Born To Be Worn by S & T Creations

Well, I cannot say this is a new book, even though I’ve never used it.  BUT given the high costs of some equipment and supplies, plexi glass is a great, inexpensive way to gain experience. And, believe me, while you are learning you will be making pieces that customers will enjoy.   I have an entire sheet of plexi glass waiting for me to slice and dice—well, slice, sand or drill.

I really had no idea that plexi glass was as variable as it is.  You can stamp it with permanent inks, add paper (tissue paper adds wonderful colors, and still allows transparency so you can see through the plexi bead!).  It can also be embossed, allowing for additional colors and texture.

Tonia Davenport’s book is a missed gem if you don’t have a copy in your arsenal to add to your “alternate”<a href=”Red Devil 1170 Plexiglass Cutting Tool"" (See all Painting Tools & Supplies)""“> component list.  It does mention a few tools, but truly, you can start with what you have on hand and get what you need as you go.  She mentions a hot knife and a plexi cutter, but you can work without them just to see what you think.  Click the plexi cutter image to find a similar one.  If you’re a proverbial tool junkie, you don’t want to miss it!

My personal favorite, in all the projects in the book, is a mended heart pendant.  The idea is simple and it was very easy, I think, for Tonia to translate it using plexi glass.  By sanding the entire surface of the plexi glass, it has a frosted glass appearance, making it look even more fragile.  Yet the addition of the wire binding the “break” together also shows the way our heart can recover from anything and become even stronger as the pain subsides and we heal.  The instructions are so easy–a mere 2 pages and you are off to heart – land!

I also like the creative way Tonia made a double link bar and used it to create earrings.  The light weight of plexi glass makes it much more versatile in your designs.  I think clear ring band will also be a blast to create!  However, back to the earrings. Check out how the double drilled bar creates a focal point in the dangle earrings.  How cool!  Click on the links in the images and price out the best deal you can get!  Add this to your library.  I promise you, it will be one you use to spark your own creativity!

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A NEW BOOK in the mail today!  Creative Chain Mail Jewelry is a new publication from Kalmbach Books.  It consists of 29 projects from two jewelry-making magazines:  Art Jewelry"" and Bead & Button publications in the last year.

The book describes silver, gold and niobium wire – it’s interesting how niobium gets all its great colors! I was a bit disappointed that the descriptions stopped there.  A quick flip through the book and my suspicion was confirmed.  The book doesn’t discuss or include “alternate” metals, like copper or bronze, in any of the designs. 😦 Now, of course, we can all use different wire, but I do wish these were at least included in 1 or 2 designs.  So, with a note that these metals are missing, there are examples with rubber rings and artistic colored wire.  I really like the addition of color.  The contrast can produce amazing eye candy (and wrist candy, earlobe candy, etc.).

There is a great section that covers annealing, solder, tumbling and liver of sulpher patinas. Just those first few pages will take you through the basics and beyond in terms of working with wire and metal!  Once I started flipping through the projects, I must admit I loved what I saw.  A box chain using niobium wire (design by Hazel Wheaton) was stunning, as well as a piece called Hoopla (by Kimberly Berlin) with two options, one using lovely silver spirals.

One of the first I will try is a pair of Circular Chain Mail earrings, by Sandy Amazeen.  They look like round hoop earrings, with chain mail links filling the interior. By selecting colored wire, the centers can have a flower-petal look, or bolder colors for more dramatic details.  Right after that was an asymmetric necklace named Crystal Constellations my Miachelle DePiano.  It requires 4 sizes of jump rings/wire and 2 sizes of crystals, bicone or round.  I really like the asymmetry with all the metal links.  There are only 9 crystals, so they look like small drops of color in a cascade of silver. A second project by Miachelle described a new idea for me.  She demonstrates how to create a 3 dimensional look by creating a tube chain mail design.  The look is very substantial, lending a larger more dramatic design while still using smaller wire gauges that are much easier to join.

John Wik designed a chain mail bezel with a woven-in bail for a guitar-pick pendant!  I’ve seen the guitar pick earrings in many shops and stores, but this design is great!  The chain mail bezel accentuates the curves of the guitar pick.  The jump ring links seem to hug the picks and protect them, while adding an artistic frame.  If you know anyone who plays a guitar or works with a band, this is a great piece!  I’m going to have to find out more about guitar picks.  There are so many colors and designs out there—this one project could create many different pieces!

I saw the neatest “stuff” at an artist mercantile store in French Lick Indiana this weekend and would love to play with some in my own designs, but I have no idea what it is.  The store owner called it “clay” and said the artist gets it really hot, in hot water, and then forms it.  It is very metallic, lots of cool colors, and reminded me or ribbon or cord.

  Heather Powers has created another great beading book!  As you may know, I do love designs that have pieces that mimic nature.  Shells, starfish, and ocean glass are all lovely to me, as well as leaves, acorns, feathers, butterflies, ladybugs, and more.  I’m not partial to flowers, in general, but every once in a while something will catch my eye and I’ll work with it.

One of the unusual things in this book that I found fascinating were the glimpses of Heather’s sketchbook.  Since I don’t design that way, I love to look at other’s sketches to see how they come upon a design.  Then, you can actually see her transform her sketch into reality.  Other designs show how she took colors from nature and put them in her design, whether it was a gorgeous flower, a beautiful sunset, or the colors of the ocean.

One of the things to remember about nature and designs that focus upon it, is the great use of alternative metals.  Lots of patinas, brass, bronze and copper abound in this book.  Several examples of unusual findings, and also ways to create your own wire frame for a bead or for a short row of them.  And Heather has several examples of breaking that old rule of only type of metal in a design.  She mixes gold and brass, vintage copper patina with new copper links.  In Jewelry Designs from Nature you will also see examples of how Heather incorporates words, either with stamped metal or with combinations of resin/decoupage, into these works that mimic reality.  The messages can be subtle or bold, and are flanked by birds, leaves and dragonflies.

I believe this is one of the first books where I have been more interested in the “how” the author came up with the design, than in the actual instructions for the end result.  I want to leave you with a quote from Heather, “My jewelry is more than just adding a bead to a string; each piece speaks to me of the wonders of the world.”

My $2 deal!

Saundra and I ran to the Bead Show this afternoon, over on Fern Valley Road.  It wasn’t as big as some years and it definitely wasn’t as crowded. But there was, as always, lots of beautiful beads to see.  The first thing I bought wasn’t beads at all, nor findings.  It was a hammer for wire work.  I found one that was flat on one side and ball on the other, all smooth on both sides.  Now I can add texture to wire and metal, without having rough spots all over!  Saundra found some huge black and silver beads, with smaller ones that would match for earrings.  She also found copper findings. I picked up a package of the ear wires too. We split some copper beads and large discs and a huge strand of spacers.

There was a stash of $2 items and I found 2 big black beads with gold inlays and a 3 inch long black clay bead that was decorated with colored metal spacers and small gold jumprings all around.  It will be a gorgeous focal bead!  And I picked up some yellow resin discs that were a lovely warm honey color.

Instead of Saundra’s big black beads, I found several sizes of thin metal beads, also wavy.  I bought gunmetal, bronze, copper and 1 brass I believe. I want to stack these and use them for ring bases.  Plus, a strand of really nice leaves.  These will look great in a large necklace with fall colors.

All in all, I love to go and find the things we normally can’t get here, and are difficult to order online without seeing them in person.  I saw something call “druzy agate” today.  These had a matte finish, but in certain spots, the rounds would have an open fissure where it looked like crystals.    I didn’t buy them today, but I do plan to watch for them sometime later.  They were blue, and that’s not my easiest color to work with, but they caught my eye.

We have our first show for our fall season in 2 weeks, Sept 17, at the Horseshoe Casino.  We follow that with the Highlands Festival, Louisville KY in October, and a holiday shopping event in November, along with a fashion show.  So, I have beading to do.  (Plus my bead swap party @ http://bit.ly/oIU6zu ).

I was working with some copper wire this weekend, trying to work out a bracelet design I had in my head.  I thought the end result, especially with no pattern and no true measuring, came out really well!

I started with square wire from A Beaded Affair.  That’s the frame.  I didn’t want to solder, so I knew I had to wrap it to create the piece.  I measured the wire for 6 inches around, an inch wide, then left about 2 inches for the curves in the center that I could wrap together, adding beads in to finish the design.

I make the 90 degree square corners and then marked the open wire side where the 2 wires overlapped.  That’s where I began curving them inside.  I started with a pair of curving “pliers” I have and then continued, making curves larger until they just touched. Those open curves created the spaces I would eventually fill in with beads.

I grabbed 22 g copper wire and began wrapping, starting with the very center, where my 2 curved ends met.  Once those were solidly wound, I moved to where each curve touched the solid wire on the other side.  I wrapped those, always being sure to keep the coils tight, as straight as possible and close together.  With it wired together, I could begin fitting in crystals.

This was a lot of freeform too.  I didn’t have a pattern nor any end goal in mind.  I basically found the crystals that fit the spaces I wanted to fill and wired in 1 at a time.  I love the 2 oval ones in the center of the swirl. And I liked the way crossing over one wire with another let me fill in more of the negative space with glittery AB Swarovski crystals!

Now, anyone who knows me may laugh, but I’m joining in my first bead swap party (hence a virgin partier–lol). Lori Anderson, author of Pretty Things blog, organizes these world wide web blog parties two or three times a year.  You simply sign up on her blog and wait to hear from her.  She personally matches each player with a partner (not a small feat, there are 344 in this swap!!).  Each swap has a different theme, this one is all about the clasp. No lobster claw accepted.  With your clasp, pair up other beads, including a focal bead, and send the stash to your partner.  I sent mine out today, but I can’t show off the goodies until later—don’t want to ruin the surprise for my blog partner!  My partner is Rochelle Brisson .

The only real rule to the design is to use the clasp.  The beads are optional.  It is expected that you will need to add some of your own inventory to complete your design.

I think the idea of receiving a collection of beads someone else chose is intriguing. It will be a great way to move me out of my comfort zone.  That is one of the goal’s for the Bead Swap Parties.  Try something new and different.  So, stay tuned.  Once my beads arrive, I’ll be posting a quick photo and then, off to designing!!

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