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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Art Jewelry Elements November Challenge

Lesley Watt of Thea too was the host for the November Challenge of the Art Jewelry Elements blog.  Lesley offered her newly designed 35mm bronze snowflake disc components to two lucky commenters and I was one of the lucky winners.

 The only "catch" is that I had to make something with the disc and blog about it on November 30.  Now that is easy enough, or so I thought.  I really found this piece to be a challenge to work with.  I had several ideas but had to scrap them for one reason or another.   If you are so inclined, you can check out the original giveaway post here at the Art Jewelry Elements Blog.   They do this often so perhaps you might like to give it a try.

Those are Ingrid Mueller's "worms" (her name, not mine) in a 22 gauge copper heavy wrap along with some silver-lined glass beads that have a aurora borealis luster applied that gives them a dark shiny finish that reflects purples, blues, and bronzes.  They really look quite nice with this snowflake.  A frosted quartz dagger (my interpretation of an icicle) dangles at the bottom of the focal.
Here is a list of the other participants.  Please take some time to check out their beautiful designs.

As always, I had a nice time designing with this component.  Thank you, Lesley, for your generous gift and challenge and thanks to all the gang at Art Jewelry Elements for the beautiful work you produce to inspire the rest of us.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Berries and Leaves Artisan Whimsy Challenge

This is my piece for the Artisan Whimy's November challenge - Berries and Leaves.

I used copper wire to hand form holly leaves which I veined with silver lined green glass beads.  I was also very excited to use some handmade paper beads by Dee Rick of  Passion For Paper Beads. The berries are very small, about 3mm, red coral beads on fine gauge balled copper headpins.  I also used 4mm green malachite beads, and rubberized red rounds and green leaf shapes.

After looking at it for a bit, I have decided that, while I really wanted to love the paper beads in this piece, they just are not intense enough.  So, I replaced them with red rubberized round beads - the same material as the green beads that I used.  I don't like the beads as well as the handmade paper beads, but they may just be my bias toward handmade beads.

I will be giving this necklace away during the Artisan Whimsy Market 2012 Holiday Collection Cyber Sale.

Be sure to check it out HERE to enter to win and I also want to invite you to enjoy 15% off on everything in my shop during the Artisan Whimsy Market Cyber Sale.  

Artisan Whimsey Market 2012 Holiday Collection

Shop the finest Jewelry Designers For the 2012 Holiday Season


Many of our artists have published work & sell their beautiful pieces nationally and internationally.


See something you like?


Please click on the picture to browse their giveaway and view all their 

Fabulous Handmade Jewelry Pieces.


The largest Artisan shopping event
for Cyber Week...Ever!! 

It starts this Friday, Nov. 23rd thru Friday Nov 30th.

All participating jewelry designers will be offering a discount on their stores &

will be promoting a giveaway.  


Winners will be chosen individually by the blog owners.


For event wide discount code use: AWHOLIDAY

We will be hiding

Three Exciting Giveaways 

throughout our participants blogs.  

When you find them, follow the directions to be entered!

I am thrilled to be participating in this Huge Cyber Event hosted by Artisan Whimsy.  Enter to win the above Holly Leaf and Berry Copper Wire Worked Necklace valued at $45.00 by 1) making sure that you are a member of this blog and 2) by leaving a comment with the name of your favorite piece of jewelry from my ETSY SHOP.  You must also leave your e-mail address so that I can get in touch with you if you are the winner.  


I AM OFFERING A 15% DISCOUNT WITH COUPON CODE AWHOLIDAY.  The code is working now so that you can get a jump on your shopping.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prong Setting Challenge

The Metal Team at Artisan Whimsy is hosting its first challenge having to do with prong settings.  Staci Smith prepared an excellent tutorial, and I can attest to the fact that it is excellent because I was able to follow it.  If you are so inclined you can find the tutorial HERE.

If you love beading and are not yet a member of Artisan Whimsy you really need to check it out.  It is a great all-inclusive place to find tutorials, interesting blog articles, and great camaradarie from like-minded folks.

Each month there is something different going on in the form of a challenge for anyone that wants to participate.  I love doing challenges so I try to participate in every one of them.  Anyway, this challenge was about prong settings.  I've never done anything like that.  I had never even used a rivet before this challenge, although I had purchased and tucked away a nice little riveting kit from Rings and Things.  I am so good at buying stuff, but not so good at actually using it.  I had also purchased a small roll of long skinny silver solder about three years ago to solder sterling silver rings together.  I have cabs - I only had one or two ceramic ones but I figured I could make them work.  And, I have a torch (which I actually use)  Knowing that I had these items, I figured I could do this challenge. WRONG!

I want to start off on a positive note, so I am going to start with a picture of my finished project.  It is a brooch, although I still need to get a suitable pin back and attach to the back.  I may have something in my stash, but haven't come across them yet.  

 My first task was to find a cab that I could use as my focal of the project.   The cabs I had were not flat enough and I was afraid that they would break too easily if I tried pushing the prongs down like the tutorial instructed.  I had to find something that I could use as a cab.  I turned to my collection of antique buttons.  I found one that I thought was pretty enough, but it is a Paris Back and I did not want to destroy (or do anything to damage) the button.  If you collect buttons, you know that is significant. This button is circa 1880 and in excellent condition. 

That meant I had to cut a hole in the center of the metal backing to allow for the back of the button since the back is not flat.  Okay, no problem.  So far so good.  So after I cut and textured my copper circle, I set about trying to solder the rivets into the holes I had drilled.  It turns out that the silver solder that I had wouldn't work on the copper - at least not the way I was trying to do it.  I didn't take pictures of that failure, but just suffice it to say that I was not going to be able to solder my rivets to the back of my metal and by the time I figured it out, it was too late to go looking for paste solder. 

I have restored three old houses in my lifetime and because I restore them and don't remodel (there is a big difference) I have had the need to find creative ways to "fix" things including old iron grates and other old metal objects.  "What in the world does that have to do with the prong challenge?" you might be asking yourself.  Well, because of that history, I have discovered JB Weld - a two part epoxy that dries a medium gray color.  Believe me, it is great, no GREAT, stuff.  I have repaired floor grates, wall grates, metal frames, and even black glass buttons with this stuff.  It holds.

So I figured I would try the JB Weld on the prongs instead of solder.  After a couple of trial and error things, I was successful. 

This is a picture of the front of the copper ring with the prongs held into place.

Since I didn't want the back of the button just sticking out the hole, I decided to cut a piece of textured brass sheeting to back the copper.  I would rivet them together.  After all, I had a new riveting system, and rivets, so this was a perfect opportunity to use them. I used some silver rivets for contrast.

I made a cage out of bronze wire for this little piece of genuine Nevada USA rough turquoise.  I purchased a small selection of rough turquoise on a trip out west and have polished and drilled some of the pieces but I still have a little bag of rough turquoise.  This is just as it came from the ground.

All of the patina on the copper and the brass is the result of heating it with my torch which I did several times.

In the first attempt to set the rivets with the JB Weld, I tried to anneal the rivets on the top side with my torch.  Well, the JB Weld caught on fire and it is a wonder I didn't burn the garage down.  (Actually, I work with my torch inside a little area that I set up with fire bricks so it wasn't as bad as I make it sound.)

So, I cleaned everything off and applied the glue again.  The rivets need to be annealed so that the metal is soft and will bend more easily over the cab, or button, in my case.  I don't have a prong-setting tool, but the tutorial suggested that you could use a dowel so that is how I bent the prongs.  Then I used my flush cutters and file to shape the prongs so that they cradled the button nicely.

And, to prove to you that I have no pride, here is a picture of the backside.  I had to pound out a little bump to accommodate the shank of the button, but I tried to keep it as nice as I could.  Please tell me, do you guys think the back is too hokey looking or unprofessional or just plain ugly?

I want to purchase some 33mm pin backs because they have holes at 17mm apart and I can rivet the pin back to the front.  I wish I had riveted it before I riveted the copper to the brass, but I didn't really have that much of a plan at that point.  My current plan is to attach some stars or some other decoration to even out the design.

Anyway, it was a touch and go challenge and I am so, so glad that I participated.  I have a personal rule that I don't buy anything special for a challenge and if I participate, I participate with the materials that I have.  And, with very, very few exceptions, I stick by that rule.  I did in this case.  And, I have never made a brooch before.  I am pleased with it.  What do you guys think?

And, here are links to the other participants.  You will see some beautiful things if you take the time to work through them.

The Beading Yogini,

Carolyn Dewison, Blue Berri Beads,

Mary Harding, Mary Harding Jewelry,

Dawn Horner, Northern Adornments,

Gina Hockett, Freestyle Elements,

Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy,

Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things,

Melissa Muir, Melissa Muir Jewelry,

Melinda Orr, Melinda Orr Designs,

Staci Louise Smith, Staci Louise Originals,

Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame,

Jo Tinley, Daisy Chain Designs Jewellery,

Francesca Watson, Francesca Watson Designs,

Linda Younkman, Lindy’s Designs,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Artisan Whimsy UK Blog Team Challenge

The Artisan Whimsy UK Blog Team has issued a challenge to create a piece of jewelry or a jewelry component  inspired by a city where each of the team members live.  Read more about the challenge and check out the other entries by visiting Artisan Whimsy.

I chose Liverpool because that is the home of the Beatles and I was in the fourth grade when the Beatles began wanting to Hold My Hand.  They were a huge part of my youth - I owned every Beatle record, singles and albums.  I wish I still had them but once I married, I lost interest in stuff like that and I really have no idea what even happened to them.  Probably ended up in a yard sale or something.

Enough talk - let's see jewelry.

Anyway, about a year and a half ago, Diane Long made me this bracelet connector for the Beatles song "Let It Be".  While it was made for a client's request, it was never used for that project and when I saw this challenge I knew that it was time to use "Let It Be".  To go with the copper connector I searched my stash for things that were inspired by Liverpool - Beatles - peace signs - mood rings, etc.

I made a matching bracelet, necklace and earrings.  Now, for the details.

In addition to "Let It Be", I used a pewter peace charm and bead.  I can't think of the Beatles without thinking about the iconic Peace sign.

On each side of the connector and on the backside of the clasp, I used modern mood beads.  In the 60's we had these in rings - remember the Mood Rings?

It was cold the day I took these pictures, so all of the mood beads are black, but in normal ambient conditions, they glow from yellow, blue, green which mirrors the main beads perfectly.

Now a word about those main beads.  I have had these beads for at least twenty to twenty five years.  They are glass with a metallic spattering of gold, red and green on them.  They are really quite ugly - except in this set.

They reminded me of the neon that was popular during the 60s and I am tickled to pieces that I finally have found a set to use them in.  They really are quite pretty used here.

I also used a couple of mood beads, a pewter peace pendant and made some little dangles out of silver lined red, green and gold seed beads on my own ball end copper headpins.

Those rings are antiqued and textured copper rings by Trinity Brass Co.  At the back, I used a circle ball and circle clasp.

And, last but not least, matching earrings.  I made them a bit asymmetrical because I like them that way.

You can really see the psychedelic nature of these beads in this picture.  I even had them in two sizes.  I'm telling you, I can't believe I held onto them for 25 years just to find the perfect project for them.  As one commenter pointed out, they do resemble tie dye.

The Hosts
 Lesley Watt Gossiping Goddess
Rebecca Anderson Songbeads
Pippa Chandler Pip's Jewellery
Teresa Hulley Bo Hulley Beads
Natalie McKenna Grubbi
Jo Tinley Daisychain Designs
Ginger Bishop Lilmummylikes
Cece Cormier The Beading Yogini
Therese Frank Therese’s Treasures
Cilla Watkins Tell Your Girlfriends
Sherry Baun
Therese Frank Therese’s Treasures
Kashmira Patel Sadafulee
Caroline Dewison Blueberribeads
Sherry Baun
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Lucy Haslam
Sherry Baun
Isle of Wight
Duane Clark Bizzy Bead
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Sharyl's Jewelry
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Jean Wright Just Beadey
D Lynne Bowland Islandgirl’s Insights
Sherry Baun
Shalini Austin   Jewellery by Shalini
Doris Stumpf Glaszwerg
Sherry Baun
Lennis C Windbent
Sherri Stokey Knot Just Macramé
Sherry Baun
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Kathy Lindemer Bay Moon Design

And, of course the team members are offering prizes.  I am hoping to win a beautiful set of ceramic beads by Natalie McKenna of Grubbi.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whiskers II

This is my second Whiskers.  This one is not totally black, however, but more like a tortoise shell - you know the brown version of a calico cat.  I'm not sure what they are called, but if anyone knows, please let me know.

 I changed the weaving order a bit on this one to make it different from the first one, but it still has the same overall look.

 I also used a brass bali-style bail to hang the pendant rather than just sandwiching it between two brass beads.
 I used a pipestone heishi bead on the pendant leather bail.

I love pipestone but it is hard to find it in the smaller pieces.

Would love to know where I can find it if any of you know.  *Note:  I did a wikipedia check and have described the color below.

The glaze that Nan used on this pendant flows a blue/white in the creases which is great because when a black cat is shiny, you see blue.

I also left the whiskers a bit longer on this one.  They could easily be shortened if anyone preferred.

I hope you all like this version as well.

You have got to love Wikipedia.  According to it, "tortoiseshell" describes a coat coloring found almost exclusively in female cats.  They are mottled or brindled with patches of orange or cream and chocolate, black or blue.  (That is this pendant for sure.)  As opposed to "calico" cats which are largely white with red and brown patches (rather than the brindle aspect) they have very little or no white on them.

Here is a picture of a tortoiseshell cat.  Isn't she cute?  I had several of these when I was growing up and my first cat after I married was a tortoiseshell.  She had kittens in my laundry basket and I used to get so sleepy watching them.  They were so sweet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whiskers The Black Cat

Continuing in my endeavors to improve my micro-macrame skills, I made a necklace using alternating square knots.  I added striped, aged Czech glass beads between the knots and when I started I was going to use a Thai Amulet Pendant and go for a tribal look. 

Well, as I got closer to finishing the necklace, I realized that the ends looked like whiskers so I used one of  Nan Emmett's black cats.  I had asked her to make some in black so she did and I purchased three of them.

I had to find some beads that would accommodate 8 strands of 1mm leather which was a challenge, but was able to find some in my stash.

I have a hard time using these larger brass clasps that I have and this project was perfect for it.

I'm making another one since this one sold within an hour of listing it on etsy, but in the spirit of making one of a kind pieces, I am modifying the way I do the strap although I am still using alternating square knots.