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·· Beading thoughts part 5
·· Some recent-ish earrings
·· Beading thoughts part 4
·· Beading thoughts part 3
·· Beading thoughts part 2

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Beading Blog - December 2009

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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.


Handmade Jewelry photo gallery . 0 Comment(s)

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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Handmade Jewelry photo gallery . 0 Comment(s)

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! ...?

Handmade Jewelry photo gallery . 0 Comment(s)

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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Handmade Jewelry photo gallery . 0 Comment(s)

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.

Handmade Jewelry photo gallery . 0 Comment(s)