Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Making The Key to my Heart…found object pins

One of the things I love most about making these pins is that you can cut out a bunch of base pieces all at one time, and then you can spend a little time here and a little there putting the pins together using whatever little scraps come to hand. Or are lying around on top of your work table!

There are lots of materials that you can use for a base, but one of the easiest to work with is good old Foam-Core. It’s easy to cut, you can stick wires into it to embed things if needed, and it can be toughened up when you’re done by a coating of two-part resin. Like I said, I usually cut out a bunch of pieces in one session, and then work on them little by little.

This particular pin is called The Key to My Heart, and it features an antique skeleton key, some origami paper, a couple strands of fiber, and a couple of beads. Here’s how I made it…change the directions to suit your own projects!


1. Peel the upper layer of paper off the top of your Foam-Core base. Paint the piece front and back, and adhere a piece of decorative paper to the front. Use a gold-leaf pen to do the edges.

2. Use E6000 or resin to glue heavy items like the key onto the pin front. Diamond Glaze is a good choice too for lighter objects. All will leave a glossy area if they leak out from below your items, so clean it up while it’s still wet.

3. Attach fibers and beads to the bottom of the piece. Since the key had a natural opening, I tied a lark’s-head knot around it.

4. Flip the pin over and use E6000 or resin to attach a pin back.

5. When all glue is completely dry, give the pin a coat of two-part resin to toughen up the Foam-Core. For this pin, I only did the back since I wanted a matte finish on the front. For others, I do both sides, letting one dry completely before attempting to turn it and do the other.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book review: The Naughty Secretary Club

by Jennifer Perkins

Ohmygosh, never before have I wanted so much to leave my boring world of glass and gemstones and get into plastic and resin!! Jennifer Perkins has written a totally delightful book, full of naughty kitschy fun (naughty because she was making jewelry back when she was supposed to be collating and filing. Well, who can blame her? These projects are WAY more fun!

If you don’t have a sense of humor, leave this book right on the shelf. Jen invites us all to not take ourselves seriously, and I found it to be a breath of fresh air :-) Her projects are marked as to difficulty, and in an attempt to get my feet wet in kitsch, so to speak, I made this fun fun fun bracelet, which I have unimaginatively named Cloth and Sparkle. I’m boring, so sue me!



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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Making a carnelian pendant


This pendant necklace was fashioned from a bola tie slide and some left-over beads from various vintage necklaces. Start by removing the slide finding from the back of the focal piece and sanding down the rough spots if necessary. Next, if there isn’t a hole through which you can fit a jump ring, drill one at the top of your piece. Mine didn’t have a hole, of course, but that was just a good excuse to use our drill press. Be really careful when you’re drilling unknown materials…you never know when something might shatter, so always wear eye protection. Gather up some beads that go nicely with your focal piece. I used some beads from 4 or 5 different necklaces here. The one style that I had enough of, I used to create the necklace strand. They are resin beads that look like polished wood. The rest are a mixture of resin and glass. I love how lightweight the resin beads are…you can get a lot of bulk and movement without a lot of added weight.

I started with a split ring in the middle of the beaded strand so that it wouldn’t slip off the beading wire. From there, I hung 4 jump rings in a chain, with the last jump ring attaching to the pendant.

Since the holes in resin beads are sometimes rather large, I slipped a seed bead onto each headpin, followed by the resin or glass bead. Create a wrapped loop at the top. Arrange the bead dangles the way you desire, and attach each of them to the jump ring chain. To make the cluster of beads fuller, attach some of them to additional jump rings that will attach to the chain.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.



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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Making a wrapped loop

Making a wrapped loop well is one of the foundational skills needed for adding wire work to your jewelry. It’s simple and easy, but it takes some practice to get everything lined up just right. After years of making wrapped loops, I know just how much wire I need in each gauge in order to turn one without any waste. That’s important when you’re using pricey materials like gold and silver wire. So get some inexpensive craft wire in some different gauges, and go to town practicing. Measure off a 5 inch piece, and then subtract what’s left to find out how much you really need! I used some nice large, bright, tacky pink wire so you could see the details clearly.


You will need chain nose pliers (or flat nose), round nose pliers, and wire cutters, plus your piece of wire.

Make a 90 degree bend in the wire using the chain nose pliers.

Position the round nose pliers on the working arm of the wire, up against the bend as shown. Begin to guide the wire about half way around the pliers. I use my fingers to do this.

Switch the position of the pliers to the top of the bend and continue the wire into a full loop as shown.

Holding the loop with the chain nose pliers to keep it flat and prevent it from shifting, wrap the working end of the wire around the “stem” as many times as you’d like. Three wraps is usually standard. Again, I usually use my fingers to do this, but some gauges of wire require a second pair of pliers to manipulate.

Clip off the end of the working wire if needed, and flatten it tight to the stem. File the cut end if needed. The more you practice this skill, the less wire you will waste in this final step.
Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Tape measure bracelet


This is another bracelet made with a wrapped blank as the base. I’ve already shared instructions for making a similar bracelet. This one features a vintage measuring tape! So, think outside the ribbon box for a moment with me…what else could we use to wrap a bracelet?


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Artist Profile: Jama Watts

The Harvest
Piece for Bead Dreams

Artist: Jama Watts
Business name: These Precious Things
Location: Lebanon, KY

Websites & Blogs:
Jama Watts
These Precious Things
These Precious Things etsy shop
Jama Watts blog
How do you describe your work, Jama?
My work is very much a reflection of what I’m into at the moment that I make the piece. I’m very ADD when it comes to my craft, learning new techniques constantly and playing with the results. I guess you could call it contemporary tradition! I do everything from pieces that look vintage to incorporating computer parts into my pieces.

As for my business name, I’m a HUGE Tori Amos fan and she has a song called “Precious Things.” It just seemed to fit!

What is your creative process like?
My creative process is all over the place! Sometimes I’ll order beads based on projects I want to do which may or may not start with a sketch. More often than not, I’ll order beads that I find interesting and will end up with a hodge podge of stuff. I tend to lay things out and see what appeals to me at the time. Or, if there’s a new technique I want to try, I’ll raid the bead stash and see what I think will work.


Seal Breastplate
Piece for the Maker’s Mark

There are pieces that require ALOT of time and I usually do those in little spurts of time. I just completed two pieces for a show called “The Mark of Great Art” sponsored by Maker’s Mark. One piece was a RAW Swarovski cuff, the other a large breastpiece comprised of silver clay, wax, Swarovski and seed beads with embroidery and stringing. That particular piece came very close to being hurled across the room on several locations. That particular piece had a deadline and will go on tour, which drove me to complete it.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
My degree is in art with an emphasis in art history. I’ve been painting and sculpting since I was little and decided to pursue that as I got older. I’ve never actually taken a jewelry class, but have read lots and lots of magazines and books. 6 years ago, my OB/GYN kicked me out of my studio when I was pregnant, even though I ranted & raved that I worked with acrylics and there weren’t any fumes. I needed something to keep me busy for the next 9 months and that’s when I discovered beading. I started with stringing, learning stitches, worked my way through silver clay, wire, bead embroidery and just can’t stop!

When my daughter was one, I opened up a gallery, selling my artwork jewelry and the work of other local artists. I’ve now been in business for a little over 4 years, spending my days beading at my desk or working on marketing.

I think my background in fine art has a lot to do with the fact that I like experimenting with different techniques, color combinations and materials. I don’t seem to have a filter or anything that tells me that I can’t combine one item with another. It leads to lots of “happy accidents,” as Bob Ross would say.


The Desert Meets the Sea
Piece for Fire Mountain Gems contest

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
My round nose pliers – I’ll never forget when I finally splurged for a good pair!

What inspires you to create?
I almost always have music or something going in the background. If I’m at work, my iPod is on constantly. At home, I might have music or a movie on. Music is a big muse for me, as is the art world. A song or painting might move me to create something. And if I could, I’d bead all day (which I’ve been known to do on weekends!). I tend to bead any time I can fit it in, but I really like to sit and bead for hours, if I can.


What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
If I’m not creating, I’m going crazy. If I’m not beading or designing jewelry, I’m at least painting, sketching or playing in PhotoShop. I learned a long time ago that I have to keep going. If I get stuck on a piece or frustrated with it, I put it down and work on something else. I’m still creating, but I know myself and that I need to step away for a breather. Else, I’m not a person you want to be around!


Green Eye

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If there’s a technique you want to try or materials you want to combine and people tell you that you can’t, prove them wrong! Or find out for yourself that it can’t be done one way, but can be done another. I tried peyote cab bezels and was never pleased with my results. Then, I bought Jamie Cloud Eakin’s book “Beading with Cabochons” and discovered a whole new way of setting cabs in beads. Voila! But, I also know that I’ll try tackling that peyote bezel again, because I won’t let the beads win! I’m too stubborn!

I think one of the biggest changes was when I decided (maybe to my demise) that I’d rather create wearable art than focus on what I think will be a big seller. It gave me the freedom to let myself go and create pieces that represented me as a whole, not just aspects of myself. Those pieces are little fragments of Jama.


Got Data?

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Oh my… I’ve got a 5 year-old in split K/1 who just started playing soccer, I run the gallery, do around 10 festivals a year, am president of our arts & humanities council, president of our main street committee and am involved with several other organizations within the community. I live in a great little town that’s coming into its own and I want to see it thrive and prosper, not just for myself, but for my daughter and the generations to come. I like to go go go!



What’s your favorite comfort food and other favorite things?
I’m a mac & cheese a-holic, but if it’s something that I make all the time, it’d be nachos with lots and lots of guacamole! I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan, both of the books and the movies and music means the world to me. I’m constantly trying to discover new artists and going to concerts. I’ll be dead broke but I’ll find some way to make it to a show!



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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Making a multi-strand necklace with wrapped loops


I neglected to take process photos of this piece as I worked on it, so I can’t really give you an exact bead count and a step-by-step. However, I can still give you plenty of pointers!

1. Chose a mixture of metals and bead colors that all look good together. I used copper, bronze, antiqued brass, which all look really good with the blue to purple tones of the beads. There are also some bronzed glass beads to emphasize the metallic tones.

2. Create three strands, each different, and anchor them to toggle loops. I used large hammered loops and a filigreed piece as intermediaries between the strands and the toggle loops.

3. Attach a substantial chain to one loop, and attach a toggle clasp to the other end of the chain. The toggles will be design elements, not hidden in the back. Don’t use a thin chain or it will dig unpleasantly into your neck in the back.

4. Create many many many wrapped loops around small clusters of beads and charms. Scatter these along the three strands and attach each with a jump ring.

5. Twist the strands slightly if you like a wilder look before fastening the necklace shut.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Book review: The Beader’s Color Palette

by Margie Deeb

Two hundred and twenty gorgeous palettes, with lovely photos and jewelry to illustrate them! I want to travel to all the places that Margie uses for her inspiration…the Middle East, Tuscany, Latin American…and the list goes on. Not only countries are used for inspiration though. The planet itself, historical time periods, the elements of life: all of these and many more are jumping off points for this marvelous color book.

Does 220 palettes seem like a lot? Margie says that it was hard to stop with just 220! There are projects too, which will allow you to practice some of the color magic that you’ve seen!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Making a ribbon cuff bracelet



Materials and Tools

Silk ribbon, 36 inches or more (Jamn Glass)
Bracelet blank
Ultrasuede
Thin cotton batting
Size 8/0 beads
Beading thread
Fabric glue
Alligator clips
Beading needle

1 Cut a piece of thin batting to fit the top of the bracelet blank. Glue it in place with a few drops.

2 Cut ultra-suede just a tiny bit bigger than the bracelet cuff, both top and bottom. Glue the two pieces in place and trim even if needed.


3 Wrap your ribbon around the blank, making sure each wrap overlaps the last slightly. If the ribbon is a little too short to do the entire bracelet, like mine was, leave a bit on each end unwrapped.


4 Turn the ribbon ends under and attach with a dot of glue. Hold in place with alligator clips until dry.

5 Bead along the edges of the cuff, and along the end of the ribbon if that applies.



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Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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