Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The countdown begins!

Tripped up Tuesdays returns to its regular scheduled programing next week (or maybe even the week after that).  This week will be devoted to all the last-minute details of getting my Etsy shop ready for its Grand Opening October 5th!  There is still time to enter to win a brand new, mixed media Naiad Necklace--just click on the picture in the side bar.  But do it soon.  The winner will be announced October 5.  Also, check out my latest Hubpages article! (see the sidebar)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tripped Up Tuesdays: Feeling Uncentered

A slightly off center lapis stone. 
For my first try at bezel setting, this wasn't too bad.  However, you can see that the lapis shifted slightly while I was pushing the bezel sides in.  By the time I noticed, it was too late to fix.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, part of the problem was my tool:

A bezel roller.  Photo courtesy bestjewelrysupply. Ebay user.

This is a fairly standard bezel setter, but I don't have a lot of upper body or hand strength.  Using it, I found that I could only push the bezel sides in a micron at a time.  Typically, you want to firmly push each side of the bezel to form a square that "locks in" the stone.  With my wimpy pushes, I had inadvertently jostled the stone.  I was in a class, and I spent so much time trying to get the first stone set that I took the second bezel and stone home to finish.  Only, I forgot that I didn't have a bezel roller at home.  What I had instead, was this tool:

A used airliner burnishing tool

This tool is a much used burnisher that I purchased on e-bay.  Previously used on airliner innards, it was twice as big as the usual burnisher for sale on e-bay and much too big for my hands--or so I thought. I had nothing else to set the stone, however, so I tried it out.  It was fabulous!  It bent the silver like butter, and I quickly locked the second stone in:
This stone is perfectly centered.  I haven't yet created the rolled edge to give it a finished look
It turns out this large burnisher greatly improved my mechanical advantage.  If you find yourself struggling with bezel rollers, I highly recommend it.  That, and double-checking the position of your stones before it's too late.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tripped Up Tuesdays: Counting beads didn't help these uneven ends

There are literally hundreds of tiny silk knots between each seed pearl in this necklace.  As I laid out the pattern, I carefully counted each bead to keep the pattern and continuously placed the piece on my beading to tray to confirm the design layout.
If you look closely, you can see that the coral/turquoise stations "match up" on the beading tray and end at the same length on each side of the tray


Unfortunately, when I went to add the clasp, I saw this:
Counting the beads exactly didn't work quite as well as I thought, because each bead is slightly different in size.  I am learning the hard way that jewelry needs to be looked at and measured in multiple dimensions and in multiple ways.  Even two ways isn't enough.  Sure, go ahead and count those beads!  Lay them out in a tray!  But also line the necklace's sides up right next to each other.  Pull the sides taut, and look at them from different angles.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tripped Up Tuesdays: Setting limits in the blogosphere

A depiction of the blogosphere. Courtesy of gephi_org. Flickr user
    If you have been visiting this blog, first of all, thank you!  I am completely new to social media, and find all of this daunting.  And yet, to support my soon-to-be opened Etsy store, I have created a Facebook business page, Hubpages profile, and Tumblr account. The social medial gurus tell me I should also open Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but I just can't quite find the energy yet. So far, each format has had its own set of rules and its own steep learning curve (for me anyway).

Blogger Effort per Week. Courtesy of Zemanta. Flickr user

   Also, you know that social media recommendation of posting 5 times a day to each account?  So not happening.  Instead, I have decided to divide my postings in the following manner:

1.  This Blog.  My goal is to continue posting weekly Tripped Up Tuesdays blogs.  Think of these as a "Mistake of the Week" column--accounts of the "Stupid Stuff I do in the Studio" in hopes that you won't do the same.  When ever possible, I will try to post a remedy to that week's mistake. This is the sort of posting where one really does hope to run out of topics, but sadly, I seem always to have fresh new material.  Right now I offer links to my other blogs on the sidebar, which I update and change weekly.  Soon, however, I hope to organize secondary pages for past Tripped Up Tuesdays posts and for "What I'm Working On" pictures.  I also hope to create a secondary page that will provide brief overviews of my Hubpages posts.

2.  Hubpages.  Longer, magazine-length articles that I hope to post monthly.  Although many of these will be related to jewelry and jewelry making, I am also looking forward to discussing more esoteric topics, such as the economics of playdates. This month's blog gave a short personal tour of other businesses with the name, "Naiad" in them.

3.  Facebook. Uber-brief comments posted 2-3 times a week.  I think of Facebook as a running diary of notable day-to-day experiences; store events (e.g., sweepstakes, flash sales); and fun, interesting news from others.  In my opinion, Facebook is the most user-friendly forum for getting feedback and having a conversation with others in the blogosphere, so I hope you will consider liking my page: I'd love to hear from you!

4. Tumblr. Most people seem to use Tumblr as a photo diary, and that's what I do as well.  I typically post a picture of "What I'm working on now" once a week along with a few tags.  I also repost summaries of content from my other blogs (including this one) as it arises.  I find Tumblr the most mysterious of all my accounts.

There you have it:  My first baby steps into the blogosphere.  I think now I'll go and make a necklace.  See you next week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tripped Up Tuesdays: All Gummed Up with Henrietta's Gum Arabic

I love, love, love Henrietta's Gum Arabic, but all too often, I end up wearing the stuff in my lap.  It runs on the spendy side (about $10-$14 per oz) and needs to be mail ordered.  One big spill can result in substantial production delays while I wait for the new stuff to come in.

Gum Arabic is a natural gum made from the sap of two Acacia trees: Senegalia senega and Vachellia seyal. Comprised of a natural mixture of edible glycoproteins and polysaccharides, it is used extensively in the food industry as a stabilizer (it reduces the size of bubbles in soda pops) and as a thickener (think gum drops). In watercolor painting, gum arabic acts as a binder, bonding pigments to paper, increasing paints' luminosity, and producing lovely feather effects in water washes.  It is also a weak glue and was the traditional adhesive used on lickable postage stamps and envelopes. One of gum arabic's most remarkable properties is its solubility: it can be completely dissolved in its own volume of cold water. This extreme solubility makes it ideal for beadwork, as spills and dribbles can be easily and completely washed away with just tiny amounts of water. Following Henrietta Virchik, I use the gum to create self-threads of silk and to bind my final knots before sealing.
Henrietta Virchik is the author of the classic book, Pearl and Bead Stringing With Henrietta and the developer of Henrietta's Gum Arabic.  After her death in 2001, Henrietta's mentee Suzanne Hye purchased her Beading Supply Company (eventually renaming it "Hye on Beads") and the gum arabic formula. According to Ms. Hye, "I kept [Henrietta's] name on the glue as homage to her. My family continues to make and sell the glue to wholesalers such as Beadsmith and Eurotool." Ms. Hye also sells the glue on e-bay under the name vintagesuzanne, which is where I usually get it.  Ms. Hye's e-bay shop, by the way, is also an excellent source for discontinued Gudebrod silk thread.
So what to do about those all-too-common spills?  The jar's wide mouth and relatively high center of gravity make Henrietta's Gum Arabic particularly prone to tipping.  I therefore decided to make a Styrofoam collar to lower its center of gravity.  It was a wonderful inaugural project for my new jeweler's saw!
Just *try* tilting this baby!
Also, if you really get into a pinch, plain old Elmer's glue or painter's gum arabic can be substituted for Henrietta's for considerably lower cost.  Truthfully, any water-soluble glue would work fine for the self-threads.  However, for binding the last knots in a necklace, I recommend using some sort of gum arabic. 
 Tradition and gratitude to Henrietta keep me loyal to her brand, however.  With my new Styrofoam collar, I can now use her gum and not wear it.