Gifts of the New Year

The new year has brought many surprises – from a stomach flu that conquered our entire family to burst water pipes all over the yard (in Arizona, freezing nights combined with plastic drip systems = homeowner’s nightmare!)

But the new year has brought some lovely gifts as well. Today I’d like to share some early 2015 features that have been published about my shop — at risk of blowing my own trumpet! (Please pardon the elephant pun…)
Turquoise Inspired Feature on ElephantBeads
The first feature began as a convo in my Etsy inbox, asking if I would like having one of my beaded rings featured in an online magazine. Of course, I was flattered, and said “Yes!” And then I forgot all about it – until I noticed my shop was getting views from Handmade-Jewelry-Club.com, and I went to check it out. Sure enough, there was the article, with one of my favorite seed bead rings featured!

The next feature also began as a simple convo – this time from one of my favorite Etsy suppliers, Ralph Helmrich, from UnkamenSupplies. For years I have been using artisan-crafted findings in copper and niobium from his shop. He asked if I would be interested in being profiled in his weekly blog, and I said “heck yes!” I provided him with a write-up for that one – mostly cribbed from the bio in my shop. The profile in the UnkamenSupplies Blog is one of my favorites of all time. Ralph did a beautiful job with the photo montage, and since the article appeared, I have enjoyed being a regular reader of his blog. I’ve learned many great tips and tricks about working with different metals!

DIY: Step-by-Step Beaded Metalwork Bookmark

I am going to walk you through the steps I take to make one of my signature metalwork beaded bookmarks. The bookmark I created here is currently for sale in my ElephantBeads shop on Etsy, along with several others in different colors.

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1. The supplies you will need are pictured here:

  • Oxidized copper wire in two gauges: 16g dead soft, and 24g half hard
  • Around 100 seed beads – any color
  • Larger complementary ornamental beads – 1-3

2. The tools you will need are:

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Side-cut pliers
  • Sand paper or nail file – both fine and rough
  • Chasing hammer and bench block

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3. Cut the heavy gauge copper wire to around a 19 inch length. Sand the end with the rough sand paper to make it smooth.

4. Using your needle nose pliers, make a 2 or 3 loop spiral with the wire, and then gently shape the first side of the handle of the bookmark using your fingers.

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5. Now, using a marker or similar-sized round object, create the lower curve of the bookmark by wrapping the wire around the marker. Work slowly to ensure the curve is smooth. Continue to work the curve upward with your fingers until the second side of the handle meets the first side.

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6. Using either your fingers or another round object, shape the top curve of the bookmark.  Work gently to create a smooth curve.

7. Finally, cut the end of the wire, allowing an extra inch for your final loop. Sand the end of the wire with your rough sand paper until it feels smooth to your fingers.

8. Using your needle-nose pliers, curl the tip of the wire outward and upward to create a complete loop. You will attach the decorative wire-wrapped bead(s) to this loop in your final step.

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8. You are now ready to hammer the metal. This will create a work-hardened finished product, and will also give the bookmark a more finished look. Using your chasing hammer, firmly pound away. It helps to flip the bookmark after every 10 blows or so, to keep it from curving in one direction.

Spend a little extra time on the curves of the bookmark, as this will give them added strength. You can play around with texturing, or periodically hit the metal with the side of the hammer to give it a more weathered, rustic look.

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9. It is now time to begin wire-wrapping. Cut your lighter gauge wire as indicated.

Getting the wrap started is the hardest part. To make it easier, bend about 1/4 inch of the wire at a right angle, hold that bit firmly in place between the two sides of the bookmark handle, and begin wrapping firm loops that will hold the tip in place and secure the bookmark handle.

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10. Continue wrapping until you are ready to add the first bead. Add a single bead, then wrap the wire around one side of the handle. Then add two more beads, and cross the wire over and wrap again. On the third row, wrap the wire twice around the bookmark handle. Continue in this manner, adding more beads in each row, until you reach the base of the bookmark handle.

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11. You are now ready to finish the handle of the bookmark. Wrap the end of the wire multiple times around the base of the handle. I like to wrap it completely over until it covers the entire base of the handle. You are now ready to lightly sand the bookmark with the fine nail file until the right amount of copper shines through the oxidation.

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12. Now all you need to do is create your embellishment and attach it to the bookmark! Using your needle nose pliers, do a simple wire wrap using a head pin, and attach your beads to the finished loop of the bookmark. And voila! You have made yourself a beaded, metalworked bookmark.

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