I love it when someone asks me to do something just for her.
Recently a friend stayed for a few days to relax and we got to talking about how she couldn't find the right necklace to go with a really great top she bought.
What else could I do but invite her to my underground lair...uh, studio...to have a look through my supplies and come up with something all her own.
Our husbands rolled their eyes as we went through different options and ideas. Beads...glorious beads! Even though I have a lot of material, she came to her decision very quickly. Pink and shimmery. These mother-of-pearl donut discs became the focal point. We finessed the rest - strawberry quartz nuggets and just a touch of malachite and white mother-of-pearl. So much fun, and you know...both of the guys stuck around when I started fusing the chain right then and there. I guess it's the torch. Men like fire, right?
A few sketches and thoughts from her and I had my pattern. It would just be a matter of building it and trying things out with craft wire first. I do that a lot, actually. What else is craft wire for?
I put everything into a project box and ordered the wire I needed to make it really durable and tarnish-resistant since she will have to hand polish and not use a tarnish dip. Mother-of-pearl doesn't play well with harsh chemicals. As I worked through the component parts, the whole piece came together beautifully. If I have to walk away for a while, I take a lot of notes on wire measurement and tool placement so I can pick up right where I left off. I even added a couple of extra touches in the clasp and extender so that it will be as lovely from the back as it is from the front (she has short hair, so it will show). It's polished and bold, but also very natural.
And it went out today. She will rock it.
In a little spate of creativity and time at the bench, I've explored design options with an asymmetrical bracelet. One of the priorities in any jewelry business is to create pieces that can become a standard line; something the brand becomes known for. I am really pleased with this basic design - it's very wearable, even layerable, and lends itself well to variations like wire gauge, bead link style, end finishers and embellishments.
I'll have to tinker with it more and find out how long it actually takes to make one. Since I've been experimenting and changing things up, I'm not quite sure. The most time-consuming part is making the rings for the chain. Each ring is formed individually and has to be worked, shaped, and rechecked so they are as perfect as they can be. The large rings are fused one at a time, and then the smaller ones are fused around the larger to form the chain. It takes about 3 inches per bracelet. This can vary depending on the bead links. The toggles are made individually, too. If I have enough in the works I get into a nice rhythm.
When I have several bracelets worth of silver finished, they go in the tumbler in a batch. I tumble for several hours and so the process runs to two days at least. It's important to plan ahead and know what I have on hand and how many pieces I can create. Then I can turn my attention to the bead links. So far I've worked with a variety of gemstones, but small glass beads would work as well. Wrapped links work best, but I use a finer gauge of wire so they come out more elegant and subtle. Some I attach directly to one another, others get jump rings. If they're open jump rings I'm thinking about doubling them up for strength. If they're closed I can go with one. Some I leave plain, some get a little dressed up.
So much fun and lots of choices. I could even do them as custom orders one day. Hm. That's an idea. So many things to consider. All part of the process!
While supplies last, I'm giving away free jewelry items from my secret stash. Things I've had for a while that I liked and didn't put up for sale, but hadn't worn either. It's the way of it with making jewelry. And now you benefit!
Head over to www.thewiresmith.etsy.com before your favorites slip away.