Monday, May 20, 2013

May Earring Swap Blog Hop Reveal

Today was supposed to be the reveal for a May Earring Swap Blog Hop hosted by Jessica Murray of Whimsical Monkey Artisan Jewelry. However, on Friday a few bad apples harassed her about the few rules that there were (3 people, really?) and she canceled the reveal with a very bad taste in her mouth. Many of us decided to go ahead and post about the earrings we sent and received, and I decided to do so as well.

My partner was Marde Lowe of FanciMar Designs. We exchanged emails and I checked out her web page and Facebook page, but she said she wasn't sure she had a personal style, so I sort of went on my own for designs. On to my favorite place for inspiration, Pinterest!

I found a wire wrapped earring I really liked on a Hungarian website (pinned here) - a lot of the blog posts had photo tutorials on them, but this post just had a link that no longer went anywhere (sigh). But by checking the comments, I found out the design was based on a PIPA Chinese knot. With that, I ran a Google search and found an illustrated knot site for the PIPA Chinese knot that I could follow here. After about 2 practice rounds with 16 gauge Copper, I actually made earrings that were the same size and didn't have a ton of tool marks on them! I topped them with a multicolor lampwork bead and a light blue Swarovski bicone. I put them on long kidney wire hooks to finish them.

Because most blog hoppers send extras, I made a second pair too, with Czech beads. They are in Copper too, but a more simple style (my fingers couldn't handle any more wire work, LOL). I made a swirl on the front of the diamond striped beads but that's as fancy as I got. Still, I think they're pretty nice!

Marde sent me 2 beautiful blue pairs of earrings! I really like the dangle earrings. Better watch out for me when I wear those Evil Eye ones, too.

I am still including the list of original participants. Like I said, many of them planned to still post, but not all. Hopefully you will see a few earrings if you pop around!

Inge von Roos:
Nancy Smith:
Miranda Ackerley:
Shelley Graham Turner:
Ginger Davis Allman:
Mary Anne Flesch:  **You are here
Nicole Valentine Rimmer:
Stephanie Weiss:
Spun Sugar Beadworks:
Tania Spivey:

Facebook Pages:
Beccy Peterson: Beccy's Baubles
Ani Forsyth: Veil Dancer
Marde Lowe: FanciMar Designs

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I recently met a local beader via Facebook (Judy Y.) and we have met and talked a few times. I love making resin pieces, and she had never tried it out, so she asked me to teach her how. We met last Saturday at her house for our session.

I am amazed at how many jewelry/beady people I talk to on Facebook that are afraid of resin! It is one of the easier things I have tried.

Here are the supplies you need: Two part epoxy resin (brands include Ice Resin, Easy Cast), Mod Podge or Elmer's Glue, bezel, photo sized to the bezel frame or scrapbook paper, measuring cup, stir stick, scissors, paint brush, protection for your work surface (in this case the rest of the piece of paper from which we cut the photo). Optional supplies: oval punch, fixative spray (if you are using an image from an Inkjet printer).

Some of the supplies we used for Resin Day
This particular bezel doesn't have a great finish on it and I've had issues with the resin causing the brass to turn green, so I coated it with clear fingernail polish before I got to Judy's house.

Judy scanned and resized this photograph of her mother before I arrived. She has an Inkjet printer, so I brought along my Krylon Workable Fixatif spray sealant. It prevents the ink from smudging, takes only a quick spray or two, and dries in about 10-15 minutes.

You always want to coat any image or paper that you want to put under resin. Otherwise, the resin will bleed through in spots, darkening the paper only in certain areas. It's not a nice look (ask me how I know)! I use Mod Podge to coat my images, usually 2 coats. Judy coated the images and we let it dry about 10 minutes between coats.
Judy coats the image with Mod Podge; the original photo is in the upper left corner
Judy had purchased Ice Resin in a plunger-style container, so that is what we worked with. The most important thing is to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PACKAGE EXACTLY, regardless of what brand you purchase! Different brands have very different directions, so be sure to read and re-read so you following them to the letter. That will be the biggest key to success with resin.  If you purchase a two part resin, get a measuring cup to ensure that you get equal parts. I have mis-mixed, and the results are not pretty. It's better to dump the whole thing than bother pouring it and waste bezels, artwork, your time, etc.

The Ice Resin instructions say to push the plunger into a container, mix for 2 minutes, then let them sit for 5 minutes to let the bubbles settle. I strongly recommend that you use a timer to make sure. It's amazing how long 2 minutes seems when all you're doing is stirring...

Push, stir...
...and wait.

While we were waiting, we glued the now-dried and coated photo into the bezel. Again, you can use Mod Podge to do this. You only need a very little bit, you shouldn't see any white areas - if so, you have too much Mod Podge on the bezel.  Burnish or push down the edges of the image into the corners of the bezel.  We used the opposite end of our stir stick. BE CAREFUL, the image is wet and will want to tear.

After the resin sat for 5 minutes, it was time to pour. Judy asked me where to pour - usually you pour right into the middle, seeing how the resin flows, and adjust where you are pouring. If you can see in the photo below, it was pooling toward the top, so she adjusted toward the bottom of the bezel. POUR SLOWLY. You don't want to get to this point and overpour!!

Pouring resin..go slowly!

Bubbles are inevitable. You can get rid of them in several ways - a pin or headpin, a lighter, blowing through a straw, blowing directly on the bezel.  I usually use a pin, or blow directly on the bezel. You blow with an open mouth, like you are warming up your hands on a cold day - NOT like you are cooling down your soup! It is the carbon dioxide we exhale that pops the bubbles.  You always carry your warm breath with you, but you may or may not have a pin, lighter, or straw handy.  You really have about 4-5 hours to pop bubbles.  After about an hour or so, you must use a pin to pop the bubbles; the resin has gotten too thick to blow them away.

Resin is self-doming; it has enough surface tension to dome on its own. Here is a side view of the bezel after Judy poured all the resin in. We made just enough!

Side view of newly poured resin
That's it...all that's left to do at this point is wait. The resin will cure hard to the touch in 24 hours, and will totally cure in 72 hours. Resin definitely works better in warmer weather, so now through the end of summer is perfect resin-pouring time!
Judy finished her necklace this morning, and here is the finished product. Do you see any bubbles? I don't - looks like Judy blew the all away.

Red was her mother's favorite color, so she made sure to use red beads in the necklace. She has an heirloom she can wear around her neck, to remember her mother at all times!
I hope you that this tutorial will encourage you to give resin jewelry a try!

Judy's finished necklace - an heirloom she created herself!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brass Bezel Bleedthrough

My 9th grade teacher would be so proud of my alliterative title! I can't remember her name, but I can see her in my head - a short, round woman with dark hair who couldn't believe how ignorant we were about grammar. Anyway...

I had some brass bezels on hand, and I purchased some Mod Podge Dimensional Magic at the new Joann Fabrics store that recently opened in Columbia, MO. I wanted something for quick narrow bezel fills and I had read about this product - I used a 50% off coupon so I could give it a try.

This was about 2 weeks ago, so I decided on a St. Patrick's day theme.  I cut an oval out of shamrock paper glued it down and filled it up with Dimensional Magic, waited overnight.  The next morning, it was a MESS. The ink bled through! Ugh! I didn't take a photo of that because the idea to blog about didn't come to me until after I took it apart.

When I stripped everything apart, it wasn't the ink on the paper that had bled, it was the brass on the bezel that had turned green. The pink arrows point out the greenest part but it still may be hard to see. But it was obvious in person.
Ugh! Green!
I scrubbed and sanded it clean, then coated the bezel with clear fingernail polish. Not sure if you can see the coat of clear polish either, but here is what the cleaned-up bezel looks like.
After a coat of clear nail polish
The nail polish was just what I needed. The next pour worked perfectly! I topped the shamrock paper with a 3D glitter shamrock sticker, and coated it again with Dimensional Magic. I made 2 this time, and the results turned out just like I wanted! 
Finished bezel pendants

This product won't totally replace using two-part epoxy resin, for one thing it is not self-leveling. But for quick little pendants like this, it works well. I hope this little coating tip helps you when you are working with raw metal bezels.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finally Done, and not Overdone

My last blog post described my "One step too many" heart, and how I went overboard by adding one more thing. The second time, I stopped before I overdid it.

I finally finished the heart and the necklace design yesterday - too late for Valentine's Day, but that's OK.

Brass Heart Pendant
I purchased the plain brass heart pendant, and then embossed it with my Sizzix BigKick machine. I used a Cuttlebug folder for a more geometric look (the Vintaj decoemboss and decoetch folders are great, but I wanted something different). Then I added alcohol ink and Vintaj patinas, extra-fine black glitter, sealed it with Vintaj Patina Glaze, and embellished with Swarovski flatback crystals in a lavendar color.

Originally I wanted to make it into a true lariat necklace, but it didn't hang like I wanted, so I put a Brass toggle clasp in the front instead. I debated on putting the dangles in front of the heart or the back, but in the end I chose the back because it was distracting from the heart too much. The rest of the chain has one AB finish lavendar faceted crystal on one side, and three purple dyed jasper rondelle beads on the other.
Pendant, clasp and chain
I decided to make matching earrings match the dangles that hang behind the heart. <rant> Man, making loops on 2-4mm faceted beads is a KILLER on my thumbs! I have got to find a new method because I am pushing directly on the facets when I bend my wires and it just hurts. </rant>  The large bead at the top of the earrings is the dyed jasper on the left side (facing) of the chain, and the dangles are the same beads as the ones that dangle from the hearts. They are not only a great match, but they are lightweight and will work great worn with or without the necklace.

Matching Dangle Earrings
You can see both items in my Etsy shop: Necklace and Earrings. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just one more...

Have you ever had a piece nearly perfect when you decided to try one more thing?
Yes, here I am with my trusty (used) toothbrush and nail polish remover scrubbing everything OFF the embossed heart that was almost finished because I wanted to add something else.

And guess what? It was too much. But at least now I know where to stop.

Stay tuned for Round 2...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wellness Words Jewelry Challenge

Today's post is about Tracy Statler's Wellness Words Jewelry Challenge from her blog Make Bracelets! I love all of Tracy's blog posts and it's one of the few that I follow - I usually learn something from each one of them and I look forward to getting and email that there is a new one to read.

Tracy's challenge was to come up with an inspirational word or phrase in an area of your life where you want to make positive change. My word: Persist.  I have been working on finishing things that I start!

I knew I wanted to stamp my word on a strip of brass, which I had on hand. Another word I could have used - "Practice," because good, clear, even stamping isn't one of my strengths. You can probably tell by the position of the I.

Friday night was a prime example of persistence. I waited until the last minute finish this necklace (maybe my phrase should have been "Stop Procrastinating") and I thought about just saying to heck with the deadline. I mean, I had the phrase piece done. But I stuck with it for once!

However, it was too late to get a good photo. There is always a hitch, isn't there? So you are getting the best photo I could take tonight. I promise to get a better photo of the whole necklace, because it looks pretty good and there's lots more goodies to see than just this section.

EDITED: I'm back with more photos of the rest of the necklace. Originally, I was going to have the "Persist" Brass segment hang from the art bead and then the dangles hang from that, but it turned out way too long and in the end, I like it as part of the necklace anyway. The brass flowers were a plain connector that I colored with Vintaj Patinas and Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol Inks.The remainder of the necklace is finished with a combination of Picasso finish beads and Tiger Eye tube beads on the left, and Brown Glass bead, a polka-dot Lampwork Art bead, and Blue Peruvian Opal stick beads on the right.  The back end of the necklace ends with a brass chain and a toggle (OK fine! It *will* end with a chain and toggle, I promise!)

Complete necklace (left); Pendant and Dangle detail (right)

Please visit everyone else who participated in this challenge.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dried Flower & Resin Pendant

I have a pinched nerve in my neck right now. Besides the obvious "pain in the neck" jokes, it is keeping me from creating anything new. Talk about a hardship for the creative soul! So I am blogging about a piece of jewelry that I created in the Fall.

I have mentioned before that we are lucky to have a neighborhood park within walking distance to our house. Before Winter set in, I would walk Mo (our 2-year-old Bassett-Cockapoo mix) around the trail. Yes, I am a fair weather walker. What can I say?
Mo, my walking partner
In one corner of the park were an abundance of dried flowers in a beautiful deep red color. They were perfect for a resin pendant! I collected several at the end of one of our walks and headed back home. I wanted to make the pendant right away so that the color didn't have time to fade.

I used a flexible resin mold that I got from Hobby Lobby with one of their 40% off coupons. I like it because there is a large assortment and the resin releases easily from the mold.
Hobby Lobby assorted shapes mold; oval shape I used is in lower left corner
I mixed up the Easy Cast resin according to the package directions. I poured a small amount of resin into the mold first (I did this is to prevent the dried flowers from projecting out the front of the pendant). Then I placed a few small pieces of the dried flower in the mold (about 3), and filled the mold the rest of the way. If you are trying this yourself, DO NOT overfill the mold! You don't want it to mound up as if you were filling a bezel; you want it as flat as possible. I used tweezers to move the flowers around to their original position - they almost always move; after all, you poured liquid on top of them! Toothpicks or even headpins If using tweezers or a headpin, wipe immediately.

Then you WAIT. A full 24 hours. No really. There's no rushing resin. Pop it out, and glue a bail on the back.

The result is pictured below. I hope you'll stop by my Etsy shop to see the listing for this necklace.
The finished pendant