Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy but a little sad, too...

So this pendant has finally found a new home with a lovely buyer in Chicago:

Wire Wrapped Cabochon Pendant - Copper and Amazonite

I'm happy to to make a sale, of course. But I'm just a little sad to see this pendant go. I had a lot of fun making it - it was one of those creations that kind of took on a life of its own and turned out differently than what I thought it would be when I started.

But I'm glad someone found it in my shop and liked it enough to buy it. I hope it makes them as happy wearing it and looking at it as it did for me making it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Adventures in metalsmithing

I finally got brave, ordered a couple pieces of copper sheet metal and sat down to teach myself how to make bezel settings for cabochons. And I quickly realized that soldering copper is a giant pain in the ass.

I don't know if it's user error or if copper is just stubborn and naturally a pain in the ass, but it takes me three times as long to solder two pieces of copper together than it does silver. Everything seems to oxidize faster and the thick copper sheet for the backing is just at the edge of heating limit of my little torch.

But I finally beat (melted?) all the pieces into submission and managed to make a copper bezel setting for a small cabochon. It's ugly, and I think I'm just going to take the stone out and use it somewhere else, but making it helped me figure out the basics.

My second attempt is much prettier...

I soldered piece of square silver wire around the edge of the bezel and cut the backing a little larger to make the setting look a little more interesting. Then I realized that I hadn't quite measured the silver wire quite right and there was a gap between the bezel and the wire, which bothered me. (This is how most of my designs end up - I get halfway through making something then change direction to fix a mistake.) So I made a little silver and copper leafy vine that wrapped over the top part of the bezel to cover the gap. I'm happy with how it turned out - some of my favorite pieces are the ones where I had to improvise.

This weekend I think I'm going to make some sort of copper chain with a few silver vine links to hang this from.

I still have a few more cabochons to play around with, but they are bigger than these two. I'm probably going to have to go out to the garage and use my MAPP gas beadmaking torch to get enough heat to be able to solder the bezels to the larger backings.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Exciting Jewelry News

Well, it's really just the same jewelry news, just more info about it.

I mentioned before that a local bead shop found my Etsy store and asked me to come in so they could check out the things I made, to see if they were anything that they might want me to teach a class about.

They picked out four of my designs and I now have three classes scheduled for their spring session.

Wire Wrapped Beaded Earrings

Using a number of intermediate wire wrapping techniques, this class will teach you to make two unique styles of wire wrapped earrings: Boho Beaded Teardrops and Crystal Wrapped Swirl Earrings.

Date: Saturday, May 18th - 10:30-1:30
Location: Beadworld Seattle - 9520 Roosevelt Way, Seattle, WA 98115
Go to for information on how to sign up

Wire Wrapped Bird's Nest Pendants

This class will teach you a fast and easy way to make your own wire wrapped, realistic looking bird's nest pendant. You will have time in class to learn the technique and then practice making multiple bird's nests. Once you learn this technique, you will be able personalize your bird's nests with different numbers and colors of 'eggs' and adapt your nests to make earrings as well.

Date: Sunday, May 19th - 10:30-1:30
Location: Beadworld Seattle - 9520 Roosevelt Way, Seattle, WA 98115
Go to for information on how to sign up

Ornate Wire Wrapped Donuts

Not sure what to do with all the pretty gemstone and glass donut components you have in your supply stash? This wire wrapping project class will teach you a way to surround your donut in an ornate fringe of wire, crystals, and metal beads.

Date: Sunday, June 9th - 10:30-1:30
Location: Beadworld Seattle - 9520 Roosevelt Way, Seattle, WA 98115
Go to for information on how to sign up

Monday, February 18, 2013

Since you asked, my day was great!

Actually, it was kind of a busy day for me today - I took the bus into downtown Seattle to check out a jewelry supply shop (I hate driving and parking downtown. The bus takes longer, but I don't have to pay attention to traffic or search for parking), managed to take the slightly wrong bus home, found the right bus to get me home from where I ended up, then finally got home and cleaned the entire upstairs AND did laundry, then I finished up one of my latest soldered jewelry pieces. All before dinner. Oh, and I made dinner, too. (Don't ask me about the dishes...)

Take a look!

It just needs a trip through my brand new tumbler, but it will have to wait a few days until the steel shot that I ordered is delivered. I'm excited for that new delivery because I also ordered a few sheets of copper as well as some lab-created rubies and sterling stone settings. Now I'll get to try my hand at bezels and stone setting!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Playing with fire

As I said before, I have been wanting to try out new jewelry techniques so that I can expand my shop. So I finally got around to ordering a huge shipment of fine silver and soldering supplies. Then I went crazy with my new butane torch. And it's so fun!!

Here's my little setup on my desk with my mini-torch, heat proof surface (a ceramic tile I found in the garage), soldering pad, quenching bowl, and flux. I crack open the window above my desk for a little bit of air flow and I have a mini fire extinguisher in the room in case of a disaster. I went with a low tech and cheap option for pickle to remove firescale - hot vinegar and salt - it smells horrible, but it works very well and is totally non-toxic (I also do that in the kitchen where the smell won't linger as long).

First I tried out fusing fine silver. Fine silver is a bit more expensive than sterling, but fusing it is so easy without having to deal with flux and solder and pickling. I started out making ring bands from heavy gauge wire. I also ordered a steel ring mandrel so that I can hammer the heck out of the ring bands to texture them. Which is very satisfying... Here are some of my first creations.

I made myself a new (temporary) replacement wedding band set, with two plain and one textured band (because my fingers have gotten a wee bit too fat for my actual engagement and wedding bands.) I left them as three unconnected bands and I kind of like being able to twist them around - it helps keep my hands occupied when I'm feeling fidgety.

Wow, my hand looks wrinkly close up...

I also made a whole bunch of simple thin stacking rings and listed them in my shop.

Available here in my shop.

Also available here in my shop.

And that pretty much depleted my new order of fine silver, so I ordered more, a lot more. And moved on to soldering sterling silver.

Now, I'll just say upfront that I definitely subscribe to the notion that you have to make mistakes to learn. And luckily, with all the disastrous mistakes that could occur when holding a 2000° flame in your hand, all I managed to do was accidentally melt a balled headpin. Still, the abstract spatter that occurred when it hit the ceramic tile was interesting. I rolled with that, and melted that spatter into a ball and soldered it onto my first little tiny sterling silver ring.

And then I tried my hand at soldering a copper ring. I used some scrap sterling to make silver balls to cover up the silver line where I soldered the ring together. It's a little rustic, since I still haven't exactly gotten the hang of making pretty silver balls that don't have pits and dents in them.

Having gotten the hang of soldering, I made a pair of earring out of various size rings (and that is also listed in my shop.)

You guessed it! For sale in my shop.

I'm really glad I took the plunge and learned how to solder. I still really enjoy wire wrapping and I will keep making new wire wrapped jewelry, but soldering will open up new forms of jewelry that I can add to my shop. Next up will be sheet metal, and learning to make bezels for cabochons.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In the library

It has been a pretty quiet few weeks in my house, with both my husband and me down with some sort of flu/cold/crud. I spent most of my time sitting around, alternating between sleeping, blowing my nose, and reading. Since the other two aren't really fit for blog topics, here's what I've been reading lately:

The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch, starting with Midnight Riot - I really like these! They are a blend of crime/detective fiction and fantasy/sci-fi. The main character is a police officer who has been transferred to a special department of the London police force that deals with crimes of a magical nature. I like that they stand out from other current urban fantasy series - they are set in London, the main character is male (and black) and it is true urban fantasy, rather than paranormal romance (there is sex, but it's a bonus, not the focus).

In my pile to read next:

Eclectic enough? From the top is paranormal romance, historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and science fiction short stories. Hopefully I can get to all of these before I have to take them back to the library (unlikely, though... I think poor Bradbury is going to go back unread.)