Something New – Lava Beads!

I’ve seen a few basic creations for lava bead bracelets and necklaces lately so I thought… why not. Let’s just jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. The pendant below is what I came up with. It’s very tiny, less than an inch tall (not including the copper ring holding it onto the leather strand).

How lava beads are used is to have a receptacle for essential oils. The bead is a touch porous, not to mention, it has all these lovely nooks and crannies on the surface. The below images are my “test” pendant. This is one that I chose to “lightly” patina (age) so it wasn’t the really bright copper as when I first made it.

The oil I chose was a lavender essential oil that I touched to my fingertip and just rubbed it on the stone. I didn’t pour drops on it… I think that’s a little overkill because, quite frankly, essential oils do have a strong scent and can get overwhelming.

It appears you’d need to “refresh” the oil application daily – I can still smell the lavender on mine from yesterday’s application, but very faintly. Please make sure you use an oil that is safe for your skin, or dilute the oil in a medium that allows it to be skin safe.

The purpose of my “test” piece is to just make sure the combination of oil and copper doesn’t gunk up your skin too much. I know copper does react with body oils and such (which is why it’s recommended to use a gentle soap and water to clean the piece after wearing), but that’s a “natural” reaction versus one that is purposely put on the piece.

I know the oil is rubbed directly onto the stone, however, even using my pinky gets the oils all over the copper as well during the “refresh.” So, as the majority of the purchasers would probably do, I left it as it was and just put the pendant on my neck. If all goes well, production of the lava bead pendants will start by this afternoon!

Sometimes the testing phase sucks.

My “nemesis” so to speak is the ability to successfully wrap cabochons. I can do it, but they take A LOT of trial and error… more than I care to admit. When one comes out that I like, it turns out simply gorgeous! As for the rest, they are a sad state of affairs. I feel I have to keep poking at it thinking that turning point to “this is it!” will come, but it never does.

This weekend I’ve deconstructed three cabochon wraps after spending roughly two hours each on them. I finally had to set it aside and go back to weaving so I could at least feel a sense of accomplishment.

It’s a horrible feeling to know you’ve essentially wasted a day in trying to tackle a problem.

**shakes fist to the sky** One day I will best you, cabochon wrap!

20170604_091920

 

My love, my tools

When I first started, I picked up a set of basic tools from one of our local craft stores. They were honestly a great and inexpensive way to start the learning process! Over time, I’ve replaced them with upgrades… some expensive upgrades, others, not so much. I’ll share with you the ones I use the most of, and the ones I have for those random moments.

T20170529_093829hese two tools are the ones I use for 96% of my creations. The cutters are Lindstrom RX8141 Flush Cutters (small head) and slice through copper like butter. My pieces are smaller in nature so I don’t need the larger head cutters. I need to be sure these will dig into where I need to go in order to snip those wires. Lindstrom has a lifetime warranty (naturally, as long as you use these as intended), and there are places here in the US you can send them to for maintenance so the warranty stays intact.

The other are baby Wubbers round nose pliers. I chose the “baby” variety because they are smaller for my hands. I have little hands, so a good grip has to be key for me. I use these especially when making “swirls and curls” because I’ve found I can use the rounded edges to help guide wires through without getting an angle crimp in it from flat pliers. This allows the swirls to have a more natural flow. Any visually seen grasping spots can be buffed out and what you have left is a good natural swirl. Besides, those tips can reach into some tight little spots!

 

20170529_093943Next up are a pair I bought to do my chainmaille projects. They were purchased from The Ring Lord and are slightly modified. I added the grip on the handles for comfort. I have found I grab these a LOT with my pendant work as well. The reason being is they have such a wide, flat head, they can help straighten out some of the weaves as I start bending them around. They’re also great for holding several wires at a time when I’m trying to get a bunch pulled through an area all at once.

While I don’t chainmaille much anymore, I always find myself pulling these pliers out. The only thing I would recommend is to file down the side edges from the sharp angle it currently has. This will help reduce the marring of the wire.

20170529_094013Ahhhh my Xuron’s. Another set I purchased for both chainmaille and pendants. The pliers are lightweight, comfortable in the grip (one is modified from chainmaille use days and I just never took off the vet tape – it makes a great cushion!), and the heads on these are so narrow they can get into some tight areas to capture the wires coming through! I have both a shorter and longer head flat nose. Xuron’s are not expensive at all and they make excellent, and durable, tools – made in the USA and their customer service is outstanding.

Of these two, the Xuron 475 is the one I use the most. It’s simply called a “short nose pliers” – it is not only short, but very narrow! Xuron 485FN is the longer, and it’s just a standard flat nose plier. It is still narrow, but not as narrow as the 475.

20170529_094240For my hammered work, I have my most expensive pieces of equipment. No, I’m just kidding LOL! I went to Harbor Freight and use their 15 pound anvil and a small ball peen hammer. The one side hammers flat, the other creates those lovely little dings that give the metal texture! These two pieces are used, abused and I love them!

A special “shout out” goes to my little file. It is seriously tiny – all of 5-1/2″ long. This one came in a cheap kit… I think from Harbor Freight as well come to think of it. The reason I like this specific one is because it has the MOST finest sides. Of the three sides, one has a slight abrasion that will do well getting burrs and general cleanup. The other two sides are so super fine, when you’re done filing, the metal has a shine! Not quite as shiny as being burnished, but it’s pretty darn close. 20170529_100751

20170529_094056Finally, there is one last tool I use. This one is something I picked up in my early days from the craft store. It’s a simple two sized bail pliers.  See where I even marked the grasp for the 3 & 5mm sizes? I knew I wouldn’t remember 😉

These are made by Beadalon. While I use them for helping me roll a bail from time to time, I find myself using them mostly now for rolling out some copper rings for pendants that have no bails. I use the rings to attach the pendants to the necklace.

There you have it! My “go to” set of tools that I grab and use the most. I have a handful of others, but most are for random and special use, so nothing truly worth mentioning here… at least today 🙂

Enjoy your Memorial Day – and take a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers.

 

The “NOPE” Pile

I am a little anal about my creations. If I won’t wear it, I don’t put it up for sale. A couple of pieces come close to that cusp of “NOPE” but then I remind myself that everyone has different likes and flavors and I allow those on the brim to slip through.

The piece I started yesterday afternoon, before I went out and about with my guy, ended up in the “NOPE” pile. It didn’t take long before I knew it would be there, but I was stubborn and hoped I could pull a small miracle with it in the creation process. That didn’t happen. Below is the end result. I cut off the longer strands to re-use for other things. The thin wire I cut off and wrapped up for when I need smaller selections. The rest goes to the “NOPE” pile.

20170528_111444

I have buckets filled with copper wire of various stages, from the end snips, the leftovers, to full-fledged pieces that I even took through the aging process in the hopes that would appeal to me…. and in the end, I’d look at it and say “NOPE!” – I cut out the stone if there is one, and toss the metal in the bucket.

It’s a good thing I’m stubborn. What happens is, I get a bit miffed at the piece, then grab some more wire and start again. Thankfully this doesn’t happen with every piece, but maybe once in every 15 pendants I’ll scrap a full-blown pendant that I intended to finish properly. When I’m trying something completely new and different, the scrapping process increases…. a lot… but it’s all about the learning!

What do I do with the buckets of copper? Save up enough to recycle. Get a little money back so I can buy more copper 🙂

Here’s the two little buckets I have close to me at the moment. One is fairly full… the other… getting there LOL!

20170528_111641

Always a first!

Let me forewarn you, I am not a writer. I have an art brain that loves to make grammatical errors. Rest assured, I do know the basics of “their, they’re, there” and won’t make you grind your teeth by running across errors like that. Sentence composition (and the occasional typo) is my weakness.

In an effort to get back on track, the purpose of my blog is really to discuss my jewelry. Not only how I make it, ideas I’ve tried (and many times have failed with), and even products I’ve tried – some work, others I quickly move on from. You’ll probably even see an occasional post about frustrations, because life isn’t always about strawberries and sunshine. I get frustrated when I see TONS of views on my store and no purchases! I wonder what’s wrong with my stuff that you don’t like! I must KNOW! I must LEARN! I must *fix*!

So, the title of this post is “Always a first!” – not because this is my first blog as I’ve had some before, not because this is the first post, but this is actually the first time I’ve tried to blog about something I really LOVE to do. I seriously have no idea why I’ve not done this before. Maybe it’s because I’m not a writer and feel more compelled to create a new piece than write about it. However, like now, when I start writing, the words just keep coming. Pretty soon I’ll have a crazy long run on sentence that will make people cringe! I need to learn how to rope that in.

As I finish my morning coffee, I’ll finish off my post in an effort to get started on this glorious 3-day holiday weekend. Memorial Day weekend, where we celebrate our brave military men and women that lost their lives in battle.

00_cover IMG_2681edit

Today’s featured image is a mass of wire I meshed into a ball, and took the skinny wire and twisted it to look like a bowtie. The wire was just a bunch of leftovers and the image was actually used for my photography class for a cover of a photo journaling book that was my final project.

Come visit me on Facebook/SandyCannonCreations and check out my Etsy store at http://www.SandyCannonCreations.com

Have a glorious, shiny day!