Jewel School Schedule
Leah said, " I am very excited about with my upcoming shows! I will be demonstrating fast and easy chain maille bangles. Bangles are just SO popular right now. I love the opportunity to show people that they CAN make fun and stylish bangles themselves! Viewers can have a whole armful of new jewelry in just a few hours with minimal supplies because each bracelet takes only 5-10 minutes to make. The best part about this style of bangle is its versatility! Beads, chain maille, charms- try anything!"
Photo courtest of Karen Helmrich
August 26 & 27 the amazing Patti Bullard returns to Jewel School, with her specialty Wubbers and more jewelry making tools from Euro Tool! Patti sent me this photo to share with you, of her new ocean-inspired necklace.
"Treasures in the Sand" shows a few of the techniques Patti Bullard will be demonstrating; made from brass, sterling silver, opals and one of the hottest new mediums in jewelry making--concrete!
Patti said that some of the highlights she has planned for her Jewel School shows are:
- New ways to use open-back bezels and the ideal tools to make them
- Polishing and finishing handmade jewelry
- How to design jewelry using strips of metal
- Dap it, file it, punch it up--tools and techniques to make your own handmade flowers
"Kim and I will be introducing a new Wubbers set that includes the three Wubbers Bail Making Pliers plus the brand new X-Large and Jumbo sizes of the Wubbers Round Mandrel Pliers. We will also debut a new nylon jaw pliers set by Euro Tool, that's great for working with metal strips and wire."
(To me, these both sound like shows that can't be missed!!)
When Crystal Donwerth messaged me a few photos of her work via my facebook page (Dale Cougar Armstrong) I was pretty impressed and asked her to be my first "interviewee" on our new blog. Quick and simple, I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Crystal's unique style of wire work.
Hi Crystal, thanks for agreeing to be a featured "Customer/Artist" on JTV's Jewel School Blog! If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you just a few questions about your wonderful wire designs. To begin, I think we'd all like to know how long you've been making wire jewelry and what got you started?
"I guess around 3-4 years, or since I discovered JTV. I wanted to find something creative that I could do, to express myself and that I could also share with the world. I have always drawn, used oil and water paints or oil and acrylic chalks; I also sew, cross-stitch and crochet. I enjoy working in wood, but those projects were not really easy to share with others. I could show people what I had made, but you cannot exactly go around with loads of 200lb wooden chests to give as gifts! I mean where would you put them all? So when I found JTV's Jewel School and jewelry making, it was like THIS is what I had been looking for all along, I found it! And I have been creating jewelry ever since. I have probably made around 300 pieces so far. I figure I must be doing something right, because a lot of the pieces I’ve made end up in my teenager’s room and their friends always ask for my jewelry as gifts for their birthdays and holidays."
What impressed me the most is the unicorn you have designed on top of this rose quartz cabochon. (It looks as though you are drawing with wire.) Because I haven't seen much of this type of design, I'd like to know more about your process. Do you sketch your idea on paper first and then make the form in wire and attach it to the frame, or do you just "freehand" the wire as you go?
"When I got a parcel of cabochons from JTV, THIS stone stood out among them all. It wasn’t the biggest, but I just couldn’t put it away! So while I worked with some of the other cabs, I kept this stone right by me. Eventually, a few days later, I 'got' what the stone was trying to tell me.
Now, how to make this idea happen? Well, I’ve been able to draw all my life, ever since I was able to hold a pencil; but I wasn’t sure THIS was even possible. First, I drew my unicorn and then I traced around the cabochon on paper (several times). Then I had to re-size my unicorn to fit the cab's top. Next I had to draw my unicorn without picking up my pencil, because wire doesn’t start and stop, your drawing can’t either or it won’t work. After that I could plan some breaks in the wire to help the design, like where and how I made the eye come up from the throatlatch. Now I was as ready as I could be, so I cut the wire a bit longer than needed "just-in-case", and started to wrap and design on the cabochon. I did consider making the unicorn off the stone, but it might not have fit right and I didn’t want to chance that. . .so even though it was harder, I think the finished product was well worth the extra time."
Wow, quite the process, Crystal, but I agree that it was definitely worth your time! I was wondering, what is your favorite wire forming tool from Jewel School and how does it help with your "drawings"?
"I’d have to say my 3-step wire looping pliers. I used them to make the unicorn's mane coils. After that all I had to do was to figure out where I wanted the coils to go. I also use the 3-step loopers to make my own headpins, bead links and jump rings. They also make great 90 degree angles and bails."
So, do you choose the rock to go with a design you have in mind, or do you let the cab tell you what to do with it?
"Now this is harder to explain. When I want to make something I go to the stones. The one that screams the loudest or the one where I can see what it wants to be, is the one I create with. One could want to be wrapped in wire lace (which takes me days) or a stone could want nothing more than a plain bezel and a bail. What the stone wants is what I try to do. I have tried to make designs that I wanted to do, instead of doing what I see, but those never turn out well."
This collar that you created from copper and accented with crystal beads is very interesting; elegant yet earthy. Would you please share your inspiration for this piece with us?
"My daughter was my inspiration for this piece. Her prom theme was the Titanic, so I found a replica of the real movie dress and surprised her with it. She wanted something special to wear for jewelry, but she’s allergic to silver (even .999 silver). When I saw the copper wire in square and ½ round it was PERFECT; in a burgundy dress, she looked BEAUTIFUL!"
So, Crystal, do you have a "real" job or is jewelry making your career?
"I think being a full time Mother is my first job, and making jewelry is my second one. They are both intermingled together. Even my kids have started to learn how to make jewelry. I have not been able to physically work in years because of my health and jewelry making gives me more time with those that are so important to me."
Crystal, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your personal "wired world" with us!
Last Week's Reader Poll
There is so much that I would like to share with you about handcrafted jewelry designs! Last week, Sara O's carnelian necklace inspired me to answer a query from one of our customers about the dreaded "artist's block". I really enjoyed hearing from several of our readers, about what they use as an "inspiration data base". If you haven't had time to read the comments, you're missing some good stuff!
Weekly "Cougarism"- Art VS Junk
Along with her ideas for an "inspiration data base", Jan also asked me a question that has her puzzled. "What is the difference between Art and Junk? Are there any guidelines?" Be sure to follow along next week, when I will share my thoughts and ideas on this very interesting subject!