Time Just Flew by Today!

Time just flew by today, and I totally thought I had already posted something and went onto doing other things.  In the middle of writing down some design brainstorms, I realized I hadn’t posted anything, oops!  So here I am hopping in to write something after working on some jewelry design ideas.

 

I’ve ran out of wire, because I’ve been making things like crazy, and I won’t be able to get anymore until next month.  It’s been driving me nuts!  I’m getting all of these ideas for jewelry projects, wire sculpture projects, and my small amount of 28 gage wire that is left is just sitting there laughing at me.  Why, even my 24 gage wire that I hardly use is almost gone, and it bums me out so hardcore that I won’t be able to make things until next month!

 

The good news is:  I’m saving up a decent chunk of money, so I can buy some new tools, some new beads, and hopefully some new cabochons to work with, as well!  I plan to buy bigger chunks of wire, so I don’t run out as quickly.  I looked at the order form from my last wire order to see what lengths I had before, and realized my 20 gage wire only had 13 feet:  way too little for me to do anything substantial with!  I was like, no wonder why I ran out so fast haha.  This time, I plan to order from parawire, because I’ve heard so many things about them, and they have waaay bigger amounts of wire to buy.  Here’s hoping I don’t run out of that super quickly, too XD.

 

To keep myself in the making mindset, I used the 28 gage wire I had to practice Viking knit.  It worked well:  although, I think I like the 26 gage Viking knits look a little better.  28 gage, I notice, looks really nice as a flat knit bracelet though.  I’m really happy I started Viking knitting flat instead of tubular, because I would have never discovered how pretty a flat Viking knit looks as a bracelet otherwise!  And, I plan to use it in other designs that I’ve been planning, once I get my big order in.

 

Also what I’ve been doing to stay in the flow, is just watch tutorials.  I’ve gotten so many ideas for things to try, just by looking at videos.  Some of the tutorials I want to try, but others, I’m just watching so I can get the technique down, and then have fun doing whatever I want with it.  I think it’s time…for me to not look at tutorials though dun dun duuuun!  Well, we’ll see when I start making things again, but I’m going to try not looking at as many tutorials, and just coming up with my own ideas, and see how that goes.  Well, maybe not stop looking at them, because I love seeing what people make, but stop following them, and coming up with my own designs.  For now I’m going to keep watching to stay motivated, and keep my creative juices flowing though!

 

That got a little rambly XD but I just really can’t wait to get my jewelry stuff updated, and get back to making things again!  I’ll leave you with a picture of a piece I know I won’t have enough to talk about on its own post, a wire woven pendant, my first attempt at doing one!  I hope all of your crafting is  going well!  A blue, oval shaped cabochon gemstone with silver wire framing it on the sides. There is a wire woven pattern around the sides of the stone, in thinner gage wire, while there are thicker base wires on the front and back of the stone to capture the gemstone in the setting. The entire stone face is visible, with a loop on top of the stone for hanging on a pendant chain.

 

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Developing my Style

I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I think I’m finally coming into my own with my style, both with music and jewelry making.  Primarily with jewelry making, because in order to start with my style in music, I need to learn how to play a keyboard XD but I do have a general idea of the two styles I want to incorporate in my music.  That isn’t what I want to talk about today though.

 

When I look at tutorials for jewelry techniques, I don’t like to copy the design at all.  I look at tutorials more for how to do a certain something, and even then I tool that certain something into a style set I like, and can understand.  So basically, I use tutorials just to see what techniques and styles are out there.  I realized, through this, is that I’m starting to develop a certain style, and it’s very exciting!  It’s the style that I’ve wanted to do ever since I started stringing beads 2 years ago.

 

I like dainty, airy looking pieces.  I love the fantasy, medieval style of jewelry, and love shiny things.  I’ll never be someone who wants to oxidize, or antique their jewelry, because I feel like that detracts from the piece.  I really love filigree, and twisted wire designs, along with weaves, and love love love the look of braided wire and Viking knit chains. I love incorporating gemstones and accent beads into the work.  And, what I also realized, is I like smaller beads!  When I first started, I had such a basic grasp of the beads I wanted.  “I need 6 MM beads, all round, no exceptions!” but now, I see the worth of having different shaped beads, and smaller sizes.  In fact:  I use smaller beads, with cabochon gemstones as the focal piece. Aka:  what I always wanted to do from the getgo, before I found out wrapping stones intricately was a thing.

 

I know I’ll be advancing in this style too:  I have metal clay, and crystal clay on my radar as things to start incorporating into my designs, and last night just figured out how to wrap smaller stones (woooo – another post on that will be coming XD).  The somewhat annoying thing about this is, now I have to upgrade my bead stash!  Because all the beads I have other than gold and silver spacers are soooo big and I just use them as accent pieces, or focals on designs.  So now I have my eye on buying a lot of seed beads in different sizes, and some dagger beads as well (love those).  Luckily, I have a ton of loose gemstones to work with already, because my entire family are gemstone collectors.  Which is perfect for me haha.

 

I’m really excited about starting to develop a style, both in my music and jewelry.  Here’s hoping it continues to evolve through the rest of 2016!

Back to Wire Weaving, My First Wire Wrapped Stone

A piece of rose quartz with silver wire wrapped around it. At the bottom, twisted wire frames the stone, while a woven wire pattern is wrapped across the stone to adorn it's faceI’ve been getting back into making jewelry recently, and have been having a blast.  I primarily work in wire work, and love how you can either do free form, or patterned designs.  A while back, I joined this Facebook group for wire wrap tips and tutorials, and it’s helped tremendously with my confidence in re-teaching myself these techniques, as well as not getting down on myself for trying (and sometimes, failing) at trying, or retrying, new things.  The technique I’ve retried recently?  Wire weaving.

 

I tried this a few years ago, when I didn’t really have any idea of what you would use wire weaving for and was like “This doesn’t really look super nice on its own” and stopped practicing it.  That, plus trying to line up the wires, keep them tight, keep them even, was a huuuge pain for me at the time.  But now, I don’t know if it’s just that I’m looking at this with a new perspective, or that I’m more patient, or have a better work space or something, but I gave it another go and did a basic weave on this piece of rose quartz I got from my brother recently!

 

Originally, I wanted to do a wire braid and wrap it around the wire this way:  But, I forgot how exactly to make a braid look well, decent, and scrapped that idea.  I knew how to weave, though, and decided to try it – after all, it is basically the same type of design element I wanted around the stone, so I figured why not?  And after a few tries, I got the hang of weaving and got the above picture.  The bottom of the stone seemed a bit empty, and I wanted three wraps around the quartz, so I decided to throw in some twisted wire in 24 gage at the bottom, and really liked how it looked!  Getting the wire secure around the stone was a pain, though:  So I went to my jewelry group, and got a great tip for securing the wire after getting it on the stone, so I didn’t have to do it all over again.  Hurray for team work!

 

So yeah:  This is the first piece I’ve done, that I actually am proud of.  I really like how it came out, and am glad that I stuck with it!  I’ll definitely be giving wire weaving another shot, and really want to get more stones to work with.  But for now, I’m off to practice braiding some wire!

Chainmail Chronicles: First Finished piece and wrap up

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Above is a picture of my first finished chainmail project – six copper chainmail rings dangling down in a straight line, with a small, turquoise bead at the top and bottom of the chains. I decided to go with a pair of earrings, because I didn’t want to have to attempt to connect the two pieces of chain that had fallen apart the night before. I also wanted to just have a completed piece, so I could move onto something else and have my first completed chainmail piece under my belt. Overall, I like how it turned out! I was winging it with the earring design, and had to tweek it a bit here and there. After showing my Mom the earrings, she suggested to add another turquoise bead at the bottom of the chain to make the piece look complete, and I liked it. Before, it looked like this:
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The earrings, with a bead only on the top of the chain

It was nice, but definitely was missing something so I’m glad I showed it to her for some input. Also was debating fixing the longer loop and ultimately decided to – it was scary for me to tinker with it because I was afraid I’d ruin the chain by cutting off the bead dangle, so instead opted to open the loop a little and slide the dangle off the ear wire. After I was done, it had a more professional finish.

There were some troubles along the way assembling this thing! I’ve never been a fan of making earrings because I hate having to thread the small pieces onto the ear wire and close them and possibly distort the piece (like by having one bead dangle longer than the other which happens to me a lot) but with the jump rings, it was a lot easier to thread the chain onto the ear wire. When I put the head pin with the bead dangle on there came the hard part. I really need to get a ruler or something so I can measure lengths and have consistent loops. The first earring was easy, but the second one I had to use three headpins before getting it to stick at the length I want it to. When I threaded everything onto one ear wire, it kept on falling off and I was freaking out that my jump rings weren’t closed all the way – but then the bead dangle fell off too, and at closer inspection the ear wire had been opened a bit, no clue how that even happened! It was majorly frustrating because the first headpin I had had both turquoise beads even and if I had noticed before I would have just fully closed the ear wire and been done instead of trying to re-adjust with a new headpin. Next time I’ll check every piece of the assemblage before jumping to conclusions, will probably make my life a lot easier in the long run!

It wasn’t easy, by any means to make the adjustments to the earrings – I fought a lot with cutting headpins to the right size, trying to thread them on with itty bitty headpin pieces left, and then not having enough of the pin to close. It was soooo annoying! And I wound up opening the ear wire again, but then that gave me an idea! Instead of trying to open and close the headpins, why not just thread everything onto the ear wire while it’s open and then close that? So I did and it worked perfectly! I will probably be using that as my earring making technique from now on because it was soooo much easier . A jump ring was a little open, but I luckily could close it enough so the second turquoise dangle I added to the bottom stayed secure. And as another alternative method, I decided to try not snipping the head pin until I made the loop, made sure it was closed and at the length I wanted, then cut off the excess. Worked like a charm and also will be another technique I adopt into my jewelry making arsenal!

And thus, ends my first Chainmail journey. It was very interesting to say the least, I think I learned a lot about being patient and staying persistent – the hardest thing about this whole experience was not giving up on a technique I’ve always wanted to learn, and I’m glad to say I stuck with it until the end of this small project. I also learned how to feel for the most part when a jump ring is closed, and how to keep my work from vanishing when I drop it. Also, to check all parts of the finished piece before going to fix it! XD

I was reading that the rhythm of chainmailing was very calming, and when I first started I was like “That article was cray this is so frustrating blarg!” but, when you get into the process and can do all steps of the technique well enough, it really is a nice way to get your mind off things and just zone into your work. Can’t wait to do more patterns with this technique and get better at it!

What will I do next? Why, practice chainmailing, of course! I still have a long way to go before being super special awesome at it, but I am happy to say my first chainmailing adventure has been brought to a close!

Chainmail Chronicles

I was sosososo excited! I just had to share EEEE like progress yay!

In an earlier post I spoke of my chainmailing woes. Well, that same night, I did my usual routine: going to bed a bit later and practicing for an hour. The nights before, I kept on losing my in progress piece while attaching a new jump ring. Like, it would go flying somewhere and I wasn’t even going to attempt finding it. It was late, and dark because well, I don’t need the lights on to practice lol. But last night, I not only didn’t lose my work, but made the longest piece to date, in the shortest amount of time!

Usually, it would take me an hour to an hour and a half to connect four links due to the learning curve. My sighted friend, and online tutorials, said it was easy to do, which is true, but there’s always that learning curve for a blind person in which you have to get a feel for the materials and the technique, fix what you’re doing wrong, try and absorb as much of the process to perfect etc etc. So my first few days was just doing that. But last night I had a major break through where everything just sort of clicked, and it was so exciting! I was opening jump rings and threading them onto each other like a boss, and within a half an hour I had a chain of eight jump rings, woohoo! When I went to add a few more, one in the middle of the chain wasn’t secured as much as I thought, so it broke in half, but still major progress. I put my beading board under my work (which should have been an obvious fix for dropping pieces so derp) and when the in progress chain fell, it fell onto the board, made a noise and was easy enough for me to find.

I am so happy! It really gives me the confidence to continue with the process, because I’m doing most of it right. I’m debating either continuing the current chain, using both pieces to make a pair of earrings, or trying to just link both pieces back together – I tried doing that last night and it was kind of…difficult. One piece is a bit longer than the other, so I am thinking of just continuing that piece and then working on the smaller piece later, we’ll see!

But yeah, I couldn’t be happier about this, you have no idea haha. There’s only up to go, or something like that! XD

I’ll be posting pictures fosho of my finished piece when I figure out what I want to do with what I’m working on, so stay tuned for that!

Jewelry Journey, Chainmail Woes!

I have had a love hate relationship with jewelry making. Aka, I bought giant clunky pliers to do all the work, they were hard to work with, and I have been doing designs on and off for a year and a half or so. I still keep up with the trends and snizzy, and had a specific type of jewelry I wanted to make from the getgo. So of course, when I couldn’t figure out how to make the jewelry I wanted to make, I went to just doing the basics: Stringing beads onto beading wire, crimping the ends, and tah-dah! Pretty pieces that I get to say “I made that, wee!”. And yes, you do get compliments on that sort of stuff, and people do give you the ‘Oh!’ face and are impressed you made what you’re wearing, but as a creative person that really wasn’t doing it for me. Sure it was pretty, and sure it used some of what I originally wanted to work with, but it wasn’t challenging at all. Eventually, I got bored and stopped designing anything.

I still, and would still, look at jewelry making tutorials online. Youtube is a tutorial gold mine, as are jewelry making sites and Beading magazines. Well, eventually, I stumbled upon wire work – and whoa! I loved the concept. Getting to manipulate something to create a pretty piece of jewelry, with your hands? I’m so there! I adore anything tactile to do (call it a side affect of the blindness lol) and when I can, I put my hands on anything I’m working on. No matter how much I research, I just have to take that final step when I’m excited for something and buy all the materials and work on it, hands on.

So I did!

Forty dollars of wire and jump rings later, I Was deep in the trenches of wire work. Was practicing wire weaving, attempting wire crochet with very little success, and eventually made enough bangles to be like “Hrmmm, what else can I do with this? I thought I could make my own designs with these techniques, how lame!”

Give up, number 2!

Once again, it wasn’t what I was looking for in terms of designing my own jewelry. I had gotten into the ball park of what I had wanted to do, which was good, but still wasn’t doing much for my creative itches with this craft. Back to the drawing board once again for Valky!

I started talking to a friend about crafting. I think in passing, she mentioned she did chainmail. At first, I dismissed it as something I wanted to do because I had tried it a bit a few years back with an instructor, failed at it hardcore after about an hour of trying, and repressed the memory because shploooog it was so hard to do. When my friend said it wasn’t hard, I was like, “Well, I know more about making jewelry in general, so why not try it with what I know now?” bought some cheap jump rings and…

Shplooooog!!!

I had those stupid humongous pliers with these itty bitty rings and I just couldn’t grasp the jump rings to open and close them aaaarg! I had sworn off using jump rings, even in jewelry making – you can close things with head pins and wire and loops and screw chainmail I’ll buy chains if I really want to use one in a design!

“Valk, you need smaller pliers,” my friend says.
“There…are smaller pliers?”

I did the research (once again, with help from my friend) and herpaderp! I had crafting pliers for a year – way too big for anything I wanted to be doing. My loops were huge when I made them, things were hard to grasp, and overall my designing experience was horrible and I feel like that is in part why I gave up so quickly. But now hurray! I got smaller, jewelry pliers – the tips are great, nice and narrow – and now I have gone back to working on chainmail! Mainly because I need smaller gages of wire to do some wire work I want to do, and I have jump rings now. My progress?

I’ve been practicing an hour a day, and at first I wanted to give up. But I told myself – just practice an hour a day. No matter what your progress is the day before, an hour a day isn’t hard to put aside to practice, right? Right! It’s been 3 days now, and I am happy to say it’s been going decently well! I’ve been practicing opening and closing jump rings, then linking them. I went from having a four ring chain, to five in two days! Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an accomplishment for me and I’ve found myself getting into a rhythm of opening, closing, linking, and closing again to make a chain. Now my next hurdle is uh, not having the chain-in-progress fly out of my hands when I’m trying to close a newly linked ring lolol. Overall though, I’ve been enjoying the process – both the good and bad parts of creating, and it gets me excited to try different wire techniques, and buying more tools! I want to get some mandrels for shaping wire, nylon jaw pliers, a hammer for shaping and texturing wire, wire wire wire…

So yeah, I am hooked on wire work, if that wasn’t apparent! I’m really happy with where I am on my jewelry journey, and am determined to start creating again. I want to buy supplies, materials, and all that jazz gradually so I can truly create what I have always wanted to – which I will talk about later! This post was just supposed to be about my chainmail adventure, woopsy.

What about you? Have you had any hobbies you’ve been determined to do well? Any you just did and didn’t find were for you? Leave a comment and talkity talk about it!