Browsing Category

Jewelry Tools

Beadalon® Wire Banding Pliers

August 20, 2013

The initial bends when trying to band wire together can be frustrating. I have tried every tool, hoping to find something that would accurately bend wire into two perfectly-placed right angle bends without marring it. Now there is a specialty tool made just for perfect double right angle bends — Beadalon Wire Banding Pliers!

I am a perfectionist in the jewelry I create, and the last thing I want to do is fight with the very beginning of the project and end up with scratched banding, or having the banding bend be just a little off. Not only is it frustrating, but the accuracy of the banding can make or break the entire piece.

This tool is very easy to use — now you can quickly create two right angle bends close together, so you can neatly band the remainder of your wires together. We have created the graphic tutorial below to help you to learn how to use these cool wire banding pliers.

Please visit our Design Gallery for the projects shown below:

Wire wrapped bracelet project using Beadalon Wire Banding Pliers

Drusilla’s Bracelet of Submission by Amy Scalise

Wire wrapped bracelet project using Beadalon Wire Banding Pliers

Square Rose Ring by Valorie Nygaard-Pouzar

Hope this helps makes your wire projects a little easier!

Amy S

Make your wire bending projects easier with Beadalon Wire Banding Pliers

Beadalon Wire Banding Pliers Graphic Tutorial

Concrete in Jewelry

July 29, 2013

Free tips for using Artisan Encapture Concrete and other jewelry grade concretes for mini mosaics, art concrete projects, concrete jewelry and more by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things.

An industrial material such as concrete seems unlikely for jewelry, but it works very well! It is relatively lightweight, and very durable. It is great for personalized adornment, because you can embed virtually any charm, bead or found object you want.

Visit our design gallery for free jewelry projects and check our Mosaic Jewelry Board on Pinterest for concrete jewelry inspirations.

Difference Between Cement and Concrete

Cement is a powdered ingredient (mostly calcium silicates) used in concrete. It is strong, but brittle and susceptible to scratching. When mixed with water, it undergoes a series of chemical reactions and slowly crystallizes into a strong, interlocking form. Concrete is a mixture of cement, an aggregate (sand or gravel) and water.

Free tips for using Artisan Encapture Concrete and other jewelry grade concretes for mini mosaics, art concrete projects, concrete jewelry and more by Rings & Things.

cement powder

Jewelry Grade Concrete

EuroTool created EnCapture Artisan Concrete specifically for jewelry artists. This new kit makes it easy for designers to create small mosaics and concrete jewelry. For information on making your own concrete, visit Ganoksin.

Creating with Artisan Concrete

Tips on Using EnCapture Artisan Concrete

Storage of the product is critical. Extreme temperatures may affect the mixture or compound, and can jeopardize the integrity of the activator liquid. For best results store in a dry, cool location and don’t freeze. Keeping the compound dry is essential; once moisture is introduced the chemical reaction starts. Store products in closed containers. The shelf life, when stored properly, is one year (if not longer).

Coloring Concrete

Prismacolor colored pencils can be used to color the surface of concrete! To prepare the surface, wet-sand it using fine-grit, wet/dry sandpaper and let dry for 24 hours. To seal the color, spray with several light coats of Krylon UV sealant.

Free tips for using Artisan Encapture Concrete and other jewelry grade concretes for mini mosaics, art concrete projects, concrete jewelry and more Rings & Things.

Prismacolor Pencils

Safety When Using Concrete in Jewelry

Always use disposable cups and utensils. Throw away unused concrete; do not wash it down the drain (it will clog pipes). Wear a respirator, safety glasses and gloves.

Have Fun & Happy Creating!

Best Riveting Tool Set

July 22, 2013

With 100s of rivets, eyelets, and related tools to pick from, the #2 riveting question I get is:

What are the best tools to easily
set both rivets and eyelets?

The answer depends on whether you want to rivet mostly leather, or mostly metal.

For leather, see my Riveting with TierraCast Leather Findings tutorial.


For metal and mixed media, the best set of riveting tools is…

This combination for 1/16″ diameter rivets and eyelets:

1/16" Long Reach Rivet Tool

#69-907 1/16″ Long Reach Piercing/Riveting Tool
— one end pierces; the other end sets 1/16″ rivets

1/16" Long Reach Reverse Rivet Flaring Set

#69-990 1/16″ Long Reach Reverse Rivet Flaring Set – for riveting tightly curved items, like rings and bangles

1/16" domed piercing base

#69-902 1/16″ domed piercing base — for piercing curved items

Fidget (hinged book pin) made with 1/16" eyelets and rivets

Fidget (hinged book pin) made with 1/16″ eyelets and rivets

Live with Intention - Cuff Bracelet (made with domed piercing base and reverse riveting accessory)

Live with Intention – Cuff Bracelet (made with domed piercing base and reverse riveting accessory)

Plus this combination for 3/32″ diameter rivets and eyelets:

Long Reach 3/32 Riveting Tool

#69-993 3/32″ Long Reach Piercing/Riveting Tool — one end pierces 3/32″ holes; other end sets 3/32″ rivets

3/32" Long Reach Reverse Rivet Flaring Set

#69-996 3/32″ Long Reach Reverse Rivet Flaring Set — for riveting tightly curved items, like rings and bangles

3/32" Domed Piercing Base

#69-905 3/32″ Domed Piercing Base — for piercing curved items

Cities in Bloom Bracelet

Cities in Bloom – etched bracelet with 3/32″ eyelets

This list of riveting tools allows you to pierce 1/16″ and 3/32″ holes without having to trade piercing bases all the time, and easily set 1/16″ and 3/32″ rivets and eyelets on flat and sharply curved items.

If you plan on riveting only flat items, then skip the domed piercing bases and reverse riveting tools.

The Long Reach tools listed above allow you to rivet items from approximately 0.5mm to 11mm (1/32″ – 7/16″) thick. If you’re only going to work on thin items (up to about 6mm or 1/4″), you can save a few dollars by getting these tools in standard (original) length instead of long reach. (See the full list of Crafted Findings riveting tools. If something is out of stock, here’s a tip: You can use Long Reach accessories in the standard/original base, but you can NOT use standard accessories in the Long Reach base.)

Old-school wire riveting uses a different set of tools, which you can find here. But the question I’m answering in today’s blog is “What are the best tools to easily set both rivets and eyelets?”

Optional Nifty Gadgets:

A swivel vise is also handy.

A swivel vise is nice; it holds the riveting tool (at any angle you want), keeping your hands free

A swivel vise is handy for holding the riveting tool at the angle of your choice, freeing your hands for slippery stacks of items to be riveted.

And I love these colorful little tins for storing assorted rivets and eyelets – I cut up the label that comes with my items, and I stick just the relevant info on the lid of the tin, so I know what length and diameter they are, and what stock number to re-order when I run low:

Color metal storage tins

Colorful metal storage tins for holding tiny rivets and eyelets — My favorite is the set of 20.

Which brings me to question #3:

What sizes of rivets and eyelets are best to start with?

Definitely the assortments — one of each size — because then no matter what new project you start, you’ll have the right length. The color choices are copper, brass, and aluminum. If it’s a toss-up for you, I recommend copper. It’s the easiest to polish or antique, and is a nice accent for any color of metal. Or brass, because all the eyelets are brass.

1/16″ diameter rivet assortments

Short (1/16, 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32" long)

Short (1/16, 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32″ long)

Medium (3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32 and 5/16")

Medium (3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32 and 5/16″)

Long (11/32, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16 and 15/32" long)

Long (11/32, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16 and 15/32″ long)

1/16″ diameter eyelets

3/32″ diameter rivet assortments

Assorted 3/32" Rivets

Short (1/16, 3/32, 1/8 and 5/32″ long)

Medium 3/32" Rivet Assortment

Medium (3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32 and 5/16″ long)

Long (11/32, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16 and 15/32" long)

Long (11/32, 3/8, 13/32, 7/16 and 15/32″ long)

3/32″ diameter eyelets

Oh, and the #1 riveting question is: What’s the difference between all these types of rivets and eyelets?

I hope this helps you pick the ideal riveting tools for the projects you have in mind!

~Polly

Feel free to post questions below!

Create a Hinged Metal Memory Journal

July 18, 2013

Use a hinge to turn shrine-shaped metal blanks into a journal!

Decide on the layout, location of the hinge and other decorative elements. Using a checkered hammer, apply texture to the top and bottom panels of the journal. Patina, file rough edges and clean.
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Layout

Cut the hinges, which can be as wide or as narrow as you choose. For 3/32 tubing, make hinges that are one-half inch deep. You need an odd number of hinge tabs. Measure, mark and saw tabs into the top panel. Use plenty of cut lube to prevent the saw blade from sticking when cornering.
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Create Hinge Tabs

Using wide, flat nose pliers, crease and fold each tabs up to a 90 degree angle. The position of the fold determines whether the hinge will be visible from the front of the pendant, or only from the back side. Keep the textured sides face up, so the design is consistent.
Carefully roll tabs into cylinders using chain nose pliers or medium bail making pliers. Leave hinges a bit loose until after you have inserted the tubing, then you can tighten for best fit.
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Roll Into Cylinders

Use a tube cutting jig to cut a length of tube 1mm longer than the width of your piece (for 1/2mm on each side).
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created  Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Cut Tubing

Slide tubing down the channel and finesse hinges as needed. Rivet tubing into place to finish the hinge. Open and close hinge to ensure a proper fit.

This free DIY jewelry design by Sondra Barrington features antique brass, nickel silver, metal etching, dapping and creating hinges.

Assemble Hinge and Insert Tubing

Working with the bottom panel, lay out etched metal pieces for the cover and inside page. Cut, file and patina as necessary. Leave sufficient room for the hinge to lay flat against the bottom panel.
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Lay out Etched Metal Page

Measure, mark and punch holes for decorative rivets, accents and center piece (using the small side of the hole punch).
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Prepare Embellishments

Using two-part epoxy, carefully glue the etched metal panels into place.
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Lay out Etched Metal Page

Using a dapping set, dome two small round shapes that can nest one inside the other. Patina, file away any rough edges and clean the domed metal. Layer, and rivet domed metal nests onto the top panel. Connect top and bottom panel with rivets. Use a tube rivet at the top so that you can thread a jump ring through it (if you choose).
Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Rivet Domes Into Place

Carefully clean and polish the pendant before attaching the necklace chain.

Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Clean Finished Pendant

Handmade jewelry looks great on a custom beaded necklace, on leather cording, silk ribbon or chain. I created a necklace by making individual links using the one-step looping plier, eye pins, metal beads and natural agates. The links were connected using jump rings.

Hinged Pendant Memory Journal created by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This free DIY jewelry project features metal etching, metal stamping, dapping and riveting. Antique brass, nickel silver, copper and natural agate were used in creating this design. The one-step looping plier was used for the handmade chain.

Memory Journal Necklace

This free DIY Memory Journal pendant was created by designer Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things. This necklace features riveting, metal etching, antique brass shrine stamping blanks, dapping, and metal stamping. The chain was created in an ombre pattern using natural agate gemstone beads, TierraCast antique brass bead caps, metal heishi trade beads and the one-step looping plier with antique copper head pins.

Quick and Easy 1-Step Looper Tutorial

May 10, 2013

I love jewelry with lots of sparkly adornment, but making simple jewelry loops can be tricky. Creating matching loops with the perfect shape requires skill and time. It’s little wonder the “1-Step Looper” is so popular — this magical tool makes consistent loops in one quick and easy step. In fact, the process is so quick, you might miss it if you blink.

Here are visual micro steps so you can see exactly how the looping pliers work.

The 1-Step Looper jewelry making pliers for making simple looped beaded dangles.

The 1-Step Looper works with head pins, eye pins and wire sized from 26 to 18 gauge, in both precious-metal and plated finishes.

To use the 1-Step Looper start by inserting a beaded head pin in the pliers' jaw.

Place a bead onto a head pin, slide the head pin into the pliers, and insert the excess wire through the hole in the pliers upper jaw.

Squeezing the handles of the 1-Step Looper jewelry pliers will cut and shape the wire end.

Gently squeeze the pliers to trim and shape the wire.

Continue squeezing the 1-Step Loopers' handles to form a perfect loop on your crystal charm.

Continue squeezing the pliers’ handles to form a perfect loop.

Use your index finger to create a slight bend in the wire between the crystal and the loop.

Before releasing the handles, gently press the wire downward to form a slight bend below the loop.

After forming the perfect beaded dangle with the looping pliers, release the handles to release the beaded charm.

Release the handles to release the beaded charm.

It takes just minutes to make dozens of crystal dangles with the 1-Step Looper pliers.

The 1-Step Looper is not only quick and easy to use, but it’s fun to use! It takes just minutes to make dozens of beaded charms (or links).

Embossed Vintaj Brass pendant with weather copper patina finish and sparkling Swarovski crystal dangles.

With the 1-Step Looper, all your handmade jewelry can sparkle!

Make things!

Mollie

[Editor’s note: Rings & Things is happy to ship the Original 1-Step Looper Tool and the 2 newer, larger sizes, anywhere in the world — but it keeps selling out, so if you see it in stock, don’t hesitate!]

What is the Difference Between 2-part Rivets, Semi-tubular Rivets and Wire Rivets?

May 2, 2013

Rivets

A few basic types of rivets are used when making jewelry. Each type of rivet (and eyelet) requires different tools and techniques. First I’ll show what each looks like and describe key features. In the second section, I’ll explain how to use them. [links updated to go to our new website, November 2016]

2-part Rivet Sets
(or Compression Rivets):

2-Part Medium Rapid Rivet

2-Part Rivets

  • Thicker than most wire rivets
  • Generally used with leather
  • Require the fewest tools
  • Easiest to set

Semi-tubular Rivets:

Crafted Findings semi-tubular rivets

Semi-tubular rivets

  • Available in over 100 lengths, diameters and materials!
  • Look like the “cap” portion of 2-part rivets
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Designed to be set with the Crafted Findings riveting system
  • Can be set by hand, using the same technique as wire rivets

Wire Rivets:

Classic “old-school” wire rivets are simply wire — they can be made from any gauge of malleable wire, in any length you need. This is a wonderful skill, but time-consuming to do properly.

Nail-head rivets and fancy wire rivets are half as much work as wire rivets, because one end is already finished for you.

Vintaj nail-head rivets

Nail-Head Rivets

Nail-Head Rivets:

  • Natural brass color
  • Approx. 1.5mm-diameter post
  • Basically a wire rivet with one end pre-finished
  • Fairly simple to cut to length, and set with a hammer and block

Fancy Wire Rivets:

Fancy Rivets

Fancy Rivets

  • 3 colors
  • Great designs (bumblebees, stars, hearts…)
  • Approx. 1.5mm-diameter post
  • Basically a wire rivet with one end pre-finished in a fancy design
  • A little tough to set (hammer and block), but worth the effort!

Eyelets:

Eyelets are tubes with flared ends. One end of a rivet sometimes looks like an eyelet. The main difference between a rivet and an eyelet, is that you can see all the way through an eyelet after you set it, but at least one end of a rivet is always solid. If the eyelet is large enough, you can also run wire, chain or a jump ring through the resulting reinforced hole.

Eyelet for Leather

3/16″ Eyelet

  • 3/16″ eyelets
    • Largest (widest) eyelet carried by Rings & Things
    • 3/16″ diameter, and fits up to roughly 3/16″ (almost 5mm) thick leather or stacked materials.
    • Generally used with leather
    • Flare with easy-to-use inexpensive tools
3-32-inch eyelets

3/32″ Eyelets

  • Crafted Findings 1/16″ and 3/32″ (diameter) eyelets
    • Fast and easy to use — Designed to be set with the Crafted Findings riveting system
    • Can also be set by hand
    • Used with metal, plastic, leather, and even fragile materials like ceramic
    • Available from 1/16″ to 1/4″ long

      Metal tubing for eyelets

      3/32″ tubing

  • Make your own eyelets from tubing — any length!
    • 3/32″ tubing (copper, brass or sterling) is cut to length with a jeweler’s saw, and must be riveted by hand.
    • Crafted Findings’ sterling silver tubing (1.5mm and 2.25mm diameter) up to 12mm long can be set with the Crafted Findings riveting system, but must be cut to length with a jeweler’s saw.

*

Now you know the difference between a rivet and eyelet, and the main differences between types of rivets. Next…

*

How to set rivets!

This brief overview explains how to set each type of rivet and eyelet, with links to detailed step-by-step riveting tutorials … a few of which aren’t written yet, but will be by the end of May (notice I didn’t specify May of which year…). If you have questions about any of these short & sweet instructions, post your questions in a comment on this blog.

*

To use 2-part rivets:

Spiral Lagoon Bracelet

Leather bracelet with TierraCast 2-part rivets. (See Spiral Lagoon tutorial.)

  1. Pick a style and size of 2-part rivet:
    2-Part Medium Rapid Rivet

    1/4″ or 5/16″ Rapid Rivets

    Double-Cap Rivet

    Double-Cap Rivets

    TierraCast compression rivets

    TierraCast

  2. Get a metal block, rivet setter and brass hammer.

    Rivet Setter How-to

    How to set compression rivets

  3. See our “Riveting with TierraCast” blog article for full directions (and fun supplies).

*

To use Crafted Finding’s semi-tubular rivets:

semi-tubular rivets and crafted findings riveting system

Semi-tubular rivets and accessories, Crafted Findings riveting tool and Tschinkel’s Circles riveted leather bracelet (see Tutorial).

  1. Choose 1/16″ or 3/32″ diameter rivets and accessories.
  2. Choose an Original or Long Reach base. The Original tools set rivets up to 9/32″ (a bit over 1/4″); the Long Reach tools set rivets up to 15/32″ long (almost 1/2″).
  3. For help choosing options, download our Crafted Findings Technique sheet — 4 pages of tips, comparisons and explanations for each tool and accessory.
  4. Use one end of the Crafted Findings riveting system tool to pierce a hole.
  5. Select a rivet approximately 1mm longer than the total thickness of the pieces you are are riveting. (Assorted packs are handy – choose Short, Medium or
    Long.)
  6. Assemble the components, and use the other end of the Crafted Findings riveting tool to set the rivet. (See video.)

In the video and examples here, notice how tiny the back end of the rivet is, on the finished semi-tubular rivets. fyi ~ You can click most of the jewelry images to enlarge. It is a very clean look, and holds tightly when you are riveting metal to metal (or any non-stretchy media).

alpine lily riveted ring

Alpine Lily – riveted ring

riveted Christmas tree window charm

Christmas Tree Window – riveted charm

What if you want to use these rivets on leather? Leather stretches… and a tiny rivet could work its way out. The solution is to use a washer or spacer of some type, such as these rivet accents. Or, the African vinyl heishi beads in Tschinkel’s Circles (olive green leather bracelet above) are colorful and inexpensive. And this Palomita leather bracelet uses 2 of my favorite “washers” (stars and flowers):

Palomita Leather Bracelet with riveted accents

Palomita bracelet with Bali-style flower spacer bead and TierraCast star spacers. (See Full tutorial)

You can quickly convert almost any thin brass, copper, sterling, plastic/vinyl or cast metal spacer bead into a washer/stopper, by using the cutting end of the Crafted Findings tool to cut the hole to the proper size needed for their rivets.

*

To Make and Use Wire Rivets

Cognitive Resonance Wire-Riveted Necklace

Cognitive Resonance Necklace, made with classic wire rivets

You can make classic “old-school” wire rivets from any gauge of wire (generally copper, brass, nickel, sterling or karat gold), in any length you need. This is a wonderful skill, but time-consuming to do properly.

A short summary of the process:

  1. Drill or punch holes the correct size for your wire.
  2. Make sure the end of the wire is smooth, and filed flat.
  3. Fit wire through the components. Depending on the wire gauge, about .5 to 1mm of wire should stick out at each end.
  4. Set item on a steel bench block and keep the components centered on the wire. Use a riveting hammer to tap a few times on the top of the wire, then flip the piece over and tap a few times on the other end of the wire. This starts mushrooming the wire.
  5. Hammer gently around the edges of the wire on one end, then flip over and repeat.
  6. Keep flipping over and repeating the steps on each side until both ends are domed and smooth to the touch.
  7. See more detailed version here.

To learn more:

*

To use Nail-Head Rivets

Finish nail-head rivets basically the same way as a wire rivet:

  1. Drill or punch holes the correct size for your rivet’s post.
  2. Fit rivet through the components, and mark where to cut. Depending on the wire gauge, about .5 to 1mm of wire should stick out at the back.
  3. Cut to the proper length, and file flat.
  4. Set item on a steel bench block, rivet-head down. Use a riveting hammer to tap a few times on the top of the wire, to start mushrooming the wire.
  5. Hammer gently around the edges of the wire, until it is smooshed down into a nice smooth dome. See the “How to Use Fancy Wire Rivets” blog tutorial for detailed instructions (except you don’t need the wooden block or piece of leather).

*

To use fancy wire rivets:

  1. See the full tutorial in our April 5th, 2013 blog: How to Use Fancy Wire Rivets.

*

Bonus Riveting Tip:

As promised above, you can use the “hammer and block” technique for Crafted Findings semi-tubular rivets.

Crafted Findings semi-tubular rivets

Semi-tubular rivets

  1. Assortment packs (1/16″ or 3/32″ diameter) offer a nice variety of lengths.
  2. Cut or drill 1/16″ or 3/32″ holes using the tool of your choice, such as the EURO TOOL “helicopter” metal punch, EURO TOOL 3-hole punch (1/16″, 3/32″ and 1/8″ holes), drill press, or the cutting end of the Crafted Findings piercing/setting tools.
  3. Important: The hole must be precisely 1/16″ or 3/32″ (depending on which size of rivets you selected). If the hole is too large, everything will fall apart.
  4. Stack components on the rivet and make sure you have 1-2mm sticking out the back.
  5. Place the stack rivet-head down on a metal bench block.
  6. Hammer with a riveting hammer or a light-weight ball-pein hammer. Hammer gently so you get a nice round shape. If you’ve formed traditional wire rivets before, you’ll be surprised at how fast this goes when setting a semi-tubular rivet!
  7. Run your finger across the rivet; if it is rough, keep hammering until it is smooth.

*
Pshew … I think that’s all the types of rivets.

You don’t really want to know how to set Eyelets too, do you?

Just kidding, I have a fresh hot cup of tea, so here we go!
*

The main difference between setting eyelets and setting rivets, is you need to make sure the eye stays round and open, so eyelet setters have slightly different shaped tools than rivet setters.

*

How to Set 3/16″ Eyelets:

Eyelet for Leather

3/16″ Eyelet

  1. Punch 3/16″ hole in leather.
  2. Set anvil portion of eyelet setter on a sturdy surface (wooden block, Poundo board, heavy leather, etc.)… preferably something quieter than the steel block pictured below.
  3. Assemble components and place large end of eyelet on anvil.

    Setting eyelets in leather

    Setting 3/16″ Eyelets in Leather

  4. Place eyelet setter into eyelet and tap eyelet setter firmly with a brass hammer until the eyelet curls/compresses down to desired height.

*

How to set Crafted Findings Eyelets

Cities in Bloom Bracelet

Cities in Bloom – etched bracelet with 3/32″ eyelets

  1. Choose a size. The 1/16″ eyelets have a petite hole — very cute, but not many things fit through it. I recommend 3/32″ eyelets if you want to put jump rings, chain or cord through the eyelet when done.
    Tiny Crafted Findings Eyelets

    1/16″ Eyelets

    Crafted Findings Eyelets

    3/32″ Eyelets

  2. Switch out Crafted Findings tool accessories if necessary (the default tool comes with a riveting attachment, which you switch out using the included allen wrench for an eyelet flaring attachment).
  3. Assemble the components, and use the eyelet flaring end of the Crafted Findings tool to flare the eyelet. (It’s fast and easy – See video.)

Spiris Necklace

Spiris Necklace – When used with a delicate touch, the Crafted Findings riveting system allows you to sandwich fragile ceramic beads between layers of metal! (Alternate Image)

*

How to Make Your Own Eyelets from Tubing

This is a little trickier, and deserves its own blog article, so I’ll be brief for now and expand on this in a future article.

  1. Fit the tubing through your components. Use an extra-fine-point marker to mark the length. (About half the wire diameter should stick out on each end. With 3/32” tubing, this is about 1mm on each side. With 1/8” or 9g tubing, it is about 1.6mm on each side.)
  2. Make sure the end of your tubing is smooth and flat – not angled. File flat if necessary (before cutting).
  3. Take components off tube, and hold tubing in tube-cutting jig.
  4. Use a jeweler’s saw to cut the tubing, making sure to keep the cut very straight and flat, not angled.
  5. File end of tubing flat if necessary.
  6. Insert tubing through components. Set item on steel bench block, and keep the components centered on the tubing. Put a very wide center punch (at least ¼” wide) into the center of the tube. Don’t let your components slide down to the bottom of the tube!
  7. Give 3 taps with a brass hammer. Turn piece over and repeat. This begins to gently splay the tube rivet outwards. If you were too gentle at first, then repeat this step on both sides. You should see a slight curve outwards.
  8. Use a riveting hammer or the pein side of a 4oz ballpein hammer to tap in a circular pattern around the outside edges of the rivet, with an outward and downward motion. Push the metal outwards, not just down. Flip piece over and repeat on other side. Do a little on each side (about 8 taps), to make sure the tube doesn’t bend and the components don’t slip. (If they slip, you’ll have a tiny flimsy rivet on one side and a huge lumpy rivet on the other side.)
  9. Watch for a future blog for more details, or download our Riveting Technique Sheet.
Crafted Findings sterling tubing

Crafted Findings sterling tubing for eyelets

I haven’t actually used sterling tubing with the Crafted Findings system (yet), but they’ve done such a great job testing and perfecting their other products, that I expect it to go quite smoothly when I do, and to work much like this:

  1. Cut the tubing to length using a jeweler’s saw like above.
  2. Use a 1/16″ eyelet flaring attachment for the 1.5mm sterling tubing, or use a 3/32″ eyelet flaring attachment for 2.5mm sterling tubing.
  3. Be sure to use this tubing, because if the walls are too thick, it won’t work with their nifty system.
  4. If using tubing over 1/4″ long (and up to 15/32″ aka 12mm), use the long reach tool. Otherwise, you can use the standard tool.

*

In summary…

That’s a LOT of variations, but each serves a special need. 

I use the Crafted Findings system the most, because I can do 20 rivets (or more) in the time I can do one nice wire rivet by hand. Or I can do 30 eyelets in the time it takes me to make one nice 3/32″ tube eyelet by hand. I also like their reverse riveting accessory, because it allows me to rivet rings and bracelets, keeping the nice rivet head on the outside (try doing THAT by hand…!). I promise I’ll explain that cryptic comment more thoroughly, with good illustrations, in another blog post.

But at the same time that I love the speed and precision of the Crafted Findings system, I also love the look of a nice hand-tooled rivets and eyelets, and the soothing tap-tap-tap that reminds me of Santa’s elves. “Cognitive Resonance” is my favorite piece that I’ve made.

For bigger bolder designs in leather, you will probably go with the TierraCast or other 2-part rivets, perhaps in conjunction with the 3/16″ eyelets. Plus, I really like the idea of upcycling old bits of leather and making custom-length leather bracelets with TierraCasts’s full Leather Findings Collection of rivetable clasps, strap tips and links.

I’m sure I glossed over a few things in this lengthy article, so feel free to post questions!

~Polly

 

Editor’s note:

Awesome new tools for hand-setting rivets came out about a year after this article was written. Some of them are here; others are the 3-hole and 4-hole punches here (sized perfectly for common sizes of wire and tubing). One of us here at R&T will post new tutorials as soon was we can. (Riveting is fun, but a bit hard to describe and show.) ~Polly

How to Solder Glass Pendants

April 18, 2013

Our original tutorial on “How to solder jewelry with Simply Swank Tools” has been very popular. Unfortunately, we no longer are able to supply several of the supplies mentioned in the original post. I have attempted, here, to provide information on currently available products, and to answer some questions.

Pink is for Girls necklace

Pink is for Girls necklace

About Soldering

Solder is a confusing topic. There are two completely different soldering methods used in jewelry making, yet people rarely explain which type they’re talking about – much the way people say they spent the weekend simply “at the lake.” (If they are your friends, you do know which lake … and hopefully this post will help you make friends with solder!)

Solder is a metal alloy that is melted to connect or coat metal pieces. Soldering is the act of melting and applying solder.

The two soldering methods are:

  1. Soldering with a torch. Often called hard soldering, brazing or silver soldering, although copper, brass, gold and other metals can be torch soldered. There are different grades of hard solder (which melt at different temperatures, and just to confuse things further, are called easy/soft, medium and hard). There are also different solder formulas to match the color of various metals. This post talks about copper wire solder, which is meant for torch soldering.
  2. Soldering with a soldering iron. This is often referred to as soft soldering, and is used with base metals (like pewter) and plated metals. This is actually ‘tinning”, which means adding a layer of solder to a metal base. The solder is made mostly of tin and has a (relatively) low melting temperature. Soft solder is pewter or silver colored. Never use a soldering iron with precious metal jewelry: it will ruin the jewelry.

Therefore, if jewelry is made of silver or gold, it has to be torch soldered. Successful soldering requires heating the metal pieces, not just melting the solder, so if the piece is very large or thick, it’s probably torch soldered as well.

 

Poppy Field Necklace

Mollie’s Poppy Field soldered pendant necklace uses two #41-254-1 fold over crimp ends instead of jump rings

 

First off, not all soldering irons are created equal. There are many varieties on the market and most were not designed for jewelry making. The two most important things to look for are tip style and wattage. We recommend a minimum of 60-watt soldering iron with a chisel tip. The pointy tip irons are designed for tiny electronics like circuit boards and are of little use for jewelry, other than sealing jump rings. Lower than 60 watts might not heat up enough. The 60w Hakko soldering iron meets both requirements! The 100 watt Choice Iron and Rheostat combination provides greater control over temperature.

 

pointy versus chisel tip soldering iron

Soldering iron tip comparison

 

The iron on the left has a pointy tip (not recommended). The iron on the right has the recommended chisel tip, but needs to be cleaned! Soldering is difficult when the tip is black and crusty. Try using the wet sponge to clean the heated iron. If you can’t clean it any other way, let the iron cool and then gently sand off the gunk.

Next, the solder itself. It is important to use lead-free solid-core solder. Avoid solders that have rosin or acid cores. Rings & Things sells Choice, SILVERGLEEM, and Staybrite silver solder. All 3 work great with soldering irons; Staybrite is more expensive because of its higher silver content and included flux.

Third, flux. All solder requires flux in order to melt and flow. LA-CO Brite flux is a 6oz package, and is designed to be dripped or brushed onto your project.

Here is a condensed version of the process:

Preparing to Solder a Glass Pendant

Prepare your work area. Remove extraneous (burnable or meltable) items from the immediate area. I like to use a cookie sheet with a Non-Stick Craft Sheet on top. The craft sheet allows for easy clean-up of the drips and spills of solder that will inevitably occur.

Taping the edges

Taping the edges

 

Copper tape creates the metal base needed for the solder to flow onto.

Sandwich images between 2 pieces of glass and wrap edges with copper foil tape, peeling off the tape as you go. If you plan to add a bail or jump ring, overlap the ends of the foil tape where you are adding the hardware. Fold the tape over from the edges to the front and back of the glass, being careful of the corners (think of it like wrapping a gift). Burnish smooth (a sharpie pen works well for burnishing). Clean with alcohol to remove any oils from your fingers – a clean surface is the best soldering surface!

Shaping the solder coil into a snake makes it easier to feed onto your soldering iron.

Solder and Stand

Solder “snaked” for ease of application, Stand ready for use.

Prepare the Soldering Iron stand by adding a few tablespoons of water to the sponge in the reservoir.

retinning the tip

Retinning the tip

If this is your first time using the iron, you will want to “tin” the tip the first time you heat it up and always maintain that layer of solder across the tip. By tinning the tip, you prevent the iron coating from oxidizing, which is a real problem when you have hot iron tips. Oxidation can corrode your tips forcing you to replace them more often, and the hotter your iron the faster they will oxidize. Tip tinning creates a layer of solder between the air and the iron, keeping oxygen at bay.

Plug in the soldering iron and allow it to heat up for a couple minutes. Touch the tip to the damp sponge. The iron is hot enough if the sponge steams a bit when you do this. Holding the solder in one hand and the iron in the other, briefly touch the solder to both sides of the tip. You may have to “rub” the solder onto the iron to start it flowing.

Now that your tip is properly tinned, you can start soldering. Try to solder immediately after tinning the tip, the sooner the better. Tinning improves conductivity and makes soldering easier, as well as quicker, which is a good thing. Periodically while you are working , (when the solder doesn’t seem to be flowing well), clean off any globs of solder on the sponge and re-tin the tip. Keeping the tip clean is important but constantly wiping it on a wet sponge will lower the iron temperature, and can cause early tip failure. Properly cleaned tips are bright and shiny.

Keep the iron in the stand whenever you are not actually soldering with it. Unplug the iron whenever you are working on another portion of the project for more than a few minutes. This is not only a good safety measure, but it will also extend the life of your soldering iron. When you are not using your soldering iron, you should keep a layer of solder on the tip, so before putting your iron in storage, apply a fresh layer of solder to the tip to prevent it from corroding. If you will not be using your iron for an extended period of time, you may want to store it (after it has fully cooled) in a zipper type bag to protect it further from corrosion and humidity.

 

adding solder to the tape

Adding solder to the tape

Soldering a Glass Pendant

Apply flux to the copper tape. Touch your hot soldering iron to the solder to pick up a blob, and run the iron over the copper tape. Repeat. Repeat. (Some people melt the solder onto the tip of the iron and transfer it to the piece. I find I have more control by applying the solder directly from the roll to the tape.) Often you can pull the solder from the edges of the pieces to the front and back taped portions. Completely cover the copper tape with solder. If it looks lumpy, run the iron across the bumps to remelt the solder and smooth it out. Be sure to clean your soldering iron’s tip frequently. If the solder isn’t flowing, either the tip is dirty, your piece is dirty, you need more flux or you aren’t heating the piece sufficiently. Clips, clothespins or a third hand tool are all helpful tools for holding your piece while protecting your fingers.

The piece above is being held in place with binder clips, allowing me to hold the spool of solder in one hand, and the iron in the other.

Using pliers to hold the glass - don't burn your fingers.

Holding the piece steady with pliers.

Here I am holding a piece steady with bent chain nose pliers. Since flux can damage tools, and you may drip solder onto them, dedicate an inexpensive or already damaged pair for use in soldering.

 

adding the jump ring

Using hemostat to hold the jump ring in place while melting the solder blob with the iron.

Add a blob of solder to the point where you’d like to attach your jump ring. Apply flux to your jump ring. Use pliers or a hemostat to hold the jump ring on the blob, and reheat the blob with the iron to secure it in place (watch out: the blob will melt quickly, and the jump ring will sink into it. Do not maintain the heat on the blob or the jump ring, or it will all melt together into a mess). Clean off any extra flux with window cleaner or rubbing alcohol, file rough edges, buff with a polishing cloth, and you’re done!

Microscope Slide Pendants

Microscope Slide Pendants

Making soldered pendants is totally addictive. Microscope slide glass is an affordable way to indulge your pendant-making habit.

Piddix collage sheets are available in several sizes and shapes. The 7/8″ squares work nicely with the 1″ square memory glass.

The Rings & Things Glass Soldering Supplies provides all the basics for you to start out with a new skill. Just provide your own scissors, water, and work surface, and you are ready to go.

So, DIY and make some unique and meaningful collage pendants of your own!

~ Rita

Hint: If you love the soldered piece, but don’t like the bright and shiny finish, Novocan Patina will darken the solder covered parts.

I Love Copper Solder!

February 20, 2013

I recently got a chance to play with copper solder, and I LOVE it! This awesome copper solder is 7% phosporous (and 93% copper), which makes it self-fluxing. It flows and melts around the same temperature as hard-grade silver solder, so you can easily solder links, small bezels, and other basic joins with a butane micro torch.

16-gauge copper wire link with 18-gauge copper solder.

16-gauge copper wire link with 18-gauge copper solder.

Why do I love copper solder?

#1: It’s easy!

Jewelers have traditionally used silver solder to solder copper, but when using silver on copper, you have to be very careful so the silver seam doesn’t show. Since the copper solder is 93% copper (making it copper colored, even after you solder with it), I can enjoy the freedom of having my small mistakes invisible to the untrained eye. And it’s nice that the 7% phosphorous portion makes it self-fluxing, so I don’t have to use flux.

#2: It’s inexpensive.

Copper solder is about 1/10 the price of silver solder: silver solder is around $40 per ounce, but you can get 4 entire ounces of copper solder for around $14. I can experiment and practice all day and it only costs me a few dollars worth of materials. I can make affordable copper jewelry, and/or I can decide to upgrade to sterling silver, after practicing new techniques with copper.

#3: I have everything I need.

I finally bought my own torch last year, but haven’t used it a lot yet. I got the Blazer torch kit, so I’d have everything I need — 2 types of tweezers, a solder pick, and a few different soldering surfaces.

Butane micro torch kit

Blazer micro torch kit.

How do you use copper solder?

If you already know how to solder sterling or fine silver, then you already know how to solder copper. If you have no soldering experience, or have only used “soft” solder and soldering irons before, then copper solder is an EXCELLENT material to begin with.

So, where do you begin? At the very minimum, you need:

  1. Raw (bare, unplated) copper
  2. Copper solder
  3. A torch that gets hot enough for the job (all of Rings & Things’ torches work fine for this — but a soldering iron does not get hot enough).
  4. A firing surface — I use a magnesia soldering block on top of a ceramic fire block on top of an old cookie sheet.
  5. Something to grab melty-hot metal items. Check out the tweezers listed & linked in this kit.

Generally, you’ll drop your freshly-soldered item in a pickle pot or a metal can full of cool water. And there are safety considerations … you don’t really want to catch your clothing or kitchen/craft table on fire, or breathe or splash unknown chemicals, so if you’re completely new to soldering, pick up a book like Simple Soldering, by Kate Ferrant Richbourg, or Soldering Made Simple, by Joe Silvera.

Here is my project: Simple soldered links, for a bracelet or necklace.

2 links soldered, the next 3 ready to go.

2 links soldered, the next 3 ready to go.

3rd link being soldered

3rd link being soldered.

To make my loops, I used ring-bending pliers and the large side of Wubbers Extra-Large bail-making pliers to shape some quick links out of 16-gauge raw copper wire, and hammered them a bit on my metal block. Then I cut the ends nice and straight with flush cutters (You know solder doesn’t fill gaps, right? So your spots to be joined need to line up very cleanly … or your solder join is doomed or ugly), laid out a few links, and started soldering.

I soldered the quick way — torch in one hand, and spool of solder in the other hand. Heat up a link, then touch the solder to the joint, and fwoosh, it flowed. Sometimes a little too well, so my solder spots are a little globbier than they technically should be. So now I’m actually reading my copy of Kate Ferrant Richbourg’s Simple Soldering rather than just just flipping through and looking at the diagrams. Soon, I hope to pop in the DVD (included with the Simple Soldering book)!
The tips and techniques in Simple Soldering are all about silver soldering, but apply just as well to copper soldering.

One last tip based on questions I received last weekend: Do you know which part of the flame is hottest? You might think it is inside the brightest blue part of the flame, but it actually the darker space just past the tip of that bright blue inner cone.

Coming soon…. (now finished)
Next blog, I’ll share a technique to add beads (even fragile beads!) directly to links before soldering them!

~~Polly

EnCapture Artisan Concrete

February 4, 2013

We tested the new EnCapture Artisan Concrete Kit!

This “unique texture-rich medium for jewelry making is designed for embedding treasures such as glass, gemstones, metal, buttons, wire and beads to create visual interest and contrast.  Here are some tips for using it!

Mixing: We found the easiest way to mix the concrete was making a slurry (or thin paste) by putting a small amount of the base material in the mixing cup and adding the activator. To the slurry, mix in the base material and pigment incrementally until you have achieved the desired color and consistency.

Application:  You can extend the life of your concrete while you are working by covering the mixing cup with a damp paper towel. We recommend you remove excess concrete from your embedded treasures as you work using a damp paper towel, cotton swab or toothpick. It is easier to remove when it is moist than after it starts to dry.

Initial cleaning of the mini mosaic involves wiping away the excess jewelry grade concrete (Encapture Artisan Concrete) from the silver flower and rhinestone chain. Remove any excess concrete from the back of the gunmetal bezel cup. All parts available at rings-things.com

Work Time:  As the concrete starts setting within 5 minutes, you must work quickly!  Pre-arranging your design is very helpful.  We found it easiest to trace the bezel, and to mock-up the arrangement on paper.  This allows you to quickly and precisely place each item when it is time.   
Encapture Artisan Concrete (jewelry grade concrete) sets quickly. The lampwork cat head bead and smaller gemstone round beads were positioned into place before the concrete was placed, making it easier to create a small mosaic. All parts available at www.rings-things.com
Design:  Including small beads in your design is easiest if you string them first (this way they can’t roll and move as easily). For a more elaborate or mosaic-style design, setting your treasures with a dab of two-part epoxy glue is recommended. Glue your items in place and allow the glue to fully dry before applying concrete.  
Trade beads, a Tierra Cast hamsa hand, an Amate primitive heart or art heart (arte heart) silver bezel were carefully glued into place for this small mosaic. The designer bezel will be filled with jewelry grade concrete (EnCapture Artisan Concrete) once the glue has dried. Free DIY jewelry project by designer Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com.

Hamsa Hand in Heart Mosaic Necklace – Tutorial

Finishing Touches:  If you do not like large grains of sand from the concrete being visible in your design, you may be able to bury them by gently poking them down into the wet concrete with a toothpick.

Once the product has cured, for a beautiful golden sheen, the brass brush works wonders!  If you do not want to alter the color of your finished piece, gently clean around embedded treasures with the straight carver.

Using a toothpick to place jewelry grade concrete (Encapture Artisan Concrete) into the small mosaic, around the silver flower and rhinestone chain. Carefully place the concrete to avoid getting it on the gunmetal bezel cup. All parts available at rings-things.com

In addition to the tools and supplies provided in the kit, we found the following tools and supplies very helpful:
* Damp paper towels/moist towelettes
* Extra wood mixing sticks
* Cotton swabs
* Tablet & pencil
* Extra disposable plastic mixing cups
* Extra dust masks
* Extra disposable gloves
This free jewelry project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features a silver Amate primitive heart bezel. This deep dish art heart bezel has been filled with jewelry grade concrete (Encapture Artisan Concrete) and an assortment of trade beads, small silver beads and a Tierra Cast hamsa hand charm. The mini mosiac is hung from an inexpensive choker.
Links:
  • The kit
  • Bezel Cups (for this concrete product, deeper bezels work better than shallow bezels)