Category Archives: Jewelry Making

Man in the Moon

Last Sunday, to assuage my guilt at wasting time watching the Olympics, I decided to multitask and make a necklace while observing other people being active (which always makes me feel woefully chubby and out of shape).  The necklace is one I’ve been wanting to make for a long time – not a design of my own, but a combination of two projects (handmade chain and a single earring, used as a pendant) from Jodi Bombadier’s book Weave, Wrap, Coil.

I LOVE this necklace, and I’ve been wearing it all week.  It’s just so bright and shiny, and looks great with a scoop neck black shirt.  I had dinner with my dad last night, and showed it off to him.  As he examined it, he kindly remarked that it looked professionally done (aw, gee, shucks), and then asked me if it was the Man in the Moon.  What an absolutely perfect name.  I love it.

I’ve put a photo of my new favorite Man in the Moon necklace below, as well as some photos that transferred from my camera to my computer automatically when I retrieved the necklace photo.  Not being much of a photo bug, there are some old-new photos that I just rediscovered, and I included three of my favorites below: two of the Concord Independent Battery horses in the Patriots’ Day parade – look carefully at the brown horse; a photo of my sweet little Ophy cat, who currently isn’t feeling too great – hopefully she’ll get better soon; and a picture of the sun lighting up one of our glass doorknobs.

Before I talk about Silverfin…

I’m in the midst of reading Silverfin by Charlie Higson (“A James Bond Adventure”), in preparation for the 6th grade book group meeting on Tuesday, and I’ll be writing about the book here once I’ve finished it.  But until then, here are photos of my two latest jewelry creations.  The necklace with the red crystal beads is a prototype of my own design, rather flawed – but it was a great learning experience, and great fun to create my own woven design.  The copper diamond pendant necklace is currently wending its way to my sister’s house via first class mail (click on images to enlarge):

More woven jewelry

It’s official: I love making woven jewelry.  I’m still using designs and instructions from Jodi Bombardier’s book Weave Wrap Coil, but I’m just about ready to strike out on my own with my own designs (I even woke up this morning with a great idea for a star pendant, which I promptly sketched out for future reference).

Yesterday Jim and his band were at an all-day recording session – the CD they cut sounds great – which meant that I had an entire day, minus two hours to watch the season two finale of Downton Abbey, in which to make jewelry.  Fran’s birthday was a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d make her a ring, which of course means making a prototype/test model first (never give someone the first version of a piece of jewelry, unless you’re really really good, which I’m not).  The two rings that I made are vastly disappointing; one, a coiled ring with a bead between bead caps, looks cute on the table but a bit odd on the hand.  The second, a knotted woven ring, frustrated me beyond measure.  I made a long straight stretch of perfectly woven wire (best weaving I’d ever done), which I then wrapped around a ring mandrel, then took the two ends and tied them in a knot as instructed.  The ring looked great…but the flaw of the design (or perhaps, to be fair, my execution of the design) became clear once I snipped the ends of the knots on the underside of the ring.  No amount of filing could smooth those ends sufficiently to keep my finger from being cut by them, and the more I worked on making the ring smooth, the more screwed up my formerly beautiful weaving became.  It’s a mess, and way too sharp to be worn.

So then I decided to finish with a pair of earrings to match the necklace and pendant I made two weeks ago.  And I LOVE those earrings!  In my stash of beads I found small white freshwater pearls that dangle perfectly and add the right spark of brightness to the deep purple of the wire.  And my weaving looks terrific on these earrings – even and flawless.  I’m thinking that perhaps a pair of these earrings, in silver with black freshwater pearls, would be the better solution for a birthday gift for Fran…and I’m guessing my sister will probably want a pair, too…and Judy’s birthday is today…and then I’m hoping to have a booth at the farmer’s market this summer, and I would wager that these earrings would be a big seller, if I can make enough of them.

Here are the photos of yesterday’s projects – click on images to enlarge, and please leave feedback for me (good and bad, I’ll take it all).  Also note that some of the photos are a bit dark because I used the macro setting on my camera to show more detail.  Update at 3:15 PMJust finished – hot off the pliers, so to speak – the earrings in silver with black pearls:

Woven wire jewelry

Since last November, I’ve been carefully studying the book Weave Wrap Coil: Creating Artisan Wire Jewelry by Jodi Bombardier.  Bombardier’s projects are so cool, so unique, and so beautiful, and I couldn’t wait to try out a few.  But then, as these things go, the more time I spent studying the instructions and the photos, the more impossible the projects seemed.  I hit a wall – a wall of intimidation – and it looked like I wasn’t going to ever try to make any of these rings or bracelets or necklaces, especially not with expensive silver wire.

But then I realized that I could purchase “Artistic Wire” in the two required gauges, 16 and 26, for a mere $10.00…and probably have enough wire for two entire projects.  And so today I finally got up the guts to try the first project in Bombardier’s book, the Diamond Pendant and matching handmade chain, using purple wire.

Progress was a little rough at first, as I tried to figure out how to weave with wire, but I was amazed by how quickly I caught on to wire weaving.  It’s a bit like sewing with wire, and as long as you’re careful not to kink the wire, it’s actually pretty easy.  The weaving style required for this Diamond Pendant reminds me of the technique used to create my favorite Greek leather wrap bracelets; wrap once around one side of the frame, then over and under and back to the other side of the frame.  Very fun.

And so, after about two hours, I had finished my first wire weaving project and its matching handmade chain and clasp.  And it doesn’t look too amateurish, either.  I’ll wear it to work with pride tomorrow!  (Click on images to enlarge.)

I think I had fun…

Most of my creative energy lately has been spent on home improvement projects and not on jewelry making, so I promised myself that today I was Going To Have Fun and Make Some Jewelry.

In my mind I envisioned a beautiful simple silver necklace and some funky silver earrings with multiple circles.  So I got out a piece of paper and my jewelry supplies and “designed” the earrings, with the intention of designing the necklace after the earrings were finished.  Simple design, quick project completion – or so I thought.

My first attempt at the earrings used some 18 gauge scrap silver wire from a previous project, which I wrapped around the empty pill bottle from Ophy’s recent prescription to make a one inch diameter circle.  Next I cut an inch and a half piece of oval silver chain (a splurge purchase from a few months ago), which I attached by one end to the earwire.  Then I hammered the silver circle to give it texture, and slid the circle on to the first and last links of the chain.

Thinking to myself that I was pretty smart, I then starting wrapping 22 gauge wire around the two ends of the circle to join those ends together.  The first attempt at wrapping failed miserably, as the ends kept popping apart and the 22 gauge wire ended up completely misshapen and unusable.  So I discarded that wire (against my frugal Yankee nature) and tried again.  And failed again.

By this time I was completely frustrated, and decided to try using a 3 mm silver plated bead to join the ends of the circle.  I don’t own crimping pliers, and this wasn’t a crimp bead, so it was taking a chance to try to squish it together with my chain nose pliers.  It didn’t work.  In anger I took out my hammer and smashed the bead (something it’s not made to withstand, so it split a bit) – and surprisingly, the circle stayed together.  Ugly, but secure, and now unusable for the earrings, since it wasn’t attached to the chain.

I failed similarly with my second attempt, and this time took to stretching and hammering the second circle until it was sort of a curlicue, albeit a distressing looking curlicue.  What the heck, I thought to myself, and I joined these two failed attempts together to make a rather odd, misshapen pendant, which I’ll probably never wear (see below).

But now I’d figured out what I needed to do, and since I was out of scrap wire I switched to silver-filled wire, once again wrapping the wire around the old pill bottle, but this time overlapping the ends by approximately a centimeter.  This allowed me to successfully wrap the smaller wire around the two ends of the circle.

Next I wrapped wire around a Sharpie to make a smaller circle, once again with overlapping ends, which I installed on the second and fifth links of the chain.  I wrapped those ends to secure them, and one of the earrings was finished; I repeated the steps – not always easy to pull off for an amateur like me – and then had a complete pair of matching earrings.

They’re not beautiful, and I’m not sure how much I’ll actually wear them, but I did learn a lot through the process of making them.  Obviously I need to do a lot more of this type of practice in order to get good enough to make jewelry that a) stays together and b) other people might want to wear.  Click on the images below to enlarge, if you want to see the details of my less-than-perfect jewelry from today:

What to do about Etsy…

As of October 5th, I only have five remaining items listed in my jewelry store on Etsy.  I still have a sizable stock of bracelets to sell, tucked away in a ziploc bag in a drawer, but I’m not thrilled by the results I’ve had selling via Etsy and thus not sure I want to bother re-listing my inventory.  Twenty cents to list each item, with each listing lasting for four months before expiring, then a cut of each sale to Etsy, another cut of each sale to Paypal, and the impossible game of trying to charge an accurate amount for shipping costs – I’ve lost more money than I’ve made through my few Etsy sales.  Not to mention that my meager jewelry offerings are lost in the whirl of goods that are listed each day on Etsy.

Though I had dreams of making my fortune through my Etsy store, my realistic goal was to sell enough jewelry to support my expensive new hobby.  I’d still like to achieve that, since jewelry making is a blast and an excellent, creative change of pace for me from my job and our home improvement projects, but I don’t think it’s really going to happen.  Silver, my favorite medium, gets pricier every day, and copper wire just doesn’t cut it…blech.  So I’m trying hard to think of a way to sell enough jewelry to support my habit, especially since the more jewelry I make, the better I’ll get at making it.  Perhaps I’ll establish my own website, which seems like an enormous amount of work, or perhaps I’ll highlight new jewelry pieces here on this blog, or perhaps I’ll work at creating enough stock to rent a booth next year at the farmer’s market down the street from our house.  Meanwhile, though, I think I need to investigate whether I can take a business loss on my taxes for this year…ah, the price of creativity and a broad, interesting inner life.