Tuesday 29 June 2010

Winchester countdown

There's no Tutorial Tuesday this week as I'm rushing about teaching, preparing for the stone setting workshop on Saturday and making some new pieces for the Winchester Handm@de show this coming Sunday (4th July). I may regret organising a workshop on the same weekend as a show, but hopefully not!

So, for the rest of the week I'm going to show you what pretties I've made and also show you a few of the other exhibitors who will be in Winchester. I am really looking forward to the show. It's the second one organised. The last one was at the same time last year, and it had such a wonderful, warm and welcoming atmosphere. Unlike some other shows, every single stall there was stocked with wonderful handcrafted goods made by the people standing behond the tables - no bulk bought cheap jewellery imported from China, no mass produced tat, just beautifully handcrafted goods, most of which were unique pieces. I think that one reason that the show had sucha great atmosphere was that although most of the stall holders hadn't met each other before, we all felt as if we knew quite a few people as we'd read each others blogs or chatted on forums.

The crafts on show this year include ceramics, clothing, pottery, paintings and textiles as well as, of course, beautiful jewellery! One of the stalls that I'm looking forward to visiting is Turned Light. Kathryn Ward creates beautiful lampwork beads like the seaside one below. She uses some of the beads to make jewellery but she also sells her beads to provide temptation to people like me!
I've been working hard over the last few weeks to create new pieces for Sunday. This one is Peacock - a beautiful faceted labradorite teardrop in a rubover setting with balls of silver decorating the top. It took me a while to carefully plan out where to put the silver balls so that they would look fairly random but still create a balanced piece! The labradorite is set in a seat cut into the silver so that the back of the pendant is open to allow as much light through as possible. The stone has beautiful flashes of electric blue in it - and it took about 25 photos to be able to capture them!

Sunday 27 June 2010

Bead Soup Reveal - at last!

It is a relief to be able to finally post my bead soup piece! I actually finished it on Thursday and I really should have written a post about it then and scheduled it to be published on Saturday, as today is the first day since Thursday that I have had reliable internet access. I tried posting this pictures six times on Saturday before giving up - it was that or throw the laptop through the window! All the usual technical fixes (e.g. turning the router off, leaving it for ten minutes and then turning it back on again) failed to work - until I threatened it with a large hammer this afternoon. Is it pure coincidence that it started working again less than an hour later? I don't think so!!

Anyway, a quick reminder - this is what Malin sent me as the ingredients for my bead soup. I have to admit to being a bit stumped when they arrived as, well, yellow is not exactly my favourite colour, or one that I find at all easy to use. But then again, this was supposed to be a challenge! My eyes kept being drawn to the light bluey-grey around the centre of the ceramic pendant, and reminded me off some beautiful aquamarine beads that I'd bought in Barcelona a few years ago. I'd liked the variation in colour in them so much that I'd bought 4 strands of beads, each of a different shape! I decided to make a necklace with the pendant at the centre, and also decided that, as an added challenge, I'd make is assymetrical - something I find hard to do! Add some of my hand-made chain, some oval hammered links and cocoa brown firepolished glass beads and this is what my soup looks like!

The bail on the pendant had me puzzled for a little while as I knew I wanted it to be more that a wrapped loop but I couldn't solder anywhere near the ceramic. I've threaded a couple of the glass beads onto the wire before finishing off the wrapped loop. I haven't used the clasp that Malin sent me yet as I preferred the look of silver with this necklace and my skin has decided to react badly to anything metal that isn't silver or gold in this heat - I can't wear my watch either! I made a toggle to match the hammered oval links and it can fit through any one of the last few links in the chain so that the length of the necklace can be altered slightly. The other beads that Malin sent are half-made into a beach-inspired lariat. I haven't had time to finish it yet, but I'll show you pictures when it's done!

Anyway - I hope that you like it, especially you Malin!

The other bead soupers on the last day of the party are:

85. Melissa, One-Eared Pig Beads 
86. Rebecca, 2SistersBeadwork 
88. Denise, Bling on the Blog 
89. Doris, Glaszwerg 
91. Jo, Daisychain Designs (me - just in case you hadn't realised!)
93. Kristie, Artisan Clay 
94. Jess, Vintaj 
95. Suzann, Beadphoria 
97. Michelle, bMichelle
and those from Thursday and Friday (the other days I missed!) were:
60. Carol, Carol Bradley Designs
61. Wanda, A Frayed of Fibers
62. Diana, Vintage Blue Studio
63. Marieke, Marieke's Blog
64. KJ, Silver Parrot
65. Maire, Maire Dodd
66. Shannon, Miss Fickle Media
67. Dana, Dana's Jewelry Designs
68. Charlene, The Bead Dreamer
69. Elisabeth, Beads for Busy Gals
70. Cathryn, Chile Cats
71. Missy, Melissa Rappaport
72. Cindy, Cindy Dolezal Designs
73. Valerie, Hot Art
74. Courtney, Beads by Breul
75. Johanna, Fire Phoenix Creations
76. Shea, gr8findings
77. Julie, Pryce Designs
78. Jeannie, Jeannie's Blog
79. Patricia, Verre Design
80. Christa, Adventures of One Beady Woman
81. Heather, My Muse
82. Susan, Night Beader at Large
83. Sonja, Drachenei
84. Jennifer, Glass Addictions by Jennifer 
Thank you to Lori for all your hard work organising the party! It's been lots of fun, and fantastic to see all the wonderful designs eeryone has created. 
I'm off the visit the blogs I haven't looked at yet! 

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Bead Soup Party Day 5

Today is the day for my Bead Soup partner to reveal what she's made - are you ready?

This is what I sent here - she's made three pieces from her soup so far, and another couple are in the pipeline too - she has been busy! I've only made one piece so far from the soup she sent me so I'd better get a move on!

And this is one of the pieces Malin's made - she's called it "Lisa" as the ceramic pendant I sent her was made by Lisa Stevens. I love how she's made the bail for the pendant! I never would have thought of making one like that, but it works perfectly. The other pieces she's made are another necklace (this time called "Joanne"!) and a bracelet using some of the green beads I sent her. Please go and visit her blog to see more!

The other party bloggers today are:

48. Nan, Spirit Rattles
49. Amy, Copper Diem
50. Malin, Beading by Malin de Koning - my partner!
51. Anne, Gardanne Glass Lampwork
52. Alice, Alice's Beads and Baubles
53. Barbara, Second Surf
54. Amanda, Articulations
55. Heather, Humble Beads
56. Melissa, Melissa Meman, Art, Life, Love
57. Kate, Organic Odysseys
58. Patti, PJ Clark Designs
59. Stefanie, Stefanie's Sammelsurium

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Bead Soup Party Days 3 & 4

I didn't get a chance to post about the Bead Soup Party yesterday as I was in college for most of the day (I was in for most of this afternoon as well, but more about that tomorrow!), so you've got a bumper issue today! There have been some really beautiful designs so far - but then again, what do you expect when so many talented designers get together?! One of my favourites from Sunday (Day 2) is the pieces above from Marie at Skye Jewels. I just love those big hollow fresh green lampwork beads! If you have a look at Marie's blog you'll be able to see more photos of the bracelet showing the pretty little flower beads next to the clasp.

The day 3 party-goers are:

27. Lisa, Alterity 
29. Melanie, Kookie Designs 
30. Christine, A Hot Piece of Glass 
32. Laurel, Rue's Daftique 
33. Sandi, Do Be Do Bead Do 
34. Nicki, Nicki's Reef 
35. Virginie, ViviBijoux 
36. Janeen, Wild Vanilla

One of the pieces that really caught my eye from Day 3 was the necklace above - "Reach" by Christine at  A Hot Piece of Glass .I would have been really stumped if I'd been sent that enamelled frog, as lovely as it is, and I love how Christine has wired it to a branch. Go and visit her blog to find out more about how she made the necklace and her ideas behind it!

And the day 4 party-goers are:

37. Filomena, Pink Velvet Bird 
38. Lyn, Lyn Foley 
39. Tari, Pearl and Pebble 
40. Rebecca, Song Beads 
41. Regina, Regina's Writings 
42. Nancy, The Rabbit Muse 
43. Whitney, Whitney Lassini 
44. Maria, Garden Path Beads 
45. Michelle, Life in the Bead Lane 
46. Ann, My Critical Eye 
Please do go and look at the wonderful work people have created - I know they will appreciate it!

Tutorial Tuesday - Art Clay Textured Heart bead

One of the things I like best about writing the Spotlight review pages for Beads and Beyond is writing the review of the blog of the month, as it gives me the perfect excuse for spending time finding great new blogs to read! Joy Funnell's blog, Fired with Imagination, is a perfect example, and as she posted a great tutorial on using silver clay paste and cork clay (something I've been intrigued by but never sure how to use) to make the beautiful heart bead shown above I thought I'd make it this week's tutorial. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be, especially with Joy breaking it down into easy to follow steps with photos!

You can find the tutorial here, and if you want to find out more about Joy's work and her teaching go and read her blog, and also buy the August issue of Beads and Beyond in a couple of weeks!

Sunday 20 June 2010

Bead Soup Party Day 2

Just a quick post as I've just popped on here for ten minutes while I'm at my parents still to give you the list of the Bead Soup Party blogs for today. If you're able to visit any of them I know they will appreciate it! By the way, Malin (my Bead Soup partner) will post her party piece on Wednesday and I'll be posting mine on the last day, next Saturday.

14. Jen, Jen Judd Rocks 
16. Emanda, Artemisia Studio 
17. Marie, Skye Jewels 
18. Loretta, Designs By Loretta 
19. Stacy, Sissy and Jack's 
20. Joanna, Filcowe 
21. Diane, Diane Hawkey 
22. Marianna, Pretty Shiny Things 
23. Anna, The Laughing Raven 
24. Marcie, La Bella Joya 
25. Lois, Que Onda Q'town? 

Saturday 19 June 2010

Party Time again!

The Bead Soup party has started again!

This time there are so many of us taking part that Lori has decided, very wisely, to spread the party out over the next week. I remember that last party time I spent all my free time (and a fair bit of time I was supposed to be working!) visiting all the party blogs, so this time things will be a bit more relaxed. Today's party blogs are:

1. Lori, Pretty Things
2. Lorelei, Lorelei1141
5. Katie, KatieBead
6. Kimberly, Bahama Dawn
7. Debbie, Prairie Emporium
8. Lisa, Joolz by Lisa
10. Janet, Singing Woods
11. Julianna, Juls Beads
12. Erin, Treasures Found
I haven't had a chance to have a look at all of them yet as I've been teaching today but I love Lori's necklace show above - look at all those juicy beads! In her own words, Lori has use "orange carnelian, blue iolite, and yellow citrine, a ton of 26 gauge wire, and started wrapping tiny 3mm and 4mm gemstones around an 18 gauge base" together with an amazingly detailed focal lampwork bead by  Jennifer Cameron
Right then, I'm off to catch a train over to my parents for Fathers Day and Dad's birthday tomorrow. My boys are already over there as they drove over to spend the day with friends. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - hints and tips for sawing metal sheet

As the project I've got in Beads and Beyond this month is all about sawing daisies from copper sheet, I thought that I'd share with you the hints and tips I give my college and private tuition students.
The main tools I use for sawing and piercing(piercing is sawing inside a piece of metal).
Hammer and sharp tipped steel rod for marking where I want to drill a pilot hole for pierced work.
Bench peg that clamps to my bench to support my work - I like this type as I can move it out of the way when I don't need it.
Two different types of saw frames with saw blades
Saw frames
There are two different types of jeweller's saw frames - adjustable and fixed. The blue one in the picture above is an adjustable saw frame with three wing nuts - two that hold the blade and one that adjusts the length of the frame.

To put a blade in an adjustable frame:
  1. Open top nut of saw frame and put in one end of the blade with teeth of blade facing towards you and pointing towards the handle of the saw. Tighten the nut. 
  2. Loosen the nut at the side of the frame and adjust the frame so that it is a centimetre or so shorter than the blade. 
  3. Loosen the bottom nut, insert the blade end and tighten the nut.
  4. Lengthen the frame so that the blade is taut and tighten the nut. When you ‘pluck’ the blade it should make a nice sharp ‘ping’.
The wooden handled saw in the photo has a fixed saw frame, in other words, you can't adjust the length of the frame.
To put a blade in an adjustable frame:
  1. Hold the front end of the frame in the V of the bench peg so that it doesn’t slip and support the handle against your chest. 
  2. Open top nut of saw frame and put in one end of the blade with teeth of blade facing towards you and pointing towards the handle of the saw. Tighten the nut.
  3. Put the frame under tension by pushing on it with your chesor your hand. 
  4. Loosen the bottom nut, insert the blade end and tighten the nut. 
  5. Take the tension off the frame so that the blade is taut. When you ‘pluck’ the blade it should make a nice sharp ‘ping’.

·         Posture is really important when you are sawing metal. If you sit properly then you will actually have more control over the blade and find the job easier to do, and it's a good idea to sit properly anyway, especially as you will find yourself sitting still for a long time cutting out complex designs!
  •       Saw at eye level – it makes it easier to see what you are doing, helps to keep your back straight to reduce back ache and helps to prevent excessive pressure on your wrist. Most jeweller’s benches are taller than normal tables, or you can use an adjustable chair. 
  •       Keep your feet apart and knees over your feet – this helps to keep you stable and more comfortable and so helps to prevent ‘wobbles’when you're cutting!
 With practice you will be able to cut so accurately that you can pierce a shape from metal and use both the negative and positive pieces in your work, as I've done with the daisy above.
 Other tips 
  •       Keep the blade upright – holding the blade at an angle will make it more difficult to turn corners.
  •       Hold the saw lightly – too tight a grip will make the blade jam and cause blades to break
  •       Use as much of the blade as possible – short strokes will jam the blade and cause the blade to wear out unevenly.
  •       To remove the blade from your work – saw backwards!
  •            If your blade gets stuck – try lifting up the whole piece of metal by the saw. This usually loosens the blade.
  •       To cut (pierce) inside metal – drill a pilot hole and thread the blade through it before tightening it in the frame.
  •       Always turn the metal not your blade – this helps to make your cutting more accurate.
  •       To turn a sharp corner – ‘saw’ up and down on the spot with slight pressure backwards, slowly turning the blade/metal as you do so. 
  •       Always buy the best quality blades that you can - it will save you hours of filing to clean up your work afterwards.
  •       Always use the correct blade for your work – you should ideally have two or three points of the blade to the thickness of what you are cutting. Too thick a blade will catch in your work, too thin a blade will take ages to cut and wear out very quickly. The blade that I use most often is graded as 2/0

Monday 14 June 2010

There's nothing quite like

a new diary to help me feel more organised and ready to tackle the world. I don't know why new stationery should make such a difference, but it does! I know that it might seem like a strange time of year to buy a new diary, but although I left school teaching four years ago I still haven't broken the habit of using academic diaries, so yesterday after church B and I paid a visit to Paperchase as I love their design with a whole page next to the weekly layout ready for my to-do lists. Sad? Probably. Feeling organised and ready to tick off those 'to-dos'? Definitely!

I've been ticking a lot of 'to-dos' off my lists over the last week or so, which is why I've been awol.
I have:
  • finished a magazine project and drafted two more
  • almost finished painting the garden fence (the fiddly bits partly hidden by the decking railing were not easy to get to)
  • finished the wording for a new  masterclass for Beads and Beyond (need to finish the photos tomorrow)
  • finished a couple of new designs (need to edit the photos tomorrow to put on here and the website)
  • made two Daisy cuffs, a Leaf cuff and lots of bangles for orders
  • nearly finished weeding the front garden
  • planted more potatoes
  • nearly finished my college marking - T is looking forward to getting the dining room table, as my students portfolios are hiding it at the moment!
There's more boxes of marking under the table! Help!!

I've also been making lots of these
as the July issue of Beads and Beyond included a project that I'd written using daisies cut from copper sheet. I decided to offer the daisies on the website for people who didn't have the time or equipment to make their own, and the orders have kept me busy. I need to visit my friendly local motorbike-mad metal merchants tomorrow to buy some more copper sheet. If you are local to Southampton and need any sheet of any metal that isn't silver, then do go and visit the Metal Mart - any woman (and some men!) who walks in there nowadays is greeted with "do you make jewellery?" and I've sent so many students down there for copper sheet for practicing their sawing techniques that they now keep small amounts pre-cut behind the counter! If you'd like me to make some copper daisies for you, then you can find all the information you need here.

This month's Beads and Beyond also included the first of four articles that I'm writing for the magazine on the legal issues of making and selling jewellery. This one is on hallmarking, something that it is easy to forget about when you first start to sell your jewellery! By law, all jewellery sold in the UK that contains 7.78g or more of silver or 1g or more of gold must be hallmarked, whether or not all the metal in a piece is actually soldered together. It's easy to see hallmarking as being an extra, unwanted business cost but to me it's something that is more than a legal requirement, it's a guarantee to my customers that my work is what I say it is, and it's a way of taking pride in my work. The article next month is on insurance for your jewellery business.

My hallmark - my maker's mark, the modern sterling silver mark, the traditional sterling mark, the Leopard's Head showing that my work is marked at Goldsmiths' Hall in London, and the date stamp.
To see more of what's in this month's Beads and Beyond, and Cindy Wimmer's gorgeous stamped jewellery on the front cover visit the magazine's website here.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - soldered earwires

One of my jobs today was to make some new earrings for Between Dreams in Botley. One of the new designs I wanted to try out uses earwires soldered onto the main part of the earrings, so I thought I make that this week's tutorial. Earwires that are one piece with the rest of the earring aren't exactly new, and I expect that lots of people have their own method of soldering them in place, but I thought I'd show you my way anyway!

These are the earrings waiting for their earwires - long thin ovals of silver textured with my favourite hammer (of course!)

And these are the earwires. I've cut two lengths of 6cm 0.8mm wire and used a chasing hammer to flatten approximately Xmm at one end. This increases the surface area of the section to be soldered onto the back of the earring, making the soldered join stronger.

I tend to use solder paste for this job. As there's only one soldered join on these earrings I've used easy solder paste. I've put a little bit of solder on the hammered section of the earwire.....

and then I heat the wire so that the solder melts onto the silver. I stop before the solder melts completely and flows across the whole of the wire - I just want to make sure that it stays in one place and doesn't smear across the back of the earring during the next stage.

And the next stage is soldering the two pieces together. Remember that the main part of the earring needs more heating than the wire, so direct the heat onto that first, and then include the wire. I hold the wire in place using insulated reverse action tweezers, and have to remember to heat the tip of the tweezers too as they draw heat away from the silver. Once the solder has flowed between the two pieces remove the heat, but keep the earring itself still until the liquid appearance has gone. If you move the earring too quickly you could pull the two pieces apart. You do need a steady hand for this part of the job, and you will probably find it easier if you rest the hand holding the tweezers on the table beside your soldering area. Practise makes this stage a lot easier, promise!

Once the earrings have been pickled and rinsed,

the next job is to bend the earwires over a mandrel to shape them....

and then flick out the end of the earwires - this gives them a more professional 'finished' look, and also makes them easier to put on.

Remember to use a needle file or burr cup to round the ends of the wires so that they are comfortable to push through your ears.

And finally give them a polish! I decided to use nylon jaw pliers to curve the ovals slightly. Now I just need to think of a name for my new design!

The Bead Soup ingredients are here!

Well, they've actually been here a few days, but (apologies to Malin) I've been in a bit of a strange mood, a funk my friend Nicky would call it, over the last week or so. No particular reason for it, I guess it's just because I'm tired. It's been a busy year, what with teaching two evenings a week, lots of private tuition during the day, lots of orders and magazine writing. Oh, and looking after my boys and generally running the household. My evening classes finished for the year a few weeks ago, and I think my brain has just told me that now that they're done I need a break! So, no work was done this weekend. We had a true Bank Holiday weekend with friends over for lunch, afternoons playing with trains and lego (of course), trips to the park, gardening and treating ourselves to lunch out. I didn't even open the workshed doors or log onto the internet once over the whole three days, which is very unusual for me! I think it's done me good though.

Anyway, the Soup ingredients! I deliberately didn't visit Malin's blog before her parcel arrived as I knew she'd posted some pictures of the pretties she was sending me. I couldn't help laughing when I opened the different packets up, as despite the fact that we'd agreed to make everything a surprise and not discussing colours or anything like that we'd made up parcels of virtually the same colours!

She's sent me a beautiful pendant by Tracee Dock of Classic Bead, a designer I hadn't come across before. The amongst the "supporting" beads are Job's Tears, raw Baltic amber, wooden tubes and brass rings. A beautiful mix of colours and textures!

And this is what I sent Malin.......

I sent her a ceramic pendant too! It's by Lisa Stevens of  seaurchin as it was clear from Malin's blog that she loves Lisa's work. There's also hammered copper rings and a matching toggle clasp (I made those), some vintage buttons and some glass beads to add a bit more colour.

We've got a couple of weeks to come up with some designs. I think I fancy a long summery necklace, but I expect I'll change my mind a few times before the day of the party!


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