Tuesday, October 31, 2006
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?
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!
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
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:
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Here is a pair of earrings made by Jane. They feature a glorious art-deco-feel chandelier-earring hanger. I have never seen these hangers before. Aren't they divine? The hangers are adorned with light-sapphire octagons, an opaque pale-blue cabochon, and Swarovski crystals. Just lovely!
Jane is based in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her unique designs at her web site, Sea Gypsies. Please do not copy any of Jane's work. But by all means, be delighted and inspired by it!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I am pleased to report that I sold this necklace on eBay a few days ago. YAY ME! The reason it says "Harriet Smith Designs" on the pictures is that I use this name for selling my jewellery (as opposed to selling components). I like to keep the two things separate.
I am quite chuffed, as it's been a long time since I tried selling any contructed jewellery in eBay.
What I Got at the Bead Show
I've had a couple of emails from people asking to see what I bought at the Sydney Bead and Gem Show. Nothing I bought is especially Victorian, but you asked for it, so here are some pictures!
After wandering about for what seemed like an age, I finally bought some lovely porcelain beads. They came from a small stall run by a Chinese man. Sure, I looked at all the big places, but the beads all looked a bit same-ish to me. This guy had some stuff that was a bit different. For example, he had these gorgeous little porcelain butterfly beads. Aren't they gorg? The hole is drilled from top to bottom through the centre of the butterfly. I bought two of these to make a pair of summery earrings. I also bought from him some sweet round porcelain beads. Here they are:
At the same stall, I also purchased some large porcelain "blue willow" beads. They are giant! The egg-shaped bead with the little bird on it is about 30 mm long. And the round bead is as big as one of those large marbles. I'll be using these as focal beads. I am picturing a long-ish necklace with some kind of tassle - beaded or otherwise - flowing from the bottom of the large bead.
I also bought a selection of Indian lampwork beads. These I got especially for my step-mum, who we are visiting this week. She's a very creative person, but her speciality is quilting. She has asked me to show her how to make some necklaces using lampwork beads. Here's what I got for her to play with:
Here's the only thing I bought for my web site. It's an antique-brass kilt pin. But it's not really a kilt pin; it's actually a brooch pin. The idea is that you can dangle things off the three rings along the bottom. I can't wait to have a play with these, as I have never made a brooch before. The pin is quite large (78 x 18 mm), so lends itself to a dramatic design. They're not listed yet; I'll put them up some time in the next few weeks.
And finally, here are the faceted pendants I bought. I lurve these! One is light amethyst and the other is a cross between purple and dark sapphire. They measure 50 mm long by 35 mm wide. I am going to have some fun with these! I'll put a pinch bail through the hole at the top, then make some kind of dramatic necklace. I am also thinking of glueing a wee little antique-brass embellishment to the front-centre facet.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Sydney Bead and Gem Show
I wasn't allowed to take any photographs inside the pavilion, so I took a few outside. They are kind of boring, but here you go:
And this was the line-up to get in. There were tonnes of people there! Entry to the show cost $13.00. I didn't think that was too bad, as there were lots of free demonstrations throughout the day.
I went to the show more as a business person than a beader. I have never been to one before, and I wanted to get a feel for what they're all about. And my first reaction was dismay! There was just so many traders there (more than 100) with mountains and mountains and mountains of stock. It made me realise how small is my little Tomjoolery, with all my wares snugly packed in one room. But I still love it, even though it's the runt of the litter!
I soon shook off the business hat and started thinking like a beader. And that's when I really had to control myself, because there was so much beautiful choice - oodles of beads and findings in every conceivable shape and size. I spent a lot of time floating from stall to stall just taking it all in, with a dazed look on my face.
One seller must have thought I was quite strange. She had for sale these massive faceted glass beads. No kidding, they were the size of golf balls. My favourites were the jet black. At more than $100 for a strand of about 10, they were outside my price range, so I just kept running my fingers over them. They were deliciously cool to the touch. Mesmerising.
I became so overwhelmed with all the choice that in the end I didn't buy much at all. I bought some antique-brass kilt-pin brooch bases that I'll be listing at Tomjoolery some time soon. And the rest was for me: some gorgeous porcelain "blue willow" style beads from a sweet little Asian man; some assorted Indian lampwork beads (pretty!); a kit to make a memory-wire bracelet (for my step-mum, who loves those kinds of bracelets); and two large, faceted crystals that I will turn into pendants. Can't wait!
I would have bought more, but some stalls were so crowded it was impossible to get in to have a look at their stuff. And on two occasions, I got sick of waiting, waiting, waiting to pay for something - so I just put the beads back on the rack and moved on.
My opinion of the Bead and Gem Show? Definitely worth a visit, but try to get there when it's least busy - early in the morning, for example.
Friday, October 06, 2006
There are probably fancy-shmancy jewellery-making pliers you can buy for this job. But the truth is that I use just a very basic pair of small needle-nose pliers. I bought them from K-Mart several years ago for about $8.00, and I am still using them today. I have set many hundreds of rhinestones with these pliers.
Here is a picture of them. To give you an idea of the size, the total length of these pliers is about 130 millimetres:
Here is a close-up of the needle-nose part. This section is around 28 millimetres long:
The only downside to these pliers is that they are metal. This means that you can sometimes see small scratches on the backs of your settings after securing the rhinestone in place. One solution to this problem is wrapping some masking tape round the jaws of the pliers.
Hope that helps, L.H.!
For anyone who is new to setting rhinestones, I have a fact sheet to help you get started. Just email me if you would like a copy: email@example.com.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
We sell a wide variety of exquisite jewellery-making products, including fire-polished Czech glass beads, jewellery sliders with Swarovski crystals, fancy toggle clasps and glittering rhinestones. But we are best known for our huge inventory of vintage-inspired antique-brass components. These range from findings to pretty drops, chandelier-earring hangers, connectors and stunning Victoriana pendants.
This blog is part of our ongoing effort to stay in touch with our wonderful customers, and to share our passion for vintage-inspired jewellery. We will use this corner of cyberspace to post pictures of new jewellery designs (by ourselves and our clients); to announce new products and specials; to introduce designers we love; to divulge jewellery-making tips and tricks; and perhaps even to share some of the trials and tribulations of running an online jewellery-supply business.