Archive for February, 2011

Fickle Heart necklace

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Hi bloglandia!  This is jewelry designer Cindy.  I was asked to write about my favorite piece of jewelry that I myself created for Rings & Things’ 2011/2012 catalog…

Fickle heart necklace

Finished "Fickle" copper clay necklace

I picked Fickle because I love working with COPPRclay.  Yes, you need a kiln (I bought the Caldera).  I know that is an obstacle for a lot of people as kilns aren’t exactly cheap.  Best to view it as an investment rather than an impulse buy.  But once you have it, all kinds of jewelry-making doors are open to you: fused glass, ceramics, enameling and, of course, metal clay!

I made the Fickle heart pendant during an in-house training session.  Since it was my first time working with COPPRclay, I didn’t have any big goals in mind when I started.  I just wanted to see how the copper clay behaved compared to bronze clay and silver clay.  I was really happy with its workability.  It took textures easily and didn’t dry out too quickly.  It was easy to connect pieces with a little slip.  As you can see, we had a full range of tools and textures and other fun things to play with.

clay chaos

copper clay workshop supplies

I don’t know why I wrote “fickle” on the clay.  I had just finished a trail run, despite my insistence that I am not a runner, so maybe my subconscious was just acknowledging what the world already knows: I change my mind every 3.2 seconds.

Anyway, I just Googled the phrase “fickle heart” in the hopes that there was a meaningful, well-known quote I could claim as my inspiration.  There wasn’t.  But, I learned that the Brit band Sniff ‘n’ the Tears released their first album, titled Fickle Heart, in 1978, which just so happens to be the year I was born.  How’s that for serendipity?

COPPRclay before being fired

COPPRclay before being fired

I hung my fickle little heart with night blue Swarovski crystal pearls, using dotted copper ring beads as spacers.  The back of the necklace is two strands of silky rattail.  I really wish rattail wasn’t called rattail — it is such an unappealing name for such a nice, soft, affordable cording.  The only drawback to working with rattail is its tendency to fray when you cut the ends, but that is easily solved by wrapping a little piece of tape around it before you cut.   Dabbing a bit of glue on the cut end also works.

Whether you are fickle like me or constant and true in your affections, I highly recommend COPPRclay as a way to create jewelry that is personally meaningful.  Have fun creating your own designs!

Project Alert: How to use leftover beads to make a Statement Piece!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

This blog is designed to address what I call “Orphan Beads”…

If you are a jewelry maker, then inevitably you have some beads lying around at your house or in your studio. You know what I’m talking about; those stray beads leftover from projects past? A gemstone here, a few lampwork glass beads there.

Too often these lost beads find homes at the bottom of our “bead organizers” and ” junk drawers” to never be used. I used to stare at these beads with turmoil, wondering how to organize them. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that in fits of OCD cleaning, I have actually thrown these lost beads away.

But at last, I have found a project to use these stray beads, and in a way that is actually appealing!

To begin this project, you need very little. Start by collecting all of your “orphan beads” together. Now pick one color palette to work within. As you can see here, I have chosen to work with hues of blue and teal.

Try to find an assortment of beads in varying materials. If you look closely, you can see my assortment contains some Mother of Pearl, Magnesite Skulls, Resin Rectangles, Foil Glass, Recycled Glass Trade Beads, Turquoise, Amazonite, Shell Pearls, Paua Shell and even some Coral from our limited-availability stock. (Just to name a few!) I also found some various beads in Antiqued Silver Plate. I think it looks nice to add a metallic touch! If you like, you can incorporate some found objects as well, such as buttons and washers, into your design.

Once you have your random bead assortment, then you can begin the stringing process. I like to use waxed linen cord with a little Hypo Fabric Cement to seal any knot ends.

Start creating your necklace with a bead that has a hollow ring-like shape if possible, like I have done below. Cut a piece of waxed linen about three or four feet long. Find the center of the strand and tie the linen around your first bead, securing with a simple knot.

Now begin adding beads from your random assortment. Just place one of the two strands through the holes of the beads. Secure with a knot between each bead.

This is a good time to have a bead reamer handy for those beads that have a hole just a little too small for the waxed linen. Continue this process until you get near the end of your strand of waxed linen. Use another hollow ring-like shape bead here. Tie a secure double knot, trim the waxed linen and seal the edges with hypo fabric cement.

Cut a new strand of waxed linen and repeat the process. I like to make a necklace that ends up long enough to double over and still be long, or triple over and be really chunky. (About 7 feet total!)

The end result is a mixed-media statement necklace that utilizes all of your random leftover beads!

Tiffany White

Rings & Things Showroom

Design Team


PS: here are some handy links to some other how-to’s in the Rings & Things blog!

What’s the special? Thru Sunday, up to 15% off

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

5-Day Sale!

What’s the special? Thru Sunday, February 27, 2011: Create trendy designs for less! This week’s sale items include resin supplies, versatile bezel-cup findings, shimmering Swarovski crystal prisms and craft adhesives that will really stick by you! Items are 10-15% off thru Sunday only!

Sale starts approx. 9 am Pacific Time Wednesday morning. Once the sale has started, your savings will be visible in your final Order Review, after entering payment info, below the “Place Order” button. See below for more sale details.

15% Off: Jewelry Resin & Resin Supplies
Stock up on resin jewelry-making supplies including EasyCast epoxy resin, disposable mixing supplies, dyes & pigments, molds & mold makers, sealants & finishes! Resin is perfect for making mixed-media jewelry! (SALE1B4-15)
15% Off: Brass & Sterling Silver Bezel Cups
Become a mixed media pro with brass bezel cups and sterling silver bezel cups, including no-loop, 1-loop and 2-loop rounds and ovals!
Expand your options more with sterling earring findings with bezel cup. (SALE1B4-15)
15% Off: Swarovski Crystal Prisms
Add sparkle to your world with Swarovski crystal prisms, perfect as jewelry focals, sun catchers and household ornaments. Choose from optically-pure 32% lead-oxide Strass® crystals and Spectra® lead-free crystals. (SALE1B4-15)
10% Off: Jewelry & Craft Adhesives
Choose craft glues that will stick by you when you need them! Epoxies, super glues, and specialty adhesives like Amazing Quick Hold®. Bead Fix™, E-6000, G-S Hypo Cement, EcoGlue™ & twin-stick adhesive dots are all on sale! (SALE1B4-10)

Click here for free projects that feature sale items!
Click here for free projects that feature sale items!

Trendwatch: Spotlight on Sparkly Glass!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Working with beads all day gives you a different perspective on life…

Sometimes I feel as though I have “Bead-o-vision”! I notice things now that I didn’t before.

Recently, while I was shopping at a few department stores here in Spokane, WA, home 0f Rings & Things, I came across a trend that was consistent throughout all of the stores: Sparkly Glass. Racks and racks full of designer jewelry made with the exact sparkly glass beads that we carry!

"The sparkle of crystal, at the price of glass!"

So, why, you ask, is sparkly glass so great? Well for several reasons. First and foremost, it is Sparkly! Really really sparkly! It comes in several shapes, sizes, colors and finishes.

And the best part about sparkly glass…it’s incredibly affordable. Most 16″ strands cost a mere $5 and will keep you creating for days. It’s no wonder that designers for top department stores have jumped on this trend.

These sparkly beads look great mixed with chain (as I have seen in designer items). Or, use them like you would crystals to “sparkle-up” your already great designs.

Limited-availability sparkly glass found only in our Spokane showroom or on our BeadTour

Here at Rings & Things, we carry 14 colors and 9 shapes of Sparkly Glass as regular stock. We are constantly adding to this, though!

Also if you want to see even more sparkly glass check out our Showroom or up-coming Bead Tour for an ever-changing supply of new, limited availability Sparkly Glass Beads!

Check out some ideas for how to use sparkly glass below (from our Design Gallery):

"Blue Bling" ring with electric blue sparkly glass

"Geared Up for Philosophy" bracelet with electric purple sparkly glass

"Ruby Droplets" Necklace featuring several sizes of red sparkly glass

By Tiffany White,

Rings & Things Showroom

Design Team

Tucson memories, 2011

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Missed Tucson?  Missing it fondly?


Either way, enjoy some snapshots we took.

18°? Those poor cactuses!

Enjoy our Facebook album of the Tucson bead shows!

February 28 Contest Deadline{s}

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Click for contest details and entry form. February 28 Contest Deadline

Don’t delay — enter today! There are only a few days left to enter our annual jewelry and design contest! All entries must be submitted or postmarked by midnight Monday, February 28. No entry fee. We look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on! Our Early-Bird Drawing Winner will be announced the first week of March. Contest details & entry form.

Alternatives with TierraCast®!

Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Alternatives with TierraCast®!
Expanded design options? Yes! with TierraCast’s new Alternatives Collection. Featured:
brass oxide (antiqued brass) components and
black (gunmetal) components. TierraCast Alternatives were created to fill the needs of current trends among bead stores & designers. Your favorite TierraCast beads and jewelry findings now come in these great new finishes!
Find your favorite TierraCast beads in antiqued brass (aka brass oxide).

TierraCast Brass Oxide Finish

Find your favorite TierraCast beads in black finish (aka gunmetal).

TierraCast Black Finish

Jewelry Inspirations:

Combine black finish beads and niobium findings for a smart look!
“Wisdom & Knowledge” Earrings
Make this black gunmetal necklace with glass focal for a look that's all the buzz!
“Bee Mine” Necklace
Discover how electrifying your design options are with TierraCast Alternatives and Swarovski crystals!
“Vitrail Voltage” Earrings


Jewelry Terms Decoded: Aurora Borealis (AB)

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
By Tiffany White

"Use an AB finish when you want that extra WOW factor!"

Jewelry makers have a language all of their own. We talk in gauges, and millimeters and shapes that only we understand. We don’t even realize we do it, but we do. Try asking a non-jewelry maker if they know what a briolette is or if they prefer half hard or dead soft wire. You will surely be met with looks of confusion!

Over the years, I have slowly caught on to this language, learning vocabulary here and there. I wouldn’t say that I am fluent in “Jewelry Lingo” quite yet, but I am definitely able to speak at a conversational level. In an effort to continue my jewelry education, I thought it would be nice to define some jewelry terms from time to time.

Aurora Borealis in the Alaskan sky

The term I have chosen for today is Aurora Borealis, or simply AB for short. This is a term mostly seen with crystals and glass beads. In astronomy, Aurora Borealis refers to a magical sight that occurs in the sky during the Northern Lights, where magnetically charged particles collide creating a colorful, ethereal cloud in the night sky.

Costume Jewelry with a beautiful AB Finish!

In the jewelry world, this term also indicates a spectacle of color. In fact, the jewelry term was named after the previously discussed atmospheric phenomenon, in 1955. Aurora Borealis refers to the thin metallic coating that is sprayed onto crystals, creating a beautiful iridescent sheen. The finish is meant to pick up and reflect the colors around it.

Beautiful new AB Rhinestone Balls sold at Rings & Things!

Beautiful new AB rhinestone balls sold at Rings & Things!

Originally this finish was famous for it’s use in elaborate costume jewelry. Today, Swarovski continues to make beautiful crystals of all shapes and sizes with AB finish. Czech glass beads and Chinese sparkly glass beads also use this classic AB finish now. So if you come across a bead that has an AB listed after the color, just know it means extra sparkly and iridescent!

Here are some examples of jewelry made by our in house design team using AB crystals and glass beads.

"Starlight" Earrings by Mollie Valente

"Sterlina Sparkle Spirits" Bracelet by Sondra Barrington

"Ice Plumage" Earrings by Tiffany White

See more design ideas using Aurora Borealis finish. We have hundreds of items with AB finish, from rhinestone head pins to Swarovski crystal cubes, so go to Rings-Things.com and search for “Aurora Borealis” to browse a complete list.