A few months ago I bought this set of handmade beads from an artist in Mexico. They've been sitting on my bench staring at me ever since. I knew I wanted to make a necklace since they work so beautifully all together, but it wasn't until just the other day that I got started. Just need to take more photos and it can go in the store!
Most of the time I buy from online wholesalers, but in Wausau there is a wonderful shop that I visit when I'm in town and I'm not running like a crazy person - it's Stoned & Wired and look what I picked up yesterday -
Stay tuned for new pieces featuring these beautiful beads!
My facebook followers saw me post this shot of some earrings in progress and three women wanted a pair even before I got them finished!
So I got to work making extra sets so this one (that I took about a million pictures of) could go in the shop. They're made with hand fused and shaped fine silver on sterling silver ear wires. Here's the journey they go through to be finished earrings!
First the wire is fused and flattened. The hangers are shaped into ovals and bent. The circles get some texturing. Everything is polished by hand and then is ready for the tumbler. I kept the ear wires long so each woman could choose how long she wanted them.
It's a little hard to tell, but they have a more satiny finish before tumbling. I really like that look and can replicate it with the polisher after they're tumbled. Tumbling adds a little work hardening, but with this much hammering they don't need it. Neither do the ear wires since I use 1/2 hard wire for those and they're strong without the need for anything more.
And look at that scratch on my bench. Oh well, such is a jeweler's life.
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!