Search This Blog

September 14, 2013

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls Blog Hop

Today is the big reveal for the Pearls, Pearls, Pearls Blog Hop graciously hosted by Shel at MiShel Designs.

 I love pearls, especially baroque or unusual ones.  When I first started making jewelry, pearls were my favorite thing to buy and also to use.  One of my favorite necklaces is a long continuous strand of assorted pearls and seed beads like the necklace above.  It can be worn as a single necklace, doubled, tripled or wrapped many times around as a bracelet.  Even though I love pearls and have a large selection, I have trouble using them in my designs - and especially photographing them.

I made a bracelet for the blog hop.  This was not really what I intended, but one thing turned into another

September 11, 2013

Making Copper Rings for Beading

Don't you hate it when you are looking for a certain jewelry finding or supply, but just can't find it!  That's been me lately.  I've wanted to play some more with brick stitch or seed beading around a ring, similar to what I did in these simple brick stitch hoops, but using a ring instead of an open hoop.  I've looked, but I just can't find simple rings in a base wire with the right shapes and thickness to use for what I have in mind.

Not surprisingly, I finally decided to make what I've been looking for.  These are 20g copper links - round and oval shapes.  The circles are in two sizes, 7/8 inch in diameter and 1.25 inches in diameter.  The larger ovals are 1 inch by 1.25 inches and the smaller ones are 3/4 inch by 7/8 inch.  This was just a test run - I didn't really know what size I needed or wanted.  Just that I need some beading links.  Now that I see them, I think I'll make some smaller ones, and probably some diamond - or square shapes too (depends on how you look at them!).

To make the shapes, I used mandrels from Bead Smith.  They are very handy for making rings as well as earring armatures or consistent shapes like drops.  I have numbered each 'step' on the mandrel and make notes in my sketchbook which size I used.  I thought they were a bit cheap at first because they are plastic, but now that is one of my favorite features.  They are super light weight and really easy for me to bring to softball and baseball games, which is when I do a lot of the prep work for my projects.

On another note, this is the first time I have used the easy flow paste solder I recently bought from Fire Mountain Gems.  It definitely melts quicker than the medium that I was previously using.  I really like it.  Soldering all of these rings was super quick.  And they cleaned up quick with my new file from Harbor Freight too.

A bummer from last night is that after many years of use, my tumbler belt finally broke.  I had bought a spare on my last trip to Harbor Freight (I must have known it was time), but it didn't fit well.  Maybe I didn't put it on correctly, but it wasn't tight enough so the barrel wasn't turning as much as it should have.  I ended up using a rubber band and now it is working great again.  I have lots of rubber bands, so I should be good for a while now!

And last but not least, the Orchard Supply Hardware near me is going out of business and everything is at least 20-40% off.    That was a great opportunity for me to run in and get my favorite packages of copper wire for under $3.00 each.  I think I bought all of the remaining packages.  There was (1) 18g, (2) 20g, (2) 22g and (1) 24g.  The wire itself is not the best quality - try Thunderbird Supply for that - but I love the packages for portable beading.  It has a centimeter and inches ruler on the back, the wire doesn't get tangled in my bag and the wire is sometimes square'ish which can be useful depending on what you're doing.  Of the packages I bought last night, the 18g is round, the two packages of 20g are definitely square and the other packages are round.  All fine for me.  I just finished a package of 20g on the rings, so the timing was perfect!

Oh - and did I mention I did it again?!.. I ordered more beads from FMG.  I wish I would stop - but I can't help myself!  As I get more enamored of copper, the more rustic beads appeal to me.  Of course, I should have decided that before I invested in lots of AAA fine gemstones for the past few years.  I'll post my goodies later this week.  They should be here Thursday.

September 07, 2013

How to Make Copper Ball Headpins Using Thick Wire

When I did my first post on making copper ball headpins, I was only able to form the ball with thinner (higher gauge) wires.  I don't even think I was able to get it to ball up with 20g wire.  Luckily, some really helpful people commented on the post and suggested that I try making them a little differently.  And it works!

Just to catch you up, what I am talking about here is making headpins with a ball end using copper wire and a butane torch - the type that you use for creme brulee.  Normally, I hold the wire perpendicular to the flame and let the ball climb up the wire.

But some of the people who left comments suggested that I could get a ball headpin with heavier (lower gauge) wire if I held the wire parallel with the flame.  At first, I thought that would mean my hand would be closer to the flame, but it really isn't very different.  As you can see, I use some long needle nosed pliers to do this.  And the amazing thing is how well it works!!

The force of the flame seems to push the end of the wire to melt, and not only was I able to ball 16g wire, but I was able to get some pretty good sized balls on the end.  The picture above shows a variety of headpins that were made using 16g to 20g wire.

Thank you for your comments and help!!

September 05, 2013

DIY: Wire Rose Pony Tail Elastics

It's soooo hot here.  It's always hot here in September.  Other places are starting to feel like Autumn with an occasional crisp day, and we are burning up in Los Angeles.  Not only that, my Air Conditioning took a break this week.  Yup, it was hot!

"Necessity is the mother of invention", and even though any hair tie would do, I've always loved a pretty pony tail.  I decided to play with the wire rose design that I used for rings and see if it would work on a larger scale.

I used 16g brass wire for something a little different.  I've never used brass wire before, and it is harder than copper, which was a good thing for this design.  I didn't need to tumble the wire flower to work harden it.

 I'm very happy with the results!  I wish I had my daughters gorgeous hair, but I probably did at her age.

The only tricky part was attaching the rose embellishment to the pony tail holder.  I originally just left a loop and used a larks head knot to attach the pony tail holder.  It was effective, but a little messier than I wanted.  Also, it pinned the rose in one spot which makes it harder to make it centered on the hair.

Instead of a simple loop, I folded the wire in half and made a hook to attach the elastic.  This has several advantages.  The hair elastic can be changed if you want a different color.  Very practical if you plan to sell them.  The flower embellishment can move on the elastic, so it can be positioned perfectly on the hair.

The hair tie itself looks neat and professionally made from the back. I tucked and folded over the wire ends to prevent any possibility of them scratching or getting caught on anything.

 And as if you needed one more reason to make a great hair tie like this, I love the fact that when you throw one on your wrist to have it handy, it looks like a pretty bracelet instead of a piece of ugly elastic.

 And one more picture of how pretty they look in the hair.  Once I started making hair ties I couldn't stop.  I've been digging through my box of UFOs (Un-finished Objects) for more goodies to add to pony holders.  I'll post them another day.