Monday, August 31, 2009

Eco Jewelry from Preloved Clothes and Fabric

By on Monday, August 31, 2009 5 Comments

There are some awfully inventive artisans out there who totally embrace the reuse and recycling creed. Many have repurposed unwanted fabric and old clothes for uber eco jewelry! Here is one outstanding artisan.

A fellow Canadian, Maryse of Frills and Fray on Etsy uses what she calls preloved fabrics to make "soft jewelry with a strong look". She has an uncanny ability to form new shapes with textiles to make her distinctive jewelry designs. Her style is definitely from rags to riches. See this fabric flower pendant necklace? It was a sphagetti strap dress in a previous life.

Shown below is her Textured Wave Fabric necklace.

Her funky Cluster Necklace full of big fabric beads of different sizes took her a long time to make as there were 60 individual beads in all!

I don't think she has exhausted all the possible permutations of fabric shapes yet as you can see with her Fabric Spiral necklace. This is surely a sign of a truly creative soul.

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Evie's Tool Emporium's Tool Giveaway

By on Sunday, August 30, 2009 88 Comments

It's time for another giveaway! Evie's Tool Emporium on Etsy has generously offered not just one but 2 very useful tools. The first is a 3 Step Wire Looping pliers - it's no coincidence I wrote the tutorial on how to use one! So if you are on the look-out for more tools and you don't have this pliers, here is your chance. You may not need to buy one!

If you win and if you happen to like making dainty earring dangle loops, one tip is to use the very end of the round jaw to form the loop as it is the smallest part of this particular model.

The second tool is exceedingly useful as you can never have too many flush cutters. You have no idea how many times I misplaced my one and only flush cutter until I bought a second and "borrowed" a third, a big one, for cutting memory wire from my other half.

Michelle and her partner have been in the tool business for 8 years. Due to overwhelming demand, they started to carry the jewelry and hobby craft tools. A little over a year ago, on a whim, they opened their Etsy store dedicated to these types of tools. Why Evie? That's the name of their black cocker spaniel Evie who is their good luck charm. Below is a picture of the much loved Evie from Michelle's blog.

They work very hard but they've really enjoyed their Etsy experience so far and hope to grow their business there. Note that they are always open to suggestions of what tools to stock. Hmm, I will have to think about that!

So if you want to win some cool tools, just leave a comment (click at the bottom right of the post where the word "comments" is displayed). If you are an email subscriber, click on the post title to be taken to my actual blog where you will see the comments word at the bottom.

The giveaway closes at 7.30pm EST on Sunday September 6. I will pick the winner using and post who won as soon as possible after that.

The contest is open to readers everywhere. If you are shy about using your real name, pseudonames are allowed - funny ones are positively encouraged! Just don't leave your email address in the comment body. Good luck!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

How To Use a 3-Step Wire Looping Pliers Tutorial

By on Saturday, August 29, 2009 18 Comments

Debbie, my friend and co-instructor was the first to buy the 3-step wire looping pliers. She loved it so naturally, I got myself one!

It's a handy tool to have if you already have the six most useful tools I wrote about and wish to pick up more tools. If you cannot make consistent wire loops, then perhaps this tool will solve your problems.It will also save you money as you can make your own jump rings.

One side is like a round nose pliers but with three ridged edges to create 3 sizes of loops or rings. The other side is concave so the loops remain round when being formed. There are several makes available.  These tools does take practice to use. Judging from the negative comments on Amazon, it's likely because people don't know how to use it. So here is a tutorial on how to use one. (I am right handed so you'll have to work in reverse if you are a leftie).

I've also created a new video tutorial as it might be easier to understand how it works if you see one in action. There is no sound (apart from my tool clunks!) - still working on improving my video technique!


1. When you need to make a loop as for earring dangles, first place the pliers so the lower edge of the concave side sits right on top of where you want to make a loop. If you need space for more wire wrapping, then place the lower edge higher.

2. Next squeeze the pliers' jaws together and you will see the wire curve as it is squeezed against the concave side. Now bring the wire over the other jaw as you would normally with a round nose pliers. You can adjust the tilt of the loop at this point or later after you complete the wire wrapping for the earring dangle.

3. Have fun making all sorts of loops!


1. Cut a length of wire - I use 22G for the demo - and grip the tip. It's very important to have the stepped part at the top or right as in the picture. That's because you're going to coil it anti-clockwise by moving your pliers to the right.

2. Keep turning the pliers and keep a grip on the wire with your thumb and forefinger. When the tip appears, make sure you keep it on the left and include it by sandwiching between the jaws as the coiling progresses.

3. Also important is the firm pressure exerted by the fingers holding the wire. The thumb should press down whilst the forefinger should keep pushing the coil towards the ridge.

4. Slow and steady and voila! You have a coil which you can use to cut into rings.

5. If you are cutting up the coil for jump rings, make sure you remember to hold the flush cutter so the flat side is the one that is giving you the flush edge. The cut edges are not as good as saw cut rings but making jump rings this way is a lot quicker. You can remove the tiny burs by hand filing or tumbling the rings.

6. You aren't limited to making jump rings. This is a quick way to make some short coil beads for all sorts of projects.

I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation.

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tweet Volume reveals cool Twitter facts for jewelry artisans

By on Friday, August 28, 2009 2 Comments

I came across Tweet Volume and found it an interesting free service whose software uses data from Twitter and Google. It's a way of comparing anything you choose and find out how popular the topic is based on how much it is being twittered. Being very curious, I tried it out.

The first experiment was to compare the relative twitterings or how often the search term comes up for 5 craft/jewelry selling sites - Etsy, Arfire, Dwanda, Ruby Lane and 1000markets.

I checked out the sites on weekend evening as well as on a weekday evening (shown above). The results were the same - Etsy artisans and their fans were by a huge margin the most active. This doesn't necessarily mean Etsy is bigger than the others but that the artisans there are very tech savy indeed or Twitter addicts! You may wish to read this blog's post "How Etsy uses Twitter". As one commenter there said, "Business is all about communication - and Twitter is a great communication tool."

Twitter though, as I pointed out before, has to be used well as most tweets fall into the pointless babble category. About 40% of tweets were found to be of the "I am eating my lunch" category.

Moving on to experiment two, I used Tweet Volume to check out which type of jewelry piece was twittered most amongst necklaces, earrings, bracelet, anklet and brooch (pin was not specific enough and neither is ring). As you can see below, necklaces, earrings and bracelets are twittered most which indicates their relative popularity. Food for thought.

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Working with salmon colored beads

By on Friday, August 28, 2009 4 Comments

I'm not really fond of salmon hues mainly because this color looks ghastly on me. However if you are lucky like Erica and can wear this color, then I envy you.

She chose to go the neutral route with clear crystal and black beads because the salmon colored beads already gave a certain warmth to the necklace. What I really liked were her use of smaller gold tone beads to give the design a richer look. One other option was to team the salmon colored beads with say green aventurine gemstones.

Beader Design #: 551

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harry Winston and the Hope Diamond's 50th anniversary at the Smithsonian

By on Thursday, August 27, 2009 5 Comments

The Smithsonian is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its acquisition of the legendary Hope Diamond in a novel way - letting the public see it in a modern (but temporary) setting. Not only that, until September 7, everyone is invited to cast their vote for one of three possible designs (the link for actual voting doesn't seem to be working but you can see the new designs). They are also planning a documentary "Mystery of the Hope Diamond" for the spring.

The settings were naturally designed by Harry Winston jewelers because the person who donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian was the flamboyant and gemstone obsessed Harry Winston (1896-1978) himself.

He was the third son of Ukrainian immigrants who owned a modest jewelry and repair store in New York. A high school dropout with no formal training in gemology, Harry Winston learned his trade the hard way. In addition he possessed the passion, a keen aesthetic sense, showmanship and an intuitive feel for the gemstones he so loved.

He often told the story of how, at age 12, he bought a 25 cent green stone ring from a pawn shop. After a good cleaning, his astonished father sold the 2 carat emerald for $800 a couple of days later. He grew up to be a wonderful storyteller sharing tales about gemstones, rulers and the celebrities he knew. He said, "I love the diamond business. It's a Cinderella world. It has everything! People! Drama! Romance! Excitement!".

During his career he often purchased estate jewelry from the rich and famous. He successfully outbid his rivals by simply offering more money (usually works) and by appraising much more quickly than they did. His philosophy was simple - "Always buy the stones, never the mounts." He had an uncanny ability to see each gemstone's potential beyond the sometimes outdated or unattractive settings they were in.

One early acquisition was the estate jewelry of Arabella Huntington, the wife of the railroad magnate, Collis P. Huntington. She spent over a million dollars on her famous 60 inch pearl necklace which Harry Winston later divided into pearl necklaces for "at least two dozen women" around the world.

His obsession about collecting as many of the world's legendary diamonds as he could fulfilled his father's prophecy, "Someday your jewels will possess you and master you." They certainly loomed large in his life as his wife discovered. Harry dearly loved Edna who was his confidant and model but diamonds were his mistresses. Edna sighed, " Harry just can't forget a diamond once he's made up his mind he wants it."

Harry Winston' s historic jewel collection was to become the second largest after the British Royal Family's according to Life Magazine in 1952. This list here documents of some of the 60 odd major gemstones which passed through his hands. Pictures of a few of these legendary gemstones can be seen here.

Hope Diamond Smithsonian museum of natural history
Image via Wikipedia

Harry Winston bought the Hope from the estate of heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean. The famous flawless blue diamond originally from India, made him both happy and sad. He was elated to finally own the stone but the last recutting the gemstone endured sometime in the past 200 years made it slightly lopsided. It affected its symmetry and its ability to refract light or sparkle and that bothered him.

Harry said, "A great diamond should live, it should talk to you." I wonder if the gemstone did for he boldly made the decision to slightly recut it at the culet (bottom facet). It was a small change but we're talking about a historic gemstone here! He also never believed in the curse of the Hope diamond - there are a number of gemstones with supposedly bad karma (see my post on the "cursed' Black Orlov). Instead, the Hope brought him fame, customers and plenty of publicity. But ever the showman, he got his PR people to embellish on the curse!

For a number of years, the Hope and his other jewels toured as the Court of Jewels raising a lot of money for charity and indirectly publicity for his store. He also generously lent out the Hope for several years after the Court of Jewels got too expensive to do.

Harry Winston never did sell the Hope. He said, "I could have sold it many times for a profit but I don't know what its value is." There is no other gemstone to compare it to. He decided to donate it to the Smithsonian in 1958 as payback for a country that had been good to him and with a hope that other rich Americans would be inspired to donate their own magnificent jewels. His secret ambition was apparently to make the Smithsonian's then very modest gem collection rival that of Britain's housed in the Tower of London.

Harry had had the Hope insured for $1,000,000 dollars with Lloyd's of London. But other than that, it cost $3.35 to register the Hope package, $2.44 in first class stamps and a surcharge of $139.50 for person-person handling to send this diamond to the Smithsonian by US mail!

My favorite Harry Winston quotation is worth remembering, "People will stare. Make it worth their while." Got it.

Related Posts
Madame de Pompadour's Jewels
Empress Eugenie's Diamond Obsession

Marian Fowler :Hope: Adventures of a Diamond
Wikipedia : Harry Winston
Publicity picture of Harry Winston by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Picture source

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Romantic Lace Jewelry and Lace Brooch Tutorial

By on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 2 Comments

What could be more feminine than lace? I first featured lace as jewelry with Sandra Bautista's Bracelaces. Now I've discovered other artisans who do a whole bunch more than just lace bracelets.

Shown on the left is the Kalliope Butterfly Lace Necklace by Everydayfairytale on Etsy. This Los Angeles based artisan sure lives up to the name of her shop for her work is indeed a "land full of love, hopes, and dreams come true". Just like a fairytale. Romantic too, I might add.

Everydayfairytale's attention to detail is truly remarkable as shown with her Delia choker. She combines a silvery red organza flower with lace, crystals and ribbon. Not only that she invariably includes a quotation which speaks of her design :

“My heart to you is given: Oh, do give yours to me; We'll lock them up together, And throw away the key.”
-Frederick Saunders

In perfect contrast to the above white design is Whiteowl's beautiful black marichelle lace necklace with its single vintage green glass bead accent. These Detroit artisans (two sisters) go the extra mile for their grey Marie Antoinette earrings is made from reclaimed lace which was dyed and teamed with bronze ear wires.

All these featured designers do beautiful work and the effort they put into staging their jewelry pays off in some of the gorgeous photo presentations I have ever seen.

Inspired? Then you've got to try this easy pretty lace brooch tutorial from the Martha Stewart site. It's definitely a good thing.

Via and via

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Warring States Lamp Work Bracelet

By on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 4 Comments

Chaos-driven Innovations
Pat 2 of 2

One of my bead sisters loved the lamp work bracelet I uploaded on our Bead Sisterhood site. She was intrigued with the title I gave the piece - the Warring States Lamp Work bracelet. She had never heard of the term before. So thanks for inspiring this post, Tami!

The Warring States Period (476- 221 BC) was a terrible one of turmoil in China when warlords battled for supremacy until one strong leader eventually emerged to unify the country and start the Qin Dynasty. If you've heard of the oldest military strategy guide, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, you wouldn't be surprised to learn it was written during this time.

Yet, out of this chaos, new philosophical schools of thought like Confucianism, Taoism and the Yin/Yang principles emerged. Artistic endeavors include lovely bronze and jade artwork like these bronze mirrors, artifacts from an archaeological dig of a horse and chariot chamber tomb and the very first Chinese eye beads.

The beautiful lamp work beads above are modern versions of ancient Chinese eye beads. The geometric patterns include mosaic flat eyes, "dots" and protruding horned eyes with distinctive concentric rings as you can see from this picture here. The beads start off as solid colored ones which were then covered with succeeding layers of colored glass.

The Warring States eye beads are still popular today. Larry Brickman is a modern master of this ancient art form. Check out his gallery here or see pictures from his workshop.

Eye beads occur in many ancient cultures. They were believed to protect the wearer against evil caused by the envy of others - probably along the lines of staring down or deflecting negative effects. See more eye beads in my past posts on Tibetan Dzi beads and Nazar Boncugu or Turkish eye beads.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips