Monthly Archives: August 2011

Tool Time Tuesday – Bracelet Formers – New classes

Okay, I know today is Monday. But isn’t it better to have it on Monday than not at all? My husband is home today and watching the baby so I figured it was as good a time as any. Last week my husband took my baby to Utah and Idaho to visit family. The girls started school, but not till the end of the week. However, as you have seen by my most recent posts, I did actually spend some good quality time in the studio… however, still not quite enough to my liking. I am trying to soak it all up and get in as much time as possible right now before our move. I am so scared that I once we get to Dallas, my things will be in storage for up to a year. YIKES!

As you know, I have been playing with my new hydraulic press and loving life with it. It is so much fun to have and I am really enjoying all the new things I can do with it. Of course, most of these things are possible without it, but it would require so much more elbow grease.


I finally got around to using the bracelet forming kits for my press, made by Potter USA. In the picture above, the bracelet on the bottom is anticlastic and the top one is synclastic. Both have been fold formed. I have just added this project to my September Schedule (see bottom of this post.)

I created two videos last week. The first video is demonstrating a tool for the hydraulic press for those who do not have a gauge. Kevin has modified a torque wrench so that you can still have repeatable results and also have a “gauge” of how much pressure you are applying to a piece in the press.

Here is the link:

The second video is using the bracelet formers that Kevin has made. I used both sets to create the bracelets above. I am very excited. I am going to be going to Tucson on the 6th of September and will spend a couple of days with Kevin getting to know him and a few more of his products a little bit better. Kevin also has a great range of forming tools (stakes and hammers…. drool) So I hope to have some more really interesting Tool Time Tuesday posts with a few of those products as well. If any of you are in the Tucson area and would like to get together, let me know. I would love to meet up with some other artists as well. I am also told there is a gem show out there that week and would LOVE some company.

Here is the link to the Bracelet former video:

As always, your feedback is very important to me. I love to hear what people have to say. That and it is just fun to know that people really do read this blog. 

Class Schedule: I don’t have this posted on my website yet, but I thought I would at least get it posted here. If you are interested in taking a workshop with me, just let me know. I will be adding more in the next week or so, just watch for my postings here on the blog or on my facebook page.

Classes in my Norton Studio:
Tuesday, September 20, 6-9pm – Fold formed and pressed bracelet (like those above.) $65, all materials included. Students will make one bracelet.

Saturday, September 24, Hydraulic Press and Pierced Pendant 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. $75, all materials included. Students will make one pendant.

Classes at Beadtini Boutique in Copley

Wednesday, August 31
– 6:30 – 8:30 pm: Creative Findings. This is a combination soldering
and wire class. You will learn to create soldered embellishments
including toggle clasps, head pins, links, creative ear wires and other

Wednesday, September 14 – 6:00 – 9:00 pm:
Spinner Rings. You will learn techniques to size and make a wide band
ring with spinning rings. This class is a great introduction to working
with a torch.

Saturday, September 17 – 10:30 am – 2:30pm:
Bezel Set Pendant. Students will work with both copper and fine silver
to bezel set a small cabochon on a copper back plate. Prior soldering
experience is required to take this class.


FUN FUN FUN in the Studio

Okay, I have been finally spending a lot of good quality time in the studio. I pay for it dearly the next day as I usually don’t enter the studio until 9:00 pm or later and get to bed around 2:00 or 3:00 am. That doesn’t work so well when the baby gets up at 6:00 to eat. YIKES! But OH IT HAS BEEN FUN!!!! I have never really had my kids on a schedule before. Not a strict one anyway, particularly over the summer. It isn’t uncommon for us to all go to bed around 10:00 or 11:00 pm. As school is starting this week (tomorrow for my oldest and Thursday for my Kindergartener) I started getting the girls ready for bed at 8:00 and in bed no later than 9:00 pm. Oh how I wish I had done this AGES ago.

Want to see what I have been up to? I am on such a high lately that I have a hard time waiting all day just to get the kids to bed and I can get back into the studio.
This first one I did over a week ago. But I couldn’t really show you since it was part of the bead Soup Package. But now that she has it, I can show it. It was made with my hydraulic press. I pierced out the center and soldered it on to a back plate, textured it and set the stone. SO FUN!


This one I made Sunday night. It took about 4 hours to make and I am still not totally happy with it, but it was so much fun to try some new things. I am really enjoying my press. I can finally add the depth and dimension to my pieces that I have always wanted. Everything always seemed to be so flat. Not anymore!

I domed a large circle, drew the patterns I wanted, drilled my holes and began piercing. The other half of the circle is pierced and waiting to be used. Still thinking about that one. It has an entirely different pattern on it. I soldered it on to the back plate and then I searched through my scrap silver wire to see what I could come up with. This is what I ended up with. I really like how it turned out. though getting everything soldered on to it without having the solder go everywhere was very difficult and not entirely successful in all the areas. The bail is a tube on the back of the piece.


Here is is from a different angle so you can really appreciate the depth of the domed shape.


I made this one last night. My baby sitter is turning 16 on Thursday. She has been wonderful. We weren’t able to afford to pay her a whole bunch and several times she has worked for jewelry (which mostly ended up on her mother. LOL) But she has been wonderful working with Kiari, as Kiari isn’t an easy baby. Her favorite color is pink. So I formed the flower with the press, drilled and pierced the center and then soldered it onto a sterling back plate.Then I soldered on the stem and tube setting (and the stupid thing moved just as the solder flowed. UGH!) I cut away the sterling back plate around the flower and stem. I soldered on the setting for the diamond and then pierced out the shape of the leaf. Then I soldered on a tube on the back plate for the bail. Final steps were to set the Pink SwaroGem and diamond. And yes, it is a diamond. I have had them for ages and this is the first time I finally used one. The diamond didn’t show up very well, so I went back in with some SilverBlack and blackened the leaf a bit and now you can see it much better.


Today the girls and I had a studio play date. I formed the flowers for the earrings, pierced them out, drill the holes and made the drops for the crystals. The ear wires are also hand made. I really hope she likes this set. It will be fun to see what she thinks.


As I said, we had a studio play date. Kate made a necklace, also for my sitter. While she did a good job, it is certainly something that a 5 year old would make. There isn’t much of a pattern. But she is so proud of it.


Riley has been asking me for a while to show her how to use a jewelers saw. Today I was finally able to do that. She is a natural. Just look at that form!


I drew out some lines for her on a post it note so she could get used to using the saw. The lines got progressively harder, straight, slight wave, very wavy, zig zag and then random shapes with soft and sharp turns. She didn’t break a blade until the very end. She was heartbroken. I was thrilled that she finally broke a blade and had to learn how to load the new saw blade.


She has wanted to wear my magnifiers since I got them. I may have to order her a pair of her own. Either that or go without one myself as I am not sure I will ever get to use it if we are both in the studio together. HA!


She picked out a rather intricate shape to work with, but she did a great job. She wanted to do a firefox, and so she did.


Here is the final piece. I did a little bit of smoothing on the edges with a file and polishing, but the rest of it was all her. She did such a good job that I actually had to file the points on the tail and around the ears. They were sharp. I am so proud of her. It was so much fun to look over and watch her do this. She did break about 3 or 4 blades on the pendant, but that is okay, more practice learning how to insert the blade.




Tool Time Tuesday….

Well, It didn’t happen today. We were having too much fun doing other things. Sorry. But I do think that there might be a Tool Time Wednesday. I have a couple of things ready. I just need to get them filmed and edited.


North East Ohio Classes

I have a couple of classes coming up. This Saturday I am going to teach a hydraulic press and piercing class. We will make something similar to the pendant I made last week.


I have room for only 2 more people, possibly 3. Class is 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Cost: $75 and includes all materials. This class will be held in my Norton Studio.

Classes at Beadtini Boutique in Copley

Wednesday, August 31 – 6:30 – 8:30 pm: Creative Findings. This is a combination soldering and wire class. You will learn to create soldered embellishments including toggle clasps, head pins, links, creative ear wires and other embellishments.

Wednesday, September 14 – 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Spinner Rings. You will learn techniques to size and make a wide band ring with spinning rings. This class is a great introduction to working with a torch.

Saturday, September 17 – 10:30 am – 2:30pm: Bezel Set Pendant. Students will work with both copper and fine silver to bezel set a small cabochon on a copper back plate. Prior soldering experience is required to take this class.

A New Look

Well, what do you think? I have had that old template for a couple of years now and I just felt it was time for a change. It was kind of challenging and fun as I had to play around with Photoshop elements I had forgotten how to do and I even had to fudge with the CSS and HTML code for the blog. Oh how I miss hacking out code and knowing what I was doing. HAHA Hopefully things will go smoothly as I work on my Website next.

Sorry to be so late with my blog this week. My baby has decided she is ready to be mobile. That is not good for me as it means I will spend even less time in the studio and working on my blog and sites. However, next week my older girls start back to school and the baby will visit a sitter a couple times a week. YAY! Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, I am just a much better mom when I have had a chance to spend some time by myself, for myself. And that means spending some good quality time with my tools and creativity.

I have been working on my sketching challenge a little. Last weeks theme was Lines. Here is what I came up with. Again, they aren’t great, but at least it is a starting point.


1716 1717


This week’s theme is Fractured.

I hope to be back with some more Tool Time Tuesday Posts in the next couple of weeks. I am getting all the material ready now and figuring out how to get it filmed and photographed. I have also just made some plans to visit Tucson in early September. I will be spending some time with Kevin Potter of Potter USA. I am really really really enjoying my press and am going to glean as much information from his brain as I can so I can share it all with you. So if any of you live in Tucson and would like to get together, I would LOVE to meet up. I am also told there is a gem show there that weekend. What great timing!!!


Bead Soup

I sent off my bead soup package this last week. With any luck my partner will have her beads and hand made focal and clasp in her hands on Monday, if not tomorrow. Want to see what I sent her?


Well, I can’t really show you what I sent her. She might read my blog and see it. But I promise to show you what it all really looks like after I know she has it in her hot little hands. But I think it is safe to say, it is full of Copper and Silver. LOL.

Tool Time Tuesday – Storage & Organization in the Studio

UGH! What a day yesterday was. So Tool Time Tuesday is Tool Time Wednesday, but hey, at least it got on here right?

I had some emails and questions about storage options in the studio for various tools. So in this edition of Tool Time Tuesday I go through and show you how I have organized a few of my tools in the studio.

Here is the direct link to YouTube:

And here is the video.


Sketching Challenge

Okay, I know I said I was going to post on Monday, but as you can see, I didn’t even make it to my computer on Monday…. and barely on Tuesday. I didn’t get any more pages done in my personal sketch books, but I did meet my goal of at least 20 images, so I am happy.

This weeks theme: LINES

If you haven’t already seen the sketches from others on my facebook page, be sure to stop by. There are some GREAT sketches out there. Thanks to those of you that participated. It is fun and inspiring to see others sketches as well.

New Pieces

Wow, did I just write that? Why, yes I did.  The past two mornings (Monday and Tuesday) my darling baby woke up at 6:00 am. What is with that kid? Well, I couldn’t fall back to sleep and figured it would be the perfect time to play in the studio. That is just what I did. I have been so excited to work with this hydraulic press and I finally got to do more than just quickly looking at it or preparing materials.

The first piece has been pressed, pierced and riveted to an aluminum back plate. It is very light. The copper was 22 gauge. The aluminum and bail have been sandblasted. Have I told you all how much I LOVE my tools?!?!?!



The second piece was also done using my hydraulic press. This was a custom order for an online friend who was due the same time I was with my baby. They affectionately call their baby turtle. It was a lot more work that I thought it would be, but it was so much fun to work in the studio, I didn’t care. I hate it when the opening on a jump ring happens to be in the front and you don’t notice it until after the photo is done. ARGH! The heart is 1.25″. The little turtle is about the size of a dime.




Bead Soup

Bead Soup Blog Party

Yup, your read that right. I am going to participate in a blog party called Bead Soup. Basically people sign up and then they get paired up with a partner. Each partner sends the other a focal, special clasp and coordinating beads. They then have to make a piece with whatever was sent to them. I got paired up with someone that does work with seed beads. Let’s hope she takes pity on me and doesn’t send me a tube or three of those. HAHA

Once all the pieces are done, we will all post them to our own blogs on September 17. Then we all have a great big Blog Hop to view everyone’s finished pieces.

I have never participated in one of these before, but as you know from my previous blog posts, I really needed something to get me going. I figured this couldn’t hurt. Stay posted and I will show you what I get and what I come up with for a final design.

Tronex Order

Last item for this post. I am going to be placing an order on Thursday morning (8/11/11) for Tronex Tools. Because the order is a large one I am going to be able to offer 15% off the entire order. So let me know if you would like any of the cutter or pliers. They are fantastic…. but you already know how I feel about them.

New Challenge – Let’s Sketch

So you may have noticed that in the past year I have posted VERY LITTLE of my own work. There is a fairly good reason for that. One year ago today, I was sicker than a dog and doing nothing more than holding down the couch and attempting to hold down my lunch. HAHA! I had a very difficult pregnancy which led to a very premature baby and a long NICU stay. After bringing my darling baby home, we found out that she is just as much trouble outside the womb as she was in. Talk about HIGH MAINTENANCE!!!!! GOOD GLORY!  And that is being polite.

With that said, when I do have an hour to steal away into the studio (as if!) I find that I am creatively stumped. I can’t get anything to look remotely decent, I have no ideas flowing, there just isn’t anything. When I took a couple of classes at the University of Akron a few years back, our instructor had us keep a sketch book. We were to draw at least 12 sketches per night. Now, you might recall that all this artistic stuff is new to me. It is amazing that I can create jewelry the way I do, but I am HORRIBLE at drawing. I wish I could draw the piece I make, but I can’t. At least not at this time. I am not being modest either. I will show you what I mean shortly.

At any rate, I did find that the more I “Sketched” the more ideas I had. One idea spawned another and that led to another and yet another. It is kind of fun to look back through the drawings I was making at that time and see the pieces that have turned into something. Several of the finished pieces have been published and one was even turned into a magazine article. So you never know where these simple ideas will take you.

I posted on my Facebook page about an idea that I had to do a sketching challenge. I invite you all to join with me. Several people have already started and it is so fun to see how others think too. I am going to extend this to my blog, so if you would like to participate but aren’t on Facebook, you can just send me a picture of your sketches via email and I will post them here (we don’t have to use your name) but I am putting my bad drawings out there in all their awful glory. hahaha

Here is a page out of one of my sketchbooks (I think I have 4 or 5.) See what I mean about very simple? Fun thing about this page, there are at least 5 pieces that were actually made.


Okay, so here is the challenge. Take your sketch book/paper/napkin/ whatever. Draw a grid of 9-21+ squares (see pictures below) and draw at least one thing in the box. I will provide a weekly theme (please send suggestions) and then we will all sketch based on that theme. Don’t worry if you don’t stick with the theme, heaven knows my mind wanders and once you get started, let it go!

You have 7 days (Actually only 4 for this one as we started it on Monday) to take a picture of your page and either post it on my facebook wall ( or email it to me at and I will get it posted for you.

The idea is to take this challenge one step further and choose an item from our sketches and turn it into a finished piece.  If you can do one a week, that is great. I know I sometimes don’t step foot into my studio in a week’s time, so do what you can.

So please join in and let’s help each other get creative.

Who can join? EVERYONE! You don’t have to be a jewelry artist. So if you paint, sew, hit metal, bead, whatever, jump on in and let’s see what happens!

Here are my drawings so far for this week. My personal goal is to have at least 20 sketches per week. As you can see, I have far exceeded that this week… and that is a VERY good thing. Set your own goal or match my 20. Do what you can, but do something.

Week 1 – Theme: Dots

I did this at the hotel room just before turning off the lamp to go to sleep. Not my most creative day…..

I did this page last night (8/3/11) while watching a movie with my girls.


Featured Artist Friday

I need some artists. I am all out. Do you want to be featured? Yes? Please send me an email and I will send you the questions and information. jewelry @ melissamuir . com (remove spaces of course)