Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday: Mini Leather Links and Art Bead Earrings

I was thrilled when I found these mini leather links in September.  They are just 1 1/2 inches long and 5/8 inches wide.  They have been waiting patiently for me to make something.  And when I finally decided to feature them in this tutorial today, I checked back and found that they were out of stock.  But, I contacted the website on the label, Realistic Leather Crafts and asked when they would be available again and within a day they were back in stock.  You can purchase them here.  Before I actually decided on a project for this tutorial today, I tried out some ideas on the links.
First I tried stamping them with Stazon ink, a technique I learned in Melissa Cable's book, Beautiful Leather Jewelry ( see my ABS review of this book  HERE

mini leather links stamped with permanent black ink

I love how the leather accepts the stamping so well.
Here I tried out riveting a piece of stamped copper ( on the left) and coloring the leather with acrylic paint (right).  These two techniques also came out well and have lots of possibilities. 
And then finally, I had a plan.  I used Mink Oil and Gilder's paste to color these two mini links and I was ready to go.  I had decided to  make a pair of earrings with these wonderful ceramic drops from fellow ABS editor Claire Lockwood of Something To Do Beads.

Art beads by Claire Lockwood

I love the rustic quality of these drops and the deep shiny black with the hint of honey brown on the edges.  

Here is what I made using the mini leather links and just a few other supplies.

Rustic Honey Edged Earrings
2 leather mini links 1 1/2 inches x 5/8 inches  here
4 heishi disks with flower pattern-silver plated  Jo-Ann Fabrics or Michaels
2 long brass screw rivets Fundametals
2  Sterling silver balled end headpins  ( I used  3 1/2 inch pieces of 20 gauge sterling silver to make mine) patinaed in Liver of Sulfur 
2 ceramic art bead earring drops ( these are from Claire Lockwood Something to do Beads)
Rust Colored Gilder's paste( most online bead stores)  and Kiwi mink oil (big box shoe stores)
Clear nail polish or epoxy glue
a pair of sterling silver ear wires
Liver of Sulfur

Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers
Flush cutters
Small File
Hole punch 1.25mm  
Small butane torch if you decide to make you own headpins


1. Punch a hole in the middle of each of one of the mini leather links:  first soften the leather with a light coat of mink oil.  Rub it in.  Then fold the links in half, aligning the two holes.  Press together to make a fold, then open and make a mark in the middle of the middle of the link which is 5/16 inch from the edge of the link.

Leather mini link

2. Use your 1.25mm hole punch to  make the holes

hole punch 1.25 mm

3.  Apply rust color gilders paste to both links.  Set aside to dry for at least 1 hour.  Overnight would be better.

mini leather links colored with rust gilders paste

mink oil and rust gilders paste

4.  Now that the gilders paste is dry enough to handle we are going to put in the wrapped loops that will later be attached to the ear wires.  Insert the sterling silver balled head end pin into the hole we made earlier from the back to the front ( the front being the smooth rust colored surface) as seen in the picture below.

Pull the wire through.  The balled end will prevent it from coming through the hole we punched earlier.   Make a wrapped loop as seen in the picture below.

wrapped loop in center of the mini link

If making the wrapped loop scuffs up the rust color just reapply some more gilders paste.

5.  Earring assembly.  Add 1 heishi silver flower disk to each of the 2 long brass screws and move it down the screw  until it touches the head of the screw.  

silver heishi disks

silver heishi flower positioned next to the screw head

Now fold the mini link in half  over the hole on the top of the the earring drop.  Insert the long screw through the hole of the link the the drop.  It should look like the picture below.

The front of the earring with the long screw going from front to back.

front of earring with the screw rivet attached

Then  add the second heishi flower and screw down the nut to meet it.  The back should look like the  picture below.

back of earring with heishi flower and nut on the screw rivet

Tighten the screw by using your finger nail or a tiny screw driver to hold it in place.  Try to have the center line of the screw go from top to bottom as seen in the picture .  Use your flush cutters to clip off the extra length of the screw rivets, file smooth,  and put a couple of drops of epoxy glue on the nut to keep it from coming undone.

finished earrings

Now you can add your ear wires.  Enjoy your new earrings.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: The Beader's Guide to Jewelry Design by Margie Deeb

 The Fundamentals of Jewelry Design for Bead Artists by Margie Deeb

Whether you are a seasoned bead designer, just beginning, or somewhere in the middle, I think you will find lots to love in Margie Deeb's newest book, The Fundamentals of Jewelry Design for Bead Artists.  Beautifully illustrated, full of explicit examples and dynamite practical information, this book seems to cover it all.
Let's start with the structure which follows the process of jewelry design itself.  Her chapters go as follows:
Focal Points & Emphasis
Jewelry and the Body
The Creative Journey

Within each chapter there are at least 12 subheadings ( with the exception of Color, Deeb's known specialty, and that one has 24)  that break down the subject into its important components with specific examples and opportunities for the reader to get involved in design decisions. And even better, each section ends with Challenge Yourself exercises that give you several ways of exploring each design concept further in your own work. Margie gives us specific "assignments" that will sharpen our skills in each learning area.  You are free to work your way through the book or pick out areas that you feel would be most helpful to you.

In addition to the challenges, there are many graphics through out the book that she gives us permission to copy, enlarge etc. for personal use.  For example, in the chapter Shape, she has drawings that we can practice seeing how a design would look by drawing it right on the human form.  In the chapter, Jewelry and the Body she includes 17 pages of images, drawings and charts of how jewelry and body shape interact .  These are an invaluable resource.

One of my favorite chapters is The Creative Journey.  Here Deeb addresses that universal "elephant in the room" fear and doubt, with specific, constructive suggestions.  She deepens the discussion with ideas for nurturing and encouraging our creativity by showing us how to structure  our creative process through her own examples and those she has gleaned from 8 other jewelry designers, many of whom you will know.

I hope I have given you enough information to see that The Beader's Guide to Jewelry Design can have an important place in your personal library.  You can purchase it directly from the publisher,  Lark Books, or online at  Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Thank you  for stopping by.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Inside the studio with Claire Lockwood

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations Connie W! 
You have won a beautiful lampwork lentil from Ema K.
Please send Ema an email with your information.


Things are kinda betwixt and between at the moment.  Since my last ITS post, that shed I showed you, is now inhabited by....

....Bertha! Bertha has a surprisingly big ol' belly. I did my first bisque firing last week. I imagined I had enough to fill her up but I was wrong.  I have another bisque firing 'scheduled' so I can fix oxides and underglazes on the pieces from the first firing.  Now I'm aware of just how much will fit inside, I'm busily trying to get enough greenware made up to pack out all the space there'll be in this second firing.  So, I have a lot of bisque and greenware beads on my hands and I thought I'd share a few here. I've been getting some seasonal, winter-y pieces made.

Igloos - charm/pendant and a bead version

A trio of terracotta robins waiting for their red breasts

Snowy white porcelain birds

A lone penguin.

Which brings me to polar bears.  Madeline Bunyan makes the most fabulous teeny lampwork polar bears. I always get some as Christmas appears on the horizon. This gang of five turned up at mine yesterday.

I do love polar bears and these are really are teeny.  I've tried making polar bear beads from polymer in the past; the results were always a bit lumpen.  Anyway, I thought I'd try making a little ceramic polar bear. I'm not very good at 'little' generally - not as good as I'd like to be, at least (see the quite large penguin above).  

I'm fairly pleased with it but there's a chance it'll be a run of one because it took me a fair old while to make it. The ears: argh! It would probably have been easier if I hadn't decided to make it whilst I had the porcelain out. A white earthenware would surely have made things easier.  That said, I have been loving the porcelain.  Here's a few less winter-y pieces that are waiting to be fired.

I can't stop making lily/seed/pod type forms.

(These are earthenware with one black stoneware sheep.)

And a few more bits and pieces that are in the works...

In other studio business, I had to have a bit of a tidy and a clear out to accommodate my ever growing glaze collection.  Accumulating the pile of mess below has been the work of several years.  

My poor Hornsea hen, festooned with scraps of wire, ribbon, linen, gem tassels and lord knows what else. There was even a heap of Twizzlers from all my Lima Beads orders - see there, on the left of the picture.  Eventually, I managed to sort through it all ( / just sling a load of it in the bin) and get some order in place.

Now I have everything conveniently positioned next to me so I can grab it as I work. 

I have also found time to make some jewellery, here and there. Here's just a few pieces.

(ceramic spikes and connector - Scorched Earth; ceramic bird - me)

(blue bear bead - Jo Lucksted)

(polymer heart - Jetta Bug Jewelry; ceramic round - Golem Studios)

I think that is everything - which means it's giveaway time!  The prize on offer this week is...

Only joking! The prize is $20 of credit to spend in either my bead or my jewellery shop.

The question to answer is: who makes your favourite winter-y / seasonal art beads and what are they?  Comment below for the chance to win that $20 of credit!

Bye for now, Claire

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Art Bead Palette :: ZestyFrog

This week's art bead palette comes to us courtesy of ZestyFrog, a lovely ceramic bead shop run by Annica. In there, you can find all sorts of lovely ceramic beads in organic shapes and textures. That's definitely where Annica shines, in my opinion - all of her beads feel like little natural treasures.

For this palette, I chose Annica's organic medley bead set. The colors are fantastic and great for fall, what with the olive greens and mustard yellow. The possibilities for this bead set are incredible!

To see more, stop by Annica's shop! Which beads are your favorite?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Amanda Sagarin + Numinosity + Ragged Robyn

What I love about my pick for this week is that it is not literal at all.
There are so many elements to pick up on in this month's challenge painting, from the birds to the flower to the nest that it is hard to see past that. So it surprises and delights me to see that this is the painting deconstructed. The flamed and enameled matchstick pendants in these earrings really do call to mind the flower. The rugged discs make me think of all the tree bark and the nest. I think these earrings have a very unique look to them!

Featured Designer :: Amanda Sagarin

Featured Bead Artist :: Numinostiy + Ragged Robyn

Just a friendly reminder... We have a slightly new format for uploading your pictures for consideration for the Perfect Pairings each Wednesday, as well as the Monthly Challenge Recap post. We are now using Pinterest! You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes, including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge! (Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!) 
Pretty please make sure that you link to your picture in Pinterest so that I have someplace to attribute the picture to! And don't forget to tell us about those art beads!
Deadline to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post is Thursday, November 27th...Thanksgiving! Get them in early this month! Let's see what you created!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Amuse the Muse - Holiday Beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

It's Monday - it's time for your regular art beady eye candy post! Thanks to everyone for sharing your holiday bead finds - I love seeing what you stumble across during the week; finding new bead artists is always very exciting. Thanks to Liona, Colleen and Mary for this week's finds!

Odie Bell's Designs - Lampwork holly berry beads

Fire and Fibers - Snowman and Snowlady lampwork beads

Mick's Company - Hand-rolled paper beads 

Mary shared these lovely wee charms, new to her shop this week. Aren't they just gorgeous? 
Mary Harding Jewelry - Handmade Snowy Fir Tree Charms

State of Fusion - Lampwork beads in holiday colours

Midget Gem Beads - Poinsettia Christmas Beads 

Last but not least, and possibly my favourite of this week's finds - this beautifully icy heart bead. And Masque Beads are based just around the corner from me - they are also in Edinburgh! It's a small art beady world. 
Masque Beads - Sandblasted lampwork snowflake heart

Remember to share your holiday art bead finds in the comments below! 

And now for the BeadBlogger Links:

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in Edinburgh, capital of her native land. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, songbeads.blogspot.com and see more of her jewellery at songbead.etsy.com. She also has a supplies shop at thecuriousbeadshop.etsy.com.