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·· Rambles...
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·· Necklace with three hoops and moonstones
·· Labradorite pear necklace
·· Sapphire and gold hoop earrings
·· Citrine and labradorite earrings
·· The Mom pendant
·· Rambles...
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·· Better pic of Madeira citrine earrings
·· Rambles...
·· Madeira citrine earrings
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·· London Blue Topaz necklace, sterling chain necklace

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Beading Blog - March 2008

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One woman's adventures in the wide, wonderful world of beading.
Current blog

I also blog here

posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 26, 2008 at 10:34 PM (Pacific)

Blogged some here: Fashion Notes: Trekking through Etsy. No original work, just some pics from various Etsy merchants.

I did go ahead and make spiral earrings. It's a way, I don't care whether it's a commercially viable design, since I'm not selling it. I just want to know how it feels to wear them. The ones I made feel different on, having a long "stem" to balance off the spiral. Pretty neat really. I have a small moonstone rondelle hanging from mine. My daughter did the wrap on one of the moonstones.

Today I was fiddling around with my new work wardrobe, seeing if I had enough earrings to match my work clothes. Discovered I have an enormous amount of earrings. Well to me it's enormous. I've never owned so many earrings before, even though of course I don't mass produce them. It's just that, over the past several years, I've been making earrings, and now happen to own an almost embarrassing number of them.

I'm weaker as far as necklaces. Forget about bracelets! One thing at a time. (I'm still a bit fuddled by the sheer number of earrings. I actually have earrings to match practically everything.)

Been wearing my London Blue topaz necklace a lot lately. It's an appallingly simple design, but the stones are nice...they look flat in pictures, but in real life, the deep blue just jumps out. I think because it's not just blue...there's grey in there, green, brown almost...I've decided it's one of my favorite stones.

I'm a bit aggravated...I ordered some aquamarine, so I could make a specific project. I've finally found a good source of aquamarine, I no longer buy it at bead stores nor even at bead shows, where it tends to be dyed. And they sent me the wrong size aquamarine. They've been good overall, but it's still a hassle because I have to send the strand back. I'm hoping to do that tomorrow.


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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 23, 2008 at 5:36 PM (Pacific)

Happy Easter!

Was fiddling around with some earrings today...I still need to finish the three-hoop necklace. The front is fine, but I finished the back with two grey moonstone rondelles. I love how the grey color looks, but the drill-holes were small. I really prefer using heavier wire in back to finish a chain, plus it could stand to be a bit longer anyway.

Anyhow, about the earrings. These are to go with my mom pendant:

hoop pendant with various gemstones

Only the earrings use just my kids' birthstones (peridot and pearl). It took me a while to make them though the design itself is quite simple.

For one thing, I've found it tricky making matching sets of jewelry. Usually the earrings end up too fancy; they work well on their own, but are "too much" when worn with the matching necklace.

At the opposite end are earrings that work only with the matching necklace and are too simple or blah to be worn on their own or with anything else.

For this exercise, I wore the necklace while doing the earrings, and came up with a design of a gold bead, a baby coin pearl, and a peridot faceted pear. The peridot I've had for over a year (it's the same one here); the baby coin is the same as in the necklace. The gold bead is actually karat gold albeit hollow in structure. I've liked adding karat gold beads here and there in my work; nothing else looks like real gold (unfortunately nothing else costs like real gold either, hence the idea of using it sparingly).

I love these baby coin pearls! I saw them used extensively on the Midori Jewelry site and got the idea there. They're quite a bit more versatile than the larger coin pearls and add a nice glow to whatever you're making.

All three components of the earrings are very lightweight. I've been making heavier earrings and I like them, but you can't wear heavy earrings every day.

I hope to have some pictures soon.

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Necklace with three hoops and moonstones
posted by TheBroadroom.Net, March 22, 2008 at 4:34 PM (Pacific)

handmade necklace with three hoops and moonstones

Not sure about this one yet. It's experimental, because these aren't soldered hoops; they're strictly bent and hammered.

On a personal level, I like geometry, and therefore geometrical shapes. I've had the notion of making an abacus pendant for months, not because I know how to use an abacus :) nor even because an abacus is itself useful. It's the concept of making a square pendant that's attractive to me.

On my (never-ending) pile of pieces to redo, is a simple square coin pearl pendant:

square coin pearl pendant

I would do it differently now of course...but it's been sitting there since forever, and I still think about it. How nice to wear a simple white square of nacreous pearl. Otherwise, frankly, I find square pearls impossible to work with. You can't seem to do much with masses and masses of them; they stand out best individually, when you want the square shape somewhere.

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Labradorite pear necklace
posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 20, 2008 at 7:08 PM (Pacific)

handmade labradorite pear necklace
handmade labradorite pear necklace

In the top pic, I was leaning at a funny angle, trying to capture the schiller in the stones. It hangs much more the way it does in the bottom pic.

I made this for special occasions, imo it's too much for every day. Unless you can pull something like that off. :)

BTW labradorite is light for its size. I thought these stones would be way heavy, all together on the chain like that, but they're not. I'm not even sure this needs a counterweight in the back--I haven't finished the back, I haven't even cut the chain yet. I'm using a chain sample I got, so the last thing I'll need to do in this piece is cut the chain itself.

For this necklace (top center image):

handmade london blue topaz necklace

...I put a small smooth citrine coin in back, on an extender chain. I got the idea from Midori Jewelry. The necklaces have this neat little green "melon" in back. I didn't want to copy the melon, of course, but I liked the idea of finishing the pieces all in the same way. So I'm thinking of putting another citrine coin in the back of this piece (I've had these coins since forever and couldn't figure out what to do with them until recently).

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Sapphire and gold hoop earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 7:03 PM (Pacific)

handmade sapphire earrings

This is a somewhat lower grade of sapphire. Still a tiny bit translucent, but without the rich color of blue sapphires.

I was very pleased these beads had been hand selected...I bought them online, three packages of four beads each. Someone had gone through and made sure I got two of each color. That's how I could make matching earrings.

This is goldfill and vermeil, with karat gold beads.

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Citrine and labradorite earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 6:55 PM (Pacific)

handmade citrine and labradorite earrings

Here's my first attempt at using a herringbone weave. I realize I linked to it earlier from the beauty & fashion blog, but now that I can get screenshot thumbnails of the posts here, figured it would be useful to post here for future reference.

Ultimately I was disappointed in using half-hard wire for the weave, because I found it impossible to bend the wire just so on the sides. I think the bezel ended up covering too much of the stone. I haven't given up on the weave itself, but I will wait until I can order some soft wire in this gauge.

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The Mom pendant
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 12:06 PM (Pacific)

handmade circle gemstone mom pendant

This is a pic of what I was blogging about yesterday.

As you can see, it was a bit of a bugger to photograph. You can get a nice still image by hanging the piece, but then the scale is unclear (plus you can't see all the stones).

I'm quite pleased with how this Mom pendant turned out. When you wear it, it looks different, depending on the light and how the stones have fallen. So sometimes the citrine becomes illuminated, and you see this little golden glow. Sometimes the moonstone shows has the barest of flash, I passed over moonstones with blue flash in favor of this one. The sapphire sometimes shows and sometimes doesn't. At first I tried to get it to show all the time, by putting it at the end or in the front of the chain, but decided I liked how it was. The aquamarine has a small inclusion in the back. In a sense it's the prettiest stone in the piece, because of the light blue color, but the slight imperfection makes it fit in better with the other stones.

Our generous friends at artViper have improved their screenshot thumbnail script. Actually what they did in the case of this blog, is cut off the top banner in the image capture. Great! So I've implemented blog post thumbnails again. Here is a screenshot of the citrine page:

screenshot of post thumbnails

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 18, 2008 at 6:12 PM (Pacific)

...where was I? :)

I ditched the earrings...I can't make the herringbone weave work with half-hard wire. It'll make a bezel, but I'm not happy with it.

Latest projects:

Fashion Notes: Earring synergy (the ill-fated half-hard herringbone weave!)
Just Notes: What I've been into, lately (also featuring some pics I found on the Net of my home town)
Fashion Notes: Labradorite necklace

Today I'm making one of those've seen them...a small golden hoop, with some stuff hanging from it. It's a style I've been meaning to try for quite some time, but the challenge of course is to avoid a generic look.

So I started with my kids' birthstones--peridot and pearl--and thought to make a commemoration of my time with them. I added a small round citrine coin (smooth) to represent the sun, a tiny heart of sapphire (for the blue sky), a moonstone (for cloudy days), and an aquamarine (the sea). I wanted to add a tiny prehnite onion, for a grassy field, but it was getting to be too much so I had to take it off.

It occurred to me as I was making this, how much time it takes to make even a relatively simple construction. For me now it's less an issue of skill, and becoming less an issue of materials...I remember back when I found the entire process intimidating. Just making a wrapped loop was horrible, or a wrapped briolette. Now it feels quite natural.

Even so, as I say, it takes forever! The thing has to hang just right, it has to fall just right. The expensive stones have to show; they can't migrate to the back. It has to feel comfortable on. Even if everything seems right, I still have to wear it. I'll know at the end of the day, if it's something I ever want to wear again. Hence it takes at least two days to make a single piece, unless it's one of those freaky pieces that just happens to be right the first time around.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 9, 2008 at 9:57 PM (Pacific)

Made some new earrings today, didn't have time to photograph them. Actually I'm wearing them...part of the test process, of course. :)

These use several ideas...Dain's concepts of color combinations, and Eni Oken's herringbone weave, which I've been wanting to try for a long time. Thanks to Eni's tutorial, I found the weave relatively painless and managed to mangle only the first pass, when I tried using a too-thick gauge of wire for it.

I looked around for stones to try the weave out with...I have some large-ish stones along the lines of rough citrine, aquamarine, rose quartz...and two oval prehnites. One of the ideas Dain liked was citrine paired with labradorite, which I'm not sure I'd have come up with in a bazillion years, but it looks beautiful together...very...industrial. :D It's the grey color of the labradorite that does it, that unexpected almost brownish grey, spiked with a little green flash to add interest.

I tried several stones out with the citrine; I didn't go straight for the labradorite. I tried tiny peridot, garnets, gold beads, iolite, aquamarine, even the Madeira citrine of my earlier earrings. Just everything, one after the next. Most of these stones, I've had for a long time. The size is very important. Many of my stones were too big to hang under the citrines. The cut is rather key though less important than the size.

The labradorite ended up being the best color to go with citrine. Even then, I have labradorite in tiny faceted pears, small rounds, and faceted rondelles, all bought at various bead shows over the years. The pears and The rough cut of the citrine required a similarly rough cut of labradorite, so I went with the rondelles.

I went through most of the rondelles in fact...and ended up with a small rondelle, paired with a tiny gold bead. The idea of the gold bead was to "brighten" the area where the (deep grey) labradorite would be.

I'd like to do several of these, based on the Dain color-combo theme: two stones of contrasting colors. Since I can't do metalworking to make a traditional bezel setting, I'll go with the Eni Oken weave (which is versatile; it can be done precisely or "messily").


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Better pic of Madeira citrine earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 8, 2008 at 11:41 AM (Pacific)

handmade madeira citrine earrings

Not sure what to make next. Thinking of going ahead and making another copy of these frames, though I don't know what to put in them. I'm just thinking of "something symmetrical, using one or two chains, and a small stone."

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 7, 2008 at 10:05 PM (Pacific)

The more I look at this picture, the more I like the frame itself. It's a straightforward enough can buy readymade ones of the same shape...what I like is the slight roughness, the effect of it being handmade.

I've concluded, anyway, I am a bit different from other people. I would rather look at a picture of gears...or ships...or a machine that makes stuff...than look at what people consider classically beautiful subjects, such as sunsets or flowers. That's good for engineering, not so good for design.

So, what I'm thinking about the that I did the frame right. It's exactly the right size and shape, it hangs well, it's light-enough in weight so I can wear these earrings all day (and I have) and not feel them. It's made of argentium sterling so it won't tarnish easily; it's hammered, which gives it a more finished appearance as well as hardening it. I decided not to chase it (yup, I went through a stage where I chased everything) and the hammering is nice and even. In short the frame itself is perfect.

The overall design however...on me it looks great, because I'm eccentric anyway. And I'm still in love with the "winter tree filled with robins" concept, and the Madeira citrines are among my favorite stones, ever, they're really terrific. They have the warm red-brown glow of amber, without that soft, easily scratched, easily dulled aspect of amber. And the cut sparkles, as well as glows.

Great! But what I should pursue is a more symmetrical use of the frames. I'm already picturing doing something with chains, like this:

green amethyst, emerald and goldfilled chain hoop earrings

The idea would be to hang the chains from the bar inside the frames:

madeira citrine, sterling hoop earrings

There would be room for two chains of a basic size (not the heavy one I used for the citrine earrings of course). It would be a nice way to highlight a smaller stone of some sort.

Another thought is something I've wanted to try for a long time--if "Wouldn't it be nice if..." is the road to hell for programmers, "I'd love to try my hand at..." paves a similar road for jewelry-makers. :D

What I've wanted to try is making dreamcatcher earrings like these: Dream Collection. (And may I say I love the Olia site. She did this whole amazing series of pieces and photographs: Olia collections.) I wouldn't necessarily do them with twisted wire, I think I would prefer my simpler wire frames.


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Madeira citrine earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi, at 4:38 PM (Pacific)

handmade madeira citrine earrings

Been playing around with these for a while...had the idea of capturing this "winter tree full of robins" idea--not even sure they were robins? They weren't like East Coast robins, with vivid red-orange breasts, but rather a softer color.

Anyhow, because the citrines are wrapped to the chain, they move around a lot...rather like birds on a tree :) I tried this out initially with some bright silver chain I had on hand, but the oxidized one fits much better. (Using the same motif, it becomes like the dark branches of the tree.)

I was out of soft wire, so I went ahead and used half hard. It was, oddly, as easy to make the frames, because I'd started out using only half hard wire in the first place. lol! I'd had no real idea what temper to use for what, so I bought only half hard, in 20 and 24 gauges, figuring these would work for the most applications. So returning to this temper was curiously comforting.

I'd been trying for a long time to make this sort of frame. I'd say my earlier endeavors were typically too big and/or too heavy. And I've been trying lately to make more conservative styles, so again a smaller size is in order.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 5, 2008 at 11:40 AM (Pacific)

Oh well, the idea of leaving the chain necklace as is lasted about one day. It's not practical, because the majority of the weight is in front. The weight would have to be counterbalanced by something in the back, whether an actual clasp or a fake clasp, or something.

Plus, I'm liking the idea of it as a sort of summer necklace, the kind of thing you could wear with a summer top. In short I'll probably go back to the drawing board with it, but it's too cold now to do much with it.

As much as I'm liking all these stone pieces, it's not always easy to coordinate earrings with necklaces. Do you use the same stones? Doesn't it look kinda matchy that way? But different stones can clash. I still haven't worked that out.


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London Blue Topaz necklace, sterling chain necklace
posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 4, 2008 at 2:13 PM (Pacific)

london blue topaz necklace

Finished this today (top center pic). I added an extender chain in the back, with a small round citrine and Bali sterling bead at the end. I blogged about the development of the piece here: Fashion Notes: Something I've been fiddling around with if you'd like more detail.

I've come to realize...most of the time, what I'm looking for is a sort of industrial look. Or I should say, I miss the industrial concept. So much of what I see is...I don't know how to put it. Meaningless, unattached to any purpose.

Which I feel accurately reflects our U.S. society--we've lost our sense of purpose. The U.S. was always a place where people built stuff, made stuff, manufactured, innovated, pushed ahead. The end goal was never some bizarre life of leisure. The end goal was to make another factory, or railroad, or software program.

I'm wearing this chain today:

sterling chain necklace

It is, literally, a length of chain. I bought it because I'd seen this beautiful, super long sterling necklace on a modern English tv show. I bought a length which I felt would surely exceed the length needed, just to be on the safe side...and yet, when I saw it, what a lovely chain. It's not heavy, it looks like more because the links are hammered flat. Today I used a fine silver jump was soldered, I had to cut it for something's just, turn the angled end of the ring in a cup burr a few times, and join the chain together. I don't want to cut the chain.

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