Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shiny Overload: Opal, Topaz and Garnet OH MY!!!!


*does the shiny overload flail*

So what's got me freakin' out this time? Well, I'll tell ya. It goes like this.

I was running a company errand yesterday and decided to stop in to the bead store, ya know, just for a sec. I just needed a strand of Amethyst chips for a copper tree I want to make. Quick trip, in and out. That was the plan. While I was there I had also hoped to find out when the owner would be back from her buying trip to the Tuson Bead Show of hugeamous awesome. As I was getting ready to ask, out she walked from the back room.

Oh happy day. :D

I've been trying to save every cent for months now, just waiting for this day. Trying soooooooo hard not to buy too many new stones, which is easier said than done. Especially latey, since I've been getting teaser sale emails daily from online suppliers trying to get me to buy their Tuscon scores. But, if I buy from the bead lady, in bulk, I get better prices. So, I.Must.WAIT. MUST.

She's back, she's back! W00T!

But that's not the best part. Just the good part. The BEST part came when I asked her how long she thought it would be before she'd have stuff out for us to look at. She looked at me, said they're working on it, but that it was going to take awhile. (last year a while took a month) I tried to contain my disappointment at having to wait longer, but may have not done a good job at that because she proceeded to look around, then  lowered her voice and asked me... "Want to come back and see?"


The next thing I knew, I was in the forbidden back room, surrounded by some pretty cool new stones. I suspect I was drooling or something, because the next thing she was chuckle... and ask me if I wanted to go upstairs and see the really good stuff.


Why yes. YES I DO!

What I found up there was amazing. So much shiny I didn't know what to do. My brain kind of short circuited or something.

She handed me a box and let me break into everything. What came home with me was...

Faceted: Citrine, Swiss Blue Topaz, Light and dark Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Labradorite

Ocean Jasper, Garnet slices, Garnet diamonds, Sapphire

Tourmalated  Quartz 
And the thing I never thought I'd be able to afford to make shinies with... Ethiopian Opal. x2.

Oh.Mah.Gawd. These stones. I've never seen anything like them.

I got a yellow strand and a white one. The white ones have a blue fire in them. The yellow... so many colors.

And then, when the light hits them just right... they begin to glow.

Glow. They friggin' glow!

What is that about?! They glow so bright, they actually appear to cast a light.

I'm in awe of these Opals. And truth be told... totally afraid of them. What does one make with stones such as these? I'm pretty sure I am not worthy. But... some day I will be. And then I shall know just what to do with them. :D :D

Shiny shopping of WIN. That's what this was. I'm so excited. Some of these stones I've been lusting after for a year now. This year... I will finally be able to make shinies with them. Tis gonna be a good year.

Yes. Yes it is.

Oh happy day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Shinies: Cabs, Chainmaille and Torches

This past weekend was spent playing with the shinies again. Shocking, I know. ;)

I spent Saturday taking some lessons on sculptured wire, which is something I reeeeeeeally want to learn. When it's done right I absolutely love Love LOVE the smooth, flowing lines. It's something that has been intimidating me since the beginning. After last weeks attempt at a sculpted cab wrap, I thought I'd give it another whirl.

These were a bit different than that one was. Same idea, ish, but different technique. The first one is a copper wrapped Serpentine cabochon. Instead of making a 'cage' like the last one, this one is secured by swirls and a cross bar.

I was doing pretty good with it, I thought, right up until the cross bar part. Things started going all wonky from behind which kinda wonked out the swirls. That, and, well... the back looks like crap. I'm apparently not supposed to worry about that but I do. I don't want crappy looking shinies, not even from the back side no one sees. A lot of shinies don't see the light of day because that.

After fiddling with that one, I started lesson 2. More sculpting, but with Garnet beads this time.

It came out ok. Nifty, but far from sell worthy. I very much like the swish on the right side. It's all nice and swooshy. The thing is pretty much gigantic, much bigger than I thought it would be. That happens a lot when I'm learning things. Seems I have a subconscious 'go big, or go home' type thing going on.

Yesterday I decided to switch gears a bit. After getting all uber intimidated by some awesome looking wire work I found and pretty much shutting myself down again, I decided to go back to some chainmaille. Chainmaille is another one of those super repetitive things that I can do to help me focus and still make shinies while letting my brain settle down. While shopping for some new rings for a new project, I came across the King Scale pattern I've been wanting to try for a while. I decided to buy the pattern this time and as it turned out, I had all the rings I needed. So I went for it.

It's kind of a cool looking weave. I'm pretty sure the tutorial has the wrong size rings though, because it's coming out awfully tight. I'm sure it's suppose to be a tight weave, but this is a smidge too tight. It's trying to bunch up and I think it's pulling the rings apart a tad. In chainmaille, aspect ratio is of the utmost importance. Wrong size or wrong gauge ring, even by a smidge, and the whole thing doesn't work right.

Since it wasn't working like I'd hoped, I decide to stop. I do like the weave enough to try to make it work though. I found another ring size list and have ordered them, so fingers crossed, I'll be able to make that jewel next week.

After some chainmaille play, I decided to try my hand at another cab wrap. I started out wrapping a nice, small, round, red cabochon. Totally messed it up and made it to big, so I switched stones for a larger Lapis I was saving for a round tree pendant and ended up with this...

Am kind of loving it. I think I'm gonna keep that one for myself. My very first Lapis pendant :D Go me.

I proceeded to try my hand at weaving after finishing that one. It didn't go so well, so I have no weaving to share. I ended up frustrating myself reeeeeeeeally bad. I decided the only thing left to do was...

Burn stuff with fire >:D

So I did.

I went and tried to get my torch to ball up some ends. I couldn't get it to work on copper or larger gauge silver the last time I tried. I reeeeeeeeally want to get the hang of this so I can start using it in my work. I just love the look when I see people doing it. Being against my nature to accept defeat, I gave it another whirl. This time using my charcoal block to help amplify the heat. At least I thought I'd read that's what it was for.

Turns out, it was the ticket.

I was able to ball up the end on a thick gauge silver pendant I'm working one (it's hard to see in the pic, but it's the cute little ball at the end of the 'vine') and make some copper headpins. No clue what I'm going to do with them, but look how cool they are! Fire lessons from yesterday: quenching copper immediately after the ball forms makes way purdy little red balls on the end. :D Letting them air cool... black and icky.

Burning things with fire FTW!

This little red ball thing intrigues me. It also makes me want to run off and learn about something new. Fire painting. Oh hellz yeah. I totally want to learn that! Maybe even like, ya know, right stinkin' now. NOW! Now.

The rest of my projects didn't pan out. I've been working for weeks now on trying to design some Celtic Knot type work which so far, try as I might, is coming up fail. I keep trying real hard at learning to master the whole weaving thing; also coming up fail. And a few others are as well. That's ok. I shall keep trying. There's a darn good chance I'm just trying /too/ hard. Shinies rarely come together when I do that. Shinies come together when /they/ are ready. And not a second before.

Anyhoo, there's my weekend. Some win, some fail, all shiny. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Trees: Em and Manda

It’s been quite a week over here, with not to much share-worthy shiny action going down. Actually, I was happy as a little clam sitting back after work and practicing my weaving and my Viking Knit. That Viking Knit is vera good for me and my post work day stress come down. Nice and repetitive so I can turn off the racing brain, and cool enough to hold my attention. That stuff is full of win.

Then came Wednesday night… I think it was Wednesday. I was cruising the Facebook when I saw a friend had changed her header and profile pic to this fabulous blue winter ice crystal tree with a black trunk. Like a bolt of lighting, the tree muse struck me down and demanded I drop everything and make such a tree. So, being at the mercy of my creative whims… I did.

Meet Em. My new antique silver/Aquamarine Tree of Life. J

I’m super pleased. It looks just like the blue ice crystal tree with the black trunk :D

I was so pleased that I thought I’d make another. It was suppose to be an Ametrine tree I’ve been thinking on for a few weeks. It ended up… more.

As I was starting to twist it I decided to try something new and wrapped in some Ametrine throughout the roots. As I went I decided that as the tree grew and matured, the Ametrine in the root system should separate into the individual stones that make up the composite, making it into a lush canopy of Amethyst and Citrine.

So I went with the idea, and…


I was rather pleased with it. Then I decided to take it a step further and antiqued it. I thought it would help to set off the pale Ametrine in the roots, but it… kinda didn’t.

That’s ok.

This morning I found out that, well, it turns out what I made was… a Manda Tree. J Seems it’s from a good friend’s book. Not sure if I was living in my friends head again, like sometimes happens, or if I was channeling the muses from the book, *shrugs* either way, I accidentally made what they call... a Manda Tree.

I think that rocks.

Go me. :D

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Viking Knit and Cabochon Wraps

I've been playing around some more with the Viking Knit the past couple of days. I'm just loving this stuff. I think I may fall a little more each time I play with it.

I loved the new bracelet so much, I ran out to try to find some better tools. The pencil kinda sucked.  Hooked myself up with a big set of hex keys to try to use for mandrels instead. Turns out they work muuuuuuuuch better. The more prominent edges really help with keeping the stitches even. And, there's a BUNCH of different sizes. Yaaaay.

Big score on the hex keys.

I thought I'd try to make a thicker Viking Knit. See what happens with a thicker gauge wire. So, in the name of experimentation, I grabbed the biggest hex key from the set, some 24 gauge wire and went to town.

I took pics this time when I was drawing it thru the plate, so I can remember what it looks like. When I get better at it I'll be able to use a more open weave. It's much less forgiving than the more compressed piece, so I'll definitely need to get that even stitch thing down. *shrugs* It looks pretty neat...

It's a chunk of a chain. Thick. Wide. I can see filling it with beads or something. 

At this point, I like the more compressed Viking Knit. I pulled it several more times, antiqued it and ended up with a piece that was just a bit thicker than the first bracelet. 

I like it. It's a good bracelet cord size. Might do nicely for a necklace/choker type shiny too. I'm working up to that right now. 

I think what I'm most excited about today though is my first cabochon wrap. Or, my first treeless one rather. This is what I've wanted to learn all along. Sculpted wire seriously floats my boat. It intimidates me though, so I kept putting off learning it. I've just been collecting cabochons for when the time was right, reading about it, looking at it aaaaaaand...making other stuff. 

Well, the time might finally be right. 

The other night, I decided to give it a whirl. I grabbed a beautiful Moss Agate piece I've had for about a year now, pulled out the copper wire and went for it. 

What I ended up with was...

Isn't it purty?! :D :D Took me a while to figure out what to do with all the wires (my goodness there were a bunch) but finally decided to try to go all smooth flowy wavy...or... whatever you call that. I'm stoked at how it came out. Especially being my first real try. :D Go me.

This morning, I antiqued it, tumbled it again to polish it up and ended up with...

... a very different looking piece. This may be the first time working with copper that I can't decide which version I like best. The antiqued version does set off the variations in the Moss Agate better, so I think that makes it the winner.

I have grand plans for all of this new shiny stuff I'm learning. One of the big things I'm working towards is this... 

Wrapped cabochons and Tree of Life cabs paired up with Viking Knit chains. I think that's going to look sharp. I am really curious to see the Viking Knit with the Tree cabs. May need to twist up a copper one just to see.

Anyhoo, excited shinies grrl off to play some more.

Later taters!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bookmark Giveaway!

A couple/few weeks ago I made up some Valentine's Day bookmarks and one of them is up for a giveaway over at Lee Brazil's blog. :D :D

Head on over to enter for a chance to win the bookmark as well as several of Lee's books.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Viking Knit: The Finished Version

Well, it's finished... mostly.

My new Viking Knit chain got cut down, antiqued, capped and clasped. It's now a Viking Bracelet. :D Go me. Other than still being way to long, it's ... finished. W00T!

It's a pretty nifty little chain. Dense. Has a good solid feel to it. And it's flexible, much more than I expected.  I want to make a couple more before I try to list them, make sure I've gotten a good handle on it. No hidden snafus I just don't know about yet. Maybe try for a thicker chain. See how it bulks up.

*shrugs* This one is a good size for me; I tend to wear smaller bracelets, and pair them up with others. I think this will be good for that.

I put end caps on this one...

I really have no idea how else to do it. The local bead store didn't have many options that I could find, but I'd like to figure out some different things for that too.

Now I just need to take it apart again and cut it down more. Seems I misjudged how much the end caps and clasp would add to it aaaaand... I still ended up with a 9" bracelet. Oh well. That's fixable.

So, there it is. Mah vera first Viking Knit piece. Yay! Go me. \o/

Once I get the hang of it better, even stitches and whatnot, there is maybe a gazillion things I wanna make with it. It's the same stitch for Dream Catchers, which, omg I so bad wanna make. It can also be used for a netting type thing for tumbled stones, or cabochons. Lacy cabochon wraps. And, and, and... I don't know. Aaaaaaaaaaaalll kinds of goodies.

Oh yeah, Viking Knit. F.T.W.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Viking Shinies!

Yep. Viking shines! Like the kind real Vikings used to wear in the days of old. It's all historic and stuff. :D That is so cool to me. Apparently, they have found several pieces in archaeological digs. Reading up on it, they say that the Viking used to wear these knitted chains, and would cut pieces off to use as money. And here's me, learnin' to make it a gazillion years later. heehee. cool.

Anyhoo, I stopped flailing in my excitement long enough to take a few pics of my little project here.

Step one: Make a mess of wire loopies on a pencil.

Step 2: Don't scrap it because it's a total uneven mess. Because you're just learning and messes are ok. Also, don't scrap it because all the books and such say the draw plate forgives a multitude of sins. Just continue making your loopy mess longer and hope you haven't sinned more than the plate can forgive.

Step 3: Remove said pencil.

Step 4: Then comes *drum roll please* the draw plate.

Step 5: Insert loopy mess into a hole. I don't know which hole. I went with the eeiny meenie minie mo method of selection. Drew it thru, picked a smaller hole, drew it thru, all the way down to the smallest hole.
Then... voila!

Viking Knit Chain.

Not bad for my very first try ever. Am very glad that I saw it thru and didn't scrap it. I learned all kinds of things; like increasing and decreasing, adding wire to the knit, etc. All that troubleshooting kind of stuff. And they were right. That plate sure did forgive a huge multitude of sins. Go draw plate, Go draw plate!

Now to figure out how to put ends on it. And what to do about it being too long. They said that a 5" piece would draw to a 7" bracelet. Mine didn't. Mine was 4 1/2" and drew out to 9 1/2". Not sure what's up with that yet.

Look at me go with the learnin'. Freia now makes Viking shinies. Being named after a Norse Goddess... that seems vera appropriate to me.

Go me! \o/

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekend projects: Before and After

Weekend projects were actually pretty slim pickins over here. RL didn't allow for much in the way of shines, but I did manage to play a little. A little is better than none, so I'll take it. :)

Finished up some earrings that have been hanging around, waiting to get their ear wires. Simple little sets I decided to make up after finishing my last tree pendant. Some Aquamarine and Amethyst chips, and a pair with some Green Garnet I picked up a week or so ago...

Other than that, no a lot of new shinies. I've still been playing around with some new things that I hope to add some day. Played around a little bit with my practice pieces from last week; wanted to see what antiquing would do to the weaving thing. Soooo... I went for it.


and after..

Color is a bit off in my pics, but I definitely like the antiqued better. I usually do, especially when it comes to the copper. My little 'could be a pendant' went back to 'might be an earring' or may just get scrapped. I almost like it, but.... I'm not in love. The one thing antiquing really seems to do is... show my mistakes. Eek. I knew I'd made mistakes with the little round pendant piece, just couldn't really see where anymore. Boy howdy did they show up post antique job.  Must be mindful of that when weaving. One wrong wrap and the whole thing goes to pot. 

Look at me go with the learnin'.

Another one of the things I want to make is metal bracelets. Copper mostly, as it's suppose to have all kinds of benefits for the wearer. So I decided to give a go at one I saw in a magazine a few months back and ended up with this...

and after a good antiquing, this...

I'm debating on whether or not to wrap in some stones, maybe at the little double loopy part. Not quite sure yet. May have to just give it a whirl simply because it will bug me to not know how it would look. The right stone might just set that baby off. Or... be too much and totally ruin it. Sometimes, what looks great in my head is just full of RL booooooo. Shinies, ya never know until ya try. :) At least that's how it works for me.

Here's hoping the rest of this week allows for some shiny time. I've been rather unproductive on this front lately. This displeases me.

I need mah shinies. Often.


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