LBD #3

Remember those headpins I made a few days ago?  120 shiny silver pins, with so many possibilities.

Bunches and bunches of headpins...120 to be exact!

Just waiting to be discovered.

A few years ago, I made a series of bracelets that I called “Little Black Dress” – LBD.  I’d only gotten to LBD #2, but I knew I wanted to make more bracelets like those.  I decided these headpins would be perfect for a new LBD design.  The design was a pretty silver chainmaille bracelet, with clusters of sparkling Swarovski crystals.

I was short on black Swaro’s, so I decided this LBD would have a little color infused in it.  I had some gorgeous Siam crystals, which are a dark shade of red, and I thought they would work nicely with a few black, clear, and golden ones.

First, I made the bracelet and lined up the crystals.  The clear ones are teeny – 2mm!

Ready for wrapping...

Ready for wrapping…

Now, I just had to put each crystal on a headpin, and then wrap it.  When I started counting, I thought “Six crystals, nine links…that’s only 56 wraps!  I’ll be done in no time.”  Math has never been my strong suit, so I neglected to add in that I was doing 56 crystals TIMES TWO – both sides of the bracelet!

It took me a couple of days to do it.  Rex came into the studio to help me today, and while he doesn’t have opposable thumbs and therefore is useless when it comes to handling pliers, he would come over and give me an encouraging look from time to time.

An hour or so in the tumbler after I finally finished shined up the silver nicely, and I was pretty happy with the result…a gorgeous sterling silver bracelet LOADED with shiny, sparkling crystals.

Meet LBD #3:

Little Black Dress #3

Little Black Dress #3

What do you think?



Fired up

I love making headpins.

I mean I REALLY love making headpins.  There’s something about firing up that little torch, holding metal to the flame, and seeing it transform that just makes me happy.

Headpins are those little sticks of metal that beads are generally strung on for dangly things.  Like earrings, or bracelets, or necklaces.  You can buy them, but the way I see it, why not just make them since they’re so fun to make?  Here’s how I do it….

First, I cut a whole lot of fine silver (that’s 99.9 % pure silver) sticks.  This is 20 gauge wire, and each one is about 2 1/2″ long.

2 1/2" lengths of fine silver wire

2 1/2″ lengths of fine silver wire

I always cut them in groups of 10 and keep them in their little group until they are fired.  I’m kind of goofy that way, I have to make lots of 10, can’t end on an odd number for some reason.

Next, I fire up my little Butane torch.  I pick up a batch of 10 wires, and one at a time, hold one end in the very tip of the blue flame (that’s where it’s hottest!).  When it starts to glow, I flip it up quickly, or the whole thing will be a melted mess on my soldering brick!

Look at how hot that's getting!!

Look at how hot that’s getting!!

You can’t see my pliers, but the ones I use for headpin making (and anything else that requires potentially ruining my pliers) are an old pair of crummy ones with a long nose so I don’t burn my fingers.  After I flip the wire up, it starts to ball up at the bottom.  Pretty soon (like instantly) I’ve got to get it out of the flame so it doesn’t all melt away.

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!

Nice little silver ball on the tip of the wire!


Still hot, but no longer in danger of falling off!


To finish it off, I drop it in a small bowl of water that I keep right next to the soldering block…technically, it’s called quenching.  Since these are made from fine silver, not sterling, I don’t need to remove any firescale or tarnish, which form when high heat from the flame interacts with the alloys in sterling.

Bunches and bunches of headpins...120 to be exact!

Bunches and bunches of headpins…120 to be exact!

Now they are all ready to be used for wrapping beads.  I’m thinking about making something along the lines of this piece, which was called “Little Black Dress #2”.

Little Black Dress #2

Little Black Dress #2

Can’t wait to get to the studio on Saturday to work on it!



Studio Saturday

I think I’m going to love my weekends.

This morning, I ran a couple of errands, then headed up to the Hot Shops to work for the day.  Quite a few visitors on the third floor, including one lady who purchased a lovely Lapis and sterling silver bracelet.  w00t w00t for sales!

Lapis and Sterling Silver bracelet

Lapis and Sterling Silver bracelet


I’d forgotten that I had a photo of the bracelet, it’s a stunner, Lapis is one of my favorite stones!

The morning and early afternoon was spent arranging, unpacking, and rearranging.  I was up on a ladder messing with track lights at one point…not recommended to do in flip flops.  Next time I have to climb a ladder, I really should wear some tennies!!

My studio mate, Darcy Horn (The Jade Dog) has fabulous displays, including some wall art that really pops her side of the studio.


Something I need to work on…I need more art on my side!!  I did add some lights and a grid by my tables, but I’m not 100% happy with this set up.  I’ll continue to play with it.


What I AM happy with is my work space.  I have a few aluminum Byzantine bracelets to finish up from orders earlier this year.  Here’s a peek at my “cold” work space today.  Tomorrow I’m planning on finishing up a pink bracelet, then moving over to the “hot” bench and making up a bunch of head pins for an idea I have brewing.

My "cold" bench.

My “cold” bench.


We’re working on some fun ideas for our front door and our Open House in October. 🙂  But for now, just glad to have all the moving pretty much done!

Studio 3 (dot) 14 :)

Studio 3 (dot) 14 🙂



Getting settled

Last weekend, I started bringing tubs and boxes into the studio.  With the help of my son and a friend of his, and my handy dandy trailer, it didn’t take long to get all of my studio-worldly possessions hauled up to the third floor.

Piles of stuff...what's in all those tubs?

Piles of stuff…what’s in all those tubs?

You can’t see the rest of it, it’s around the corner.  But there was a LOT of stuff to be hauled, unpacked and arranged.  I think I counted a dozen big Rubbermaid tubs, plus 6 or so big boxes of stuff.  That didn’t include the boxes I’d already unpacked on the shelf already!!

But first, I needed something other than folding table to work on.  My husband had gotten these great work benches for me a few years ago…he got them at an auction for a steal.  They were too big for my space at the house, so they’d been sitting in the garage (and his Man Cave) until I was ready to claim them.


Aren’t they great?!  He’s still going to shore up the light on the one on the right, and hook up the extension cord, but I’m really happy with them.  Dan and Jeremy hauled them up to the studio on Wednesday this week; all it cost me was to buy them dinner at Subway.

So I was itching to get in and start unpacking those tubs and boxes….spent Saturday opening boxes and discovering stuff I’d forgotten about.
(Including a sock with a shoe polish tin in it, a box full of old pictures of the kids, and an assortment of fishing hooks. o-O  )

The WiFi in the studio works great – I’d downloaded the IHeartRadio app earlier in the week so I could listen to some tunes while I worked.  I’ve got a lot of tunes on my iPad, but it was nice to have some variety.

Getting there!

Getting there!

Still some arranging to be done, and I’ll likely change things up a bit after I actually start working.  I’ll have my “hot” silversmithing work on the bench on the right (kiln, bench pin, pickle pot, torch, Foredom) and my “cold” work on the left hand bench (wire work, maille, tumbler, beading).

The desk area is set up…I have an offer for a bigger desk, but I’m not quite sure if it’s going to fit or not.

Still some stuff to unpack here as well, but it's getting there.

Still some stuff to unpack here as well, but it’s getting there.

And my studio mate’s mom made the observation that our studio number aligns with, well….



I think I know what we should serve up at our Open House in October.  😉

Until next time…..