Sunday, November 16, 2014

Learning Curves

It has been a while.  I moved south 550 miles,  I bought a condo that I am planning on retiring in.  I kept my same job but at a new office; then my office moved.  I work enough over-time each and every week that when my neighbors see me they ask me if I have been given time off. I received a promotion on Friday, and will begin training for my new job immediately after the holidays; thank goodness for that thoughtful scheduling.

Adapted from Nicole Hanna's Darling Dangles
I am almost unpacked.  I have studio space and my beads are unpacked, but I still have organizing to do.

All that being said, I have been in love with beads for way to many years to give it up.  I am easing myself back into creating but you will forgive me if my plate remains a bit full for the next half year.

When last I posted I was making an attempt to learn wire weaving with the help of Nicole Hanna tutorials.  I cannot say enough good things about Nicole's tutorials.  The price point is good.  The instructions clear.  And, based on the few pieces I have done I think that wire weaving is a skill that I can acquire with a bit more practice.  My skills do not do justice to Nicole's work.

One of the other skills I need to work on is photography.  I think I just live a tilted life.

 It took me quite a while to make these, but I imagine that I could get much quicker over time.   I will find out, I am planning on making a second pair.  

Darling Dangles Earrings view II

Darling Dangles view III

One final picture. 

If this is something you would like to learn I do encourage you to visit Niccole's site and give it a try. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's A Clasp

It's A Clasp

I feel like I cheated.  This is not what I envisioned. However, it works.

Okay, so why do I feel like I cheated? Because I bought some tutorials from Nicole Hanna.  This clasp is a very slight adaptation from her Hang My Heart Earrings.  

Here is a bad picture of my first attempt at her tutorial next to half of the finished clasp:
Side by side results

Alternate hooks

I used larger wires and added a few more weaves to compensate for the larger wires.  I also only used the central element of her earring design.

I fabricated three different hooks for the clasp.  I am not going to keep the hook in the picture at the top of this blog; I think it is too weak.  Instead I will use the hook with the flower embellishment pictured to the right.

I like the hook with the weaving but it is far from smooth when actually trying to hook the clasp.

I have been considering constructing my own findings for years.  I was pushed into doing more than mere contemplation by Cindy Wimmer's The Missing Link book and the lack of a multi-strand clasp for the necklace I am making.

I think I made a mistake when my first attempt at making a wire woven clasp was for a multi-strand necklace.  A simple single strand clasp or a toggle and bar clasp would have been a better choice at this stage.  Nonetheless, I am happy with the results.  Here is the serviceable but not quite so pretty back:
The multi-strand back

One more picture for the blog with a ruler to give you an idea of the size.

Some final thoughts:
  • I want more practice- especially with those curls. 
  • I want to do more design, but that requires better skills and more practice.  
  • Tool marks are like thread, they really show up in pictures more so than to the unaided eye.
  • I want to keep doing this.   
Oh, and all errors are my own and not a reflection of the fabulous work and tutorials of Nicole Hanna.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Still Experimenting

At least snow days are good for experimenting on creating multi-strand clasps.

Here is my best try:

Almost There
I think this will eventually work.  However, it is just a part of what I envision the clasp to be. 

Although photos show every little imperfection, I need more practice to get the weaving more even.  I also  need more practice at weaving into the loops. I suspect I might need to go to a three or four base wire weave.  In other words I still have a lot of experiments ahead but I do feel like I am making progress. 

Let me show you another test piece:

Multiple Experiments
There were lots of experiments going on here. 

From the right to left  let me walk you through the process.

The loops on the right were made after the weave was started.  Not a bad option, and maybe it is my just my skill set, but the I could not keep the base aligned. 

As you can see, the loops in the middle are jump rings.  This was a good idea but I could not get the jump rings evenly sited on the base wire.  You can see the one on the right sits lower than the one on the left.

The non-loop on the left was another good idea but it just seemed unworkable when I tried it.  It could be that it was at the end of a day of experiments and I was tired. 

All these thoughts are good.  I need more practice wire weaving. I also need to figure out further embellishments to draw the eye away from what is inherently uneven when adding loops. 

What I have not mentioned so far is this does not include the hook and eye part of the clasp.  This part of the experiment is just to add the strands to the clasp.  I think I had better start practicing the three base wire weave and perhaps a four wire base, I might just need all those wires to pull this off.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Have I ever mentioned that I think clasps play an important role in finishing your jewelry?  That a clasp can make or break a piece?  That a clasp should reflect your piece in weight, content, and style? 

I think I have failed to mention that I never have enough clasps in my stash.  I particularly do not have enough multi-strand clasps.  I do not have a single multi-strand clasp in anything other than sterling.  With all of my beads I still need more clasps.

So, I began experimenting. 

I am working on a multi-strand necklace using these links from "The Missing Link:" 

I am experimenting with making my own clasps.  Promise not to laugh?  Here is my first attempt:

Okay, not bad for someone who does not weave wire.  The thought was good, the execution needs a bit more practice.

So, my second attempt:

This one I did not even try to finish.  It was not working. The 16 gauge wire for the base was okay, but the connector loops were not the right choice.

The third attempt was better yet:

Adding the connectors as jump rings was the right solution.  Making the jump rings (furthest left) in 16 gauge was the wrong choice- 20 gauge was a better balance. 

My conclusion, the theory is good, the design is going in the right direction.  Execution needs a lot more practice. 

Practice does pay off.  Take a look at the first two links I did and the final links:

There is improvement.

I am going to keep experimenting.  I am going to think some more about design.  I will also see what I have in my stash to put together the necklace without making a clasp.  I am thinking I can use the spacer bars i bought at Beadfest to reduce the strands and use a single strand clasp.  It just might work.

Just in case your interested, the other parts of the necklace include these beads:

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow Day: Exploring RSS Feeds for the Uninitiated

If you look at the second tab of my blog you will find 275 jewelry blogs listed. I actually see every new post through my RSS feed:
Not particularly interesting? Here is what it looks like as I am reading posts:

I can click on the title and go directly to the blog itself if I want a bigger picture or if I want to comment; or I can click the previous or next button at the bottom of the post to see a new post in the list. In this way I can easily click through over 100 posts a day. I admit I do not read every single post but I see them all.

I have set up a publicly accessible RSS reader which you can use for all of the blogs I subscribe to named KJs Beadacious Beads Blog Links.

I won't lie to you with 275+ blogs it is going to be slow to open.  It is also not quite a true RSS feed.  Instead it is a slide show of the most recent posts of all of the blogs I read.

Here are your basic selections:

There is of course the tab named jewelry which links to most of the sites listed in my Blog Links tab.  Most of the other tabs are easy to figure out, but let me toss a few hints. 

The ... and Other Colorful Things tab are the blogs I follow for color inspiration.  Let me highly recommend Fresh Hues - go ahead and visit her page and play around but be sure to set aside some time.  Let me also highly recommend you add's tumblr page to your bookmarks.  This tumblr is amazing and goes on and on and on.  Again set aside some time just to surf. 

Neglected But Inspiring Blogs are not necessarily neglected but they certainly do not fit my other categories. 

What you can expect to see is something like this:

This is from the decorating tab.  If you click on the top picture that will take you directly to the blog.  Immediately under that top picture is the date of the last post.  Clicking on one of the five lower pictures will bring it to the top position; likewise the previous and next buttons will do the same.  However, this public RSS feed will not bring up posts or pictures of anything older than what is already pictured. 

You are just as likely to see a slide show with all the same pictures, like this:

or one that just has a newpaper logo like this:

I do not know why the same picture repeats nor why some blogs show only the news logo.  I do know that the news logo is a default and may appear if the posts are old or if they have no pictures. 

You may also notice that there are blogs in the list which have not been updated in years- they remain in my list because they are still inspiring and continue to provide useful information.

I love seeing what everyone is up to.  I welcome all the inspiration that comes my way.  I could not possibly keep up without an RSS feed.  I use Netvibes as my reader.  It is free unless you need in-depth analysis of web traffic. 

If it is too cold to go out and you need a break from whatever you are doing, click on the link for my public RSS reader at Netvibes and see what your fellow artisans have been up to.

One final note- the only jewelry blog I showed in this post was Olive Bites- Cat was my first follower.  I found many jewelry posts I wanted to show as examples but since I could not narrow it down and did not want anyone to feel slighted I selected from my other tabs.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saying Thank You

If you have been following my blog you will know that I moved to Jersey City less than a year ago.  I have no family here and at that time knew nobody within many hundreds of miles.  When I needed to be picked up at the doctor's office last week following a test I asked a new friend.  I did the usual, said thanks and wrote a thank you card.  I also made her a necklace.

The original plan was to create a necklace using black and white beads with wire-wrapped connectors.  I grabbed a focal from my stash- a nice piece of onyx, some agate, a vintage white crystal, some Czech fire polished crystals, one resin and shell bead, and got to work.  The original plan looked like this:
Original Plan
Now this is a very fine necklace with great components.  I used spacers to embellish the ends of the beads and silver filled wire.

However, I am a bead weaver, and being inspired I grabbed another piece of onyx, bezzeled it and then embellished the bezel with more seed beads and some 3mm fire polished crystals.
Embellished bezel on onyx
Here is another view:
From the top

I had to cut out the onyx that I had at the center of the original necklace, which left the strands:
Here is the finished necklace.  Now, if anyone can offer some tips on capturing the length of a necklace and capturing detail I would appreciate it.

Finished necklace
One more closeup.  I received Cindy Wimmer's The Missing Link book for my birthday so I have been playing around with wire.  Rather than add a clasp that I purchased, I made a clasp.  The clasp is not part of Cindy's book, but without the book I would have just gone with a purchased clasp.

Hand made clasp
It is good to have friends.  It is good to be able to create.

If I don't post again before the holiday, you have a safe and happy holiday.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beside Beads

I have not started a new project.  I have not even figured out what I am going to make next. 

Some time ago I won three tutorials from Callie Mitchell of Peregrin Beader.  I had no problem choosing the Elizabeth I Cuff Bracelet Pattern as I have admired it for some time.  The problem is I only have most of the beads needed to make this.  I think I can substitute and create a different colorway but I have not quite pulled things together yet.

I recently bought The Art of Forgotten Things by Melanie Doerman and it is quite inspiring.  Again, I just have not gotten around to pulling the beads from my stash to make anything.

I also recently received The Missing Link by Cindy Wimmer which I cannot wait to try.  I even ordered a tumbler so I could work harden the links.  That is suppose to be delivered tomorrow.  Is it me or does everyone have as much trouble just getting started?

I am finding other things to distract me here in the New York City metro area. 

Yesterday I went to Macy's flagship store to update my wardrobe.  I hate shopping for clothes but I have to say this was an experience.  I pulled out my android and took some pictures.

First is the approach to Macy's

Coming up on Macy's

You do not get the full effect of how busy the streets of New York were... cars, taxi's, sidewalk vendors, tourists and locals.  I love living in a city and this was just exciting.

Here is another view from outside Macy's:
Urban canyons

It was a beautiful day yesterday, crisp and quite comfortable.  A light jacket was sufficient.  Walking warmed you quite well.  It was pleasant to sit at one of the little sidewalk parks and just watch life pass by. 

Macy's is immediately to the left with the red awning. 

What I did not capture with my camera was the "Broadway Bites" street fair.  This was a series of tents set up on Broadway with local restaurant vendors.  It was about a block or so from where I snapped this picture.  This gave me the opportunity to sample food from a Turkish restaurant.  It was delicious.

Inside Macy's was very different from the usual mall experience.  Everything was bright.  There were flashing lights and multiple large monitors broadcasting on the main floor.  Although the streets outside were busy, inside Macy's was a completely different busy.  The pictures do not do it justice.

The main floor
There were little side shops, a lot of helpful clerks, places to sit and rest for a bit.  Here is another picture:

Although this floor was bright and shiny I have to say that one of the things that I liked the most were the wooden escalators, including the stairs, to be found on the 9th floor!  Sorry, I do not have pictures I thought it was just too dark. 

Finally, here is a twilight view from Journal Square of the sky line.  This is where I wait for the bus to take me home. 
The World Trade Center and a partial view of the NY skyline.
Now, onto the repair task that I really do need to get to today.