clhollandwriter: (Default)
Back in April I signed up for a two-monthly bead subscription box called #Beadhaul. I'd just missed the April box, so I've been waiting a while. My first box arrived on Friday, and I was so tired after work I didn't even open it straight away. But when I did I was glad I'd signed up.

There's some stuff in there I wouldn't buy myself (like the acrylic fishes) which is kind of the point, to break out of my comfort zone and keep me interested. The only question is what to do with it all! I'll keep you posted.


clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I thought I'd already done a post for this, but apparently I haven't.

My mum spotted a necklace in M&S. She liked the style, but the colours didn't match what the person she was buying for liked so I volunteered to make something for her, in the required green. It turned out I didn't actually have a lot of green beads in my stash.  I asked what other colours she liked: "orange, black, ivory, lemon". This isn't a great combination, so I decided on dark green, amber, and black (the recipient is a green-eyed redhead). Then I went shopping.

It turned out I could buy beads individually at Beads Unlimited, so I went searching for a selection of oval, round, and faceted beads in my chosen colours. The next step was to figure out how I wanted to string them.

On the original necklace the beads were strung on transparent cord, with black cord knotted around them. I'd decided not to replicate this as it was fiddly and also meant some of the beads didn't hang right. I'd decided to string directly onto the main cord instead. Unfortunately I'm a really bad judge of size, so the beads turned out to be smaller than I expected. This wasn't a problem, except I had to go hunting for cord thin enough to string them on, and that meant the cord of the necklace would be thinner than I wanted and risk digging into the wearers neck.

In the end I stuck to the plan of stringing the beads onto their separate cords and knotting between them, and then plaiting the three threads together to make the rest of the necklace a bit thicker. This was the result.

For the clasp I made a loop in the cord, and added a random, reasonably-sized, green bead from my stash as the toggle. You can't see in the picture, but it has a spiral pattern.

One minor tweak later (moving the green beads by the toggle down to where the cords meet in the second picture) and it was ready to go.
clhollandwriter: (marchin)
Just a small jewellery project this month, as I'm working on a larger project and learning how to do wrapped loops.

I saw these charms when I was looking for beads for the larger project, and couldn't resist buying a couple.

A couple of earwires and flowers later and I had a pair of summery earrings.

They're a little heavy (the strawberries are quite chunky) so I wouldn't want to wear them every day. I like them though, and for once I got something made while it was the season to wear it. I've been planning winter earrings since before Christmas that still haven't been made!
clhollandwriter: (Marvin)
I've never rage-quit a jewellery project before (although I do have a couple that have stalled until I figure how to make them work) so this was a new experience for me. I'd bought a bracelet kit from Spoilt Rotten Beads because I love wrap bracelets and loved the colour scheme.

The problem is, I'm really bad at judging the size of beads. Normally they're way bigger than I expect. This time they were way smaller. Generally I avoid small beads - seed beads are the absolute worst - but they weren't tiny so I decided to just get on with it.

Now I'm no stranger to making wrap bracelets, but the instructions were far from clear. At one point in the initial steps it had me add a bead and finish on the righthand side, but then the next step started on the left. After fifteen minutes of trying to figure it out, I quit.

Half an hour and some food later, I decided the best thing to do was start again, so I unpicked everything - not an easy task with small beads and thin cord. I couldn't figure it out the second time eather, but I muddled through and got to the next section. Things didn't improve. It would tell you to do things like pick up a bead, then move the thread like so and go back through the bead you'd just exited. Except it didn't mean that bead, it meant the one you'd exited before you picked up the new bead.

When I'd finally threaded on all the beads I hit upon another problem. The instructions tell you to keep adding beads until you're an inch short of the desired bracelet length, which would be 14 inches on average. It only gives you enough beads to make 10 inches. It doesn't indicate anywhere in the instructons or ingredients list that you might need to buy more beads. Finding out halfway through making it did not improve my mood. I had to tie it off there, shorter than I wanted it to be, and hope for the best.

It's supposed to be a double-wrap bracelet, and the beaded part doesn't even go around my wrist one and a half times. I have skinny wrists. The only way the kit as provided is going to do what it says in the instructions is if you make it for a child. It's the day after and I'm still mad. I means, it's wearable but it's not what I asked for. If I'd known I could have ordered extra beads and made it how I wanted.

To make things even more annoying, the cord isn't taut enough so the beads don't sit right. That's entirely my own fault. Although to be honest working with 3 metres of cord at once is too much, frankly, and something else this kit got wrong. I'll need to go back over the finished bracelet and double up on the thread of fix it - except I don't have any more of the cord I need.

I bought another kit at the same time, and I'm dreading starting that one. At least I'll know ahead of time to measure the beads out and see how long the thing will actually be, and can compensate. I won't be buying another kit from there, that's for sure.
clhollandwriter: (poppy)
I've decided to try and blog about my jewellery projects once a month. Not only will it give me something to post about, but having to post about it will keep me making things to post about. I'm hoping it will help to keep the momentum up on both of them.

This month's project is a brooch I made for my grandmother at the beginning of the year. She loves foxes, and I found this little critter on Etsy.

It's quite chunky, so I thought the best thing to go with was a brooch. At first I was going to hang chain from the loops on the pin and dangle leaves like it was hiding among the foliage, but it pretty quickly became obvious this was unworkable. Whatever I hung from the chain would strike the fox, and probably damage it.

So I got rid of the chain. Not damaging the fox was a major consideration here, as was the fact that glass is quite heavy and I wanted to keep the weight of the brooch down or it could damage the clothes it was worn on. Being a hoarder I have lots of leaf charms. Glass ones were out, and the lucite ones were too big. I have several light metal ones, mostly in silver. However I thought the ones pictured above complemented the fox best, as they're quite small and in a sympathetic colour.

Because it was a woodland scene I wanted to add some flowers, and picked some tiny lucite ones becasue they're light. I went for red to go with the warm colour scheme, and added a silver butterfly for contrast.

And here's the finished piece.

clhollandwriter: (marchin)
I spent the first part of the session soldering a jump ring to my robin pendant. Here's a tip - always make sure you know exactly what your jump rings are made of before you put them in cleaning solution. Mine turned out to be (probably) steel-coated copper. The whole thing tarnished, and turned the pendant pink.

Luckily Roland had some scraps of silver wire on hand, and I was able to make my own jump ring. And solder it on the pendant again. I was still not full of the love for soldering. After it was soldered and in the pickle again, I decided to have a go at drop casting.

Did you ever play the game where you drip candle wax into water to tell fortunes? It's like that but with molten silver. I sat down with some scrap silver, a blowtorch, a bowl of water, and a pair of massive safety gauntlets, and started playing.

You don't get a great variety of shapes from this method, it turns out. Molten silver forms a ball, so a lot of the time the shapes are rounded. Sort of.

And you need to pour it quickly or you end up with things like this.

And yes, it is silver although it looks like copper. Oxides build up on the surface during heating and turn it funny colours.

Eventually I had a piece in a shape I liked, and while it was in the pickle cleaning I finished cleaning up the pendant with pumice powder, tripoli, and jeweller's rouge. It turns out that most of the work in metal jewellery goes towards the finish, and it's easy to see why pieces cost as much as they do.

At the end of the session I had a completed robin pendant, and a random silver shape. Somehow I had to find something to do with this:

March 2019

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