Friday, April 27, 2012

HubPages Article: How To Use A Jeweler's Saw

Check out my latest article on Hubpages: It's a tutorial that tells you how to use a jeweler's saw. This skill is for the more advanced jeweler, as you also have to have some basic drilling skills. But you can learn them in tandem, as I did. I'll soon have tutorials on drilling and filing -- not the most exciting topics, but absolutely necessary in the world of jewelry making. Meantime, to purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Crazy For Coil Rings!

Guess what I've been up to all week?

Hi, my name is Naomi and I am a wire wrapped coil ring-a-holic!

As funny as this photo is (and kind of creepy; my husband says it looks like a jewelry graveyard), there's a method behind my madness. I've been working overtime making these wire wrapped coil rings in silver, brass and copper for my upcoming craft fair. I've sold a bunch online and off, and people keep marking them as favorites on Etsy, so it seems like a good idea to have a stash ready for the event. I plan to display them in a nice, prominent place and entice buyers with their shiny appearance and wacky designs.

Meantime, I'm very excited because my bracelet ramp arrived today! Yes, I am a total geek about all things jewelry including supplies, but this ramp will make my anodized aluminum bracelets look awesome. I still have to actually make a few more so I have a true display, but I'll show you them when they're finished.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Upcoming Craft Fair!

Spring is in the air, which means it's time for craft fairs! My next one is going to be the Great Neck Street Fair in Great Neck, NY on Sunday, May 6 from 11-6. I'm booth No. 217 and we'll be assembled on Middle Neck Road, which is the main drag in Great Neck. So hopefully I will see some of you readers who are from the NYC/Long Island area. I'll be selling my items at a discount -- and my stuff is perfect for Mother's Day! I've done a few craft fairs already, but am feeling more pressure to do well at this one. For one thing, there's the situation with my job. As you know, I was laid off about a month ago and am now freelancing/selling jewelry/taking classes. That said, I'd like to do more than just break even this time at the fair. I want to come home with a nice, hefty profit! This street fair is supposed to get thousands of people, so it'll be nice way to kick things off. It's about more than the money for me, though. I've been working my butt off on my jewelry this year. I've been creating new designs, experimenting with different techniques and just trying to make higher quality, prettier jewelry pieces. I hope that people recognize this and my efforts pay off -- literally and figuratively. I've had to learn about being a businesswoman and I'm anxious to put my gathered knowledge to the test. I plan to be more assertive -- not annoying or pushy -- but just more "out there" so that people know who I am. And I'm going to make sure that my booth is not next to my nemesis'. Yes, I do have a craft fair rival, and no, she doesn't sell jewelry. She actually sells kitchen products. But she is so annoyingly aggressive and will lure people away from your booth into hers ... while you're talking to the customers. Ugh! This happened to me at two shows and I'm not letting her steal potential buyers from me again. Other than that, I've enjoyed doing fairs, though they're a lot of work. So if you have a craft fair in your neighborhood, please go and support your local artists. And if you're in the NYC area, come to the Great Neck Street Fair!
To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Metalsmithing Class Part VIII: Comedy Of Errors

Yesterday was one of those days where just everything went wrong. I didn't get much sleep and then had to get a lot of blood drawn for an upcoming medical exam. And so I stumbled into my jewelry making class bleary-eyed and woozy. I didn't want to miss class because I'm almost done with that darn pendant that I've been working on.

What I didn't realize, though, was HOW out of it I was -- that is, until I began dropping stuff. First, I went to file the end of my bezel (the wire tht's wrapped around a stone in a piece of jewelry) and knocked it onto the floor. I then cut up tiny pieces of solder wire -- and knocked their container over three times! Three! I then went to solder the seam on my bezel and when I went to screw the cap back onto my flux paste, accidentally picked up the little cap in which I'd stored my solder pieces. So that's right, they were dropped again, only this time I dumped them into the paste.

And it doesn't end there. I cut more solder pieces, but they kept falling off of my bezel when I was trying to lay them out over the seam (they're supposed to stick to the paste and then you fire the piece before the flux dries out, but they weren't staying put). I finally got them to stay in place and torched my bezel ... and my teacher pointed out that the seam wasn't lined up. She had to pull the bezel apart to undo the soldering and somehow managed to salvage it. After some cursing and filing and shaping, I redid it and this time, managed to not drop anything before successfully soldering it together. But as soon as I returned to my work station, I went to sand down the edge of the ring -- and yep, dropped it right on the floor!

Bt now, everyone was pretty much laughing at me and my teacher just shrugged and said, "Look, we all have off days." I explained about having had my blood drawn. I mean, I know I'm a klutz, but this was rediculous, even for me.

Still, I managed to make my bezel and didn't accidentally burn down the studio in the process. The good news is, I'm much more comfortable working with fire. The first time I used the torch I was freaked out, but now it seems like much less of a big deal. And the fire turns all sorts of pretty colors....

In other news, I'm officially signed up for my three classes: Metalsmithing II, Enameling I and Precious Metal Clay. I'm really excited for them! My teacher says that the morning classes have a much different feel, that it's kind of like summer camp. I can live with that. I want my classes to be informative, but fun.

Meantime, I'm really glad I'm taking this class, even if I don't like every element of it. I've definitely picked up some interesting new skills and that will only serve me in the long run.

Hopefully, my bezel will be attached to my pendant by next week so I can show a pic of my final product.

Okay, bad joke time: When I attach the bezel, will I be committing emBEZELment? Haha.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HubPages Article: How To Make A Handmade Wire Wrapped Stone Pendant

I've published another jewelry making tutorial on HubPages. This one shows you how to make a basic wire wrapped stone pendant. I use lav stone to make the necklace, but you can use any kind of stone you like.

Some people may wonder why I'm giving away my "trade secrets" with these tutorials, but I don't see it like that. I'm just sharing a skill that I've learned and after that, it's up to the student to come up with his or her own ideas for designs. Still, everyone has to learn from somewhere and I'm happy to help. I initially learned how to make jewelry by watching videos online and reading blogs such as this. I'm now taking classes. I'm proud that I've reached a point where I now feel confident in sharing my knowledge.

But if you want to take a stab at making this pendant, head here.

Meantime, to purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HubPages Article: Make A Silver Wire Wrapped Coil Ring

I just published another article for HubPages.

This gives a step by step tutorial on making a coil ring. I chose this as my next instructional project because everyone seems to like these little rings and they're fun to make once you get the hang of it.

Anyway, you can check it out on my HubPages page, which is here.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bold oversize anodized aluminum abstract star ring wire wrapped with silver band

By now you're probably sick of reading about anodized aluminum pieces, but here's one more for tonight: my deconstructed star ring. Usually stars have six points and this one has about eight, but that's the fun of creating abstract art; you can show common things from a slightly different perspective.

I think I like making colorful jewelry because it makes me feel happy. It reminds me of rainbows, party balloons, confetti... all which relate to celebrations. Yeah, that's probably a little cheesy, but it's true. And I figure that if my pieces make me feel good then they're hopefully making others happy, as well.

What's funny is that I'm not a loud dresser in my life. I'm actually pretty conservative and tend to wear subdued colors (blues and greens and pinks) and subtle prints and patterns. That goes for my jewelry, too, as I usually don't wear a lot of statement pieces.

But when it comes to making jewelry, I like to go a little crazy and experiment with patterns and shapes and colors. Maybe this is another side of me that's coming out? Maybe this is why I enjoy making jewelry so much; because I get to be creative and let that wilder part of me come loose.

Anyway, here are shot of my abstract star ring:

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Bold oversize geometric ring wire wrapped with silver band

My love affair with anodized aluminum continues! This time, I used this really cool material to make a funky, abstract ring. It's a little like a mini-sculpture, very pop art-y.

I used the same techniques that I employed to make my other anodized aluminum items: I sawed out the yellow, blue and magenta pink pieces, them drilled, filed and attached them using 28 gauge silver wire. But this time, I really had to think about what kind of shapes would be comfortable on one's finger. I didn't want any edges to be too wide and too jagged because the last thing a person would want is to wear an uncomfortable ring that pokes into her hand.

When I tried on the ring itself, I found it to be very lightweight and it didn't jab into me at all. Whew! It's a fun piece, definitely meant to be noticed. But that's WHY we wear jewelry, right? What's the point of owning a little piece of art if people won't see it? That's at least how I feel; that art of any form is meant to be shared.

Here are some views of the ring:

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Colorful abstract geometric anodized aluminum braceled with adjustable chain

I'm really proud of this rainbow colored bracelet, which took me about a million years to complete. I knew that I had to take advantage of these colorful pieces of anodized aluminum so I came up with a way to incorporate all of the colors that I currently own.

This bracelet required a lot of labor, but it ws fun to make. First, I cut out the squares, then I cut the tiny shapes, then I drilled and filed each piece and then I attached everything using very thin 28 gauge wire. I made the jumprings and chain, too, using 18 gauge silver plated nickel wire.

I'm always trying new things so I decided to experiment with an adjustable chain. It works like a watch, where you hook the clasp into a chain link so tht it fits your wrist. My customers have so many different wrist sizes, I figured that this is a good way to handle that; plus, I like the way the chain looks with the metal squares.

I was nervous the whole time I was making this because I loved the image in my head and so wanted this to match my vision. Happily it does; it reminds me a bit of Kandinsky with all of the shapes and colors.

I pln to do a whole series of these funky anodized pieces, so keep an eye out for them.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Metalsmithing Class: Part VII

Last night, I started working on my bezel set ring. I've realized something important about metalsmithing: I really don't like soldering. I know, this doesn't bode well for me if I plan to continue my studies in metalsmithing techniques. But I find the process time consuming and tedious. I think it would be different if I were doing it at home with a soldering iron because it is rather neat to watch the metal melt into the seam. Then *I* could determine when my pieces were ready to be put together and wouldn't have to get the teacher's approval. But this particular teacher is very exacting; she makes us file the ends until they're *exactly* lined up, which can be a pain. And she always makes me change the size of my soldering pieces. I know, I know, I need to learn how to do this and she's showing us the absolute best technique. I appreciate it. I just don't find it fun. Then again, when I took flute lessons I didn't like doing warmup drills. I guess every craft involves some process that's a little dull. I was really surprised when she showed us how to make jumprings and a chain... and expects us to solder each individual piece. I've been making chains for a while and always use a cold (non-soldered) connection. She did say that there are many ways to make chains and just wants us to practice soldering techniques. That makes sense. What's weird is that I enjoy a lot of the other processes. I find sawing really relaxing. I don't mind filing so much; it just gets a bit frustrated when I have to file the ends to be 150% even. A lot of times an end will look perfectly straight to me and my teacher will note that the planes are uneven -- and I just don't see it. I guess her eye is way more trained than mine. I feel like such a spaz using the files, too; she's able to do it in such a smooth motion and I'm always dropping the file. I think what this really comes down to is me being impatient! When I have a beautiful piece in mind, I want to see it completed! Call it the five year old in me, LOL. I am glad I'm learning these new techniques, though. The thing is, with my own jewelry, I don't *have* to solder my pieces. I can learn beading, how to work with metal clay or continue using cold connections with wire. I just figure it's good to learn different things in case I *want* to use these methods. By the way, I signed up for Jewelry II and enameling for the summer semester. I'm still deciding on a third class, but am stoked that I got into enameling. My teacher says that it's very popular and there are only 10 slots. But I signed up for the morning summer class, so there were openings. It's only six sessions (they abbreviate the summer classes), but this will put me on the priority registration list for fall if I like it and want to take the longer version. Sweet! To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moon and star earrings made of blue and yellow anodized aluminum, wire wrapped with Swarovski crystal

Anodized aluminum is so cool! Because it's fairly easy to cut compared to other metals, you can make funky designs with it. I decided to explore my artistic side and make these little night sky landscapes with a moon and Swarovski crystal star on the horizon.

To make them, I first sawed out the moons. They look a little like the moons you'd find in Lucky Charms, but whatever; they're cute. I then cut out the blue squares, which were a lot easier to deal with.

Attaching them was the biggest challenge. I decided to drill tiny holes and use a very thin wire -- 28 gauge silver -- so that I wouldn't compromise the design too much. I think it works and I'm happy with how they came out. I love moon shaped jewelry in general -- it's so peaceful -- so this is my take on it.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Blue and turquoise anodized aluminum earrings wire wrapped with silver and aquamarine square crystals

This is the first time I've worked with my anodized aluminum. I had fun making these colorful abstract earrings and am pleased with the way that they turned out.

I wanted to practice cutting simple shapes so I sawed out rectangular strips -- and to my pleasant surprise, 24 gauge anodized aluminum is very easy to cut through. I made the blue strips longer than the turquoise so that when I layered them, it would look as if the colors were fading into one another.

Because anodized aluminum can't be soldered, I had to come up with a way to attach the strips and decide to go with a silver wire wrapped design. I have these square aquamarine crystals that work really well with the blues so I attached them to the wire wrapped design using very thin 28 gauge silver wire.

I had a great time making these and can't wait to experiment with more anodized aluminum designs!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Anodized Aluminum Jewelry!

I just got my shipment of anodized aluminum strips! Aren't they pretty/

Aluminum is anodized when it's submerged in an acid electrolyte bath and then an electric current is run through. This changes the structure so that the metal becomes hard and durable. It also allows it to be dyed brilliant colors, though it can't be soldered. Since anodized aluminum doesn't oxidize, it doesn't corrode or rust.

I ordered 24 gauge sheets. They look a little like construction paper, though they're obviously tougher than that. They're really easy to cut, though. I was able to saw through them in only a few minutes -- and without getting a hand cramp! This was a nice change after sawing through copper and 20 gauge silver, which is REALLY tough.

I've enjoyed working with silver and copper, which has been an interesting change from all wire projects. Now I can add even more color into my work.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Silver wire wrapped abstract copper pendant with turquoise beads

I just finished this new design, which I listed on Etsy.

Right now, I'm working on a copper pendant for my metalsmithing class so I had all of this hammered copper left over. I spent a long time hammering out that pattern so I didn't want the metal to go to waste.

I wasn't sure what shape to carve so I let my saw do the talking and came up with this rounded "natural" shape. It's not really supposed to be anything in particular; one friend says that it looks like a guitar. My husband says that it looks like an amoeba. Another friend thinks it looks like a peanut! Really, it's up to you and your imagination.

I felt that this copper pendant needed some dressing up so I wire wrapped it with sterling silver wire. I then attached some turquoise beads using 28 gauge wire. It took me several tries to get the beads to attach properly, but the end result looks really cool -- kind of tribal, don't you think?

I still have some of that hammered copper so expect to see some other designs made from that material.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Jewelry Making Classes: Summer Semester

The 92nd Street Y finally listed their new jewelry class schedule for summer. Yay! Now that I'm freelancing and have more time on my hands, I'm planning to take several over this semester. Most of the classes are only five or six sessions, so I can take a bunch of intensives at once and hone some new skills for the fall craft fairs.

I think I've narrowed it down to the three that I'd like to take. Jewelry II is a given because you need it in order to qualify for many of the advanced jewelry making classes. The school then offers several skill-specific classes so I'm planning to enroll in two of those. Basic enameling sounds like fun; in it, you learn several different techniques, including cloissonne. I LOVE cloisonne so it will be really cool to design my own version of it.

I'm pretty set on those two classes and now have to pick a third. There are so many choices! Basic silversmithing would be very useful and ancient goldsmithing would definitely be interesting. Then there's a class where you learn to anodize metals, turning them into gorgeous colors. The one that I'm leaning toward, though, involves working with precious metal clay. You can make so many things with clay and it would probably be good for me to take a class that's much different than the other two. I enjoy working with metal, but might need a break from sawing and soldering.

I still have a few more days to register, but will make my final decision soon, and will let you know when I do. Whatever classes I choose, you can be sure that I'll have some great new designs!

Visiting Nigeria: Nigerian and African jewelry

I just got back from a 10-day trip to Amsterdam and Lagos, Nigeria, where we attended the wedding of a friend. It was really interesting to experience a culture that's so different from my own and to see how the Nigerians eat, dress, etc.

I also was, of course, fascinated by the jewelry that was worn by the women at the weddings. Nigerian women seem to favor large, bold statement pieces. Our host wore dangle earrings that practically reached her shoulders and many of the guests donned long, chunky earrings and large eye-catching necklaces. Here in the United States, we're often told that less is more, but Nigerian women seem to love being adorned -- and make it work!

During our time there we also visited the National Museum in Lagos. The museum is filled with ancient African artifacts, including instruments and jewelry. I've always loved learning about ancient civilizations, but this time, I had a special eye on the jewelry. I admired each piece and figured out how each was put together -- whether it was woven or attached with wire, etc. It felt good knowing that I'm skilled enough at making jewelry that I can now "dissect" others' work, even work that was made thousands of years ago.

I'm still processing our trip (and recovering from jetlag), but already have some ideas for African-inspired statement pieces. I can't wait to add some unique new pieces to my collection!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Silver wire wrapped black stone with Swarovski crystal pearls

Here's another piece from my wire wrapped pendant collection. This time, I used a piece of teardrop-shaped black marble, which I adorned with two beige Swarovski crystal pearls. The wire used in the wire wrap is 20 gauge silver plated nickel.

The challenge in wire wrapping a stone or cabochon is that you don't want the wrap to be random; it should accentuate the stone's beauty and not obscure it. Since this piece of marble had an odd shape, I tried to play off of that and created some loops in the wrap where the stone dips and curves. I like to add little gems or beads or pearls to my wraps because it gives them an extra pop of color and texture. When wearing jewelry, I like to have that little extra sparkle.

I've been experimenting with different types of stones. I'd love to find some more natural looking pieces. Pretty soon I'll post a gallery of my wire wrapped stones, but for now, here is the piece in question:

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Make Wire Wrapped Copper Spiral Earrings

Part of the fun of making jewelry is teaching others how to do so. As I learn more skills, I'd love to eventually teach some jewelry making classes. Doing crafts is fun and a great stress reliever; so even if you don't intend to open a jewelry business, you can still make a simple jewelry piece on a rainy afternoon. There are many jewelry patterns online that will show you how to get started.

That said, I just published another jewelry making tutorial on HubPages. This one gives step-by-step instructions for making wire wrapped copper spiral earrings. They're extremely easy to make, but so, so pretty -- and they make lovely, inexpensive gifts. With Mother's Day right around the corner, these are a good choice for Mom or Grandma or an aunt or sister. If they're anything like my mother, they'll appreciate getting a beautiful handmade gift.

Anyway, here is the link to my tutorial on wire wrapped earrings.

To purchase my other jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs On Etsy.

Metalsmithing Class: Decisions, Decisions

Now that my metalsmithing class is almost over (the last class is on May 17), it's time to start thinking about the next classes that I'd like to take. Since I now have more time on my hands, I intend to basically study jewelry design full-time. I love it and am starting to profit from it, so why not?

The only downside is that there are too many options!!! Once you complete Jewelry I, basic metalsmithing, you qualify for almost every other class in my program. So the world is my oyster -- or the pearl, in this case since it would make a nice accent on a jewelry piece, LOL.

Anyway, I do know that I will definitely take Jewelry II. My teacher explained that at this level, you learn how to make three-dimensional soldered objects, like cubes. This way, you can practice soldering seams at different angles. You also learn to make hollowed objects, like locket necklaces, which involves manipulating the metal into that hollow shape. Both sound very cool.

I'd like to also take some specialty classes, though. Some that sound interesting teach filigree work (making intricate looping designs and well, you all know how much I love those), enamel work, ancient-style goldsmithing (how awesome is that?). The list goes on and on. My plan is to take two longterm classes and one intensive workshop this summer. That will certainly keep me busy!

Registration is in two weeks so I have some time to decide, but I'm now very excited about the summer months. No more slaving away in an office for me. I'll be sawing and torching and melting, and creating beautiful things.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

Selling At Craft Fairs: 2012 Goals

Now that spring is officially here, it's craft fair season -- and I have at least two to look forward to once I return from vacation. However, I hope to do several more, now that I'm working more hours on my jewelry business. Last year, I did four, which was my goal at the time; this year, I'd like to at least seven. If I do three in the spring, one in the summer, one in the fall and two during the holiday season, I'll easily reach this new goal.

This time around, I'm feeling a lot more confident about attending the fairs. Let's face it, my first couple of fairs just didn't go that well. I wrongly expected people to come to me, which they didn't. I've learned that you need to come to them, too, and attract them to your booth. I feel like I have a lot more higher-end, quality items for sale and also have a better idea of what to expect when I go these festivals. I also need it more now that this is part of my full-time job!!!

As you know, I've been writing online articles for HubPages and I've just published a piece called How To Sell At Craft Fairs. These tips come from my personal experiences at fairs and festivals, so if anyone reading this also makes jewelry and wants to sell it, here are some ideas for how you can successfully do so.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.