Sunday, February 24, 2013

NEW Etched Metal Book, Lil' Thistle

So many projects that I've been itching to make have had to take a backseat to more pressing matters (magazine deadlines and such), so I was really happy to spend last evening simply creating again! I finished the binding on an artist book project that I started weeks ago, and it was so much fun to see it come together at last...
Like most of my art projects, my Lil' Thistle book has some history.
A few weeks ago, I used two rubber stamps from Fred Mullett's thistle line (to see all of his thistle stamps, click here) to make small etched copper covers for a little metal book. My plan was to make two covers and use them for a Coptic-bound book that I could teach in my workshops.
I actually left the covers in fresh etching mordant for a little too long, and the areas outside the stamped images were a bit degraded. You can't tell, though, because I simply went over those areas very carefully with some texturing and chasing tools I have (and LOVE), which tidied up the borders and added extra personality to the book.
So you see, mistakes can be a very good thing!
In the photo above, you can see which stamps I used to make my book. The first time I saw these rubber art stamps in Fred's catalog, I knew they'd be ideal for a little book. I say "little" because my book covers are about 2-1/2 inches square, which is pretty small. But, I think it's perfectly sized for a pocket book or travel sketchbook.
When you make your own sketchbooks, you can bind them with as many pages as you like, in your choice of paper. And you control so many other aspects of the design! It's ideal to make your own sketch/travel books, and it's not very difficult, especially if you have someone show you how to do the Coptic stitch.
I'm teaching three different Little Metal Books—sawn & pierced, etched, and stamped—as a workshop option during my Wild Wire Women retreats. It takes two full days to make one or two books, but you will learn many valuable techniques in the process, some of which are closely related to jewelry making. I hope to see some of you sign up for this option! I already have two students who have chosen Little Metal Books for their retreat experience in early May.
I've added lots of new dates to my retreat schedule for 2013, so take a look here and if you find a weekend that will fit your schedule, sign up soon! Now that it's spring, I'm beginning to get more signups.
Happy wrapping (and book binding),
Sharilyn

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Workshop at Monica's: Fiber-Wire Mixed Media Necklace

I have a new workshop coming up on March 2 at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations, and I think you'll love it if you like working with mixed media.
The Fiber-Wire Mixed Media necklace workshop is not as intensive as some of my other wire and metalsmithing classes. It's more fun, more creative, more colorful, and students are much more likely to walk away with a finished piece of jewelry to wear home.
We will work with the pendants and beads of your choice (pictured, my new high-fired porcelain pendants are still available at Monica's), a variety of fibers and threads, some wire (copper or silver or even colored craft wire, your choice!) and some fun new techniques.
I will also demonstrate some cute earrings to go with your fiber-wire necklace, and we'll talk about making a bracelet as well. There may not be time to finish a bracelet, but I'll give you plenty of tips and ideas.
Once you start working with these techniques for using colorful fibers in your jewelry art, you won't want to stop! It truly is addictive. I hope you can join us! The class takes place March 2 from 10 am to 4 pm (approximately) at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations, 77780 Country Club Drive, Suite C-D, Palm Desert CA 92211. Be sure to check out her new web site, where you can see class samples and even sign up for workshops with your credit card.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.
See you soon!
And here's an UPDATE: My Fiber-Wire-Mixed-Media necklace has been picked up as an upcoming project in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine! I'm super excited to have a project featured in such a fine magazine of paper arts and mixed media. Currently, my necklace is scheduled to appear in the November 2013 issue.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Saturday, February 16, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Spring Links

"Spring Links" are bold, chunky wire links that look great with rustic beads and pendants like my handmade ceramic pieces pictured above. I like using spring links because they're quick and easy to make and add a lot of length to necklaces and bracelets without using too much wire.
I used three feet of 14-gauge round, dead-soft copper wire to make my links as pictured, but you could use 18, 16, or 12-gauge wire in the color of your choice—silver, gold-filled, copper or brass. These links even look good in colored craft wire.
To begin, clean three to four feet of wire using 0000-steel wool or a polishing cloth. Flush-cutting the wire is not necessary at this stage. Begin to form a coil of wire on a tool such as round-nose pliers or—my personal favorite—Wubbers Large Round Mandrels. Note in the picture above that the long end of the wire is coming over to the right of the cut end of the wire. This is very important, because it will cause you to form the coil to the right, or toward the box-joint on the tool:
As you can see in the picture below, forming the coil to the right causes it to "grow" to the left, or toward the tip of the tool. You could coil any length of wire you choose this way, and never run out of mandrel to form the coil:
The last half-inch or so of straight wire will have to be pressed down firmly against the mandrel using either flat-nose or chain-nose pliers:
Next, flush-cut one wire end using large, heavy-duty cutters such as the Tronex (number 5612) flush cutter shown below:
Use your chain-nose pliers to help count off six links in the coil, and then crank the wire back as shown below:
Flush-cut this short length of coil, as indicated below:
Use chain-nose pliers to bend up one loop on each end of the short coil, as shown:
Continue flush-cutting short coils off the long coil, and bend up a loop on each end to make lots of spring links:
Option: Hammer the rounded edge of each loop on your spring links to add some character:
Notice that some spring links have loops that are on the same plain (bottom link shown below) and some are at right angles to each other. There's a use for each type of spring link, and it really depends on how you wish to design your jewelry:
Variations on this link include:
Making coils of different diameters
Making coils longer or shorter
Using different gauges of wire
Using different metal colors; i.e. copper, silver, gold-filled or brass
I hope you've enjoyed this free tutorial! If you like having your instructions on video, I offer four very popular instructional DVDs in my etsy store. You can read more about them here.
Happy wrapping,Sharilyn

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Coptic-Bound Artist Books!

I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks because I've been so busy teaching workshops! And I also just finished making three new Coptic-bound artist books for an article to appear in Pages, a special edition of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. It's fun making these little books, and I think they're the perfect size for travel sketchbooks. Look for an article on them to appear in Pages this June!
Tomorrow I'm teaching a sold-out class at Brea Bead Works in Brea, California, the Altered Penny Charm Bracelet
You could also make the bracelet using foreign coins or even dimes, which oddly enough have much more copper content in them than pennies do! Well, unless you use Canadian or European pennies.
Anyway... the class is going to be lots of fun and I can hardly wait to get back to my old stomping grounds in Brea to teach the class at BBW. By the way, they're have a huge SALE this weekend so you know I'll be checking out the beads!
Hope to see you in Brea this weekend...
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Friday, February 8, 2013

FREE Tutorial: Bone Links

"Bone Links" are easy-to-make wire links that quickly assemble into an elegant necklace chain. I like using heavy-gauge wire for my links—anything from 14-gauge to 10-gauge suits me best—but they can be made with lighter wires such as 16-gauge.
Start with a couple feet of round, dead-soft wire in the gauge of your choice. I used 12-gauge wire in the sample chain shown above. You'll also need a foot or so of 18-gauge round wire to make small jump rings that connect the "bones" together. Jewelry pliers and related tools will also be needed. To begin, measure and flush-cut several 1-inch-long pieces of round wire in your choice of metal (I used solid copper):
Note that in the photo above, I used the Tronex flush cutter, number 5612. It's ideally suited for flush cutting heavy-gauge wire (up to 12-gauge). Next, use a planishing hammer or a chasing hammer to forge (flatten) each wire end. Note that each wire end has been forged at right angles to each other, as illustrated in the following photo:
Texturing the forged wire ends is optional. I like using the Fretz "raw silk" hammer for this (not shown), but my new favorite tool for quickly adding texture is the Fretz cross-hatch texturing hammer (HMR-22):
Next, you'll want to punch small holes in each end of the forged bone link. My favorite tool for this is the Euro Metal Hole Punch size 1.8mm:
Use a pair of pliers (chain nose, bent chain nose as shown below, or flat-nose) to wiggle the punched wire end off the punch. Take care; don't be too aggressive or you could snap the wire:
Once you've removed the wire from the punch, pause to re-tighten the nuts that hold the mechanism together. Removing metal from the punch usually loosens these two nuts, so every time you use the punch be sure to re-tighten them securely:
Punch the opposite wire end, and again, re-tighten the two nuts before using the punch again:
You can use jewelry files or even an emery board to file each bone link until it's smooth to the touch. I pick up packs of a dozen emery boards at the dollar store and they come in very handy for small jobs like this. Be sure to file smooth each wire end as well as both sides of the wire where you punched holes:
I like using my Baby Wubbers round-nose pliers to make small jump rings out of 18-gauge wire. You can see the placement of the wire in the tool is about three-quarters of the way back from the tip of the tool. If you're new to making jump rings, check out my free tutorial here.
Be sure to "condition" each jump ring by wiggling the ends back and forth until they grind together. The two wire ends on each jump ring must meet perfectly. Once you've done that, assembling your bone links into a necklace chain will go very quickly:
Possible variations on this link include:
Using different gauges of wire for the links and for the jump rings
Using different metals; i.e. copper for the links, and silver for the jump rings
Making your jump rings larger
Making your bone links longer than 1-inch
I hope you've enjoyed this free tutorial! If you like having your instructions on video, I offer four very popular instructional DVDs in my etsy store. You can read more about them here.
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Workshop at Monica's: Metallo del Fiore Bracelet

Next week I'm teaching a super-popular workshop that will be new for Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations: the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet. In this full-day class, learn to design a metal motif appropriate for a bangle (I will also show you how it could be used as a pendant instead), saw it out, file and polish, then texture and shape the metal. Your motif needn't be a flower; you could design any number of different shapes that would be ideal for this fun bracelet. See the Butterfly Bangle I made last year, below:
This is a terrific workshop for anyone who is new to the jeweler's saw, or perhaps has not "made friends" with her saw yet! I will teach you to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your jeweler's saw. Trust me, you will fall in love with sawing metal. Pictured below: A wonderful Sunflower Bangle made by my talented student Priya during a Wild Wire Women retreat last year:
I'll provide a paper template with several different designs for metal motifs that can be used in your bracelet, but we will also work on creating your own original design if you so desire. Pictured below: Flower Power Bangle designed and made by another talented student, Kim. Like Priya, Kim was new to sawing metal but she took to it like a pro.
Pictured below: Another beautiful bangle made by another student of mine who was new to sawing metal before she took my class. Heidi is also a talented ceramics artist who makes gorgeous clay beads. I hope she opens an etsy store one of these days, but that's a subject for another day...
I just wanted you to see that even if you're new to working with metal or using a jeweler's saw or design work for jewelry, you can be very successful in this class. About half the time we will work with sheet metal, and half the time with wire, including lots of coiling and spiraling and making wire charms and a handmade clasp.
This is one of my most popular workshops, and the class on Feb. 14 at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations is filling up fast! To register, visit their web site here or call the store:
760-772-2400
Hope to see you there!
Sharilyn

Monday, February 4, 2013

NEW Painted Porcelain Pendants!

I just painted my final "batch" of small- and large-size high-fire porcelain pendants for Monica's store in Palm Desert, and brought them down yesterday when I was teaching my new Green Heart of Envy necklace workshop (Which went really well! Great students!).
All of my pendants are of white porcelain high-fired to cone 10, or vitrification, which means that they are super-hard, like stoneware. Not likely to chip, crack or break unless you take a sledgehammer to them...
I offer them in two sizes, small and large, and they are very reasonably priced at $10 and $20 each. Available (for now) exclusively at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert. We sold a bunch yesterday during the Super Bowl, when Monica had a 20-percent off storewide sale.
So, some of the pendants pictured here may already be sold, but trust me, we have lots left although they're flying out the doors. We decided to extend my trunk sale through the end of February because they're doing so well.
My photography doesn't really do justice to my pendants, I'm afraid! They're much more vibrant and beautiful in person. I met some terrific gals in the store yesterday who were wearing jewelry they've already made with my pendants, and I was very impressed! So much talent gathering in one place every week...
I hope you'll make it to Monica's store soon to take advantage of the opportunity to pick up some pendants. You can always call the store at 760-772-2400.
And I have another workshop scheduled for next week: on Feb. 14, I'm teaching one of my most popular classes, the Metallo del Fiore bangle bracelet. You can make your metal motif out of just about any shape; flowers, hearts, butterflies, geometric shapes, etc. I'll have a sheet of templates to hand out so you don't have to design your own motif if you'd rather use mine. I look forward to meeting you in class!
Happy wrapping,
Sharilyn

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fred Mullett Has NEW Stamps!!!

If you're into using rubber art stamps to make jewelry and other mixed-media arts and crafts, I have GOOD news for you: Fred Mullett (a.k.a. FishBoy) has some brand-new images for us to play with!
I recently bought some of his rubber stamps, including images like the little starfish pictured above and some really cool spiral shells, sea fans, leaves, fossils, and other nature prints. These stamps are not only gorgeous to look at, but very useful to jewelry artists for etching images on metal, stamping metal paints and patinas, making shrink-plastic charms, creating polymer clay and ceramic clay beads, buttons and pendants, and much more.
The images above are just a few of the new designs from Fred's collection; he usually offers art stamps in at least two sizes, sometimes three. This is ideal for people like me who work with small elements for jewelry but also with quite large images for collages and book arts.
Pictured below is the front of my Star Book, made with the brand-new medium- and small-size starfish stamps on copper sheet, Coptic stitched:
And here's the backside of the same book:
You can see how beneficial it is to have the same images in two sizes for different effects. I'm currently working on another little metal book, this one etched with a thistle image from Fred's catalog. I'll post that book as soon as I get it stitched up.
Fred's web site is pretty cool. It's divided into two sections; one is for his catalog of images, the other offers some really cool techniques and samples of his gorgeous artwork made with gyotaku (fish prints) and other techniques, including some valuable information on color. You can access that part of the site by clicking here.
I'm honored to have my Star Book featured on Fred's site, and I am over the moon about my new stamps! Take a gander over to his site, you won't be disappointed.
Happy stamping,
Sharilyn