Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beaded Beads

Confession: I am addicted to this right angle weave (RAW) beaded bead. The pattern ("Amphora") is from "Beaded Opulence" by Marcia DeCoster, and I have stitched it 3 times already, and have pulled beads to stitch it 2 more times!

Amphora Beaded Bead on Tubular Herringbone Rope, stitched by Sweet Freedom Designs

For this particular colorway, I used 3 different colors of Swarovskis, including one of my favorites: Cyclamen Opal. I also used gold-fumed lilac seed beads. I stitched a tubular herringbone rope to support the bead.

I have played around with different bead choices (colors AND sizes) for this bead, and keep telling myself I am going to make one without Swarovskis, for a more casual look, but I just can't seem to keep that promise! The Swarovski bicones make this bead so opulent!

Here's another colorway I've stitched (but still using the gold-fumed lilac Tohos - I love this seed bead color!):

 Amphora Beaded Bead, stitched by Sweet Freedom Designs

Thanks to Marcia for putting this collection of RAW patterns together - it's a fantastic book, full of inspiring ideas!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peacock Peyote

I stitched this 3-drop peacock feather peyote bracelet in July, 2013. I love peacocks!

Peacock feather 3-drop peyote bracelet

The pattern is from Bead and Button - it was an online extra, and the download included a zebra-striped bracelet, too (which I also stitched). I chose flashy silver and blue vitrail 3mm firepolish beads for the picot edging, which couldn't have been more perfect!

I was almost finished, and actually stitching the button onto the bracelet, when a friend came to visit at the bead shop. She fell in love with the bracelet, and insisted on having it, and I couldn't refuse! She let me take a couple of quick pics before she wore it home.

If you share my peacock love, I have a (growing) peacock-themed board on Pinterest - take a look!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Little Christmas Present for Myself

A couple of months ago, as part of the Patterns for Tigger fundraiser on Facebook, Carol Dean Sharpe created a set of peyote pattern graphs from a picture I'd taken of Tigger. (Thanks again, CD!)

I loved the patterns, and all the colorways, so I set out to stitch them - since I couldn't pick a favorite, naturally, I stitched them all!

As I looked at them, I decided that rather than wear them as bracelets, I wanted to display them, so I took them to a local framer. They frame lots of needlepoint, but had never done beadwork, and once I told him each was made from glass beads, he was a bit leery about mounting them to the mat, so he sent me home with the matting. I tacked each one to the mat, then took them back to the frame shop to complete the process:

Framed set of 4 peyote stitch Tiggers

And now they are hanging on the wall in my shop, and they are gorgeous!

Here are the "bracelets" before I matted them:

colorful bracelets stitched from CD's peyote graphs

This is the picture of Tigger that the pattern was created from:

Tigger, 8/17/14

All 4 peyote graphs are available as in a bundled tutorial in my Etsy shop.

Thanks again to Carol Dean for her contribution to this, and for creating the Patterns for Tigger group on Facebook. Thanks to all who participated, Tigger is alive and thriving. He still has diarrhea and periodic abdominal pain and distress, and most likely will be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. He's on a special diet, and is growing - he's a very active, happy 6 month old puppy, and just graduated from puppy obedience:

Tigger's graduation portrait, 12/14/14

He starts an intermediate obedience class this Sunday. He loves his school!

Tigger and I send warm Holiday greetings to all our friends, and special thanks to the wonderful Patterns for Tigger group!

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Hammer and I have been very, very busy

I have not worked with metals for a long while; I have been blissfully wrapped up in seed beads, beadweaving away, when not tending to a sick puppy.... but more about Tigger later...

I taught a cold connections workshop a couple of weeks ago, and made a few things while I was teaching:

This contemporary, geometric necklace combines sterling silver and copper, my own enameled headpins, and a beautiful piece of kyanite - I love this necklace!

Also during that workshop I made a pair of long copper and sterling earrings, very similar to this pair:

The pair I made during the workshop sold in my B&M shop within 10 minutes of the time I listed them on Etsy, so I sat down last week and made another pair (seen above), plus some other stuff - I hadn't forgotten how much I loved working with metal, but it was hard to pull myself away from the siren call of the seed beads!

Here are some other creations from last week:

Three different chevron necklaces:

This one combines copper, aluminum, and brass chevrons, hanging from dark Vintaj Natural brass chain - I really love the contrast of all these metals combined!

For this one, I simply stuck to copper, and I think the result is very nice!

This chevron necklace combines hammered copper with a thin brass chevron. I used Vintaj Natural brass jumprings to connect the two, and hung the chevrons from copper rolo chain.

Lastly, these hammered copper earrings, wrapped with artistic wire, available in 3 colors:

 Hammered copper earrings with royal blue wire wrap

The last pair isn't on Etsy yet, because I forgot to take photos of them hanging - I'll get that done, probably tomorrow.

I noticed, while creating all these listings, that my camera has something foggy going on - I hope it is fingerprints or dog slobber on the lens; something I can fix, because I cannot afford to get this camera serviced AGAIN. It was MIA for over 3 months the last time I needed repairs! The flash has quit working on it, so I need to get it fixed, but there's no money!

Can someone with a critical eye take a look at a couple of these listings on Etsy, and let me know in the comments below whether you think I need to retake THESE pictures? I really don't want to, and the blurry spots in them really bug me, but I think the photos are clear enough for the product listings, but I'd love a second, and third, and 4th opinion!

I'm going back to the seed beads this week (I've missed them!), but I have an idea for a series of metalwork pieces, so I'll be starting with that soon - I'm still in the sketching phase right now.

So, back to Tigger. He is doing much better now. He's healed and recovered from his surgery, but his diarrhea never resolved, so he is now being evaluated for inflammatory bowel disease (little guy just never gets a break!). He is on an extremely restrictive diet (no treats!), and the diarrhea is much better, but still there. The intestinal gas is finally gone, and I can tell he feels better. He is SO active and energetic! He has started obedience classes, and is doing well, although he can be very stubborn and uncooperative (much like his mom). If he doesn't feel like coming when called, he is Just. Not. Gonna.

We see the doctor day after tomorrow, to see what the next step is after these 2 weeks of extreme dietary restriction. I'm hoping we can start to add back some dietary elements, trying to find which ones really upset his tummy and which ones are OK. School is very hard with no treats for reward! Plus, he is going nuts watching me eat Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, and not share with him - it bugs me, too! He's so cute!

There are still tutorials and kits available in my Etsy shop, where all proceeds go to help with Tigger's ever-mounting medical expenses. And, of course, all jewelry purchases from my shop also go to help with the bills!

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post, and have a great week! If you have a minute, leave me a comment, and tell me what you think about the blurry photos!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blog Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the 3 winners of our Blog Giveaway!

The $50 SandFibers gift certificate goes to KJ,
The $35 gift certificate to either my Etsy shop OR my B&M bead shop goes to Rita,
and the gift certificate for a seed bead kit from my shop goes to Gail S.

I will be contacting the winners by e-mail right away. Please join me in congratulating them, and I want to thank everyone who participated and helped with this giveaway. Special thanks to Carol Dean Sharpe for donating one of the prizes!

 Tigger showing off his new tummy scar

There is still time to help out with Tigger's expenses - click here to see a full list of the tutorials and kits that have been donated to help Tigger, or visit LoveAnimals to donate directly. Thanks for your help!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blog Giveaway for Tigger - Awesome Prizes, and not just for Beaders!

As you may know, my puppy, Tigger, has had a rough start in life. I won't detail all his medical issues again (you can read about them here and here), but he is finally home from the hospital after extensive surgery, and is on the mend. In fact, tomorrow we drive back to his surgeon in Columbia to get his sutures and staples removed, and hopefully he'll be cleared for full activity! (I'm supposed to be keeping this 3-month old bundle of puppy energy calm ... LOL!)

 Tigger wearing his post-op T-shirt (to protect his incision) and his inflatable collar to keep him from chewing

Carol Dean Sharpe (of SandFibers) and Nancy Dale (NEDbeads) have organized a Facebook Group called Patterns for Tigger to help me with Tigger's medical bills, and we also have a separate Fundraiser on LoveAnimals.org.

 Tigger playing with Chance, his stuffed doggy (one of Bailey's old toys)

Here are the patterns donated for Tigger's expenses, courtesy of some very talented beaders and designers:

 Carol Dean's Corrugated Mixed Metals Peyote Cuff

100% of the purchase price of this pattern will go toward Tigger's expenses if you purchase it between now and October 23.

Nancy's Summertime Wrap Bracelet tutorial; 100% of the proceeds from the purchase of this pattern go to Tigger's bills. Nancy's generous offer expires October 8 (when the pattern will return to her shop), so you have to hurry to snap this one up!

Summertime Wrap Bracelet tutorial by NEDbeads

Ella of Ellad2 has donated the tutorial for her Alcira bracelet, an elegant and sparkly bracelet made with seed beads, metallic Marino Ice fire-polished beads, and SuperDuos. 100% of the proceeds from this pattern go towards Tigger expenses UNTIL October 26, when the pattern will return to her shop, so the clock is ticking on this one, too!

Alcira bracelet tutorial by Ellad2

Beki Haley of Whimbeads is donating 15% of the purchase price of her Dragon's Tail Tutorial/Kits. These are available in 4 enticing colorways: purple, copper, cream, and bronze.

Purple Dragon's Tail Kit and Tutorial, by Beki Haley

Karen Waterston of Endless Sparkle has donated her Hex-A-Gon Fling Tutorial.

100% of the purchase price of this bold, graphic odd-count peyote pattern goes toward Tigger's bills, and Karen is also allowing me to sell bead kits for this design - the kits are available here.

Cristie Prince has donated her Cleopatra bracelet tutorial; this sparkly bracelet features 8mm rondelles, 3mm crystal bicones, and various seed beads, and is an intermediate level beadweaving tutorial that includes cross-weaving, peyote, and netting techniques.

 Cleopatra bracelet tutorial by Cristie Prince

Susan Barrett of Bead Goddess Designs has doubled the beady goodness by donating 2 tutorials:

Mermaid's Treasure Chest -- a gorgeous sparkler worked on a netted base,

Mermaid's Treasure Chest bracelet tutorial by Susan Barrett

and her sparkly and colorful Stained Glass Bracelet tutorial, which is based on Herringbone, and uses Delicas, 15/0s, and Swarovski crystals:

Stained Glass Bracelet tutorial by Susan Barrett

Susan has taught both these patterns at Bead and Button in the past, and is allowing me to sell these patterns for as long as I need to!

Smadar Grossman, of Smadar'sTreasure, has donated her Rosita Bonita tutorial, a 2-in-1 package that contains both a bracelet and a necklace pattern; these use Superduos and a variety of seed beads.

Not to be outdone (not that it's a competition, ladies!), Carol Dean Sharpe surprised me last night with not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 gorgeous peyote graphs she created from this photo of Tigger I had posted on Facebook:
smiling Tigger

In addition to the gorgeous, natural Golden Retriever colors, she designed 3 eye-popping pop art-inspired colorways: red-blue, pink-turquoise, and heavy metal. These are all even-count peyote graphs, and I've bundled them together as one fantastic tutorial package, available in my Etsy shop.

 Golden Retriever puppy bracelet tutorial - natural colorway

 Golden Retriever puppy bracelet tutorial - blue-red colorway

 Golden Retriever puppy bracelet tutorial - pink-turquoise colorway

Golden Retriever puppy bracelet tutorial - heavy metal colorway

These will be available forever, and I think they'll appeal to a broad audience: Golden Retriever lovers, Dog lovers, puppy lovers, Tigger lovers, and all sorts of folks - don't you agree? Thanks, CD!

I'm working on making kits available for these - I have to order a lot of colors, but I hope to have them ready within 2-3 weeks.

Sales of my own Well-Traveled Superduo and 2-hole tile bracelet tutorial also go toward Tigger's expenses.

Sales of the kits for this bracelet pattern also go towards our cause - click here to see all the kits and tutorials available to help Tigger!

And we still aren't done! Here's one for non-beaders:

Katie Nelson of Katie's Creations has generous offered to stitch up my Well-Traveled bracelet for anyone who purchases the kit from my Etsy shop. That's right: purchase one of my Well-traveled kits, and Katie will stitch it for free* -- all you have to do is purchase the kit, and leave a note for seller at checkout telling me you want Katie to stitch it, and tell me your desired bracelet size. I'll provide a clasp, and ship the beads to Katie, and you'll receive a beautiful custom bracelet! (*You'll have to send Katie a small fee to cover her shipping the finished bracelet to you.) What a deal!

Despite the outpouring of generosity from Planet Bead and Tigger's many friends and family (both in real life and on Facebook), we are still falling short of our goal. Between our 2 fundraising opportunities, we have only reached 1/3 of our goal, for which I am very, very grateful, but we still have a long way to go!

To this end, I am putting together this blog giveaway! We have 3 prizes (and I can add more, if anyone else wants to donate - just contact me!): Carol Dean is offering a $50 gift certificate for her Etsy shop, good for patterns and/or finished jewelry, and I am offering 2 prizes: a $35 gifts certificate good for anything (patterns, kits, or jewelry) in my Etsy shop OR at YaYa Beads in Augusta, GA (one or the other - winner's choice!) AND one free seed bead kit from my shop - either a Well-Traveled kit, the Hex-A-Gon kit, or the yet-to-be-listed Tigger bracelet kits.

How can I enter, you must be asking by now?! Well, 3 prizes means 3 drawings, and 3 winners, so let's lay out the rules:

First, every purchase (jewelry, kits, tutorials) in my Etsy shop between now and midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) October 10, 2014, will be entered into the drawing for the $35 gift certificate to my shop. The entry will happen automatically, so the sale(s) itself IS your entry. Buy more than one item, get one entry for each item purchased, automatically EASY! Plus - you folks have been busily shopping in my shop while I've been writing this lengthy post, so any purchase since midnight last night will be automatically entered.

Second:  Make a donation directly to LoveAnimals.org in Tigger's name - here's the link. All donations made between today (October 5) and midnight, October 10, will also be entered into the drawing for the $35 gift certificate to my shop. Be sure and leave your e-mail address there when you donate, so I can contact you if you win.

Third, every comment on this blog post between now and midnight, October 10, will earn one entry for the remaining 2 gifts certificates (the $50 SandFibers gift certificate and the gift certificate for one free seed bead kit from MY shop). These must be unique, purposeful comments, though - don't spam me! You won't like me when I'm spammed! (Incredible Hulk reference, LOL). Please make sure that every comment you leave contains a way for me to contact you - either an e-mail address or a link to your Etsy shop. I need to be able to contact you if you win! If I cannot find you, I'll have to draw another name.

Here are some of the ways to make a qualifying blog comment:
  • Leave a comment here, telling me what kind of beaded jewelry you like to wear best, and why.
  • Leave a comment here, telling me what kind(s) of jewelry you make, and why you like that medium.
  • Leave a comment here, telling me how cute Tigger is, because, seriously - how can you resist that face?
  • Blog about this giveaway, and leave a comment here with a link to your blog post.
  • Tweet about this giveaway, and leave a comment here letting me know about your Tweet. Tweets must include the hashtags #giveaway and #PatternsForTigger, and also a link to this blog post. Here is a shortened URL for this post to make your tweeting easier: http://bit.ly/10C3RYH
  • Share this blog post on Facebook using this link, and leave a comment here letting me know you shared this post,
  • Visit the Patterns for Tigger Facebook page, find the post that links to this blog post, and share that Facebook post. Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you shared the Patterns for Tigger post linking to this blog post.

So that's at least NINE different ways to enter, SEVEN of which require SEVEN different blog comments on THIS blog post (make sure you are commenting on the correct blog post!)  Lots of ways to enter, several ways to win, but you have to get busy! This giveaway ends at midnight, Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, October 10, 2014. You are free to chooses as many methods to enter as you like - just enter! You can't win if you don't enter! And please be sure each of your comments contain a valid e-mail address or Etsy shop address for me to contact the winners!

I'll be drawing the 3 winners sometime on Saturday, October 11, and contacting the winners shortly thereafter.

So, good luck, and get going: Comment, Tweet, Share, and Blog away! The clock is ticking!

And be sure to visit the shops of the talented ladies above - they have many more wonderful designs to tempt you!

If you have a tutorial you'd like to donate to help Tigger, please let me know - he and I are very grateful for all the beading community has done for us!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tigger in the ICU

Just a short follow-up to yesterday's post about Tigger:

I drove down to Columbia and visited Tigger in the ICU this morning. He is doing very well, but isn't ready to come home yet - here are pics of him with all of his drains, IVs, and such:

Tigger in his hospital garb

Hopefully, I'll get to take him home soon! I miss him!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm still here ....

I can't believe it's been exactly 3 months since my last post. And no, I haven't done a thing yet with those toggles I soldered. But I will, one day.

It's not that I haven't been doing anything. I have been very busy beadweaving, but this post isn't about beads - we'll save that for another day.

On August 3, I adopted a new puppy!

 My sweet Tigger

Tigger is a golden retriever, and he is cute, and smart, ... and he's sick.

I'm not going to get into all the gory details here (if you want to read all about it, you can find it on my Facebook page. Every gory detail!).

The good news is, after months of pain, diarrhea, and other problems, and a couple of hospitalizations, the doctors finally found the problem yesterday afternoon, and the problem could be treated surgically. Last night, little Tigger had major surgery - parts of his small and large intestines had to be removed, and then surgically reconnected, and some other things also had to be done, and while he is still in ICU, he is finally on the mend, (although he will need monthly vitamin B12 injections for the rest of his life, because they had to remove the part of his intestine that absorbs B12). He has an appetite (for the first time since he came home with me), and is feeling much better, even though just 24 hours ago this tiny puppy had major surgery. It breaks my heart to think how long he has been suffering, because not a week has gone by that he hasn't seen the doctor at least once (sometimes 3 and 4 times!), and he's had test after test after test, but no one suspected a surgical problem until Monday night.

The bad news is - this has more than wiped me out, financially.

There are a couple of fund raising efforts going on right now that I wanted to let everyone know about:

LoveAnimals.org allows pet owners like me to create a web page for situations just like this - they call these FriendRaisers, and here is the link to Tigger's FriendRaiser. I'm so grateful to our many generous friends who have already donated $890 toward Tigger's bills. The money raised here goes directly to Tigger's vets, and if you feel like you CAN donate, and would like to help (every little bit helps!), I hope you'll visit the link and read more about it. Tigger and I greatly appreciate it!

The other fundraising effort is on Facebook, where the beading community has banded together to create Patterns for Tigger. Some very talented beadweavers, including Nancy Dale (NEDbeads),  Beki Haley (WhimBeads), and Carole Dean Sharpe (SandFibers) are donating the proceeds from certain of their beadweaving tutorials and kits towards helping us out. And of course, all proceeds from anything purchased in my Etsy shop will go towards Tigger's bills, and if you like the look of my Well-Traveled bracelet, but are NOT a beadweaver, Katie Nelson has offered to stitch the bracelet for free for anyone who purchases one of the Well-Traveled bead kits from my shop (I'll make sure the beads are shipped directly to Katie, and you're only remaining cost will be to reimburse Katie for shipping the finished bracelet to you.) 

Patterns for Tigger is also looking for more beaders who'd like to help out by donating a pattern (these are short term loans only!), or maybe you'd like to help out in another way - there is a place on the group's Facebook page to let the group's administrators know how you'd like to help.

I'm fiercely independent, and don't like asking for help; in fact, I don't think I have ever asked for help before in my life. But I recognized I was between a rock and a hard place this time, and neither the rock NOR the hard place is going to win!

So that's how I spent my summer vacation - here's a picture of Tigger hanging out at the bead shop - he has gone to work with me everyday until this week, but he's got a good excuse for being absent this week.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if you find that you can help me, just know that it really means the world to Tigger and to me - we really appreciate it.

And I hope many of you can come visit and meet Tigger!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Copper toggles, almost done... (it's only taken a year!)

I have been working on this project for a year. No kidding - not a continuous year, but a year nonetheless, from the time I first got the notion to see if I could do this.

copper toggles, soldered and ready for enameling

 I have a passion for making my clasps look like an integral part of my work, rather than an add-on afterthought. Which is why I frequently stitch toggles for my beadwork:

hand-beaded toggle and bar by Sweet Freedom Designs

It's not always a matchy-match thing, although I have a big case of the matchy-matchies (regardless of what they say on Project Runway ... sorry, Tim. I try to live by Tim's rules, but I will always be matchy-matchy!)

But I DO like for my clasps and connectors to look like they belong to my designs, so I end up making a lot of my own clasps.

For situations where beadwork toggles just don't seem appropriate, and copper and silver don't always work, I was often left scratching my head. So I started thinking ... I have hundreds of colors of enamels ... why can't I make some enameled clasps that will work?

I've seen enameled toggles and S-hooks out there, but the toggles and bars I'd seen didn't have soldered attachment rings; they had sawed or punched holes for attachments.

I dabble with soldering, and knew that the heat of the torch or kiln would melt my soldered joins: can't solder first, because the enameling process will melt the joins; can't enamel first, because, lordy! What a mess the enamel will make when you try to solder! I kept mulling the idea around, for months, and finally called my friend Barbara Lewis, who is known to dabble with enamels (LOL), and Barbara suggested I try soldering the attachments with Eutectic solder, which was created for enameling. She made no promises, but thought it would be worth trying.

Within a week I had ordered the Eutectic Solder from Thompson, but it was out of stock, and it was about 3 months before I actually received the solder. In the interim, I spent a couple of days getting out all my metalworking supplies, setting it all up, and then cutting and prepping the copper pieces which I would eventually solder, once I finally received my Eutectic solder.

Once I received the solder, I put it in a safe place until I would have time for the actual soldering ... I was wrapped up in a beadweaving frenzy! So, several more months passed ... and then, I was finally ready last week to try the Eutectic solder.

First problem: Remember how I had put the solder in a safe place? Y'all know what that means ... I had to spend 2 days looking for it! I finally found it, the second day, in the very first place I had looked - it was the safest place, and the place where it belonged, but my memory had told me I had left it in the package from Thompson, so I had been looking for a manila envelope, when actually, I had opened it, painstakingly labelled its Ziploc back "EUTECTIC SOLDER FOR ENAMELING" in giant Sharpie letters, and placed it with my other solders. If it had been a snake, it would have bitten me, but I wasn't looking for snakes ... I was looking for manila envelopes!

Fortunately, when I had prepped the copper pieces, I had made all the join surfaces nice and flush, and didn't have to spend hours sanding and filing to get a good flush connection.

I put away all my beadweaving stuff, then set up the torch, fire brick, and all the other tools and toys I needed for soldering, pulled out the Eutectic solder, which was in wire form, and proceeded to try to cut off a couple of tiny pieces of solder. Good grief! The Eutectic solder is impervious to cutting with my usual wire cutters! It is hard as a rock! I got stronger cutters, and managed to get a few pieces cut, although they were larger than I needed. But I didn't have a cutter strong enough that could cut the pieces smaller, so I was stuck with big pieces of Eutectic solder.

The instructions I had gotten verbally from Thompson when I placed the order (I had asked whether the Eutectic solder contained flux -- at the time I placed the order, I didn't know what form it came in) were to apply flux liberally, so I fluxed the heck out of everything. I let the flux dry, made sure my little copper wire attachments were lined up where I wanted them, placed the solder, and tried to fire up the torch. This is when I discovered I was running low on acetylene, but I finally got the torch lit, and the soldering went pretty quickly and smoothly. One of the rings moved a tiny bit, but I can live with it.

silver Eutectic solder mess on my copper toggles and bars

The Eutectic solder is silver, but that doesn't bother me, because I plan to enamel these babies. There's obviously way too much solder, but I don't know how I could have cut the Eutectic solder any smaller; again, the excess doesn't really worry me, because it should get covered by the enamel. *Hopefully*.  I smoothed the solder seams, then tumbled these pieces because they had been annealed by the flame when I soldered, but mainly to give them a good smoothing, since I won't be able to get rid of any lingering rough edges after I enamel them.

So, this is my progress after a year. Now these pieces have been put in a safe place (note to self: They are with your enameling mandrels), waiting until I have the time, energy, and inclination to haul out all my enameling stuff and get it set up.

Things would be so much better if I had a studio with dedicated space for everything, so I never had to deal with putting away one medium so I could set up another space- and tool-intensive one!

I'll let you know if I ever get these suckers enameled! Fingers crossed! Hoping the solder will hold!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wavy Soldered Bangles

I ended this week by making these sterling silver and copper bangles:

soldered wavy bangles

My friend Deborah (we think we are twin daughters from different Mothers, because of the many similarities we keep discovering we share) is to blame for these; a few months ago, she mentioned the new bangle presses available from Wubbers, and next thing you know, I had purchased yet another toy!

I let the presses age for a few months, as one does, and then I decided to give them a whirl. My first project was a pair of "Ruffled Hoop" earrings that Wubbers has a free tutorial for on their website (registration is required, but is also free); these earrings were an unmitigated disaster: the wire gauge proved to be too small to withstand the pressure from the press. Multiple attempts were made. So I gave up on the earrings, and a couple of weeks later, had time to try the bangles.

The bangles are also from a free tutorial at Wubbersu.com. As with most of my soldering, the hardest part was trying to get the 2 edges of the join flush prior to soldering. But after several hours, I finally did. (Which is why I rarely solder - it just takes to long for me to get the 2 sides flush. Wish I knew why ... everyone in all the videos makes it look so easy. Aarrgggghhhhh!).

But anyway ... I did the copper ones first, not wanting to waste sterling in case I was as unsuccessful with the bangles as I was with the earrings!

large wave (top) and small wave (bottom) copper bangles

The top bangle was made with the large wave press, and the bottom one with the small wave press. I like the way they turned out, but all the effort I put into texturing the 2 bangles pre-pressing, just as described in the tutorial, was wasted, as the press smooshed all my hammering and texturing into what you see above. They look fine, but you can't see the beautiful textures I beat into each one!

Then I moved on to sterling, and I decided to try something different. After soldering the 2 bangles, I put them on my steel bracelet mandrel (separately), and hammered a beautiful texture into each one. (the tutorial called for hammering the wire flat/texturing it prior to soldering, which causes the flattening of the bangle to be oriented in a different plane than if you flatten the soldered bangle on the mandrel (trust me on this).

So, then I put the sterling bangles into the presses, one into the large wave press, and one into the small wave press.

When I started to hammer the small wave press, after about 3 or 4 good pounds, my bangle sproinged open at the join. Oops. I will have to doctor on that one later.

The bangle in the large wave press fared better, but interestingly, the press turned my hammered/flattened/textured surface 90 degrees perpendicular to the way it HAD been oriented, which I wasn't expecting. It's an interesting look, but, or course, the texturing only shows on one side.
So this idea has to go back to the drawing board, too, and I'm already mulling over some ideas on how to make this work the way I envision it.

large wave sterling bangle

But, in the course of soldering these bangles, I used up the last of the acetylene in my torch, so I can't make any more bangles until I get a new cylinder of acetylene!

wavy bangles

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chevron Bracelet with Picasso-Finish Seed Beads

I just finished the wide chevron bracelet that I was working on in my last post.

Blue, Green, and Brown Picasso Chevron Bracelet by Sweet Freedom Designs

I'm crazy about how this one turned out!

If you remember the first chevron bracelet I made, it was very narrow, with a 3-bead base:

 Skinny chevron bracelet, top

Skinny chevron bracelet, bottom

The skinny chevron stitched up incredibly fast, largely because the 3 beads in each row of the square stitch base are added all at once, row by row, so each row is stitched to the row below it.

For the wider version, I made the base 11 beads wide, and each bead had to be added individually to make the base strong enough to support the embellishment I would add later. One bead at a time, square stitch, = hours of stitching to create the base. Boring, too.

Once the base was done, I started adding the alternating rows of gorgeous brown, green, and blue Miyuki Picasso seed beads. These beads are SO pretty! The resulting bracelet has a wonderful weight, feeling nice and substantial on the wrist. It also has the most delightful texture and movement; not only visually, but literal texture and movement, as you run your fingers through the layers and rows of embellishing seed beads.

Chevron bracelet with Picasso seed beads, detail

Chevron bracelet with base visible
Chevron bracelet with antique bronze toggle

And, this beauty is now available in my Etsy shop!