Posts Tagged ‘handmade’

Last night I was working on putting together some new earrings and I realized I needed some jump rings but I didn’t have the size I needed. Aha, I’ll just whip some up! Not ever having done that in bulk before it felt like a stimulating and fun little adventure. Surely, it would be satisfyingly quick job. Not.

I did wind my copper around this lovely set of steel mandrels here. These babies are cheap and great for SO many things around the studio. (Harbor Freight carries them for under $20 bucks if I remember correctly.)

I found it tough to keep my copper coil very tight and uniform on my first couple of tries. Note to self, soften wire by annealing before winding it! I sat, staring in frustration at my ugly coils and decided I should get distracted by looking at some people on youtube that have this coil winding skill naturally. Oh, the tools I saw them use! After looking up some really fancy and expensive tools and yelling out “wow!!!” a lot, I called out randomly for  help in re-creating something like “that!!!” (points at fancy picture of drill vice thingy on screen). Luckily there was a strong, strapping male in my kitchen nearby with a handy set of extra hands AND the parts I need for such a creation. But.. the parts are at his work.. which does not help me while I’m filled with drive to complete the cutting of these dumb coiled wires NOW. Not later.


I grabbed a v-shaped plastic thingy for shaping polymer clay and set it in my vice. The ‘V’ holds any sized coil I need perfectly.

But.. I need downward pressure to compress the coil AND some sort of a plate to press it against that I can ALSO saw through. So I grabbed my ring polishing tool and plucked the wooded wedge out of the back end of it, sawed a line down the center and stuck it in my vice as my ‘plate’ to push against.

Grabbed a steel mandrel for pushing into my coil with and hey, that kind of worked. Until my coil went springing out of there and freshly sawed jump rings with it, onto the floor where I assumed the proper ‘metalsmith position’ with tail in the air and face in the carpet. Muttered a few choice words and tried again.. and again.. and again. Modification and learning all along the way.

Finally, I decided to put the coil directly into the vice and saw it like that and it worked muchhhhhhh better that way. Still not super ideal but certainly a bit faster with the sawing. Today hubs is rigging up a small wooden box with ripped off acrylic ice scraper mounted to the front (oh.. pics to come later.. that’s gonna be so good) so I can saw with it mounted in the vice. And a cool hand crank drill for me to twist wire into coils with. I cannot tell you how super excited I am about that!!

After (finally) collecting as many pieces of jump rings off my floor possible, I threaded them onto pipe cleaners and stuck them in my tumbler for a while. I should mention that I did the patina process to darken them when they were a solid coil. In retrospect I will do the patina process just before tumbling so that the patina extends onto the split area (which won’t be seen anyway.. but hey, I’m a stickler for details). I tumbled with water only since I didn’t want the patina to be removed. Some came off but not in all areas. I love the softness to the look.

All in all I spent far longer on this than I intended but I learned A LOT. I have an even bigger appreciation for handmade items than I already did. Because a jump ring is a detail that is easily over looked. It’s just a small circle. It holds important things together. But it isn’t the ‘main event’.. however, without it a necklace just wouldn’t be the same.. nobody’s main event really looked good all lumpy and fallen down into to their bra. This was a big lesson for me as quality is becoming more important in my work. I used to spend a few bucks on jump rings but now I’m looking at either making them myself or purchasing them from somebody who does, even at quadruple the price because when it comes down to it… the small imperfections, the time and energy it takes to make these detailed components REALLY makes a big difference in the presentation of the piece as a whole. It just doesn’t look like the stuff that comes from mass produced sweatshops. There’s life in these small circles.

I’ll update or do another post when we get the handmade jigs all up and running and I give this jump ring thing a second try.

My sparkly friend Mary inherited some fabulous fibers, metallic threads, silks, and embroidery flosses among other things and she offered to share them with me. How could I refuse? I had to make her something…something “her”. At first it was going to be earrings but that didn’t honor the origination point. See, these fibers were inherited from a special lady (her sister in law) in the family whom had passed. Earrings would not do, not alone. So I decided on a cuff that could incorporate some of the fibers to honor the one whom had owned them, have her presence in the piece as well. Let the creative process begin…



Here is the letter that came with the bracelet…. The earrings were made similarly by hand cutting copper sheet metal, heating with a torch to soften (annealing) and then hammering, polishing and layering with molded polymer clay that was was hand painted and sealed.


I must begin with a confession…I found Art Jewelry for the first time last week. I looked around and was like YES!!! I’m totally going to get inspired by a Boot Camp! I guess I didn’t search back far enough into the posts…I kinda missed the part about “balled” head pins. I was looking at the post about inspirational headpins more recently and I saw some in polymer clay and thought “Heck ya! That’s for me!” so I spent all day Sunday making headpins. Then…

Um. Er.

I saw the post on Monday talking about “balled” headpins.


So I spent all of Monday balling headpins to wrap around my headpins. It was the best mistake I ever made! So, here are my headpins using balled headpins. This was so fun!

I started by making some faux turquoise polymer headpins. I was inspired by some of the glass headpins when I searched around Etsy so after curing I added a layer of resin. I learned a lot about resin. I learned that the Pavelka brand at Michael’s yellows easily and is too thick and goopy for anything round. I have used that brand before on flat items and liked how it settled evenly though. I did end up switching to some that I had on hand from Epoxies Etc. It was easier to brush on in thin layers and it didn’t yellow. It actually seemed harder when cured but that may have been because it was thinner.


After those little do-hickeys were done I wanted to do something gardeney (totally not a word, I know) so I grabbed my green blends and started making little curls. I left some matte and gave some resin finish.



I moved onto a Renaissance feeling and wanted to try my hand at forming little caps with clay. Stamping them was interesting. They remind me of little mushrooms. I left these matte.



Then, I moved onto beachy stuff. Yup, I was on a fancy beach in my mind.



I used some enamel that I had to cover over the ends of the copper head pins on some of these hearts. I learned that I did not clean the copper well before enameling and the enamel chipped of easily.



Then, I wanted to use a metal eyelet normally used for cold connections as my center tube and this little flower grew right out of that experiment.



THEN….some more stuff happened at my bench.



You can see them in the gallery below. I won’t post ALL the photos up here.

I do want to thank Staci Louise for putting on this fabulously stimulating challenge and give you all a link to the main page.