Leather & Gemstone Bracelet

Happy Labor Day!

Kids go back to school tomorrow…

We have three young adult tourists (kids of family friends) coming to visit from New Zealand, Spain and England tomorrow.

I’m running around getting everything together, so I have few words today.  Just another leather and gemstone bracelet.   The leather has been upcycled from old motorcycle seat scraps.  I made and  textured the copper button.

Have a great week!


Working on Videos

I can’t believe summer is almost over and the kids go back to school on Tuesday. Gosh – they just finished school on June 17th!  Blink!

I took so many pictures this summer and I always struggle with the aftermath of taking all of those pictures and getting them off the memory cards and organized in a way that is fun to go back and look at again and again.

Macro shot I took of a New Mexican thistle.

It has become a tradition for me to produce an iMovie after each vacation we take.  I’m behind in that task, to say the least.  Yesterday I decided I need to hunker down and get my summer  ’11 photos and movies completed.   The kids love to watch these over and over and my husband takes them on his iPad when he travels.  I’m hoping my hard work of bringing these photos “to life” with movement and carefully chosen music tracks will help create lasting family memories!

If you are curious how iMovie works (with photos) take a look.   Most people think of using it for video and I do, but I love it for photos as well.  A few of these pics you may have seen in my post right after the trip, but there are lots of new ones if you want to see more eye candy from Taos and Santa Fe.

One of these days I am going to create a movie with jewelry photos.  If you don’t have a Mac, there are tons of easy photo slideshow programs (Google it) that help bring jewelry to life and could make you look like a real marketing pro!  It could also help bring some search engine traffic to your store or blog from YouTube…

Let me know what you think.  These movies are a labor of love!

Britannium, Leather & Free Shipping

I have a few cool things to share with you today.

Faceted quartz rounds, leather, waxed Irish linen, silver plated spacers, britannium end caps.

Same ingredients, slightly different design with hand forged brass button and brass nuggets.


I think I have mentioned before that I LOVE working with leather and incorporating it into my jewelry.  I have boxes of leather.  I love the smell, the feel and the look of leather.  Sometimes I just pick up a pile of it and bury my nose in it.  Kind of strange, I know.  I just can’t resist the rich earthy smell.

 I can totally feel my vegan readers cringing right now.

It’s difficult to find high quality and affordable findings and components that work with leather. In particular, substantial end caps for thicker strips of leather.

The awesome folks (Amy and Tony) at Hip Chick Beads have designed a really nice glue-on end cap. Hip Chick Beads is known for their artisan sterling silver charms and findings.   They have the end cap I wanted in silver which is, as you know, a little expensive.  Thankfully, they recently started casting some of their charms and findings in a metal alloy called britannium.

What is Britannium?

Britannium metal is a pewter like alloy that is made up of approximately 93% tin, 5% antimony, and 2% copper.  It has a nice silvery color to it and the weight/feel is very similar to a solid sterling piece.  I ordered a few test pieces and I am very happy with the look and feel.

Britannium has been around a long time and perhaps it’s most famous use is in the Academy Award Oscar statuettes.  The statues are made of britannium plated with gold.  Interesting little factoid – isn’t it?

Free Shipping Deal

 Hip Chick Beads has a free shipping  offer right now so you can try some really awesome britannium charms and findings for a great price.  At checkout enter SHIPFREE in the coupon code box.   You have to hurry, this offer is only good through Friday the 26th of August at midnight.*

Have Fun!

*I don’t receive sponsorhsip or compensation from Hip Chick Beads.  I just share this because I really like their stuff and I think you will find it helpful and interesting.

Lucky Monday Winners…

Short and sweet today.  I am starting this Monday morning by surprising two lucky people with gifts!

I numbered everyone in order of comment, once for those that were interested in the surprise bead package and then twice, again in order from the top,  if they were interested in help with their blog SEO and traffic.  As always, I went to http://random.org and generated two numbers.

 The Winner of a Surprise package of Beads and Findings is:

#26 Leeniechet (I need your contact info Leenie)

 The Winner of some Search Engine Optimization and Traffic Generating Ideas for your blog is:

#11  Lee  http://www.sunsoulart.com

Congratulations to both of you!    I will be emailing you today for the some more information so I can fulfill my promises.

Thank you to everyone who responded to this contest.  I learned so much about everyone and their bead and jewelry making tastes and whether or not you have blogs.  It helped me to get to know you better and I really enjoy that!

Have a great week!

Make Bracelets 500

It’s time for another giveaway at Make Bracelets.  The occasion?  Make Bracelets Blog just passed 500 email subscribers today!  I want to celebrate by sharing some goodies and tips with you.

Warning:  This is wordy.  Generally I’m not.   I value pictures and white space.  You must read the entire post to get the details to win fabulous prizes!
 Time has flown by since I began writing Make Bracelets early last November.  I started this blog 9.5 months ago for several reasons:
Most importantly, I wanted to connect with other people who liked to make jewelry as much as I did.  I have made jewelry for about 8 years as a hobby (some years more than others depending on the age of my kids, my commute, etc.).  I knew there were lots of  passionate jewelry makers out there but I had not had time or made the effort to connect with them.   When I had time to really get back into making lots of jewelry, too many eyes were glazing over when I tried to share my excitement about beads and such.  It’s been said:  Hobbies are boring subjects to most unless they share the same hobby.  I needed to connect with others that “Got It”.

Secondly, my blog was going to be an experiment in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)  to see how quickly I could be “discovered” and rank in Google for key words on the internet.  Afterall, if I was going to take the time to write – I wanted people to read and respond to what I was taking the time to produce.   Through my various careers, extracurricular classes, conferences and seminars, I knew what to do to market and optimize a blog.  I just had not put it into action for myself. I had not had the time.   My work was always for the benefit of others.

Thirdly,  I wanted to inspire and teach others.  I have had three successful and very different professional careers in my more than 40 years.  I had discovered in all of my jobs I had always managed to create a teaching component or was placed in a position in each career that allowed me pass my knowledge on to others.  That’s  just me.  My life is enriched when I can share “How To…” with others.

Lastly, I  am not  happy unless I am learning or perfecting a skill.  There is a quote that sums this up for me.

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn. ~John Cotton Dana

For me, teaching and passing it on is a way to never stop growing and learning myself.   It’s an investment of time, money and effort I will never regret.  This is why I do what I do.  Now on the Giveaway…

Giveaway Details – 2 Opportunities!

#1:  Leave a comment with your favorite kinds of beads to work with and favorite color palette for a chance to win a mystery bead and finding package.  As always, wrapped up all nice and pretty!  I can’t promise to get exactly your fav’s – but it helps me to get to know you and your taste.  I have found my Mystery Packages to be well received and I have enjoyed seeing pictures of the amazing jewelry that has been made from my stash.

#2:   I am going to do something I have never done before.  It will not be for everyone.  You have to have a blog or just starting to set one up.  I am going to offer my time via phone or Skype (your choice) to a blog owner to share some of the easy and fast methods I have used to get traffic.  How to rank for key words, how I research key words and how I have gained over 106,000 page views mostly in the last 7 months without being published in magazines, without visiting tons of blogs and commenting, without submitting to blog directories and only participating in maybe one blog hop.  Don’t get me wrong.  All of those methods work – but they are time consuming.  I am lazy about my traffic and spend very little time working on it.  I only post once a week – sometimes twice if I am lucky and have only tried to rank for a few words.  I will show you  a few things to keep in mind when you are writing or even naming your blog, maybe even how a little SEO over at YouTube can help.  My three little tutorial videos have received about 26,000 views in the last few months and help bring new blog visitors all the time.   You must leave your blog address and/or blog under construction info in the comment box so I can draw a random winner.

Update: To be entered for both drawings you must tell me your fav beads and colors and specify you want help with your blog & traffic.  I can’t assume you want search engine and traffic help if you have  a blog and don’t say you want help.  Thanks!

All commenters are numbered and then entered into randomorg.com to choose a winner.  This Giveaway will end Sunday the 21st of August.  Winner will be drawn and announced early on Monday the 22nd.  It does not matter where you live.  We can coordinate time zones and I am happy to ship anywhere.  You may enter a comment for each opportunity if it interests you or applies to you.  You may only win one giveaway.

Ouch my fingers hurt!  Thanks for sticking with me.   For those of you that just want jewelry making eye candy.  I will be back with more of that soon!  Less words – more pictures!

Handmade Wire Jewelry 3 – More Earrings

I’ve completed another pair of handmade wire earrings from the BoHo Bliss Workshop by Deryn Mentock.   I have enjoyed BoHo Bliss immensely!  I’ve had fun trying to make my pieces look unique.

I can’t say enough for participating in workshops online or in person.  It’s so healthy to learn and connect with other like minded creative people.

          Here are Deryn’s Lodestar Lantern Hoops

Ruby zoisite lanterns3

Here are my Lodestar Lantern Hoops

Pretty different!  I scaled them down in size and did not get quite the same shape. The petite size made for some challenging wire wrapping but I wanted to keep these for myself and I like smaller earrings.   After playing with all sorts of gemstones, I decided to go metal on metal.   The gold filled beads I’ve had for YEARS…  I would not be buying these today with gold at $1800 an ounce!  I used sterling silver wire for the handforged hoops and gold plated fleur-de-lis beads that have also been in my stash for a long, long time.

I am wishing I had oxidized the wrapping wire and left it almost black for an edgier more contrasting look – but I think they are cool this way too.

Deryn has closed her online workshop for now – but you can catch her live in the DC Metro Area at Art Bliss coming very soon in September.  I will be there taking some other live workshops.

Anyone want to join me?  There are so many great classes and instructors to choose from and  there is still time to sign up!

Gone Fishing!

My kids and I went the the lake.  A beautiful little lake in the middle of Wisconsin to visit my Sister, Mom and Dad for some quality family time, lots of nature, fishing, swimming and boating.  I had intended to post while I was there  – but the wireless connection was not working and the Verizon network was spotty.  So, it ended up being a technology-less vacation.  No iPads, Mac Books, Androids, PSP’s.  It was pretty nice.

There were lots of good old fahsioned lake activites.  I grew up in Wisconsin which has tons of lakes.  Virginia has almost no lakes.  So I really like for my kids to get this classic small lake experience.  We have made it a tradition to go each summer to visit Auntie Dana and Uncle Matt’s lake house.

Here are a few pics.  It was all about the kids!

Brinn got really comfortable in the lake this year.

The water trampoline was lots of fun!

Eagle sightings, elk, lots of fresh air.  It was wonderful.  Now on to the unpacking, soggy lake laundry and catching up on 400 emails.  Back to reality.

Handcrafted Wire Jewelry 2

To follow-up on my last post, I finished my Rustic Silver Hoops and I really love them!  They went from this…..

To this!

I’m  not finished with the BoHo Bliss Workshop yet so there will be more cool handcrafted wire earrings to share soon!

I also finished a necklace that will look great with these earrings.  I still can’t get New Mexico and turquiose out of my mind…

Tip:  Try knotting together chain and waxed cotton cord for a really stylish long necklace.  The knotting is a really cool effect and gives you multiple places to hang charms from.

Have a great weekend!

Handcrafted Wire Jewelry

My jewelry making purchase “diet” is going well.  I am happy to report, I have not ordered anything new for over a week and it’s really not so bad – so far…  It is good to know I am in the same boat as many of you out there.  Thanks for sharing your stories!

One of my goals has been to make more handcrafted wire jewelry and components.  This helps me with my jewelry supply diet, because if I make them, I don’t always have to shopping for them.  I’ve had all the tools and wire for quite a while so it is definitely time to start using them.

Since it is Bead Table Wednesday,

I’ll share everything on my bench today, just finished and in progress.

This first project is exciting.  It’s a work in progress.  I am taking some instruction from Deryn Mentock. The workshop is called BoHo Bliss and I am truly enjoying pounding, drilling, shaping and torching wire to make some cool earrings.  These silver sticks, which I fashioned from plain round silver wire, will become a pair of rustic sterling silver hoop earrings.  I’m excited to show off the completed pair, I can’t wait to finish them.  Be on the lookout for Deryn’s next workshop offering if you are into working with wire and would like to make some cool earrings.  I will be taking another class in person from Deryn in September through Cindy Wimmer’s and Jeanette Blix’s Art Bliss.  I am blissfully happy this takes place less than a half hour from my house!

Next up is a simple leather bracelet I made with a copper focal I made from 16 gauge copper wire in a loose figure 8 pattern.  I was just playing around and came up with the shape with the wrap in the center.  I also made the S hook clasp for this bracelet from an 18 gauge wire.  The round leather cord is a 1.5 mm size from Leather Cord USA in dark brown from their natural dye collection.  I really like how this natural dye leather works with the oxidized copper.

I am trying to use different gauges of wire together to make my clasps look more interesting.  This clasp is from an 18 gauge wire with a 22 gauge wire wrapped around for a little decoration.  Figure 8 from an 18 gauge as well.

That’s it for now, I am covered in steel wool dust and really need to get it off my arms – I’m getting itchy!

Jewelry Making Purchase Diet.

I am putting myself on a jewelry making purchase diet for a month.  In other words, no new jewelry making stuff coming into the house (unless it organizes my existing jewelry making stuff).  It’s a nasty cycle isn’t it?  My focus will be on putting my jewelry making tools, supplies, various mediums and beads in sight and making them easily accessible so I can efficiently produce the multimedia pieces I want to – without making the place look like a bomb went off.  I am a technique and tool junkie.  I want to try it all, which is of course impossible.  But I sure give it a good try!  Which can lead to total disorganization both in my studio and in my mind.

We have some extra wood left over from a garage cabinet building project we did so I am hoping to put the left over wood to use down in my studio.  I won’t be doing the building, just the designing.  I would hate to mess up my tools.   winking emoticon

So, I have made a pact to use what I have.  I’ve decided to attack my wire stash first.  To use the wire, I have been making more of my own ear wires and trying to make some that are a little unique. Hammering and using fire is so therapeutic!

This earring wire shape was a little challenging for me, but I like how they turned out.  This shape helps to visually thin and elongate your face and I just love labradorites!   These are made from a silver filled 18 gauge wire.  I have been enjoying working with the silver filled wire.  It’s not as scary if you mess up and it still oxidizes, etc.

Here is a long pendant that I made out of 16 gauge copper wire that I hammered, stamped and oxidized.  Love the effect of an elongated necklace on a fine chain.  The cute silver bird is from Hip Chick Beads.

This diet is going to take some discipline!  Wish me luck.

Do you ever feel buried by your “stuff”?  Do you need to work and be creative in an organized space or does organized chaos suit your style?  Do tell!