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. Crisis 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.
Broken end caps and chain.
The disintegrated end cap was made of plastic and painted to look like silver.

How to Replace a Broken End Cap

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. If you've never used 5-minute epoxy before, see how to mix it properly in this post. Use the toothpick to coat the inside of the cord end liberally.
Coating the inside of the cap liberally with the 5-minute epoxy using a toothpick.

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.
Insert the bunch of chain ends into the end cap

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.
Reassembling the necklace components

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.
The repaired chain compared to the original chain.

And here's the necklace repair completed.
Purple and antiqued silver necklace with a chain tassel.

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.

Want to see some other jewellery repairs I've tackled? Take a look at these related posts:
On Safari necklace with Fireline
Rosary Chain necklace
Multi strand Freshwater Pearl necklace with beading wire

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How to fix broken jewellery project 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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Edible Art - Zentangling on Handmade Mint Patties

Handmade and decorated Zentangle Mint Patties

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.
Mint patties zendoodled with black, purple  and pink edible ink pens.

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.
Rolling out the fondant to 5mm thick.

Using a circle cutter, I cut out 2.5cm (1") rounds.
Using a 1" cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the rolled fondant.

And then I left them to firm up.
Allowing the fondant circles to dry before decorating.

On the front of each pattie, I traced around a filigree stamping to create a nice lacey edge across them using edible black ink.
Tracing around the edge of a square scalloped filigree onto a mint pattie with a black edible ink pen.

I traced some of the detail too.
Black outlines traced onto a mint pattie.

Then I drew in the pattern by hand.
Using a black edible ink pen to draw in details of the filigree on the mint pattie.

Lastly, I monogrammed each one with edible purple and pink pens in keeping with the colour theme of the party.
Mint patties decorated with filigree pattern and filled in with monogram "M" in purple and pink.

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.
Tray of zendoodled mint patties... no two patties are 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.
Close up detail of the zendoodling on a mint pattie.
Zendoodle patterns in purple, pink and black on handmade mint patties.

I packaged them up in sweet little butterfly bonbonniere boxes along with some sugared almonds. See how to make the bonbonnieres in this post.
Handmade purple obelisk box filled with zendoodled mint patties.

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.

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Zentangled mint patties inspiration 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

Friday, January 8, 2016

How to Clean Glitter and Mica Powder from Silicone Moulds

When the resin bug strikes, you just want to get right into the casting. But if your moulds are grubby, you'll have to clean them first. So here's a really smart tip for keeping your silicone moulds in tip-top shape and always ready to go.

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? Resin is like glue and anything that is in the mould when you pour the resin in will become part of the resin when you demould it.

But cleaning moulds is EASY when you know this trick, even if your moulds looks as dirty as this!
Grubby silicone mould with dust, fluff and glitter.

The front of this mould is just as bad.
Grubby silicone mould with dust and fluff.

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

Rub your finger across the tape.....
Pressing sticky tape onto the silicone.

And then remove it. And voilà! All the specs of glitter and dust will lift right off. 
The silicone mould is clean where the tape has been used.

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

And now you have a perfectly clean mould ready to cast in.
Cleaned silicone mould is dust-free and ready for use.

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

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

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The easy way to clean your silicone moulds project 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