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 🙂  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 🙂  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 🙂  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 😀  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!  How-to-Make-Jewelry.com provides a considerable fund of information on jewellery making, including advice on selling your creations.  It is well worth exploring!

Maille and more

In amongst the clutter of ideas that is my mind, there appeared a new phrase: chain maille. Now I know where it came from – Jenny!  She became enamoured of this fascinating technique for using wire in making jewellery.  It was almost inevitable, then, that I’d become infected eventually.  It finally happened during our wire working activities at the weekend!   I had resisted but then it became necessary for me to actually get involved in order to provide a suitable chain for a pendant.  I won’t pretend that it isn’t a challenge, but the rewards are great.  In fact, it provides a huge number of possibilities for jewellery making!

My first piece uses the Helm technique:

My Heart In The Maille

My Heart In The Maille

The stone appeared earlier, in the The News on the Wire post.  It isn’t a gemstone, as far as I know, but I’ve actually had it for many years, since it was picked up on a local beach.  I should say here that it is actually illegal to remove anything except trash from beaches!  It’s a simple fact that if everybody did remove say a kilo’ of stones from a shingle beach, that beach would soon be facing a crisis unlike any natural erosion!  In this case, I had maybe six stones, ranging from very small to barely medium sized.  One or two stones, rarely removed, shouldn’t create a significant problem.

There are numerous resources on the web for wire working and chain maille.  Wire working is something I’d recommend every jewellery maker have a go at.  You’ll need a good selection of wire gauges, and colours, and a basic set of tools, to which you can add a chasing hammer (a small ball pein hammer) and a steel bench block to act as an anvil.  For chain maille, you’ll need much the same plus mandrels and other equipment for making your own jump rings (unless you intend to buy ready made jump rings in bulk), to which you can add: patience!

The News On The Wire…

Yesterday (Sunday), saw an increase in activity involving wire. Jenny and I were both working on different projects, with the sole exception being wire wrapping undrilled stones. In fact, I made a fairly good number of things. Unfortunately, I don’t yet have a photo of one of the items I’m particularly pleased with. I find wieworking challenging but it offers vast possibilities for expressing what creativity I own 😉  This is exhibited by the first item I have to show:

Summer Days Comb

Summer Days Comb

This is a first. Hopefully I can improve on the look and how to make decorative combs. As I was making it all up as I went, I’m kind of pleased with the result. The comb was well hammered to help harden the wire, before the gemstones were added.  The gemstones were aventurine, Botswana agate and mookite chips.

Second is a variation on the Tree of Life, using a single interesting stone, which has no value but for that:

Tree of Life Pendant - Front

Tree of Life Pendant – Front

Tree of Life Pendant - Back

Tree of Life Pendant – Back

Third, another piece involved wire wrapping an undrilled stone.  This was kind of heart-shaped and a very deep red-brown.  I couldn’t possibly not turn it into a pendant:

Red Stone Heart Pendant - Front

Red Stone Heart Pendant – Front

Red Stone Heart Pendant - Back

Red Stone Heart Pendant – Back

 

Tree and Owl

Today has been quite productive. I finally got round to trying my hand at making a Tree Of Life pendant. In fact, Jenny and I learnt to make them together 🙂  Jenny made three to my one LOL!  For mine, I used mookite, Botswana agate, peridot, amethyst and aventurine chips. The wire was silver plated copper 0.8mm and brown 24 guage.  For the necklace, I used three aventurine chips plus two clusters of frosted “leaves” attached to “twigs” of the brown wire twisted together, all strung on monofilament.  The toggle clasp I made from scratch, using the 0.8mm wire.

Tree of Life necklace

Tree of Life necklace

Tree of Life close-up

Tree of Life close-up

Tree of Life clasp

Tree of Life clasp

Having completed the Tree Of Life, I moved on to something of a fun project.  I made an owl pendant from scratch, using the same wires as above plus a small amount of 28 gauge silver plated copper wire and a few mookite chips:

Owl pendant

Owl pendant

Getting Experimental!

I’ve never really been one to stick with one or two tried-and-trusted techniques in anything. It’s inevitable, then, that I’d end up exerimenting with jeellery making. The two necklaces I’ve just finished reflect that. Of course, I only have Jenny to provide immediate feedback so I’d love to hear what you think of these designs 😉 Do they work? Does only one work? Do make allowances for the fact that Reborn is a gemstone necklace while J is all man-made beads!

Some years ago, Jenny happened to find a bundle of jewellery that somebody had tossed into the  “skip” they’d hired. OK, so it was all broken and appeared to be very old, and probably “costume” jewellery. Despite all that, or maybe because of it, Jenny rescued it all. It’s quite possible that there are stories behind the pieces – maybe years of happy memories tied to tokens of love. It pleases us to think so, knowing that we’ll be recycling as much as we can so they’ll not be lost forever in some landfill! Reborn is based on a section of a broken bracelet. Way back, I made a few findings that I planned to use to make “chandelier” earrings, but never quite got there LOL. It happens that one of these plus one section of old bracelet fitted together perfectly! I added Picasso jasper, mookite, botswana agate, amethyst and an unidentified gemstone. Thus, Reborn.

"Reborn" Necklace

“Reborn” Necklace

The second necklace, which like Reborn includes a pendant, is obviously made for Jenny! It’s really an ensemble design – a sort of jewellery collage 🙂 The “J” is on 0.60mm wire, which was also used to make the loosely wound section. That wire was again used for the part beaded in pink and clear beads. The upper part is made of tiger tail, the “gold” beads helping to hide the crimps. Finally, the same wire was used to make the catch. (By the way, I made the catch on Reborn too, to a very similar pattern!)

"J" Necklace

“J” Necklace

Here’s a close-up photo of the catch:

"J" Necklace - Catch Close-up

“J” Necklace – Catch Close-up

I rather like these catches, though perhaps I shoudn’t say so! It’s good to know that I’ll always have a clasp available. And the clasp is easy to use!

 

By Moonlight…

Very recently, our eldest (Damien) gave me some beads, including moonstone!  Now moonstone is one of my birthstones, so it was very appropriate.  It was essential that I make something special, with other gems.  After some thought, I decided to make an illusion necklace, combining aventurine and moonstone, on monofilament thread.  It would be my first effort!  I’m quite pleased with the outcome 🙂   Strangely, the moonstone round reacted powerfully to the flash,  producing a fiery glow!

Illusory Moon Necklace

Illusory Moon Necklace

The wire cone I made myself, using my round nose pliers.

In my stash was a strand of Picasso jasper puffy coins.  While using these, I noticed that some had such beautiful markings on their faces that it would be a shame to, effectively, hide them by stringing them normally.  As a result, I turned four of them into a pair of earrings:

Picasso Jasper Earrings

Picasso Jasper Earrings

Beads of Clay

I was recently persuaded to have a go with polymer clay by Jenny. I’ll admit that one thing I was lacking was confidence! Combine that with no more than scraps of knowledge and I was definitely not working from a position of strength. Regardless, I had a vague idea of something to make as a major item, plus some smaller items. Of the smaller items, one set will appear at a later date: filigree bead caps. The rest of the items were all used in this project! I used Sculpey clay, which is less prone to staining hnds or oher surfaces.

In addition, this project features, in its simplest form, another new activity: Gizmo wire coiling! The Gizmo is a simple tool that can be used to achieve some remarkable results. In essence, it makes coiling wire extremely easy, and it’s in this most basic way tht I used it for this project, using light wires.

Sculpey Garden Necklace

Sculpey Garden Necklace

Sculpey Garden Necklace Close-up

Sculpey Garden Necklace Close-up

 

The close-up shows the polymer clay elements more clearly. The pendant has peridot and amethyst chps embedded in it, which are supposed to suggest flowers. The hexagonal bead and the three yellow beads lead up to the gemstone beads of the neckace. It is rich in gemstones! Aventurine chips, smoky quartz nuggets, amethyst chips, Picasso jasper rondelles, snowflake obsidian rounds and garnet rounds all combine with brown, red and bright copper wire in creating the necklace.

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