How to change your jewellery designs in two throws of a stone

I write this post during my summer holidays, and I’d like to share how the summer fun can bring inspiration for designing in wire wrapping.

It is lovely to unwind, relax and have fun on holiday, but I don’t completely switch off from jewellery making mode…I’m always looking for inspiration, and for me, you can’t go wrong at a pebble beach.

A couple of years ago, we visited Northumberland, an area of the country I’d never been to before.  At the time, I was a keen bead weaver who had just discovered wirework.  I brought a couple of pebbles (well, a sand bucketful to be precise!) home from the beach and wire wrapped them.  I received some lovely comments from my pebble pendant so decided to explore more into wirework…and that is how, they say, my wirework journey began.

pebbles

So this is my treasure trove from the shores of South Devon and there really are some beauties hidden here. I look for shape  (suitable for wrapping), size (suitable for wearing) and colour.  I love how the slate has a metallic hue and I love that no two stones are the same.

Devon stones

pebblesAt Christmas, I received a bespoke request from a friend who asked if I could wrap some stones she had brought back from a Californian beach, as a present for her friend.  The lady’s friend was delighted with her pendant and earring set and I  was delighted with a handful of Californian pebbles she left me.

I think  to make jewellery out of natural materials from a place where you have happy memories is very special.

So next time you are out and about, take a look around and see what you can find to help with your jewellery design.

Watch this space also to see what I have made with the stones.

If you have enjoyed this post or know someone who may benefit from this, please share.

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Simple Lines for your Wirework Designs

Jewellery designs can take considerable planning, but that needn’t be the case with wirework designs.  Shapes and patterns can be created from something a simple as a straight line.

Let me explain…

aboutmeTake a simple wire weave technique, whether you decide to use 2, 3 or more wires.  Weave until you  have a decent length.  There are no rules here, so no need to measure.

When you have the desired length, this is where your freestyle sills come in.  You may already have a design or shape in mind.  Be creative!  I find copper wire is more forgiving, so you can give more adjustment if required.  Don’t forget to include the bail and make sure there is enough room for the clasp to fit through (not just the chain!).

When you have finished, decide whether you need to complete the design i.e. you may want to oxidise the piece if you use copper, or you may want to add beads or gemstones.  If you are adding stones, make sure they fit in with your design; if they don’t sit right or hang right, don’t add them – your design will still be special.  Have confidence!

wirewreathcross 1

figureofeightPicture Frame Pendant

So next time you’re short of inspiration, or you  haven’t got the time to do your next big project, you have no excuse not to create a unique wirework design.

Do you have a plan B when it comes to jewellery making?

If you liked this blog, perhaps you would share it for me?

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Blog + Challenge x 30 = Success

I don’t now whether you’ve noticed, but I’ve been blogging every day for the last month.  Something else you may not have noticed is that one month ago, I did not have a blog at all.

I will let you into a little secret.  I have been taking part in a challenge – The 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

Never heard of it?  Neither had I until I started to peruse online for information on blogging.  I came across an e-book by Sarah Arrow.   There is a support page too through Facebook, which means you don’t face the challenge on your own.  This page invites you to take the challenge via daily emails.The support is great and you get to learn of other fabulous blogs/bloggers.

bloggingEach day you receive an email with an instruction on what to do or include in your blog post that day. Post your link on the support page .  Learn and watch your blog grow.

As a novice, I have now learnt the following

  • Content
  • SEO
  • Keywords
  • Headlines
  • Images
  • Structure
  • Curation
  • Calls to action

These are to name but a few.

As a result, I have been able to share with you

  • Essential jewellery making steps
  • Essential wirework tools
  • Tips for craft fair stalls
  • Why buy handmade?
  • Tree of life
  • Quartz
  • Gemstones
  • Overall, my passion for creating wirework jewellery

I’ll be honest with you, I will not be blogging everyday now as I need to focus on other areas of my business but blogging will be an important part of my jewellery business and I will continue to blog as I have so much more to share with you, including  video clips and tutorials.

As I said, one month ago, I had no blog.  Now I have an established blog for which I feel a great sense of achievement, thanks to the 30 Day Blog Challenge.

Are you up for it?

30 Day Blog Challenge on Amazon   

https://www.facebook.com/groups/30DayBloggingChallenge/

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11 Common Wirework Terms

I thought I would share with you some of the terms I come across in the field of wirework.  It’s amazing how technical this subject really is.

Findings  is a term you will find generally in the jewellery making field.  It refers to the components that connect your jewellery piece ie headpins, eyepins, clasps, earwires, to name a few.

Gauge is the measurement of wire ie 18g, 22g, 28g.  The higher the number the thinner the wire is.  It is a term more associated in USA as UK tend to use millimetre measurements ie 0.6mm 0.8mm

filigree weave pendantFiligree is an ornamental delicate wirework design, especially scrolls.

Tumbling is the process of smoothing and polishing rough surfaces of stones. A tumbling machine is used to slowly rotate the rocks when mixed with grit and water to produce a smooth surface.  Most stones can then be polished.  The whole process can take several weeks.

Flattening/texturing are techniques used when hammering.  Several types of hammers may be used when making wire hammer and hammers are available with interchangeable heads which allow textured imprints to made on the wire.

Oxidising changes the colour of the metal, usually silver or copper, which creates highlights and tones.  Liver of Sulphur is used most commonly, but boiled eggs can be used too!

quartz & crystal pendantWrapping is the technique used to enclose the stone creating a bezel which secures the stone into a frame.

 

Agate copper wire pendantWeaving is just like weaving with thread, except you use wire.  Weaving adds depth and design to the piece.  There are several weaving patterns/designs available. Use to keep as little as two wires together, or as many as the design requires.

Work Harden is the molecular structure of the metal which changes when worked with.  Techniques like coiling, weaving and  hammering, natural harden the wire.

Hardness This is how easy or hard the wire is able to be manipulated.

                      – Full Hard very hard to manipulate

                       Half Hard easier to manipulate than hard wire

                     – Dead Soft pliable and easy to manipulate

green aventurine pendant

Coiling is a decorative technique using tightly coiled wire, usually created by a Gizmo tool, but can also be created by hand.

These are just some of the familiar terms, but rest assured, there are many more!

If you found this interesting, perhaps you could share this for me on your social media site.

You can view more of my designs at Karen J Jewellery

Wirework Gallery

I have written several blog posts recently, so if you are not aware, I design and create wirework jewellery.

If you haven’t managed to have a look at my website yet, I thought I’d share this blog post to give you an idea of what I do.  It still fascinates me what can be done with a reel of wire and a gemstone.  There is so much more to learn !!

 I also receive requests for bespoke makes, which is always a pleasure (this gives me an idea for another blog!).

In the meantime,  sit back with a cuppa and have a browse.

Enjoy!

magnesite agate earrings
Handcrafted hoops embellished with Magnesite and Agate stones.
Quartz wire heart pendant
Dyed quartz wire wrapped with bronze coloured wire forming hearts. This is a large statement piece.
Mookite wire wrap pendant
Mookite wrapped in copper coloured wire incorporating wire weave techniques. The lady who purchased this went on to request a bespoke make.
lapis lazuli handcrafted copper pendant
Lapiz Lazuli pear shaped cabochon, wrapped with copper wire with a wire weave design. The copper is oxidised to create a matt finish. Lapis Lazuli was used for the eyebrows of Tutankhamun’s funeral mask. Historically, Lapiz Lazuli was ground to create the pigment, Ultramarine, which can been seen in Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665)
Pink Quartz copper Rose Gold wire (1)
This dyed pink quartz cabochon has been wrapped in rose gold coloured wire with compliments the gem.
Howlite wire pendant
Dyed Howlite has been embellished with wire weaving techniques and finished with swirls.
Copper Heart Key
Key to the Door. This was a freestyle design which was to include heart. and is embellished in red crystals. The buyer of this piece had the same thoughts as me…it would make an ideal 21st present.
Goldstone pendant
This is Goldstone. Goldstone is manmade, but many retailers sell it amongst their gemstones because of its beauty. This is an elaborate wrap made with copper then oxidised.
Mookite faceted pendant
This is Mookite again and has been wrapped and weaved to create a reversible pendant.
Rose Quartz donut pendant
This is Rose Quartz. I say it is a donut, but it is not round as you can see.
sun pendant 1
This is Mariam Quartz and incorporates wire wrapping, wire weaving and hammering techniques.

I hope you have enjoyed this short gallery.  If you have, perhaps you could share it for me.  I have more to show on Karen J Jewellery. Please be my guest to pay a visit.

10 Gemstones You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine.  You can’t possess radiance, you can only admire it.

~~~Elizabeth Taylor~~~

One of the things I love about making wirework jewellery is that I am learning about beautiful gemstones.  Gemology is a huge subject in its own right, and I am discovering many that I have never heard of.

Here is a list of just a few.  See if you recognise any.

ammoliteAmmolite   A rare stone made of fossilized shells of ammonites.  Found in the Rocky Mountains, it is primarily red together with green iridescence.

2  Benitate   This blue or colourless gem is California’s official gemstone as it has only been discovered there.  It was originally thought to be Sapphire until it was identified in its own right.

3  Cuprite   Found in the Ural Mountains, Altai Mountains and Sardinia,  the dark red colour (almost black) has a metallic appearance, probably from the presence of copper.

4  Diasapore   A rare gemstone which is very hard and therefore difficult to cut.  It can be colourless as well as displaying hues of  white, grey, green, brown pink and purple.  It is found in the Urals, Massachusetts and Hungary.

5  Hessonite   A member of the Garnet family, it is red, orange and yellow.  Interestingly, its name is taken from the Greek “Hesson” which means inferior, but gemologists think quite the opposite.  Found in Sri Lanka and India.

Leifite

6  Leifite   Named after the Norse explorer Leif Ericson (1000AD), it is was discovered in Canada in 1915.  It is white or colourless or pale violet.

7  Sphalerite   Consists of zinc and iron.  When the iron content is high, it is known as Marmatite.  Sphalerite is yellow, red and orange and found in Mexico and Spain.

Scapolite

8  Scapolite  Its appearance is taken from the Greek word “Scapo” which means ‘rod’ or ‘shaft’.  Its appearance is purple or yellow and can be found in Madagascar, Tanzania and Australia.


Varynenite

9  Varynenite or Vayrynenite  Is the rarest pink gemstone and found in Pakistan.

10  Zincite   This is a dense gemstone due to its high zinc content.  It is yellow, orange/deep red, green or colourless.  It is a rare gem found in New Jersey, USA, however, cheaper laboratory made versions are available.  Buyer beware!

Did you recognise any or can you name any other rare or unusual gems that you are aware of?

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How to Create a Photo Lightbox in 4 Easy Steps

Photographs are a big issue for jewellery makers Unlike  craft fairs where you can look and hold your creation, an online photograph is all your reader has to look at your piece – it can make or break a sale!

It has taken me a very long time to learn about online photography – any expert will tell you it is more than taking and uploading a photograph – and believe me, it is still work in progress.  It can be very time consuming too, preparing photographs for a website or social media.

One of the major factors to take into account is light. Having a lightbox is great way to enhance your photographs. However, if you can’t afford a professional lightbox, I have come up with a quick, cheap, easy and effective way to make one in 4 simple steps with only 2 materials!

Materials

All you need is one pack of foam boards (easily obtainable from a craft or stationery shop) and a packet of pins.  I used A4 size boards.

photolab1

Method

1 Cut your boards to size.   You can cut your boards easily with sharp scissors or a craft knife. I cut my boards to size, as a smaller box was suitable for my jewellery.

photolab2

2 Pin to base of your board to the back of the board, through the foam area, using pins.  Be careful the pins do not protrude out of the board.

photolab3

3 Pin one side to the back and base.

photolab4

4 Pin the other side to complete the box.

photolab5

And there it is. Quick, cheap, easy and effective.

Tips

  • Add a sheet of paper to the back and base to give a smooth background.
  • Although light cannot shine through the sides, use in a light area to create a natural background.
  • For all jewellery makers, you can secure nylon thread to hang earrings to give their natural look.

Do you have any photography tips?

If you have found this useful, please share to your social media site.

Return to Karen J Jewellery website

Wired Up on Holiday

Anyone who knows me knows winter is my favourite season (I could give you a list why, but that would be another blog!)  Even so, I always look forward  to the summer holidays – 6 weeks of noise and mayhem! Seriously though, I enjoy the change of routine, relaxing mornings (no school runs), planning days out, and above all, going on holiday.  I’ve just come back from  a lovely holiday – well more of a break really – 5 days away – but even so, it was a change of scenery and a chance to have some relaxation and fun.

A change is as good as a rest

That’s what the saying says, but I’ll let you into a little secret…my wirework came with me.  I know, I know…you probably think I’m either obsessed, bonkers, or both!  I can’t help it though.  If I had the opportunity to do some wire weaving, and had no supplies to do it, I probably would have kicked myself. Blog

Forward planning.

It didn’t take a lot of preparation.  I brought my essential tools (see here what they are) plus 5 reels of different size wire, together with a compact carry case. I knew if I kept to the basics, I could still create an effective piece.  Sometimes it makes sense not to overthink, and I was on holiday after all.

Feet up

I wasn’t even sure I would get the opportunity to do any wirework, but I just didn’t want to detach myself from it completely – so if the opportunity arose, I was prepared.

As it turned out, the poor weather played a little part and provided the chance to put my feet up…and out came my toolbox.

Switching off

I don’t know about you, but when do my wirework, I don’t feel like I have to switch off.  It’s not like it is a tedious, exhausting job. I find it therapeutic and relaxing, so taking it on holiday with me was perfect!

So here are the pieces I did whilst I was away.  When I get home, I shall oxidise them and embellish them with gems .

copper framecopper wreath

Are you able to totally switch off on holiday?

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