Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sneak Peak at the book I'm working on.

 Here's a sneak peak at the first chapter of the book I'm working on.  No pictures in the preview, but at least some hard facts, haha.

Findings are basically everything in your jewelry that’s not a bead.  They’re not necessarily the pretty parts, but they’re the necessary parts to jewelry making.  They are the small “parts” used to assemble your pieces together.
We’ll start out with metals.  It is very important to know what metal your findings are made of, not only for your own knowledge, but more importantly if you are planning to give your jewelry as gifts, or if you’re planning to sell your wares.  People will ask, since approximately 30% of the population is allergic to nickel, which is found in a lot of jewelry making components. 
Base metal findings can be made mostly of nickel or a brass mixture which can contain nickel.  They’re usually plated with a silver or gold coating that can also contain nickel.
Surgical or Stainless Steel findings are dark grey in color and they can also contain small amounts of nickel.
Sterling Silver is 92.5% solid silver with an approximate 5% (+/-) nickel content.  Although sterling does contain a small amount of nickel, it’s usually not enough to cause a reaction to someone who has a nickel allergy.  In some cases, you will come across someone who cannot wear regular sterling, in which case you could search for NF Sterling, which stands for nickel free.  There are also other silver colored alternatives that you could use such as fine silver (99.9% silver), Bali silver (sometimes a higher silver content than sterling), Thai silver (92.5-99% silver), or white gold findings.
Gold-Filled findings are made by heat and pressure bonding a layer of gold to a brass cone.  It basically becomes a new compound when it is bonded and will not rub off like a plated metal might.
Copper and Brass findings have recently become readily available and very popular.  They are relatively inexpensive and easy to work with because of their malleability.  Some people have certain acids or chemicals in their bodies which react with these metals to create a dark marking on their skin. 

Earring Findings
An earring finding is the “part” that goes into your ear.  They can be decorative, so I won’t say that they’re not a pretty part.  They are what you attach your beads to.  Below are the most popular styles of earring findings.
FRENCH WIRES – the most popular of all of the earring findings, very easy to put in, relatively inexpensive, dangly, discreet, rubber stoppers can be used to prevent the wires from slipping out
LEVERBACKS –the second most popular, very secure because of the clasping back, easy to put in,
BALL STUDS/POSTS –usually for lightweight or short earrings because they can tilt or fall out otherwise, the back part that pushes on is called an “ear nut”, sits up higher in your ear so the dangle hangs shorter
KIDNEY WIRES –usually seen on older jewelry because they’re hard to put in, some really like them because if it’s not easy going in, it’s not going to fall out very easily, made a fashion comeback recently in an oversized form used with a very short dangle or simple bead, relatively inexpensive
EAR THREADERS –usually box or small link chain at the end of a post that is threaded through your ear to desired length, a rubber stopper can be used to secure longer lengths, beads can sometimes be strung directly onto the ear threaders, or just a simple bead or short dangle to be dramatic, can be looped through multiple holes if ears are double pierced
HOOPS –can come pre-made but are very easy to create out of wire, beads are threaded directly onto the hoop, the wire is then bent with chain nose pliers to secure into the loop on the other side
CLIP-ONS –clips on the ear, can be adjusted to relieve the headache or so that you don’t lose them, women who have worn heavy earrings and have holes that sag may prefer these for heavier earrings because they are more comfortable, usually more expensive than other types of earring findings because there is more metal used in making them and a little bit more engineering as well
INTERCHANGEABLES- a subcategory of certain earring findings that allow you to interchange your dangles as you see fit, make great gifts because you can send a couple pairs of earrings with just the investment of one pair of interchangeable, most of them are made so that the dangles are not able to come out when the earrings are put in the ear, usually found as french wires, leverbacks, or kidney wires

A clasp is what attaches one side of your jewelry to the other so that it stays on you.  There are many other types of clasps besides these, but these are the most popular and accessible clasps for beginners.
SPRING RING –usually found on children’s jewelry or inexpensive jewelry, tend to not last long/not made well for heavier jewelry, there is an actual spring on the inside that can hop off track, thin metal that can bend out of place, attaches to chain, a tab closure, or a soldered jump ring (Any time you use a jump ring as a part of a clasp in basic stringing, you need to make sure that it is a soldered ring.)
LOBSTER CLASP –most popular style of clasp, better engineered version of a spring ring, the spring mechanism inside is an arm that rocks back instead of a spring on a track, good in almost any application, also attaches into chain, a tab closure, or a soldered jump ring, great for making your jewelry adjustable if you finish off with chain, you can clasp the lobster into any link to wear your necklaces at different collar lengths or to fit others appropriately if you are selling your jewelry or giving it as gifts
BARREL CLASP – I don’t really recommend using these clasps ever.  One end of the barrel screws into the other and can unscrew very easily, very hard to put on, not easy to work with, swivel around and can get caught in your hair
FISH HOOK  – usually found on pearl strands or lightweight necklaces because they are mostly made of thin metal, very secure for lighter projects, most of them are made using a filigree design which basically means it has cut outs to look fancy, has an extra safety hook to prevent losing your jewelry if it happens to open
BOX CLASP – most often found as a multi-strand clasp because they are so wide (The advantages to using a multi-strand clasp instead of crimping multiple strands down to a single strand clasp are as follows:  Any time there is break in a design, that is where your eyes are going to go to first, so if you’ve worked hours on a beautiful 5 strand bracelet and you crimp down to a dinky lobster, it’s going to look like it doesn’t fit.  Your projects will also lay on your neck or wrist a lot better if the strands aren’t overlapping one another at the ends, and chances are they will wear better as well.  You should always find a clasp that fits well with your design.) , pinch and pull them to unclasp, sometimes are set with stones or are decorated with other things to make them look nice since they make such a statement in your jewelry
MAGNETIC CLASP –good for lightweight projects only, can come in many styles (and strengths!), be sure the wearer doesn’t have an insulin pump or a pace maker, don’t wear next to a watch or while working on electronics for long periods of time, doctors advise pregnant women to stay away from magnetic jewelry, a safety chain (small piece of chain that attaches from one side of the clasp to the other that bridges the gap, yet still allows your hand to fit through) can be added to prevent the wearer from losing jewelry if the magnets come apart
TOGGLE –my personal favorite, the easiest to get on when used on a bracelet (with the exception of a magnet clasp), very secure when a bracelet is sized appropriately to the wearer, good in almost any application, come in many different styles and designs
S-HOOK –strands are finished off on both sides to soldered jump rings that slide into the arms of the s-hook, very secure for necklaces, great for changing necklaces from single-strand to multiple-strands by interchanging the strands, very easy to attach, can easily be made out of wire with a bench block and a chasing hammer
HOOK AND EYE –very secure for necklaces, hook side attaches into a specific eye, a soldered jump ring, or chain to make the project adjustable, hooks can also easily be made out of wire with a bench block and a chasing hammer
BAR CLASP –designed for wide, tight fitting projects because the clasp attaches by sliding in from the sides, spring mechanism on the inside prevents clasp from opening by itself, sometimes available with magnets inside to attract the sides to one another (not necessary for staying secure, just makes it easier to find the hole to put it in), usually always available as a multi-strand clasp

HEADPINS –shaped like an upside down nail, beads are strung onto it to make earring dangles, charms, or pendants
OPEN JUMP RINGS –round or oval rings used to connect parts together that cannot be linked directly together themselves
CRIMP BEADS –small beads that you smash with a crimping tool in order to secure your jeweler’s wire to your clasp (Chances are you’ll only need to worry about size 2x2 crimp tubes, which are the standard crimps anyway.  Crimps are what hold everything together, so even if you’re using lesser expensive findings in other places, this is no place to cheap out.  You want to make sure you’re using good malleable metals such as sterling silver, gold filled, or copper, because base metal or silver plated crimps will crumble as you crimp, or could crack with time.), will turn into a flat hot dog bun shaped bead or a round ball depending on your crimping tool
LARGE HOLE BEADS –small beads with extra large holes (compared to other beads that size) so that you can tuck the jeweler’s wire back into them at the end of your necklace, scales down the necklace to the crimp for a nicer finish than tucking the wire into your last bead, usually 3 or 4mm round balls, but often other beads are used
WIRE PROTECTORS/GUARDS or BULLION WIRE–optional horseshoe shaped tube that protects the jeweler’s wire from an abrasive clasp, covers the wire that shows at the end of the project between the crimp and the clasp
CRIMP BEAD COVERS –metal shells that are closed over a crimp bead that has been crimped using the standard crimper, covers crimp abnormalities, looks like a seamed bead when closed correctly, can also be used to fill in spaces of empty jeweler’s wire left by allowing too much slack before crimping
JEWELER’S WIRE –flexible nylon coated steel wire used to string necklaces and bracelets.  I strongly recommend Soft Flex brand jeweler’s wire in the medium gauge.  Soft Flex is pretty much the only one that does the job right, in my opinion.  It is 49 strands of stainless steel, micro-braided and nylon coated, with a 26 lb. weight test.  You may be thinking, “Why would I ever want to wear a 26 lb. necklace?”   Well, it’s not the weight of the necklace; it’s what could be pulling on the necklace.  You’ll want to use medium for just about everything, unless you can’t fit it through a hole.  In that case, it’s acceptable to use the fine gauge, but you’ll have to use a special crimp or special crimper.  You could also use heavy for super abrasive or heavy beads or for something you’ll be wearing every day that will take a lot of wear and tear.  Not all jewelry is indestructible, but Soft Flex is one of the most durable materials to use.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Free Demo Sunday! Tubular Peyote Bangle!

Tubular Peyote Bangle!

Materials Needed:
25g size 6 seed beads
8lb Fireline
Big Eye Needle
Tape Measure

Measure your folded hand at its widest point.

Thread a length of Fireline that you are comfortable working with onto your needle.  String the seed beads until they measure 1/2 longer than your hand measurement.  Make sure that there are an even number of seed beads.  When it comes to sizing bangles, if you are in doubt, add more seed beads.

Tie the seed beads into a circle using a double square knot.  (Right over left, left over right, twice.)

Take the needle through one bead in the direction that you are planning on working.  

Add one bead to the needle.  Skipping one bead in the circle, take the needle through the next bead.

Add another bead, skip one bead on the circle, and go into the next bead.

The beads you are adding should line up against every other bead in the original circle.

It doesn't really matter to which side the beads are falling when you are completing your first two rows.

Complete the entire circle in this way.

When you have completed the last row, take the needle up to the next row by stepping up and going through the next bead in the row you have just added.

Continue to add a bead into every other spot.  It will get easier to see where you are adding the beads.  They will seem to go into the missing spots.  

Step up to the next row in the same way.  Continue around and finish this row just like before.

 Continue to add until you have 8 rows.  Peyote rows are counted in a zig-zag.  If you have 8 rows, there should be four beads stacked upright next to another stack of four beads that are offset from the first one.  Start to zip up the sides by going through a bead on the edge of one side, then through the next bead on the other side.

Pull tightly as you go through each bead.  You will notice how the ends go together like a zipper and each bead falls into place.

If your peyote stitches are very tight throughout the bracelet, you might need to guide the beads into the right spot to zip up the rest once you get to the end.  You might want to loosen the zipped area about an inch below what you are trying to close.  Guide the beads into the direction they need to go in order for you to close the entire bracelet.

Continue around the entire circle pulling very tightly as you go to ensure that the side you are zipping looks just like the regular peyote stitch you've used to assemble the bracelet so far.

 You will need to reinforce the part that you have just zipped shut.  It may be helpful for you to curve the end of your big eye needle so that you can use it like a hook to enter and exit the beads that you are reinforcing.

  Once you have reinforced the side that you have zipped shut, the peyote stitches should look fairly uniform.  Knot the thread into the bracelet making sure that you are knotting around at least two threads in the stitch.  When in doubt, add another knot. :)  Trim the extra Fireline.

If your measurements were correct, you should have a Tubular Peyote bangle that slides over your hand and fits comfortably on your wrist!

 Thanks for reading!
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Demo Sunday! Bottle Cap Pendants!

Love personalized bottle cap or metal frame jewelry?
Afraid to try it?
Fear no more!
Here is a basic project even the kids could do that will get you started in this fun side of the jewelry world.

Bottle Cap Pendants!

Materials needed:
Bottle caps
Pictures or small objects to put inside
Diamond Glaze
Glue-on bails or magnets
E6000 glue (or E600 if you live in California)

Select a bottle cap that has a nice looking image on the back.

Clean the bottle caps with soap and water and make sure they are completely dry.

Trace around the image you would like to use.  This will just give you a general idea of where to cut.  Your image will actually be cut smaller to fall into the center of the bottle cap.

Trim around the outside of the circle so that it fits just right in the center of the bottle cap.

Remove the seal from the inside of the Diamond Glaze bottle and trim the tip off of the nozzle.

Squirt a small layer of Diamond Glaze into the bottle cap.  This will help the picture adhere to the bottom of the cap so that it does not float up when more is put in.  Make sure that the layer of Diamond Glaze is high enough that it covers all of the little ridges that may be in the bottom of the cap.

Put the picture into the bottom of the bottle cap.  Make sure that the picture is even on all sides by pressing it with your fingers.  Let this completely dry before putting more Diamond Glaze over the top to prevent teh picture from rising to the surface.

Once it has dried, squirt more diamond glaze into the cap until it is almost filled.

Pop all the bubbles with a pen or a needle.  It might be a hard at first, but if you let it solidify slightly, the bubbles will move around less which makes it easier to pop them.

Allow your pendant to dry completely.

Here's another fun project with Diamond Glaze and bottle caps!  Fill the cap COMPLETELY with different sizes and colors of beads!  Make sure that you can't see the bottom of the cap anywhere.  If you're having a hard time positioning the beads so that you can't see the bottom, sprinkle some size 15 seed beads or glitter over the top.

Fill the cap with Diamond Glaze SLOWLY, starting with the outsides first, then SLOWLY fill in the middle.  Make sure that you fill the holes of some of the larger beads.

It can look great if you leave some beads sticking out of the Diamond Glaze.  Just make sure that you have most of the bead coated with just the tips sticking out.

Allow your pendant to dry COMPLETELY, then use E6000 glue to adhere a bail or magnet to the back of the bottle cap.  Make sure you are in a well ventilated area and try not to breathe in the fumes.  Let it dry for at least 24 hours, then enjoy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Free Demo Sunday! Soda Bottle Cuffs!

You can make any or ALL of these awesome cuff bracelets out of this:

Materials List:
Plastic 20oz bottle with a smooth middle section
Sharpie or permanent markers
Sharp Scissors
Ribbon, yarn, or white gauze
White or clear tape
Misc. embellishing objects such as beads to sew on or grommets, studs, eyelets, etc.
ink pads
Microwave (...I know, right?)

Cut the top and bottom off of the soda bottle leaving just the smooth middle section.  An easy way to get started is the pinch one spot together like you're folding paper in half and start the cut.  Insert one blade of the scissors through the hole and cut along the line in the plastic.

Peel off as much of the label as you can.  If you are planning on covering your cuff with ribbon, yarn, or any other material, this part doesn't matter too much.  If you are planning on doing the mock stained glass design, it is pretty important to get almost all of the label off.

 Cut the tube into the widths of your desired cuffs.  Depending on the style of the bottle, you should be able to get at least two cuffs out of the tube.  I cut three, but would have been able to cut four if I would have made them smaller.  

Cut through the cuff to open it and round the edges like shown.  If you have a smaller wrist, you may want to cut a small section out of the cuff to make sure the sides don't overlap on your wrist.  If you are wrapping something around the cuff, make sure you leave it a little longer because the material around the cuff will make it fit a little tighter on your wrist.

If you are wrapping ribbon or yarn around the cuff, start with a little bit of tape and tightly spiral your material around the cuff.  Don't wrap too tight otherwise your cuff will become warped and may not stay curved around your wrist.  Don't wrap all the way to the ends because the loops would slip off of the rounded edge
Knot the tail end of the ribbon securely to the underside of the cuff and then cut the tail end off.

You could leave the ends clear, or color them with a permanent marker that matches your color scheme.  If you color them, pop the whole cuff in the microwave for about 2 minutes (depending on your microwave strength) to set the color into the plastic so it won't wear or scratch off.

If you have another cuff to work with, or if the first option isn't your style, try this easy and fun cuff.  Tape one end of a roll of white gauze to the underside of your cuff.  Wrap longways around the cuff first to make sure the sides get covered, then wrap from top to bottom until the cuff has been covered in several layers.

Use a white fabric tape to secure the other end to the underside of your cuff.  From here, there are a few options.

You could leave your beautiful white cuff as is, if you'd like.  I think it looks like an expensive linen cuff at this stage.  You could also have some fun and embellish it.

Stick some grommets, eyelets, or studs into it.  Sew beads on it.  Glue flat back crystals onto it.  Do whatever you'd like with it!

If you're a scrapbooker, or if you're into stamping, I'm sure you have some ink pads at home.  You could try these fun effects!  Roll the cuff lightly across an ink pad.

 Add another color on top of it for a little more dimension.

Slide some of the gauze layers over for a zebra stripe effect.  (Be careful to not smear color onto the white parts!  It's probably not dry yet!)

...Or... Rough the gauze up a little to get a fun earthy look.  This is my favorite style.  Use your imagination.  There are really no limitations.  These are all household items that don't cost much so don't be afraid to try what you're thinking. 

If you have some different colors of permanent markers around your house, DEFINITELY try this one.  It's the perfect lightweight summer accessory to add a pop of color to your outfit.

Outline the cuff in black.

Draw straight lines across the whole cuff to mimic the look of stained glass.

Starting with one color, fill in a few spaces that are not next to one another.

Color in the other spaces with different colors.  Make sure that you don't have the same colors touching one another.

Crumple a paper towel and put the cuff over it so that the sides don't overlap.  Put it in your microwave for about 2 minutes.  This will set the color into the plastic so that it won't scratch off.   

Depending on your markers, the microwave might also concentrate the colors and make them appear darker!  So there you have it.  A beautiful mock stained glass bracelet!

Thanks for checking out my Free Sunday Demo!  Subscribe and leave a comment telling (or showing) me what you did with your soda bottle cuff!
Check back every Sunday for more awesome tutorials!

While making these cuffs, little Sara became very interested in bracelets.  She especially liked the ribbon yarn used in the first cuff.  She wanted to make a bracelet, too. :)  We decided to make a Dora the Explorer style bracelet with a big flower in the middle.  Here is a picture of Sara with her bracelet.

This cute little kiddy bracelet is easy enough to make for anyone who has worked with wire before.

Just some doubled 18g copper wire wrapped in ribbon yarn to make it pretty and soft.

...and a simple hook & eye clasp, easy enough for a two year old.
She also kind of confiscated the stained glass bracelet from me as well...  Get 'em while they're young. :)