Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New eBook from Interweave: 10 Wire & Metal Jewelry Designs to Build Your Skills

I'm thrilled to have one of my favorite projects included in this brand-NEW eBook from Interweave Press. 10 Wire & Metal Jewelry Designs to Build Your Skills (whew, long title!) is a great new release, featuring wire jewelry designs from some of your favorite artists. It's just $9.95 to download, and, best of all, it's available now!
My own contribution is the "Victorian Cuff" made from knotless-netted sterling silver wire, vintage buttons, beads, and waxed linen threads. I've taught this design in several venues, and it was really popular with my students. I don't know if I myself consider it "Victorian," but it certainly is feminine and lightweight, easy to wear and very comfortable. Here's a picture of it on the cover of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine:
And here it is again, this time in a copper-wire version:
I loved making this bracelet! Lots of fun to wear, too; I love how the little beads dangle around my wrist. If you'd like to access the full-color step-by-step photos with detailed instructions, you will find them in Interweave's newest publication. Just click here.
In addition to my cuff bracelet tutorial, you'll also find nine more wire jewelry projects including a Cascade Necklace by Shannon Schmid, a pretty bracelet by Kate Richbourg, earring designs, necklace links, a quick tutorial on using liver of sulfur to darken your metal jewelry, more bracelets and necklaces, a couple of soldering projects, a woven cuff bracelet, and a "Delicious Donut" pendant that I cannot wait to make myself.
The artists contributing to this eBook are outstanding, and I'm honored to be included in their midst!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Making Gifts!

'Tis the season to start thinking about... gifts! Am I right? With Christmas, Hanukkah, and other seasonal holidays coming up next month, we must start preparations. And when you're a jewelry artist, it seems like all of your friends and relatives and coworkers expect handmade jewelry...
...Which is fine, really, except that it's much more time-consuming to make a gift than to simply go out and buy one! So I have a couple of thoughts on that, which I'd like to share.
1. Planning: Make a list of all the people you really have to prepare a gift for—immediate family, best friends, the boss at work—and then make a secondary list of folks you'd like to remember with a handmade gift, but may not have time to do so.
2. Starting early: As soon as you can begin, get going. Getting all your pieces made and packaged ahead of time will relieve a lot of your holiday stress. I start by making jewelry components first. For example, in the earrings pictured above, I made lots of large fine-silver fused rings and then shaped them into basic geometric shapes (squares & triangles), and then I forged and textured them. I later wrapped pearls and/or beads on them, and set them aside. Ear wires can always be added when you have time. I demonstrate making fine-silver components just like these in my online workshop, Big & Bold Wire Jewelry.
3. As you work: Pretend you're a jewelry-making factory. You're in production-mode now! How to produce a big batch of beautiful jewelry quickly? First, keep it simple. Elaborately wrapped, woven and coiled wire jewelry may be what you're known for, but this is not the time for that. Save your more time-consuming jewelry pieces for special times, like weddings or birthdays. When making lots of jewelry during the holidays, I always find it more expedient to keep my designs super-simple.
4. In process: You have your list of gift recipients, so do the math. For example, 10 recipients means 10 jewelry pieces. Decide if you're going to make bracelets, earrings, pins, or simple necklaces. I like to make earrings because they're always gratefully received by my friends and relatives. This year, I'll make plenty of components for earrings, and then assemble them quickly with beads, and later add ear wires.
5. Tips: For some reason, geometric designs always work in jewelry. Think circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, or triangles. Organic free-form shapes can also work, but sometimes they don't come out looking the way you'd planned. They're fun to experiment with, but when you're under a time-crunch I advise using what works.
Also, much as I love to make coiled and wrapped jewelry, I find that most people prefer simple, clean designs without a lot of elaborate wire wrapping. It pains me to say it, but honestly, that's also what sells best at the fairs and online. So, consider simplifying your jewelry designs. It will make things easier for you, and you'll make pieces that are more gratefully received.
These tips also work for those of you who sell your jewelry. Craft fairs are starting to pop up all over, and while serious sellers started making holiday items last summer, you still have time to get into the game. If you've been invited to participate in a craft fair this winter, go for it! Make at least a dozen pieces (remembering to keep them SIMPLE)—two dozen if you have more time. Earrings, bracelets and pins are the least time-consuming to make. You'll need some cute gift boxes or bags, too, so start sourcing them.
Finally, I wish you all good luck in your jewelry making endeavors. Whether you're making handmade items for gifts or to sell, you can do it! Just keep it simple, and get going as soon as possible. And have fun! That's the most important thing of all.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Couple of Projects & $10 Off My Craftsy Class!

I thought I'd post a couple of inspirational photos that are based on techniques offered in my brand-new Craftsy class, Big and Bold Wire Jewelry. First up, you can see pictured above one of my embellished pendants which was made using the techniques I teach in Lesson 4, "Bold Focals."
In my online class, I used one large focal bead, a variety of beads and pearls, and heavy-gauge copper wire to make a heavily embellished pendant on a commercial chain. This approach is the most economical because copper wire is relatively cheap, and you can use leftover beads and found objects to make a very interesting focal piece that would look great in any necklace.
By contrast, the pendant shown above is quite pricey! I used sterling silver wire to create a forged and textured frame, and then several beautiful beads and pearls with fine-gauge sterling silver wire to embellish it. A simple handmade chain is very effective in this design, because it supports the pendant without overwhelming the design. I'm really happy with this particular necklace, and although a few people have offered to purchase it, I don't think it will ever be for sale.
Don't be surprised if your embellished pendant takes several hours to make. The design pictured above took eight hours for me to complete, not including the handmade chain. Time-consuming, yes... but I didn't mind that, because it's so much fun to make these pendants and the results are always spectacular.
Next up: a nice, hefty fine-silver bracelet made with 12-gauge fine silver rings that are interconnected into "rosettes" with a pretty ceramic focal bead in the center. Because I used fine silver, I was able to fuse each ring as I connected it to the previous ones until I had four clusters of five permanently interconnected rings. Try saying that three times!
The ring clusters were then connected in a bracelet with large figure-8 links, a focal bead connector with wrapped loops, and a simple hook clasp.
This bracelet was made using techniques that I teach in Lesson 1, Getting Started with Heavy-Gauge Wire, and Lesson 5, Getting Started with Fine Silver Fusing. You can do this! Yes, even if you're fairly new to working with wire. It helps to have some hand-strength when working with heavy-gauges of wire, but with practice you'll be able to manipulate it to your heart's content. I love wearing this bracelet; here's how it looks:
Sometimes the simpler designs have the most impact. And knowing that my bracelet is connected together permanently relieves any anxiety I might have about losing it or watching it break apart suddenly and unexpectedly. I think we've all had that experience at least once while wearing handmade jewelry, am I right?
And now, here's the best part of this post: a link for $10 off my online Craftsy class, Big and Bold Wire Jewelry. To sign up and save, click right here.
I look forward to seeing you in class, answering your questions, and seeing photos of your finished pieces!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Artsy Buttons for Sale at Idyllwild Quilt Show!

I'm super excited to be taking part in the Mountain Quilter's 12th annual quilt show and sale next weekend, October 17-18!
We'll be at Buckhorn Camp again, in a huge venue that allows plenty of space to walk around and see the beautiful, award-winning quilts on display. And the vendors at this show are going to be terrific; including quilt fabrics and patterns, kits, creative embellishments, art baskets, jewelry, and MY BUTTONS!
I'm selling my handmade, hand-glazed ceramic buttons—each is one-of-a-kind—for $10 each (cash only) throughout the duration of the show. Once the show is over, I'm retiring this aspect of my art business, at least temporarily.
While I love working with ceramics and have enjoyed making creative buttons, beads and pendants to sell, right now I'm taking care of my 83-year-old mom who needs constant supervision. I'm not able to pursue my artistic activities (making new designs, teaching, writing books and articles, etc.) while I put Mom first in my life.
I do dabble a bit on the side, and you can always learn from me through my previously published books, DVDs, and now my brand-new wire jewelry class on craftsy.com, but new ventures will be put on the back-burner for a while. It's a small sacrifice, one I'm happy to make for my mom, who has given so much to me throughout my entire life.
So, I hope to see you at the quilt show next weekend! Idyllwild is lovely this time of year, when days are still warm and sunny but nights are crisp with a smell of autumn in the air. It's my favorite season, and a wonderful time to visit.
Cheers,
Sharilyn

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sale! Save 50% on Big & Bold Wire Jewelry Class!


This is just a quick post to announce a 50-percent-off SALE on my brand-new online class, Big & Bold Wire Jewelry! Normally $39.95, for a limited time you can save $20 when you use this link:
Join me and 250 students (so far) in a fabulous adventure making beautiful, bold jewelry using heavy-gauge wire, including fine-silver fusing techniques. It's lots of fun, and I hope to meet you in class!
Happy wrapping,

Monday, September 21, 2015

NEW Online Class Launches Today!

My brand-NEW online workshop, Big & Bold Wire Jewelry, just launched on www.craftsy.com moments ago! We are now live and ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work! Fortunately, it's all fun... and lots of it. We'll be exploring several options available for working with heavy gauges of wire to make beautiful jewelry.
We also have a contest winner, who has been notified. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest! I'm so thrilled that so many people have already signed up for the course and I can't wait to meet you all online.
Note: This is an intermediate-level wire workshop, so if you need a beginner's class please look for one on craftsy.com before signing up for my class. Some basic knowledge of wire-working and wire-wrapping is required to take my class, because there wasn't sufficient time to go over the beginner-basics. The good news is, several other jewelry instructors offer a foundation in wire working. You'll find plenty of options to get you started in this wonderful art form!
Once you've mastered some basic techniques, I hope you'll join me in my class because we do get to explore some really fun techniques using heavy wire gauges to make big, bold jewelry pieces. I suppose I should clarify what I believe to be "heavy" gauge wire... The distinction is somewhat arbitrary and will differ from one wire artist to another, so here's how I break it down:
Fine-gauge wire: 18, 20, 22, 24, etc. down to 30
Medium-gauge wire: 16
Heavy-gauge wire: 14, 12, 10, 8, and so on
In class we'll make limited use of fine-gauge wire (for ear wires, wire coiling, bead dangles, etc.). We will be using lots of heavier gauges, especially 14 and 12. I'm going to show you some techniques for making bold focal pieces, clasps, big jump ring rosettes, and more.
My favorite portion of the video lessons comes in the latter half of the class, when we start fusing fine-silver (99.9 percent pure silver) wire to make rings, which we'll then shape, forge and texture to make beautiful links. If you've ever wanted to try out this technique, you'll find it's very easy to do at home with minimal supplies and tools. No need for solder, flux or pickle when you fuse fine silver! That's the beauty of it. And fine-silver jewelry is just gorgeous!!! I guess you can tell I'm a bit fanatical about it.
So, I hope to see you all in class and please do post your comments and questions so we can interact personally on the platform. This is what makes craftsy.com classes so valuable.
I'm making myself available every day for several months so that we can have questions answered, and I'm very eager to see pictures of your finished pieces as well. If you'd like critiques of your work, I promise to be both honest and gentle! We're all here to learn from one another, and I cannot wait to get started.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Contest Alert, Part 2!

In my previous post, I mentioned that www.craftsy.com is running a terrific contest. The main prize? Lifetime free access to an online class called Big and Bold Wire Jewelry, which I just filmed in Denver last month. There's still time to enter, so if you're interested, click here!
Pictured above, you can see one of the more advanced (but still doable) projects from the second half of my class lessons. The last three lessons (out of a total of seven) focus on fine-silver fusing, manipulation, forging and texturing, and embellishing with wrapped pearls and beads!
(Picture above by www.craftsy.com)
If you're new to fusing with fine silver, no worries. I begin my lessons right at the very beginning, with tools and materials, how to use two different kitchen torches safely in a home environment, setting everything up, and lots of troubleshooting tips—we all need those. I promise you'll feel very confident of your ability to fuse fine silver once you've finished the very first lesson. And there's still more to come!
We'll make simple finger rings, spacer beads (from melted balls of fine silver, demonstrating how to make use of our mistakes!), fused shapes with jump-ring connectors (see the photo below), interlocking links that can be used to make bracelets (such as the one pictured at the top of this post), fusing wire shapes inside other, larger shapes, and wire-wrapping beads or pearls onto fused and textured shapes to make gorgeous bracelets, earrings, and more.
These are valuable skills to have. For example, the heart earrings that I make (pictured above) typically retail for $55 a pair. If you sell just one pair of earrings from your class, you'll have paid for the class and made a profit as well.
Fine-silver fusing is a blast! I love the technique. With this approach to joining metal, you may get some unpredictable results. Your look will be a bit more "organic," but the little imperfections that are part of this art form are simply beautiful. That's why I love it!
I also appreciate the fact that I can very quickly join metal without using solder, flux, pickle, or other harsh chemicals. You needn't pickle your fine-silver jewelry because it doesn't oxidize (darken) from the heat of the flame. When soldering sterling silver, copper and brass, you must pickle it with an acid-based solution to remove the fire-scale. With fine silver, simply cool the finished piece in water, and it's ready to wear.
Here's another great thing about fine silver: Customers love it. They'll appreciate it when you offer a fine piece of jewelry made with 99.9 percent pure silver. With sterling-silver jewelry, who really knows if it's pure sterling or silver-filled? The only way to tell for sure is to cut the wire and take a look inside to see if it's pure all the way through. Nobody wants to do that, so customers have to take it on faith that your sterling-silver jewelry is the real deal, and they're getting value for their money. Not so with fine silver!
Besides fusing fine silver, finished links are fun (and super easy) to manipulate into a variety of shapes, big and small, geometric, organic, or abstract. Fine silver is very soft and malleable, so you can have a lot of fun with it. I also love hammering and texturing my metal pieces, and given that fine silver is so soft, it naturally takes deep impressions from hammers and chasing tools.
In my www.craftsy.com class (Big and Bold Wire Jewelry), I show you how to shape and forge and texture your pieces to make them stand out. I also show you how to "force tarnish" fine silver jewelry using cold liver of sulfur and a dipping/polishing technique. You can get amazing colors on your jewelry this way! There's nothing like fine silver.
(Picture above by www.craftsy.com)
I also demonstrate how to wrap pearls, beads, gemstones, etc. inside your finished links to make unique jewelry pieces. Adding just a few semi-precious gemstones to your jewelry at little cost will dramatically increase the appeal of your jewelry, so those of you who like to sell your pieces will have something extra to offer your customers.
Big and Bold Wire Jewelry is a class jam-packed with lots and lots of techniques. The emphasis of this class is on manipulating heavier gauges of wire to make bolder jewelry pieces, but you can easily substitute finer gauges of wire to make similar jewelry if you choose. I show you lots of options and set you free to explore your own creativity with wire. It's a great adventure, and I hope that you'll join me when it begins this September 21!
You have a few more days to enter the contest. Just click right here.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn