Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Setting Swarovski Crystals Part 2 - Glueing



With wedding jewellery still my focus this week, I'm going to show you the second method I've used to include Swarovski crystals in these special pieces - using adhesive.

I'm using chatons (sometimes known as pointy backs and V crystals) in a brass cup setting or brass stamping. The chatons have a foil backing which enhances the crystal's cut to create its reflective sparkle. When selecting an adhesive, you need to keep this in mind and choose one that will not affect the foil. For a special piece like the ones I'm working on that need to last a lifetime, I've chosen a 2 part epoxy adhesive. In this instance I'm using Swarovski's own CG 500-35 because it has more working time than regular 5-minute epoxy. The extra time will mean I only need to mix one batch of epoxy but the drawback is that it will take longer to grip. But one of the major benefits of using Swarovski's own 2-part epoxy is it's ability to absorb shocks by up to 500% compared with just 10% for regular 2-part epoxies. That is a huge benefit when creating keepsake jewellery!

The epoxy comes in two tubes, one for each part - A and B.


When you remove the caps from the two tubes, you'll notice that there is a foil seal and that the caps have a piercing spike.

Use this to pierce the foil. You can see it's left some on the spike so wipe it all away with a tissue. Oh, and don't forget to wear gloves whenever you're working with epoxy so it doesn't come into contact with your skin. Remember, epoxy is a resin and resin isn't good for your skin.

Squeeze out equal amounts of both parts onto a disposable plastic surface. I'm using the lid from an ice cream container - a takeaway container lid will be perfect too.

Mix the two parts together thoroughly with a wooden stir stick.

The component I'm using has very small cups so I'm coating the inside of each cavity with the epoxy using a toothpick. You need to apply it thickly enough so the crystal will be surrounded by epoxy, yet thinly enough that it doesn't ooze out. Keep some acetone and a cotton bud (Q-tip) handy to wipe away any excess if you do get a bit heavy handed.

Once again, I've resorted to my trusty Embellie Gellie tool to pick up the crystals. This tool is indispensable when positioning the crystals in the prepared cups. Take your time to carefully place the crystals in the cavities and press each one down after it's positioned to make sure it's sitting level in the cup.

Set the piece aside to cure. This will take a full 24 hours. If you try to work with the component before this time you risk moving the crystals or worse still, loosening or even losing one so be patient with it. If this does happen, all is not lost. You can still use 5-minute epoxy to reset/replace the loose crystal and continue working.

Some other adhesives you can consider when gluing crystals in cup settings are: E6000 and GS-Hypo Cement. These don't require any mixing but in my experience they don't have the permanent adhesion for this type of application. Avoid crazy glues and super glues which can affect the foil backing over time and lead to a dull and marred crystal.

This is such an easy technique and it will allow you to tailor your handmade jewellery to suit whatever colour theme your special occasion requires. Build up your own unique design by layering two or three of these in different shapes and sizes to create stunning, focal elements.... you will look a million dollars!

'Til next time.....


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tips for Setting Swarovski Crystals Part 1 - Claw Settings

One of the wonderful things about creating wedding jewellery is that lots of sparkle is good. I'm working on some gorgeous wedding jewellery at the moment using Swarovski crystals. Apart from regular stringing techniques, I've also included some crystals which are placed in settings.

There are a couple of different methods I use and they depend on the type of setting I'm using. Today it's the claw setting (sometimes known as a tiffany setting). These settings have a deep well inside to accommodate the pointy back of the crystal and a number of claws which wrap over the top of the crystal. You use your pliers to press the claw against the surface of the crystal to hold it in place.

That sounds really easy, right? Well yes.... and no! Crystals can be fiddly to set - they have a habit of flipping upside down or not sitting properly level in the setting so here's a couple of tips I use when I'm setting them.

Firstly, getting the crystal into the setting. If your fingers are nimble (and you have perfect eyesight!) you may be able to line them up without any aids at all but you can make much faster work of it by using a tool like Embellie Gellie. Just place a small ball on the end of the stick and work it around the tip so it stays put. Now you can pick up the crystal and position it accurately in the setting so that it's centred and level.

To make sure that it stays that way, flatten the first claw. I've started on the bottom left but it doesn't matter which one you start with.

Then flatten the claw which is diagonally opposite the first one you flattened. Make sure the crystal is still sitting level in the setting before doing this.

Now the crystal is level, you can flatten the two remaining claws.

Make sure you flatten the claws against the crystal really well because there's nothing worse than having a claw catch on your clothing.

I really love the look of claw settings - it takes your jewellery-making up a notch and makes your handmade jewellery look more like fine jewellery than costume jewellery so it's perfect for weddings and special occasions.

Next time, I'll be sharing the second method I use to secure pointy back crystals - adhesives.

'Til then....


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm a Cover Girl! Friendly Plastic Twist Bead Necklace

I am a cover girl..... How exciting is that!
 

The newest magazine from Scott Publications in the "Just" series, Just Jewelry (Vol 1), is full of beautiful jewellery projects featuring some really on-trend materials including metal, leather and Friendly Plastic. You'll find both regular jewellery and Wearable Art jewellery in this issue and that's where my project fits in. On the front cover is my Friendly Plastic Twist Bead Necklace - a simple technique that will have you making your own designer art beads with just a few simple tools.

It's available now at the newsstand and at craft stores across the US. Or if you're an international like me, you can order directly from Scott Publications.

'Til next time....



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to Make a French Pâtisserie Canopy


The French theme continues on my blog today as I show you how to make a canopy for a quaint little shop front. I created a faux pâtisserie for my sister's birthday and this was just the finishing touch to set it off.


I started out with two black tri-fold foam core display boards - the type used for science fair projects. It would be just as easy to start with white core board and then you could colour it any colour you want but black and white worked perfectly for my theme.

To create the scalloop, tape a bunch of papers together to form a piece of paper the same length as the width of the core board. Fold the paper in halves, quarters and then eighths. Draw a scallop and then cut it out. With the board still in the flat position (sides folded in), place the pattern along one of the folded edges and trace around the scalloped edge. I used a white pen so I could see where to cut.

The easiest way to cut foam core board is with a Stanley knife.

Run the blade along the scallops in several passes until you have cut right through to the other side. 

Now you need to mask off the areas you want to keep black (or white if you're using white core board). Use low tack painter's tape to secure strips of paper along every other scallop, making sure that you're painting the outside and not the inside. Also mask off the other end flap (not shown in this photo). After doing the first canopy, I realised that it would be much easier to secure to the wall if the end was not painted!

I tested a couple of spray paints and ended up using a spot marking paint that adhered to the board well. Not all paints adhere to the core board so spray a test patch on your scallop offcut first. When you are happy with the paint, spray the stripes in long sweeping motions aiming for even, but light, coverage. Let the paint dry before continuing.

You will have to do at least two coats and maybe even a third one if you're spraying white onto black!

Once the paint is completely dry you can carefully remove the strips of paper to reveal your striped canopy.

Looking pretty good! I needed two canopies for the double doors I had to cover but even a single one would look great above a regular doorway.

So that the canopy sits out from the wall you need to add some sort of wedge between the unpainted back flap and the canopy. I used some polystyrene that was used as packaging - it's lightweight and can be painted black with acrylic paint to blend into the foam core board. You'll need to cut it into wedges with a 60° angle. It's tricky but if you use long blade like a polymer clay blade it should help. Then apply an adhesive which is suitable for foam....

.... and glue the wedges in place.

Get some extra hands to help mount it on the wall. We used 3M Command velcro strips so that we could remove it without leaving any marks.

With the first half of the canopy up, we held our breath to see if it would stay in place!

And it did! So the boys got the second half of the canopy up in no time.

And here's the window, dressed as a French Pâtisserie. The canopy really brings the whole theme together.

Now that the stage is set, it was time to have some fun!

'Til next time.....





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to make Felt Strawberries

In my last post I showed you how I combined polystyrene disks and felt to make some really yummy looking faux mini gâteaux. But what would a cream sponge cake be without a strawberry on top? So today, I'm going to show you how easy it is to make strawberries from felt.

All you need is red and green felt, yellow and green thread, stuffing, a needle, a sewing machine and scissors. You'll also need something round to trace around. I used a ribbon spool - the perfect size for lifesize medium strawberries!

Begin by tracing the circle onto the red felt. Use a permanent marker so you can easily see where to cut. Cut out the circle, fold it in half and then cut on the fold line. You now have two semi circles. Fold each of these in half and then stitch the straight edge. You can see that I've just stitched a bunch of these semi circles and left them joined. I just cut them apart as I'm ready to make them.

Once you've separated them, turn the seam to the inside.

Fill the cone with some stuffing.

Thread the needle with yellow thread and stitch a running stitch all the way around the top edge. Pull the thread tightly to enclose the stuffing and tie off the thread in a secure knot. There's no need to trim away the thread... you can continue using it in the next step.

Insert the needle through the stuffing and exit amongst the gathers near the top.

Create a small backstitch by inserting the needle back into the felt approximately 2mm above where the needle exited from the previous stitch, Exit the needle approximately half way down the strawberry.

Continue adding backstitches all over the strawberry and then tie off the thread.

Cut two 2cm squares of green felt. Beginning at one of the corners, cut a curved line towards the middle, stopping before reaching the centre. Turn the square around and repeat on the remaining corners.

 Flip the square over and repeat on the other sides of the corners.

 You should end up with a four "petalled" leaf. Repeat with the second square of felt.

 Thread the needle with green thread. Place the two leaves on top of each other, offsetting them, and insert the needle through the centre.

Place the leaves on top of the strawberry (with the knot underneath) and stitch back through the leaves and into the top of the red felt. Draw the needle back up to the top through the green felt and pull tightly. Insert the needle back through the leaves and into the strawberry on the opposite side. Continue all the way around the strawberry until the leaves are secured and the gathered edge of the strawberry is covered.

If you pull the thread firmly as you go, you will add some dimension to the leaves and they will sit upwards. Tie off the thread and trim it away.

Tada! How easy was that!

Why not make a bunch of them and decorate a mini gâteaux like I did - they are so realistic that you'll have everyone drooling over your faux gâteau!

'Til next time......



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Faux Pâtisserie - How to Make Mini Gâteaux using Felt and Polystyrene

One of the highlights of my sister's big birthday bash was the Faux Pâtisserie we put together to help dress the party room. It was filled with wonderful pastries, cakes and chocolates, all of which were crafted from supplies you can pick up from your local craft shop.

Today I'm sharing the "how-to" for making your own mini gâteau like the pink one below.

For this example, I've used polystyrene disks, acrylic paint (which sticks surprisingly well to polystyrene!), ric rac, lace, felt and a ribbon flower. I also used Aleene's Tacky Craft glue and some toothpicks to hold things together.

If you've got white acrylic paint in your craft supplies then you can make a pastel shade of any colour paint you have. Pink seemed like a good idea for this cake. All you need to do is mix a little of your chosen colour into a LOT of white paint. You can see I had way to much pink paint here but it shows you just how intense the colour was before I toned it down with white.

For this mini gâteau, I used disks that are approximately 10cm (4") in diameter and 2.5cm (1") high. Apply the mixed paint to the sides of the disks. You can add a little to the top edge too to make sure there is no white showing. You'll need to work the paint down into the pits and dimples of the foam for a uniform finish. Because the foam isn't porous, the paint will take longer than usual to dry so just be patient with it.

Once both disks are dry, apply the adhesive around the top edge of one of the disks. A length of red ric rac makes a pretty good looking layer of jam.

Now add the cream - a layer of white ruffled lace which will end up being sandwiched between two layers of cake.

Place the second foam disk on pastel pink felt and trace out the disk with a marker. Cut it out just inside the marker line so it's the same size as the cake.

Glue this layer down on top of the second disk.

Add another layer of lace and a string of beads to represent more cream and some piped icing.

To secure the two layers together, I trimmed some toothpicks to size....

and inserted them into the bottom layer.

Line up the top layer with the bottom before pressing the two layers together.
Tip: With the bulk of the lace inbetween the layers, I found this to be a better solution to using glue but if you're using these for a children's play tea party, then glue them together with foam glue.

Finish the cake off with a dollop of cream and a ribbon flower. I used this tutorial and template from Hello Ashley Ann which is very easy to follow - just resize the template to suit your cake size.
 

Isn't this just a darling mini cake! Let your imagination run wild with decorating ideas and use up whatever little bits and pieces you have on hand: lace, fabric, ribbon and trim. What about a chocolate and mint combo with twisted bugle beads to represent mint flakes! Or a lemon gâteau with felt strawberries and cream! Here's the tutorial on how to make the strawberries.

'Til next time.....

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