Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 "101" Tutorials

Watch for the following "101" tutorials planned for 2009:
  • Wire Guards 101
  • Earwires 101
  • Basic Wire Wrap 101
  • Wire Wrapped Links 101
  • Oxidizing Sterling Silver 101

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Crimp Covers 101

Several years ago when I started adding crimp covers to my beaded bracelets and necklaces, I thought I would never get the hang of producing consistent results. I was convinced that the crimp covers would allow my designs to grow to the next level of finished, professional looking pieces...but the initial frustration almost started to outweigh the benefits.

Darn, those little crimp covers were small! And how were you supposed to make them look like a small bead vs. a glob of smashed sterling silver? Have you ever tried cutting off a smashed crimp bead without ruining the crimp and the jewelry wire? Ask me how I know that this is nearly impossible...ask me how I loathe starting over!

But being the persistant gal that I am, I didn't give up easily. I found a way that works for me, and that is what I am about to show you. To practice this little tutorial, you will need:

1. a finished, beaded bracelet on jewelry wire that has been crimped to the clasp

2. a crimp bead that "fits" the size of crimp you used
(I use 2 x 2 mm sterling silver crimps and 3.2 mm sterling silver crimp covers from Aunties Beads.)

3. a pair of crimping pliers

First, place the crimp cover behind the crimp and hold in place with your non-dominant hand. Use your other hand to grasp the crimp bead with your pliers. I am right-handed, but this should work just as easily for lefties.

Second, use the first notch of the crimping pliers to squeeze the crimp bead *mostly* closed. Don't over-squeeze, this only takes a tiny bit of pressure with your pliers! You will still see a slight slit in the crimp bead, but it should be almost closed when you finish this step.

Finally, grasp the crimp bead in the opposite direction with the first groove of the crimping pliers. It will seem like this is going to ruin the crimp bead, but you need just a *tiny bit* of downward pressure to close up the slight slit.

Lastly, repeat the second step if the crimp bead still needs a little more closure. It is O.K. to go back and forth between the last two steps until you are happy...just don't over-squeeze!

And with a little practice, you should have perfect crimp beads time after time! Please let me know if you found this tutorial helpful...and how did your crimp beads turn out?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jasmine Soap - A Hit!

My Jasmine Tea Soap has been one of my bestsellers lately. I had been wanting to make a tea soap for quite awhile and a few months back created this soap recipe trying to also capture the scent of the spring-blooming jasmine vine in my own yard. In my mind, this soap needed to be an uplifting but not over-powering floral, with a soothing texture...just like a warm cup of sugared, jasmine tea!

I was extremely pleased with how the very first batch turned out! And it seems others are more and more pleased with the soap as well. Karen, one of my treasured soap buyers from Etsy, featured it on her handmade inspired website, Straight Talk on Natural Living.

She has written numerous reviews on various handmade soaps, focusing on their characteristics as shampoo bars. And even though my Jasmine Tea Soap was not originally intended for the scalp and hair, it has found a niche for those needing a soap with hair conditioning qualities, "especially in the dry winter months, it is perfect!"

Happy bubbles and conditioning for all those handmade soap addicts out there!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moment in the Sun...

...on the Etsy Front Page with my Apple Tart Soap! Thank you, Ira Grant of My Little Bird, for featuring me in your treasury!

Etsy Shop Feature: The Taffy Box

Simple elegance with meaningful designs...that is the way I would describe my next EtsyBead Team shop feature, The Taffy Box. Owner and designer, Koryn, creates beaded jewelry as well as hand stamped, uplifting designs. Here is her interview:

Q1: Where do you get your inspiration?

A1: Gosh! Where do I start? - nature, children, inspiring words, birds, dogs, trees, clouds, simplicity.

Q2: Is Etsy your full-time job? What other things do you enjoy?

A1: Up until last spring I taught preschool part time. Now I work full time at home on my Etsy businesses as well as fighting breast cancer, which is a job in and of itself! Lots of doctor visits and treatments, PLUS I am a mom to two high schoolers so I play the role of taxi-mom too.

Q3: What is your favorite jewelry piece from your Etsy shop and why?

A3: Right now I would have to say it is my "Blessed" heart copper necklace. I do feel incredibly blessed to be alive and to have had my cancer caught early at stage 2. I also love many of the hand stamped jewelry items I have made in the past which are on hold right now. I plan to be back in custom orders in the new year.

Q4: Favorite movie? Favorite animal? Favorite drink?

A4: I love the movie "Shawshank Redemption" because it triumphs justice when all odds are stacked against the wrongfully accused! My favorite animal is my puppy, Colby, a one year Golden Retriever, and favorite drink is coffee and cappucinnos! I think of coffee the minute my feet hit the floor every morning and I make my own cappuccinnos every afternoon...better than Starbucks if you ask me!

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Koryn, and took a moment to visit her shop. Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Etsy Shop Feature: Beadliotheque

This is the first in a series of features on fellow EtsyBead Team members.

It is sometimes easy to diminish the "art factor" when it comes to designing beaded jewelry...but after you read and see the lovely creations by Kelly of Beadliotheque, I'm sure you will agree there is much art involved here! I asked Kelly to answer a few questions about her work and her life:

Q1: You have a unique style to your jewelry. Where do you get your inspiration?

A1: My inspiration comes from the materials I typically gravitate to. It might be an extraordinary piece of lampwork, a fancy gemstone, an unusuaI ceramic button, a carved bone bead, etc. But there is always something unique about one element in each piece that I do that started the "creative juices" flowing. I work very diligently to challenge myself to put "unlikely to get along" materials in a complimentary situation. That means that I have to look at the materials and find common ground among them.

Typically for me it's color, that's the starting place where I am most comfortable and confident and it's where I have the most fun! Next is the choice of shape of the components. I tend to create mostly bracelets at the moment because it is more difficult to find "great combinations" of elements in a shorter piece. Working out the mechanics of the closure is also challenging but very satisfying when I have a finished product. Last is the overall pattern. I ask myself a lot of questions. Does the bracelet, necklace, or brooch have enough interest from the beginning to the end of the piece? Have I created the very strongest and boldest relationships among the various components? Would I take great pride in owning this particular piece of jewelry? If I answer "no" to any of these questions it's back to the drawing board.

It takes a lot of trial and effort until it comes together and you have that "magical moment" when you feel that all the elements have come together and you have created a harmonized, unique piece that someone else will also find beautiful!

Q2: Is Etsy your full-time job? What other things do you enjoy?

A2: My etsy shops are my full time work. I also have a destash shop, Beadlstyx, which is full of left over beads that I tend to accumulate in no time at all! This shop directly supports Beadliotheque in purchasing new supplies and keeping the bead cycle alive and well.

I have a big case of Etsyitis. I love my etsy friends and the warmth of the artistic community. It's a virtual village of constant inspiration and unique commerce like no where else! I shop, research, convo, laugh, cry and when I'm lucky enough I'm sometimes able to have show and tell with my extended family and friends. I send them emails when I'm picked for a treasury or win a contest! It's such a positive environment that it becomes addictive in the best way!

I am also a "swim Mom" and anyone that has a year round swimmer in their family knows how much time and effort is involved in pool side support.

Q3: What is your favorite jewelry piece from your Etsy shop and why?

A3: Currently in my shop I have two favorite pieces one is "Sunshine and Cupcakes". I absolutely love the lampwork by CharlestonBeadworks and "Twylight" with the most precious button toggle by Moonsie. Each of these bracelets have such a "child like" exploration of color and materials. They were both so much fun to make and l love the way they both turned out from beginning to end. Each of the artists whose work I used are lovely Etsy friends and I love being able to use and promote products made by other Etsy artists.

Tribal Rainbow is my "prodigy piece" because it made the FRONT PAGE of Etsy! One of the biggest highlights of my Etsy career!

Q4: Favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite vacation destination?

A4: If I have to choose ONE favorite color it would have to be RED and all of its cousins, especially purple and orange.

My favorite food is DEEP DISH PIZZA!

Our family goes on an annual beach trip to Holden Beach, NC every year! We book the same house because the rear of the house faces the marsh and the intercoastal waterway to the ocean and from the front of the house it's just a short walk to the beach. It is located at the end of the island on a culdesac street so it's very quiet and peaceful.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Kelly. Please take a moment to leave a comment here and visit her shop!