Category Archives: Tutorials

Cover Girl

I was pleased to see my original bracelets on the cover of this month’s Step By Step Wire Jewelry Publication. I’ve had a number of other pieces in the magazine, but not previously on the cover.

cover

The editor named them “Taos” which I think is fitting for the design. There are many different variations for this style. For example, the weaving can be varied depending on the number of outside wires used and the specific weaving technique. I’ve also varied it from weaving into a single row of holes down the center to holes on each side of the middle sheet. You can also see that sometimes I use my own torch enameled discs as embellishments while other times I use gemstones. I thought the two hole turquoise discs, which I have only seen at one bead show and never again, turned out nice. At the time I purchased them I couldn’t think what in the world I would do with them. Once I figured it out, of course I couldn’t find them again. That’s why I ended up making the two hole torch enameled discs which I offer on etsy. There’s a link to it on my website blog page www.dreamcatcherranch.net/designs.

If you have interest in these and pick up the publication, you’ll find a full tutorial complete with my photos of the process. I hope you enjoy it.

Crooked Halos

I don’t recall anyone (even my parents) ever calling me an angel, but in the last week I think I’ve connected with the type I would want to be.

After writing the Tree of Life tutorial for my etsy shop, I wanted to use the weaving in the round technique for something else. Weaving is a bit addictive and this one is especially interesting. So, I worked on creating an angel with this weave. This provided him or her with a 3-D body similar to the tree trunks. It’s also a project that doesn’t require as much weaving as the tree piece.

angel1-hang

I had several miss-starts trying to figure out how to make the angel wings. Finally I figured that out, but had no way to give the angel a head. The halo was tricky too and in the end I added an extra piece to that part. This makes it possible to adjust the halo forward, backward or more to the side depending on the attitude of the angel. When I finally figured that out, a customer wanted this piece to be a pin . . . back to the drawing board to figure out how to weave the pin into the back of the angel. The weaving is too tight to simply secure the pin with another piece of wire.

The silver angels below are made from artistic wire which is much more difficult to use in weaving than bare wire. I still like working with copper wire best.

angels2-pins

If I were an angel, I would want to be the kind, like these, that can adjust her halo depending upon the situation. Would that make me a divergent angel or just an wanna-be angel? hmm . . . that bears consideration. What kind would you want to be?

Waving

How do you wave at folks? Do you just raise one little pointer finger to acknowledge them are are you an all-out-use-your-whole-arm waver? The latter is the kind I see outside a certain San Marcos business. He’s waving with his entire body as he dances to the music emitted into his earphones. He’s been waving there for so long that they’ve even made a billboard about him. Did I mention he’s really skinny too? All that waving seems to pay off in one way or another.

I’ve been waving with my wire jewelry for years. I started with a simple wire wave bracelet and continued by making wave necklaces. Originally, these were made from recycled copper wire, but now I use new 14 gauge for the pieces. They've also gotten a bit shorter recently. You can see the bracelet contrast in the photo below. Obviously the shorter piece is not yet completed. If you want to make these yourself, I have a free tutorial for the bracelet published on the Magpie Gemstones’ (www.magpiegemstones.com) site: http://www.magpiegemstones.com/wave_bracelet.html

short wave

I’ve also tried waving with different shapes.

wave tri

Here are a couple of versions of the newer wave necklaces. The first features riveted copper charms (faith, hope and love).

wave necklace2

The second is embellished with amethyst stones and the wave is a bit more full.

wave3

I guess I’ll keep coming back to this standard in my jewelry line and continue to perfect my wave. How about you? What kind of waver are you?

Why Didn’t It Work?–Variables

Have you ever been enthralled with a design in a book, magazine or online tutorial, rushed to make it and flopped? I have. I used to get disgusted and think “surely there’s something wrong with the pattern.” Yet, you know that’s probably just a personal excuse. It doesn’t help at all when a friend says she tried it and it turned out great.

When I read a tutorial, I tend to jump right in and attempt to make the piece whether I have the specified supplies or not. I’ve even failed at making something from a tutorial that I wrote. Here’s a case of that.

allb

I have a new bracelet tutorial in my etsy shop( https://www.etsy.com/listing/103694934/wire-and-beads-diamond-bracelet-tutorial) . I’ve made the bracelet time and time again and know it is correctly written. Alas, the other day, I tried it with a different size beads and flopped. I only changed one variable and, of course, it changed the dimensions on the circumference of the piece. Rather than using the 4 or 5 mm beads I suggest on the tutorial, I just grabbed a pretty gemstone and used it. Unfortunately, the pretty amethyst had a diameter of about 12mm. Using it on the bracelet caused the piece to stick out farther on my arm and made it too short. I needed to alter the bracelet wire length to accommodate for the larger beads. The bracelet below shows the correct bead size for the wire length.

diamond bracelet

This is only one example of how variables change an outcome. I might have used a different gauge of wire or different style hook and these, too, would have changed the end product.

Variables effect everything we do. Did you ever say something perfectly kind to a family member only to have that person bark back at you in an angry voice? It’s possible that the person just had an unpleasant encounter with someone else and you received the outgrowth of that situation. Perhaps that person has a headache . . . ? I’m sure it wasn’t YOUR fault.  I know it’s never MY fault . . . ha!

Driving up a hill at my normal quick speed takes a nasty change with the weather varies and the road surface is wet. I guess I should slow down.

The point here is to be aware that variable are ever in the way of perfection. Consider the variable before initiating an action. How might the variable change the outcome or product? Plan for this change.

The other more positive side of variables can result it happy happenstances. I can use a different gauge wire and sometimes the jewelry piece gets better or has a new pleasing look. In the aforementioned person to person encounter, recognizing the variable/current temperament of the person you speak to might allow you use different words or just steer clear of the person.

So, the question of “what did I do wrong” should come prior to initiating a project. Rephrasing it to ask ‘how will the change in this variable effect my outcome and how can I adjust for it?” might help us all get more pleasing results. I think I’m going to try the last question.

There’s no way to get rid of variables in jewelry making or in life. We should just expect them and know that outcomes are often altered when a variable changes.

I’m wishing you variables that result in good things.

Bracelets Galore

I’m beginning to think there are more people who like to make bracelets than there are people who like to wear them. (Let’s hope not!) I subscribe to a number of daily jewelry newsletters and you might not believe the number of bracelets that are featured each week. But then . . why not . . . bracelets are often quicker to make and require less materials . . . and, if I were to tell the truth, I’d have to admit I really like to make them too.

One of my beginner classes made bracelets the other evening and we were quite proud of ourselves. These were the traditional wire bracelets with bindings.

Bracelets1

The participants made the bracelet on the upper left corner of the photo.

Measurements for these bracelets seems to be the trickiest part. I’ve made a good number of them that didn’t quite fit my wrist correctly.

Last week, I set out to write a tutorial for the bracelet below. It looks easy doesn’t it?  Well, it was NOT easy to write.

blueb

There are a number of variables in the bracelet that effect the length and you know how I hate to measure! Yet, I did measure very carefully and finally nailed this tutorial. It seems to be pretty foolproof now and the bracelet isn’t that hard to create once you know the measurements. I also fussed with the clasp on this one and finally chose my pirate’s hook that I use on the wave bracelets. This makes it easier to get on and off.

bhook

Now the trick is to quit making these for myself. I keep finding so many variations that it’s hard to move on to the next design project. Don’t be surprised if these pop up again . . . I’m resisting closure on them.

image

Squared

One definition of squared is to set things straight. You can readily see from the new jewelry pieces below that even if I use square beads, I just can’t allow a design to be totally straight. After all, do any of us really want to be called “square?” I don’t want my jewelry to be called square either!

I’ve often thought that square gemstones were difficult to work with, but lately many of them have a nice little extra flair that’s too good to let go. These interesting stones have a slight curve in the middle that eliminates the flat surface usually found on square and rectangular beads. The stones below are jasper on the left and tigereye on the right. The stones in all the photos herein come from www.magpiegemstones.com.

stones

The bracelets shown below may look familiar since they are made just like the dimensional bracelets that I’ve made for several years. I have previously done oval faces on them, but the square fits nicely on the wrist. If you have purchased the Dimensional Bracelet tutorial (,http://www.etsy.com/listing/77795508/dimensional-wire-cuff-bracelet-tutorial?utm_source=custometsywidgetword&utm_medium=api&utm_campaign=api) why not try it with a square stone?

square brace2

 

square brace

I didn’t get good color in the photo below, but this necklace matches the bracelet above right.

squiggles

 

You may have realized that the stones in the first photo are smaller than those in the jewelry shown. I have used the smaller jasper in a bracelet as well, but customers seem to prefer a big square if they’re going to get squared at all. I guess you may as well go all out! Originally, I tried making square wire embellishments atop the square stones, but found the curvilinear specimens more pleasing. They are also easier to create since the sides don’t have to be uniform as in a square. I wonder if this ease affects what I like . . . that bears consideration.

When I looked up the term squared, I thought some of the other definitions might ignite a design idea or two. For example, think about squaring a number and how that might create a design. (2 squared becomes 4 squared and that squared is 16 – you already knew that didn’t you?) I wonder how those numbers could create a design.

Another definition suggested the terms meant putting things at right angles. That too might provide the basis for a design (or have I gone to far). I’ll bet those of you with math anxiety already tuned out!

Whether you want to go mathematical or not, I think you, too, might enjoy designing with these newer square beads: but don’t go too square! People might talk behind your back.

Multipling

Yes, the title is a made-up term that has nothing to do with math. Anyone with math phobia can continue to read this. The term could stand for multi-tasking or something else. Its meaning In this treatise follows the basis of multitasking; yet it means doing something that requires several steps of design planning to occur at the same time on multiple strands of beads. I think that makes this a double multiple task . . . ?

I was multipling for several days this week as I worked on a couple of articles/tutorials for Magpie Gemstones (www.magpiegemstones.com). The first has been published and the second will be out this coming week.

Creating with multiple strands has always been a challenge for me; but this week I remembered a piano pedagogy instructor from a long ago workshop in Dayton, Ohio. She said we should attack our weaknesses. Sometimes I’ve felt I should just avoid my weaknesses, which I prefer to call areas of challenge. This week, however, I heeded that instructor’s words and attacked.

I read the available information online and watched a few videos. Then I commenced to work on my own pieces. When multipling, I had to consider the length of each strand in relation to the others, the bead placement in relation to the strand length and the placement of multiple strand spacers and connectors which somewhat alter strand length. Please don’t ask me how many times I restrung things before I got everything in sync. The two pieces immediately below are thoroughly discussed in Creating Multi-strand Necklaces: Part I http://www.magpiegemstones.com/mutlistrand1.html 

              brownblog turq6

Part II of this discussion, soon to be published, discusses clasps, connectors and spacers for multi-strand pieces. The bib style necklace with leather and the three strand necklace below are featured in that article.

   image           bib

 

 

I was enthused enough about multi-strand pieces to go ahead and purchase a fancy clasp for one at the bead show I attended today. It was so pretty, that I decided to use it in the front of the choker style necklace. I don’t make much bling, but I liked this clasp. So, there I sat at the workbench again – multipling.

drusy

Now, I need to get back to singling rather than multipling and stop making up new words!

Let’s Wrap

wrap ball

I’ve recently become intrigued with wrap style bracelets and the many variations thereof. They are quick and fairly easy to make and the cost of materials is usually quite nominal. I realize these have been around forever, but the resurgence of them within the broader market causes me to rethink their myriad of possibilities. For example, take a look on the Nordstrom’s website and search wrap bracelets. There you’ll find some rather expensive ones ($128 and up) that don’t look much different than those you see that I’ve made.

There are some good free online tutorials that show the process for wrap bracelets. For example, The following link takes you to the DIY tutorial for the bracelets pictured above: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1t8Exa/honestlywtf.com/diy/diy-wrap-bracelet/

These are made with leather, ball chain and waxed linen thread. They’re easy as pie.(not that making a pie from scratch is that easy . . . ) I started making them with the regular silver colored ball chain and then found a package of the colored chain at Hobby Lobby. My customers like the colored chain. I also made, but failed to get a picture before it left home, a bracelet with beads instead of the chain. I simply strung beads, crimping at both ends, and used them in the place of the chain. This is a bit trickier, but provides many color and texture choices. I also made one wherein I used colored cord from the fabric department from . . . you guessed it, Hobby Lobby, . . . in place of the chain.

The second tutorial is slightly more complicated, but still easy. I watched a video on the Auntie’s Beads site http://www.auntiesbeads.com/Wrap-Bracelets-Video_p_9111.html) and then made the turquoise and leather bracelet below. I used 6 lb. test Fireline (from the Walmart fishing department) to make my bracelet. This style provides many options for variation.

turq wrap

I made a bracelet that looks just about like the above, but used a different technique. I hand sewed the seed beads between the leather pieces, again using Fireline. The one below wraps around the wrist four times.

sewn wrap Finally, I “borrowed” the idea for the braided bracelet from the Nordstrom’s website. They show a braided bracelet made with two pieces of leather, using the ball chain as the third braiding element. I didn’t have round leather and used multicolored cord. There’s really nothing novel about the braided version, but I had not thought of using chain it it before. You can just barely see the orange ball chain in the picture below but it’s there. Now I’m wondering about a plethora of other things that could be braided with the leather or cord. Any ideas?

wrap braid This may not be the kind of wrapping some of you were thinking about from the title. But I just can’t do the other RAP. If you can, go right ahead without me, but I’m sticking to this kind of wrapping and that’s a wrap for today.

Royalties

Do you turn the television off these days when you hear a segment about the “royal” couple? Are you tired of seeing hats with big brims and feathers that blow in the wind? Will this all end after the young British couple is finally wed? At the very least, surely the stories will slow down. . . but I may be hoping for too much.

Even though I’ve avoided the opportunity to wonder about the bride’s dressmaker or whether she will wear flowers in her hair, I have conjured greatest if I could just design a few of the jewelry pieces for the wedding. Hmm . . . I wonder how the queen would look in a funky metal piece like the one below?

new copper

Alas, I guess we’ll never know. (I think a little metal something would be quite charming on one of those hats!)

I did think of that royal couple this week when I opened the mail and found a royalty check from one of my books on creativity. I’m still amazed that people buy something I wrote in 1994 that was published in 1996. It just goes to show that I’d better watch what I say that is published since those words hang on and on.

After receiving that check, I wondered how to perpetuate a jewelry design such that it paid off for as many years as that book. The closest I could think of would be the payoff from tutorials. As you probably know, I have two bracelet cuff tutorials in my etsy shop and, like the books, they bring me some cash from time to time.

tut2             flowertut2

I considered whether a design that lives several seasons or even years is a type of royalty. A boutique customer requested a freeform peyote cuff last week. This is something I haven’t made in years, but it still has life. PICT0166

Now, if I can just remember how I gave it that life!

I can’t say this example is a good analogy to the book royalties since I do have to do the work again. The books and tutorials don’t require anything further.

There is, of course, that option of writing a book about designing jewelry. Yet, I remember how long it takes to put a book together, the pain of dealing with a grouchy editor, the long wait before it goes to press and the tiny percentage an author receives from each book sale. It seems to me that the next time I think I want “royalty”, I’ll just put a floppy hat on my head and go out for a stroll.

Nuts and Bolts

Today is the first day of the new year and it’s time to get back to the real world. For my little jewelry business that means getting back to the nuts and bolts of producing. January, for me, always means “try something new” during the lull when my boutique customers are clearing out rather than stocking up.

This year my initial “new” something comes in the form of Dream Kits. The name was suggested by a friend and it represents a package of metal components that may be purchased as a set. Kits are highly popular in other avenues of bead work. For example, one can easily find seed bead kits that contain all the components needed for a particular design plus the tutorial for making the piece. There are also kits for making chain maille designs that include lots of jump rings in the size required for the included pattern. Yesterday, I listed a couple of handmade chain kits on my etsy site (www.dreamcatcherdesigns.etsy.com) and I’ll be adding more as I produce them.

kit1                kit21

My thought with these kits is that some excellent designers don’t want to do any wire work, yet would enjoy using handmade components in their pieces. I enjoy making these and can offer a good product. We shall see if there are any takers.

The next kits are going to also have sheet metal components. These may be needed since working with metal requires so many tools and not every one wants to make that investment. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions about what types of kits are needed. Do you think it would be better to offer the components separately?

I also wrote a new bracelet tutorial yesterday which will soon be ready for consumers. This flower cuff bracelet tutorial is in the proof reading stage and should be on etsy later in the week.

flowertut1 I’m also trying to learn to use a jewelry saw – currently a slow-go process. My first piano teacher told me to always begin with technique. It appears that the technique of sawing will take some time and practice, practice, practice. I guess its like working on scales on the piano every single day. Practice usually does produce. I find that this practice also requires patience. (My teacher forgot to tell me about that!)

All in all, the nuts and bolts of January 2011 are starting to come together and I’m looking forward to the year’s journey. How about you?