Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Tie-Dyed Copper Cuff

There is a brand spanking, shiny, new copper cuff in my Etsy shop this morning.

It started as sheet copper.

I cut a narrow strip, and deeply acid-etched it to achieve the texture, and then colored it with alcohol inks. Then I gently sanded the surface of the strip to take all the color off my texture ridges, so that my lovely etched texture, and the beautiful copper,  showed.

This picture shows the strip before I shellacked it to achieve the permanent, colorfast, shiny finish shown in the picture above. See my beautiful texture?

Alcohol inks are wondrous (yep, alcohol inks from the scrapbooking section!) While their color selection is quite narrow, there are so many different ways they can be used to color metal!

I loved the look of this "tie-dyed" strip of metal, and just wanted it to be shiny. Is that asking so much?? I already knew from previous experimenting with the alcohol inks that if I used embossing powder to seal the finish and give it shine, all the colors would bleed together, and I would end up with the hippie version of my "Spinach Omelet" pendant:

Alcohol inks LOVE to bleed, and blend, and comingle.

And that was not what I wanted. I pondered for several days before figuring out how to achieve my shiny, colorfast finish while preventing color bleed. The method I finally hit on still allowed a small amount of bleeding where the color blocks meet, and unfortunately it was just enough to partially obscure the beautiful texturing I worked so hard to achieve, but if you look closely, the texture is still there.

So anyway, I cut and prepped a much wider piece of copper, and deeply etched it again with the same texture as the color strip, attached the color strip to the cuff with decorative grommets, shaped the cuff, and then folded the corners up to provide a more comfortable fit. No rough edges!!

I tumbled it for hours and hours to achieve this brilliant polished shine, and here are lots more pictures of the cuff:

It is 2 inches wide, and approximately a size 7. It is malleable enough to be shaped to conform to your individual wrist comfortably, and can be shaped down to a size 6, or up to a 7.5 (not repeatedly, mind you - but if you aren't a size 7, it can be adjusted by its new owner for perfect fit!)

And while I was waiting for the acid to etch, and the inks to dry, I made a lovely, whimsical pair of unicorn earrings for the Regretsy fans out there.

I haven't listed these in my Etsy shop, but will, upon serious inquiry. I have pics from multiple angles available!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BSBP Beads are Here! The challenge begins!

My Bead Soup Blog Party beads are here!

My partner is Tammy Jones, of Interweave's Jewelry Making DailyJMD is on Facebook, too!

This mix includes a large carnelian ring, assorted turquoise nuggets, bamboo coral nuggets, and sponge coral nuggets, a long strand of small turquoise barrel beads in a delicious greenish shade, some beautiful faceted aventurine rounds, and a silver toggle. I am overwhelmed by how many beads Tammy was able to fit in that box!

Now I have to figure out where to go with them!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waiting with Bated Breath

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my bead soup party beads from my partner, Tammy Jones, of Interweave's Jewelry Making Daily. Can't wait to get started creating!

I check the mail box several times a day!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flight of the Dragonfly

I switched things up a little; I actually started AND finished a jewelry design without letting myself get distracted by other projects.

This is "Flight of the Dragonfly."

Its working title was "Kitchen Sink", because I started off by laying out on my workbench all the various components I wanted to incorporate: beautiful etched lampwork beads, some green fire agate, the porcelain dragonfly component, brown freshwater pearls, Czech glass accents, some bronze metal disc beads, Swarovski crystals, and lots of Vintaj Natural Brass components, including chain, wire, leaves, dragonflies (or butterflies - I can't tell), bead caps, and rings. Everything but the kitchen sink, it seemed!

By the time I had gathered everything and carefully laid it out, I couldn't see my work surface anymore, and had to shove everything a lot closer together in order to have about 8 square inches to work!

There is so much going on in this necklace, and I just love how it turned out!

2 very different elements converged to inspire this piece.

One was this beautiful porcelain Dragonfly focal connector. I had bought it several weeks ago, and it was actually for sale in the shop (my B&M bead shop), but I guess it was burned into my subconscious.

I told you a couple of weeks ago about my foray into alcohol inks.

I have played around with a lot of colors, and designs, and different spins on the technique, and we actually dedicated an entire studio day to seeing how many different ways we could use alcohol inks, embossing powder, and paints on various metals.

Shortly after that studio day, I walked past the display where the dragonfly focal was, and picked it up, and started grabbing various leaf and dragonfly Vintaj pieces, and began playing with the techniques to color my metal components. I didn't want them all to look the same, so there are actually 4 different coloration techniques demonstrated here.

And it never occurred to me that it would take a mighty big necklace to work all these components together!

I just started walking around the shop with the porcelain dragonfly and my colored metal components, and began grabbing things here and there that went together, and soon I had an awful lot of stuff to put together!

It didn't take long for me to realize that I needed a matching jumprings, in several different sizes, in order to make this all work, so I wound coils of Vintaj Natural Brass wire, in 5 different sizes, and 2 different gauges, and then cut and tumbled them.

This picture shows what I called "phase I." It has the porcelain dragonfly focal, one of the lampwork beads, and a few of the colored Vintaj components. There is a Vintaj ring (to the left of the focal in this pic) that I embellished with a picot stitch. Everything is connected with chain, jumprings, and some artful wire-wrapping that serves both as a structural component and a design element.

The porcelain dragonfly focal bead had 3 holes, and I love the chain tassel I created (with the little dragonfly flitting by!)

It was at this point that I realized this was going to be more than a one strand necklace. I had only used a few of the specially-colored Vintaj elements that I specifically created for this piece. And only one of the lampwork beads! And none of the unusual green fire agate. And by gosh, I was going to use everything I had picked out!!

After all, my motto is More is More! I am the queen of embellishing!

And all this time realizing that my components and wire-wrapping couldn't extend up around my neck, or I wouldn't be able to wear my own design.

Here is "Phase II."

I have added another of the lampwork beads, and another of my green Vintaj leaves. And in order to balance the second strand, I worked in some more of my luscious bronze metal discs, and needed a 3rd focal element for the other side of the second strand, so I got up and searched for yet another element to add to this necklace! I found an abalone donut with the perfect colors, so I borrowed a page from Denise Peck's brand new book on Wire Findings, and used Vintaj Wire to wrap the abalone donut and incorporated it into the second strand.
I still had components I wanted to add, and I wanted to soften all the wire and metal elements, and in my mind I saw a 3rd strand, softly nestled between the 2 strands here, consisting of off-white freshwater pearls, small teal seed beads, and delicate Vintaj Natural Brass chain, all twisted together.

And I couldn't do any more embellishing to the top strand until I had that middle strand in place.

This might have been the point where I realized I had lost my mind, or should have stepped back for a reality check. Danger, Will Robinson!!

I strung the seed beads, one at a time.

I strung the off-white button pearls, one at a time.

I sat there, twisting them with the Vintaj chain, trying to figure out how to attach this torsade element without using another bulky component (e.g. a cone), but none of the beadcaps I had were large enough to cover the crimps. So I ultimately ran the pin holding the crimped seed beads, pearls, and the chain up through a cone, and attached it to one side of the necklace. And the 3 strands hung there on the bust (the seed bead strand and the pearl strand clamped of with Bead Stoppers) while I tried to figure out how to calculate the correct length, twisted, to get this strand into position. I didn't want to be stringing and restringing, crimping and recrimping, and repeatedly re-wrapping the headpin on the other side. I just wanted to do this once!

And then it sat there on my workbench for 2 full days while I played with it, held it up, tried it on, and procrastinated. I was so determined to attach this middle strand just once. (LOL)

I knew I just needed to go for it - make my best calculated guess at the length, and if it was wrong, it was wrong. I pulled the crimps through the wrapped loop on the other headpin, and hung the chain on the pin; ran the headpin through the cone; tried it on while holding the headpin/cone in position, and it looked great.
So I crimped everything, wrapped the loop, and tried it on, crossing my fingers. Because I really didn't want to do this part over.

Too bad I forgot to calculate for the length of my wrapped loop where the 2nd cone attached to the necklace. Because sure enough, the twisted 3rd strand was exactly 2mm too long. Just the length of my wrapped loop! The middle strand just didn't hang exactly in the middle between strands one and three. While it wasn't touching the 3rd strand, it was hanging just low enough to bug me. And if Momma ain't happy, she won't be wearing the necklace.

I pouted for about 15 minutes, and then cut the offending wrapped loop.

I tried to salvage my stringing efforts by carefully cutting the crimps, hoping to avoid having to restring the pearls and seed beads. HA! I spent an hour trying to avoid the restring, and ultimately couldn't get the crimps off. I actually shredded the beading wire trying to remove the crimps. So I started all over, and got it right the 2nd time. Yay!

I began embellishing again, hanging dangles here and there. I managed to include all my desired elements and while it looks a little crowded on the bust, remember that it hangs differently on any real person, as the bust's neck measures only about 12 inches. So when worn, the 3 strands and all the various elements spread out nicely and evenly.

Ta Da!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party

So excited to be a participant in the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Watch here for a picture of the beads I'm mailing to my partner, and the ones I receive, and ultimately, what I create!

Bead Soup Blog Party

Alcohol Inks, Embossing Powders? Scrapbooking? Nooooo....

Seems like I spend more and more time in the scrapbooking aisles at JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, and Michael's. Each of these stores carry different, intriguing items that I'm incorporating into my jewelry!

These are Vintaj Natural Brass components, that I have colored with a combination of alcohol inks and Perfect Pearls paint, and then the dragonflies were embossed with glittery embossing powder and a heat gun. These items are for my current project - kind of a "kitchen sink" necklace, as I am tossing in a little bit of everything I have media-wise, and having a blast! Will post the entire necklace once it is done! Alcohol inks and embossing powders courtesy of the scrapbooking aisles.

This is a strip of copper that was textured, and then colored with alcohol inks, and will soon be riveted or grommeted to a larger strip of copper to create a copper cuff. Alcohol inks, rivets, grommets? All from the scrapbooking aisles!

Another piece I colored with alcohol inks, and then embossed with a different technique, causing all the alcohol inks to run. I call this one "Spinach Omelet." Do you see it?

Then I bought a Big Shot. And lots of embossing folders - thank you, JoAnn's Online, and your 40% off coupon!! Had NO idea what to do with the Big Shot, but it was on sale!!

Then a friend show me how to texture the metal with the folders and the big shot, and another world opened up! This piece was run through the Big Shot, and colored with alcohol inks. And I riveted on a few gears I had cut out of the brass.

This rose was created by deeply etched with acid, painted with alcohol inks, and then embossed with clear powder and the heat gun

These earrings and the pair below were creating with dimensional stickers (from the scrapbooking aisle, of course) and embossing powders. Clear powder for the bees, and matte powder for the starfish. Not sure which I like better!

Showing off this pendant just to demonstrate the use of a grommet (again, from the scrapbooking aisle) as a connector for the bail.

So, you might want to check out the scrapbooking section (if you haven't already) to get some ideas!
And if you know of some scrapbooking ideas I am missing, please share! I'm hooked!