Sunday, January 20, 2013

My First Wire Crochet with Swarovski Crystals, Beadalon Findings and Dagger Beads from Unicorne

My first wire crochet!

I had not yet been drawn to wire crochet since it tends to be organic and I am a more architectural designer. But I needed to learn this technique for an upcoming Jewelry Television gig. I already know how to crochet and bead crochet, I just never did it with wire. Nothing like a deadline for live TV to compel you to take on something new and learn how to do it well, and fast!

Several CREATE YOUR STYLE with Swarovski Ambassadors are wire crochet dynamos so I turned to the Crystal Jewelry Inspirations book for tips. Many thanks to Laura Timmons for her project which described a method of braiding individually crocheted strands. Aha! It was just the technique I needed to employ. Thanks, Laura! I also looked at the web site of Dixon Chick Stephanie Dixon, so thanks for the additional inspiration, Steph!
I wanted to feature these striking, silver-dotted, red glass daggers from Unicorne Beads, so I strung them between sections of alternating sizes of Swarovski Jet crystals for two crocheted strands, one strand also including Beadalon oval links in gunmetal. The third strand uses all Jet crystals in sizes 5mm and 8mm. All strands use 26 gauge Artistic wire from Beadalon, non tarnish silver. Thanks to Laura I realized I could crochet single strands and braid them together into a more substantial form, though I used only 3 strands and her project uses many more.

Finishing up is straightforward enough if you've done any wire work that includes end cones or caps and wire wrapped loops with a clasp. Here's what I did: secured all braided strand ends together into a tidy "nest" that fit inside my bead cap, leaving long ends to string through the bead cap and form a wire wrapped loop.  Twirled the wire ends into a thicker gauge cable for the wire wrapped loop. Made a wire wrapped loop capturing one oval link. 

Used Beadalon's Quick Link connectors to extend the necklace with more small gunmetal oval links, and used an ear wire as the clasp. 

I suppose I should say that I got hooked on wire crochet and look forward to exploring it again.

Tune in to Jewelry Television (JTV) JEWEL SCHOOL on Feb 3 and 4th, 10-noon EST, to see the cool crochet kit you can buy to get started yourself!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crystal Jewelry Inspirations, My Journey as a Contributing Ambassador

It is my honor and pleasure to blog about being in the Crystal Jewelry Inspirations book of designs from the CREATE YOUR STYLE with SWAROVSKI ambassadors. Our common passion for Swarovski materials makes for a special bond not only between ambassadors but between us and everyone who loves Swarovski crystals! Kalmbach editor Karin Von Voohees empowered ambassadors around the world to share our styles and techniques as a group like never before!

How I chose my design
Let me tell you my journey for Crystal Jewelry Inspirations. I considered several existing pieces before ultimately creating something totally new just for this book.  First I presented to the editor my Fossil Pendant, one of my personal favorites to wear. Didn’t make the cut for the book because it doesn’t have enough crystals. I like featuring crystals in ways that set them apart from other materials in a piece but for this book, the design needed to be ALL about the bling.

Then I thought about this colorful necklace which always gets lots of comments when I wear it. But though it uses a great variety of stitches and is all crystals, it isn't totally my distinct signature style as an artist. It's very fun to make and to wear, though, so I will write this one up for sure. Some day!

Finding my design voice
I wanted to contribute something to this collection of special designs that people would connect to me and my style. I love rubber O-rings and also wanted to make a piece that was more than two dimensions. Loom weaving is, I think, an unexpected technique for crystals and something I teach and demonstrate often.  A loomed cuff worked up into a foundation cuff pretty fast so I could get right to adding embellishment and detail in all the circular brick stitched O-ring "orbits." Color was based on my desire to be graphic but feminine, stylish but edgy. Round crystals in jet (black) and crystal (white) checkerboard with fuchsia perfectly captured elements of fashion and futuristic, in my humble opinion.

The closure challenge
Everyone should give their work the happy ending it deserves. I chose to design an original clasp that was totally integrated rather than bring in a manufactured closure. I started playing with a toggle and buttonhole. First I just wired up a rubber tube, but needed to consider how to keep it in place.

The best answer was to use memory wire, which spirals into the third dimension with kinetic energy!

Everything about Crystal Jewelry Inspirations is meant to empower, instruct, and inspire. The diversity of projects and gallery pieces is simply stellar! See for yourself.

You're also invited to see more of my designs at, and shop for projects, kits, patterns, and more at

 Happy beading!