This new product is a bit curious; though named “endless” hoop earring findings, these clearly have two ends (they are really more of a C-shape). One end of the ear wire inserts into your ear piercing, and the other is a decorative stopping point for whatever adornment you add. This raised a few design questions — What is the best way to use these? And how do you keep the added adornment from just sliding off? Read on for our solutions to these important design questions.Continue Reading…
Great prices on new styles of gold fill and sterling silver finger rings!
We just expanded our selection of wholesale priced base metal ready-to-wear rings in antique silver, antique brass, and antique copper platings. Smaller sized rings can be used as pinky, midi or knuckle rings. Larger sizes work for thumb rings.
In celebration of Spring, here are the Spring 2013 Pantone Color Trends. Just click on any of the color swatches below and find the treasures available in our online store. Also visit our Design Gallery for all the designs you see here and many more. All designs are FREE – no login required!
Comment now with your favorite Pantone Spring 2013 Color Trend to win. Contest ends May 6, 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.
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.
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:
- Raw (bare, unplated) copper
- Copper solder
- 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).
- A firing surface — I use a magnesia soldering block on top of a ceramic fire block on top of an old cookie sheet.
- 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.
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!
Hi bloglandia! Today’s design question: What memories or images do you have that are worth framing?
I just stumbled across this photo of some little house hinged pendants our design team made awhile back. It always amazes me how you can give people, in this case 9, the same jewelry component and end up with such completely different results! Our hinged glass frame pendants are reversible, so you can have two images inside if you’d like! (Also check out the memory boxes, which aren’t two sided but are deep enough to hold all sorts of treasures.)
From the bottom right going clockwise, you see the following jewelry designs:
Selina made the Dia de los Muertos paper collage, another jewelry designer used fabric and a peace sign, Mollie has a spritely fairy with star charms, Lindsey made a ginormous, interactive wooden pendant, Amy captured summer childhood memories, Sondra soldered up some enlightenment, I used one of my favorite vacation photos, a bulldog earned a crown and wings, and Rita created a wee house inside her frame. Hopefully one or more of these designs will inspire you to frame some mementos of your own! ~ Cindy
Do you ever feel possessive of your favorite belongings? I moved our jewelry team’s Vintaj BigKick closer to the windows – a distance of maybe 15 feet – to get pictures and no fewer than three people stopped me!
“What are you doing?!?”
“Where are you going with that?!?!”
Really guys, the BigKick belongs to *all* of us – but I understand wanting to keep tabs on it: it is a super fun tool! Despite the name, the BigKick is actually a very small rolling mill. It is designed specifically to texture Vintaj Natural Brass blanks with their DecoEmboss folders and DecoEtch design plates.
Simply choose a blank, lay it on the design, sandwich it between the plexi-glass plates and run it through the BigKick. The metal comes out with a reversible design, and since Vintaj brass has a natural patina, just few swipes with the metal reliefing block to polish the high points really brings out the details. (We’ve linked Vintaj’s YouTube demo videos right from the product listings in our online store if you’d like to see it in action!)
We recommend using only Vintaj Natural Brass blanks with the BigKick machine as they are the right gauge and softness. If you use other items, you may be risking this precious machine! [ Update April 2016: These new 30-gauge aluminum blanks also work great! ]
One roll and you’ll be in love…
If you’re buying a BigKick, you need three other things:
Metal reliefing block (sand paper or steel wool also work, but are not as easy to use)
And that’s it – instant gratification! Have fun kicking your style up a notch! ~ Cindy
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
I made this ornament for my friend to commemorate her first 1/2 marathon in 2011. (She’s doing another next week!) On the other side is a photo of her son playing football. He’s going to be a heartbreaker, don’t you think?
The frame is called a faceted diamond in our online store, but all I see is the Superman logo. Pretty appropriate for this dynamic duo! I used the Simply Swank soldering kit to add a jump ring at the bottom so I could dangle the
sparkly glass beads and 2011 charm from the bottom.
Recycled Christmas cards and other holiday snippets make adorable ornaments. These little house, triangle and rectangle shapes are in the 1.5-2.5″ range – perfect for both ornaments and long chain necklaces that fall to the wearer’s midsection.
This last piece isn’t a holiday design – but it is the type of thing I would love to unwrap on Christmas morning! Mollie’s “As the Crow Flies” necklaces combines a framed image, handmade wire components, little oxidized charms and beautiful gemstones (aqua fired agate and prehnite, to be specific).
In July, we sent ten of our blog partners sample packs of our new 24-gauge metal bracelet strips. With summer in full swing, it isn’t surprising that not everyone completed projects (at least not yet) … but the WOW, those who did really brought their A-game!
Helena Fritz hammered, riveted and even bead-weaved her way to an armful of gorgeous bangle bracelets – her lovely blog has more photos. Helena specializes in beadwork, which makes her first attempt at metalwork even more impressive.
Carole Carlson stepped out of her comfort zone and into the world of polymer clay with these fun bracelets. She found that the copper was easier to work with than the brass, which makes sense since it is a softer metal. Check out her blog for more info.
Carolyn Fiene also used polymer clay, but she preferred the brass as a base. Even though it is harder to form, she felt is held its shape better. Link to her blog showing other designs that combine chain and bezel cups with polymer coming soon.
Jan O’Banion made several great designs by layering different elements onto the bracelets. She used recycled tins to make flowers on the “Trashy Tinsel” bracelet above. Visit her blog to get a peek inside her creative world.
Lubica Vinicenko used the strips as the base of some truly elaborate rings. You can see more pictures at her blog.
As you can see, these metal “bracelet” strips are extremely versatile and fun to experiment with. Am I the only one surprised to see polymer clay and seed beads combined with sheet metal?
I’ve been having a blast stamping and texturing them. You can see the front of – and how I made – the “Earth Laughs in Flowers” bracelet in our design gallery. Texturing metal with
brass texture sheets is great stress relief, I must say!
Although July is already behind us, we’re always happy to see and share what you create. Be sure to send us some photos of what you make with these metal strips! ~ Cindy
PS – Molly Alexander posted her etching and mixed metal results to a photostream on Flickr – be sure to check them out!