Friday, August 30, 2013

Have You Heard of Fordite?

I sure hadn't, and I'm even from that part of the world!  I was introduced to this beautiful, manmade material through a beading challenge on Bead Soup Cafe.  Alison of Beads by Alison made a stunning sterling silver and fordite cabochon pendant - and my breath was taken away!  I had to look up what it was, where I could get it, and start planning my own design using this novel and sweet looking material.....

What I found out about Fordite:
  • It is also called "Detroit Agate" and "motor agate"
    • there is nothing natural about this material - it is completely manmade!
  • It is created by layers and layers and layers of auto body paint overspray collecting on steel during old style production
    • There are limited quantities of genuine fordite because new painting processes are being used now
    • Sometimes someone will come across a bucket of raw fordite that an employee had collected - trinkets and nicknacks were carved out of the stuff years ago and given to family and friends
  • Fordite is often recycled into jewelry components now - or collected and shown off!

For more on the history of fordite, you can read here:
You can find your own piece of fordite on Etsy, Ebay, Azbluerockers, Fordite, and Fordite Cabochons (U.K.), to name a few!

I haven't made a purchase yet, but I hope to soon!  This colorful and unique material has great promise for a stunning jewelry design....

Happy Creating,

Friday, August 9, 2013

DIY Mosaic Bird Bath

My finished bird bath!  Can you see the koi and the lily pads?

I started this glass tile bird bath nearly two years ago, while pregnant, and have finally finished it!  The base is a terra cotta drip tray, about 18 inches across.  The tiles I bought precut, but if I really get into stained glass or mosaics, I can see how tile/class cutters would be beneficial!  Still, I love how it turned out and am excited to finally put my koi bird bath out in the garden!

Made from a terra cotta drip tray, precut glass tiles, and white grout.

I will be taking inspiration from some Pinterest posts for the stand for my bird bath - simply using a terra cotta pot turned upside down!  I love that idea, and the whole piece will match. I might paint the outside and the stand sometime in the future, but I actually like the orange-red of terra cotta amidst green leaves and vegetation....

Want to make your own?  This is the tutorial I followed:  Mosaic Birdbath

Want to buy a handmade bird bath?  Try these Etsy shops:  Mosaic Bird Bath

Happy Creating!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Evolution of a Bracelet

This post is about planning out a custom design for a specific person - in my case, for my husband.  In 6 years, he has ruined the same bracelet 3 times!  I've redesigned it each time, hoping to have modified it enough to withstand his abuse while still keeping the basic layout true to the original design.  We'll see how the latest re-design stands up to the test of time!

The original design - beadwoven border, button clasp, cylinder beads

The first design had a beadwoven border with cylindrical center beads that my husband had picked out at a local bead shop.  We have no idea what they are, but they are deep purple with black veining and very pretty!  Um, manly!

The center stones - know what they are?  Care to share?

Beadwoven designs take a lot of time and effort to make, but for all that time and effort, and even using the best materials possible, beadwoven designs are not meant for everyday wear.  The thread ages and wears, even if it doesn't fray.  I've never had a beadwoven design break on me, but I only wear each piece of jewelry maybe a dozen times a year.  My husband was wearing his bracelet EVERYDAY!  It last less than a year.

The 2nd re-design - strung on doubled up beading wire, same button clasp and center beads

So next I switched over to a double strung design on beading wire.  It lasted longer, but eventually fell apart.  All jewelry will eventually wear out and need repairs, but I thought I could do better than a year and a half.  Also, I started making him some other bracelets to cycle through, hoping to extend the life of each one by reducing the days he wore them....

The final (hopefully!) redesign - wire wrapped center beads on wire wrapped links.

My final design has been a long time in coming, but so far wire jewelry has been the way to go with my husband.  It too eventually wears out, but if designed well, with a good fit, and using quality materials, it lasts a lot longer than either beading thread or beading wire.  I even reinforced the clasp with extra wire wrapping!

Reinforced clasp on final redesign - wire wrapped wire links.

Another reason for redesigning a piece of jewelry, at least for me, is that I think my designs evolve for other reasons as well - specifically I grow and learn the more time I spend making jewelry.  I think my newest designs are my best - from the visual appeal to the quality of materials and techniques used in making each piece.  I've remade some of my own jewelry from time to time simply because I've outgrown it or think I can do better!

Some things to think about when creating custom jewelry (or designing for a very specific group) include:
  1. how often the person thinks he/she will wear the jewelry
    • everyday, sometimes, almost never?
  2. where he/she plans to wear it
    • at home, at work, at social events, on special occasions?
  3. what he/she will be doing while wearing it
    •  everyday chores, office work, outdoor/water activities, sports events, mechanical/engineering work?
Not every jewelry design is right for every person.  For example, salt water and copper don't mix well, so a design for a surfer friend who wants to wear it to the beach should be made of different materials.  Men or women who work with tools shouldn't wear rings, bracelets, or long necklaces as they pose a safety hazard - jewelry can become entangled in power tools causing a person to loose digits or worse. 

While these examples are pretty extreme, I hope I've shown why it's important to know a little bit about the person, and what and where he/she will be doing while wearing it, before you start a jewelry design.  This is for both of your benefits - he/she will enjoy the jewelry and you will have positive exposure from the experience! 

Happy Creating,