Saturday, January 31, 2009

Finished Five New Pieces Today

I was very productive today! This morning I was thinking about what else I could do with those light topaz beads I had used with the blue yesterday. I decided to go for a darker contrast color, and after a bit of pulling out this and that, came up with olivine deep cut nugget Czech glass (I just did a review of this bead and noticed that Artbeads is having a 20% sale on their Czech glass through Feb. 5th - sounds like a great time to stock up!) and garnet (stone) beads.

The spacers are from a necklace I bought 4 or 5 years ago and wore maybe twice in the first year and it's been hanging on my necklace tree ever since. I decided to unstring it and make other jewelry from the parts. I'm not sure what metal the spacers are, but after all these years they're still bright and tarnish free. They're also pretty heavy for their size.

Then I was wondering what else I could make with the olive beads and pulled out some 'green lace stone' (really, that's all it says on the label) and was going around with just those two colors but it lacked something, so I started pulling out more this and that. When I got to the rhodonite beads, I knew I had found what it needed.

The green lace stone came in a set with the squares and small round beads, so I took the round ones, more rhodonite and some pale olive faceted bicones to make the next one. After that I remembered I had some yellow "turquoise" cubes with a diagonally drilled hole and thought those might be interesting with the remaining green lace stone. Again, it needed color, so I pulled out some amethyst glass bicones.

I liked the amethyst and green, so I used the remaining olive glass beads with the amethyst bicones for this last one.

I did some photography and have three of these up on Etsy. Tomorrow, more photography and more listings, possibly more beading. I'd like to know what you think of the photos I used in the listings - if you have a moment, please look and let me know.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sky Blue and Freeway Daisies

The last two nights I've been rather worn out from some long hours on the day job, so I didn't accomplish much and felt even less like blogging. I had the day off today, however, and completed my state sales tax return, and have all my documentation ready for my federal and state income tax, which I have prepared by a local CPA. As soon as my husband's W-2 comes in, I'll be getting that out of the way early this year.

Made a short trip to Michael's to pick up just a couple things I needed to finish some pieces I had started working on and some large sheets of scrapbooking paper to use as backgrounds for photography.

The first piece I needed to finish off with my purchases is this lanyard necklace, made with spiral faceted light sapphire blue Czech glass beads and light topaz faceted bicone glass beads - I started it with pale yellow bicones I had, but there weren't enough of them to make it long enough for a lanyard, so I replaced them with the light topaz ones I bought (enough of) today. It's 29" long, which is a good length for eyeglasses or badges.

The next one I made today, continuing my blue and yellow mood. I knew I wanted to use these translucent pale blue pinched oval beads and bought the transparent light topaz ones to go with them. This one is 32" long.

In both cases, I was thinking about how we're already getting that clear, crisp blue spring sky and the yellow flowers that are already starting to come up in the plantings in front of the house, even though it's still January. I have no idea what they are, we rent and the owner does all the lawn care both in front and in back of the house. The flowers look like a daisy, but are low to the ground and when they're not in bloom, the plant's leaves make a nice year-round green ground cover - I think it's the same plant I've heard called a 'freeway daisy'.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Copper, Cost and Catalogs

I really like designs made with copper. It's a relatively inexpensive metal to work with and the color compliments almost any outfit. The necklace I made tonight was inspired by a one I saw in a catalog, made with white cultured freshwater coin pearls, gold beads and gold tubes, priced at $145 (on sale from $195). I liked the look and wondered what I had that I could use to make something similar and came up with this, 18" long, made from copper beads, tubes and decorated copper disks with steel blue/gray mother of pearl coin beads (click picture to enlarge):

The reason I mention where my inspiration for this came from, is that Dave posted on the Rings & Things blog today about a lapis necklace he saw in the Smithsonian catalog and the huge difference between what it would cost to make it and the catalog price. I found his post an interesting coincidence worth mentioning.

The necklace above, uses $1.80 in copper disks (retail price at local independent bead store), $.80 in copper tubes (wholesale price at Rings & Things), about $1.25 for the copper beads (wholesale price at Rings & Things) and perhaps $3.00 for the mother of pearl coins (purchased retail at Michael's). The lobster claw, Scrimps and wire guardians and about 25" of copper colored Beadalon wire, come to about a dollar (also wholesale cost, various suppliers). Total materials cost, $7.85. Time to complete, around 20 minutes, maybe less if you're not watching TV at the same time, like I was.

My sales price would vary depending on where/how the sale is completed - there are different costs involved in using, say, Etsy vs. selling at a convention or making a face to face sale to a friend or referral. Needless to say, with these materials, etc., it's considerably less than $145.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

With Spring in Mind

We've had cloudy, rainy days for a while, but it's not been too cold and the sun is starting to come out more each day - it's pretty sunny right now. The tree out back thinks it's spring and has started putting out some blooms.

I've started to think about spring as well, and that's what inspired this knotted necklace. I'm using a rose quartz donut, rose quartz oblong nuggets and small round beads, jade beads, Swarovski bicone crystals and glass seed beads. The tassel is made with diamond cut sterling silver curb chain, jade leaves, Swarovski crystals with sterling ball end head pins and a little rose quartz flower.

Here's how it looks draped - it hangs at about the collarbone level on me. I still have some small tweaks to do, specifically, a couple of the jumprings on the tassel need to be closed up a bit.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today's WIP: Vintage Style Earrings

Haven't accomplished much today - found a TV show on Hulu that I wanted to watch, Damages (shown on FX), and I've been catching up to date online.

I did work on something, now and again, while I was watching. They need a little finishing work - couple drops of E6000 here and there - but I don't think I'll add anymore embellishment.

Filigree, chain and shell earring finding, from Accessories Susan, tiny brass bead from Ohio Beads and some champagne colored (not sure what the official name ofthe color is) Swarovski crystals from the Auntie's Beads "Tucson Mix" I bought almost a year ago.

No photography today - too overcast to get enough good natural light.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

New Necklace - Gunmetal and Garnets

First off, thanks to Lisa and Sandi who left very helpful comments on the last few posts, where I asked for input on new photo layouts for my Etsy store. I'd still love to hear from anyone else with an opinion!

Tonight's work in progress is a 3 strand necklace featuring garnet stone beads (I'd link, but the item is not in stock right now) from Artbeads, garnet Czech glass from Shipwreck beads faceted Czech glass bead mix and gunmetal chain from Rings & Things, with antiqued silver bead caps (Artbeads) here and there.

I mentioned the bead assembly technique I used for the garnet stone bead bits on the outer strand in a previous post, and left off there not sure where I wanted to go with the rest of the necklace, but I finally got some inspiration:

It's not finished yet. I need to decide how to finish the part that goes around the neck and fastens. I saw a designer fashion site showing a vintage style necklace that has chain and cameos in the front and then finishes the piece with frayed ribbon ends tied in a bow in back. I'm pretty sure I don't want to do that, but I was thinking about perhaps a silk or satin cord. Will need to ponder.

I also wanted to share links to a couple new jewelry artist sites I found today - beautiful stuff, so I hope you'll book mark them, too!

Bev's Jewelry
- the chain maille necklace profile picture is really striking - and she has a blog, too.
Then there's Naked Jewelry, by Sally Jewett-Brocato who I discovered on Twitter.

Happy weekend!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Photo Background Ideas

Pulled out a couple new background ideas, shown at thumbnail size - these have texture but because they're white and beige, would they be better than using color or pattern?

Here's a set showing the different uses, but flat instead of on a bust like the ones shown in my previous post.

Here's another idea I had, in 3 versions - does adding the bag (just for the teaser shot) detract?

Comments appreciated!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More on Etsy Photos

Here's a new lanyard and a bit of a different take on the "teaser" picture - approximately shown the same size as on Etsy.

And here are the thumbnails:

I kind of like the "teaser" picture, but is it too busy?

Here's my newest necklace - aquamarine roundelles and polished large chips in sections created with sterling wire, sterling beads, connected with sterling jump rings and finished with a hand made sterling wire hook clasp. It's 26" long. The section shown at the bottom of the first picture features sets of stone and sterling beads with wrapped wire loops at the bottom of the necklace. The end picture features the simple loops and single stones that go around to the back of the neck.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Help Me Choose Photo Display for My Etsy Site

I definitely need help creating attention getting, attractive photographs for my jewelry/lanyards. I've played around with a lot of ideas - some were ok, others were really not good.

So, what to do. Etsy allows 5 pictures. I show 4 views of my lanyards - with a badge, with an ID pouch and with glasses (unless the lanyard is too heavy for them) and a "teaser" shot. These line up as thumbnails to the right of a larger picture over the item text. Here's a set with all the shots in the same size as the thumbnails on Etsy. I find these boring, but what would liven up the images and not detract from the item on display? You can click on them to see the larger image, too.

I like the idea of a simple photo set up, I'm just not sure how simple to go, yet not be boringly plain. The pictures below are some test ideas I had, and they're shown at about the size of the thumbnails.

What works for you? If none, what would you suggest?

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Musing on Creativity

Yesterday my husband and I went to see Jonathan Coulton in concert in San Francisco, so no post. Although I did some minor additions to other work and a bit more organizing, no beading of substance was accomplished yesterday. The concert was wonderful though and I saw a couple of folk who are pretty well known in science fiction and tech circles at the concert too.

My husband opened the mailbox just before we got in the car and pulled out Saturday's mail - somehow we just forgot to check it the day before. Waiting in the box were some aquamarine roundelle beads from Artbeads (along with a few other goodies I just had to get). I didn't open them in the car, and we got home late, so I didn't open the box until this morning. I had a few things I wanted to do today outside of the workroom, so I didn't started working with them until fairly late this evening.

I decided to use all sterling bits with the aquamarine, so this will feature sterling beads, different sized sterling roundelle spacers, sterling oval jump rings and sterling 20 gauge wire along with the roundelles and some polished chips I already had. Here is the first six inches:

I don't claim any specific inspiration for this piece from the concert, but Coulton is inspiring - he has gone and done what he loves to do and makes a living doing it. It surely hasn't been easy, but it seems like he's having fun. It was certainly a lot of fun listening (and often singing along) last night. It would certainly be great if all of us who create with our hands could find our audiences and make a decent living with our crafts.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Non-creative Side of Business

Today I did paperwork. Got my sales and expenses spreadsheet all finished up from my saved receipts and other docs. Went to the online state sales tax site to see if I could do my taxes online, but it wouldn't accept my info. Will have to call the franchise tax board on Tuesday (Monday is a state holiday).

Then I went upstairs to read for a while and fell asleep and got up a couple hours ago. I worked on a couple of my pieces in progress - a knotted one with rhodonite and ecru Gudebrod FFF silk, and a jump ring chain and howlite necklace and a byzantine chain. I've moved back and forth as I felt like it on these for a while now. The byzantine chain in particular will take a while to finish. All of these reflect how much I like tiny stuff, which is why I put the quarter there. I usually prefer to work with 3 and 4mm beads, tiny bead caps, tiny jump rings. I have to wear a stronger pair of reading glasses for working with the tiny jump rings.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Icky, Mean, Nasty, "What, you again??" Cold Hampers Beading Efforts

Yep, fought off one cold, got another one with barely a week of fair health between. That it was annoying, is the understatement of the month. I've been in a congestion related brain fog for several days and not very inspired or motivated on the beading front. Feeling a bit better today, though, and looking forward to a three day weekend.

First off, thank you to Dave (a frequent commenter here) from Rings & Things for mentioning me on the Rings & Things blog! I took a much nicer picture of the gunmetal and gray pearl necklace he features, in my "studio" (situated in my college-attending daughter's bedroom while she's away at school). I hope he'll replace the other one with this:

I love working with the gunmetal chain I got. Not only is the black chain striking all on it's own, so it's great for pendants, but designing around a different color than the standard silver and gold, leads to interesting new ideas. By pairing the gunmetal chain with "antiqued" finished bead caps or spacers, I keep the color scheme complimentary, but can use things I already have in my supplies and not have to go buy more gunmetal bits. This is important right now, as I'm trying to be thrifty about new beading purchases (although I will, eventually, stock up).

I'm currently working on something using garnet beads (the stone, not just the color garnet) and I'm really loving the way it's coming together. I've always liked garnets and the darker, blue-ish shades of red. My birthstone is ruby, but aside from price, ruby is often too pink or too bright red to go with my wardrobe which is based on 'cool' colors that compliment my skin tone.

When I picked out my High School ring, I had a choice of a synthetic ruby (which I recall not liking because it was very pink) or a real garnet, and the dark red, faceted stone was perfect. I still get wistful about that ring, btw, because it was stolen out of my jewelry box many years ago and never recovered. It was 10k white gold, so I assume it was pawned or sold and melted down. If you ever see a ladies size 5 or 6, white gold with faceted garnet stone, Desert High School (Edwards AFB - the ring has the Edwards AFB insignia on one side - scroll down a bit on the linked page to see, and my name engraved in my handwriting inside) class of '75 ring for sale, let me know!

More to the point, and back to the future, I have a number of burgundy shells and sweaters to wear with my suits - and burgundy goes with black, gray, brown or, and really nicely with, navy blue.

At first I thought I'd use eye and head-pin connections for my work-in-progress, then I decided to experiment. For this piece I used black Soft Flex 21 strand .014 beading wire crimped into the chain.

One of the reasons I decided to use the Soft Flex was that I have only a few eye and head pins left in gunmetal. The other is that the diameter of the hole in the smaller garnet beads is very small and the pins I have are too large. Even so, I have to use a bead reamer (very, very carefully so as not to crack the bead) to slightly enlarge the hole, as to finish attaching the set of threaded beads to the chain, I need to double back into the bead before closing the crimp.

Now that I've gotten this far, I'm pondering where I want to go next. Is this going to be a long necklace, will I shorten it and drape multiple chains, is this the start of an eyeglass leash (that's kind of where I was going when I set up the two matching parts where they are, but I'm not sure that's what I really want to do, now)...?

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here You Go, Dave!

In a recent comment, Dave from Rings and Things said he was looking forward to seeing something I made with items in the order I had talked about in the post.

Tonight I decided I wanted to make a necklace with the gunmetal chain, gray freshwater pearls and gray (probably died) mother of pearl disks. I also used gunmetal finished eye pins, and a gunmetal finished filigree link.

I thought I'd beat my holiday cold, but today I started to get a scratchy throat again, so it might be coming back or I've picked up a new one, and if I get sick I might not feel up to either beading or writing about it if I do. If I don't post for a couple days, you'll know the reason.

Update! This was one of the things that found a home at the Potlatch SF convention I went to Feb 27 - Mar 1 of 2009. The buyer was someone who wears beautiful vintage clothes and this style and the gunmetal really appealed to her.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Adding Lanyards to New Necklaces

You may recall a post about a necklace, bracelet and earring set I made with "camouflage" stone (still don't know what kind of stone that is - and I would love to get more of it). I made a matching lanyard so I could wear the set to work. The lanyard is quite long at 35" but works beautifully as a proximity reader badge (no need to swipe it, just get it in front of the reader at about 2 - 3" distance and it's recognized) lanyard - not much need to bend to get the badge lined up with the reader. I used the same metal spacers and camo stone, added black Czech glass druk beads and gold plated seed beads.

Then I decided to match the knotted blue necklace (outside) with a lanyard (inside) using the same larger pinched bead and druk beads, but no seed beads. It also includes the silver plated bead caps and seed beads. It's 32" long.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Beading Update

Between watching all 17 episodes of the 1960s series The Prisoner online on AMC and listening to Man in the Dark on audiobook, while I beaded, and other non-beading distractions, I again didn't get to posting about my works in progress over the last few here are some pictures.

Friday night and some of Saturday, I worked on some knotted strands with peach beads on white Silkon thread. The rice beads have a soft feel to them, definitely not glass, maybe resin or acrylic? I liked the color and sheen when I saw them at Global beads, so I bought a bunch. On the top strand I used them, two shades of glass and two light peach shades in seed beads size 11/0 and 6/0 from Dyna-Mites. The second strand is just the rice beads and the third strand is just the seed beads.

Then, on Saturday, I worked on this necklace with aventurine beads, gold plated bead caps and disk spacers on black FFF Gudebrod silk.

And today, I strung this extra long strand (about 116 inches total) with all kinds of glass beads, including Swarovski bicones, and copper on white Silkon thread. (click for larger image to see details). Because of its length, it can be worn a number of ways, included twisted with an 'S' clasp to fasten.

My workspace is slowly getting organized, but I still have a long way to go.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Bit of Success, a Bit of Failure, but Learning Is Always Like That, Isn't It?

Lots of experimentation going on trying to figure out small things. I've broken a couple calottes trying to finish off a knotted necklace - I need to bend them back fairly far to get a good tight knot but when I bend them back to close the calotte, they break at the hinge. Either I need to find stronger calottes or figure out how to get the knot flush without opening it too far.

In the process of experimenting I've wasted a bit more silk thread than I would have liked, as well, since getting the knots un-done isn't worth the effort sometimes so I just cut at the knot and start over. Now and then I'll search the web for tutorials and hints, but mostly it's just trial and error, patience and persistance.

I have found that nail polish at the tip of the thread makes the beading easier since I don't use a needle. I have also tried beeswax, which doesn't always work with the smallest beads, since it seems to come off and cause a bit of blockage as it's going through smaller beads, but does keep the tip from fraying.

Got a package from Rings & Things today with some gunmetal chain, assorted 4mm Czech glass spacer disks and assorted pressed Czech glass shell beads, which I thought would be fun for summer lanyards.

Between experiments and the day job extending into my evenings, I've missed a few days updating, I'll try not to do that too much.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Another Pleasant Evening With My Beads and Thread

Sitting down to listen to Emma and work on this necklace was a very relaxing finish to my first day back to work. It was busy enough today that I was very glad to have nothing more complicated to do tonight than pull out some beads and start stringing and tying them into a simple necklace.

Unfinished, it's 22" long, and was created from some milky, translucent, light blue pinched oval Czech glass beads, opaque light blue seed beads and light sapphire blue Czech glass druk beads. Small silver plated pewter bead caps and seamless silver beads for accent. The thread I used is white nylon Silkon.

My Christmas gift card order, a gift from my son, came from Artbeads today. It's always fun to get new things and I used the gift card to spoil myself a bit with a number of gold filled beads, headpins, eye pins and jumprings in various sizes and gauges, that I wouldn't have otherwise indulged myself with. I also bought some lovely sterling chain, three metal stamps and a tube of Magic-glos. I look forward to trying out the Magic-glos to make a small charm or pendant, although I think I'll get a UV light to cure it - the days are pretty overcast and often rainy right now to have to cure it with sunlight, as I've read is one option.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tomorrow, It's Back to the "Real World"

Vacation has come to an end - I look back somewhat wistfully, but gratefully, on my time off. My children were home; Christmas, I think, did not disappoint anyone too much, and certainly not me as I had all I could want and more.

Getting back to the reality of the day job will be a bit challenging, as I have so immersed myself in those habits and luxuries one is able to when their time is all, and only, their own. Sleeping in and staying up late will not be possible for many months as I have used up all my vacation time and will need to let it accrue before I can take more than an hour here or there if necessary for appointments. It's at the end of a prolonged vacation, like this has been, that I wish I had been foresightful when younger, and saved up for an early 'retirement' and could dedicate these years after turning 50 exclusively to the creative and enjoyable things I love most.

A few things I had thought to accomplish during my time off, I did not rouse myself to do, so next weekend or the next few evenings, I will have to take time for them - there are deadlines that must be met for things like the final 2008 accounts for taxes. Other things are not so urgent, but still need to be done if I want to increase my chances of more success in 2009.

So, before I go to bed and truly end my vacation, I'll share the work I accomplished today - I'm really enjoying making knotted necklaces much more than I thought I would and finished three strands today and am nearly done with a fourth.

These three may be made into a triple strand necklace - haven't decided yet. All are crafted from Czech glass beads (except for the seed beads, and I have no idea where they were made, having long discarded the original containers) strung on black size FFF Gudebrod silk.

The next is made with black ceramic tubes, embellished with yellowish-ecru designs, found at Global Beads quite a while ago, round shell donut beads strung through the center with black Czech glass disks, two sizes of black druk beads and small black seed beads to keep the knots from slipping through the rather large holes. I used Create Compliments #2 nylon thread, doubled, as the stringing material, needing something thin enough to go through the holes in the shell donuts but strong enough to carry the weight of the ceramic beads without stretching - so I hope the label "Super Strength, No Stretch" lives up to its promise.

Good night, all. Here's hoping we have pleasant dreams and a trouble-free Monday!

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Clear Glass and Nylon Knotted Necklaces

I found some white #1 Silkon nylon thread I'd bought some time ago and decided to get out some of my clear glass beads to practice my knotting with. This first one uses clear fluted and smaller Czech glass druk beads with tiny teal glass seed beads on the first and third strands of it, and the fluted glass druks with Czech pressed glass flower beads and is finished with chain (the first strand was made on too little string, so I knew I'd have to make all three short and then extend them all by chain) and a toggle clasp.

For the second, I used frosted Czech glass druk beads in 6mm and 4mm sizes, interspersed with iridescent glass seed beads. At the center, I placed some silver plated pewter bead caps and hung a pendant between them on an eyepin, a frosted glass disk bead, a silver (probably base metal, no indication it was silver plate, either) filigree medallion made of two one sided disks, and another frosted glass bead on a head pin.

I'm not overly happy with my finishing work, as I was sure that the knots inside the callotes I used to finish the strands and attach them to the final components, would slip from them, I put a drop of bead fix in them - sometimes the drop was larger and leaked, so some of the strands are messy. I don't know if I can polish them up much, so these will probably always be for my own use.

I've listened to almost all of Jane Eyre as I have worked. The combination of knotting (and probably any other beading) and listening to an audio book seems to be a good one.

Still some organizing to do - I think I want to get some bookshelves or perhaps some modular storage units to improve the work area, I had considered doing it today, but I didn't find the energy. Perhaps tomorrow, but maybe it will have to wait for next weekend, as I'm still fighting the stubborn cold I got around Christmas.

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