Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Work in Progress

I got a request for some bracelets - some of my wire bracelets, so I sat down yesterday to make some. I had a few ideas in my head........pulled out some beads, some wire, played with colors and finally had a couple of plans. None of which worked. Sheesh - finally have some time to work uninterrupted and I can't seem to wring a bracelet out of four attempts - but in the whole mess I salvaged a necklace from which to hang my (domed penny)copper/pearl pendant.

I used 22 gauge copper wire and made some wrapped loops to join some really gorgeous vintage crystal bicones (probably 8mm) and some vintage pearls and 2mm Swarovski crystals. I used square copper wire for the jumprings and connection components and added a really nice antiqued copper toggle clasp. I still don't think this necklace is done yet...........I have an idea for etching the pendant..............stay tuned.......

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Black Steel and Brass Wire

Gotta love Christmas - got a bunch of new wire to play with and here are the fruits of my labor. For the first bracelet I used the black annealed steel wire to make some coil components and wrap some pretty pink faceted glass beads, crafted some jump rings and added the antique typewriter keys to spell out A-N-D. I handcrafted a spiraled "S" clasp and added an extender chain and a wrapped bead so it would fit different sizes. I've made a few projects with these antique keys and I love them........but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what I choose to spell out.........some would say I give my muse too much latitude!!!

In this bracelet I used 18 and 20 gauge brass wire - I love working with brass - some don't like the natural patina it gets (a mellow golden brown), but I do. Besides, it's easy to keep clean - swish it around in a lemon juice and salt mixture and it brightens right back up. Anyway, I found a tutorial on the Starving Artists forum (great place to learn and drool over pretties)for a wire wrapped bead bangle and tried it out. I think because I used some 10mm beads the wire measurements were a little off, but the tutorial is clear and well illustrated and I like the end result. So, because my bracelet was a little short on length, I added some jump rings, a hammered brass clasp and a wrapped bead to extend the length a bit. I made an extender chain so it would fit more sizes.

These two necklaces are some simple ones I made for my nieces for Christmas - the beads are actually small perfume beads from the Netherlands - I found them at my LBS and thought they would be perfect for each girl. I added a hammered and textured silver ring, some silver chain and a quaint little silver heart shaped lobster clasp.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm So Excited!!!!!

I got my January 2009 issue of Bead Trends Magazine - in which I have two pieces. Even though this is the second time I have been in the magazine, this time is extra special - one, because I have two pieces in it and, two, because one of my pieces is a photo for the table of contents. I am such a geek, I am posting pictures of the "spread" - and then below, the actual pieces as I photographed them.

Monday, December 22, 2008


..........I can post this bracelet. I made it for my sister for her birthday (Happy Birthday Eileen), and through a series of unfortunate events, was delayed in sending it out to her.......but she finally got it so here it is:

This bracelet is actually what started me on the road to heating the pennies on the wood stove (confused?.....see here) before working with them. Initially I was going to use pennies with her birth year on them but then got to thinking that she probably didn't want to advertise her age on her wrist (not that it bothers her, but why have a constant reminder?)so I domed the pennies so they were wheat side up. A penny for each of her children (3 boys - I really don't know how she survives!), with sterling wrapped turquoise (her birthstone)and garnet beads and finished off with a sterling silver lobster clasp. I swished the pennies in a mixture of lemon juice and salt so they came out shiny and brand new looking (really, really hard to capture the pretty pinkish glow of new copper with a camera) - so they blended really well with the sterling silver.
On a side note, once the penny has been cleaned in the lemon/salt solution and put back in the sand filled bowl on the wood stove, they get a really nice shade of red - which is of course cranking up the muse. Expect to see some red copper pennies real soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Further Copper Explorations

My newest pendant - I am having such a good time working with metal - I love being able to hammer it into shapes - in this case, I domed it, then drilled a hole into it and wire wrapped a Swarovski pearl which nestles right into the cup of the disc - kind of like a pearl in an oyster! I love the texture I got from the hammer - it was a little tricky to get that though. Why? you ask.........well, here's the rest of the story.............

The copper "disc" started its life as a 1957 wheat penny. Yup, serious. There has been a discussion going on in one of the groups I belong to about how much time it takes to pound a penny flat enough to be able to use it as one would a blank copper disc. I decided to give it a shot and see how hard it really is - but doing it my way. When I first started experimenting with doming pennies and making jewelry with them, my dear SO handed me a stainless steel bowl half filled with some sand and said "put your pennies in this and set it on top of the woodstove; it will keep the pennies warm and make it easier to work with them". Huh.......OK. I did.

We have a big wood stove (it's called an "All-Nighter) and the top of the stove has two levels, so I put the pennies on the top level toward the back of the stove and there they sit, day in and day out. I took a penny out (using a pair of pliers because they are HOT)and just started whaling on it with my hammer. (I used my steel block to hammer on) The hammer I used this time is a BIG one (the XXL version of this one ), so I flattened all evidence of the mint imprint out of the penny in about 6 minutes. I used the flat face of the hammer and made sure to turn the penny every 5 whacks or so to keep it flat. I turned the hammer over and started hitting it with the domed head and was tickled when the disc started curving and doming without having to use the doming block. I hammered it until it was as even as I could get it - keeping the thickness as uniform as I could, and once I was finished hammering it I filed the edges so they were round and uniform - drilled a hole in it, added the wrapped pearl and Voila - my version of a copper disc. Real cheap..........like, just a penny!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Earrings it is!

Got some gold filled wire (22 gauge, half hard) and since I'd never worked with it before, wanted to start out small. I decided to make a bunch of earrings for my sisters (yes, the ones that are hard to shop for)this year for Christmas. I had purchased a few gemstones earlier this year and decided to play with the wire and gems. I made all my own earwires - which was fun and really good practice on the pliers.
The earrings are, by far, the most delicate pieces I have made to date - it was a bit disconcerting to be working on such dainty wire - but by dainty I do NOT mean soft - half hard gold filled is hard - and made good sturdy earwires. I experimented with loops, swirls, lengths and gems - and all in all it was a productive afternoon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Transformation of a UFO

I was attempting (!) to organize my work area, and as so often happens when I do that, I came upon some pieces I had put away - either because they were not finished, or they didn't come together the way I had envisioned, or the colors were all wrong (......you get the drift - some of these UFOs have languished for years); and so in my organizational frenzy, I came across a zippered bag of peyote tubes - all colors, lengths and sizes, pulled out a long one created with some gorgeous iridescent orange seed beads, paired it with some antiqued copper spacer beads, some faceted opalite rounds, two opal Swarovski crystals and a length of memory wire. I kinda like the look...........................

When I tried just stringing the peyote tube on the memory wire, I didn't like how floppy it looked and felt, so I first strung some size 10 seed beads on the wire and then pulled the peyote over the seed beads. They seem to fill the opening of the tube just enough for it to retain it's round shape and not go flat on one side. I'm still not sure about the arrangement of opalites and crystals on the ends - I may rearrange that at some point as there is something "just not right" about the ends.

So, how many UFOs do you have stashed away? And how often do you take them out to try and finish them?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The finished steel necklace

Well, here is the completed necklace. I added a beautiful pewter focal (actually a button!) and some more dangles from the focal - a couple of vintage crystals, a vintage pearl, a ceramic leaf and a few other things. I also took some of the beads off the right side - although I loved the look of two beads per loop, it seemed to make the necklace a bit lopsided.

A fun necklace to make!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stainless Steel and Jewelry

There has recently been a lot of discussion in a wire group I belong to about using steel wire in pieces of jewelry. I have done it before ( here, here and here to name a few) but the whole discussion kick started my creative process, so yesterday I sat down with some 19 gauge stainless steel wire (found in my local Ace Hardware store in with the "picture hanging" wire), some really cool old typewriter keys and some red/orange drop beads I found at my LBS.

Lately, I find myself being influenced by the style of jewelry artists such as Mary Hettmansperger (Wrap, Stitch, Fold and Rivet; Making Designer Metal Jewelry), Richard Salley (his website), the work of (blog) Deryn Mentock to name a few. I am drawn to the mix of metals, wire, found objects and beads and fibers that get incorporated into each piece, and how, in spite of the fact that it would seem chaotic, it ends up being a soothing, inspiring mix once it's all put together.

In making this necklace, I tried to be more creative with my connections, more open to mixing shapes and textures of wire and attempting to assert asymmetrical-ity when I normally would not have. I love working with stainless steel - although it is a VERY tough wire to wrap with, unlike some other wire, the more it's worn the better it looks.

I have not finished the necklace yet, but here are a couple of pictures of the work in progress.

I spelled out SING using the antique typewriter keys, with a different connection joining each letter, a lot of 12 mm steel rings; some flattened and closed with a spring formed by coiling some 24 gauge sterling silver wire around a piece of 16 gauge wire and slipping it over the join in the ring, others left round and to them I added some delicious drop beads I found at my LBS - the color goes from garnet red at the top to a faint yellow-orange-red at the base.

I have a few other things to add to the bottom as dangles - I made a Spiral 'S' clasp - it closes in front - and for now have some steel and bead connections as a dangle. It reminds me of the fruit of a pomegranate - the right shape and the right color - mmmmmm yummy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The People Have Spoken.................

.........and asked for more of my "elegant jewelry", (their words, not mine) - so in the spirit of democracy, and because it is election day here in the good old USofA, I created a nice, delicate, sterling silver, pink pearl, garnet confection (but of course, the silver connectors were BEATEN with a HAMMER)which just happens to be very elegant. Well, that's how MY dictionary defines elegant........heheheh.
I created the wavy connectors with some 18 gauge and 20 gauge round sterling silver wire. I used my round nose pliers to form the wavy shape, then flattened them. I used some 24 gauge sterling silver wire to create the pink pearl and garnet rosette - as you can see it needs a little tweaking; then I added the pearl, garnet wrapped beads and a nice sterling silver lobster clasp.
Just my interpretation of elegant!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another experiment.......

Not too long ago, I bought a wooden doming block (from Magpie Gemstones, of course!) because I like the look of domed, curved metal - and to tell the truth, a new tool is always a great thing!
I had some old pennies (the pennies from 1982 and earlier are the ones to use, those minted after are only a covering of copper over a base of zinc) so I started with those. I found some information on the internet to guide me along on this journey, and got to work.
I found out soon enough that the lip along the outside of the penny is heavy and although not a seam, it is thicker at the edge - and so because my doming block is wood, it created ridges in the curves and now my curves have dents. Will definitely have to upgrade to a metal one to do more pennies.

I also experimented, using other things to pound with besides the wooden punches that come with it - they work great but I was just looking for some other tools that I could use. I found a couple of bolts with round smooth heads, one was about 12mm and the other one was about 20mm. I used the bolts on some pennies instead of the wooden punches and, as you would suspect, using the steel bolt as a punch worked oh so much faster than using the wood. So I found two 1963 pennies, domed them, drilled a hole through each one, wired up some freshwater pearls and some green stone (I got them from Magpie Gemstones - I am not sure what the stone is I got it in a multi-stone rondelle strand) and then crafted a sterling silver (with a coil of thin copper wire) earwire and, there you go............"My Two Cents"!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Further Experiments with metals

So, I was in the basement the other day, doing laundry, waiting for the washer to fill up (I have a point, I promise!) and just staring off into space while waiting. My eyes happened to fall upon the "plumbing" toolbox we set up - just so we would know all the required things are all in one place for those emergencies - and I saw copper. I LOVE copper......love, love, love copper, and every time I see it my mind is always making something with it. So, I took a few things out of the plumbing box and set out to make a piece of jewelry. Documented below is my journey - from piece of copper piping through to the resulting copper pendant created from it.

The pipe cutter and a length of 3/4" copper pipe

I cut a 1/4" wide piece of the pipe off

I used a piece of plumbers cloth to sand the rough edges of the cut piece - it actually works really well and got all the rough edges smoothed. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with it, so I decided to use more tools and see where that took me.

I got out my steel block and fancy-schmancy hammer and decided to start beating on the ring of copper - I decided to hammer the cut edges and as I was hammering it I liked how it was looking, so I kept hammering it until the top met the bottom. I made sure to hammer evenly, on the top and the bottom, and gradually it folded in on itself and made a wide circle.

This is the flattened piece of pipe - I buffed it and cleaned up the edges a little with a file but really liked the organic feel of the circle so I kept the filing to a minimum. But, I still wasn't happy with what I had, so I went in search of more tools, of course.

I found a nice heavy bolt with really good threads on it and decided I would use it to add texture to the circle - I used my hammer and the bolt on it's side and just smacked away until I liked the resulting design. I buffed it up, wire wrapped a piece of turquoise (really unusual piece, which I purchased from Magpie gemstones), hung it from a "spring" component I made with 18 gauge square copper wire and strung it on leather.

And Voila - the finished piece. So, how's that for an experiment?

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Absent Blogger........

It's been a good while since I've posted - the out of doors work has been keeping me VERY busy and since there are only truly 3 months of warm summer weather here in the far reaches of Maine, we tend to try to take advantage of them while they are here. For those interested, I got a LOT done on the outside - added a Rhododendron bush, a Star Magnolia tree, a climbing rose bush, 3 Yew trees, about a million irises, 4 boxwoods and two other small bushes that I found in the clearence section of the garden shop.

The first 5 mentioned items were picked up (by my fantastic dear hard working SO)at an area business that had closed and subsequently been sold to the town for a new Fire Dept. Before they cleared the way for the new building, they offered up some of the gorgeous plantings on the property and we were SO lucky to have been on the receiving end of this - of course we had to go dig them out and transport them back here but it was really worth it. Next year the yard will be in full bloom and I am really looking forward to seeing it!

I made a few simple things, mostly because I HAVE to just to keep my sanity - just a bit of eye candy for you!

Tourmaline chips, fresh water pearls and sterling silver........mmmmmmm I LOVE tourmaline!

My newest favorite - millions of cobalt glass beads and yards and yards of wire - made it all from the jump rings to wrapping each bead.....didn't make the heart shaped closure though - got those (which I really like as they are so versatile) from my LBS .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shopping for copper wire

**A shout out to "Ken" at the Augusta, Maine Home Depot. What a lovely man and so very helpful.**

For those out there that don't already know it, if you're doing wirework and like to work with copper, make your way over to your local Home Depot. In the electrical department they have just about every size of copper wire (and some aluminum if you so choose) you could want. I took a trip out there today and found some really great wire on sale - I got six feet of 27 strand wire - which would make that 162 feet of copper wire (some 16gauge, some 18gauge and some 20gauge) all for a grand total of $7.50. What a bargain!!! All I have to do is to strip it (using a utility knife, or some tell me, a vegetable peeler) and it's ready to be twisted, formed, hammered and/or bent into some beautiful pieces. Copper is great wire to practice with as it behaves almost as sterling silver wire will, and copper jewelry is also gaining in popularity all on it's own. Read here about the properties of electrical grade copper, and here if you are curious about "health" benefits to wearing copper jewelry.

And, now, if you'll excuse me, I am off to make some copper jewelry!!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting ready for the show!!!!!!!!!!

I've been busy trying to get ready for a show (my very first - YIKES!) and here are a few of the pieces I just finished.

A simple amber/pearl/silver bracelet - freshwater pearls in this one, and an amber necklace with some funky Karen Hill Tribes silver beads and 8mm Czech glass pearls. The necklace is 18" long and looks wonderful on!
I also did some copper chain maille - this is full persian weave with some green faceted glass beads and some antiqued copper spacers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Copper Pieces

Pulled out the copper wire (16 gauge round and 18 gauge square for the flower and 14 gauge for the free-form bracelet)the other day and decided to try a couple of ideas that had been floating around in my brain for a while. I made the free form bracelet first - I used a length of the 14 gauge and made some squiggles which I then beat flat with the hammer. (I highly recommend this for taking out some frustration!!!) I had some (17mm?) cobalt/copper swirl beads in my stash so I used those to join the squiggles, made a simple hook and ring clasp and...........Voila - a bracelet is born. It's a solid, big bracelet and not for the faint of heart, but I really like how it turned out.
The flower was born from 16 gauge round wire that I handformed into a flower shape - and I wanted the hint of a stem so I coiled one end of the wire over the other end for the join. (also, I have not yet had the soldering lesson!!!!) I beat this piece with the hammer, too (oh my poor dogs!) and then created an infinity chain link for the necklace. Once it was together I thought it looked too plain so I wrapped some beautiful faceted blue briolettes into a flower shape and wrapped it onto the flower as center petals. I added two briolettes from the "stem" and now it doesn't look too plain at all!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Inspiration from nature - my brother was here for a really overdue visit - and we found these beauties hanging out down by the lake - it was a nice surprise for me since last year we only had one bloom! Isn't nature amazing?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Alternative start for Viking Knit Weave

When weaving a viking knit piece I used to use the "petal over the dowel" method to start my weave until I ran across this method (and I wish I could remember where I saw this so I could give credit where it's due)which is SO much easier, IMHO. I still use the wooden dowel to weave around but now I use staples as the starting loop. I included a picture of the "set-up" to make it easier to understand. (except the photo does not show the heavy duty staples I actually use). I divide it into five parts, put the staples equi-distance apart, and then just start weaving. Once done weaving, I use the long starter piece of wire to weave through the end loops then remove the staples and tighten the weave, then draw the whole length through the drawplate. SO much easier!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Fun with Murano!

Another set of gorgeous Murano beads from my LBS - I couldn't resist - the colors are amazing! I used some of my (dwindling) stash of vintage crystals, a few topaz colored Swarovski crystals, some 2xab jet Swarovski crystals, twisted up some gold artistic wire to use as links and added a really fun hammered goldtone toggle clasp. I did a lousy job capturing the sparkle in the crystals - and I took a million pictures of this before I was even close to being satisfied with the picture. *Sigh*. Sometimes, it seems to take more time to photograph a piece than it does to make it!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Heralding Spring

Where does the time go? I haven't had a lot of time lately to make jewelry (2 10 month old puppies, maybe?) but I found these beautiful soft green Murano foil beads at my LBS and went crazy with the wire! I used 18 gauge (non-tarnish) gold artistic wire and made some "squiggles" and a couple of spirals; wrapped some Czech beads, some Swarovski crystals and a couple of faceted teardrops and added a couple of each in between each Murano bead. The bracelet has nice movement and, more importantly to me, looks like SPRING! (yes, we do still have snow on the ground!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Where oh where has my Muse gone?

I've been in a major slump lately - not sure if it's because of the overly long, hard winter (here in Maine we still have more than two feet of snow on the ground), the extra work created by the addition of two nine month old puppies that have to be trained (every minute of every day - but they are a JOY to hang with) or what it is, but my Muse seems to be on vacation. I sit down each day and try for inspiration but the well is dry! I even made a special trip out to my LBS (the fantastic Beads on the Kennebec) and got some beautiful new beads, but that didn't even help. So, to try and get myself over the slump, I took out the memory wire and some beads and started making bracelets. Guess what?.....it helped, I think.
I started out by making one with the last of my vintage glass pearls and some blue Swarovski cubes - it's bling at it's best!

For the next one I used some pink Celestial Crystals in various sizes along with some really versatile gold spacers:

This one has some beautiful turquoise nuggets, silver cube beads and long silver tubes:

And the last couple I used some seed beads along with some other beads for simple color blocks.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Week 11::YOJ 2008::Barbados

An Ode to Barbados - red sponge coral chips, freshwater pearls, coral beads, Karen Hill Tribe fishes and lots of silver wire make up this necklace. I used 18 gauge wire to create some free form wave-like connectors; added some coral chips and pearls, the fish beads and from the fish focal added a coral/pearl dangle. Then necklace measures 18" with a 3" focal dangle.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Week 7 YOJ 2008 - Amore

So very late in posting this - but there is a good reason! (see puppies post)
The theme for this week is Amore and I went with, of course, the heart. I used some 12 gauge copper wire which I formed into a heart shape, then hammered it for some texture, filed all sharp edges then polished it to a nice shiny finish. I had some really nice copper accent beads which I paired with some flashy, brilliant moonstone (huge) heishe beads and some faceted ruby quartz beads I got from my LBS. I finished the necklace off with a hand formed copper clasp. The necklace is about 19" long.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No Jewelry - but prize winners none the less!

I have been among the missing lately - have not made any jewelry nor posted to the YOJ2008 for the past two weeks - and these guys are the reason why. May I present Simon (on the left with the white patch) and Theodore, on the right.......nine month old Standard Poodle puppies (yeah, can you even believe they are puppies???)that came to live with us about two weeks ago. They are brothers and came to us through a rescue group that we were lucky enough to find in our area. After losing three of our dogs in the last year, we knew we wanted more dogs but wanted to get them from the Animal Rescue or a similar situation. Our eldest (16 years old) dog, that we lost in August of 2007, was a Standard Poodle - I got her as a 12 week old puppy - she is the reason we wanted more poodles. Besides being so darn cute, they are smart as a whip, they don't shed, they're loyal, love the outdoors and water (we live on a lake) and are very social. What's not to love? But being that they are only nine months old (they weigh 50 lbs!) and that they came from a kennel situation they have to be taught everything - from when and where to poop and pee to how to climb the stairs. And the fact that there are two of them keeps me running from morning to, well, morning. But it's a joy!

So, in case anyone asks, this is my story.........and I'm sticking to it! Luckily I am now able to work on my jewelry again and will post some pieces shortly. (unless the dog eats them!!!! hehehe)