Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Baroque Pearl Earring Remake

I always find doing jewellery repairs an interesting challenge - you can learn so much about jewellery construction by studying the way the piece has been put together. Many of the costume jewellery pieces I've repaired over the years are constructed using different methods to those we regularly use as jewellery makers today and I find I learn valuable techniques to add to my repertoire by studying the way a piece has been constructed. The baroque pearl earrings on my desk today are a really good example so I want to share with you the step-by-step reconstruction of them. My customer received them as a gift from her mother so they have sentimental value to her but after years of wear, the fine gauge wire that they're constructed with has become kinked, making the earrings unattractive. So a remake is in order - my brief is to try to recreate the original design if possible.

The earrings have an unusual construction method: one continuous length of wire runs through the pearl and then becomes the earring wire. Another uncommon design feature of these earrings is that the pear-shaped pearl sits horizontally rather than vertically in the design. It's quite a clever construction method however the challenge will not be in the construction, but rather finding a suitable wire that won't kink quite so easily and isn't so thick that it requires the holes in the pearls to be drilled out.

The original wire is dead soft and easy to manipulate but that's what has lead to the kinking so I've chosen Beadalon's 22g Stainless Steel Artisic Wire. Stainless Steel wire is less malleable than regular Artistic Wire and it has more spring it it so it should hold it's shape better but still be pliable enough to work. It is also thin enough to fit through the existing bead holes.

So let's get started.

1. I've cut a 20cm length to work with and threaded one of the pearls onto it, leaving a 3cm tail.

2. To make the loop that the earring wire sits in we're going to create a wire wrapped loop, so bend the wire above the pearl at a 90° angle.

3. Create a loop with round nose pliers at the bend. You can move the pearl out of the way to do this.

4. Wrap the tail twice around the neck of the wire and trim away the excess. I use old flush cutters for this rather than my good ones because stainless stell wire can damage the blades.

5. Leave a small gap between the pearl and the wire wrapping (you'll need this space for the following step) and bend the wire where it exits the other end of the pearl. Bring it back towards the wire wrapping. You want the wire to sit firmly against the side of the bead but you need a little slackness for step 8.

6. Wrap the wire once around the base of the wire wrapped neck.

7. Now bring the wire back around the other side of the pearl so that the pearl is cradled on each side by wire.

8. Insert the tail through the first loop.....

8a ...gently easing it through the loop so you don't creat any kinks.

9. Thread the tail through the second loop cradling the pearl so that the wire cradle sits firmly against the pearl.

10. Use flat nose pliers to bend the loop upwards just above the wire wrapping - this will be the loop to hook the earring wire through. (Sorry, forgot to photograph this step).

11. Form the remaining wire into a round earring shape the width of the pearl. Use flat nose pliers to bend the wire at a 45° angle where it meets the loop and then trim the tail to approximately 5mm.

12. Use a cup bur to smooth the end of the wire. Make the second earring to match.

And here's the remake.

Time will tell if the Stainless Steel wire proves to be a permanent solution or a temporary one but for the time being, my customer is happy that she can wear her baroque pearl earrings again!

'Til next time......

Monday, June 1, 2015

What is that Finding?

It's time for another instalment in the What is that Finding? series.

At first glance, this little finding, with its round cup at one end and tag with a hole at the other, looks rather similar to a calotte (aka clam shell or bead tip). Like a calotte, this finding is designed to encase the stringing material ready for attachment to a clasp. But because it's hinged on the side rather than on the end, it's able to accommodate a different kind of stringing material. Can you guess what that stringing material might be?

Let me give you a hint. It's a type of chain.

If you've guessed ball chain then you're spot on. This little finding is called a ball chain end or a ball chain crimp end.

If you've worked with ball chain before, you're probably more familiar with the ball chain connector that has a slit at each end for the last link of ball chain to sit in.

A ball chain connector eliminates the need for a clasp but it only works for a single strand of chain.

The beauty of using a ball chain end is that it allows you to include it in a multistrand design. As you can see, ball chain ends come in a range of sizes to fit different sized ball chain.

If you open the ball chain end, you will notice that the hinge is on the side, rather than the end. This allows you to place the last ball of the chain in the bottom of the cup......

and then you simply close the top half of the cup on it.

Insert a jump ring through the hole on the end and the ball chain is ready to be included in your design.

Ball chain ends make attaching ball chain a breeze and I think you'll find they give you a very secure and professional finish to your jewellery.

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Spool Tamers...... I Don't Know How I Ever Managed Without Them!

Have you ever removed the end of a wire spool and had it go BOING on you?
Don't you hate it when that happens!

Well, Beadalon have come up with a clever little accessory called a Spool Tamer that will put an end to your unravelling spools. It's simple to use and works really well!

This little gadget will make your springing spool struggles a thing of the past, not only with your wire spools, but also beading elastic, beading thread and beading wire.

A couple of the clever features of Spool Tamers are that they are elasticized for easy placement around the spool and they are also adjustable so they can be resized to fit most size spools.

Let's take a look at one in action. Begin by removing the plastic cuff from the spool, or unhook the end of your stringing material from the notch - take care that the spool doesn't completely unravel, especially if it is wire.

Thread the stringing material through the hole in the adjustable plastic buckle, from the inside.

Stretch the elasticized band over the spool so it sits against the wire. Adjust the ends so that it's not too tight and not too loose. Your spool is now tamed and ready to use!

To dispense, hold the tab whilst pulling the stringing material.

If you've dispensed too much, you can easily rewind it. Hold the spool so that the front is facing upwards, grip the tab and rotate it clockwise around the spool. Make sure you leave a small tail for next time.

This is one of those "I don't know how I ever managed without it!" products. After using this one, I immediately went out and bought a packet and I'm sure it won't be the last packet I buy. It really has tamed my wire!

'Til next time.....

Monday, May 18, 2015

When is a Crimp Tube More than Just a Crimp Tube?

Q. When is a crimp tube more than just a crimp tube?

A. When it's a Beadalon Groovy Tube!

So, what's a Beadalon Groovy Tube, I hear you ask? Well, it's a crimp tube with grooves in the side that slightly spiral around the tube at an angle.
crimp tubes with grooves

The grooves catch the light and create more sparkle than regular crimp tubes!

Beadalon recently gave me some to play with, along with some .024" wire so I'm going to share with you the Beadalon method of crimping.

I've blogged about how to crimp previously but this method might make it easier for you if you are struggling with it. Crimping is usually a 2-step process, but the Beadalon method is a 3-step process, with an additional step at the beginning. It's this first step that just might make your crimping nightmares go away!

Before we begin, take a look at the profile of your crimping tool. Notice the oval shaped hole at the tip?
oval hole in crimping pliers

This oval shaped slot is actually used in the first step of the crimping process. It shapes the round crimp tube into an oval prior to the actual crimping step. Who knew!

So let's take a look at the Beadalong 3-step crimping process. To start, string a Groovy Tube onto the beading wire, slip on a wire guardian and then thread the wire back through the Groovy Tube. Slide the tube up to the wire guardian, making sure the wires are sitting flat alongside each other rather than crossing over inside the crimp.
String crimp and wire guardian

Now we're ready to crimp. The photo below shows the order we'll be using the notches in.
Crimp tubes in this order

Step 1: Place the crimp inside the oval shaped hole at the tip of the pliers and squeeze the crimp to compress it into an oval shape.
place crimp in oval hole
oval shaped crimp tube

Step 2: Place the Groovy Tube into the hole with the notch in it. If your crimping pliers have three holes, you'll be using the middle one which is sized for 2mm crimps. Make sure the wires haven't crossed over each other and squeeze gently to form the two wings that the wires sit in.
create indentation in crimp tube

At this point, I like to check that the wires are securely encased, so give each one a good tug separately. If they're not secure, place the crimp back in the notched hole and squeeze more firmly.

Step 3: Return the Groovy Tube to the first hole (the one closest to the tip), turning the tube on its side, with the indentation facing towards the hinge of the pliers, and squeeze to bring the two wings together in the centre.
flatten crimp tube wings

And you're done!

There is definitely a little more sparkle in a Groovy Tube compared to a regular crimp tube.
completed crimp

But the thing I noticed most was that because of the grooves, the walls have a little bit of extra thickness and seem to have more substance than ordinary crimp tubes. That should make it a stronger crimp!

So if you've been struggling with the crimping technique, give this method a go. Hopefully, the extra step will make all the difference!

'Til next time......

Monday, May 11, 2015

Slide Connectors - a Neat and Quick Way to Finish a Beaded Bracelet

Have you seen the new Slide Connector Clasp Sets from Beadalon? 
Beadwork and Loom Design clasp set

These barrel-shaped connectors are a huge timesaver when it comes to finishing stitched beadwork and loom designs because there is no stitching required to secure the design to the clasp. Sound intriguing? Then read on to learn more about them!

Slide Connectors come ready to use with a clasp and extension chain already attached. They're available in gold and silver and come in three sizes: 13mm, 20mm and 26mm. I'm working with a 13mm set which will fit a beaded bracelet that I started two years ago - this was just the push I needed to finish it! So let's see how it works.
barrel connector with attached clasp
Looking closely at the fitting you'll notice a slit that runs the entire length of the barrels. At each end is a round disk which acts as a stopper. One end is already closed and the other is ready for you to feed your work into.
slit runs length of barrel

To use the fitting, insert the last row (or the last two rows for smaller beads) into the slit and begin sliding it into the tube.
Insert stitched beads into slit

Continue gently feeding it into the slit until it's fully inserted.
Feed beadwork into slot of Slide Connector

Press the open disk down onto the cylinder until it's completely closed. You can use chain nose pliers to help you with this if you find it too difficult with your fingers. If needed, press the disk down onto your work surface to close it further. Finish the other end of the bracelet in the same way.
Close disk on top of barrel

And here's my finished bracelet - the Slide Connector Clasp Set took only minutes to attach and it gives the bracelet a very neat and professional finish!
Beadalon Slide Connector Clasp Set

As you can see, Beadalon Slide Connectors are excellent for finishing beadwork designs. But it doesn't stop there; they also work well with designs made from multiple strands of beading wire (just crimp the end before sliding each strand into the fitting), ball chain, rhinestone cup chain and any other stringing material that can be anchored inside the tube.

Apart from being timesaving, Beadalon Slide Connectors give your designs a professional finish and they make your design more visually appealing because the loops that are usually required on a barrel fitting have been done away with - that's the thing I like most about these connectors!

'Til next time.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cut Out & Keep Jewelry Superstar Feature

This past week, I've been the featured "Jewelry Superstar" on Cut Out + Keep. Each day for seven days, I've created a jewelry tutorial with step outs for you to recreate. You can see all seven of the projects below. Just click the link above each photo and it will take you straight to the tutorial.

You can also learn a little bit about me in my Jewelry Superstar interview: find out some fun facts such as who my favourite actor is, what my favourite TV show is and what my favourite colour is (regular readers will already know this one!). I also talk about where my jewellery-making journey began and where I find inspiration.

So please come and join me on Cut Out + Keep for some fun, elegant, classy and casual jewellery tutorials.

Fiesta Sunset Earrings
Sof-Suede leather lace combined with wire wrapping. Wrap it neat or wrap it messy - both ways look equally good!
Sof-Suede leather lace earrings

Pavé Drop Earrings
Very sparkly, elegant earrings made with Swarovski crystals and ETI's Resin Clay
Resin Clay and Crystal earrings

Faux Perfume Bottle Necklace 
Inspired by exotic Egyptian Perfume bottles. Or maybe if you rub it, a Genie will appear to grant you 3 wishes!
Genie Bottle Pendant

Another Sof-Suede leather lace design. This bracelet uses a round Kumihimo disk to create the braid. 
Sof-Suede Leather and chain bracelet

Filigree Wrapped Crystal Earrings
A quick and easy pair of classy earrings using round filigrees and crystals 
Crystal Bridal earrings

Golden Nuggets Bracelet
Can you believe this bracelet is made entirely of findings? Yep, that's right! There's not one bead in the design. 
Daisy Spacer bracelet

Barnyard Girls Earrings
A fun and whimsical pair of earrings featuring some very simple wirework to create the feet. 
Chook earrings

I hope you've enjoyed the tutorials I put together for this feature.

'Til next time.....


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