Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Topaz and Smokey Grey Crystal Bracelet

By on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 2 Comments

Real topaz is expensive so topaz coloured crystals are the way to go. Although real smokey quartz is reasonably affordable for jewelry designs, like topaz, the crystal equivalent works too.

Mary Jane alternated these two "imposters" in her bracelet design. The grey crystals were slightly smaller than the topaz coloured ones. For the third "imposter" in her design, she used black hematite coloured seed beads as spacers. I thought the use of an antiqued gold clasp gave her creation a classy vintage look.

Beader Design #: 329
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nine Places to Pierce Your Ears

By on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 23 Comments

Well, I'll be. I didn't know there were so many places you could pierce your ears let alone have names for said places too.

1 = Helix
2 = Industrial
3 = Rook
4 = Daith
5 = Tragus
6 = Snug
7 = Conch
8 = Anti-Tragus
9 = Lobe


Photo source

Wikipedia : Earring
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Gypsy Bead Earrings

By on Monday, April 28, 2008 0 Comments

Gypsy beads are hand painted beads on a coloured glass base. The colours are always vibrant with a metallic touch. No wonder many beaders home in on these beads when they see them at our workshops and parties.

Alice liked them too. She added blue crystals at the top and bottom with gold toned spacer beads to match the gold coloured outlining on the beads. The dangles were then hung on gold-filled ear wires.

Inspirational Artisan Hand Painted Beads
Jessica Doyle's Art Beads (wooden) which she created using India ink and acrylic paints with plenty of varnishing.

Hand Painted Bead Tutorials
Lori Borys' How to Hand Paint Wooden Beads
Deborah Read's Painted Beads 101 is for experienced lampwork artisans but it is worth a look to see how she creates unique hand painted beads by transfer rolling her painted picture on glass to base glass beads she made herself.

Rather buy them instead?
Russian painted beads from Mermaid's Cove
Hand painted Peruvian Ceramic Beads from Primitive Earth Beads
Artist Caroline Trask's gorgeous wooden beads have been hand painted with gouache and lacquered many times.

Beader Design #: 328
The Beading Gem's Journal

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Treasures from the Sutton Hoo

By on Sunday, April 27, 2008 6 Comments

The Sutton Hoo is arguably one of the most unusual archaeological sites ever excavated. Except for metal objects, nothing remains of this burial ship but a "ghost image". It was discovered in one of several burial mounds located near the small village of Sutton Hoo in England (north-east of London). You can see an aerial photo here.

Mound 1 was excavated in 1939. Deep inside was an impression of a twenty seven metre long oak ship which had been brought close to the site via rivers and then hauled across land to its final resting spot. The wooden parts as well as any textiles were long gone as they rotted away in the acidic soil. No body was found either but soil testing revealed residual phosphate which indicated a human (or animal) body/bones had once been there.

A reconstruction of what the room sized chamber (above left) might have looked liked can be seen at the British Museum which also houses the artifacts. This had to be the final resting place of a great warrior king because of the incredible treasures found in his tomb. Besides his weapons and his armour, he had been buried with gold coins, silver vessels and silver mounted drinking horns and cups (power symbols), bejewelled and precious metal objects and clothing. All for his use in his afterlife.

The jewelry pieces found are magnificent and are a testament to the incredible skill, craftsmanship and creativity of the jewelry artisans of long ago. The belt buckle above for example, is made of heavy gold. It is hollow in part (probably to house a religious relic) with the hinged back carefully hidden and locked in a complicated way. The characteristic Anglo-Saxon style of interlocking weaves were further decorated with punchwork.

Even more impressive are the shoulder clasps (above). These were used to hold the front and back armour together to fit the body more closely in the Roman style. Each consist of two matching halves hinged on a long removable pin attached with a chain (not shown). The decoration includes panels of interlocking stepped garnets and chequer millefiori insets.

All that was left of his purse is the metal purse lid itself (above) as the leather had long since rotted away. It was designed to hang from a belt. The kidney shaped frame enclosed a sheet of horn. Pairs of mounted gold and garnet cellwork (cloisonné ) show intricate pictures of animals and geometric patterns. A couple of them show a man between two wolves and an eagle (symbols of strength and courage). The purse once contained 37 gold coins which have been used to date the burial.

The latest date on the coins was AD 620 which suggests the person was buried not long after this date. East Anglia at this time was the most powerful kingdom in the country so one likely candidate is Raedwald who was the overlord of several kingdoms from AD 616 to probably around AD 626. But no one really knows for sure.

Photo sources
1939 excavation
Reconstructed Burial Chamber
Jewelry photos by Rob Roy: Belt Buckle, Shoulder Clasp, Purse lid

Wikipedia : Sutton Hoo
The British Museum : Sutton Hoo
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Inspirational Millefiori Polymer Beads

By on Saturday, April 26, 2008 4 Comments

Feature Designer

I first came across Lisa Clarke, an American artisan who describes herself as polymer clay-afflicted, through her blog. She has been "suffering" from this condition since 1995 when her husband bought her a Klutz Press children's Book by Sherri Haab which came with small bars of Sculpey III.

From that humble start, her passion has grown not only to a creative business but also one that sells books and videos on claywork. You can check out the various aspects of Polka Dot Creations here. Lisa's online presence is amazingly extensive. Check out where you can find her here.

Her Etsy store, Polka Dot Creations, sells limited edition fabric-inspired adornments including buttons and jewelry. Her love of designer fabrics have inspired her to create coordinating assessories to match. Her distinctive multi-craft approach not only includes sewing but she also incorporates the millefiore style of glass making in her polymer clay designs. She custom mixes the colours to match the materials she loves by popular fabric designers such as Heather Bailey.

Her Carnival earrings shown above goes so well with Alexander Henry's Birdseed fabric. The donut like beads spin freely on her own specially designed sterling silver ear wires. Her jewelry range also includes silver framed pendants (below left) which show off her millefiori style so well. I also appreciated her flair for colour and placement when designing her jewelry booth. You can see her jewelry display on her photos in this post.

Lisa's work is so inspiring I have decided to keep an old but still serviceable toaster oven for polymer clay work (best to dedicate an oven for this).

If you would like to make your own beads and lampworking is not for you, then perhaps polymer clay is the way to go. To see if you are up to exploring more of this technique, check out this free video, How to make polymer clay beads by Rochelle Dahl from Vancouver Island, Canada.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

How to Use Split Ring Pliers

By on Friday, April 25, 2008 6 Comments

Judging from the occasional forum posts about split rings, jewelry makers are "split" on the issue, if you could excuse the pun. Some don't use them at all. They prefer to use jump rings but settle for a sufficient wire thickness to reduce the possibility they will open. The trouble is no matter how careful one is, the clasp area takes a beating. So with any jump ring, a thin beading wire unless enclosed in a wire guard, risks slipping through the gap which only needs to be opened just a little for it to happen.

That is why I listed the split ring pliers as one of the six most useful tools. However, these pliers don't come with any instructions so here they are. The pliers has one flat sided jaw and the other is notched. Hold the pliers so the notched jaw is on top and the flat jaw is below the ring. Insert the notch between the rings and close the pliers. Still closed, slide the pliers along the split rings until you get to the open end. Slip on the clasp. Then remove the pliers and slide the clasp further in just as you would a key on a giant split ring until it is on. Viola!

Here is a video demonstrating how to use one:

Some people probably use a soldered closed jump ring and a regular jump ring combination for their clasps. If you grow to like the use of split rings, you can get a balanced look by using two split rings as above for either side of the clasp.

You know those big key rings? I use this tool for them too. No more ruined nails!

These pliers also come in handy with this nifty trick to keep pant zippers up
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Glass Pearl and Crackle Bead Necklace

By on Thursday, April 24, 2008 0 Comments

This was Violet's very first attempt at designing jewelry. She spent quite a while "playing" with beads. The part that she stumbled on was how she wanted her focal section to be. She wasn't receptive to the pendant idea so she opted to use just three pink glass pearls. The flower metal beads completed this feminine necklace.

What I liked about this creation was the combination of pink glass pearls with brownish purple crackle beads - it's not easy to find a complimentary colour for the latter. It's not just the colour mix but the contrast between the pearl lustre and the crackle sparkle. Great idea!

Beader Design #: 327
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eyelash Necklace and Bracelet

By on Wednesday, April 23, 2008 3 Comments

Soft Jewelry
Part 3 of 3

I made an experimental bracelet out of eyelash yarn, beadalon wire and some 6/0 seed beads just for fun. I wanted it to have some structure but yet be comfortable and and soft unlike a bangle. So I knitted the bracelet with the yarn and beadalon together. The bluish purple AB beads were prestrung on the wire.

A conversation piece, or so I thought. But the moral of the story is, it did sell. All it takes is for the right person to come along. One lovely lady I know, Anne, adores funky jewelry and regularly buys or commissions jewelry from me. We often collaborate together on the designs. When she spotted the bracelet, she said it was perfect for a casual blouse she had and could I make a necklace to go with it? Of course! But we both thought that furry earrings would have been a little too much so Anne went with a matching set of glass bead earrings instead.

The funky design featured pretty blue and lavender yarn with coordinating beads although in hindsight, I should have used larger beads. Just to prove I did use beads, that yarn jungle above shows the seed beads more clearly. Does it tickle? Not really - one's skin gets used to it after a short while. The necklace would look good with a round neckline too because it will resemble a miniature scarf!

Beader Design # : 324-326
The Beading Gem's Journal

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Old Leather Jewelry Set and Earring Makeover

By on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 2 Comments

Soft Jewelry
Part 2 of 3

Sometimes, I get a big, unexpected treat at a beading party. Cheryl brought out a remarkable piece of jewelry to show me. It was a fabulous dyed leather necklace she bought some forty years ago at a craft show. She often wears it and no wonder as the necklace is warm and soft to the touch unlike cold glass. It is still in mint condition.

The earrings were another matter. Cheryl has not worn them because she did not like the clip-on style. The earrings were large buttons about 2" across - a huge version of the type of buttons which dressmakers cover with small fabric pieces. The purple leather was still in good shape but the same could not be said for the clip-on findings at the back. These just snapped off because the glue had become brittle after four decades.

Cheryl wanted me to redesign the earrings so she could wear them. With the clip-ons gone, I was able to do some simple and quick wire work to fasten the large purple buttons to the ear wires. Cheryl was delighted with the funky results and that was what counted.

Beader design # : 323
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

Monday, April 21, 2008

Batucada Jewelry

By on Monday, April 21, 2008 2 Comments

Soft Jewelry
Part 1 of 3

I was quite taken by the French company, Batucada Jewelry's innovative approach to jewelry design. The material looks like rubber or silicone but is neither. The fashionable line is made from eco-plastic, described by Batucada as synthetic rubber. They use eco-friendly certified components to produce their jewelry under non-polluting conditions. Even their packaging uses recycled paper.

The jewelry is tough yet flexible and molds to the body's contours. As the material is seawater resistant, their jewelry can be worn at many settings including the gym and the beach without worry. It's lightweight and it even floats! I do like that part speaking as a person who once spent several minutes looking for a lost gold earring in a swimming pool!

Maintenance is easy - just soap and water. The latching system can quickly be custom fitted. But what impressed me was their suggestion to link two bracelets to form a choker. Link more to get a belt! The bracelets can also be worn as anklets.

The select group of designers have done a fabulous job making this line not only environmentally friendly and attractive but also appealing to those who prefer an edgier look. A number of their armband jewelry resemble tattoos, best worn tight. Look Ma, no needles!

Definitely jewelry for our time.

The Beading Gem's Journal

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Coloured Crystals

By on Sunday, April 20, 2008 2 Comments

Spring must have been on many people's subconscious for here is another design with colours which reminds us of the season.

Joan used three different colours of identically sized crystals for her bracelet and earrings. The purplish blue, pink and peridot green all went together as they were pale in hue. She added just a few metal beads to complete this pretty gift for a granddaughter. The colours she chose were just perfect for a young girl.

Beader Design #: 322
The Beading Gem's Journal

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gemstone from Outer Space

By on Saturday, April 19, 2008 2 Comments

Peridot, the gem quality version of the mineral olivine is sometimes known as the Evening Emerald or even the Poor Man's Emerald (see my past post). But it also has another moniker - the gemstone from outer space.

The reason is olivine is found in a type of stony iron meteorite called pallasites. These were named after the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas who first identified a Siberian specimen in 1772. Pallasites are very rare - less than 1% of all meteorites are pallasites - and consist of approximately 50% olivine and peridot crystals and 50% nickel-iron. Only 61 are known to date, the vast majority were not observed falls. That these meteorites survived burning up in the atmosphere as they hurtled down to Earth is also remarkable.

A spectacular find in 2000 was the Fukang (Xinjiang Province, China) meteorite which originally weighed 1003 kg. Some of it has been whittled away to about 420 kg but the main chunk (above left) is now up for auction later this month at Bonhams in New York. It is expected to fetch $2 million. estimated that at an average price of $40 per gram, a potential buyer could break it apart into smaller pieces for sale and translate the investment to more than $17 million.

A jewelry forum member recently asked what she should do with a piece of meteorite (she didn't say what kind) she had been given. The suggestions she got were to wire wrap it. But she said the piece deserved some sort of framing and I think she is right. The above pallasite pendant from ScienceMall-USA, is made from a piece of a Russian pallasite. As you can see, it is beautifully framed with an intricate gold filigree. You can also buy smaller pieces of the Fukang pallasite from from this page before they are all gone. Perhaps irresistible for someone who likes a challenge and likes unusual materials?

Via gizmag
The Beading Gem's Journal

How to Contact the Beading Gem

By on Saturday, April 19, 2008 10 Comments

I am always delighted when someone contacts me either via email or on my blog. Who wouldn't be? There are 5 ways to get my attention :

1. Email
beadinggem {at} yahoo dot ca

2. Post comments
 By clicking on COMMENT , you will be able to read comments others may have left and if you are inspired, add your own. Your email is required (or Google account if you have one) to make sure you're a real person but it is never displayed.  Or chose the Name/URL profile . Add your store or blog URL. Leave blank if you don't have one.

3. Twitter

4. Facebook

Talk to you soon?
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Pink Heart Earrings

By on Friday, April 18, 2008 0 Comments

These designs show pink is not just popular with little girls, but big girls as well! Not everyone likes hearts but some do. Carol made the salmon pink crackle bead earrings on the left and Pat made the dainty clear pink ones on the right. Some people, like me, have to be careful which pink shade to wear as salmon pinks do not flatter certain complexions.

Pink was first used in the 17th century to describe the pale red shade of flowers commonly called pinks (Dianthus genus, which includes carnations and sweet william). The origin of the word pink probably came from the frilly edges of the flowers. The word dates back to its 14th century meaning "to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern", probably from German "pinken" = to peck. Now you know why pinking shears are thus named - it has nothing to do with the colour.

Beader Designs #: 320-321

Wikipedia : Dianthus
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aventurine Bangle and Earrings

By on Thursday, April 17, 2008 1 Comments

Cathy loves this set. I can see why because this design has so much going for it in terms of colour. This is definitely a design to please people who love green.

Her memory wire bangle consists of double-holed rectangular aventurine gemstone beads. They serve as the connectors for both strands of memory wire. What she did next is delightfully unusual. She mixed in beads with both a deep peridot green and teal, thrown in with lovely twisted two-tone ovals.

Cathy's creation shows how different many shades of green can be worked successfully into a single design. All it takes is a love of colour and confidence to express it creatively.

Widget's Beads' Collection

Beader Design #: 319
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eclectic Turquoise and Crystal Bracelet

By on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 2 Comments

One of the advantages of being able to make your own jewelry is the freedom to change your mind!

Michelle had previously strung this eclectic turquoise and crystal bracelet but she decided it needed more work. So she restrung it choosing and placing the different coloured crystals just the way she wanted. She deliberately went for an asymmetrical look. This time round, with more crystals in the design, she had two more turquoise ovals leftover which she saved for earrings.

If Michelle ever tired of this design, she can always restring!

Beader Design #: 318
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Metal Clay Artistry - Gordon Uyehara

By on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 4 Comments

Spring Action 
Part 3 of 3
I am often awed when I come across some jewelry artisans whose work transcends into art. Such an artisan is Gordon K. Uyehara who is a freelance artist and designer from Honolulu, Hawaii.

He has won a number of jewelry design contest prizes and has participated in many juried exhibitions including those at international level. This should surprise no one. His website and his art work are truly outstanding. Every single design is so good, I recommend a long stroll through his website gallery.
Gordon graduated from the University of Hawaii with a science degree. Many of his designs show his early training and inspiration from science and nature. His design called Ancient Life reminds me of a chambered nautilus, a type of shellfish which biologists call a living fossil because it hasn't changed/evolved for millions of years.

I also agree with Gordon - veggie-eating dinosaurs are boring! His collection of garden inspired creations are also delightful.

I first came across his Invasive Species design (shown at top) on his his metalchasers site  (now where he is known as metalclay4u. The brooch picture garnered a lot of admiring comments. In fact, the design did remind me cheerfully of the spring to come because I, after a long winter, will be glad to see real slugs too!

Gordon is a Senior Art Clay Silver instructor who gives workshops at the local level as well as some off-island ones. I do wish I could take some of his classes for I am positive he is a good teacher. How do I know that? On his website, he has a quotation :

"A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence."- Bruce Lee

It is a telling statement for a teacher must guide and encourage his/her pupils' own growth and individual style. It is something I try to do at each of our workshops too.

If you want to "spring into action" with metal clay and cannot get to Gordon's classes, he has links on metal clay silver here and he also has generously listed some tips. You can also check out some other links from my previous post.

Mahalo, Gordon for your kind permission to use the fabulous photos. I wish you pomaika'i in all your future endeavors.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips