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Friday, May 18, 2012

Christmas in April

SpeedFire Electric Mini
After having miserable few weeks, I decided that a new toy would cheer me up. I've been pining for a kiln for years and finally found one that suits my needs. This kiln is perfect for me because it is small, operates on a very low wattage, and is surprisingly affordable. The cost (without accessories) is $189, but I also purchased the pyrometer and temperature controller. This added about an extra $92 to the cost but the ability to control and monitor the temperature will be well worth it.

PMC Sterling - .925
 This kiln will fire all major types of metal clay, but you can also work with glass and enameling. I am most excited to work with PMC Sterling. To use this type of clay, you must have a kiln - it's not suitable for torch firing. It is a two step process: first, you fire the metal for 30 minutes @ 1000 degrees F on an open kiln shelf to burn away the binder, then you fire the piece in carbon @ 1500 F to sinter the piece. I haven't tried it yet, but I have a brand new pack of clay that is screaming to be used!

Art Clay Copper - Very affordable!

This is another type of clay that can be used with the SpeedFire Electric Mini. I do have a pack of this, but haven't tried it out yet. This type of copper clay is great because it doesn't need to be fired in carbon!

In short, my new SpeedFire is the best thing that's happened to me. Prior to this, I torch fired all of my pieces and now I can fire multiple pieces, large pieces, and gemstones that cannot withhold torch firing. This kiln is great if you are working on a small scale and are sick of butane torches. It is so easy to use and produces great results! I feel like this has opened up a whole new world of PMC production for me!

I Love Custom Orders!

Mother's Day Present

My new kiln has allowed me to ramp up my PMC production just in time for Mother's Day! The week prior, I received several request for custom pieces and this is one of my favorites. This piece consists of three charms, hand-stamped, with the names of one mother's three children. What a perfect Mother's Day gift! This project was not very difficult to complete, thanks to the AlphaDisc lettering system from Cool Tools, as well as my wonderful SpeedFire Electric Mini! I wholeheartedly endorse both products...I could rave about them for days! Personalized pieces have never been so easy to create!

Alicia's Puzzle Piece
 Pictured left is another fun custom order I had the pleasure to complete. I thought this was a super-awesome idea and had so much fun making it! A little-known fact about me is that I love putting puzzles together, so I have a ton on my game shelf. To shape this charm, I grabbed a puzzle piece from one that I had already put together, coated it with a thin layer of olive oil, and cut it out using the Cool Tools ultrafine pick. I used a template to cut out the heart in the middle and then sanded, fired, and polished like normal. I am so happy with the way it turned out!

Custom orders are great because they challenge me to create something that I probably wouldn't have attempted on my own. I am always surprised when they turn out well! It seems like with a few basic tools and some imagination, you can create anything you want! Orders like this are also a perfect way to figure out the kinds of things that people like to wear, which enables you to make things that appeal to a wider audience.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion and General Complaints

Very unluckily, I "developed" mono. (I had it as a teenager and the virus decided to reactivate when I am an adult with adult responsibilities). For those of you who have never had mono, not only do your lymph nodes swell to the size of eggs, but you feel chronically tired. Almost narcoleptic.

Anyway, this bout of illness has rendered me pretty much useless. For example, I did my dishes and I was winded after 15 minutes. Basically, the only thing I have been able to do is stare at my computer screen, lazily play solitaire, and set up a facebook page for my jewelry.

You can find me here:

I am too tired to post photos in this entry so if you would like to see what I've been up to (even though it's not much) check out my new facebook.

Thank you, live long and prosper, and don't ever contract mono.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I live in Pittsburgh and if there is one thing that all Pittsburghers agree upon, it's the love of the local sports teams. Of all the cities I've visited, I haven't encountered anything like it - strangers will initiate conversations and truly bond over their shared appreciation of their teams. I think this speaks to the friendliness of Pittsburghers, in general, but that's another story for another blog.

This blog is about jewelry and this specific post is about these awesome PMC charms I created using the Cool Tools AlphaDisc system. I had been struggling with finding an efficient, uniform way to add lettering to my pieces and, on a whim, decided to purchase the AlphaDisc. As soon as the package arrived, I opened it up and started to experiment!

The two pieces pictured above are in raw form - they had not been sanded or polished at this point. However, you can clearly see the lettering. I was impressed with the ease of use and the clarity of the type. After viewing a short YouTube video I was able to use the system with no problems.

After shaping sanding away all of the imperfections, the lettering is much clearer. I used two different fonts - Typewriter (shown left) and Nile (shown right). I love them both! This is what the charms looked like pre-fire. I am pretty crazy about sanding because I like my charms to have a mirror-like shine...I'm not kidding! I like to see my face in them after they are completed.

Voila! After torch-firing and an application of patina, the charms are finished! I was very pleased with the results, thanks to the AlphaDisc. Although I don't like to consider myself a spokesperson for products, I have to say that this was an excellent purchase! My PMC work will definitely be enhanced by the ability to use uniform lettering. I can't wait to play with my new toy some more!

Oh, for those of you who don't know, "yoi!" was the favorite phrase of the famed Steeler's announcer, Myron Cope. These necklaces are just another way to display your Pittsburgh pride!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tila, Tila, Twin!

Now that I have a brand new work space with brand new beads, I wanted to experiment with some fresh designs. Of course, I cannot abandon my beloved Tila beads but I wanted to play with the *NEW* Czech Twin Beads. In my Tila obsessed mind, I thought that they would be a perfect fit for one another.

Coming up with a design was not quite as easy as I thought. While I love the shape and colors of the Twin Beads, they are not as uniform as Miyuki beads, which I primarily use. I knew I wanted to use Tilas in combination with Twin Beads but I wasn't quite sure how to make them fit together without awkward spaces. Miyuki seed beads seemed to be my best option. At first, I attempted size 8/0, but they were too large. Next, I tried size 11/0 and they worked perfectly!

Once I squared away the sizes, I had to come up with a color scheme (my favorite part!). For this bracelet, I used a combination that I have never tried before - mustard Tilas, AB bronze Twin Beads, and vermilion galvanized Miyuki seed beads. I must digress - the seed beads are such a wonderful color! I can envision using them in so many future designs.

At first I was unsure about the color combination because it was out of my comfort zone, however, a friend assured me it looked Aztec. That made me happy.

I'm a huge fan of the ladder stitch for two reasons:

1) it's easy
2) it is nice and symmetrical (I value symmetry)

So, this bracelet was created using the ladder stitch. I treated the Tilas as an individual unit and stacked a unit of Twin Beads/seed beads above it. I repeated stacking the units until I reached my desired length. And, of course, I finished the piece off with a hand-stiched Tila toggle. Easy as pie!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back In Business

I reopened my Etsy store today! There are only a few things on there right now (there will be MUCH more in the future) but I am especially proud of this little guy:

Of course, this one is my favorite because of my obsession with Tila beads. I added a fringe of 2mm Swarovski elements in Mocca and accentuated them with 24 karat gold seed beads. This is a bracelet that I definitely have to put on Etsy because I am not elegant enough to wear it!

It was amazingly simple to make - I just stitched the offset Tila beads to form a diagonal pattern and then added the fringe as I went along. Super fun!

For the toggle, I just stitched together two units of two Tila beads sewn together back-to-back.The units are separated by eight of the 15/0 gold seed beads. Tila toggles are not only effective, but they look great too!

Check out some of my other items!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Too Much Free Time...

Like pretty much every member of my generation, I grew up playing Mario Brothers games. Even though I am in my late 20s now, they still have not lost their charm for can still find me playing some variation of Super Mario on the weekends. This is my beaded homage to the games that have taken up hours of my life. This piece was especially fun to make not only because it is a Mario mushroom, but also because the smile on my husband's face was priceless when he realized what I was making.

This project was a long time in the making. I got the idea after examining the pixelated images and realizing they would transfer very well into a square stitch graph pattern. I got out my handy-dandy Rhodia graph notepad and sketched out a basic design. (Rhodia notepads are truly THE BEST when designing square or ladder stitch designs, but I digress). After sketching it out, the design languished in my notebook for lack of time to actually begin working on it in real life. About a year after I made the original sketch, I finally started working on it involuntary wisdom tooth vacation. I used 4mm Miyuki cubes and it was done in no time. The finished product measures approximately 2.5" by 3" and will probably end up being a fridge magnet. If a few more rows of boarder are added to each side, it could easily become a coaster.

I sense a series of Nintendo-themed beaded projects in my future as soon as I have some more free time to work on them!