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Beading Blog - February 2008

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
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posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 25, 2008 at 8:38 PM (Pacific)

I've already changed out the silver hoops I used on yesterday's Madeira citrine earrings. The ones I'd made were too big and heavy. I realized I'd made them that way because I'd intended to hang a single citrine in the center of each...then figured the citrines I had were too small for that...and ended up using a seven-stone design instead. The small hoops I made today are so much lighter in weight and easier to wear.

It's funny, I knew from the beginning it would start out hard, then become easier and easier to do this sort of thing. Today I had this hoop, I was making the bend for the top and my pliers slipped and nicked the wire. Before I would have been upset, because the nick would weaken the wire at the bend. Today I just grabbed my chasing hammer and hit the nick with it to flatten it. Since this bend would join with the other bend at the top of the hoop, it wouldn't create a weak point.

Then, one side of the top of the hoop looked wrong. Before, I wouldn't know how to fix it. Today, I just grabbed pliers, a jump ring mandrel, you can use all sorts of tools and items on wire (the handle of my chasing hammer is one of my favorite mandrels) and bent the wrong part out.

Of course my goal is zero waste on heavy gauge wire. I keep it on the coil and work off the end. With the smaller gauges that's not practical, but I do try to use only what's needed...say, with your loops. Unless there's a decorative reason to make a large loop, why not make a smaller one? For my loop-ended head pins, I go for the smallest possible loop, the very end of the pliers.

I've also gotten away from the idea of "having" to use specific gauges and tempers of wire for a given project. I used to keep everything separate and organized, now it's kind of all over the place. Unless there's a specific reason to use a particular temper...say, you're finishing the ends of a bulk chain (half hard), or making a wrapped loop bringing the wire down to cover the top of the bead (dead soft)...the two tempers can be pretty much interchanged. If you run out of the one, you can usually substitute the other.

Oh, I will have to redo my earlier prasiolite and prehnite necklace. I like the idea, but it's way too "frankened" is a Frankenstein of a necklace. I didn't have enough green amethyst to do it properly, then I wanted to use the prehnites, and the chain itself is cobbled together because I didn't have one long piece. I'm thinking of something simpler, anyway.


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 24, 2008 at 6:59 PM (Pacific)

a tree full of robins
a tree full of robins (detail)

I made some earrings today, but no time to photograph them. So these are two pictures of a whole bunch of robins in a winter tree.

The earrings, coincidentally enough, use a bit of the same color scheme. I have some Madeira citrines, and had the idea of pairing them with silver. Actually I was thinking oxidized silver...though it's the current trend to oxidize, I haven't oxidized anything yet. I've used oxidized Bali beads and such, that's it.

However I ended up using Argentium sterling in a hoop design, with the citrines wrapped on a short length of sterling chain. I'm still thinking of the oxidized thing but it'll probably be for the necklace.

Madeira citrine is even more beautiful in person than in pictures btw. It's a bit similar to amber...brown infused with red and gold. I love amber but it's so expensive to get anything other than chips, which I'm not crazy about, or else readymade amber pendants. And amber is so soft. You can't wash it. Madeira citrine of course is citrine and it's nice and hard.

I had some fun teaching my daughter beginning jewelry making. She's too young to just sit down and actually make a finished product, but I was impressed how quickly she picked up the same techniques it took me years to learn. :)


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Multistrand rose quartz necklace with Shiana fine silver Sakura flower pendant
posted by TheBroadroom.Net, February 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM (Pacific)

hill tribe fine silver sakura pendant on handmade four strand rose quartz necklace

This is a beautiful necklace. Rose quartz isn't that easy to work with--higher grades of it are more transparent, with a delicate pink hue, unlike your more robustly-colored dyed quartz. Hence most rose quartz pieces I've seen feature a lot of quartz at a time, typically a multi-strand design, or else big chunky quartz.

In real life the Softflex color isn't as obtrusive as it appears in the pic. Still I'm debating whether to restring on colored Softflex. I don't know yet. There gets to be a point where you can't keep on waiting for "another component" in order to make a piece, because if you do, you'll never get anything done.

The toggle in back is also fine silver from Shiana. I tried this piece out with a handmade silver hook closure, but you really need the extra weight in back.

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Green amethyst and prehnite necklace
posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 9, 2008 at 4:10 PM (Pacific)

prasiolite and prehnite necklace, prasiolite and emerald earrings

prasiolite and prehnite necklace, prasiolite and emerald earrings

Playing around with backgrounds. The black background shows the structure better, but the white one shows the color of the stones.

Pretty pleased with the necklace...the key is the weight in back. Without adding extra beads, the weight in front would be too much.

Another idea I'm playing with is of making pieces which can be worn either casually or more formally. This one might do it. If you wear your hair down, you can't see the prehnites much, so it becomes a simpler necklace, just the front prasiolites. If you put your hair up of course you can see the whole shmeer.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 8, 2008 at 5:49 PM (Pacific)

Still fiddling around with the green amethyst/prehnite necklace. I took the little chain and vermeil bead off the back...I think the idea would look nice if I had the right vermeil bead for it, say something like this mint leaf charm from Nina Designs:

nina designs vermeil leaf charm

I don't have anything like that currently, so I'd tried using the same square vermeil bead here:

bali vermeil square bead

And it didn't look so great.

Today I went for four vermeil beads in the back instead of two. Of course now I'll have to shorten the chain. So I went ahead and wrapped all four beads in, without cutting the chain.

I'm wearing it now; I won't cut the chain until I've worn it a few days. I don't have any more of this particular chain, so I'd like to be sure before cutting.

Oh well, after all this preamble...I'm playing around with the idea of using green stones to accentuate green eyes (I'm a beauty blogger after all). Hence this necklace is not exactly "a green necklace to wear with a green outfit." I tried it out with a green top and it looked underwhelming...the watery greens of the stones paled when paired with outright green. It looks best paired with an utterly neutral outfit where it adds a dash of color.


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 7, 2008 at 4:21 PM (Pacific)

Playing with a new design today. Actually it takes me at least three days now, most of the time, to finish a single design. I'll come up with something, then start wearing it, or start thinking it's too can I make it more special?

This will be the first time I've had to counter-weight a necklace, beyond adding a couple of beads in the back and/or a heavier clasp. This design uses a lot of green amethysts and six prehnites. I love how it looks but it is heavy in front. I put a small chain and an extra vermeil bead in the back. I wore it a few hours today...there is a noticeable difference from adding the weight in the back. It feels noticeably lighter on.

On a side note, the green amethyst is beautiful. I prefer that the color is subtle. I read on the Net that true prasiolite, commonly called green amethyst, is either rare or non-existent (depending on which site you consult). Most of what is sold as prasiolite is heat-treated amethyst.

I'll have a picture of it when it's 100% finished.

My next projects...replicate this:

aquamarine and goldfilled chain necklace

I promised to make a copy of this for a friend. I've gotten some higher-grade much of what is sold in shops and even at bead shows, is dyed, or otherwise not very good quality. I have a much nicer aquamarine drop for the front, so I might tinker some with the design, but it's basically going to be a y-necklace on long-and-short chain.

For earrings...I have some I've never photographed that, though they're not particularly sophisticated, I like. They're just tumbled nuggets of aquamarine, undyed but probably grade C, wrapped at the top in goldfilled wire, stuck on niobium earring wires. The color makes them look pretty.

Or I could take my small rondelles of higher grade aquamarine and fiddle around with them, maybe something similar to the gold ones here:

sapphire earrings

Another project...I have to wait until I can get some oxidized sterling chain. I'm not completely ga-ga for the current oxidized silver looks nice, it's just not something I'm normally wear myself. But the green amethysts would look great with oxidized silver. Probably better than with gold in fact...I went with gold for the first green amethyst project because it looks fancier. The silver project would be more casual.

I have some other things in mind as well, but, as I may have mentioned earlier, my plans for 2008 are to make overall fewer pieces, but better ones.


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Green amethyst and emerald earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, February 3, 2008 at 3:17 PM (Pacific)

handmade green amethyst and emerald earrings

Quite pleased with these. The emeralds shown are really tiny, the ones that come at the ends of a graduated strand. Supposedly they're at least 2mm (which is already small) but some struck me as being even smaller. Stringing them though, they look quite pretty.

If you look at the right-most bottom pic, you can see the emerald "frame" is bent a little. I've fixed that since the photo.

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