Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How To Make Sterling Silver Head Pins

Okay I promised to do a picture tutorial of how to make headpins at home. Please be patient as I am recovering from pneumonia.

Obviously the first thing you will need are your supplies and someplace safe to light your torch. I don't recommend your living room. I know you may not like those curtains but trust me there is a better way.

You need your sterling silver wire 18 to 24 guage round either dead soft or half hard.(personal preference and depending on what you are using them for) Something to hold them with as you apply your torch. I am using what is called a third hand. Basically anything that will hold your wire and not catch on fire or melt while near the torch. Your fingers do NOT fall under this category and will most definitely burn. Even if you miss them with the torch the wire itself get hot all the way to to top so be careful. it to cool completely or use tweezers, pliers whatever to remove them from your holder.(Yes I am speaking from experience, take my word for it). You also need a torch. Mine is from Home Depot and was 14 dollars. Please read the directions FIRST. Move anything flammable from around your space you will be working in. (you would be surprised at how far the flame actually goes). Now you will need to cut your wire to the appropriate length ( I am still working on how long to cut for the amount I want to have left but it is just a matter of trial and error to figure out the right length.) Hook up your first piece of wire and light your torch. Apply the flame to the bottom of the head pin and watch for it turn red. This does not take long! As soon as it turns red it balls up and you can remove the torch and turn it off. Either wait for the pin to cool or use a tweezer or plier to remove it from you third hand.( I cannot emphasis this part enough, third degree burns do ugly things to fingerprints!). Continue with this process until you have made the desired amount of heads pins. This is what they should look like at this point. Not very attractive and kind of dirty looking.. At this point they need to go into the pickle pot so that the fire scale will be removed and they will start to look like usable pieces. Again please read all the directions for your pickle if you have never tried this before. After pickling the head pins come out with a whitish coating on them. This is normal, please don't panic, you have not done anything wrong. The next step is to toss them in your tumbler and give them a spin for about two hours. This not only makes them nice and shiny but also makes them stronger. Then you just straighten any that you need to straighten and you have now created your very own headpins to work with. I hope this has been a helpful piece for those of you just starting out. Please follow all safety and handling instructions when you attempt to do this.
Many thanks go to the fine etsians who have been kind enough to share their knowledge in the forums and in tutorials of their own. Not limited to but including

GlitterCritter, LooseWireStudio Stereotte, and WireYourWorld to name a few.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How to Cut Rocks Step Three

Sorry it took so long to get back to this, the holidays were a bit crazy and since we are now short one person at work (with absolutely no plans to replace him for at least a year) I have been working more too. This is tough because even though I like my job I would rather be designing and making jewelry so having less time to spend doing that and promoting my store does not really thrill me. Although the extra money is always a good thing lol!

So we left off at the trim saw. The next step is cabbing the stone. This takes a little more skill and time although there are some tricks to make it easier. This step requires lots of water instead of oil to avoid heat. You do want to make sure all of the oil is off of your stone. We use a bucket of kitty litter and a brush. Then wash well with warm, soapy water. (The large round object in the picture is a vibratory tumbler. We use this for all of the odds and ends left over from the trim saw . After several weeks it gives us highly polished stones that the kids at the gem show go nuts over). So we have our lovely almost oval trim sawed stone and we are going to start grinding it to a 15 degree angle with the machine on the left. This machine does not have removable belts, the grinding wheel has tiny diamond pieces embedded in it. This spins at a high rate of speed. A plastic apron is a good idea with this machine as the water you use to keep it from getting too hot sprays in the direction of your body not the wall. Also eye protection is a must. Here is one of the tricks of the trade. The grinding wheel has a natural 15 degree angle so that you really don't have to do any fancy calculations to get it right. Remember that oval we drew on here with the magnesium stick? This is where you want to grind it to. This is the back of your piece and the angled portion is the front. When you have it to the right size and before you begin to grind your dome you need to put it on a dap stick. I am going to leave off here because I need to take pictures of the dap stick and how it is done before I can continue. (Remembering the camera is always an issue for me. When I head for the rock club I usually have two toolboxes and my purse, and since it is winter my coat, gloves etc. I'm lucky I remember my name on some days much less the camera lol!). This is a good stopping point as I will be able to finish hoe to cut rocks with my next post on this subject in a couple of weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One of My Treasuries on Etsy

Okay for those of you who don't know what a treasury is I am going to show you one of mine. I love making these, they are highly addictive and there is a great deal of competition among fellow etsians to secure a spot when they become available. This is how it works. When the list drops below 333 (don't know why they picked that particular number but that is what it is.) So if you are lucky enough to get the little title box and get your title name in it before they are all grabbed you then get to make a treasury.
TIP - copy your title from Word so all you have to do is paste. This increases your chances exponentially. You then get to design a theme and go thru all of the lovely shops on etsy to choose your photos for your treasury. It is considered bad form by many to put your own item(s) in a treasury. It is meant to showcase other artists. As you can see from this screen shot I have chosen a theme of Black and Sunset. Of course your theme can be anything you want and does not have to be based on color. To see more treasuries go to and click on the treasury link on the left side of the page. Have fun! But be careful they are highly addictive.

Do You Need A New Banner? Check out this Etsy Artist

Well I have decided that with all of the talk about branding and making a statement that has been going on in the etsy forums that I would go ahead and give it a try and see if it helped my sales any. I spend a good amount of time browsing the many talented designers on Etsy who make things like banners and avatars, not to mention business cards etc. I finally decided to go with Callista's Design Shop at I convo'd her at about 10:49 pm and she responded immediately. I explained to her what I wanted and said I would check back the next day. Less than 24 hours later I had my new banner and avatar. Did I mention how pleased I am with them?! I have also shown a small sampling of custom banner designs that she has in her shop and she also does blog headers etc. Go check her out!

I will also be finishing my series on how to cut rocks very soon and will do another update on the puppies soon. We are down to three right now so we are making progress lol!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Etsy Seller and Fellow Blogger

I know that I usually do a post on an etsy seller and link to the blog on the sidebar but I am going to do this one a bit differently. There are lots of sellers on etsy who also have wonderful blogs and it would take years to post everyone of them.

This particular etsian has added to her blog a very long list of beautiful shops that you can find on etsy. If you want to check some of them out you can go here
I am guessing that you can spend several days checking out her list alone. And it is a chance to see some really talented artists. So I was browsing thru her shop and came across this very cute and practical crocheted scrubby. Now my sister's, husband's grandma makes me a couple of crocheted scrubbies every year for Christmas and I love them. They work really well and they wash easily in the washer. However Stacy has gone one step further and has crocheted hemp yarn in the middle of hers. This means MORE POWER to clean my stove and countertops. (My teenagers can leave a horrendous mess and walk away. Three hours later when I come home from work I practically need a flamethrower to get the dried on gook off the stove). So I suggest you check out her blog for lots of cool etsy artists and check out her store for some great crocheted items. (She does more than scrubbies lol!).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Etsy Artists January 3rd 2008

This artist on is fairly new on Etsy but I have to tell you I was so impressed with her bead work. I also thing that she is seriously underpricing so if you want to get in on a good deal I would head over to her shop soon as I am sure she will eventually raise her prices to what the work is worth. I don't have the patience to do detailed bead work like this and I admire anyone who can follow a pattern that turns out so beautifully. Her monarch butterfly looks soo real that you just expect it to fly right off the page. Can you believe that this is made out of beads. Just blows me away. I usually only post two pictures but I really couldn't resist putting one more dragonfly up as they are some of my favorite bugs. They are beautiful in nature and I think that this artist has captured that beauty in her wonderful beaded creations. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Update on our Puppies (Finally)

Well it is New Years Day and I finally have a small breather as I am waiting on the turkey to finish cooking so I am going to do my long overdue update on the pups. We have sold four puppies, Zeke our smallest puppy, Hope and Bluto went to the same home, and Mo was the first to go. While I do miss them, being down to four pups is much easier to manage.

Zacharia is our teddy bear, both in looks and in personality. He is a great big ball of four and since he has a naturally bobbed tail when he is running away from you he really does look like a bear cub. Must be all that fuzzy fur. He just loves for you to love on him and is usually the first to greet you.

Lizzie (Elizabeth) is the only female left and is also the smallest. Her fur is more sleek than the rest of her siblings so this also makes her appear smaller (She is not as fluffy lol!). She is a very happy go lucky dog and very active. She has no fear of anything either. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. And if you are wondering yes she is behind my vegetable garden fence. They are still little enough to squeeze thru the "bars" and seem to take great delight in doing so.

Alexender (the Great) is another sweetie. He looks up at you with big brown eyes and you just melt lol! (Have I told you how spoiled they are?!). Always willing to please he also has an adventursome spirit and is often the first one to get into something new. As you can see in this picture he is trying to figure out what this fountain is and of course he has never seen a fish before.

Last but certainly not least is Boo. He is a blue merle and he has one blue eye and one brown eye. He is our most gently and laid back puppy and he is also the biggest puppy. He has such a sweet personality just kind of waits to see what the rest of the pack is going to do before joining in.

They are all paper trained and have just introduced them to the outdoors. They absolutely love it and went out in their very first snow storm today. They love being outside and don't willingly come in on their own even when it is snowing. We have to train (bribe) them with treats and occasionally chase one down to get them all back into the house. They really needed the exercise, the kitchen is just not enough space anymore. Much easier to do with four than eight though. This also cuts down on the amount of mess I have to clean up which is of course a good thing for me. We are hoping that their new owners show up soon because every day I get a little bit more attached. However we live on a city lot and seven dogs is out of the question lol! Three is really pushing it. I am very glad our back yard is fenced! This will most likely be our last litter also so that makes it a little harder. This is Liberty's third litter and I think she probably doesn't want to do this again either.