Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just a few words

I have not been able to write this week, and I don't really know how much or when I'll be able to write again. These are very difficult times for me and my family; words fail me. I cannot find the joy in writing, or in making jewelry, these days.

It will return; I am confident about that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Today was one of those totally uninteresting, but very necessary, organizing days. My desk is clear, I'm up to date on photos, and all of 2007 has been archived. Hooray!

I added a new piece to my Jewelry Tales blog; take a look if you haven't been there in awhile. I will be adding more as time permits; I was a bit behind on taking pictures and now I have quite a few queued up.

I'm feeling the after effects of organizing, and I need chocolate! NOW!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

From Micro to Macro

Yup, that's me: inconsistent as all get out. Today, I made the biggest, heaviest necklace I've ever made; it is a graduated necklace that runs from about 3 mm in diameter at the clasp to about 6.5 mm diameter at the center. It is about 20 inches long; my favorite length. I resisted the impulse to add beads or gemstones to it; not even in the clasp.

I have not been wearing very many necklaces lately, but I think this one is going to change that.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Can you stand one more post on micro maille? I finished enough of the 22 gauge Jens Pind chain to make a bracelet; I am wearing it now and it is almost impossibly delicate looking on my wrist. I gave it the tiniest clasp I have ever made; it has a 3 mm pink tourmaline that actually looks large on it.

This chain is surprisingly strong; but then, Jens Pind is a very dense weave, and the aspect ratio of the rings used to weave it is very, very small. I will take photos in a day or two, but the photos are not going to do this baby justice. It's the size of it; the almost impossibly small size of it, that keeps me looking at it again and again.

Oh, yeah, this is why I do what I do.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm a maniac

A maniac . . . for maille! Yup, today I qualify as a maille maniac. I cut some itty bitty 1.75 mm rings from 22 gauge wire and wove them into the beginnings of a Jens Pind chain. These rings worked up into a very fine chain; it was, surprisingly, not that hard to weave; but cutting the rings without slicing myself was a real challenge.

I had to slow down. I'm not good about slowing down; I usually have two speeds: fast and faster. My lack of patience is legendary. But this chain is worth cultivating both. It's going to take awhile before I have a completed piece of jewelry at this size; I've had enough for today, and my chain is a mere 6 cm long. But it's so pretty! It will be well worth several days of work.

I started making maille about a year ago; it was something I'd always wanted to do, but I found it so very frustrating to learn on my own. I could not hold onto two pairs of pliers without hurting someone; and I flung rings across the room with abandon, sometimes even by accident. It was, to say the least, very frustrating. And then, a brilliant designer and very special friend, Jennifer Casady, walked me through creating my first piece, one little baby step at a time.

She even managed to convince me that aspect ratio was a necessary thing to consider. So I dedicate this one to you, Jen; however long it takes!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Starting over

Well, I decided that, as cute as they were, the knots that I was making with 22 gauge wire just would not be stable enough to put in a bracelet. So out they came! I am, instead, doing a variation of Byzantine with the tourmaline and 6 mm rings. It is much more stable, and I think I actually like it better.

So that's cool!

So many times I start with a plan and find that my plans change in midstream. If I try to force it, to stay with the plan, I'm usually sorry. But when I embrace my failures, and use them as a springboard to something else, it's usually a good thing.

Go figure.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Digging in

My wire order arrived today, hurrah! Yes, I am stocked. For awhile, anyway. I picked up some sizes that I haven't worked with much, and immediately began a new project with 22 gauge wire. Oh, boy, that's tiny. But it's very, very cool. I'm making some teeny tiny knot links with itty bitty micro-faceted tourmaline; the tourmaline are trapped inside 6 mm rings that look huge in contrast to the micro-maille knots.

And I thought it was small in 20 gauge. Ha! 20 gauge looks enormous now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


That's me, today. One with the klutz. I think I have dropped nearly everything I've picked up today; what's up with that? Nevertheless, I decided to make a new clasp that I woke up thinking about; I managed not to burn myself in the process, though I did set a fingernail on fire.

Yeah, I'm not kidding about that. Fingernails melt. Luckily, it only melted a little bit; but that's something I think I'll try to avoid repeating! You see, a solder paillon had danced off under the torch, and I grabbed a pair of tweezers, intending to push it back. Not unusual; I've done that a million times. But this time, I grabbed the wrong pair of tweezers. They were too short and not insulated. Well, the heat traveled up those babies lickety split and when it reached my fingernail, it melted it. I let go of those tweezers pretty fast.

Oh, and by the way, melting fingernails don't smell very good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Micro Maille

So I switched to 20 gauge wire today, and made a lovely small chain with that new weave I learned the other day. It is only about half the diameter of the 18 gauge chain; I was surprised how much smaller it came out; the lengths of each link have a ratio of almost 3:2, but the circumference seems much smaller than that.

No, I haven't measured it. I don't own a calipers, digital or otherwise. Sometimes it surprises me the tools I don't own; if I can make do or do without, I will. I am a silver, lampwork and gemstone slut; tools are cool, but they have stand-ins. I can press other things into service as tools, but cannot do without a bead once I've seen it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A little bit of this

. . . and a little bit of that.  Yup, that was my day today: laundry, vacuuming, taking pictures, errands . . . nothing major, but a lot of little things checked off my "to do" list.  And, I know you want to know about this: my stash of wire is still there; no wire was used for anything by me today.  

What a very strange thing to celebrate!  But I'm scared that inspiration will strike and I won't have enough wire to make it real.  I'm not a sketcher, you see; although I have, from time to time, drawn things down, it isn't the way I really like to work.  I like to work things out in my head and make them happen in 3D.  I think better in three dimensions; I have trouble moving from thought to paper to reality.

Something always gets lost in translation.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back to the torch

I found another good way to make my wire last longer. Instead of making maille today, I picked up my torch and made a ring. It has been quite awhile since I've soldered anything of consequence; but it was pure joy to do so today.

My daughter had made up a design for me to work with; I decided today to give it a try. It came out okay, but not exactly what Id envisioned, and it was heading for the scrap heap when an idea popped into my head. Oh, yeah; time for something completely different. After some forging and soldering, I had a very unusual setting; perfect for one of the tiny raw diamond cubes I bought a couple of weeks ago. I used a back one; it just pops.

Yup, it's another of my unconventional rings that definitely cannot be worn while washing dishes. But there is so much more to life than washing dishes!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Use 'em up!

Well, I solved two problems with one bracelet today: the wire issue that I wrote about yesterday, and the surplus of beads in my bead box. This morning, I decided to use up some little silver lentils that I had made awhile ago; one lentil between each maille link, and the bracelet I started yesterday was finished with only two more maille links made.

So I dodged the bullet on that one, and now I will have enough silver left to finish the other bracelet. Beyond that, though, I think I'm sunk. Of course, I could switch to 20 gauge and use that coil up, too. I wonder what these weaves would look like with smaller rings....

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Down to the wire

Why is it that I get so many ideas when I'm almost out of wire? It never fails. I have ordered lots and lots of wire, but it won't be here for several more days; my coil is shrinking faster than that. It won't last. I have two, no, three different chains in the works; one can wait, no problem, but the other two are new variations and too exciting to put on hold.

How odd; I have made 6.5 cm of each; I ran out of rings at the same length for each chain. One takes 3.6 mm rings, and the other requires 4 mm rings. Which should I choose to finish? With both, I was too excited about the weave to bother with details like number of rings per cm; both were made with rings left over from another project. I do not know if I can finish both this week; perhaps I can.

i will cut the smaller rings first; the silver will go slower than way.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Learning something new

It just doesn't get much better than that! Today I worked on mastering a new weave; it makes a very pretty, very sculptural chain. I made enough for a bracelet in 18 gauge and finished it up with an amethyst clasp that has been sitting in my box for a very ling time. So that's two good things for today!

There is something so satisfying about learning something new. Repetition can be soothing, but there is nothing like jumping into the unknown to get my blood racing. And, when I'm finished, it is so cool to look at whatever I've learned and know that I can now do something that I couldn't do yesterday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hi-O Silver!

And away!

With new beads in my box, my thoughts turned, of course, to silver wire. My stash of silver wire is getting smaller; and, since I had a 10% discount at my favorite supplier that expires at the end of the week, I took the plunge and ordered wire in all my favorite gauges. I also ordered some wire in a couple of new gauges (for me) with the idea of making some more delicate bracelets and neck chains.

Those little square diamonds that I won on eBay are crying out to be used; but unless they are to be given a supporting role to some other stone, they will need a very fine chain to keep them from being overwhelmed. Hmmmm, perhaps I could cage them in filigree beads? The thinner wires I ordered are calling to me across the miles.

I can hardly wait for them to arrive.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New beads!

Yippee! My new beads arrived. If you've seen my work, you know that I get a lot of my beads from Gail at Beadles; she's in Germany, and usually the post is pretty fast. I'm entirely spoiled; her beads are usually in my hands a week to ten days from purchase. But the holidays really threw a monkey wrench into the Frankfurt to New York route.

It took three weeks for my darlings to get here. I was getting very worried about them! But they finally made it. And oooh, are they pretty! I don't know what I'll make with them yet; right now they are waiting on my desk, just full of possibilities.

And that just might be the best part.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goofing around

I got a new book with all sorts of patterns for little beaded motifs and I've been playing with it pretty much all day today. I'm using great quantities of seed beads and inexpensive freshwater pearls to make all sorts of flowers and medallions.

The patterns aren't easy for me to follow; they assume more knowledge than I have. But I'm persevering; I'm puzzling them out and learning how to read these diagrams, bit by bit.

It's fun. In a frustrating sort of way!