Sunday, August 18, 2013

 I know, it's been ages since I've posted here.  Life has been really wild.  Lots of medical issues in the family which are finally resolved and everyone is well again.  :)  I'm starting to rediscover glass around the increasing demands of production work because as anyone who creates for a living knows you HAVE to have time to actually play and create or you stagnate.

So I'm trying new shapes and starting to branch out in other areas.  One of the new things, or new to me, that I'm trying for the first time is making my own goldstone stringer.  I purchased some lovely goldstone in raw chunk form from Avenue Beads and I was amazed at how easy it actually is to pull your own goldstone stringer.  I love the results too, lots of sparkle!

I'll post again later this week and hopefully resurrect this poor blog.  Something always has to go on the back burner when life gets crazy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Astrid Bracelet Tutorial

I'm not feeling creative about the title of these bracelets and I have a bizarre name so why not use that? lol

Soooooo..............(best Brock Sampson voice)  LET'S DO THIS!  *headbutt  to desk*



First you need to gather some essentials....

Two sets of pliers, both of mine are Chain nose but whatever you like to use to open/close jump rings is fine.

A box cutter or X-Acto knife

Glue.  This is Super New Glue but you can also use 2-part Epoxy, E-6000, whatever you like best.

A charm.  Don't tell me you don't have a charm.  You wouldn't BE here if you didn't have charms, lol.

Jump rings.

Glue-on cord ends OR crimps ends for 2mm leather.  If you use crimp ends you don't need the glue.

Lobster clasp.

Lampwork beads or any beads that fit 2mm leather.

Spacers (optional) for 2mm leather.  These can be rare animals.  I am now carrying Greek Mykonos spacers that are ceramic and dipped in pure copper, fine silver, or 24K gold.  I *only* sell these on Tophatter or I will be selling them in kits I plan to carry in my Etsy shop, those will be available by mid-February, I'm still waiting on stock to arrive.  You can also buy them from folks on Etsy.  Why won't I carry them in my Etsy shop?  Because a sweet and sharing person carries them there and I'm not going to play in her pool, that's not nice.  You can email me too and I'll hook you up.

Got everything?  GOOD!

First step.  I cut my leather twice the intended length of my bracelet because I don't like to be caught short.  I'm sure as you progress you can cut down the amount and get more accurate.  I am NOT a math person so you are currently reading a tutorial that involves math written by a D algebra student.  Just sayin'.  I have my own whack methodology that allows me to make the right size for people.  I am not about to try to share that with you, it will make you crazy.  Some things you have to figure out on your own. ;)

Now, about a third of the way down the leather make an overhand knot:

Make a loop:


Put one side through the loop:

Pull tight!

 String your beads/spacers in whatever configurations appeal to you.  You could even just put charms on jump rings and string those on for a charm bracelet as long as you have them bracketed by lampwork beads or beads that the knot won't go through.  Be inventive!  Wrap wire or fiber around the leather!  Paint washers, bolts. or other hardware from the hardware store with spray paint and sealant in bright colors and make your own spacers!  GO NUTS!  You have my permission.  ;)

At this point your bracelet should look like this.  See how it curves?  You want to retain that so that it lies nicely on your wrist so WHEN YOU MAKE your second knot DO NOT tie it tightly smack up against the beads.  You'll bind the work, strain the leather, and possibly crack your beads.  BIG unhappy smiley.

You are going to tie another overhand knot, just like the first, on the other side but you are going to leave a little space (or larger one if you want the beads/charms/spacers to have some motion) and THEN pull the knot tight.  See?  Nice and curvy.  Me likey.  We shall proceed.

At this point I assemble my clasp configuration.  Personally, I use 6 jumprings and a charm on one side linked to the cord end, this is my extension chain.  The other cord end is linked to one jump ring and my clasp.  You can easily dispense with the lobster/extension chain combo and use a toggle clasp instead or whatever your particular design calls for.  We are doing bare bones here, lol.

The whole point of this bracelet, at least for me, is to show off the beads.  I love glass, I love simplicity in the jewelry I wear, that's just who I am.  I like simple and streamlined.  I do, however, like to have something that dangles off my bracelets to play with, that's what the charm is for!

/rant That does not, however, mean that is who YOU are, only you know that.  Design (and that is what we are doing here, designing) is about taking basics and exploring, pushing limits, and evolving.  Do I care if you do this exact bracelet?  Of course not, if that's what makes you happy.  I hope whoever stumbles across this in the future allows the basics here to further their creative journey.  You should do whatever makes you happy.  But I'm always going to lecture people about pushing limits because creativity isn't about fear INGRID (yes, you), it's about having the courage to fail because on the *other* side of that failure is something beautiful that no one has ever seen before.  I could build a mountain out of the snotballs of tangled wire, leather, fiber, and metal that have been discarded along my path.  I don't care.  I will make more piles of awful and will continue to do so until the day I die.  It's not about the end result it's about the journey.  Some of my worst mistakes have led to some of my best work.  Trust me and don't be afraid.  Now go jack something up for me.  /endrant

OK, so back up there pre-rant you see my clasp configuration.  I'm measuring it because that is part of the measurement of the bracelet.  Big HOWEVER, however.....

*Each cord end* consumes 1/4" of leather cord.  So, we'll *sigh* do a little whack math, lol.

Your bracelet should fit snugly if you are using this clasp configuration.  You have the extension if you make it a bit too small.  Too big and you've wasted a pair of cord ends.

You have to account for:

The length of the clasp configuration
The 1/2 inch you'll lose to the inside of the cord ends
How much the beads push the cord away from your wrist.

Like Pandora bracelets, y'know?  You have to up a size to make them fit right when you get all the beads loaded on.

UPDATE:  Here is the chart I use to get my bracelets to the correct wrist size.

NOTE:  You are measuring from the OUTER edge of your tied knot to the end of the cord and then cutting. 
Example:  For a six inch bracelet the measurement ON EACH SIDE from the outer edge of the knot to the end is one inch.


Bracelet size                             From outer edge to end of leather cord

6 inch                                              1 inch
6.5 inch                                           1.25 inch
7 inch                                              1.50 inch
7.5 inch                                           1.75 inch
8 inch                                              2 inch
8.5 inch                                           2.25 inch
9 inch                                              2.50 inch

Once you add your cord ends these measurements should result in the proper wrist size.  These come out just a tiny bit snug, that's why it's good to have the extension chain.  That way you can have the bracelet a little tight and ppl can let it out to what's comfortable.  

Can I tell you how to figure that?  Not on your life, lol.  But I've given you the building blocks.  I don't want to try to explain the math because I invariably get it wrong.  I've given you the basic pitfall list though.

So how do you get the bracelet even?  Ah, that I can explain.

You've tied both your knots so now you have this long cord on either side that is uneven.  I want an eight inch bracelet so I'll cut the length down to eight inches.  *It will be shorter than that!  Why?  Clasp configuration and the lost 1/2" of cord in the cord ends.  DON'T CUT YET.  You're forgetting to allow for the bead space.  Whew.  If you make it too short just add more jump rings, girlfriend.  Remember the golden jewelry making rule.  Ain't nobody gonna know it's whack but you.  ;P

To make it even on both sides I find the center of the beads (that's why I like to use odd numbers, ah HA! lol) I lay it on a ruler, put the middle of the middle bead on 4 inches (for an 8" bracelet, for a 7.5 inch bracelet you'd put it on, hmm.....I hate you math.....3.75 inches, for a 7 inch bracelet you'd put it on 3.50 inches, etc etc etc.  Shall we dance?

So once you've navigated your unique math nightmare you are ready to glue in the ends.  But wait!  There's more.......

Click the linky, you know you want to.  Your head hurts and you need humor....

Before I glue my ends in I scrape off the colored candy coating and get down to the raw leather on just the 1/4 inch that goes into the cord end.  Why?

This was something I discovered during my nightmarish vacation in Regaliz bracelet construction Hell.  Did you know that the finish can come off the leather and stay glued INSIDE the cord end while the leather runs off to Tahiti (i.e. broken bracelet, "Hey, your jewelry sux I want a refund", "So sorry can you send me a photo?"  Oh. Wow.  Massive money loss).

So now I strip my cord down to the raw leather and then glue.  No more problems.

Pick up your X-Acto or box cutter (pointing always AWAY from yourself.  What, are you nuts?  You'll gut yourself like a fish! :eyeroll:  Away.  Please.  Never towards.  It doesn't feel good to put a box cutter through your hand.  I know, I have the scar to prove it).

You are going to scrape the leather off now.  You are not going to "air scrape", i.e. put your finger on the other side of the leather to press it into the sharp knife and then scrape.  I will cut you.  Oh wait, you've already done that.

Lay the leather DOWN on a HARD work surface.  Keep your fingers OUT of the way of the blade.  Push gently in on the cord and scrape away from yourself.  Have you ever peeled an apple or a potato?  Like that, but very lightly.  You'll get a feel for it pretty fast.

Put your leather inside your cord end and use your fingernail to press into the leather and make a temporary mark where the leather comes out of the cord end.  Move away from this mark a smidge towards the end of the cord and then scrape away from yourself lightly removing the candy coating.  LIGHTLY!  You navigated the math nightmare, don't accidentally chop off the end now.  No one looks pretty when they cry.

You'll have all these ooky little fringe-y things (technical jewelry making term) hanging off, trim those off, I use my wire cutters.

Glue.  Just a little, you're not tiling grout here.....


That's all you get this month (with, like, two days left, LOL).  Another tutorial in February.  Send me ideas, what do you want to see?  Cutting disks, sawing metal, or how to drive your husband insane. ;)


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wirework Motherload!

I'm working on a tutorial for leather bracelets and became distracted on Pinterest and found this:

The page is in Hungarian.  I use Google Chrome for a browser and just hit translate but the photos are amazingly clear.  I *AM* making some time do to at least one pendant from this page this week, these are gorgeous.

Go look!  Get your wirework on!

If you have questions about how to use Pinterest or need an invite shoot me an email.  You do need a Facebook account but it's worth creating one for Pinterest.  There are a wealth of tutorials and and the RECIPES!  Goodness.  lol

I had another massive order come in but I have about half my tutorial done.  It should be online here late Monday.  I was aiming for Sunday night but I have to get a bit ahead on this order first and finish others that are on my plate.  :)

(((hugs)))  Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving and Giving Back

I am truly thankful this Thanksgiving.  I had a bad scare (abnormal pap smear) and just found out today that I'm fine but it could just have easily gone the other way for me as it has for countless other women.  We have lost so many brilliant minds and talented artists to uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancer.  I thought about Gilda Radner many times this week, I still miss her wit and vitality.
Of course when you are waiting for results you explore all the *what if's* in your mind.  One decision I made and am going to put to legal paperwork next week is the decision to donate my body to science upon my death (40 years from now, lol).  In all seriousness, medical students have to learn their craft on cadavers.  There is always a need and always a shortage.  By giving the most personal part of yourself, your body, to these students and helping them in their education you are also helping them to learn and potentially, in the future, save your children. 
I wanted to ask my friends on FB to consider this alternative to burial or cremation.  Not only will it further science and help our children to live longer but you also spare you family from the excesses of burial and funeral costs.  I don't see the need for a memorial myself because, Honey, if I didn't give you enough to remember me by while I was here you won't miss me when I'm gone.  ;)
I don't write this lightly, or to stomp on anyone's belief system.  I was a nurse and I will *always* be concerned with health and the human condition.  In 1990 one of the most devout christians I ever knew died of AIDS he received in a blood transfusion.  He was my hero.  He allowed the Dr's to try whatever they thought would help because, in his words, "I know I'm dying but I want to try to beat this disease in any way I can, God would want that."  What he suffered from the disease and the attempts at a cure were unimaginable but he never wavered.  His strength of spirit and conviction were boundless and I still stand in awe of what he accomplished.  He was just a little farmer from the country.  In the end he donated his body to science. 
This man and many others like him made it possible for ppl who are HIV positive to live happy productive lives for years instead of dying horribly (which they did back then, in droves).  Many of those men I took care of became more than patients, they became friends.  Every time I hear someone talk about how they've lived for 10+ years after diagnosis these are the men and women I think about.  These are the heros.
I miss you Virgil, I still think about you, especially around this time of year.  I hope your spirit is resting peacefully and am thankful for the good you did and the chance I had to know you.
So, as you can tell by what I've written, it's more than just cancer that affects my decision.  I've seen so much suffering in my career and it was always my goal to alleviate it.  To me, it is only logical to continue to do that as long as I can.
I'm posting this to my blog as well.  Much love to all of you and Happy Thanksgiving!  Hug the ones you love.  <3

Friday, September 28, 2012

Speak to me, oh fire.......

Contemplating logistics problems of new product design.........

and yes, I need the gloves.  Girl, you should see my hands, Madge would scold me.

It's more than just mild.  ;)  I wonder if it works wonders on burns, hmmmm.  

If Madge saw my hands she'd just throw down that file and leave, lol.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Personal Best

OK, glass isn't about speed, buuUUUUUuuut...

49 beads, all encased and carefully fire 7 hours.

I'm pretty proud of that (blows on nails and buffs them on chest).  There's also two 15 minute breaks and a half hour lunch in the mix there.

A word to those uninitiated to made to order and production work - if you are going to do 6+ long hour sessions you have to, I repeat HAVE TO, take breaks just like you would with any other production job.

If you were, as my maternal grandmother was, a factory worker putting little gears in Timex watches (which she did for 30+ years, I have no idea how she didn't go insane.....well, she was a little insane) you would go on strike if someone demanded that you work straight through without breaks.

Don't ask that of yourself.  Not only will you burn out on glass you could put your health at risk as well.

I do a run of about 6 beads, get up, stretch, walk around, etc.  Having a CD that you have to get up to manually change is a good alarm.  When it ends you know it's time for a break because, as we all know, you can get so absorbed in the glass you loose track of time and I have found I also lose touch with my body.  I turn off the warning signals that I've been sitting too hunched or the wrong way mentally and when I do that I pay for it later in pain and stiffness.

Glass is great and I love production work.  I'm weird that way, I do well with creative repetition - hand quilting is another passion of mine that makes most people batty, no pun intended.

However, at the end of the day you don't want to be this chick, all hunched over with your lampworking claw hanging out.......

It's not a good look.  Just sayin'......      ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Business is good........ why do I look like this?

I am finding, as business increases and I become busier and busier that I have one area in which I am woefully behind.
At what point did I decide that leftover USPS priority boxes were a good and efficient storage idea? *sigh* Honestly, if I have to dig through one more box I think I'll short circuit.
I never thought I would be to the place where I would be strolling through the Uline catalog seriously considering one of their massive shelf storage options but it's looking more and more like not only a desirable but a necessary solution.
I'm starting to understand what my aunt and grandmother (who ran a dress, accessory, and jewelry store in the late 1950's and early 1960's together) were talking about when they carried on emotionally about 'no room' and 'business growing pains'.
I feel ya maw-maw.  Send me down some good mojo from up above because I am drowning here, lol.
Smiling.......but drowning. :)