Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worth every minute!

Sunday was Metal Studio Day again, something a small group of us try to do once a month. Often we go in 12 different directions, and just do our own thing, but this time we decided to tackle one project together.

The project on the cover of the Oct-Nov 2011 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry had been calling out to us ever since we received the issue in the shop last month. The colors are "my colors" - seems like I am always returning to blue and green when I make jewelry, and green and blue look so fabulous with copper!

This necklace was a mix of cold connections and wire work, and we knew it would take a large chunk of time to create, so we gathered at 9:30 Sunday morning, and started to create.

I have to say that this project was unusually poorly written for a Step by Step Wire project; I can't recall ever seeing such vague instructions in a Step-by-Step project. To begin with, rather than telling you how much wire to use for the base piece, the instructions call for working directly off the wire spool, and coiling until "you have the right size". Yet the "right size" is never specified, and when a group of people are trying to create a project where they are sharing one spool of wire, they can't all "work off the spool" - an approximate length, and a template, would have been very helpful. So we spent quite some time on this step, futzing around, and wasting a lot of wire.

The size of this coiled wire base - its width, the height of its coils, and the number of coils - is critical to all the rest of the steps in the project, and determines the number and size of the beads and domed copper cups that will fill in the design. Without any clear measurements provided by the project, we sort of worked in the dark, cutting and doming our copper cups ("Make as many as you like.") while the base coil tumbled, not knowing really how many or what sizes we needed. But we made several different sized domed cups, and then had fun rummaging through the shop looking for green, blue, and brown beads to add to our project.

I decided to patina some of my copper cups using a method described in my brand new copy of Jewelry Lab.

This is an exciting book for metal workers - loaded with tips, tricks, and project ideas. I am particularly excited about the patina section right now, and after my success with the colored pencil & gesso technique, I can't wait to try more ideas from this book.

These are my colored-pencil patinated discs - I really like how they turned out, and it was so easy!

Assembling the necklace was tricky, as we discovered that getting the beads and copper cups to wrap tightly was not going to work as described in Step 6. We each attached 4 or 5 units according to these instructions, and they slid and wobbled on the base, so we figured out how to use some 24g wire to stabilize their attachments, and then we modified the attachment instructions for the rest of the units, to get a nice tight wrap onto the coil.

We finished the project, attaching the copper chain and S-hook as the last step, at 7:30 PM. So from start to finish, 10 hours. And worth every minute. Though some measurements and a template for the base coil would have saved us over an hour - but, to use my very least favorite colloquialism, it is what it is.

I am absolutely thrilled with my finished necklace, and now that I have completed the project and worked out the kinks, I am ready to make another one!

Edited 10/24/11 to add: In respect to the Step-by-Step Wire project instructions: A customer came into my bead shop on 10/22/11 and perused this particular article after noticing the project picture on the front of the issue. After about 4 minutes, she commented on how badly written the instructions were, and asked how she was supposed to know how much wire to purchase in order to make the project? Good point - I had only looked at it from the aspect of making it as a group; as a bead shop owner, I had not even considered the difficulty a customer would encounter if trying to purchase supplies for this project.


Marian Hertzog said...

I am with you on loving greens and blues and I think you did a great job on this. I love it!

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks, Marian - it was challenging, yet fun, and it feels so great to finish something!

Maggie said...

Wow! Impressive! Love the idea of getting a group together to tackle projects like that. Your color pencil patina is gorgeous as is your final masterpiece.

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks, Maggie - it really makes it easier and more fun to try new ideas when you have a group of brains to pick from!

LissC said...

that is a really cool necklace!!! thanks so much for sharing :)

Pam @ The Blue Between said...

I love that! Wonderful!!

dreaminofbeads said...

I can't wait to try the gesso and colored pencils. Beautiful necklace.

Sweet Freedom said...

That Jewelry Lab looks like a good book, huh? LOL
Wish I could find my copy now!

Can't wait to play with my 132 pencil Prismacolor set!