Monthly Archives: August 2015

Week Nine…Findings and Metalsmithing Basics

Last week I had some extra time after I learned the Modified Soumak Weave, so I wanted to make a clasp that I had seen in a new book I bought.  It was the Decorative S-Clasp from the book Fine Art Wire Weaving by Sarah Thompson.  I did attempt it, but didn’t get very far.  I realized that the hammering and filing was too much of a challenge for my current skill.  I also looked up some videos on hammering metal and realized that my hammer was working against me.  It was a chasing hammer, but it was flat and it left marks on my wire no matter how careful I was.  I purchased a low-dome chasing hammer and I was amazed at the difference.  So the first thing I learned is that the right tools will make the job more fun and less frustrating.

This week I wanted to work on improving my skills in hammering and filing.  I also wanted to make some findings that I can use in finishing out the jewelry I have been making so far in this challenge.  I am pleased with what I completed this week.

I started with making some basic Paddle Headpins.  The tutorial I used was Fine Art Wire Weaving by Sarah Thompson, but it can be found in many places on the internet or in the basics section of most jewelry making books.

I was a little nervous when I began hammering the wire because I was unsure what to expect from my hammer, but I was pleasantly surprised with the over all results.  The first one was a little rough, but I learned quickly and made two nice sets of paddle head pins to make earrings in the future.

Here are the pictures…

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First Paddle Headpin…a little rough, but a good starting point
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Completed Paddle Head Pins
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Another shot of the Completed Paddle Head Pins

In order to practice hammering and filing some more, I made three Hammered S-Hook Clasps and three Oversized Wrapped Simple Hook Clasps.  Both of those tutorials are from the book Handcrafted Wire Findings by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson.

The Hammered S-Hook Clasp is something I have wanted to make for a while, but didn’t think I would be able to.  I really like the flattened loop look that is achieved from making a paddle (like in the head pins pictured above) and then rolling the paddle with round nose pliers.  I think it looks simple and elegant and can really add class to a project without too much embellishment.

Here are pictures of all three clasps…

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Completed Hammered S-Hook Clasps
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Completed Hammered S-Hook Clasps

You can tell that I improved as I went along.  The one in the middle is my first attempt and the one on the right is my final attempt.  My final attempt actually looks like the picture in the book and that made me very happy since that is what I was aiming for.  I think my first two would make nice links for a bracelet, so I may use that as an idea in the future.  The trick I figured out by the final attempt is in making sure that 1/4 inch is fully flattened.  I was reading it as don’t go above 1/4 inch, but that was making the clasps more squatty.

Here are some different angles of the Hammered S-Hook Clasps…

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Hammered S-Hook Clasp
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Hammered S-Hook Clasp
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Hammered S-Hook Clasps linked together…it would make a pretty bracelet
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Final attempt at the Hammered S-Hook Clasp

The Oversized Wrapped Simple Hook Clasp was the other project I made three of.  I noticed a definite improvement with each one of these I made.

Here are pictures showing the progression…

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Completed Oversized Wrapped Simple Hook Clasps
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Completed Oversized Wrapped Simple Hook Clasps

In my first attempt I tried using bail making pliers to make the circle in the clasp, but it didn’t work so well.  I used a sharpie marker in the second and third attempts and was more pleased with the results.  I guess it is really a matter of personal preference on what you want your hook to look like.

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Final attempt at the Oversized Wrapped Simple Hook Clasp

 

I needed a little break from working on hammering and filing, so I threw in the Bell Woven Toggle Clasp Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I was unsure about making this clasp because it needs two closed jump rings, and I don’t have any and can’t make any at this time.  I am trying to figure out what I need in order to do the soldering so I can make closed jump rings, but that will be a challenge for another week.

It was a slower and a little challenging to make this toggle clasp with open jump rings because I had to make sure I was getting my weave tight, but not pulling the ring apart.  I think the end result turned out great inspite of the challenges.

Here is the finished clasp…

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Completed Bell Woven Toggle Clasp
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Bell Woven Toggle Clasp put together like it would be when on a bracelet or necklace

My final project for this week is the one that defeated me last week…the Decorative S-Clasp.

Here is how far I got last week…

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Sad beginnings…notice all of the marks on it and my sad attempt at filing.  I didn’t realize I had no clue how to use a file until this project.

Here is the finished piece from this week after improving my filing and hammering skills…

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Completed Decorative S-Clasp
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Completed Decorative S-Clasp

I am so excited to have conquered this!  It turned out really nice and it makes me want to press on.  I know I need to be patient with myself and learn, but most of the time I want to already know how to make something and just do it.  I am not much of a “enjoy the journey” person, but that is something I am trying to change because I am realizing that life is lived in the journey, not in the arriving.  I want to live my journey well and will with the Lord’s help all along the journey.

As a side note I oxidized all of my projects from the past few weeks.  Here are some pictures…

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Oxidized Left Elf Ear Cuff from Week Seven
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Oxidized Right Elf Ear Cuff from Week Seven
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Oxidized Modified Soumak Weave Bangle from Week Eight
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More detailed photo of oxidized Modified Soumak Weave from Week Eight
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Week Eight…Learning a New Weave

This has been a different kind of week in my jewelry making world.  Normally, I like to have a beautiful piece finished, but while I have a finished piece, it isn’t that beautiful.  The best part is, I am okay with that.  I realized that my goal was to learn a new weave.  I would have like to have had a nice piece with the new weave, but I didn’t like the project to begin with.

This week I wanted to learn the Modified Soumak Weave.  I used a video tutorial that I purchased off of craftsy.com called Wire Weaving Bracelets: Basics and Beyond by Sarah Thompson to learn this weave.  The first project in this video series is the Colorwork Bangle.  Honestly, I didn’t care for the different colored wires used in this project.  It was a preference thing for me, so I opted to keep the bangle one color.  Another reason…other than personal preference…I didn’t want to use different types of wire was because of all the ends that would have created.  There is an interesting way of taking care of the ends that is shared, but I am not sure of it enough to incorporate it into my own wire projects, so I wanted to minimize the need to use it.

I found the Modified Soumak Weave to be fun, once I got the hang of it.  I really like the look of the weave and will enjoy using it in the future.  I think I found this project to be a little monotonous after a while thought.  I have gotten so used to bending wire and using a variety of weaves in a project that the simplicity of the project was a little boring in the making process.  I think if I had made the bracelet my own, then I would have liked it more, but the purpose was for me to learn the weave and I did…so mission accomplished.

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished bracelet…

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Completed Colorwork Bangle…pardon the messy wrapping. 🙂
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Completed Colorwork Bangle

I wanted to learn the Modified Soumak Weave because it is one that Sarah Thompson uses frequently in her new book Fine Art Wire Weaving.  Overall this book requires a higher skill level than what I currently posses as well as a lot of techniques I have tried only a couple of times or have never tried.

I found out this week that there will be a steep learning curve to these projects, so I am trying to break down the basics and see if I can learn or improve on them individually before I start anymore of the projects.

I tried to make a Decorative S-Clasp and fell flat on my face.

Here is a picture of how far I got…

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The failed beginnings of a Decorative S-Clasp (design by Sarah Thompson)

I naively though I it would be pretty simple…I mean after all an S-Clasp is pretty basic and I know how to weave wire. 🙂  Needless to say I didn’t anticipate the hammering and filing being a challenge stopping me in my tracks.  I tried and the more I tried the more frustrated I got, so I walked away…after all it is better to battle something from a point of strength instead of weakness, if you can.

I have spent the rest of the week thinking, reading, studying, and planning.   Here are some conclusions that I have come to…

~I need to work on some metalsmithing basics.

~I needed a new hammer…which I picked up this week.

~I need to practice, practice, practice…oh yes and be patient with myself and give grace to myself while I am practicing.

~I need to realize this won’t happen overnight and that is normal and fine.

~I need to be brave and have the courage to fail, so that eventually I will succeed because I won’t give up.

~I need the Lord to give me all of the things needed to do this…I am not a patient person, so it will have to come from Him.

There are more things that I will figure out as I go along, but that is the point of this challenge after all.  As I was talking with my husband this week, I realized this challenge is kind of like an apprenticeship in wire work for me.  I am working through new techniques and mastering others using the material by people who have mastered their craft and teach others through tutorials.  This was an encouraging thought, and it helped me to think of myself as a student…it makes me excited to learn.

Next week, I am wanting to work on some metalsmithing basics through some finding tutorials.  Hopefully the grand finale will be the beautiful Decorative S-Clasp that I didn’t accomplish this week.  We shall see…until next week.

Week Seven…Challenging, But Possible

When I first started this project I scoured through all my tutorials and books to figure out 26 tutorials that I wanted to work on.  I wanted them to be challenging and include something new that I had to learn or something I needed to practice.  I also wanted to include the tutorials that I have had for a while, but pushed aside when it came to actually creating the item because I thought the tutorial would be something I couldn’t do.

The funny thing is that I have gotten some new tutorials because of a great sale and then a new book came out that I have been waiting for.  Last week and this week I have chosen two of my new tutorials to work on.  One because I simply couldn’t wait to try it and the other because it is one of those that I really want to do, but it would end up on my procrastination list. 🙂  Ah, the procrastination list, the place that looks so great filled with such good intentions, but never has any productivity.  I can live there if I am not careful because of fear.  I am a doer by nature, but it amazes me how I can become an avoider in this area.  There are always other projects and tasks that help me avoid and still do, so I guess it works out.  I am thankful that this challenge is forcing me to face that fear and do the things that I can and not let fear keep me away from creating beautiful things.

This tutorial that I chose to work on was Elf Ear Cuffs by Nicole Hanna.  This is definitely a tutorial that would have fallen into the procrastination pile because of fear that I really couldn’t complete it, or if I did it would be a huge mess of wire with a few beads thrown in for good measure.   The ear cuffs were a challenge, to be sure, but I persevered and I did it!

I think the biggest challenge I ran into was making a mirror image pair.  I knew that I wanted to make both ear cuffs as I went along to help them be similar.  I was faithfully making my way through the steps and several steps into the project I realized I was making two for the same ear.  It was disappointing and I tried to figure out if I could reverse a few things, to make it work for the other ear, but it couldn’t be done without a lot of damage to the wire, so I started over.

Here is a picture of the extra ear cuff I now have for the next pair I make…

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Beginnings of another ear cuff

I was glad I started over.   I found it to be tricky to weave upside down and backwards to get the mirror image for this tutorial.  I also ran into the problem of my weave being so neat that I mistook the back part of the weave for the front, but I caught that one early and was able to make it right.

This project was one to grow my patience.  I didn’t want to give up, but I did have some moments of questioning my sanity as to why I define this torture, I mean artistry, as fun.

Finally, here are pictures  of the finished pair of ear cuffs.

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Completed right Elf Ear Cuff
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Completed left Elf Ear Cuff
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Completed pair of Elf Ear Cuffs

I am pleased with how they turned out.  There are a couple of things I would like to improve, but they are basic techniques that will improve with practice.

Next week, I will be working on a bracelet from Sarah Thompson.  It is a video tutorial and will be the first time I have done a video tutorial, so that will be interesting.

I hope you will have the courage to try something new this week.  Maybe something on your own procrastination list.  Let’s be doers instead of avoiders.  I am learning that things that seem paralyzing from a distance are not that scary up close.  Until next week!

Week Six…Who Knew I Could Be So Productive

I can’t believe it has been six weeks since I started this challenge.  Time passes so quickly and it seems to go faster when you can’t remember what you have done beyond “being too busy” and “stuff”.

This week has been very busy and I haven’t had as much time as I normally do for “around the house” stuff and jewelry making.  Some days I had to choose to do regular things like dishes or make jewelry.  I know the logical choice is make jewelry, but I don’t like eating off of dirty dishes and if they get too piled up then my stress level rises to match it, so there is a balancing act that goes on there.

Anyway, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I really wanted to work on which is a new ear cuff tutorial because of the time limits and I also needed to complete a custom order, so I chose something I thought I could actually finish.

The tutorial I chose this week is the Wrapped Up Heart Pendant tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  It went really well and I was amazed at the shift in my thinking from “I wonder if I can do this” to “I know I can do this”.  I am so thankful for that confidence.  It can be really hard to work on something that takes a long time to make because of the self-doubt…if I can even move past the doubt to start the project.

I found this tutorial amusing because of how it ended up being put together.  There were so many twists and turns in the process that it would be nearly impossible to reverse engineer this pendant.  One example of this would be how it starts out…

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The beginning of a heart pendant?!?

There were lots of fun steps to get to the finished product and it turned out beautifully.

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Completed Wrapped Up Heart Pendant

My pendant has already has been oxidized because I needed to do that process with the pair of earrings I made for a customer this week.  This was the second time I made these earrings.  The first time I couldn’t get the top woven part the same for each earring, but I am pleased with how the earrings I will be sending to my customer turned out.  Here is a picture of them…the top picture is of the first pair I made and the second picture is of the pair I will be sending to my customer.

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First attempt at Woven Bezel Earrings (design by Lisa Barth)
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Customer order-Woven Bezel Earrings (design by Lisa Barth)

I also oxidized the pair of earrings I made last week.  They turned out nice, but I figured out that liver of sulfur will eat the coating off of some beads. 🙂  The beads started out as a nice metalic purple, but ended up looking a little silver.

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Before oxidization…notice the pretty purple seed beads
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After oxidization…now we have silver seed beads
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Another view of the oxidized Spiral Woven Hoops

For a recap, I didn’t have much time this week to kill, but it made me really productive.  I made the second pair of Woven Bezel Earrings, the Wrapped Up Hearts Pendant, oxidized three projects and even got an early start on next weeks project.  I know some people are so much more productive than that in a day, but for me this is a great amount of wire wrapping in a week and it is exciting!  Next week I am working on something I have never made before…a pair of ear cuffs.  It should be an interesting week.  I am also supposed to get a new jewelry book tomorrow.  Hopefully I won’t get too distracted.  Have a blessed week with lots of fun and growth!

Week Five…Pressing On

The beginning of this week was hard.  It was the memorial service and the funeral arrangements for my dear friend’s husband.  Honestly, it made me want to stop everything because in comparison, everything else seemed so pointless.  Life is so precious and it is so often taken for granted.  I think I tend to take everything for granted until there is a bump in the road and then it makes me appreciate it more.  I guess that is human nature.  I don’t like the hard times, but I am thankful for them because they make me look up and see how blessed I am instead of remaining in the pits of life…pits of self pity…pits of grumbling…pits of jealousy or envy…and more.

I felt the Lord reminding me of the fact that I do have a life to live, that it will go on, and I need to live it and live it well.  So I picked a tutorial that I thought I could finish this week and resumed living my life, and I just grabbed a tissue when I needed one.

This week I chose the Spiral Woven Hoops Earring Tutorial from the book Timeless Wire Weaving by Lisa Barth.  I didn’t know how to do the weave that was required for this project, so it was a fun way to learn it.  The weave is called the Snake Weave and this version includes a bead.  This was the first time I had used beads in my wire weaving, so I was pretty excited to see how it would turn out.

I think I must have been too tired the first time I looked at the directions because it sounded like blah blah blah in my mind…or like the teacher in Charlie Brown.  Needless to say, it took me a little time at the beginning to start the weave, but once I got the hang of it, it came along quickly.  It was so pretty when I finished the weaving part on each earring.  I look forward to seeing how I can use this weave in the future…dare I say it on something that doesn’t require a tutorial…just me, beads, and the wire running free.  Well, I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself yet. 🙂

The awkward part of this tutorial ended up being the spirals.  I am not a big fan of making spirals because I like them to be perfectly round from the center out and mine usually end up with a bit of an oval shape somewhere in it.  I was careful with these and after a couple I figured out how I could make them round.  Yaaa!  Now I just need to remember the little trick when I make them in the future. The trick I found helpful was this…

After you use your round nose pliers to make a loop and start to wrap the wire around it, there is a small kink that forms.  I found that if I used my chain nose pliers to correct the kink and then continue to wrap the wire around, then the spiral is a lot more circular.

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Small kink forming at the base of the spiral
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Spirals made without correcting the kink…notice the slight oval shape to them, and the spaces (Please excuse the tool marks, these were created quickly so I could showcase what I was talking about.)
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This is the spiral after I corrected the kink…notice how it is much more circular and it doesn’t have the gap around the beginning loop (Please excuse the tool marks, this was created quickly so I could showcase what I was talking about.)

When I finished the earrings, I didn’t quite like how my spirals looked and they didn’t match the picture in the book.  I am thankful that my husband helped me notice that I needed to put the spiral up instead of down.  So I fixed them, and am very pleased with how they turned out.

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Completed Spiral Woven Hoop Earrings
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Side View
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Close up of the Snake Weave with beads
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Close up of the spiral part of the earring

This week the lesson I learned was pressing on when it seems pointless to continue.  There is beauty in continuing the journey and I look forward to next weeks project.  I guess I need to figure out what that will be.