Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Rhinestones as Links


When I first started making vintage-style jewellery, I bought mountains of different-sized rhinestones and settings. Among the many ideas swirling about my head was to use the stones as links. I envisaged, for example, joining several navettes in settings together with jump rings to make a chain. What could be more beautiful?

I quickly discovered that this was good only in theory. On a bust, the "links" in my chain all sat perfectly. But put the necklace on an actual person, and the rhinestones behaved like naughty puppies, rolling from side to side with even the slightest movement of the wearer's neck and shoulders. In a beaded necklace, this rolling motion isn't a problem, as the beads look the same from any angle. But when a rhinestone rolls, it's very noticeable, because often you end up seeing the setting rather than the stone.

I have since more or less given up on using rhinestones as links - except for one exception. And that's what I wanted to share with you today.

The exception involves what I like to call a "tight" design. This is design in which the rhinestone-link is somehow kept in check by other components. It can't roll because the other components won't let it.

Here are some examples. The first is a glorious bracelet made by a customer of mine named Jillian. As you can see from the picture, Jillian has secured two 8 x 4 mm ruby AB navettes between a pair of small filigree triangles. So the navettes are used as a sort-of link, but they are reined in by the triangles, preventing them from rolling. It helps, too, that the navettes are quite small. This makes them easier to tame! Click to see a larger version.

Here's a necklace I made myself. Click for the larger version, and you'll see that I used the same size navette (8 x 4 mm) as links between some antique-brass daisies with filigree petals. The pendant is a large plaque featuring a pretty garden nymph. (Isn't she lovely?) Again, the structure and design of this piece prevent the navettes from flapping about:

Here's another example. This time I used 10 x 5 mm navettes:

Even with their limitations, rhinestones are still among my favourite jewellery-making components. Why? Because what they lack as links they more than make up for as spangly dangles. Check out these earrings, for example:

And don't forget you can also use them as a glue-in design element, as seen here:

All you need is a whip and a chair, and those rhinestones will be working for you in no time. You just need to show 'em who's boss!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Margie's Frame Pendant


I recently wrote a post about a necklace I made for my friend, Therese, using an unusual rectangle-shaped beaded feature frame. Here's a reminder of what I did:

And now, here's another take on the same frame. This gorgeous creation comes from Margie in Queensland. She has used a dainty little filigree butterfly, and a baroque Swarovski dangle in a delightful ruby red. Lovely!

I just love how you can get two completely different looks from one piece.

Well done, Margie. Thanks for letting us see your pendant.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


An Angel Only Lent


Early this week, I received an order from a new customer in Brisbane. After finishing at my web site, she sent me an email explaining that she started making jewellery three months ago to "get me through the grieving process after losing my daughter to ill health".

As a mother, I cannot bear even to think of losing my son. My heart therefore went out to this dear lady - not only for her loss, but for her bravery and determination in actively seeking ways to ease her pain.

I was so touched that I decided to make a little gift to send with her order - a pair of angel earrings in loving memory of her daughter. Here is a picture; click to see a larger version:

From bottom to top, the components I used in these earrings included an antique-gold bead cap; a large, pearlised-glass tear-drop bead; a Swarovski erinite bicone; an antique-gold angel-wing bead; a Czech glass crystal tear-drop (turned upside down); and a dark-amethsyt earring stud.

I won't pretend to know what this lady is going through. But I hope this gift lets her know that people are thinking of her - and admire her, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Bound for Rhode Island!


I recently sold this necklace on eBay. As I type, it is on an aeroplane bound for Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in the United States. Click to see larger versions of the pictures:

I called this necklace "Gothic Candy", because it combined dark elements like the large, antiqued cross with pretty, girly colours such as rose pink, aqua blue and purple. I really love the big purple beads in the necklace. They are cut with stacks and stacks of light-catching facets. Gorgeous!

I get a real buzz when my pieces are liked enough by someone in another country to bid on them. I have sent earrings to Spain, bracelets to England, and necklaces to Belgium. But I was epecially chuffed this time round, because of a lovely note sent to me by the winning bidder. Here's what she wrote:
"I am buying the necklace for a relative as a Christmas gift and I know she will love it. Your jewelry is very unique!"
I am just just so thrilled to think that someone on the other side of the world will be receiving this on Christmas Day. WOW!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Daisies for Lynette

Today I sent off an order for a customer called Lynette. She ordered a large quantity of my antiqued daisies with coloured centres. The colours Lynette chose included peridot, amethyst, siam and montana - all my favourites!

I was rushing to get to the post office before the last truck of the day. So when the glue had finished drying on Lynette's daisies, I scraped them together in a pile, ready to tumble them into a bag.

And I stopped short.

Those daisies looked so utterly beautiful in their sparkling mound, I just had to take a moment to photograph them. Here they are. Click to see a larger version:

I know it seems silly to stop everything for a photograph, and perhaps sillier still to devote a post to it. But one of the things I like most about my job is the photography. So it was nice to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Oh, and I still got to the post office in plenty of time!

I have had a few requests for a post on photographic tips. Coming soon - I promise!

Monday, November 06, 2006


Esta's Excellent Earrings

Enough with the alliteration, already! Just show us the earrings . . .

OK, then.

Esta is a long-time customer from Hobart, Tasmania. Over the weekend, she sent me the following picture of a pair of earrings that she made with my floral buttons (sorry, she got the last pair!) and black-diamond pears.

I just love what Esta has done here, dangling the rhinestone inside a double-garland of multi-coloured beads. Beautiful! Click to see a larger version:

Esta told me that she is wearing a black frock to a wedding in two weeks, and wanted to add some colour to her ensemble. I think these will do the trick perfectly, Esta!

Do you have a design - vintage-inspired or otherwise - that you'd like to share with us at Tomjoolery Times? Send it through! My email address is

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Birthday Present for Therese

My friend Therese is having a birthday this weekend. She is a slip of a girl who just loves unusual necklaces, so I have made one for her. Given it uses one of my favourite techniques - layering - I thought it might be useful to show you the different stages involved in the creation of this piece.

Like many things in life, this necklace had an accidental beginning. I was rummaging in my supply cupboard the other day when I discovered an ice-cream container full of brass pieces that I'd completely forgotten about. I bought them about two years ago when I opened a shop on eBay for selling antique-brass scrapbooking items.

The shop was called Metal Garnish. It was a complete flop. And the pieces ended up getting shoved further and further to the back of my cupboard. 'Nuff said about that episode. LOL.

Anyway, when I happened upon them again the other day, I dragged them all out - and looked at them with a fresh eye. I started wondering how I could use them for jewellery-making rather than scrapbooking. After much mixing and matching with other components (I swear I spend hours doing this), I chose to do something with this one:

I was selling this piece to scrapbookers as a photo frame, and I realised that I could use it for a similar purpose jewellery-wise. The open section in the middle measures about 37 x 20 millimetres, which gave me plenty of room for a dangle of some kind.

All I needed now was my husband and his trusty drill to turn a static frame into a hang-able pendant. He added some piercings for me - two in the top outer corners (for suspending from chain), and one at the top of the open section.

I'm not into the raw-brass look, so the next step was to antique the frame. And oh boy, I loved the result! All that beaded detail just popped in the antiqued version. Here's how it looked:

Another thing I found in the ice-cream container was some cute little filigree wings in antiqued brass. Here they are:

These were the one item that were popular with the scrapbookers. The idea was to add them to photos so that your child looked like a little angel. Here's an example of what I mean. This is my own son when he was a toddler. Cute, no?

I discovered that I could get quite a nice effect by laying two sets of these wings on top of the rectangular frame. They looked like a frame-on-a-frame, kind of thing. When I glued them in place, this is how the pendant looked:

Next . . . what to hang in the middle? Here I was faced with the tyrrany of choice, but in the end, I couldn't go past my new resin sliders. (I have already mentioned how pathetically in love I am with these!) I chose the mauve one, and teamed it with a small, olive-shaped Czech glass bead in peridot AB and a fluted spacer bead in antique brass. Here it is:

I turned this combo into a dangle by crimping the two strands of tiger tail together above the slider and adding a jump ring. The dangle is very light, so I am not concerned about the crimping coming apart.

The pendant looked lovely . . . but you know me! I couldn't resist adding some little rhinestone chatons for extra effect. Yet another layer! I chose peridot, to tie in with the bead:

With all that detail in the pendant, I felt that it wasn't necessary to do anything fancy with the necklace section. So I simply added some large-link antique-brass chain. And here is the finished product! What do you think?

I hope Therese likes it!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


New Sliders!


Well, it took me three weeks - and a lot of mess in my kitchen - but I have finally finished listing all my new sliders.

I now have 14 different styles of Pure Allure antique-silver sliders in loads of new colours. They all have a beautiful Swarovski centre chaton. Here's a taste of my new selection:

In addition, I have added to my range some new types of sliders. The first is a really pretty flower-shaped resin slider. They are three-dimensional, which means they are literally in the shape of a flower. The thing I like most about these, though, is that you are not restricted to using them with silver findings. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me - using sliders with my antique-brass items. I have never been able to do this before, so I'm very excited! Here is a picture of my resin sliders:

And finally, I have also added to my range some enamel sliders. These are cute, cute, CUTE! They come in two styles - butterflies and flowers - and the colours are just divine. The butterflies even have a light dusting of glitter in the enamel. Each enamel slider has a crystal AB Swarovski chaton. Nice! Here's a picture:

Well, I can't say I am sorry that these are all finally listed! LOL. Lucky, too, because my son is at home sick today with a tummy bug. So I will leave you to your browsing while I go and stroke his hair.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Another Designer I Love . . .


I really admire the work of Jaime Byrd, a jewellery designer based in North Carolina. The blurb from here web site says that Jaime "has maintained a fascination with the Victorian and Edwardian eras and has used this love for the past to guide her through her art while also combining a contemporary look to her work." A girl after my own heart!

Here is a glorious pair of earrings designed by Jaime:

You can see more of Jaime's beautiful work at her web site.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Where's My Kitchen Bench?

Running a home-based business has its definite advantages. I choose my own hours, for example, and I'm always here when my son comes home from school. Also - and this is my shameful secret - I have been known to work in my pyjamas all day long.

But there are disadvantages, too - such as the frequent loss of my kitchen bench. It simply disappears beneath mountains of new stock.

Here, for instance, is what my kitchen bench looks like at the moment. I recently took delivery of about 6000 new crystal sliders, and I am currently in the process of getting them sorted, photographed and listed. They are spread aaaaalllll over the bench, and there are more dispersed elswhere around the room:

My husband and son are very understanding. They gently push my stuff aside when they need to eat breakfast at the bench, or read the paper. And, luckily, we have another half-a-bench on the other side of the kitchen for actual cooking!

The reason I do all this in the kitchen is because my study is too small to spread everything out. Also, the kitchen is filled with natural light, which makes it perfect for my photography.

It will look like this probably for another week. Then it will be clear for a few days. Then the next lot of stuff will come in, and my bench will disappear all over again!

Oh well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Rainbow Gem Designs = LUSH!


One of my favourite customers and designers is Lorraine James of Rainbow Gem Designs. Lorraine - a lovely, lovely lady from Perth - started ordering rhinestones from me about six months ago. She seemed a bit tentative about using them at first, but once she got the hang of them, there was no stopping her! "Although my thumb has found it a bit hard going, I am getting used to putting them in their settings," Lorraine wrote to me soon after placing her first order. "I love how much they sparkle."

Now Lorraine makes some of the most stunning chandelier earrings I have ever seen. They positively drip with colour, imagination and style! She has a special knack for knowing what colours will pop together, as well as for marrying beads and rhinestones in delicious combinations.

Here are some examples of Lorraine's work. Click to see larger pictures:

If you would like to see more of Lorraine's work, click here for a slideshow. As always, please do not copy these designs - but by all means be inspired by them!

If you would like to contact Lorraine, send me an email and I will put you in touch with her.

Love your work, Lorraine!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Classy Cameo


As a rule, I am not a big cameo fan, which I know sounds odd coming from someone who loves vintage-feel jewellery. But I find traditional cameos to be a little, um, corny and twee. By "traditional," I mean cameos with, say, a lady in profile.

Having said all that, I sometimes see a cameo that I just adore - because it is so different, quirky or fun. Recently, for example, I found some gorgeous vintage cameos on eBay. They are quite large, measuring 40 x 30 millimetres. They're made from an acrylic that has been carved into the most delightful floral filigree.

I made this necklace with it a few days ago. I didn't have a setting large enough for it, so I turned it into a pendant by glueing onto the back of it an antique-brass connector/pendant. I kind of like how the beading on the connector peeks from the top of the cameo.

For the necklace, I used a technique I have never tried before, and I really like the result. I used three separate strands of tiger tail. Some beads are threaded on individual strands, while others are threaded on all three. The beads I have used are milky-white cat's eyes (with antique-brass filigree bead caps), vintage smooth-glass beads in dark green, antique-brass spacers, vintage coral beads in burnt orange, and Czech fire-polished bicones in crystal AB. The smaller beads look like little berries on a vine.

Here are some pictures. Click to see larger versions. My apologies for those of you who have already seen this design at the Beading Forum:

I think this necklace has kind of a Christmas feel. I can see myself wearing this to my family's Christmas lunch this year. Much nicer than the reindeer earrings my aunt insists on wearing!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


All About Glueing . . .


A few people have asked me what glue I use, how I use it, and how reliable it is for keeping pieces stuck together. So I have decided to write a post on the topic. This way you can avoid the horrible mishaps I have made along the way!

When I first started glueing pieces together for my Victorian-feel jewellery, I used Super Glue. This was a BIG mistake.


Well, first of all, there is some kind of toxic fume in Super Glue that ruins rhinestones. It eats the foil on the back of the stones (where applicable), and fogs the glass. The other problem is that Super Glue produces a very "brittle" bond. So while it's great for a vase that sits up on a shelf, it's hopeless for jewellery - which even with the best intentions can get knocked and dropped. When this happens, the bond shatters, and the bits fall apart.

So I tossed away my Super Glue and went in search of something more reliable. I tried lots of different things before settling on the glue I still use today: Selley's two-part Araldite. You can buy this at just about any hardware store, as well as places like K-Mart and Big W. It costs around $12.00 (from memory), but will last you for ages.

It's called "two-part" Araldite because there are two different components that you need to mix together to form the glue. This is very easy to do. You just squeeze out a roughly equal portion of each onto a clean, flat surface (I use the plastic lid of a Chinese takeaway container), then mix them together with a toothpick.

When you go to buy your Araldite, you might see a few different kinds for sale. For example, some shops stock a quick-drying version. Don't buy this. You just want the original, garden-variety two-part Araldite.

Also, if you have a choice, buy the double-barrel plunger pack, rather than the packet that comes with two screw-top tubes. With constant use, the screw-tops get messy and gluggy. The plunger system is much neater. There's a little red lid that pops off, and then you use the plunger to squeeze out the amount you need.

Here's a picture of my Araldite plunger, so you can see what I am babbling about:

I have glued many, many hundreds of components using this stuff, and I can recall only about three things that have come apart afterwards. The bond is rock solid. You can't even force the components apart.

The other thing I like about this glue is that it starts out cloudy (making it easy to see where you are applying it), but then dries clear. Perfect for jewellery glueing.

There are some disadvantages with Araldite, however. The first is that it takes a long time to dry. You need to allow a good six to eight hours before the components are properly bonded. In winter, it can take even longer.

Because the glue dries so gradually, another disadvantage is that you have to be around while it is drying - to make sure your components stay in position. That doesn't mean you have to sit there for eight hours. It just means you have to check on the pieces every so often to make sure they are where you want them to be. As I said, once the glue dries fully, there is no shifting it. So you need to be able to check on your pieces while they are drying.

It's no big deal, as long as you are going to be at home. For example, if I have any glueing to do for orders to be shipped that day, I make sure it is done before about 10 am. I leave the pieces on my kitchen bench while I am running around doing other things - antiquing, counting beads, taking photos, whatever. Every now and then, I will just check in on my glueing. And if something has slipped off centre, I will gently nudge it back into place. Eventually the glue will get so tacky that the bits won't slip any more.

Once last tip for glueing: your best friend, apart from the glue itself, is LOTS of toothpicks (very cheap). I use them not only for mixing the glue, but also applying it. They're also good for propping up items with an open back (so they don't end up glued to the bench), and items that won't sit flat on the bench. Toothpicks are even great for removing glue - if you have accidentally applied too much of it!

Phew! I think that covers all my knowledge about glueing. Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Addicted to Pendants


I am on a pendant-making kick at the moment. I am so into it, in fact, that I am thinking of adding a category to my web site called something like "One-of-a-Kind Pendants".

Anyway, here's one I finished today. Its main component is a large filigree centrepiece that has an open centre for featuring something special. There are piercings in the centrepiece for suspending it from chain or a beaded necklace.

Inside this opening I have dangled the cutest little snowdrop cameo, secured in a lace-edge setting.

Glued near the bottom of the centrepiece is a dragonfly charm. I know, I know - I seem to use these in everything. But I just love them so much! I have covered in the charm's ring with a faceted chaton in crystal AB.

Suspended from the bottom of the centrepiece is a gorgeous Czech glass bead in opaque chalk white, which kind of ties in with the white in the cameo. I only had one of these. My bead man in the Czech Republic sent it to me as a sample. I am glad I could use it this way.

Here are the pictures. Click any image to see a larger version:

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