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·· Notes on wrapping
·· More notes...
·· My next project
·· Looking back...
·· Progress to date...
·· Here is a really nice site...
·· How are tricks?

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Beading Blog - April 2006

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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Notes on wrapping
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 25, 2006 at 11:19 PM (Pacific)

I'm practicing wrapping now. I think I've gotten the rest of it down...making a basic beading wire necklace and bracelet...which is not as simple as it sounds. It's easy to do it badly or so-so, not so easy to make it perfect. You have to settle on which kind of wire to use, which clasp, get the slack right...

I use wire in the 19 strand range. The 49 strand imo is slightly better, but not worth the cost. I've settled on a particular clasp (it's a toggle that my local bead shop carries in silver and gold finishes) which looks beautiful, stays put and feels comfortable on.

Crimps aren't that big a deal...just get crimps. I don't use the super tiny ones or super big ones. Even though you're supposed to be able to use crimps on 1.0 mm Stretch Magic, I haven't found any practical use for doing that...I use crimps only on beading wire.

Wire pieces don't seem to require that much slack...just a notch. Particularly bracelets, where too much slack shows more.

I'm happy with my stretchy pieces too. Stretch Magic works fine...the 1.0 mm kind is best for larger/heavier beads (it's thicker and less stretchy). 0.7 mm or 0.5 mm are better for most applications.

For stretch pieces you need only put a bead in the back with a drillhole large enough to put the knot inside. It need not be a fancy bead. I use three knots...a square knot followed by two overhand knots (the last knot is not necessary; two would do). Once you're done knotting, cover the knot with glue and put it inside the bead in the back. Let dry overnight.

Which leaves a few techniques...wrapping, knotting, soldering...there is also stitching (not sure exactly what it's called) where you get a needle and thread and do different stitches.

Along with wrapping, I'm doing some minor fabrication. Part of it is necessary. I made a wrapped piece--straightforward enough, each bead "unit" is connected by wrapped loops--and I wanted to put a sort of pendant in the front. Using a readymade jump ring clashed with the rest of the wire, so I had to make a jump ring out of the same wire I used for the wrapped loops. Then, in the back, I decided to fabricate a clasp rather than use a readymade one. It looks nicer...all the same's also more economical than buying a clasp.

From this point on, I've decided to use more fabricated clasps. For bracelets I still prefer the readymade, decorative ones, but for necklaces...why not?

Wrapping, for me anyway, is hard. It started out next to impossible for me to do...I had to figure out which gauge of wire to use (some wires are impossible to wrap because they're horribly thick and hard)...then got easier and easier.

I decided I needed practice, so I started an all-wrapped project. I figured, if it turned out horribly, so what? It's practice. And if it turned out great, then bonus!

It turned out pretty great actually. I gave myself one week as the target to finish it. I was planning on doing three wrapped-loop pieces per day (basically two separate wrapped-loop pieces, then connecting them with a third). And I finished the piece in three days and was pretty darned pleased with it.

It's modeled on a rosary, sort of. I like rosaries. It doesn't have a cross, just the basic structure of a loop ending in a short piece.

I've gotten a new pair of round-nosed pliers (much better than the el cheapo pair I got at Michaels) and am now contemplating getting a new pair of chain-nosed pliers. I've been using two pairs of pliers that I already owned. Somehow I think a pair with a narrower nose would work better at finishing the wraps; I still find that part difficult (getting the nose of the pliers on the wrap without cracking the bead!).

Oh well thanks for reading! I hope to get some pictures up soon.
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More notes...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 20, 2006 at 9:57 PM (Pacific)

I made another piece today...actually two. It's funny but it's as if you reach a point where instead of making horrible, piece-ruining mistakes, you suddenly make either perfect pieces, or else the mistakes you make are easy to fix, or else the mistakes are insignificant, interesting even.

This cuts tremendously on the amount of stress...because in the beginning, I found it all foreign and difficult. I'm not a real "crafts" type of person; I never had the skill. I can sew competently in terms of mending things--that's it. I can't knit. I probably could knit now if I tried it but before, the stitches were either too tight or too loose.

I should say that doing crafts develops a different part of your brain. It's actually a tiny bit similar to terms of having to learn how to do it...but with the dexterity aspect.

My new is a smaller copy of a piece I did the other day, it's a fairly chunky rose quartz stretch bracelet interspersed with glass beads--a pair of rose lampwork beads, what appear to be lampwork clear glass beads with pink roses/green leaves, and some pink lustre beads. What makes it nice is the specialness of all of the beads.

The second piece was made to match the "aventurine," freshwater pearl, gold bead bracelet I already made. Aha! I knew it wasn't aventurine. Aventurine looks a bit like jade...what I have is moss agate, to the best of my knowledge.

When I was doing the second piece, at first I tried a random selection of the moss agate beads. But the problem is that there is too much variation in the colors (from deep almost dark green, green swirled with white or clear, to white swirled with green), for a truly random pattern to work out over a longer length (this was not noticeable for the bracelet length).

I went back and redid the piece with a pattern of light and dark...I definitely did not want to match the beads in a symmetrical design. I just wanted the overall effect to be balanced.

I'm really pleased with this set. I'm going to make a bracelet to match my turquoise necklace next...I dismantled the oval turquoise necklace I made before. Granted, it was at the time one of my best pieces but now I found it too simple.
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My next project
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 18, 2006 at 5:08 PM (Pacific)

...involves a battered carved brass heart pendant. My daughter insists I do something with it (she won't admit it's squashed). And it's still quite pretty. I don't care if it's squashed.

This was literally a "find" since my daughter found it in a field. lol

I'm wearing my new pearl and aventurine bracelet with my old pearl, aventurine and cloisonne earrings. Of my earlier pieces, these earrings still stand the test of time.

Here is the pic; they're the pair on the right.

I have enough aventurine left over to make a small necklace although it will have to consist of wrapped links (I don't have that much aventurine left). So I'm thinking of doing something like a wrapped-link necklace of pearls and aventurine, with the squashed brass heart in the center.


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Looking back...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 4:14 PM (Pacific)

Heh heh! When I look back on most of my old work, I don't like it anymore. It's's all in the fine details. It's all in deciding exactly which components you really like (because you end up using largely the same components over and over again, once you find them).

It doesn't bother me to go back and redo a piece.
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Progress to date...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 3:57 PM (Pacific)

I did four pieces necklace and three bracelets.

It's still a little bit difficult for me, but not nearly as difficult as it was when I started. At one point it does become fairly routine...a matter more of matching the material to the project, than of technical skill.

The necklace was an old design that I'd intended to redo for months. It's large rose quartz beads, small round clear pink glass beads, and this stone...I have no idea what it's an intense fuchsia, carved stone bead that's top-drilled.

Anyhow I already had the design. Even though I'd intended to use beading wire, that doesn't work because the wire shows through anything as translucent as rose quartz, and looks ugly.

So it's a choice between regular string and transparent stretch cord. I decided to go with the stretch cord. The string would make sense if what you wanted was a knotted strand. combination of three knots plus glue on stretch cord, really should hold.

The bracelets are rose quartz combined with glass beads of various sorts. Same thing--stretch cord, finished with knots and glue.

Finally, I started playing with some small freshwater pearls and aventurine(?). I think that's what it is. First I made a straightforward strand, the pearls alternating with the aventurine, with little 14KT gold plated beads in between, and a toggle clasp.

But this looked really boring, albeit competent, when I was finished with it. Anyone could come up with this. So I dismantled it and tried something different...I made two wrapped-loop links (using a pearl flanked by gold beads) and used those to link either side of the toggle clasp. The rest of the piece is that straightforward pearl-aventurine-gold-bead strand, connected to the wrapped-loop links.
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Here is a really nice site...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 17, 2006 at 4:07 PM (Pacific)

The Kat's Pajamas Beaded Jewelry

This is one of the styles I like, although I don't aspire to copy it. The sole reason is that I feel strongly that handmade jewelry should be just that; it should be created "by hand" in the design as well as the physical sense. Duplicating someone else's work...the soul of the jewelry would be lost. I just happened to like the stuff on this site. :)

Today is a no-camera day but I promise I'll take some pics soon of my new pendants. It's so much easier now to do this stuff. I started when, last August or September? My work has changed a lot since then.'s...smaller. It's less chunky, more delicate than before. And there are odd details that define the pieces. I'm always thinking, would I buy this piece if I saw it in a shop? And then I want to make something that could never be found in a shop.
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How are tricks?
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 15, 2006 at 2:54 PM (Pacific)

It's been a while...I've been too busy to do much beading. And I've been sick. I had that weird thing everyone seems to be getting, where you cough for a's gotten better though.

And it felt good taking a break. I need to work in phases on this sort of thing.

I'm getting back into it. I think I've gotten more picky about my materials. I was tempted for a while to go straight to semi-precious and just use semi-precious beads...which I like, but my philosophy is this. Anyone can copy semi-precious bead designs. I've looked around on the Net; there is good work there, plenty of it, but not much individuality. It's understandable since it's products for sale. You have to produce something you think will sell.

But for myself, from the beginning I intended first to make products to wear. My idea was not to have to buy jewelry myself. Secondly, to be able to produce unique designs, custom designs; to be able to take the raw materials and produce something interesting out of them. So for me there is an economic aspect to it (I no longer buy jewelry); it is also an exercise, in the sense of bending my fingers (they have gotten stiff again during my break) and also in the sense of having to create unique designs. Design is not my strong point. So it is an exercise.

Currently I'm working on some pendants. The idea is to take an interesting bead...for this I use glass. At most I would have to find a unique, large semi-precious bead; in short the central bead has to be different.

Then I attach three little beads at the bottom. Here I'm still deciding. I tried out some crystal beads with tiny aurora borealis black beads and tiny metallic silver beads, in the end though I decided I didn't care for the black. Or? I'm going to try some tiny gold beads.

At the top is another crystal...that's it basically. I just got some sterling silver for the top. I can get sterling head pins but I'm trying it out with base metal ones (the central eye pin should be base metal in fact, it should be hard rather than soft).

This sort of thing takes forever for me. I want to condense what I'm doing into a template, or at least a model with minimal changes; something that would work with any central bead.
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