Make Your Own Jewelry Tools

About a month ago, I put up a post about how I made a small jeweler’s bench from a small desk and scrap wood. Since then, I have been trolling for tool making directions and tutorials.

I recommend two excellent articles from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. The first one is on how to make a swage block from hardwood by Tom and Kay Benham. lj11071 It’s in the November 2007 issue which you can order by pressing here. You can find other tips on making swage blocks here. The authors used a Fostner drill bit set and a drill press to make their swage block. Since I don’t have access to tools like that, I used a spade drill bit set and hole saws to make mine. I got pretty good results. You can buy hole saw and spade drill sets from Harbor Freight or your local home center.

 

T409he other article from the April 2009 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist is about how to make a hammered wire cuff bracelet. Author William Fretz throws in a nifty side bar on how to construct a jig so you can get consistent curves in heavy gauge wire. Press here to order the back issue.

 

 

Ganoksin is a treasure trove of jewelry making information. Be sure to check out Charles Lewton-Brain’s article on making chasing tools and Tina Wojtkielo’s article for tool junkies. It’s full of tips for making and using tools that she collected from several jewelry artists.

The last item comes from a great Internet resource, the How-To-Make-Jewelry Blog. It’s a useful bracelet sizing template you can download for free. The video that shows how to use it is below.

 

You can be a Bead Star

Enter the second annual Bead Star challenge—an exciting competition with more than ten thousand dollars in prizes!  Here’s how it works:

The editors of Bead Star, Stringing, and Beadwork magazines sift through the entries and pick  20 finalists in nine categories.  Then, from May 15 to May 30, 2009, people from around the world  log on to BeadStar.com   and  pick the winners.  Then,  Fire Mountain Gems picks the Grand Prize winner  from the first-place category winners.  This lucky and talented  person gets  a trip for two to Santa Fe for Bead Expo 2010, $1,000 in cool beading stuff, and his or her design on the cover of Bead Star magazine.  Last years’ winner was  Valeri Ahroni. Hey! I know her!  This year, it could be you.

It’s easy to enter.  The entry deadline is May 1, 2009 there’s no entry fee. If you enter before April 24th, you’ll be entered for an Early Bird Prize that will be drawn at random. Click here to enter.

Wanna see last years finalists? Click here.

Make Clasps from Found Objects

I’ve been thinking a lot about jewelry made from found objects lately, probably because I have been asked to give a talk on the topic at the April meeting of the Main Line Bead Society. So this morning as I was brushing my teeth, it hit me: Why couldn’t I make a clasp from those cool copper washers I got at Harbor freight? I always get my best ideas in the morning. I had to wait until I came home from work to give it a try.

I took two washers about 18 gauge thick  and sawed a slit in one just big enough for the other one to fit through. Then I made jump rings from 18 gauge copper wire and soldered them on the washers. Then I pickled, cleaned, punched a pattern on the clasps, gave them liver of sulfur bath, and polished them up. The placement of the opening relative to the jump rings is critical; you want your necklace to stay on.  I don’t recommend this clasp for bracelets.  It has kind of an old Roman feel, don’t you think?  Here are the pictures.


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This last clasp is from an object I found on the street- a sheaf of 10 gauge copper wire encased in black electrical tubing. You can take off the tubing and use the wire. I made a clasp out of mine. Here’s that picture.

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New Products and Old Favorites

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Pardo Clay and Precious Metal Paint from German Company Viva Decor. At the time, no one I knew of in the U.S. carried Precious Metal Paint. It looks like that is going to change. Poly Clay Play has limited quantities now and hopes to have more available for sale in the future.  Check the web site for more information.

pmp
Some Poly Clay Play shipments from Europe were delayed, but will be available as soon as they arrive. Trish Hodgens of Poly Clay Play is taking pre-orders on the large 480 gram (about 1.05 lb.) jars of Pardo Clay for $21.95 each and the small jars 75 gram (2.6 oz) for $4.95 each ($1.00 off the suggested retail price.) For more information, check out the web site or email Trish Hodgens.

No one sells brass or copper bezel wire. If you don’t have a rolling mill to make it, you can make your own from 28 or 30 gauge metal. Even that is hard to find unless you want to do a roof. But I found a supplier!!! The Whimsie Studio carries 6″ X 12″ sheets of 30 gauge copper and brass. The price and shipping were reasonable (even by my cheapskate standards). And the stuff comes pronto.

You don’t need a saw to cut the bezels. I use Fiskars Utility Scissors I bought at Polymer Clay Express. They work like a charm,

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except I still can’t cut a straight line. That’s why God made files.


Speaking of files and all sorts of cheap metal working tools, if you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money, try Harbor Freight. Besides hammers, files, anvils, Helping Hands for $2.99 and other goodies, you can buy stuff, take it home and figure out what to do with it. I used their Body and Fender Set to make bracelets from spoon handles. If you want, but can’t afford a disk cutter, try their Hollow Punch Set and a sturdy hammer. It really works.