Every year, the Bead & Button Show is put on in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is only an hour away from Jefferson, Wisconsin, where Cool Tools is located. Classes are offered at the Bead & Button Show with a huge variety of techniques and skill levels. Rhonda and Dianne, employees of Cool Tools took some classes to keep up their knowledge in the jewelry artist world. Each teacher was wonderful to work with and an inspiration to learn from.
Classes included (from the first to last picture):
Backyard Birdhouse in Silver Clay with Lyle Rayfield
Aphrodite Pendant with Kaska & Katherine Firor
Kiln-Fired Enamel Earrings with Sherie Gage
Spinner Ring with Robyn Corelius
We both learned a great deal of technique and instruction at these classes and can’t wait to take more next year!
What is Valentines Day without Cupid and his bow and arrow? ( See below for materials and tools used)
I began this project with a quick simple sketch to work out the ideal size and shape of “Cupid’s Bow and Arrow” Brooch. I knew that getting the bends in the sterling silver patterned wire “Dotted” would be a little tricky, because the bends would need to occur where the wire was the thickest. Before I attempted to bend the sterling wire, I made a sample in brass, a cheaper material for trial and error.
I marked the center, and where I wanted the two main bends to be on the wire. I used a 4mm jump ring maker mandrel in a vise to bend the metal. I bent the two outer bends in the bow to create a U shape with the wire. The metal needed to be annealed a couple times to get the desired bends. I did not initially worry about the bend in the middle, because I removed material with a saw making it much easier to bend after the two main bends were in the wire. I then repeated the process in the silver wire. Then I removed material to create a slight tapper on both ends leaving just the dot on the ends. I also added a tapper toward the middle bend. Once I got the desired shape for the bow, I filed, sanded and polished the tappers and smoothed out the bends. I soldered the pin henge and catch to the back of the bow with hard solder.
Next, I started constructing the arrow by taking 18 gauge sterling silver wire and making 10 pieces that were approximately 3/4” long with a 90° bend in the middle to make the fletching. I lined the pieces up so that they fit snuggly together. I cut the tubing to a 3” length, and removed part of the tubing on a 1/2” area at the end of the tubing exposing the inside. Then I flowed hard solder in the exposed inside of the tubing and pickled it. After pickling, I placed it on top of the 18 gauge wire pieces, and reflowed the solder to attach the pieces. Next, I soldered the other end of the arrow to the middle of the bow leaving enough space to solder the stone setting to the end of the tubing. Next, I soldered on the stone setting completing the arrow.
I took 7” of the the sterling silver patterned wire “Rope #2”, bent it in the middle, and soldered it to the back of the fletching with medium solder. After it was soldered, I took the ends of the “Rope #2” wire and wrapped them around the ends of the bow so that the wire nested into the niches that were made around the dot. I wrapped the wire around itself to create a tide rope effect, cutting of the excess wire so that the end is in the back of the piece. I took the remaining 5” of the rope wire, placed the middle of it behind the bow where the arrow attached, and wrapped it around the bow.
I did all my final sanding and polishing then raised the fine silver. The last few details were setting the cubic zirconia, and put the pin stem on. I put a bend in the pin stem so that it hid behind the bow. I finished of the piece by brass brushing it to create a soft finish on the silver.
This a fun and simple project for making a chain bracelet or necklace using decorative patterned wire. I chose the “Copper Triple” 16 gauge patterned wire for this project. However, we carry many different wires in various patterns and metals that will be great for this project. There are some options listed below. You can also alternate multiple decorative wires to offer more variation.
After you have chosen the decorative pattern, decide how long or what part of the pattern you would like to use for the segments of the chain. It is best if the segments do not exceed one inch in length. Longer segments will hinder the kinetics of the bracelet or necklace. Use a marker or scribe to mark where you would like to divide the patterned wire. Plan out where you want to drill your holes. You will need one hole on each end of the segment. Use a center punch to mark where your holes will be, and drill them out. It is easier to drill your holes in the long pattern wire before you cut it into segments. This gives you more surface area to hold onto while drilling. I used a #60 drill bit to accommodate the18 gauge round copper wire jump rings. After the holes are drilled, you can use a jewelers saw or wire cutters to divide up the patterned wire. Use a file to clean up the ends of the wire were you cut, and then polish to give a smooth edge.
I used a Fretz raising hammer to give a light hammer texture to the wire. This gives the refined wire a unique look. After hammering the wire, I gave each segment a slight bend to help work with the curvature of the wrist. If you are making a necklace leave the pieces flat. I also gave the clasp a hammer texture in some of the areas to help it pair with the patterned wire on the chain. This also helps the look vary from its manufactured aesthetic. I chose the “Copper Plate Toggle Clasp- Plain Leaf” for the clasp, but we carry many different clasps to choose from for this project.
I made copper wire jump rings with the “Jump Ring Maker” 4mm mandrel. You can use a saw or wire cutters to cut the jump rings. After they are cut clean up the ends with a file. Use a round needle file to clean up the drilled holes in the segments of the patterned wire. You want the jump rings to move freely in the holes. Connect all the segments and the clasp with the jump rings to finish your bracelet or necklace.You can patina and polish the final piece to help the pattern in the wire pop. Now you have a unique chain bracelet or necklace made from a beautiful decorative patterned wire.
New Pliers! Choose from 3-Step, Bending/Forming, Half Round, Concave Round, Crimping and more. Shop New Pliers
New Metal Blanks! Fun new shapes in Brass, Copper and Nickel Silver. Shop Metal Blanks
Thompson Enamel Sampler Set – Start with this complete color sampler containing all 169 colors of Thompson medium temperature/medium expansion enamels. Shop Sampler Set
Riveting and creating cold connections is a unique technique that adds a beautiful and raw look to your jewelry projects. However, drilling holes, and flaring rivets can be challenging and time consuming. In this tool demo, learn to use our simple riveting system, creating cold connections and riveting in a matter of seconds. Shop at Cool Tools for this product
Acid-free, fast drying transparent coordinating dye inks specially formulated to create a colorful, polished stone effect. Alcohol inks are an intensely concentrated dye dissolved in alcohol. They are permanent and once dried, are not water soluble. These alcohol inks are perfect for metal and disperse beautifully into translucent polymer clay.
Alcohol Blending Solution was specially formulated to dilute and lighten the Alcohol Inks’ vibrant tones. Not only is this solution useful for lightening and blending the Adirondack Alcohol Ink colors, it will also remove them from slick surfaces, hands and art tools.
The Blending Pen is an empty, dual-tipped dry pen that needs to be filled with Adirondack® Alcohol Ink Blending Solution to blend and lighten Adirondack® Alcohol Inks. Use the Blending Pen with Adirondack® Alcohol Ink colors for endless creative possibilities. SHOP NOW!
Gold Plating Technique by Valerie Bealle
Valerie Bealle, Metal Clay Artist and Instructor from Long Island, New York visited the Cool Tools studio to demonstrate how to add 24K gold plating to fine silver. In this video Valerie accents a pendant that was created using PMC Flex and one of our popular antique molds. WATCH HERE
I have spent most of my life in a love affair with craft. My journey started when, as a child, I learned to crochet. After many doilies and two children, I graduated to creating wearable art in free form crochet. Along the way I learned to spin yarn, weave cloth, and to dye anything in sight. I started a business, “North Shore Weavers” that supplied the interior design industry with hand woven custom sofa throws, wall hangings and pillows. A serious shoulder injury ended my weaving days but my hands would not be denied. I had always liked to include beads in my crochet and weaving, so there was a natural progression to jewelry design.
It was at this point that I discovered a relatively new product called “metal clay”. It seemed like magic. I could take a lump of this clay-like substance, form it, dry it and fire it in a kiln and come away with a piece of jewelry made of pure silver. As soon as possible, I got my certification as a metal clay instructor from PMC Connection and have been teaching ever since. I love the freedom that this material offers. I can create jewelry in fine (pure) silver, sterling (92.5%) silver, copper, bronze and various other metals.
I am especially influenced by the beautiful stones that nature provides, textile designs from the bronze age, the world of high fashion and, of course, nature.