Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jewelry-Making for Beginners Part 6: Opening and Closing a Jump Ring

I made the decision some time ago to create a series of tutorials to teach the basics of making jewelry  in the hope of helping those just starting out, toying with the idea of making jewelry, or just wanting to figure out how to make a few things. The previous sections in this series were simply information-sharing as I (and a guest poster) explained

It's finally time to get to the meat of jewelry-making and learn actual techniques! To start us off is the most basic of techniques - opening and closing a jump ring. 

With this one little technique, you can be completing jewelry pieces in no time. Remember that a jump ring is simply a ring of wire with a slit in it for opening and closing. Generally, jump rings are round shaped, but they can also be found in ovals, squares, triangles, etc. Their purpose is to connect one component to another. However, they can also be used as design elements or in chainmaille designs.

In addition to explaining this technique, I'm going to show you how you can use it to complete several pieces of jewelry.

If you want to see the skill and the making of the jewelry in action, you are welcome to watch the video of Opening & Closing a Jump Ring


For now, here's the written portion. Let's get to it!
The tools needed to complete this skill are simple enough: two pairs of pliers and a jump ring. 

I recommend that the jaws of the pliers be flat on the inside, without teeth, to keep from marring your jump rings. I personally prefer a pair of toothless chain-nose pliers and a pair of toothless bent-nose pliers. Flat-nose pliers would also work. And, if your pliers have teeth, it's completely fine, just be gentle. While this task can be performed with round-nose pliers in a pinch, I don't recommend it. The round surface of the pliers' jaws does not grip the round surface of a jump ring very well. Using the other recommended pliers makes this task much easier. 

The first thing you want to do is to locate the small opening in the jump ring.

As explained in the image above, opening the jump ring is as simple as gripping the ring with the pliers positioned on either side of the slit. Twist the ring open by pushing one plier forward while pulling one back. Do this in one swift motion, and try not to over-extend the ring as you could weaken the metal.

Closing the ring is done in the same manner; place the pliers on either side of the opening, and twist the ring back into its original shape. You make have to rock it back and forth slightly several times to make sure the ring closes completely. You want as little space as possible in the split. Often times, you can feel/hear the two ends click together as an indication that it is closed completely. 

It is important that you TWIST the jump ring open and closed. Do not try to pull it apart. You may end up with a wonky mess. This technique does take a little practice, and closing smaller jump rings is easier than larger, thicker-gauged ones. But, the tools are basic and the supplies inexpensive. 

As I mentioned above, this lone skill really is all you need to complete a piece of jewelry. 
In the pictures above, a single jump ring was used to connect a small charm to the loop on an ear wire to make an earring. The jump ring included on another charm was simply opened and closed onto a pre-made bracelet chain to start a charm bracelet. And, in the necklace, the pendant and clasp were attached to the chain with jump rings. In fact, every link in that particular chain could be considered a jump ring as they each have a slit opening.

And, that's it. Easy Peasy! If you can open and close a jump ring, you can make jewelry. Of course, that's not ALL there is to jewelry-making so I'll be adding more techniques to this series very soon. If you have any questions, comments, additions, or corrections to the information I've provided here, please don't hesitate to let me know! 


Friday, December 22, 2017

Romantic Upcycled DIY Ornament

I messed up the link for the Art Elements blog hop. If you want to see what I made, please click here (there's a giveaway!) Sorry about that!!

Romantic Upcycled DIY Ornament (Giveaway)

This project was sparked by the Art Elements Christmas Ornament Design Challenge. Between the inspiring projects Lesley shared in her initial post and the list of inspiring DIY ornaments I found, I was definitely inspired to create something really spectacular. In fact, I'm pretty sure I combined several of those inspirations to make my own ornament.

I adore working with old, aged, vintage, yellowed, shabby items. One of my favorite pastimes is looking for treasures to incorporate into my work. There's something about these bits and knowing they have their own history that makes me smile. Exploring other ways to use them outside of jewelry is fun too. This project gave me the opportunity to pull out a great many of my hoarded treasures and combine them into a beautiful Christmas Ornament.

It took me almost no time at all to make this ornament, so let me show you how you can too. This is a blog hop, so if you just want to hop on to see the next ornament, please scroll to the bottom of this post! 
Start with these tools and materials:
Wooden Spool
Chandelier Crystal
Fiber (lace, sari silk ribbon, rick-rack, etc.)
Buttons (2)
Wire
Sheet music (or other interesting paper)
Paintbrush
Mod Podge
Scissors
Jewelry Pliers (wire cutters, round-nose pliers, chain-nose pliers)

Cut your paper down to size so it fits inside the indent of the spool. 

Using Mod Podge or another medium (school glue, gel medium, etc.),  glue down and seal your paper on the spool.

Cut about a foot of wire and form a loop (with your round-nose pliers) in the center of the wire.

Slip the chandelier crystal onto the wire, making sure it slides into the loop.

Twist the wire several times to secure the crystal into place.

Cut your fibers and match up their centers with the twist in the wire.

Hold the fibers into the nook of the wire so that the lace is nestled between the two pieces. Squeeze the fibers as tight as possible together and twist the wire so that the fibers will stay in place.

Slide a button onto the wire, making sure that you insert each wire end into a different hole.

Slide spool onto both wires.

Thread another button onto the wire.

Twist the wire together for a couple of inches.

Trim the wire just below where the twist ends and fold over the sharp end, pressing it against the other wire.

Curve the twisted wire on the large portion of your round-nose pliers to make a hook for hanging. You could alternatively make a closed loop and insert a ribbon or ornament hanger.

And, that's it. Your ornament is ready to hang on your Christmas tree or really anywhere.

I made a video of my process to make this romantic ornament in case these instructions just don't do it for you.

Here are a few more pictures of the ornament (please note that I actually made two different ornaments - one in the video, and one for the step-by-step pictures. The video one is the one I used for the first picture and pictures to follow.)

Now, this ornament is part of a blog hop, so here's the list of the other participants in the Art Elements Christmas Ornament Design Challenge. Go see what all these other talented designers made. I know I'm looking forward to it.

 Would you keep this baby tucked away especially for Christmas or would you have it out on display all the time? I'll let you decide. If you're interested, I'll give away one of these ornaments. Let me know in the comments and leave your e-mail. Alas, this is only open to US residents. I'll pull a winner on January 5th.

I sincerely hope your Holidays are magical; full of joy, love, and fun.

I've linked this post up at Saturday Sparks Link Party on Pieced Pastimes, Show and Share link Party at Coastal CharmDIY Salvaged Junk Projects and Funky Junk Interiors, and Recipe and DIY Linky at The Sway.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Use Your Leftovers Earring Challenge from Earrings Everyday

Somehow I completely missed the post about the Earrings Everyday Use Your Leftovers Challenge until I started seeing the reveals. BUT, since they left the reveal open for a few days, it wasn't too late for me to get to earring-making. 

I was to start the process by taking a picture of the craftermath of a bead feast. Alas, I had just cleaned my desk (for the first time in several weeks.) It was a serious shame I hadn't seen the challenge earlier. 

I do promise that my desk hardly ever looks like this. In fact, I did have another picture on my camera roll to prove it. 

But, the clean desk also meant that there were no leftovers there to pick through. Fortunately, I had plenty of leftovers stashed away from The 100 Day Project. I also keep a small bowl nearby to toss in extra (leftover) beads.  So, I had plenty from which to choose. 

From there, I set out (as instructed) to sort some of the selection into a divided box. I did this as quick as I could until I got frustrated with the process.

After that, I set a timer for an hour and went to work. At the end of the hour, I had these seven pairs of earrings.
These (above) began with the amethyst chips that were actual leftovers just sitting in the "empty" divided box. The altered copper charms called out to them before I dug out some coordinating beads from the leftover box.

All these elements were in my 100 Day box. The large pineapple quartz beads were just sitting there, begging to be used. I paired them with light blue crystals and some antiqued silver chain.

The faux hinges are Tim Holtz grungeboard pieces that I altered with crackle medium and gold paint. For some reason, the mother of pearl buttons and beads just seemed to go with them. It's a shame mother of pearl is so hard to photograph!

All of the elements for these just seemed to fall together quickly. The brass folder rings always catch my eye while the moonstone-colored cultured sea glass and large milky glass beads just seemed to float to the top of the pile.

I always have a favorite, and in this bunch, these are them. The rusty, worn filigree pieces came from a destash from Shipwreck Dandy. I can't believe I hadn't used them yet. The crystals at the top of the earrings were salvaged from an old rosary while the small crystals and rhinestone spacers were new, but went with the romantic theme of these.

I wanted to get these large (already wrapped) teardrops out of the box so basic clear acrylic beads were added to accent them. I'm not positive that I'm happy with these. They don't seem to have enough personality. We'll see.

Finally, the wood discs caught my eye and needed to become something fairly tribal. In all the Christmas craze, I had to bring the green and red together. I like the color combination at any time of the year, and it totally worked in this design.

The timer went off before I finished the second of that last pair. I'm overly pleased with the results of this challenge, even if I had to fudge a little to get it done!

Head over the Earring Everyday to check out the other Use Your Leftovers Earrings! And, there's possibly still time for you to play along as well! It's a giveaway chance if you do. Seven days left to enter! You've got plenty of time!!

I've also linked this up at Show and Share at Coastal Charm.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Silverlox in the Snow

The craziest thing happened y'all!! It SNOWED this weekend in South Alabama. My last memory of real snow down here was when I was in college twenty years ago. Now, I have no great love for snow. It's part of the reason I'm happy to live in the Deep South, but it does make everything a little magical. So, when Silverlox got blanketed in a dusting of the white stuff, I couldn't help but take ALL THE PICTURES! And, what else am I going to do with these pictures, but share them with YOU? Aren't you excited? Here they come. Sorry, this is indeed picture-heavy. 

I actually didn't think our area was going to get any snow even though most of the areas to the West and North of us were already getting some. However, as the day progressed, it seemed that it might actually hit us right around midnight. So, we stayed up and waited for it.

It had rained all day, but that slowly changed into a light sleet that transformed into SNOW!

We didn't leave the porch while the snow was falling during the night. In the morning, I woke before the sun was up, ready to take a peek at how it had transformed the property (and fully recognizing that it wouldn't take long for it all to melt away into nothing).

Pat and I donned some warm clothes and toured the property.

Even the fire pit didn't look warm. 


We could see the sun just peeking up on the other side of the woods.

The trails in our forest didn't get much snow because of the tree coverage.

But, I was smitten with the way the snow was just sitting on the tops of items like this barbed wire wrapped stump.

How about these palms with the snow on them? Such a weird sight!!

Oh, the mushroom-ed log with the snow. SQUEEE!

And, the snow just sitting on the tree branches, like a coating of frosting. 

The pop of color from the camellias amongst all the white was startling.  

Everything seemed to glow with the reflection of all the white.

How cute is my lemon with the snow hat?

Snow or no snow, it still looks like I live in Narnia. 

And hey! There's me in the snow - proving it really happened! HA!

By noon, almost all of the snow had melted away. The quiet, magical beauty was gone. It was nice to have a quick few hours of snow. Now, I'm ready for it to warm back up! Yeah, I'm definitely an Alabama girl!