Today’s Canning Project

Last weekend I bought some pears because they were on sale and I wanted to try my hand at canning pears.

So I brought up my pressure canner and prepared to can the pears. I love this website pickyourown when I’m looking online to find out how to can something.  This site has tons and tons of recipes for canning and I’ve not found a single thing that you can put in a mason jar that isn’t listed.  It’s absolutely fantastic.

Anyway I looked up how to can pears and to my delight I found out that you don’t pressure can pears, you use a water bath.  So that’s even better.  I peeled the pears and cored them.  Then I sliced each pear into quarters.  I didn’t want to use anything but water to put my pears in so I mixed up a batch of citric acid (I have a huge bag of this for making bath bombs).  Use 3T (or 1/4 cup) for each cup of hot water.  Bring it to a boil.  Pack your pears into your jars, I am using pint jars, pour the water solution with citric acid to keep the fruit from turning brown.  Leave 1/2″ head space, wipe off the rim of the jar, put on the lid and place the sealed jars into your water bath canner or large pot.  Make sure the jars are covered with the water.  Process in boiling water for 20 minutes for the pints.  Remove the jars from the hot water using you tongs and allow them to cool.  As they cool you will hear them popping as they seal.

I always write on the lid what I canned and the month and year I canned it.  I always remove the ring from the jars just in case something went wrong and the food spoils.  If you don’t have the ring on the lid will simply pop and not explode like it will if the ring is left on.

My next project for canning was green grapes.  I had some in the fridge that weren’t getting eaten fast enough for me so I once again looked up online how to can green grapes.  It is again a water bath process so I just left the water on the stove and got the green grapes ready to can.  Simple process, take the grapes off the stem, rinse the grapes, add the grapes to your jars.  I used pints again.  Leave 1/2″ head space, wipe the rims and pour hot light syrup, water with citric acid, or juice like white grape juice or apple juice over the grapes, remove air bubbles, wipe off the rim of the jar.  Place the lid on the jar and tighten.  Put the jars in your water bath canner and process for 20 minutes for pints.

Now that I have these two things canned I’m all ready for the salad that I make for the upcoming holidays.  My mom always made this salad for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  Here’s the recipe:

1/2 pint whipping cream, 1 pint pears cut into bite sized pieces, 1 pint green grapes, 1 pint pineapple chunks.  Drain the fruit.  While the fruit is draining whip the whipping cream to very stiff peaks.  Pour the fruit into a bowl, add whipped cream and stir to mix.  DO NOT add any sugar to the whipping cream.  That’s all there is to the salad, hope you enjoy it.  You can use purchased fruit just get the 15 oz sizes for all of these.

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Adventures in Canning

I don’t usually write about canning things and cooking but I just thought this might help someone who wants to use their automatic pressure canner for something besides making jelly or pickles.

This week I picked up 36 ears of sweet corn so that I could can them. I have a Ball Freshtech automatic pressure canner and a Power XL Pressure Cooker/Canner so I got them both out and started to work. I know there are a lot of people out there that say you can’t pressure can in your pressure cooker but the Power XL Pressure cooker actually has a button for canning so let’s put that to rest.

The Freshtech automatic canner actually comes with pre-programmed recipes that Ball designed it for.  Why they did this I have no idea but the recipes they have on it are for jelly and jam, salsa, pickles, etc.  Most of us know that you don’t need a pressure canner for salsa or pickles because they are high in acid and only require a hot water bath.  That said I have been determined to figure out how to use my automatic canner for other items like green beans and corn.  So here is what I did to figure it out.

First I decided what I was going to be canning.  I hit a sale on fresh green beans one week so I bought about 7 lbs.  I then searched online for recipes that were using a regular pressure canner to find out what pressure they need to be processed at and how long.  Here is my favorite site pickyourown.org   This site contains tons of information on canning everything that you can safely can.

I looked up canning green beans and found out that for pint jars I needed the pressure to be 11 pounds and process them for 20 minutes.  Okay that’s was easy but now for the tricky part.  What I do is check my automatic canner for the recipes and then start searching for pressure canning one of the recipes they have on the machine.  What I am looking for is the button on the automatic canner that will process my green beans for the correct amount of time and pressure.  I have found that the salsa button on the automatic canner process the food at 11 pounds of pressure and that you can select a different number button for the amount of time you need to cook.  Then you simply follow the directions to get your machine all set up and when it has preheated and you are all ready you can put your pint or quart jars into the machine, add the recommended amount of water, close and lock the lid and push the combination of recipe and number buttons you need and let the machine do the rest.

Granted this last part took some starting and stopping until I found the right amount of time to the processing.  But it’s still simply starting and stopping the process until you get the amount of time.

So far I’ve canned 10 pints of green beans and we have eaten some so I know they are safe.  I just finished canning 11 pints of sweet corn.  These I canned on salsa and the number 5 which processes the corn for 60 minutes but that is just 5 minutes longer than recipes called for so I’m fine with that.  On my Power XL Pressure Cooker I placed the 4 pints into the liner, added water to 1/4 the way up the jars, closed and locked the lid, made sure the valve was closed and pressed canning.  After that I adjusted how well done I wanted things.  I have found out that med is what I needed and then the last thing I did was add time to the processing time so that it would process the corn for 55 minutes and let the machine take over.  After the processing time when the timers went off I allowed both canner to vent naturally and now I can’t wait to dig into the corn.

 

 

me know if you have

Jewelry Making

As I am sitting in my jewelry studio thinking about how much work I need to do to be ready for the first show of the year on the 4th of July, a store that wants to sell my jewelry opening on the 5th of July and another store that wants me to have my jewelry there to sell during their busy season Sept-Oct, said to my husband that anyone that thinks making jewelry is a walk in the park should really spend some time doing it.

First you have to purchase the beads and all the other supplies you will need to make the jewelry. Sometimes that means shopping online other times you have to travel to find the beads and if you’re lucky you can shop your local bead stores. Then you have to put everything together.

For some of us that means hours spent looking online at photos for design ideas, purchasing tutorials to teach us how to make something or pouring through jewelry making magazines and books. I admit I do all these things but I am also lucky that I don’t have to see a photo or read a tutorial to be able to look at a strand of beads and know what to make with them.  Often when I’m bead shopping you will see me standing in front of the wall of beads rubbing a strand between my fingers.  When I do this I’m thinking of all the beads I have in my studio and what I will make with these beads in my hands.  I’ve always been that way.  When I sewed all the time I could see a pattern and know what I wanted to make it out of.

Now after you have all your supplies, and your design you get to do the fun thing and put it together.  Seems easy right, well what if you don’t have enough of a bead and you can’t get it anymore? That’s when you have to start thinking do I add chain, do I make a chain, what can I add to it to make it long enough?

Once you have your piece all done what are you going to do?  Are you simply making it for yourself?  If so then you are done without too much work, but if you do like I do and sell online, sell at craft and art shows, sell in art galleries, and sell in stores and craft malls then you have a bunch more work to do.

The first thing I do when I’ve made a piece is add the piece to my inventory using a spreadsheet.  On this spreadsheet I have the inventory number of every single piece of jewelry I have in my inventory, the name of the item such as Lapis Necklace, Earrings, and Pendant Set, the description of the piece, the number of pieces I have, and finally the price.

When it comes to doing the inventory tracking that part is easy but let me tell you trying to think of a descriptive way of saying pretty over and over again without always just saying pretty is a lot of work.  For this I have read tutorials on how to write a good description, the best descriptive words, and any number of things you can find online to help you.  I spend a lot of time researching the stone that is used and try to educate my customer with the history of the stone, such as, did you know that Lapis Lazuli was the stone that Cleopatra crushed and used as her blue eye shadow?  Little things like that make your customers remember you.  After you get all that work done, and it can take days to do this if you have a lot of inventory you just produced, then you have to photograph them.

Now to be honest I wish I had my photograph equipment set up all the time and all I had to do was snap the photos but I don’t.  Currently I am redoing my studio and it is a mess with one work bench in place, one or two more I need to get and a table that I have been using to make jewelry on that needs to leave the room.  So I take out my handy portable light box, set up my lights, set up my display items, set up my camera and then I’m almost ready to take photos.  But I still need to make sure my camera is set properly for lighting and exposure.  Whew, now I can take photos.

So I have to put the necklace on a bust, add the earrings, and shoot at least three photos of each set.  I take one of the entire set, one of just the earrings, and one of the pendant or a close up of the stone.  Sometimes I have to take more photos because I want to show the details in the stone.  Then after I have all the photos done I have to download them into my editing software.  I use lightroom and it is fantastic.  For how to use it I found a great series of videos on YouTube detailing how to do different things.  The same person does videos for other photo editing software. Now I will spend days at times taking photos and editing them especially when I am gearing up for shows, store sales, and switching out pieces for sale from one season to the next.

Once I have all the photos, all the inventory numbers assigned, all the descriptions written, all the prices done I have to put every set on a hang tag with my company name and location at the top of it and then add a price tag.  I like to use the round double tag so that on the front I put the price and on the back I put the inventory number.  I shorten the number from KLJDS1 to S1 indicating that this is set number 1 on my inventory listing.

As I said I have inventory that I take to shows to sell, list online at Etsy.com, have inventory for sale at craft malls, centers for fine art, and during the fall at craft barns on pumpkin farms.  One page in my workbook has all the items at the fine art center, one for the craft malls, one for the craft barns, and then one with all the inventory online.  Each location has their own page and inventory listing.  What I sell online I also sell at shows.

After I have all that other work done I’m finally ready to start listing items online.  This is pretty simple you upload the photos, answer all the questions about the item, add the name, put it in categories, and copy and paste the description you wrote into the listing you have to come up with all the tag lines so your item will appear when people search for something similar.  This is the step that is the most challenging because there are millions of other people doing the same thing and only so many words.  Be clever and think about what you would use to describe your piece if you were searching for something like it. I used to sell at about 10 different online stores but really I only had one that actually sold anything and I found that it was just so much work to make sure I had everything listed on every site and that I removed it from every site that I closed all the other stores and just went with Etsy.

Now after you’ve done all that work and you are selling at shows don’t forget to remove from your online store any items you sold at the show.  However you choose to sell your jewelry do keep a detailed inventory of all your item.  BMPro is an excellent database that you create by adding all your parts and then using that database to build your inventory as you make the pieces.  You can add photos of the parts, photos of the pieces, track where it is placed, i.e. craft mall, who it sells to, etc.  It will even help you with pricing your jewelry, adding your tax rate, and telling you your profit per piece.  I have this software but since I spent years using spreadsheets to track grant activities when I worked full-time I find spreadsheets to work for me.  Anyway don’t forget to make sure you keep track of your sales for your yearly taxes both personal and business.  In my inventory workbook I have one tab for active inventory, one for sales per year, one for each location I have inventory at, items that were removed from inventory and redesigned, and one for items that were donated.  I have a spreadsheet for each year that lists the inventory number, name, description, inventory amount, and price for every item that sold that year and is I sold it or if one of the places I have selling my jewelry sold it.

Remember to have fun and good luck.

Kris Penney
KL Jewelry Design
kljewelrydesigns@q.com
www.kljewelrydesign.etsy.com

Silver Filled and Gold Filled Wire

Today I thought I would start the new year talking about silver filled wire and gold filled wire.  I want to let you know the difference between the types of wires and what to expect when you are looking at artisan jewelry.

It can be very confusing with all the different types of wires jewelry artists have available for use.  Let’s see there is gold plated, silver plated, copper plated, brass, bronze, red brass, gold, sterling, fine silver, gold filled, rolled gold, sterling silver filled, argentium silver, and a mired of different craft wires .  Whew, that’s a lot of  wire no wonder a few of my clients have glazed over eyes when I start talking about the wire I used to make the piece they are looking at.

Let’s start with plated and craft wires.  First and foremost plated wires have usually silver or gold kind of glued to the surface of another metal, usually copper.  This finish is not permanent and will wear off quickly.  You cannot clean plated wires like you would sterling or gold wires without rubbing the surface metal off and exposing the center wire.  This type of wire is rather inexpensive and should make the piece of jewelry you are looking at cheaper, but be aware that there are a great number of jewelry artists that use nothing but craft wire and plated wire and will charge you as though they used sterling or gold wire.  Always ask questions and if you can get a look at the end of one piece of wire check to see if you can see any other color, if you can you have craft wire or plated wire.  If in doubt and the artist isn’t seeming to answer your questions truthfully, pass it by.  Don’t get me wrong plated and craft wire definitely have their place in the jewelry world and if you are not going to wear the piece often or if it is a pendant that is not really in contact with your skin then it is the perfect type of wire to use and allows you as the customer the opportunity to get that artist’s talents at a reasonable price.

Moving on to sterling silver, argentium silver, fine silver, and gold.  Well what can be said about gold? Gold is gold, if it is white gold it have sterling added to it to make it white and in white gold wire you will notice that it is slightly yellow but not as golden as yellow gold.  Rose gold has copper added to the gold to make it pink.  You can also find green gold but I’m not sure what they added to the gold to make it green.  Fine silver is 99% silver and is used by silversmiths and fine jewelry artists for wire wrapping.  It is a very soft wire which makes it easy for the wire artist to manipulate the wire into amazing shapes.  Sterling silver is 92.5% silver with the balance being usually nickle or zinc.  If you allergic to sterling it probably isn’t the silver but the other metal that was added to make sterling silver.  This wire is widely used by jewelry makers and comes in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers from dead soft to hard.  Argentium silver is the new sterling silver.  This silver is 93% pure silver and has argentium added to the silver.  This metal like sterling and gold is available in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers. Argentium does not tarnish as quickly as sterling and gold, yes gold tarnishes, which allows the jewelry artist to have less cleaning and polishing when creating a piece.

Now the newest kid on the block for jewelry making is silver filled wire and sheets, but I want to tell you about gold filled first so you have the history and knowledge of how it is made.

Gold filled or rolled gold jewelry findings have been popular for years. Gold filled is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a base of less costly metal. This gold layer is many times thicker than a standard plating – anywhere from 50 to 100,000 times thicker. The law, gold filled items must be at least 1/20th gold by weight.  Gold filled wire is considered an heirloom wire, meaning you can pass it down from generation to generation without the gold layer wearing off. Of course you must use the proper care to help prevent the layer from wearing off by not using abrasives on your metal, which can also damage the stone in your piece of jewelry.

Silver filled jewelry findings are created the same way, but as of date, there are no industry standards for silver fill, which can make it hard to tell what you’re getting. Most silver filled wire or findings contain 1/10th sterling silver by weight. As with gold fill, the sterling silver layer is hundreds of times thicker than a silver plating.

Silver filled wire can be manipulated just like sterling silver wire. The silver is bonded to the core metal and does not flake off the way a plating might.  Silver filled items look identical to sterling silver, and can be antiqued just like sterling silver.  There are some people whose skin is so acidic that within a few days of wearing a silver plated piece of jewelry the plating will be gone and the base metal will be showing.  One company actually has some employees with this problem and when asked to “test” the silver filled earrings they had no problems and the finish was not flaked off.  The earrings wore exactly like sterling silver.  Below are two photos, the one on the right is a ring I made using argentium silver and the ring on the left is using silver filled.  I wore both of these rings for 3 months never removing them, not even when gardening!  Can you tell the difference?

20130111_100803 20130111_100744

If you use sterling silver in your jewelry or you purchase sterling silver jewelry, you have felt the pain of rising silver prices. Although the market always fluctuates up and down unpredictably, it feels like it has only gone UP lately.

Many jewelry designers have switched materials or use less sterling silver in their designs to compensate for the increased costs. However, the quality and look of sterling are popular for good reason that has given the rise of affordable new silver filled wire and jewelry findings available to jewelry makers.

It is up to each individual artist to decide what materials to use in his or her jewelry. Some people will always want pure sterling, no matter the cost.  Since silver filled jewelry findings cost 40-60% less than sterling silver findings, while offering the same look, I think it won’t be long until SF jewelry is as common commonly used as gold filled wire and findings. I have made that switch from argentium silver or sterling silver to silver filled in my wire.  Because my customers want the look of sterling or argentium silver but just won’t pay the price for it.  In order to continue to market my jewelry designs I switched completely to using gold filled and silver filled wire and I have carefully explained to my customers why I made that switch and what they should expect from the silver filled wire I am using.

I hope you have found this little blog worth your time and you have learned something.  If you are an artist and you are thinking about whether to switch to silver filled, try a test like I did and make something you can wear everyday for weeks on end and see what you think.

Happy wiring! Kris

Hot Days of Summer

This summer I decided to take the plunge into learning how to do two things. First because I have so many seed beads I decided to start doing some bead weaving. I first learned how to make a Russian Spiral Rope. The lesson was to do a bracelet but since I just haven’t found that bracelets sell very well I made it into a necklace. It was challenging to get the spiral started but once I got it started it was a breeze and so simple to tote around a couple of tubes of seed beads, silk thread, wire cutters and a needle. I could do it while I was watching tv or sitting in bed in the evening. Super simple to work with and a big change from wire work that requires pliers, cutters, gemstones, and maybe a bunch of other stuff. So here is the picture of what I made. The earrings are the same seed beads on silk thread that I sewed onto a silver tone sieve and glued to sterling silver posts.

 

My next try at bead weaving was the right angle weave with two needles.  I made a ton of beaded beads and put them into a bunch of different necklace designs and a few pairs of earrings.  Check out KL Jewelry Design to see all of them.  Oh I made some stretchy rings that I sell in my booths at arts and crafts shows for only $1.  The stretchy rings are listed online because they are so inexpensive it would actually cost me to list them so check out my booths around the Omaha and Lincoln, NE, Council Bluffs, Atlantic, and Clarinda, IA, or Sioux Falls, SD to see all the rings, and I have a bunch.

Now the next bead weaving experiment was to learn how to do a spiral rope.  So again it was for a bracelet but I made it into a necklace.  That’s easy peasy to do because you just keep on going until you get the length you want.  So the spiral rope necklace has multi-color metallic seed beads, Peridot seed beads that are line in silver, and clear seed beads.  This was a lot easier to make.  Maybe that was because I already knew how to do the Russian spiral but I picked it up in no time.  I used three different sizes of seed beads so it has texture with the Peridot color being the focal of the necklace.

 

Well that’s all I’ve gotten done on learning bead weaving but I’ll be making a bunch more this winter when the shows are over for the season.

After working with the seed beads and silk thread I  decided to try my hand at making wire rings.  I know, I already do that but I have never made rings with faceted gemstones in prong settings.  I bought a parcel of mixed sizes of faceted gemstones; I looked over two different tutorials and while both of the teachers got the design from a ring that was created in the 40’s they each took a different way of teaching.  I made one ring following each teacher’s instructions and then tweaked it to work best for me.  By the end I found it really easy to make and get the stones to be secure and not wiggle around at all.  I have all these rings listed at KL Jewelry Design to see them all.

 

So now you know what I’ve been doing this summer to avoid being outside in the heat and humidity that is so famous in Nebraska.  Tell me what you think of my latest adventures in jewelry making.

Oh, in my spare time I’ve been being trained by our new German Shorthaired Pointer, Hank.  Unfortunately our male, Chance began limping on his front leg and after a number of trips to the vet, x-rays, a trip to a specialist and more x-rays, we found out it was bone cancer and had to have him put to sleep.  We knew we would get another dog for our female pointer, Pepper, so we contacted the Central Plains German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue and adopted Hank.  Chance and Pepper came from the Rocky Mountain German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue so it was an easy choice.  Anyway, Hank was born on February 13, 2011 to a litter of 14.  Yikes, the breeder ended up with 7 of them left and Hank spent the first 6 months of his life on the end of a chain.  He was adopted by a family that ended up having to move and couldn’t take him so he was returned.  Then he was adopted and the lady couldn’t deal with his anxiety so he was returned.  I guess the third time is a charm because he is in his forever home.  He is a handful and gets me up around 5am every single day but he’s so happy and so is Pepper that I put up with it and just deal with it every day.  He does have to be in the kennel when I leave the house because he does have anxiety when I leave but other than the battle to keep Pepper out of the kennel while I’m trying to get Hank in the kennel we don’t have any problems with him.  I’ll tell you more as the summer goes on.

Thanks for reading and following my blog and have a great summer.

Almost the end of the year for KL Jewelry Design

With the end of the shopping season coming to an end this Saturday at Papillion LaVista South High School Fall Arts and Crafts Show, I have to admit it has been an up and down year, mostly down in sales.  I had a few really good shows and festivals but mostly I crossed them off the list to skip for a few years.  There are just so many crafters out there making jewelry.  I honestly think that people think it is a piece of cake and any monkey can do it.

I have to agree with some of the things I’ve seen.  If you can buy or take notes from a magazine on jewelry making you go to the hobby store and pick up the exact same items and put them together in the exact same way then you copied a piece of jewelry, but what most of us do is use the magazines as an inspiration for a new design. 

Here’s how I work: I browse the jewelry and art jewelry magazines and books looking mostly for the latest trends in jewelry in order to keep up with the fashion desires of my customers.  Then I look at the different ways things are put together but again I am mostly looking for a new technique to use in making jewelry.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a design that I loved so much that I made it exactly the same way with the same type of materials.  All of my pieces that I offer for sale or that I keep for myself are my own original designs and combinations.

Retro Fun Set

Retro Fun Set

What I find the most rewarding is when I combine materials and colors that you just don’t think of putting together.  For instance, I have a piece named Retro Fun.  It is a necklace and bracelet set but what is unique about it is that I put lime green and AB (aurora borealis) finished teal colored seed beads with some lampwork beads that are simply blue and green with a little black detailing.  You probably wouldn’t think to put lime green and teal together but they work and look fantastic with the simple lampwork beads. This set is available for just $25.

Another way I work is when I’m out shopping at bead shops.  I normally don’t have a specific type of bead I’m looking for I’m just shopping for what catches my eye.  Sometimes when I see a strand of beads I know exactly what to make with them.  I say they are talking to me and yes I do spend time standing in front of the beads “petting” them waiting for them to tell me what they want to be.  That might sound strange but for those of us that create things this is pretty common that what we are using we say is speaking to us.  Maybe that’s why people think artists are crazy or insane, you decide. 
 
Anyway, when I was shopping in Kansas City a couple of months ago I found a strand of stick pearls.  I had never seen them before and had never seen any designs made with them but these were a beautiful peacock color and I picked them up right away, and they were the last strand.  My daughter was with me and said “What are you going to do with those?” and I just said these are a collar laying

Freshwater Stick Pearls

around your neck.  I have to find some little pearls that match to finish out the back of it.  I made that necklace and earrings set and the next day at a festival they were gone.  Since then I see hundreds of others making the same design selling them online but yesterday I just sold the 3rd set of stick pearls I have made.  This time it sold to a woman who when I started to explain to her they were real pearls she told me she knows.  She purchased a necklace exactly like the one I was selling for $300, mine sells for $55 and even though she already had that same design she bought it anyway.  I will be making my last set of stick pearls this week.  These are a beautiful cream color and the earrings will be slightly different but still dangling like the ones in the photo. 

 
But other times I purchase the beads with absolutely no idea what to make with them.  It could be I bought them because I love that stone, I liked the color, or maybe I had made something else with that material that was very popular like this rainforest jasper set.   These beads I purchased from a fellow artist that ran into trouble and was in the process of liquidating all of her supplies and they were such a good deal and I loved the colors in the stone I had to get them.  They sat in one of my drawers for a few months with me taking

Rainforest Jasper Set

them out and looking at them with no ideas coming to mind until I found the same stone in round beads.  Then inspiration hit and I made a necklace out of the larger Russian cross beads separated by the round beads but this left me with more of the Russian cross beads leftover to put back in a drawer.  When this set sold within a couple of shows, and the summer was ending I knew women would be looking for these colors so the next time I put this set together instead of  round rainforest jasper beads I chose a rather odd color of green freshwater pearls.  These freshwater pearls blend right in with the colors of the rainforest jasper beads and is for sale for just $35.

 
I have a story for everything I make.  I try to entertain my customers and educate them about the piece of jewelry they are purchasing with what the stone is, where is comes from, and sometimes I know what that stone is supposed to help you with like love or money or protection.  For the most part I find people are interested in knowing about the stones and appreciate learning about the jewelry.  Visit my shop at KL Jewelry Design at Etsy.com or  KL Jewelry Design at Bonanza.com.
 
Now it’s time to get to work.  Hope you have enjoyed learning how I work and shop to your heart’s content. 
Kris
 
 
 

2011 Fashion Wars

2011 Fashion Wars

Sorry I haven’t been posting much but I’ve been very busy.  This time of year is when I have the most shows and with November approaching my season is winding down.  Just 4 more shows and then I’m done for the year and then it’s time to start preparing for the shows to begin again starting in February.

Anyway what I’ve been busy with is my very first fashion show.  I signed up to do a fashion show in August but that one had to be canceled when the organizer lost most of her models to Fashion Week here in Omaha.  She contacted me and asked if I would like to be involved with the Fall Fashion Wars and I agreed.  Here’s what that involved.  I was the only jewelry designer allowed in the show, I recieved a 1/4 page ad, and I had a booth for people to look at my other pieces.

Leading up to the show I continued to have sales and up until Monday of last week I was making changes to my runway pieces simply because a piece would sell and I would have to replace it.  Then last week; just 6 days before the show the organizer told me I would need to have some sort of skit going on during my 15 minutes on the runway!  Panic time.  I posted on a bunch of forums and got some really good advice and ideas.  All that turned out to be for nothing.  Yep what the organizer did instead was have music blarring and didn’t say a darn thing.  The girls just walked out and across the stage and showed off my jewelry to the photographers and other guests.  Next time I will know not to do anything for the show and just let the models show off the pieces.

Anyway with my daughter helping the two of us worked out a plan.  She would put the pieces on the girls and I would take them off.  Yeah right, best laid plans.  The girls just walked up and stood waiting for someone to remove the jewelry and most of the time it ended up being my daughter doing all of it.  I had carefully numbered each piece and put them in order in my trays so they would be in line with the MC but then since she wasn’t reading or saying anything we just forgot about that and put pieces on as the girls came back without minding the order.  Oh well another lesson learned.

I plan to try to get involved with Fashion Week here in Omaha next year, I’ve missed the spring application deadline because I was busy with this show and others but I have the date the fall application will be availabled on all my calendars so I’ll be ready.  I hope I will be chosed to be involved in the fall shows.  They take place in several locations over an entire week. 

What I learned from this show.  If you are doing a fashion show for the first time choose a smaller one.  You can make your mistakes with a smaller group and nobody notices, except maybe the fashion writers in the audience.  Let the models do their thing without you directing them.  I didn’t choose the piece for the model they simply got whatever was the next piece to wear without any problem.  Make sure your models have removed all their own jewelry including rings, except wedding rings.  Be sure you arrange the jewelry for the best display, I had models trying to arrange pieces after I had put them on because they thought it was on wrong, the piece is an asymmetrical piece with a chain on one side and chips on the other side and then smooth round beads; this model moved the piece so the chain was in the center.  I caught it just before she went out. Always have a helper to put the jewelry on the models and take it off.  At this show there were only 10 models and I had 40 pieces for the runway.  It was a busy 15 minutes.  Make sure you get all your jewelry back including the earrings.  I was always reminding the girls to take off the earrings. Wear what you make, don’t forget that at the end of the models you will be walking out on the runway and be introduced, you don’t want to be without something you made around your neck.  Most of all have fun and be flexible, I was supposed to be second and the designer before me hadn’t shown up 5 minutes before the show began so I was moved up to the #1 slot.  Thankfully I was ready.  Be sure you have your jewelry in trays to make it easy for you.  I had my jewelry on hangtags so that the earrings and necklaces were all together, simply remove the set from the hangtag.  After each piece is brought back to you don’t worry about putting the pieces back on the hangtag, you have after the show to work on that.  As long as you put all the parts back into your trays you can put the sets back together when you aren’t so busy. One last thing have a small table where you are putting the jewelry on behind the scenes so you can lay out the pieces ready to put them on the models.

  • Do have media packets, I had them even though no media took one.
  • Do display pieces if you have a table for you media packets and business cards.
  • Do display your business sign.
  • Do have anyone helping you dress similar and wear your jewelry.
  • Do have someone taking photos of the models with your pieces on.
  • Do talk, talk, talk, to everyone that gets close to you.
  • Do tell everyone you know that you are doing this.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the organizer exactly what you expect and if possible how you want the models to walk the runway. In my case they could go around a fountain or along the front of the audience.  I chose in front of the audience.
  • Do have fun and relax, it turns out you are really in the hands of the models and if they know what they are having fun it’s all good.

One Step Crimper

One Step Crimping
So I purchased the one step crimping tool after reading about it and seeing it in magazines. I purchased this not because I find crimping to be a pain but really there was so much talk about how great it is that I had to find out for myself.

First of all there are no instructions with the one step crimping tool except a couple of photos on the package showing how to place the crimp in the top and squeeze the bottom levers.

The one step crimping tool has three handles; the top one is short and used to hold the crimp in place while the two larger handles are used to squeeze the crimp closed. Sounds easy right? That’s what I thought too.

At first when I used this tool I had a heck of a time keeping the crimp in place on my wire so that it was next to my beads and clasp. Several times I got so frustrated I reached for my usual crimping pliers and finished the piece as usual.

Sometimes I would get the one step crimper to work but the crimp was loose and my wire came out causing me to waste the crimp and use my standard crimpers again. Other times I couldn’t even get the large crimping handles to work.

I thought boy was this a waste of time and money; why is everyone just raving about this tool? So I turned to the internet to find some more instructions on this tool. What I found was that I was making it very hard on myself and I learned by watching a video on how to use them the correct way to use this tool. Like my dad always said, “If all else fails read the destructions.” Another thing he would say to me is “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up” but that’s another story.

So here I will try to write out some instructions to help you use the one step crimper.

1. The small lever on the top is used to hold your crimp in place. Push down on the small lever with you hand holding the top large lever and the small lever and place your crimp in the groove. Center the crimp.
2. Let go of the small lever and move down to the two larger levers. Squeeze these together and allow the one step crimper to do its thing.
3. Once you have done step 2 move back up to the small lever and squeeze it and the top large lever. This releases your crimp and resets the one step crimper.

That’s it! After I watched that video from Rio Grande I really felt stupid for not being able to work the tool. The first time I got the tool to work after watching the video the crimp was not tight and the wire came undone. I tried again, this time making sure my crimp was centered under the small handle and the one step crimper worked like a charm. My crimp was nice and tight, exactly where I wanted it to be and smooth.

My biggest concern with this tool was what the crimp would look like when I used it. Did it make my crimp flat like I had used a flat nose pliers to press the crimp in place or was it going to look similar to what my crimps look like when I use my crimping pliers. Turns out this tool sort of rounds the crimp tube and while it is bigger than my crimps are when I use my crimping pliers, the edges of the crimp tube is smooth to the touch. So whether you use your standard crimping pliers or the One Step Crimper is up to you but to me it’s worth the price to make crimping one step instead of two or three steps using the standard crimping pliers. Chances are that I will reach for my standard crimpers out of habit but eventually I am determined to make the switch and put my standard crimpers in my show tool box for good.

KL Jewelry Design’s Jewel School Contest Entry

Please visit JTV  to vote on my entry in the Jewel School Contest.  This is a photo of the piece I entered.  Thanks.

 

Swirling Galaxy Ring

I was watching JTV this last Sunday and one of my favorite jewelry artists was on, Dale “Cougar” Armstrong.  She was showing off a new ring design she had created using square wire and some crystals.  I always love seeing what Dale comes up with and figuring out something a bit different to make it my own design.  So here goes another free tutorial for you as one of my blog readers or Facebook fan.

Swirling Galaxy Ring
Created by Kris Penney, Designer/Owner
KL Jewelry Design
Materials
6-6mm or smaller beads
3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire of your choice each piece 41/2″ long
1″ 20 gauge half round wire of your choice
 
Tools
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters
Emery file
Ring mandrel
Rawhide or nylon hammer
Polishing cloth
Masking Tape
Fine tip marker
 
Step 1
Cut 3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire to 41/2″ in length.  Using the polishing cloth clean and straighten each piece.
 
Step 2
Tape the ends of the bundle of wires together and mark the center of the wire. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 3
With the 20 gauge half round wire and your flat nose pliers make a hook on one end.  The end of your hook should be at a slight angle so you have something to hold onto while you are wrapping the bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 4
With your non-dominate thumb hold the wrap wire just to one side of the mark on the bundle wires and with your dominate hand wrap the wire around the side of the bundle wires.  With your flat nose pliers press the wrap wire into place. 
 
 
 
 
Step 5
Continue doing this until you have three complete wraps on the outside of the bundle wires.  Be sure to start and end your wraps on the same side of the bundle wires, this is the inside of your bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 6
Trim the wires so they don’t hang out over the edges of your bundle wires and using your flat nose pliers press them into place.  Run your finger over the top to be sure there are no rough spots.  If there are edges you snag your finger on use an emery board to file the edges and smooth them down.
 
 
 
 
Step 7
Place the center of your bundle wires on the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your final ring size.  with the ring mandrel pressing against your table edge (I do this by putting the largest end of my mandrel against my stomach and the tip against the table and pushing into the table this holds the mandrel in place leaving my hands free to form the ring. 
 
 
 
Step 8
Holding onto the wires push or pull them around the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your finished size so if you want a size 8 ring place your wires at 71/2 on the mandrel.  Continue shaping the wires around the mandrel until they meet at the center. 
 
 
 
 
Step 9
Start your swirl by moving both ends of your bundles tightly around each other. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 10
Continue with the swirl until you have gone all the way round and your wires are now all the way around the swirl.  Remove the tape.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 11
Fan the ends out as you see in the photo.  Try to get them as evenly spaced as you can going around the center swirl.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 12
Slip one of your beads onto any of the wires.  I am using 6 mm beads but in the photo with the red beads I used the largest size of seed beads (E bead) and got a much tighter swirl for those that don’t like “big” rings.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 13
At the very tip of your round nose pliers form a simple loop in the end of the wire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
This wire is just a little bit too long so trim the wire until you have 1/4″ sticking out past the bead.  Now form another loop.  Continue doing this until you get all your beads on and the wires looped.  Sometimes you will have a wire that is short but if you life the wire up from the center swirl you can slip your bead further down your wire and form the loop.  You want the beads as close to the center swirl as you can get them.
 
 
 
Step 14
Slip your ring back on your mandrel and if you need to use the rawhide of nylon hammer to gently tap the ring to shape it and get it to your finished size.  Your ring should have sprung out to the size you wanted after you did the first swirl.  I started at size 71/2 and ended at a size 8.
 
 
 
 
Now you can enjoy your finished ring.  When I have the ring done I put it on and gently press the swirls to smooth them out on my finger to get the ring to fit how I want.  When I am selling these I skip shaping the ring to my finger but be sure to let your customers know to do this.
 
Here are three samples of my Swirling Galaxy Ring

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