Thursday, June 2, 2011

Art Beads Design Team ~ Whats Old is New Again ~ And Some Design Advice

When I heard what this challenge was, I knew right away I wanted to use sea glass in it.  Sea glass is very old, and has been changed, into something new and wonderful, by the sand and surf.  Thus, What is Old is New Again!

I saw the Bezel Lace at ArtBeads, and thought I would try to use it with my sea glass. 
I was kinda skeptical about whether it would work or not, and well, it didn't.  There is just no way to really get them tight enough, or burnished enough to hold a piece securely (enough for my liking).  They make it look really easy, but I did not have any success.  So there are no pictures using this product.

I also got some of these Topaz Opal glass cabs~ again, to use with the bezel lace and add a "new" aspect to the old and new theme.
 But I couldn't get the bezel to work for them either, not secure enough for me to sell or wear.  I am a fanatic about my pieces being made to wear for life.  They must be able to stand up to a lot of tugging, wear and tear.  I don't want to be doing repairs, and I am sure my customers don't want their jewelry to fall apart or get caught on things. 

The cabs are absolutley beautiful though, and I did use them!

So before I get into my ArtBeads Design, let me first share with you some design techniques that are important, as a designer and buyer.  Since I make sea glass jewelry, I do a lot of wire wrapping, and I must tell you, there are many people who sell poorly wrapped sea glass pendants.  Personally, I won't sell it unless you can tug on it without it falling apart.  For example- I saw this in the Fire Mountain Gems Catalog. 

If you put any pressure on them, they will open right up and fall out.  I would have wrapped more wire around the bottom and then on the back, took it straight to the top and wrapped it around that spiral too.  You then create a bond so that they can't be pulled apart.  Its just a simple extra step to ensure that what you make is quality, and will last forever.

When making wire components or wrapping stones, you must also consider how it wears ON the person, and not just how it looks on your bead table.  This is SOOOO very important.  I have seen so many tutorials, magazines that teach you to make pieces that are not really wearable.  (actually, this rule applies to all jewelry, not just wire wrapping)

(So sorry, but this is a gigantic pet peeve of mine, and I think it leads so many new jewelry artists astray when they see tutorials made to teach them a technique, and it doesn't teach them to do it in a way that would make their work quality.)

For example..........raw wire ends sticking out.  No one wants to buy a bracelet or necklace that will get caught on their sweater and pull it.  Make sure curls and well curled under, and tight against something. 
If you want to see some quality wire work, check out Cindy Wimmer of Sweet Bead Studio.  For example, this necklace of hers has swirls sticking out, but the are tight, and above the design, not hanging down to get caught on anything.  PLus, its the sort of design that works good in a necklace, but wouldn't be such a good idea in a bracelet, because they would be more likely to get caught on stuff.

Here is one of my necklace swirl designs...............

Note that I try to keep the swirls tight, so they are not swirling around in space, more likely to catch on things.
For a bracelet, I would reccomend swirls like this:
I even go back through the swirls, so that there is no way for them to bend out or catch- it holds them in place.

Although this is a necklace, the swirls are on the inside of the links, and less likely to catch on things.

Here is a great bracelet from Cindy Wimmer.....this would wear great!

If it is earrings you are making, make sure the weight is just right so it won't keep getting caught in their hair and stick out sideways (usually occurs if it is too light and has an element that can catch hair).  And swirls on earrings are tricky- and need to be tight too, or else it could be a nightmare for someone with long hair.

I guess what I am trying to say is, design it with these things in mind, and then wear it for a day.  Does it hang straight?  Does it catch on things?  Are the earrings too heavy or too light?   Then go back and make adjustments if needed.

Ok- so that is why I couldn't use the ribbon bezels from ArtBeads.  Maybe it is just me, I mean, they work, I just can't get them tight enough for my standards.  I am going to try to solder them and use them in a more traditional bezel style.  I will let you know if that works out.  I could also use them as a decorative element in some pendants, instead of structural.  Ok, enough said.

So, onto my reveal.  Here they are- What is old is new again...........

I used copper sqaures that I etched with a sun and waves theme- hand drawn onto it.  Then I added a silver bezel for the Topax Opal cabs......which I LOVE!  They add just the right amount of sparkle, without looking to flashy or fake.  I then wrapped a couple of genuine sea glass drops with silver wire and hung it all on sterling silver earwires that I made myself.  I am really happy with these!  I made all the components except the bezels, those I bought pre-made and just soldered them on.

I also like that I got to use copper and silver, because for me, that is old and new together as well.  I used to work in only silver, just one year ago.  Now copper and bronze have come into my studio and will not be leaving anytime soon!
Here are some more views in different light- I love how the cabs just glow in the sun!!!!

I am always thankful to be a part of the ArtBeads Design team, and I loved this challenge! 

Do you have any design pet peeves or tips you would like to share????
Leave a comment about it below and you will be entered to win some of the ribbon bezel to play with.  See if you can find a creative use for it!
Leave an email, winner will be picked next wednesday, June 8th.  Once chance per person.

I do not get any money to promote or review these items.  I did not pay for these items, they were provided by ArtBeads so I can share my honest opinions of them with you.


  1. I think that my biggest pet peeve are pokey little wires... and, the tail ends that seem to creep out of that third or fourth bead before they are cut. Would love to try some of that bezel lace, but wonder if you couldn't make it work, so I possibly could. Love your work!

  2. What an informative post & thank you so much for featuring some of my past work! You are so sweet to do so.
    I love your ArtBeads challenge piece - the mixed metal earrings. They are just incredible, as I do love the look of mixed metals as well.
    One of my wire pet peeves?? Using too wimpy of a wire gauge for clasps! Sometimes you can tell just by looking that a clasp could be easily pulled apart, or that it is just too light looking for a design.

  3. pet peeves...poorly constructed anything! very nice mixed metal ear rings...nice....very nice. that bezel wire is interesting...took a quick look see on the site how to tutorial...hmmm, never have seen a bezel done that way...i'd love to give it a try and see what i could do...i bet you do come up with a cool well...shelley