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.
posted by Colleen Shirazi,
January 21, 2008
at 11:38 AM (Pacific)
Haven't been doing many new projects lately, aside from the aforementioned earrings. Mostly, I've been going back over old projects...the ones I want to keep...and fixing them up. It's a slow but steady process.
Traditionally (if three years' worth of anything can have tradition), I've been taking a month or two off beading every year. Now I don't need to do that. I suppose I've felt a certain amount of stress, in whether I could really make jewelry.
I'm not crafty by nature. My interest in making jewelry derives from my interest in the thing itself. But now I feel I have the capability, and it's simply a matter of keeping at it. So, instead of grinding to a halt, I've decided to do it more slowly, more introspectively, for the given month or two.
Here is a redo of a hoop originally designed with thicker wire. I ran out...of course...actually I was short in the neighborhood of a quarter- to half-inch of wire, and my supplier is out of stock of this gauge (and has been for quite some time). I don't want to switch suppliers, so I redid the hoop with the gauge on hand.
The golden circle is nice...I made it like a wedding ring in size. Haven't worked out the top 100% yet, I had to bend the loop over to get the pendant to hang straight. It's balanced, but I'd like to make the loop look more centered.
Wondering if these guys have something in common:
For this necklace, I had made some "moral obligation" earrings, plain hammered silver hoops with lapis dangles. Nice, but, the sapphire earrings are nicer. I haven't worn them together yet though.
Discovered I'd fluffed one of the Bali vermeil beads in the back. If I'm redoing it though, I'll probably add an extender chain.
The bottom pic was taken rather hastily, I didn't have time to hang the earrings properly so I put them down on a white tee shirt. :)
Here I went for grade over size, so these sapphires are really very small. But they're not the opaque stones normally used in handmade jewelry; they're translucent, with small areas of transparency.
This is a hoop idea I got from Midori Jewelry. That was the first place I saw such a hoop. I'm getting better at making them although I've found I need to be very slow and patient while doing the wrap at the top. It's easy to fuddle it up. I added my own "touch" by hammering the wraps. Mainly because on some of my hoops, I didn't feel the wrap was secure enough, but I don't dislike the finished look. The idea for me is to produce something that looks a tiny bit rough, after all.
I can't wear 14KT gold earrings so you'll note, I used vermeil ear wires for the gold pair (from Shiana). Normally I don't think vermeil would work, but the Shiana vermeil, so far, is as superior as they claim. The gold plate is thicker than usual, plus it's over fine silver rather than sterling.
I went for the relatively inexpensive 14KT gold tiny beads to give the earring a more golden appearance. In fact it crossed my mind you could cover most of the wire with these beads if you wanted to.
It took me forever to come up with this design, because I specifically wanted to make smaller earrings. Tiny stones + smaller earrings...the stones didn't show well with my earlier designs. For example, I tried the one where you take a piece of wire and wrap it round and round the hoop--similar to this: Going Green Hand-Forged Earrings--and the tiny little sapphires hardly showed at all. weeps! I concluded the only way to get them to show would be to use a lot of them, all together.
posted by Colleen Shirazi,
September 21, 2007
at 7:55 PM (Pacific)
I realize I haven't been posting as much as before.
I haven't lost my interest in making jewelry, that's for sure. I suppose I've had to accept that for me, it has to be done in phases. I can afford to spend some on tools, but I can't afford to get all the tools I want at once.
For example, I haven't gotten into soldering. It's pretty basic, but it also represents a whole new cost in terms of equipment and materials. So I've had to put it aside and work around it...when possible.
My most recent project was what I call an "engineer's pearl pendant." :D This uses a very large, very nice freshwater pearl in a slight teardrop shape. Now if these pearls were perfect, they would cost a bum; they're not. They all have a distinct "bad side" where the nacre is slightly less than shiny, or else...what's the word for it? A little circle shape is pressed into it. The other side is entirely perfect.
Here's the engineer part:
A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.
The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!"
The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greenskeeper. Let's have a word with him." "Hi George! Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"
The greenskeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."
The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them." The engineer said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"
Okay...why can't these guys play at night? Why not engineer the design of the pendant so the bad side never shows?
I took some silver wire and made a regular wrapped loop on top of the pearl as you would expect...but brought the wire down some to make a tiny "bead cap" on top of the pearl. The bead cap shape didn't have to be "machine perfect," just nice-looking. The idea was to use just enough silver, and wrap it just firmly enough, so the pearl wouldn't turn easily (it didn't have to be ultra-tight, which might damage the pearl). As long as it didn't turn unless you grabbed it and turned it...that's the idea.
That wasn't the problem...the problem was the bail.
I didn't want to buy a bail...I mean there has to be a way of making your own wire bail. Right? I have seen some rather elaborate wire wrapped bails on the Net, but what I wanted here was something exceedingly simple, like those rabbit ear bails.
I tried a bunch of designs in wire...I have made bails before, in a design that looks like a small tube fashioned out of wire. (Now that I'm thinking about it, couldn't you make your own tube bail that way? Like a little coil of wire, with a coil in the middle sort of pulled down, or stretched out enough for you to attach something to it?) That works well for casual pendants, but didn't work for the pearl.
Finally I got sick of the whole works, grabbed some soldered silver jump rings I had sitting around, and started hammering them. I hammered three of them flat and then squeezed them into oval shapes with pliers, hammered some more, basically came up with three long narrow hammered oval links. And that became the bail.
(Observant folks will have observed I now needed to redo the wrapped loop on the pearl, since I was using closed jump rings for the bail...oh well.)
So that's been the kind of thing I've been doing. I haven't been buying much in the way of new materials. I've been slowly, slowly, producing better pieces. Did I mention I've been doing it slowly? It took me two or three days to come up with the three-smashed-jump-rings-bail, engineered-top pearl, yet it looks perfect.
Along with this I had some old sterling bulk chain...very fine links. Did the Camali Design trick of finishing the chain using wrapped links...it's really a stroke of genius, it works with any chain you can pass a piece of wire through. You can even make the "loop" part of the wrapped loop longer and narrower, if you wanted to be able to pass smaller bails over it. Here I didn't need to, just made a small loop and hammered it out.
posted by Colleen Shirazi,
September 8, 2007
at 1:45 PM (Pacific)
I made my first ring today, and discovered something. You need a ring mandrel. lol...
Making the ring isn't difficult, but controlling the size is next to impossible without the mandrel. I kept grabbing it and trying to size it, but as you're working on it, it tends to slide apart and get bigger. Grabbing it and pulling it back tends to make it too small.
I did finish it and it was a tiny bit too big. Ugh.
People often ask what tools are absolutely necessary to make jewelry. Tools aren't cheap, so it is a good question.
Of course it depends what kind of jewelry you want to make, but even if you know what you want to make, there does seem to be a sort of endless array of tools.
For example, it's only recently I got a cup burr. It's not that cup burrs cost a lot, it's just it's on top of the bazillion other tools on my wishlist. All along, I'd been using a regular emery board to smooth the ends of my wires. So I wondered if the cup burr were absolutely necessary.
Since getting it though, I like it. It doesn't miraculously smooth the wire into a dome, exactly, but it does make the end smooth and nice, better than the emery board.
When I got that EZ Bracelet Sizer, I didn't use it at first. I was used to trying to measure the strand, putting it on a wrist, yadda yadda... Once I started using the sizer, my life suddenly got a whole lot easier.
I'm not saying you have to buy a bracelet sizer; you could make one. I saw some plastic drinking glasses at the dollar store that would work. They'd be horrible drinking glasses--besides being thin crappy plastic, they were too long, and narrow at the base--but that's also why they'd make good bracelet sizers. You need something that's too long, and narrow at the base.
I'm actually pretty happy with the ring; it looks nice, but I can see the necessity of the mandrel. Apparently you can hammer the ring right on the mandrel; check this out:
posted by Colleen Shirazi,
August 24, 2007
at 10:44 PM (Pacific)
Hey, I made a bail today. It was surprisingly easy to do. I mean I'd like to play around with it some...I'm waiting on my wire order, so I'm hoarding the small amount of 24 gauge wire I found at the bottom of my box. You could make it as fancy as you like. But all you need to do is make a small rosary loop (or wrapped loop; this would make the bottom loop of the bail closed), add a small bead or beads, then fashion the top like a wrapped loop--only bigger, and more teardrop-shaped.
They now sell "bail pliers" but you can use a dowel, that's what I did. You can make the top with two or more "rabbit ears," like a standard rabbit-ear bail. Just bring the wire around the dowel and down again, wrap it a couple of times (like a regular wrapped loop), bring it back up again around the dowel, bring it down and wrap it a couple of times, bring it back up again if you like, etc.
When you're done, trim the wire, leaving enough tail to tuck into the bail somewhere. I tried tucking it the same way as a wrapped loop, on the side of the wrap, and didn't like it. It struck me it could come loose someday. But this way, you use your chain nose pliers to bend the tail so that it ends up neatly inside the bail.
This solves a problem that's been inside my head for days...bails. I don't like buying them. There are tons of sterling bails around, few gold-filled or vermeil ones... The gold-filled ones I found looked a bit flimsy and not very nice looking. The vermeil ones were more expensive than some 14KT gold ones I found! Ridiculous...
If you wanted to make this a fancy bail, you could wrap the bail part with fine gauge wire.
Pretty pleased with these...the design took me a couple of days. The original design had three bends at the bottom, not four, but I found you have to make these bends pretty deep, and almost closed at the tops, otherwise your dangles "jump" from bend to bend.
The headpins are fun to make and can be surprisingly versatile, although you have to use beads with small holes for this gauge of wire. I used an emery board to smooth the edges of the "paddles" where necessary.
Well I'll be darned. All these years, I've never been able to wear sterling silver earrings. I tried it many times over the years, then finally gave up. But these argentium ear wires have worked...I still have them in. No oozing, itching, pain, redness, swelling...amazing, simply amazing. If you are designing for metal sensitivity, you may want to look into this.
I got this great tip from the jewelrymaking.about.com forum, which I'll say again, is the best beading forum. What's great is that it's well run, has a core group of knowledgeable and friendly posters, and is the perfect size--big enough to always have new material, small enough so you don't feel lost in the crowd. :)
So, it's go for the argentium wire earring experiment. Yay!
Oddly enough I've started liking these "test earrings." At first I felt they were too thin...they're made from the only argentium wire I had on hand...now I think they look interesting that way. The effect is almost like invisible hoops where you have the dangles floating in air. I suspect they might look better with two dangles per hoop instead of one...might try that.
I got to wear these only a few hours last time, now I've been wearing them another few hours. So far, so good. I should explain that I can't wear "regular" sterling silver or 14KT gold ear wires, only 18KT ($) or niobium...niobium is best but harder to integrate into designs than gold or silver.
I'm going to try wearing these over the next day or so, all day, to see if they really work (knock wood).
They're both pretty straightforward pieces. The bracelet is "reversible" of course, you can wear the coin pearl side toward your hand or away from it.
I'm still playing with the idea of making bracelets composed of multiple bracelets, rather than just multiple strands of the same bracelet, if that makes any sense. I have a couple of these already strung...one is mostly Swarovski crystals, but I crowded all three strands into the same loop and I think it would be better to use jump rings. The other, as mentioned earlier, is the same as the one pictured above only with silver beads instead of vermeil.
Okay, decided to go with the square pearls for these. I'm still pondering the nature of the hoop...because I'd like to make some out of wire with a higher gold content. Is it possible to make a good pair without the expense of goldsmithing, yes I think it is. But I'm not in a rush over it.
Anyhow thought I'd experiment some with outdoor photography. I realize you seldom see jewelry "on" someone in professional photographs, but I secretly feel that's a shame. I love seeing jewelry on someone. I suppose it jells for me, the exact proportions and flow of the jewelry, how the earrings hang, where on the neck does the necklace lie. Funny eh?
Why the closed eyes, it was either that or squint or do the pic with sunglasses on. Detail:
Not sure what to do with these yet...right now they're identical, except one has a square pearl and one has a coin-shaped one. I'm basically out of goldfilled wire of that gauge, so making too many more of this design is out of the question until I replace it...but I'm envisioning three pairs of earrings that mix and match (i.e. two square pearl ones, two coin pearl ones, two of something else).
I went ahead and made the WigJig ones (linked to earlier). They're not bad...I hammered the end rings some to harden them (besides, I like hammering). When I get something made up with them, I'll take a pic.
I feel this design would work best for lighter weight designs...for heavier beads, I would probably still use readymade end caps. It's not that I actually detect a weakness in the handmade ones...with hammering, the construction seems pretty tight. Hm. I think I will just have to get gluing and do some tests.
They look nice, and they're reasonably sturdy, but the design flaw lies where the coil meets the loop. At that point, there is a single wire...it's 20 gauge and half hard and yadda yadda, but if you bend it enough, for whatever reason, it is going to break. Back to the drawing board...
This is fairly standard, a single loop at the bottom and a pair of "rabbit ears" on top. It's not soldered so I carefully filed and bent the wire ends so that nothing ill should happen (poky ends, et cetera).
Here I can see afresh how useful it would be to have soldering equipment handy. I've been trying to pace myself as far as acquiring new techniques...it's less for the learning curve and more a matter of expense. Even "money saving" techniques can cost a lot of money at the onset...thinking of all the various materials and tools I'd love to use at some point--PMC, torch, solder...
I'll wear this little pendant today...its green glass Venetian bead is the "little sister" of the one in this earlier wire bail experiment:
posted by Colleen Shirazi,
at 10:26 AM (Pacific)
So far, so good. I haven't glued them yet of course...have to see first if I have other things to glue, since some of the E-6000 remains in the applicator tip after you're done.
Here's what I was listening to while hammering the loops:
Blondie's "Shayla," 1979 Written by Chris Stein
Promise I won't put too much off-topic material in this blog, but I've been fascinated over the past several days by the sheer wealth of Youtube...it's like the original MTV (back when they had no commercials and played music videos 24 hours a day), The Midnight Special, Saturday Night Live, Fridays, and bootlegs, all rolled into one.
Sweet! Got a hammer and a "block" today. The block...coughmade in Chinacough was a steel block glued to a wooden base, and the block came completely off the base after I'd used it...once.
I'm not overly concerned, as the steel block seems beautifully solid and it's simply a matter of E-6000'ing it back onto the wooden base...and you could just as well not glue it at all, and use it set on top of a wooden cutting board. Still, guys, could ya just glue the darn thing?
Anyway...still loads of hammering pleasure. Here is my first project...it's crude but I will keep it, the same way I've kept a sample of just about every "phase" of my jewelry making journey. The hammered spirals catch the light when you wear them. Plus, they feel just gorgeous when you touch them...nice and smooth.
My aim is to make more of my own components out of wire. I've seen some beautiful ones and found them inspiring. Plus, I'm tired of having to buy something every time I turn around in order to complete a project.
The bottom line is that handmade components can look better because the eye can discern that they were not mass produced.