Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mixed-Media Jewelry Design- Part 1 The Bead Designs


Hello friends!

I might just be crazy. Pretty sure I am sick for sure. I tried to pass this nuisance off as allergies since I have fall allergies something fierce, but alas after my cocktail of pills in including: 1 generic zyrtec, 1 generic claratin and 1 generic benadryl I came to the conclusion that I must indeed be sick :( As you may know, I HATE being sick. I am a busy person so I hate to waste time with silly things like being sick. Thankfully I have an amazing husband that has run out to the store for tissues, holistic cold killers(Umcka), and of course whatever foody item that sounds good to me at the moment. I will say I miss drinking my morning coffee(which never sounds good when you are sick.) and I hate not being able to taste things as well.

So what am I currently taking to get better? 1 packet of Umcka(you need to take 5 a day for 2 days to help knock out your cold), 1 benadryl(until it wears off then down another), 2 echinacea, and 2 vitamin c(twice a day), simply juice orange juice and whatever food sounds good. So far I have had a yummy hot and sour soup from our favorite Chinese restaurant by the house. Later I will have some grilled cheese on eziekel bread with boars head american cheese, and tomato soup :D

Ok waaa waaa waaa about my sickness.. onto the real reason you come to read about my ramblings. Beads, right?


Ok so you may or may not know that I have really been digging this mixed-media style jewelry right? So off I went to start designing. First of all when you design you need an element right? Well my love of coffee and Gazebo Blend by Starbucks lead me to the bead designs below. If you don't already know about Gazebo's awesomeness it's an African coffee(which are my favorites) and it's only out in summer around Julyish and some of August. So I am sorry to say that the link above will leave you empty handed, but just so you could get more info I attached the link.

I was inspired by some art that came with the packaging awhile back. I want to say it was 2009, but I could totally be wrong. I WISH I would have taken a picture of the card I had made into many soldered charms seeing as how it has been damn near impossible to find a picture of it. The ONLY picture I could find was the picture of the tiny Gazebo Blend sticker(which I also made into a soldered pendant). So I apologize about the tiny picture. The sticker is a little bit different colored than the actual card, but you kinda get the idea.

Ok here is the picture. Pretty isn't it? Some of my very favorite colors. Some bright and some earth tone. So what to do next? Choose the glass colors that most closely match the picture.

Here you can see the star shaped stacked flower. I started out with a red because I didn't have a closer match to the picture. That and the other color I chose was very close to another one of the stacking colors. Why does this matter? If there isn't enough contrast between colors the layers wouldn't be as defined. As you can see in 1 I started out with red for the bottom color. I tried layering the dots and raking the glass with stringers to get the shape. As you can see I wasn't super successful. It's so strange to me how the very first design I attempt looks like poo and the next one is not only better, but like 10x better. Weird...

Number 2 you can see I chose a different color for the bottom. This time I used coral. Ok so the color was better and the flower was puffier, but with all that stacking and raking I couldn't get the design I wanted on such a small bead.

I chose the larger size lentil for the base in the "design pick" bead and that seemed to work out the best. You can see all of the details of the flower along with nice pointed star petal ends.

The yellow ocher/ rust colored flower. I liked the flower labeled 1, but I wanted the flowers more pointy. As you can see in the "design pick" bead I got the petals much more pointy. Would you believe that's the same glass on both flowers? I got a really nice batch of Red Roof Tile that is kind of terra cotta and yellow ocher colored. I LOVE it.
Next onto the more "reddish flower". This one was a little harder to color match up. At first I wanted to use the True Red Coral odd lot I had, but it just wasn't quite the right shade for me. I ended up using a batch of Coral instead.

1 ended up being the "wrong" color. 2 was a raking job nightmare. It's all mushy and distorted looking. "Design pick" was "just right" with the coloring and shape.
Spiny tulip. Now this bugger gave me fits. As you can see it took me 5 beads to get the design I wanted. Bead 1 I was still using the red color for the beads before deciding to change to a different color. Bead 2 another trial of the first. Bead 3 yet another trial some of the other colored glass snuck in with the rakes. Gah! Bead 4 you can see where I patched it on the right and the petals still weren't pointy enough for me by just raking the glass.

"Design pick" Ah! There we go. I not only got most of the little details I wanted, but I love the spiny petals done by heating a small ball of glass from a stringer and pushing and raking it upwards towards the top of the bead(this is the same way you do leaves). The finished bead reminds me of the Super Mario games or the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors". At any rate I LOVE this bead!

Now for some more coffee related designs in the same color palette....
The glowing coffee bean. This little guy has the rays of light around it with the nice little "Ahhhh" that you hear when you see glowing things desired. 1 I didn't really like the rakes of glass. It was a little too much yellow and looked like a starfish with a coffee bean on top.

"Design pick" was just the right amount of "rays" for the look desired.
Steaming cups of coffee. Ugh.. as you can see this one took me quite a few times. 1 you can see the steam designs are kind of scraggly looking and messy. 2 you can see better squiggly designs, but because of the shape of the heart I couldn't squeeze in a tiny spiral just above the cup and it made the steam look like "whiskers" or something.

3 after choosing 3 different colors for the possible steam: Messy Cirrus, Messy Marshmallow and effetre Anice White. I did a quick blog of glass to try out the other colors to see if their translucency showed up layered on top of glass and found that it just looked more like clear(Bummer! They are the perfect color for steam by themselves, but their translucency doesn't show up on top of a color.). Next I decided I didn't really want something quite stark white so I chose effetre Anice White. For the design I did a few twists with cold stringer to get the swirly billows of steam, but wasn't too excited with the results. I was still running into the space issue at the "v" point of the heart there just isn't enough glass to decorate.

"Design Pick" was going to be the finished design. I guess I would just have to give up on my steam swirls on a heart design due to the lack of space and look of the steam with the space given.
I guess I will just have to use the steam design on beads like this older design of mine.


While I wish I would have taken some pictures of the soldered charms before they were made into jewelry I do have a list of things I learned about soldering to share. I am by no means and expert at soldering charms, but in my short bit of making them I have learned so much and really learned the most the last(most recent) time I made them.

1. Gravity works, that’s why it was invented. Use gravity to let your solder flow.

2. Think of your solder like water. When it’s hot it flows like a stream.

3. Solder will go where ever the heat is. Use the heat to make the solder go where you want it.

4. Take a deep breath in and exhale while doing a stroke of solder down a surface. Not only does it relax you, but it allows you to let the solder glide across the surface.

5. If you think you have enough solder add more, you want a nice thick coat of solder to push around for nice edges.

6. Be patient. If it’s not working out, take a break and come back.

7. If the solder isn’t flowing enough add more flux. The get along well.

8. CLEAN YOUR IRON. If you notice patina on the iron clean it on the sal ammoniac bar. It shines up the patina on the iron and seems to help the solder flow better.

9. Clean off ALL sticky tape residue. If you notice black spots on your solder it’s the tape residue. Scrape off with a razor and then apply more solder. Notice how it sticks this time?

10. To do the “beading” technique on the sides get a generous amount of solder and put the charm on it’s side. Use the thin tip of the soldering iron and hold the iron vertical. You want to heat the solder and almost let it “drip” down the side. This gives you that gorgeous bubbled edge :D

11. You can scoot solder to one edge by going from top to bottom almost like you are brushing hair. When you have “brushed” the solder to the one edge heat and glide along your new formed edge to smooth out the solder.

12. Like lampworking it’s ALL ABOUT HEAT CONTROL! Learn how the heat moves the solder and you’ve figured everything out!

13. Marvel at your accomplishment :D

14. Let your iron get HOT. The hotter it is the better the solder flows. An iron that is too cold is useless and will just make you want to throw your pieces at a wall.

15. If you have a dimply texture to your metal add some more flux and run the iron over it. It should smooth out.

If you have ANY questions about jewelry assembly technique, lampwork, soldering or anything else please feel free to message me. I know how terribly frustrating it is when you are trying to figure out what is going wrong with your technique and have no one to ask at the time you are creating!

Stay tuned for the finished pieces! You are going to LOVE them!

Much love,


P.S. What do you think of the new "clothes"? It's not lime green and aqua, but it's bright, has swirls and lots of color! <3


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. I love it when you share your thoughts with me :)