Garnet Stones

With the chillier weather and shortened days, there suddenly seems to be more time to focus on making jewelry. Although I have an endless list of projects, I am constantly taking on new ones. A friend recently asked if I could wrap some beads for her. It sounded like a simple request, until she handed me the beads, a set of faceted garnet stones. They are very beautiful, but only measure 10mm and are not suitable for wrapping. Upon telling her this, she indicated I should surprise her with a different design. The challenge was on!

After several unsuccessful stops at local bead stores, I was unable to find small bezels. I turned to online resources and suddenly was overwhelmed by the numerous types available. After thinking about it, I decided to experiment a little instead. Using round nose pliers, I added texture to some copper discs, shaped them into flowers and placed the garnets in the center. I then formed a large flower out of copper wire and secured the other flowers on top. Once assembled, I applied a heat patina with a butane torch.

Although I like the final result, it’s too large for a pendant:

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Fortunately, the stones were secured with double-sided tape, just in case my experiment didn’t quite work out. Plan B is to make a similar design but with smaller flowers.

I managed to find time to visit the Gem & Mineral Show over the weekend. Although I was there for several hours, I only had a chance to visit about half of the vendors! My niece came with us and had an opportunity to participate in several fun activities. Who knows, she may decide to become a gemologist some day!

The best part about going to these shows, aside from seeing all of the beautiful stones, is  finding something unique. As we were making our way to the exit, I stumbled on some  matt jasper stones. Each one contains a unique pattern, similar to picture jasper but without the opaqueness. The stones are round and oval in shape with flat sides. What a wonderful discovery…they’re perfect for wire wrapping! The below necklaces feature the stones wrapped with hematite colored wire:

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A few other stones were wrapped with copper wire and are waiting for the liver of sulfur patina to be applied.

I have to get back to the beads…

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Geode Pendants

If you were to stumble on a geode while wandering through the desert, you probably wouldn’t even give it a second glance. When fully intact, geodes are round rocks with a rough surface that are often covered in a dusty residue. Quite simply, they look ugly. However, geodes contain hollow cavities that once split open may reveal gorgeous crystals that have taken thousands of years to form.

So what can you do with a geode? I’ve found they make wonderful, unique pendants. When working with them, I clean them then cover the backside with several coats of a matte sealant. Once dry, I wrap them with copper wire and apply a liver of sulfur finish.

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Geodes come in a variety of sizes and they often have slightly irregular shapes. The wire wrapping technique is a good option, as it will adapt to the specific shape of the stone.

Here are some examples of a few large geodes wrapped in this manner and suspended from a simple leather cord:

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Geodes can be paired with coordinating stones, as reflected in this necklace:img_7745

You can find geodes throughout the world in places like the desert, volcanic ash beds and areas where limestone is present. There is no guarantee the center of a geode will contain beautiful crystals, but it’s always fun breaking them open to see what’s inside that has been hidden away for a very long time.

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Jewelry Class at Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts

Teaching others how to make jewelry is a lot of fun and a very rewarding experience. I’ve had many students who were certain they have no artistic skills, but were pleasantly surprised by what they were able to make. I’ve also had cases where the students put their own twist on the design, whether intentionally or by mistake, and make it a truly unique piece. I also learn something new during every jewelry class, which is an added bonus.

I spent a recent Friday morning at the Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts teaching a group of teachers how to make beaded copper bracelets. Not surprisingly, they were all good students. Many were unable to finish their pieces, since we were only allocated an hour for this activity. A few not only finished making their bracelets, they also impressed me with their results. Take a look at these two beautiful bracelets:

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Amongst all of the students, there was one man who also participated in the jewelry class. While working with him, I learned that he has a lot of interests, including woodworking and fixing up cars. He took the time to make a bracelet, as well as a pair of earrings for his wife, a gift she will be receiving on Mother’s Day. I am sure she will be thrilled when opens the box!

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I’ve always enjoyed making things. Being able to share my skills and knowledge with others is exciting. Since handmade jewelry can carry such sentiment, the experience becomes even more special than it otherwise would be if I were to teach some other craft.  I want to send a “thank you” out to Beth, for giving me the opportunity to hold this jewelry class.

On a separate note, this Friday evening kicks off an exciting event for me. Susan Carmen-Duffy, a very talented artist and owner of Create Art 4 Good, will be hosting an exhibit of my work in her studio at The Hungerford! The exhibit will run through May 24th and Susan will donate a portion of the proceeds to Gilda’s Club.

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I hope all of you teachers enjoyed Teachers Day!

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Blessings Bags

If you are a Facebook user, you undoubtedly see all kinds of posts and events flash by as you scroll through your daily feeds. A few weeks ago one of those events caught my eye, Create Blessings Bags, and I had the opportunity to participate. The event sponsor, Susan Carmen-Duffy, is a talented artist and teacher. She is also a positive inspiration to many, as she provides opportunities to help others, and to help oneself while cultivating creativity.

For the event, participants assemble the Blessings Bags by placing donated items, such as snacks, socks, and chap stick in them. Each bag is topped off with a colorful note of encouragement and given to a homeless person. They are small gifts that won’t change their lives, but may bring a smile to their faces.

I so admire Susan and every person who takes time to do good deeds for others. If you live in the Rochester, NY region, check out Susan’s blog and Facebook page for future events of this nature. If you are not able to be there in person, you may consider donating items. She offers many types of art classes, so be sure to take a look at them as well!

May you have a blessed day!

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Copper Sheet Designs

The spring edition of Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine is now available! What an honor to have another necklace (Copper Wire Ball) included in this fine magazine, amongst so many talented artists!

I’ve been working primarily with copper wire for many years. I recently started looking for a way to enhance my pieces. What better compliment to copper wire than copper sheet? Like any new medium, it helped to experiment with it to understand its characteristics. What I discovered is that it can be overworked, as in bending it too much, which makes it “brittle”. Texturizing it with a hammer may result in an uneven surface. The metal edges can become very sharp, so gloves should be worn. Fortunately, those sharp edges can easily be smoothed out by tapping with a hammer and rubbing them with steel wool.

It’s typically recommended to use heavier sheet (22-gauge and below), for necklaces, bracelets and pins. For those gauges, however, use of a jeweler’s saw is necessary. I’m not quite ready for that, so I decided to use metal shears and 24-gauge sheet. Cutting metal is not like cutting paper, since the metal doesn’t separate as readily. The longer or deeper the cut, the more challenging it becomes. What’s worked for me is to cut a larger piece around the design, then cut the details out.

When adding texture, the metal can be annealed beforehand to soften it, or you can just hammer it out with extra force. For those of you with a metal embosser, you may be able to pass 24-gauge sheet through it. Check the manufacturer’s information first to avoid potential damage to the machine, since it may not be suitable for certain gauges.

So what have I made with the copper sheet? I’ve primarily used it as a “backdrop” for large focal beads. The 24-gauge holds up well when used in this manner. Below are pictures of my latest creations. I don’t typically photograph the back sides, but I want to show how the different textures look.

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IMG_5681It’s been a lot of fun working with the copper sheet and I intend to use it in other ways. More to come on that in a future post!

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Labradorite Gemstones

A friend recently asked if I could design a necklace using a white labradorite gemstone as the focal bead.  I have labradorite stones but they’re all different shades of translucent gray stones that can appear blue and green when light diffracts through them. I couldn’t wait to see the white labradorite stone.

In researching the history of labradorite gemstones, I found that missionaries in Laborite, Canada are credited with the discovery of them way back in 1770. These gemstones have since been found in places around the world, including the United States. Labradorite is a mineral composed of many uneven layers of growth that vary in thickness. When light rays pass through the stone, they are refracted by the layers and you may see different colors as a result. Which colors appear depend on the angle of the stone, light source, and other factors that create an effect known as labradoressence. The colors are quite fascinating and beautiful and may even resemble the array of colors seen in a peacock’s feathers.

Labradorite is considered to be a mystical crystal. It’s known to be the most powerful of gemstones in protecting against negative energies, while strengthening and uplifting one’s inner powers of the spirit. It’s associated with many other metaphysical qualities, including physic abilities, and is even seen to have magical powers. I was surprised to learn that labradorite is also used as crushed stone in the construction of roads. I suppose that’s because of it’s durability.

When the white labradorite stone arrived, I questioned what type of stone it was. At first glance, I thought it might be white turquoise or some other white stone. As I held it up to the light, however, I noticed specs of gold and translucent veins that created the iridescent effect as light hit them.

I decided to wrap the stone with copper wire and paired it with purple druzy, white turquoise, green quartzite chip beads, leather cord and other copper components. I prefer to use this wire wrapping technique because it encases the stone without restricting its beauty. I dipped everything but the leather cord into a solution of liver of sulfur to give it the dark patina.

Although these are not professional pictures, they did capture the unique qualities of the labradorite stone.

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I’m pleased with the results of the necklace and happy to have been given the opportunity to work with such a special stone.

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I’ve been very busy making all sorts of jewelry over the past few months, hence the lack of fresh posts on this blog. One of my new goals is to get back on track with keeping this blog up-to-date, so please stay tuned new posts!

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Sea Glass Jewelry

I found this post written over the summer and it was pretty much complete, but for some reason I didn’t publish it before my blogging hiatus began.

Who hasn’t spent time roaming the beach in search of little sea glass treasures? It’s amazing how beautiful a shard of glass becomes when weathered and softened by the sand and water.

If you don’t have access to the beach, or the time to collect sea glass, you can scour your local bead shop for manufactured sea glass. It’s just as pretty and the beads come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. I was fortunate Bead Breakout, in Rochester, NY had a colorful collection available.

Here are some pieces made with opaque sea glass and copper:

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This sea foam green necklace was paired with leather cord and copper:

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When I dipped the first piece in liver of sulfur to achieve the antique finish, I wasn’t sure if it would discolor the glass. Fortunately it didn’t!

Of course the real sea glass you may find doesn’t come with perfectly drilled holes. You can certainly drill some of your own, or you can wrap the glass in wire. Either way, give it a try and transform it into special.

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Druzy Pendant

Have you ever wondered what druzy is?  Well, it’s the outermost layer found on minerals, such as quartz and calcite. Druzy consists of crystals that vary in size and color. They add a layer of sparkle to the stones.  It literally takes millions of years for druzy stones to form. It’s no wonder they are so beautiful.

For this piece, I wrapped a druzy stone in copper wire using the technique in the It’s a Wrap…Wire Wrapping Tutorial…  The necklace consists of hand-forged copper components, crystals and quartz.  A dark patina was applied with liver of sulfur.

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Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine Giveaway – Take 2!

I’m re-posting the Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine giveaway, since there were technical issues with the first one and nobody was able to submit comments.

The contest is being sponsored by the publisher, Stampington & Company and the prize is a copy of the Summer 2015 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine:

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The contest rules are the same as they were for the original post, with the exception of the dates.

Contest Rules:

  • Provide a comment on this blog describing your favorite piece of jewelry and explaining why it’s your favorite.
  • An email address must be provided so the winner can be notified.
  • Recipients must reside in the continental USA and be 18 years of age or older.
  • A single winner will be chosen based on the uniqueness of the submission.
  • All submissions must be entered by August 14, 2015 at midnight, EST.
  • Comments will be reviewed before they are made visible on the blog.
  • Inappropriate comments will be deleted and the submission will be disqualified.
  • The winner will be announced on August 15, 2015 through this blog.
  • The magazine will be mailed to the winner by Stampington & Company.

Please review the Disclosures and Giveaway Policies for further information.

 

I will be hosting more of these in the future, so please stay tuned.

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