Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Vintage swallow necklace - tutorial

Okay so today I thought I'd make a tutorial showing you how to create this pretty vintage style swallow necklace :)


You will need:
  •  Adhesive (I use 5 minute epoxy, available from Beads Unlimited)
  • Pliers for opening and closing jump rings (I always use 2 pairs, one to hold the jump ring, the other to open it)
  • 5 Jump rings
  •  1 Brass lobster clasp (I like to use heart-shaped clasps ^^)
  • 1 Brass extender chain
  • 2 Pieces of brass chain, each cut to half the length you want the necklace
  • 1 Brass cabochon setting connector charm
  • 1 Resin flower that fits in the cabochon setting connector charm
  • 1 Brass swallow

Glue the resin flower into the cabochon setting connector charm and leave to dry.


When the glue is dry, use a jump ring to attach the connector to one side of the pendant.


Using a jump ring, connect the other side of the pendant to one piece of chain. Connect the other side of the connector to the other piece of chain.


Using jump rings, attach the clasp to the end of one of the chains, and the extender chain to the other.


Here is the finished necklace!

Of course, you can use a pre-assembled chain if you prefer, just fold it in half and cut it. Then attach the pendant and connector.

Loppy x

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Book review - Tasty Trinkets (Polymer clay food jewellery) by Charlotte Stowell

Today I've decided to do a review of a book that I think is wonderful. 'Tasty Trinkets' by Charlotte Stowell is a book that shows you how to make polymer clay charms to create your own 'yummy jewellery'.

When I was searching for an instructional book on yummy jewellery, this one caught my eye because of the image on the cover; a bracelet adorned with cute little doughnut charms. I wanted to know how to make these doughnuts myself. Dissappointingly, the book doesn't have a specific tutorial for them. It does however have a little paragraph briefly explaining how to create them, I found them to be simple enough to make :)

The book has an introduction about polymer clay and the tools and findings that may be needed for some of the projects. Most of these can be found around the house, for example; cocktail sticks, sponges, pen lids etc. There was even a great idea to use the sticks from cotton buds as lollipop sticks! I'd wanted to make a lollipop charm before but didn't want to pay for a pack of sticks as they can be quite pricey.
I do think that the author assumes that you have some basic knowledge of using polymer clay, so this book may be a bit tricky for absolute beginners but some of the projects have step-by-step photos which I think would be easier to follow.

Originally I thought this book would only show me how to make sweet-themed charms such as chocolate and cupcakes. However, this book shows a variety of different foods varying from vegetables to sweets to sushi.

The book claims to have only 20 projects to make. However these projects are for making the charms and the jewellery to attach them to. I have no intention of recreating the jewellery in this book, I'd rather use the charms for creating my own pieces, so realistically you have about 30 projects.

Here is a list of the projects in the book:
  1. Chilli pepper charms
  2. Cupcake brooches
  3. Bakery charms (breads, croissants etc)
  4. Doughnut charms (briefly explained)
  5. Dolly mixture beads
  6. Liquorice allsort beads (briefly explained)
  7. Jam tart charms
  8. Christmas pudding charm
  9. Yule log charm
  10. Candy cane charm
  11. 3 different gingerbread charms (I can't wait to try these ^^ although it should probably be closer to Christmas!)
  12. Swiss roll charms
  13. Burger charms
  14. Hot dog charms
  15. Box of french fries charms (briefly explained)
  16. Pizza pendants
  17. French fondant fancy charms
  18. Orange chocolates charms
  19. Chocolate bar pendants
  20. Sushi beads
  21. Cake slice charms
  22. Rainbow lolly brooches
  23. Battenburg cake charms
  24. Ice cream cone charms
  25. Strawberry charms
  26. Cirtus charms (briefly explained)
  27. Harvest time brooches
  28. Pumpkin charms (briefly explained)
  29. Melon slice charms
  30. Orange and lemon slice charms (briefly explained)




Some of the charms I've made from the book.
 This book retails for £4.99 in the UK which I think is a bargain price for a book that gives you around 30 projects, especially when you only expect 20! It can be found on Amazon for £3.44 with free postage -  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tasty-Trinkets-Polymer-Jewellery-Twenty/dp/1844485552

Overall, I'd definately recommend this book :)

Loppy x

Monday, 29 August 2011

Polymer clay comparison review - Fimo Soft vs Sculpey III

So about 2 months ago I started using polymer clay to make my own charms. I have used Fimo Soft before, when I was a kid my nan taught me how to use it and I used it to make fruit baskets for her doll's house :)
I originally had no interest in trying Sculpey so I bought 10 packets of Fimo (10 packets for £16 on Beads Unlimited - bargain!) but when they arrived I realised I didn't have enough colours. I looked on ebay to see if I could find any cheap Fimo samples so I could stock up on colours, instead I found a Sculpey sample pack, 30 half size packets for under £16!

Here is a link to the ebay shop that I got the sample pack from - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/modellingmagic

When the Sculpey arrived I couldn't wait to use it, so I made these cute doughnut charms ^^

To make these charms I followed intructions from the book 'Tasty Trinkets' by Charlotte Stowell. I highly recommed this book.
 I found the Sculpey much easier to use for making handmade charms than Fimo. Sculpey is much more pliable and softens a lot quicker than Fimo.

However I think that Fimo is much better to use with silicone moulds because it isn't as soft as sculpey. Below is a photo of 2 oreo pendants I made, the strawberry oreo in made of Sculpey, the chocolate oreo is made of Fimo.

I used the same mould for both of these pendants.


I don't know if you can see it very well on the picture, but the chocolate oreo has kept it's shape and pattern better than the strawberry one. The Fimo is much firmer which makes it easier to push out of the mould, whereas the Sculpey stuck to the mould. The chocolate oreo took me 5 minutes to make, minus the filling, the strawberry oreo took me 20 minutes.

So in my opinion, use Sculpey III for handmade charms and Fimo Soft for silicone moulds :)

Loppy x

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Jewellery-making tools and components

Here is the tool kit I actually use myself, I don't think you'll need any other pliers for basic jewellery making. It comes in a handy little travel case which I've found useful for taking to craft fairs to do any last minute alterations or repairs. I also love how small the pliers are and, as they fit in the palm of my hand, I find them easier to use than regular pliers. The colour coded handles on the pliers are great for learning which pliers do what.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beadsmith-Color-Jewelers-Mini-Travel/dp/B0053TPP7Q

I haven't actually used these myself as I have never used memory wire, but I shall buy some soon as I would like to start using memory wire.
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/Memory-wire-cutters/bo1079

I used one of these in a jewellery making cafe in Wales, they work wonders keeping all the beads from rolling around everywhere!
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/Bead-mat/bo1024

Jump rings are probably the most crucial jewellery finding you can get, they attach nearly everything together! Jump rings come in a variety of sizes and colours, even different shapes! They can also be used for chainmail work.
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/jump-rings/c425

Headpins and eyepins are used mainly for turning beads into charms. Eyepins can be used to turn handmade polymer clay shapes into charms. Headpins are used to make a charm with nothing else attached whereas eyepins are used to make a charm that you can dangle another charm or pendant from.
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/headpins-eyepins/c426

Chains are used mainly for bracelets and necklaces. I like to use scrap pieces of chain on kilt pins too. It is usually purchased by the metre and there are many varieties available. Pre-assembled necklace chains are also available which would be great to use if you are new to jewellery making.
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/chain/c428

Earring findings come in a large variety of styles. I personally prefer French fishing wire (called long ballwire/fish hook on Beads Unlimited) and flat stud pads. Flat stud pads can only have flat-backed cabochons glued onto them.
http://www.beadsunlimited.co.uk/earring-parts/c424

*Beads Unlimited is one of my favourite beading suppliers, the wholesale prices are super cheap and everything is great quality!*

Loppy x

Think you can't make jewellery? Think again ;)

When I sell my jewellery, I've noticed that many people I've come across say to me 'Wow, I'd love to be able to create something like this, but I'd never be able to; it's too hard and time consuming for me!'
Then I respond to these people by saying 'It's not as hard as you think once you've tried it a few times. It took me a few months to learn all of the techniques correctly but now it doesn't even take me 5 minutes to make a pair of earrings!'

And it's true, jewellery making doesn't have to be very time consuming, and it doesn't have to be difficult. I taught myself how to do it. I guessed how to attach jump rings to charms and chains, and looking back now I wish I had looked on the internet to learn how to do the techniques because I could've been making 5 minute earrings within the first month! All you really need is the motivation and patience to learn, and lots of practice!

My motivation was to create gifts that my friends would love. It was nearing Christmas and I didn't have a penny to my name to buy gifts for my friends, I'd always been interested in jewellery making so I thought I'd give it a try. I borrowed some money off my mom and purchased a few supplies off ebay and from my local market. About a week after, I had 6 kilt pins with 5 charms on each (poorly attached charms may I add!) and they were ready to give to my friends. Before I wrapped them up I wrote a small card explaining how each charm on the pin was personal to my friend (such as a pepsi can because they're usually very hyper, or a dress on a coat hanger because they're very stylish).
The pins weren't amazing but my friends loved them because I'd taken the time to personalise each one to match each person. Two and a half years on, a few of my friends still have them, although most of the charms have fallen off :')

So all it really takes is practice and motivation :) And if your first few attempts go wrong, don't panic! You'll get it right eventually.

Magazines such as Making Jewellery, Make Jewellery and Beads & Beyond can really help when it comes to learning techniques. Making Jewellery is my personal favourite.

And if you're really struggling, ebay is a great place to buy pre-assembled necklace chains and bracelets that you simply attach pendants or charms to. You could try making memory wire bracelets, all you do is create a loop in one end of the wire, thread beads onto the wire and create a loop at the other end, simple!

Loppy x