Video Reviews

The jewelry making videos available on the Interweave Store web site offer some excellent instruction at a price that’s heard to beat. Here are mini reviews of four videos I recommend.


Basic Jewelry Enameling with Pauline Warg is a hands down winner. Warg gives a thorough treatment of torch enameling demonstrating several projects and techniques.  But she also takes safety seriously which is not something all torch enameling teachers and videos do.   You need to protect yourself from potentially dangerous exposure to the enamels and other chemicals used in the process regardless of whether you are using leaded enamels or the unleaded variety. Warg’s enameling video is one of the few that I’ve watched that takes covers this issue gives useful information on the topic. She’s an expert and her comments, tips and demonstrations are backed by years of experience. If you only get one video on torch  enameling, get this one. See the preview here.

At first I was hesitant to get One Hour Rings with Helen Driggs and One Hour Bracelets with Jeff Fulkerson because I thought they might be short videos on quickie crafty projects and a waste of time. I was wrong. Both videos do feature short projects but they employ a number of  jewelry making techniques in the process which Driggs and Fulkerson expertly demonstrate.  These videos will give you a lot of ideas for adding your own personal twists to the projects.  Preview One Hour Rings here and One Hour Bracelets here.

Speaking of twists,  I also recommend  Create Spirals, Tubes, and Other Curves for Jewelry Making with Helen Driggs.    After you’ve mastered basic sawing, riveting and soldering techniques,  you can start making shapes and forms with the techniques Driggs demonstrates  to that your jewelry to the next level.  Lots of  practical tips and advice and not a lot of expensive tools. What could be better?   See the preview here.

More Glass Beads from my Work Shop

I had a friend who traded working in polymer clay for glass. She reasoned that when she screwed up polymer clay it was ugly but no matter what you do to glass, it’s still beautiful. It’s hard to disagree, although some of my glass work might be an exception to her rule.

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 I only make lamp worked beads in the summer because I do not have a proper exhaust system to suck out the fumes. In the summer I can open windows, doors and run a series of fans to keep the air moving. But when the autumn becomes brisk, I put the glass away.

beads4.jpgSilver.jpg  Being a summer only lamp worker means that I don’t have the torch hours necessary to get as adept as I would like. On the other hand, I find that I am pretty much able to pick up where I left off when I light the torch in the spring.

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 The beads above are made from  lead glass or moretti glass and some of them  are enhanced with fine silver.  I love the blue bicone.  That’s blue and a bit of green translucent lead glass fumed, raked and paddled smooth on the bead.  The beads are sitting on a fiber blanket in my kiln waiting annealing.  I cool them in a fiber blanket when I first make them, but that does not anneal them!

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I batch anneal my beads rather than heating the  kiln going every time I light the torch.  I think it’s more energy efficient.

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Here’s the Jen Ken Bead Annealer that has served me well.    It has a manual control and for a few years I had to monitor the kiln like a hawk  and make sure it was moving through the annealing cycles properly and making adjustments. 

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Then  I found this baby for a reasonable price a few years ago.  Thew price has gone up since then.  A digital controller  is great though and  a separate controller can be used with different kilns.   I like the flexibility.  Now all I have to do is enter my annealing schedule and the kiln does the rest.  Yes, I still have to watch and monitor but fiddling with the dial is a thing of the past.

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Big Holed Bead on the mandrel

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Lead glass silvered

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The same bead cooled.  Aren’t the colors great?  That’s translucent lead glass similar to what you see in the picture below.

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Happy bead making!

Don’t  miss Beadfest this weekend!

The Best of Step By Step Beads

I got a nice surprise this week when I learned that  my Tokyo Rows beaded bracelet project made it into Interweave’s  collector’s edition of  The Best of Step By Step Beads.


The Japanese Flower motif is not original with me but I love it because it lends itself to so many variations.   It’s easy to take one flower and make a simple pendant, and that’s just one example.

Here are some brooches based on the same motif

I once thought that  Japanese bead work made the most interesting use of the beaded flower until  I saw some stunning Brazilian pieces using this motif when I visited Rio De Janeiro a few years ago.  Here is one of the bracelets I bought there, that’s a variation of the design.

With forty projects, there’s plenty of material in The Best of Step By Step Beads to keep you busy for awhile.  The best part of developing a design, however, is when someone takes it in a new direction.   Triche Osborne ‘s  Candy Wheels Necklace is just one example of how you can take a beading concept and make it your own.

Thank you Interweave!

Shades of Blue Earrings

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You can read my newest project article on how to make these cool drop earrings  in the November/December issue of Step By Step Beads. You probably know that SBS Beads will cease publication  with the January/February 2010 issue,   The good news from the Interweave site is that it is being merged into Beadwork Magazine, and that Step By Step Wire is still going strong.  I had a clasp making article published there earlier this year.

Amulets, Talismans, Polymer and Wire

There are two new books that will enhance the library of anyone creative.  Both  show you how to elevate non precious material into art imbued with special meaning.

The first one is  Amulets and Talismans by Robert DancikI took Dancik’s class on cold connections last year  and put the book on pre-order as soon as I could.  I was not disappointed.  The book is crammed with information on cold connections techniques,  and full of ideas on how to take ordinary objects and showcase them in original, one of a kind pieces of jewelry that  tell a story that could be about the wearer, maker or materials themselves.

If you are a tool junky like me, you will relish Dancik’s ideas for making custom tools.  He shows a nifty little jump ring cutting gizmo you can make yourself.  I made one.  There are no directions, but one look at it is all you need. (If Truman Capote had met me when he first came to New York, his book would have been entitled Breakfast at Harbor Freight.)

The next gotta have it book is Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay + Wire Jewelry by Ronna Sarvas Weltman.

Weltman’s  designs have an inimitable   primitive sophistication that’s fresh and inspiring.  Her projects and instructions will stoke your creativity and have might change the way you think  about polymer clay and wire.

This time last year

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.

Loops, Loops and More Loops

sbs-cvr-220I have a new beading project in the latest issue of Step By Step Beads called the Loop De Loop necklace. It’s an easy way to use up your bead soup and project leftovers.  I hope you give it a try.

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DVD’s from Kato, Miller and a Calder Article


 

Donna Kato Presents: Tips, Tricks & Techniques for Polymer Clay  is three and a half hours of Donna Kato demonstrating caning, transfers, mica shift, finishing techniques and more. The gals at video night (you know who you are) gave it a five (out of five) pasta machine rating. A bargain at $34.95. To order, press here.

I love everything Sharilyn Miller. (To see my review of her Tribal Treasures video, press here.) I just got finished watching her Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop video, and all I can say is “Wow!” Another three and one half hours of valuable information on wire working, and instructions for making four bracelets and two necklaces. A steal at $39.95. To order it, Press here.

I wrote about the Alexander Calder Jewelry Exhibit at the Philadelpha Museum of Art in an earlier post. The latest issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist has an article on Calder’s jewelry well worth reading: “Calder’s Mobile Jewelry” by Cathleen McCarthy.

I’m at Polydelphia!

I’m at Polydelphia this weekend!!! To check out my newly designed web site, press HERE. See ya later!