Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Make a Sparkly Swarovski Crystal Lamp

I've had a bee in my bonnet just recently. You see, a while back, I came across an eye catching ceiling pendant in a local homewares shop that I was really taken with. It was a simple black shade studded with chandelier crystals that sit suspended in little cutouts, allowing the light to glisten through the crystals. All I could think was how PERFECT it would be in my studio.......... and I really wanted it. If only it weren't a ceiling pendant!

I didn't end up buying that light fitting (althought I am still tempted) but it did inspire me to recreate the look in a more practical and compact table lamp that will glisten and gleam and be just as sparkly, if not more!

All it takes to create your own dazzling sparkle-icious lamp is an inexpensive black lamp with a chrome base....... and as many Swarovski crystals as your heart desires (or your budget allows).

Here's what you'll need:
Create a template for the crystals by tracing around them onto the transparency film. Cut out the shapes with the craft knife and then test the crystals for fit. They should just fit inside.

Trace the template onto the inside of the lampshade. Vary the position and order of the crystals to suit your taste. Make sure when you are tracing the shapes that you allow enough gap below each crystal to hang the top of the bowtie of the crystal below it. Cut each of the shapes out carefully with the knife.

I divided my shade into four sections and made each one different. This is just one section.

Insert the prong of a bowtie through each crystal.

Hold the prong with the chain nose pliers and gently bend it upwards, taking care not to chip the crystal. Bend the pin towards the centre of the bowtie so the crystal is secure.

Place the crystal in a corresponding cut out and mark the position of the top prong.

Mark the hole with the needle tool and then turn the lamp shade over, locate the hole and pierce it completely from the front.

Insert the second prong into the hole and using your fingers, bend it flush against the inside of the shade. Attach all the crystals in the same way.

Once you've finished, reassemble the lamp, switch it on and enjoy!

Even without light glistening through the crystals, the lampshade is still striking!

If your budget won't stretch as far as Swarovski crystals, you can use Chinese crystals for a less expensive version but for the absolute sparkliest sparkle, you just can't go past Swarovskis to make this eye catching lamp shade.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How to Attach End Caps

Whether you're attaching end caps to leather cord or facing a jewellery mishap like the one below, knowing how to attach end caps to your jewellery will give you an additional way to assemble your jewellery components and expand your jewellery-making repertoire. Today we look at this very simple but secure method for connecting components without loops.

On the morning of my daughter's recent wedding, a guest who was staying with us had a jewellery disaster - one of the end caps on her necklace disintegrated and her necklace fell apart. We were about to leave for the church so there wasn't time for a repair but after a quick hunt around the studio, I found something suitable for her to wear. Disaster averted!

A couple of days after the wedding, I did a quick and secure repair on the necklace.

The problem with this necklace is that some of the "metal" components are not metal at all! They appear to be plastic, painted to look like silver. If you look at the photo below you can see that the bottom end cap has disintegrated. There is also a head pin with a loop that was inserted through the end cap to connect the chains to the rest of the components.
The disintegrated end cap was made of plastic and painted to look like silver.
The first thing to do was find the right size end cap to replace it. I had some Bali-style end caps with a built in loop which worked well with the style of the necklace but they were different to the original, so they would need to be replaced on both sides of the necklace. To remove the other one I simply used pliers to crush it.

Here's what you'll need:
  • End caps (choose the diameter to comfortably fit the cords or chains)
  • 5-minute epoxy adhesive (I like Araldite because it works on so many materials and it sets up quickly, meaning you don't have to hold the items in position for long.)
  • Toothpick
  • Denatured alcohol and a cotton bud (Q-tip) for clean up
Mix the 5-minute epoxy according to the instructions and use the toothpick to coat the inside of the cord end liberally.

Apply some epoxy to the ends of the chains as well. Insert the group of chains into the cord end and hold for a moment. Clean up any adhesive which has oozed out with the denatured alcohol and then set the components down so that the chains remain in position.

I like to leave it to cure for a couple of hours to make sure the bond has set before continuing to work. It will get stronger as it cures. Then it's just a matter of connecting all the components back together.

You can see the new component on the left chain and the old component on the right chain. The antiqued silver end cap fits in well with the other components.

And here's the necklace repair completed.

You would use this exact same technique if you were attaching end caps to leather cord. It's a great method for connecting different kinds of materials together because it's simple and secure and most importantly, it gives the piece a professional finish.

'Til next time.....

Monday, January 18, 2016

Edible Art - Zentangling on Food

A while back, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was in total denial about my age, a feeling I'm sure  that many of you who are reading this can relate to. I mean, I still feel so young, so how can I possibly be that age. Celebrating was the last thing I wanted to do but I knew that if I didn't mark the occasion I would regret it later on. So as a way of coming to terms with it, I decided to throw myself into the decorating by adding my personality to as many of the details for the party as I could.

Of all the projects I undertook, this was by far the most ambitious and time consuming but it was also the most satisfying. I created edible art in the form of mint patties by putting my zentangling skills to use for the bonbonnieres.

I began with icing fondant which I flavoured with a few drops of concentrated mint essence. I rolled it out to about 5mm thick: thick enough that they would dry out a little but not so thin that the guests would crack their teeth when they bit into them.

Using a circle cutter, I cut out 2.5cm (1") rounds.

And then I left them to firm up.

On the front of each pattie, I traced around a filigree stamping to create a nice lacey edge across them using edible black ink.

I traced some of the detail too.

Then I drew in the pattern by hand.

Lastly, I monogrammed each one with edible purple and pink pens in keeping with the colour theme of the party.

On the reverse side, I went to town and Zendoodled to my heart's content. I was so immersed in creating all the different swirls and patterns that I could feel myself enjoying the process. And the wonderful thing was that the more I doodled, the more I began to think about the guests, my loving family and friends who would honour me by being present at the celebration. And a warm and fuzzy feeling began to wash over me. And the more I thought about them, the less important that milestone number became. It was quite liberating and very therapeutic! All up, I doodled 48 pieces with only a handful alike.

Here's a couple of close-ups so you can see the level of detail that went into these yummy little morsels of edible art.

I packaged them up in sweet little butterfly bonbonniere boxes along with some sugared almonds.

I was so happy with the way they turned out and by the end, that silly little number had stopped bothering me. But on a practical note, if I was ever to do something so ambitious again, I'd pick just two or three designs to zendoodle. But, hey, this was therapy and these yummy little morsels weren't supposed to be mass produced or made production-line fashion. Handmade, and with loving thoughts..... that's what this was all about.

'Til next time....

Friday, January 8, 2016

How to Clean Glitter and Mica Powder from Silicone Moulds

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you're refreshed after all the Christmas and New Year festivities and looking forward to spending time with me here on my blog and also on Facebook.

After all the recent earrings tutorials, I wanted to get back to something resin-y. Today I have a really smart tip for keeping your silicone moulds in tip-top shape.

When you're working with resin, it's important that all your equipment is clean so that you don't risk ruining your casts with contaminants. Clean cups, clean stir sticks and a clean workspace are all important. But what about your moulds? How do you clean glitter, mica powders and general specks of fluff and dust from silicone.

Well, it's really quite easy, even if your moulds looks as dirty as this!

The front of this mould is just as bad.

Just take a piece of sticky tape and place it on the surface.

Rub your finger across the tape.....

And then remove it. And voilà! All the specs of glitter and dust will lift right off. 

Do the same on the front of the mould. Do this in the cavity of the mould too.

And now you have a perfectly clean mould ready to cast in.

Here's a look at the before and after. What an amazing difference!

This trick is so quick and easy and is much more effective than cleaning with water. You'll never try any other method again!

'Til next time.....

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas - Day 12: Let's Celebrate!

Now that the rush of Christmas is behind us, it's time to reveal the twelfth and final pair of earrings in the Twelve Days of Christmas Earrings Extravaganza for 2015. So this pair of earrings is not a Christmassey pair, but rather, a pair of earrings to wear for New Year's Eve celebrations and beyond.

With champagne coloured crystals, a bit of gold for warmth and haematite as the highlight colour, there is plenty of glam in these dangly earrings to make you sparkle throughout the night. What a way to welcome in the New Year!

Here's what you'll need to make your own Let's Celebrate! earrings:

Tools: chain nose pliers, round nose pliers, flat nose pliers, flush cutters

String a 4mm bicone and a star (from the bottom) onto a head pin.

Bend the head pin at a 90° angle.

Trim to 1cm (3/8"). Tip: If you cut the head pin too short, you won't be able to make a large enough loop.

Turn a simple loop. Make two more of these components: one with a 4mm bicone and one with a 6mm bicone.

Open the loop and hook the 6mm components onto one of the loops of the fancy connector.

Attach the 4mm components onto the loops on either side of the 6mm component.

Cut the cup chain into two equal lengths. Place the end link of one piece into a cup chain end.

Use the flat nose pliers to gently press the claws over the crystal to hold it securely in cup chain end. Repeat on the other end of the cup chain.

Connect the top loop of the fancy connector to the last cup chain link with a jump ring.

Hook the other end of the cup chain onto the earring wire and close the loop.

Make a matching earring with the remaining components.

All you need now is a little black dress, a pair of killer stilettos and a special party to wear these glitzy earrings to. So pop the cork on a bottle of champagne and enjoy a glass of bubbly for me..... Cheers and have fun celebrating!

That brings us to the end of the 2015 Twelve Days of Christmas Earrings Extravaganza. I hope you've enjoyed (and been inspired by!) all the jewellery ideas I've brought to you throughout the month of December. May 2016 be full of wonderful jewellery-making and crafting opportunities for you.

Happy New Year everybody!

'Til next time......


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