So, I started my challenge, I selected my first JM designer inspired piece, this rather pretty square wire wrapped cabochon enhanced by the 2mm clear quartz.
The reason I selected this first, is because its the one I spotted being demonstrated on air, hence it looked like a fairly simple piece to begin with ….
So, I started with the Cabochon, and the 0.80mm silver plated square wire, I added 0.25mm round wire in to the kit, to form the cradle at the bottom, and to wire wrap the gems on the frame because the narrowest square wire was too chunky to fit through the gems.
This is clearly cheating but as Jan did the same on air I figured I would allow myself the wire but I guess technically I failed because its not possible to create the jewellery in the kit without this addition…. and this was the point I was looking to prove, can you make all the jewellery the designers show on air with the kits JM sell?
The answer is in this case NO you can’t, but lets see if there are enough gems to complete the jewellery set.
So its not finished, but here is the start of my wire wrapped cabochon. Only another 3 more to go, and a bracelet
I have been a little disheartened lately, I randomly buy items from JM, I do try to restrict myself depending on what expenditure I have that month so in reality some months I purchase nothing others maybe one or two bundles.
I enter competition after competition, the latest one being the Alison Tarry Cat for Halloween, which I didn’t win obviously, but this week I fancied a new challenge.
My dilemma came from really wanting to do the Prong setting workshop with Alison, I could sit and study youtube, or buy a dvd but I find I learn better in the classroom environment, where there is a focus on learning, and less normal day to day stuff to distract me. However there is a big BUT ….
I find the courses at JM expensive, ok they probably aren’t in reality if you think you get a kit, you get fed, you get drinks, you don’t get a qualified trained tutor but you do get one of the designers they employ so qualified by skill I guess but as the silver clay course which I would love to do is £149, the prong setting £89 they are in my opinion a considered purchase. Currently, I work full time, I am a fully qualified accountant, I have two children, I own a house and an old car all of these things come before me, and mean that having a spare £90 + petrol money + hotel accommodation means these classes are in reality out of my budget for the time being.
So, I decided to teach myself wire work, and set myself a challenge, can I achieve all the jewellery created if I use the kit which inspired the designers?
I picked Jan’s wirework on with square wire as it felt a little different to the usual round wire.
So, I vowed I wouldn’t go back to the world of craft fairs, but this time for a very tiny fee my friend was arranging a craft fair so I agreed to come along.
You may of read my previous rants about craft fairs, and in honestly this was exactly the same, but there were some key differences.
Firstly, the cost of me getting in was equivalent to a bottle of wine, and I donated a small agate necklace with sterling silver findings as a tumbola gift.
Secondly the other stall holders were friendly, all made the effort to socialise, and boost each others confidence.
Thirdly, whilst the Hotel probably wasn’t the best venue in the world for a craft fair, it was on a main road (2 minutes walk from my house), the room was spacious, it had air con (when the staff remembered to switch it on). It was marketed on social media, and had a board outside.
All in all, I actually enjoyed the fair, chatting to the people as they wandered in for a look, leaving their partners in the bar.
The table was there for me, and marked up so no confusion. I had a suitcase, battered, vintage but served a purpose. I up ended it, made a metal flashing for the inside and double sided sticky tape to hold up the craft kits.
I sold enough to cover my costs that day, no profit but that was to be expected, there was a steady stream of browsers, but overall it was an interesting experience!
A secret beadalong I hear you ask, what on earth is that ?
The super awesome amazing Jean Power in her capacity as a #NBW ambassador created the most amazing secret beading project, which over 4000 beaders worldwide are taking part in, for FREE!
The aim is to spread the love of beading, the instructions were clear, do some preliminary beading (if you want to) and then each day during National Beading Week the next step of instructions is emailed out.
So, am running a little behind but will still get them done this weekend (I hope) the fun of course is seeing what we are making.
In the beginning it could of been a ring, a bracelet, brooch, necklace it was a complete surprise. I also discovered that its quite tricky to select colour schemes for a project when you have no visual idea of the end piece so its been a bit a revelation in my creative mind. Afterall its tricky to pick colours at the best of time which I imagine is why kits are so hugely popular in the beading world, I tend to stick to a purple themed colour palette, so I was fairly confident that my colours regardless of the project would blend beautifully, I did however use real miniature cultured pearls in the first piece – since I discovered Jewellery Maker I avoid all fake & glass beads where possible, obviously I need to caveat that as delicas, seed beads are all glass beads and not gemstones but sadly its virtually impossible to create some of the intricate beaded designs with gemstones as they simply can’t be faceted, or made uniform enough to be used in intricate bead woven designs such as this bracelet I created
Now the piece is coming together, and I have seen (and printed out) the instructions for days 5 & 6 I realise that it will be a pendant, and I am guessing that we just thread the pendants on the beaded chain to complete the piece (unless there is a twist!) but regardless I am happy with the Greens, Gold and Purples I used.
Notice the focal detail by the s hook clasp, an additional 3 pearls, simple additional feature which just adds a small amount of detail at the rear of the piece instead of all focus being at the front.
Simple Instructions for replication ….
Take a strand of Pearls
0.40mm Silver Coloured Wire (about a metre)
Silver Plated Chain, Jumprings, HeadPin, and Clasp of your choice
Take a couple of pearls on the wire, and begin to form spiral, twist the wire as you form a spiral and add pearls gently, so not to strain the wire. Be random, feed the wire in and out of the shape already formed until you have a sizeable pendant.
Neatly finish the wire off!
Cut two chains for the necklace, this really depends on how long you want the necklace to be, ranging from choker to naval the decision is yours!
Using a couple of jump rings, add the clasp at on end, and using just a jump ring attach the other end of the chain to the pendant.
If you wish to add the focal pearls on the clasp, drop 3 pearls on the headpin, turn a loop and attach to the jump ring.
Be flexible, enjoy and don’t get too hung up on neatness in wirework! Allow your creative juices to flow ………..
So in the interests of being fair, I have decided to post this personal opinion, which contrary to all my other posts is not favourable towards Jewellery Maker, but I chose to speak my mind, I sing the companies praises when they do things right, and I have deliberated over a more negative review for a week or so, but I need to get this out of my head and on “paper” so to speak!
I, as you may of read have long been a fan of Jewellery Maker, whom are part of the Gemporia group. Normally I am gushing with praise for JM, the jewellery and the customer services, however in the past weeks I have been let down, not just the once but several times and each occasion increasingly disappointed with the customer service.
My mum is a home shopping addict, being partly disabled I can understand this, so after coming in to a small amount of money again after spending most of her life watching the pennies I can completely understand her new found joy of spending. She is most likely the companies target market – rather like that episode of American Dad!
Regardless of your opinion of home shopping channels, my mum is a regular shopper on Gemporia & Jewellery Maker. (and the rest!) I for example now am the proud owner of a Ruby Sterling Silver ring, (its a rock literally!!) a black spinel silver ring, a whooping Tanzanite flower stunner and topaz one, not to mention the cultured pearl stud earrings, the Garnet studs, the Topaz studs, the moonstone drops, the Tanzanite dangly earrings yes I have a growing collection of stunning jewels.
However, more often than not lately some of the jewellery I have have less pleased with, take for example the image of the Black Spinel Silver Bracelet, which was part of the Silver set of 10 pieces of Jewellery with an ATGW of 204.6cts the “trace” chain bracelet was badly tarnished, the Black Spinel drops where appallingly attached (and I use that term loosely) to the chain, with the worst wrapped loops I have seen in decades (they certainly needed some classes in this simple technique!). The chain wasn’t even suitable for a drop bracelet, any competent jewellery maker could see that. In fact a couple had broken off, obviously I complained pleasant as the people who answer emails are they aren’t overly helpful, just return it and we will refund. (wasn’t what my mum wanted but it was that or keep a broken piece!)
The some of the other items in the surprise pack were just as tacky, tarnished and clearly not worthy of being worn, but there was a couple that mum actually wanted to keep.
I wasn’t looking for any real opinion other than some form of acknowledgement that the quality simply wasn’t there, but no nothing, just a standard return them and we will refund so I suspect the items will just get resold at a later date.
Other pieces of jewellery she has ordered recently, stretched the truth a touch, the necklace was choker on me, not a lengthy piece as the presenter had led the audience to believe, toggle clasps that don’t remain closed with wear owing to poor functional design, I could ramble on but I do feel the quality has gone downhill.
I also had a poor experience the last time I shopped with JM, not only was half a strand of the gems badly cut, with obvious floors in the beads, the edges were rough, too rough for anything other than wire without extensive filing, let alone the ones that had crumbled everywhere. I had also upgraded the postage to the faster service for the first (and last time). I didn’t hear anything other than seeing a despatch notification on my account, I called the courier, was on / off hold for over 45mins the end result, the parcel was lost. It could be out for delivery, or not they weren’t sure as it hadn’t been scanned, I emailed JM, the response was the courier will deliver in the time frame they have given you, clearly missing the point that the courier had actually lost the parcel – A very riled response was instantly sent but customer services couldn’t of cared less, obviously I haven’t placed an order since,
The metal stamps I purchased are dreadful in quality, the packaging on the surface appears excellent but in practical use the elastic is too tight (it will loosen in time but then I suspect it will be too loose) The stamps are difficult to use as they haven’t got an image indicating which way around to hammer the stamp (as in premium brands) so you need a bluetac or clay blob handy prior to each wack of the hammer, I am utterly disappointed & have in all honestly loss confidence in JM’s ability to deliver quality items in a timely fashion.
This utter lack of confidence in the companies ability to deliver quality items to me is coupled with my utter displeasure at the current “Designers” they have on air. Cher’s 1980’s “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves ” springs to mind, whilst they obviously aren’t gypsies tramps or thieves to my knowledge they certainly are an odd line up.
What with the camp chappies who haven’t a clue what a real woman would wear, the pig tailed lady (seriously WTF was she doing on there?), some other random woman who was tongue tied the other evening (there is nothing wrong with that) but seriously get your roots done if you are going in tv!! Couple that with last nights eager “Designer” who felt she had to fake orgasm at each strand, I was screaming at the iPad “get a grip woman its only a strand of gemstones”, we all get you are excited to be on TV but seriously it needed toning down, & I only flicked it on at 8.52 til 9pm!! I am also puzzled by the bright and bold outfits that some designers wear, customers on the Sunday Experience are specifically instructed to wear unpatterned, plain clothing as patterned items can interfere with the broadcast I can only assume that memo bypassed some of the Guest DI’ers!
I will go on, I need to get it off my chest, The woman who riles me the most is the business “expert” who in reality knows very little, clearly has no formal business qualifications & gets by on TV by being rude to those selling on Facebook, (a significant portion of her target audience) as she offers “advice” whilst sniggering, & giggling to herself & belittling her audience, the west midlands accents ring out, whilst spouting utter rubbish about selling items for £20, £30, £40, £50 pounds each, I have experience of craft fairs NO ONE ever goes with the view of buying an expensive piece of jewellery at a craft fair, school fair, market stall or anywhere in my opinion, I certainly wouldn’t so why convince the audience it happens, speak the truth am certain sales wouldn’t decline because of it.
So going back to the “designers” the token Indian lady to replace the previous one who has been “let go”, the wire work gang who appear daily, if not thrice daily pushing the same patterns & designs day in day day out, the patronisingly dull Clay “experts” couple that with the recent “let them go” disappearance of some other guest designers has resulted in the same old repetitive designs using different gems day in day out I have to confess I have given up on my daily addiction.
All that said, I do however love 1 designer, she is outstanding in her field and on so very rarely its refreshing to see her, Rachel Norris, now she is lady with true talent.
I always understood the best designers to have specialist areas, effectively masters & pioneers in their respective fields of craft but no they all do wirework, kumi, macrame, letter writing, silver / polymer clay, work with lace, chainmaille you name it they all are master of everything but master of none if you look closely at their work on screen I personally feel its lost its direction. A quality piece of jewellery takes time to design, time to create, time to perfect it shouldn’t be rushed, or it will look rushed.
I also deeply saddened that Sheila, a co-founder of the channel whilst being a fan of the most basic beadwork (right angle weave which she calls ladder weave, and discovered that she can create hearts & beady beads out of with ease) seems completely disinterested in beadweaving. Obviously everyone has their own opinion this is purely mine I am sure many would disagree, and its obvious that my passion lays with beadweaving not the basic beading they get “designers” in to demo on screen, what saddens me the most is that her sole reason to me for dismissing beadweaving is the time it takes to complete a piece, by not having time to air it, yet they can demo in stages wire wrapping cabochons, and other equally time consuming pieces without question?
Heyho, rant over at least Jenny Cleary is back on screen (according to FB)! and on a positive note I am beading a horned bangle ….out of size 11 delicas in peyote stitch & loving every minute of it
I wont mention her age but she loves long necklaces.
This was a JM Kit, purchased on the 1st April, 2015 on the Late show in which Fleur Hastings had a similar style necklace on air, my mum liked it so I got the “mini bundle”, coupled it with some wire left over from the Laura Binding Kit and made it more “friendly & wearable”, so less imposing, and easier to slip on and off without the need for a clasp.
Personally I prefer choker style ones, but given she has arthritis in her hands (and virtually every other part of her body) she does struggle with clasps and chains.
So whilst I know this creation would look amazing with a clasp on the end of the Moonstone & Citrine mix instead of the Gold Plated chain she wouldn’t wear it if I hadn’t added the chain!
So on Saturday I received a message, could I make 10 bracelets, to be sold in aid of a cancer charity. Well of course I could, instead of glass beads, or plastic I decided to give the charity a sporting chance I elected to use Gemstones.
Its hard, incredibly hard to be given a palette of colours to work towards & interrupt a logo into real beads. The issue encountered is that tablet, tv, computer screens all distort colour slightly, couple that with the camera, whether that be a phone or uber high tech digital or SLR camera used to photograph the beads for sale, not to mention the lighting conditions used to view & originally photograph under and you can start to see why selecting beads remotely is difficult.
Its also worth remembering that on the colour spectrum there are also variations of a colour, a purple shade has an entire spectrum of colour from a pale lavender through to almost black purple so even one strand of beads dyed purple, may not be exactly the same shade as the next strand of purple beads dyed purple. To illustrate this point, compare the 2 photos below, of the same beads but under 2 different lighting conditions, they give off different hues.
Obviously the Gemstones are all unique, but a lapidarist has made them in to 8mm rounds (not perfect but then they are gemstones not factory mass produced glass from moulds or plastic)
I set to the JM website, and selected a few strands:
Fushsia Quartz, Purple Dyed Quartz, Lavender Shaded Quartz and a strand of Purple Magnesite.
Each strand was roughly 160cts, 35cm in length, and contained approx. 49 beads – this is useful to know, because it enables you to calculate exactly how many strands are required to make a set number of bracelets, at a predetermined length.
Here’s the maths bit! Each bracelet contains 23 beads, I had 5 strands of beads, in 4 colours. 23 is an odd number, so obviously symmetry wasn’t going to be easy to establish, but I did decide to try and make them colour graduated, from light to dark, or dark to light depending in which way you wear the bracelet.
The great thing about gemstone bracelets is the weight, and cool sensation of the cold stone as it touches your wrist. They don’t feel or look flimsy, they have a lovely clink about them!
Crafty Betty also wanted a tag, or charm with the name on, attaching to the bracelets. Well on Sunday morning, Debbie Kershaw, stamping guest designer was on, so I did, I confess treat myself to a new set of stamping letters (lower and upper case), and a kit. Crashing Waves, check back another day to see what I actually create with it, but that was my birthday treat to me.
Now the number of letters in the name “crafty betty” is significant, as it really doesn’t make stamping easy! I did order some large tags from JM, flower shaped but these just look ridiculously large against the 8mm gemstone bracelets, so I used some older (not silver plated) tags I already owned. These do look, “handmade”, and I think have a certain charm about them, however for my own personal taste they are too cluttered, too many letters on a small tag.
Use an ultra fine black permanent marker to mark the centre & edges of where you want the letters to be stamped.
Then use the ultra fine permanent marker to colour in the letters, this means you don’t need to worry about patinas etc.
This is the clever bit ….. Your stamp probably looks a mess after being coloured in and doodled on, but a simple wipe over with nail varnish remover on cotton wool (wearing gloves if you have gel nails like me) will remove the surface pen marks with ease. Do leave the pen to dry for a short period of time before wiping off, otherwise the pen marks in the letters may lift out too.