Friday, August 28, 2009

Silver Earrings

Yesterday, I showed my Kindred Hearts Chain Maille bracelet variation where I just added initials to make it personal. Apparently several of you liked the variation also. Anyhow, I was asked to make earrings to wear with the bracelet.

I had made some a while ago that were one piece. Ear nut attached. That was the starting place and this is the results. (Note: I hate taking pictures of shiny silver) While I was at it, had all the little silver beads out, I decided to make two pairs.

This morning while I was taking pictures, I noticed that no matter how I tried to move the earrings around, the earrings did not look the same.

Do they look the same to you?

I keep all my round silver beads in a box with little divisions. They are in plastic bags to prevent tarnishing. I have several bags of each size and just grab "the large ones" or "smallest ones". I'm pretty good at knowing what the measurement is. Most of the time.

This time I needed my calipers to prove that I'm not as good as I think I am. Have you figured out why they don't look exactly the same?

Two of the larger beads in the left earring are 8 mm beads and all the rest of the larger beads are 6 mm. I suppose if you wore them, one on each ear, no one would notice. However, I think I'll just make another matching one. ;-)

B and

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kindred Hearts Chain Maille bracelet - variation

I love it when customers have suggestions for variations of my pieces. Kindred Hearts has been a popular bracelet. Something about hearts I think. Anyhow, a friend came over to pick out a bracelet for a friend. I had several extra things on my dining room table that I was working on. Nothing, (I thought) she would be interested in. Grandmother's bracelets, some with names in the bracelet. The box of letters was sitting near where we were. She looked at the pieces I had picked out for her to look at.

Suddenly, she said "Could you add initials to this bracelet?" She picked up the Kindred Hearts bracelet. I took a piece I had already put together (just the hearts) and sure enough the addition of the initials looked great.

It is made with the Barrel Chain Maille weave. Here is the finished bracelet, hearts and initials. What do you think of the addition of the initials?

Next we looked at earrings. I had made some a while ago that were one piece. Ear nut attached.
I'm finishing them up tonight. I'll let you see what we came up with tomorrow.

B and

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lexie's Bracelet

The brochure for Lexie's Jewelry says on the front "It all started with a bracelet - Support Cancer Research with each purchase"

Sales were wonderful for the first two years. It figures that after awhile most everyone who wanted Lexie's Jewelry pieces would already have one. So it wasn't surprising when there have been no sales for the last several months. (It came at a good time since I was out of commission for awhile)

Several things have happened lately. First, Lexie's MRI came back showing a "measurable" growth in her brain tumor. Second, no matter what the results were, Lexie and her family will continue to support Cancer Research (as will I as a survivor myself) and third there is a run for the Jimmy Fund on September 13 that needs support. So, all of us are hoping to gain a few runners (physical and virtual) and raise support for the Jimmy Fund.

Having made the need known again, I've had some new orders. What I'm showing today is the construction of a Lexie Bracelet. It consists of 5 colors of Swarovski pearls with daisy Bali silver spacers.

Making "regular" jewelry is different than making a "production" type piece like Lexie's bracelet. You have to get out all the parts and make them as quickly as possible. Once the parts are out, it is easier to make a bunch. Which is what I do. (See picture above - all ready to go)

I lay out the beads in order before I start. (I get in a zone and really need to have the order all set up. No decisions) Here is the bracelet strung.

Next I add the lobster claw clasp. That type makes it easier to make the bracelet expandable with the addition of a small chain on the other end. When you are selling bracelets to many people you don't have to worry about size as much. Though I do make them larger or smaller on request.

Before I crimp the last crimp, I check it with a sample to make sure everything is OK. You see the sample I use is missing one little daisy bead. Can you see where? Anyhow, it is easier to fix the mistake now rather than have another "sample".

Now the finished bracelet goes into a plastic baggy with information about the bracelet and most important "Thanks for your purchase"

Finally, it is packed, addressed and mailed off.

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour. You can see all of the Lexie Jewelry line on my web sites.

B and

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lexie Williams Part 2

I have no new news about Lexie but thought I'd share part of a post from her Mom, Alice, on her Caring Bridge journal. Alice posts some time most every evening and I usually read it before I go to bed. Last night the Sox were being slaughtered by the Yankees and so went to be earlier than usual. I found her post waiting this morning when I got up and read my emails.

I thought the first part of her post was too good not to share with all of you. Everyone has their own set of problems but those with Cancer seem to have a special set of problems. As with everything, it depends on what we do with the problem.

Alice's quote is from a fellow BT(brain tumor) family member. You can read the whole post here.

"It's called "Medal of Honor" and he describes it as a partial path to earn a 'medal' for living life. Here are a couple from his list: 1) Attitude is the factor in life we most control. 2) Energy and action spring from a positive attitude. 3) Winners regard a setback as a disappointment, not discouragement or despair--just disappointment. 4) The setback is not the test - the COMEBACK is. 5) Embrace life with passion and compassion. 6) Love and be loved."

The above quote is from a BT friend, and it was very helpful to remind Who We Are today- We are BT family- We Are Warriors- We Do Not Give up, and a Setback is only a disappointment, that's IT!!! Thanks, Marianne !!! "

So, let your attitude be your guide no matter what your situation.

B and

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gold Filled Chain Maille Bracelet

I decided awhile ago that I should "invest" in some gold filled rings and make some Chain Maille. The easiest thing was to make some earrings. (Don't have a picture) The quickest was the Mobius pattern which is merely 3 inter twined rings. It is, however, the easiest to make and the most popular since it is simple and a "go with everything" piece.

The next piece I made was bracelet in the Euro 4 in 1 pattern. Now while the base for the bracelet was finished awhile ago, I lacked just a few rings to finish. It was then put aside. With my latest, clean up and organization the unfinished bracelet showed up again.

Yesterday, I went off to my local bead shop Beadcache to pick up some odds and ends and found some gold filled rings and a clasp to finish the bracelet. (It is now on my wrist!)

I think it was worth the wait.

B and

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lexie Williams

Those of you who regularly follow my blog are familiar with Lexie Williams. She is the 11 year old girl who has been fighting a brain tumor since she was 3 1/2 months old. Recently, all news has been good. No chemo, her port removed and no growth.

Well, today she had her regular check up and the results was not great. To quote her Mom's comment on Facebook:

CRAP- That's the same as bad MRI- Measurable growth over past two years- Somewhere, somehow, that thing grew AGAIN!!!
Full ugly report on -
Wish, wish, wish, I could be reporting gloriously happy new...s-
Tumor board to meet for advice after eyes on 31st- probably wait three months and scan again- growth is small, but we are in prime real estate here folks- no room-

Not good news to say the least.

Alice is asking for prayers and support for the Jimmy Fund. Sales from my Lexie Jewelry benefits the Jimmy Fund or you can donate directly to the Jimmy Fund. See the caringbridge site for information.

B and

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PMC Pendant Part 2

This was the pendant before it was fired in the kiln. See Aug 11 post.
After is was fired, it looked about the same except it was hard.

The next step is to remove the white look. It was explained that by brushing with a bronze brush, "You make the silver molecules stand up" Seems weird to me but it makes the piece shiner. You do remove some of the filler in the clay and with lots of elbow grease you can start to get a shine.

Taking pictures of shiny things is a loosing battle. But you can see the difference. To get more of a shine you can tumble the piece. If there are any marks you can now sand them out. Cool Tools has some great tutorials for all of this. Since the resulting piece is now 99.9% silver, it oxidizes much less than Sterling Silver which is 92.5% silver. The addition of other metals, mostly copper, is what makes Sterling Silver tarnish. (Just think of a shiny penny after awhile)

My next step is to Patina the piece which oxidizes the piece. That always seems a bit wrong. Getting rid of tarnish is the goal usually but the results of a Patina (doesn't that just sound better?) is highlighting the valleys because after the Patina process you polish the high points and get dimension in the piece.

So, stay tuned tomorrow for the next step. I hope a picture can show the difference.

B and

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finished new Kumihimo Bracelet!

Here is a picture of my latest attempt to make my "Nemesis" bracelet. I'm not kidding. It is a story I really shouldn't reveal. It started about a year ago with a nice focal bead that I found at my local bead store. It happened to match some tear drop seed beads that I had. I was still fairly new at making Kumihimo but it seemed to be a good match. It really is a good match.

The problem was with "tear drop" seed beads and being new to Kumihimo. Stringing the tear drop beads was different and a little harder than regular seed beads but not really a problem. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of these beads so I had to count them out to make sure I had enough. I did.

When I started the braiding, I noticed it was harder to keep the beads under the previous cord. They wanted to pop up. The results was not so good. I noticed that there were holes in the finished braid. So, I started over again... and again. Unfortunately, I didn't see one of the holes until I was finished. That makes starting over really starting over not just undoing. Well, I did that twice and then decided I'd better put it aside for awhile.

After starting to reorganize after I got my new workspace/table the project resurfaced. Do I just ignore it or should I try again? I guess you know the answer to that question. So, I laid out my project

I made the first half with no problem and I was very proud of myself. What is it "Pride goes before a fall"? After adding the focal bead, the second half was like the first attempts. Beads dropped (thanks to my eagle eyed grandchildren I found them) Then I started noticing holes again - gheez, I'm loosing it. The third time I was determined to watch each bead added to make sure it was secure. That worked well until I got too comfortable again and decided to braid in my comfy chair instead of my workspace. Oops, one string let go and went all over the chair. The next day I turned the chair upside down and found all of the beads! Plus some other goodies that hide in chairs. (No money though)

So, after loading the found beads on the cord again and sitting back at my workspace/table, I was again back in business and finished with out any more mishaps.

You may notice that I still need to add a clasp. Easy peasy - I hope.

Lessons learned

Don't use tear drop seed beads with out being aware of the possible pit falls.
Practice first
Sit in a good spot where you can catch errant beads and
Pay attention to what you are doing!

B and

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've always know that I'm a multi-tasker. When we lived in Hemlock, NY and I was younger, I used to get supper started and then go into my sewing room and sew for awhile as supper was cooking.

Now, with my new workspace, I'm able to do multi-tasking again, this time with my jewelry.

I went for Physical Therapy for my wrist for the first time today and came home with a set of instructions. Exercises to do twice a day. I have to have things in front of me so I remember things like that. So as you can see in the picture, the instructions are right there in front of me. (Also, the red ball to squeeze) Plus several other projects. My computer sometimes takes a long time to load up and rather than just sit there, I now can have several projects going. You can see a Kumihimo bracelet started (the partially strung blue beads) and a chain maille bracelet ready to go now that I received the jump rings. (green hearts and bag of rings on the left in the picture)

So, what ever hits my fancy at the time, I have plenty to do, right there on my new table.

Did I mention, I like my new workspace/table? Don't have to put everything away all the time. Don't have to remember "What was I going to do?" It makes me much more efficient.

Do any of you have tricks like that to be more efficient?

B and

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Start on PMC Pendant

I haven't made any PMC pieces since I took my class a few weeks ago. Summer got in the way plus I needed to gather new tools to start. However, I got antsy the other day and decided that I would start and go as far as I could. Then, at least, I would know what I'm missing and need to purchase.

I did get some items soon after the class. For example, I went to our local hardware store and purchased a small length of PVC pipe for a roller. Cost me 50 cents. Good deal. Then someone in our group was placing an order from I added a few things to the order. That included a brass brush (to clean off the residue after firing in the kiln), a small work surface that I could clean and designate to PMC. (You can see part of it in the pictures. It includes measurements) I also made up some packs of cards that are used both in PMC and polymer clay to roll out the clay in different thicknesses.

So, I gathered the new work surface, the roller, cards, clay and stopped. I didn't have any "cookie cutters" to make a nice shape. I then went scavenging in my drawers and found some old round tins that I had purchased jump rings in from Urban Maille. After they were empty I naturally saved them. Well, the top is clear and has a very sharp circular shape. Perfect! I found some larger similar containers that I could use for the oil and water containers. Off to the local hardware store to buy a sponge and shortly after I had two nice round sponges that fit right in the round container. (With the help of my kitchen scissors) Add oil and water and I'm now almost ready to start.

Check list: work surface, roller, plastic for top and bottom of the clay, cutter, oil, water.
Oops, need something to add texture for the circle pendant. I looked around my desk and found the little flower I had added to the copper piece from my Cold Connection class. Hmmm... So I tried it and it worked perfectly.

Oh, and then I had to make a hole for the jump ring. And sitting right there in my pencil cup was the little red straw we had used in my class. I don't throw away much. It just surprised me that I was able to find it.

To me, the pendant, right now, looks like the surface of the moon. I need to do a bit of cleaning up of the edges. (Need to get some sanding papers) and then have the piece fired. It will be more efficient to make a few more pieces before firing as that takes time and a kiln. I have a good friend (she took the class with me) and she has offered to share kiln time with me. As I said, a good friend.

I have some more tools and items coming soon and I think I'll wait before making another piece. Got to get those designing juices going. So, stay tuned for the next step (kiln process) with this pendant and other pieces too.

B and

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Cold Connections"

Last Wednesday, 5 of my fellow South Shore Beaders and I went to the Fuller Craft Museum for a class on "Cold Connections" I wasn't really sure what to expect other than it would not involve a (hot) torch.

The process of attaching metal to metal usually involves heat thus this class in "Cold Connections" would be different. We found that there are many different ways and depending on our previous experience our teacher would instruct us in something new. She was well prepared for most anything. What we did learn was how to use rivets to connect two pieces of metal.

For the first piece, we chose a flat piece of shaped copper and a decorative piece to attach. I chose a funny shaped piece of copper and a flower.

Our first thing was to drill a hole in the copper piece where the center of the flower was to be placed. That meant using a drill press. Something new to me. Our instructor explained other ways to drill a hole since most of us do not own a drill press. We all took turns using the drill press under the helpful aid and watchful eyes of our instructor.

Then, since the hole was not big enough (better than being too big) we had to use a round file to make the rivet fit. That seemed to take a long time as we were really learning the technique of how to file. I soon discovered that my weaker hand held me back a bit but that it indeed was good physical therapy for strengthening my wrist. At least I had something to show for the exercise - more than squeezing a ball!

Next we inserted the rivet and the flower - with much joy as the hole was finally big enough (fortunately the flower already had a hole in the center). Using an awl we "flared" out the rivet and then one hit with a hammer, done!

I asked if I could add another hole (using the drill press as other methods sounded harder) so that I might be able to use the piece in a new necklace with a hole already there. I haven't decided what to do next yet.

Then we made a bail to attach to a green circle. That involved pounding the piece of copper round/flat wire so that both ends had totally flat, paddle shaped ends. Paddle shaped ends eluded me a bit as you can see in the picture. We now had three holes to drill and (most important) make bigger with our files. I rather pooped out as my physical therapy was getting old. So, with help from our instructor, I was able to finish and line up the three holes and make a pendant with a large bail.

We repeated the process of flaring and pounding the rivet to finish attaching the bail. Not sure what I might do with this piece but it is all a learning process.

So this summer has been a learning time and I'm progressing with new techniques. Now, to put them together and produce some amazing pieces!

B and

Friday, August 7, 2009

Energizer Hot Hare Balloon

Each year the Pittsfield, NH Hot Air Balloon Rally has something special. This year it is the Energizer Hot Hare Balloon. The first time it was inflated, we did not see it as we were chasing the Irish Rover. But Saturday evening we decided not to chase and watched as the balloon was inflated.

Because it is so big, they waited until most of the other balloon left the field. I've watched lots of balloons set up and take off. This balloon was a bit different.

First, they lay out a very large tarp to protect the balloon. Most of the smaller ones don't bother as it is just one more thing to have to pack up and usually they don't have the extra hands that this one does. Actually, we think that they recruit local people to help with some of the chores.

Anyhow, next, they lay the balloon out on the tarp. With gloves on and bare feet people walk all over the balloon ( a real no-no with smaller balloons) spreading out the various parts of the balloon. Most balloons are just one piece and easier to handle.

It takes a long time to inflate Energizer.

I took a series of pictures for that and you can see them all here. Energizer Hot Hare Balloon pictures

OK, now back to jewelry posts on Monday. Til then.

B and

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Balloon Rally Part 3 - Good landing

There are 4 possible balloon launches at the Pittsfield, NH Balloon Rally. Friday evening it rained. No launch. Saturday morning was a great flight. See blog post 8/4/09. Saturday evening was also good.

The last scheduled flight, Sunday morning, poses a special problem. Mornings are usually damp and dewy. The fact that the weather has been very rainy lately just added to the dampness. Plus fields are not mowed yet. One thing balloon pilots do not want to do is put a wet balloon away. Mold, you know. That would mean that in the next few days, if not sooner, they would have to lay the balloon out and dry it off.

That said, our pilot looked for a nice dry place to land on Sunday morning. One of the great things about the Pittsfield Balloon Rally is the cooperation of the local Police Department. One year our pilot accidentally dropped his two-way phone in the grass getting out of the balloon. That meant he lost contact with the chase vehicle. Word spread, however and the police found them and the chase vehicle and everyone got together - all was well.

Several times the best landing place is right on Rt 28 bypass, a fairly busy local road. When a balloon gets in that situation, the Pittsfield Police will stop traffic so the balloon can land safely. This requires lots of help from the crew so that traffic is not stopped for very long. That was our balloon pilot's choice on Sunday morning this year.

As part of the crew, my daughter and I were parked along side the road and saw many people waiting in their cars. Many were very concerned seeing a balloon and lots of blue flashing lights. We assured them that things were fine and that the balloon landed in the road on purpose.

Gets a little exciting but very safe - just watch out for the electric wires. We have a very competent pilot!

The rush is on to wrap things up quickly as the concerned people can suddenly get impatient.

With everything wrapped up, it is back to the field for the Champagne Breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and yes, champagne.

One of the traditions is to "welcome" new pilots with bottles champagne.

Everyone is a good sport and all have a lot of fun, even the wet ones.

So, that was the Pittsfield Hot Air Balloon Rally for 2009. I hope you enjoyed the "tour".

Tomorrow, I'll have the last balloon pictures of one of the biggest balloons, the Energizer Hot Hare Balloon. He was such fun to watch.

I'll be back to jewelry themes Monday.

B and

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Balloon Rally - Part 2 - Landing

After the balloons are launched the next important thing is landing. Our Doctor has a saying in his office: "Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man. Landing is the first!"

After the balloon takes off from the field, the chase vehicle tries to follow closely. They have two-way radios to keep in touch. Another handy thing is someone in the vehicle who knows the area. Knowing the local roads is helpful. (Many of the local roads in NH are dirt roads)

When you are up in the air enjoying all the sights, you start looking for safe landing places. Something flat, fairly large, NO electric wires. This year has been very wet in the northeast and NH was no exception. Because of that, most fields are not mowed yet. You can see the path made by the chase vehicle. The balloon is now in the deflating process. It takes several to hold it down and control the location of the balloon as it comes down. You need a safe place to lay it down while it is readied to be put in the bag to be transported back to the field or home.

Now the best part. After the balloon, basket and all the other necessary item are put away, the celebration takes place. Everyone is given a small glass of champagne. A bottle of champagne is given also to the property owner where we landed. In this particular place the owner was extremely helpful in guiding the chase vehicle into the field without getting stuck. As I mentioned it has been raining a lot and some of the field was pond-like but not obviously so. Thus the help of the owner!

One of our crew felt like doing the Irish Jig:

B and

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Balloon Rally - Part 1

We just returned from a great Hot Air Balloon Rally in Pittsfield, NH. We have sponsored a balloon (sometimes 2) for the last 15 years or so. Flights are very weather dependant and this year we were lucky to get 3 out of 4 flights.

We sponsor the Irish Rover with pilot Ted O'Hara. The first scheduled launch was Friday evening but it rained. Thus no flight. We did enjoy the supper of baked chicken, potato salad and green beans. Dessert was a brownie and ice cream. These dinners are put on by the Rotary people who work extremely hard for the whole weekend. Much appreciated even with out a flight! Thanks.

This picture is from the Saturday morning flight. We almost didn't make it to the field as our alarm didn't go off. My husband's brother woke us at 5 AM and we rushed to the field.

We hurried to get the basket out and start with the procedure of getting the balloon ready.

The balloon envelope gets spread out on the field ready for inflation. Inflation is started with a large fan blowing into the bottom of the envelope.

When the balloon is upright, get ready to jump in the basket as you'll miss out otherwise.

Then up, up and away!

Next and sometimes the most fun, is landing.

This part of the flight was to just land and change people in the balloon and they took off again. Tomorrow, I'll show how the landing went. Stay tuned.

B and