Thursday, March 27, 2014

Resin and Glitter Don't Always Make for a Good Combination

Have you ever had that uneasy feeling when you realise you've taken on more projects than you can comfortably juggle?

I have so many projects on the go in the studio at the moment that my workspace is overflowing with works in progress. And some of these projects just shouldn't be worked on at the same time. I mean, glitter and resin are normally a great combination but when you are making man cave resin coasters, hot pink glitter is not the choice material to have floating around the studio!

Of course, it isn't helping that I'm flitting backwards and forwards between the girly project in one corner of my studio and the mancave project in the other. But I'm on a very tight time frame to meet a commission deadline and have to squeeze it all in so I am painstakingly removing these pesky specks one by one. What was I thinking working on these two projects at the same time?

The good news is that apart from the stray glitter, the man cave project is going really well!

Here's a peek at the resin process.

I forgot to take photos of the first resin pour but here you can see that the first layer of resin is already poured and cured. I've placed the sealed image face down in another layer of resin and left it to cure overnight.

Colouring the pigment for the third layer of resin came next.

Each batch of resin has to have the same intensity so the coasters are consistent in colour.

Once the pigment is thoroughly mixed, it's time to pour.

And finally, after another 24 hours of curing, it's time for the big reveal!

Well, you didn't think I was actually going to show you the finished coasters, did you? That will have to wait for another day because the customer wants to surprise her partner with them so I can't spill the beans. But I can say that they look pretty good!

Once all six of these are finished, I'll be moving back to the girly project where I can glitter away to my heart's content without fear of turning someone's man cave into a glitter palace!

'Til next time....



Monday, March 24, 2014

A French Affaire - Pearls for the Girls!

Over the next month I'll be working with glass pearls a lot. You see, my youngest sister will soon be celebrating a milestone birthday and I'm so excited to be organising her party. She dreams of one day travelling to Paris but as that's not on the cards just at the moment, we will be bringing France to her! To help make it an affair to remember, there will be a handmade pearl bracelet for every female who is attending, made by moi!

So here's the first one, classic black and white:

Ideally, I'd be using 1mm stretch elastic to string the glass pearls for this bracelet but because there is only a single hole on the back of the rose and I'm stringing a double stranded bracelet, I'm using 0.5mm.

Finished size: Internal diameter 65mm (2 5/8") approximately

So here's what you'll need:

  • Six 4mm, four 6mm and thirtyeight 8mm white glass pearls
  • Four 2-hole silver and diamonte rhinestone spacer bars
  • Black resin rose (mine is approximately 35mm across)
  • 0.5mm Stretch Magic
  • GS-Hypo Cement, clear nail polish or other adhesive to secure the knot
  • Bead stopper
  • Scissors 
Cut two 20cm (8") lengths of elastic and pre-stretch them to minimise overstretching from wear. Place both cords in the bead stopper and then thread them through the rose. String one 4mm pearl on both cords. Separate the cords and thread a 4mm pearl on each one.

String a 6mm pearl on each cord followed by three 8mm pearls and then thread each cord through a hole in the spacer. String four 8mm pearls on each cord and a spacer, then string five 8mm pearls on each cord and the spacer. Finish stringing the bracelet by reversing the stringing order: four 8mm pearls and a spacer, three 8mm pearls, two 6mm pearls and two 4mm pearls. Bring the cords back together and string one 4mm pearl.

Remove the bead stopper and tie the four cords together using a surgeon's knot. Tighten the knot by pulling both the knot and the cord. Secure the knot with your choice of adhesive. Once it's dry, trim the ends and slide the knot inside the rose.

This is a generously sized bracelet so to make it smaller, just adjust the number of pearls between each spacer.

I'll share some more pearl bracelets with you over the coming weeks. Please stop by and see what other designs I make!

 'Til then....


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Resin Floral Bracelet - a Simple but Timeless Design

I've been playing around with dried flowers and resin in the studio lately and one of the pieces I made is the pretty floral focal in the bracelet below. You can learn how to make pieces like this in the Resin Jewellery Workshop (held monthly in my studio).

The flower-on-flower look is rather sweet and it only needs a simple stringing design to highlight how pretty it is. I chose watermelon pink glass pearls and just a hint of green to play up the floral nature of the bead.

Whilst you most likely don't have a similar resin component on hand, don't let that stop you from recreating this simple design - just choose a focal bead with WOW! factor and beads that complement it. Here's what you'll need:
  • a knockout focal bead of your choice
  • 6 coordinating 8mm beads (I used 4 rounds and 2 bicones from Cousin Corp) 
  • 14 #8 seed beads
  • 68 4mm glass pearls 
  • 2 3mm metal spacer beads. 

You'll also need:
  • 7 eye pins
  • 2 #2 crimp tubes
  • 2 crimp covers
  • 2 wire guardians
  • 0.012" beading wire
  • 2 split rings
  • a magnetic clasp

Start by threading an eye pin through the focal bead and bending the pin at a 90° angle right above the hole.

Then trim it to about 1cm (3/8") and turn a simple loop.

On another eye pin, string two seed beads, an 8mm round, and two more seed beads. Turn a simple loop and then make a second component to match. Create two more components consisting of one seed bead, a bicone and another seed bead. And finally, make two components using just a round.

Cut two 30cm (12") pieces of 0.012 beading wire (you need to use fine beading wire in order to pass both wires through the wire guardian). Place the ends together and thread them through a crimp tube. Thread the wires through one side of the wire guardian and then the other. Thread the wires back through the crimp tube making sure they do not cross over each other and then crimp securely in place.

Cover the crimp tube with a crimp cover and use a Mighty Crimper to carefully close the cover around the crimp tube.

Keep the two short wires together with one of the long wires and string a 3mm spacer bead and a seed bead. Repeat on the other long wire.

String eight 4mm glass pearls on each strand. Thread the wires through the eye loops of a short "round" component. String two more pearls on each strand followed by the bicone component, two pearls and the long round component. String five pearls and then the eye loops of the resin focal. String the other side of the bracelet to match and finish the stringing with a crimp and wire guardian.

Use split ring pliers to open a split ring.....

.....and attach one half of a magnetic heart-shaped clasp to one end. Repeat for the other end of the bracelet and you're finished!

The secret to making a stunning focal bead like this work is to make sure you don't have other beads competing with it. Keeping the design simple and highlighting an attribute of the bead is what makes the bead shine. In this case the green in the coordinating beads almost behaves like leaves around the flower.

So keep this design principle in mind the next time a stunning bead crosses your jewelry making table - let the focal bead do the talking and the coordinating beads be the support act!

'Til next time....


Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Jewellery Making Challenge


On my recent trip to the US, good friend, shopping guide and wonderful host, +Helen Bradley, took me to some wonderful bead shops whilst in Cotati. At our first stop, she threw down the gauntlet - a jewellery making challenge. She picked a bead that she knew I would never have bought and that is out of my comfort zone.

OK, a peace symbol is definitely not my style. It's not even even in one of my favourite colours. But....... CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Teaming it with a leather lace band is a pretty hip look and so on trend at the moment, but that's been done before and it seemed like a cop out to go down that road - this is a challenge after all!

However, I did think it would make a great bracelet so I pulled out lots of green beads to see what I liked and this is the selection I made.

I love the handpainted square and round beads in the bottom row: the flowers are the pefect motif for a peace bracelet. And a couple of hearts won't be out of place either.

I started off by cutting a 45cm (17 3/4") length of 0.5mm Stretch Magic. Even though 1.0mm fits comfortably inside these beads, the elastic needs to run through the beads twice so the narrower elastic works better for this design. It's always a good idea to pre-stretch the elastic which will help minimise overstretching once it's been worn a few times, so I gave it several good tugs before placing a bead stopper on one end.

My stringing pattern is really simple: 4 milky white and 4 green flat ovals with the colours alternating. This is the bottom section of the bracelet.

 All the pretty beads are strung in the top section, along with the challenge bead.

On the other side of the bracelet I've strung a second bottom section, in reverse order to the first one. So now I've got two bottom sections. You'll see why in the next few steps.

By threading the end of the elastic through the beads in the top section....

and exiting out the bottom of the second square bead, the bracelet is now circular.

Now it's time to remove the bead stopper from the other end and thread it through the last three beads in the top section, creating a double strand of beads along the bottom of the bracelet.

Now the two ends are together and ready to be tied off.

I usually tie a half knot followed by a surgeon's knot, stretching both the cord and the knot tightly in between every knot I tie. I tied an extra double knot on this one to make sure it would hold.

And even though my knot is tight, I like the added security of a dab of GS-Hypo cement.

With the adhesive dry, I trim away the ends.... and slide the knot up inside the hole of the square bead where it can't be seen.

And here's my Flower Power Peace bracelet. I kinda like it...

and I might even be enticed to wear it so I think that I can say, Challenge successfully completed!

'Til next time.....


Thursday, February 13, 2014

XOXO for Valentine's Day


Hugs and Kisses abound on Valentine's Day! And this darling little bracelet says it all - XOXO - how adorable!

On my recent trip to California I came across a number of great bead shops but one of the best shops I visited was Legendary Beads. Their selection of beads and jewellery supplies is excellent and I found lots of goodies to bring home with me. But it wasn't until I was at the cash register finalising my purchases that I saw the fabulous little XOXO bracelet kit. It was very smart placement to have it at the counter - like lollies at the checkout in the supermarket! The display was so cute that I couldn't resist bringing one home with me.

You only need some basic jewellery making skills to put it together but it didn't come with any instructions so here's a few photos that should be helpful.

The wirework XOXO is already preformed for you so you don't need any wireworking skills at all.

Firstly, you'll need to tape the end of the mouse tail. Cut the mouse tail into two 15cm lengths - a little more if you have wider wrists and a little less if you have narrow wrists.

Thread the taped end of the cord through one end of the loop and then remove the tape.

Place the end of the mouse tail in a cord end and fold over one flap at a time to encase the cord securely. For a neater finish, you can use the end-hole of the Mighty Crimper to round the cord end. Repeat on the other end of the cord.

Open a jump ring and hook on the two cord ends. Complete the other side of the bracelet in the same way but add the clasp to the jump ring as well.

And there you have it - such a lovely way to say "I Love You"!

Happy Valentine's Day!

'Til next time.....


Saturday, February 8, 2014

CHA Designer Showcase - Concept to Completion

If you follow my blog, you would have heard me mention CHA and the Designer Showcase before. But have you ever wondered what a Designer Showcase actually is?

Well, it's anything that the Designer wants it to be.

In the past, I've always displayed my work so that Showcase visitors could get a feel for my style and what it is that I do. But this year, I decided to take a different approach. You see, CHA provided us with a gallery-style pedestal instead of a table, so I created a very minimalist display. And unlike past years where I've had lots of my designs on display, this year I had just ONE finished piece. But, that piece is the hero of my display. I hope it will all make sense by the time you reach the end of the post.

In the meantime, follow the pics to see how my Showcase took shape.

Let's start with the props for the display. I wanted three round, white boxes which nested inside each other. But having left it until just two days before jetting out to the US to put this together, I had to take whatever boxes I could find, no matter what the colour. With a can of gloss white paint in my shopping basket, I was on my way.

Six coats of paint later, and I had my round, white boxes.

Whilst these were drying, it was on to making the jewellery that would be on display: a Faux Barbed Wire Wrap Bracelet.

You can see how to make the Faux Barbed Wire here. I made about 2.5 metres all up. Some was for the bracelet and the rest was to be used to tell the story.

At this point, it was time to pack my suitcase and head to the airport. The rest would have to be completed in my hotel room once I got to LA.

Once I was settled in my room it was time to start putting it all together.

That faux barbed wire I had made was to become writing around the outside of my three white boxes and it needed to be painstakingly applied so the adhesive didn't show. I ran into a spot of bother here because the quick drying adhesive I had chosen for its strength was solvent based.... and so was the paint on the boxes and it immediately began to dissolve the paint. Yikes! No need to panic though because I came prepared with three adhesives and one of them worked nicely.

Progress was slow, but the words were starting to take shape.... and to my relief, it was readable!

I found these wooden pedestals at the same store as the round boxes and they were already painted white. They just needed a touch of colour to brighten them up.

With all the components completed I was ready to set up my Showcase. And here it is!

The theme of my Showcase was Concept to Completion and I wanted it to illustrate the design process in a visual way, showing how a spool of simple beading cord could be transformed into a Faux Barbed Wire Bracelet. The cord runs in one continuous length from the spool on top of the first box right to the end of the word "completion" on the third box - it starts out as just plain cord and is progressively transformed into barbed wire as it moves from box to box.

The bracelet sits on top of the last box propped up on a rose.... such a contradiction - but it's a pretty cool bracelet! Most people actually think it's wire and not cord at all and they're surprised when they pick it up and discover that it's soft to the touch and completely wearable.

I love how my Showcase turned out.... and I love that it told a story. It turned out to be a real talking point!

'Til next time......


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