Do the Blog Hop

I’m doing something new.  I am participating in my first ever blog party.  A blog party lets bloggers  share their work with one another and discover blogs they might never see otherwise.  But someone has to organize it.  In this case, the intrepid soul  is Lori Anderson  who  blogs at  Prettythings.  This is the sixth blog party she has put together and this time she has partnered nearly four hundred bloggers from around the world.  The plan is that  the partners exchange beads,  create something with the beads they have received and post it on their blogs on the day of the Big Reveal.  There are so may participants that there are three Big Reveal days.   I am in the second reveal group.  This is good because I was always in the third math group and third reading group in grade school and it was hell for my self esteem.  Now I am in group two which is a marked improvement.

My lucky (I hope!) partner  is Kristen Latimer of MJM Jewelry Designs.   I’m guessing that Kristen was probably in the first reading group in the fifth grade,  because unlike me, she has a discernible jewelry making style which is a bit more advanced than my, “Why don’t I put bead caps on whatever you call this thing,  wear it on a wire around my neck and wait for comments?”

The creative process can be an ignominious experience.

A list of all of the bloggers in group two follows.  I am familiar with some of  them and look forward to exploring the sites that are new to me.   Why don’t you check a few of these blogs out too?  If you see anything you like, drop that person  a comment and let me know so I can take a look too?  OHBOY I’m getting excited already!

Adlinah Kamsir, Dream Struck Designs
Adrienn Lukacs, Raszputyin Designs
Agata Grygiel, Cytherea Bijoux
Alenka Obid, Pepita Handmade
Amy Dickerson, Damyjo Designs
Amy Freeland, Copper Diem
Amy Schmidt, Amy’s Treasure
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Andrea Trank, Heaven Lane Creations
Anke Humpert, Anart Island Studios
Ann Rishell, My Critical Eye
April Grinaway, Brooklyn Bead Goddess
Ashley Bunting, Miss Ashely Kate
Astrid Boyce, Astrid Boyce Beads
B.R. Kuhlman, Mixed Mayhem Studios
Barbe Saint John, Saints and Sinners
Beata Benkone Meggyesi, Beahobbi
Brenda Sigafoos, Sunshine’s Creations
 Bryna Lumb, Bryna’s Bead Box
Carmen Lau, Little Maketto
Carrie Tahquechi, Carrie T
Cate van Alphen, Fulgorine
Cathy Khoury, Touch Jewelry
Christina Stofmeel, Feng Beads
 Collette Collins, Fire Fly Myst Artisan Jewelry
Courtney Breul, Beads by Breul
Crystal Thain, Here Bead Dragons
Cynthia Abner, Created Treasures
Debbie Phenes, Deb Joy Sing
Dhea Powers, Java Bead
Diana Welte, Lilyweeds
Dita Basu, alankarshilpa
Dorota Zeranska, gdymamczas
Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs
Eva Sherman, Eva Sherman Designs
Evie and Beth McCord, EB Bead and Metal Works
Francy Inman, Francy’s Studio
Ginger Bishop, lilmummy likes…
Giorgia Rossini, Jo in Wonderland
Hajer Waheed, My Beaded World
Ine Vande Cappelle, Jewels by Ine
Iveth Caruso, Creative Atelier
Jackie Ryan, Kydo Jewellery
Jeannie Dukic, Jeannie’s Blog
Jelveh Jaferian, Jelveh Designs
Jenna Tomalka, Twin Birch Studio
Jenni Connolly, Jenni’s Beads
Jennifer Van Horn, Jennifers Jewels and Junk
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It’s a Beadiful Creation
Johanna Rhodes-Nash, Fire Phoenix Creations
 Joyce Blair, Bent Wire West Coast
JuLee Wolfe, The Polymer Penguin
Karen Vincent, Swallow Tail Jewellery
Karin Slaton, Backstory Beads
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Kris Lanae Binsfeld, Cherish Designs by Kris Lanae
Kristen Latimer, MJM Jewelry Designs
Kumi Fisher, Malie Kai Designs
Kym Hunter, Kym Hunter Designs
Laurie Lalonde, HourGlass Studio
Lennis Carrier, Windbent
Leslie Wayment, AA Beads & More
Linda Murphy, Bonita Bead
Lisa Johnson, Whimsey Wonders
Lisa Sittniewski, Love, Yesterdays
Lola Surwillo, Bead Lola Bead
Lorelei Eurto, Lorelei’s Blog
Lori Bowring Michaud, Artfully Ornamental
Lori Finney, Using My Beads
Maria Horvath, Horimarika Beads
Marian Hertzog, M’s Place
 Mary Ellen Parker, BeeTree by m.e.
MaryLou Holvenstot, time2cre8
Martha Aleo, Ornamento
 Maybeline Tay, The Jewelry Larder
Megan Collins, Churchy & Her Sailor
Melissa Meman, Art. Life. Love.
Melissa Mesara, One-Eared Pig Beads
Michelle Escano-Caballero, The Cabby Crafter
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
Pam Farren, re-maker
Patricia Handschuh, The Color of Dreams
Patty Miller, CabariBeads
Penney Klapoth, Faerie Acres
Regina Santerre, Regina’s Writings
Rhea Freitag, starrgazer creates
Toltec Jewels, Jewel School Friends
Rochelle Brisson, A Creative Chelle
Saari Margareta, Mags-koruja
Sabine Dittrich, PerlenDschungel
Sandra McGriff, Creative Chaos
Sandra Neights, Petalo Azul
Sandra Young, It’s a Bead Life!
Sara Oehler, SoftFlex Girl
Sarah Goode, Pookledo
Saturday Sequins, Saturday Sequins
Shanti Johnson, Sunshine Bliss
Shari Replogle, Plays With Paper
Sonya Stille, Dreamin’ of Beads
Stefanie Teufel, Stefanies Sammelsurium
Tammie Everly, TTE Designs
Tania Spivey, Moobie Grace Designs
Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
Therese Frank, Therese’s Treasures
Tina Holden, Polymer Clay Bytes!
Tracey Nanstad, A Beadiful Mess
Valerie Norton, Hot Art

Jeri and Olivia Play with Beads

My friend Olivia came to visit and I took her to see my friend Jeri  (AKA Beading Yoda)  and Jeri’s wonderful beading studio chock full of seed beads, trims, embellishments,  findings and scores of new designs in progress.

Remember, it all starts with seed beads but can you imagine so many different designs and looks and patterns?  Olivia had a great time trying on all the bracelets.

There are some beaded beads mixed in here.  The bead base is made of  clear Lucite.  The finished beads look gorgeous.

Some unfinished pieces, tests and experiments,

I was beaded out at the end of the day.  Almost.  Who can ever have too many beads?

Good news

I have an earring project in

check it out!

I also signed up to participate in Lori Anderson’s 6th Bead Soup Blog Party.

Next week: a visit to Olivia’s studio.

Pain and Soldering

Bezel Experiments

I have a friend who’s been a goldsmith for more than forty years.  She told me told me that she learned how to solder jewelry  by working with a plumbers torch over a pumice tray and crying a lot.   Hey, soldering can be frustrating to learn.    You can’t ignore the laws of chemistry.  Metals do not all have the same properties. Different varieties of solder flow at different temperatures and the flame must be hot enough to do the job. So, sometimes a micro torch will work and sometimes it’s just not hot enough. But the size of what you’re soldering affects things too.  If you are connecting one small wire to another,  a micro torch might be fine, but if you are soldering a bezel and need to heat a larger metal mass, the micro torch might not be sufficient. Or you might have to use two micro torches at once.  (Press here for a description of this technique.)   Solder flows towards heat which means that if you point the flame at the join, the solder will go everywhere but the join.   Solder will not fill gaps; the items you are connecting must sit as flush as possible.  And fire can be scary; you must respect it and take the appropriate measures to work with it safely.

I have been practicing my soldering.  As you can see from the bezels above, I’m a little heavy handed with the solder.  I am still working on getting my bezel soldering mojo and hope to improve on that in time.  Until then, it’s lots of cleanup.  But even with my limited experience, I have a few tips.

  • Take a class.  You, need to learn about lighting a torch and basic safety, but there is another important reason: you can read about soldering all you want but until you witness the difference stages of soldering  from the initial heating to when the solder starts to flow, it won’t make sense.  It helps when you see what color the metal should be, what the solder looks like right before it flows and how long it takes to flow.
  • Does your carefully laid out solder skitter as soon as you hit the metal with the flame because the flux starts bubbling?  Pass the flame over the flux to dry it before you place the solder.  No more skittering.
  • If you try binder wires, clips and tweezers to  hold everything in place, they will act as heat sinks and draw heat away from where it needs to go to get a sturdy solder join.  Charles Lewton-Brain wrote an article on soldering tips and tricks for Ganoksin where he gives instructions for making a thingy to weigh down pieces you are trying to solder together.


    Here is an idea for another thingy from the Etsy Metal Blog 
Yet another soldering thingy.
You can purchase this one from Wholelottawhimsey.

And finally,  you need to check out Lexi Erickson‘s videos on soldering.  I met Lexi when she was a guest speaker at the Main Line Bead Society and gave an entertaining and illuminating presentation  on creativity.    I thought she might be an  academic but I was only half right because  the next thing I knew, she had moved  to Colorado and was blogging, making jewelry, teaching and writing great articles for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

She drew on her years of experience as a goldsmith and university level metalsmithing teacher to  put together two videos on soldering that are full of practical information, including an explanation of the various types of torches used in soldering, tools, solders, and several soldering techniques.  The videos are well filmed which is vital in  a video about soldering.  You  really need to see  how the materials look during each step of the process before you understand what is supposed to happen when you are soldering properly.   You can buy the  videos  from Interweave.

Lexi’s videos are extremely helpful, she would tell you that you still have to practice, practice, practice.  Like throwing pots and making lampworked beads, the  more you make, the more skilled you will become.   As Malcolm Gladwell said in Outliers, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”


For the Bezel Challenged

My friend Sherman claims to be bezel challenged.    That got me thinking.   Who hasn’t had a cool stone or glass cab that would look great in a metal setting?  And while you can  always wire wrap or make a tab setting (here’s a link to a great  tutorial from Jewelry Making Daily on making tab settings)  maybe you are ready for something a little more advanced’

     So, here is a setting idea for the bezel challenged.  Are you listening Sherman?.

 I took 14 gauge copper wire, cleaned it and made a shape.  I filed the wire ends flat  for a butt join and soldered the join with medium solder.
 

After pickling and rinsing, I laid three 18 gauge wires with balls on both ends on top of  the shape and  soldered them on, again with medium solder.    I also  soldered  the bail on during this step. (It has a little tab of metal I slipped under the 14 gauge wire and gravity held everything in place).  You might prefer to solder on the bail in a different step.    The beauty here is that you don’t have to worry about fit because the wires you’re soldering together already touch each other.  The soldering goes very quickly.  If you solder in three stages you might consider using easy solder for the last step.


  Here I am making a bail from a strip of 18 gauge copper and bail making pliers.

Here’s  another shape cleaned up.  You can see that I was too generous with the solder on one of the wires.  But there is an easy solution.  Toss a steel nail and your copper piece back in the pickle.  I don’t heat my pickle so I leave it for maybe five hours.  The steel makes the copper that is floating around in the pickle coat the copper piece.   If you have any silver or brass pieces in the pickle, they will become copper coated too, so leave them out.    At the end of the period, fish out the nail and it will be slimy with copper  (and your pickle will be cleaner!) The silver solder on the copper piece will no longer be visible.  You can still sand and file it off,  so don’t be any more vigorous than you have to be with the finishing.  And yes, it is durable.

The final step is to bend the prongs front and back to hold the cab in place.  You can also use your pliers to make interesting shapes with the prongs.    You can make the prongs long and coil them into spirals if you like.  You need to make at least three prongs to hold the cab securely.

With this technique,  you don’t have to measure your stone or cab as accurately as you need to when you make a bezel.    I just eyeballed the pieces in this post.  Another advantage of this technique is that you can see both sides of the item you are setting unlike a bezel where you only see the front.    The backs of fused cabs are usually not that interesting but stones are another story.

This technique lends itself to playing with the metal too.  For the piece below, I soldered a bunch of copper rings together and then added a smaller circle with the soldered prongs.

If you are using a micro torch, be sure it’s hot enough; not all  micro torches are created equal.  A good choice  is the Blazer GB2100.  Also, you need a soldering surface that will work with you and not against you.  I prefer a refractory block.   A  Solderite soldering board is another option.

I am not sure how I am going to use this yet.  If I had to do over,  I would have balled the wire that holds the cab from the back.  It doesn’t look bad the way it is, but it could have looked better.

Even though I  “discovered” this technique while playing around,  I  am sure it’s been around for years because it’s so intuitive.  I am  interested in seeing what  other people have made with it.  If you know about anything, send it my way.