Monthly Archives: October 2015

Week Seventeen…Decisions and the Time They Take

My project for this week is the Egg Pendant Tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I purchased this tutorial a couple of years ago.  It is one that I wasn’t ready to make at the time, but I looked forward to the day when I would be brave enough to try it.  Well, this week I was brave enough. 🙂  The funny thing about it was the tutorial ended up not being that hard since I have been challenging myself to “hard” tutorials over the past few months.  It was right on par with the projects I have been making and I have comfortably reached a new level in my jewelry making skills and that is an exciting thing!  Now I move the bar higher and the tutorials I look forward to trying when I am brave enough are some from the book Fine Art Wire Weaving by Sarah Thompson and the Complex Wire Wrapped Pendant Tutorial by IMNIUM.  The great thing is I can tell that at my current rate it won’t be too long until I am ready to at least try them…they might not turn out the nicest, but trying them is what I am talking about…mastering them is a different subject.  I am so thankful for the courage and confidence the Lord is building in me through this challenge.

There are many things to consider in making jewelry, but the two that I tend to stress over are making a piece look nice and how long it takes me to make a piece.  Occasionally there will be something I don’t like about a piece, but I am getting to the point that I am pleased with how most things turn out at this point.  That is a victory because I tend to be a perfectionist, however I am seeing improvement in my ability to give myself the grace I freely give to others which makes the creative process so much easier.

Because I want things to look really nice, it can take me a while to get the piece to look the way I want it to.  Time adding up can be stressful, especially if I want to sell the piece I am working on and not charge an exorbitant price for my time involved.  I have been trying to identify what takes the most time in order to try and be more efficient, if possible.  When I was working on the Egg Pendant this week I realized how much time I spend trying to make decisions.  It was actually quite surprising and a little ridiculous to realize how much time it can take me to make a decision, especially if I am not sure about it and then I can procrastinate about making the decision all the while trying to move onto the next step of the jewelry piece.

An example of this would be working out the curves  early on in the Egg Pendant.  I didn’t have an oval bead like the tutorial called for, so I used a round one that was close to the measurement of the oval bead.  The shape of the bead changed the shape of the pendant and required a lot of working with to get a look that flowed with the shape of the bead.  I ended up spending close to two hours of my time on this alone, but I was happy with the end result and it helped the rest of my pendant turn out well.  I have learned the importance of the placement of early parts of a wrap in relationship to later parts of a wrap.  I learned this through a few mistakes that couldn’t be fixed once I realized they needed it…because they were made early on in the project.

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Egg Pendant in progress…The curves and swirls at the bottom middle of the pendant are the places I messed with for a couple of hours.

So while it is important to take the time to make sure things are flowing and looking nice, I need to be careful that I don’t get sucked into the vortex of perfectionism, decision making, and procrastination.  I need to remember that it is okay to make a wrong turn and not freeze on making a necessary decision.  I think this will help me cut out a lot of the wasted time in a project overall.  I will also continue looking for ways to improve my timing and keep the good quality, but not lose the joy in creating.

Here are pictures of the completed Egg Pendant…

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Completed Egg Pendant
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Completed Egg Pendant

This week I also oxidized several pieces that I created over the past few weeks along with the new ball chain I got to turn my pendants into necklaces.  I am really excited how they all turned out!  I was also playing around with some chainmaille pieces, but I didn’t get them finished, so I will share them later.

Here are some pictures showing the oxidized pieces…

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Oxidized Bead Vase Pendant from Week Fifteen
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Oxidized Bead Vase Pendant from Week Fifteen
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Oxidized Wire Woven Bracelet from Week Fourteen
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Oxidized Wire Woven Bracelet from Week Fourteen (another angle)
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Week Sixteen…An Adventure in Jump Rings

This week has been different in a couple of ways.  Normally, I follow a tutorial and create a piece or two of wire jewelry and then my husband will take beautiful photos for me to be able to share my pieces with you all here.  I didn’t use a tutorial this week and I really don’t have a “finished” piece of jewelry.  I made jump rings this week and I took all the pictures to document my journey as I made them.  A jump ring is kind of a “behind the scenes” thing in most wire jewelry (with the exception of chainmaille…it is the star) but it is a necessary and helpful component and I needed some.

Shortly before I started this challenge I purchased different gauges of raw copper wire.  I had used different plated and coated wires in all my projects before this challenge and I became frustrated with the quality of the wire I was using, so it was time for a change.  I have made several pendants and other projects over the past fifteen weeks, but I have been using jump rings that I had made a couple of years ago with my plated wire.  I decided it was time for me to have nice raw copper wire jump rings to match the projects I have been making and that is what I did for this week.  I have some helpful tools that helped me create these jump rings.  I use the Pepe Jump Ring Maker to create the different coils that I cut into different size jump rings and I use a Flex Shaft Motor to power the cutting handle in the jump ring maker set.

When I first started out this week, I didn’t expect it to be that hard, but I was in for a surprise.  Like I said, it had been a couple of years since I made jump rings and I had forgotten all of the little tips and tricks I had learned to make my tools work properly.  So, I needed to relearn a lot of things and I wanted to share those things here to help me remember and to help others who might need it.  Here is the process I went through and the lessons I learned…

The first thing I did was figure out what size jump rings I wanted and how many of each coil I needed.  This is one of the fun parts of the process.  I like to make a large batch because the process as a whole can be quite messy and a little complicated.

Here is a picture of the wire coils I made…

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Wire coils in different sizes and different gauges of wire

The next thing I did was add cutting lube to each coil…it looks a bit like the coils needed some deodorant. 🙂

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Wire coils with cutting lube on them

When I first started cutting the coils, I couldn’t get it to work right.  One of the things I remembered is that I needed shorter coils, so I cut them all in half using my flush cutters…

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Wire coils cut in half

Here is a picture of the base that I put the coils in to cut them…

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Cutter base for the jump ring maker
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The lid for the cutter base.  The pink card stock helps contain the metal bits that shoot out as the meat rings are being cut.  (That was my husband’s idea…isn’t he smart!)

There were many issues to be worked out before I finally got the jump rings to turn out properly.  The main problem was the wire coils were being wadded up and not cut.  It was quite frustrating.  I had watched several youtube videos on it to see if I could figure out what I was doing wrong, but not much was helping.  My husband helped me realize that I needed to turn the cutting base around which fixed some of the problems.  Another problem was my blade, which I knew was on correctly, but I don’t think it was a very good blade and it actually broke into several pieces while I was trying to cut a coil which was kind of scary.  I think it was at this point I was ready to throw in the towel and get a simple saw to make jump rings with.  Here are some pictures of the mishaps…

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Cutting blade that broke when I was cutting some coils
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All the coils from the beginning that wadded up
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More detailed shot of the coils that wadded up instead of cutting

It was at this point I finally remembered the tip that helped me the last time.  In all of the videos and tutorials I watched and read they would talk about not tightening down the screws too tightly on the coils because the cutting blade would have a hard time cutting.  Well “loosely” and “tightly” are relative terms here.  I had mine way too loose because I didn’t want to squish the coils.  I needed to tighten them up so there wasn’t any play in the lid and then it started cutting beautifully.  I was so relieved when I found the right amount of tension needed.

Here is what a properly cut coil looks like…

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Properly cut coil…isn’t it lovely!

With all of the initial drama over I knew now I just needed to do the work to cut and clean the jump rings.  I have so many different sizes and gauges I was creating that I used baggies to help me keep them organized as I went.

Here is a picture of what I ended up with after the cutting part of this project…

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Cut jump ring coils organized by size and gauge

Now it is time to clean these with the tumbler.  I have a rotary tumbler and used steel shot and Shine Brite Burnishing Compound to clean them with.  I ended up having four different loads to tumble so I could keep track of all the different jump rings without too many problems.

One thing I find handy when I am tumbling jump rings is to make sure to break up all the coils into individual rings or else the jump ring won’t be cleaned when it comes out of the tumbler.

Here is a picture of some coils that need separated…

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Separate the coils that are stuck together

I usually tumble a load of jump rings for about two hours and then I rinse them and let them air dry on a towel.  When I remove a load the steel shot is mixed in with the jump rings.

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Steel shot mixed in with clean jump rings

I found that a heavy duty magnet will make it easy to separate out the steel shot.

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Separating out steel shot with a heavy duty magnet

After the jump rings are dry I put them in containers and mark what size jump ring it is and what gauge of wire it is made with.  Here is a picture…

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Finished rings.  Aren’t they pretty!

Here is a picture of all the jump rings I made this week…

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All finished jump rings

Something I mentioned in passing is how messy this can be.  I wear safety goggles and a mask while I am cutting so I don’t breathe anything in or get something in my eye.  I also use lots of wet paper towels and throw-away rags to clean up with.

Here is a picture showing all the metal bits and dust that were created from cutting the coils…

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Bits of metal dust from cutting the coils

I am really excited to have all of these nice jump rings to compliment the jewelry I am making.  I am also excited that I can now make my own closed jump rings, but playing with my new soldering stuff will be a project for another week.  There are a couple of chainmaille pieces I plan to use some of these jump rings on as well. There are many possibilities and I look forward to exploring them in coming weeks!

Here are some of the tips I learned or relearned this week…

~Make sure your blade is on right and that it is tight.  (I noticed especially on the larger coils I had to tighten up my blade after a few cuts.)

~Make sure the top of the cutting base is snug against the coils, but not squishing them.  You don’t want any play in the top.

~Don’t make the coils too big.

Week Fifteen…Lacking A Graceful Touch and Patience

Sometimes you have those wonderful weeks where you set goals and things flow so smoothly and workout even better than you had planned.  Those are the weeks you feel like a super hero and you think you can accomplish anything.  That is where I am sure most people would love to live, I know I would.

This week wasn’t one of those wonderful weeks.  I started out in the place of “all things are possible” when I chose my project for this week.  The tutorial that I chose for this week was the Knot the Net Pendant by Corra Liew.  She does amazing delicate things with wire and I purchased several of her tutorials, but I have not attempted one until now.

I looked through the tutorial and thought it would be a challenge, but not too tough.  It is definitely something that you take your time and work though delicately so you don’t kink and break your wire because you are working with 28 gauge wire.  When I started I thought it would be nice to use pliers to help me pull on the wire to get my knots neat…that works if you don’t pull too hard.  I broke one of my wires a little over half way through the tutorial.

Here is a picture of how far I got…

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First attempt at Knot the Net Pendant…until it broke

I was not a happy camper.  There was a lot of stuff going on this week and my attention was required elsewhere, so my focus was split.  I was feeling rushed to finish and didn’t take my time with the project.  I find when I rush, I lack the graceful touch and patience that is needed with most wire work.  I should have chosen some chunky thing that I could hammer and wad up and call it art, but I wouldn’t have been happy with it.  I did realize that this wasn’t the project for me this week, so I picked up a pendant that I had barely begun a couple of weeks ago, but ran out of time on.

So, my project for the week actually ended up being the Bead Vase Pendant by Nicole Hanna.  It wasn’t a hard pendant to complete, but I was still feeling stressed and rushed and that caused me to make mistakes in this project as well.  The difference is I was able to work around them and complete the pendant.

Here is the completed pendant…

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Complete Bead Vase Pendant
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Completed Bead Vase Pendant

I am amazed that it turned out as nice as it did.  Usually my emotions end up showing in my wire work…especially when I am stressed.  I found I really didn’t want to work on this project, not because I didn’t like the pendant, but because I had hoped to learn a new technique from the first tutorial I chose for this week.  It proved to be a really good exercise in building perseverance, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge.  I finished and I am glad I did push through…which is a good thing for me to remember.  I have so many things that I start.  I used to be really good at following through on most of what I start, but over the past few years I have lost that good habit, but I am working on building it again…and with the Lord’s help I will be successful.

I plan to try the Knot the Net Pendant again in the not too distant future, but I will need to make sure I have the time to focus on it and take my time.  I guess it is helpful to know these things in order to succeed in what you set out to do, but it can be hard when your goals aren’t met.  Oh well, it is time for another week and for a new adventure in wire…I wonder what new lessons it will hold.  I am sure there will be plenty because life is always an adventure in some way…a journey with many ups and downs that I am learning to enjoy.

Week Fourteen…The Need for a Challenge

I was messing around with my torch for the first time this week…it was an interesting experience.  I was trying to create Ball Head Pins by melting copper wire with a torch.  It naturally balls up when it reaches a certain point.  It was very neat to watch, but I couldn’t get consistent results.  I need to figure out some more things before I experiment with it again, but it will be something that I play around with again.  Here is a picture of what I made…

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My first attempt at Ball Head Pins

When I was choosing this week’s project, I was a little bit torn as to which project to pick.  I knew it would be a busy week with other projects taking up a lot of time and mental focus, so I thought about working on some more pendants as I have been over the last couple of weeks.  I also thought about working on a hair barrette tutorial that I purchased a while ago…this was prompted by the fact that I got a haircut last week and chopped about 17 inches off, so a cute barrette would work nicely.  I also thought about a bracelet tutorial that I have wanted to do for a couple of weeks, but life has been too busy with other stuff, so I have been putting it off for when things “calm down”.

Well after working my way through all of these thoughts and realizing that I am in a busy season and things aren’t going to calm down anytime soon, I decided I wanted a challenge and so I went for the bracelet.  It was a crazy decision for me  because I am a planner and like to be pretty sure that I will accomplish what I set out to do, but I took a leap of faith this week and started in on the project to see where it would take me.

The bracelet I am talking about is the Woven Wave Bracelet with Articulated Clasp.  It is a tutorial created by Sarah Thompson and part of a video class on craftsy.com.

When I started my bracelet I did the wire weaving part first.  I used the Modified Soumak Weave, which is the weave I learned in week eight.  When I first learned that weave I had a little trouble keeping the pattern consistent, so that was something that I was looking out for on this bracelet.  I used my magnifying glass to help me keep track of my progress in order to make sure I was consistent.  It really helped my woven sections to turn out well.

After my weaving sections I made the articulated clasp.  It was the first time I had attempted anything like that, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be.  One issue I ran into was that the eye part of my clasp was too large when I made it the first time around because the flat nose pliers I was using was larger than the one she used in the video.  I was able to use smaller flat nose pliers and make one in the correct size without much trouble.

The final component to this bracelet that I made was the two pieces of 14 gauge wire that I hammered and then textured.  It was a fun part of the procedure and went pretty quickly…I just had to make sure I was texturizing the wire and not my fingers. 🙂

The next thing I did was put all the components on an L-pin of wire to create the bracelet.  It was a tricky process that took me a little bit to get figured out.  The first issue I ran into was that the different pieces kept slipping off the L-pin.  The second was figuring out how to braid the different pieces to make something other than the mess they looked like.  Here is picture of the mess of wires I was fighting…I mean working with…

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Mess of different components of the Woven Wire Bracelet

It was hard for the perfectionist in me to just “go with flow” of the wire and see where they ended up.  I worked with this probably a lot longer than I should have, but I know it was a good exercise for me.  I think there was a small part of me that didn’t want to finish at this point because I could not imagine finding beauty in this mess.  However, quitting was never an option…this week I wanted a challenge and here it was!  I made myself continue to braid and wrap the wire in different ways until I finally did see something beautiful emerging.  It was very exciting to say the least!

Here is a picture of the final product…

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Completed Woven Wire Bracelet

The only trouble I ran into with the bracelet was that it was too small for my wrist.  It was sad, but someone else had this problem and they made the clasp longer to compensate for the difference, so that is what I ended up doing.

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Longer hook to make up for the short length

 

Here are some more pictures to show the different sides and angles of the bracelet…

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Completed Woven Wire Bracelet
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Completed Woven Wire Bracelet
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Completed Woven Wire Bracelet
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Completed Woven Wire Bracelet

Didn’t it turn out lovely!  I can’t believe it.  There are so many reasons in my planner and perfectionist mind why it should not have worked, but it did.  It gives me a lesson in hope for my life that when things look like a complete mess, I can trust the Lord for the outcome to be beautiful…things don’t always turn out the way they appear.