Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Official... I'm writing a book!

I have really exciting news to announce. If you follow me on Facebook, you've already got the heads up, but for my blog readers I must make an apology for not letting you know sooner. I didn't mean to neglect you but you see, I've been just a little busy over the past few months creating concept designs and putting together a book proposal. And the exciting news is that the publisher has accepted my proposal and contracts have been signed. So in a nutshell, I'm writing my first jewellery making book.

How exciting is that!

So over the coming months I'll be pouring my heart and soul into this book. It will be a busy time with lots of projects being created, text being edited and oodles of step-by-step photographs being taken. I wish I could tell you more about the contents of the book but those details are still under wraps. What I can tell you though is that the jewellery techniques will take you where no other jewellery making books have taken you before and the designs involve one of my favourite stringing materials: leather.

I hope you'll join me on this journey as I share some of the ins and outs of writing a book. It will be a big learning process for me and I'd like to share some of that with you along the way. But after the many, many months of hard work ahead, I know it will be worth it when the book hits the bookstores.

My deadline is looming closer every day and I still have so much work to do. Right now, I'm creating some exquisitely, interesting jewellery designs and writing up instructions. I've gotta say that I'm really enjoying this phase of the process - the creative part is such fun!

So now you're up to date with what's happening here in my studio. I'll try not to neglect you as the process ramps up but remember, you can always check in with me on my Facebook page. Hope to see you there soon!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jewellery Tip - Sorting different sized crimp tubes

Like many designers in the craft industry I share my studio with a pet. Most of the time Kitty Kat is just happy to nap and occasionally she'll chase a bead or other embellishment that has fallen on to the floor.

But it doesn't always go like that.

Today we had a little incident when she jumped up on to the bench top. She landed awkwardly on top one of my boxes of findings, became unbalanced and then she and the findings tumbled unceremoniously onto the floor. Apart from darting out of the studio terrified with her tail between her legs, she was unscathed. But sadly the same can't be said about the 3 drawer box which broke and sent the contents scattering everywhere. Fun!

If you've ever had beads or findings scatter across the floor before then you'll know that the easiest way to clean them all up is to grab the vaccuum, wrap a stocking over the nozzle and secure it with a rubber band. It makes gathering all the findings easy.

Now all that's left to do now is sort everything back into its compartment. Unfortunately, the bottles of crimp tubes broke and all the crimps became mixed up.

So here's an easy way to sort them - it's a bit tedious but it will ensure that all the crimps are sorted correctly.

Grab a needle tool with a tapered point (a toothpick will work too!) and a bead mat or other soft surface to work on. Pick up each crimp with the point of the needle tool and note how far along the shaft it will go.

You should be able to easily identify the different sizes this way.

So now everything is back in order in the studio including Kitty Kat who is doing what she does best!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Ray of Sunshine - My Yellow Bead Drawer

Everyone has a system for organising their bead stash whether it be by colour, shape, type, or material, and it's usually influenced by the way they design and the kind of jewellery they make.

For me, I like to keep my go-to beads organised by colour - these are the beads that support the main element or focal point of the design. I also have a separate storage areas devoted to just crystals, one to pearls and gemstones, another to resin/acrylic/plastic, and yet another to large holed beads. There are of course more.... but you get the idea. This system works well for the way I design.

But recently, I was looking through my bead collection and noticed a glaring gap in the rainbow of colours that makes up my bead stash: I have practically no yellow beads!
From limey yellow to mustard, to amber.... I'm on a mission to fill my yellow bead drawer with yellows in every shade.
I keep my beads organised using the Best Craft Organizer furniture system which I can customise to suit my needs.

Yellow is such a cheerful and uplifting colour. It sings with happiness.

And whilst it can be a bit overpowering on it's own, when it's combined with other colours it can really lift them from the doldrums. In Autumn and Winter, the richer amber tones fit well with fiery reds, chocolatey browns, gold and brassy metals.
Pressed Czech leaf beads in muted autumn tones look wonderful against soft brassy metal filigrees.

Yellows can work with silver too.
Cheery yellow and silver tones work well together.

The bright clear shades of yellow look fabulous with brown.
I love the bumble bee look of these striped beads... it's like they're bees visiting the lucite flowers!

But they work equally well with the fresh colours of the Spring palette as well as Summer brights.

So I'm making it my mission to fill this yellow drawer with as many yellow beads as I can find. Here's some of my recent finds.
From limey yellow to mustard, to amber.... lots of new yellow bead strands to fill my yellow bead drawer.

Translucent bead strands in limey yellow, mustard and amber.

Let's have a look at that drawer now.
Almost full, the yellow bead drawer has an assortment of yellow and amber beads

There's still a way to go but at least it's now starting to look like I have some good basic yellow beads to work with. To fill those empty gaps I'm going to keep my eye out for some focal beads to boost the collection. It will soon be like a ray of sunshine when I open that drawer!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jewellery Know How - Eye Pin Loops - the "glue" that connects your jewellery together

In my last Jewellery Know How post I showed you one of the common reasons why jewellery falls apart. Today I'm going to show you another one - poorly formed or poorly closed eye pin loops.

If you're a jewellery maker, then learning how to form a loop will be a mainstay of your jewellery making skills. Mastering this technique will ensure your jewellery is strong and secure.

There are a few different ways to make eye loops but today I'm going to show you the method I use and the two slightly different loop shapes it will give you.

Buy yourself a spool of inexpensive, 20 gauge copper wire so that you can practice without ruining all your eye and head pins whilst you're perfecting your loops. Copper wire is soft and malleable which will make practising easy. Avoid hard wires like steel as they can be difficult to work with. You can use 22 gauge wire if you have it on hand.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Soft 20 gauge wire
  • Flat nose pliers or Chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Flush cutters

Begin by cutting a 5cm (2") length of wire. It doesn't have to be exact.

Place the flat nose pliers approximately 1cm (3/8") from the end of the wire. In this photo, that's the left hand edge of my pliers which is 1cm from the end of the wire.
Placing the wire in the jaws of flat nose pliers approximately 10mm from the end of the wire.

Bend the wire at this point at a 90° angle. I prefer to use the flat nose pliers because they give a sharper bend.
Wire bent at a 90° angle approximately 1cm from the end of the wire.

Switch to the round nose pliers. Hold the pliers in your dominant hand and grip the end of the wire in the pliers so that you can only just see the tip of it.
Placing the tip of the wire between the jaws of the pliers

Rotate your wrist inwards as far as it will comfortably turn.
Rotating the pliers to form the first part of the loop

Release the wire from the pliers. Rotate your wrist so that it's facing upwards and regrip the wire at the same position in the pliers as before. Rotate your wrist inwards again until the loop is completed.
A perfectly formed simple loop

This forms a nice round loop. But you might prefer your loops to have slightly straighter sides. You can do that by making some minor adjustments when you're forming the loop.

Bend the wire as before but this time make a 45° bend.
Copper wire bent at a 45° angle approximately 1cm from the end of the wire

Grip the end of the wire in the pliers making sure that approximately 1mm (1/32") is visible beyond the jaws of the pliers.
The tip of the wire is placed in the jaws of the round nose pliers

Make the loop following the instructions above. 

You can see that this loop is more straight sided.
A simple loop with straight sides

Here's the two loops alongside each other for comparison.
Two simple loops: one with round sides, the other with straight sides.

If you close your loops really well, you're jewellery will be really secure and you won't have problems with pieces becoming unhooked.

Pin this for Later!
Simple Loops Tutorial sheet

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs