Sunday, 7 December 2014

Challenge No.3 - Fancy Jasper

Finally I've finished my third challenge.  Unfortunately this one took much longer than the others.  The biggest hold up was that I ran out of some essentials and then once they had arrived my cat, Maple, sadly passed away. Although a large part of me wants to wallow I know the best medicine, to take my mind off things, is to focus on something creative, so I threw myself back into the challenge.

Challenge number 3 was inspired by Laura Binding, one of Jewellery Maker's guest designers.  Whilst browsing youtube I came across a Designer Inspiration show with Laura Binding doing a tutorial of a wire wrapped pendant. You can find it here.  She made it look so easy I decided to give it a go with a bead I received in one of JM's bead scoops.  It was so much fun and I was so impressed with my finished pendant that I've kinda become a bit addicted to creating them.  I did it with five beads on this challenge!!

I hope you like my creations....

This pendant was made with Vintage Bronze coloured Artistic Wire bought from The Bead Shop website.  The chain is Viking knit using the same wire.  Unfortunately, I don't have a proper Viking knit tool (will definitely be getting my hands on one soon), instead I use a thick cardboard tube that came wrapped in yarn.  I have, of course, used the yarn and I've drilled 8 holes in the top.

This one was made using the same techniques but with silver plated copper wire from and Jewellery Maker.  The following two were also made using the same techniques but using black coloured copper wire and gold coloured copper wire from the aforementioned shops.

I also made a ring using the same technique with the Vintage Bronze wire.

In addition to these pieces I also made another necklace and a bracelet.

I used gold coloured wire to create the links between each bead.  I also used the same wire to create my own clasp.  I've really been enjoying making my own clasps lately.  In my opinion, if you're creating wire work pieces then using the same wire to create a clasp makes the piece look seamless and more professional.

For the fifth necklace I decided that the bead had such interesting markings on it that it should be left as it is.  So I created a simple bail using a headpin and attached the bead to some waxed cotton cord.

So there's another 7 pieces added to my collection.  I hope you've enjoyed reading this posts and seeing my latest designs.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Remembering Maple

Jewellery making has been put on the back burner the last few weeks and it may be quiet for a little while longer.  I was pretty busy in the lead up to my birthday (17th) and my mother took me away to Budapest to celebrate. When I arrived home one of my cats was behaving strangely and started drooling. Within a few hours she had a terrible seizure.  I rushed straight to the vets where she received treatment for the next few days before sadly passing away in the early hours of Friday morning.

She was only four and barely left the house but somehow during one short venture out the back door she ingested something she shouldn't have. Of my three cats, she spent the least time outdoors. She wouldn't even eat fresh salmon my dad gave her as a treat yet she must have eaten something she found outdoors.  I am absolutely devastated. 

She was such a personality. She enjoyed snuggling up to me or waking me up with her affectionate headbuts.  She had the most adorable little meow, always greeting me in the morning or when I came home from work. And, despite being a pain in the butt when it came to de-fleaing, her grunts and growls to show how displeased she was were very cute. She will be sadly missed.

My gorgeous Maple. 
Tiny, sweet and incredibly fluffy.

The three amigos with my classroom cat, Cadi.
The real cats, from left to right, Cassia, Maple and Willow.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

My 5 Favourite Jewellery Maker Gemstone Strands - #Blog2Win

My 5 Favourite Jewellery Maker Gemstone Strands

Yay!  Jewellery Maker are doing another #Blog2Win competition!!  I entered last time, but didn't win :( I did, however, have great fun choosing the gemstones and writing the blog, so I thought I'd give it another go.

For those of you who have never heard of Jewellery Maker, their website tells us that it was founded in 2010 and is part of The Genuine Gemstone Company - a family run business.  It provides value for money, ethically sourced, excellent quality genuine gemstones, as well as all the other necessary tools and accessories for so many different mediums of jewellery making.

As it currently stands there are 185 pages of gemstones on the Jewellery Maker website!!  It's going to be a difficult task choosing only 5 strands, be here goes (in no particular order) .......

Number 1 - 65cts Multi-Colour Moonstone Graduated Faceted Marquises

Multi-Colour Moonstone JM Web Page

I spotted these a while ago on the JM website and fell in love with them instantly.  Then I saw them on the live show and 'WOW' they were stunning!!  I can't remember who presented them but she held it up to her neckline and I was blown away. They were even more beautiful than on the website which means if I were to see them in natural light (not the harsh studio lights) they would be 100 times better again.

If I had this strand I would have to leave it as it is.  Just re-strand it and wear as a necklace.  It would also be for myself.  There is no way I would want to sell it.

Price (at time of writing) : £24.95
Bead Size: 10x5 to 15x7 cm
Strand Length: 18cm
Online Rating: 5/5

Number 2 - 250cts Lapis Lazuli Graduated Faceted Pears

Lapis Lazuli JM Web Page

Lapis Lazuli is my favourite gemstone.  I've always loved the history of Ancient Eygpt and Lapis Lazuli was a revered gemstone during that era.  It is featured in Tutankhamun's burial mask.

Usually when I see Lapis Lazuli it is unfaceted and therefore looks like a quite casual gemstone.  One you can wear day to day just to work or the shops but these, being faceted, look so much more glamorous. I'd love to use a strand of gold coated graduated faceted rounds as spacers to make a very sparkly glamorous necklace.  Perfect with a dark blue ball gown.

Price (at time of writing): £34.95
Bead Size: 15x12 to 30x18 cm
Strand Length: 15cm
Online Rating: 5/5

Number 3 -255cts Citrine Graduated Faceted Elongated Pears

Citrine is one of my birthstones.  I think I'm pretty lucky to have both Citrine and Topaz as my birthstone. Both of them are absolute stunning gemstones in every form I have seen them in and both of them come in my favourite colour - yellow. 
I particularly like this strand as there are so many different tones of yellow in each stone.   Again, I would be tempted just to re-strand this, however, that big stone in the centre is divine and I think it would look absolutely stunning as a single pendant.  

Price (at time of writing): £44.95
Bead Size: 18x12 to 28x17 cm
Strand Length: 16cm
Online Rating: N/A

Number 4 - 255cts Blue Chalcedony Graduated Faceted Elongated Drops

This is a gemstone I have no experience with.  I have never seen a strand in person, only on JM.  The majority of what I have seen has been a lovely milky blue but these, although they retain a little milkiness, are a gorgeous intense blue.  

The smallest on this strand would make stunning luxury drop earrings and the rest could be used to make multiple single strand necklace.  I would also be tempted to make a necklace using a large drop in the middle with two slightly smaller drops either side of it.  It's just as shame that while I've been writing this blog they have gone out of stock :(

Price (at time of writing): Out of Stock
Bead Size: 14 to 22 cm
Strand Length: 15cm
Online Rating:5/5

Number 5 - 110cts Multi-Colour Onyx Graduated Plain Elongated Pears

Whenever I picture onyx it is always the black variety so I was amazed when I found these.  I love the banding and the fact that the stand isn't symmetrical.  The alternating colours give a beautiful effect. I particularly like the fact the the small stones are almost complete opposites.  I know, however, that each stand will vary.

If I were to order this strand and be lucky enough to receive one just like the strand pictured then I would just simply re-strand it.  (How boring am I being? Just opting to re-strand everything!!) I think it would make a beautiful surfer-esque necklace.

Price (at time of writing): £9.95
Bead Size: 18x9 to 34x14 cm
Strand Length: 8 cm
Online Rating:5/5


I hope you've enjoyed reading my #Blog2Win entry as much as I've enjoyed writing it.  Again, I was able to peruse the Jewellery Maker website, guilty free in the knowledge that it was for research purposes.   When the other half spotted me and complained that I already had 'way too many' gemstone strands, Jewellery Maker had given me the perfect excuse to get him off my back :) 
"Don't worry, I'm not buying anything, honestly.  It's for a competition.  I might even win a strand"

He doesn't need to know I also added many products to my basket and accidentally purchased them ;)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Challenge No.3 - Gemstone Reveal

Fancy Jasper

I've been really looking forward to working with this gemstone.  They are absolutely beautiful and everyone of them is different with gorgeous markings.

So watch this space ....

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Challenge No.2 - Green Magnesite

Challenge No.2 - Green Magnesite

My second challenge is complete and yet again I thoroughly enjoyed it.  As I was working with plain rounds I wanted to make sure I used them in a way that made them look like something special and I really think I achieved that.  Since they are such a lovely bright turquoise I decided early on that I needed to team them with black to make them stand out.  I hope you agree that the contrast between the black and the turquoise is really eye catching. This time I managed to created a staggering 8 pieces, so that's a total of 13 pieces made for this challenge, so far!!

Here they are ......

Again, I started with a sketch......

The idea was to use black wire coils, made with the coiling gizmo, to separate the green magnesite.  However, I couldn't get them all exactly the same length and being a bit of a perfectionist I just wasn't happy with the finished product. So I dug into my stash of gemstones and found some faceted black agate beads for the job.  

Along with the agate and green magnesite, I also used black coloured copper wire and gunmetal coloured findings.  The gemstones and wire are both from Jewellery Maker.  The findings are from elsewhere, unfortunately, again, I can't remember where.

I also made matching earrings, ring, headband, bangle and bracelet using the same materials.  

After finishing these I only had single figures of the magnesite left so I decided to try out some chainmaille and use the gemstones just to add a touch of colour.  I made a bracelet and matching earrings using gunmetal coloured jump rings.

I hope you've enjoyed taking a look at the results of my challenge.  I apologise it took so long this time.  I've managed to get a bit of teaching work so I've been busy.  Over the weekend I'll reveal the next gemstone and hopefully it won't take me so long to get the pieces finished.  Watch this space ...

Monday, 6 October 2014

Challenge No.2 - Gemstone Reveal

Green Magnesite

Since these are plain rounds they should be much easier to work with.  A round bead is versatile, lending itself well to many different designs. I just have to think up some spectacular designs to really show the best of these beads. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Challenge No.1 - Black Agate Nuggets

I have completed my challenge!!!  Yay!  I won't lie to you, it was a little bit difficult at first.  The nuggets weren't a favourite of mine (they still aren't) so I was stumped at what to do with them.  I think the process of making the jewellery took less time than figuring out what on earth to make with them, but I persevered and I now have 5 pieces of gemstone jewellery for my Christmas craft stall.

Here they are .......

I started by taking the beads off the strand and laying them out.  I then put them in groups according to size/shape.

I  played about with them in their groups hoping I could make some symmetrical pieces or a graduating necklace. I quickly decided to scrap both those ideas opting, instead, for the random sequence approach. I took to my scrap book and sketched this awfully drawn design below.


But now it's been brought to life, it looks like this .....

I teamed the nuggets with Hematite stars, black beading thread and dark silver coloured copper findings. The nuggets and beading thread are both from Jewellery Maker.  The rest were purchased from other jewellery making websites but unfortunately I can't remember which, sorry.

The bracelet then inspired me to make a matching necklace and earrings.  Here are the results....

I only had a small amount of nuggets left after making these three pieces and I hoped to make a ring to match the pieces above.  Unfortunately, after playing about for what felt like forever I concluded that the nuggets I had left just wouldn't sit right on a ring.  I was back to the drawing board again.  I tried to make a few different bracelets and earrings but with the inconsistent sizes and shapes it was difficult to get things to sit right.  Finally I made these earrings....

They were made with faceted Hematite beads bought from Jewellery Maker (which I NEED more of) and the same findings as the pieces above.  Using the last of my Hematite beads I made a matching bracelet ....

Despite banging my head against a brick wall for the first few hours after drawing the Agate nuggets, I've really enjoyed this challenge.  It forced me to work with a shape I would usually avoid.  The jewellery doesn't really represent my usual style or taste but I like each piece, my favourite being the first bracelet I made. 

Agate, is one of my favourite gemstones.  It comes in such a variety of colours and it is never just a plain bead.  There's always different tones and textures to be found.  You can see, above, that some of the beads have specks of white, grey and brown.  In some of the stones there are bands of brown or translucent areas that really catch the light. Beautiful. 

Brief Description of Agate.

The majority of Agate developed in ancient volcanic lava.  It is a form of Chalcedony which develops when water, containing silica, enters a cavity inside a host rock .  The minerals in the water then crystallize, forming layer upon layer of silicon dioxide. 

In crystal healing, Agate is believed to enhance mental functioning, such as concentration and analytical abilities.  It is also believed to be a calming stone that builds confidence and reduces anxiety.