Now available! - Christmas Tree Earrings Collection

Now available! - Christmas Tree Earrings Collection
Add a touch of magic to your holiday outfits with festive Christmas earrings. I’ve gathered together 12 of my all-time best Christmas Tree earring designs from previous years in this one special ebook. From traditional to modern, you’ll find a variety of styles, techniques and materials and something for every level of jewellery-maker.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bad Resin Day!

Yesterday, I had a bad resin day!

Sometimes, things don't go quite as planned: I had bad pours, spilled resin, bubbling issues, cross contamination, you name it, I seemed to be clumsy enough to do it. It was just one of those days!

But that's not what this post is about. Those mess ups give me the opportunity to show you some of the things that can go wrong when working with resin.

So let's have a look at a couple of the things that didn't go according to plan.

The first bangle has a little bit of bubbling in the resin (not unusual for polyurethane resin) but the biggest problem is what I'd describe as warts on the surface.

The culprit here is moisture. A crack in the lid of the colourant I used has allowed moisture to contaminate the dye. Mix with resin and you get warts and bubbling!
Lesson: resin and moisture do not mix!

In the second bangle I have a totally different problem.  I've seen this happen once or twice before with beginners but I had never experienced it myself. And I'll have to be honest here and say I've never seen it THIS BAD before!

What you are looking at here is the swollen outside edge of a bangle. It looks like it has a fat lip!

In the photo below, you can see how it has puckered on the inside, looking a lot like a kid's inflatable swimming pool.

The culprit here is the operator. I have not mixed the resin well enough and inside the outer shell of cured resin is uncured, unmixed resin.

Lesson: Make sure the resin is thoroughly mixed.

So take heart: even experienced resin crafters get less than perfect results sometimes. Keep in mind these two very important points and you can avoid these ghastly mistakes. Resin really is fun and easy to work with when you do it properly.

'Til next time.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Revamping a Candelabra

About 10 years ago I bought an inexpensive candelabra which, after many years of neglect, had collected a thick layer of dust and wax.

I always avoided cleaning it because it seemed like scraping off the melted wax would be a difficult thing to do. But for a special occasion in our household recently I decided it was time to tackle the job of cleaning it up.

Who knew it would only take 10 minutes to clean?!! Check out how easy it is to do in the video and then see how it was transformed into a chic and elegant table decoration draped with beads and crystals - it's the perfect centrepiece for a wedding table or special dinner party.

'Til next time....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Barnyard Girls

Here's a pair of whimsical, barnyard inspired earrings that are fun and easy to make using a simple wire technique to create the feet.

What you'll need:

2 x lampwork chicken beads
20gauge non tarnish silver wire
2 x 4mm silver bicone beads
2 x 6mm silver bead caps
2 x 6mm silver spacer beads - mine look like a bon bon (with a flare at the top and bottom), but a plain cylinder spacer bead will also work
Pair silver earring wires

Chain nose pliers
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters

Cut a length of wire 12.5cm (5") long and bend it at a 90° angle, about 2.5cm (1") from the end.

Hold the flat nose pliers in the corner of the angle just created (on the long end) and bend the wire back around the outside of the jaw.

This will create the first claw.

Repeat the last step to create 3 claws altogether.

Shape the claws by gently squeezing each one together at the base with the pliers. You want to make sure that the two outside claws are pointing slightly forward rather than out to the side.

Create the fourth claw with the shorter end of the wire.

 This one points out the back.

After you've created the four claws, you're going to bend the two wires upwards. Start with the fourth claw. Hold the wire at the end of where you want the claw to finish and bend the wire upwards to create a leg.

It should look like this.

Do the same thing with the longer wire, trying to bend it as close to the fourth claw as you can.

Now you have four claws and two upright wires which form the legs.

Make a seond leg to match.

Once you've made two legs, you're ready to get started on the earrings.

Thread the spacer bead over the two "prongs" of the leg.

Add an upturned beadcap, the chicken bead and a silver bicone.

Leave a small "neck" of wire above the bicone and create a loop.

Wrap the wire around the "neck" with the chain nose pliers and then trim off the excess wire.

Make a matching chicken component and then hook them onto the earring wires.

So what do your think? Are they hens or roosters? I'll leave that for you to decide.

'Til next time.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beads with a Twist

If you've ever managed to catch me demoing at the craft shows in Brisbane or Sydney you are sure to have seen me work with Friendly Plastic. One of the most popular things I demo is the Twist Bead. It always draws a big crowd and lots of Ah-ha's as onlookers see the wonderful spirals appear around the bead.

But if you haven't seen a twist bead made before then check out the video below to see just how clever it is. This one is for all my fellow Friendly Plastic addicts :)

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Man Cave Coasters

Now that my silicone coaster mould is cured I'm all set to cast the first Man Cave resin coaster - the gifts my son is giving to his mates for Christmas.

Beer bottle caps would have to be THE perfect item to embed in coasters for guys in their early 20s (or maybe any age!). My son has been collecting bottle caps for this project for months and I've been busting to get started on it. So whilst the silicone mould was curing, I began by preparing the bottle caps.

I started by filling them with resin.

I'm so glad I did this before setting the caps into the resin because a few bubbles got caught around the rubber lining of each cap and it was easier to pop them before they were set into the coaster mould rather than after. It also made them heavy enough so they didn't float to the surface when I filled the mould.

As soon as the silicone was cured I was able to start pouring resin into the mould - just a shallow layer to begin with. Once this was at the soft cure stage, I lined up the bottle caps in the mould as best I could. It was a bit tricky because they're upside down in the mould.

One or two of them ended up twisted a little bit but it still looks OK. One final layer of resin covers all the bottle caps.

This first coaster was a test run to see if I've poured in enough resin, whether the mould was deep enough and also to work out how much resin I'll need for each coaster. The mould passed on all fronts.

All in all, it was a successful pour. The only disappointment I have is the colour of the resin which is way too yellow for clear casting resin. It turns out my brand new resin kit is not so fresh and the hardener had yellowed.

It still looks good though and I'm thinking of putting a piece of white felt on the back to highlight the "beer" colour!

Now, all I need is a whole stack more bottle caps!

Edited March 2013 - You can now purchase a kit to make a set of your own from my website.

'Til next time.....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mould in a Box

My son has put in a special order for some personalised gifts to give to his friends for Christmas. They are all in their early 20s and enjoy having a quiet drink together so we decided that resin drink coasters would make a great gift.

No problems, I thought. But before that can happen, I need a mould so today I finally had reason to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: create a silicone coaster mould.
To make the mould making process easier, I invested in a mould box and I've got to say that this is simply the best investment I've made in quite a while. All you have to do is clamp the four walls together, putty the gaps so the silicone can't leak out and your mould box is ready to use.

After securing my master to the bottom of the mould, I mixed and poured the silicone around it and then waited for it to cure..... too easy!

The plan is to make several of these moulds so that I can cast a whole set of coasters at a time but unfortunately, to get the mould out of the mould box, I had to pull it apart. Not to worry.... it won't take too long to reassemble it. But first I'll cast the coaster in resin to see whether or not any adjustments need to be made to the master. At this stage, the mould is looking really good.

Stay tuned for pics of the finished coaster - it's a beer lover's delight!

'Til next time......

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On Safari in the Studio

It's jewellery repair day and I wanted to share a piece I've been working on today, not because it's a great repair job but because it's such a cool necklace! It features a selection of really BIG wooden safari animal beads making it a fun necklace that really grabs your attention.

Originally, it was strung on fishing line but it had unravelled in parts and a few of the round wooden beads were lost but other than that, it's in great condition.

There was little hope of matching those missing beads so it was just a matter of replacing the missing beads with a few beads from the back of the necklace where they won't be missed at all. It's a very straight forward repair.

I've been able to re-use all the findings but I replaced the fishing line with two strands of Fireline to make it really durable and strong. The two strands are actually part of the design too.

I'm not going to show you the whole stringing process - you can see the stringing pattern in the photo at the bottom of the post. But I thought you might like to see how I started and finished the necklace.

Firstly I tied a quadruple knot at the end of the Fireline. Four knots seems a bit like overkill but the knot needs to be bigger than the hole in the calotte so it won't slip through. A dab of GS-Hypo Cement all over the knot will make sure it doesn't unravel.

Here's the part of the design where the strands separate before coming back together again.

The only tricky thing with the threading is making sure that the animal beads are the right way up. An upside down laughing hyena is no laughing matter at all!

Finishing the end of the necklace with knots was much trickier than at the start of the necklace so I threaded on a seed bead which fitted snugly inside the calotte.

To make sure it stayed securely in place, I've threaded the Fireline back through the bead two more times. 

I wanted to make doubly sure that this necklace doesn't fall apart again so I also tied a double knot right above the bead and then applied GS-Hypo Cement all over the Fireline before trimming away the excess.

Closing the calottes was all that was needed to finish the necklace and you can see from this photo that I didn't even remove the barrel clasp to do this repair.

And here it is, all rethreaded and ready to be worn by it's lucky owner.

This necklace is many, many years old and yet here it is, a hot fashion item once again. Don't you love how all these old trends are re-emerging? It reminds me that quality accessories are worth hanging on to no matter how out of date they might seem.... they WILL come back into fashion again one day. Sometimes they will need updating but if you're lucky like the owner of this one, it will need nothing more than a quick repair job.

'Til next time.....

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hot Neon Resin Jewellery

Neon is all the rage at the moment. It visited us in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s and yet it's still so fresh... what a contradiction!

The thing about neon is that it doesn't blend with other colours. It is what it is - eye popping colour that stands out a mile. The trick to wearing it successfully is to wear just a touch of it so that you don't glow like a neon glow stick. Add just a couple of neon accessories like a bangle and belt to a plain outfit and you'll hit a good balance and still be in fashion.

I've had a bit of fun making neon resin bangles and rings over the last few days using some retro bangle and ring shapes - they suit the neon colours perfectly!

But if you feel a little intimidated by the full on glow of these electric colours and still want to be in fashion, you can compromise and choose pastel neon like the ones I cast in my first session. They are still neon coloured, but just not as intense.
Don't you love the square? It's thin so it's perfect for stacking several bangles together!

Another way of toning down the glow is by adding some marbling. This retro faceted ring is still neon but not quite as "in your face".

I got a little more bold with my adventures with each casting session. The greens got stronger and so did the pinks.

And stronger still....

Are you in love with the new neons? Want some for your wardrobe? Then why not take a class this weekend and learn all the ins and outs of making your own bangles and rings with resin. It's fun, it's addictive and best of all, you will have new accessories to jazz up your wardrobe. You'll find more information about the workshop at Mill Lane Studio.

'Til next time.....


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