Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mixing In Shades of Red

By on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 3 Comments

I'm sure many of you have noticed varying shades of any particular color. Sometimes you choose all the same shade to be consistent. However, as Brenda shows here, you can throw them all in too! If you look carefully at the pictures, she has maroon seed beads, large dark read beads as well as some silver foil beads with a decided orangish hue. The red window beads (bottom ones in the earrings) were warmed up with the copper framing. How she kept the design "together" was by anchoring them with the neutral colored black and pewter beads.

Beader Design #: 490
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Monday, March 30, 2009

13th Century Gold Double Ring Brooch

By on Monday, March 30, 2009 5 Comments

Did you guess it was a brooch of some sort? It is actually a cast gold double ring brooch which now belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum of Design in London . Ancient brooches are called fibula and the round kinds are also known as annular brooches. They were the forerunners of the modern safety pin and brooches. Long ago, jewelry was not merely decorative but functional as well. This piece was designed to fasten a garment together at the neck like two buttons. Or perhaps in the horizontal position to hold together a cloak.

It is a unique piece which once belonged to someone wealthy. It's only 6.5 cm (about 2.5 inches) high or long so it probably belonged to a child. There are supposed to be tiny heads of dogs in the design but I can't see it. Imitation emeralds also adorned the piece as well as a central tear shaped sapphire. Emeralds were thought to protect against poison. Real emeralds were rare so that's probablywhy imitation ones were used.

They were necessary in a time when buttons, zippers and velcro didn't exist. There is one surviving ring brooch in the British Museum with a Latin inscription which translates as "I am a brooch to guard the breast that no rascal may put his hand thereof"! Goes to show people long ago had a sense of humor!

Thanks for all your excellent comments. I enjoyed seeing so many of you putting on your thinking caps just for the fun of it. Diana Norman of Diana Norman Designs wondered if I should have given some idea of dimension and what the materials were. I didn't think the dimensions really mattered in making the guess. Sizing will just depend on whether it was for a man, woman or child, not what it is. Men in those days wore pretty ornate jewelry too. Materials are also not a clue for its use but only pointed to the relative wealth of the wearer. But her eagle eyes spotted the hinges - the pins are hinged on one end (or springs were used on some fibula) with the business end secured on a pin rest.

Lisa of A Bead A Day considered it gorgeous but had no idea what it might be. She just went straight into creative mode and said "it would be wonderful as a focal piece in a necklace with different ribbons, like velvet, strung through the loops and tied at the neck." Willena had an unusual guess. She thought it was a cincher for the back of the dress to make it more fitting. However, tight fitting dresses or gowns then were made so with backlacing not jewelry.

Many of you did guess it was a fastener of sorts like BetteJo of BetteJo's Bead Creations : A Bead A Day. Tamara of Frejya's Jewels said it a fastener for a cape or jacket. Shaiha of Love, Romance & More Reviews and Ashlyn thought the same - a fastener for a cloak. Dagmar of Kokopelli Designs nailed the correct name, fibula.

But the winner of this fun guessing game is Robyn Hawk from California who writes as "a fly on the wall"on several blogs including one called Tuscon Gem Show- Live! She caught my blog post tweet on Twitter and tweeted back the correct answer. It was a clever piece of sleuthing, rather like a treasure hunt on the internet. She clicked on the picture which takes you to another web page and there on the URL line was the name I assigned the picture and didn't change - double ring brooch! It was then easy enough to find a link to the museum item listing on artfund.org and send it to me. She therefore not only found what it was but where it is now. Robyn is presently studying jewelry design and working on a Graduate Gemologist Certificate from GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Well done!

Hugh Tait (1986). Jewelry : 7000 years. British Museum
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jewelry from Recycled Plastic Bags

By on Sunday, March 29, 2009 9 Comments

My neighbourhood grocery stores will all be charging for plastic bags in April. This trend to reduce non-compostable plastic bag usage is gathering momentum everywhere ever since San Francisco became the first North America city to promote alternatives. In June 2009, a new Toronto bylaw will force all retailers to charge for plastic bags. However many people think a national ban like that in China is unlikely here. Whilst plastic bags are useful for many things beyond carrying your shopping, their excessive use clog our landfills. By charging for their use, the hope is consumers will realise bags are not really free and there is an environmental cost to this convenience.

A number of jewelry artisans have risen to the recycling challenge. Their creative talents reuse the humble plastic bag in some of the most innovative jewelry items I have seen.

1.Arnym's Shop on Etsy makes really funky grocery bag earrings and brooches . Not shown is her grocery bag necklace. This Virginia based artisan points out that it takes 1000 years to break down a plastic bag in a landfill.

2. British designer, Anna Roebuck wants so much to educate people on the 3 R's - recycle, reuse and reduce waste - so much so her entire income comes from her business Bags2riches. Her earring collection (above left) takes advantage of the different patterns and colours found in plastic shopping bags.

3.Garbage of Eden on Etsy lives up to her store's name for she makes the most colorful and fun bangles I have ever seen. They are made from twisting plastic bags around plastic bangles. This New York based artisan even lists the source of the different colors - for example, the blue ones are made from NY Times newspaper bags, the red ones come from Chinatown!

Want to have a go? Then check out Gooseflesh's tutorial on how to make plastic bag yarn to get started. For a complete necklace, check out Instructable's Grocery Bag Jewelry tutorial.

Via , Via and Via

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Flurry of Earrings

By on Saturday, March 28, 2009 3 Comments

How many earrings can a beader do in an afternoon? The answer is 4 pairs. Petra was really on a roll at a beading party. She not only made these earrings but she also practiced plenty of wire wrapping.

She made a moss green and a turquoise pair for herself and her daughter - the ones with the clip-on earring findings are for her daughter who doesn't have pierced ears. Petra clearly demonstrates here the benefits of making your own jewelry - you can custom design jewelry so no one else will have the same as you!

Beader Designs #: 486-489
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Guess What This Is?

By on Friday, March 27, 2009 15 Comments

Our workshops are held at Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum where they have many old implements from long ago. It's fun to try and guess the purpose of some of the things they have on display.

That gave me a idea - what do you think this old piece of jewelry was? Go, on! Make a guess by leaving a comment. This English design by an unknown artisan dates back to the 13th century. The answer in a few days!

(If you are a subscriber, please click on the post title in the email or feed post to take you back to this blog. Click on comments at the bottom of the post.)
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Handmade Earring Supplies

By on Thursday, March 26, 2009 8 Comments

More Handmade Earring Wires
Part 2 of 2

If you love the look of hand forged ear wires but are not inclined to make them yourself, there are other artisans who do a great job. You can buy expertly crafted specialty ear wires from these two Etsy shops. Both Rocki and Kira are metalsmiths and full time jewelry artisans.

1. Rockis Supplies

Deb "Rocki" Adams makes delightfully named and unique ear wires. Who can resist her Signature Elfin or the Go Fly a Kite ear wires? She not only offers her designs in different metals but also in different finishes for example, the Signature Elfin pair below is oxidised sterling silver.

2. Original Beadwork

Kira Nelson of Milford, Connecticut is an amazing wire artisan who also sells her handmade findings. She even wholesales some designs if you like them enough to buy in a batch rather than pairs. I love her Curly Q, Fancy Heart and scrolled designs.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The E-Z Earring Maker Tool Tutorial and Review

By on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7 Comments

More Handmade Earring Wires
Part 1 of 2

You might be wondering why I bought the E-Z Earring Maker Tool when I know how to hand forge ear wires - see my past tutorial How to Make Earring Wires. The reason is I wanted an assembly line way of making lots of ear wires quickly and consistently and wondered if this tool could do help. So now I can not only show you how to use one but what I thought of it too.

The E-Z Earring maker tool consists of three parts - the main jig which has two spring loaded pistons, a round plastic doodad with a hole to take the metal pin you see in the picture below.

1. First you cut a length of wire approximately the length of the jig. The wire in the picture looks a little longer because I am holding it closer to the camera and not against the jig. Nice touch as it saves one from having to measure the wire.

2. The round doodad and pin is for forming the loop. I wasn't too thrilled about this because it didn't do a good job compared to using round nose pliers. But as you can see below, for some really fun creative designs, it didn't matter.

3. Next put the loop around the pin on the jig. Then press in the bottom piston which now forms the lower part of the ear wire.

4. Now curve the wire around. It is a little bit tricky to maneuver as the second piston is in the way. When you do push in the second piston, you've got yourself a ear wire!

5. If you omit the loop step and leave yourself a long length of wire (straighten this part with nylon jawed pliers), you can load up with all sorts of decorative beads.

6. You can certainly make pretty conventional styles of ear wires with this gadget. It's useful for those who need to make lots of ear wires or for those who aren't into hand forging their own ear wires.

7. Don't forget to debur the rough edges of the end of the wire that's going through the ear holes. I like to use a cup style file (see previous tutorial). You can also hammer the curved parts.

8. As I said, you could add all sorts of beads so let your creativity run riot. Below is my Flower in A Vase earring!

Beader Design #: 486

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Beading Gem's Journal London Bus Ad!

By on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4 Comments

Aren't ads on buses pretty cool? These moving ads are seen all around town and not just on one spot. Now the Beading Gem's Journal is being advertised on a London bus!

Well, I can dream. But the Bus Slogan Generator is free and a lot of fun if you want to generate your own slogan and download the photo. One tip - you have to fill all three boxes for it to work. Enjoy!
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Autumn Jasper Bracelet

By on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 1 Comments

This photo was taken completely in artificial light with nary a light box in sight! This is because it got dark early at Pam's beading party. However, I hope you can see what a terrific this design is.

Pam's jumping off point was the chunky autumn jasper beads. If you look closely, it has flecks of orangy-brown and green. So she teamed the gemstone beads with orange crackle beads as well as glass chips. She even added square millefiore beads with orange flecks and black beads for contrast. The silver tone rondelle beads also tied in with the silver tone toggle clasp she wanted.

Beader Design #: 485
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Monday, March 23, 2009

7 Easy Ways to Grow Your Jewelry Blog

By on Monday, March 23, 2009 41 Comments

The internet seems like an easy way to deliver a message or a product. After all, you sit comfortably at home, click away and boom! Your blog (or website) is in cyberspace for all the see. Right? Nope.

If you've launched your site, you would have discovered it's like adding a drop of water to a vast ocean. Nothing in life is really free so you have to work at getting the word out. Here are some easy tips to do the "Hello!! I'm here!" bit and they are all FREE!

1. Signature Links with your website and/or blog URLs at the end of your email messages or forum posts are easy ways to get site exposure. You'll be surprised how many people do click on the URL out of curiosity.

2. Commenting On Other Blogs is a good way to build links to your own site(s). The SearchEngine Journal pointed out if you take the time to comment on blogs, each comment is a backlink to your own site. Just 3 a day will amount to over 1000 valuable links a year. The more good links you have the more highly Google will rate your site. You do want people to see the gorgeous jewelry you make, don't you?

Just go to the comment section at the bottom of each blog post (on the actual blog, not in feeds or the emailed post). But make sure you add your URL only in the offered box. There is no need to add it in the comment itself. Write good comments and people will check YOU out. I do.

3. Blog Follows. If you like my blog, please do "follow" it - right sidebar (subscribers will have to click on the post title to return to the blog). This adds a link to YOUR blog and the chances are people will wander over to you as they are always on a look out for new blogs to read. (Update : I no longer have the space for this widget but you can still follow if you use the reader).

4. Tags or Labels. These are keywords about blog posts which are like additional links to your site. If you are on my blog, you can see the tags at the end of the post. Tags are the one of the first things search engines look at after the post titles. Google Blogger offers this tagging system rather than categories which makes sense since they are also in the search engine business. Incidentally, if you wish to start a blog, consider Google Blogger. It's an easy blogging platform and less technically challenging, it's free and you can bet Google will search their own stuff first!

5. Pictures. I have lost count of the number of jewelry blogs I've stumbled upon without any pictures. Duh! A picture is worth a thousand words. No one will get excited about your jewelry if they can't see it. Whilst you're at it, make sure you upload your photo with a title like "rose quartz necklace" not DSC1545 to help Google figure out what your image is. The bots cannot "see" pictures. This is a lesson I learned the hard way as many of my earlier images weren't titled. It's astonishing how many visitors come to my blog because they found an image in Google Image Searches and clicked on the link. People love to look at bling. Give them a reason to visit and hopefully return.  [You could also put in some text in the html part of your blog post, between the quotes for ALT="".  This ensures that people who cannot see your images will see the appropriate text describing the picture.]

6. Posting frequency. You don't have to post every day but you do have to maintain some sort of posting schedule so your audience will be anticipating something new in the short term. Your jewelry blog could easily be a way of documenting all your creations as you churn them out. Some artisans have even turned their blogs into selling sites as you can add payment carts (eg Paypal) within each post. Ultimately it's really down to quantity. The more you write, the more there is to find. Blog posts are like needles in a haystack. Planting more needles increases the chances people will find one.

7. Social Sites. You really cannot afford to be shy if you want to promote your site. So join social sites like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog which are for blogging enthuasists. Then there are the wildly popular Facebook and Twitter. Dedicated jewelry artisan communities or forums such as the About.com's Jewelry Making Forum will also bring you to groups of like-minded people. Even uploading your jewelry pictures on Flickr is another way to bring visitors to your site. The list is endless so pick a realistic list - the sites you enjoy most and have time for - as you can't really do it all.

The last bit of advice is for patience and perseverance. It takes a looooong time to build up a blog or website following. So don't despair and work at it a little at a time.

Before You Go :
6 Questions To Ask Before You Start A (Craft) Blog
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Allison Well's Interactive Storytelling Jewelry

By on Sunday, March 22, 2009 3 Comments

Allison Wells is a Canadian artisan whose creations are truly novel and playful because they allow the wearer to mix and match and rearrange the components to tell a story. Her interactive jewelry collection features caged animals and birds which can also be "freed". Her sterling silver bird cage pendants come in either 2D or 3D formats. In either case, you can wear the caged bird or wear the empty bird cage and a flock of bird pins!

She says, “My goal is to cater to everyone by providing different scenarios that appeal to all sides of an argument." She also allows the wearer to make social statements as her 3D cage pendants can also hold a human figure. Yep, you can wear a human. She offers a selection of human figures - happy, depressed, lesbian couple, African American, or even a naked human. A depressed human in a cage could represent someone who feels trapped like a captive bird!

Her sterling silver circus animal (and human) cage brooch comes as a set so wearers can interchange the occupants of the cage. See the animals on the green background below? Those are the animal pins meant to represent freed animals when the cage brooch is worn empty. For more of Allison's designs and a list of Toronto and Montreal stores which carry her work, check her website.

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