June 28, 2012

Wire and Jewelry Supply Shopping (again!)

Oops.  I did it again.

Bead Shopping at Fire Mountain Gems (FMG)

I ordered a few more things for jewelry making -  a book, some cabachons, and an assortment bag of beads.  I didn't neeeed any of this, but I had a credit at Fire Mountain Gems (FMG) for $25, so what the heck.  (That means it was free - doesn't it?)

It all started with Fire Mountain Gems weekly book sale.  This week's book was Wonderful Wire Works: An Easy Decorative Craft for $1.81.  It's on amazon for $11.27, so it was a good deal.   And I had that credit.  So now, I had to fill my cart with some other stuff to make the $5 shipping worthwhile.
(In case you like bargain books too - here's the link to FMGs Book of the Week Sale).

Did I mention I really like Surprises?

First, I ordered the amazonite cabachon assortment and sodalite cabachon assortment.  They were each an assorted package of 25 cabs between 4mm to 18x10mm in a variety of shapes.  I don't have any cabachons, so figured it would be nice just to get some.  The amazonite is a much better assortment than the sodalite, but overall, they're ok.  Nothing special - but I think I'll find a way to use them.  

I wish there were some larger cabachons in the sodalite assortment - and I like the shape variety and colors in the Amazonite.  Overall, I think there are better cabachon assortments on FMG.  (and I'll tell you when I find them!)

I'm confused though - aren't cabachons always supposed to have a domed top?  Some of the sodalite ones are just cylinders with no smooth top.  Maybe it's my misunderstanding.

Now, we get to the surprise part.  

With about $9 and change left to spend, I decide to say "what they hey" and order a Bosses Bead Bag assortment.  I can't tell you why - but I love to unwrap a package and be surprised.  It's even better if it came in the mail.  Personal quirk I guess.  

And the bag was a surprise.  It was a large lot of mostly glass beads, some stone beads and lots of base metal findings.  I guess I could have thought about this purchase a little more and figured out what it would contain, but I'm not even disappointed.  There's so many things in here that I would never buy - but it doesn't mean that I would never use them.  Some of them, I would have never thought of.

For example, there are hair pins with a glue on pad or loop finding.  That's cool.  There are lots of filigrees and bead caps.  Chain extenders, ring bases and findings that I haven't figured out yet.  Luckily, my daughter sorted them for me.  

The glass beads are nothing to rave about.  Mainly druks or other rough beads.  I like the gemstones, even though I know there is nothing terribly expensive in the lot.  I like the simple shapes, and basic colors.  You can judge the assortment for yourself.  Overall, I regard it as a silly purchase - but it was fun.  It's also nice to have base metal and cheaper beads on hand when my daughter wants to play or make gifts.

Do you buy any surprise assortments from any suppliers?  Are there any that you recommend or have been pleasantly surprised with?  Yup - I'd do this again. (can't help myself!)

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention that I really like the book.  It's different and fun.  I don't think I'd pay more than a few dollars for it though.

June 27, 2012

Capturing My Muse (on Paper)

My new sketchbook from Barnes & Noble

A New Journal for ME!!

Yes!! - I did it!  I got a new journal for my creative endeavors!  

I guess you're thinking 'big whoop', but it is to me!  I've had my last journal since June 24, 2006.  Wow - 6 years and it's still not quite full.

But I could not wait any longer.  

Don't get me wrong, I love the old journal.  It has sketches and plans and cut out pictures, web site references, notes and doodles.  But from a creative perspective, I feel like I've grown so much since the beginning of the this year - and looking back 6 years, it's like night and day.  

And there's nothing like a new journal - with all the crisp blank pages.  It makes me feel like I have sooooo much room to grow!  

My preference is a hard cover book with thick unlined paper.  It has to have a ribbon place marker.  I usually always write in pencil.  I need to erase.  I'm going to use colored pencils this time.  I have the Progresso Woodless Colored Pencils 24 Color Set and they are dreamy - they glide on the paper and sharpen easily.  A little fragile - but I'm careful with my supplies, so no big deal to me. (NTWBI - Not Too Worried 'Bout It).

Yikes - I just realized the colored pencils are fabulous - but they don't erase well.  They're just for visual interest and to add color sketches - not written content - so they should be good.

This sketchbook has perforated pages.  That was a concern when I bought it, but they seem like they are sturdy.  I hope that isn't something I regret in the future.  (Six years is a looong time to keep those pages in).

Want to know something strange?  I always leave the first page of my journal blank.  I think I know why - it would bother me to open the book each time if my first page of notes or sketches weren't all that I wanted them to be.  It keeps me from starting out being critical of myself - and keeps the creative juices flowing.

June 25, 2012

YOJ Week 25: Wire and Gemstone Flower Ring

Gemstone Flower Ring

I could be getting addicted to these little gemstone flowers.  They are so much fun to make and sooooo cute!

I made similar flowers in these gemstone flower earrings and these ombre amethyst gemstone earrings.  The idea for this ring came from an extra component that I made for both of those earrings.  (That's a story for another day I suppose - I often forget to make the earrings reverse instead of exactly the same so that's how I have those extras).

Meeting the Challenge(s)

I used this ring for my Year of Jewelry Challenge (week 25) as well as the Color Combo Challenge on Facebook.  Combining a color challenge with a jewelry challenge is fabulous! 

I view the Year of Jewelry challenge as my commitment to continue expanding my skills and keep practicing - while the color challenge continues to push me to explore color combinations that I might not otherwise.  

I will definitely use this color palette again though.  It is so rich and elegant - and perfectly suited to using gemstones.  The list of gemstone options for these colors was fabulous.  Tourmaline, grey moonstone, my favorite labradorite, zircon, grey diamonds, peridot, garnet, ruby - I'm sure I could find more and more in my stash.

Gemstone Flower Ring Details

This ring uses 24g gold filled wire to wrap carnelian petals around what I believe is a silver grey zircon center.  The leaves are gorgeous light green peridot.  I was going to leave it at that, but my daughter thought it felt 'unbalanced' so I added the garnet - which is meant to be a flower bud. 

Of course, I love the ring and I goofed on the sizing and made it too big!  Just a little too big.  I'm considering wrapping the band with 20g wire to make it more substantial and also a little smaller.
The color palette

June 21, 2012

Bead Book on Sale: Bead Directory: The Complete Guide to Choosing And Using More Than 600 Beautiful Beads

Why do they have to tempt me with more books?!

 I can't help myself.  I have to investigate a bead or jewelry making book that I've never heard of before.

Today, I see that the The Bead Directory Book is On Sale at Interweave for only $7.48.  Sounds like a good price, but the last time I bought books at Interweave, I think the shipping added about $5-$6.  Not a   huge amount, but it does add up (that was for two books).

I always research at Amazon before I buy

So, before I ever hit buy, I swing by my buddies at Amazon.com to see what they have to say about The Bead Directory: The Complete Guide to Choosing And Using More Than 600 Beautiful Beads.  For one thing, they give you the option to view inside the book - not sure why interweave doesn't do this.

One thing I can tell you - the price at Interweave is certainly much better than Amazon's today.  And although I'm tempted, it just sounds like I know most of the information in this book already.

However, if you're fairly new to beading - it may save you time and money to get this book as a reference.  I think I've already collected most shapes, styles, sizes and figured out what wire or string or thread to use.

I always read the amazon reviews to get an idea if I can use this or not.

June 19, 2012

Blooming Brights Earrings

A Combination Jewelry and Color Challenge

This week, I combined my challenges.  The earrings themselves are for the Year of Jewelry project, but the colors are from the Color Combo Challenge (CCC on facebook).

Normally, I try to make projects from one of the books that I'm reading, but I thought it was better to try not to combined too many things.

Actually - there is a third facet to this project.  It is part of an earring swap - but I don't want to say too much about that part just in case my swap partner also reads my blog.

Blooming Brights Silver Crystal Bead Earrings

The name for this palette is blooming brights.  The colors are a combination of dark and light purples, yellow, cobalt blue and salmon.

The chances of me ever choosing this palette on my own are slim to none.  It was difficult for me to even find beads that matched the palette in my stash!  But, I found some seed beads and some crystals and went to work.

I made a frame using the technique I learned in The Earring Style Book.  It is a smaller frame than the projects in the book.  It is made with 18g wire.  The beads are coiled on the frame using 24g wire.  The ear wires are made with 20g sterling silver wire and matching crystals.

I'm very happy with the way these earrings turned out.   I hope my swap partner enjoys them!

June 16, 2012

Laying Out Your Jewelry Making Project

I'm certain everyone has their own tricks for how they start or work on a project.  I wanted to share mine. The project below is my layout for the earrings that I am making for the CCC group (Color Combo Challenge)

Beading on the go

I often do my jewelry projects at my children's sports games.  It keeps me from getting nervous watching my kids.  I also hate to say it, but baseball is a long, somewhat slow game with decent blocks of time to get jewelry accomplished in between innings, when new pitchers are warming up, etc.  So, I needed a solution to layout my projects

Painter's palettes are not just for painting

I use round painter's palettes to organize my projects and decide on the beads.  These are about 7 inches around.  There are 10 wells around the sides and one large well in the center.  I use the wells to put the beads and supplies for my project.  I try to find them at the dollar store or on sale at a craft store.  I usually pay $1 each or less.  I must have at least 10 of them. 

The things I love about using painter's palettes:
  • They are pure white, so you can see the true color of your beads.
  • They keep your beads from rolling all over.
  • They stack easily, so you can set aside a project and come back to it, without putting everything away or cluttering your work area.
  • They are the perfect size to hold on your lap and work over.  They catch wire cuttings and dropped beads.
When I need to take a project with me, I cover the palette with cling wrap and put it in a box.  The box keeps the project flat and catches any beads that sneak out.  The cling wrap holds the beads in the wells, but does not cling to the beads (although sometimes to have to tap the top of the wrap to get them to drop off if they do).

I hope you enjoyed seeing my project layout.  I'd love any tips that you use for laying out a project and working on it.
Plastic Palette (Amazon.com)
And wouldn't you know, I just checked Amazon and someone on there has them for just about $1.  (Of course, who knows what shipping would cost!)
Palette Lids (Amazon.com)

And then I found covers to fit these palettes!  Can't believe I haven't seen these before.  I'll definitely get some of these when I see them locally, or if I order art supplies for my daughter.

June 14, 2012

Color Challenge and a New Jewelry Book Review (Part 1)

It's a busy week - but I'm still hanging in and getting organized to make some jewelry tonight!

Color Combo Challenge: Want to give it a try?

click to enlarge

I've joined a color challenge group on Facebook that I think will help to expand my creativity.  If you haven't noticed, I tend to stick to some favorite gemstones and color palettes.

Judging from this week's color palette, I know this will help me break out of the rut.

This weeks colors are called 'blooming brights' and consist of two shades of purple, bright yellow, orange and fuschia (really shades of those colors).  A new palette is voted on every week.

If you are looking to challenge yourself in jewelry making - or whatever craft or medium you work with - click here to go to the CCC Group (Color Combo Challenge) and like them to join in.

Beautiful Wire Jewelry For Beaders: Book Review Part 1

View book on Amazon.com
My latest jewelry book purchase Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders: Creative Wirework Projects for All Levels has not disappointed me in the least so far.  In fact, it is fabulous... but I haven't made any of
the projects yet - and that is as important as the eye candy.

I've published my initial impressions - so wander on over to Lisa Yang Jewelry: Reading to get the scoop.  I expect to be making projects
from this book for the next 2 weeks (or until the next book comes in the mail!).

Yes - I ordered two more jewelry books during Interweave Book Store's Hurt Book Sale.  The books may still be on sale (even though I thought the email they sent me said the sale ended on the 12th!) .  My new jewelry books should be here soon!

That also means I'll be culling my bookshelves for other books or magazines that need a good home this weekend.  I'm thinking the magazines are next to go.  It seems like a waste to re-buy them, but the digital editions would give me so much more room (for more books?!)

June 13, 2012

My 10 Jewelry Making and Blogging Goals

Why did I start a jewelry blog?

Lucky for me, I wrote it down in my first post on my blog MakeWireRings that I started in February of this year.

1. To improve my jewelry making skills
2. To explore a particular style (rings) to its fullest possible extent
3. To have a visual diary of how small changes impact a final design
4. To provide design alternatives when you don't have the materials a design calls for
5. To help others learn to make wire rings
6. To expand my creativity and help others do the same
7. To dedicate my time towards a goal
8. To meet other people who like to make jewelry
9. To get feedback on my designs and concepts
10. To provide (and get) helpful tips that make jewelry making easier and more satisfying or improve the final result.

I still think those goals are pretty accurate, except I expanded my focus very rapidly from just rings to all jewelry.

Of course, along the way, I had to add new goals that weren't necessarily jewelry related, but supported my goals of being a good blogger and having people actually read what I write (and they also appeal to the true me, who is a bit of a technology geek)

What are my blogging goals?

1. Write posts on topics that you like and want to read
2. Find ways for you to interact with my posts
3. Add pictures to my blog so it is visually interesting to you
4. Provide helpful information and links to other jewelry related resources
5. Learn how to use Google Analytics and other web traffic tools
6. Understand blog monetization and if it is worth the effort
7. Understand search engine optimization and how to use keywords
8. Improve my writing so it can express who I am and what I think

Somehow, I think I should be able to come up with ten blogging goals - but for now there are only 8.  C'est la vie!

Why am I telling you this?

Sometimes, you just need to re-evaluate if you are still on the path you started on, or if you have strayed down a fork in the road.

And you also have to see if the path you originally laid out is still the right one for you.

Honestly, I think I strayed for a little bit from the jewelry path to the blogging path (or they became intermingled).  Now, I think I am really on a road that supports both. (guess it's no longer just a path - it's expanded to a road!)

What's next?

Full speed ahead! I've got some earrings to make, a bracelet and rosary to repair, and a new jewelry book Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders: Creative Wirework Projects for All Levels  that I'm dying to delve into and try some projects from.

Oh yeah - that link for the book will take you to Amazon.com, one of my most favorite online stores in the world where I will get a very small commission (profit) if you decide to purchase the book, even though they won't charge you a penny more for it!

But I'm not really sharing the link for that reason.  I'm really sharing it because you can easily see that it seems like a fabulous book - with 39 reviews and an average of 4.8 stars out of 5.  Also, you can search inside the book to see the projects and if you would like them.  That might make you want to come back here and see what I make from it!! : )

June 9, 2012

Jewelry Book Sale: 30-70% Off through June 12

The Interweave online store is having a fantastic Jewelry Book Sale through June 12.  

Books are 30-70% off!

I love to have jewelry, bead and craft books galore on hand for inspiration - and even though I already have a lot of these titles, I am always looking for more.  Just in case you are looking for some summer jewelry reading.  Make sure you order the correct version - both book and ebooks are on sale!!

 Jewelry Book Sale

Some books that I love:
Contemporary Copper Jewelry (with DVD)  $10.78
Weave, Wrap, Coil: Creating Artisan Wire Jewelry $9.18
Wire Style: 50 Unique Jewelry Designs $7.98

Some books that I'll buy:
Jewelry Studio: Silver Wire Fusing  $9.18
Wire Art Jewelry Workshop: Step-by-Step Techniques and Projects + DVD  $13.47


By the way, I am an Interweave affiliate.  If you want to know what that means, see my About Lisa Yang Jewelry page.

June 8, 2012

YOJ Week 23: Marlene Earrings from The Earring Style Book

This week I made two pairs of earrings using the instructions for a project called 'Marlene' from The Earring Style Book: Making Designer Earrings, Capturing Celebrity Style, and Getting the Look for Less.  The center stones are amazonite and I bought them on my last bead shopping trip.  The other stones are labradorite that I had in my stash.  This is part of my jewelry book review project.

I think the silver earrings could use some patina - but I'm holding off for right now.  That will probably be the subject of a future post, a variety of 'before patina' and 'after patina' projects just to get a good idea for how it changes the feel of the jewelry.

Along those lines, I made these earrings in both silver and gold

New Book (to me): Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders

 Earlier this week, I managed to send off 3 of my old friends to new homes.  That would be my old jewelry making books that I was not using.  I still have 2 more jewelry making books available, but since I made some shelf space I had to order something new to fill it.  Yesterday, Amazon's incredibly fast free shipping dropped Beautiful Wire Jewelry for Beaders: Creative Wirework Projects for All Levels  at my door.

Yay!  I love new jewelry books.  I haven't had much time to do anything other than glance through it, but so far I'm very happy!!  I can see lots of jewelry eye candy, book sections that are well organized by skill level, and some wire wrap projects that I haven't seen anywhere else.  Love it!!  I'll add more details, as well as make some of the projects this weekend.

June 4, 2012

4 New Ways to Use Your Bead Crimping Pliers

Bead crimping pliers are used to flatten and smooth crimp beads on beading wire.  When used properly, they eliminate sharp, flat crimp beads and leave a smooth rounded bead that holds wires better than those closed with ordinary pliers.

What you might not know, is that there are at least 4 other nifty ways to use your crimp tool.  Try these and let me know how they work for you.
  1. Tuck wire ends on wraps:  Use the crimp tool when you are creating wrapped loops to get into tight spaces and tuck the wire ends in.  You can use either the front tips or the crimp rounder.  This will help you finish the wraps neatly.
  2. Create a paddle pin:  Paddle pins are like head pins, but they have a wider, flat surface like a paddle.  To make a paddle pin with the crimper, just take a piece of wire less than 20g thickness, place it in the tips of the jaws and squeeze.  The crimper will make a flat paddle that can be used to hold beads.  The beads must fit the wire snugly though, since the paddle is not very wide.
  3. Create a wide paddle pin:  If you have the same crimp pliers pictured above, you can use the back flat portion of the jaws, just behind the 'c' groove to flatten wire.  This creates a wider paddle pin than using the front part of the plier.  Make sure you look for sharp edges when using this part of the plier, since it does not always leave a smooth edge.
  4. Start a wire coil:  I always have trouble starting a coil with the thick piece of wire.  I find that by using the crimpers to flatten the wire end (i.e. make a paddle pin first) and then start coiling, the resulting spiral is rounder and smoother.
And of course, use it to fasten crimps!  Below are some earrings that use paddle pins made with my crimp tool.

June 3, 2012

YOJ Week 22: Silver Spiral Earrings (Rachael) from The Earring Style Book

I started these earrings last week, but ran into trouble when the silver spirals wouldn't fit into the round silver frame.  That problem was sufficiently frustrating to make me give up on these.  This week, it was pretty easy to make new frames that were just a little bit bigger to fit the spirals into.

I may try to make another pair of these someday.  There are a couple of things about my earrings that bother me.  In the book, the spirals are hammered, but my hammering didn't texture as much as it seems like they are just flat and a little scratched.  Also, these earrings are a little heavy, so I suspect making the frames from 16g and the spirals from 20g may make them more comfortable for me.  I'm not sure how much it will affect the 'look' of the earrings though.  Always a good thing to try something different though.

The earring pattern is from The Earring Style Book: Making Designer Earrings, Capturing Celebrity Style, and Getting the Look for Less .  I have been writing a review of the book on my blog dedicated to what I'm reading, Lisa Yang Jewelry Reading.  I'd love to know what books you love and your feedback on my reviews.

How to Store Your Beads So You Can See What You Have

 Beginning Beaders Beware

From the day you start beading, you need to consider what to do with the beads, gemstones and findings that you start collecting (or in my case, hoarding).  Those little plastic baggies the beads came from the store in seem fine at first, since they are usually labeled, and you can write additional information.  But pretty soon, you need a box to store the bags of beads - and then there are more and more bags of beads, and bags of wire and bags of findings to sift through.  Soon, you spend more time trying to find the beads and supplies, then you do actually making the jewelry!  But, keep reading, because there are solutions!

Bead Storage Evolves into Watchmakers Cases

If you're like me, you take the step to organize.  In my case, my first storage system (which worked for quite a while) was these fantastic metal and glass watchmakers cases from Lee Valley Supply.  The bead cases come stored in metal or cardboard boxes and sizes from small to large.  I bought an assortment and was very happy with them at first.  I liked that I could open the metal container and see the beads, I could re-arrange them to see color patterns.  Honestly, I thought I had

June 1, 2012

Bead and Jewelry Supply Shopping (Shhhh!)

Don't anyone tell my husband - but I'm going to sneak out and do some bead and jewelry supply shopping today.  I need some sterling silver chain (I never have the right size on hand!),  gold filled leverbacks,  10 mm coin beads and some small sterling silver rounds (2-4mm).  That's about $50 worth of supplies and I will spend  at least another $150 on impulse buys.  No wonder the owners at Silver Sky International love me!  They just moved to a new store and I guess I need to check out their new digs.  I hope their prices don't go up now that they are in the 'high rent district' on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks.  Their website is new too.  Must have come with the acquisition of the new store location (I believe they bought out an existing bead store).

I'll post my goodies this weekend!  Oh darn - I think I also need wire some sterling wire - 16g and 18g soft.  I just spent all my money!