All of us have many facets to our personalities and our lives. It keeps life interesting. So though my two attempts at ice skating are long behind me–and I am not just referring to my fanny that I landed on several times–I have always found working with my hands very satisfying and soothing hobby.
Mostly, my hand work involved adequate sewing and passable needlework (embroidery, counted cross stitch, and some years ago quilting). Playing the piano for most of my life involved my hands, and certainly in the past six years, my story writing blogging has dominated my handiwork.
But I love hand crafting objects that I can use! And combined with my inability recently to find costume jewelry that I liked, a new hobby was born: jewelry making.
It all started with me bemoaning that most costume jewelry that the stores had to offer involved tassels, multiple strands of mismatched chains, and/or large clunky doodads on the chains. None of these styles appealed to me. And I have a short neck. so long rip cord like earrings and doodad necklaces are out. Ha!
I don’t wear a lot of jewelry–usually the same things of my great great aunt’s tri color gold locket and slim oval hoop earrings. In other words, boring–but sentimental favorites. So I just wanted to jazz myself up a bit with some new costume jewelry pieces.
Then my wonderful hubby happened upon a set of jewelry making tools and a project case–that together would have cost me $30 in the craft store, new–for $4 at a garage sale (below). So my jewelry making crafting was born. Snap!
And through trial and error–along with an instructions sheet tucked away in the project case–I have learned how to use each of the tools. The top row of tools–far left and far right items–are my main stay tools for picking up the various parts of jewelry projects and twisting jump rings together to link jewelry parts together. The top row middle tool allows me to twist straight wire into a defined loop size–so that sections of beading on a wire may be connected together. On the bottom row of tools, the left item is a clamper for clamping a metal fastener (with a hole end to connect a jump ring to it) around the end of a cord of leather or hemp, that I then connect via a jump ring to a magnetic closure via a jump ring. And the bottom row right tool cuts wire and rope or cording.
Some examples of what I have made appear below, with some annotation:
1a) I started out making a flat gold bead necklace strung on gold colored wire with matching earrings (below). But the wire is stiff and the necklace won’t lay flat against my neck and upper chest.
1b) So then I made a short length of the flat gold like beads on wire, then connected that on each side to slim leather cording for a more modern looking necklace (image inside the larger necklace (below). And I wear this cord leather necklace all the time with the matching earrings I made. I also put a blue stone pendant onto a gold colored chain that I bought at my local craft store.
2) I have also been branching out wearing and making silver pieces–despite that my wedding ring set is gold. And I find that I prefer lever back earring blanks to the open wire earrings. And I have made a few rings to match!
2a) On the right necklace image set, the outside necklace of silvery tubular beading was again made on a wire–and I will probably restring it on cording due to the stiffness. And the inner necklace on a cord uses the same slim tube and balls motif for the diamond pendant design, but its necklace is connected to black leather cording. I wear this necklace, its matching earrings, and ring all the time.
2b) The left necklace image (above is purple crystal beads alternating with sparkly separator beads on a wire. This I then connected to two lengths of silvery chain on either side. I made matching earrings with one purple crystal bead each using silver (real stuff) lever back blanks. The large ring at bottom was my very first attempt at making a wire ring–and it looks it. Ha! The second purple crystal ring that I made was nice but too small for me, so I gave it to one of my nieces. The third purple crystal ring (the top one) fit me just right. The key to making wrapped rings–that I have found–is to use slimmer, and hence softer, wire because it bends and shapes more easily. Since I’m making at least four loops around my ring mandrel for sizing and shaping rings–then weaving the remaining wire around the loops and affixing the stones–the rings are strong and won’t easily bend or break.
3) I am also having fun with using found objects in my jewelry designs–some that are pieces borrowed from other jewelry, and some that are not jewelry at all to begin with.
3a) The large pink glass pendent is simply strung on white leather cording–with my ever present magnetic closure. I still need to make earrings and a ring to go with it when I find stones to match it.
3b) On the left and middle (above) you’ll see a sapphire and silver necklace and earring set (left) and an aqua pendant necklace with a leftover safety chain (right). Can anyone guess where I found the imitation blue sapphire pieces that I used in the jewelry set at left?
4) My jewelry designs mostly spring from my imagination. But I’m sure there are influences out there that are subconscious. The artistry and creativity of jewelry artifacts is very cultural–and spans all eras. We surround ourselves with what is pleasing to us–whether it be functional or as adornment. And thus jewelry and household items give us clues into ancient cultures and our own. Whenever I visit the Art Institute in Chicago, or the Field Museum, they have great exhibits of cultural artifacts–including jewlery. I especially liked the Field’s Cartier exhibit in 1999.
But I’m a fan of simple and streamlined jewelry. So with my latest necklace project, I am back to gold, with 3 flat pink beads strung on wires, and then those sections strung together with jump rings (below). I am also putting initial pendants on gold chains for myself and my nieces. (below left).
5) Finally, a note about my fastener/closure choice of magnetic fasteners. I like the magnetic closures because they are easy to use for me–versus a lobster claw or the tinier usual spring rings fasteners. I have slightly arthritic hands–and mid length to longish nails that get in the way of working tiny fasteners–that make those smaller closures more difficult for me. So magnetic fasteners are the way to go for me. Snap!
I work on my jewelry making about once a week–writing is still my first avocation. So I’m not going to suddenly set up a jewelry stall at our next outdoor farmer’s market. Ha! But I’m enjoying my jewelry making and wearing–and my skill is improving. And I can make myself custom costume jewelry for cheaper than I could buy it. So it’s all good. Snap!
P.S. Do you have a hobby or creative skill that you enjoy? Please share.