Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mental Metal Images

Copper, Tinker, Brass

Cut some pieces of brass, copper and german silver sheet into various sizes.

Prepped the metal sheet with images to resist the etching, getting everything all set for an etching session.

Then after all the metal pieces were ready and set to go, mixed up fresh etching solution. Boy that stuff has fumes. Turned the exhaust fans on high to clear out the smell.

Very pleased with the results. The copper looks very dark and rich and the designs are very clear. What do you think?

Want to take some of the circular shaped designs and use the dapping block to make some half circle lockets.

Only problem, once the metal is etched, it's too hard to take the sheers to it to cut it up.

Suffering from a bad case of 'Precious Saved Syndrome' - only thing that cures it is to make a lot of them alike so they aren't all so special and unique. That way, if one gets messed up or the attempt to form the locket halves doesn't go as planned, there's another piece all ready to use.

Have some people waiting for some of the etched brass, good to get it done and make available. This is the first attempt at etching copper sheet, going to put on Etsy.

Used a small piece of the german silver (it's a nickel alloy, no silver in it) to test etch, got a pretty good image. Drilled holes in the corners to use with some beads as a charm.

Seems to take such a long time to get the results. The day has just flown by, and both hands are a mess, will have to soak them to get all the black off and out from under the fingernails.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wire and Fire - Part 5 - Connections

Fusing Silver Links - Linkages

To pull up all 5 parts of Wire and Fire, the 'Fusing Tutorial' label will bring them together - here's a quick review

Step 1 - Safety Check - Always check your safety setup and make it a routine, safety first, it's tempting to jump right into fusing but it's so important, don't skip this step

Step 2 - Equipment Check - Assemble and use the correct equipment to prepare for the fusing session, check that everything is ready before you start lighting torches and heating metal to avoid delays while working, load the torch with fuel before each session to keep interruptions to a minimum

Step 3 - Create Individual Fused Links - Create the smallest size closed loops first, then prepare wire to create the larger links to join together for the chain

If you are making a five link chain, create the three closed loops first, and prepare the two that will join those together to make the chain. It's a good idea to make extra wrapped jump ring links, in case some don't turn out on the first try you have standby rings ready and can keep linking.

The three large links in the photo at right are fused but loose, and can be used like this, lots of designs for single fused loops look great for earrings and connectors on necklaces. Or they are ready to have two links added to create a longer five link chain.

Step 4 - If you have small loops fused and intend to apply texture using the chasing hammer and bench block, go ahead and do that before adding the larger loops, it's much easier to do before the two large links are passed through the smaller links

Step 5 - Add the linking loops to make the chain

Prepare the firebrick by digging a little trench or ditch in it that's long and wide enough for two loops to fit into and stand upright. The link you are fusing will lie down flat on the firebrick, but now you have the two additional links that need somewhere to go that's stable and out of the reach of the flame from the torch so they don't overheat and melt. The already fused links should be facing away from the torch, and the open side of the wrapped jump link as far to the other side of the loop as possible.

Use a swinging motion in the shape of a letter 'C' on the open side of the joining loop you are fusing. Keep the torch flame away from the other side, where the other links are. The link will fuse when the area receiving the heat starts to glow, shimmer and look like liquid. Watch the area of fusing very closely and be prepared to react when the fusing happens.

Pull the torch flame away immediately to avoid melting the loop - if it happens, quench all the loops in the water and use your standby loops to try again.

At this stage don't handle the links or the firebrick with your fingers. Even though only one link received the fusing heat, the others have received transferred heat and are hot enough to cause a blister. Use the hemostat or metal tweezers to drop the fused links into the water to quench them.

Now there are three links joined together. To add the other fused loop use the last open jump ring and repeat the process, carefully keeping the already-fused links well away from the torch flame.

The photo shows two three-link units. It is trickier the longer the chain and the greater the number of links are added. It just takes practice to learn how to watch the metal as it reacts to the heat. Be prepared to melt a few links before it is perfected. Practice, practice, practice.

The heat of fusing makes the fine silver (.999) wire very soft, or anneals it. The links will need to be hardened again to be able to be used without losing their shape. If you plan on shaping the round links into an oblong or oval shape, do that before they are hardened.

Stretching the round loops to make ovals or oblong links is a good test to see if the fusing is sturdy, if not completely fused they will pop open. If that happens trim the ends to make them flush again, and re-fuse. It's better if it happens at this stage rather than later when you are making a stunning necklace or bracelet and one of the links chooses that time to fail.

The links can have texture applied with the bench block and chasing hammer and be used as they are in a shiny bright silver look. Or they can have a patina applied to darken and enhance the look of the texture and give them that rich antique look. But either way, they need tumbling with stainless steel shot to polish them and further harden the links to make them tough and work ready.

I hope this series of posts about fusing silver has inspired you to give it a try - and that you enjoyed reading about it. Even if you don't want to take a torch in hand yourself, now you know what goes into creating those lovely pure silver chains.

Any questions, comments? Are you going to try it yourself?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bead Re-Mix Memory Keeper

There are many cool things about beads and also about making, creating, that keep them exciting and fun.

One thing is that beads can be re-used, combined in new ways.

Another is that they can be memory keepers. A static reminder of a day, a place, and people.

As memory keepers, they are instant visual reminders of the event, the people. The laughter and the fun.

Re-mixed these beads last night (liking that term, sounds like a music session or something - a bead re-mix) from an earlier necklace combination strung on bead wire with seed beads. The polymer clay beads on the three strands were made in 1997 by my daughter, when she was in school. It was her eye that picked those colors and combined them, her hands that made the beads for me.

I was working in fiber (weaving, knitting, spinning) at that time, jewelry and polymer clay weren't my area. She took it up, started working in polymer clay and caning designs and had fun creating these beads. I learned how to string them on beading wire and made a necklace with them and wore them to her great excitement at the time, and to my pleasure. They remind me of her, of that summer, and the place in Texas on the Gulf Coast where we lived then in a house on Galveston Bay.

Fast forward to last night. Found the strung beads in a jewelry box and got the itch to re-invent them and wear again this summer. The bright colors and stark graphic designs are not my usual design style, as I tend more to the vintage look when I make beads and jewelry now. I have learned a lot more about making jewelry than I knew back then, and wanted to show them off better, give them a new look and feeling.

I love them because she made them, and they are expressive of her. Which is another wonderful thing about beads.

I love the colors, the bold size of the beads, and her occasional fingerprint still in the clay from her schoolgirl hands, the memory of her rolling them in her palm and showing them to me.

Un-did the beading wire (at least I know now that stuff will hold up well after ten years) and started wire wrapping and choosing colorful glass beads to put with them.

This is the result, and they look great, fresh and new. Will be wearing them a lot this summer, and when I go visit her in her new home, guess what jewelry I will have around my neck. She will want them back, if I know her, and I won't let go of them. They are mine, full of my memories of our times together.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hand Forged Tutorial

One more installment on the fine silver link fusing coming up here soon, on how to join the closed loops together to complete the chain links, but for now, take a look at this tutorial on sterling silver hand-forged hoop earrings on Elizabeth Scott's blog. She makes incredible silver jewelry in her Etsy shop (ES), too. Her designs include impressions of natural leaves and are very organic looking.

Here are a couple of links to more tutorials, Rosette Wire Wrapped Ring and Handmade Earwires, from McFarland Designs.

She has a lot of good photos on using the mandrel to create loops, flush cutting the ends and other things that are useful in fusing the fine silver loops, too. These tutorials were posted some time ago, but some information is always handy and never loses usefulness!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


An Emily Dickenson poem has been circling
round, inspiring thoughts and ideas.

Spent part of the day tidying up, took pieces and bits that have been in a little box on the work desk, and started putting things together.

Came up with this dangle 'Wings' out of the combination of beads, stamped words, charms and random items.

Reminds of this quote from Shakespere -

'True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings; Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings' -

The feather wing bead and the brass stamping that says 'W-I-N-G-S' with the little brass bird charm, for lifting the spirit and holding onto hope. Hope and strength is something folks are needing right now. More thunderstorms and rain have been through, something the Midwest definitely does not need right now. Wishing hope and thinking good thoughts for the people affected by the flooding, or waiting to see if they will be spared from flooding.


Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I've heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of Me.
- Emily Dickinson

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lampwork Shopping

Shopping for Provisions and Supplies for expeditionD

Went to the Glasshopper Studio today for more fine silver wire to keep going on the link fusing. Got some more 16 gauge and also some 18 gauge, to try making some delicate silver links with the thinner wire (remember, the bigger the gauge the smaller the wire - backwards).

While there, had to check out the lampwork bead selection and bring some back to use in special jewelry designs.

The large one at the left looks like a seashell, quite a large glass lampwork focal bead. This will be so fun, want to combine with some pearls and make something very summer beach looking; and the beautiful little bead in the front, don't you think that one needs to be hung sideways with the hole showing so those beautiful colors will be seen? Those two were made by Leslie Leipziger, she's going to have a few classes this summer for making the lampwork seashell beads.

The grouping of colorful beads on the right were made by Daphne Runge at the Glasshopper Studio. They have a real fabric design feeling to them, like batiked cotton or hand-painted silk.

The colors are brilliant and gorgeous and the shape, kind of a flattened pillow shape, will be nice to use for earrings. The little lavender heart will go together well with some gemstone beads and crystals, feminine and delicate.

This group of three lampwork beads on the left was found in a basket by the register, it was irresistible picking through the loose beads and finding some shiny little treasures.

Not sure what they will become, but the colors were fresh and summery. Love the turquoise band around the middle of the little off-white bead, and the clear coating and depth of the aquamarine dotted bead. Like looking through water in a swimming pool on a hot summer day.

Glass is so vivid and has such a gloss and vibrant color. These are reminders of bright summer zinnias or marigolds, cheerful and colorful, out in the garden.

Debbie Carroll of Austin, Texas featured one of the enameled glass beads from the expeditionD site in a beautiful Etsy Treasury today, that's so neat. Only the second Etsy Treasury one of them has been in so far.

Wire and Fire - Part 4

Loop the Loop

This is 16 gauge wire, wrapped around a large dowel for a mandrel, and the ends cut with a flush cutter.

Have seen some use the jeweler's saw to cut the loops off the mandrel but haven't had good luck doing it that way. But when using the flush cutter, unless it's a higher end cutter that gives a flush cut on both sides of the wire, it's important to cut both ends squared off cleanly. Even using a file to get the ends really flat is useful and needed sometimes.

The two ends of the loops must touch each other, even have pressure against each other. The loops in the photo have not been closed to each other, see the gap in between? The fusing will not fill a gap like that, the wire must be touching really tight and close.

There are a couple of jump ring tricks to use to get the links closed really tight.

Have found that it's easier to fuse small loops closed first, then put larger loops through and fuse them after. Trying to fuse a small loop with another loop joined is too hard to do.

Plan how the loops will go together, and first fuse closed all the first set of loops, leaving some open to use to join the others together later. Put the closed loops on the firebrick with the opening away from you at twelve o'clock position on the brick. You will always know where the opening is, and you will be facing the flame away from yourself.

The hottest part of the torch flame is just beyond the tip of the flame that's blue. Use that part of the flame to heat up the loop.

Gradually the link will begin to glow, and get a rosey and then a reddish color. Watch it closely, in just a few minutes the silver at the cut ends will get glossy and melt together. As soon as that happens pull the torch flame away, or the links may overheat and melt. A number of links were melted, it's just part of learning how hot the silver will get.

Take the fused link in the hemostats and drop it into cold water to quench it.

It will sizzle like crazy, and you know it was still very hot.

Do each link one at a time to close all the first loops. These closed loops will be joined together later with other loops to create the chain.

Or use the planishing hammer and texture the loops to use on their own.

Heating the silver anneals it and makes it very soft, so it's important to harden the silver even if you aren't going to texturize it with the hammer. Use a leather head mallet to work harden the metal, or put it in the tumbler. Either one will harden the loops and make them strong without putting the forged texture on them. If they will get a patina, wait until all the links are done before putting the patina color on them and tumbling them, it saves time.

Learned the hard way to be sure to texture the small links before adding the large links to them, it's much easier.

One more section ... joining links to each other - are you still interested?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wire and Fire - Part 3 - Tumblers

Work In Progress - Silver Links

It's compelling, mesmerizing, to start in on creating the links. To watch the silver glow, grow red, glossy, and then the moment of fusion.

But before that, here are some before, during and after photos of the finishing process. It's good to know what the end goal is, before starting the fusing, gives structure and direction. So that the links created are the ones you wanted.

The first photo is of fused links, work hardened and hammered to texture, but not patinaed. The natural fine (.999) silver color. Because the fine silver doesn't need to be pickled to remove firescale, the links will remain that beautiful shiny silver color.

If you are looking for a more vintage, antique look, or just want the texture to show where the links have been hammered, a patina needs to be applied to darken the bright silver.

The second photo is two strands of links, one a 3-oval chain and the other a 5-oval chain, that have been darkened with liver of sulphur, see the darkening and the variation in color on the metal.

The third photo is the 5-oval chain after tumbling with steel shot in a tumbler for 30 minutes. Still patinaed, but bright on the highest points, darkened in the crevices.

Tumbling also hardens the silver. When it's heated to fuse, it anneals the metal, makes it very soft. Hammering to texturize hardens it, and so does tumbling.

Still in the tumbler is the 3-oval chain, after almost an hour tumbling, to brighten even further.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Belle Armoire Jewelry Summer 2008 - Juice and Baseball

Image Transfer Article - Clarity When 'Seeing Double' ...

Still waiting for the courtesy copy of the Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine Summer 2008 to arrive, went to the bookstore and got a copy. It's a great article, just spotted one contradictory sentence to clarify, otherwise it may be confusing to someone trying the transfer process.

The article has one sentence that says to use either inkjet or laser copy images, followed by a sentence that says not to use inkjet images. The second sentence is correct, inkjet printed images won't work with the process in the article for transferring images to polymer clay.

Due to space limitations in the publishing format, the backs of the pieces are not shown, but if you'd like to see the fronts and backs of the image transfer examples they are in this Picassa Photo Gallery, just follow the link. For the magazine format the photographs have to be cropped and configured for their layout. The photos and captions on Picassa are full-size. The original jewelry just returned from the photography for the article, will be putting it on the site soon.

If you have any questions about the article or the description, post questions here, will try to clarify. Sorry about the mix-up on the printer / copier options, hope this clears things up for anyone who might have been confused. To send email, click on the picture of the Ringleader of LLYYNN, or reply on this blog.

Now that the fused fine silver links are available, want to combine these pieces with some silver links to create a summertime theme image. Baseball, ginger ale and fruit juice. Ahh, refreshing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wire and Fire - Part 2

Equipment Check

These links were made with 16 gauge fine silver (.999) wire. With wire, the larger the number of the gauge, the smaller the diameter of the wire. So a thicker wire would be 14 gauge or even 10 gauge.
Using a butane torch, some of the thickest wire may be too large to fuse because the torch doesn't reach a high enough temperature to cause the silver to reach fusing stage.

The heat resistant mat is the type used by lampworkers to protect the work surface, it's inexpensive and a good idea to have one, with the firebrick on top of it for fusing.

Firebrick is the type used in kilns and can stand very high temperatures. It's very soft material and the brick is porous and very light in weight, not like a fired clay brick. It will absorb the heat from the torch and help keep the links at temperature, acting as a heat sink around the area receiving the torch's flame.

The two sets of long handled silver tools at the far right are hemostats (or some call them forceps) that are usually made of titanium or stainless steel. Keep some just for fusing that are very clean and not contaminated with sterling silver, patina, flux or other residue, to protect the fine silver. Got these at Evie's Tool Emporium on Etsy, medical suppliers might have them also. Use them when handling the links after fusing to avoid burns on your fingers, when dropping them into the water to quench them. They are also good for holding pieces of wire while the ends are heated to form balls of silver for headpins. Because they have a locking mechanism, you are less likely to drop the hot piece of wire.

The long metal pieces with yellow handles beside the torch are soldering picks. They can be used to move things around without harming the silver or being affected by the heat of the torch.

The butane torch and lighter are sitting on a ceramic tile. These are handy to protect the work surface, and to designate where to sit the torch down after it is used, to avoid touching the hot nozzle accidently. It's placed within reach but well out of the way, and the tile makes it easier to be sure it is in the same location each time.

The torch is a butane torch from the hardware store, not a self-lighting microtorch. It has a safety on it to avoid accidently turning it on. The handle stays cool even while the torch is lit. Have found it a good idea to fuel up the torch (do this outdoors) before each fusing session to make sure there's plenty of fuel, as the reservoir doesn't hold a lot of butane. A creme brulee torch might work, if it reaches a high enough temperature, but if the torch is too small it can't hold enough butane for very long fusing times.

Other things that are useful are mandrels or round object to wrap the wire around to make loops of different sizes. Metal knitting needles are useful as they are sized in millimeter diameters. A size 10 US knitting needle makes a large loop. Wooden dowels of various sizes also make good mandrels.

Flush cutters and a metal file are important to cut the loops and make the edges flat before fusing. Buy the best quality you can, they last a long time and get a lot of use, the higher quality tools will give much better results.

A steel bench block and planishing hammer are useful for work hardening the links after fusing and adding texture, these can be found at Connie Fox's site, and she has a starter kit (right now it's on sale) with all these in one stop. You can get a bench block pad to deaden the hammer blows to the anvil or bench block, in the photo you see the alternate solution of stacked thick mousepads.

Get everything, set it up and get ready - next topic - preparing the links and first fusing ...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Uncle John's Trunk

Lights, Camera, Action

Put together the chain for the focal piece last night, surrounded by bead containers and jars full of keepsake items being saved for a special piece.

Many of the beads on the chain are from my hands, including the crossbar over the focal piece and the two oval-shaped beads under it, and many are items saved for a special use like the brown mother-of-pearl button above the focal bead on the left side of the chain.

The faux tintype was created some time ago, inspired by an article in 'Cloth, Paper, Scissors,' and has been waiting for just the right use. Wanted to make something like a photographer's photo case, but dimensional and not flat. Like an antique clockwork case or traveling steamtrunk, that kind of visual feeling.

Put some of the new fine silver links to use, positioned near the clasp so the neckpiece can be lengthened and shortened with it, and a resin leaf on a lampwork bead, both given to me by a friend some time back.

Wanted some natural items, so there is wood, bone and glass included. Someone brought back bone beads from a trip and triplets of them are on the neckpiece of the chain.

Can feel the influence of the visuals from the 'Golden Compass' movie, has that slightest machine age feeling to the focal unit, with the patinaed copper fleur d'lis pieces attached.

The necklace length is adjustable using the fine silver links, there's a round copper / brass link with an asian coin attached that becomes a dazzler if the chain is shorter.

Overall very pleased with this. It's funny, there was an initial hesitation, a 'where does this begin' kind of feeling, but once the process of putting the bits and pieces together started it flowed, it almost went as though the piece was making the visual choices. Is that anyone else's experience? The piece knows the way it should go?

One thing that needs more work is the photography, having difficulty getting a clear shot of the entire length, some of you shoot such great photos of long necklaces, have any photography hints to share? It always feels that the photography is a bigger challenge than making the pieces! Your thoughts and feedback are welcome, and obviously needed badly. Any hints and tips for photography of long necklace pieces?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wire and Fire - Part 1

Fusing Fine Silver - Safety and Setup


It's important to have a safe, prepared area to do the fine silver fusing.

During a recent spring cleaning in Studio B (basement) the area set aside for using the torch was cleaned and re-organized.

The firebrick and heat protective mat is from Delphi Glass, which is a good source for metal and glass fusing and warm glass supplies.

There are sites offering the idea that a regular brick or concrete block is good enough to use with the torch, but two things make that a bad choice. One, sometimes a brick that's heated too much will explode - not a good idea to have fiery hot brick shards flying in your work area. The other is that the firebrick acts as a heat sink, collecting heat in the area near the links and enhancing the fusing, and a regular brick won't do this. While it's possible to ball the ends of silver wire holding the wire in the air, it's very, very hard to get a link up to temperature while holding it in air.

The lighting should be task lighting that can be easily adjusted up or down - while fusing links the glowing color of the heated metal is a clue about the stage of fusing, bright lighting makes it harder to see the subtle color changes.

It's an urge to jump right into the creative fun of fusing, BUT safety is always first - have a post on the blog about fusing safety, but here's a quick re-cap with specifics about fusing fine silver.


Having recently had a finger get a small burn from the new soldering iron, the first thing coming to mind is a caution about high temperatures. The firebrick will get very hot, as well as the nozzle of the torch and the links themselves. Keep it in the front of the awareness - DO NOT TOUCH them and be cautious of their location at all times. Burns are painful and take a while to heal, it's worth a few minutes of care to avoid a burn from accidently picking up a hot link with your fingers, or bumping the nozzle of the torch and getting a blister or burn.

Wear a heavy leather or vinyl apron and closed toe shoes when fusing. Early in the process while learning there may be times when a molten ball of silver drops off unexpectedly or a link is overheated and balls up. If it falls in your lap or on your foot, it may still be hot enough to cause a burn.

Keep a small container of water with ice in it near the fusing station. If you get a little burn, apply ice immediately to reduce the burn and the likelihood of a blister forming. Keep this water clean and hope you never need to use it, it's insurance just in case.

Always point the lighted torch away from yourself. One way to insure this is to put the open ends of the links you are fusing at the 12 o'clock position on the firebrick, so you are pointing the flame away from yourself. Store torch fuel and other flammables far away from the fusing station area.

The torch burns oxygen, keep a window slightly open to allow in fresh air, allow for good ventilation.

Pull long hair back, wear a short sleeved or sleeveless shirt, and cotton rather than a synthetic fabric. Safety glasses are always a good idea to protect your eyes. Make sure the surface is stable, not wobbly, and fire resistant. And have the fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.

Also recommend keeping pets and children out of the area during actual torching times, to avoid distractions and accidental knockovers.

Because fine silver doesn't form firescale during fusing, there's no need for hot pickle (a mild acid that removes the firescale) or solder and flux. If you fuse sterling silver, you will need those chemicals and acids also, and there are safety precautions to keep in mind when using those that won't be necessary with fusing fine (.999) silver.

Fusing fine silver is fun, magical and the results are wonderful once it is learned. Just a little safety and focus on protection is worth enjoying the experience to the maximum.

Next topic ... just what is all that equipment and how is it used - Interested?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Talent Shared is Talent Squared

A Salute to Richard Salley - Mixed Media Artist and Photographer

Boundless admiration for the skills and visual language of Richard Salley.

On his website he has very generously provided a detailed and photographically beautiful tutorial on making a pendant.

As a long-time admirer of his work and skill, have also a deep impression of his generosity in sharing what he knows. His work is distinctive and is instantly recognizable, showing the importance of finding one's voice and visual style.

Learning the techniques is a study for a growing artist. To find and express the message and the ideas of one's own experiences, heart and mind sometimes even more difficult.

Thinking back and remembering a few years ago when simply learning good wire wrapping techniques was the focus. Following that was the use of cold connections such as rivets and prongs, using the jewelry saw to cut sheet metal. At present the learning curve seems to be etching brass and soldering fine silver links. The bar seems to raise ever higher, the skills grown more intensive and complex with time.

Ultimately the technique is not the most important thing, but just a way of successfully making the statement. Whether the solder joints are perfected and the glass fused perfectly may not be as important as whether the piece speaks to the wearer and to the viewer, both visually and in the mind and emotions, did the story reach the listener.
A salute to Richard Salley. Cheers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Seeking Finding

Dropped by the craft supply store (the ultimate get-in-trouble shopping) and found that two things on the list were on sale, perfect timing. The Premo polymer clay on sale for $1 each. And circle cutters by Fiskars (love those tools) were on 40% off in the sizes needed. It was a birthday-present-to-me kind of day, great when that happens and especially when it's not planned.

Today is my birthday. Boxes of goodies of the edible kind have arrived. Must have strength to avoid eating too many. Yumm!

If your local store is having the same sale and you need polymer clay, the Premo is usually over $2.00 a package, so it's a deal right now, even if it's not a special occasion.
If you haven't already participated in voting for the finalists in the Bead Star competition jump over there and pick your favorites. It's fun to look at all the entries, there are some gorgeous designs represented for crystals, pearls, glass, plastic and all manner of fun categories.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


June Challenges

Mentioned that Jen Worden was working her way through the projects in Stephanie Lee's book 'Semi-Precious Salvage' during the month of June. Apparently, it's a challenge. Happened on Deryn Mentok's Something Sublime blog, and she's also working through projects in a book during the month of June. But a different book, she's working through Mary Hettmansperger's book 'Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet' book from Lark Publishers.

Reminds of a summer years ago in Houston at the C Jung center, working through the twelve weeks of Julia Cameron's book 'The Artist's Way' with a group. But this challenge is primarily focused on jewelry and mixed media designs.

Would it be copy cat to tag along? Especially since June is half over now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Before Heather Powers at HumbleBeads provided encouragement to sell the beads unfinished, not as completed jewelry pieces, the thought had been that no one would want just a bead, they would expect something finished and wearable.

When the site was opened for the beads, findings and components there was still doubt about whether the beads could be on their own.

If that had not happened, this piece would not have happened. This is the necklace by Lorelei, with chain and etched metal by Jennifer Stumpf.

The round, faux enamel crusader bead was made as a connector, antiqued and a faux gem embedded, and Lorelei took the different pieces and gave it her signature touch. (Lorelei provided the photo, thanks!)

There is so much collaboration in the air, want to mention one more. Wandering around looking at etched metal pieces and happened on Jen Warden's website, an artistic travelogue.

Lorelei reviewed the book 'Semi-Precious Salvage' by Stephanie Lee, it's a favorite and also came recommended by Jennifer Stumpf. Learned from the website that Jen Warden, a mixed media artist, is doing a month of June self-workshop, going through the book and doing the projects one at a time, working her way through the book. It's in the Reference section of books listed on this blog, if you are looking for it.

It's a pleasure seeing the beads finding their finished shapes created by the hands and creative minds of others. Sometimes one creation speaks so definitely that it is made up into a final design and put on the shop as a completed piece. But it is even more exciting to see another artist use a creation and have it take a completely different, unique and beautiful shape.

Don't you love that necklace! And what a great-looking focal bead. Especially with all the hands and creativity it passed through to become the finished necklace.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Linking Past and Future

Chaining Links

This is the results from several days of trying to make fine silver fused links. The silver is not sterling, it's mainly all silver metal (.999) and the melting temperature is lower than sterling silver.

The left side is the necklace with dyed costume pearls and glass beads in the chain that have oversized rosary hammered connections, and the five oval links in the center were all fused from wire using the torch, patinaed and tumbled to give them that nice worn look.

The links on the right are a bracelet with small round and large oval links, all hammered and fused together, patinaed and tumbled to clean them. The bracelet is hanging from the toggle end, the small oblong shaped loop is the other part of the clasp. The close up of the links shows the texture from hammering them after fusing closed.

Like the handmade, rough look of the links. Not trying for a perfect, machine made chain. Wanted something worn, looking wrought in the forge, ancient.

The tumbling hardens the silver and gives strength to the links. They are fused closed to each other, only the toggle end is attached with smaller chain that can be opened.

Really like the way they turned out.

Now, handmade chain and links will be a possibility to use with the handmade beads and fused glass, in the jewelry designs. And the brass boxes and etched glass constructions can be hung from these oversized and time-worn looking chains.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lens to Light

Images Under Glass - Looking Through Darkly

There's a push on in historical circles to preserve historical glass plate photographs.

The early forms of photography were on metal plates coated with silver, like tintypes and dagguerotypes, usually enclosed in a velvet lined box to preserve the image from fading or being scratched.

After that glass plates were used, and an invention, the "Magic Lantern,' was used with these slides to entertain children and educate during lectures and presentations. These small glass plates are now collected and preserved, some are being digitized and made available to view. Some are still very clear images, others are scratched, cracked or very faded.

Decided to make a replica of a Magic Lantern slide, with an image of a riverbank, grey sky and treeline embedded inside fused glass. This is the backlit view of the faux photography slide, showing the slight image still visible inside.

Optical, magical and faux artifact historical. Some famous photographers of the 1860s who went to the newly discovered lands in the west of America lugged these large cameras with glass plates, preserving images of their times.

Watched 'The Golden Compass' and now want to create imagery from that style, with the ornate decorative and machine age representations. The costumes, jewelry and all the visuals were very inspiring.

Also finally had some success with the fine silver and the torch today. And no blisters or other casualties, thankfully. Made a bracelet with large and small links, and a necklace with large links and oversized rosary wrapped glass beads. Made a toggle closure, almost melted it but pulled the torch back just in time. Persistence and vigilence is definitely required!

Got one fused glass firing out of the kiln also. Little gears and hearts on a black background, and several gemstone looking pieces that need to be shaped and polished and set.

The greenish, silvertone and sparkling blue gems are new dichroic glass just got at Glasshopper and firing for the first time.

Glass is very unpredictable but nothing else looks quite like it. The sheen, glow and sparkles are unmistakeable. And visually exciting.

Think the silvertone glass gem will be shaped and beveled to use with a setting of fine silver, maybe to make a solitare ring.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Voice to the Story

Have several beads and jewelry bits to put on Etsy, then plan to spend the day trying again to make chain links. The rainy week seems over now, so the liver of sulphur can go outside with its stinky self and work its magic in the great outdoors.

Have had two ideas returning consistently through the week, want to try to create something that is speaking to me. The hints are that it is optical and magical, childlike yet scientific.

This four points bead is an example of the type of navigation instrument tools that the imagination is leaning toward. With the compass rose emblem and the heavy links of metal, like something eighteenth-century that has passed its prime but still has facination in the imagery.

The idea of something with a purpose, maybe replaced now by technology, but evoking feelings and sentiment related to the days of its creation.

Especially find scientific or navigation tools, watch parts and cogs, to be interesting shapes. Now that most things are digital, quartz and have no visible moving parts, the older technology seems quaint and mostly just visually interesting instead of a vital part of daily life.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Post Pearl Color

Lemons and Blueberries

First day of June, heading up toward the longest day of the year this month. The berry season must be coming.

Sitting in this shallow porcelain bowl, don't these dyed steelgray costume pearls look like blueberries or current berries?

The little light blue fused glass beads were sitting in it, giving off a sparkly pink glow.

The dyed costume pearls are good for stringing on beadwire and for rosary wrapping with wire.

Have a memory of summertime, buying bags of lemon drop candies and lemonade for front porch sipping.

These faux crystal acrylic bicone and costume pearls dyed a warm lemon color remind of lemon drops and glasses of cold lemonade.

There are two sizes of bicone faux crystals, and several sizes of golden lemon yellow dyed pearls in this group, would be beautiful strung with clear glass beads or rosary wrapped with off-white costume pearls. Dyed quite a few of the golden colored beads.


If you would like to win a free 1 oz bag of lemon drop costume pearl faux crystal mix beads, leave a reply on this post. These sunny yellow beads are not available in the Etsy shop, but if you'd like a bag full to brighten your summertime afternoon, let me know on this blog. A winner will be selected next week, in time for the longest summer day of the year.

Happy summertime sunshine lemonade days.