Saturday, September 26, 2015

What's on My Bench?

Today's feature is brought to us by JET member, Jetling (new JET), Karla Rosenbush of KarlaKraft.

In my “real life,” I’m the Managing Editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. And one of my favorite parts of the job is hosting our occasional online webinars. I learn some of the most fascinating things! Recently, we had a webinar on how to apply “non-toxic” patina to metal jewelry. And now I’m hooked!

I was playing with copper blanks the other day and came up with a couple of pendants. One is a rather “amorphous” shape that came about when I was playing with my dapping block and hammers. 

For the other, I cut a disk out of the blank (with my beloved disk cutter), domed the disk, and riveted it back onto the blank. Then I punched holes in it each for jump rings. Both pendants would have been fine on their own, and I could have stopped at this point, but I decided to add a verdigris (blue-green) patina to them, using the salt-and-vinegar technique I learned in the webinar.

What’s the great thing about this technique? Almost everything you need to do it with is probably already in your kitchen! And it’s simple.Just mix vinegar and salt — there are a lot of different “recipes” for this, but I like the “3+3” mixture of 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 teaspoons of salt. Mix them in a small, shallow dish. I use an old coffee cup. It makes the mixture deep enough to cover my piece without wasting vinegar. Stir the mixture until the salt is “almost” all dissolved.

Make sure that your metal is very clean. I wash the copper with plain ol’ dish soap. Blot it dry with paper towel. 

Then sprinkle baking soda over both sides of the piece and rub it in with steel wool, rubbing with the grain of the metal. (Be careful to hold your piece by the sides to avoid getting fingerprints on it.)

 Rinse the baking soda off thoroughly. Blot the piece dry, and then drop it in your salt and vinegar. Let it sit for at least ½ an hour. (You might like to leave it longer. It’s your preference. Just experiment!)

Take your piece out of the mixture and set it on two or three pieces of folded paper towel. Don’t dry it! You want your metal to air dry at this point. That’s where the patina comes from. You will see salt crystals on your wet metal. That’s good! You want that. In fact, you may want to sprinkle a little more salt on your piece. (Again, experiment!) This is where my little snowman salt shaker comes in handy. If you add more salt, you only want a little.

Now comes the really hard part — at least it is for me. Leave it alone! Oh, it’s tempting to play with it, but the longer you leave your piece alone, the better the patina becomes. You might want to turn it over a couple of times to expose both sides to the air (and just to sneak a peek at what both sides are doing), but you should leave it alone for several hours. Overnight is best, but it depends on how much patina you want on your piece.

After your piece has a lot of patina on it, you’ll need to seal it. If you don’t, the salt will just keep working, eating into the metal and flaking off. I use a spray-on lacquer (the only ingredient in this technique that I don’t keep in my kitchen). Trying to rub on waxes or brush on lacquer (like clear nail polish) will work but will remove too much of the patina. Some of the patina will, in fact, come off with the spray-on lacquer, so you should always let more patina build up than you’ll actually want on the finished piece.

For my two pendants, I added jump rings, leather cord, and lobster claw clasps. And I had two lovely new pieces of jewelry — straight from the kitchen cupboard!

If you would like to learn more about Karla, go to KarlaKraft. Remember to come back next Saturday for the next installment of What's on My Bench!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Our feature this week was contributed by Karla Rosenbusch, one of our newest Jetteam members. Her awesome jewelry can be found in her shop, KarlaKraft.
When it comes to jewelry making, I’ve always considered myself a relatively advanced hobbyist. In my “real life,” I’m an editor at Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, so I’m exposed to the best of the best of jewelry artists on a daily basis. And so, I feel that I’m more of a “dabbler.” I’ve had an Etsy store for several years, and while I enjoy it a lot, I’ve never been able to devote a tremendous amount of time to it. (That “editor” thing again. Silly job.)

But lately, I’ve branched out from stringing together pretty stones (I adore pretty stones) to doing cold-connected and riveted metalwork. And it’s been very well received -- so well, in fact, that I recently received an invitation to sell my jewelry at a craft show. Great, right? Scary, actually! I’ve never done a craft show before, so I’m a little freaked out. This will definitely be a big step for me.


Fortunately, my job as an editor gives me access to some of the best experts in this area, and they’ve given me awesome advice – on what and how much jewelry to bring, how to set up a good display, how to process any “legalities,” and how to get organized before and during the show.


So I had a graphics designer friend of mine design an awesome sign. I also had some business cards designed and professionally printed. I planned out how to set up my display – with pretty tablecloths, stands for necklaces and earrings, and multiple levels. I also got some nice-looking price tags and some pretty (and inexpensive) gift bags. So I think – I hope – that I’m just about ready for the craft show on October 3.


As for my jewelry, I’ve been busily creating new pieces. Following the advice of one of my experts, I’m not bringing everything. I decided to concentrate on three different types of necklaces – riveted copper pendants with salt-and-vinegar patina, my riveted metal pendants with focal stone or glass cabochons, and the pendants I make from recycled aluminum soda and beer cans. (My prediction? The recycled can pendants will be the most popular because people just love them. But my favorites are the copper ones with patina because the technique used to make them is just SO cool.) I’m also going to bring earrings that go with and complement the pendants.


Oh, and the best thing about this particular show? It’s the annual Fall Apple Festival at my church where people (theoretically) like me. Or at least, they’re “supposed” to. So I figured it was a good way to start selling at craft shows. I may get some sympathy sales from my fellow choir members!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What's on My Bench?

Today's edition of is from JET team member Wanda of GemstonesonMyMind.

I’m working on a pair of Copper and Turquoise earrings.  I love Copper and Turquoise, so it’s a combination I work with often.  I’ve sketched a quick design that appeals to me, and hopefully to others. 

I’ve gathered the supplies needed for a pair of dangly, boho style Copper and Turquoise earrings.    I’m using some copper washers from Amazon that I bought just for the purpose of creating chandeliers for the pair. 

First, I’m going to give the washers a hammered texture that will make them sparkle, sort of like facets.  Each little ding of the hammer is going to reflect the light and make them look like they didn’t come from the hardware department.  After I’ve hammered them, I’ll file the edges smooth so as not to cause any discomfort to the wearer.

Now it’s time to make the dangle charms that will hang from the new rings.  The Turquoise I’ve chosen is small blue green heishi beads and I’ll be accenting them with small Copper spacer beads that I picked up at a bead show.  I chose 6 copper ball pins to use for wiring the charms.  To give them a different look, I’ve hammered the ball on the end of the headpin into a flat disc.   After wiring them into a charm, I attach them to the “copper washer” chandelier with jump rings, using a larger one for the center to let it dangle a little lower.  As for the jump rings used to attach it to the ear wires, I hammered them also.

So now the earrings are finished, and I think I like them, which means I need to keep this pair and make some for the shop!

Remember to return next week for another episode of What's on My Bench. If you want to learn more about Wanda, please visit her shop, GemstonesonMyMind. Until next week!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Organizing Your Business

Gaetana, a member of the Jetteam,  has contributed this week's feature. Organizing our business is very important and she has shared some of her expertise with us here. Her shop is SatinDollCO.

At the beginning of 2015 one of my goals for the year was to be more organized. I'm organized generally but I wanted to streamline it. I achieved that by first going back to a planner. Within 2015,  I switched planners from a weekly/monthly bound book to a traveler's journal. Within that journal I have notebooks for different areas of my life. Switching to that style has been a life saver. (shown below my traveler's journal that I use now)

Another one of my goals for 2015 was to blog more. Which I did terribly  with in 2014. So one of the notebooks with my planner is dedicated to blogging.

As you can see it has an area to write my blog topic, the date it will be posted, if I have written it, graphics and then my social media outlets. Here is the link if you would like to print this out and use for your own business.

Previously,  I was using the notes section in the back of my other planner as my dedicated area to write my blog topics I wanted to do. Then next to the topic I would write a "D" if I wrote it and and the date I posted it. It was an okay way but not very effective.

This new way is more effective and clean. Don't fret if you don't own a traveler's journal or have a different style of planner or don't have a planner at all. If you have a ring binder, simply cut down the middle and then punch the holes for your planner. If you're not into a planner, simply print and cut in half. Staple or leave loose for your own convenience .

Hope this helps anyone who is hoping to get more into blogging and be more organized.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

What's on My Bench?

Welcome to today's episode of What's on My Bench from JET team member Gloria Flynn of EarthEnergyGemstones and EarthEnergyWeddings.



After getting a work referral, I recently found myself in the middle of wire wrapping 350 pendants for a conference. These pendants would be hung later from chains by the conference organizers. 

There was a very tight deadline, so I got to work right away figuring out what materials I needed to order. Just as I had the supplies list worked out--but, thankfully, not ordered--the buyer contacted me with a change in direction, which often happens when committees are involved. The little round blue beads now needed to look like crystal chandeliers so the hunt was on for the right size and color crystal briolettes. I contacted a supplier to find out how many beads were on a string so I would be sure to have enough for the order in case I broke any. I also wanted to include at least 10 extras just to make sure my buyer had enough to go around.

 "About 40-41 beads on a string" turned out to be 39 beads, so before the project was over, I needed to order another string. Good thing they were in stock and could ship by priority mail!

I had never had such a large order, so this involved some organizational skills and an assembly-line process. I worked with one string of briolettes at a time and assembled them all, leaving the wire wrapping to do last. 

String by string, I went through each step exactly the same way until I found a rhythm that became almost Zen-like, except that my right hand and shoulder started to ache from working with the very stiff brass headpins.  I'm used to working with sterling silver and gold-fill wire, which is softer, so this felt very different!

Originally I had no idea how long it would take to wrap that many briolettes so I over-estimated my time. As it turned out, I could wrap about 40 beads an hour, but I could work for only a few hours a day because of the hand and shoulder stiffness. Even so, I still was able to finish the job and get the order shipped two days ahead of schedule making the buyer very happy.


1.           Expect at least one or two broken briolettes. This happens sometimes when wrapping wire tightly around the crystals, so extra supplies should be on hand. 

2.           Don’t always believe how many beads "should" be on a strand! Even though there are materials guidelines, they are an approximation so I would suggest making sure to order extras. Clearly, I cut it too close and needed to re-order under a tight deadline. 

3.           And finally, use old tools when working with heavy gauge brass. I wish I had had some older pliers and cutters. Using my good tools took its toll, especially on my expensive cutters, which I now need to have re-sharpened. The side cutters were pretty useless for this job since I needed to get in very close to snip off the extra wire. Then I had to use my skinny flat nose pliers (not shown) to squish the wire ends down tight. I was afraid I would break them because I don't think they were designed for 18-gauge wire. Tools are so important for any job and having the right tools for the job is key. I think I'll be watching for sales so I can stock up on cheaper tools to carry me through any future projects with heavy gauge brass wire. 

Remember to come back next week to discover What's on My Bench! If you want to learn more about Gloria Flynn, visit one of her Etsy shops, EarthEnergyGemstones or EarthEnergyWeddings!

Until next week,

Val Swanson

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Creating Christmas Tree Pins for the Art Institute of Chicago

This week's post is contributed by Bob and Terry, members of the Jetteam. Their shop is ArtJewelerNYC and they have been creating beautiful pins for the Art Institute of Chicago. They have shared the process with us.

"2015 is the third year our Christmas Tree Pins have been featured in the Art Institute of Chicago Museum Holiday Gift Catalog and Gift Shop. Each year there are variations due to the availability of gemstones.



 The first step is to create a simple tree form using pliers. We have been using 18 gauge sterling silver wire to make these pins. Once the zigzag tree shape is finished, the wire is hammered so it has two flat sides, giving it a nice texture while hardening it a bit. The tree flexes a lot at this stage, but soldering the bezels between the "branches" connects them, making it a lot more solid. There are eleven round bezels for this year's tree, with a star at the top. I solder these all on in one step, placing each component where it belongs then heating the whole tree with a wide mouth torch tip, moving the flame to heat the entire tree while making sure each component solders properly. This takes a lot of practice and I have the melted trees to prove it ...!


 After pickling and tumbling, the pin parts have to be soldered onto the back. This can be tricky because of the previous solders - the pin parts have to be soldered on without melting the solder that is holding the bezels and the star. Care has to be taken with the pin catch - the rotor that closes the brooch and holds the actual pin is easy to fuse in the closed position. Once done, the pins have to be pickled and tumbled again.

 Next they need to be set. This is a fairly straightforward process. This year, the trees feature moonstone, tigers eye, garnet, iolite, citrine, amethyst, star diopside, green agate, goldstone, carnelian and blue agate."

 Here's a link to the product page on the Art Institute of Chicago Gift Shop site ...