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Friday, 27 February 2015

Making Ear Wires

Hi Everyone
The Mini Project today is making simple silver earring wires.
I'm basing my sample on an almost finished large batch of earrings for an order where I needed different styles/ sizes of earring wires. I have a great technique for making identical wires to share. The technique is adaptable to different sized beads which is particularly useful. My process involves using pliers and wire cutters but you could use any solid round shaped item at the desired size (rather than the bail pliers I have). I would suggest you do need wire cutters for the job.
I've made a few photos collages to illustrate the key points. My initial measurement is 7cms - the wire is doubled to give a 14cm length of silver wire. This will give you a pair of quite large hooks. Silver is expensive so you need to be sure of the measurement. Practice and prepare samples using cheap wires.

(5) could be made using basic round nosed pliers or a small screwdriver if you don't have a bail tool. It's tricky to hold the wire flat for turning but it can be done. In (6) - I've bent the wire over in the opposite direction to give me the size of the hook. Again, if you do not have bail pliers, you could use a large pen to do this. Wait until you have separated the hooks before checking and possibly trimming the final length of the hooks (8). Often, a tiny adjustment is required to make each wire the same length. In (6) the wires look different lengths but it's just the angle of the photo. In this case, I didn't need to trim.

There is a small element of waster in the snipping of the hooks (7) - however, I think it's worth the final result and the minimal time taken to make identical hooks.

I do need to finish off the ends with a file and close up the bead fitting.

When I first started to make wires in this way, I couldn't believe how quick and easy it is. I think it's worth buying some basic tools to do the job. Buying ready made hooks in sterling silver is expensive and for a small investment in tools you could start making your own and ultimately save money.
Here is a photo of the tools I use -

I hope this has inspired you to make your own earring hooks.
Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Imitation Game Episode 6

Hi Everyone
My Imitation Game episode today has bad news - its not going so well. I'm still not there with my striped beads. I have a few bead examples and Im not happy with the results. I need to do more experiments. The beads I've made are OK and will be great for specific designs but not my Imitation Game project (read back to Thursday posts for details).

I do, however, have another technique to try - all is not lost ! I very rarely give up on anything !
My new approach will be the actual construction of the striped clay. I found this on Pinterest and all the links are there on my Boards (in Tutorials). The clay is extruded and laid upon a base layer of clay. The extruded lines are then rolled to press all the pieces together. I want my lines to be different widths - this idea seems perfect. I can add several lines of the same colour to give me the width variation. I'm hoping this technique will allow me to be more creative with the stripe design.

I'd rather lost my way before finding this idea - there's hope now that I can produce something new. I will prepare a few options for bead making. I want to get away from the bead shape for a while and simply get the clay design the way I want it. I think, this method will allow me to experiment with some colour combinations too.
I'm inspired to get going again. Thank you. To Linda Runeckles for the Pin.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Cup Cake Necklaces

Hi Everyone
Techniques and Tools Day again today. Last week I talked about making little cupcake charms for necklaces. I've made up my batch and am ready to turn the necklaces into gifts. I'm using little paper boxes and simply decorating the boxes with paper rosettes.
I've pondered about the inside of the box and I'm going to wrap the necklace in co ordinating (colour) tissue. However, the Charm Necklaces need to be on display (to be chosen) before they can be wrapped.
My technique today is the simple decoration of the little boxes. I'm making about 20 for a charity event and need to be mindful of the budget. As a result the whole project is done with a very limited range of materials.
Here is a look at a few examples of the finished, polished charms.

I wanted each charm to be different and suggest different flavoured cakes. The customers will be children so the colours needed to be bright. I'm also going to make the rosetted bright too. My examples here are prototypes and just to get the sizing right. This is a good way of (very quickly) making plain boxes look quite sophisticated. The quality and colours/patterns of the paper used for the rosettes can really add vale to any wrapping. The die Im using perforated the paper strips and its a question of folding and adding a tiny bit of glue. The finished rosettes is incredibly strong.

These Charm Necklaces are part of a larger batch and I will look at some of the other items next time.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bella's First Kit

Hi Everyone
It's Tuesday and that means it must be The Making Framework discussion today. If you are following the Tuesday discussion you will know that Bella (our Maker Student) is about to embark on her first Making Project. She has chosen to go for the Button Earrings Kit. This kit is identified as a Starter Kit and needs minimal tools/skills to complete in 2 hours. Last week Bella received her Basic Toolkit and now she also has the Button Earrings Kit in BLUE.

The Kit contains a couple of introductory Fact Sheets : Conditioning Clay and Curing Clay. These Fact Sheets cover the initial 'what to do' questions when starting from scratch with any polymer clay project.
The kit also contains the correct amount of clay for several pairs of Button earrings and one pair of Sterling Silver earring posts as well as a small amount of acrylic paint and a small amount of polishing wax. The kit instructions introduce a series of experiments to familiarise Bella with polymer clay and begin to find some interesting surface textures/patterns. Examples are provided and Bella is also encouraged to find her own. The kit covers how to embed the earring post into the body of the earring bead and how to finish the surface design with the paint and the wax.
Each kit also includes a little box to keep the earrings safe or could be used as a gift box and a small plastic box to keep small amounts of unused clay and act as a working storage/ organiser container.
Bella has decided to attend a group workshop to work with her first kit but wanted to try out the clay exercises before the class workshop. She may buy additional posts at the workshop to make more earrings if her experiments work well. She will share her experiments before the workshop and of course her final earrings (having attended the workshop) next time.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Developments for Bella

Hi Everyone
It's back to work day after half term. Not sure I'm ready ! I actually 'work' all the time, sometimes thinking rather than doing but mainly because I don't think of what I do in the negative work word. I think what I'm talking about is the routine of being a Mum during school term time. I love the freedom of ignoring the clock (sort of). Anyway - it's back to routines today.

Talking of routines - it's Monday and therefore it's time for my Make Art Monday episode.
Last episode, I talked about creating a new Miss Mitchell piece - to be known as Bella (Mitchell). I've not started my piece (on paper) although I've thought about the piece and what I want to do with it.

In addition to thinking about painting portraits/ characters, we went to the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh on Saturday. What a fantastic experience. The whole day was wonderful and I was so inspired by so many portraits. The Gallery had an exhibition of BP Awards portraits which were amazing. I'm very excited by lots of ideas running around in my head. These are particular favourites from the day.
I see a little bit of Bella in this Flora MacDonald painting.

I want to try and bring a slight realism to the new Bella portrait. I still want to retain the doll characteristics but with some more realistic eyes and possible mouth ? Let's see where I go.
I loved the BP Award exhibition. Amazing work on a grand scale. I especially liked this one :

I also loved the Beauty by Design exhibition. Delicate lace in dramatic black pieces. I've enough material to keep me going for a few months !

Today, I plan to do some initial sketches for Bella. I will have them to share for next Monday.

Thanks for reading.