December 18, 2008

Angie's Bangle

I've been working on this bangle for my sister Angie off and on for many months. I like the coiled bangle style from Eni Oken, but I also like asymmetrical, almost chaotic designs with a crazy wrap like Lisa Niven Kelly's. This is what I came up with late last week.

It has a memory wire core, strung on it are polished rose quartz nuggets and silver beads. 26ga SS (half-hard) wires are first wrapped around and crisscrossing each bead and between beads randomly, then a twisted wire follows similar pattern, finally a double wire which is coiled over with 28ga AS wire, plus many, many tiny silver, jade, amethyst, and glass beads. The clasp is handmade with 14ga wire. Total length of wires: 9' of 26ga, 13' of 28ga, and 1.5" of 14ga.

I like the way each core bead looks like a little present all wrapped up with silver threads, while the overall color scheme gives a hint of spring blossoms, perfect for the holidays. A brilliant bangle, wouldn't you say?

Couple of more images here.

December 14, 2008

Chain Maille Bracelet - Take 2

Did I mention I'm hooked on chain maille right now?

Here's the same chain maille design as the one for my brother Steve but in a smaller size:
35 big rings in 14ga SS, 5mm ID, flattened and dimpled; 138 20ga SS jump rings, 4mm ID; clasp and 2 rings (one as catch ring) are also 14ga; total length 6 7/8", width is just under 1/2".

This bracelet went a little faster than the first one, but not by much, the most time consuming part is still making jump rings since I'm trying different sizes again. Last time, it felt like throwing darts in the dark (about a total 8 hours of darkness); this second one has better clues to follow, but still just clues.

So here's my question:
If one insists on making everything from scratch, any handmade jewelry will take longer time to complete, and will most likely cost more than what the market will bear. But does the idea of "handmade" jewelry or the appreciation of "craftsmanship" carry less weight if we swap in some machine-made elements into the final piece? I hope not, cuz I love working with wires, but I'm not about to saw silver nuggets and draw wires myself, been there, done that, got myself burned a few times, didn't enjoy it. So I'm going to continue buying silver wires for my "handmade" jewelry. But if I go a step further and buy those nice and neat jump rings that are machine-made, and make another bracelet out of them, is it still handmade, or is it just "hand-woven", or does the combination of machine and human make it some kind of Cylon Skin Job (hee hee)?

December 11, 2008

Wrapped Rings

What do you do with 7 or 8" of scrap thick wires? Turn them into rings.

This is from a piece of 8" 12ga AS scrap wire. Considering Rio Grande charged me almost $7 a foot for these wires, every millimeter counts. So here it is, a simple wrapped ring, size 8, 3/4" at the longest points, comfortable to wear. Surface textured with small dimples from the round end of hammer and mesh imprints from a needle file. The dimples give it sparkles; the mesh imprints tone it down here and there.

This is another piece of scrap wire; 7" 14ga SS. Similar concept, with squiggles this time. I ran needle file all over the surface to produce a muted shine. More dainty, still fun to wear. I can see many other possibilities with this technique...

More images here.

December 8, 2008

My First Chain Maille Bracelet

It's real interesting how I went from struggling with making jump rings to becoming addicted (almost) with chain maille. I'm not saying I've mastered making jump rings (still far from it), but from testing and making all sizes of rings with all kinds of wire, I'm starting to understand how the tiniest changes in wire thickness and ring interior diameters (i.e., aspect ratios) can do to their final look and feel.

This is my most sincere appreciation (otherwise known as "copy") of a bracelet from Scott David Plumlee's designs. So it's not exactly the same, but it's my best guess, for now. This is for my brother's medic alert tag; don't know if it'll fit since I haven't seen the tag yet... I'm almost secretly wishing it won't... cuz I really like it, for myself :-))

Materials: 14ga SS for big rings, 16ga SS for small rings, 12ga AS for clasp. The whole thing weighs a ton!

If I ever get to make another one of these, I'd try oval shape rings for the small rings and lighten upon hammering the big rings (oh, the operative word here being "if").

UPDATE, 12/9/2008:
Good news, it fits Steve's left wrist with little slack, almost too little; so I added one more link which make the total length 8 1/8". It also goes with his medic alert tag nicely which is on a black double cord. Tumbled the bracelet overnight; it's looking shiny and pretty!

More images here.

November 30, 2008

Fat Coils

These cute wire beads have been around for a long time, and I've made a few over the years. But most of them are longer than wider in proportion, not till I saw one by Linda Lemoine-Vios at San Gabriel Bead Company. I thought it was a wonderful idea to have it the same height and width, making it more of a diamond/bicone shape.

Here's my first attempt. It's all craft wire: 24" of 24ga, onto 16" of 22ga, onto 10" of 18ga, the double eye pin was an after thought, using 18ga scrap wire. These lengths are not quite right yet, making the bead lopsided, and defnitely too small.

I'm thinking maybe start with twisting 26ga to 36", coil over 20" of 22ga, onto 10" of 18ga, then center on a hammered 14ga single eye pin.

Isn't experimenting fun?

Medic Alert Bracelet

I saw a bracelet by Scott David Plumlee in Creative Silver Chains and thought this may work for my brother's medic alert tag; it's understated, flexible, unobtrusive, and still masculine. Looked up the artist's website; lots of cool stuff there, but I need to stay focused... on just this one bracelet for my brother.

It took me quite a while, but I think this will do for my purpose:
and the flip side

I'm guessing 18 or 20 for the small rings, 14 or 16 hammered flat for the large rings...

November 29, 2008

Super-Sized Knot

Did I mention these Danish Knots are addictive? They are deliciously addictive :-)

This is made of 26" of 12 gauge AS, the ID of each coil was 15mm. They really should have been 15.92mm, but I don't have anything that size in my household... which means the 3rd coil took some persuasion to thread through. Good thing this is dead soft wire, fanning out the coils wasn't too difficult.

This shows how big they are:On the left is the 12ga jumbo knot; on the right is the 16ga baby. When I first finished the 16ga one, I thought this is great, it's bigger, sturdier, in better condition than yesterday's prototype. I was plenty happy already.

Then I read about Aspect Ratio (AR) in last issue of Step by Step Wire, in the books I borrowed from the library, and online, of course. I thought why not go BIG, like 12ga big? I worked out the total length of wire needed and the mandrel size. Making this knot took little time, relatively speaking... But, wait till you feel the bundle in your hand, it's a BIG boy all right!

Things learned from making the jumbo knot:
  1. Using dead soft wire definitely helps in shaping the knot. Half hard was too springy.
  2. When fanning out coils, start sreading from outter rings, one ring at a time in small increment, go around all 3 coils evenly.
  3. Giving a bit more overlap on both cut ends of coils allows better locking of the coils inside the knot; about 1/4" on each end for the 12ga knot.
More images here.

Now I just need to find a good home for these little darlings.

UPDATE, 12/3/2008:
I'm keeping this one:-)

November 28, 2008

Danish Knot

I learned to make this little bundle of wire from here. Cute by itself or used as a component.
They are fun to make, almost addictive. I experimented with different gauges of wire and sizes of mandrels. This is the 3rd try.

Here's a comparison:
The one on the left is the first try, too loose; on the right is the 2nd, too tight, couldn't even get the final coil to thread thru. The middle one is the third try, which is "a charm" indeed.

The tutorial in the link above has a chart showing the wire gauges and ring's inside diameters (ID).
When I look at my 3rd knot closely, I can see the inside of each coil needs to accommodate at least the thickness of 6 wires, plus some wiggle room. This is one of those projects where the ratio between wire thickness and ring ID matters, kind of like fancy chain maille, but not as finicky.

This reminds me of the pure wool logo.

**** Update. April 17, 2014 ****
I'm very happy to see many of my readers finding this post worthy of their visits.  Thank you so much!!  If you have any questions, please drop a note or leave a comment here; I'll do my best to help.  BTW, I did make all these Danish knots (as well as all the handcrafted pieces on my blog site), and I did take all these photos myself, therefore I do hold the right to these photos and their uses; you're more than welcome to share with back links to my posts; and in the case if you do ask to use my photos with credits, I'd most likely be thrilled and even help you spread the words!!  So, I'd appreciate it if you don't just download them and repost them as your own in your translated "tutorials" or web pages.  That's just not cool :-(

Thank you!!

Slinky Ring

This is a prototype for a slinky style ring. Several wraps of wire on a ring mandrel, tie down the back, add beads to the top. Simple enough to make, easily adapted for fancier looks.

I learned a few things:

If the thin wire is not covering the whole ring, it needs to stay on top and/or bottom of ring; sporadic wrapping on left or right side of ring makes it scratchy to wear, very uncomfortable.

Beads with a flat side and center drilled work better on this ring.

Whenever possible, make the beads sit on top of two wires; for this reason, it's better to use half hard wire and slightly hammer the ring wire; this not only hardens the wire, it also provides a flatter surface for the beads to stay put. For pratice here, I used all craft wires: 18ga for ring, 28ga for wrapping, a SS bead and 3 freshwater pearls.

More images here.

November 27, 2008

A Few Rings

Today feels like a rings day.

Golden Rose Ring started out as an experiment for a simple knot ring. It didn't quite work out ... instead, the wire took on a life of its own, and demanded to be a rose:-) Despite the randomness, the wrap is actually quite sturdy, doesn't get unraveled as some other nest-type wrap. btw, it's not gold; it's brass wire.

I was on a roll ...

Now about those nest rings. The current issue of Step by Step Wire has a nest ring; looks almost identical to Eni Oken's Nest Bezel Ring, but the instructions seemed different ... I thought I give it a try. It was a struggle, which was strange since I had no problem with my first nest ring following Eni's tutorial. Upon close inspections, I see they "are" different. The magazine's method starts with a bead in middle of wire and proceeds to wrap away, where the bead is up against the ring mandrel directly without much structure; this requires some balancing act. Whereas Eni's Nest Bezel Ring forms the ring first as a "soft armature" before working the bead onto the wire, or in the case of Ethnic Ring where the bead is strung on first, but thicker wire is used for the frame, and a shank is stabilized rather early before any embellishments, i.e. they both build a foundation first, then add on to the ring surface.

Here's a side by side: On the left is my nest ring based on Eni's instructions. I breezed thru it in 15 minutes on my first try, and it's a solid ring, always an eye-catcher. Materials: craft wire with acrylic focal bead, plated spacers, and delicas.

On the right is today's ring based on the magazine. Made me sweat a little and wish I had another hand. The outcome may not look all that different, but I'd vote for Eni's method any day, hands down. Materials: 3' of 22ga SS with a flat crystal bead.

On to the wave ring.
There are lots of adjustable rings out there. Makes sense. Among most jewelry, rings really need to fit right to be comfortable. Making them adjustable solves the issue.

Here's my take on it. Made of 8" of 12ga AS, this ring is about size 8, fits on my left index finger or thumb. I'll admit it still needs some finishing touch... I'm no good at working with thick wire yet, I'd like to blame it on the tools, but it's really me being too anxious to cushion pliers before bending wire... Anyway, this puppy is going into the tumbler tomorrow.

November 25, 2008

Spring Green Necklace

A necklace matching the Spring Green earrings. Same basic techniques, except with heavier gauge wires, plus a little of Eni's Mosaic Pendant. I also slightly modified the thin wire wrapping from straight across to intermittantly right on the frame; the overall wrapping seems sturdier this way, although not as smooth as the original design. I also made the 2 spiral beads and the clasp.

The added bonus: It doubles as an eyeglass holder!

6" of 16ga SS for base, 2.5' of 26ga & 2' of 28ga SS for wrapping, 18" commercial SS chain, glass and silver beads, handmade spiral beads, jump rings, and clasp.

UPDATE, 12/6/2008:
Here's something to keep Angie company:-)

I made 2 changes:

~ The long wraps on top half of the armature was broken into two sections to help blend the beads and the wraps.

~ All the dangles were fat-wrapped to add to the randomness and asymmetrical design.

November 23, 2008

Plum Dews

No, not Mountain Dew, but plum dews. Similar to yesterday's Spring Green earrnings but with a dangling chain in the middle of the tear drop frame.
This is how I picture images of plum blossoms reflected in cold winter morning dews. Hum, maybe I could use purple crytals, or amethlyst beads?

These are fun to make, looks great on everybody. But before I try it again, really need to straighten out my wrapping; they don't look too neat ....

November 22, 2008

Spring Green Earrings

I learned to make these from the winter issue of Step by Step Wire. Marie Cristine is the designer; she also has a tutorial for these earrings here.

Jean saw the earrings in the magazine, thought they're pretty; I do, too. So I made the frame and wrapping, she offered the beads; and voila!

These are fun and easy to make. Think I'll do these again, next time with dangling chains.

November 21, 2008

Finally, a Daisy

A lemony daisy pendant. It started out as a smaller flower with 6 petals; but I miscalculated the size of the base ring; didn't realize after the 2nd petal... So instead of 6, it'll have 9.
The middle ring is recycled from the original pink flower center, fits nicely over the base ring, nothing wasted.

Materials: 4" 18ga SS for base ring, 2' 26ga SS for middle ring, 3' 28ga AS for wrapping, with citrine, SS beads, and a round disk crystal with AB coating.

November 19, 2008

Lantana Pendant

Based on Eni Oken's Circular Orange Pendant, this little jewel reminds me of Lantanas, specially Confetti.

First time back wrapping wires after a month rest for my right hand, I want something cheerful. This one sure is!
It's fun picking out colors for this pendant, but I'll probably make another one with fewer colors and natural stones.

Materials: 18 ga SS for base, 28 ga AS for wrapping, glass drop beads, cube beads, fine silver cornerless cube beads, E beads, and a glass pearl for the center.

November 1, 2008

After nursing a cold,

now I'm nursing my arms.

Decades of typing and clicking on computers didn't give me carpal tunnel syndrome; sure don't want it now ...

Working with heavy gauge wire takes lots more strength than I realized. I first set the goal to finish one piece of wire jewelry a day. All was fine with rings, earrings, and simple bracelets. Even the Jewel Encrusted Cuff was OK, although it took me over 2 days to do. Then one morning I woke up, my right arm felt stiff, and man, it HURTS!

Now after staying off wires and pliers for 10 days, my arms are recovering, with help of Advils and frequent hand exercises suggested by my sis Angie. (THANKS, sis!)

Maybe another few days, I should be good to wrap again. Fingers crossed ......

October 23, 2008

Pink Flower Updated

The more I looked at the center of the pink flower from yesterday, the more it felt wrong.
So I removed the woven center ring and the 4 briolettes, replaced with 3mm silver clipped cube beads woven into the armature (just like the tutorial), tied several amethyst chips, rose quartz, and glass briolettes into a bundle, then attached the bundle to the flower (as the center of this flower). Here's the updated version; better, don't you think?
More views here.
btw, I saved the original center ring; there's got to be something I can make out of this ...

Glow in the Dark Earrings (just in time for Holloween)

These are cute earrings following Eni Oken's design (my homework for the day). They don't show in these pictures, but the beads glow in the dark, really they do. I don't know how to photograph the glowing effect ... Maybe that'll be my homework tomorrow; would be good to know how since I also have some glow-in-the-dark powder for glass!!!
More views here (nothing exciting though ... ;-)

October 22, 2008

Pink Flower

Second flower for the necklace.
Materials: 28ga Argentium silver with pink Kunzite, glass briolettes, and silver beads. Size: ~ 2" dia.
More view here.

Blue Flower

This is the first of several flowers for a long necklace.
Materials: 28ga Argentium silver, blue calcedony, fuchsia glass brioletts, and silver beads; flower size: ~ 2" dia.
More views here.

October 21, 2008

Long Earrings with Citrine

I haven't been doing my homework for a while... Time to go back to school.
This is a pair of earrings following Eni Oken's tutorial. The only tricky part is making same size circles, which I only realized till too late. Oh well, next time.
Materials: 26ga sterling silver with citrine, glass pearls, and silver beads. This pair goes well with yesterday's Jewel Encrusted cuff.
More views here.

October 20, 2008

Jewel Encrusted Cuff

This cuff is substantial, to say the least. I first saw a cuff by Jodi Bombardier in Wire Style. Really liked it and wanted one for myself. Unfortunately, Wire Style is not big on step by step instructions. I followed the basic steps, then the wrapping got more and more confusing as I finished the first round. Half way thru, I gave upon the book, went on my own way of wrapping, hours and hours of wrapping.
I'm pretty happy with the outcome; but not sure if this is production worthy; after all, this is not a style for everyone.
Materials: 12ga Argentium silver for the frame, 26ga sterling silver for wrapping, 4 citrine beads, lots of fresh water pearls, glass beads, charlottes, and spacers.
More views here.

October 18, 2008

Now I understand ...

... what they mean by "a face only a mother could love".

(note to self: next time when I'm tired from wrapping wire, I should just stop.)

More views here.

October 17, 2008

Setting Sun

Made with craft wire wrapping a 6 mm red crystal. Similar techniques as Blue Bubbles. Been trying to find a nicer way to finish off the back side of ring, but my head is not working today; must be the fever:-(....
More views here.

October 16, 2008

Update to Adjustable Ring

Same Adjustable Ring; I curled up each tip slightly to give it more interests.

Maybe I can add a small bead or stone somewhere ...

October 14, 2008

Six's Bracelet

Finding this photo wasn't easy...

Six's Adjustable Ring

Take a piece of 18ga wire, bend it left and right, connect ends with simple scrolls, done, simple enough.

It'll expand and contract slightly when worn, comfortable on the finger, shows bit of industrial flair.

This design was inspired by the spiky bracelet worn by Six in early seasons of re-imagined BSG (will have to find a picture of it to post here). I think I'll make a bracelet to go with this ring.