Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Best Way to Wire Wrap a Briolette or Side Drilled Stone

If you have tried to wire wrap a briolette

: any pear-shaped gem having its entire surface cut with triangular facets

or any side drilled stone, you know it’s a tricky skill to master. You’re trying to be consistent and if you have to do a lot of them for one piece, they all have to have the same clean consistently wrapped look. For example, a cluster earring or a briolette drop necklace has to be uniform. Sloppy wire work will drag the piece down. You want it to shine in your design and play up your wire wrap knack. I’ve had my early mishaps and frustrations while mastering the briolette wrap and I’ve been doing it for a long time. There were a few techniques that I have used through the years and this is by far the best way to do it. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be using much less wire too, as this technique has little waste. I’m using way too much wire on the how-to digi here but it’s so I can show you clearly how to do this. You’ll also need to develop a light touch while wrapping with the wire as to not mar it while contorting it to your wishes. Try it this way and you'll be a wicked wire wrapper! I've listed the step by step as well.

The best way to wire wrap a briolette

  • Take a length of wire and thread it through the the holes of your briolette, sliding it to about a quarter of it’s length.
  • Bend the wire sharply against the briolette on both sides, making sure that the two wires cross each other centered over of the top of the stone.
  • Take a non-serrated chain nose pliers and hold it securely just above the crossed wires and twist firmly twice.
  • The twist should be uniform, compact and sturdy, but not too tight as to break the wire or the the stone.
  • Cut the short end of the wire flush to the top of the twist.
  • Take your round nose pliers and place it right at the top of the twist.
  • Form the wire around the pliers so that you get a nice round shape, bringing the wire behind the pliers and bringing it perpendicular right under the round loop.
  • Take your flat nose and grip the end of the wire and keeping it exactly perpendicular to the loop, begin wrapping tightly around the twist, make sure each row of wrap is right up against the last row of wrap, wrapping 3 to 4 times.
  • Cut the excess wire flush. Then take the chain nose and push down any excess cut end piece so it’s smooth to the touch.
  • Straighten out the loop and the wrapped stem to make sure it’s nice and straight.
  • And there it is!
Please send me some pix of your mastery of this technique. I'll post them in an upcoming blog!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beer Garden Tour 2010 Second Stop: Radegast Hall & Biergarten

My second stop on the Beer Garden Tour took us to Radegast Hall Biergarten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I looked up the word "radegast" and Wiki says it is the West Slavic god of hospitality, fertility, and crops associated with war and sun. Yes, I felt the hospitality, warmly welcomed in the cavernous, darkly appointed, main hall, with dim chandeliers and a long bar that swings around to the back to connect to the enclosed biergarten. Under the sun of protective glass and brick walls is the beer hall (technically it is a beer hall, not a biergarten, because it is enclosed), which was added in 2007. It does have a vaulted nice airy feel about it with large windows opened to let the breeze in. There's your long tables with crops of people hoisting the liter steins of drafts. I was feeling it for sure and that was before I dove into my first liter. This is where the war comes in, the battle of what to taste first. 13 draft beers in pints, liters and pitchers and 52 bottled beers. One for each week of the year! Where do they keep them all? The basement must be huge.

We ate dinner here and had the Veal Schnitzel. Only thing missing for me was the cranberry sauce, but the veal was good. The potato salad was excellent and the pickles?? Can I please take a jar home? We had the strudel with hazelnut and fig ice cream, yum! The whole menu is typical Austro/Hungarian fare which I wish I could have tried all of them last night. There's a grill in the beer hall with all your brats and sausages with all the fixins (7 mustards!) made to order if you don't want to go for the dinner menu route. I thought the prices were reasonable, even for the beer, the larger you go, the better the price. Bring lots of friends and share all that great food with all that beer. Go early though, it fills up fast.

Did you know? A major misspelling is Weiner Schnitzel instead of Wiener

Now ladies, be prepared for the bathroom situation. For the size of this place and the amount of people it holds drinking beer ( a typical weekend night has 700-800 people passing through!), why only two toilets for the ladies? Sorry, I don't know the count for the gents. And I saw plenty of gents in the ladies line. An expansion was made not that long ago for the beer hall, couldn't you have at least added a few more "release" stations while you were at it? Update what you have there? Loved the large pyramid piles of toilet paper (my bathroom ran out of paper towels and this was early!) but would rather have seen more facilities. Maybe that's part of "authentic" Euro charm, but I've been to biergartens in Europe and you never had to wait in line for relief. But that's just me, I like clean and plentiful bathrooms when I drink gallons of beer. Oh well, pace yourself folks!

Radegast has featured live entertainment on schedule monthly. There is an early bird daily special of beer and food pairings that end in beer and dessert pairings Monday though Friday. Doesn't that sound like heaven? In celebration of spring, they're featuring two Maibocks, both from Munich. I loved the space, it's definitely a fertile hang for a great time. We walked around the locality. We stopped in at Relish (225 Wyth Ave.) for a night cap and strolled to the waterfront where all of beautiful Manhattan was all a glittering. There's free concerts there all summer. Thank you to Tabea, for suggesting this meeting place. The Radegast god showed me a fun night!

Radegast Hall & Biergarten
113 N 3rd Street
Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY 11211 718-963-3973

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Write The BEST Description for Your Jewelry

You have a passion for creating your jewelry designs. You decide what you are going to design, sketch it out, decide on materials and get those components to put this piece together. You know how long it took you to find just the right stones, with just the right color, clarity and size. You found the most impressive silver or gold beads and want to use them in this new design. You find the most stunning gold nuggets and figure out how to incorporate that into this idea you have. You decide to hand knot, crochet sterling silver, sew leather. And then you have it. The most coolest, MOST off the heezy piece of jewelry EVER!

  • Did you know? The origin of the word "amaze" is in 1590s and it means "sense of overwhelm".

Now don't you want to convey that to your adoring public? Attract some new eyeballs to your website by using the perfect search words that describe your one of a kind piece? You're overwhelmed by how beyond it is, shouldn't we be? I want them to drool over it. I want them to have to have it. To just describe something as:
Gold shark tooth with blue topaz stone
is a little flat, isn't it? But why all the words? Doesn't my awesome picture of my overwhelming piece of jewelry just bowl you over? Well......no one really searches pictures on search engines unless you're in 5th grade and need a picture for a book report. You need words. People use words to search for what their heart desires. They need something special and your jewelry is special, isn't it? Here's what we need to know:
  • How long is it? How long is it without the extension chain, how long is it with the extension chain?
  • What kind of gold is it? 14KT, 18KT, 22KT? Gold -filled? Gold-plated brass? Vermeil? Same with silver. Sterling? Plated? Do tell.
  • Did you hand forge the metal work, make your own earring wires or forms?
  • What kind of chain is being used. Figaro, curb, rolo, rope, diamond cut twisted cable? What size? 1mm, 2mm? Educate us.
  • What is the shape of the stones? Oval, marquis, emerald, cushion, checkerboard, briolette, rondelle, pear or tear shaped? You went through the trouble of picking out just the right stones. Tell us what shape that is and what size they are. Stones are usually measured in millimeters or carats. Carats! Wow! How many carats is that? I'd like to know!
  • Faceted? Cabochons? Are the stones pronged set? Bezel set? Wire wrapped?
  • Tell us the color of the gems: Citrine- gold yellow, lemon yellow, sunny yellow? Peridot-olive green, chartreuse green, grass green? Sapphire-cornflower blue, deep navy blue, ocean blue? I love colored gems, I'd like to know exactly what shade of fuchsia or watermelon pink that tourmaline is. Go into a paint store and take some color sample strips home. Those descriptions evoke an emotion, a feeling, like Summer Afternoon (sky blue), Soft Fern (light green), Pale Moon (soft buttery yellow), Blond Wood (beige yellow). 75% of the reason I pick a color is for the description. I want to be taken away to that time, to that place.
  • Did you know? If you paint the ceiling of your covered porch a shade of sky blue, bees won't build their hives in a corner. They think IT is the sky!
  • Where do the beads or stones originate from? Bali, Africa, South America, American Southwest, a walk on the beach? I'd love to know where those precious bits are from. They have a history, share it.
  • If you use leather, tell us if it's vegetable tanned, pebbled, raw hide, full grain, top grained, nubuck? Doesn't that sound so much more luxurious and just-gotta-have-it?
  • Pearls. The time it takes for an oyster to make a pearl, think about that. Please tell us what kind of pearls they are (freshwater? cultured? Tahitian?). What shade of blush are they?
  • Go to dictionary.com and add that on your tool bar. It's a big help to find similar words for descriptive words if you're having trouble and feel like you're using the same ole, same ole word all the time. Synonyms are listed. Thesaurus, quite handy. Spell your words right, double check them on this site. Rhymer.com has all the words that rhyme with a word you pick. I just thought that was so cool when I entered a twitter poetry contest. Urbandictionary.com is the funnest way to find new meaning to words and phrases. Just don't go too far off piste (off course) with descriptions. You want to grip them, not lose them.
Here's the new description:
50,000 year old Tiger shark tooth cast in solid sterling silver, plated in 24 KT gold vermeil. Nestled at the top of the tooth is a pronged set 5mm faceted sky blue topaz. This is hand wired on to an 18" 1mm gold filled cable chain with a custom made hook and toggle closure. The tooth is about an inch long.
Wow! That sure gives me a lot more information. This person went through the trouble of finding the fossil tooth (it came from divers who treasure hunt in the Gulf of Mexico), was inspired by it enough to have it cast, plated and found just the right stone to add to it. They made their own clasp. Imagine giving that as a gift with a back story to boot. It makes it really special, doesn't it? Each and every one of your jewelry pieces that you hand make, hand craft is special. We love that you have this awesome talent and want to know your inspiration. Please tell us! We want to know!

Monday, May 10, 2010

RePurposing Materials to Create New Designs

I made this bench just now. I had these two metal end tables I found in someone's trash pickup. Kind of retro, the sort with that mesh top and it matches the mesh side chairs you see in European cafes in city parks, like the Tuillieries in Paris. I thought they were cool when I got them but I just couldn't find a purpose for them after I came home. So they just sat there on the front porch, uninspired, poor things!

Yesterday I was under my back porch where we store things like weedwackers and firewood and came across a bench seat that I had salvaged from a whole teak bench that the back and arms rotted right off. Pulled it out and hosed it down. I thought I was going to do something else with it, make legs out of old 2 x 4s, logs, leftover pavers, not even thinking about those two lifeless end tables on the front porch. So this morning it came to me. It was just about the right size for those two end tables, will it just fit the tops of them so I can make the end tables the legs for this bench top?? Well whaddya know! It fit perfectly, like it was meant to be! I attached those tables to the bottom of the seat with cable ties. It worked like a dream. Even the stain on the bench works with it, no need to refinish, perfectly weathered. It has a mod look to it like it came from Bo Concepts or something. I threw on some seat pillows and a little astro turf pillow, flanked it with two ficus trees. Now it's a place for lemonade, neighbor watching, and observing my Michael's landscaping, which is going to be the perfect compliment to my little two seater bench. And it cost nothing, except a salvaged bench seat, trashed end tables and 6 cable ties and I already had the seat pillows. Please come on by for a lemonade!

The same thing can be applied to jewelry. How many of you have box loads of old designs, stuff that didn't sell? You make a new line every season, every year. What do you do with the old stuff? Necklaces, earrings, bracelets. How last season are they? Years worth? Are they selling? Are you giving them away as presents? If they are still laying about, think about dismantling them and repurposing the materials. How daunting, you spent so much time on that piece but think about the value of the materials that you can use again in a new design. You've moved on from that design perhaps and learned your lesson from working on that piece. You've learned better wire wrapping techniques, better knotting, better stone placement. If it isn't moving in your retail situations, it's stagnant, so why not refresh it? Clear the clutter so you'll clear your head for more ideas to flow. They may be your "children", but let them go and evolve into better designs. Designing is pulling from so many inspirations. Your archive of designs may spark something bigger and better.

Start small. One bracelet. Take it apart and sort the materials. If you aren't already saving your scraps, get started now. A container for silver and one for gold. There are companies that buy back your scrap. Now how was that? Can you do it again? Go for five pieces a day. This is a perfect project to do on those rainy days that you're at a show and there's not much traffic. Pack a little "deconstruct" box, add little baggies to collect the "new" supplies you're getting. Before you know it, you've replenishe
d some findings, stones, cleared some space, saved some money. Recycle and repurpose. And get freshly inspired with all that new material before you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Beer Garden Tour 2010 First Stop: Studio Square

Our good friend, Sue, took my husband, Michael, and me to a beautiful spot under the stars in Astoria Queens last night, Studio Square. Forget all notions you have of the traditional Bavarian beer gardens, they have recasted the familiar in a new light. It's still the large outdoor space with long communal tables you know, but spread out into different sections, indoors and out, with ivy covered brick walls, cool lighting, huge umbrellas, industrial fixtures. Every time we drew a pitcher, we explored and sat in another area. There's an outdoor bar and two indoor bars, outdoor grill, fire pit and the bathrooms! For all that beer drinking with all those people (and this place holds A LOT of people), thank goodness for the individual, well attended, your-very-own-little-CLEAN modern bathroom! One section for the men, one section for the ladies. So civilized! I was so thankful for that, I kept gushing, "I could live here!" It was my very own Disney World. Beer and a clean bathroom.

But what about the beer?? Yes indeed, my reason for taking up residence here. 19 beers from craft to seasonal in liters, half liters and full pitchers. Sangria on tap! I even tried some rootbeer vodka! What a treat that was. But we don't live for beer alone so we ordered some food at the outdoor grill where the menu ranged from wings to sushi to bratwurst to souvlaki to chili fries. We got the meaty wings (25 portion) spicy good and the chili fries. For $25, it fed the three of us with three leftover wings.

They have scheduled live music, a Tuesday Lost Viewing Party, and a First Anniversary party coming up on May 20th with all you can drink beer, sangria, and wine for $25! I guess I won't be home watching 30 Rock that night. They have a huge event space you can rent. I would so have my wedding here. Relaxed, cool chic. Just steps from the Kaufman Astoria Studios, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, and the Museum of Moving Image.

This is a great place to take your gang. I can't wait to go back and celebrate your birthday there, Miss Sue! My new home away from home.

Hours noon til 4am.
35-33 36th St
Queens, New York 11106 (718) 383-1001
subway stop 36th st station on the R or the V


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Gift Ideas Part 3

Oh boy is FavreBijoux is something I wouldn't mind getting on my breakfast-in-bed-tray on Mother's Day! Mimi Favre uses traditional goldsmith techniques that highlight the gemstones she picks for their attributes. She makes everything herself by hand and will custom make a gorgeous piece just for you. She works in 18KT gold and silver. The Nature series are like beautiful little sculptures. And if you have a piece that needs a reworking like Grandma's bracelet that you're not wearing, let her bring it up to date and it will become an heirloom you'll wear forever. Go check her out!


Free Advertisement For You! Pitch a Magazine!

Want to reach the masses? Jewelry designers can pitch an article in a magazine of their trade. For example, you have Beadworks, BeadStyle, Crafts Report, Bead & Button, Art Jewelry (if there's more to add to this category, please let me know!)

  • Look up their requirements online. Each of these magazines will have an outline form for you to follow.
  • Do you have a nice letterhead? Make one! It's all about your brand identity
  • Write an outline of what you do, talk about how you started in the business, submit one project with step by step tutorial with pictures.
  • Some will require the actual piece and give you instructions on how to send it.
  • Send this along with your press kit, photos, anything pertaining to your specialty with ALL your contact information.

Project editors always are looking for new ideas and have pitch meetings monthly. They are looking for new and exciting things to write about. It's a way to get into a national magazine that pertains to your expertise and talent and a way for a broader audience to find you. And it's free! Be sure you are hooked up to all the social networks. Once the article hits, every opportunity for people to contact you is paramount. Good Luck and let me know if you get published!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Avoid Gettng Sideswiped by Staying on Course

I ride a motorcycle. Just a standard 750cc bike, that gets me from point A to point B and so far so good. It’s managed to give me scenic rides for 8 years. I took a ride yesterday and when you take a ride out there on the public roads, you are out there with everyone else, racing along. You need to make it to point B, intact. You are competing on the roadways with cars, SUVs, 18 wheelers. You are tiny compared to every other vehicle with you on the three lane highway. On the motorcycle, you have to be hypersensitive to everything around you. Not only are your eyes glued on the road in front of you, you have to scan the lanes for these drivers that aren’t seeing you at all because you’re so small compared to them. It’s like a chess game. It’s super concentration. You have to be 5 moves ahead of your opponent and be ready for any unexpected moves. Like the black, tinted windows, $10K rimmed blinged car that almost sideswiped me yesterday. Yes, I noticed that car. He saw me and thankfully swerved back into his lane. That was close. Now I had to keep an eye on him too and he was all over the place!

Running the jewelry business is the same thing. Concentrating on the road before you. Staying five moves ahead. Watching out for distractions. And if you work from a home studio, there’s plenty of distractions. So how do you stay sharp, get the work done and not let these diversions hinder you from getting to point B?
  • Get yourself on a schedule. Set it up on your desktop or get a notebook to write one up. Put everything down you need to get done from what time you’re waking up to what time you’re finished. Schedule in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The big CEOs of corporate America do this. You’re the CEO of your jewelry business. Pay attention to the schedule of what goes on between the meals. When you see it in writing, it gives it more purpose than trying to keep in your head. I will guarantee this, distractions will interfere with that list in your head.
  • Schedule the e-mail check in. Make it for every three hours or after breakfast, after lunch, before the day’s end. Turn off that e-mail reminder on your computer. If there’s an e-mail that’s so urgent or an emergency and you aren’t answering it immediately, they will call you on the phone. They will.
  • Turn off the cell phone. If you don't have a land line, then schedule the cell phone check with the e-mail check.
  • Schedule your household duties, doctor’s appointments before and after your work day. Your workday may not be an 8 hour day. If it’s a 3 hour day, then stick to the work schedule for 3 hours. Maybe your work day is from 8am to 1pm. Then schedule it as such. Stick to it.
Get into scheduled work habits. It gets you into a rhythm, setting goals and meeting them. You start planning five moves ahead. Pay attention to what is stopping you from getting it done and find a way around the obstacle. The jewelry world is huge out there. We all want to get to point B, without getting sideswiped. Stay the course and stay on schedule.