Monthly Archives: July 2016

Summer Jewelry Challenge Week #9…New Techniques and Fun

This has been a very productive week for me in jewelry making.  I have four necklaces and the beginnings of a bracelet to share this week.

First I want to share the Wave Cross Pendant that I made last week.  I oxidized and polished it so it is ready to go.

Here are some pictures of the Wave Cross Pendant…

img_2133
Oxidized Wave Cross Pendant
img_2147
Oxidized Wave Cross Pendant

The second necklace I want to share is a cabochon pendant that I started several weeks ago but finished up this week.  This was my first attempt at wrapping an undrilled gemstone cabochon.  I usually work with drilled beads and most of them are made of glass so this was quite a change.  I used a video from Oxana Crafts on youtube.com to get the basic construction design and then I tried to make the details my own.  I was pleased with how it was going and thought I would try something more fancy with the top half of the design.  I twisted the wire, but found I had a hard time getting it to match up or look as smooth as I wanted it to.  Honestly, I am not crazy about that part of it, but I wasn’t sure what else to do with it so I tried to make the best of it.  The most challenging part of this pendant was finishing the back because it is an undrilled stone that I was trying to encapsulate with the wire instead of building around it with wire like I usually do.  The cabochon kept popping out of the back and it was quite frustrating, but I finished it and then set it aside for several weeks.  This week I finished up the top part of it and then oxidized it.  I am still unsure if I like working with cabochons, but I will wait to make the final call until I have done a few more.  I do know that I really enjoy looking at cabochons, especially labradorite!

Here are some pictures of my cabochon necklace…

img_2148
Cabochon Pendant
img_2134
Cabochon Pendant
img_2135
Back View of Cabochon Pendant

The last three things I have to share are what I made this week.  I have really been wanting to try some new techniques so I dove into them this week.

The first technique I tried was making swirls with my wire instead of weaving it.  The first pendant I made using this technique was using the Swirly Twirly Lampwork Bead Pendant from Oxana Crafts (youtube).  The lampwork bead I used in this pendant was made by Katerina Sojkova.  I found this technique to be quite fun and easy to use.  I was able to be relaxed about making the piece and didn’t feel like it had to be a certain way and that is the kind of mindset this technique needs.

Here are some pictures…

img_2150
Swirly Twirly Pendant
img_2138
Swirly Twirly Pendant
quarterstack
Swirly Twirly Pendant

Isn’t it so cute!  I included the picture with a quarter to show how small it is.  One of the best things about this technique is that it can be done pretty quickly which gives me options to make a simple and more economical necklace.

The other tutorial by Oxana Crafts (youtube) that I used is called Swirly Bead Pendant.  I incorporate the swirl technique and wire weaving in the same pendant.  I found myself really wanting to make something else this week and this pendant was it.  It was a fun pendant to make and again didn’t take as long as some of my other pieces.

Here are some pictures…

img_2149
Swirly Bead Pendant
img_2136
Swirly Bead Pendant

Didn’t it turn out pretty!  I was surprised at how much I liked this pendant because normally I like symmetry, not organic designs.  It just goes to show that I am becoming more and more relaxed in my perfectionist tendencies…enough to see beauty where there isn’t a lot of order.

The final piece I have to share this week isn’t anywhere near finished, but it showcased the other technique I learned this week.  It is braiding with five strands of wire.  I used the 5 Strand Braid Wire Wrapped Cabochon video tutorial by CSL Designs (youtube) to learn this technique.  I may try it with a cabochon one day, but I wanted to create a bracelet with it this week.  The technique was easy to learn and wouldn’t normally be challenging to apply, but I have a knack for complicating things.  Since I was making a bracelet and I wanted it to be sturdy I decided to use 14 gauge wire to braid.  That is the thickest gauge I have worked with personally.  Most of my work is made using 22 and 28 gauge wire, so the 14 gauge was a bit of a shock to my hands.  I eventually got the braid to work out okay and did a section large enough for a bracelet.  Then I added some half round wire to hold it together and shaped it around my bracelet mandrel.  That is how far I made it before I decided to save it for another day.

Here is a picture of the progress so far…

img_2128
5 Strand Braided Bracelet

It is definitely rough around the edges, and I almost tossed it, but I saw its potential and decided to save it for another day.

Whew!  That was a lot to share for one week.  I hope you enjoyed what I made because I know I enjoyed learning the new techniques and making them.  I hope you have a great week to come!

Advertisements

Summer Challenge Week #8…Challenges and Stress

The project I completed this week was the Wave Cross Pendant which is a tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  This tutorial has been on my “want to make” list for a while now, but there have been other things I have wanted to make more, so it usually got pushed back to the bottom of that list.  I think part of me that was a little nervous to make it because there are some mirroring techniques involved.  Mirroring is usually pretty frustrating for me, so I usually avoid it if I can just to save myself the stress.  However this week I wanted to tackle this piece and I dove right in.  I found the overall experience of creating this piece wasn’t too bad, but in the moments when I was making it there was plenty of stress and frustration to be had.  Nothing drags out the perfectionist in me like mirroring…so naturally she made an appearance this week.  The good news though is she didn’t stick around for too long.  I quickly realized that if I was going to make this tutorial and not drive myself crazy I would need to give myself grace and aim for doing my best rather than aiming for perfection.

In my six month Jewelry Making Challenge from last year I was so uptight in my creating process that I never strayed from the tutorial.  Honestly I thought I wouldn’t be doing the tutorial any justice if I did and quite frankly I didn’t know how to because I was so rigid in my thinking and in jewelry making in general.  After that challenge I found myself wanting to break free from the constrains of a tutorial and see what I could create with just wire and beads.  I spent the first part of the year exploring that.  I was pleased with my results.  I still created with tutorials, but branching out in this new way gave me freedom and permission to explore.  After a while I started adding my own small touches to the tutorial pieces I would make.  At first it felt a little awkward and I wasn’t completely sure that it was okay, but I continued on my journey anyway.  Now here I am over two thirds of the way through my Summer Jewelry Challenge and I don’t think a single tutorial has been completed without some alteration due to my personal preference.  That is a lot of growth in a short time.  I am so thankful and humbled by the confidence and freedom that I am finding in my jewelry making journey.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have challenging times where I need to walk away from a project, but they are few and far between.  I have also learned that though I struggle I don’t quit.  I keep struggling until I have a solution and can learn what I need to in order to accomplish my goal.

This week’s tutorial received some of those personal tweaks. 🙂  The biggest difference is I chose a different weave for the main body of my cross pendant.  I really like the full look of the Modified Soumak Weave (my favorite weave), so I decided to us it instead.

Here are some pictures of the finished result…

img_2097
Wave Cross Pendant
onboxstack
Wave Cross Pendant
img_2125
Wave Cross Pendant-Top View
img_2126
Wave Cross Pendant-Bottom View

I like how it turned out.  There are a few other minor things I changed, but the most noticeable is the jump ring.  I had a small closed jump ring around the top coiled wire like the tutorial called for, but when I was looking at it after I was done I really didn’t like the way it hung.  I decided to see how it would look with a larger jump ring.  It fit my preferences more and so I went with it.

Here is a close up of the top part to show you where I am talking about…

topstack
Wave Cross Pendant-Jump Ring View

I mentioned earlier that as a whole this pendant wasn’t too bad to make, but there were lots of little stresses throughout the process.  One of these stresses was the fact that there weren’t many places to anchor and tuck wire ends.  It is a dainty piece that is pretty, but unforgiving in finishing.  I ended up with so many tool marks on the back of it because I was trying to anchor and tuck the ends without distorting the shape of the cross.  I had to get creative in order to finish it, but I was able to rise to the challenge.

Here is a picture of the back with tool marks…

img_2121
Wave Cross Pendant-Back View

There were moments of challenge and stress, but it was definitely worth it to push through to the finish line!  Well that is it for this project.  I hope you all have a great week and can push through the hard things to breakthrough into the beautiful!

Summer Challenge Week #7…A Great Week of Finishes and a First

In the past month I have sold four pieces of my jewelry.  It was something that was unexpected, but I am so thankful and humbled by it.  The reason it was a surprise is because I haven’t been actively seeking customers through marketing.  I have an Etsy store where I have listed some of my early pieces, but I have close to 20 pieces that I have finished but haven’t listed.  My focus has been on other areas in my life in order to complete some short term projects and that hasn’t left me with the time to invest in my jewelry business yet.  The biggest project I have been working on was finished this week and I am super excited about it.  I have spent the last 6+ months going through literally everything I own and determining if it sparks joy for me or not.  I have gotten rid of everything that didn’t spark joy.  This is the konmari tidying event that I have mentioned in a few previous posts.  Now all I need to do is find a home for the things I have decided to keep…this will be the fun part in my opinion.  I am really looking forward to taking inventory this week and coming up with a plan to get everything where I want it.  I like plans and lists in general in case you haven’t noticed. 🙂  Something else I have finished this week is my six week 0 to 5k walking plan.  I actually walked almost 4 miles which is more than a 5k. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.  I have been unable to do much exercise due to other health issues, so the fact that my body was able to do this is a big deal and I am so thankful for it!

Well that raps up my “finishes”, now it is time for the “first” that I mentioned in my title.  One of the pieces of jewelry that I sold was a custom order and it was my first time to make a custom order.  Custom orders have always seemed like a big deal to me because I know how hard I can be to please and how much I would want to please others in what I make for them.  It just seemed like way too much stress to try and work out, but I have to say that wasn’t my experience in this case.  I had a previously made piece that my customer liked and I was able to create a customized piece based on it.  That really helped things go well because I had a general idea of where I was going and all I had to do was customize it.

I ended up using the basics from the Sunset Cloud Pendant tutorial from Nicole Hanna and added the colors that my customer wanted.  I also needed to adjust the tutorial for three beads instead of four.  In my first piece I used 6 mm beads and they blended in well with the wire work, but this time I wanted to use 8 mm beads to make them more prominent because I was making a “family” necklace, which is like a mother’s ring but this was for a child to remember the parents by using their birthstone colors instead of a mother remembering her children by their birthstones.  I also needed to alter the wire weaving because I was eliminating one bead and I needed to make sure I would still end up with a circle like piece that flowed well and had good spacing.

Here is a picture of the necklace that I made following the Sunset Clouds Pendant Tutorial several weeks ago…

img_6849
Sunset Clouds Pendant Tutorial

Here are some pictures of the one I customized this week…

img_2075
Customized Family Pendant
img_2068
Customized Family Pendant
macrostacked
Close Up of the Customized Family Pendant

I am so pleased with how it turned out and that my alterations were successful in the end.  I hope my customer will be pleased with the results as well.  It was a fun piece to make and I liked the challenge of altering the tutorial for a different number of beads because it showed me that I have gained good knowledge on the construction techniques in wire work in general.  It is so great to see the growth in my journey because I can remember a time when I would have been too overwhelmed to even try because the though of altering a tutorial would have been too much.  I thank the Lord that my fear of the unknown and trying new things is shrinking and I am taking on new challenges.

Well, that is all for this week.  I hope that you have a great week that is full of love encouragement, adventure, and growth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Challenge Week #6…A More Simple Original

This is the halfway point of the challenge and the halfway point of summer.  Time escapes so quickly and my habits in the past have been to try and capture a moment so I will always have the memory of it.  However, I have become aware over the past year and a half that I am tired of trying to “capture” the perfect moment in order to recreate it in the future because it is causing me to miss all of the wonderful moments in the present…that place where life really happens.  When you have a picture in your head that you are trying to match it is so easy to dismiss all the things that don’t add up and I have thrown away a lot of good things in my search for perfection.

I have battled this same tendency in my jewelry.  I have certain people who I think make the most gorgeous wire jewelry and my mind transferred that to thinking if mine didn’t look like theirs then it wasn’t good.  That thought seems so ludicrous as I type it, but at the time it was a very real belief that I judged my own work by.  All I saw were the flaws and mistakes instead of the hard work and growth.  Obviously when I first began making wire jewelry I didn’t know how to fix or avoid many of the common mistakes that people in wire work make, but that didn’t stop me from beating myself up at what a failure I was and how I would never be good at making jewelry so I shouldn’t even try.  Well I am so thankful that I didn’t quit at those times and I certainly have grown past many of the more common mistakes, but I do still make mistakes in my pieces…I have just learned how to fix them or use them in my designs.  I have also realized that I was too harsh with myself and that beating myself up wasn’t helpful in any way, but instead hindered me in getting to where I wanted to go.  How do you talk to yourself?  I know my self-talk isn’t always kind, but I have grown much in this area.  My husband started asking me how I would talk to my dear friends if they were in that situation.  At first I scoffed at the idea, but as I began to practice thinking in that manner I began to see change.  With the Lord’s help I began to actively combat the harsh manner in which I related to myself and have had success in this area.  Part of this journey has also been discovering my value to be in Jesus and not tied up in my own successes or failures.   In discovering these things I have slowly been able to set aside my need for perfection and accept myself where I am at.  This doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying to improve or grow.  I have just become more like a coach trying to encourage and spur myself forward instead of a harsh task master that is never satisfied.

You may wonder what this has to do with my journey in jewelry making, but it has everything to do with where I am today.  I have found such freedom in these changes and in turn wanted to take risks and try new things…things that I wouldn’t try in the past because I knew there wasn’t “certain success”.  As a result I have challenged myself in new ways and explored new wire working concepts until I have reached the point where I am ready to try to make something without following instructions.  I have made several pieces now without having a tutorial to follow and it has been a fun experience.  I love to pick a bead, cut wire, and see where it all leads.  That is something I never thought I would do because I am a planner at heart.  I enjoy the fun and freedom that comes from simply weaving the wire and figuring out what will look nice with the focal bead.

This week I wanted to challenge myself in a new way.  I have started developing my own style and it involves a lot of different weaves and is complex.  I was wondering if I could make something in that style, but make it more simple.  I honestly didn’t know if I could but I wanted to try, so that is what I worked on this week.

Here are the pictures of the finished piece…

handstack
Green Heart Pendant
closeupstack
Green Heart Pendant
img_2031
Green Heart Pendant

I am pleased with how it turned out and how I was able to have a more simple piece and still have it fit my style.  Because the bead was smaller it didn’t take me as long to make this pendant as it has some of my other pieces.  It is so exciting to see where things have come to in my jewelry journey and I am curious to see where it will take me next.  I know for now I will be finishing up my Summer Challenge, but after that I am not sure.

Before I say goodbye for this week I wanted to share the earrings from last week that I oxidized.

Here are some pictures…

img_1999
Butterfly Pendulum Earrings
img_2019
Butterfly Pendulum Earrings

I hope that you will have a blessed week that is filled with many wonderful moments that you can live to the full.  I also hope that you will be kind to yourself in those moments when you fail and that you will not be afraid to try something unknown!  Well goodbye for now!

Summer Challenge Week #5…Finishing Up

This has been an unusual week in jewelry making for me.  On Monday I picked my project, but didn’t get to start it, but I thought I would start on it Tuesday.  Tuesday and Wednesday came and went, but no jewelry project had been started.  This week has been incredibly full of things going on in my tidying up event (konmari) and I haven’t had much time or energy to spare for jewelry.  When Thursday rolled around I thought I might be in trouble.    I thought about taking a break this week, but then I realized I am doing this challenge for this very reason.  This year has been devoted to my tidying event and jewelry making had been pushed to the back burner but I wanted to bring it to a more prominent place.

So on Thursday I ended up pulling out a project that I had started several weeks ago, but didn’t finish.  It was something that I was trying to get creative with a tutorial, but in the process I ended up frustrating myself to the point of needing to walk away for a while.  Have you ever been so mad at a project that you had to walk away for a time?  It doesn’t happen too frequently, but I have a couple of things like this.  Usually I can go right back to the piece and finish it within a week.  I have three projects that I started several weeks ago with the intention of challenging myself with something new, but I ended up getting mad in the process.  It sounds a little juvenile to walk away from a project because it makes you mad, however the truth is I don’t want to make a piece of jewelry while I am angry with the process of making it because the piece would be a reminder of how I felt when I was making it.  Of course not all of the times that I have been frustrated in trying something new have been a bad thing.  Sometimes it can be really hard in the moment, but when I stick with it I can end up growing in my confidence because I was able to accomplish something really hard for me and the piece of jewelry reminds me of that victory.  An example of this would be the bangle I made in Week #2 of this challenge.  I actually made that my personal bracelet to remind me of that battle and the victory won in the end.  I hate walking away from things, but I am learning to give myself grace and see this as a small retreat in order to win the war instead of the defeat that it feels like.  The tricks are to know when to walk away, know how long to stay away, and always return to finish the job.

The piece I decided to return to and finish up is a pair of earrings I made using the Butterfly Pendulum Pendant tutorial by Nicole Hanna.  I didn’t care for the pendulum look and wanted to shorten it.  It also looked like a good tutorial that I could use to make earrings because there isn’t mirroring that would need to be done in the opposite way like there are with most earrings.  Things started out fine and I was doing each step on each earring to help them look as similar as possible, but somewhere along the way the frustration built to a point of walking away.  I do know that this project was the one where I realized that earrings aren’t something I really enjoy making.  My perfectionist tendencies really drive me crazy with trying to get a pair to look exactly the same.  Maybe one day I will be at a point of being more relaxed about the natural inconsistencies that come with my human work.  Sometimes I can forget that I am human and not a machine and my work will reflect that and it is a beautiful thing in all the messiness and imperfections.

Here are some pictures of the earrings…

img_1912
Butterfly Pendulum Earrings
img_1893
Butterfly Pendulum Earring
img_1913
Butterfly Pendulum Earring

I am pleased with how they turned out and can’t wait to see them oxidized.  Usually I don’t like to dig out my oxidizing stuff for just one piece, so I usually do it every two or three pieces.

It is always a good feeling to finish something I start and I am thankful I finished these earrings. Do you have an “unfinished” project box?  Pull some of them out and see what new inspiration strikes…or in my case see if the frustration has passed and it might be time to accomplish something that was looking pretty sketchy.

Well goodbye for now and I hope you have a week filled with love, fun, and creativity!