I make cookies! – the Craft Swap

Table with 10,000 bits of wire? Check!
Kitchen looking like niece and nephew’s playroom before tidy up time? Check!

These are the results from our Craft Swap (Charlotte and I got together once again)!

For the first time EVER – in my very modest 27 years -, I made cookies! With the help of a pro, of course! And I’m very proud to say they’re all gone (blame the hubby)! Thanks to Charlotte, I managed this without baking stones or painting my kitchen walls with chocolate and icing sugar. She’s an awesome teacher and gave me all the “do this’ ” and the “becauses” so I can say I now understand the science behind sugar cookies.

 

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My poor kitchen after my little adventure

So while I baked cookies, Charlotte made jewellery (ah-ha! That I know a bit about!). She did great and ended up with a lovely pair of earrings she took home. For this, we used the super-fun Coiling Gizmo (I just had to show Charlotte how to use it and voilà!).

For this project, the following tools and materials were used:

Materials

  • 0.8 mm Silver Wire
  • 0.4 mm Artistic Wire (purple)
  • Earring hooks

Tools

  • Coiling Gizmo (to coil away)
  • Nylon jaw pliers (to straighten the wire before use)
  • 1 or 2 flat nose pliers (to bend the wire when/if needed)
  • Round nose pliers (to make the loops)

Charlotte double coiled wire to make the pieces. When doing this, it’s important to remember that you can use any wire gauge desired but the wire that you coil first cannot be thicker than the second wire (they can, however, have the same diameter). In this case, Charlotte used 0.4mm purple Artistic Wire to start. She coiled up to the desired length and, when she was finished, replaced the coil with the 0.8mm silver wire, inserting the purple coil in the silver wire (as shown in the photos below).

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From this point, it was a matter of coiling as much (or little) as she wanted.

Here is the gorgeous end result. Well done Charlotte!!

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Charlotte’s earrings

 

For a bit more detail on how to coil wire, take a look at my previous post: Coiling Gizmo, which contains tips, advice on what to watch out for and some links to a few interesting and informative videos on the Coiling Technique.

Going back to the cookies, once again, a huge thank you to Charlotte for the patience of taking me through every step of the recipe, bearing in mind I needed EVERY SINGLE BIT explained! Check her blog post here, for more details about the sugar cookies and a bit of the “other-side” perspective. This was great fun and I cannot wait for the next blog collaboration!! But I think maybe, just maybe, I’ll stick to what I know best and I’ll leave the expert baking to Lady Lotz! 🙂

Monthly Pick – October

October’s monthly pick is a necklace! At my friend’s request, I made it for her to offer as a present to someone else and we all loved the result!

Made of leather and using a lovely fairy charm (ever since I found them, I cannot live without them!) and a little pearl, they make a lovely gift.

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You know the drill 🙂 This necklace is available for sale on my Etsy shop (accessible through this link). For your chance to get it with a 10% discount, use code BEEBIJUBLOG2 when you check out. This code will be available when my next blog post is up!

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Coiling Gizmo

I decided to try out a tool I bought some time ago: the Coiling Gizmo. This is a great and fun way to coil wire, regardless of the colour, length or diameter.

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Econo Gizmo parts

I started by trying it out myself, based on the instructions that came with it, and then looked around for ideas and more information – and to ensure I’m making the best of it!

The idea is that you keep on turning it around and voilà! It’s not extensively laborious and it doesn’t necessarily leave you with arm muscles like The Rock’s! 🙂 It’s literally a matter of turning it again and again… and as always, a bit of practice!

You can buy the version I have – the Econo Gizmo, or a more recent version, the Deluxe Gizmo, which contains a few more bits and pieces. Both will give you great results in no time and the possibilities are endless.

I will be giving a few recommendations at the end of the post but for now, here is my how my experience was.

As said, practice makes perfection and you will see below that my first few attempts show two things: The basics of coiling are effortless; easy-to-make mistakes are also easy to avoid!

When coiling, the wire will acquire the new form easily but if there is a kink you may not be able to remove it. Therefore you want to ensure the wire is smooth before you start, by using a nylon jaw flat nose pliers.

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Coiled wire with kinks

One other thing I found is that there is no need to wrap the wire around the curve in the crank rod ten times… one to two is enough! This way, once you’re finished coiling, you unwrap the wire rather that cut it, making it easier to slide it out the rod.

page3And yes, you can easily coil thicker wire too!

20151009_223726Here are the first pieces I created using this technique:

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Of course there is more to it so once I started researching, I found that coiled wire can be coiled a second time, resulting in lovely pieces that can be used as pendants, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. I have yet to try most of those but if here is one of my attempts (and the best so far) at it:

20151010_11564320151010_120742  Here are a couple of videos I found very useful as they explain the technique in detail:

Artistic Wire Coiling Gizmo – all you need to know about the Econo Gizmo by Artistic Wire.

Professional Deluxe Coiling Gizmothis video is for you if you’ve purchased the Deluxe Gizmo. Artistic Wire show how to use it in detail.

The official Gizmo website contains a variety of projects with instructions for pieces made out of coiled wire.

In YouTube there can also be found a number of projects and ideas.

Have fun in Gizmo world! I know I did! 🙂

Introducing “My monthly pick!”

As suggested by a good friend and fellow blogger (see her blog here -> TheHouseOfLotz), here is my first “monthly pick” blog post, in which I present, from the items I created in the past month, my favourite.

This month, it’s a no-brainer! Having had lots to catch up on, I wasn’t able to create as many items as I would have liked… but I managed a few and the one I enjoyed doing the most was definitely a pair of earrings made with beads I got for my birthday! These came on the post as a little surprise from my sister-in-law: a lovely necklace, a super-fancy magnifier (great idea!!) and of course, my new gorgeous beads! I could not wait to try them out and here is what I came up with.

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This pair of earrings is on sale on my shop and if you would like to buy it, feel free to use this promo code for 15% discount: BEEBIJUBLOG1 (valid until my next blog post goes up in 10 days)!

I think I’m going to enjoy this monthly pick business quite a lot!! 😉

Wire spirals

Before I start, here is a quick update as promised:I went to Beadworks and I BEHAVED!! It was hard but I managed to only buy things I needed (top-ups and tools). It is, however, any jewellery maker’s dream! 2 floors of… stuff from beads to tools, wire, cord, chain, you name it! I did find it a bit pricey for most big beads and findings but for tools, small beads and wire, it’s great!

Now… You try something new and get to the end of it thinking you failed miserably! Sounds familiar? At the lack of a better expression, this is the story of my custom jewellery life! Luckily, there’s a little something called perseverance and I personally think it’s a life saver!

This time, it’s about spirals! A while ago I tried to make wire spirals but I found the learning process quite frustrating. Now I’ve decided to retry under the condition that I don’t give up until I achieve results.

While I am nowhere near perfect at it, it’s been very rewarding to see some improvement. I started with some basic spirals and found a great video class by Lisa Niven Kelly from Beaducation super helpful. Here is the result of my first few attempts:

IMG_20150418_161742I tried and tried and tried and eventually my pieces of wire started to look like spirals. Right! so… open loop spirals next! I found these a bit more difficult to make and in the process I accidentally created a square so I decided to work on that and a few other shapes. Here is the result:

IMG_20150418_162552Finally, with this technique sort of mastered (emphasis on the “SORT OF”), I tried to create a few pieces. Here is what I came up with:

IMG_20150418_163530 IMG_20150418_181420 IMG_20150418_181252Yes, there is still quite some work ahead but my little accomplishments made me quite proud and very glad I tried.

A few tips:

– For this technique, more than for some of the others, it’s essential to have a quality set of pliers, specially the chain nose pliers as this will be used to grip and wrap the wire. The one I have is from Beadworks in Covent Garden.

– Get a good grip of the wire with the pliers but try to not squeeze too hard. This is also a way to avoid any superficial cuts on the wire.

– Get some extra wire. Unless you have a talent to get things right the first time around, you will go through quite a bit of it!

– Enjoy it. Use your imagination, ideas online, different colours and mix it all up!

And of course, if you have any comments or would like to ask a question, let me know 😉

Pendants and Charms

So, after taking some time to redefine priorities… here we are! While, of course, I need to create new items and advertise my shop to get it out there, I feel that the blog is becoming a very important part of the whole process; it allows me to share my experiences and it also helps me think outside the box. Due to the nature of the blog, I figured that while some posts will be generic and short, a big part of them will be based on research, new techniques, my shop, etc. So, as part of it, I’ve decided to post less, so I can make this blog more relevant and interesting for myself and, more importantly, you!

Today I want to keep it simple… let’s talk about pendants and charms! I love the diversity out there. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets… you can really use your imagination to expand on the ideas!

So what is the difference between both? Of course, as most concepts, these too can vary but after some research (I’ve always wondered myself) I settled for the idea that pendants are usually bigger and primarily used for necklaces whereas charms are generally smaller, great for bracelets and earrings. Here is a concise explanation by the GEMaffair diaries.

At the end of the day, no matter the definition, the possibilities are endless and will probably suit you whether you’re a beginner or you have a lot of experience. Here are some examples of pieces I have done:

Fairy earrings – for these earrings I used cute little fairy charms. Due to their size, they are great for bracelets too.

Bronze earrings – I’d be tempted to call these pendants! One would look pretty good in a simple bronze necklace… but let’s follow the definitions, here are my circular flower charms!

Silver chain necklace and chain earrings – A little different as the charms were beads to start with. These were then attached with silver wire and jump rings (I also used a bit of chain to complete the earrings).

These ideas really are like the tinniest needle in an enormous stack. For now, here are some of my favourite shops (online and off):

– Hobbycraft (this goes without saying!) – pendants and charms

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DIY Time

Later on today, I plan to visit a new bead and jewellery supplies store (well, new to me, they’ve been in the business for almost 50 years) and I suspect the challenge will be to spend less that 5 hours in there. I will let you know how that goes… 😉