  If you spend some time over at the Vintaj site it can be a bit overwhelming.  So much art metal in all different shapes, designs and colors!  After studying for a bit,  I ordered some arte metal blanks and a couple of dies to use in my machine.  When they arrived,  I jumped right in, embracing the mojo challenge to go back to school and learn something new.

The machine is very easy to use, all it takes is a little muscle to crank the plates through and a bit of trial and error to line the pieces up.  First, I embossed two round blanks.  Here is how they came out:

One thing I love about the Vintaj site is that there are tons of tutorials, project ideas and videos on the site.   By studying them I learned to sand and buff the piece of metal after it came through the machine to put the embossing in relief.  (I used a multi-sided finger nail file, I need to get a Vintaj block to keep from raiding my manicure supplies)  I do like how they came out for my first attempt!  I can see them both on a black chain, highlighted with some pretty sparkly beads.  They will fit right in with my love of mourning jewelry.

Next, I tried a DecoEtch die on some arte metal earring blanks.  Here is how they turned out:

The relief is hard to see because I haven't used any inks or patinas on them to bring out the design.  Since this is an etching instead of an emboss, I really don't think the keys will show without some added color.  I haven't gotten any inks or dies yet, so for now these are a work in progress.  I am not as happy with the etching because I would have rather just had the key and not the nearby designs from the die on the piece.  If anyone knows a way to keep that from happening I would love to learn!

Well,  I went back to school and started learning all about working with metals, how to emboss and etch.  Now I have to go further and learn to use inks and patinas to make my work come to life.  Week 4 of the Jewelry Making Mojo challenge is all about making my own findings.  Eeeek!!!!  I've never made any so that will be a challenge!!  See you soon!

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Soup's On!!!!

Imagine my excitement when the mail arrived today and I saw a package from Melissa Packer of Melissa's Cheap Frills!  Melissa is my partner for the 8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party over at Bead Soup Blog Party  I had great time getting to know Melissa and I just love her work so I was really looking forward to my soup arriving from the frozen North!  And I certainly had reasons to be excited!  She has sent me so many wonderful things!!!!  I already want to get started on ideas floating around my head.   Here are some more sneak peek pictures at what she sent me:

These two had me at hello :)  It took me a few minutes to even look at the other pieces I love them so much.  Melissa hand made the birdie focal and it is just so beautiful!  Very vintage feeling and sweet, I can't wait to use it!  The vintage crystals are beautiful.  I have never used vintage pieces before in my work, but I am really looking forward to doing so.  I hear an Edwardian inspired piece coming with these.  Think Downton Abbey!  

Part of the rules for the soup included sending a clasp, but I got lucky and Melissa sent me two!  I really like them both and I am sure that you will be seeing them both in the reveal.  In her just for fun bag, she included a great length of chain and a lace bracelet.  I've never used material or ribbon before in my work either, so I am looking forward to using that pretty piece of lace!

This baggie contains some of the most beautiful beads Black glass florals, pink glass, blue glass, pearls, spacers, silver beads and this large white floral bead that  doesn't show in this picture.   I tried to capture them all in the pictures of the soup unpackaged below.

See how pretty that focal is???  

The white bead is in the upper right.   I am just so in love with everything Melissa sent.   I was really looking forward to participating in the Bead Soup Blog Party for my very first time and I am so happy I joined in.  I got a wonderful soup and look forward to sharing my designs with you here on May 3rd.   
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party Soup is Ready to Go!

You may be asking why is she posting a picture of flowers and hearts?  In a hurry for spring?  It has been chilly here the last two days..but, even though spring is my favorite season I had to cover up my photo for a different reason.   This is the soup I created for my partner in the 8th annual bead soup blog party.   I had started working on the soup before I even was paired up (it is highly recommended you start early) and once I had the pleasure of chatting with her and seeing all the wonderful pieces she makes, it only took me a few minutes to finalize my selections.  So, on Monday these are off on their way to the frozen North. I hope you enjoy them Melissa!!

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Do I Have it? Mojo Challenge Week 2

Heather Powers over at Humblebeads is an accomplished jewelry designer, maker of the most beautiful beads and an author too.   I have been following her blog for a little while and when she started the 12 week Mojo Challenge, I was excited to participate. While I haven't had a problem finding my mojo,  I like the idea of being accountable for staying on top of my designing and making sure I create something for the sheer joy of creating.  I am using this challenge as a way to re-focus on the pleasure of my art.

It is week 2 of the challenge (my buggy earrings I posted last week was my entry for week 1) and this week's theme was bead soup.  No,  not a yummy bowl of pasta e fagioli or hearty vegetable, just bead soup.   A bead soup is when you pull together a group of beads that don't necessarily go together.  It is best when creating a bead soup personally, that you do it randomly.  Because if you start picking and choosing and matching colors, that isn't a soup.   You are designing.  So, to keep with the spirit of this exercise, I went over to my collection of beads and just pulled out a drawer.  

This is a picture of some of the beads on my bead board starting to come together into a design.  

What ingredients made up my soup?  Some pretty cherry "quartz" chips, green aventurine, rose jade, polymer clay beads (by Valarie Moore I believe), crystal pearls,  light blue crystals, and some amethyst beads.  After studying then for awhile, I was motivated to create a piece in honor of spring.

Cherry Blossom

Using the cherry "quartz", aventurine, rose jade and the poly clay beads, I was able to put together a necklace that reminds me of the cherry trees in bloom when I was a child.  We had two wonderful trees in our back yard and in the early spring, the view outside my sister's bedroom window would be a sea of pink.  I remember sitting on her window bench enjoying the view.  They were beautiful trees, and I am excited to capture that memory here in my design.  

I am enjoying this challenge, so check back next week for the next installment.  Until then,  may you have a cheerful week!

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