Saturday, 30 January 2010

Beaded bead pendant tutorial

*Instruktioner på svenska finns HÄR.*

The beaded bead I've made is based on a basic right-angle weave, using a variation on a technique known as fyrkantsteknik in Sweden (read more about it here).

I'm afraid the illustrations I made for my first version of these instructions are far from perfect, but I do hope you will be able to decipher them. If you are new to this technique, you might find the basic step-by-step instructions at Bijoux en Perles to be very useful as the illustrations are much better. You will only be making one row of cross-weaving here.

To make one pendant you need:

12 square bicone glass beads, 6 mm
16 crystal bicones, 4 mm (one or two colours)
20 15/0 japanese seed beads
2 crystal bicones, 6 mm
1 headpin
Illusion cord, fishing line or Fireline

Tools: Needles if using Fireline, round-nose pliers, chain-nose pliers.

1. Making the beaded bead: Begin by cutting a 50 cm length of thread and string four square bicones on it. Centre the beads on the thread and go through the last bead on the left side with the thread in your right hand so the threads cross. Tighten the thread.

2. Keep adding beads by stringing two square bicones on your left thread, one on the right thread and cross the latter throught he second bead added on the left. Repeat and end by adding one bead to each thread. Go through the first bead with one of the threads so it ends up next to the second thread, "zipping together" the beaded bead. Make a surgeon's knot and go through the first bead with the second thread. Pull the threads to tighten the knot and slide it into the bead.

3. Now you will have two threads coming out through the square bicone, one on each side. Add 1 seed bead and 1 crystal bicone to each thread. Add 1 seed and cross the thread through it (see picture below). Add 1 bicone and 1 seed to each thread. Cross the threads through the square bicone opposite the one you exited in step 2. Pull the thread tight. You might need to push the beads towards the first square bicones for them to lay centred.

4. Repeat step 3 on the three remaining sides of the cube. After making the last crystal cross motif, go through the square bicone with only one of the threads and knot both threads together before pulling the knot into the beads as in step 2. You may want to glue the knot for extra security. Cut off excess thread.

5. Making the pendant: Add 1 6 mm bicone to a headpin, followed by the beaded bead and a second large bicone. End by making a wrapped loop (see instructions here).

To make the pendants in the first photo, I used the following colours:

Beaded bead 1
square bicones: amethyst
4 mm crystals: mat fire opal (Swarovski custom coating)
seed beads: transparent light topaz
6 mm crystals: Sun

Beaded bead 2
square bicones: smokey grey
4 mm crystals: indicolite and cataloupe
seed beads: gunmetal
6 mm crystals: rose satin

Bead blog recap week 4

Yet another week has passed by and with it posts on everything from cadmium and nickel test kits to amazonite and sprakling "square technique" (see photo above).

Embellished ladder stitch bracelets
A few ladder stitch based bracelets in different styles. Add fringe or onlays to create pretty bracelets in an easy stitch.

"Square technique"
Sorry, can't think of an English name for this technque today. A base of cross-woven(2-needle RAW) fp is covered by similarily cross-woven crystal bicones. Create rings, bracelets, brooches and pendants using this stitch, popular in countries like France and the Netherlands.

Buy nickel tests in bead shops
Chemo-Nickel Test is an easy-to-use product for anyone wanting to see if the jewellery findings are compliant with the EU regulations on nickel content. Until recently it was only sold in the drugstores (Apoteket), but nowadays you can also buy if from a couple of bead shops.

New bead shop contests
Two new contests from two different bead shops.

Vertical netting
Netting is normally stitched "horisontally", but you can also do the stitch vertically, which is especially used in necklaces and collars.

Dyed glass beads
Not all glass gets its colour from pigments added to the molten glass. Sometimes a dye is used, which can be problematic as some dyes come off easily.

How to clean gems and stones
Some stone beads are more fragile than others and not all of them can take "tough" treatments like ultrasonic baths or steam cleaning. Here you find links to charts and info on how to clean different stones often used by beaders.

Amazonite is a soft turquoise, minty green or teal gemstone. Named after the Amazon based on a misunderstanding: explorers thought the green stones they got were that stone they knew from the Russian mines, but instead it is now believed the stones they found were nephrite jade.

Contest: bead for a dead celebrity
Another conest from a Swedish bead shop: make a jewellery suiting a dead famous person of your choice.

Cadmium is a very toxic heavy metal known to cause cancer. Now it has been found in cheap jewellery and charms from China as a few manufacturers have substituted it for the now banned heavy metal lead. At the most, one kid charm consisted of up to 91 % cadmium, says AP. Luckily, it does not seem to be widespread: most manufacturers use zinc instead.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Natural MOP goes with...

As a newbie I once bought some round naturally beige mother-of-pearl beads. Something I shouldn't have because I soon realised I didn't have anything to go with them. Nothing seemed to match both the colour and shine. They ended up on the bottom of a bead box. Soon I got the same problem with tiger eye beads. I've never bought much tiger eye, except some dark red beads, since.

This winter I got some tiger eye chips in my advent calendar and this time I think I have found a match. Both for the chips I just got and those MOP beads that have just been laying around for ever. Mix two "problem beads" and problem solved. Now I just have to figure out what other colours -- if any -- I want to add. Must say the beads look better together IRL than on photo. Think I got the stone beads a tad too dark.

I actually did buy some more natural MOP. A pair of dragon pendants, half-drilled. I can't resist dragons, even if they're in a colour or material I've had problems using before! Maybe I'll use this cute fellow with my new bead mix, but I'm not sure yet. He seems to like the beads, though.

It's only words

Normally I'm not that fond of affirmation/message charms and beads, but I did fall for Diane Hawkey's word beads. I'm tempted to buy more as I really like the lime green beads, but I'm not sure there are any words of interest. (I'm not even going to check out her website as I might find more stuff I want -- message heart beads, cats -- my bead I bought at FusionBeads.)

I chose a bead saying magic because I think we always need a bit of magic in our lives. Plus I liked the colour and shape of the bead.

Still no idea what to do with it, but I have found some matching beads. Lovely czech flat lily flowers and maple leafs in a "rusted" opaque turquoise. Now I'm just waiting for the right inspiration to come along. Like that affirmation bracelet I made for myself -- yes, I know I just said I don't like those charms with the same old words. It says: dream, create, inspire. I need to dream som more right now...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A pearl ball

This was a first try at making a puffy beaded bead along the line of the puffy hana-ami motifs I wrote about. The first pattern I came across for making these five-petal beaded beads was based on pearls rather than glass or crystal beads with seeds in between.

I used rice-shaped grey peacock FW pearls to make the doubled flower motifs and then added nugget pearls to cover the visible threads a bit. Because the thread was a bit too visible, not least since the pearls aren't perfectly uniform. Not the prettiest pearl ball, but the one that got be interested in making more hana-amipuffar.

Too much snow for Randi

Yesterday we had really bad weather. It snowed from the morning to the evening, but the worst part was the winds. But today the weather was beautiful, the wind having swept all clouds and fog away. Right now the snow depth is everywhere between knee high and barely 1 cm.

The cats are not too happy. Just look at Randi (randig = striped) -- yesterday he totally refused to step outside. Not surprisingly: after all, in the evening the snow was so deep he'd disappear in it... Today he went out and ran back in some time later. Here he's sitting in the window on the upper floor, not understanding why I'm outdoors in the "white rain".

Below a pic showing how the wind have made patterns in the snow. Suddenly I begin to think about blue banded agates. Not my favourite stone, but it is a perfect way to describe the wavy patterns and blue shadows.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Old brooches

No, I haven't made these. I found then on a shelf in big warehouse, selling all things used and cheap things new. I fell for the tiny details in them -- and the price was so low I just had to buy them. The one on the left has a broken mechanism and the one on the right is yellow with age and stains, but still not something to be forgotten on a steel shelf, bunched together with cheap plastic jewellery and all kinds of crap.

Imagine having the patience to do such tiny half cross stitches as in the embroidered brooch. Or assemble the tiny pieces in the micro-mosaic brooch. Below is a second pic of the rose brooch with a ruler as reference -- do you see how tiny those stitches are?!

But my all time favourite brooch is my sterling silver cat that I found as a kid at an antiquity show. I had to plead a bit with my parents to be allowed to buy it, but since it was real silver and a lovely motif they agreed it was a good buy.

My dad's oldest sister aswell as his mum died long before I was born so my sister and I grew up with many things they left behind, including some costume jewellery. My parents don't come from wealthy families, but everyone could afford a few trinkets to adorn themselves. They are not precious, but playing with them as a kid it still felt like real jewels. Broken an bent, the brooches were still treasures.

That's a project for the future, perhaps restore them to their old beauty.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Puffy hana-ami motifs

I don't really remember what made me start talking about this variation of hana-ami. But in doing so I inspired both myself and other beaders at a foroum to start making "hana-amipuffar". The one above is one of my favourites: note how the square bicone beads gave it a star shape.

I rather like the one below as well. This time, to vary the motif a bit, I added picots between the outer swaros. I had bought the 6 mm crystal beadss more or less by accident -- I'm not a big fan of white opal AB -- so I was quite pleased that they could be used for something.

What I like about these puffy things is that they are so versatile. You can vary the shape, size and number of beads, add embellishment and link several motifs together.

Five petals is good amount as it make the motif cupped already when making the first side, but still enough petals for it took look like a flower. You can make these with 6, 4 or 3 "petals" aswell, as shown in the photo below. More beads = flatter, fewer beads = more puffed up.

Unfortunately I don't have photos of it, but I have also made these using only round beads aswell as using FW pearls (rice and nuggets).

How to make it
If you're interested in making similar beaded beads or pendants (or whatever you think they are), I've got a few links of interest. Note that the motifs can be made in slighly different ways depending on who you ask. And while some use a single-needle method, others use double needles. I use the method described at Smyckestillverkning iFokus. Similar motifs are also made in projects at Rollendes Atelier and Diane FitzGerald has instructions for her smaller version of them published in Beadwork Creates Beaded Beads, there called Star Flower (you can find a sample page with photo of them at her website, pdf format).

An example of how you can link together motifs can also be found here.

How to make flat hana-ami motifs can be learnt e.g. at Around the Beading Table and from Chris Prussing/ (both free). You can also stitch together two flat hana-ami motifs like this.

I've written more about hana-ami and different variations on the stitch here.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Online games as inspiration

I like playing free online games, preferably games that don't take too much time to play through. But especially after working with new colour combinations, it can have certain side effects: I keep looking at the colours, patterns, textures and styles, thinking how they could be used in jewellery. Or something reminds me of a bead etc.

Little Wheel is a very good example. The game has a limited palette: the background is in slightly glowing sepia tones that turns darker and duller in the edges, like a watercolour wash. The actual motifs are all black silhuettes, only accented with white spots, symbolizing light. Other inspiring features are the focus on metal and electricity and the art deco-ish architecture.

And for more dreamy monochrome backgrounds, see The Perilous Voyage (In general, you'll find dreamy background music and designs in the games at Orisinal) . When I played that game, I ended up looking more at the background than focusing on the game...

And that's just two examples. It isn't surprising that one might find inspiration in games as design is a very important aspect to attract players. Only downside is, being a beadaholic it can detract attention from the actual gaming -- like when I keep thinking the black balls in Luxor remind me of lava beads and maybe I should make a necklace using lava beads, haven't used it much. But what to mix it with and do I have enough beads at home? I wouldn't mix it with those yellow beads -- eh, balls -- like that. No something else... Perhaps- oops... Game Over!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Topaz glacier blue rivoli

I first read about Topaz Glacier Blue, a custom coating on a topaz Swarovski crystal, at E. H. Ashley some time ago. Knowing how hard it is to capture surface effects on crystals on photo, I was very curious to see it IRL. Was it as interesting as it looked online? Or was I just attracted by the name? I'm not a big fan of AB coatings so my biggest fear was that it would be something similar in appearance.

Now I actually have a topaz glacier blue rivoli in my hand so what's the verdict? I like it, I really like it. The effect is mostly a pinkish lavendar -- not something I myself would've thought of mixing with topaz tones (which aren't really as dark as in my photo above). But it works. So now I just wonder why I had to be so cheap and just buy a small rivoli?

PS! If you have trouble finding a source for the rivolis I've shown, check out Creanon. You can find this rivoli, along with the peacock coated one I've written about here and my Preciosa Alchemy in that German webshop.

Burgundy: a favourite colour in crystal pearls

I've already said I love purple beads and these are no exception. I first got my hands on some lovely burgundy Swarovski crystal pearls in a "challenge lottery" (like a bead swap, but you don't know who will get your beads) in the summer 2009. I received a lovely mix of green stone beads, palace green opal crystal beads (more Swarovski), olivine vitrail czech glass flower beads, apricot-pink FW pearls, tiny emerald green cubes, and 8 mm burgundy crystal pearls. My old photo below doesn't really make the mix justice, but I hope some of the beauty shines through the lens. Note how the pearls take up nuances from the vitrail coating in the flowers.

Wonder what I made with them? Some of it was used for the necklaces below. The wire in the second necklace is blackened iron wire. The headpins in the first are patinated copper.

PS! If you want to see what the other participants got in the challenge lottery, check out this forum thread (it continues here).

Bead blog recap week 3

Time flies -- this is the third recap this year already! From millefiori beads to peyote triangles.

Peyote triangles
How to make filled and hollow triangles using peyote. Plus ideas for assembling them, in two or three dimensional works.

Shopping from abroad
Things to think about when you want to shop from bead shops outside Sweden. How to pay, customs and VAT, shopping from the EU, gifts, complaining, trustworthy shops and shopping while travelling are things I address.

Spiral rope
Spiral rope is an easy, fun and versatile stitched technique. Links to basic instructions as well as to projects and variations.

Albion stitch
Albion stitch is a technique developed by British beader Heather Kingsley-Heath. She describes it as easy to learn, but complex enough to excite the more experienced beaders as well. Books and patterns are available at her website.

Shopping for beads
Do you too love frogs? Here are a few tips on where you can buy beads and findings with frogs.

Why does the city of Tucson keep appearing when reading American bead mags, forums etc? Not easy to know if you are new to beads and stones. Read more about the bead, gem and lapidary shows taking place in Tucson every winter.

Millefiori beads
Mille fiori means thousand flowers in Italian. There are different types of millefiori beads made, the main types being beads made of murrini rods melted together and beads decorated with thin slices of murrini flowers. Includes a description of how those flower rods are made and the history of murrini and millefiori glass.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

In memoriam

This is a really crummy photo of two beads I altered in memory of two of our young cats that died in 2006. Vitis, the whiter cat, was killed in a hit-and-run and Svisston, the blacker one, died of disease a few days later. Their sister is still alive. Randa almost suffered the same faith as Vitis a couple of years later, but after being nowhere to be found, she came home on the fourth day after the accident and today she has fully recovered. (You can read the whole story about her accident here.)

I wanted to create something special to remember them by. In this case I ended up takin two 10 mm peruvian ceramic beads in the shape of cats, one white and one black, which I then painted with acrylics. Using a photo as reference, I managed to make the generic cat beads turn into indviduals very much alike their models.

Unfortunately, the photo doesn't do them justice: the close-up magnifies the details of the brushstrokes and the light and shadows are too harsh. Still, I wanted to show this photo as an example of how a beader can create keepsakes to remember beloved pets that has passed on. These beads still hang, together with the heart-shaped photo locket, above my bed.

Aunt Elsa's pearls

This is probably the most time-consuming jewellery repair I've ever made. What made it especially "complicated" is the fact that the pearls are (a) fancy, bought from a traditional jeweller, (b) old -- and (c) they belong to a beloved aunt, my father's only sister since my other aunt passed away long before I was born. Since May she is also a widow. So I wanted to do my very, very best knotting these pearls after the necklace had broken.

The necklace is graduated so first I had to be sure I put the pearls on in the right order. Then I could begin knotting. Slowly, making every knot more than perfect. Re-doing them if neccessary. Using my favourite method, a variation of Celia Martin's needle method. Then, finally, finish it all off. The jeweller had used the traditional shellac method to attach the pearl silk to the ends, which is a bit different from the methods I have used before.

Elsa was very pleased with the pearls. Even after we forgot to take them with us when visiting her the first time after it was finished. I thought mum had taken the necklace because she had a bag to carry it in, she thought I had taken it because I was the one repairing it. But the next time my parents visited, it was remembered and she could finally get her pearls back, complementing the quality of the repair. That felt very good to hear!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Dagger beads

I seem to accumulate dagger beads. Not that I use them very often, in fact I almost never use daggers. But then I might see beads in an especially pretty colour, or get an idea I won't realise or get inspired by beadwork or jewellery online, using daggers. So I keep buying daggers every now and then... Beads are passion, not logic.

PS! If you are in need of ideas I've collected a bunch of dagger bead projects here.

Monday, 18 January 2010

October rainbow

These are a few pictures I took of a rainbow one October afternoon. The raining had stopped and looking out the window -- I was on the computer at the time -- I saw this intense, almost neon bright, rainbow. I quickly ran and fetched by camera to get a couple of shots before the rainbow disappeared.

When I got out I soon realised that the rainbow seemed to point directly at the neighbour's farm, something I hadn't seen before. The place is so close to were I stood and the rainbow is mostly much further away, ending at the horizon. Of cause this was a great effect in the photos.

What I didn't see, until I uploaded the pics was that it was really a double rainbow. Look closely at the photo above and you'll see it, faintly, to the left of the bright rainbow. Also, I didn't discover that I forgot to reset the white balance: the warm hues are mostly natural, but enhanced by the white balance setting adjusted for a different light. I do like the result though, so it was a good mistake.

Of cause, I also had to play a bit with the photos -- artistic photo editing can be so much fun, even for an amateur like me.

Vintage bronze rivoli pendants -- a backside view

I took this photo to show the back of my "prong set" rivoli that I showed yesterday. Here you can see how the setting is made in a star shape with prongs wrapped around the side of the crystal. One person commented that it looked almost as pretty on this side as the front and I think you could probably made a reversible pendant if you have the right stone for it (the foil is not that pretty that I could do it with this pendant).

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Vintage bronze rivoli pendants

Earlier this week I got a "goodiebag" of wire and beads (and buttons) from Swedish bead shop Fru Pärla [= Mrs Bead] as I had taken the opportunity to volunteer and make a few creations for the inspiration galleries. The first thing I made was these rivoli pendants using the 20 G Vintage Bronze wire I got.
One thing I hate about photos is that they enlarge details: the wrapped loops look so much more sloppy on pic than IRL. Ok, now I've said that.
To the left you see a 16 mm crystal volcano Preciosa rivoli attached to a variation of the classic prong setting. I don't really have the tools to set a stone like this so I use what I have. Ideally I would have wanted to press the prongs closer to the crystal, but I was afraid of scratching or chipping it. Still pleased with the result, especially considering I rarely, if ever, make prong settings.
To the right is a 18 mm crystal sahara Preciosa rivoli that I set in a different way. This time I made wavy "frame", using a wire jig to keep the points even, that was shaped and wrapped around the perimetre of the crystal. The back look exactly the same as the front.
I had no intention of making anything steampunk-related (though vintage bronze is the perfect colour for steamy jewellery), but I realised the bigger pendant has the same colours as this book cover. Not my usual palette, but I quite like it. Nice contrast between metal and water (the crystal reflects the colours of the coating in a way reminding of moving water).

This was also my first time using the "invisible thread suspension method" when photographing. I think it made a huge difference as the pendants don't have flat backs, making it hard to shoot them at the same time. As usual I sing praise to Neat Image, my knight in shining armour now that my camera -- having been dropped in the floor a couple of times -- give me such noisy pics. (Keeping on the name dropping I might add the photo is edited in Picasa, the programme I use now that I can't access my laptop with my favourite, Photoshop Elements.)

Bead blog recap week 2

This week had partially a focus on glass/crystal, books and metal.

Peacock rivoli coating
Peacock is an unusual spotted custom coating you can now find on Swarovski rivolis. The coating is yellow with multicoloured spots.

Buying lovely brass
If you share my love of brass -- natural, antiqued, painted, or polished -- you might like these shops.

Japanese bead books
Why buy books written in a language you don't speak? Because they have very good illustrations and lovely patterns, both jewellery and non-jewellery (not least super cute beaded animals and pastries).

Swedish bead shop jewellery contest
Swedish bead shop is hosting a jewellery contest. The theme is Nature.

Padparadscha is a lovely colour found in Crystallized - Swarovski Elements. Not only is it a beautiful and juicy "pink grape" hue that makes everyone happy, it also go very well to most colours of metal.

Make beads of glass bottles
Why not take that old bottle you didn't want to throw out because of the lovely colour and make lampwork beads of it?

New books and mags
A handful of tips on new beading or jewellery-making books and magazines (special publications) to be released in the months to come.

Beginning to bead
Tips on where and how to begin beading and/or making jewellery, from bead books and online instructions to shops and forums. Note: some parts mostly of interest for the Swedish-speaking newbie.

Daisy chain
Daisy chain is a sweet technique that can be used in many ways and be everything from "daisies on a string" to wide weaves. There are also several ways of stitching the flowers.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A copper bookmark

When writing about bookmark tutorials and projects in Manekis Pärlblogg, I did make a few bookmarks just to illustrate the post (you can see them here). Later I got a copper bookmark from a fellow beader in Malmö and it too became part of a "post illustration" when I showed how to work with double pendants/charms. But this is the first time, I think, that I publish a photo of the bookmark as a whole, not just focusing on the dangle.

I know the moon isn't dark blue, but I still feel like the fairy (or woodland nymph) is standing in front of a full moon. Probably the round shape combined with the midnight blue colour of the MOP charm.

I like the ornate bookmark hooks, but otherwise I prefer simple bookmarks that are easy to put in the pocket, lay on the bookshelf, or place in small bowl on a table. Like the chain or ribbon bookmarks in the other blog post or simply using a piece of paper.

A blank canvas

Lately I've accumulated a small stash of "blank canvases", pendants and bezels I plan to use for collaged resin jewellery, decoupage and so on. Only drawback is that I only buy one of each -- my wallet doesn't allow more -- so can't experiment as much as I want to; I can't make three different versions of a resin bezel cuff just to try different methods, styles or angles. So I have to think through all options before testing the one I feel is the best or most interesting to try.

And the more expensive the pendant or bezel is, the more reluctant I am to use it. "I want to save it for something special" -- am I the only one to say that? I'm glad I rarely work in silver or karat gold or nothing would be used!

But it's not only a matter of not using a pendant because I only have one and it would mean the end of a scarce supply. The oval pendant above is one I already have an idea for. One idea so no competition between different designs. But... To make I need to lacquer an important feature and, of cause, I own not one bottle of spray lacquer. And I can't buy any right now. Isn't that frustrating?

And what else is frustrating? When you have no ideas at all -- or, almost worst, half an idea. It can be a good thing: many times, you can start working with just "half an idea" -- maybe you know how the centrepiece will look or you want to try a fun way of connecting the parts -- but other times you just can't find those details or connecting ideas that will hold it all together. I have messed up projects that way. But I have also felt the satisfaction of completing a project I didn't know how to tie together when beginning.

This pendant, I've already shown before in Working on a copper pendant. Originally, the project was just to make a bail of the link and connect it to a pendant blank. I never thought about what more to do with it. So now I have to come up with some sort of idea for it. Stamping is popular, but not really my thing. Perhaps I will make some sort of scenic pendant à la doxallo anyway.

What will happen to the pieces I've shown here? (1) no ideas right now. (2) as said, awaiting lacquer. (3) know what I want to do with the border (sort of). (4) Have ideas, unsure of how to procede -- should I paint the motif or just go look for some nice papers? (5) no idea... stamp it? I will show pics when -- may it be so and not a question of if -- finished.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A touch of India

I haven't made much jewellery lately so I keep showing some "old favourites". This is a necklace I was very pleased with after finishing. And very tired: it is made up of rather small hand-wrapped wire shapes, made only using a pair of round-nose pliers and cutters. Using a jig was out of question, not only since I don't get along very well with jigs, but also because I wanted smaller components than a jig can make.

My starting point was this lovely open filigree pendant with cloisonné details. I chose to pick up two colours from the enamel: amethyst and tuquoise. Fist, I made links using bugle beads in both these colours (silver-lined), golden charlottes and golden craft wire (non-tarnish brass). Note how I deliberately bent the loops too the sides so that they would not hang straight, but in a slight zig-zag pattern, when worn.

Then I made basic "3-loop connectors" using the same wire and adding a amethyst s/l seed bead in the middle. I made one without the seed, the centre connector/link I added the pendant to. I liked these two shapes together with 2 mm jump rings I made from wire (not fun, making all those tiny rings). The clasp is also handmade by me.

I'm so glad the necklace turned out well and I got some lovely comments on it -- eventhough it's a bit hard to see how delicate and pretty it is in my photo. I'd be horrible if I had wasted all that time and patience it took to make.

The cloisonné pendant is Chinese, but the finished necklace made me think of India, hence the name. I've also made another piece of jewellery using Chinese cloisonné, but ending up with an Indian name: the simple bracelet below from 2006 is called Indian Spice. (I was real pleased to find that my silverfoiled beads matched the cloisonné beads bought on a seperat occasion: both have metallic lustre that shines through and hold the piece together.)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

2-hole beads and filigree

I don't use 2-hole beads or slider beads very often. Probably as I think just making multistrand stringed pieces aren't fun -- I didn't use to have that many other ideas involving these beads.

That is, until I found a bunch of purple 2-hole beads with flower motifs. Very pretty with kind of a vintage style. For months they were just hidden away until I bought half a dozen silverplated filigree connectors from the US. I soon got the idea to link the connectors with the beads and that is how Victorian Amethyst was born (below).

I was afraid of bending the stiff filigrees -- thought I might damage the plating -- so it feels a bit "angular", but still nice enough to wear as a choker, using a ribbon as closure. As you can see, I ran out of filigrees and and to finish the choker using "3-to-1" necklace ends attached to drops in the same style as the filigrees.

I liked the style, but felt the choker had a few minor design flaws so later I made my "Victorian Amethyst v 2.0", or Herrgårdshöst as I named it. It had an English title too, which was longer, as it was my entry to one of the monthly challenges at Vintaj blog, Golden Harvest in November 2008. This time I used brass filigree that I felt more comfortable bending and some new beads as the once I used in my first version was no longer to be found in the shop anymore. Instead, after much research I found similar matte beads in the US (of cause, now this shop no longer carries any floral 1-hole beads...).

I will probably make more jewellery in this style, if only I could find shops selling the right beads. The other 2-hole beads I own are eiter the wrong shape or have holes too close to one another to fit the connectors. Or, in rarer occasions, the beads are vintage or vintage-style, meaning the prices are too high for me...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Melting beads on wire

It all began with me reading an issue of Art Jewelry Magazine. Amongst the letters to the editor was one, commenting on Jill Ericksons Easy Torch-Fired Enamel Necklace (Art Jewelry, July 2007). To make larger drops, she had put a seed bead onto the headpin before dipping in enamels. At the time I was interested in enameling but did not have the tools or supplies for it. So I didn't think much of it, even though I bought the project.

Then one day I got my first butane torch. After making copper headpins and "playing" around with my new toy, I came to thing of that comment. So I put a cheap leftover seed on one of my headpins (pickled), held it in the fire and hoped for the best (no exploading glass). I liked the result so I kept on experimenting. I also discovered a few things, knowing close to nothing about working with glass and torches:

  • The beads stick to the headpin before the shape begins to distort.
  • Some glass changed colour, certain colours faster than others. Probably overheated it as I wanted quick results.
  • Don't heat the bead too fast or use large beads.
  • The headpins need to cool down slowly.
  • I cracked my largest seed bead, but not the flowerbell bead (instead, I melted most of the shape away on one side).
  • You can place more than one bead on the same headpin or wire and they will melt together.
  • You can melt one bead, then place another on it and return the pin to the torch.
  • I'm very abusive towards my beads.
  • I don't know anything about lampworking or melting glass: it's all trial and error, no understanding of the process or how to repeat certain results.
  • I like playing with fire.
  • But I still don't have this urge so many others have to give lampwork beadmaking a try.
  • I am careful when I do this.

Later, I read The Bead Book Magazine, isssue 11. Here Debbie Rijns melt a 3-4 mm swarovski bicone bead onto a silver clay brooch, using a butane torch. She melts the crystal until if forms a smooth cabochon. She writes: "I discovered that because Swarovski crystals have such a high lead content, when fired with a butane torch, they are able to take that high heat without cracking or breaking apart".

This I haven't tried yet. A bit too fond of my swaros, I think, even if I'm no big fan of them.

The pieces in the photo above are just my first trials. If I have the time, I'll probably keep melting beads in the future, but so far those are more or less all I've made. I did mention this on a forum and another jewelry-maker, inspired by my simple experiments, made a couple of black swaro pins. Doesn't it look just like berries?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Flowers, berries and black iron

I like using blackened annealed iron wire fot its variegated, matte colour. Probably inspired by the fact that it is also a type of wire traditionally used in luffarslöjd/trådtjack, wirework made by bums in the early 20th century (they picked up surplus wire to work with, thus avoiding be arrested for vagrancy).

Above is an exemple of a creation I made after being given a bead challenge to make a picture frame. For it I used 0,7 mm iron wire and West-african flower beads made from recycled glass. The beads are very uneven, but very pretty. I had never done a frame using wire before so there are many things that could be done in a different way, but I still like it.

In the same challenge I also got to make a pen holder. Using the same 0,7 mm wire, I made this twined basket that remind me a bit of the baskets we used to pick potatoes in as kids working at our grandparents' farm. Not that it was decorated with flowers and leaves, but the sparse twisted wire is more or less the same. To make a dense bottom, stopping the pens and pencils from going through it, I used vaxed linen cord.

Then, in a word challenge, I got the word gooseberries. As soon as I got it I thought of my strangely coloured cat's eye beads -- and barbed wire. As gooseberry bushes only mean one thing to me: thorns!

Growing up in the countryside on a small farm, we still used the old-fashioned ways sometimes. This included using barbed wire instead of electric fences every summer when a couple of grandpa's heifers were grazing on our lands. We now have tonnes of that springy, errant wire in storage. It is difficult to work with, especially seeing I couldn't anneal it, but having held and pulled barbed wire since I was a toddler I was experienced enough to wrap it without being scratched more than once.

I only had a few cat's eye beads so I decided to make it autumnal, the last gooseberries for the season left on a near defoliated bush. I attached the berries and leaves using handmade iron wire headpins, stringed onto more wire, which I twisted together making a short vine. As you can see, the vine is separate from the thorny barbed-wire wreath.

Of cause I also make jewellery using this wire. More about that some other time.
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