Connection. It’s been an interesting concept this year as we have socially distanced from our friends and community during the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve had to find different ways to connect and socialize, and it has been somewhat of a roller coaster for me. I am so thankful that my family likes being together and we like being home. And with the change in our normal schedule I lost a lot of the creative juices I normally have. Eventually I started coming up with ideas of things to try out, like exploring watercolor and pretty papers set under the magnifying properties of doming resin. Connectors! I liked the idea of creating artisan components for my tutorials crowd, my fellow makers, instead of finished jewelry pieces. Connectors to link together wrapped-loop bead links or be the focal point on a strand of beads. (Click those links for free tutorials, by the way).
I started back when it was just starting to feel like summer with sundresses and fishing off the dock, but now we’re in the dog days and I’m itching for fall feels like olive green and copper. Yes, it took me months to get inspired and carve out time with my kids home to put together a grouping of custom bezels with cute designs and colors, to take the leap of that first epoxy pour that would make or break all the effort put in up to that point. Not everything turned out the way I liked, but I thought I’d put these out there to see what the response is like.
Click here to see my current collection of jewelry components, both pendants and connectors.
Historically I tend to make whatever jewelry designs I feel like at the moment. Maybe I find a strand of gorgeous turquoise or I have a wire design in my head that I want to work into a sampler link necklace. This game plan offers a ton of flexibility for me because I can explore lots of different techniques from etching and metalwork to silver, copper, and polymer clays. Sometimes I can combine different skills in one piece, like soldering custom bezels to showcase pretty papers under protective resin. This is something I had been playing around with in my head while I was on hiatus in Sweden, and after moving into my new studio space this fall I got to play around with different soldering methods (soldering iron, torch) and be reunited with my paper collection after it had been tucked away in storage while we were gone.
Unfortunately I realized that my epoxy resin needed to be replaced before filling the bezels, so while that was on order I got to work doing what I “should be” doing. You see, not having many design boundaries leads to an eclectic look when you see lots of my pieces together, but jewelry tends to sell better when there is a cohesive look to the display. So the designs I planned while brainstorming and playing with wire in Sweden finally came to fruition this month. I wanted to create pieces that were a little less funky and chunky, more modern and sleek so they would be able to layer together nicely and appeal to customers who tend to wear delicate jewelry.
The simple designs are a lower price point and allow me to create when I can fit it into my family’s schedule. The Simplicity Collection is available by clicking here. My favorite piece right now is this sweet little bow I form from wire and hammer for dimension.
I love birds. My husband kind of scowls but laughs whenever I bring anything else bird-themed into our house. (He gave me bird things for Christmas, though, so I think he’s catching on that they’re not going anywhere.) And bird stuff is everywhere, so apparently I’m not the only one who loves it. Again this year I did some bird-inspired pieces in my spring collection for Simply Charming Boutique.
Of course there has to be a little pink & green for our beloved Apple Blossom Festival, too.
Brenda (from the shop) encouraged me to do some more artisan-looking pieces like my Elements line
, so there is a larger presence of wirework…
…and birthstone stacking rings that are made to order.
I also played around with some empty sterling bezels on copper. I could fill them with polymer clay or resin, but I liked how they looked with just the metal.
It happened again! I have a project going (okay, 19 projects going) and remembered to take a picture on a Wednesday. Embellished discs…
I resisted the urge to clean up the periphery because I want you to see the chaos in which I thrive. If I have everything put away my work space seems cold and uninspiring. When I have things around I often get ideas that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, simply by seeing components unintentionally sitting together on my bench. So if you can’t tell, my current project is those four wooden discs which I spray-painted black. Then I coated the top with adhesive sealant, punched circles from an old book of poetry, and sealed the top.
Now the decision… I want to put doming resin on top of that, but I also want to have riveted holes. Do I put the resin on the disc, then drill through once it is cured? Or do I drill & rivet the holes first and then pour the resin around those? Something tells me this will still be sitting on my bench in February, waiting for me to experiment.
I brought a new collection of jewelry downtown to Simply Charming Boutique, so if you’re in Winchester, Virginia go have a look! For everyone else, here are some highlights. Some themes are lampwork, brass & copper, orange-y red, and electroplated leaves. It’s hard to hide my excitement for fall…
My jewelry pal, Cindy Wimmer, has just announced the schedule for the 2011 ArtBliss workshops in Northern Virginia. Click here for more information. Registration opens this Saturday and classes have been known to sell out!
Hi, gang! It’s been a busy spring here in my studio, on account of the miserable weather we’ve had. A new collection of pieces is looking happy at the shop downtown…
I’ve also been able to work on some other projects like…
…the PMC Round Box Pendant tutorial! It is a pretty simple and straightforward design, but I take you through step-by-step with little tips on things to look out for along the way. I also show you how to modify the design to make your own resin blanks.
This is a snippet from a map of Gothenburg, Sweden, in case you’re wondering.
More tutorials are in the works! See that pair of flower bud earrings up there? Hint, hint.
Auntie’s Beads recently contacted me to try some of their products in exchange for telling all of you wonderful people about them. Lately I’ve been yearning to try some more resin projects, so I chose several of their glue-in-and-glaze charms on this page
. They are plated instead of solid precious metal, which means they are a bargain and yet have a nice weight to them.
One of the other resin blanks I used during this round of resin is one I made from scraps of PMC. It has French script on the back and I traced around it on rice paper to get the right size of insert. Another option is to use a paper punch if you’re using calibrated bezel cups. Or, Auntie’s Beads offers a template card
for sale so you don’t have to guess while cutting a paper for, say, the oval glue-in-and-glaze charms.
I was more interested in getting the project finished than I was in the aesthetics of each piece, but I did try including some seed beads and a sprinkling of fine glitter. On our trip to Savannah I found an awesome art supply store and picked up some Japanese decorative paper
, so I inculded some of that as well.
The charms from Auntie’s Beads are pretty shallow, so there’s not a lot of room in the well to hold 3-dimensional found objects, but it also means it won’t use up a lot of resin volume like the die-cut bezel cup pictured here. If you’re just using decorative paper or photographs, they would work great. Another benefit of the glue-in-and-glaze charms is that they come as links, ready to make into jewelry when the resin dries. For these sterling bezel cups I have to solder on rings, and that’s just a pain.
I use Colores doming resin from Rio Grande, which is a two-part non-yellowing epoxy with a long open time so you can mess around with your design before it cures. Resin is all the rage in Jewelry World right now and next I think I want to try UV resin. No careful mixing, no waiting all night for it to cure. It costs more, but considering I’ve used about half an ounce of the huge bottles I have, that shouldn’t be a big deal.
I liked how the charms from Auntie’s Beads turned out. Like I said, they are inexpensive and have a nice weight to them, and they have rings attached so these are all ready to link into a design.
is another trend right now in Jewelry World, and in some of these pieces I included some watch gears I found on eBay years ago.
I also have some decorative brads from the scrapbook aisle that are in the shape of keyholes, but they are hollow and lightweight so I thought they would be good candidates for resin.
I snipped off the brad parts and, since they have holes already, stuck them to a piece of packing tape so the resin wouldn’t leak out. And because their holes are now closed I drilled through the resin with my Dremel in order to link these components to other things. I could have placed brass tubing for the holes and “resin’ed” around it, but it seemed like a hassle to keep things from moving around with wet epoxy in the equation. My only complaint about the tape-back method is that it gave sort of a matte finish on the back instead of the shiny clear on the top side.
It’s that time of year… The holidays are over, there are pockets of warm days surrounded by blustery cold, and I’m yearning for spring. This is the time of year I start on my spring line, and especially now that I have a little one it’s important to start early or it becomes summer before I know it.
I’m experimenting with “new” media like doming resin and polymer clay. Oh, I’m no stranger to polyclay, but it’s come a long way since I was working with it as a teenager. While cleaning out the storage room in my parents’ basement I came across my old box of Sculpey. So I experimented with some simple textured pendants and bird eggs and it’s still good after 20+ years. And mixing 2-part epoxy reminds me of helping my dad with his model train layout when I was a kid. We didn’t get the mixing quite right, so part of the river was sticky after curing. This time around I’m aware of tricks like using a flame to encourage air bubbles to pop, and testing the leftover epoxy in the cup (instead of getting fingerprints on my pendants) to see if it’s cured.
Here are some of the components I have gathered to make into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings for spring.
Along with spring in the Shenandoah Valley comes the Bloom. Everyone wears pink and green to celebrate the apple blossoms, so here is the start of my collection for Simply Charming Boutique. Fortunately in recent years the rest of the country has had a love affair with that color combination, so there is some wonderful lampwork to be had.
If you see something you like in either photo, just email me for pricing and availability.