Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Test Drive: Beach Bracelet 2015

New version of my beach bracelets! I wanted to create a sturdy bracelet from hemp that withstands those sandy, salt water days at the beach without stretching out.

 This baby is so tightly woven and firm that I think it is going to pass my road test quite well. 

I am wearing it every day and allowing it to take some ocean spray to see how it holds up.

 These are so much fun to make. The perfect project to take to the beach in my beach bag . . . a ball of hemp, a few beads, a button, glue, and scissors.

Simple stuff always pleases me. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Leather, Metal, and Gemstone Design

Sometimes I get on a roll with a particular design that I just love to make. Such is the case with these earrings. Maybe it's playing with that lovely soft deerskin leather. Maybe it's playing with the leather punch and rivet setter. (I do love tools.)  For sure, the possibilities for design variations is endlessly appealing. I will make these until I run out of materials or get bored, whichever comes first.

Mixed Metal - textured silver hoops, textured and antiqued copper washers, silver rope rings, chocolate deerskin leather, copper beaded earwires 

Mixed metal - silver rings, stamped copper washers, and brass. Big hoops!

Textured copper washers, verdigris patinated stamped copper washers, copper rope ring, turquoise-beaded copper earwires

Textured silver hoops, Peruvian opal coins, glass seed beads

Textured silver hoops, Peruvian opal barrels, glass seed beads

Textured silver hoops, turquoise magnesite rounds, glass seed beads

Textured silver hoops, turquoise magnesite barrels, glass seed beads

Embossed and patinated brass gears, blue lace agate coin bead

What to do with all of those copper washers I textured and patinated? They fit perfectly in this design.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finally, Steel Wire!

After working with copper, brass, and plated metals, I'm trying a new material - dark, annealed steel wire. I've been fascinated with the look of steel write for quite some time. Ace Hardware had 19 gauge wire, but I found it too thick and stiff for wrapping stones neatly. I noticed on their website that 24 gauge was available to order in-store but was told I needed to order 10 packages. I do a lot of wire-wrapping but I certainly do not need 1,000' of wire! Finally, the store manager agreed to work with me, asked what I needed it for, and inquired if I might need more in the future. Of course! Now I have 2 packages of cool steel wire. 

My original reason for wanting this wire was to wire wrap some beautiful bumblebee jasper stones. The stones are a gorgeous combination of black, gray, yellow, and orange. Steel wire would look awesome!  But first I had to experiment with this wire to discover its properties. 

This first experiment was conducted with 19 gauge steel wire, which I looped around the top portion of the blue glass bead and the yellow Indonesian glass bead. For the lower loop and the earwires I use gunmetal headpins.  I was still waiting for the 24 gauge steel wire to arrive.

For this second pair, I used 24 gauge steel wire to wrap around a gorgeous chalcedony briolette, kiwi quartz bead, and pewter bead. I also coiled some of the 24 gauge to add to my handmade plated silver earwires.  

After ending up with black hands, I've learned that the wire must be scrubbed with steel wool and polished to remove the black coating. Easy enough.

I'll finish by treating the wire with some Rennaisance Wax to prevent rusting, which is likely to happen in this climate. Fun experiment! Now, I think I am ready to wrap those bumblebee jasper stones.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Jewelry Storage Find!

Quality Control

Yesterday's antiquing trip proved quite productive. Found this great three-drawer wooden tool chest. 

Inspectors Jaspurr and Missy are making sure that the new addition to their household meets standards. Make no mistake; this is THEIR house. Checking the outside panels, sniffing each felt-lined drawer, and finally giving a nod and walking away, it seems that the inspectors have deemed this lovely tool chest worthy of living in their home. 

What a great jewelry storage piece. So thrilled with this find!

Recycled: Eye Shields

You just have to laugh sometimes. After having recent cataract surgery on both eyes (not laughable), I was left with a couple of eye shields for post-surgery recuperation. On the morning after the last night I was required to wear them, they were sitting on my nightstand, and looking at them, I actually chuckled. Metal! I could use that.

The next moment I was pulling out tools - metal shears, disc cutter, dapping block, files, and pliers. With precut holes, cutting discs out of the shields was obvious, but wait . . . what about those little teeth around the edges? Little charms! Kinda plain. Emboss them!

The first pair of earrings were so easy, based on a design I often use.  I polished the metal disc, domed it, and added some pretty blue beads. These earrings were a gift for my opthamologist who restored my vision. My world is now shiny and new, tinted a soft blue rather than the ugly yellow I hadn't realized had dominated my outlook.

The little triangle-shaped charms took the marine-colored patina nicely. Again, blue seemed appropriate. These earrings went to Rachel, the surgeon's assistant, who always complimented me on the jewelry I wore to her office.


With one more pair of domed discs remaining, I chose to patinate them in marine blue and accent them with antiqued brass and aged picasso Czech glass beads. I will keep these earrings to remind me of the miraculous gift I have received. My antiqued, yellowed vision no longer dulls my world, and I will not take this miracle for granted. 

I decided to add another antiqued element to my earrings. They look funkier. Just the way I like 'em.

All of these earrings practically made themselves, all in one morning. I just love those moments of almost-divine inspiration. So satisfying. 

Just as I was about to publish this post, the mail arrived. Inside a bubble mailer, I discovered this. :)

Update: Today I spent 4 hours cutting out triangle pieces from eye shields, filing, embossing, painting, and sanding them. Can't believe where the time went! Lots of new charms to use.