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?