Tag Archives: beads

I Still Exist!

And I’m still making things!

I won’t linger over the details anymore, but I’ve been busy in the metals lab since I stopped keeping up with this blog. Here are a few things I’ve completed.


This is a labradorite bead riveted into a silver frame. I like the look of these riveted projects but I’ve become tired of trying to find long beads that are drilled through cleanly and without chips around the ends (which can cause the rivet to bend and distort.) I had to really ream this one out–but it was so worth it.

 

 

Ah, I finally found something to do with the copper “crazy quilt” disc I made a couple years ago when I was experimenting with copper solder. I really like how this turned out (and I also recently made a bead with nine little texture samples on each side like this, but don’t have a picture.)

 

Here’s a bit of fun made with some scraps. I got the color with a power stripper.

 

Malachite is always good for some drama, I think.

 

Inevitably, when you get a reputation for making jewelry, friends and coworkers come up to you with broken jewelry, hoping you can fix it. This piece is pretty much a copy of a cheap, plated bypass ring that someone I work with wore for years until the band snapped at the point where it adjusts to size. She’d hoped I could fix it–nope. But I thought about it, and made a band that night with a piece of sterling wire and a hammer and a mandrel. From there, I got the OK to recreate the ring (tip: get the shell bits out by heating the back with an alcohol lamp until the epoxy weakens and they fall right out.) She was really pleased with it, and I am too. It was a good learning experience (and I made the band thicker so it won’t break this time!)

 

After I finished the above piece, I still had bypass rings on my mind, so I hammered out one for myself and tried out different stones until I fell in love with the look of this red agate. Soldering was tricky, but I’m getting better all the time.

 

I bought this stone a few years ago and made a few failed attempts to design a pendant and set it (remember?):

 

Well, here she is now! That brass framework was a real . . . challenge. I bought my own solderite board to bring to the studio–perfectly flat, and with grooves carved into it to hold those pieces exactly where I needed them. The end result comes close to what I had in mind all this time. Still waiting for the chain to tarnish a bit, though. I randomly melted some silver solder around for an old, industrial look (note the solder around the joined areas) but it doesn’t quite show up on the links yet.

 

Here’s a fun scrap piece I made with some wire bits I melted together some time ago but never knew what to do with. At one point last spring I was making a simple ring with this stone (and, for the first time, adding a jump ring inside the bezel to make the stone stand taller) when I held it up next to the scrappy bit and thought, “Wow! Perfect!” And that’s how this happened.

 

Remember these old dudes I hammered out back in the day? The two on top became earrings, and I hung onto the big piece for a long time, trying to think up a good necklace idea. A little extra piece and a little crochet later:

I rather wish I hadn’t punched holes in the corners, but I did, and that made what I ultimately came up with a bit more difficult than if, say, I had soldered loops on the back. Still, I’m loving the simplicity of this one. I’m glad I waited on it.

 

I sketched this out last October, hoping to make use of this neat sardonyx cabochon I’d been holding on to. This piece turned out a bit difficult due to its size (and trying to solder on square copper wire bits without silver solder blorps everywhere!) The back has a pin mechanism that was a bit tough–the pieces are so tiny and need to be placed exactly, and you have to be sure not to clog up or fuse the catch during the process . . . but I pulled it off. I even made a pin/pendant converter with a piece of tubing and wire.

 

My teacher, Bob, was recently given a huge box full of jewelry supplies, casting stuff, sterling silver, you name it, from a donor who had retired from jewelry making and didn’t want the stuff anymore. Among the treasures was a spool of 30 gauge argentium which he had no idea what to do with–but knew that I would, as a knitter/crocheter. I ended up buying it off him (with proceeds going back to the studio) and made this crochet cuff with some beads and a sterling frame I made myself. It’s got a bit of beginner’s wonk to it, and I ought to have practiced more before making the real thing because one side of the strip is looser and sloppier than the other, when I started really getting the hang of it. But this was interesting–and I’m in the middle of using the remainder to make a kind of mesh amulet bag from instructions I found in an old Lapidary Journal from the 90s.

And last but so, so not least. Remember when I started futzing around with wax to carve rings?

I finally got these both finished after months of inactivity, messing up one and doing it over, and just generally worrying about doing something wrong and ruining all that work. Last week, they were cast in silver.

They’re still not done (clearly), but man, is it a relief to have gotten this far! They are heavy as hell–I wish I’d carved away more wax on the interior but the wax was getting delicate and I was nervous about breakage. I shouldn’t have been, though. The thing on the left, if you’re wondering, was a slice of ring wax that I’d carved into with a new set of wax working tools as a kind of technical exercise. I figured if I made the design well enough, I’d cast it. And so I did–with a different design on each side. It’ll be a reversible pendant when I’m done.

And that’s about where I am on the jewelry front. As for knitting, I haven’t bothered all that much. I’ve got two pairs of socks made with crazy rainbow yarn I tried to dilute with solid colors, and a clone of my cat.

Pattern: SlipStripe Spiral

 

Pattern: Ugly Duckling Socks

 

Pattern: The Parlor Cat

And that is . . . probably . . . all for now! I’m sure I’ll catch up again in a few months. Until then, keep crafting!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, casting, crochet, knitting, metals, necklace, pendant, pin, ring, riveting, socks, soldering, stones/gems, wax carving, yak yak yak

Season’s Greetings!

Well, my husband is sick and family Christmas time is postponed, so here I am blogging about some little gifts I made for my niece and nephew, respectively.

melbracelet

I think this will fit a six-year-old. Well, I hope so. I made this with a super cheap and crappy set of alphabet stamps I got from a big box craft store with a 50% off coupon, so they were like 8 bucks. Mind you, a good set could run at least 75 dollars or more. I’m not terribly happy with them, but I knew what I was getting into, and they’ll be good for marking things and experimenting, anyway.

img_8967

My nephew is into sea creatures these days, so I dug around in my Ravelry favorites until I spotted this sweet Little Blue Lobster pattern. I’d have liked to use blue yarn, but I actually don’t have any since I’ve been working on a scrapghan. Fortunately, I did have just the right amount of scrap bulky red with a charming fleck in it–and ah, sadness, I think I got it from my knit night friend who has just moved away as her husband has a new job in Chicago. So he turned out super cute and the pattern was easy, fast, and enjoyable.

And just because I’m too lazy to write a separate post:

2ndclasp

Here’s a bracelet I (finally) just finished up. I don’t think I ever talked about it or took progress shots, but I’ve been working on that box clasp since last fall. Actually, I finished that a while ago. I found it easier and more enjoyable than stringing up beads and putting crimps on (I don’t even know how I got the tongue end of the clasp on backwards, but I did on my first attempt.) I might get those little c-shaped crimp covers you put over them and squeeze down with pliers, but we’ll see. Anyway, I’ve had those red creek jasper beads for nearly two years now and I’m glad I finally did this–and I have four beads to spare, so there might be some fun with them in the coming year.

And so it’s not been the best year, but it’s been a creative one, and I can’t complain. See you in January!

Leave a comment

Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, crochet, metals, presents

Metal Beads!

img_8779

Well, this was fun. My teacher let me borrow this book on making metal beads, so I tried my hand at a couple basic tutorials.

beads1

Little round lefty over there has a lot of silver solder on it, and I’m not sure how that’s going to look as the patina sets in. I’m hoping for awesome, but I’m not sure. In future, I suppose I’ll have to get better at soldering a seam like this neatly. As for the square on the right, well, that was pretty awesome, but I wish I’d chosen a larger tube, because I had to flatten the bead a bit more than I’d have liked to secure it. Live and learn, though.

So last weekend I finished up a copper box I’d been putting off for nearly three years. This was partly because it required a ton of riveting, and partly because I’d lost some enthusiasm as it was not my original design, and I wanted to focus on my own things. The box was something I’d seen in 500 Pendants and Lockets and thought was supercool and I wanted to learn from it. Well, learn I did, and I had a big long post about it, but I ended up deleting it. Again, it’s not my design, and maybe posting a step-by-step of how to copy it was a dick move. I don’t know. But I did get it done–so many mistakes and all—and learned a ton about how to make my own hinged box.  So, onward.

Leave a comment

Filed under beads, riveting, soldering

Feeling Better, or: Something Old, Something New

purple1

A couple weeks ago I made a trip to the local bead store to do a little impulse shopping (actually, there was one thing I needed . . . and I’ll get to that in the coming days . . . ) and these are some beads I took home and strung up. A bit more expensive than I usually do, but I really liked the iridescent daggers and thought I’d just go for it. I like to have beading breaks in between classes, although this time around we had studio time every single week right up until fall session started.

And speaking of studio time, I’ve decided it’s time. Time to learn how to do this.

waxring1

Hoo boy. I’ve heard that it’s good to always be a novice at something; keeps the brain sharp. Well, here we go. I tend to suck at subtractive processes–I can add bits together to make something, but to see it in a block of wax and carve away the excess? No, I don’t have any innate abilities there. But maybe I can get some experience. Anyway, I’m excited. The project is a very simple ring and surely I can’t . . . no, I won’t jinx it.

And in other news, I hit the annual gem, fossil, and rock show and scored (among a few other things) these beauties, which remind me of nothing so much as vintage 1970s art:

stones1pretty sure that bottom one is a sunset from an old Sesame Street cartoon

I’d like to sit down and draw up some sketches for what I could do with these stones, and as luck has it, it’s now October, which you might know as #Inktober. I’ve been meaning and meaning to get back into drawing again, but my efforts have been sporadic and my hand has gone to crap. Really, I’m terribly out of practice, and my writing/drawing hand is now just my mouse hand and it shows. So, every day this month, I am going to draw. Maybe not always with ink. Maybe I’ll just doodle or do exercises some days, I don’t know. I’m not going to bother posting them anywhere. I just need to do it and be that person who draws again.

And one last thing I’ve been doing: I set aside the crafty business books for a while in favor of some guides with titles like “Art and Fear” and “Staying Sane in the Arts.” So far they’ve been very helpful for me in deciding what I want to do and how I want to go about it and how to get and sustain the mental energy I need to accomplish this. More on that as I go.

And more posting in general. I might go back to, indeed, posting my works in progress instead of waiting until something’s finished. It seems to keep me going some days when I don’t feel like it.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under beads, casting, drawing, necklace, stones/gems, yak yak yak

Finished Business

As 2016 winds down, I’ve been making strides in finishing up some projects and ideas that I had set aside for . . . oh . . . two years or so? Three? I’ll start with the one I’m most excited about:

copperwashernecklace

This little everyday-wearable copper beauty is made of washers. Hardware store washers! I hammered and stamped and domed and drilled them back in summer class my first year of real jewelry making:

coppercirclesnecklace

And now that I finally have a chain I like, and the patience to make some jump rings, well, it’s all done now. Three years later.

Here’s another thing from that era, me playing around with links made with some lovely glass beads from my local bead shop:

glassbeadsandwire

They are finally necklace material now.

glassbeadschain

And while this, technically, isn’t something I started and stopped years ago, I have been meaning to do it for some time.

glassbeadsaluminumchain

The (aluminum!) chain is Sam’s Chain from Spotlight on Wire, something I’ve done before and wanted to revisit in larger link form. The beads . . . well, I’d hoped to wire-wrap them back in the day, but meh.

And now back to new things, as summer 2016 draws to a close and I need to clean up some silver pieces I made in class.

Leave a comment

Filed under beads, necklace

Makeover!

So, remember this little experiment from a couple months ago?

cylinders1

It wasn’t quite all I hoped it would be, so I took it apart and tried again. My main goal was to have the ability to spin the cylinder beads, because they remind me of prayer wheels, and that’s kind of cool. Tight rivets made that impossible, and the bead holes are too small for tubing that would make it work better. So, after about a week of sketching ideas at work during the receptionist’s lunch hour (when they make me watch the phone), I came up with a more horizontal idea using balled headpins. And it worked!

prayerwheelspendant

Everything here is just wiggly enough that the beads can be turned. Setting the middle bead presented a challenge, because I couldn’t take a torch to the top end of the wire (or could I have? I don’t think the beads would have liked the heat. Also, the wire is 18 gauge, so . . . a lot of heat to ball it up.) I made it a flat rivet, which looks all right. The bars were scraps I found in the classroom bin, cut down, cleaned up, and hammered with a screwdriver and nail punches for a little texture. I was going for something a bit irregular and ancient-looking, rather than the perfectly thin and straight side bars in my first design. So yeah, I think this one’s a keeper.

One last class tonight for the year, and I may have some things to post after the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a comment

Filed under beads, necklace, wire

Too Ugh

So I wrapped up one more beading project this week:

spikey

The focal is one of several cool beads a friend in my knitting group got me for the holiday exchange last year. As much as I like it, the damn thing had some major chippage around the (crookedly drilled) hole. Sigh. Beads have become the bane of my existence, I’m afraid. Still, I think I managed to fix/fill the problem with a bit of carefully applied epoxy. It probably won’t cut through the double strand of Fireline I strung it on, but I’m not so sure about little irregular glass beads I upcycled from one of my grandmother’s old old broken necklaces.

Well, anyway, I guess I’m done with beads for now. Class started again last night, though for some reason I thought I had another week to go. Wrong. I noticed the reminder email about ten minutes before classtime, so I packed up whatever tools I had lying around and hauled ass across town to get there. It may have been the very first time I didn’t have five million things to do in the studio at once, which was probably good for me. It gave me time to work carefully on this.

koi1

But let’s backtrack a bit. This is a polymer clay impression I made of the koi design on top of the hilt of some repro samurai sword thing my husband has (or had; this was 7-8 years ago and I can’t find the damn sword now to save my life.) Wouldn’t that make an awesome silver pendant? So I lubed it up a bit (hee hee) and set to filling it with wax. The first attempt almost worked–it came out great except around the edges where I didn’t make it thick enough and it chipped a little. Sod it, try again. Well, subsequent attempts just didn’t work for one reason or another, with cracks, bad areas, sticky areas, I don’t know. Appears I messed up the mold, too, with all those little gouges you can see in the picture.

This just hasn’t been my week, so I gave up, packed it in, and took it home to clean out as best as possible. Perhaps I’ll try again with a little olive oil (worked well for me with the pawprint last summer) and melt down the bad impressions I already made. Right now I’m just too ugh to care.

Leave a comment

Filed under beads, casting, necklace