Sunday, October 3, 2010

Attack of the Frogs!!!

Sometimes, no matter how pleased you (ok, maybe it's just me) are with a piece, let enough time go by and you can always find something wrong with it.  I was pleased as punch with the way the  kumihimo bracelet with the leaf clasp came out.  Really I was. (see for yourself here ).............that is right up until my friend tried it on - just to be a guinea pig she said.  Never a bad idea, right?  Well, it just didn't work on her.  Not only was the bracelet too big, the clasp was entirely too big for her wrist (she's a tiny girl - small boned and just small in general) and not only that, it flopped around too much.  I had to do something - so I rippppppp(ed)it, ripppppppp(ed)it, ripppppppp(ed)it (hence the frog reference) out the bracelet and started over.  With 560 of the same color seed beads............and this time I made a neckalce. 
This time, instead of using the cotton crochet thread, I used some 20lb test braided ice fishing line - it's called Cortland  Ice and I love it because it behaves like cotton thread, it is thin enough to use a big eye needle to load the beads and it's strong - so adding 560 size 6 glass beads is like nothing to this line.

While I was in the braiding mood, I made another bracelet - this time finishing it with a sterling lobster clasp.  The looped crimps ends hold really well.................I don't think I need to add glue to the ends - which I like because that step gets messy.
It may be too plain as is so for future ones I will play around with adding beads or another type of clasp - something a bit more decorative perhaps.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Autumn Leaves

The beginning of fall here in the Northeast always means an over abundance of leaves everywhere........on the car, on the steps, on the ground.............and since they're more at eye level, they provide a lot more inspiration - at least to this girl.

I created a leaf out of some recycled copper sheet (here) which I had planned to use in a piece of jewelry, but then once that leaf was done, the ideas for what to do with leaves took over my brain.  So, combining two of my most favorite things (right at this moment.......) I wove some deep green and dark bronze seed beads (kumihimo of course); cut a leaf out of my recycled copper sheet, hammered, shaped and drilled it and added it to the length of kumihimo as a clasp.
The leaf needs to be etched and oxidized - neither of which I have with me.......but you get the general idea.

This time, when I wove the kumihimo I used bead crochet thread (no idea what size it is).  Once I wove the first half inch or so, I realized it was a very, very thin braid........and I had the idea to use a fold over crimp end (you know the kind that is used on leather or satin cord necklaces) as the finish on the piece and they worked wonderfully.

The hold is nice and tight.  I added some antiqued copper cones which I secured onto the crimp end with some copper wire and then attached the clasp to that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Kumihimo Experiments

As I've said previously (read: ad nauseum)........I love kumihimo.  The possibilities are endless and the weaving works up to be a beautiful piece - in just about every material.  The only blip on the radar for me is the finishing of the ends - I haven't stumbled upon a way to add the clasp (of choice) that I am entirely happy with..........hence more experimentation!

I started with some 2mm satin cord - really really love how it looks start the braid, I slipped the round toggle end through the cords, then started braiding.  I really like how it looks - clean and secure:

To finish it I added the bar part of the toggle and then using macrame knots, added a decorative end and left the tails flowing - after adding some gold seed beads and knotting the ends of each strand.  
Not entirely in love with it, but it flows nicely and the overall bracelet looks good.

The bracelet feels good on and the "streamers" don't really get in the way - I suppose I could cut them off and glue the ends so the satin doesn't ravel..................will have to work with it a bit.

Using some black cotton cord and a copper washer, I started the next project the same way I've started a number of macrame projects - folded the cords in half, then knotted the cords around the washer

and started braiding from there. It holds nicely but looks a little more casual than the bracelet.  Once at the other end of the necklace I added the toggle bar and once again using some macrame knots, finished it up but this time cut all the ends off and glued them so they wouldn't unravel.

I like this look - but the cotton cord is thinner than the satin cord and it was easier to hide the ends when done knotting.

To complete the necklace, I used one of my previously etched copper pennies as a focal
and *Voila*, it's a necklace!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Copper Work

My muse does not seem to care that in this transitional home I am now living, there is no place to set up to do the sort of work she is compelling me to do. But, when it comes to art, you just have to find a way to do it.  So, I pulled out the things I could
copper flashing (reclaimed as scraps from a top secret project going on down the street - we don't want to get our sources in any hot water), hammer, shears, steel block

various sized punches (along with some not pictured leather tools I've had for many a year)

I couldn't find my saw blades (lots of things still in boxes) so I drew something that I knew I would be able to cut out with the shears - a leaf.  I had a leaf template (saved from some packaging or another)that I traced onto the copper, then using the shears pictured

  I cut out the leaf design.  I filed the edges then proceeded out to the driveway with hammer, copper leaf and steel block, to pound the copper and shape the leaf.  (really excellent instructions on working with copper, hammer and punches on ganoksin)

 It's not done needs more definition and some clean-up work, but I'm encouraged by how the whole project is coming or not!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lifeus Interruptus - or how I got off track.......

Once I signed in, I had to completely dust off the old blog in order to see well enough to post a new entry......I suppose the creaking sign-in should have tipped me off, but I was unprepared to see that it has been since April that I last posted.  To say that life has gotten in the way is an we'll leave it at that.

I am so happy to say that I am now a Rings and Things Blog Partner.  Why, you ask?  Well, for one thing, it could be the fabulous assortment of beading supplies they carry, or the wonderful, witty Facebook entries they post, or even the fabulous information available on their website; you could say any of those things and it would be the truth......but here's a little secret just between you and I......I'm in it for the grand prize.....the big kahuna, the treasure trove of free beading supplies to do with what I want - I'm serious!  They do that!!! (see here)

Oh they are awesomeness personified!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finishing Kumihimo

I am finding I love the whole process of Kumihimo.  It's almost hypnotic to weave the strands, it's fun to experiment with different fibers and colors, and I learn something each time I make a new project.  This time I experimented with some multi colored string (I found it in the hardware department at Home Depot or Lowes - really not sure what it's true purpose is, but I love how colorful it is) - which came out too long to be a bracelet and, of course, too short to be a necklace.  I'm sure I'll figure out something to do with it - but it's wonderfully colorful.  I will try this string again, in a longer length - that way I can incorporate all the colors and maybe make a necklace out of it.

Next I tried beads again - first using some white twine I have - a thicker string on which I pre-loaded size 6/0 seed beads.  I made each length of the string about 2 feet long and loaded 55 beads on each of the 8 strings.  I am still working out all the finer points of this - ie how many beads for a bracelet, how thick the string shoud be, etc., so while I knew 55 beads was probably too many, I wanted to err on the side of too much because you can always take away - it's not that easy to add.  I ended up using 24 of the 55 beads.

This is the finished bracelet - I used some sterling silver end cones (I glued the end knots, glued the inside of the cones and then wired the cones onto the bracelet ends - as per some instructions I saw while searching for information on how to finish the braid ends) and a nice sterling silver toggle clasp.  While I like how it turned out, it's almost too long and the whole process of gluing and wiring is rather messy. 

I next tried some bead crochet thread - just a heavier cotton thread - and size 8/0 seed beads.  I am not entirely happy how the thinner thread worked up with the beads - the bracelet is not as round and plump as the previous one, but that being said, it's still a nice piece.  This one is also a little too long - I see now that the adding of the cones and the clasp add more to the overall length than I had anticipated. I finished this one the same way as the silver one, only I used copper findings.

I have another braid started - this time I braided the end and created a buttonhole so rather than tie the ends off and add the glue, I will add a button and it will close that way.  It will be interesting to see how this one comes out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kumihimo with beads........

Since I already had the bobbins loaded (leftover from my first project) I decided to add beads to the mix.  I used two different colors; size 6/0 seed beads; and I added them to 4 of the eight strands.  I read somewhere that you should figure on 10 beads per inch of braid, so I loaded on 70 beads per strand thinking I would get enough length for a bracelet, but I ended up with a length of beaded braid that is about 10" long. 
Next time I will add beads to all the strands - this looks like a spiral, and while it would make a nice bracelet, I am hoping to get the look of a bead crocheted piece.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Learning Kumihimo

This one has been on my 'to-do' list for a while now.  Last fall, while shopping at (the now world famous)Mardens, I found some embroidery thread in some really wonderful colors - on sale for fifteen cents each!  I, of course, could not pass up that bargain, so I bought an arm full of them with the thought that I could use the threads in jewelry - at the time I was thinking macrame, but whatever! I've seen some Kumihimo pieces that incorporate beads and I really love them (mostly because it looks similar to bead crochet, which I have fumbled trying to learn over and over and, yup, over), so I really wanted to try it.
I got the disk and the bobbins from my LBS (here)........the disk comes with an "instruction sheet" - which just tells you the most basic steps of the process - and didn't mention the bobbins at I cruised the web and found an awesome video on you tube (here) that explained how to get started - from threading the bobbins to weaving with the disk - really awesome video! So, I loaded my bobbins - I used four different color threads
(open bobbin)
(closed bobbin)
and believe it or not, after much less time than you would imagine, I had this length of woven braid.....
to which I added this fabulous vintage African Brass Spiral focal..........and some gold end caps......
here is the completed necklace (sans clasp - still have to make one for it).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I am convinced that my Muse was a plumber in a previous life.  Why else would I be finding jewelry making supplies in the local home improvement store?  Again - from the inconspicuous pipe hanger comes......
a focal for a bracelet!
but of course, beaten, buffed and smoothed!

some lovely little gemstones, courtesy of turquoise magpie

a darling little heart shaped clasp from Beads on the Kennebec;

this little beauty is winging its way North tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

** woo - hoo ** !!!!

My piece, "African Sun" was published in the April 2010 edition of Bead Trends magazine!
vintage brass handstamped leaf - African

colorful fire agate beads, brass rings, vintage brass bead caps

my photo of the piece

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Etching on copper

Again with the pennies!!  After flattening a few pennies, I drew a freehand design on each of them using a red Sharpie (quick and simple - just experimenting!) then put them in the etching solution for about 40 minutes.

ferns and such (remember, freehand) - etched and patinaed with gun blue.

big old swirl, etched; then I added a "heart" <3 using my stamps; patinaed.

flowers and stems - this one was etched twice - once for 30 minutes, then again for 20 minutes; also patinaed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brass Heart Necklace

I got a pair of metal shears and some dapping punches - I so love new tools! (I got the punches from here)

So, new tools means new projects - which means experimentation!!!!
I have a sheet of red brass, 22 gauge, that I have had for a while. So, I just started cutting.
Remember I said it was experimentation time - this heart came out a little lopsided so I decided to roll one edge of it so it appeared more symmetrical.  After I cut it out, I used the dapping punches on it to give it texture, drilled couple of holes in it;
wire wrapped some of those wonderful 'red velvet' crystals (20 gauge brass wire);
added some petite glass pearls, some gold filled rondelles;
and a wonderful flower shaped magnetic clasp.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More copper etching

After working on the pendant for the malachite necklace, I wanted to do some smaller etched pieces.  I used the discs I made from the pennies (see here ) I flattened.  I experimented with a couple of designs - one that was very busy and one that included some initials.  For the "busy" one, I drew a web of sorts on the disc, then etched it in the etching solution for 30 minutes. 
I put it in the gun blue for about 30 seconds, then wiped off the highlights so it's a little patinaed. 
For the second one, I used a small letter template I have and put my initials on it, along with a few geometric shapes to fill it out a little.
I also used the gun blue on this one, but there aren't really enough crevices for it to look patinaed.
I got the etching solution from Radio Shack (more than a year ago though - I have heard they no longer carry it in their retail stores) and the gun blue from the local hardware store.