Saturday, 31 May 2014

Crazy lace agate in sterling silver. (It's an almost proper tutorial this time!)

So.. I actually managed to take pictures right from almost the very beginning with this one. Yay me!

checking spacing
 I have wanted to wrap this crazy lace ever since I got it from Juvy. I think one of the reasons I didn't is because it has such a great design, and it is all over, including the sides.. and I didn't want to obscure any of it.

I measured the stone on the wire, and bound the 22g square wire with 8 wraps of 22g half round wire, trimming and tucking the ends on the inside of the wire. Now normally I bind directly in the center of the wire, but this stone was calling for a different treatment so I bound where it would come up the side of the stone instead of the center. The center of the cab is to sit just past the end of the bind.
the start of the bind
 One of the things to know about the square wire cage style of setting stones, is that you make wibbles or prongs in between the bound sections. With prongs, I typically bind until I want to make a prong, make the prong, and keep binding around it. With the wibbles (yes, that's my official term for them) I create the center bind and then figure out where the holding wibble is supposed to be, then bind directly above it, or where it ends. You can bind and then make the wibble, or make the wibble and then bind at the end of it.

I almost always make the front wibbles after I bind, seeing as that is the easiest was to figure out how to do them to compliment and secure the stone.

6 times around and then trim
 I did 7 wraps in total, pulling them tight and then squeezing them flat. I find that if I don't give them a good squeeze, when I go to bend and shape the panel of square wires, they rotated and some are on edge instead of flat. This does not make for a secure bind.

getting the bend perfect
 I fiddled a bit and pushed wires around until I got them with the binding on the right part of the rock, and then I used my flat nosed pliers to hold the bound spot and bend. I actually bent too much to begin with, but because I use dead soft wire, it wasn't that hard to just push the rock in there and give it the right shape.

Time to work on the back of the pendant.
wibble spacing
double checking spacing
 I pulled over a "wibble" on the back, in the space between the two bound areas, trying to make it just enough to hold the stone but not enough to obscure the pattern. Then I pulled out another piece to get the proper spacing for where I was going to bind again.
binds and wibbles
I bound it with the half round wire, and then pulled out the other wibbles to hold on both the front and the back.

As you can see in the "binds and wibbles" picture, the half round can get a little distorted from the pulling, but I find that a quick squeeze with my flat nosed pliers fixes it right up. :)
I spent a little bit of time fitting and forming the wrap to the stone at this point, including pushing down the front wibbles to conform directly to the top and side slope of the agate. This was a good time to figure out where the last holding wibble was going to go, so I shaped the outside to the stone and then holding the wires down with my thumb, I pulled out another wibble, and then bound it. This is kind of opposite to the way I normally do it, but the final touches usually end up that way.
gathering the top together
I pinched the top together and gave it a once around with the half round to gather them all in place, and then I gave them a squeeze with my chain nosed pliers. Everything was tight enough at that point it didn't take much to do a secure binding with the half round for the stem of the bail.

bail stem all bound up
Once I got everything held together, I noticed that the tip of the stone wanted to pop out of the cage, so I gave it a couple more little wibbles to make sure it would stay.

spacing for the swoop and bail
I really enjoy the look of twisted square wire, and because of this, at least a little bit of every square wire piece I do ends up twisted. On this one, it was the two bail wires.

I forgot to take the pictures where I did up the swoop and spirals, but I normally shape and secure the bail, and then do up the spirals and/or swoops.
Prettified product pictures :)
Thanks for looking!

Becca :)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Floral "turquoise" jasper teardrop in copper

I didn't take any start to finish weave pictures.. yet again.. but one of these days I will remember. It's an arduous process, taking step by step weave pictures.

I made a long panel of what I call ladder weave, because it looks like a ladder to me. I am sure that there are other names for this weave :)

Shaping the weave
I wove as close to a centered panel as I could, and once I was where I wanted to be on the brio, I coiled a little and threaded that wire through the bead and did a light anchor on the other side.  

the widest point
 I grabbed some more weaving wire and woven another short panel, with a 3 wire 2 and 2 weave, until I was close enough to the bail wires to weave a bail.

bend.. now to reduce
 I bent the bail over my stepped beadsmith mandrel and the continued the once around figure 8 weave. I then added swirls and copper beads.. and decorated as I went, making sure that everything was secured. I then worked on the other side, adding more swirls and a couple of swarovski crystal beads.

side with crystals
side with copper beads
 This one was actually fairly quick, seeing as the longest block of time was what it took me to weave the panel of ladder weave.

One of the local shops bought this piece, and it is for sale and on display there.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Matching some green dangle earrings

I recently made a necklace for a Nicole Hanna contest, which gave us a partial pendant tutorial to follow.. a 'Finish-it' if I remember correctly, which gave us exact lengths of wire, size of beads, example of weave, and stopped at the point where we brought the weave together at the top of the bead. From then on the idea was to finish the piece with your own spin. I had this lampwork lentil bead I had been wanting to use for a while, and it was the perfect size, so I figured, 'why not?' 

I managed lightbox pictures of it because I was planning on submitting it to the contest, but I forgot to email it to submit it. When I posted it on my facebook page, an old friend who moved away from the Yukon saw it and loved it. She asked me to make matching earrings, and I took a few pictures of the creation of these earrings. While they do not match the necklace exactly, they used the same weave on the bottom section.. so that part matches. Also, they match each other! I have had a hard time making pairs of woven earrings, but I am always up for a challenge.. as long as I have the time to do it at my own pace. My beautiful friend challenged me, and we had success!

The contest necklace
When I finished the pendant, I got the impression that it needed a necklace, so I wove some waxed cotton in an 8 warp round kumihimo braid and made coil caps with hammered loops and a hammered fused clasp with a serpentine bead.

 I think it is pretty cool that people like what I do! :) :D I think it's also pretty cool that I can do what I can do. I am blessed.

flush cut trimmed wires
I took pictures from this point on, because to post the previous steps would be too similar to the tutorial for me to be willing to do it. The idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So here are the similar to contest necklace earrings!

I really love how green and copper look together, so to enhance the bead I used for the necklace, I used 28g green artistic wire wrapping wire. This of course means that the earrings had to be done with the same wire. It really would have been cool if I could have matched the bead closer with the pair for the earrings, but this spotted green agate that a friend gave me turned out to be perfect.

I trimmed all of the wires to be the same length to each other on either side. I had to let them sit for a little while at this point because I felt the need to add a bead, and I dug through my stuff until I found the right one.
positioned carnelian

This carnelian bead was the exactly perfect shade to go with the center bead in the pendant, so I took the center wire and wrapped it around and half over the bead, positioning it to cover the gap above the agate bead. At this point I curled the two shorter side wires, pushing them against the bead to stop it from turning.

added green aventurine
 I forgot about the jump ring on the bottom for the wrapped crystal briolette as I was wrapping, so at this point I squeezed the woven panel wires apart with a needle and attached the jump ring, weaving it on with more green wire.

On the left side, I took the bottom long wire and curled it up to mimic the right. I then added a green aventurine bead and coiled partway down the top wire, then curled it up and around. I secured things together with the beading wire and then set out to do it all again!

A matching pair! Yay!
Once I was done both, I realised that I had no copper ear wires left, and my friend didn't need them to be silver, so I added a couple more jump rings (that I got from UnkamenSupplies on Etsy), and then formed and hammered some hooks.

I am really getting into making my own hooks :)

These turned out great, and I am very proud of them. I should have taken lightbox pictures of them before I sent them to their new home, but I forgot. Hopefully my friend sends me modelling pictures!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 11 May 2014

The making of a green clockwork necklace

Today I felt like writing about my latest steampunk necklace. I made this is a large green banded agate I had. Once again I forgot to take pictures from the very beginning, but I am pretty good at describing what I did from start to finish :)

Front view
I did a 5 wire soumak weave to start, with 18g copper base wires and 26g sterling silver filled weaving wire. Once I bound the wires together with the small section of weave, I inserted one base wire through the hole (I don't always work with stones with holes, but when I do, I try and hide them LOL) and since I had a little bit of weaving wire left, I coiled around the wire until it was gone. At that point I started with some 28g copper weaving wire, took the outside weaving wire protruding from the bottom of the weave, and started coiling it until I was far enough down that I thought it would be okay space wise to add a watch gear.

In my little baggies of watch parts, there are some less often used pieces, like the spring cases, which we thought would look great on this! I wired on the spring case and coiled until my wire ran out. I use pre-cut pieces of small gauge copper wire, mainly, because I am an avid recycler and I strip old electrical wire to use for weaving.
Back view

 I then made a further hole hiding effort, by making a rose shape on the top. I wove a two wire (I think it was 5 and 1) weave down the wire a bit, echoing the patterns in the stone, and then I made curlies on that wire and a couple of the base wires from the bottom of the soumak section. At this point I strung a large holed bronze bead on one of the wires that I had been weaving on the top.. swirled around it.. and then brought that wire over the top of the stone and around to the back. I coiled the wire from the bead onwards, securing it to the wire protruding from the hole, as soon as I was far enough to do so. At that point I started adding clockworks to the back, first a gear, and then a jeweled gear plate.. all the while doing my best not to obscure the cool banding on the stone.

Back, with silver coiled wire added
Now, because I hate it when my pendant flips over, I always strive for a full reversible piece, no matter what I am doing. I kept working on the back by bringing over another wire and coiling it with the silver filled, securing it to the gear and gear plate as I went.

I like silver filled wire for the whole reduced cost aspect, but it is actually a little harder to weave with than full sterling, because it is a sterling bonded to white brass and brass is a much harder metal than either copper or silver. I know this because I work with brass when I have to LOL

Front, with more beads and coiled wires
Back to the front. I feel that you can't work on just the front or the back until you are finished, because you have to make sure that everything flows and fits together.. so I go back and forth while I am working.

I added an interesting brass tube bead to the bottom wire that was protruding from the 2 wire weave, and then coiled the wire, with a curly, bringing it around the back.

I then pulled two of the base wires around to the back to see what I needed to do with them.

I flipped the piece over, added a curly and kept coiling, bringing the wire over towards the side of the stone and adding another gear and some beads as I went. The beads were dual purpose.. they also secured the wire I had brought over from the front, to the structure on the back.

Back, with more progress
At that point I discovered that I didn't have long enough wires to bring them around to the front again, so as I was going I rounded the ends of the wire, and wove one wire from the front and one from the back together. I then coiled up the wire and added another bead, as well as doing a securing weave near the top.

Back to the front again. I used more silver filled wire and did another two wire weave down the front, shaping it to echo the bands of the stone, and then I made a partially coiled rose thingie and used the end of that to secure one of the wires from the back. I grabbed a side wire from the back and brought it around the front, using it to secure the bottom of the spring case. I added another bead, and coiled over the wire loop from the other weave, coiling until my wire ran out. At that point I bent the bottom wire over to anchor and secure the whole piece together because up until this point there was still some movement from the stone inside the wiring.

Almost done!
Almost finished front

Many hours of work went into this pendant, and at this point I still wasn't sure what I was doing for the bail, or what was happening to the wires on the bottom.

The protruding wire from the bottom was begging for another gear, so I used that wire and the wire that I had brought over from the front, coiled,  shaped, and secured. During that process we figured it needed more brass to be a truely mixed metals piece, so part of the coiling and securing was done with 28g brass wire.

Almost finished back.
We figured out that adding a piece of 18g NuGold brass wire, and then weaving with that 28g brass, was exactly what was needed for the bail.

Final back shot before adding the bail
You may see me do this kind of bail a lot.. I really like how it looks. I used my beadsmith metal mandrel to shape the woven section, and then grabbed both end wires and coiled them around the mandrel before securing them to the rest of the piece.

Back shot after bail
I really like how this turned out!

The bail looked great, but every single cord and chain that I put with it, did not. Fortunately I ordered some copper ball chain from ConfettiTheBeadPlace on etsy.. which when it got here was MUCH larger than I expected.. but worked perfectly with this piece. It actually took a little bit of work to get the ball chain into the bail, but it was like my muse knew it was coming and had designed the bail just for that.
Front shot after bail

I still have yet to take lightbox pictures of this necklace, but I am happy I managed pictures almost every step of the way :) (edit.. light box pictures are at the bottom of the post)

6mm ball copper chain

After aging and polishing
I took a picture before aging..

I wasn't 100% sure I was going to age this piece, but once I got the ball chain on it I knew it had to be done! So everything went in the gun blue.. and then I hand polished the whole thing.

the pretty pictures :)

So this has been the journey of the creation of my green clockwork necklace.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, 9 May 2014

Amethyst carved skull in silver

I'm sorry if anyone follows me here and expects regular posts from me. Unfortunately I am an artist-type to the full definition, so things come in waves for me, including the want or need to write :)

 Once again, I forgot to take process pics from the very start of the process LOL

I started with some lengths of 20g sterling silver, and 22g fine silver. I don't normally measure things with a tape measure.. I eyeball them by how much longer than what I am wrapping, they need to be. I knew I was going to do some sort of interesting design above the skull, as I was inspired by aztec designs/masks and sugar skulls.  When I measured my first wire against the skull, I figured out how much wire I would need to just go around the skull, and then added a few centimeters of space on either end before I cut.

Something that I find important, is the trimming of ends to make all ends flush (flat). I flush cut all of the ends of the wire, and then lined them up with the 20g on the outside, and the 22g on the inside, and started to do a soumack style weave with 30g sterling. Once I thought I was close to finished the panel, I curved it around the base of the skull, and wove a little bit more to make the panel the right length to go from one side to the other, where the hole in the skull was, for ease of mounting.

I bent over two of the inside wires, starting the shaping at the hole in the skull bead and then continuing up towards the top. I used those two wires to weave the bail.

Once I had secured the skull bead to the woven panel with the weaving wire, I made decorative curlies with some of the finer base wires. I then wove the bail, (once over, once around figure 8.. my favorite bail weave) mounting a swarovski crystal bicone above the skull for a little sparkle. Then, I started a wide spaced figure 8 woven section up the right side of the piece. Once I wove a little ways, I started shaping the woven section, weaving and securing as I went. I curled and twisted and secured, including one loop around the base of the bail before making the open spiral in front. Once I got that side done up, I tweaked the side curlies and decorated the back with the ends of the wire.

Because I was using 30g to weave with, I made sure to go through the bicone more than once, for security. I started a 5 around 1 across weave on the left side, and curled it around as I was going to mimic but not duplicate the right side.

As you can see, one of the base wires that I was weaving was MUCH longer than the other by this point, so when I went once around with the spiral I felt I needed to coil up the longer wire. I then followed the line of the spiral with the coiled longer wire, and brought it back around to make a couple more curlies on the top, ending with tucking the wires behind decoratively.

Here is what it looked like when finished.. and it sold before I managed to get light box pictures of it.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, 8 May 2014

My first Dolomite

I haven't been creating as much as I would like to.. stress seems to chase my muse away.. although she also helps me release my stress.. (I call making pretties "my therapy") so maybe it's that when there's too much stress, I can't follow my muse.

 I made this dolomite pendant a while ago, when I first got my gold and gold filled wire. This was the first or second piece I made with this wire. It's kinda funny how getting new supplies inspires me.. or should I say inspires my muse LOL

The binding in this picture is done with 16g half round gold wire, and I used 21g sterling silver and gold filled square for the frame.

You will often see twisted wire in my work, because I really love how it makes the whole piece sparkle. I don't twist my wire until it is bound though.. I tried twisting and then binding, at first when I started with the frames, but I can't get as tight of a bind.. and that to me means that the wires are not as secure. It's akin to binding round wire with half round. I would rather weave the round wire, or bind it with really small gauge round, than try and bind it with half round.

In this next picture you can see where I have bound the top section with a much smaller gauge sterling wire. I wasn't going to bind at the top at all, but the stone was really slippery and kept wanting to pop out, so I figured that I needed to do something to make it a little more secure. If you look close you will see that I made a point of not including the top section of twisted wire in the bind.

I often wait until after I am almost done mounting and securing everything before I pull out the.. what I call grabber wires.. the grabbers being the sections on the sides that hold the stone in, while adding decorative touches.

I frequently use the half round wire to also do the securing on the bail. I form the "pinch area" before binding, no matter what I am using to bind. I think that forming before binding is important, or I will end up with an uneven bail stem, and that is really hard for me to deal with.

Once I made the pinch area, I grabbed the protruding wires and bend them down to give myself room to maneuver the bail wires. This is when I figured out what style of bail was happening.

As you will see in the next picture, it was a 4 wire round bail that worked the best, and I did it with exclusively gold wires.

 At first I tried to make a swoop, and swirls, and it didn't work quite how I was figuring. This is actually pretty usual for me.. I try and make things one way, and they end up completely different than I was expecting. This is why I follow my muse. She knows how things are supposed to be :)

The swoop on the left ended up as a swirl on the back, and the two twisted wires that I was trying to pull across the front, ended up on the side, as you will see in the next picture.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out where you are going to anchor things in the back, but I typically end up echoing the front grabbers with the back, so when I find myself needing to secure decorative wires on the back.. well then I just curl or tuck around or under the back grabbers.

The grabbers ended up needing a bit more tweaking before I was satisfied, and I also needed to do the finishing touches like pushing the framing and binding wires as close to the stone as I could get them. There are times I leave a frame gap, but this was not one of them.

The dolomite had a nice dome to it, which I wanted to show off, so I made sure to take lots of angles when I was taking pictures.
As with all of my pictures I took these with my Galaxy S2. I do most of my post editing in the free program, Photoscape, but I like the collage abilities of the phone app PicsArt the best.. so once I am done with post I use the app to put everything together.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, 1 May 2014

The making of a netted necklace

I think I must be feeling like talking lately.. so here's another post!

I make so many pieces.. I am rather obsessed. I am loving how many firsts I have been going through this last year, though and I think I am okay with it. I do wonder sometimes if anyone else gets 'wire hands' as I call it.. where my hands get very dry from working with metal. I have a couple of things I do to combat.. I use burt's bees hand salve, and sally hansen nail nutrition (green tea + soy cuticle oil). The only problem with them is that they are greasy, and I have to wait a while for them to soak in.. but I have eczema and this really helps. What better time to blog about my passion, then when I am waiting for the oil to soak in!

So here is the making of a netted, aka. dreamcatcher, necklace. :)

The customer asked for a certain style, and since I have not done this style before, I was more than happy to do it! I initially made the frame larger, but after wrapping the crystal I realised the scale was going to be too big, so I scaled it down a little.

The frame is made of 18g raw copper wire.

You can see in this picture, I hammered texture into the frame, not only to make it look cool, but also to harden it.
 I used 24g raw copper wire to make the netting around the frame. Netting is a lot like sewing, and if I am not paying attention, the sewing action puts lots of kinks in my wire. Fortunately I usually notice this happening before I pull it tight. It's an easy fix for a kink if I haven't pulled it tight.. but if I have, the fix usually stiffens and/or weakens the wire.. which is hard to work around without breaking the wire at that point.

The thing I am most careful about with netting is tension. Whether I am working with sinew or with wire, tension on my loops is something I find very important to keep the net from looking lopsided. Wire, however, is a little easier to keep in one spot while you are working.. sinew not so much, not until you pull tight.. before that it requires a lot of finger dexterity.
I stopped here to double check the height of the crystal. Perfect time for a progress shot :)

(pardon this white space.. everywhere else on the page seems to want to cooperate for where I want the text to go, and where I want the pictures to sit.. except for here)
Here is the crystal, mounted on the netting. I did a somewhat messy wrap with it, because I think that seems more organic and flows with the netting and the feathers better. The crystal point is wrapped in 22g wire.

This is with bail, crystal and feathers attached. Next to make the necklace!

 I wanted to keep the cost down so I didn't make all of the chain myself.. I used portions of factory made chain, and made accenting links with more 20g wire and half silver coated swarovski crystal roundels.

(and here)
Here it is on me.. The shirt is a little busy but I usually wear either solid black, solid purple, or loud/busy patterns/colours. What can I say.. I am an artist LOL

I wish on this one that I had remembered to do a light box series of pictures before I sent it off, but I think what I did get shows fairly well how it turned out.

Thanks for reading!