Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Handmade Jewelry: Step 3

And so...now that we have a piece of handmade jewelry made and polished, we now have to document it in another way. Pictures...this entails a whole bunch of more work. You have to learn to become a photographer of designer jewelry. When I first started, I used a Sam Sung 2.o mega pixel digital camera. I'd take about 50 pictures of each handcrafted piece and hope to get one that I could use. ack! It wasn't the camera, it was me. Learning about lighting, the macro feature and backgrounds took a while. When I finally got it, I still would take about 20 pictures. When you have 200 pieces, this is indeed a real pain. sigh... I now have a Sam Sung 8 mega pixel digital camera and take a lot less pictures. yea! You can see pictures of my handmade jewelry at http://www.keystonejewelry.com/. Here is a picture of a piece I recently sold:

It is an Angelite surrounded by light blue freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals. I was truly sad to see this one go...but it went to a wonderful home. A young man I know bought it for his mother for the fourth of July. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met and was blown away. I would be too if my son bought me such a present...anytime! *smile*

This is how I take pictures of my handmade jewelry. I use a clear rubbermaid tub, a white sheet of paper and three lamps with REAL light bulbs. I bought the light bulbs at Wal Mart and the lamps with clamps at Tractor Supply (hardware stores carry them too). I set my designer jewelry piece on the sheet of paper...cover it with the tub...place the lamps on each side and top to shine through the tub...cut a hole in the tub for my camera lense...and snap away! I suggest neutral background colors of white, beige, or gray. These seem to work best for me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Step 2: Great...we have the design, so now we gather the wires in all the gauges (sizes) and tempers (soft, half-hard- or hard). Also, if there are to be accent stones, we need to decide which ones would look best with the design. After all necessary supplies are gathered,we will measure for the length of our first set of wires. We then clean and straighten the wire by drawing one piece at at time through a cleaning cloth...then we will line up the first set of wires to be bound together. These wires are the wires that will hold the main stone.

I am going to give you an example of the remaining steps of a border wrapped stone as in the picture above... After the wires are bound together, we will remeasure for any side bindings...mark and then bind. Then, the wires are bent toward the center in a pattern of your choosing on the front and back sides. These bends hold the stone in securely. You should use half-hard wire in this area of the wrap, or you can twist square soft wire. Twisting the soft wire will make it become half-hard. The stone is placed (centered)over the first binding and the sides are bent up to cradle the stone. The wires on the sides are bent out and then pulled together at the bends. It is very important to line them up exactly. When they are all fitting together nicely, I will tape them together at the top...and then wrap them together...pause...take the back wires and form them into a bail by bending them over a small dowel...resume wrapping all the wires together. Then we will trim off the excess wire in the back that forms the bail...file smooth and bend neatly under.

The stone is now securely set. We aren't finished yet! Now our design kicks in further. The top wires in front of the bail will now be formed into what ever design you desire. You can simply pull them all down to rest on the sides of the binding wires...cut them level...and then file smooth (men like this design)...or you can curl them...wrap each one with tiny wire and bind one to the other with gemstones (or not)...When you have the piece designed just the way you want, you check for any rough spots. All smooth? Great...let's continue.

Now we will place the piece in a tumbler and tumble for an hour to 3 hours. This is not possible with all stones, so some items are totally hand polished. Hand polishing is extremely time consuming and gives your arms and fingers a real work out. *smile*

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Creating Handmade Jewelry

Welcome to my handmade jewelry blog!

I thought I'd create a place that I could go into detail about just what it takes to make a handcrafted piece of wire jewelry. Some people might wonder just why in the world a piece might cost what it does. Maybe my blog will help explain a few things that hasn't been considered before. Enjoy!

Step 1: Everything begins with a design... Selecting stones to incorporate in my work is my greatest pleasure. I’m in awe of the colors, and striations created by Mother Nature and the fluid shapes created by the lapidary artist. It is the stone from which my creativity emerges in three different forms. One such form is done by placing the stone on a blank sheet of paper and drawing around it. While gazing upon the stone, I will envision a pattern of vines cradling the stone and begin to draw them on the paper. I will doodle if you will, until I feel the pattern is just right. The other form I use to determine how a stone will be set is through dreams. There is a time just before I awaken, either in the morning or after a short nap, that my mind will see one of my stones and start to set the stone in various forms. The wire will come into view working its way around the stone like a grapevine climbs a fence post. A part of nature influencing me and showing me the way the wire should flow around the stone. I keep a pencil and pad by my bedside in order to capture these visions as quickly as possible lest I lose them in thought of another adventure life holds. The last form of design comes directly from the wire and stone. Having secured the stone with wire in either the beginings of what I call a full sculpt or another style, the border wrap... the remaing wires need to be dealt with. This is where the creative mind goes to work. Some how, the wire tells me the way...and the design begins to emerge...softly whispering along to completion.

Summary: Developing a design can be as easy as dreaming...or as complicated as sitting for hours in a chair drawing away till you feel it is perfect. The latter is how the piece above was created. *smile*