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How to use charm bracelets to make necklaces!

February 20, 2012

Hola, bloglandia! Today I wanted to share a quick and easy way to make necklaces using charm bracelets. Rings & Things has a great selection of ready-made chain bracelets with toggle clasps. The typical use is to leave the bracelet in one piece and add charms with jump rings for a charm bracelet. However, these bracelets are a bit longer than advertised.

long-long-bracelets

With clasps, the 7.5

It is always better to have too much chain vs. not enough, so think of those extra links as a bonus you can use to make coordinating earrings. Or, do as I did and use two bracelets to make a necklace! Instead of removing extra links, you can also take advantage of the longer length by removing the bar from one and the loop from another to create a necklace!

convert-bracelets-into-necklace

My pendant had two holes, so I just attached on bracelet to each hole and viola! A 19

Here’s another example:

resin-necklace-pretty-lady

For this one, I attached the two bracelets with a single jump ring to my resin pendant.

These extra long bracelets also make great anklets. And yes, they still make great bracelets! Here are two examples:

proud-mary-bracelet
altered-chain-bracelet

I simply removed a section of chain and replaced it with my handmade copper clay connector.

You might have noticed that all the focals for these pieces are handmade. Browse our resin and bezels, metal-working tools and metal clay selection to get busy making your own!

Turn it upside down!

December 22, 2011

What happens when you take the oh-so-popular Swarovski crystal tree charm pattern and turn it upside down? Beautiful, festive crystal earrings that can be worn year-round!

melissa-earrings

The French clips are another nice touch. Melissa made these classic clear crystal margarita earrings while on vacation with her mom and I snatched them off her ears as soon as I saw them. I think they look like frosty pine cones or icicles, but in a subtle way. Unlike the “real” crystal trees, they’ll still look appropriate in June. Something to keep in mind if you’re making last-minute gifts! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 12 – Fairy Doors

December 12, 2011

A super easy way to create some holiday magic is with our exclusive brass fairy doors. These precut metal shapes with cutouts can be stamped, hammered, riveted, painted, patinaed, layered…so, so many options! Mollie used one to make her sister a sweet keepsake necklace (Day 6). Sondra added a stamped tag to one of her designs on Day 11. Earlier this year, Polly made several sweet pins and pendants by sandwiching pieces of recycled tins between the riveted layers. Basically, the designers here are in love with them – and it isn’t just us! Sondra’s Victorian Christmas fairy door design just won Vintaj’s blog contest!

sondra barrington christmas vintaj winning design

Also, jewelry designer extraordinaire Molly Alexander shared with us the design below that she created with our heart fairy doors for Art Bead Scene’s November Challenge. It is just too lovely not to share. Merry Christmas! ~ Cindy

Molly Alexander design

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 1 – Swarovski Crystal Tree Earrings

November 11, 2011

Hi bloglandia! The holidays are sneaking up on us like stealthy ninjas. Whether you have been making jewelry for years or would like to make your very first pair of earrings, these super sparkly crystal Christmas tree earrings are a fast and fun way to whip up some holiday spirit. Over the rest of November, I’m going to share twelve holiday jewelry designs, most of which are simple and sweet. All of them make great DIY gifts or highly sellable products for your next craft show. Today’s detailed instructions for how to make beaded earrings should make it possible for you to make a variety of jewelry designs – the more you practice making wrapped loops on head pins, the easier it gets!

Supplies for one pair of Crystal Christmas Tree Earrings

crystal-tree-earring-parts

Earring parts – you’ll also need a set of the basic jewelry pliers.

  • One pair of ear wires (I’m using sterling silver filled – less expensive than sterling, but the same look and quality for people who can’t wear base metal. Learn more.)
  • Two 2″ head pins (since the pin won’t touch the wearer, I think it is ok to use silver-plated pins if you like, instead of sterling silver. 1.5″ head pins will work too, but longer pins are easier for beginners to wrap.)
  • Three to five graduated sizes SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal margaritas in one color (I used Crystal Vitrail Medium in 8mm, 10mm, 12mm and 14mm)
  • Two 4mm crystal cube beads [or, editor’s note: the brand-new 4mm Swarovski rondelle beads, an excellent tree trunk shape for this design.]
  • Two 3mm crystal bicones (I used Fuchsia)

Step by Step Photo Instructions for Making Crystal Tree Earrings

stack-a-bead-tree

Stack the crystals on a head pin.

grip with round nose pliers

Grip the pin with round nose pliers.

Bend wire away from you.

rotate pliers

Turn just your wrist to rotate the pliers a quarter turn away from your body, like so.

bend-wire-fwd

Pull the wire back towards your body, looping it over the top jaw of the pliers.

wire-facing-you

Now the wire is pointing back towards you.

rotate-pliers-again

Rotate your wrist towards you again to move the pliers into this position.

close the loop

Now there is room to close the loop (push the wire away from you).

grip the loop

After you’ve closed the loop, switch to chain nose pliers to grip the loop.

wrap wire tail

Grip the tail with flat nose pliers and wrap it around the wire.

wrapped wire loop

Stop wrapping when you reach the crystal.

Trim the excess wire.

Trim the excess wire.

tuck the wire tail

Squeeze gently with chain nose pliers to tuck the wire tail in tight with the wrap.

attach ear wire

Open the ear wire just like you’d open a jump ring. Add the crystal tree and close the ear wire.

complete crystal tree earring

Ta da! One sparkly tree earring. Now repeat all the steps to make its mate!

Green and red make the classic color combo, but there are plenty of other options. Foiled crystal margaritas look like icy trees, especially when paired with blue trunks and stars. Fern Green is an even “greener” green than Emerald, while the Crystal Vitrail Medium I used are mostly green with all kinds of reflected colors. I paired it with pink for a slightly less traditional look. I like to use the “Browse by Crystal Color” page on Rings & Things website to pick crystal color combos. Here are a few other crystal Christmas trees made with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS:

crystal tree options

More sizes and colors of Christmas tree earrings – the smooth one is made with a Fern Green Artemis bead instead of margarita crystals.

Now that you know how to make these crystal tree charms, you can attach them to anything: use them as pendants, zipper pulls, cell phone charms, tree ornaments or wine glass markers if you like! ~ Cindy

Five designers: Five very different gemstone and chain jewelry pieces!

November 9, 2011

We’ve recently changed our jewelry design contest at Rings & Things. Instead of just one big contest, we’re now going to have a series of jewelry design challenges peppered throughout the year. The first of these is our Rock n’ Rollo Design Challenge. The rules are simple: just use any style of our rollo chain and either rainbow amazonite or larvikite gemstone beads in your design! And also – the design doesn’t even have to be jewelry! Any type of art or craft is eligible, so long as it incorporates the challenge supplies.

Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” Design challenges like this one really highlight this truth. Given the same basic building blocks, it might seem like you’d end up with the same basic designs. Not true! Five of our designers created inspiration pieces that meet the contest guidelines, and all five use chain and gemstone in completely different ways:

etched-copper-bird-necklace“Wee Bird” riveted metals and rainbow amazonite necklace by Mollie Valente

A sweet etched copper bird pendant, riveted to brass. Mollie used a mesh choker for the back of the piece. Rollo chain is used as a stylish alternative to jump rings to link the gemstone connectors.

copper-clay-gemstone-necklace“Unfurled” copper and rainbow amazonite necklace by Cindy Morris

I created the leafy bead cap with copper clay and strung a river of copper and swirly gemstone oval beads flowing from it. I used chain in the back to keep the necklace from feeling and looking too heavy.

black-labradorite-ribbon-necklace“Reverse Stack Effect” larvikite necklace by Amy Mickelson

Amy combines a lavish and unexpected mix of materials (larvikite, dotted lampwork glass squares, wavy silver-plated disks, chunky rollo chain, hand-dyed silk ribbon) into a colorful statement piece. The full parts list is available in our newly reformatted design gallery. The gallery is now integrated with our online store, so it is much, much easier to find and buy the supplies that catch your eye!

larvikite-chain-bracelet“Slated for Chain” larvikite and silver-plated chain bracelet by Val Nygaard-Pouzar

Clean and classic: the shimmery larvikite (or black labradorite, as it is commonly known) gemstone bead anchors this symmetrical design.

ceramic-enamel-eye-necklace“Eyeball in My Martini” necklace by Polly Nobbs-LaRue

With a “raku” ceramic flying eyeball, C-Koop enameled gear and swirly TierraCast copper links, you might not even notice the rollo chain and single rainbow amazonite bead on this necklace!

No matter what type of jewelry you design, I hope you will stretch your imagination and enter the 2011 Rock n’ Rollo jewelry design contest! With hundreds of dollars in gift certificates (and the possibility of free advertising for your work!) as prizes, and nothing but a emailed photo required to enter, why wouldn’t you rock out a stunning rollo chain design? Be sure to check out the contest page for all the details! ~ Cindy

Torch-enameled components from C-Koop Beads!

August 16, 2011

Stackable enameled copper flowers from C-Koop Beads.

Fun, colorful enameled jewelry components are popping everywhere! I attribute the trend to talented artists whose business smarts have led them to develop enticing product lines of individual beads, gears and charms for designers to turn into finished jewelry. Just one or two enameled elements easily take a piece from ‘pretty’ to ‘pretty amazing.’

One such enamel artist is C-Koop Beads, aka Sara Lukkonen. Sara began making and selling enameled beads back in the 70’s. When she picked up the torch again in the 90’s (in her chicken coop of a studio!) her business expanded by leaps and bounds. Here are just a few of the components she creates:

So many colors of adorable little rings.

Three sizes of flat and domed disks.

Clasps, connectors, pendants and big-hole beads too!

If you are interested in doing your own enamel work, check out this how-to video from Enamel and Tiffany. It shows the entire torch-enameling process, plus does a great job of making it clear what types of tools and work space you will need. While the video focuses on beads, the process is similar for making other components. Check out our new selection of 18-gauge copper shapes – they are perfect for both torch enameling and etching!

While I know I would love enameling, I don’t have time or space for yet another addiction right now, so I opted to layer a couple of C-Koop flowers on a bracelet instead – yay for instant gratification! ~ Cindy

Black leather bolo cord made this triple-wrap bracelet super quick and easy to make! A 6mm SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS rondelle fit perfectly inside the purple enamel bead cap for a tiny bit of sparkle.

How to make copper bangle bracelets with large hole beads

July 1, 2011
stamped metal bracelet

One of Sondra’s bracelets from Bead & Button 2011.

Hello, bloglandia! Our sales manager, Sondra, was fortunate enough to attend Tracy Stanley’s “Bangles with a Message” class at Bead & Button last month. We’ve been oohing and ahhing over her wristful of chunky metal, so yesterday we got together and made some of our own bracelets.

For a sturdy yet slightly flexible bracelet base, we used 14 gauge copper wire. Start with about 10-11″ of wire. Simply form a large loop on one end with round nose pliers and hammer slightly. Slide on lots of large hole beads: 14 gauge wire is about 1.63mm, so your beads need to have holes that are at least 1.7mm big. Anything marketed as a Pandora or European-style bead will easily fit.

bangle bracelets made from copper wire

Mixed-metal mania bracelets are fun to wear en masse!

We mostly used metal, but trade beads, furnace glass and crystal all look great too. TierraCast has some especially nice large hole metal beads. You can also add coils of wire as decoration beneath floating beads, or as stoppers between beads. Shape the wire into a bracelet shape around your wrist and finish with another loop.

You can connect the two end loops together directly, connect them with jump rings or add a jewelry clasp. It is better to err on the small side, since a too-small bracelet can be extended with a jump ring or two, while a too-large bracelet will just go flying off your wrist!

Lindsey used a few jump rings to make her bangle fit her wrist – and a rooster to make it fit her personality!

A giant lobster clasp is easy to open/close.

A couple of other bracelet-making tips:

  • Patina your wire, decorative coils and other components before assembling your bracelet.
  • Be sure to file down any sharp wire points or metal edges.
  • Have a whole bunch of beads ready, because once you start, you’ll want to make a bunch!

Metal, metal and more metal!

Check out Tracy’s teaching schedule if you’re interested in learning how she makes stamped word charms to fit on bangles. Our new brass and copper strips will save you a lot of sawing and cutting time!

~Cindy

Wire lashing: an easy way to cover your jewelry with beads or bling!

May 19, 2011
Two wire-lashed bracelets

Artistic Wire + bracelet forms = many many options!

I call this easy jewelry-making technique “wire lashing” to distinguish it from “wire wrapping” – but really, it is just wrapping thin wire around and around a component in order to cover it with beads (or chain!).

bracelet plain

A plain hook end bracelet is the perfect candidate for a good lashing!

The keys to wire lashing are simple, but oh so vital:

  1. Always begin with a few wire wraps around your base piece (in this case
    bangle bracelets) before adding beads or chain. Rather than trying to wrap the very end of the wire, leave about a 1″ tail so you have a bit of wiggle room.
  2. Always keep your wire wraps tight around the item. Pull the entire wire all the way through and around before beginning another wrap. If using beads, lay the bead against the base in the position you want it to end up in before wrapping the wire tight.
  3. Always use two or more wraps between beads to keep everything securely in place.
  4. Always stay calm if (ha – when!) the wire gets kinked or tangled. When it starts getting cranky, take a second to smooth it back out or it will grow into a major mess.
  5. When you’re all done, you can adjust the wraps and beads with your fingers to make it more uniform. Likely there will some wraps that are tighter than others. This is perfectly normal and easy to fix.

I’ve used this technique before on small items (kidney ear wires, links, ear hoops and hair combs) so decided to step up to bracelets today. The only difference is working with longer wire (about 4-5 feet for a typical bangle). You have the option of working with smaller sections of wire and adding new pieces as you go, but I really wanted to use one continuous piece. I did of course kink the wire. Repeatedly.

Looks scary, but this nightmare actually only took a few seconds to correct.

But the nice thing about using one piece of wire is that as you go along, the lashing goes faster and faster until suddenly you realize you are having fun! At the end, you feel so victorious you immediately want to make another. So you do … and realize the wire is too darn long again … but wait, now it is fun again … victory is within reach … This is how addictions start.

I like to use 24 or 26-gauge wire when lashing because it is very easy to manipulate with your fingers. Today I used several colors of Artistic Wire. The beaded bracelet has 6mm purple Miracle beads, 4mm turquoise magnesite and opalite barrel beads held in place by chartreuse Artistic Wire. It was quick and easy to make. However, I started with waaaay too much wire, so it took a little longer to add each bead than was really necessary. Impatient as always, I decided to do away with stringing beads. My next attempt uses rhinestone chain.

Sparkle mania

Sparkle mania has never been easier to achieve!

It turns out the 14pp size Swarovski Elements crystal rhinestone chain is almost exactly the same width as the bracelet form, so it stays in place nicely. I think this would be a great girl’s night jewelry project – simple, sparkly and easy to customize by adding some charms or changing up the wire color.

For those of you who prefer thread, check out Toni’s rhinestone hair comb – same technique, different materials.

rhinestone hair comb

Cover a comb with ribbon and rhinestones for easy elegance.

What else can we cover in rhinestone chain? Perhaps an easier question would be what can’t we cover! ~ Cindy

New Artistic Wire color variety packs

April 12, 2011
Coiled Artistic Wire bracelet with dichroic glass

Kameron used a Coiling Gizmo to make beads out of 22-gauge Artistic Wire for this bracelet

Whether you already love making jewelry with colored wire or you’d like to start, these
new sampler packs from Artistic Wire are the perfect way to add color – maybe even LOTS of color – to your designs.

Buy the Dozen wire

Buy the Dozen sampler packs of Artistic Wire

Each Buy the Dozen package contains – you guessed it – a dozen 5-yard spools of the same gauge wire, each in a different color. These packs are a great value. Even at the affordable price of $5.40 per spool (for 24-gauge silver plated), buying 12 colors would cost almost $65, vs. just $19 for the sampler.

The silver-plated Artistic Wire is slightly more expensive than standard Artistic Wire, but that little bit of silver really does make the colors significantly lighter and brighter. They also happen to coordinate quite nicely with the Pantone Color Fashion forecast for spring 2011.

Pink Artistic Wire earrings

Kameron’s Pink Sprocket earrings are based on a design featured in Totally Twisted.

Since all Artistic Wire is pure copper underneath, it is super easy to work with. Which gauge to use is partly a matter of personal preference, but in general 20 gauge is good for making links and ear wires, while finer gauges (22, 24 and 26) are nice for making decorative coils. 28 gauge is sometimes used for wire crochet.

We also have dozens of jewelry-making books, but a current staff favorite for working with colored wire is Totally Twisted by Kerry Bogert.

Totally Twisted - table of contents

Let us know what you think of our new wire variety packs. Are there other products you’d like to see packaged in assortments like these?