Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making your mark

I've finally got back to making, I'm still waiting for power and water in there, but I'm not going to let that stop me. Not getting my hands dirty for over a month has been testing!

The studio is looking a bit more lived in now, especially as the kids have claimed half the table as their own. We hadn't even got the roof on and there was lego in it!

I've started off with making lots of my usual beads... birds, urchins, houses etc. I have a show coming up, so wanted to get those out of the way before the fun started and I get completely sidetracked!

It was while I was making some house charms that I got thinking about speeding up production. I like to put my initials on the bottom of some of my unique designs, but writing each one on takes time and they all end up different. I decided I needed a little stamp! There are lots of places you can send off for custom stamps, but being impatient I decided to make my own. I've taken pics as I went along to show how you can make one for yourself.

The tools you need are some soft cut lino, lino cutters (I got this nifty little kit where everything is contained within a stamp) tracing paper, (I use baking paper), a scalpel, scissors, a pencil and a biro.

Start by drawing around the end of your pencil on to the lino.

Take your tracing paper and trace the circle.

Draw your initials on to the tracing paper inside the circle.

Scribble over the initials with pencil, and place the tracing paper scribble side down on to the circle you drew previously on the lino. You need to trace your initials in reverse so that when you stamp they mark the clay the right way round.

Trace over the initials so that the image is transferred on to the lino.

Remove the surrounding lino with your cutting tools. Looking back at this, I think I would have got a sharper design if I'd cut around the edge of the image first with my scalpel, I will do that next time!

With scissors cut around the circle to remove the design from the sheet.

Glue the stamp on to the end of your pencil and leave to dry.

Test :) If the design isn't as sharp as you'd like, carefully trim it with the scalpel. Here's a picture of the final stamp with my scruffy finger for scale.

Now it's ready to use to make your mark and identify your work!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I always like to encourage people to try new things when it comes to their jewelry.  In the short time I've been teaching myself chain maille, I've noticed that many maillers are purists or typically only include metal or crystal beads in their work.  I also see that there aren't many art bead enthusiasts using chain maille.  If you are curious about giving it a try then start with Byzantine weave.  It looks complicated but it's actually pretty easy!  

You can find a free tutorial for Byzantine weave over at The Ring Lord by clicking here.

Earrings are a quick and easy way to start when incorporating chain maille into your work.  I've made a couple of pairs recently.

These stoneware seashell charms are paired with Byzantine links made from turquoise and brown anodized aluminum rings.  I created them for the Bead Cruise Jewelry Inspiration Challenge that I hosted over the weekend on Facebook.
I made these cuties a few days ago.  They feature enameled frog charms from Gardanne Beads, my own aqua-glazed stoneware beads and half a Byzantine weave link out of green and brown anodized aluminum rings.  See, you don't even have to use a full link to incorporate some chain maille in your work!
I also have these fiery Byzantine links ready to go.  I want to pair them with a smaller, porcelain version of my chili pepper charms similar to these stoneware ones...

I hope these inspire you to give chain maille with art beads a try!

Happy Beading!

Diana P.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favorite...Tools!

We all have our favorite tools when we make our beads or jewelry and I thought I'd show you a few of mine!

The first one is a Bead Roller by Donna Felkner - I have several of them, but I really love this shape, it's called baroque. 
 I used it to make this really cool bead here!  I should have a few of these available at Bead Fest in August!

 Next are metal stainless steel chop sticks.  I got this hint from Sage Holland when I took an intensive glass class with her several years ago.  They are cheap and they work great for pulling twisties.  You can get them from kitchen shops online.  See how mine are burned at the end?  That's the only problem with these, after you use them for a while they burn out on the ends.  But they are so cheap it's not a big deal.
 Next is my rod holder by Graceful Customs.  She makes some great tools, and I don't know what I did without these for years!
 They are so perfect for holding shorts, so you don't waste glass!

 Next is my Magic Wand by Corina Tettinger.  She doesn't always have tools available, you kind of have to jump on it when she announces she has some!  It can do many things, I mainly use it for tapping down murrini or making grooves for pumpkin beads!
 I'm hoping to be able to get around to making some of these pumpkin beads for Bead Fest as well, but with so many beads in my head, I may not be able to.

 Finally, a bead press I got from Leonardo Lampwork.  I actually have several of these but this is my favorite one, the swirl.
I have some awesome new focals and sets to introduce at Bead Fest using this tool, but you'll have to wait til my next post to see them!!!!

What are your favorite tools for working in your medium? Some of these can be used for other mediums, as well!

Susan Kennedy
SueBeads Etsy Store
SueBeads Web Store

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dahlia Pendant and Ribbon Tutorial

Back in March, Monique of A Half Baked Notion designed a necklace using some fossilized coral that she had purchased from one of my destash sales.  I was intrigued by the hand dyed, tubular viscose ribbon she used in her necklace.  It came from a shop called Colour Complements on Etsy.  So I made an inquiry about the ribbon, with the shop owner, Lorraine.  Lorraine was kind enough to send me a sample of her hand-dyed ribbon to try out.

Isn't it beautiful?  I loved the luscious colors and I envisioned threading wire through the center of the tubular ribbon and then wire wrapping it.   Upon receiving the ribbon, I realized that I had the perfect match for it, in a ceramic flower pendant that I had received from Marla James of Marla's Mud.
Marla's pendant reminds me of the dahlias that are blooming in our front yard now.  So I've called today's tutorial the Dahlia Ribbon Pendant.
Here's what you will need:
  • Approximately 6 inches of 20 gauge wire (length will vary depending on the size of the pendant you are using)
  • 7 inches of  hand-dyed tubular viscose ribbon, plus 9 inches more, if you want to add a bow above your pendant
  • A pendant of your choice that has a hole large enough to accommodate the ribbon.
  • Cutters
  • Flat nose or chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Scissors
1.  Make sure that both ends of your wire are flush cut.  Sand them so they are as smooth as possible. The smoother the ends are, the less they will snag on the ribbon and the easier it will be for you to thread the wire into the ribbon tube. 

2.  Find the opening in the tubular ribbon.
3.  Carefully and gently thread the wire into the ribbon tube.  This is a little tedious, so go slowly and be patient.  Its only a short length of ribbon, so it won't take long, unless you try to force it.
3.  Scrunch the ribbon together, so it all fits on your wire, with bare wire on either end.
4.  Decide which end of the wired ribbon you want to face forward and then carefully thread your pendant onto the wired ribbon. 
5.  Gently curve the wire up around your pendant.  Make sure you leave enough room above the pendant so the pendant can move a bit.
6.  Make a wrapped loop above the pendant.
7.  If you would like to have a bow on your pendant, tie it over the wire  wraps.  You may want to add an small, inconspicuous touch of glue to the bow, so it does not come untied.

8.  Make another wrapped loop above this, to form the bail.  

9.  Create a necklace, or simply string your pendant on leather or chain.
After taking these pictures, I decided that I liked my pendant better without the bow and I removed it.  I don't have a photos of it without the bow, but I liked the simpler version better.
The tubular viscose ribbon adds a soft touch to the necklace.  It also adds an interesting texture and a pop of color.  I hope you will give it a try and post links to your creations here or on the AJE Facebook page.  You know how much we'd love to see what what you create!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The End Zone

Recently, I ventured into the land of viking knit.  It was fun and I enjoyed watching my piece grow longer and longer, then be compressed into a pretty chain after pulling it through the draw plate.  The one thing that sort of stumped me was how to finish the ends.  Hmm.

There are a lot of mass-produced end caps for just this sort of thing, but you know me...why use something so mundane when you can create something special for your design!

I looked around for handcrafted end caps and tried a few that I found...

You know I love is a simple and pretty way to end your piece with wire from our own Sue Kennedy...

I also love working with sheet metal.  Keirsten Giles rocks the sheet metal end components and cones!  Have you checked out the last tutorial she shared? So pretty and versatile...these can be used so many different ways!  Take a few moments to drool over this necklace she created using her hand-fabricated metal ends for our Component of the Month for June.  Amazing!

In the end, for my 1st ever viking knit, I chose to do metal sheet...they are much plainer than Keirsten's and turned out a bit big, but I like the effect and will play with that concept more in future work!

The next bracelet (created for our Component of the Month challenge for April), I decided to enamel some small brass caps I had  that fit perfectly over the ends...

For my next bracelet...yet to be created/design still in my head, I want to use these!  Just created them from copper metal clay.  They were pretty difficult to can see they are a bit wonky!  I will definitely work on some more!

What do you like to finish your viking knit with?  Would love some more ideas!

Originally my post idea was just going to cover cones.  When I asked my team mates to show me their cones, of course, Madonna and the Coneheads sprang to mind!  I decided to change the focus!

Melissa Meman
Melismatic Art Jewelry
Art. Life. Love.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rocking The Rustic

I have two tutorials in mind that I'd like to share with you, but the truth is that I'm not quite ready today to invest the time required for writing and photographing the step by step instructions.  Sooo, we'll add them to our "Something To Look Forward To" file. 

Instead I'm going to share some of my favorite rustic components and jewelry with you.  This is such a vast and lively field of design that one could do many blog posts on the same topic.  There's no way I'd be able to include all my favorite work in this category.  But here's a start.

So just what is rustic style? I have a feeling that everyone might define it differently.  But here's what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say:  
rustic style, in decorative arts, is any ruralizing influence; more precisely, a ... (style where) the main components of which are carved and fretted to resemble the branches of trees. Stemming from the idealization of nature and the “simple life” that occurred in the mid-18th century, the vogue for this kind of product persisted well into the 20th century. It was especially popular in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. It naturally endeared itself to the British Victorians, with their passion for the picturesque, and was also generally admired in the United States...
Woodland Cuckoo House by Starry Road 

Some sources that I looked at called it modern-rustic style and tied it in with organic and renewable materials, highlighting an appreciation of nature.  This would include woodland themes, the use of natural materials such a wood, hemp cording and leather.  It is a style that is inherently casual and unfussy.

Owl Bracelet by Button Up Beads 

Colors tend to be a soothing combination of warm mid-toned wood, with shades of soft gray, cool clay and greens. Other colors may serve as subtle accents, but don't expect any garish brights in this style.  That seems to hold true for all the items I have collected for this post. Would you add any other colors to the list?
Bare Tree & Crescent Moon Pendant by Jenny Davies-Reazor

Sometimes rustic gets lumped together with its girlier cousins: "shabby chic" and "country charm".  I've been very conscious of this distinction over the past few years as I've been updating the look of my show booth and my shop.  A paint peeling bird cage or tea stained doilies have a somewhat rustic look, but they speak more toward "country charm" than rustic.  Instead I've used grayed woods with earth-toned and clay colored table coverings. Next on my wish list is linen or burlap covered jewelry displays.  

I make sure that my photography consistently expresses "rustic" as well.  My jewelry is photographed on a rustic slate tile.  Props consist of a piece of wood with rustic bark and lichen.  The woodland theme is emphasized further with the ferns and flowers that I include in nearly all my pictures.

I hope this tour of rustic goodness will inspire some new designs for you.  Look for a tutorial soon - hopefully on Sunday.  Till then-