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· Beading thoughts part 5
· Some recent-ish earrings
· Beading thoughts part 4
· Beading thoughts part 3
· Beading thoughts part 2
· Beading thoughts
· Knotting pearls on silk part 4
· Knotting pearls on silk part 3
· Knotting pearls on silk part 2
· On knotting pearls on silk
· Rambles...
· Rambles...
· Rambles...
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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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Beading thoughts part 5
posted by Colleen Shirazi, December 24, 2009 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

I don't have much time to make jewelry any more...though it can be more interesting that way. It becomes less a matter of mass production, and It doesn't bother me now to spend a few days on a single pair of earrings. I'm not making them to sell, so it's not a matter of recovering my labor cost. It's more the thought: I want to make something useful, something special.

I started doing this September took me easily three years to feel comfortable with the mechanics. By "mechanics" I mean basic techniques like wire wrapping and creating components with wire. You don't want to be competent; you want to be sublime.

Pearl knotting was relatively easy--you just need to pay attention to what you're doing. Don't try doing it while watching tv...just because the knot feels right, doesn't mean it is right. The knotting tweezers I got from Bead Castle in Berkeley made the process easy. I go there--the owner can tell by looking at a pearl strand what thickness of silk to use. From there, you just need to choose bead tips or french wire.

I'd like to do more knotting in fact; there's more to it than keeping beads from rubbing together, or from scattering should the necklace break. It's also a brilliant way to cut the weight of a necklace, and to stretch out your beads.

If I invest more time in what I do now, I produce far less waste. It can be as simple as making smaller headpins...I make them as tiny as possible now...using less wire in a wrap, screwing up less frequently, using base wire to model a piece...choosing smaller gauges of wire in the first place, and being more versatile with the gauges/tempers of wire you have on hand. I have a place now with just pieces of wire on it, all mixed together. If I'm making something, odds are good I already have a piece of wire there and won't have to cut more off the reel.

I'm still not at the level I'd like to be, by any means; that would involve more capital and time than I have now. That doesn't bother me. I had to wait ten years to become a "real" programmer, but I never thought it wouldn't happen.

Ah! It felt good photographing the stuff. It was a rush job with an old camera, at the end of the day, but who cares. I'll try retaking the last picture, because it's beyond pathetic, but doubt I'll have time to do anything fancier.

I'd really just like to photograph where I am at this point--it's kind of fun, actually, to go back and see how bad you were before. I do that sometimes with this blog. :) Okay, I suppose it's more a comparison--you go back and see what you were trying to make before, and couldn't.


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Some recent-ish earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, December 23, 2009 at 6:44 PM (Pacific)

Apologies for the great slab of iffy photography. Particularly the last image...the light was fading, and I had to wonder when I'd be able to photograph earrings again. I pushed the rack backwards to get a better image, but then the burgundy glow of the garnets was lost, so I attached an even more out-of-focus, yet better-illuminated pic.

handmade hammered hoop, golden rutile earrings
Hammered goldfilled hoops / golden rutilated quartz earrings

The hammered hoops were to be a prototype...I had the notion of getting some solid karat gold wire and doing something with that. But these were such a bugger to make, I decided to just leave 'em be. The tiny beads are karat gold in fact but the rest is goldfilled wire.

When you wear them, the little hammered pieces flutter and catch the light.

The golden rutile pair are so simple, yet they look really neat and golden on, what with the sparkle on the figure-8 chains.

handmade peridot, prehnite, tourmaline earrings
Peridot and vermeil / prehnite, peridot, tourmaline earrings

The prehnite pair are your standard Sundance Catalog, bunch o' green stones earrings.

I made the peridot pair quite recently, and wanted to do something different. Everyone makes earrings comprised of peridot briolettes on chains, right? These are really tiny briolettes--you need to use fine-gauge wire which is almost like a hair. I loaded the briolettes on until I got a glob of green light effect--you can't see the chain, but it's a heavy hammered goldfilled chain, which reflects light behind the stones.

handmade london blue topaz, tourmaline earrings on oxidized chain
London Blue topaz / tourmaline earrings on oxidized sterling chain

I need to redo the bottom blue topaz stones. Why was I in love with the idea of using a double loop at the top? It's useful when you need extra strength, but does little here but add more bulk. What's annoying is I made the loops a tad too small; the stones have a tendency to kink when the earrings are worn.

The'd like to redo these using a more delicate version of the same kind of chain.

handmade coin pearl and tiny pearls earrings
Baby coin pearl / tiny pearl earrings on rolo chain

The baby coin pearls are pretty basic; I wear them in summer, with pearl necklaces.

The tiny pearl earrings...I wanted the effect of small white flowers, like cherry blossoms. The pearls, including the rice pearls, were from the defunct Bead Biz of El Cerrito (wah! come back!); the rolo chain from Marvin Tanner. It is a gorgeous chain, but only fine-gauge wire can pass through it, so it's ideal for smaller pieces like these.

handmade moonstone, garnet hoop earrings
Moonstone and labradorite / rhodolite garnet, grey moonstone earrings

Do not go gentle into that good night, though it may be a bit useless to rage against the dying of the light. The moonstone drops in the left-hand pair have blue flash (it's utterly lost here, I'm just saying).

The pair on the right...I wanted to do a series of grey and burgundy earrings. I attempted to oxidize sterling silver wire (see previous two posts) but the darn wire was too good to tarnish--only the niobium earring wires, and tiny sterling beads that were on them, got even remotely fried.

So version 1.1 features a mysterious grey stone...I found two on a strand of otherwise not-particularly-grey stones...a fringe of rhodolite garnets, and a grey moonstone (bottom center).

If I get more time this holiday, I'll post more pics (I have some pendants and necklaces as well as other earrings).

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Beading thoughts part 4
posted by Colleen Shirazi, December 9, 2009 at 9:24 PM (Pacific)

Argh! Those earrings simply refused to tarnish. I took them out of the egg yolk and washed 'em... The frames can darken on their own time as far as I'm concerned; I'm fiddling around with another design. The original was too heavy, anyway.

It's occurred to me that earrings are the haiku of the jewelry world. Typically they entail less material than other jewelry forms; they're deceptively easy. But how many earrings really stand out? How many times do you remark to yourself: What fantastic earrings! ...?

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Beading thoughts part 3
posted by Colleen Shirazi, December 7, 2009 at 7:54 PM (Pacific)

I'm trying to oxidize some sterling silver earrings.

By "trying," I mean it isn't working, quite. Last night, I placed the jewelry inside a ziplock bag, along with the yolk of a hard-boiled egg (smush the yolk some, but don't let it touch the jewelry). Right? By the following morning, the sterling was supposed to be black.

I'm guessing the well-intentioned folks who sold me the sterling wire (it's not argentium, just the regular kind) put an anti-tarnish treatment on it. Isn't it just the thing? when you want it to tarnish, it won't?

When I got home from work today, I noticed a slight golden-brown cast on the sterling. Jeesh! I decided to heck with it, mashed the yolk right into the earrings, and put the whole works--ziplock baggie, melange o' earrings and egg yolk--into the fridge. Let's see how it fares tomorrow.

Anyhow, the earrings were supposed to be a pair in a series of grey and burgundy earrings. I'd intended to combine grey labradorite (slight blue flash, if any) with some beautiful "rhodolite" garnet. The earrings wound up too heavy with the labradorite, unfortunately, so I ditched it in favor of more garnets, but the bright silver just looked old school.

I might end up redoing the earrings altogether...after doing this for some years, I've gotten good, and reasonably fast, with the mechanics...I'm not sure now if they're still too heavy, or if I'll be happy with the frames (the only non-argentium sterling wire at hand was half-hard 20 gauge, and I really prefer soft for this type of work). But I can't ditch anything until I see if I can darken the wire!

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Beading thoughts part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi, December 5, 2009 at 10:32 AM (Pacific)

I miss Bead Biz of El Cerrito. Just wanted to throw that out there. They've been closed for years--the shop is still there, it's just closed--and, it was a small shop, but irreplaceable.

I'm realizing this afresh, whilst searching for these:

muromoto merry chain nose pliers m21 muromoto merry bent nose pliers m22
Muromoto Merry pliers

No one in the U.S. seems to carry these. One etailer stocked two other models o' Merry, but not the green- nor orange-handled pliers.

I'll end up buying something else (it's for a gift), but I am disappointed.

Also, I made a lovely pair of earrings from fine rolo chain and tiny freshwater pearls--from a strand I'd bought from Bead Biz. This was back in the day; I didn't know what to buy...but those tiny pearls are amazing.

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Beading thoughts
posted by Colleen Shirazi, June 14, 2009 at 8:50 PM (Pacific)

Poor blog, I have neglected you.

I haven't stopped making jewelry, by any means. I've had to pace it out...I don't have time to spend anymore, and I suppose it's like anything else. You get picky as to what you want.

My previous post...hehe...I still have my multi-strand knotted piece, and wear it to work. Though if I made one now from scratch, I would do it differently. I would go to the bead show and get four or five strands of pearls, same color but all different sizes. What I had at hand were nice small pearls, so I used 3 strands of those along with a purchased strand of large. Looks good, but four or five strands of graduated sizes would be ideal.

Once you have an idea of the techniques, you realize you don't need to do them literally; you can tailor technique to the particular stone or project at hand. I made what turned out to be a beautiful pendant from a diamond-shaped ruby in zoisite bead from a strand my daughter had for years. She had the idea to make I started out with a prosaic method, making a headpin, adding vermeil bead caps, wrapping the top in a double loop, yadda looked flat, it did not do the stone justice. It was late at night so I "put it aside for the weekend."

Rising early the next morning, I went like a deranged scientist, back to the lab. Usually I don't do that anymore; I don't try to rush making anything. But this I did the bottom of the headpin, and had the stone on it, and wanted to do a herringbone-weave wire around it for a bezel. The classic instruction on doing this is to complete the headpin first and then add the herringbone weave. But, do you really need to do it that way? One mistake I always make with herringbone weave is doing too much of it, ending up with an overwhelming border to the stone.

So I had some soft 20-gauge goldfilled wire and I started doing the herringbone at the bottom. I found it much easier to do this way, because you're not stuck with a fixed space to anchor the herringbone, nor do you have to do a fixed number of iterations of the herringbone wire. You just keep going until it looks right. In this case it was twice.

But for the headpin and bail, 20-gauge wire was too heavy. For whatever odd reason, doing the bezel in 20 gauge and the bail in 22 gauge, appeared more seamless than using the same gauge for both.

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Knotting pearls on silk part 4
posted by Colleen Shirazi, November 2, 2008 at 7:59 PM (Pacific)

Oooh! I'm excited...I just glued the ends of my four strands of knotted pearls. Tomorrow I'm going to get up early and try finishing the piece.

Normally it wouldn't take this long. I found the most difficult parts were getting together the right thicknesses of silk, and figuring out how to knot with doubled thread.

I started out with Griffin silk, with the "built-in needle," but ended up using Gudebrod Champion silk in size D, with separate needles. The built-in needle is handy for straightforward knotting, where you don't need to double the thread, but it's not the most practical if you're doing anything different.

With the Champion silk, I made my own built-in needle...just cut the thread twice as long as you need (it's about a yard or meter for a non-choker-length strand, so cut two yards), thread the needle on, and make a double thread. Knot the two ends together and thread on your clamshell. I put a tiny silver bead between the clamshell and the first knot, hoping that will keep the silk from fraying.

Then you string on a bunch of pearls and start knotting. It's not like the Griffin thread, where you have to string all of the pearls before you begin to knot, but it does go more quickly if you string a bunch, then knot them.

I had to do a slightly larger knot than a regular overhand I just added an extra "turn" on the overhand knot, if that makes any sense. With #0 Griffin silk I had to do more than one extra was a pain. But with Champion size D, just one extra turn did it.

I learned a few things...even if the knot feels right, you have to inspect it before making the next knot. If there's too much slack, you can still fix it by adding in another plain overhand knot and incorporating the slack knot into it...but if you've already knotted the next pearl, you can't do that.

I tried stretching out the silk while I was working with it. In fact I'm wondering now if pre-stretching the entire thread is a thought, the way you'd pre-stretch stretchy cord.

The knots don't actually have to be 100% perfect, I screwed one up and tried fixing it by threading in some extra silk and knotting that. It won't make it 100% perfect (were I doing a single strand, I'd restring the entire thing) but for this multi-strand piece, I was satisfied with it.

Once you have the materials and method, and your tool of choice (tweezers or awl), it goes pretty quickly.

I'm going to try my four strands on this clasp from silver toggle

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Knotting pearls on silk part 3
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 27, 2008 at 9:23 PM (Pacific)

Still working on my first project! I had decided to make it a multi-strand pearl necklace, and haven't had much time to work on it.

The first strand is finished--large freshwater pearls on #4 silk. I haven't glued it, but the clamshell is knotted in place on one end; waiting for the rest of the strands to be knotted before finishing the other end.

The second strand, of small tried doing it on #0 silk, doubled. #4 was too thick and I didn't have anything else on hand. Bleh. I got the strand done, using a larger knot. #0 is so thin, the usual overhand knot is too small. But I don't want to use this technique any more; it's too time-consuming, and uses too much silk (doubled, 2 meters of #0 is just enough to do one standard-length strand of small pearls).

While I was doing this strand, I found you can rescue a knot which comes out a bit too far from the pearl, by adding in another overhand knot, and incorporating the first knot into it. I don't know if this will work with thicker silk (the resulting knot might be too big), but for fine silk, it worked well.

So I need to buy more silk. I'll probably go with I've ordered from them many times; they're quite reasonable, free shipping, no minimum purchase, and most items can be bought by the piece.

Despite all the head-aches of figuring out the right kind of silk and how you wish to finish the ends (clamshells vs. french wire), it's a good skill to learn. Say you wanted a necklace of large round beads. You could string them on softflex, but knotting makes the strand look so much nicer.

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Knotting pearls on silk part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 21, 2008 at 6:56 PM (Pacific)

Argh! Of course by now I've discovered how different are the thicknesses of silk (or rather, how differing the drill-holes are in pearls!). I tried my #4 Griffin silk on some smaller pearls I had on dice, not at all. mumbles...

That's one aspect of making anything jewelry, that is not obvious to people who don't do it. Unless you own the bead store, you're perennially short of at least one item you need to finish the piece, at least until you've been short enough times to own tons of materials. I even tried altering my design to use larger pearls, but they all have these miniscule drill-holes.

It's just as well, since I need to restring another piece; hopefully I can cover both in a single bead-shop visit.

The other piece is more complicated and I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. It's four strands of very small pearls, with the four strands coming together at the top of each end of the piece, joining into a single strand, which is then attached to the clasp. The thread (it looks like cotton) at the tops is exposed and beginning to fray.

I'm thinking if I redid this on silk, and used french wire to cover the exposed parts of the silk, it should work, but still it'll probably take a couple tries before I get it the way I want it.

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On knotting pearls on silk
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 17, 2008 at 10:00 PM (Pacific)

griffin silk cord

I finally got around to trying this. Why did I wait so long?????

It's actually not too difficult, though it is time-consuming (then, everything to do with making jewelry tends to be time-consuming). I got the silk and clamshells yesterday, along with a strand of pearls, at Bead Castle in Berkeley. The owner was very helpful and recommended Griffin #4 silk for those particular pearls.

I did my first knotted strand yesterday. Since I don't own a bead awl, I used a very skinny mandrel from a jump ring set. This worked okay (the mandrel is too skinny to make jump rings with, btw) but you really need either the awl or knotting tweezers, or something very similar. I got the tweezers today. The awl seemed scary sharp, and the tweezers looked handier (if your knot looks as if it isn't going to be placed correctly, you can still get it apart again with the tweezers).

I wasn't 100% happy with my first strand, but I'll have to say it looked pretty decent. Like anything else in jewelry making, you want it to be perfect, so you have to practice some.

So I'm planning to redo my initial strand--started it tonight in fact--and make a four-strand necklace. I want to do something like this (from Blue Oyster Pearls Necklaces Catalog) but simpler, something I can wear to work. I have the one large pearl strand, but I'm planning to use it with three strings of small pearls, rather than use five kinds of pearls.

Having just begun, I can't advise much, but I didn't glue the knot into the clamshell on my first try. I was too chicken. A good thing, since I need to redo the strand!

I can say it's well worth the effort of knotting; stringing beads straight is not the same. The knotted string drapes better and imo looks better too. Plus the more obvious advantages--the nacre of pearls strung without knots (or spacers) is supposed to wear away eventually--and knotting adds some instant length to the strand, meaning you can stretch out your pearls and cut the weight of the necklace.

image courtesy

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 22, 2008 at 9:49 PM (Pacific)

Ah...what have I been doing lately. Not much, nothing new. More testing than development. :D

In that sense though, testing is as important as development. It's less spectacular, but testing is what determines whether something will last.

Here is a tutorial I stumbled upon: ES Designs >> how to make sterling silver hand-forged hoop earrings - tutorial. What intrigued me were not the earrings, but, rather, the methodology. That's how I want to make jewelry. Not in the manner of, bang together this and that.

Many of my pieces turned out to be surprisingly wearable. Some, I've become sentimentally attached to, as markers in time, showing where I was when I made them. Take these for example:

silver and blue apatite hoop earrings

Beyond the appalling photography, there is everything wrong with these earrings. I don't wear large hoop earrings. They're made of regular sterling silver wire; I've long switched to argentium. I didn't know how to close them, so I made up the idea of wrapping the wire onto the top bit of the hoop. Even the top loops are badly formed.

I've since reversed them (yes, I made them identical rather than symmetrical). I don't use that type of stone anymore: low grade blue apatite tumbled nuggets (though the stones are much prettier in real life than in the pic).

But once, on casual Friday, I saw them in the box and decided to show them some love. I put them together with a very casual outfit, and got compliments on them, which rather shocked me.

What I recall when I see them, is how I made them. Blogged on April 30, 2007 as follows:

I would rather have made these with lapis stones, but recall I'm still on my "bead cold turkey," so I used some blue apatite stones instead. Pretty pleased how they came out, would like to try making more hoop earrings.

Bead cold turkey? That brings a smile. I remember trying to "fix" the stones on the hoop by hammering the wire either side. Surely a few good whacks would do it, right? Not so. The beads kept sliding no matter how flat I made the wire. I ended up pressing the tiny silver spacer beads with my chain-nose pliers. (Note to future beaders: buy the seamless spacer beads.)

Eventually I got the thing to work. And so, more than a year later, I had these rather crude-looking earrings on, and they looked--not like something I would wear every day--but quite pretty, nevertheless.

Then there's something like these:

madeira citrine and silver earrings

These are pretty much all wrong too. The obvious factor is a waste of Madeira citrine, a beautiful stone. Each stone has a red glow, like a glass of red wine, inside its clear golden brown. Here, the stones are all heaped together. You get a glimpse of color, but can't really distinguish it.

These, I'd like to redo, but the essential materials and idea must remain the same. Why? Because these were based on a tree full of red-breasted birds my daughter spotted, one dreary grey day. She was very excited. We don't get red-breasted birds around here...and this ain't Virginia, we have no cardinals. (How I miss those bright red cardinals in winter! Everything completely colorless, snow and ice, bare trees and dead grass, but then you spy a lone cardinal in his vivid red coat.)

She had the notion of taking a picture, and I tried to snap it:

tree full of red-breasted birds

It didn't come out well, but imagine five to six times as many birds, all with red and orange chests, on naked grey trees.

So that's the theme and I'm sticking with it! I'll want something better-made though, more delicate-looking.

What's been frustrating is a sheer lack of time and energy. Yet I try to see it positively too. Sometimes you get stuck in a rut, where you feel you need to keep going, you pour a lot of work into it. If you take a break from the rut, you can step back and plan better, and work more slowly, but produce much better work.

Perhaps some of what you did before was a draft. Then other pieces will be too sentimental to you to rework. You shouldn't redo them all. Always keep a piece as is, as a snapshot of where you were when you made it. (However bitterly ashamed you may be of the crudeness of the early work.) Some day you may like to take it out again, and wear it.


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, July 22, 2008 at 6:14 PM (Pacific)

Poor blog... I have made new jewelry, but haven't had time and energy to photograph it. :(

The best piece I've made since...ah...fiddling around crimping a horizontal bar inside a a pair of earrings made of (argentium) sterling chains, small aquamarine faceted drops, and small green amethyst faceted pears.

These use a graduated style, smallest chain on the outside, longest chain on the inside...each chain terminating in an alternating stone. On the very inside I put a chain without a stone. That's really the thing...the stoneless silver chain moves more freely than the "stoned" chains, but it's also the longest, so the entire earring is a sort of study of movement. The inspiration here was replicating falling rain.

I did a filigree necklace, but the design wasn't original, it was based on something I saw on Etsy. I haven't soldered anything yet...the filigree pieces are held together with fine gauge wire.

Humm, what else...I did some goldfilled wire hoops with a horizontal bar across each. To keep the bars steady, I covered the hoop above the bar with fine gauge wire. On the bars, I have a line of graduated wire "fringe"--you make a loop on one end of the wire, hammer out the other end, then file the end smooth and round. I was trying out designs to make in karat gold wire rather than goldfilled. I think this design would be nice that way, but it was way too complicated...mmm...I'd have to come up with a real template before venturing to make it with the spendy stuff. Perhaps I'll make a silver version first and get the exact measurements.

I made a few quick 'n' dirty earrings, on a whim...just select some matching stones and connect them. I did a carnelian pair and a nephrite jade pair. I still have more agate stones to do but haven't done them yet.

I made a four-strand turquoise necklace I'm not sure of yet. It looks nice actually, but I just made it, so will have to wear it more to see if it needs anything.

Ah...I did some post-back earrings, mainly to see how easy or difficult it would be to make them. The design uses a wire spiral to cover the earlobe, and I hung a wire hoop off of that. This is another "dunno yet" design.

I have a necklace of tourmaline faceted hearts my daughter designed...and a pair of earrings using tourmalines from the same strand, hung on oxidized textured sterling chains.

There may be more but nothing comes to did make a simple pendant from a chrysoprase bead carved into a lotus shape, but I'm not happy with it. It's way too simple; I'd like to make a necklace from that bead, hmmm...I have lots of other green stones, so maybe I'll do something with it this weekend.


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 6, 2008 at 2:24 PM (Pacific)

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of using a tiny round bead, instead of a crimp (see previous Rambles...).

What I had on hand were crimp tubes. They actually don't look bad, crimped on a hoop like that, but a tiny round bead would likely look much better.

I've been turning it over in my mind about soldering. Wondering how feasible it would be to solder an earring frame, say, that already had dangles on it. Would it melt the wire on the dangles? For briolettes, I've been using a double loop at the top. It would be more difficult doing such a loop directly on the wire.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 5, 2008 at 8:26 PM (Pacific)

I got to finish some earrings today. Boy, were they a pain to finish! I had this idea of making a round hoop, with a curved bar inside it, like a much simpler version of these: Gokul earrings. Just the bottom hoops with the bar inside, and stuff hanging from the bar and from the bottom edge of the hoop. (Not even the fancy dangles hanging from the bottom, just regular little dangles.)

Thing is, I haven't taken up soldering yet. I don't think it's a big deal, but it does represent cost, both in time and in tools and materials. Soldering will be my second phase of jewelry making; I'm thinking of taking it up next year.

Anyhow...I had no idea how I was going to do the curved bar inside the hoop. I knew it wasn't going to be as simple as these:

madeira citrine earrings

Here, the shape of the hoop keeps the horizontal bar from sliding around. I knew that wasn't going to happen with the round hoops, but figured I'd go ahead, make the hoops and take it from there.

So I made the hoop and to keep this thing from sliding around? These are the versions I ran through:

drawing of hoop versions

In figure 1, I tried wrapping fine-gauge wire tightly around the sides of the hoop, directly under the curved bar. This didn't work, no matter how tightly I did the wrap. If you pushed firmly on the coil of wire, it slid down the side of the hoop.

I then tried wrapping fine-gauge wire above the curved bar, on either side of the hoop (figure 2). This worked, because the bar could not slide, but looked funny, since the wrapped wire covered only the top part of the hoop.

Figure 3 entailed covering the rest of the hoop with the fine-gauge wire. I've seen this done in finished pieces, but it didn't work here. You'd have to finagle the dangles on the bottom of the hoop...I had mine just hanging from the hoop itself. So the only way to do the wrapped wire, would be to use a continuous piece of wire. Anything else, the bottom wrap of wire would slide down...unless you wrapped it right up against the dangles on the bottom of the hoop. In which case, the dangles wouldn't really dangle, they'd just be stuck in a piece.

So I'm thinking, do I really want this entire earring to stand or fall, based on a continuous strand of wire?

Figure 4 was my solution. I didn't use fine-gauge wire at all. As an aside, I rather disliked the fine-gauge wire experience. I've used it to "glue" components together, I don't mind that, but the idea of covering the entire frame with wrapped wire irked me. The wrapped wire added to the weight of the earring, and there wasn't much practical way to use a continuous piece of were stuck patching the wraps together, and ending up with little odds and ends of wire trimmings (I know, if you did this often enough, you wouldn't have much waste).

In the end I just used...crimps. That's right, crimps. I put a crimp under each end of the curved bar. And it worked.

Thinking on it now...another solution could be to use a tiny silver bead under each end of the curved bar. You could then hammer the wire under the tiny bead to keep the bead in place. I've done stuff like that although it's tricky (you really have to hammer the wire to keep even a small bead in place).

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 2, 2008 at 5:37 PM (Pacific)

Hi! Haven't had much time to blog lately...

It's occurred to me...a new earring design usually takes me several days, at least. Sometimes longer. Once I have the design, it takes me several hours to actually fabricate the earrings.

I was thinking of that today...from the beginning, I had wanted to develop several designs and just use those. Part of it is sheer laziness, no doubt, but I believe in modularity anyway in my life. If I find a sweater I like, I'll buy the same sweater in as many different colors as I need, rather than try to find a different sweater. If it works, it works.

So far:

sapphire hoop indian-style earrings

I've already made another of this pattern, using a tiny prehnite faceted onion as the top stone, and three green amethyst faceted pears on the bottom (the pears were too big to use five). I'm thinking of making a garnet pair as well.

madeira citrine hoop earrings

This is good too. I'm planning to make a green pair...going through my clothes today, I realized how much green I wear. Blue is useful too. Thinking on it, I should make a green and a blue pair of every design.

green amethyst and goldfilled chain hoop earrings

This works, but a caveat: I got rid of the emeralds.

This is better for a larger stone...and might look nice with more unusual chains, like a figure-8 or textured chain. Even though I like this flat cable chain.

sapphire and sterling silver hoop earrings

This is an efficient use of tiny stones! I have a gold version, but need to redo it--I tried putting gold beads on the outside of the stones, instead of just using them to space out the stones. That doesn't work, since the gold beads are too light weight, they end sliding up the sides of the hoops. Plus, I think I'll do a simple-loop headpin rather than a wrapped-loop one, for the gold version.

That's it so far! I have other earrings I've made, but those are more one-of-a-kind, I'm not planning on reusing the design.

I'm also thinking of a round hoop, with a curved bar in the hang stones from both the curved bar and the bottom of the hoop.

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