Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How to make kidney ear wires

Kidney ear wires, to me, are the perfect ear wire for little girls and tweens because they're very lightweight, small, and don't fall out. Don't get me wrong because they're perfect for women too. Especially if you tend to have French ear wires fall out of your ears just when you use your cell phone!

They're fairly easy to make though it does take me a bit of thinking, and looking at a finished one to get through my first set.  That's why I make several pairs at a time!  I get into a groove of making them and it's easier to bang out a bunch at once.

These are the tools you'll need...

I used 24 gauge wire for this tutorial.  However, 22 gauge is perfect too and very sturdy.  Cut two pieces of wire that are 2 1/2 inches long.  File the burrs off both ends.  Think about putting these wires through the holes in your ears...you wouldn't want anything sharp poking you.

Use your nylon jaw pliers to straighten each wire and to work harden them a bit.

Make a small half loop on one end of each wire using your round nose pliers. 

Place the loop flat into your chain nose pliers and bend the long end into a 60 degree angle (this is just an approximate, but yes, you can Google it to see what 60 degrees looks like).

Now grab the bend with the tip of your round nose pliers and form an open loop.  (This open loop is where you would hang your drops from.)  The long end of the wire should now be point straight up.

Using the chain nose pliers grab the top of the loop to hold firmly while you grab the long end of the wire and bend it up perpendicular to the original half loop.

If you don't have a
mandrel, then you can either use a wooden dowel or the barrel of a Sharpie marker.  As long as the surface is smooth and round!

This is where using
24 gauge wire is more forgiving...you want to form the kidney shape around the mandrel while leaving enough of a "tail" to hook through the half loop.

Grab the "tail" with your chain nose pliers and put a slight bend in it so that it won't slip up and out of the hook once fastened.


Get your steel bench block set up and place the ear wire on it so that the half loop is hanging off the edge.  When you use your mallet to flatten and work harden the ear wire you don't want the half loop to get caught and flatten it by accident!

Double check once again for any sharp ends.  Use your file again to smooth any rough burrs. 
I made some cute drops to hang off my kidney ear wires.  But I haven't decided if I'm going to list them in my Etsy shop, DesignedByDonnaD.etsy.com, or keep them to see at one of my home shows or craft fairs.
If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, please feel free to send me an email.  I'd be happy to answer your questions or to clarify anything that was unclear.  I apologize if my pictures aren't the most sharp.  I think that I'll need to invest in a mini tripod to keep the blurriness at bay.
Thanks for stopping by to check out my tutorial!  If you'd like to see one on a particular subject, then please let me know and I'll see if it's something I can post for you.  You can like me on Facebook - Designed By Donna D, find me on Pinterest, and Instagram under the same name....take care!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Silver and Gold Wire Wrapped "Silver Green Line" Necklace

I went to the American Bead Show in Charlotte, NC this past Sunday at the Metrolina Expo Center and came home with some nice beads and gemstones.  I was a little disappointed with the show however.  It was pretty small this time and my favorite wire guy wasn't there...so sad.  Next time, I guess!

I was intrigued by a strand of 15mm x 15mm diamond faceted Silver Green Line stones.  They were the first stones that I wanted to make something with for my Etsy shop.  They're a pretty dark green with silver/white strands of color running through them.  For some reason they make me think of Art Deco style...not sure why.

Any how, I made a couple pairs of earrings that I'll be listing in my shop later today, and then I played with some ideas and came up with this pendant for a necklace.  Do you ever struggle with whether or not to wear gold, or silver jewelry with an outfit?  Well, I have a couple pieces of my own jewelry that has both finishes and just love them because they're so versatile, so I realized that I should make something like that.  This way you could pack it for a trip and have a necklace that should go with pretty much every outfit in your suitcase!

I took out my pretty 12 gauge non-tarnish silver plated wire (that I had bought from my favorite wire-guy at the last bead show!) and cut a 6 1/2" piece of it.  I filed the ends smooth so as to have no burs to catch on any clothing.  Then I hand-formed the shape.  I didn't use a guide, just went with an idea that I hoped would look great with one of those square stones nestled in the middle of it.  I hammered just the rounded bottom of it to flatten, and then came in with the ball end of the hammer to add some texture.
 My next step was to grab my 20 gauge gold plated wire and form a kind of cloverleaf using my Wild Wire jig.  The trick is to make one small loop that's just big enough to slip over a peg.  Wrap two loops, then slide it off the pegs, flip it over and form the last loop.  This way you'll have a more flat piece...not as many layers
of wire on top of each other.  Then using my
rawhide mallet I flattened and strengthened the piece.

I then slid the bead onto the "headpin" I created and then lined it up inside the silver wire form to see where I wanted it to lay once wired into place.  This gave me an idea of where I needed to form a bail. 

This is where my mandrel came in handy.  I formed a bail that would be big enough to slide the necklace in and out of.  I'm a firm believe in pieces having multiple uses.  So, if you have a gold necklace, or a leather necklace, then this could be added for another look.

I tightly wrapped the wire around the mandrel several times and then brought the wire around to the front so that I could start wiring the gem onto the pendant.

This last photo is not actually the finished piece.  It's the back of it!  If you'd like to see the final pendant/necklace that has one little addes flair to it, then please take a peek at my Etsy shop (top right).  I'll be adding this listing shortly.  Thanks for visiting!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Having an Etsy Shop is an interesting endeavor!

Hello!  Did you know that trying to have a business on Etsy is real work? And I don't mean just making the (in my case) jewelry, taking pictures, and listing it.  Oh no!  That's the fun part.  To start, you need to know what SEO means...Search Engine Optimization.  And not just know what it means...you need to perfect it!  I'm trying, but it's a crapshoot for sure.  Plus I need to "socialize" on social media websites, ugh.  Not really my thing.  Though I do have A LOT of fun being on the Etsy Forums and getting into some of the threads.  These people are FUNNY!  Try reading them sometime.  Find a funny title and go read it...trust me.

Let's see what I'm working with...I have this Blog, an Etsy shop, a Designed By Donna D Facebook page, and now a Pinterest "business account" for Designed By Donna D!  I'd love it, if you like any of my jewelry, to follow me on Pinterest, like me on Facebook, and chat with me on my Blog!  Having people who give me feedback, honest suggestions and critique would be fantastic.  I can't grow and improve without hearing from you.  Even if it's got nothing to do with my jewelry...just a question about how to do something.  I'll do my best to get you a proper answer. 

This is my latest item listed in my shop:

I had blast creating this focal point necklace!  These milky green gemstones caught my eye at my local beadshop (Ain't Miss Beadhaven), and though I usually purchase my inventory through wholesale bead stores, or through bead shows in NC, I just HAD to have these!  (Besides, they were having a sale!)  I used the whole strand for a leather cuff I made, and purposely left these three beads to make a necklace.  I had no idea how I would use them, but when I took them out to play with yesterday this is what happened.

What do you think, does this design work?  What if I made it with different colors?  Should I have wire wrapped the third gemstone in the middle of that bottom teardrop, or left it dangling like I did?  I move things around constantly before making a final decision, but then again, it's MY aesthetic that tells me what to do.  What if someone would love this design, but using different colored gemstones?  I'd like to hear from you.  Have a great day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three and Five Row Beaded Leather Bracelets

Hi there!  I hope everyone is prepared for the holidays.  I'm done with my Christmas shopping, but there always ends up being one or two gifts that I still need to buy.  You know the ones where you receive a check from a family member to buy a gift for your kids, so you have to run out to those super crowded stores and find something because it's too late to order a gift online?  Fun!  Fun!

So my new jewelry-making obsession are those gorgeous three and five row beaded leather bracelets.  I learned how to make them and boy are they time consuming!  I have since made two bracelets for my Etsy Shop.  I have to say that they are really fun to make and I can actually bring my macramé board downstairs and sit in front of my television, catching up on DVR'd shows, and work on a bracelet.  I've realized that you have to think outside the box when it comes to colors because the bracelet is really a show piece.  Here's a picture of each one, please let me know what you think.  I'd welcome ideas for colors and/or beads for my next bracelet!  Thanks for stopping by, Donna.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Silver Wire Worked Spiral Pendant Tutorial, Wire Working Basics and Tips

Hello Fellow Crafters!

I've discovered two things that I'm not very good at...photography and computer trouble shooting!  Though, with time and the right search words, I'm able to muddle through the troubleshooting as long as I have the internet to teach me what I need.  Long story short...I couldn't create a new post on my blog using my laptop...so frustrating!  But thanks to internet searches I am up and running again.

I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a tutorial that I would have wanted to see on a blog when I was starting out with the wire working.  Maybe some tips to help with the process.  I'm still learning tricks from other jewelry makers and it just amazes me at how obvious some of them are, but I'd never have thought of them myself!

I took a ton of pictures of the process I went through, but please remember what my very first sentence said...that I am not a photographer!  The pictures I took made that fact very obvious, but you'll get the gist of what I'm explaining even through the blurry ones.  I love seeing a picture with an explanation so that if you're a visual person, like me, then the learning curve will be much faster.

 For this tutorial, you will need a nylon or rawhide mallet, ball peen hammer, steel bench block, files, a large gauge wire (12 to 16), round-nose pliers, and a wire cutter (not pictured).

Inexpensive Steel Wire

Just to practice, I made a set of earrings out of a inexpensive steel wire.  That's the best way to get your technique down.  Don't use expensive wire or precious metals if you've never done this before.  I used a 4 1/2" piece of wire for each earring.

12ga non-tarnish silver

Using string to determine length
Paper "ruler" under plexi-glass top

For this project however, I wanted to make a similar shaped pendant out of my good wire...12 gauge non-tarnish silver.  A great tip is that if you have a piece of jewelry in front of you and you're not sure how much wire was used, then you can use a piece of string to follow around it's curves and then hold it up against a ruler to see how much wire you'll need to cut.  You could also use a twist-tie (the ones on bags of bread) that way it'll hold it's shape until you need to stretch it out to take your measurement. 

Filing burs off of ends

For this spiral pendant I used a 6" piece of wire.  Using your wire cutters, cut the wire to the length needed.  Use a file to smooth out any burs on both ends.  Go in one direction with short, light strokes to get smooth edges.

Now you need to straighten the wire.  For this gauge wire it's not very easy to use your fingers to pull the wire through several times, though this is great technique for straightening a higher gauge (thinner) wire.  Place the piece of wire onto a soft cloth and using your mallet lightly tap the wire to smooth it out.  Move the wire so that you can reshape it where needed.

Time to make the top loop...using your round-nose pliers, grab the end of the wire with the mid-section of the pliers.  (You'll see where I used a Sharpie to mark lines on my pliers.  This spot designates where I can make a 5mm loop.  It's my most often used size loop, so instead of guessing where to grab a piece of wire these lines show me the way.  Just touch them up when they start to fade.)  Form the loop by turning the pliers with one hand and pulling the long end of the wire around the nose of the pliers until the wires touch.

Now grab the opposite end of your wire and start forming your spiral...being sure to spiral in the opposite direction that you formed your top loop.  This is where practice makes perfect.  You need to go slow and move with the wire...don't force it too quickly or it will bend instead of curve for you.  You can make a tighter spiral if you're not going to hammer it flat because hammering will make the wire expand some.

Okay, so now your spiral is done, but it's kind of wonky, right?  You can see that when I've placed mine on the bench block that the center is higher than the outside.  That's easily fixed by using your mallet again to tap it into place. 

I want the wire on this pendant to be flattened, so now I'll switch to
my ball peen hammer.  If you need to protect your wire because it's coated wire, then sandwich it between a soft cloth.  This is where I'm at a loss for the best cloth to use because no matter what I've tried it gets "cut" from being between the wire and the hammer.  I use my red felt and just have to keep moving it when it gets a hole in it. 

But for this pendant I WANT it to be textured, so protecting it would be an extra step.  Using the flat of the hammer and starting at one end just hammer the wire flat.  You'll see the kind of pressure you'll need to exert in order to flatten it.  **Note:  If you want your wire flat and not add any texture, then you need to keep your hammer flat and not hit the wire on an angle.  You don't need to hit it very hard, just take your time and keep looking at it to see if you like it's look.  You may need to re-coil the spiral a bit since the wire will "stretch" as you flatten it.


 To add texture to the wire you just need to switch your hammer around to the "ball" side.  This is what adds the little dings and divots into wire.  So, have at it...you can make as few or as many as you like.

Using a soft cloth, polish the wire to give it a bit more shine.  I use a "Sunshine Polishing Cloth".
Polishing the pendant

Finished spiral
Here is my completed spiral!  As you can see by my final picture how different in color the silver wire is from the steel wire.  The steel is more gray, but it's great to practice on.

My plan is to use this spiral on a necklace I'm going to design for my Etsy shop.  I will wire wrap some crystals or gemstones onto it and then hang it from a leather cord necklace.

If you'd like to see the finished product, then I'd love it if you would take a peek in my shop.  Just follow this link:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/DesignedByDonnaD?ref=hdr_shop_menu
Silver pendant, steel earrings
I would like to hear from you...please let me know what you think of this tutorial.  Pin it on Pinterest if you really like it!  Maybe there is something that you'd like me to demonstrate...just ask!  If I can make it work, then I'll post it on my blog.

Thanks for taking the time to visit with me!  Have a great day.

Donna D
Designed By Donna D

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Visit To The American Bead Show

I went to my very first American Bead Show yesterday, and it definitely won't be my last.  I've always bought my goodies from online wholesalers or local stores.  This bead show was in Charlotte so I asked a friend of mine to accompany me.  Talk about two kids in a candy store!  And the gemstones, crystals, and findings really did look like candy...bright enticing colors, sparkling under the lights.  Yum!

One of the gemstones I just had to buy was Russian Purple Charoite...gorgeous!  I sat down in my workshop yesterday and had a blast doing some wire wrapping with the Charoite, and multi-colored Fluorite chips.  The colors of purple, light green, and white look fantastic together.

I also worked on a few other pieces to add to my Etsy shop.  I took a quick picture of all of them to share with you before I take my "professional" pictures to post onto the shop.  I hope you like them.  The four-strand bracelet I decided to design using my Yellow Turquoise gemstones.  The colors played well with shades gold, and shades of green.  Making a couple pairs of earrings to go with this bracelet proved to be fairly easy.  I went in two directions...one was the obvious choice of using two more Yellow Turquoise gemstones and wire wrapping them.  With the second pair I felt that the pearl would be a more unassuming choice...it matches, but would go with many outfit choices.

The other pairs of earrings were a wire wrapping design that I wanted to try.  The shape looks great with teardrop gemstones or briolette crystals.  The trick is making sure that the stone used has the right size hole so that it doesn't get "stuck" on the wire...they need to move a bit.  I want the stones to move with you...to catch someone's eye when they're looking at you.

Another American Bead Show is coming around in November and I'm hoping to make it to that one as well.  I'll be a bit more prepared with a list of needs and wants to build my inventory.

Have a great day!