November 02, 2006

Royal Decree and Verde Flores Bracelets

Royal Decree Bracelet

Here is a close-up picture of the clasp which was handmade by Jennifer Kramer of The Blue Dress (
and Verde Flores Bracelet

And here's a close-up picture of the clasp (handmade by me):

Both of these bracelets are examples of the Romanov chain maille weave. Essentially, the Romanov weave consists of two sections of Byzantine weave connected by larger jumprings. The bracelets have several different components which make each piece unique. The Royal Decree Bracelet was made with larger sterling silver wire and rings, 16g/4.5mm, and the Verde Flores was made with slightly smaller stelring silver wire and rings, 18g/3.5mm.

I learned several new skills during the creation of these pieces. Each jumpring has been hand-coiled and hand-sawn by me. I was able to figure out how to make the coils using my electric drill, which cut down trememdously on the winding time. Up until this point I have painstakenly wound the coils by hand, taking lots of time and creating tons of blisters and cuts on my hands. But I'm thrilled to be able to wind the coils with my drill until I purchase a jumpringer system. After I coiled the wire (I had so much fun, I used several ozs of wire and ended up with a couple of feet of coils!!!) its time to cut the rings, which I do by using a jeweler's saw and hand cutting each ring from the coil. This is another time consuming process, but, very satisfying, and results in much nicer jumprings than if I cut them with flush cutters. After cutting the rings I put them in my tumbler with mixed steel shot, give them a good tumble for about 20-30 minutes, seperate the rings from the shot and let them dry, and they're ready to go to be woven into whatever I please.

Another skill I learned was to make twisted-wire jumprings. The process is essentially the same as cutting regular jumprings, but, one starts with twisted wire. Twisted wire can be purchased pre-made, but, I wanted to make the wire myself. To do this I cut a several foot length of wire, double it, put the ends into my drill, and hold the other end out taught with my pliers, turn the drill on and let it twist until the length breaks at the chuck, and voila! A length of twisted wire. Once the wire is twisted, it needs to be annealled, or, in other words, the wire needs to be heated until soft again. Every time one handles wire it causes the wire to harded, ultimately resulting in the wire becoming so hard and brittle that it can break. So, to continue working with the wire one anneals it. I anneal the wire by heating it with a torch until it glows a dull red. Then I let it cool, make my jumprings and pickle them to remove any firescale. I tumble the rings to remove any burrs and to shine up that beautiful silver.

The last skill that I learned during creating these pieces is how to apply patina to the piece. Patina is the oxidation, or, the tarnish that naturally occurs to silver (and other metals). One can speed up this process by applying a patina. I chose the fun route of oxidizing my pieces using hard-boiled eggs. Hard-boiled eggs you ask?? Yes. Hard boil your eggs, while they are still warm place them in a quart size ziploc bag with your piece (which should be cleaned and placed on a crumpled paper towel), then close the bag and smash the eggs. Make sure not to get any egg on your piece or that portion won't oxidize. Leave the piece for 10-15 minutes, checking the darkening process to achieve the level of darkness you prefer. Take the piece out, wash and dry and then its time to remove portions of the patina. One can remove patina many different ways, and I chose to use one of my manicure buffing blocks to gently buff away the patina. After the piece looks the way I want it, I plop it in the tumbler to shine and harden the silver.

These two bracelets were immensely satisfying to make and I look forward to creating more pieces with the new skills I learned. Huge thank yous go to Jennifer Kramer of The Blue Dress for all the tips and guidance she gave me during this process.

The bracelets, of course, are for sale on my website,

October 24, 2006

I am a Co-Finalist in Eni Oken's B&B Challenge

Wow!!! What an honor!!! I was chosen as one of the two co-finalists in Eni Oken's Progression Challenge on the Bead & Button forum. This was one of the first challenges/contests that I have ever entered and I am thrilled to be picked with Denise as one of the two co-finalists by Eni Oken.

The purpose of Eni's challenge was to create a piece using one of her tutorials. Then you create progressions from that piece, i.e., you continue making the same piece, but, change one element each time to see if you can come up with an entirely new style. This is an awesome challenge as it helps you to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas that you can incoroprate into your future designs.

Here are my progression pieces with explanations:

My first piece, the Mosaic Pendant (mixture of Botswana Agate, Silver Leaf Jasper, Autumn Leaf Jasper, Scapolite, Leopardskin Jasper and Karen Hill Tribe Silver beads:

For my second piece, I changed the shape from teardrop to rectangle (a mix of different shaped Peridot beads and Karen Hill Tribe Silver):

With my third piece, I seperated the rectangle into two square sections (A mix of Amethyst, Fluorite, Lepidolite, Purple Jasper and Karen Hill Tribe Silver beads:

For my fourth piece, I added a third square section (three different colors of Sapphire rondelles and Karen Hill Tribe Silver beads):

And for my final piece, I added square sections and created a bracelet (Rhodonite, Rhodocrosite, Strawberry Jasper, Pink Tourmaline, Rose Quartz and Karen Hill Tribe Silver beads):

You can see the rest of the participants pieces and read Eni's comments, here:

This challenge was an amazing opportunity for me and I am so grateful to Eni for the change to be able to participate. The rest of the participants and I all had such fun learning with each other and encouraging each other throughout the entire process.

And, yes, there were prizes awarded in this challenge, in case you were wondering! LOL Originally Eni offered one of her pieces of jewelry for the prize, which, if you've ever seen any of her jewelry, you know that that is a pretty amazing prize!!! Since Eni declared both of us finalists she offered copies of all her tutorials as prizes instead. I am absolutely thrilled because I consider her tutorials priceless when I think about how they have helped me to expand and refine my wire-working skills.

The bracelet is available for sale on my website The remaining pieces will be available for sale on my website soon. If you are interested immediately in one of the pendants, please email me at