Category Archives: Cold Connections


Anyone who knows me probably realizes that I’m a creataholic. I tend to make things all day, everyday. Yes, I still wash the clothes, cook, play with the dogs, yell at my husband (not really!), etc. but I really like to make things!

I spent so many years learning about and teaching about creative thinking that it’s really fun to get to actually “DO” creative thinking. No matter what I’m making, I find myself asking “how many different ways can I ……?” This phrase is generated following the ideas of Alex Osborne about fluency. One of my other favorite phrases from the formal Creative Problem Solving procedure (Trefinger) is “In what ways might I . . . ?”

One of the tasks this week has been considering those two questioning phrases in terms of a new woven bracelet I’m developing. The form utilizes a simple weave wherein two outer pieces of wire are woven together with a copper strip about 1/2 inch wide. I’ve been punching holes in the copper strip so it could be part of the weave.

woven bracelets

The prototype bracelet is the one at the bottom of the photo. I torch painted the copper strip to get the red color and left the copper wire its natural color. It will, of course, oxidize later based on the environment. The other two are the first answers to the “how many ways” question. I embellished the one on the top right with some natural turquoise cut in button shapes with two holes. The bracelet on the top left has fewer holes and I cut them all in the center rather than on both sides of the copper strip. It has quite a different look from the other two when viewed close up. Both stone embellished bracelets were dipped in liver of sulphur to which I added a tablespoon of ammonia. It gives it a slightly different patina from plain liver of suphur.

Now the challenge will be in finding other ways to change this basic design without losing its simplicity. I may just have to conger up some basic creative thinking processes to help me continue to vary this design. Hmm . . . there’s something about fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration . . . and then there were those Six Thinking Hats (DeBono) . . . (so many choices).

Sharing Hearts

It isn’t even February, yet, I’m making heart shaped pendants. It just seems like the thing to do! I prepared the two in the photo because I wanted to experiment with making bails for an upcoming meetup of designers.


The bail for the heart on the left is made from a small piece of copper sheet soldered on the back. The one on the right utilizes a bail made from wire, also soldered on the back. My grandson told me that this heart has heartworms! Hmm, I really didn’t see it that way, but I’m not three years old. I used my new leather sand bag as a base for creating the doming effect on both pieces. I dimpled them with dimple pliers. By the way, thanks to a talented friend, I was able to saw the heart shape from the middle of each piece. Thanks Adele!

Following is another photo of a heart pendant made for the same meetup. I torch enameled the copper rectangle and riveted the heart, cut out of the center of a piece shown above, to the metal. I used a tube rivet which gives it some dimension. The back shows the small piece of tube I soldered to the metal for a bail.

heartfront  tube bezel

The photo below doesn’t seem to fit with this blog entry . . . yet, it is the essence of “heart”. It was commissioned by one adult sister for another in remembrance of their girlhood when they watched the cardinals together. I’ve shared this previously online, but wanted to repeat. Wouldn’t you say the giving sister was “sharing heart”?

cardinal complete

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope that commercialism doesn’t remove the heart from the giving. It often seems that men, in particular, are harassed by the advertisements to a point where they feel they must spend a good deal of money for their sweeties. I hope the men I know will understand that this woman just wants a little “heart” in one form or another.

Fishing for Ideas

If you’ve ever worked with preschoolers, I’ll bet you’ve enjoyed magnet fishing. You put a paper clip on the ends of paper fish and a magnet on the end of a homemade, kid-sized fishing pole and then “attract” fish. My grandson likes to put his fish in a bucket and use it as a fishing pond. We’ve been playing this for over a year and it doesn’t seem to get old.

G fishin

Many times, I end up “fishin” too, but it’s usually not in a bucket. It’s usually in my head when I’m fishing for ideas. I may be looking for something new and different to add to a design or for some way to solve a problem. This week it was the latter.

I’ve been stuck on making birds lately and have explored how to do it with embossing and torch enameling.

torch bird

After making a couple of these, I realized that the two don’t mix real well. For embossing, we need a light gauge metal and for torch enamel a heavier metal. When I use the gauge I need for embossing and then enamel the piece, it curves a bit toward the back. Yesterday, while fishing for ideas, I tried riveting another piece of metal to the embossed one and then enameling. It was NOT a good idea. Much of the heat was lost between the layers and I completed a very rough and ugly bird. No, you cannot see it because it’s in the trash. So, I guess I’m going to need to get my idea fishing pole out and try again.

I did, however, have one bird that turned out well. He/she is a sample piece that combines elements from several of the classes I teach, soldering, riveting, wire wrapping, forging, etc. Although you can’t tell from the photo, I used tube rivets to help the bird stand about 1/4 inch away from the back plate. The bird is mixed metal including copper sheet, 1/10 silver wire and brass wire for the nest. Today’s issue is how to make it smaller.


I asked my spouse if he thought I needed eggs in the bird’s nest, but he didn’t think so. We decided that bird was just too young to mate. After all it did just hatch at Dreamcatcher Designs.

Here’s hoping you catch whatever you are fishing for.




I made the pendant on the above necklace in preparation for the upcoming Cold Connections class that I’m teaching. It has a nickel silver back disk and I used a scrap book punch to cut the star hole out of a light gauge piece of copper which was dunked in liver of suphur. I riveted this to the silver. Then I got a little carried away with this star idea. I riveted a couple of other disks and wired more stars to the piece. I wanted a “Texas” Starry Starry Night. The beads are turquoise briolettes and spiney oyster barrels. The components hang from a purchased black chain.

Part of the difficulty with a piece like this is figuring out when to stop. I prepared more riveted stars and considered using more little silver components, but enough was enough! Two of those pieces are now earrings. I’m trying to learn that one consideration is designing a piece is the size of the person who will likely wear it. I wanted to wear this piece and since I’m only 5’1’’ I can’t have anything too big. This is about all the dangle my neck can handle!

This is the first time I’ve made a true “theme” piece. I supposed as a Texas necklace it might have included boots and an armadillo, but that’s just a bit too themey for me – don’t you think? Would Van Gogh be disgusted by the idea?

Making Cold Connections

Thinking of the word cold could lead us to a conversation about weather or about personalities. Have you ever heard someone say that a person is cold? Of course that usually means that the person isn’t very friendly. In that case, aloof might be another term to describe the person. Most of us prefer friends and acquaintances who are warm! By the way, I also prefer weather that is WARM!

I’ve been making cold connections for the past couple of weeks. No, I haven’t been meeting cold people and the weather here has been quite warm. Instead, I’ve been making cold connections with metal. When we join things to metal in a way that doesn’t require heat, usually through soldering, we say we’ve used a cold connection. This week my cold connections have been through riveting.

It was my turn to lead and share a technique at our monthly Faux meet up. Yesterday, we had about 20 in attendance and I think most of us got a little better at riveting in the time we spent together. I was determined to have some new projects that my fellow designers could try and thus the reason for the past weeks of making those cold connections. I thought you might enjoy seeing a couple of the pieces I designed.

The first is the easier of the two and is just a simple variation of the wave necklaces that I’ve made. This one features a riveted charm in the center. This charm utilizes both a copper disc and a nickel silver disc with the center cut out. I riveted these two together and also riveted a pewter finding in the middle. I used a headpin that I balled with the torch for the center rivet. The other rivets were purchased from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. I wired the charm onto the wave necklace armature.

wave rivet

The second necklace is a bit modern looking, but it’s definitely different. I used alcohol ink to color some copper discs and then riveted them together with nickel silver discs. Again, I used balled headpins for the rivets. I also riveted some big hole rose quartz beads that I got from Magpie Gemstones ( onto a couple of the discs. Although you only see two rose quartz beads on this necklace, it took four to make it if you count the two I broke while trying to rivet them. You really have to be careful when riveting a gemstone.

rose rivetedI demonstrated how to make a few other riveted charms, but haven’t yet used all of these in a particular design.

Riveted Charms and LinksI really enjoyed working with my friends yesterday and helping them initiate or hone their riveting skills.  Although they were making cold connections, thankfully none of them were cold!

Here’s hoping all your personal connections are warm and that if you end up with cold connections, you’re riveting!

I Know Who Moved My Cheese


I’m preparing for a few art/craft shows in the Fall and thought I would get a jump on making some small, inexpensive items that could be stocking stuffers. Last year, I made a healthy number of wire bookmarks. There were wire cats. dogs and rabbits. This year I had visions of other wire animals hanging from the shepherd’s hook bookmarks. I was happily working on these when I happened to glance across and see my husband who was reading. Then it hit me. Someone moved my cheese!

If you are not familiar with this phrase, it is derived from the title of the 1998 book by Kenneth Blanchard  Who Moved My Cheese? ( Companies and educational groups bought this book by the dozens and used it to make employees cognizant of the fact that times are changing and we need to be prepared to learn new skills and to problem solve. Many of us who were “encouraged” to read the book felt we could have gotten the idea with a simple memo, but hopefully it made a difference to others. The full-day workshops on the topic were a bit much.

My “cheese” realization” came when I noted that my husband was engrossed in a book on his IPAD II and no longer needed a bookmark. With the onslaught of electronic readers, I had to rethink the number of bookmarks I might need this year. Many of my friends and customers who are readers no longer need bookmarks.

It was fortuitous that I realized I might not need so many bookmarks this year before I made a hoard of them. I garnered my bookmark energy and set out to find something else small that I could offer at the art shows. I’m currently working on a few very small pendants/charms that could go on a chain, bracelet or a BOOKMARK.  (Surely, that cheese didn’t all move away.) Unfortunately, these little things take a bit longer to make, but I’m sure I will get faster as I make more and more.

tags The charms with a religious theme might work well combined on a bracelet or simply as a single charm attached to a beaded bracelet. Surely something will hatch before long.

In the meantime, I’ll be making just a few new bookmarks and trying to pay close attention to any other cheese that has been moved since last season. Of course, it would certainly be exciting if I had a clue what customers want ahead of time. But where would be the fun in that??? I’ve just got to follow the cheese, but in the meantime it’s important just to realize that it moved.

Black and White

Well, it happened again. Another morning walk affected my jewelry designs. Everything was perfectly fine until that last hill at the back of the property behind the house. By this point in the walk, I’m pretty weary and my legs are tired. Who knew that they could still help me run so fast. Trudging up that hill, I often meet the calico cat and this day’s encounter was also furry and just about her size, but it was black and white. If you were ever in the marching band or military, your body remembers how to do that about face where you place one foot out and turn completely around so you are facing the direction from which you came. It went something like this . . . black and white . . . skunk . . . about face . . . R U N !!!!! That black and white certainly turned me in a new direction.

Wondering if that was some sort of sign (probably just bad luck), I chose to try an about face (well almost) on the jewelry designs and momentarily attempt to focus on something other than wire armatures. I’ve made so many lately that I’m beginning to have nightmares about them! I think I could make handmade chains in my sleep.

If it’s not wire, then the designs around here must be metal. I’ve had components of the pieces shown here laying around on the work bench for a couple of weeks, but with this new direction, they had to be used.


You’ll recognize those same old bottle caps. I have a love-hate relationship going on with them right now. This bottle cap is riveted to the back piece of copper that has been run through a ringer provided by a nice friend. It hangs from a leather chord. (yes, the back is supposed to hang slightly ajar)

The second piece is more complicated and I kept telling myself that simple is better as I added more and more components.  The telling didn’t work. I hope I didn’t overdo it. My home constructive critic wasn’t fond of it and had to be told to “pretend you like it” as I queried about the length of the piece.


The copper V was foldformed and hangs from jump rings on a hammered piece of wire. It’s really not crooked, but the picture is. I wire wrapped the hammered wire and made a loop in the center of each wrap for attaching the leather chord. You can see that it is asymmetrical with leather dangles on one side and black and copper beads on the other. This one hangs down pretty long.

Taking a slightly different direction isn’t too painful and is often needed to free the mind for whatever comes next. Sometimes making those wire armatures becomes too comfortable and I have to move out of that zone. Last night I purposely made a very intricate wire wrapped pendant that took about three hours to complete. It required a techniques that I’m not very good at. As I grumbled about it, my critic asked why I was doing it. I replied that I thought it was important to do something uncomfortable part of the time in preparation for whatever comes next.  What do you think?

By the way, if you are wondering about that black and white, my downward hill run was successful and I did not get sprayed. Whew!

More Chaos and Cattle

If you read the blog entry for March 29th, you will recall that we experienced considerable consternation here at the ranch when another person’s bull was hit by a car in the middle of the night. You may remember that I wrote about how we always get the call and it’s never our animals. Last night, it happened again. Luckily, this time there wasn’t an accident, but some cattle were out so the Sherriff’s department called us at 12:30 AM. We always go to check and see if the culprits belong to us, but anyone can see that our cows live in a fortress and it would be hard for these inmates to escape. Of course last night when we went out to check, by the time we arrived, no cows or deputies were in sight. The dispatcher phoned the deputy who reported that the animals went back to where they came from; so he went on. Now why that warranted a call to wake us up, I do not know, but UP I was. It was just another chaotic night at Dreamcatcher.

Since I’ve experienced these calls so often and know that I can’t normally get back to sleep, I started in on several unfinished pieces of jewelry. It seemed fitting to finish the “chaos” necklaces that I had on the workbench. I wrote about this style on February 24 and have since made several other chaos necklaces. The first one shown has a riveted charm.





A second chaos necklace is a bit larger and the middle charm has a soldered flower on it. This one has sponge coral and jasper beads.



One of my customers called and ordered a couple of these the other day. I had previously told her I could make them with “less chaos” if she wanted. She called and ordered two  confusion necklaces and one with less confusion. Hmmm – I had to think about what she meant for a bit. The “less confusion” pieces are pictured below.

chaos2                  chaos3





An article with chaos in the title caught my eye today and a read enough to learn that in time of chaos, we are supposed to rely on our creativity  in order to be innovative and work our way through a tough period.  It looks to me like I’ve certainly found the chaos and it’s time to be creative. Taking this to heart, I’m playing with new designs based on the double wire structure of these chaos necklaces. I hope the new pieces hatch and pull me forward. Yet . . . I rather like this decorative chaos – what do you think?

Cold Connections

If you are not a jewelry designer you may not recognize the term in the title. Thinking outside of the design realm, I can think of a few “cold” connections I’ve had with people. You know, those encounters that leave you feeling unwelcomed and flat. These are the opposite of those warm welcomes you get from real friends.

Cold connections in jewelry making refer to the way we put things together, often in layers without using heat. I’ve been experimenting with the type of cold connections called riveting. Yes, my spouse is calling me Karen the Riveter, but luckily, I doubt you will be seeing my picture on any soon-to-be famous posters like Rosy the Riveter.

I would call a plain wire rivet the foundation for this technique. Constructing this requires creating holes in the pieces to be layered and inserting a piece of wire through the holes. You then flatten each end of the wire creating a small head that holds things together. This is done on both the top and bottom of your piece. This is easier said than done and it has taken considerable practice to make this type rivet work. Below is a photo of a necklace using a plain wire rivet. The rivets connect the large S’s to the focal.

rivet hingeI riveted a small piece of sheet metal to each wire component  It’s easier to see from the back of this piece.

rivet hinge back

The pendants/charms below show more riveting I just finished.

rivet charms

I used the same plain wire method for E.T.’s bicycle and flower. The other two pieces are riveted with wire on which I balled the ends with my torch. I know that I said “no heat”, but I was just making a big head pin, not connecting!


I really like using the balled wire since this means you only have to flare the backside of the rivet. It’s much easier. The problem that I’ve experienced is in balling the 14 gauge wire required to go in my 1/16 inch holes. This gauge of wire does not melt and ball balled wirevery quickly and I’ve ended up creating a little oven type structure to aid the process. This structure, composed of old charcoal blocks and solderite has two walls and a bottom. Using the tweezers, I hold the wire in this little structure while I torch and this helps reflect the heat back toward the wire instead of out into space. It still takes a good length of time, but I think it’s worth it.

blue beads


The last photo shows my first attempt at riveting ceramic beads . . . without breaking them. If you look closely, you can see that each part has 4 layers. From the top down, these are a brass daisy spacer, the bead, a dark copper disc and a teal colored copper disc to which I applied alcohol ink. This will become a necklace, but I’m still playing with how to connect or hang the pieces. They will have a propensity to flip and I’m trying to preplan and avoid that problem in the finished necklace. At the moment, I’m just feeling good about the riveting and not ready for the next challenge. You may notice that some of the wire balls became a bit flat as I worked on the bottom of the rivet. I’ve got to go back and fix that.

There are all sorts of other types of rivets including nail heads, tubes and decorative manufactured rivets. I have tried to nail down the basic technique before doing much with the others.

I hope rivets won’t leave you feeling cold. They really are a great connection!