Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Create a Sliding Knot

With leather jewellery being so popular at the moment, there is now a plethora of cord ends on the market to neatly finish off your jewellery. But sometimes, the best way to finish leather jewellery is not with a cord end at all. Sometimes, the best way is with a sliding knot. The beauty of this knot is that it's adjustable to fit the wearer and there is no clasp required. So let's take a look at how to make it.

I've already made my bracelet and knotted off the cord ends to keep them in a neat bundle. Form the bracelet into a circle with the ends overlapping. Take a length of cord about 20cm (8") long and hold it about 4cm (1 1/2") from one end. Place this along the bundle of cords.

Hold it under the thumb of your non-dominant hand and with your other hand, begin to wrap it around the bundle of cords including the cord you laid down in the previous step.

Continue wrapping the cord around the bundle loosely, working back towards the cut end of the wrapping cord. Make about 4 or 5 wraps.

Thread the tail back through the coil you've just created....

and pull it back out at the first coil.

Next, adjust the coil so it sits neatly and pull both ends of the cord in opposite directions so that the knot is secure.

Trim away the excess cord close to the coil.

To tighten the bracelet, just pull the two knotted bracelet ends in opposite directions.

To loosen the bracelet, grip the bracelet cords (not the knotted ends, but the bracelet itself) next to the coil and pull them - they will slide through the knot making the bracelet larger.

And there you have it! A really neat way to finish a bracelet with no cord ends and no clasp!

'Til next time......

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mill Lane Studio Earns Nomination for "Kochie's Business Builders"

Yesterday, Mill Lane Studio was nominated in "Kochies Business Builders" rescue-my-website competition for "Doing Great Things in the Community". I didn't know whether to jump for joy or to cry!

So I put it out there to my Facebook friends for their thoughts on whether I should accept the nomination or not and I got a resounding "You deserve it, so go for it" response. With so much enthusiasm behind me, I accepted!

But now I need to turn all that enthusiasm into votes to get to the second stage of the competition. And this is where I need your help. Please show your support for my nomination by clicking the link below and voting. And if you click the FB link on the voting page and share to your timeline, you give my nomination an extra vote whilst spreading the word even further!

So if you think I do great things in our jewellery-making/craft community, vote and tell the whole world about it and help me get me one step closer to a brand new, professionally designed and very spiffy website. I would really appreciate your help in getting the word out there!

'Til next time....

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Create your own Pavé Jewellery

You don't need to be a master jeweller to create expensive looking sparkly jewellery like the exquisite pieces you see at the jewellers. You can easily create the look of pavé-set jewellery with just a few simple materials and tools.

Firstly, you'll need a bezel suitable for your design, ETI's EnviroTex Jewelry Clay and some pointy back crystals or chatons. I've used Swarovski crystals for a super sparkly finish.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing the epoxy resin clay and most importantly, don't forget to wear the gloves that come in the kit. In it's uncured form, this product is an eye iritant and it can cause burning to your skin, so always take precautions to protect yourself. 
Click the image to open it in a new window to read the steps.
Once you've mixed the resin clay, place it in your bezel and work it gently out to the edges. (Side note: You might notice that the photo above uses a different bezel to the photos below. Sorry about that but I forgot to photograph this step so I've used a photo from a previous project.) If you're making a pair of earrings, divide the mixed clay into two and make both earrings at the same time.

Place a feature crystal into the centre of the clay and then create your design around it. Use a silicone tipped tool to help you place the crystals. I've used a large sapphire crystal surrounded by a row of dainty clear crystals.

My second row of clear crystals is placed in between the spaces below the first row. If symmetry is not your thing, try placing them randomly and in different colours for a fun look!

Once all the crystals are positioned you can use a toothpick to gently press them into the clay surface. The girdle of each crystal should sit flush with the surface of the clay. The arrows show a couple which need to be pushed in a little further yet.

Looking much better!

If you make both earring components at the same time they'll be more symmetrical.

Now you'll need a find soft brush and mica powder in your choice of colour. Dip the brush into the powder and dust it over the exposed clay. Don't worry too much if you dust the crystals too - that can be cleaned off later. I've used Pewter Perfect Pearls but Pearl-Ex is a great choice too!

You have to look closely to see the difference but the component on the right is dusted with mica whilst the component on the left is the natural resin clay colour.Adding the mica powder gives a nice polished sheen to the clay.

Gently brush away the excess powder and set the components aside to cure for 24 hours.

Once the clay has cured, you can assemble your earrings. I attached the earring findings with 5-minute epoxy for permanent adhesion - I find this to be the adhesive that works best for me. These earrings were made for unpierced ears so I've used a clip on earring blank but a stud setting would give you the same look. And as a finishing touch, I attachged a simple pear-shaped crystal dangle to the loop on my bezel for some extra elegance.

In real life, these earrings are just stunning but I couldn't capture that dazzling brilliance in the photo. But take my word for it, if you want the look of expensive, fine jewellery, then this is the project for you!

'Til next time.....

Friday, October 31, 2014

Black Cat's Eye Pendant - Bewitching!

Need a last minute jewellery project for Halloween? How about this glowing black cat's eye pendant made with EnviroTex Jewelry Resin! No need to save it just for Halloween though - it will be perfect for Friday the 13th too!

I played around in Photoshop and created a few different eyes (different colours, different pupil shapes) but I picked the second eye for this Halloween project.

Click here to get the file, print it and cut the eyes out. They are sized to fit a 1" bezel when printed on A4 (you may need to make adjustments if you print on Letter size paper). If you colour copy them (with a laser printer) onto transparency film you won't have to seal them but if you print them onto paper, make sure you seal them thoroughly with Mod Podge and allow the sealant to dry completely before proceeding.

Mix the resin according to the instructions and spoon a small amount into the bezel with a wooden stir stick. You need just enough so that you can spread it out to the edges evenly. If you have any bubbles in the resin, pop them by blowing on them through a straw.

Place the edge of the eye under the surface of the resin and slide it into position.

Sometimes, you still get a big bubble underneath.

If that happens, place the wooden stir stick behind the bubble and push it to the edge of the bezel. If you place the stir stick in the middle of the bubble, you'll break it up into lots of smaller bubbles that are much harder to remove.

Pop the bubbles and then spoon more resin over the top of the eye, spreading it out to the edges.

Top up the resin until it's a nice dome shape and then set the bezel aside to cure. Then all you need do is string the eye pendant onto a silicone cord or chain and you're all set for the bewitching hour!

'Til next time....

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fabulous Jewelry from Findings is here! And Your Chance to Win a Copy.

I love it when unexpected deliveries arrive at my door! This week, I got a surprise delivery - one which made my day. I had hoped it might arrive before Christmas, but here we are in October and the advance copy of my new book "Fabulous Jewelry from Findings" arrived by courier, all the way from the US. This book has been three years in the making and to see it finally come to fruition is a dream come true. To say I'm excited would be an understatement!

Fabulous Jewelry from Findings is a jewellery making book with a difference - there are no beads, no embellishments and no crystals. Instead, the projects in this book show you how to make chic and elegant jewellery using nothing but jewellery findings: where clasps become necklaces, bead caps become rings and spacers become bracelets. You'll do a double take as you realise what these jewellery pieces are made of!

These innovative designs will have you looking at jewellery findings in a whole new light! But don't just take my word for it: read what Molly Fletcher from AllFreeJewelryMaking has to say about Fabulous Jewelry from Findings. And whilst you're there, you can enter the giveaway for your chance to win an advance copy of the book.

Fabulous Jewelry from Findings is scheduled for release on 1 December 2014 but you can pre-order your copy now by clicking on the book cover in the side bar and it will take you to Amazon. Or if you're in Australia, you can pre-order from my website and get a signed copy.

I hope you'll be inspired!

'Til next time....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knot-a-Bead - A Cool Tool to Add to your Jewellery Making

Earlier this year I saw Beadalon's cool new Knot-a-Bead tool in action at CHA. It made quick work of knotting strands of beads and the demonstrator made it look SO EASY. But if you've ever watched a product demo at a craft show, you'll know that it looked much easier when the demonstrator did it than when you tried to do it at home. But I'm happy to say that this is NOT one of those occasions.... this tool is every bit as easy to use as it looks and I'm pretty impressed with how well it works. It's definitely a tool worthy of adding to my collection!

So let's take a look at the knotting process.

I'm working with silk thread which comes with a needle already attached. It even has a knotted end (so it won't fray) so I've just threaded on a calotte (from the inside of the hole).

Next, string your beading pattern onto the thread. I like to place a bead stopper on the thread to keep the beads from slipping off the needle again. Slide the first bead down to the calotte and place the calotte and bead over the metal spindle.

Pick up the bead in your right hand and tie an overhand knot around the thread in your left hand

Pull the knot up so that the bead sits next to the spindle

Then pull the thread UPWARDS. This makes sure that the knot is right up alongside the bead. This next bit is important.... push the bead over the spindle, towards the back of the tool so that the thread is in front.

Now slide the bead to the right of the spindle and place the thread through the hook. You'll need to do this with your right hand but I'm doing it with my left hand because I'm holding the camera with my right. With your left hand, slide the button to the left whilst pulling the cord with your right hand. I found that I could work the knot right up to the bead by doing this slowly.

Keep sliding the beads along the thread, and knotting them one at a time until all the beads are knotted. To finish off a strand, string on another calotte (from the outside of the hole) and create the knot as before.

To secure the knots so they won't unravel, place a dab of GS-Hypo Cement or nail polish on the knot. When it's dry, trim away the excess thread and close the calotte over the knot.

This is such an easy way to string a necklace and a great alternative to using eye pins to connect components together. But sometimes, you get it wrong and forget to place a knot in the right place..... oops!

It's easy to fix if you notice it straight away. Use a needle tool to loosen the knot, undo it and then continue on your way. As long as your design doesn't have lengths of unbeaded cord in between your beading pattern, any kinks in the stringing material should be hidden.

I have to say, that the instructions that come with the tool are pretty clear once you understand them but if you can't make heads or tails of them, then check out Beadalon's YouTube video and watch the tool in action - all of a sudden, those written instructions will become crystal clear!

Happy knotting!

'Til next time........

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keeping the Dome Level in your Resin Earrings

If you've ever worked with chatons and epoxy clay in a stud earring bezel (or any bezel with a post/pin such as a brooch or a clutch pin), you'll know how difficult it is to keep them horizontal and level whilst they cure.

Here's a little trick you might find helpful: use the foam protector that comes in the chaton packaging.

After creating your sparkly earring, stand the foam upright and insert the earring post in the top.

 Place the foam in a medicine cup (or a shot glass) and fill with rice to stablise it.

Now your resin clay can cure without fear of becoming distorted! You can also try this trick with liquid epoxy resin but just set your earring posts into the foam before you begin pouring the resin - your earrings will have a perfectly level dome.

'Til next time.....


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