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Posts This Month
·· Jade necklace and earrings, labradorite earrings
·· Construction notes
·· Yay! Wire arrived...
·· A philosophical note
·· Random jewelry making thoughts
·· More of this and that
·· More this and that
·· Finally ordered some wire online...
·· Making your own jump rings
·· This n that...
·· It's kind of neat...
·· More notes from the field...
·· Okee I'm back...
·· Trying out some new earrings...
·· Okay, I'm back...bead prices here and there...

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Beading Blog - August 2006

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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Jade necklace and earrings, labradorite earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 29, 2006 at 5:06 PM (Pacific)

Here are some fairly recent pieces. The jade briolettes actually came from a different bead shop than the diamond-shaped jade beads.

The labradorite and quartz crystal earrings are a bit more striking than the jade and freshwater pearl ones.


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Construction notes
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 4:39 PM (Pacific)

It's way premature to say this, but I'm loving that new wire. Cut myself a nice piece of it today and finished off that name necklace.

And, how did I ever live without making my own jump rings? I went back on the name necklace...I'd connected the wrapped links with two jump rings rather than one, because the premade ones I'd gotten were so thin. Never again! And they're so easy to make. I have a special dowel for it that I keep in my box. You need only get yourself a piece of thick wire and start wrapping (and if you already know how to do wrapping, it's the same thing). Start cutting with your flushcutters and there ya go.

My next thing to do will be to make some sterling jump rings and get those on my iolite necklace. After that I'd like to finish my carnelian and gold-filled piece.

My next thing to order will be earring wires.
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Yay! Wire arrived...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 28, 2006 at 7:57 PM (Pacific)


I got my first online wire order from I'll have to say the service was good. I got exactly what I ordered and it came fast. As to the quality of the wire, well I'll have to try it out and report back here. has a competitive price...Fire Mountain Gems is cheaper overall but I really don't like that the wire comes precut and bagged in 5-foot lengths. I need a lot of wire so I'd rather get it on a spool than hassle with a bunch of bags.

My next step is to order the earring wires and spring ring clasps, in that order.
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A philosophical note
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 3:20 PM (Pacific)

I had to put up some pants last night. I'm not crafty, normally; I don't sew beyond simple mending. It occurred to me though that doing one craft--making jewelry--helped me a lot when it came to putting up the pants.

Doing a craft teaches you patience, if nothing else, because very few pieces turn out perfectly the first time. Since it doesn't bother me to redo an entire necklace, and then have to redo it again, the thought of potentially having to rip stitches did not bother me. The thought of screwing up the length and having to do the cuff again did not bother me. In fact I had the thought of doing one cuff and then trying the pants on to see if the first cuff was the right length, before doing the second cuff.

It's odd since I've never put up pants before, but the pants came out right the first time.
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Random jewelry making thoughts
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 26, 2006 at 10:51 PM (Pacific)

Did you know, before people blogged much, it used to be called "ramblings"? At least it was on the old Lipstick Page beauty forum. I know I natter on a lot about the old LP, well, it always had a place in my heart. I never migrated to other boards and to this day it's the only board I post on regularly.

Anyhow, wow, that was random, wasn't it?

I can't wait for my wire order to arrive. I've thought about it...there are only a few supplies that I actually need to make what I want. I don't use Softflex that much anymore (I have some just in case), so I don't need that much in the way of crimp beads or crimp covers (again I still have some just in case).

I use the same kind of clasp over and over again simply because it's the most secure (spring ring). I like the fancier clasps but a good spring ring will do it best.

Aside from wire--lots, and I'm kicking myself because I got only two gauges on my first order...sure, they're the two gauges I use most, but I should have gotten three--the only other supply I need are earring wires. I prefer "French wires" over any other there you have it. Three items: wire, spring ring clasps and French earring wires.

It's worth it to boil it down to what you use most and then buy lots and lots of it so you won't run out. I have a half-finished piece in my pocket...yep, in my's two sizes of carnelian beads. It needs only a couple of feet of wire and a clasp to finish it off.

I have a string of lovely citrine and some faceted carnelian briolettes, just waiting for that wire to arrive.

I have that iolite, blue lace agate and chalcedony necklace...decided to make some silver jump rings for it (was really pleased with the effect on my jade necklace)...all I need is the heavier gauge silver wire to make the jump rings with.

I have...a name necklace I've been playing with. The alphabet beads aren't those cubic ones; they're two-sided so they tend to flip with wear. I'm going to try doing something with wire with them.

And so on! Oh yeah, I'd like some deep dark red earrings too. I've been pleased with the labradorite ones as mentioned below, and aside from dark green, dark red is one of my favorite colors...and so on.

I don't fancy buying beads online though unless they're something standardized, like Swarovski crystals. You really have to see the beads.
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More of this and that
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 8:02 PM (Pacific)

I've come to "reach for" my labradorite and quartz crystal earrings the most these days. It's the same design as the freshwater pearl and jade briolette ones only with different stones. The pearl and jade ones are "prettier" I think, more commercial really, but it's the deep dark green of the labradorite, paired with the utter nothingness of the colorless, clear quartz, that makes the second pair better.
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More this and that
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 25, 2006 at 10:32 PM (Pacific)

Oh, you have got to make your own jump rings, especially if you don't use tons and tons of jump rings. It's true, the ones you get at bead shops really don't compare. For one thing, they tend to be made of thinner wire.

The ones I made were quite a bit thicker, so when you close them, you can even "squeeze" or "tap" them a bit with your chain-nosed pliers and they won't "crush." Nice and solid.

Plus, the size...most bead store jump rings are too big. On my jade necklace, I had attached the jade "dangles" to the simple loops of the necklace itself...not good...for this you really need jump rings, but the gold-filled ones I had bought were too big and too thin. The handmade ones are perfect, small and subtle.

Oh, I am undergoing "wire withdrawal." Can't wait for my wire order to arrive. Another thing I need are earring wires.
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Finally ordered some wire online...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 23, 2006 at 10:33 AM (Pacific)

I'll see how fast it arrives. :) The price is much better, that's for sure.

There are other items I'm probably going to buy that way also. Definitely not jump rings. The handmade ones are really superior.
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Making your own jump rings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 18, 2006 at 8:48 PM (Pacific)

This isn't that hard actually, I just did it tonight. I used the method here:

Making jump rings

There are other methods of doing it...of course they all involve the same basic "wrap your wire around a dowel" part, but I've seen a method where you take a "jewelry saw" and cut the whole spring into rings in one fell swoop. Highly attractive, but I don't own a jewelry saw (plus you need "jewelers' files" and I don't have those either).

Anyhow, it can be done with your flush-cutters in that method and it works quite well. Plus you can make the exact size of jump ring you need, with the right gauge/temper of wire.
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This n that...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 17, 2006 at 11:08 PM (Pacific)

I'm going to start buying wire online now. It's much cheaper that way. Once you figure out which kind of wire you use most, it's more than worthwhile to find an etailer to buy it from.

I'm also game to start making my own jump rings. I'm not a big user of jump rings, only for specific projects, but then who wants to keep buying them? Even a relatively inexpensive etailer charges more than I care to pay for them, and they don't look too difficult to make.

I've found that jewelry-making tends to go in phases, at least for me. It's like, suddenly, I'll be that much better at it. I mean it doesn't happen constantly over time.

My wraps are already much better...(idly wonders if step pliers are worth buying)...
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It's kind of neat...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 12, 2006 at 8:01 PM (Pacific) go back and look at pieces that you used to think were so difficult to make, and to know that you can now make them yourself.

Looking back on my earlier pieces, they're almost embarrassingly easy...but, so what. I like having a chronological account of how I started out.

I changed the back of my jade necklace just now...did something I've been wanting to do for a while: made the back adjustable. You could buy a fancy chain and attach it, but I don't have one handy so I made one out of jump rings.

So, what's next? As much as I like my Sundance-copy freshwater pearl and jade briolette earrings, they really don't match the necklace. Anyhow I've decided that each necklace should have at least three pairs of earrings to go with it, to subtly change the flavor of the necklace.
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More notes from the field...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 7:49 PM (Pacific)

I think I may have come up with a "template" that I like. It's harder than it looks. It's easy to copy existing designs, but difficult to invent new ones...and what I wanted in fact was a template, a pattern of beads that I could reuse by simply plugging in different stones.

This one I did in jade. It's jade rondelles, with wrapped links (three rondelles per link), connected by simple-loop links (single rondelle per link). I've got five jade faceted diamond-shaped beads on headpins, hanging from quartz crystal links (one crystal per link), hanging off the jade rondelle chain.

This is version 1.1 btw, the first had only jade, no crystals.

I went back and added something similar to my iolite, blue lace agate and chalcedony necklace...again, at first I had the diamond-shaped chalcedony beads hanging directly off the chain. It looks nicer to add a link at the top, even with a single bead in the link (here it was a blue lace agate chip).

I don't quite know yet but I think the jade piece could be made with a red stone just as well. The iolite piece, well it depends more on the colors of the beads than the actual pattern.
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Okee I'm back...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 6, 2006 at 10:32 PM (Pacific)

I did make the chalcedony and iolite necklace...I'm getting much better at it. It is what I'd thought: the learning curve for this sort of thing is about one year. Of course if you're crafty, it would take less time than that. For someone like me, it took about a year.

Now I feel almost 100% comfortable with wrapping. By that I mean I feel it is possible to do your wraps completely uniform, and I'm not at that point yet. I can make wraps I'm happy with just about every time now, but my goal is to make completely uniform wraps.

The new necklace took a few hours to make. The first time I tried to do a wrapped necklace, it took me several days to make it (my original target was one week). Of course back then I didn't have my tools. I really didn't know what to use, so I was using tools out of the toolbox...a regular pair of pliers and wirecutters, and a round-nosed pair of pliers I got at Michael's. You can't do it that way...well, there is much more information on the Net now than there was before. Still, it has to take time for you to get your tool kit in place and get enough practice to start doing those little details that make your pieces better.

Anyhow...the necklace is wrapped links of the iolite, alternating with simple loop links consisting of three blue lace agate chips. I have two of the diamond-shaped chalcedony beads hanging on either side of the pendant, which consists of two chalcedony beads and an iolite. It's pretty lush looking, especially worn with the matching earrings. More "there" than I would wear everyday, but ideal for going out.

I also made a pair of really minimal earrings today, to wear with my rose quartz and garnet necklace. The problem is, the earrings I made to go with it...the "jigged" ones...are too fancy to wear with the necklace. Does that make any sense? The new ones are just a link of two clear quartz crystals and a headpin link of the same rose quartz (faceted oval). These are extraordinarily lightweight. I don't know yet if they're "too" minimal (I'm aching to put some Bali silver beads in there somewhere if you want the truth).

Oh yeah, I went to Wal-Mart...I'm not a big fan of Wal-Mart, but I do have to say this. Their craft aisle had a bead section...a respectable one. And, get this--they had beads made in the U.S.A. in there. That's one thing you don't see often. I wasn't sure what to buy...I'm a conservative buyer; the first time I visit any shop, I tend to examine everything in great detail but I usually don't buy anything. I go home and mull over everything I saw at the shop and make a plan on what I want to buy. There are times when I may appear to go mad and buy a lot of stuff, but I seldom do that on impulse. Typically I've been planning the haul for days, weeks, months even.

I ended up buying two flower shell pendants made in the Philippines. I was feeling sentimental (I'm part Filipino)...and the design, the round flower with five petals, had a nice Japanese feel to it too. When I got home I did kind of kick myself, because I realized the two beads could be made into earrings...they would be large dramatic earrings, but likely light in weight...and I didn't want to do earrings because I'd gotten one bead for my daughter and one for myself. She's too young to wear earrings. So, pendants it is.

I wish it were easier to photograph all this. I tend to ramble on, but beaders like to see pictures, for obvious reasons. It takes me forever to decide whether a piece is going to work for me over the long has to be worn, it has to fit in with this occasion, this outfit, this other jewelry.

Since I was so good at predicting the learning curve :) then let me predict the wearing curve. I'll say you have to own a piece at least a year before you know whether it works over the long run, unless it is somehow a perfect piece. It'll be easy enough, with this blog, to know when I've owned a piece for one year.
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Trying out some new earrings...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 4, 2006 at 6:26 PM (Pacific)

I went for a really simple design's one of the diamond-shaped faceted chalcedony beads I got in Cincinnati, and three oval iolite beads, all connected with sterling silver simple loops.

It's a simpler design than I would normally do these days, because usually I like to push myself and do something new. But the color of the iolite is to die for, and the I wanted something where the colors would stand out rather than the pattern of the beads. Anyhow, I have enough iolite to make more stuff with. I'm going to shoot for an iolite necklace, again very simple. It may end up being a plain chain o' iolite, with just the simple loops, or else I may add in chalcedony or something else.
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Okay, I'm back...bead prices here and there...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, August 3, 2006 at 5:41 PM (Pacific)

...are not that different. What was odd...I went to a large bead shop in Cincinnati...was that the strand price there was higher (quite a bit) than in Berkeley. But the individual bead price was quite a bit lower. And of course, each bead store is different; different stock.

I got nine pieces of faceted jade (diamond shaped)--about a third of the price of my Berkeley jade briolettes, granted the briolettes are more ideal for earrings--and six pieces of faceted diamond-shaped chalcedony.

So far I've made a pair of earrings on this model: Sundance Jade and Pearl Earrings. The jade I have is no doubt's more a deep leaf green color than emerald green. And my workmanship isn't quite as good, but it's getting close.

Also, I made a jade necklace out of five of the diamond-shaped pieces and part of a string of matching jade rondelles, with a combination of wrapped links and simple-loop links (I prefer this technique to all of either). I may make another one (technically I have enough jade to do that) blending the jade with something else, more pearls or quartz crystals or what have you. But I couldn't resist making a ja-de-licious piece :) Jade is one of my favorite stones.
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