YOJ 2007 Week 44 Rainbow Babies and Tutorial




Alright -- after working on a bunch of these babies, I've FINALLY managed to unlock some method to the madness, and what was far more challenging, write a tutorial that made sense of all of it. I'm so psyched, I can't wait to see what people can do with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To this date, it was by far the most complex tutorial to write. Here's the link to the tutorial and to more pictures: Rainbow Wrap Ring Tutorial.

Now, a word of caution: I labeled it VERY ADVANCED, so proceed carefully, these are highly creative waters. Since no two rings are ever alike, the tutorial was divided into three sections. The first two sections can be reproduced faithfully.... the third one is the challenge. To unlock it, I created a series of 4 rules to follow while showing how they are constructed. Let's see how it goes... Send me pics of your beauties!

YOJ 2007 Week 43 Fire Seahorse bangle





This bangle was one of the many commissions created for the end of the year. The buyer requested a piece in the same lines as the Marine Relic bangle, but using only Seahorses and in red and black. I couldn't help but naming the piece "Fire Seahorse bangle", as contradictory as it seems. The two main stones are NOT drilled and were trapped in nets in order to stay secured.

YOJ 2007 Week 42 Heart Pendant




I'm not as late for the YOJ as I seem to be, just haven't had time to post new images. Working A LOT on end-of-the-year commissions and other projects. This is a heart pendant I created a few weeks ago, in practice for the upcoming Heart Pendant tutorial. The tutorial is not ready yet, but it's coming... I was attempting to work a bail slightly different than the original Aquamarine Heart Pendant I created a while ago. I'm not sure I like it that much more.

YOJ 2007 Week 40: Another rainbow wrap ring







Another rainbow wrap ring. I started this one exactly the same way as the first one created on Week 39: Rainbow Wrap ring, but it turned out very different. Now I finally get it why these are so difficult to teach: there really is no apparent logic to the construction of these babies. I'm on a roll making them, I'm still yet to crack some method which will allow me to consistently create a similar design.


YOJ 2007 Week 39 - Rainbow wrap






This is my first ever rainbow wrap... I had never tried these because I thought it would involve too many wires, (and it does), but this time it didn't bother me and it worked! It was very intuitive to make... The stone trapped in the ring is a citrine.

YOJ 2007 Week 38 - Roman Ring



One of the most interesting sources of inspiration to create jewelry are historic references. I recently ran across an image of an ancient roman ring dating of the third century A.D (see item 551 here: Roman Ring at Antique Touch). I just had to try to adapt it to a more contemporary version in wire, and this is it. The band turned out a little bit wider and airier, more delicate than the original design. This is the smallest cabochon I have ever netted, and it was... tricky, to say the least. Goldfilled wire and turquoise cabochon.

To sketch or not to sketch?

I received the following question via email:
"I’ve never sketched my ideas but I’m increasingly finding out that the more successful jewellery designers do indeed keep a journal of their ideas and thoughts, including you. To sketch or not to sketch, that is the question :)"

My answer
The whole point of sketching, in my case, is that the journal works as a "pensieve" (for those who are not Harry Potter fans, read below). It serves as a place to dump ideas and designs. Normally I go about the day and see inspiring things all over the place. I find myself constantly having new ideas, new "what ifs" and it would be a waste if I didn't register them.
Then when those dry spells hit and the muse refuses to work overtime (because we all have those!!!), I know that I have that enormous cache of designs and ideas just waiting to be developed.

The Pensieve: The Pensieve is described by Wikipedia as “a stone receptacle in which to store memories. Covered in mystic runes, it contains a type of matter that is described as neither liquid nor gas. A witch or wizard can extract their own memories or someone else's and store them in the Pensieve and review them later. It also relieves the mind when it becomes cluttered with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve, which also allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the memories stored within, much like a magical form of virtual reality."

The Pensieve is one of the many magical objects found in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and is one of my favorite objects because it allows to “empty the mind when excessively cluttered with information”. I became acquainted with Harry Potter books almost by accident, when I was asked to review them for some design work proposals back in 1999, and have become an avid reader ever since.

I’ve owned this type of Pensieve journal (also called a "creative journal") for many years, even before reading about the object. Instead of liquid or gas matter, it has pages. Instead of mystic runes, it has a hard cover embroidered with beads. Now in its 10th book, each one lasting about a year and a half, the Pensieve has been particularly interesting when I’ve needed to evaluate growth or change experienced during a certain span of time. I only use hard cover books with pages which cannot be ripped off and write with a permanent pen – no possibility of regret – once the thought is in the Pensieve, it’s registered forever and can be examined at any time later.

I cannot stress enough the value I place on my set of creative journals. These are so valuable to me that they are probably the second thing I would grab on my way out in case of a disaster -- the first one being my son!

Green Abalone Pendant

This pendant is constructed with a decorative border around a Netted Bezel Pendant. I like the way that this technique produces very organic results. Sterling silver, abalone, peridot, tourmaline and other stone beads.

[button href="http://www.jewelrylessons.com/tutorial/2-1-net-bezel-border-combo" size="large" textcolor="#ffffff"]Learn how to make this pendant![/button]

 

 

©Copyright 2007 Eni Oken

 

 

YOJ 2007 Week 36 Green Abalone Pendant



This is another version of the Netted Abalone pendant, but this time with green, delicious stones. Raw emeralds sent to me by my friend Lori A, tourmalines and high grade apatite. Gecko and frog couldn't resist such buffet of stones and jumped right in!
Ahhhh, and this one DOES have a tutorial, the second part to the Netted Bezel pendant...
Click here for more info: Border for Net Bezel tutorial.

What wire for Net Bezel?

I received the following question via email:
"I just downloaded your Net Cap tutorial (looks awesome, by the way!), and this particular piece calls for 28ga soft wire, for the bezel, and 28-30ga wire for the netting. Is it necessary to use soft wire, or will half hard work for the bezel? And how about the netting? If I'm using 28ga, will half hard work for it? (The type of wire work I do, I seldom ever use wire any smaller than 24-26ga, so the 28ga isn't very familiar to me!)

This is what I answered:
"You CAN use 28 ga half hard to coil the bezel, as long as you have strong hands. I find it a tad difficult to coil with the 28 ga half hard because it's so springy, and because the coils tend to become loose if they are not really tight.
The netting is a totally different story: the wire becomes springier as you work, and if you start with the half-hard, it becomes a nuisance to manage. So you have to work with soft wire.
You can use lower gauges such as 26 to make the netting, but it will be even more difficult. I would use it for a large piece, and make the loops proportionally larger. "

Wire Flush Cutter


I got the following question via email:
"What is the best wire cutter you recommend? I'm willing to spend a bit more, but I want a really good pair of cutters. "

I recommend buying FLUSH cutters, which has one side flat. That way, when you cut the wire against the flat side, you don't get little burrs which can snag on clothing and scratch the skin. I've owned quite a few cutters, but just last year I got an indication from one of the newsgroups on a pair of cutters which I absolutely love: the Tronex 5223 (I just like saying the name out loud, it sounds like some sci-fi gadget, LOL!).
Now, I'm always saying that it's not the tool that makes the artist, so I'm not one for spending a ton of money on tools, especially when you are starting out. However... this baby was worth the pretty price I paid (almost $50!!!). I've had this cutter for exactly a year and a half, and I just can't say enough good things about it.
The official name is:
Tronex Model 5223 Taper Relief Cutter Razor Flush Cutting Edges (this link will take you to Amazon.com).

There are other cutters Tronex sells, but the reasons I liked this particular model are the following: the tapered tip allows to get into difficult corners easier than the oval tip; the relief makes this tip shallower than the regular tip; the razor flush is really the sharpest one of all (compared to the flush or semi-flush). The handles are 3 1/2 long, which are good for my small hands.

There is another model, the 7223 and the only difference is that the handles are an inch longer. The tip is exactly the same:
Tronex Model 7223 Taper Relief Cutter Ergonomic Handles with Razor Flush Cutting Edges

To see other Tronex cutters, here is an Amazon.com search: Tronex Cutters. I searched other places online, but they are all pretty much the same price.

YOJ 2007 Week 33 Turquoise Netted Pendant


Ahhhh, I was so happy that I had managed to catch with the YOJ, now I'm back to being late again. Oh well, you know what they say... better late...
This one is another netted bezel pendant, made around this fabulously clear irregular turquoise cabochon which I recently picked up from one of my favorite local suppliers, Sunlightgems. I'm getting ready to receive an enormous batch of tumbled stones from my dad's tumbler... can't wait. I'll be netting away! For more pictures of this pendant AND the tutorial, click here: Net Bezel Pendant Tutorial.

This tutorial is good as is, AND will also be the FIRST part of a DOUBLE lesson. The SECOND part will show how to add ornamental elements around the pendant, like the Aqua Nugget Pendant and the Abalone pendant. It was just too much, too large, to add everything in one single tutorial. The download of this one alone is a hefty 1.79mb, about 40 seconds in a fast connection.

Bead Show Checklist

One of my students asked me an interesting question:
"I will be going to a huge Jewelry and Gem show next month. Any suggestions on how to choose stones and prioritize my inventory?"

Here are a few pointers to help make the best of a bead show without going TOTALLY broke (instead, just making a minor dent in the checking account):

1) Make a list of what you REALLY need. Make a *good* list, go through all your inventory and write down everything you can think of. Then, prioritize the items which you absolutely need and the ones that you can live without. Clasps, findings, metal beads, jumprings, stringing material ALWAYS get the top of the list. If you need any tools, add that to the top of the list too. Print out several copies of the list, because if you go to the show for more than one day, you tend to "loose the list" or misplace it in your anxiety to get to all those “pretties”.

2) Be prepared to walk a lot, where comfortable shoes and take drinking water with you. If you can go two days to the show, then go. A good way to not spend too much money is to walk most of the show area first, just scoping it out and asking prices, and making mental notes of where you saw this or that. Then do a second round and buy the things on the top of the list first. Come back the next day and then work your way to the bottom of the list.

3) When you ask prices, make sure you take into account the number of beads on a strand. Sometimes the strands are deceivingly shorter in one supplier than the other and what seems to be a good deal, could result in a higher price per bead.

4) Make sure you make a mental note of how many beads you will NOT be able to use from the strand, 10, 20 or 30 percent. This increases the average price of each bead.

5) If you can count the beads on a strand, then do it and divide the price of the strand by number of beads. This seems like an impossible task to do at a busy show, but after a while, you get used to it and can do it almost visually. Take notes of your "price per bead tolerance". Once you decide upon a specific maximum threshold price per bead, let's say one or two dollars, then it becomes clear that those expensive gemmy strands are not that expensive after all and will pay themselves on the long run. Most inexpensive stone beads should not be more than one dollar each, sometimes much lower.

6) Allow yourself some splurge money, but determine how much before arriving at the show. After you have done all your priority shopping, then you can just buy what you like, UP TO YOUR PRESET max.

7) When choosing transparent stones, look at the stone against the light. They should look beautiful even if they are faceted or smooth, well made and even if they have inclusions, those should not be cracks or make the stone dull or cloudy. Inclusions should always be interesting and not look like dirt. Cracks are not acceptable, because it means that the stone is about to break or was handled badly.

8) When choosing matte stones, make sure that the polish is not making them dull and there is no white color showing through, especially on the facets. It means the stone was dyed (particularly visible in candy jade). Inclusions should also be interesting and not look like dirt.

9) Beware of stones which are fragile, like apatite or turquoise. If you buy those stones, make sure they are thick and of very good quality. The thin and small ones will break.

10) Colors should always be natural and clean, not dirty looking. Very bright colors are probably artificial, including jade. Some dyes will fade in time.

11) If you have limited money to spend and your current inventory is low, then concentrate first on metals and then on one single color family, such as blue/green, or brown/red. This way you can get a variety of shapes to mix and match. You'll get tired of the color after a while, for sure, but it's better than getting a lot of different colors and then finding that nothing goes together and you don't have the appropriate sizes or shapes to create interesting pieces.

12) If you choose blue/green family, then the following stones are available: green garnets (vansuanite), peridot, aquamarine, peruvian opals, amazonite, kyanite, lapis lazuli, tourmaline, turquoise (can be a bit delicate), apatite (buy only very good quality), topaz in a variety of colors (can get expensive), chalcedony (can fade with time).
If you get brown red, then you can get jasper in a variety of patterns, agate, garnets, whiskey citrines, smokey quartz. This series of colors is usually cheaper than the blue/green.

13) If you can, take a break halfway through the show and evaluate your current purchases. Countless times I forgot to evaluate the inventory halfway the show, only to find that I bought certain items twice, at different vendors.

14) When purchasing, ask the name of the person who is serving you and for their card. Remember, most of the vendors are people who love beads just like you do, and they can become good friends. Later on, if you find yourself buying always from the same suppliers, there is no need to go to shows, you can buy directly from them.

15) Immediately after purchasing (or while you are buying), write the cost of the each strand, the name of the stone/material and the name of the supplier on the bead baggies with a sharpie pen. This helps to: calculate the cost per bead for accurate jewelry pricing; buy more of a specific bead from a supplier in the future; write more accurate descriptions of stones or materials for customers.

16) When arriving home, count the amount of GOOD beads on each strand and divide the cost of the strand per number of beads to find the price per bead. This makes it easier to calculate the price of final pieces. If your beads are pretty regular and tiny, then use the Bead Cost Calculator – free here: http://www.enioken.com/jewelry/beadcost.html. Remember to include the date you are making the purchase.

17) Finally, wash your hands after leaving the show, since beads can leave dark residue on the hands. When leaving, ask for a “return pass” at the exit if you intend to return, most shows allow re-entry the next day.

18) NEW: When buying repeat items, take a sample of the finding or bead and attach it to the list with scotch tape. This way you value the list more (because after all, it's got valuable stuff on it, so you won't loose it) AND you can match the items perfectly. Do not take for granted that the same supplier will have exactly the same item -- jumprings tend to be skinnier, hammered metal tends to have a different finish, stones seem a slightly little different color.

19) NEW: If you plan to buy very little of each item, then bring a friend or two: that way if you see something really PRICEY, you can split a strand. It's also good when negotiating for gold and silver, suppliers tend to give better prices if they know they will sell more quantity. (Suggestion by Karen Hardy). Now, with that said, keep in mind that friends also tend to encourage you to spend more, and to be less focused on what you really need. But it's always fun to compare who got the better loot at the end of the show!

Most of all, remember to have fun… !!!
Oh, almost forgot, when choosing what to wear to the show, you can really go all out in terms of jewelry -- the bigger the better. Most shoppers love to compliment AND receive compliments on jewelry, which is a great way to make new friends.

Light and Shadow

Metaphors and Passive income: apparently two very distinct ingredients, how can they live in the same blog? Material and Spiritual, Ying and Yang, Light and Shadow, Body and Soul. Can’t have one without the other. Have you notice how the contrast between the light and shadow makes the light brighter? Spiritual greatness is only enhanced when compared with material abundance. Science and magic. The last two hundred years have seen the strongest dichotomy between these two sides of the same coin. Heads and tails. How can you separate one from the other?

If someone boasted being in search for spiritual enlightenment through material gain, they would be duped a fraud, a con artist. However, each one of us accepted the mission of coming here, in search of enlightenment and growth, in this MATERIAL environment. With these MATERIAL REQUIREMENTS.

The new phenomenon of The Secret is the first PUBLICLY ACCEPTED movement to show a possible reconciliation between the two enemies. For the first time, it’s OK to aspire to want things, objects and money, without selling your soul. Numerous other spiritual practices before The Secret advocated similar ideas, but they were generally discarded by larger audiences.

Accept that wanting to have a better material life is part of the challenge of living, of evolving, of growing. It’s OK to balance spiritual growth with material abundance! (And did you notice that I emphasized the word "balance"...)

Organizing projects and beads

I received the following email from M.D.:
"I remember clearly that I read somewhere you had back problems and had to stay in bed because of that. Nevertheless it didn't keep you from making jewelry. I am facing the same situation. I am not looking forward to it but the worst thing is ... I can't do without making jewelry! Do you have any ANY suggestions for me concerning how you organized your stuff so you could keep working? "

Here is an excerpt of my answer:
This is how I organize my beads: I have hundreds of tiny plastic containers to stash my beads (about 1 to 2 inches wide). Each type of bead goes into one little box. Then I organize all the boxes by bead color into shallow drawers.






This helped me when I was ill because it allowed me to select a bunch of tiny bead boxes I needed for a specific project, and put them with wire and pliers in a small plastic flat tray or tool box. This box went with me to bed. I literally made jewelry flat on my back.

After I recovered, I kept the habit: before starting a project, I place a few pliers, cutter, a few rolls of wire and bunch of tiny boxes of beads in a small plastic tool box. I can then take this with to the beach or to a coffee shop, or even to a waiting room, at a doctor's appt or car wash. It's a type of portability that I like very much.

Any tiny pieces of wire or leftover beads go straight into the tool box. When I'm ready to start a new project, just use the leftover wires from the previous project and switch the little tiny boxes for different ones. After two or three projects, I clean up the tool box, removing any wires too small to be used again.

As you can see, I also label each box with a sticker including the cost of each strand, the cost of an individual bead, day of purchase and supplier. That makes it also very easy to calculate the cost of a piece of jewelry.
You can find these tiny boxes at Gary Packaging.

Inside the tent during Burning Man

From the thousands of millions of souls available to reincarnate, WE were the chosen ones to be here at this moment in time. Each and everyone of us represents a group of souls, a group of individuals with whom we have immense compatibility of ideals and interests.

We are the CHOSEN ones, the ambassadors, the representatives selected to come to this ‘conference’ on Earth. We are here at this massive convention, a gathering with the objective of experimenting new things, new ideas, new expression. We are on the forefront of new thought and new creation.

Why do we go to a convention, a cruise or on any other trip? To experiment new things, to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, to exchange ideas, to have fun, to get out of our normal environment and find new possibilities. And upon returning, we come back infused with new vigor which benefits the entire group, our entire family.

So HOW DARE we waste this opportunity by not living the fullest and most interesting life we can? How dare we complain about a little bit of discomfort from temporary bad housing or bad roommates? But most important of all, HOW DARE we waste this fabulous trip by not acting, by not participating? It’s like going to Burning Man and sitting all day inside the tent… It’s like going to Europe for the summer and sitting inside the hotel room. Who cares if your feet hurt from walking 10 miles a day, or the food isn’t exactly what you like. The point is to enjoy, the experiment new things using all of the senses.

We are here for a very short time. A hundred years is just a drop of time, just a weekend in the grand scheme of things. So lets enjoy it!

The Pensieve

The Pensieve is described by Wikipedia as “a stone receptacle in which to store memories. Covered in mystic runes, it contains a type of matter that is described as neither liquid nor gas. A witch or wizard can extract their own memories or someone else's and store them in the Pensieve and review them later. It also relieves the mind when it becomes cluttered with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve, which also allows viewers to fully immerse themselves in the memories stored within, much like a magical form of virtual reality."

The Pensieve is one of the many magical objects found in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and is one of my favorite ones because it allows to “empty the mind when excessively cluttered with information”. Although originally written for a younger audience, this series of books has created some serious addicts of all ages. I became acquainted with Harry Potter books almost by accident, when I was asked to review them for some design work proposals back in 1999, and have become an avid reader ever since.

I’ve owned a sort of Pensieve journal for many years, even before reading about it. Instead of liquid or gas matter, it has pages. Instead of mystic runes, it has a hard cover embroidered with beads. Now in it’s 10th book, each one lasting about a year and a half, the Pensieve has been particularly interesting when I’ve needed to evaluate growth or change experienced during a certain span of time. I use only hard cover books with pages which cannot be ripped off and write with a permanent pen – no possibility of regret – once the thought is in the Pensieve, it’s registered forever and can be examined at any time later.

I hope to transfer some of the more interesting thoughts from my Pensieve to this blog – which in a way is a “public Pensieve”. Not quite as intimate as the original, but still, a very good way to empty the mind when it becomes cluttered with information…

Inspiration...?

I received the following question by email:

“Do you design a piece first and then buy stone and embellishments to fit the vision...or do you study the cache of stones and let them inspire the design...I struggle with getting started on any piece. I am artistic by nature so I am not without talent, but… etc. “


The answer lies somewhere in between: since gemstones always come in different shapes and sizes, I usually first look at the cache of stones I have at hand and let them bring some inspiration. With that said, after a while of working with the same suppliers of stones and beads, you come to know what you will be able to find in your personal cache and even at your favorite bead supplier, therefore you CAN design first and then go shopping for the items of your vision, as long as you respect the limitations of what you already know will be available.

Think about it, isn't it always that way with any other form of art? Doesn't any good designer need to be familiar with the materials available so that the designs are not impossible to execute?

I would recommend that any jewelry artist study the market of supplies a little and become more familiar with sizes, colors and types of stones and beads. This will make the designer more secure about the possibilities AND will start the gears turning: "what if this particular stone were combined with this other bead" or "what if this stone were used with wire in a certain technique".

Keeping a creative journal with ideas and designs is also a very good idea. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a good journal to just pour ideas into. Every time inspiration happens, (by a stone, a vision or anything else) the idea is registered in the journal. When time comes to develop a piece, I only have to flip through the journal and pick one. This creates an endless source of ideas readily available, especially for those times when the muse doesn't seem to want to work overtime. :-)

Happy Mothers Campaign

I’ve been exchanging emails with an old friend from Brazil. This is part of what we wrote today:
Val: “I think that after we have our own kids, we have the obligation of being happy, any way we can! A happy mother can only raise a happy person, well rounded, well loved… That is what the world needs, don’t you think? Happy Mothers! I’ve always felt that way towards my daughter, it was more important for me than house chores, I always felt like I had to be happy, just because she exists!”

Me: “I totally agree… A happy mother can only raise happy children. I also think it’s important for a mother to have her own life, her work and to love whatever activities she has – it can only set a good example. I think your solution for world crisis is the *best proposal* I have heard in a long time… Happy mothers… Shall we start a campaign?”

And so we decided to launch a world wide campaign with the following slogan:

“HAPPY MOTHERS create a better world for our children”.

All we need are some bumper stickers and buttons -- oh, and let's not forget, a little help from the good men who can make all those mothers happier! :-)