Skip to content

Archive for

Wire Wrapped Jewelry–Earrings for Every Outfit!

Years ago I took one jewelry class–in wire wrapping–and developed an entire jewelry business around it.  In its hey day, I had 5 part time employees, a web presence, and enough retail outlets to keep me busier than I really wanted to be.  I still make jewelry for special orders, family and friends, and the occasional art fair or trunk show, but I do it all by myself.  For me, the business end wasn’t as fulfilling as the creative aspects and I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do both!  Maybe someone could just hire me to be a designer!  Please!?!?!?

Back in the day at the web launch party.  What a fun time!

Back in the day at the web launch party. What a fun time!

Trying to fulfill a special order, I went searching for my local bead stores to find they had closed!  I think the big, box stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby have taken over.  The ease of ordering supplies on the internet and getting discounts on volume or for wholesale caused me to stop patronizing my local stores.  Their demise is unfortunate because where will folks go to learn how to do these simple techniques?  Probably YouTube, right?

So here is my stab at the internet tutorial.

Supplies:

Start with base metal wire to practice and beads of your choice.  Wire should be 24 gauge, half hard, round wire.  This is a classic size and type to use for wire wrapping.  If you are making a bracelet eventually, you will want to use 20 gauge to secure the clasp.  (The lower the number the bigger the diameter of the wire.)  For earrings, choose an ear wire you prefer–I like the French ear wires (as do my customers!).  French ear wires don’t fall out and add a little bit of pizzazz and motion to the most simple earrings!  Fire Mountain Gems is a great place on line to order supplies and their quantity discounts sure help!  I also like the fish hook ear wires with the ball.  Also, you will need head pins–the longer the easier to work with, in my opinion.  I like 2 1/2″-3″ long head pins with a ball on the end like these from Fire Mountain:

Sterling Silver Head Pins with Ball End--a classic, unfussy look!

Sterling Silver Head Pins with Ball End–a classic, unfussy look!

French ear wires used with Leland Blue Stones for one of a kind earrings.

French ear wires used with Leland Blue Stones for one of a kind earrings.

Tools:  You will need flat nose pliers, long round nose pliers, and a flush cutter.  I love the Swanstrom brand of products that can be found at Rio Grande’s web site, but there are lots of more economical brands available too.  If you do develop a business, you may want to consider upgrading your tools!  You deserve it!

All the tools you need to start a jewelry business!

All the tools you need to start a jewelry business!

Technique:  Explained for right handed folks–sorry lefties, but that’s me!

1.  Begin by cutting 10-12 pieces of wire approximately 3″ long.

2.  Using the round nosed pliers, take the first wire and bend it away from you in a right angle approximately 1″ from the top of the wire. (I call this “Right Angle.”  I will continue to list your commands out this way to help jog your memory)   You will be moving this end of the wire at every step.

3.   Loosen your grip and slightly rotate your hand away from you, so that the pliers are grasping the “corner” you have just made. (“Corner”)

4.  With your left hand, bring the top part of the wire back over the top of the pliers and bend all of the way to the front so that both tips of the wire are pointing down.  (“Front”)

5.  Loosen your grip again and rotate the pliers towards you (this is kind of like riding a motorcycle!) (“Motorcycle”)  Bend the same end of the wire along the left side of the end that is down.  The wire you are bending will now be at a 90 degree angle from the bottom part.  (“Around to the back”)

6.  Now release the wire from the round pliers.  Grab your flat nosed pliers in your right hand and hold onto the loop you have made with the tips of these pliers.  Grab the end of the wire you’ve been moving that is now sticking out to the left with the round nose pliers.  Wrap it around under the loop 2-3 times (whatever look you like…)  (“Wrap”).  Using the wire cutters, cut the remaining end off as close to the loop as you can.  (“Cut”)  If any rough pieces are sticking out, you can use the flat nosed pliers to press it down.

As you are learning the technique, you can say the “commands” I’ve listed to remind you where to go next.  After doing this motion many times, it will become quite natural.

As you can see, the barrel of the round nose pliers varies in diameter.  Where you place your wire will determine the size of the loop you make. Try to make all of your loops on a particular piece a consistent size.  Making a larger loop is great depending on your project and the size of beads.  Also, a larger loop works for the end of a bracelet.

6.  Once you’ve got your loops going and they look uniform you are ready to make a pair of earrings!  Instead of the wire, grab a pair of head pins. Put the bead or beads of your choice onto the pin.  Start the loop process by placing your pliers right against the bead and begin!  You will end up with a nice loop on top!  If you are using the fish hook ear wire, just gently open the front and slip on your bead.  Close gently by pressing with your flat nosed pliers.  Use a similar technique with the French ear wire.

7.  For a change of earring design, use a wire, instead of a headpin.  Make your first loop, add your bead, make another loop on top of the bead.  Attach a cluster of smaller beads onto one loop using head pins.  See the example below:

Cluster Earrings using Coin Pearls and Semi Precious Stones.  Who knows where your designs will take you!

Cluster Earrings using Coin Pearls and Semi Precious Stones. Who knows where your designs will take you!

I really feel that nothing can substitute for live instruction.  If the pictorial above is too difficult to follow, please try this video tutorial:

 

Bangkok Street Food

I am of the firm belief that some of the best food in Bangkok can be found on the street being sold by vendors set up on seemingly every corner.  I have sampled the most delicious coconut ice cream, served with coconut meat and chopped macadamia nuts and the tastiest “mini pineapple” which my daughter proclaimed was better than any candy.  The following pictures prove my point that whether it was from a cart on the street or inside a market or from a boat that was part of a floating market, food in and around Bangkok may be the best when you are looking at the person who prepared it!

 

If I could eat on thing over and over again, it would be this Pad Thai.  With a Singha to wash it down!

If I could eat one thing over and over again, it would be this Pad Thai. With a Singha to wash it down!

 

The epitome of chicken satay. What I’d give to find that on a street corner in my home town!

 

 

Nature's Candy!

Nature’s Candy!

 

Heading to the floating market.

Heading to the floating market.

 

And to wash it all down...

And to wash it all down…

Deciding what you want to eat at the floating market is the hardest part!

Deciding what you want to eat at the floating market is the hardest part!

Dessert!  Sticky Rice with tamarind and an amazing topping of caramelized coconut.

Dessert! Sticky Rice with an amazing topping of caramelized coconut.

Dessert for Breakfast?

I’m sorry if my title is misleading.  You may have assumed I would be rationalizing eating pie or cake or cookies for breakfast. If you need any help with your rationalization, mine usually goes something like this “if it’s home made, it’s probably healthier than a donut…”  or “if I drink a glass of milk with it, I’ll get some protein.”

But today’s dessert as breakfast discovery is a Cacoa/Avocado Smoothie.  Hear me out on this.  This taste treat was like drinking the most delicious dark chocolate mousse/pudding/truffle for breakfast and being left energized and ready for your day—not ready to crash from your pumped up blood sugar.

Some of the ingredients used in a Cacao Smoothie

Some of the ingredients used in a Cacao Smoothie

I started by looking through the new cookbook from Gwyneth Paltrow “It’s All Good” and found an awesome recipe for a Creamy Avocado + Cacao Smoothie.  Gwyneth doesn’t need my help promoting her cookbook, but I must highly recommend this one.  My wonderful husband gave it to me on Mother’s Day–I think he purchased via the GOOP.com web site, and it was even personally inscribed by Ms. Paltrow.  As a collector of cookbooks, my autographed ones are highly prized and bring back lots of memories for me.  There are also many, many great recipes on the web site–delicious and easy to prepare once you start keeping the ingredients in your pantry.

"It's All Good" Gwyneth's new cookbook.  Via goop.com.

“It’s All Good” Gwyneth’s new cookbook. Via goop.com.

So, back to the smoothie–alas, my almond milk was expired.  Plus I was debating adding protein powder for that extra boost to keep me powered through a long Saturday morning of activities and errands.  Here is what I ended up with:

 

Cacao Smoothie

1 small container goat milk yogurt, plain (giving me that protein boost!)

1 ripe avocado–pitted and scooped out of the peel  (also boatloads of protein here)

1 c coconut water

1/2 t almond extract

1 T raw honey

1 small packet XyloSweet (a xylitol sweetener) or your sweetener of choice

1 T raw cacao powder

1 small scoop ice
Blend all together and presto chango–healthy breakfast!
I’m telling you, this is super delicious.  If you haven’t tried an avocado in a smoothie you really need to get on that bandwagon.  Gives it a great smooth texture and you don’t taste it at all–even with fruit.  I think the pickiest of eaters would even like this if you didn’t tell them what was in it!

%d bloggers like this: