Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I finished!

Yes I did, I finished the 2011 Year of Jewelry Challenge! I made one piece of jewelry a week for the entire year. The last project was created yesterday afternoon when several instructors got together to create riveted rings under the tutelage of the charming and talented Kristina Malcolm. Bless her heart, Kristina put up with us like a real pro. Have you ever tried to teach a group of teachers? It's kind of like herding cats....

My ring has a piece of "crackled" beach glass as the focal, which is a shard that was probably burned in a bonfire before it got washed into the lake and mother nature did her job of tumbling and smoothing.

Some of my 2011 projects were epic failures, a few were created in classes I took, several became prototypes for classes I teach and to my great delight, quite a few of them sold. Feel free to check out my facebook album. All in all, I have to say the exercise was hugely inspiring and I can't wait to do it again in 2012.

Care to join me?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sterling vs. Silver Filled Wire

Silver-filled wire is similar in construction to gold-filled. It has a layer of .925 sterling silver bonded to a white brass core consisting of a copper and zinc alloy. The sterling silver layer is 1.20th or 5% of the material. It is a great low cost alternative to sterling and can be soldered and oxidized just like sterling.

That's the official buzz is but I wanted to check it out myself so I made two Swarovski pearl rings using 24ga wire for the coil and 20 ga wire for the core. The one on the left is made with sterling silver wire and the other is silver filled. Can you tell the difference? No?  Neither can I and I took a good close look thru my optivsors. They both took a patina like pro's, held up to 4 hours in the tumbler no worse for the wear, and came out all bright and shiney, just like I like my silver.

But my wallet sure noticed the difference. Silver filled wire is running approx 30% the cost of sterling. Thirty percent! Wow, I feel like I just traveled back in time when I was buying sterling for 30 cents a gram. Doing the happy dance!!!!

Tune in next time when I do a comparison of silver filled vs, sterling on a soldering project. Oh, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My New Rolling Mill

....has not arrived yet, but I just know Santa is bringing me one!

So I'm spending the intervening days educating myself. I have only used the rolling mill a handful of times and always under supervision, so I needed a comprehensive "Rolling Mills for Dummies" version. Here is one of the best free tuts on the web provided by Wired Lotus.

And here's a video by Rio Grande and one more by Melissa Muir.

Oh and Santa, apologies in advance for the heavy package, but I promise there will be some extra cookies in it for you.....  :-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Coiled Wire Rosette Ring

Would you like to learn to make this ring? Well, you're in luck;  a you tube video is in the works. Be sure to check back on Friday! :-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Chose Love!

They say you can't choose your family, the only choice you have is whether to love them, so choose love! Good advice that I tried to keep in mind as I spent a few days with my Mom, Dad and 3 siblings. It's amazing how little the childhood dynamics and interactions changed over 50 plus years. We still relate in much the same ways although our vocabulary has improved somewhat....we don't use words like "poopie head" anymore......well.....rarely.....
Even the occasional dramatic outbreaks were out weighed by laughs, of which there were plenty. Maybe it's cuz we're genetically wired to find the same things amusing, or being a captive audience for hours in the car, or no TV at night; but in between arguing about politics & religion, or who gets to take the next picture and who's sick of picture taking; we sang along with Harry Belafonte, made endless jokes at the expense of some poor schmuck with the unfortunate name of "Kowsheet", and bickered over who snores more....

It's been almost 3 decades since just the original 6 of us were together but last weekend we all managed to be in the same place at the same time. Liz flew in from S. Dakota and Thursday we drove to Georges place in DC with Mom and Dad in tow. Friday Irene drove up and met us in Gettysburg. Next day we strolled the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach and had dinner in historic Annapolis. Sunday we spent a lovely afternoon hiking Great Falls State Park and Monday we headed south for a quick visit to niece Becca at William & Mary College before heading home.

All in all a lovely road trip and may I just say if I had a choice, this is exactly the family I would choose! :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

30 years ago...

....we were thinner, had more hair, and there were a lot more of us! But that did not keep the 1981 KSU School of Architecture grads attending the reunion from enjoying the evening. We were a group of almost 80 that spent 5 years together in the design studio of Taylor Hall. For some reason the profs thought it profitable for our education to give us massively ambitious projects to complete in ridiculously limited amounts of time. Spending days and nights on end together in the studio led to the kind of bonding and camaraderie I imagine goes on in the trenches. And you can imagine the hyjinks that went on at 3 AM when a group fueled by caffeine and the occasional illegal substance needed stress relief.....

But the friendships that were forged during that time endure and become particularly precious as several of our best and brightest were taken from us far too young. Gone but not forgotten; Mario Gumushdian, Dave Dickinson and most recently, Anthony Notaro.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is it a broach? Is it a hair gizzy? Is it a 3d art composition?


It actually started out as a hair gizzy for my friend Jenny Rohrs to wear on the Martha Stewart show Monday Oct. 3, 2010, but grew into a 3D composition and finally settled on being a broach.

Have I mentioned that I love playing with WireKnitZ! :-)

And here's the lovely Jenny "live" from the Martha Stewart Show!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If only I could get my act together.....

I was planning to enter the Jewel School Design Contest, I spent hours conceptualizing and creating a design around the theme "Crystal Cornucopia" and came up with a piece I really liked. A lot of jewelry I make is more of an artistic challenge, rather than something I would actually wear, but this one I'm already planning my Thanksgiving outfit around.

So I finished Sunday afternoon, patted myself on the back for getting done early and called it a day.  Heading home from the studio, I figured I would come in Monday morning, do the photo shoot with a fresh eye and submit in plenty of time for the Monday midnight deadline. Except the deadline was Sunday midnight....


I emailed Monday when I realized my oversight but was told very politely, nope, sorry, you can't submit beyond the deadline, that's why they're called deadlines. I was hoping they might have a moron exception clause, but alas, no....

So here's my creation, all dressed up and nowhere to go....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Copper & Turquoise Scribble Cuff

I've been developing classes around a technique I call "scribbling with copper". The latest incarnation incorporates a natural piece of turquoise that seems to blend seamlessly into the cuff. Don't you think so?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party - the Big Reveal!

Back in August, 300 plus jewelry making friends signed on for a bead soup blog hop organized by Lori Anderson. We were assigned partners with whom we exchanged beads and created an item of jewelry with said beads. Well the big reveal day has finally arrived and I can now show you my top secret project. These are the beads sent by my partner Dana Johnson Jones.....

And here's what I did.....
I like to use neck collars because they have good "bones" my previous life, I was an architect and can't seem to get away from designs that are somewhat structural. The fall-ish bead colors inspired me to create an October Wreath neck piece. Since the piece does not need a toggle, it ended up layered over the focal and wired in place. If you look closely, the other end of the toggle is used as a design element on the "wreath", along with more bead soup pieces. And finally, I wrapped some coiled wire thru it to create a "vine" effect. What do you think?

Thank you Dana and Lori, I had a blast!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free WireKnitZ Pinwheel Flower Tutorial

Tape Measure
Long Tweezers
Snap Setter
Size 18 Snap Adaptor
Rubber Mallet

(2) pieces 4 ½” Long Series 2000 WireKnitZ®
(1) Size 18 Pearl Snap Fastener


Cut 2 pieces 4 ½” long Series 2000 WireKnitZ in your choice of colors.  Sample shows Light Gold over Leaf Green.


Insert one piece inside the other by folding the end of the inside piece like a triangle, inserting the tweezers into the outside piece, grabbing the triangle and pulling it through.


Fold raw edges inside at each end and smooth out the square.


Bend each corner toward the center in a pinwheel formation.


Install snap to the pinwheel with snap setter. Install back of snap to wearable art item of your choice.

Sculpt the flower to achieve a 3D shape, snap in place and voila! Step back and admire your new creation!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Great Design Team Debate

There was a raging debate flying around the Internet over the weekend, .....the essence of which was, should Design Team contributors/bloggers be paid for their services or just receive free product?

You can bring yourself up to speed on Crafty Pod's Blog or Craft Test Dummies Facebook Page. Unfortunately, Creative Paper Clays Blog has removed all but one comment from the original post that generated all the controversy in the first place.

All sides have valid points. Many designers are quite happy to be paid in product, figuring they create and buy the product anyway, why not get the product for free? Quite a few are "not in it for the money", but because they enjoy the creative process. Plus they get their blog linked to a "major company", and get exposure in the creative community. Maybe even get "discovered" and become world famous....

The other side feels that not being paid reduces the value of every one's contribution. And that the manufacturers are taking advantage of artists by getting free designs as well as access to that bloggers social media platform for no financial remuneration.

And the manufacturers that sponsor design teams without paying them feel that they are being up front with what they are offering, and if a design team member is willing to accept the terms, what is the big deal? Not to mention, the current economic climate has put a damper on every one's marketing revenue, and this is one way to get exposure without investing any cash. a very wise person once told me, sometimes you have to just agree to disagree. I have worn all 3 hats, so I can relate to all 3 perspectives. As an artist, I love the creative process and creating a piece I am happy with gives me more satisfaction than any amount of $ could. However, as an artist with experience and skillz, I am not afraid to price my work so that I am fairly compensated for my time and talent. I am also the owner of Grand River Beads & Gift Gallery, and as a small biz owner surviving the last 3 years of the current economic climate has made me acutely aware of the challenges entrepreneurs face and the need to cut costs just to survive.

But I think there are 2 principles we can all agree on. First, you get what you pay for. If you want cheap labor, you are going to get unreliable help and a constant turnover, which in the long run can be more costly than paying a fair price to begin with. And second, as in life, as in marriage, as in politics, compromise is the name of the game. I feel that a good workable compromise might be a sliding remunerative scale. In the real world, some employees are more valuable to the company because a) they have more experience, and b) they generate more revenue for the company. This model would allow entry level designers to work for product, but as their readership grows, experience accumulates and design talent evolves, they get a "salary adjustment". Heavy hitters in the art world might also be more inclined to create/blog for companies if they were paid more than the industry standard of $50 per month.

Just my 2 cents....and now I'm off to create something, overprice it, and put it in my unvisited gallery....KIDDING....except for the creating part....:-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coiled Copper Kazuri Rings

My new cordless variable speed drill has revolutionized my life! Now that I don't have to wrap each coil by hand, I'm a copper coil making machine. :-) are a few rings from today's time in the studio.......

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jenny's Neck Piece

When Jenny Rohrs of Craft Test Dummies asked me to lend a hand designing a neck piece to wear to a wedding, I was both flattered and slightly intimidated. I mean this gal knows EVERYONE in the art jewelry world! But in my favor, she's a good friend and knows how easily I can be persuaded to drop everything for the opportunity to play with wire. That and a cupcake bribe will work every time! :-)

So, we came up with a basic plan & color scheme and agreed on an asymmetrical look. I started by  making a "dahlia" focal and wiring it to a silver neck collar. Adding some randomly spaced beads and wrapping a strand of twisted wire through the piece completed the look. One final adjustment of the coils to create the illusion of a vine and voila! What do you think?

And she wears it so well!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bead Soup Bangle

Speaking of bead soup projects, here's a free tutorial I wrote for Consumer Crafts a while back, and it is also currently up at favecrafts....enjoy!

  • Bead Soup * (this one has tiger eye chips, pearls, copper beads, and blue seed beads)
  • (1) roll 24 ga. copper wire
  • Pre-made Cuff
  • Wire cutters
  1. Make a *bead soup by mixing miscellaneous beads ranging in size from 2 – 6 mm in colors that coordinate with copper wire.
  2. Wrap the entire cuff with 24 ga copper wire.
  3. Cut approx 2'  of 24 ga copper wire and anchor one end of the wire near the center of the cuff by wrapping it around the cuff a few times.
  4. String beads randomly, a few inches at a time and begin wrapping back and forth in a random pattern on the cuff. Take care not to let the wire pull the top and bottom of the cuff together.
  5. Keep wrapping and adding beads as desired. Add more wire when required. Stop when you are happy with the result. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sea Glass Scribble Collar

I have more idea's than time to create so when I can crank out something that looks like it took hours, but really evolved fairly quickly, I'm all over it! This technique involves annealing copper wire, "scribbling" with it around a neck mandrel and then hardening it with a rubber mallet. I have used this technique to make rings, cuffs and earrings as well. Lots of fun and no two are ever the same!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kiln Fired Vs Torch Fired Enameling

I took 2 great enameling classes at Bead Fest Philly this weekend; a Kiln Fired Enamel Bangle class with Jean Van Brederode and Torch Fired Enameling with Steven James. Both were excelent instructors, knew their stuff and very generous in sharing tips, tools and techniques. All other things being equal; I evaluated the pro's and con's of the firing methods only and here is what I came up with;

Kiln Firing Pro's                             Kiln Firing Con's
Fast                                               Kiln is expensive
Efficient                                          ~and not very portable
Only size limitation
~is the size of the kiln                                      

Torch Firing Pro's                           Torch Firing Con's
Torch is relatively inexpensive          Labor intensive
If you like playing with fire,              Only small pieces can be torch fired
~you're in luck!                                          

A limited attention span and the desire for instant gratification being at the heart of most of my artwork, I have to say that I prefer working with the kiln. And a kiln with all the bells and whistles is not needed, it just has to hold a temp of 1500 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes.

Now where did I put that copper sheet.....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Swarovski's?

I confess, I didn't....I thought they were a bit....ahem....pretentious but I've seen the light courtesy of my good friend Lilian Chen. What she can do with a few crystals and some wire is mind blowing. Check out her work as a Swarovski Ambassador if you want to see for yourself.

And so, newly inspired, I'm humming while I work....I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love, with a beautiful (crystal) bead! :-)
Inspired by Lilian Chen      

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party

So I joined this group a few days ago and am signed up for my first ever bead soup blog party! The idea is that everyone gets a partner and we send each other beads, not just any beads, but pretty beads, beads that we would like to work with ourselves. The beads must include a focal and a pretty toggle, no lobsters and no junk. My favorite newest beads are these great copper components that I found at last weeks bead show so I am sending my partner a copper leaf focal and a matching toggle. Then I pulled a bunch of beads I thought might go nicely. What do you think? Is this a set of beads you would enjoy working with? I would....but then I'm a bit off the beaten path....:-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pasadena Bead & Design Show 7/11

I was so privileged to spend a week in California with the WireKnitZ team; we had a blast checking out Olde Town Pasadena, the high light of which was an evening at a local Tapas Restaurant with a real live flamenco dancer accompanied by a super talented classical guitarist! Crossing it off my bucket list....

At the show itself, there were so many talented artists that my brain went into creative overload and lost it's ability to monitor credit card spending...sigh. But on the plus side, I came home with fabulous new beads for the shop, a Barbara Younge sweater and a great knit hat that makes me look like a 1940's gal. Can't wait for winter! :-)  Oh, and I almost forgot the rings...yes....more than one....but the most original designs I've ever seen!!!

Along with my friend Norma Melton who heads up our team, we were delighted to welcome Susan Blessinger, our newest WKZ rep on the west coast; a lovely lady and a total California gal! We also met Alejandra Aceves, who took to WKZ like a duck to water, check out the ring she made!

But the icing on the cake was spending some time with the super talented Lilian Chen, an original wire designer, if ever there was one. I took a class with her and now know how to "follow the curve". If you ever have a chance to take her class, jump on it! We are scheming getting her out here to Ohio to teach. Stay tuned for details....

So now that I've sufficiently recovered from jetlag, returned most of my emails and updated my blog, I think I'll call it a day!