Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mint Julep Earrings

Hello everyone!

I'm slowly accepting that my beloved wintertime is over and it's time for spring now. I do appreciate spring; I love the cool mornings and nights and the blossoming trees in my neighborhood, and having the window open and hearing the birds sing, but the darker side of springtime is that it means that dreaded summer will be upon us soon and, as I've said before, summer and I don't mix. I live in the mid-atlantic region, and summers here are sluggish, sopping-wet humid, and entirely suffocating. Summer is not for playing outside. Summer is for icy drinks enjoyed with the A/C on full blast.

But, it isn't summer yet, and I keep trying to remind myself of that. It's only spring, and spring is nice! Let's focus on that. I had the perfect opportunity to celebrate spring with my latest pair of earrings.

Back in January I stumbled upon the Etsy shop yummytreasures. I found a bunch of excellent vintage glass cabochons and bought a number of them. I made my Emeress necklace with one of them-

That cab had such flash and glow! I loved how it looked with the white wire and ribbon. Gladly, it's now owned by a close friend :) I also bought some white cabs with gold flash, a translucent green scarab cab, and two little mint green cabochons for earrings.

Well, not long after they arrived, I misplaced the little mint green cabs. I was annoyed with myself but was happy to discover where they'd been hiding a few days ago, and decided I'd better make something with them quick before I lost them again!

After playing some with the idea of a netted bezel in bronze for them, I decided I wanted to do a different kind of bezel. I may have mentioned before, but the traditional method of wire wrapping a cabochon just... doesn't appeal to me. It can be done beautifully and I'm not disparaging anyone who likes to wrap their stones that way, it's just not for me. So, I had to come up with something different.

I started with a zig-zag of wire. I used the width of my flat-nose pliers to keep things even.

Then, I wrapped it around a cab, and lucked the hell out that the bends ended up in a good arrangement!

Satisfied with that, I made a loop to hold the cab in from the backside.

I began wrapping around the loop with the cab in place, attaching to the points of the zig-zag when I got to them.

When I got to the bottom I decided 'Hey, let's add a loop for a dangle'.

When I got to the end, I finished off the back loop with, er, loops.

From there I used the remainder of the thin wire to bind the other loop and the two wires sticking straight up together as neatly as possible, which had the effect of tightening the back loop such that the cab wouldn't just fall out of it.

Added a wrapped loop and a dangle in a coordinating color, made another earring, put earwires on them, and voila-

My Mint Julep earrings! Nice and fresh for spring with just a little playful movement. The bezel may not look it but the cabs are quite secure. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the zig-zags angle in and over the cabs to keep them in place.

These are smaller than they seem, and are quite ladylike if I say so myself. They are available in my shop now! :) Hope you like them!

'Til Next Time!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hyperfocus! - Tiny Treasures

Hello everyone!

It's the weekend and that means it's time for another Hyperfocus!

One thing wirework, beadwork, and crochet has taught me about myself is that I love tiny, intricate work. I've made some large creative pieces before, painted some large paintings, crocheted a blanket, but what I really love is working on small pieces that require very small detail.

I also very much enjoy minimalist design (even though that is rarely reflected in my own work). So, for this week's Hyperfocus!, the theme is... Tiny Treasures!

I love these tiny, almost utilitarian-looking little pendants. They could carry so many personal meanings- imagine a sports team wearing their numbers or perhaps siblings wearing their number with regards to birth order... or you could just wear your own lucky number or numbers (mine are 0 and 9).

These tiny little dangles sport an attractive nautilus spiral design. I love the tiny detail packed into their small size. I bet they have great movement!

Such a charming little bracelet! I'm not usually one for gold, but I love it in this delicate little piece. The geometric triangle charm is the perfect little detail.

How can you not love this? A dainty little acorn hanging from your neck - irresistible! Don't miss the rest of this shop for more tiny designs.

The name of this sweet, playful necklace in the shop says "Maybe if I take an umbrella it won't rain". Take this little umbrella charm with you everywhere to ensure nothing but sunny days!

A sweet little rose gold leaf. I love how it looks on the silver chain, very nice contrast. So dainty and pretty!

Too cute! It doesn't get much tinier than this! If dimes aren't your thing, a nickel necklace is also available in this shop.

These are my favorites this week :) I love rose gold, I love geometric design, and I love tiny; and these earrings have all three of those things in spades! There's more where this came from in this excellent shop, don't miss it!

These are the perfect everyday earring. They'd go with anything, you could dress them up or down, and I just bet that they have great movement and just the perfect amount of glint and gleam. Don't miss the rest of this shop for more perfect everyday, versatile jewelry.

Tiny but a little bit edgy, I love these little studs! The matte gold is a nice touch. There's lots more tiny, stylish jewelry to be found in this shop, don't miss it!

Hope you enjoyed this week's selection! I've got a pair of earrings in the works that I hope to have some progress photos of up soon, so check back soon! 'Til Next Time!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tutorial - Oxalis Links

Hello everyone!

Today I thought I'd post a quick little tutorial on how I make my Oxalis links. It's a pretty straightforward method that you can use with lots of types of beads and results in a cute little component that can stand alone as a pendant or earrings or link together for a bracelet.

So what does 'oxalis' mean? The word refers to a group of plants sometimes called wood sorrels that I find very charming for their resemblance to clovers.

I have this thing for clovers. Especially four leaf clovers. Over the years I have found hundreds. I have a knack for spotting them, and have learned that where there is one four-leaf, there's a good chance that there are more close by on the same individual clover plant. I've found whole bouquets of 4-leafs in a single day (I had a job that kept me outside a lot).

I have who knows how many pressed between the pages of various notebooks, but I did attempt to mount some for display. I made three 'posters' of them by attaching them to black cardstock with puzzle saver glue.

I've found my share of 5 leafs, too, and the leafiest clover I ever found had eight leaves.


Well, to get to my point, there's a variety of Oxalis called "Iron Cross", and while not a true clover, it sure as hell looks like giant four-leaf clovers! It was this specific plant that inspired my design. There is another neat variety of Oxalis I used to grow called Triangularis that is really neat, too; perhaps someday I'll modify this design as a nod to that plant :)

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Note: this tutorial is protected by an International Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. This means that you are free to post this wherever you like as long as you give proper Attribution (that is, to me, Jet Kosanke, and my website, malfaitluciu.blogspot.com), it may not be used commercially (you're not allowed to make money off it, that is, sell this tutorial to other people for money), and you're free to make changes to it as long as you also share it under these same restrictions (that is, you still give Attribution to me, you don't sell it, and you allow it to be shared freely.) For more information, click the Creative Commons link at the end of the tutorial.

By the way- NonCommercial doesn't mean you can't sell works you make using this tutorial. If you make a necklace, bracelet, or whatever using this tutorial, feel free to sell it- however, you may not mass-produce it, and the Attribution part still applies, that is, you still have to attribute the design to me.

If you're unsure if what you want to do is allowed, just ask me! I'm really pretty laid back about things like this :) I'd rather share my knowledge and discoveries for free so others can learn than charge money for my tutorials. With all that said, on to the good stuff! :)

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Click on any image to view a larger version.

This tutorial uses 8mm beads and 26 gauge dead soft wire. However, you can adapt this tutorial to work with just about any size bead and any gauge wire. You will need one scrap piece of 20 gauge wire a couple inches long (4 inches or longer is best)

Step 1

First, cut four pieces of 26 gauge wire, each 11 inches long.

Step 2

Start coiling your 26 gauge wire around your scrap piece of 20 gauge wire, leaving a little tail for leverage when coiling.

Step 3

Keep coiling until your coil is one inch long. Do this with all four pieces of 26 gauge wire.

Step 4

Slide your coil off the piece of 20 gauge wire and snip off the ends of the coil with your cutters so you're left with smooth coiled ends.

Step 5

After you're done, you should have four cute little one-inch long coils like this one.

Step 6

Cut a piece of 26 gauge wire 8 inches long and string four of your beads on it (don't these look like peas? haha)

Step 7

Pass one end of the wire back through the first bead and pull it through, forming a loop, and pull tight so the beads snug up against each other. Leave a bit of a tail at the other end of the wire.

Step 8

Take one of the coils you made earlier and string it onto the long end of the wire.

Step 9

Pass the wire you strung the coil onto back through the same bead and pull all the way through so the coil loops over the bead.

Step 10

I didn't take a photo of this (oops), but the next step is to thread the wire you just pulled through the bead through the next bead in the loop. So in the photo above, the next step would be to thread the wire through the bead on the right, to set it up for the next coil to be added.

Step 11

Continue stringing on your coils and passing the wire though the beads until each bead has it's own 'leaf'. At the end, you'll end up with two wires sticking out next to each other. At this point, you want to wrap each wire end around the little 'bridge' of wire between the two beads the wire ends are coming out of a couple of times, then snip off the excess. You'll end up with something like what's shown below:

And with that, you're done! You can shape the 'leaves' a bit with your fingers a bit to get them into a pleasant looking form. From here you can add a jump ring and string it on a chain, or make another to form earrings, or do whatever you like!
If you create something using this tutorial, I'd love to see it! Email me photos of your work (with a link to your blog if you have one) to malfaitluciu@gmail.com - I'd like to create a gallery page on my blog featuring your creations made using this tutorial (or any of my tutorials) with a link back to your blog, too :) Don't be shy, let me show off your work! :)

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Today I'll leave you with my mom's cat Vinnie, sleeping in what is apparently a very comfortable configuration.

'Til Next Time!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hyperfocus! - Seaside Sparklies

Hello everyone! It's the weekend again and that means it's time for another Hyperfocus!

Winter is decidedly over, and as spring moves in, I'm thinking of a nice seaside retreat. I know most save beach trips for the summer, but summertime for me means long, hot, sweaty, miserable days spent holed up inside, basking not in the sunshine but in the icy air blasting from the A/C vents. Summer and I are not good friends.

Since I don't have any real plans to head to the ocean soon, I've been browsing sea-inspired jewelry and letting it spark fantasies of salty breezes and sandy toes. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite treasures out of all the oceanic lovelies I've found.

Nautical Octopus Necklace by weareowls

This necklace has an awesome vintage-inspired octopus illustration on a background of dictionary text. It comes in bronze or silver finish. Like the theme but the octopus isn't quite your style? Check the rest of this seller's wares - there's another octopus necklace in the shop done in a different illustrative style.

Mixed Metal Ombré Teal Earrings by OstaraMoonJewelry

These lovely earrings consist of three different colors of Swarovski rivoli crystals arranged in a cascading gradient that just screams 'seaside'! I see water, horizon, and sky in these lovely dangles. The different colored metal used in the finding for the darkest blue crystals is a nice touch. If you like this look, check out the rest of this shop; there are more earrings in this style in different colors available.

This stunning ring is made-to-order of sterling silver with a rose-cut sky blue topaz and features a detailed little starfish next to the exquisitely bezeled stone. Do not miss the rest of the fabulous treasures in this shop! I wish I could buy all of them!

These charming studs are handmade using high quality prints and glass dome cabochons. They are available in silver and bronze finish (I prefer the bronze). The glass domes give them such depth!

Oh man. Out of all my favorites, this is my favorite favorite. This stunning cuff is made of aluminum and the incredible, intricate designs in the lovely teal green waves are all entirely hand drawn. Such talent! Be sure to check out the rest of this shop - there's more of this kind of awesomeness to be found!

This delicate-looking gold tone shell opens to reveal spaces to hold tiny photos or other treasures. It hangs from a simple chain studded with six champagne colored pearls. Lovely and very elegant.

This aqua blue colored limpet shell features a single white glass pearl in its center. So lovely and delicate! I love how it carries an oceanic theme but could be worn in casual or formal situations. Just simply pretty.

These nautilus-inspired earrings demand attention! As well they should- they certainly deserve it! I am smitten with their bold organic form. If this style has a hold on you as it does me, don't miss the rest of this shop - there's tons more to drool over. Just incredible stuff!

These little sterling silver crabs aren't just charming- believe it or not, they're made from castings made from real tiny crabs! The artist made them using actual crabs found on a trip to the beach. This artist makes castings of all sorts of neat things - don't miss the earrings made from castings of romanesco broccoli that demonstrate the Fibonacci spiral! (I want those SO bad!)

This charming necklace comes in silver and gold. I can't resist those chain tentacles; such a clever idea!

And with that, we come to the end of this week's Hyperfocus! To see more of my favorites of this theme, check out my list of Seaside Sparklies on Etsy.

'Til Next Time!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Weekly Feature - Hyperfocus!

Hello everyone!

It's probably no surprise that I spend a lot of time online just finding and drooling over whatever unusual and beautiful jewelry I can find. Pinterest is a true enabler! I love curating my little collections (some of which are decidedly not little). Also, although my own store is not located there, Etsy, with its option to create lists to sort your favorite items and its simple integration with Pinterest means I can maintain even more collections than I probably should.

Although I do often go back through my lists and boards to marvel at the little treasures I've found and pinned, sometimes I think I could do more than just add to these collections of mine. Since I often get stuck on one theme and then go nuts pinning and favoriting items that I find and fall in love with according to that theme for a few hours (or days), I've decided to start a weekly themed feature, dubbed Hyperfocus (because that's exactly what I end up doing). I'll go through my beloved collections and post a selection of some of my favorite favorites according to the week's theme with links to where they can be found.

To kick it all off, here's this week's Hyperfocus.. Fruit!

I'm in love with the sweet gingham print paired with those oranges- playful, a little vintage, and makes me want a tall glass of OJ!

Three playful wooden strawberries on a chain. The strawberries are hand-painted and I just love how you can still see some of the wood grain showing through.

Something a little different - these adorable polymer clay orange banana tarts are for those with stretched ear piercings. Just charming!

Real Kiwi Pendant by RealFruitJewelry

A slice of actual kiwifruit preserved and set in resin. It looks good enough to eat! Don't miss the rest of the delicious looking fruit jewelry in this shop.

Miniature Oranges and Lemons Ring by artyResin

This bold resin ring has an irresistible sphere packed with citrus set upon a filigree ring band. A delicious statement piece!

Strawberry Botanical Earrings by Agnera

These sweet, delicate resin earrings have tiny, real strawberries suspended inside. They're so graceful and elegant! Be sure not to miss the other lovely botanical jewelry in this shop.

Clementine Ring by MiniatureMarketplace

This playful ring features a little half-peeled clementine- it looks ready to eat!

Red Tomato Necklace by EvelynMaeCreations

Technically a fruit! I love the vibrant red enamel on this tomato- and I love the playful notion of wearing a tiny tomato around your neck :)

This tiny glass jug of lemonade looks so refreshing. The little lemon slice on the rim of the pitcher is the perfect touch.

And that brings us to the end of this week's Hyperfocus on Fruit! I'll aim to focus on a new theme and have it posted by the end of each weekend :) Hope you enjoyed this selection and maybe found something new to treat yourself with! :)

'Til next time!