Very Important News!

Well, as doesn’t allow certain things which are part of my beginning to sell my jewellery, I’m moving to a new address!¬† I’ll still be using WordPress, but in a different incarnation ūüôā¬† I’ve migrated everything that I can over to the new address and I’d be delighted to seee you all there in future!¬† I hope that you like what’s happening and will continue to follow me at my new home.

The all new A Gem Of A Blog can be found here.


Duality In Action…

A Preamble

I must confess that as far as religion is concerned, I’m something of an enigma!¬† I don’t profess to any religious leaning.¬† Like most people in the West, I was brought up in a Christian society, though not one that has taken its religion seriously since the¬† beginning of the 20th Century.¬† Still, as a child I was exposed to Christian imagery and teaching.¬† What’s more, I lived half way between two churches ūüôā¬† That said, my father is, and has been since his service during the Second World War, an atheist and didn’t hide that fact.¬† So I think that was a fairly balanced upbringing with regard to religion.¬† Naturally, in common with many others, I’ve been through periods when I’ve sought for something that I could believe in with that blind faith that is such a mystery to most, and is at times envied by the majority for the comfort it seems to provide.¬† One thing is true: I have constantly maintained a respect for others’ beliefs!

So what am I babbling about really?  Well, I frequently find myself making crosses!  Yesterday was one of those occasions!

The Point of This Post

I wanted, inexplicably, to make a cross.¬† More, I wanted it to reflect the wire working I’ve been doing lately.¬† And furthermore, I wanted something that was genuinely different!¬† Well, I believe I achieved all of that, happily ūüôā¬† I first made a cross out of 0.8mm (20 swg) silver plated copper wire, starting and finishing at the top, where the two cut ends could be made into a bail, which is a loop of the two strands twisted together, and then the longest tail used to create a wrap beneath the loop.¬† I then hammered all the wire except the bail, until the round wire was entirely flat, at which point I used the ball of the ball pein hammer to create a texture.¬† This whole process, I calculated, would make it easier to get the wire I’d use shortly to stay where I put it!

The next step involved first attaching silver 28 gauge craft wire from The Bead Smith (I don’t know whether this gauge is SWG or AWG!¬† If anybody out there does know, I’d love to hear from you :)) at the bottom of the cross, leaving about half an inch (12.7mm) tail, wound fou times round the bottom then four more times across the bottom.¬† I now started the beading.¬† First on the wire were two wooden beads.¬† I wrapped the wire fully round the cross, then, and made sure it fixed the beads in place.¬† Next came two faux pearls.¬† I didn’t make a full wrap after that though.¬† I proceeded to repeat these two beaded wrap steps until I got to the intersection with the arms of the cross.¬† I then took the wire to the far end of the left arm and repeated the process used in the vertical.¬† On reaching the intersection, I took the wire to the far end of the right arm and repeated what I’d done on the left arm.

When I returned to the intersection again, I now inserted a largish amethyst chip on the face with the wooden beads on it and a large faux pearl on the pearl beaded side, making sure that they were both seated firmly!¬† Finally, I beaded the top vertical section as the rest had been done.¬† All that remained to be done then was to hide the starting and finishing tails of the wrapping wire.¬† Happy with the cross pendant, I attached a small jump ring to the bail.¬† At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about turning the pendant into a necklace ūüôā¬† In the end, I opted for a fairly narrow cord, on the cut ends of¬† which I used small cord grips.¬† A couple more small jump rings and a ring clasp and I was done!

Cross (pendant)

The two faces of a beaded cross (pendant).

WHy did I choose to express this duality of the cross?¬† I’m not altogether sure how my mind works sometimes LOL!¬† Quite simply, the wood represents the wood of the crucifixion cross itself and the humility Christianity encourages in believers.¬† The pearls were a consequence of a vague feeling that they had some significance to Christianity!¬† My head is full of trivia, not all very clear and with no indication of where it all originates from ūüėĬ† However, in Christianity the pearl is a symbol of purity, tears, love and fertility and is believed to ward off evil.¬† The symbolism of purity, love and fertility (and possibly tears?) explains why pearls are associated with brides.¬† I’ll admit to the amethyst having been simply an addition that just seemed to fit with the wooden beads aesthetically!

I have tested this and, contrary to my fears, the cross sits perfectly even when the pearl side is against the body meaning that it rests on the single large pearl!

Another web site

Yesterday, I came upon another very good jewellery making site! provides a considerable fund of information on jewellery making, including advice on selling your creations.  It is well worth exploring!

Step Out in Style

Some weeks ago I bought some fancy buttons.¬† I’ve been meaning to use them and I’ve finally used one:

Step Out Bracelet

Step Out Bracelet

The bracelet is  entirely my own invention and is made of seed beads. Most of the beads are strung on Nymo nylon beading thread, but the columns connecting the ends, the beads are strung on fine elastic.

Apps for Beaders and Gem Lovers

I’ve only been a convert to the value of m0bile apps since the end of June 2011, when my family bought me an iPod Touch¬†for my birthday. ¬†Now, I’m lost without that or my iPhone. ¬†I did try a Blackberry but was utterly unimpressed – compared to Apple’s mobile idevices, Blackberry is unbelievably limited and cumbersome. ¬†I’ve not had the¬†opportunity¬†to try an Android or ¬†Windows ‘phone.

With the birth of my interest in beading and gemstones, I started looking around for good apps. ¬†First on my list has to be A Text-Book of Precious Stones for Jewellers and the Gem-Loving Public¬†by Roger Lichfield. ¬†In fact, this work was authored¬†by Frank B. Wade¬†(in 1918) and I assume that Roger Lichfield simply convrted it into an app. ¬†If you’d prefer, you can download the free¬†ebook here. ¬†This work is an excellent reference for anybody who wishes to know more than just the names of gemstones! ¬†Priced at just ¬£0.69 (GBP), it’s worth every penny!

Second on my list is Gemstones by Varietal by Darren Gates.  A pictorial database with over 2000 entries, this app is another excellent reference work.  It supports searching, editing entries and adding your own entries.  This is again priced at just £0.69.  Finally, for now, is jtv from Jewelry Television.  This free app includes the very useful Gemopedia which provides more information on gemstones.  It also includes some very useful videos.

I hope to bring you news of more apps in the future.

St. Valentine’s Day

With St.¬†Valentine’s Day closing in, I reckoned I should do something about it! ¬†We actually rarely do much at all about St Val, as we feel we don’t need a special day to confirm what’s true every¬†day. ¬†However, with the Hell that’s gripped us over the past two years, with my health worrying poor Jenny so terribly, I thought that some small gesture would be appropriate. ¬†I decided to make her a necklace…




I just hope that Jenny likes it…

My Favourite Gemstones : Peridot

Peridot was one of the first gemstones that I bought, mainly because of the price-to-quantity ratio. That purchase consisted of a strand of small chips. When they arrived, and I drew the strand out of its rather cloudy zip-lock bag, I was stunned! These tiny chips were amazing. They shone with an inner light, in a way that I’d never seen before, especially in our lounge, which is seldom brightly lit. In fact, I’m happy to describe my reaction as one of awe!

I’ve since learnt that such tiny chips aren’t really that wise a purchase. Peridot is somewhat prone to breakage, and these tiny, jagged shapes are very vulnerable to damage. They are most likely to survive in jewellery that is more protected, such as earrings and necklaces. Bracelets and rings are not recommended, until larger stones are obtained.

Having seen peridot in real life, I now long to get some larger stones, preferably faceted (form is less important). That inner light I witnessed is, apparently, a well known characteristic. In fact, ancient miners are believed to have abstracted it at night!

I can heartily recommend peridot. Just remember that it must be treated gently!

Recently I learnt that peridot is the birthstone of one of my wife’s colleagues. ¬†As I still have some, it seemed to be right to make her a bracelet:

Corinna Bracelet

Corinna Bracelet

Favourite App For Blogging And More

A while back I came across Evernote. This app is superb! Basically, you can collect information from all over the Internet, or enter it yourself from scratch, and keep all related information in dedicated notebooks. I’ve been using it to capture bead patterns mostly but I’ve also got information in notebooks about knitting, gemstones and blogging, plus some general notes.

Quite simply, you install Evernote on your computer and other supported devices (e.g. iPod or BlackBerry). You also install a “web clipper” (I use Evernote’s own). Now, when your browsing, if you come across something you want to save you have options. My usual choice is to use extend select to highlight the part of the web page I want to capture. That done, I can right click on it and tell Evernote to clip the highlighted section. The clever part is that it even captures any pictures but ads are usually ignored. Opening Evernote, you can improve your capture, including providing things like the author’s name and tags. You can also edit out any unwanted parts.

If Evernote has a down side, it’s that you could end up with massive tomes of notebooks I’ve already accumulated a remarkable amount of free patterns for jewellery making, without worrying about PDFs. That’s particularly useful when there isn’t a PDF to download. I used to have to either perform a cumbersome web page (with images) download or do a lot of copying and pasting. All that laborious stuff is now a thing of the past.

Once you have it in Evernote, you can access it from anywhere that Evernote’s installed! Now you’ll see the benefit. In effect, you can take all that information with you (you may need an Internet connection, wi-fi or another form). I can, for example, access a necklace pattern on my iPod as long as I have a wi-fi connection. If I had an iPhone, I wouldn’t even need that!

All in all, I heartily recommend Evernote to anybody who acquires patterns, online articles or who blogs. It’s the tool that’s been missing for so long…

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