Friday, 24 April 2015

Gifts for Mothers

Stuck for Ideas? Here Are Some Handmade Gift Ideas

I did a browse on The Handmade Forum's etsy page this morning and picked up a few ideas for you.

First up, one of many teas from DesertSage.

The information about this one includes:
The modern world is pretty toxic. Everyday we are inundated with all sorts of nasty things, from the air we breathe (various pollutions), the places we live (various protective sprays and cleaning agents), to the food we eat (artificial preservatives, colours, and pesticide residues.) Due to this constant barrage, I wanted to have a full spectrum, nutritionally supportive detox tea on hand.

Next, a way to pamper mom (and moms can always use some pampering).

I found this at SmallbonesJane. Jane's comment:
Natural Vegan Soaps & Body Products, Sustainable Home Goods, Simple Fashion Accessories. You want the things you use every day to be simple and made from natural ingredients – so do I. That's why I do what I do! Everything in this shop is handmade by me, for you, your family and your friends. 

Add a beautiful handmade card from DesignsByCnC.

Shopping done!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

April 16

Round and Round

I made a linked circle brooch for myself some years ago. It garners lots of attention so I decided to make one or two for my etsy shop <>. It's an interesting project, so I thought I'd share it here.

Prototype and Beginnings 

Here is the first step showing the two circles for the new pin along with the version I made for me.  In this photo, I have arranged the overlapping circles and used a felt marker to number them and mark the areas I will forge to accept the wire that links and holds them.

The new one will have a slightly heavier gauge of wire so I will have to do some serious forging here. If you are wondering about that black object under the pieces, it's a hockey puck :-). The hard rubber provides the right amount of support plus enough give to let me shape those circles without too much heavy pounding! I don't remember what I worked on years ago but I do remember shaping it took ages!

Next Step — Grab That Hammer 

In this photo, I have shaped the circles. I used a steel rod (close to the diameter of the sterling wire) with that brass hammer and slowly stretched the metal until the wire could be fed, under-over, through the circles.

When you are forging (hammering) metal, it becomes hard and brittle so you have to stop from time to time and re-anneal (heat) the pieces. You sure don't want to get this almost shaped and then see it split!

The pattern on that hockey puck shows that I've been beating on those circles for quite some time to achieve the fit needed.

Putting It Together

The next step in this process was to thoroughly clean all the parts, flux the contact points, then solder it all together.

I decided to decorate the surface with those silver balls. I soldered them on after the main parts were assembled. I had to make a couple of runs at that as the darned things, being round, kept rolling off the brooch as soon as I brought the torch close! Patience, Dix, patience. Wait until the flux dries and it will hold them in position.

Oh, Yeah, Findings

Of course a brooch needs a pin and clasp so you can wear it. The final shot shows the hinge and clasp in place. Next up, position the pin, close the hinge to hold it and polish the piece.

In a day or two, I will get the photos taken and list this in my shop. I'm thinking of making another version with sterling plus copper or brass. Opinions welcome.

Friday, 10 April 2015

How to Create a Celtic Pattern Bracelet

Making Bracelets with Wire

I have been busy preparing Celtic-inspired items for the Creative Jewellers Guild display at the BC Gem show this weekend. One of my projects was a bracelet made with sterling silver to accompany one I did with sterling and golf-filled wire some time ago. Here is the process.

Which Wire?

For this bracelet, I worked with 18 gauge sterling silver round wire. Wire, by the way, is available in a dizzying array of gauges and profiles: round, half round, square, triangular and rectangular. For bracelets, I generally use round wire although I have made some with square wire, too. In either case, you have to start by creating a bunch of sterling silver jump rings.

Winding Away

The first step is to take lengths of your wire and coil them on steel mandrels. I am lucky that The Big Guy gave me a jump ring maker a few Christmases ago. Prior to that, I was forever trying to find knitting needles, long nails, meat skewers, etc. in suitable diameters to make the rings I needed. The jump ring maker comes with a full set of steel mandrels to create rings in any size I can imagine I will ever need.

In these photo, you see the winding device and the coils. The larger rings are already off their mandrel and the smaller one are still on theirs. If you look closely, you will see that I start each coil by threading the wire though a conveniently placed hole in the mandrel. Cutters nip off that bit and leave a clean coil for cutting into rings.

Making the Cut

One can cut the rings by hand (and if you do, they literally jump off the saw blade - hence "jump rings"). If I only need a few, that is how I make them but, for a whole bunch, I set the coils into this jig and cut them with a blade on my rotary tool. It is like a mini-circular saw which runs in the slot you see in this photo. Because of the friction involved, I smear beeswax onto the top of the coil before I clamp the top down and make the cut.

The best place to find beeswax, by the way, is in a fabric store. It is frequently used to make threads easier to pull through fabrics when sewing by hand (hemming, for example).

A couple of seconds with the saw and — Ta-da! — dozens of rings appear.

I did not photograph the long process of opening all the rings (you do it by using two pair of pliers to twist them open) to get them ready to start weaving to make the bracelet.

Beginning the Pattern

Here, you can get a pretty good idea of how these bracelets come together.

Two pair of pliers — because you have to twist each ring closed again after you thread it into the pattern (DUH).

That steel wire loop is just a convenient way to hold onto the bracelet until it gains some length. You can see a supply of the larger, featured, rings at the top of the photo and the smaller, connecting, rings below them.

End Result

Here are both Celtic Pattern bracelets.

As I type this, both bracelets are at the Gem Show in Abbotsford, BC along with a wide variety of other Celtic-inspired items from members of the Creative Jewellers Guild (yes, that is the Canadian spelling).

Friday, 3 April 2015

Artisan Jewelry Show & Sale 2015

In Vancouver on Mothers Day

Here is the information.
Applications for Vendors can be found here:

If you live in Greater Vancouver, this makes a great Mothers Day outing. See the gardens (admission charged), visit the show (admission free), and get something yummy at the Shaughnessy Restaurant.