Al's Jewellery

Anniversary Special  -  21/11/2009

This set was custom ordered by a very lovely lady for her upcoming silver wedding anniversary. Criteria were: to match the gown she is going to wear, quality and originality (that is, not common everyday stuff). It is a chainmaille weave called Helm chain which I adapted into flowers. To make them stay round the AR is very important. I used 18g sterling silver wire and Swarovski CAL crystals embedded in the flowers and as the dangles. For these and the earwires I used 20g Sterling silver wire. It took 569 rings to complete the set and I have the blisters on my fingers to prove that all was handmade!

This set will never be made again by me as it is. So my customer can be assured that she really has got " one of a kind" jewellery. And I hope she enjoys wearing it as much as I did creating it!

Till next time

Heavy metal  -  06/06/2009

I found some heavy gauge wire the other day and I decided that it would have to be a chainmaille creation. The wire is 1.5mm thick (between 15 & 14 g ), hard to cut jumprings, as well as hard on hands, wrists and tools! But I just love the result. The rings have an ID of 5.5mm, almost 6mm after springback, which gave me a bracelet of a whole centimetre thickness. Very substantial!!!

Now I plan to go back to the shop and buy up their supply of this wire, because I have already planned what other weaves I can do. Not to talk of some serious sculpting. We shall see!

In Praise Of Wig Jig  -  31/05/2009

This is a lovely necklace set done in 20g copper wire with flattish oval beads. Just a pity I did not have more of the beads for a bracelet!
The design for the wire links is found in the booklet "Jewelry with Wire" and according to instructions was made with roundnose pliers. Beautiful and perfect! But not in my hands; all the links turned out crookedly and of different shapes and sizes. So I decided to try my trusty wig jig, arranging the pegs in the correct order, then draping the wire around them. No problem, but the loops were not closed up as in the original. Again no problem, then I used my roundnose pliers to squeeze them shut. For good measure I hammered the links before joining them with jumprings and linking them to the wired beads, and this is the result. I hope you like it!

Kumihimo In Wire  -  31/05/2009

A while ago I posted some colourful kumihimo braids. Then someone commented how they would like to see a wire version. Here it is! Done in 28g sterling silver with just 8 single strands. For this I used the square braid pattern; to me it is preferable over the round braid which I think is more attractive in different colours.
If you want to try it go easy on your hands! I braided a whole metre of this in one day which was very foolish, given the gauge of wire I used. For the following three days my hands were so swollen and sore that I could only do something very easy, like coiling wire on a mandrel and no use of tools!
As I was told later by someone much more experienced than myself I should have used 30g wire or finer. Well, we live and learn! As it turned out the necklace turned out just the way I wanted and never mind the pain.
BUT: I would not do it again!

Easy Versatile Chain links - Tutorial  -  25/09/2009

This is another variation of the famous U-shape. For this project I used 19g silver wire, quite tarnished. To start you need your wire, which can be 18 or 20g, they work equally well. You also need a 6.5mm mandrel to shape the U, wire cutters and stepnose or roundnose pliers. The rest is up to your fingers! To join the links I used 3.5mm ID jumprings. The size of the jumprings is a personal choice. To start, straighten your wire and flush cut on each side of a 4cm section. For a necklace one needs about 40 to 42 pieces. Shape all of them over the 6.5mm mandrel, making sure the ends of the wire are of equal length.
Now take the stepnose pliers and make a loop on each side facing inside the U using the smallest step . If using roundnose pliers, mark them first, so all the loops have the same size. When all the links have been completed that way
hammer them flat. Usually the loops will open a bit at this stage, so make sure to close them up again.
Now you form the links with your fingers, pushing one side over the other so they overlap completely. Make sure the overlap is always in the same direction. Left over right or right over left does not matter as long as you do them all the same. Sometimes the overlap is not perfect, as shown on the left link above. When that happens insert the stepnose or roundnose pliers into both loops and tweak to adjust.
Here you see a complete bracelet with the links in the same direction.
This bracelet shows the links as opposite pairs. And both of them have been tumbled for 1 hour to remove the tarnish and workharden them. Now they sparkle!
These last two pictures show you the option of inserting beads between each pair of links.
The look will be quite different, but all the links are the same!

If you come up with more ideas, let me know.

Rings Galore -  18/05/2009

A few days ago I had an offer to take part in a show at the beginning of June. So it was full steam ahead to increase my inventory, starting with rings. And since I love coils of all manner I decided they will form part of the design.

Apart from the pink one on the right, I will do more of them as soon as I can get some more gorgeous colours of Swarovski crystals (it seems one can never have enough!).

I was too lazy to take all pictures individually, so I just grouped some of them together for this display. Starting from top left there is black onyx with black craft wire, next is tigereye with copper, blue handcut glass bead with 30g aqua craft wire, erinite Swarovski crystal with leaf green craft wire, orange quartz in copper, olive cat's eye with light leaf green and finally another tigereye but without the added coil.

A  visitor who saw the rings got quite excited and was asking if there could be earrings and pendants to match!? This will need some figuring and re-designing. If I succeed I will show you the results!

A Moving Story  -  03/05/2010

No, I do not want you to start shedding tears - it is not that kind of story. What I want to tell you is about moving house. In a way it is sad to leave after almost twenty years in the same house, but at the same time it is like anew beginning. All the girls had grown up, got married and moved to their own homes. So it was time to think of downsizing, the house was simply to large for just two of us. Not only that, but my daughters found it very convenient to leave behind all the things they did not need or could not accommodate in their houses. So, just after Christmas packing up started in earnest. We had twenty wooden crates made by a carpenter, hoping they would take all our stuff. Not so, we still had to buy lots and lots of sturdy bags to stow everything. This goes to show that all my family are pack rats - we never throw anything away because we might be able to use it again. Oh, but there was serious discarding of completely useless things. Still, some of my daughters' belongings still found their way to the new house. On the brighter side, we unearthed some long forgotten things or items which we had been searching for in vain.
Now in our new house there is really little space for everything, especially my beloved books and kitchen equipment, but we will get used to that. But I am most pleased that the contents of my two crates, five bags and eight large containers from my workroom have found space in my new "Studio"! Mostly beads, wire and tools, a few work related books. I never knew the quantities I had before the move - amazing! As soon as I had put my table in I started bringing out my supplies and resumed making my jewellery. And to prove I will post just two pictures today, promising more shortly!

Wire - String Art Embellished  -  10/05/2009

Playing some more with frames for stringing the wire it occurred to me  that the wriggly frame is actually quite nice when embellished with 4mm Swarovski crystals. Gives a little bling to the set! I will definitely make more, in different shapes and colours as well as changing the pattern of the stringing. Just had to share this one. Enjoy!

Pendants Again!  -  14/04/2009

This design gave me almost a sleepless night! I kept dreaming about it, how to shape the petals, how to make the frame to hold them, how to decorate the flower, etc. etc. By morning I had the answer and set to work. In all my dreaming it had not occurred to me how tough 19g wire can be; it does not like to be wrapped by hand in tiny little coils, even bending the petals was a challenge. But I did complete it, with a pearl in the centre and amethyst Swarovski crystals surrounding the pearl. The next challenge will be matching earrings! Can anyone tell me the type of pearl I used? I won several strands of them in a competition and have no clue as to what they are called.
Another flower pendant awaiting earrings! For the petals I used 24g wire, 2 strands twisted together and shaped over my own home-made jig. The bezel for the focal agate was made in 20g wire. After attaching the blue topaz Swarovski crystals to the petals I used the remaining wire to link the focal and the petals together,weaving across the back of the focal to make it secure.
This pendant turned out to be a dreamcatcher in Japanese weave. Purely accidental! I set out to make a cube, but found that I could not bring up the sides to join together, the size of the rings was too small and the tension on bending the sides up was so tight I could not insert another ring to join it all together. So I  removed several rings to get back to a sheet. Looking at it I thought that I could stretch it over a circle and this is the result! I like it, but there will be no earrings to match! No way!!!

Experiments  -  04/04/2009

The first experiment is a pair of ear vines. I got the free tutorial from and worked two sample pairs, but the springi-
ness was not enough to hold the vine securely. After some playing
around I came up with this version which has a double coil to give 
more spring. I also curved the earwire down before taking it up to the 
top. In the original the wire came out at a right angle to the coil before 
going up. Wearing it like this brings the coil below the earlobe, which to me did not look to attractive, but with my version the coil sits on the earlobe where it is meant to be and the entire piece feels more secure.
My second experiment is this necklace. Simple coils of 4 complete revolutions with loops at 12 & 6 o'clock, one horizontal and the second one vertical. Before completing the vertical loop I used 4mm Swarovski hotfix crystals, placed them in the centre of each coil and ironed them on, first from the top, then turned the coils over to give the crystals the final fixing. Then I completed the vertical loops and connected all together.
The idea came after having noticed Swarovski hotfix crystals on some of the most unusual items, so I decided to try it on wire and it works! But one thing is certain, to fix those tiny things is not easy, they are slippery on the wire, do not want to stay in the middle and if one is not careful in placing the iron they shift and end up where you do not want them. But the final result is worth it, even though to make the coils is much faster than the iron on process. What do you think?

Necklace Sets  -  29/03/2009

At last! Finally I discovered that I had actually edited the pictures but did not resize them suitable to the web. So I spent the whole day doing that, including some more cropping, and giving each a name. Quite time consuming - the initial file was 153MB!

The first set is a euro 4-1 weave
with Swarovski AB rondelles
and Dorado crystals, done in goldplated wire.

Next is a herringbone 
weave on beautiful 12mm pearls interspersed with Swarovski crystals, also done in goldplated wire.

European 4 in 1
Herringbone Weave
Below you see a byzantine
weave with mother of pearl coin beads and a carnelian as focal point.

The focal in the next set 
is V-shaped in two directions: head on view as well as from the side, filled with assorted Swarovski crystals and other beads. The wire used is copper 20g and the chain is a butterfly weave.

Last but not least is a variation on the byzantine weave for the focal and plain for the necklace. For this I used champagne craft 
wire with olivine Swarovski crystals.
Byzantine Weave

And when you think
that the layout in your 
post is what you are 
going to see on the
blog, you are wrong!
Trying to describe 
each item as it appears
seems to be futile,
because afterwards
all is in disarray!

How do others do it?
You see a picture
and the caption below
it,  again and again.
So, what am I doing 
wrong? I think I
need help!!! 

Byzantine Variant

Here are two new styles of pendant, that is new for me!. The first one is a faceted glass cabochon on which I tried my first ever netted bezel. I think it turned out quite well. The wire used is 20g and 28g  copper and the cab is just 1.8 x 1.4cm.
The second was a bit of a challenge because of it's
asymmetry. The stone is a beautiful tigereye, different in pattern on each side. So I decided to keep the wrap very simple and made it a reversible pendant to show off the beauty of the stone all around. Now that I have done it once I am sure others will follow.
I also tried to upload some necklace sets as mentioned in an earlier post but it seems I have to re-edit them to a smaller size. hopefully you will see them next time!

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