Monthly Archives: December 2015

Week Twenty-Six…The Grand Finale

I cannot believe I am just wrapping up the final week of my six month challenge!  There were a couple of weeks that made this challenge feel like it might last forever, but overall it has gone so quickly!

When I chose the project for my “finale” I wanted it to be the most complicated piece I have done yet and it really was.  I completed the Freeform Wire Bracelet, which is the final project from Sarah Thompson’s class “Wire Weaving Bracelets-Basics and Beyond” (found at craftsy.com).  This bracelet took all of the skills I learned from the beginning of the video series and combined them into one.  I knew this project would take me a while to complete and I was a little concerned about the time especially with all of the Christmas stuff going on this week, so I did a lot of my basic weaving last week.  I think doing that helped me to finish this week.

Here is a picture of what I finished last week and gave as a teaser picture of this weeks project…

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Beginning of Freeform Wire Bracelet

When I continued the bracelet this week I was surprised that there was a little mental hesitation to move forward in each new step.  Despite the hesitation, I was able to move forward without too much problem because finishing the project this week was the only option in my mind this week.  I didn’t expect to be completely cured of the doubt in my ability to accomplish things, but this struggle seemed out of place at the finish line.  I am thankful that the Lord helped me to press forward whenever I wondered if I could complete it.

Something I found challenging as I was weaving this project is the length of the 3 base wire component that is shown at the top of the previous picture.  I wanted to make sure I had enough wire, so I cut it a little longer than the tutorial said.  That is something that I always do when I am following any tutorial because I can always trim the extra, but it is a pain to add more.  In this case, I added way too much and it made it difficult to wrap around the really long wires and it tired my arm out quicker, so a tip is to cut the wire a little longer, but not too long…unless you are aiming for a good arm workout. 🙂

Here are some pictures of the completed bracelet…

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Freeform Wire Bracelet (front view)
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Freeform Wire Bracelet (side view)
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Freeform Wire Bracelet (side view)
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Freeform Wire Bracelet (clasp view)

Overall I really enjoyed making this bracelet because of all I learned in the process and the challenges I conquered to get to the the finish line.

One thing that was exciting to me was while watching the video to see how things were done in general my mind was opened to new concepts of the construction of jewelry making that I will be able to apply to my own designs in the future.  That is where I hope to go with all of my knowledge that I have gained over the past six months is to find my own style and see what I can create there.  I won’t lie and say that is a fun and exciting prospect…honestly it can leave me quaking in my boots if I think about it too much, but it is the place where I want to go in the future and I think this project gave me the first taste of it by being a “freeform” design.  The finished product that I created isn’t the same as the one Sarah Thompson did in the video tutorial.  I actually had to take my wire components and then form them.  At first I was not enjoying it and my mind was crying out for someone to tell me what to do with all these components, but I just started  and the more I got into it I started having fun and I started seeing the beauty in it.  It was a challenge to make my components work together and come into the harmonious completed piece, but I did it.  There were a couple of things I did that made it harder on myself such as ending wires too soon, but I was able to problem-solve and figure things out pretty quickly and without any drama. That is a sign of growth because in the early parts of this challenge most any snag in a project shut me down for a while and made me wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew.  I am so thankful for the Lord’s help and growth!

I also oxidized pendants from the last two weeks so that all of my Jewelry Making Challenge projects are completely finished.  Here are those pictures…

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Oxidized Earth Mother Pendant
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Oxidized Be Mine Pendant

Well it is time to wrap things up for my Jewelry Making Challenge.  When I started this challenge I wanted to strengthen my perseverance, use some the tutorials I have been hoarding because they are “too hard”, and to make jewelry making a regular part of my life.  I have accomplished all of those things in this challenge and so much more.  As I look back I realize this experience has been like going to jewelry making college.  I have learned so much and accomplished so much over the last six months.

Here are some of the things I have learned or been reminded of (not in any particular order)…

~Setting goals and having a vision will help you get to where you want to go.

~I can make beautiful things with wire and beads…even when it feels like I can’t.

~I can embrace a challenge and push through it instead of it stopping me in my tracks.

~Keep things focused and simplified to succeed.

~The Lord has given me many gifts and He will help me use them.

~I need to be patient with the wire…and myself.

~I don’t need to have guaranteed success for me to step out and try something because I can take risks.

~A temporary setback is not a permanent failure.  It is only a permanent failure if I never try to begin with.

~Safety isn’t always comfortable.

~Taking the first step is the hardest part of accomplishing something.

~I found the confidence to open an Etsy store and start selling my jewelry.

I am sure there are many more things that this challenge has taught me and I will continue to reap the benefits and blessings of persevering through the good and the bad.  The question is where do I plan to go from here.

I plan to take some time off from wire working and blogging on a specific schedule like this challenge has required for starters.  I want to play around with wire and beads without tutorials and see what I can do.  I will still do tutorials because there were many amazing projects I couldn’t fit into this challenge and I want to continue expanding my knowledge of jewelry making, but for a while I want to see if I can’t find my own style of wire wrapping.  It is a scary prospect, but I will stick with it and see what happens. 🙂

I also plan to still blog about what I am learning as I go, so there will be new posts about my exploits in wire wrapping and jewelry.  I will also probably blog about some things other than jewelry that I am up to since this blog is about the journey of living life and jewelry making is a small part of my life.

 

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Week Twenty-Five…Least But Not Last

The tutorial I chose this week was the Earth Mother Pendant by Nicole Hanna.  It was a very straight forward tutorial that I had fun working on and didn’t really take me that long to do.

The tutorial calls for an oval bead, but I have already used the oval beads I have in that size in other projects, so I chose to use a tube bead of the same size and it turned out fine.

Here are some pictures of the completed pendant…

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Completed Earth Mother Pendant
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Side View of Earth Mother Pendant
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Side View of Earth Mother Pendant
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Top View of Earth Mother Pendant

I will oxidize it next week along with my other projects and finish up the challenge with completed and oxidized pieces, so stay tuned next week for those pictures.

Do you want to know something funny?  Well I didn’t actually set out to complete the tutorial listed above at the beginning of the week.  I had actually been working on something else.  I wanted to complete something really complicated for my “final” project which would have been next week’s project.  However, I was uncertain I would have the time needed to complete it because Christmas is next week, so I thought I would tackle it this week.  Well I began on it and the stress was building because I didn’t think I was going to finish it this week either due to feeling a little under the weather and normal busyness of this time of year…and to be honest I reached the point that I would be trying something new and I was feeling apprehensive about doing it.  (Yes, I know we have conquered that already, but it will probably be something to conquer again from time to time.)  So I opted to pull out a tutorial to complete this week that I have been eyeing for a couple of weeks and that is the project above (Mother Earth Pendant).

Now I head into this week…my final week of the challenge…with a good start on my project, but ready to complete the new techniques that I was apprehensive about last week!

Here is a picture of the components of next week’s project…

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Components for next week’s project

Can you guess what I am making?

Sorry, I am not going to tell you yet.

Stay tuned for the final project of the Jewelry Making Challenge and I hope it will turn out great…to be worthy of the finale. 🙂  Have a blessed week!

 

Week Twenty-Four…Soldering Jump Rings

Several weeks back I realized that I needed closed jump rings for some of the tutorial projects I wanted to complete.  At the time I didn’t know what a closed jump ring was.  I mean I had done a lot of chainmaille and that required a lot of opening and closing of jump rings, but I figured that isn’t what the tutorial was asking for. 🙂  After I did some research, I figured out that a “closed jump ring” is a jump ring that has been soldered closed which creates a stable ring to use in anchoring wires and different wraps without it coming apart. (At least it shouldn’t come apart of if it was soldered correctly, but that is a different issue. 🙂 )

Here is a picture showing what I mean…

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Back of closed jump ring on the finished piece

When I discovered in Week Nine (https://thejourneyoflivinglife.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/week-nine-findings-and-metalsmithing-basics/) that I needed closed jump rings and didn’t have them I went ahead and made a clasp with regular jump rings to see if the the closed jump rings really would be necessary.  I can tell you with a clasp especially they really are necessary.  You might be able to sneak by with other projects depending upon what the jump ring is used for but a clasp will usually have a lot of weight tugging at it in general and it will make the jump ring want to open over time and in the case of my clasp that means the weaving could slide right off.

Here is a picture of the clasp I am talking about…

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Bell Woven Toggle Clasp from Week Nine

All of that to say that I think when a tutorial calls for a closed jump ring it would be good to listen. 🙂

I looked into purchasing some closed jump rings and quickly realized they were more expensive than I wanted to pay.  They weren’t too expensive in general, but since I have the equipment to make my own jump rings and usually like to do things myself if I can I didn’t want to pay the amount asked for.  Jump rings are time consuming and require a lot of effort to make in general (see my Week Sixteen post), so the cost is well justified for nice handmade rings if you aren’t wanting to do things yourself.

I already had the jump rings, but I didn’t have anything to solder them with.  I had tried to solder some jump rings about three years ago with my husband’s soldering iron, but that did not go well at all and I was convinced I would never learn to solder.  When I did my research on making closed jump rings I found a great video from beaducation.com on using soldering paste to make closed jump rings.  I had no idea what it was, but I knew that the video showed a process that I was pretty sure I would do.  I have gathered the items I needed to complete the process and this week I finally sat down to try it.

When I first sat down to solder there was that momentary thought of “Can I do this or will this turn out like my first soldering attempts?”.  I quickly got over that and just dove into trying it.  (Yes this is extreme growth since the beginning of my challenge where my doubt would keep me locked up for a few days before I would start trying something, yaaa for progress!)

Here is my soldering set up…

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Soldering Tools

Once I got started and applied the solder paste to the jump ring things went pretty well.  The only issue I really had was trying to figure out where my flame was going and making sure it was heating the ring and not my fire brick.  It was pretty much a trial and error thing, but they all turned out.

Here is a picture of the soldered jump rings…

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Closed jump rings before cleaning

Normally when people solder they use a pickling solution to clean off the fire scale, but I used a product called Penny Brite.  It was really simple to use and it turned out really well.

Here is a picture of my cleaned jump rings…

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Closed jump rings after cleaning with Penny Brite

Once my jump rings were cleaned I realize two things.  The first was that I had misplaced my solder on one of the jump rings and it didn’t seal. (The top left ring in the picture above didn’t close.) So I need to remember to make sure that I place the solder over the place I want to close and I use enough solder to close it.  The second thing is I realized that the silver color of my solder was there to stay.  I had purchased silver solder paste because that is what the video was using and I didn’t know there were different types of solder paste.  There actually is copper solder paste that will match the color of the copper wire I use more closely than the silver, but I found out through a wire jewelry group I am apart of that the color isn’t exactly the same.  Someone in that group mentioned that if you add something stainless steel to your pickling solution you can copper plate the solder to match the color better, so if you use pickle you might try that.  I haven’t used the pickle solution before, but I thought I would share that tip for those who have.

Soldering the jump rings was my main project for this week because I was unsure of how it would go, but since it went well I had time to make something with my closed jump rings.

The project I chose to make is the Be Mine Heart Pendant using the tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I think hearts are my favorite shape in wire working and I was excited to make one.

This tutorial uses a weave called 6/1.  The weave is beautiful, but very time consuming for me.  I found my base wires kept getting tangled even thought I was bending the ends out to know which was which.  I did get a little faster as I went, but it still took me a couple of hours to do the rounds required for the pedant.

Here is a picture of the 6/1 weave I am talking about…

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6/1 Weave

Apart from the weave being a little slow this piece came together really nicely.

Here are some pictures of the completed pendant…

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Completed Be Mine Heart Pendant
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Completed Be Mine Heart Pendant
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Right Side View of Be Mine Heart Pendant
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Left Side View of Be Mine Heart Pendant

When I finished the pendant, I wasn’t quite sure I liked it and I wasn’t sure why.  After thinking about it, I realized that I like the back part of my jewelry to be more hidden and there aren’t many places to hide things on this piece.  I realized that is something else that is probably a part of my own personal style.  It is always exciting to see my own tastes and preferences emerge, especially since I have spent the last six months submerged in other people’s designs.  I am looking forward to the day when I sit down with the wire and see what comes out…and hopefully it will be much more than wadded wire. 🙂  That day will be coming sooner than I think and I will have the confidence I need to conquer any fear of trying something new and unknown…especially since there isn’t a guarantee that I will succeed.  Learning to fail well is something that I have embraced more during this challenge as well and I am so thankful that the Lord has helped me to grow in that area as well.

Two more weeks to go before this challenge wraps up!  I am trying to figure out which tutorials I will finish up with.  We shall see…

I hope you have a blessed week that is full of love, laughter, and creativity!

 

 

 

 

Week Twenty-Three…Worry and Getting Faster

This week I started off with two large projects.  One was a special order and the other my project of the week.  Now in my mind both of these projects were complex and would take a lot of time to complete.  I was tempted to choose something easier to work on for my project for this challenge, but my challenge is winding down and I want to finish well, so I stuck with it, but it wasn’t easy.

Early in the week, it seemed if I wasn’t working on my jewelry projects I was worrying about my projects not getting accomplished.  It was quite maddening to say the least.  Have you ever had a nagging sense of worry about something?  I do and this week it was these projects.  It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but for about half a day I avoided them because I was worried I couldn’t do the projects and I would mess them up.  Sigh, I am so thankful the Lord helped to pull me out of that worry and doubting mess because the fact is I could do the projects…I was just focusing on the wrong things.  Our minds are wonderful and complex things and when we let worry or other negative thoughts start to take over we can get trapped pretty quickly and it is very hard to get out.

I got to the middle of the week and things finally clicked fully into place.  I determined a time that I would work on one of my projects and I made myself sit there and work on it even though I found myself wanting to stop and work on something else several times.  (Yes, I tend to have attention issues and am easily distracted, but I manage…most of the time. 🙂 )

So, I made myself sit there continuing to work and would you believe I was finished much quicker than I thought possible.  I was in a small state of shock that I finished.  Sometimes in my mind the more complex projects are like a theater production to be accomplished in different “acts” broken down over the week.  This week I didn’t have the luxury of breaking things down if I was going to accomplish what I hoped to.

After I recovered from the shock of finishing the first project I moved onto my project for this weeks challenge.  I chose to do the Woven Stacking Bracelet which is a tutorial found in Fine Art Wire Weaving by Sarah Thompson.  I think it is a great book for anyone who wants to take their wire weaving to the next level.  If you are completely new to wire weaving I don’t recommend it as a beginner book unless you are ready for a challenge.

Anyway, when I started my Woven Stacking Bracelet I started with a large strip doing the Modified Soumak Weave with four base wires.  I have done this weave in other bracelets in Week Eight and Week Fourteen, so I knew it was going to take some time to accomplish the amount of weaving I needed to do.  Well, I was in for quite a surprise once I started.  I was weaving neatly…and wait for it…QUICKLY.  I was so amazed.  I guess I finally found the groove required for that weave to go fast like I have seen others do in different videos.

My speed of wire wrapping is something that I have struggled with during my wire journey because I want to make things to sell, but it can be hard to charge a fair price and pay for my time on more complex projects.  It can also be discouraging when I fall into the comparison trap and see people posting pictures on Facebook of the three wire projects that they made that day…when it would have taken me all week.  I guess I need to remember all the other factors…those projects might be all they did that day and jewelry is their primary focus.  My primary focus or “job” is the running of my household and jewelry is something I am incorporating into that, so my time will naturally be spent differently.  The Lord has been helping me not get caught up into the comparison trap like I used to by focusing on my own journey in life and for this challenge my own journey in wire.  It is not an easy thing to do, but I have found it to be possible with His help and I am so much happier and more productive when I am living my life instead of watching someone else live theirs.

My bracelet for this week came together pretty nicely and quickly.  The only snag I ran into was when I was assembling the bracelet, but I worked through it.

Here are some pictures of the Woven Stacked Bracelet…

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Woven Stacked Bracelet
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Woven Stacked Bracelet
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Woven Stacked Bracelet
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Clasp of Woven Stacked Bracelet

 

 

I oxidized my projects from the past couple of weeks, so here are pictures of the Candle Flame Pendant from last week…

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Oxidized Candle Flame Pendant From Week Twenty-Two
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Oxidized Candle Flame Pendant From Week Twenty-Two

 

I am looking forward to my jewelry project for Week Twenty-Four…I think I am going to play around with my soldering stuff for the first time.  We will see how that turns out.  I hope you have a blessed week!