Archive for November, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 8 – Ceramic Holiday Cookies Charm Bracelet

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Me. Want. Cookies! When I was in junior high, one of my mom’s friends actually paid me to make Christmas cookies for her cookie exchange each December. I was thrilled to be earning money. She paid me well, but was still getting an amazing bargain considering how many hours I spent rolling dough and piping frosting.

I still like baking, but chocolate chip is about as fancy as it gets. Detailed little gingerbread houses are a thing of the past – or a thing for jewelry. Check out these adorable little ceramic Christmas cookie beads:


Ceramic cookie houses with Swarovski crystal bicones.

Amongst our rather large selection of hand-painted Peruvian ceramic beads I also found cute little ceramic gift boxes and ornaments:




These little guys would make great earrings.

There are a many other cuties available, but I digress. Today’s Christmas jewelry project is a charm bracelet using the cookie beads and sparkly little crystals.

Supplies Needed for Charm Bracelet:

Charm bracelet with toggle clasp

Head pins – you can get away with using shorties, but longer are fine too.

Ceramic cookie beads

4mm Crystal Jam bicone mix (I used Karma Chameleon)

Metal spacer beads

Jump rings

Jewelry-making tool set

This design is a great opportunity to perfect your technique for making simple loops! Simply string beads on a pin, bend wire 90 degrees, trim the wire to about 4mm (1/6th of an inch), grab the very end of the wire with round-nose pliers and loop it back over to touch the base of the wire. The metal spacer beads are decorative, but they also help fill the ceramic bead holes.


The anatomy of a wire loop.


Assembly goes faster if you make a little production line out of it.

Once you have all the dangles made, group them together however you like and attach them to the bracelet using jump rings. It seemed to be missing something, so I added a TierraCast gingerbread man charm and a
fern green bicone drop as an accent near the clasp to finish my easy Christmas cookie charm bracelet.


Can't catch me!

And now I’m off to find some more cookies – edible ones this time! ~ Cindy

How to make ball-end head pins with a micro torch

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Little butane torches are sweet, and not just because they are often used to caramelize sugar on fancy desserts. Micro torches are great for a ton of jewelry making techniques – soldering, fusing fine silver, sintering small Art Clay Silver pieces, even enameling. One really fun and easy project for the micro torch is balling up wire to make your own ball-end head pins.

Supplies needed:

tools for balling silver wireNon-plated wire (I’m using fine silver. Sterling silver and copper wire also work. Brass, nickel silver, steel and coated craft wires do not.)

Micro torch

Butane (sold at most hardware and general stores)

Cross locking tweezers

Bowl of water

Making DIY head pins is addictive. Using the locking tweezers, simply hold the wire vertically above the bowl of water. Heat the end of the wire with the torch.

balling-fine-silver-wireAs the wire starts to melt, it crawls up the wire. Once you have a good size ball, quench the wire in the water. Ta da!

If you get too ambitious, the ball might get too big and drop off the wire. Not a big deal. The little balls make cute additions to other projects, and the water ensures you’re not burning down the house. A little practice is all it takes to consistently make the balls the same size.

homemade-ball-end-pinsThe balled wire also makes nice French hook ear wires. Don’t have a torch? Rings & Things micro torch kit contains everything you need to get started, except the fuel. A book such as Soldering Made Simple: Easy techniques for the kitchen-table jeweler will provide loads of inspiration and how-tos for more complicated projects that take full advantage of your new tool’s powers! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 7 – Faux Stained Glass Soldered Ornaments

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Capture the look of snow falling - even if it is raining outside!

Have you heard of Tim Holtz? If you make jewelry, perhaps not. However, he is wildly popular and famous amongst scrapbookers or mixed-media artists. Rings & Things started carrying some of his Idea-ology trinkets and components because they make fun additions to mixed-media designs (both jewelry and jewelry displays!). And then we added his line of alcohol inks because they can be used to colorize metal and other non-porous surfaces. And now we’ve added his acrylic paint dabbers. I watched his video on how to use the paint dabbers to create a resist for alcohol inks and was intrigued. Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.

tim holtz headlock

Oh, boys.

So Tim – pictured above with our buyer Nory in a headlock! – demonstrates the inks on paper. I wanted to use the process on glass – specifically memory glass slides – in order to make a faux stained glass ornament. One of the coolest things about the alcohol inks is how you can blend them together. My theory was that if I did all my inking and painting on the inside surfaces of the glass, the colors would be safe from the ravages of time.

I gathered up a bunch of alcohol inks, the alcohol ink blending solution, glass tiles, rubber stamps and paint dabbers. Almost immediately I realized that inking and painting on glass is a lot different than working on paper. I messed up several of my first attempts but learned a bunch of things that should help the rest of you out:


Applying paint to the rubber stamp with a paint dabber was very clean and easy.


Here I stamped a bunch of red decorations on a piece of frosted memory glass, then added some blue alcohol ink. (I later destroyed this piece ... you'll see how with the poor birdie.)


Then on another piece I stamped a birdie with silver acrylic paint, then started applying alcohol ink.

alcohol inks on glass

Now the fun starts - mixing blues, greens and purples.

bye bye birdie

But then, disaster. The blending solution diluted both the alcohol inks and the acrylic paint bird. Guess the resist process doesn't work on glass!

Lesson learned: glass doesn’t offer enough adhesion for the paint, so the resist process that works great on paper just washes away on glass. The same thing happened on frosted glass, except part on the paint stayed. Just a dirty shadow really – not a pretty effect at all! My back up plan was to ink one piece of glass and stamp on the second. I ended up inking one and stamping two (one clear and one frosted), which was overkill, but I like how it turned out.

inked glass tile

I love how the inks mix!


Glass is sufficiently stained with ink.


The tree is kind of hard to see on the white background.

After adding some stars, I had a combo I liked enough to solder together.

I wrapped the glass sandwich with copper foil tape and started soldering with the Simply Swank kit. (More detailed instructions here.)

soldered snowflake

The clip does a good job of protecting your fingers from the heat of the soldering iron - the glass heats up pretty quickly!


The completed ornament. This is the frosted side.

If you haven’t gotten one yet, I’d suggest adding a soldering kit to your wish list! It is a gift that keeps on giving…giving you reasons to make creative handmade gifts and jewelry! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 6 – Family Keepsakes

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Not all Christmas crafts or Christmas jewelry designs need to be Christmas-y. Sometimes the best jewelry presents are the ones with special meaning.

Soldered heart necklace

A perfect keepsake for a sister.

Soldered and riveted necklace by designer Mollie Valente. Photo by her sister, Janet, of Pink Poppy Studio on Etsy. The photo inside the one of a kind pendant is of their mother. (I’ll be posting a tutorial on how to sweat solder brass charms onto other metal components – just like Mollie did with the brass key charm and fairy door set – soon.)

If soldering and riveting sounds like too much work (work?!? it is fun!) then check out our hinged pendant frames. All you need to do is cut a picture to size and insert it in the frame. Here is a design by Amy that features a photo from her childhood:

california road trip keepsake necklace

Amy and her sister are swimming with their dad in this snapshot from California road trip.

A third option is to glue an image into a bezel and cover it with jewelry resin, like Rita did for this keepsake necklace:


"Days Gone By"

No traditional “jewelry making skills” are required here – she simply strung the pendant on a pre-made choker.

Maybe it is time to print out some of those digital photos languishing on your computer – or make photocopies of antique originals languishing in a box – and make some keepsakes to treasure! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 5 – Swarovski Crystal Holiday Lights

Friday, November 18th, 2011
crystal holiday light charms

Swarovski crystal holiday lights

Hi bloglandia! Here is another sparkly design, courtesy of the Create Your Style with Swarovski Elements design team: holiday light charms! You need just four ingredients to make them:

9x6mm crystal teardrop beads

4mm rhinestone wheel beads

5mm round crystal beads

Head pins 

Simply stack the crystals on head pins and complete each charm with a simple loop or wrapped loop. The crystal lights can be used individually or en masse to create all sorts of jewelry:

string of lights earrings

Dangly Christmas light earrings are so festive!

crystal light earrings

Holiday light earrings are also cute with just one light bulb.

lights and trees holiday necklace

Or, instead of head pins, string the light pattern on a strand of beading cable for a necklace like this.

For easy charm bracelets, just add some lights to a toggle bracelet:

toggle bracelet

Chain bracelet with toggle clasp already attached.

Aren’t they de-light-ful? (Sorry, that’s the cold medicine talking!) Happy Friday! ~ Cindy







Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 4 – Beaded Snowflakes

Thursday, November 17th, 2011
beaded snowflakes

Making beaded snowflakes is a fun project for anyone old enough to not put beads in their mouth!

Day 4 is an ultra-simple, instant gratification project: beaded snowflakes. Simply take a wire snowflake form and add beads. This is an ideal project for using up leftover beads, especially sparkly glass beads!

snowflake wire formsThere are several options for keeping the beads in place:

  1. Use crimp beads. (Use a crimp with loop at the top to make it easy to hang).
  2. Glue the last bead in place.
  3. Use round-nose pliers to loop the end of the wire.
  4. french wire keeper on wireOr – the easiest and best in my opinion – use a French wire keeper. French wire keepers are little rubber stoppers that keep earrings in place – or beads on snowflake forms. French wire keepers also make great pin backs, or clutches/nuts for post earrings. A very versatile little jewelry finding indeed!

Dress up the view with sparkly snowflakes!

Winter – and the cold & flu season – is upon us. I didn’t post day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas jewelry designs yesterday because I never made it out of bed. Silly head cold. So let that be a lesson to you all – it is never to early to start your holiday projects because you never know what interruptions you might face!

Happy beading! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 3 – Lampwork Glass Bead Zipper Pulls

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Candy bead zipper pulls make a great gift for someone sweet!

Quick, cute and affordable gift idea: zipper pulls! Zipper pulls are actually quite functional when you’re wearing gloves or mittens – why not make them pretty, too? Here are the three things you must do to make beady coat decorations strong enough to withstand a blustery winter.

split ring pliers

That hooked jaw will save your manicure.

  1. Use beads that are large enough to grasp when you’re gloved up. If the bead holes are large, like on many of the holiday lampwork glass beads I used, add small beads on both ends. (Small Czech glass flower beads make convincing cellophane wrappers on silver-foil glass bead candy.)
  2. String beads on a headpin and make a wrapped loop. A basic loop won’t cut it here.
  3. Use split rings instead of  jump rings to attach your baubles to a swivel clip or clasp.
split ring pliers

Pliers make this so much easier!

You’ve heard the song “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”? Well, save your nails – use split ring pliers! Just insert the hooked jaw into the split ring and squeeze. Now slide both the swivel clip and beaded pin onto the ring.

peppermint candy zipper

Mint candy freshens up any outfit.

Well done. You’ve just learned how to make great gifts for under $1 each! ~ Cindy

Twelve Days of Christmas Jewelry Designs: 2 – Bottle Cap Baubles

Monday, November 14th, 2011

What *can’t* you make with a bottle cap? That seems to be what our design team wanted to find out. Check out all of the fun and fabulous bottle cap jewelry, bottle cap home decor and bottle cap holiday accessories you can make! *


Santa Claus charm bracelet - or wine bottle adornment! Or both!


Supplies for bottle cap necklaces.

Our bottle cap jewelry-making kit contains bottle caps, ball chain and clasps, jump rings, earring findings, the hole punch pliers, and clear epoxy dots to cover the images. The only other thing you need is white craft glue, scissors or a 1″ hole punch (highly recommended!), and paper or pictures to insert in the caps. (Many of these examples use images from Simply Swank’s Christmas collage sheet.) Plus embellishments of course. Lots and lots of embellishments!

Upgrade to rhinestone chain for loads of holiday sparkle.

bottle cap napkin rings

Add chain or ribbon to turn monogram bottle cap charms into napkin rings or place cards.

These thin silk ribbons are so pretty. They are even long enough to use as gift wrap – which then becomes a pendant necklace!

Silk cords - classy, reusable gift wrap?

Or, fill bottle caps with your favorite illustrations for lovely gifts.

Normally we advise people to use images that are in the public domain. However, when Sondra bought art from Corid on Etsy, Cori included several itty bitty images with the order. These images were too cute to go to waste, so Sondra them in some of her bottle cap creations. (The general rule is that if you purchase the artwork, it is yours to do what you wish with it for personal use – EXCEPT reproduce. So if you have an original, great, but don’t copy an artist’s work.) Here’s another Corid image:

A charm bracelet can also be used to personalize a wine glass, or decorate a wine bottle. What a great double-duty hostess gift!

So there you have it! Bottle caps made into necklaces, charm bracelets, gift adornments, napkin rings, place settings, wine bottle markers and more!

One more idea: use family photos or kids artwork to make Christmas tree ornaments, for your own tree or as teacher gifts! Enough for today – stay tuned for day 3 of the DIY Christmas jewelry countdown tomorrow! ~ Cindy

* Recycling or upcycling is always a good thing. However, it is much, much easier to use new bottle caps for these designs since they don’t have rubber liners. Rubber liners keep your drinks sealed, but they get in the way of sealing an image in place.