Friday, July 31, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

A Bead A Day:
Swarovski Crystal Volcano! Are you ready to see sparks of red, yellow and orange? Jewelry Making
Tammy's going bananas over bamboo beads!

Art Bead Scene
Learn how to make your own bezel with Art Bead Scene!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi places some vintage lace/tatting between glass for this lovely pendant idea.

Cindy Gimbrone
Want to add charm to your jewelry? Cindy Gimbrone shows you how to make glass nugget charms.

Jean Campbell
Jean gives the inside scoop on Rachel Nelson-Smith's upcoming book, Seed Bead Fusion.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is helping to promote Cynthia Thornton's new book release by offering the 1st of 8 giveaways!

Strands of Beads
Melissa discusses her experiences with metal clay safety issues.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
With Swarovski crystals from, Andrew creates a wire-wrapped dangle bracelet inspired by a fuzzy caterpillar.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Artist profiles - part two

Here's the next set of artist profiles for your viewing and inspirational pleasure. Please let me remind you that if you'd like to be a featured artist, you can email me at cyndi @ (remove the spaces), and I'll be glad to talk with you.

Leah Hitchcock-Ybarra

Rebecca Brown

Deborah Kwitney

Susan Shaw

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book review & giveaway: 101 Wire Earrings

Denise Peck is the editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine, and she has written 101 Wire Earrings, Step-by-Step Projects and Techniques. The first part of the books covers the basics of wire, the tools, and all the techniques you’ll need to make all of the projects in the book. This section is excellent, with clear photos and well-written instructions.

The main part of the book is devoted to the projects. Each of the 101 earring designs has a photo, a list of all tools and materials you’ll need, plus step by step instructions. There are no process photos, which might make it a bit of a challenge for beginners, but most of the earrings are simple enough to figure out from the main photo.

This is not a book for really experienced wireworkers. There is not enough of a challenge for you unless you need to brush up on your basic skills. However, the variety of earrings included pretty much assures that everyone will find something they like! As we often say here, no book can be all things to all people. The projects are mostly inexpensive and require minimal tools, and that can be a real plus.

Free Stuff Alert***Free Stuff Alert!!

I’ve got a copy of 101 Wire Earrings to give away over on Jewelry & Beading! Just leave me a comment over there and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing. In a week, I’ll randomly pick a lucky winner.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Fishing for Trout

Originally, I had planned to make this a much more complicated necklace, but as I played with a few ideas, I finally realized that I really didn't want to distract too much attention from the central medallion. So I settled on three knotted cords and a strand of ribbon yarn. I chose colors that would not only look good with the fish, but would also look vaguely like running water.

1. Cut all your fibers to at least 25 inches if you want an 18 inch necklace. I used a straw cut to various lengths in order to space the beads out properly on the cords. I used a mixture of vintage lucite and ceramic so that it wouldn't get too heavy. Knot below and above each bead, and cut all the ends even when you've finished.

2. Wrap the ends through and around a large jump ring so that the raw ends point downward. Pull the knots tight and glue them with jeweler's cement for security. Attach a chain to one of the jump rings, and attach a clasp to the other end of the chain. When the cement has dried, clip the ends close.


Polymer clay medallions available from Amy E Fraser.

Copyright 2007 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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Friday, July 24, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton:
After cleaning the studio, Andrew finds (and finishes) a long-lost PMC Floral Link Bracelet.

A Bead A Day
The new Swarovski Air Blue crystals are perfect for summertime jewelry making. Lisa has used them to represent a "happy day" in this ring and necklace set. Jewelry Making
Rock clubs rock, literally, when you are looking for inexpensive, local jwelry making classes.

Art Bead Scene
Tired of your liver of sulfur going bad? Check out this - Patina Gel!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi introduces a vintage walnut to rhinestsones.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy takes on heavy metal in the studio. No, you won't need to cover your ears - just your hands!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie takes some time to show off a few new resin and brass collage pendants!

Jean Campbell
Jean visited Chicago and discovered a new beading technique using pleather and Conso

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei makes a fun Owl swap with a blog friend.

Snap out of it , Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean is wowed by Denise Peck's recent earring book, 101 Step by Step Wire Earrings! Get it and make some for YOURSELF!

Strands of Beads
Melissa curls up with a few good books from Rings & Things

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Artist profiles - part one

Earrings by Wendy Van Camp

Starting back in 2007, I began to post profiles of artists whose work I especially admired. I figured that the best way to keep those wonderful profiles from vanishing into obscurity would be to index them here and remind folks that they are out there. So, here's the first batch! I'm going to post them chronologically, about five at a time so that you won't get overwhelmed by the sheer volume...there are 38 of them so far, and there will be more!

If you'd like to be a featured artist, please let me know. You can email me at cyndi @ (remove the spaces), and I'll be glad to talk with you. Please don't hesitate because you're a beginner either...not all the folks you're going to see profiled here are "professionals", whatever that means!

Wendy Van Camp

Kelly Alvarez Mace

Amy E Fraser

Penny Purdie

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Making CopprClay disc necklace - part two

In the first part of our tutorial, we looked at how to create the CopprClay focal discs. Now we're going to look at one possible way to use them in a finished necklace. I decided to mix my metals up a bit: I really like the rustic look of bronze, copper, and antique brass together, but you can stick with all one metal if you prefer. Here's what I used:

Materials & Tools:

5 focal copper discs
5 vintage rhinestone buttons in bronze setting
10" of raw brass chain
18 raw brass jump rings, 7.25 mm
9 copper jump rings, 6 mm
10 mm copper drop
5" copper wire
4 hammered copper loops
Quick drying epoxy resin

Round nose pliers
Flat nose pliers,
Wire cutters
Small file
Measuring tape

(Sources: CopprClay from Rio Grande, raw brass from Vintaj, copper from Auntie's Beads and Rings & Things)

1. Form, fire, patinate, and finish your focal discs according to the tutorial link for part one above.

2. Use the jump rings and hammered loops to attach the discs together. I used three jump rings between each loop and disc so that they would lie flat when worn.

3. Clip the shanks off the vintage buttons and use quick drying epoxy resin to attach them to the copper discs.

4. Use jump rings to attach chain to each side of the focals. Add a dangling copper drop to one end, and a copper wire hook to the other end.

Copyright 2009 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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Friday, July 17, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

Strands of Beads:
Melissa shows off a new variation of her lunar phases toggle

Art Bead Scene
ABS Editor Heather is on the road. Check out her quick project!

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva Gets Loopy
Check out Cindy's new project in the summer edition of Step by Step Wire!

Drawing Dilemma
Jean asks her friends about what drawing programs they use for beading illustrations

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Busier than a bee, Andrew shares fifteen new jewelry designs.

A Bead A Day
Can a piece of jewelry create a feeling of calm and happiness? Check out Lisa's starry bracelet made with "new jade" stones. Jewelry Making
How has your web store experience been? Are there too many 3rd partry sites to sell or buy jewelry these days? Take the poll as a sell or buyer.

Barbe Saint John
Barbe reviews Simply Gemstones book

Carmi's Art/Life World
Rub-ons and leather - a cool combination for this cuff sample.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Lights, Camera, Action! Melanie tells a tale of her Beads, Baubles, and Jewels television taping experience.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei is giving away a necklace and a copy of Creative Jewelry!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Making a CopprClay disc necklace - part one

The first stage in creating a CopprClay necklace with disc-shaped focals is to roll out, texture, fire, and finish the focals themselves. Start with small balls of CopprClay, about 3/8 inch across. Keep all of them under plastic wrap except for the one you're working with at the time. Follow the general instructions found at this tutorial for handling your clay.

Next week I'll take you through the steps of assembling these discs into the necklace shown above!

1. Roll out the clay on parchment paper and use texture plates to add patterns to each one. Use a small awl or nail to create holes where you will be linking the focals later. Gently transfer each disc to a small plastic paint palette and let them dry there to create a gentle rounded shape.

2. After the pieces have dried thoroughly, file and trim any areas that need it (like around the holes and rough edges). Fire according to the general instructions given in the tutorial link above. The photo above shows the discs as they look straight from the kiln.

3. Use a brass brush to clean any oxidation from your pieces. You'll get a shiny, but not polished finish like that in the photo above.

4. Use liver of sulfur or other patination techniques if desired. I love the depth that LOS brings to a piece once it's repolished.

5. Use your brass brush again, and polish with buffing compound if desired. Do not try to clean all the LOS out of the cracks...that defeats the purpose of using it! Simple brush and buff across the high spots to achieve both shine and depth.

Copyright 2009 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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Friday, July 10, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

Check out the 2009 Bead Cruise design contest winners!

Jean Campbell
Jean Campbell finished off her new LeTemps Necklace design which marries bling to grunge. Hurray!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei has busted out of the studio and into the Museum of Art for a trunk show.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean reviews a different, colorful, and inspiring book called Glass, by Marlene Blessing and Jamie Hogsett

Strands of Beads
Melissa talks about where to find reliable information on copyrights - the U.S. Copyright Office, of course!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Challenging himself with a smaller scale, Andrew tackles doll jewelry. Check out five new designs with dolls in mind!

A Bead A Day
Lisa’s “Swarovski Summer Picnic” project is progressing. The only thing missing are the crystally butterflies!! Jewelry Making
School's out for summer, but is it really? Nope, not when you can take one of these free jewelry making e-courses.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge painting for July is the Lascaux Cave Paintings. Get your stash of beads out in ivory, red and brown to match the color palette of these ancient drawings.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi attempts to create a necklace after a resin pouring disaster.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Cindy shows off some new chain and realizes one should never shop for jeans on her lunch hour.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

General instructions for working with CopprClay

Keep your clay sealed tightly when not in use.

Use a bit of olive oil on your hands and any press molds.

Roll out the clay and work with it on parchment paper. This paper is excellent all-around as a work surface.

Tiny scraps can be added to a slip jar to use as paste, or can be ground up and reconstituted with water and patience, as long as they haven't been fired.

CopprClay takes several days to dry, or can be hastened by placing in the oven (on parchment paper) at about 200 F for 15 to 20 minutes. More time if the piece is thick. It's vital to have the clay dry before firing, or you may end up with blisters and cracks. Make sure it's dry clear through, not just on the surface.

Do as much of your clean up on the piece as possible before firing. Even when the clay is dry, it is still pretty easy to refine, using an Exacto knife and a jewelers' files.

CopprClay must be surrounded by activated charcoal when firing to prevent serious discoloration from oxygen. It can not be torch-fired.

Every kiln is different. I highly recommend doing a few test runs to see how yours behaves. I have found that I can ramp up to 1700 F at full speed and hold for 3 hours for most pieces. Then I just turn it off and let my kiln cool down naturally before removing the pan.

To finish pieces, I use a brass brush on all of them first. After that, my procedure depends upon what effect I'm after.

For a shiny finish: brass brush, burnish, buff with red rouge, clean with a toothbrush and ammonia water.

To add enamel or colored epoxy resins: follow the procedure for a shiney finish and then add colorants.

For patinas: brass brush and then add patina solutions, or follow the procedure for a shiney finish and then add patina. The first option gives more tooth and a more organic look.

To preserve patination: some folks swear by silicone-based spray car wax, others by paste wax, still others prefer to leave it alone. I've experimented with spray wax, and it doesn't change the patina color much.

To set stones: do this last so that you can repolish the area behind the stone (liver of sulfur can seep in) to a shine and so that patination will not ruin the stone color.

To keep clean: use vinegar and salt to scrub or clean with a product called Penny Brite.

Lots more tips can be found at

Links to my tips articles with photos:

Working with CopprClay

Firing CopprClay

Finishing CopprClay

Copyright 2009 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, July 07, 2009

Artist profile on "The Artful Crafter"

Orinoco Flow

You'll find Eileen Bergen's links regularly in my weekly artsy link round-ups on Mixed Media Artist. This week, Eileen (aka The Artful Crafter) has posted a two part artist profile with me on her blog! I was extremely flattered to have Eileen ask me to do this.

Here are the links: Part one and Part two

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Bead & jewelry blogging round-up!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva:

Cindy learns to make murrini and deals with mud.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Even without a lot of time on her hands, Melanie finishes a clockwork themed bracelet using Swarovski faceted rings from

Bead & Button stash and Heather's inspired creations

Jean Campbell
Jean gives a sneak peek of her next Beadwork magazine piece

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Instead of continuing on with the tried and true techniques of jewelry design, Lorelei is finally ready to take the leap and try something new.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean gets her cool stash from Use the Muse II, and muses about it

Strands of Beads
Melissa wants to know what outrageous materials are in your beading stash?

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Stop by and say hello to Andrew in Charlotte, NC this weekend. Check out his new designs and some delicious new metal clay coins!

A Bead A Day
Do you love Swarovski Crystals? Inspired by talented jewelry designer, Lillian Chen, Lisa creates a Swarovski “sculpture” ring. Jewelry Making
Heard about copper clay or coppr clay? Find out more about this great new metal clay product and check out some new metal clay projects too.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gets creative with the "Best of ABS."

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Sometimes you need to have a jewelry makeover

Beading Arts
A report on firing and finishing CopprClay pieces. This stuff rocks!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi tries Ice Resin and upcycles a greeting card into a necklace.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book review: Ancient Modern Polymer Clay & Wire Jewelry

This is one of the most unique polymer clay books that I’ve seen! It begins with the usual solid information on materials, tools, and techniques that you’ll find in many books, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Ronna’s style is primitive, organic, and full of joy. If you’ve been looking for opportunities to shed the rules and just see what happens, this may be the perfect book for you.

The style of this jewelry will not be for everyone, so if you don’t care for the piece on the cover, it is very indicative of the style throughout. There’s lots of color inside, but it tends to be subdued and natural. The finished pieces are not pretty, but they are boldly arresting and intriguing.

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