Sunday, November 30, 2008

Anniversary Gemstones

Did you know there are particular gemstones and jewelry for anniversaries? This list of gems and jewelry gifts is endorsed by the American Gem Society, Jewelers of America, the Jewelry Industry Council, the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gem Trade Association, the Cultured Pearl Association of America, and the International Colored Gemstone Association. Treat the list like you would a birthstone list: find the year to be celebrated and then seek a gift that incorporates the gemstone or a simulant that resembles the gemstone.

Anniversary Gemstone
1 Gold Jewelry
2 Garnet
3 Pearl
4 Blue Topaz
5 Sapphire
6 Amethyst
7 Onyx
8 Tourmaline
9 Lapis Lazuli
10 Diamond
11 Turquoise
12 Jade
13 Citrine
14 Opal
15 Ruby
16 Peridot
17 Watches
18 Catseye Chrysoberyl
19 Aquamarine
20 Emerald
21 Iolite
22 Spinel
23 Imperial Topaz
24 Tanzanite
25 Silver Jubilee
30 Pearl Jubilee
35 Emerald
40 Ruby
45 Sapphire
50 Golden Jubilee
55 Alexandrite
60 Diamond Jubilee
70 Sapphire Jubilee
80 Ruby Jubilee

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Russian Frost Earrings - Coraling Beading Technique

These lacy earrings look like coral or frost. The branched fringe or coraling beading technique is easy to do and yields stunning results. Once you master the stitch you can use it to make necklaces or to adorn clothing.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time Required: A few hours - can complete pair of earrings in a weekend

Size 11 Seed Beads - I used a main color and a contrast color. Smaller beads work well (e.g., 13s or 15s), but larger beads will yield heavy earrings.


Bead Tips

Flatnose or Chainnose Pliers

Thread Snips

Beading Needle

Thread - I used size D Nymo. Personally, I find other types of thread too stiff for this technique. Nymo B is great with size 14/15 beads.

Accent Beads - Optional. I used a pair of 4-mm beads for the white earrings and a pair of 8-mm beads for the tutorial.

Start Coraling
Coraling is easy, but it does require that you have practice controlling your thread tension. Also, it uses a large number of beads and takes a bit of time. Feel free to vary the number of beads between branches, the length of the branches, etc. Have fun!

To start, cut at least a meter of your chosen thread. If desired, condition your thread with beeswax or Thread Heaven. If you can, it's better to work with a single long thread than to have to add thread, since adding thread will make it harder to keep the beads under tension. I threaded one seed bead onto the string, let it fall about a third of the way down the string, and tied a knot around it.

Put both ends of the thread through a bead tip. This bead will support the beadwork.

Using the shorter strand, string on 1 seed bead, your accent bead, and 40 main color seed beads (this will be the final length of your earring, so adjust it longer or shorter as desired by adding or subtracting beads in multiples of three).

String on three accent beads. Go back through the last two main color seed beads. Tighten the tension so there are no gaps between the beads. If you are using nymo or any other nylon thread, remember that it stretches over time, so your beadwork needs to be fairly tight. On the other hand, if you are using Power Pro or another fluoropolymer, remember that this thread will not stretch, so you want the tension such that there are no gaps between beads yet loose enough for the beadwork to be fluid.

Add two main color beads and three contrast beads. Pass back through the two main color beads. Congratulations, you have completed your first pair of branches!

Pass back through the next 5 beads, going toward the bead tip. Adjust your tension.

Add 4 main color beads and three contrast color beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add two main color beads and three contrast color beads.

Pass back through the two main color beads, the two next 2 main color beads of this branch and then through the next 3 beads toward the bead tip (total of 7 beads you go back through).

From here on, you are just repeating the previous step. Add 4 main color and 3 contrast. Pass back through the last two main color. Add 2 main color and three contrast. Pass back through the 7 main color on the 'branch' and 'stem', going toward the bead tip. You will continue this pattern until you are as near the bead tip as you like (5-6 beads for me).

Thread up through the accent bead and bead tip, go through the bead in the bead tip (reinforcing your thread), tie a knot using the other thread, and pass back through the 'stem' beads. I ran the thread through several branches to secure it and cut the thread. Thread your needle on the other end of the thread and pass it through the seed bead and accent bead so that it is exiting the accent bead. Make the next stem with branches. This thread should be dangling from the base of the accent bead. I added 26 main color beads.

Add three contrast beads and pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add 2 main color beads and 3 accent beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads and the next 5 main color beads on the stem (7 main color beads total). Continue making branches until you are within 5 beads of the accent bead. Pass through the main color beads to come out just below the accent bead.

Make the third stem/branch identical to the second stem/branch. When you are finished, you can knot your thread or work it back through several branches to secure it. Cut the thread. Use pliers to attach the bead tip to the earring finding.

Here's a finished earring. Make a second earring to match the first.
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Mermaid - Peyote or Brick Stitch Amulet Bag Pattern

This tiny mermaid-themed amulet bag measures only 1-1/4"x1-3/4" using Matsunos (it would be even smaller in Delicas). It works up very quickly in tubular peyote stitch and requires few beads. The photo is enlarged so you can see the detail.

Basic Information

Tubular Peyote (could could use Brick stitch and do the pattern on its side or use flat peyote and stitch the sides of the bag)

Finished Size About 1-1/4" x 1-3/4" using Matsuno size 11 seed beads

Colors Shown

Opaque Blue (waves)

Opaque Jade Green (rock)

Opaque Light Green (rock)

Opaque Turquoise (dress, wave swirl, eyes)

Opaque Light Blue (dress)

Opaque Yellow (crown)

Rainbow Translucent Orange (hair)

Rainbow Translucent Ruby (lips)

Pearl Purple (background)

Pearl Peach (flesh)


I recommend using a very pale background color as opposed to the pearl purple that I used (because it's my daughter's favorite color). I beaded a slightly different version of this pattern, in which the blue border framed one side of the bag and not the other. However, when I drew the pattern up, I felt that a border on both sides would be nice. You could center the mermaid with the crown by moving her up and to the right one row, but then her crown will touch the top border... whatever you prefer. The bag is stitched in tubulur peyote and then folded in half. The bottom of the bag 'zips' for easy stitching. I'll add another photo when I have completed the strap and fringe. Enjoy!
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beaded Stars or Mandalas

These beaded stars or mandalas are easy to stitch. Make earrings, as shown, or use them as pendants or small ornaments. You can adapt these instructions to make stars of other sizes or with more/fewer points.

Skill Level -- Suitable for beginners, although previous beading experience is helpful.

Time Required -- 15-30 minutes per star.

Beading Thread - e.g., Nymo D or B
3-4 mm Beads
Size 11 Seed Beads
Wire Cutters or Thread Nippers

These instructions will make a 7-point star, but you can easily adapt them to make stars with other numbers of points. The number of beads in your starting row will give you a finished star with the same number of points. You can also work with multiples of this number. For example, I could use 10 smaller beads as a starting row for a 5-point star. For outer rows, which have more seed beads, you could substitute bugle beads. You will still want a seed bead for the point, to protect the thread from cutting, to give sharp points, and as points for adding new rows of beadwork or for attaching your star to jewelry. Have fun and feel free to experiment!

Cut approximately 1 meter or yard of your preferred stringing material. I used white nymo size D, but other threads or fine wire are suitable, too. If you like, wax or condition your thread with Thread Heaven (I left my thread unconditioned). Thread your needle and string on 7 silver size 11 beads. Slide them down to within about 6 inches of the end and run your thread back through the first bead or two, to make a circle. Alternatively, you can tie them into a circle, but if you knot the thread, leave it very loose to make room for more beads. Leave the thread tail - you will weave it into your beadwork later to strengthen it.

String a 3-mm or 4-mm bead (oval crystals work well too). Skip 3 silver beads and run your needle through the 4th silver bead.

Add 1 matte blue bead and run your needle through the next silver bead. Add 1 matte blue bead, run the needle through the next silver bead, etc., until you have completed the circle. (I pushed the 4-mm bead to the side to make it easier to see the beading, but it normally sits in the center of the circle.)

When you reach the last silver bead (added a total of 7 blue beads), run the needle through the silver bead and also up through the next blue bead. You have just completed a 'step-up', which puts you in place to add the next row. You want your thread tension to be loose enough to allow the beads to lie flat. I normally use a very tight tension, so I find I need to periodically loosen up the beadwork while making a star. Add a rainbow blue bead, run the needle through the next matte blue bead, add a rainbow blue bead, run the needle through the next matte blue bead, etc., until you have completed the circle.

As you go through your last matte blue bead, step up through the rainbow blue bead. This time, add 3 silver beads, go through a rainbow blue bead, add 3 silver beads, go through a rainbow blue bead, etc., until the circle is completed. The silver beads should start to form little star points.

When you get to the last rainbow blue bead, pass through it and step up through the next 2 silver beads. (You always want to come out through the point bead - a good thing to keep in mind if you find yourself so excited that you keep making the star bigger and bigger!) Before you go any further, you need to think about the ultimate use for your star. If it is to become an earring, look at your earring finding so that you can see how your star will fit on its loop. For very small earring loops (attachment points), you can string the earring finding onto your needle, just as if it were a bead. Alternatively, you could attach a jump ring onto the star and then attach the jump ring/star to the earring loop. For larger loops, complete the star and then simply open the loop, slip the star in place, and close the loop. For this row, our last, add 5 matte blue beads and pass the needle through the point (second) silver bead. Add 5 matte blue, pass through the 2nd silver beads, etc., until the star is completed. (Note that you always use odd numbers of beads to make points. If you wanted a more rounded shape, as for making a flower, you could use an even number of beads.)

At this point, you could simply tie a knot and trim your threads. My preference is to pass through the outer row (no beads added) a second time to reinforce the stitching and stiffen the star. In fact, I keep stringing through various rows until I either run out of thread or can't stand it any longer, and then I cut the thread. I thread my needle onto the tail thread and run it through a few rows before cutting it, too. I didn't do this for these stars, but if you really want to accentuate the points of the stars, you can skip under the point bead as you go around the star a second time (in other words, pass through all of the beads except the point beads). If you are making earrings, make a second star. Did you know you just successfully used the techniques of peyote (gourd) stitch and netting? You did! Congratulations! If you would like your star to be even more stiff, you can dip it in Future floor polish or a similar acrylate and hang it to dry. This also works well if your beads have the sort of finish that would rub off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ladder Technique for Beadwork

Single Needle Method

String the first bead, leaving a 4-inch tail. Add a second bead and pass through the first bead, from botton to top. Pass through the second bead now, from top to bottom. String on a third bead (this is bottom-to-top), and pass back through the second bead (top to bottom). Continue this pattern, making certain thread tension is even so the chain doesn't start to bend or twist.

Double Needle Method

Alternatively, you can use two needles to make a beaded ladder. Some people find the double needle method works up more quickly and results in a ladder with more even thread tension. For this method, enter the first bead from the top with one needle and the bottom with the other needle. Leave a 4-inch tail with both threads. Continue the chain by crossing the threads through a new bead, pull the chain snug, and cross through a new bead.

Wire Diameter - Gauge Conversions

The diameter of the wire you buy depends on its country of origin. The two units of measurement in use are the metric system, in which the diameter of the wire is given in millimeters, and the Brown & Sharpe (B&S) gauge number. I live in the United States and the wire I buy is sized according to its gauge. However, many excellent patterns and instructions are available written for wire sized in millimeters. You may live in a country where the wire is in millimeters, yet you want to try a pattern written for gauge wire. What's a jewelry maker to do? Use the size of wire that is closest to the recommended wire. There are no exact conversions, so sometimes you will want to use the slightly finer wire (e.g., when making small jump rings or a delicate design) and sometimes you may choose the closest larger diameter (e.g., when making clasps or components that will be exposed to stress).

Nearest Equivalents - Millimeters and Gauges

Use this table when you simply want the wire that is closest in diameter to the other system of measurement.

Metric Diameter -- Nearest Gauge
2.00 mm -- 12
1.50 mm -- 14
1.25 mm -- 16
1.00 mm -- 18
0.75 mm -- 20
0.64 mm -- 22
0.50 mm -- 24

Metric Diameter of B&S Gauges

Refer to this table when you need to make a judgement call to select the best wire for a purpose. You won't actually get two decimal points of precision in gauge wire, unless you purchased wire conforming to this level of tolerance. You can use vernier calipers if you need to measure the diameter of wire with high precision.

B&S Gauge -- Actual Diameter
12 -- 2.05 mm
14 -- 1.63 mm
16 -- 1.29 mm
18 -- 1.02 mm
20 -- 0.81 mm
22 -- 0.64 mm
24 -- 0.51 mm

Monday, June 16, 2008

Metal Stamps & Quality Marks

What is a Quality Mark? A quality mark is information about metal content that appears on an article. It is usually stamped or inscribed on the piece. There is considerable confusion about the meaning of quality marks that are seen on jewelry and other items. Here is some information that I hope will de-mystify terms such as 'plated', 'filled', 'sterling', and others.

Gold Quality Marks
karat, carat, Karat, Carat, Kt., Ct., K, C

Gold is measured in karats, with 24 karats being 24/24ths gold, or pure gold. A 10 karat gold item contains 10/24ths gold, a 12K item is 12/24ths gold, etc. Karats may be expressed using a decimal figure, such as .416 fine gold (10K). The minimum allowable quality for karat gold is 9 karats.

Karats are not to be confused with carats (ct.), which are a unit of gemstone mass. One carat weighs 0.2 gram (1/5 of a gram or 0.0007 ounce). A hundredth of a carat is called a point.

Gold Filled and Rolled Gold Plate
gold filled, G.F., doublé d'or, rolled gold plate, R.G.P., plaqué d'or laminé

The quality mark for gold filled is used for an article (except optical frames, watch cases, hollow ware, or flatware) consisting of a base metal to which a sheet of at least 10 karat gold has been bonded. Additionally, the weight of the gold sheet must be at least 1/20th the total weight of the item. The quality mark may specify the ratio of the weight of the gold in the article to the total weight of the article as well as a statement of the quality of the gold expressed in karats or decimals. For example, a mark of '1/20 10K G.F.' refers to a gold filled article that consists of 10 karat gold for 1/20th of its total weight.

Rolled gold plate and gold filled may utilize the same manufacturing process, but the gold sheet used in rolled gold usually is less than 1/20th the total weight of the article. The sheet must still be at least 10 karat gold. Like gold filled articles, the quality mark used for rolled gold plate articles may include a weight ratio and a statement of quality (for example, 1/40 10K R.G.P.).

Gold and Silver Plate
gold electroplate, gold plated, G.E.P., electroplaqué d'or or or plaqué, silver electroplate, silver plate, silver plated, electroplaqué d'argent, plaqué d'argent, or the abbreviations of these terms

The quality marks for gold plated indicate that an article has been electroplated with gold of at least 10 karats. The quality marks for silver plated indicate that an article has been electroplated with silver of at least 92.5% purity. There is no minimum thickness required for silver plated or gold plated articles.

Silver Quality Marks
silver, sterling, sterling silver, argent, argent sterling, abbreviations of these terms, 925, 92.5, .925

The quality marks or a decimal figure may be used on articles containing a minimum of 92.5% pure silver. Some metals may be called 'silver' when, in fact, they are not (except in coloration). For example, nickel silver (also know as German silver) is an alloy consisting of about 60% copper, about 20% nickel, about 20% zinc, and sometimes about 5% tin (in which case the alloy is called alpaca). There is no silver at all in German/nickel/alpaca silver.

vermeil or vermil

The quality marks for vermeil are used on articles made of silver of at least 92.5 percent purity and plated with gold of at least 10 karats. No minimum thickness is required for the gold plated portion.

Platinum and Palladium Quality Marks
platinum, plat., platine, palladium, pall.

The quality marks for platinum are applied to articles composed of at least 95 percent platinum, 95 percent platinum and iridium, or 95 percent platinum and ruthenium.

The quality marks for palladium are applied to articles composed of at least 95 percent palladium, or 90 percent palladium and 5 percent platinum, iridium, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium or gold.

Birthstones for Signs of the Zodiac

There are birthstones for the month in which you were born, but an alternative system assigns birthstones to your sign of the zodiac. Astrological birthstones predate monthly birthstones, coming from a time when it was considered wise to consult your astrologer rather than your jeweler before purchasing a gem. Note that some signs have ambiguous beginning/ending dates. People born on these dates are said to be 'on the cusps' or to have 'borderline dates'. If you are born on a cusp date, your sign depends on the time, date, and place of your birth.

Zodiac Sign - Dates - Birthstone

Aquarius - [Jan. 21 - Feb. 19] - Garnet
Pisces - [Feb. 20 - Mar. 20] - Amethyst
Aries - [Mar. 21 - Apr. 20] - Bloodstone
Taurus - [Apr. 21 - May 20/21] - Sapphire
Gemini - [May 21/22 - June 21] - Agate
Cancer - [June 22 - July 22] - Emerald
Leo - [July 23 - Aug. 22/23] - Onyx
Virgo - [Aug. 22/23 - Sep. 22/23] - Carnelian
Libra - [Sep. 22/23 - Oct. 22/23] - Peridot or Chrysolite
Scorpio - [Oct. 22/23 - Nov. 22] - Beryl
Sagittarius - [Nov. 23 - Dec. 21-23] - Topaz
Capricorn - [Dec. 22-24 - Jan. 20] - Ruby

Birthstones by Month

Here is the official list of monthly birthstones approved by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, National Jewelers Association,and the American Gem Society. The birthstone list was established in 1952.

Month - Birthstone
January - Garnet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine or Bloodstone
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Pearl or Moonstone or Alexandrite
July - Ruby
August - Peridot or Sardonyx (Carnelian)
September - Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli
October - Opal or Pink Tourmaline
November - Topaz or Citrine
December - Zircon or Turquoise

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How to String Beads

Here's an essential for you. You probably know how to do it, just maybe not that it is called 'stringing'.

Stringing refers to the technique where a needle and thread, stiff cord, or beading wire is used to gather beads onto a strand.

How to Solder Sterling Silver Jumprings

Soldering is the process of joining solid metal parts (e.g., sides of a jump ring) with a melted metal alloy. Fine (pure) silver will fuse to itself, so no solder is necessary. However, sterling silver is an alloy and solder is needed to form a metal-to-metal bond or weld. While you can melt solder using a soldering iron, you won't melt the ends of your jump ring. The closure that you form using a soldering iron may look solid, but it isn't durable because the metal of the jump rings can't get hot enough to melt and mix with the metal in the solder.

Soldering Materials
You need a torch to apply enough heat to get a solid weld. You don't need a fancy, expensive model - the type of propane or butane torch sold in a hardware store will do the job for you. You can use paste solder or solder sold in sheets, which must be cut into small pieces before use. For jump rings, it's probably easier to use paste solder, since it stays exactly where you put it. Paste solder is a mixture of solder, a flux, and a carrier (makes the mixture flow and stay where you put it). You can buy paste solder in a syringe, which makes it easy to apply with precision. Paste solders are sold with names such as hard, medium, easy, and super easy. The names have nothing to do with how easy it is to use these products. They indicate the temperature at which the solder melts. Hard solder melts at a high temperature and super easy solder melts at a low temperature. If the name of the solder is followed by a number, then that is the temperature at which the solder melts. Personally, I would recommend hard or medium solder for jump rings. You want the ends of the jump rings to melt and the solder to flow at approximately the same time. If the melting point of your solder is too low for your torch, the solder may flow away from the jump rings before the ends can fuse.

Start Soldering
One of the quickest and easiest ways to solder jump rings is to set up an assembly line for yourself:

  • Close all of the jump rings to be soldered so that their edges are flush with each other. Solder can't bridge gaps, but it will flow down the joint between jump ring edges. Place the jump rings in a row close together, but not touching, on a fire brick or soldering block. Line them up with all of their joints facing the same direction.

  • If you have more than one row of jump rings, place additional rows below your first row, with about 1 inch separating each row.

  • After all rings have been placed, apply the paste solder to the joints. Apply the solder to the inside of the rings, so it contacts the joint on both sides of the rings. The amount of solder you use should be about the thickness of the wire. Apply the solder to each ring until all have had solder applied.

  • Turn the soldering block so that all of the joints are facing down or toward you.

  • Light the torch and begin soldering, starting with the upper left ring (upper right if you are lefthanded), proceeding across the row until all of the rings in that row have been soldered. Apply the flame so that both the right and left sides of the joint are heated evenly until the solder flows. You should be able to watch the solder flow through the joint and come out on the front of the ring.

  • After all of the jump rings have been soldered, you may find it convenient to collect them on a wire. Pickle the jump rings to remove any oxidation or flux residue. Neutralize the pickle by rinsing the jump rings in a water with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Use a similar technique to solder jump rings on chains. In this case, each ring/link is done indivdually. The ring is held apart from the chain with pliers or a hemostat, solder paste is applied, and the link is held over the edge of the solder block (to help protect the rest of the chain from heat) and torched.

How to Tie an Overhand Knot

Yes, it's so basic you're probably wondering why anyone would post instructions. There are lots of different names for knots, so it never hurts to be sure you're tying the correct one...

Cross one strand over the other and bring the free end back through the loop that is formed. You can make this with one strand (shown) or with multiple strands at once. This is the classic knot used between pearls. My beading cord ties this knot all the time on its own.

Book Review - Glamous Beaded Jewelry

Glamorous Beaded Jewelry - Bracelets, Necklaces, Earrings, and Rings
by M.T. Ryan
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Creative Arts & Crafts; 1st edition (June 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 1580112951

Use simple techniques to make stunning upscale necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings from pearls, gemstones, crystals, wire, ribbon, and chains.

Twenty five specific projects are detailed, from start to finish. The designs aren't complicated, though the finished jewelry is top-notch, with attention given to every part of the piece. This is jewelry you'll be proud to wear and add to your collection. The materials are high-end, with pearls, gems, precious metals, and crystals, for real designer treasures.

The book is organized with projects first, followed by an overview of tools, descriptions of materials, details and tips for specific techniques, and a list of resources. The projects are grouped according to the type of jewelry: bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and rings. Each project is accompanied by a large, beautiful color photograph of the finished piece, a detailed materials list including tools, and step-by-step instructions. Each step has written instructions plus a large color photograph.

I think an absolute jewelrymaking novice might be a little daunted by way multiple techniques are used to make each piece of jewelry, but the instructions are clear enough that even a beginner can achieve stunning results. The designs are elegant and sleek. I'd recommend this book for jewelrymakers of all skill levels.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sapphire Facts

  • Sapphire is a member of the corundum family of minerals.

  • Sapphire comes from the Greek word for blue, "sappheiros" or from the Persian word "safir", meaning "beloved of Saturn".

  • Although normally thought of as blue, sapphires come in almost any color including yellow, green, white, colorless, pink, orange, brown, and purple. The don't come in red, because red corundum is called ruby. Sapphires and rubies are different colors of the same gem.

  • Sapphires are 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them the second hardest natural mineral. In addition to being very hard, sapphires are also tough, making them highly durable gemstones.

  • Sapphire is a traditional birthstone for the month of September. It is also one of the birth stones for the Zodiac signs of Pisces, Taurus, Virgo, and Sagittarius.

  • Sapphires are a traditional gift for the 5th, 23rd and 45th wedding anniversaries. A star sapphire is a traditional 65th wedding anniversary gift.

  • Sapphire is found in Australia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Kampuchea, Kenya, and Tanzania.

  • Colorless and pale blue sapphires may be heated to high temperatures to give them an intense blue color. Heating also removes small inclusions, so it can improve clarity.

  • The first lab-created sapphire was made in 1902. Synthetic sapphires can be difficult to distinguish from natural sapphires, even by gemologists.

  • One of the most expensive of the rare gemstones is the padparadscha sapphire, a pink-orange corundum mainly found in Sri Lanka.

  • Some sapphires have inclusions of tiny rutile needles. Light bouncing off the needles produces a catseye or star effect in some sapphires. Sapphires can have 6 pointed, or less commonly, 12 pointed stars.
Photo: Star Sapphire (Mitchell Gore) Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, May 26, 2008

Birthstones for Hour of the Month

One method of determining your birthstone is to assign it based on the hour in which you were born. This numerological method requires that you know the exact hour of your birth. Remember to take Daylight Saving Time into account, if it applies to you.

1 (midnight until 1 am) -- Quartz
2 -- Hematite
3 -- Malachite
4 -- Lapis Lazuli
5 -- Turquoise
6 -- Tourmaline
7 -- Chrysolite (Peridot)
8 -- Amethyst
9 -- Kunzite
10 -- Sapphire
11 -- Garnet
12 (noon until 1 pm or 13:00) -- Diamond
13 -- Zircon
14 -- Emerald
15 -- Beryl
16 -- Topaz
17 -- Ruby
18 -- Opal
19 -- Sardonyx
20 -- Chalcedony
21 -- Jade
22 -- Jasper
23 -- Lode
24 -- Onyx

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Beaded Crystal Heart

Use crystals, firepolish beads, pearls, or combinations of beads to make a stunning heart pendant or charm. You can weave a flat heart or make two and join them to make a three-dimensional or puffed heart.

Skill Level - Easy-Intermediate. It's easy if you're comfortable working two threads at once (cross weaving).

Time Required - 15 minutes - 1 hour, depending on complexity of heart.

Beads - I used 4-mm Czech firepolish beads, but Swarovski bicones or round pearls or even seed beads work nicely. Experiment using seed beads at the ends of crystals, both as a design element and to protect your stringing material.

Stringing Material - I used clear nylon fishing line. Colored wire looks cool with very sharp crystals. Powerpro is another good choice for sharp crystals. Nymo will work for pearls and other opaque beads.

You can create a lot of different looks based on this design depending on your choice of beads and stringing material and on whether you choose to use a single heart or combine two hearts. All of my beads are the same color, but it's easy to introduce color as a design element.

The heart shape is made using cross weaving, which is the technique used in my Hugs & Kisses Ring (string) and Autumn Leaves Necklace (wire) tutorials. Cut about 2 feet or half a meter of your stringing material. Thread three beads onto the cord or wire and allow them to slide toward the center of the line. The fourth bead is your crossover bead. One end of the thread passes through the hole of the bead from left to right (or top to bottom) and the other end of the thread goes into the bead from right to left (or bottom to top). If you study the thread path, you will see that you are working the heart on its diagonal, making a series of crosses. Then you pick up the top bead of the heart and work the downward diagonal. When you have completed the heart you can tie a knot and run the thread back through the pattern to hide the ends (or if you are using wire, simply run back through the pattern a ways). You can even make the heart using a single thread if you really prefer it.

The firepolish heart shown in my top photo is what you get if you weave the basic 2-dimensional heart. If you use tight tension, the tops of the heart will puff out a bit and the beads will turn toward each other. A looser tension will result in a flat heart. For a 3-dimensional flat heart, make two hearts, lay one on top of the other, and string them together at the edges. For a puffed heart, make two hearts using a relatively tight tension and then lace the two hearts together with edging beads, as shown in this diagram. If you lace two hearts together to make the puffed heart, you will have a single bead at the 'dip' in the top of the heart. It's easy to run a jump ring or make a loop of seeds beads through this bead so that you can make your heart into a pendant or charm.You could hang a single flat heart from its stringing material in the dip, but the connection will be more secure if you run wire or beads through the two 'dip' beads or the two top beads. For a bracelet or anklet, consider joining the heart to a beaded band using the two beads on each side of the heart. So pretty! Make them in crystal and red and pink and white pearls and crystal with contrasting cord... perfect for Valentine's Day or 'just because'.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beaded Spiral Rope Chain

This easy stitch results in a flexible rope of beads. The spiral rope looks lovely by itself, but it is also easy to embellish either during the beadweaving or after the rope is complete.

Skill Level - suitable for beginners

Time Required - depends on length of chain


Beads - In this example, I used size 11 Matsunos, but use any size or shape. The inner core beads must have a hole wide enough for 4 thread/needle passes.

Thread - I used size D Nymo, but I think a lightweight Fireline or PowerPro would be stronger and still flexible. I use size B Nymo when I make a rope with size 15 seed beads.

Needle - A size 10 beading needle works for size 11 beads, but you will want a smaller needle if you use smaller beads.

Thread Nippers - As always, I used my trusty flush cutters.

I like to work with a long length of thread so that I can complete the chain without adding new thread. If your thread is fairly thick, it can be tricky adding new lengths while working. On the other hand, if your thread is thin, the resulting rope may be weak. The thread only passes through the beads in the spiral once!

With these considerations in mind, cut a length of thread (mine was about 5 feet or about 1.5 meters), condition it with beeswax or Threadheaven (optional), and thread your needle. String on 4 core beads (gold) and 3 spiral beads (blue). Allow the beads to slide down to within 6-12" of the end. You will use this thread to attach a clasp or to join it to some other work. Pass the needle through the 4 core beads, entering from the tail end (as in photo, tail is 'down', working end is 'up'). Avoid piercing your thread.

Here's what results from the first thread pass. You will have spiral beads (blue) alongside the core beads (gold).

String on 1 core bead and 3 spiral beads. Let them slide down to your work. Pass the needle up through the last 4 core beads (3 old and 1 new), as shown in the photo, from tail end toward the working end. Don't pass through any spiral beads.

Here's what you get. You simply repeat the previous step over and over (and over and over) until your spiral reaches the desired length. The rows of spiral beads will start to line up with each other, as seen in the next pass/photo.

Add 1 core/3 spiral and pass through the last 4 core beads (1 old, 3 new). Feel free to experiment with types of beads and also the number of beads used for the outer spiral (e.g., use 4 spiral beads instead of 3). You can use 2 or 3 colors of spiral beads instead of just one. Also, try using different sizes of beads for the core and spiral. You can intersperse sections of spiral rope with larger beads or other stitches. More advanced beaders may enjoy working fringe or flowers on the spiral or adding embellishment to a completed spiral. I made a simple necklace with the spiral by adding a large bead at one end of the chain and a loop of beads at the other end.

For beginners, here's an explanation of how to add a bead and loop closure, string an 8-mm bead and a seed bead, pass back into the 8-mm bead, run through the work a bit, backtrack through the 8-mm and seed bead, back through the 8-mm, weave back into work. Stitch from the chain through the 8-mm/seed bead as many times as you can to make the connection as strong as possible. Weave back into the work a ways and cut your thread. At the other end, string on seed beads to make a loop that just barely fits around the 8-mm bead. Weave back into the work, back through the loop, back into the work, through the loop, etc., until no more passes are possible or the work is secure. Cut the thread. Enjoy!