Category Archives: Jewelry Tools

Living Up To The Name

When I named this blog “Just Make a Mess” I meant it.  I meant to be willing to show the chaos that can ensue as a result of the creative process.  Now I know there are artists that create magnificent works while their studios remain pristine.  Their paints are carefully organized according to colour family, their pencils are all neatly sharpened and stored with their tips protected.  Their palettes could be sold as colour-wheels.  These kinds of artists do exist.  I personally believe them to be alien life-forms, but I do believe they exist.

Unless you have the luxury of a studio completely separate from your house, or you have a house with tons of storage, keeping a studio tidy and dedicated to its intended use can be difficult.  I live in a house that was likely built in the 40’s or 50’s and it is woefully lacking in storage space.  The end result of this is that most of my spaces must be multi-functional.  Which sucks for the studio.

Over Christmas, the usual happened.  This kind of thing……

led inevitably to this kind of thing…..

That’s my poor studio, buried underneath the remnants of our holiday.  Everything that needed to go “somewhere” ended up here.  This mess enabled the packaging of soap, the storage of yummy Chrismas baking, the taking of many blog photos, the printing of jewelry packaging and the final polishing of tons of new jewelry pieces.

So tomorrow, this room stops living up to this blog’s name and gets a mucking-out.  It’s a new year and I’ve tons of new projects I’m just itching to get at.  This is one of them:

From Away

This is a painting I started a long while ago that I kind of abandoned to get some jewelry done.  The plan is to spend more time on painting.  Until this is done, it’s going to be one day painting, one day jewelry, during the week, Monday to Friday once the studio is in working order again.  I have big plans for this painting.  I want to take it somewhere I’ve never seen a painting go before.  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated on that, AND the exciting new direction I’m going to explore with my jewelry.  It’s going to be a great year, isn’t it?  I’m excited and inspired and all of you are a big part of this journey.  Let’s see what’s next, shall we?

That Brick Wall

Ever feel like you’re pounding your head against a brick wall?  That sentence perfectly describes my weekend in a nutshell.  Note the last 4 letters of the previous sentence.

Knowing I only have one week until the Craft Fair has made me a little edgy.  I didn’t even blog on Friday because I wanted to put my energy into finishing some pieces.  It didn’t happen.  It wasn’t for lack of trying but I got pretty much nothing done.  I soldered all my bezels onto my sheet backing using medium solder and it went more smoothly than I could have hoped.  Dropped them all into the pickle and planned on a day of production Saturday.  Didn’t happen.

I pulled the pieces out of the pickle and all the bezels fell off.  Every last one of them.  So began the trouble-shooting.  I used medium solder, which I seldom use and had a bit of trouble getting to flow.  I chalked it up to the large pieces that needed to be heated.  Seems I shouldn’t have.  I also put a fire-coat spray on the pieces to keep the need for polishing down.  I don’t know if it was the spray, the solder, the flux, or what the problem was but it took me several tries to get those dang bezels stuck down.  I’ve never had this problem before and I just wanted to throw something….or several somethings.

I think I’m good-to-go now and I did get some of the cutouts done today before coming to work, but seriously, it was one of the most frustrating situations I’ve ever had since I began building jewelry.  The time-crunch, of course, only added to the aggravation.  I think I’m going to start packing a sledge-hammer around though….for the next brick wall that plunks itself in front of me.

Cut That Out!

Ever since I did the first reversible medallion with a cutout, I’ve wanted to do more.   Remember these stones?

All of these are large enough to lend themselves to this type of setting….the small labradorite is just barely big enough, but I can make it work.  The first thing of course is to build the bezel-rings, which I’ve already done.  The next is to draw the cutout designs.

Nothing special here…plain paper, a dull pencil because I’m at work and of course can’t find the pencil sharpener.  The placements for setting the wire bails on the tops are just approximate but the designs themselves are pretty much what I’m after.

For the record, the circles will either be cut with setting burs or with a drill.  I COULD try and cut perfect little circles but hey,  why torture myself?  I cuss too much as it is.  Now all that’s left is to glue the papers onto the sterling silver sheet and…..

……wait for it…….




CUT THAT OUT!!………….*donkey laugh*………….yes, I amuse THAT easily.

Mad About Plaid

Being of Scottish heritage means one thing in my family.  We’re Scots.  Spirit of the West’s lyrics “There’s none more Scots than the Scots abroad” ring strong and true for those of us who are scions of the Auld Sod.  But make no mistake, we’re Scots….not Scotsmen (I’m a lass, don ye ken?), not Scotch (though we may tipple a wee bit), and most certainly not Scotchmen.  Lass, remember?

That being said, plaid is kind of like Magnetic North or Brad Pitt.  We’re attracted to it.  It whispers to us in the night “Come hither into yon heather and wrap yourself in tartan”.   It doesn’t really matter if it’s OUR plaid or not.  It’s worn to marry and to bury, in love and in loss.  It’s about clan and kin and the ties that bind.

Some dear soul went to a ton of trouble to make this glorious little bit of plaid.  Working with dichroic glass is something I hope to do in the near future, but I’m positive that it will be a long while before I’m anywhere near proficient enough to produce something like this.  The next pic is taken with a flash just to show you the shimmer this glass produces.

It really is quite lovely, and quite large.  The whole piece measures 7.5 cm x 6 cm and has a sparkly cz at the top for just a bit more glitter and glam.  My heart will not break if it doesn’t sell….just don’t tell my hubby.

I’m off now to explain to the Swedish side of the family what the “big deal about being a Scot is anyway”.  Again.  It never gets old and it’s ALWAYS fun.  Usually involves intricate descriptions of various recipes for haggis and the waving of a Scotch bottle. Sláinte!

Rose Quartz Swirly Mega-Heart

Okay, I probably wouldn’t label this piece that way for the shelf, but it really is the best way to describe it.

As I mentioned earlier, this piece ended up being a little larger than I had envisioned.  In the end, it did mean that I decided not to add the original piece that was the whole reason for building this.  It would have made the whole thing about 6 inches long and while I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, I do think it would be a little intimidating for most people out there.  It would turn it into a piece that was worn perhaps only rarely which would make me sad.

As is,  this piece is light and feminine while still a little funky.  It’s something I definitely could wear every day.  And that’s how it should be….hiding your jewelry away in your jewelry chest or in that dish on your dresser is just hiding your light under a bushel.  Much better to let it shine.  Shine baby, Shine!.