Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tutorial: Silk and Fabric Necklace

by Staci Louise Smith

I have always loved fabrics and its a shame I don't sew much.  Imagine how excited I was to try adding them to my jewelry!  I had some reservations, as I know some of you may as well, and I covered some of them here.

I almost exclusively use them as the back part of a necklace.  I really tend to "go big" on the front portion of my necklaces, so I don't usually bead all the way around.  I found that fabric can keep that interest of color and texture in the design without competing with the main focal.  Also, its nice to have something light to balance the visually heavy front.  Anyhow, its simple to use silks and fabrics in your pieces, and you don't even need fancy or specialized connectors (though some do like them, so I will link to them at the end).

All you will need is your necklace focal portion
(mine used one of my uber chunky boho carved focals, Suburban Girl Studio's rustic yellow drop bead, amber, agate, picasso jasper)

Starry Road Studio batik strips and Marsha Neal Studio 3mm silk
(you can use sari silk or many different kinds of silks, but this is what I used)

round nose pliers

chain nose pliers

flush cutters

clasp (I prefer an "s" clasp)


I had fun first laying out the different colors with my beads and figuring out which I liked best.  I really liked the blue added into the purples and yellows, but it just didn't work out when wire wrapping it up, so I switched to a more monochromatic palette.

1.  choose your colors

 2.  Wire together focal

 3.  Take a piece of fabric and a 3mm silk together (like to double them up, especially when I use sari silk, which can be thinner, this just gives a little more color and added support).  Some tips: make sure your fabric has no weak spots by gently pulling on it before using it in your design

 4. Feed both through the wrapped loop on one side and fold over

 5.  Hold them tight together

6.  take a piece of 18g wire, about 3", and hold one end with a tail sticking up, tight against the fabric

7.  begin wrapping the wire around the fabric, pushing it tightly into a coil.  this takes some practice, you need to keep tension on your piece as you wrap, holding each end of the of piece in your hands while still using your fingers

8.  when it is done, make sure you tightly crimp the top and bottom around and into the fabric.  the fact that this is tight is what holds it together

9.  You can trim the little tails off

10. now you have one side halfway done

11.  Time to add the clasp

12.  feed the fabrics through your clasp

13.  Repeat step 7 above

14.  Do the same thing on the other side.  I also added a little seed bead detail to one side, just for some more texture and fun

15. You are done!  

Now, just a word about using silk.  I sometimes like to use it only on one side of the design- as I know others do as well.  Keep in mind, your design MUST be balanced, not just visually, but by weight, or it will slide around on your neck.  I always wear my designs for a day to see how they hang, and make sure the weight is correct!  There is nothing more disappointing to a customer then buying a piece that is made to hang one way and it never does.

I leave you with some other artists who use fibers similar to the way to do, and I just LOVE their work! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sawing and piercing metal tutorial and tips

Carol Dekle-Foss
Does sawing metal seem like a daunting and difficult task? Or have you tried it and decided it wasn't for you for some reason? I hear ya! I used to hate it, the blade would drag on the metal and I would constantly break them. But, I was determined to get better at it and now its one of my favorite things to do in the studio. There are tons of tutorials and videos out there on how its done, but its one of those things you just have to do yourself and practice to master. So for this post, I'm going to share some basic techniques as well as a few things that have helped me along the way.  I hope this motivates you to pick up that jewelers saw for the first time or give it a try again!

What you will need

Jewelers saw
Metal of choice
Bench pin
Music and beverage of choice
My bench pin is a simple pre-notched one from Rio. I use a rusty clamp stolen from my hubby's toolbox to hold it in place. You can also customize your bench pin by cutting out special grooves for different sawing techniques. Here are some modifications I like and will probably do to my next bench pin. Michael David Sturlin's bench pin modifications. One of the most important tips is to have your bench pin placed at eye level so when you are sawing you are comfortable and not straining your back. You're gonna be here awhile, so play some of your favorite tunes and have your drink of choice nearby.

Here are the steps.

Step one
 Print out your artwork and then glue to the front of your metal. I use a very sticky glue made for sandblasting, but I've seen some use Elmer's glue or Rubber cement. You can experiment here and see what works best for you. TIP: If are using a metal that has been work hardened, anneal it first. This will soften the metal and make your sawing much easier.
Sometimes you will have to reapply the glue if the paper starts to lift.

Step Two
Drill holes where you want to pierce. Here's a handy chart courtesy of Rio on blade sizes and how big your drill bit should be for each blade. Be safe and wear your goggles!

Step Three
Select your blade and load it into your saw frame. If you look at the above chart, it shows the different blades and thicknesses. So the 8/0 is the thinnest. For very fine work, you want a thinner blade. I use a 4/0 blade for my detailed designs. The only problem with thinner blades is you run the risk of breakage. This is where practice makes perfect comes in. You will want to start with thicker blades while you are learning and then graduate to thinner. It's also recommended to start with a cheaper metal for practicing. Although, just so you know, it's a dream to saw sterling silver because it cuts like butter.

For loading your blade into your frame, you want the blade teeth facing up and angled down, so when you cut out the metal, it cuts on the downward stroke. First, load the blade in the top and tighten the wing screw. Then thread blade through your pierced piece, keeping the design face up. Now place the frame into the v of your bench pin and press to apply tension. Place blade into bottom of frame and tighten wing screw. The blade should have a nice ping sound.

Step Four

Apply lubricant to the backside of your blade and begin to saw! For the lubricant, you can use a synthetic like Rio's popular Bur Life or bee's wax. I am using Thunderbird's synthetic beeswax block. It's easy for me to apply by just running the back of the blade along the block. The reason I only apply lubricant to the back is I don't want to gum up the teeth.

For sawing, hold the frame in your dominant hand, making sure the blade is straight up and down, or at a 45 degree angle to your piece. Hold the piece with your non-dominant hand. Keep your grip relaxed and your shoulders down while you saw. Try not to push the blade, it will do the cutting on the down stroke. When turning corners, move the piece slowly, keeping the blade moving up and down. You will notice when you need more lubricant because it starts to get harder to saw and the blade noise sounds a bit different.
 Try not to twist the metal because it could break your blade. Also, keep blowing away all the metal dust so you can watch the blade closely.

Step Five
 Remove your design and clean your piece!  Next, you will want to use needle files to file away all the saw marks. Okay, now go saw some metal!
I have yet to complete this piece because my husband and I have been obsessed with ceramics!

In fact, he wants to share these beads and offer them for half off! He thinks because it's his first time that they aren't that good. I think they are gorgeous! So, if you see any sets you like feel free to check them out here for a great price! UPDATE: All beads have already sold. WOW! My husband is really excited! Thank you everyone!

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dyeing Silks for Custom Colors and Patterns

by Barbara Bechtel

Earlier this year, I took a eucalyptus dying class with Kim Mailhot at my favorite local studio, Art More Place. It turns out, that the green eucalyptus we see in floral arrangements and the favorite food of koala bears, when heated and steamed in dye bath turns a beautiful rusty color.

Here, you can see the beautiful rusty leaves and the impressions they left on the silk bags.

Another useful technique that Kim shared with us is that sari silk and other dyed silks can often used to add pops of color as well. When heated in a boiling steam bath, the dye transfers away leaving a beautiful watercolor effect to the formerly solid silks!

See those little lines? Those are made using tiny threads pulled from sari silk! On the left, you can see some faint lime green lines left from a piece of dyed green silk from Marsha Neal Studio.

I can see so many possibilities with this to customizing and dying your own silks for use, can't you?

Here are just a few of the silks that I dyed in my class!

In the same vein, recently I saw this tutorial floating around Pinterest and Facebook for dyeing easter eggs with old silk ties and that really got the wheels turning in my head because it essentially follows the same method that I learned with the sari silks!

These follow a similar approach! I can't wait to try this method with a silk to silk dye transfer!

Have you ever tried to dye your own fibers for your jewelry? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Facebook, what gives?

by MaryAnn Carroll

Well, I must confess, I have been hearing many complaints about Facebook over the past few months, but had no clue what people were talking about. It wasn't until I was replacing some items in a local gallery, Cinch Art Space, that the owner and I got into a discussion about it.

I decided since I really wanted our first show to be successful, I decided I was going to take some time out to learn about it and run a few trial ads.

I think my initial reaction to the change is that it is not a good thing. As I researched it more, I started to change that opinion. Yes, it is true, Facebook is going to profit from this, but why not? Any of us would want to do the same. They are a business also.

I haven't done much in terms of my business Artisan Beads Plus, but keep telling myself I am going to.  It's like starting a diet..... you know.... I'll start tomorrow!

I have, however, taken an interest in how Facebook can work for Potters for Pets, our upcoming art event to benefit the CNY SPCA. I am, by no means, an expert. Quite the opposite, as I am still in the learning phase.

I have been paying for some ads. I think I have spent about $30 over the course of two months while I experiment. I am hoping that what I learn while doing this will not only bring in more traffic to our actual event at the CNY SPCA, but will also carry over to our Love My Art Jewelry business page when we decide whether or not promoting the page is financially smart.

I have been obsessing about how our page is performing. The more I obsess, the more I learn. There are tutorials online with some short videos that I also found helpful.

Here is a good link to get started -

Below are examples of what I use to see how things are going. My current campaign is a post campaign (vs. a campaign to promote the page itself). I have done both page promotions and post promotions. Also, if you don't like how your campaign is going, you can stop it at any time. I have done that a few times.

This graph shows the average performance of people that posts have reached since the page was started on February 10, 2015. You can see those that were reached organically vs. paid.

This graph shows a comparison of likes, comments and shares over two months. From what I have researched, your main goal should be to increase engagement with your fans, the more they are engaged, the more your page might show up in their pages, etc. 

This shows the total reached for all activity over the past two months.

And, most recently, I started to compare how Potters for Pets performs against some other pages that are of interest to me and have some similarities to my page.

I hope this helps you give you an idea of Facebook can work for you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...