Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beady Spiders!

I don't know about anyone else, but Halloween is one of my favorite holidays -- maybe because it lets me feel like a kid again. After all, you get to dress up, carve a pumpkin, eat lots of candy, huddle under the covers watching your favorite scary movie... what's not to love? So, in honor of the upcoming holiday (which isn't all that far away!) here's a quick little craft project: beady spiders!

You will need:

  • 20G craft wire (we still have plenty of the ColourCraft wire, on sale at 30% off!)
  • 2 beads, 1 large, 1 smaller (these can be round, rondelle, even teardrop, though they should be center-drilled) I tried to stay in the 6-12mm range
  • round-nose pliers
  • needle-nose pliers
  • cutters
  • ruler

You will also need to know how to make a basic loop and a bound loop. Many of our classes teach this technique, such as "Let's Make Earrings," "Beginning Jewelry Assembly," "Intro to Wire-Wrapping," "Link to Link," and plenty more! Check out our class schedule online:

Finally, click here to view and/or download the one-page tutorial on how to make your own Beady Spiders! You will need to have Adobe Reader.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall Flowers Cluster Earrings

Here's a little inspiration for September. Maybe if we all start thinking of autumn enough, and making earrings to commemorate the season, the weather will take note and cool down! It's worth a shot, right?

Well, these earrings are super easy, and great little accessories for fall. I used little burgundy-colored flower drop beads, as well as some gorgeous amber-hued glass leaves, then wire-wrapped them on tarnish-resistant copper craft wire and attached them to a short length of chain. Pop some ear-wires on, and voila -- you're good to go!

We've got a range of these glass flower-and-leaf beads -- they're all on the glass wall toward the back of the store. Check 'em out next time you're in, and make your own "Fall Flowers Cluster Earrings!"


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Creating Patinas

Hey wire workers! Oxidizing silver and gold is a great way to give your pieces a vintage look. But if you want to try out a new look, you can create a beautiful blue patina on brass and copper using regular household items!

Supplies needed
  • Cheap, non-clumping kitty litter. The kind that is just little chunks of clay.
  • Ammonia
  • Table salt
  • Sacrificial plastic food container with lid (trust me, you'll never want to eat from it again)

To start, put a layer of kitty litter in the food container. Carefully pour the ammonia over the litter. You want it to be wet, but not soaked. I poured it into the cap of the ammonia bottle, and then poured it over the litter to give me control.

Once you have the base layer of litter, figure out where you want to place your copper and brass pieces. Sprinkle a bit of salt in that spot, and place your piece face down. Then sprinkle a bit more salt on the side that is facing up. Be careful with the salt, though. Using too much will pit the metal!

Next, spread another layer of kitty litter over your pieces. Just enough to cover them. Repeat the step with the ammonia on the dry kitty litter. Seal the container, and leave it in a cool, dry place for about 2 days. Make sure that it is in a place where it won't get knocked around!

The litter/ammonia process might take several tries to get the desired level of patina on your piece. Just keep checking every couple of days, and replace the litter and ammonia each time. You can also scrub them with steel wool if you want to remove some of the patina after it forms.

Once you achieve the desired level of patina, you need to seal it. I used microcrystalline wax, specifically Renaissance Wax. You can also use car wax, since it's intended for metal. Be aware that the wax may darken your patina, so use it sparingly! You may also need to reapply the wax over time.

Copper and brass are wonderful, inexpensive options to gold and silver. Nomadic Notions sells copper and brass forms (pictured above) that work beautifully with this technique. We also carry copper and brass wire which can be used to create your own original shapes! Here are some examples that I've done.