Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I know it's a bit late but I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. It was rather icky and rainy here but I'm glad we didn't get the freezing rain and snow they had originally called for. My Christmas was pretty good, if a bit long.

I stayed up til 2:30 Christmas morning finishing up some of my xmas gifts and was woken up by my brother at 7 AM to open presents. Needless to say I was a little grumpy and I woke up not feeling too great (still don't feel very good). I got some nice stuff- a really pretty green sweater, some new games for my wii, my favourite gift was a brand new sewing machine. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet but hopefully in the next few days once all the Christmas stuff dies down.

I finally managed to get my car out today and got to drive into town. It felt good to get away from the family for a little bit. I took a trip down to the local bead shop and to my delight, their doing their end-of-the-year clearance sale and I got some real pretty tubes of seed beads, as well as some Swarovski crystal beads, all of it on sale for 50% off. I'll hopefully resume the projects I currently have on hold.

I also went to Michaels today. I needed more silver chain for one of my projects and while I was there, there happened to be a grandma and her granddaughter shopping the beads. The granddaughter had just learned to make jewelry so grandma wanted to get her the right stuff to keep it up and they had no idea what they were doing or looking for. I ended up in a conversation with them, an impromptu lesson, showing them how the different tools worked, how to make a loop, ear wires, the different between the different gauged wires and threads, and what not. After I had spent a good 20 mins helping them, another lady came up to me and was like "you seem to know what you're doing, could you help me too?" so I ended up repeating the whole process!!!

It was pretty cool having people turn to me for crafting help today, now I need to make some business cards to give people so they can contact me when they need help instead of writing my info down on a scrap of paper so they can contact me in the future.

I can't believe how quickly it seems things are taking off for me. Maybe I can pick up some extra money offering lessons or whatnot. I've taught myself a lot of what I know and I love to teach others new things too. I'm hoping to teach myself Peyote stitching this year. I have a lovely pattern that a Bead Society lady gave for a flower broach that uses peyote stitch but I've never been able to quite get it right :( so maybe this will be the year, riding on the tide of good fortune I've had of late.

My grandmother's coming down tomorrow, supposed to stay for a few days. She's a seamstress by trade so I'm hoping she can show me a few tricks while she's here because I have an idea that's sort of nagging at me in the back of my head for a bead-trimmed throw blanket. I want to give it a try, even if it doesn't have any real practical use, it just seems like a pretty idea so I'm hoping she can teach me some embroidery stitches to make use of.

I hope everyone has a good and safe upcoming New Year's Celebration, weather permitting you get to celebrate at all!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ahoy, Matey! Charm Bracelet

Yes, I'm a rather busy bee this time of year. Christmas is only 2 days away and having been out of a job for 9 months now, I'm making use of the stuff that's been sitting in my craft box to make unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for those closest to me.

I'm quite fond of nautical themed stuff but I prefer more old fashioned, antique nautical stuff, like compass roses and whatnot, so this is a little more modern and contemporary then what I would normally do, but hey, it's for my mom, so the aesthetic is a little different.

My materials all came from Michaels Arts & Crafts on this one:

7 (seven) nautical themed charms by Charm Gallery.
4 (four) dark blue 8mm biconals
2 (two) light blue 8mm biconals
2 (two) light green 8 mm biconals
silver head pins
silver chains
silver clasp findings

I started by cutting a length of chain to about 5 1/2 inches, roughly. I needed the chain to be a little shorter then the actual wrist, otherwise when I add the clasps, it'll be too big. Once I cut the chain to a size of my liking, I took an "O" ring and attached it to one end, using this to secure a lobster claw clasp to the length of chain. I repeated this process on the other end, securing an "O" ring to act as the connector to the lobster claw clasp.

Once I had the clasp findings secured, I then held the chain up, allowing gravity to pull it so that the exact middle link of the chain hung down. To this, I attached the first of my charms, in this case, the pirate ship charm.

I tend to work instinctively, very rarely ever drawing or planning out my designs but if you want to, you can.

After I had attached the central charm, I took my 6 remaining charms and organized them so that the nautical theme was interspersed among the beachy themes.

I then took the remaining charms and spaced them out every 4 (four) chain links from the center chain, keeping in mind that I planned on attaching 8mm biconals to the links between the charms, to add a bit of colour.

Now, once you have your central charm, you should have 3 charms hung on either side of it, making a total of 7 (seven) charms, however you can add as many as you like. I generally like a nice odd number, it makes planning a piece a lot easier, but to each their own.

After I have connected my 6 (six) remaining charms, I then turn my focus to the biconals I intend to attach to add a splash of colour. The strand I selected had a nice nautical appearance to it, being blue and green. Having 3 (three) different colours to choose from, I decided to use all three, taking 2 (two) biconals of both the light blue and green, and 4 (four) of the dark blue biconals.

I threaded the biconal beads onto silver headpins, also by Jewelry Essentials and proceeded to create a wrapped loop (visit for a lovely tutorial + how to video). I then too my "O" rings and used them to attach the biconals to the chain.

Remember, I had earlier spaced my charms 4(four) links apart, that leaves 3(three) links between each charm in which to place my biconal beads.

Having 3(three) links between my charms, I can perfectly center my biconal beads and effective eliminate the guesswork by placing the biconals on the 2nd link between each chain, leaving 1(one) link between the charm and the bead on both sides.

After attaching the biconal beads between each charm, I then go in, and applying the same rule of thirds, apply a 2nd set of the dark blue beads 2(two) links up from the last of the charms on both ends of the chain, thus adding my final touches as well as keeping a single link between the charm, the bead, and the clasp on both ends of the chain.

And thus we have our nautical themed charm bracelet however, once again, you do not necessarily have to do it as a nautical themed bracelet, you can do any colour beads that you want, any charms that you want.

The important thing is to be creative and have fun. Again, I like odd numbers, I use them in pretty much every design I devise but to each their own. You can add as many or as few charms as you want, same with the beads. You don't even need to use the biconal beads. I chose them because I liked their geometric shape and how they looked between the charms.

SKILL LEVEL: easy to moderate, requires basic skills with needle nose pliers as well as the ability to create a loop. I rate it in-between because creating a wrapped loop can be tricky and requires a bit of trial and error.

TOTAL TIME: approx. 1 hour (60 mins)- 2 hours (120 mins) depending on skill level and experience.
UPDATE, 12/25/2009
Well, it's xmas morning and I'm happy to report that I gave my mom her bracelet today and she absolutely loved it. She didn't know I made it and was absolutely flabbergasted (love that word!) when I told her that it was a one-of-a-kind original. She was like "you made this!?" and I was like "yes I did, while you were asleep on the couch the other night" and she was like "it's so pretty!!!" I absolutely love that sense of satisfaction from giving someone a gift that I know they can't/won't find in stores.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I hope you all have a safe holiday!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Victorian Aesthetic

As you'll soon learn, there's several things recurring in my work:
1. I'm influenced by history
2. I love anything that looks antiquated and
3. I have an unhealthy obsession with pocket watches, gears, and cogs

well, 2 of my 3 obsessions come together beautifully in this long Victorian-inspired necklace made using 4mm fire polished topaz round beads from and pieces from the Madame Delphine collection available at Michaels Arts & Crafts.

Now, for those of you who don't know, a fairly good sized snow storm hit the east coast this past weekend and dropped a good 2 1/2 feet of snow on my parents house and we lost power all weekend. As a result, I didn't have access to my sewing machine so I couldn't work on Christmas gifts but I had this project that I'd set aside, waiting for my beads from to arrive and since they did, a few days before the storm, it was the perfect opportunity to try something I've been wanting to attempt for a while- working with chains.

I love big pendants, I love multiple strands, and I love anything that looks like it's been through many hands over the years. I find the story behind an object to be just as important as the object itself (I'm addicted to Antiques Roadshow) and thus this necklace is a culmination of everything I look for in pretty much any jewelry I make for personal wear.

So, yeah, this necklace is made with the Madame Delphine chains which can be found here: and the pendant, also by Madame Delphine is available here:

I like a consistency in the colour between my chains and my findings, so I also made use of the Madame Delphine Oxidized Brass findings:

To compliment the fiery orange of the stones set in the pendant, I used amber-coloured glass round beads, also by Madame Delphine: and 4mm fire-polished topaz round beads from

Now that I've introduced you to the material, I'll tell you how I made this. You'll need a pair of wire cutters and needle nose pliers as far as tools are concerned. I used 2 strands of both the Rolo Oxidized Brass chain (the skinny one), as well as the amber-coloured glass beads. You'll also need a length of beadalon wire.

First, I started by deciding how long I wanted this necklace to be. I like long strands and I wanted this to hang long, so I measured out about 35 inches of the skinny brass chain, cutting off the excess with my wire cutters. I then attached both ends to "O" rings, using my needle nose pliers and my fingers. Then on one end, I added a lobster claw clasp and on the other, I added a 2nd "O" ring.

Next, I took the remaining length of chain I had cut and cut it again, again attaching an "O" ring to both ends of it. To one end of the chain, I attached the amber-coloured glass beads, to the other, I threaded through the "O" ring that also held the lobster claw clasp. I then repeated the process on the other side of the strand to close the necklace. I wanted to stagger the lengths of the different chains used, so this chains markedly shorter then the long skinny chain. However, you can make it as long as you would like, or as short as you would like. For me, the chain's about 30 inches.

After I attached the chain containing the large circular glass beads, I then turned my attention to the pendant. The pendant's a bit heavy, it's actually magnetic and opens, though it doesn't actually contain a watch face (much to my disappointment), but I had to keep it's weight in mind when stringing it, because the chains needed to support it's weight and that's where the larger chain of alternating circles and rectangles came into play.

The length of chain I had itself wasn't long enough to be a complete strand on it's own so I solved this problem by removing an additional rectangular piece to make it an odd-numbered (5) strand, that way the pendant would hang dead center.

However, hanging the pendant comes last, because otherwise it just gets in the way. On both sides of the large chain links, there's two long bars, enabling it to be a double strand. On both sides of thick chain, I attached another length of the skinny chain to the bar on the inside of the circle and ran that up, connecting both ends to the previously mentioned "O" rings that contained the clasp findings.

After connecting the thinner chains, I then went back and using the left over chain lengths and cut them into two 2-inch segments, attaching these via "O" ring to the bars on the outside of the circle links. After attaching them, I then threaded a piece of beadalon wire through the other end of the chain, onto which I then threaded the 4mm topaz beads from I tend to count the beads when I'm threading them so you'll find 25 topaz beads on both sides (I ended up using about half the total strand I had purchased).

Once I had threaded the beads, I then attached the remaining length of chain to the ends of the beads, pulling the beadalon thru and securing it with a crimp bead to keep the beads in place. I repeated this process on both sides of chain, again securing the other ends of the chains to the "O" rings on the clasp findings.

Now for the last part, attaching the pendant. The pendant itself hangs in such a way that you can't just thread it on some beadalon wire and call it a day without it hanging sideways and
getting twisted around. To solve this problem, I attached a larger "O" ring to the pendant itself then used the same "O" ring to attach the pendant to the center link in the larger chain, using my needle nose pliers to close the "O" ring.

After I had assembled the necklace, I did have to go back in and straighten out the chains so that they weren't tangled, that was simply a matter of reopening the "O" rings on the clasp findings and rearranging the ends of the chains but it was trivial and if you like your chains tangled, you can leave them that way.

I like my chains to lay flat and even so I took a few extra minutes after I had finished assembling the necklace to straighten it out.

So yeah, there ya go. You have yourself a lovely Victorian inspired, slightly steampunk in appearance necklace of modern design.

Skill Level: Moderate, the beading skills are basic but the skill (and patience) needed to work with the chains takes a little more beading experience.

Total Time: Approx. 4 hours, time will vary though, depending on your experience as well as trial and error. It took me about 4 hours to complete this piece, largely because I was without power and had to work by the light of a head lamp.

Welcome to LA's Jewelry Box

So I'm kinda new to this whole blogging thing- never attempted it til I had this computer class this past semester at school that required me to keep a blog but yeah, here I am.

Welcome to LA's Jewelry Box. I'm LA. I'm an artist by trade and all around I love working with my hands. My mom got me into beading way back, about 6 years ago. She signed us up for a class at a local bead shop and while my *first* bracelet turned out rather disastrously, being more fitted for an ankle then for a wrist, I kept at it, it was fun and it let me flex my creative muscles much more then just drawing or just taking pictures.

Shortly after that, I got involved with a Bead Society through the same bead shop and while I haven't been active with the Bead Society since I graduated high school and went off to college, I still bead, I still make jewelry, and over the course of the last year or so, I've really grown as an artisan crafter, moving in leaps and bounds.

I love the whole DIY aspect of working with my hands, taking different parts to make a one-of-a-kind whole. I rarely buy jewelry any more because for the most part, it's all stuff I can make. I also like the challenge of figuring a design out.

I've taught myself quite a few tricks through DIY videos, articles in magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens, as well as through deconstructing old jewelry of mine, stuff that's broken and I haven't worn in years and usually if I can take it apart, I can figure out how to put it back together (my dad's pocket watch being a victim of such curiosity).

In addition to making jewelry, I've also gotten into textile crafts, having taught myself some basics this past summer in my quest to have a skull pillow to match my skull blanket, I'm gradually learning, again thru trial and error as well as DIY help videos the art of textile crafts.

I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades, my primary outlet for creativity is my work as a printmaking majour, I use etching plates, linocuts, and lithography in my studio work and have also strayed into the realm of book binding. Ideally I would like to be an illustrator some day but I'm happy so long as I have some sort of creative outlet.

So, yeah, welcome to my blog. I'm not quite sure how these craft blogs work but I'll do my best to keep y'all's interest and foster creativity and unique designs and hope y'all stick with me as I work to figure this out myself :)