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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!
Donna

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I opened an Etsy shop!

Hello Everyone,

I want to apologize for not posting to my blog in a long, long time.  But I have a really good reason...or should I say "excuse"?  I have finally opened a shop on Etsy to try and sell my jewelry and support my habit...of jewelry making that is!

Opening an Etsy shop had been a dream of mine, but never thought it would happen.  Not because of time, or money, but because of my own fears.  I tend to talk myself out of things that scare me.  I like feeling comfortable...well, who doesn't?  So, almost two years ago I signed myself up for Tae Kwon Do classes.  That was step number one...get in shape doing something "fun", but that also scared the living heck out of me!  Get over some fears and just step outside of my comfort zone.  This Friday I'll be testing for my Red Stripe, so please wish me luck.  I'm terrified every time I test, but then feel awesome afterwards!

It probably sounds like I'm rambling, but Tae Kwon Do actually ties into my Etsy shop...stay with me...  One day while sitting in the formal Do Jang watching my kids training I brought a Fire Mountain Gems catalog with me to pass my time.  It just so happens that a woman sitting near me asked, "Do you make jewelry too?".  Long story short, she's one of my best friends now, and she just happens to have an incredibly successful Etsy shop herself!  I've helped her do some wire wrapping for her store during her busy season.  She pushed me to open my shop.

My mother just turned 90 on Monday and she's my greatest inspiration for ALL of the crafting that I do.  I opened my shop as my "present" to her because she always asked why I didn't try to sell my jewelry creations.  So...now I AM...no excuses!  She's thrilled for me...she's the best mom...always supporting me and encouraging me.

Please check out my shop:  www.etsy.com/shop/designedbydonnad.  Oh, and you may as well check out my friend's...her stuff is gorgeous!  www.etsy.com/shop/celebratetoday

Thanks for listening...I'm just SO excited, and needed to share.

Take Care,
Donna
www.etsy.com/shop/designedbydonnad