Monthly Archives: September 2011

Tool Time Tuesday – Organize your Chains

Okay, I am finally among the land of the living again. I had my first cold in about a year. That wasn’t fun. We have been so blessed that this is the first illness we have had in our house in about a year, especially with our baby being born 2 1/2 months early. I actually think I got my cold from her. Thank you all for the comments on my Bead Soup post. I appreciate the encouragement.

Once again, I am late with Tool Time Tuesday, but I didn’t want to get on camera with sneezing and all of that. Besides, I mostly hung out in bed. I have a few other videos that I am working on and hope to have a few of those posted by next week, but we will have to see how things go. I don’t seem to meet some of my deadlines now that Kiari is mobile. She is much more difficult to contain and she does NOT entertain herself like the other two girls did. I have actually started to take her to a sitter once or twice a week just so I can get some work done. Though, I have been sleeping so horribly that a lot of the time I end up taking her to the sitter and coming back home to sleep for a couple of hours. So sad, but very true.

I was going through things trying to come up with a quick TTT rather than not do one at all and I remembered something that one of my friends did. My very good friend Valerie showed me a neat little organization trick with her chains. I wouldn’t have thought to do it myself, but once I saw it, it was like, WELL DUH!!!! As she was moving in and getting her studio put together we were organizing her wire and sheet and I came across a shoe box that had a lot of silver scrap and such in it. What struck me though were her chains.

This is what some of my chains look like….


I store them all in small zip baggies to prevent oxidation. You don’t see the little tag in there keeping them “somewhat organized,” but it is there. However, just think about how bad this could really be. It is awful to try to get a chain and find that you have to spend 10 minutes untangling them while trying not to kink or break a chain.

So what did Valerie do? She put her chains through straws. Regular old drinking straws. GENIUS!!!


Here I have actually color coded mine according to their size, but you could also code to their style if you wanted. If you don’t have fancy colored straws, you could just do as I did on the ends, and write their length on the straw.

Now I don’t have to worry about the chains tangling and I can even keep them all in one larger zip baggie rather than a million different little ones. Want to see how I store all of my chains? Well, watch the little YouTube Video I did. It is only about 3 minutes long (My shortest to date.)


So there you have it. Happy Organizing!

Bead Soup Blog Party – The Big Reveal

Well, it is Saturday, at least it is in my time zone. So I will reveal my project. Of course I just finished it up about an hour ago. LOL.

Welcome to all the Bead Soup Visitors. I am Melissa Muir. I am mainly a metalsmith but thought that this project would be a good exercise in creativity for me. I know we have a lot of blogs to visit, but stick around and check things out. I do a couple of fun features on my blog including Tool Time Tuesday (Tutorials and tool reviews, including videos) and Featured Artist Friday (Would you like to be featured?) There is a lot to be learned here on this blog and I would love to have you as a reader. You can subscribe in the upper right hand corner. Just enter your address and hit “Subscribe.” My blog will email you every time I make a post. Don’t worry, I won’t fill your inbox daily. I am lucky to get 2 posts a week at the very most.

This project didn’t turn out quite the way I was thinking it would. I actually went through a lot of wire that I ended up removing because it didn’t look quite right. I am still not entirely sure I like how it turned out, but it is cool because it was such a challenge for me.

The one thing I must say is that my partner Lois Moon, has a great eye for color and putting elements together. I would have never picked out the beads she did. It made this project easier because I didn’t have to do that part. This was very challenging for me and I am reminded why I don’t often work with beads. I still say that I am beading challenged and this project confirmed that once again. HAHA I am very excited to see what she did with the items I sent her. Please be sure to click on her name and visit her blog as well.

Well, without further ado, here is what I came up with. We were required to use the focal and clasp. I added copper wire and a copper back plate, along with a few amber and brown seed beads. The rest of the materials were supplied by Lois.

I forgot to take a picture of everything before I got started. So Here the pendant is mostly done.


the necklace is asymmetrical, and anyone who knows me know that this is very different and difficult for me. But it was kind of liberating at the same time. I did the asymmetry because I wanted to showcase the really neat hook.

The focal is a ceramic/porcelain floral design. I carefully riveted it onto a back plate of 24 gauge copper. I added a couple of hooks of 24 gauge wire and then riveted that back plate onto another back plate using sterling silver wire rivets.




This is actually the third rendition of the earrings. I had some real troubles trying to get them to match. I tend to go complicated and making a matching pair of complicated earrings is rather difficult. but I kind of like this pair.

Here is a close up of that really cool Sterling hook.


A closer look at the “Bead work” on the pendant. I attached the beads to the “hooks” I created in the first step of the pendant. Look, I used seed beads (GASP!!!)


Here is the back. Yes, I know I didn’t do a very good job at getting the spacing right, but it is too late now.


Thank you Lori Anderson for doing all of this, especially when life has been throwing such difficult curve balls your way! This was a great exercise and helped to push me a little when I was feeling sluggish.

Thank you Lois for the great blog feature and wonderful selection of beads. You have a wonderful talent and I look forward to seeing more of your work!

Be sure to stop by the Bead Soup Blog Party and visit the other 300+ blogs to see what others have come up with as well. Eye candy is always good for creativity.

Playing Catch Up

Isn’t it amazing how long it takes to get back into the swing of things after being out of town for a few days? I swear, I am still jet-lagged even. I can’t fall asleep at night (even more so now) and I am dead tired all day and MUST have a nap, even if I try to fight it. So, I am behind once again.

Tucson was wonderful. Kevin Potter and his wife Danielle were amazing! I am SOOOOO glad that I am now able to count them among my friends. I have several projects that I will be doing with them coming up and I am so excited about it. Kevin is as down to earth and caring as he seems. He dropped everything for 2 1/2 days while I visited. He answered all my questions, introduced me to other area artists, some of which I have known online. We came up with new tools and projects. He had me make my own stake (I will post pictures once it gets shipped to me.) I got to help him finish up some other stakes for a large order that he has been working on. I wish I had been able to stay and help him more. It was tedious work, but it was SO MUCH FUN!

I have finally made the announcement that I am in the process of writing a book. Many of you have asked and I am finally taking the plunge and going to do it. I actually have a couple of books in mind, but only the first has been started. I even had the opportunity to find the perfect people to work through the projects to make certain they work. Yes! I am insane. Yes! I am going to do this and be a mom to three young girls. Yes! I am going to do all of this while moving. And I repeat, Yes! I am insane. But I am charged and ready to go.

Do you have a project or skill you would like to learn? Let me know what it is. I am looking for more projects for my Tool Time Tuesday posts and new books. Great things are in my future and you can be a part of it too. I love to have company!

While in Tucson I was fortunate enough to have my timing coincide with a gem show. It wasn’t anything near as big as what happens there in February, but it was big enough. I only visited the wholesale show. I didn’t really have enough time to visit the other three venues. But even the wholesale show was big enough for me. I even managed to stay within my budget. I would have stayed under budget, but I went back for seconds before my flight home. HAHAHA. But I found some really good things that I am excited to work with. Want to see?

These are bronze texture plates. They are from Pakistan. There, they use a lead cake and sandwich a thin piece of metal, smack with a sledge hammer and come out with a really cool patterned piece. I am going to try it out with urethane and my hydraulic press before I attempt with lead. If I can get some good impressions with the press and urethane, then there will be no need for lead. I will let you know how it all goes when I get to try it out. The copper balls are SOLID. There were 50 in a package. I wish I had bought one more bag of them. I actually went back to the show before my flight just to get them, but the guy wasn’t there any more. I was so bummed. He had some great things in copper. Oh, if only money weren’t an issue. HA!


I love sparkly things, that would include DRUSY!!!! I am normally not big on the titanium coated pieces, but these just called my name. I also bought a package that had something like 45 pieces in them (that aren’t pictured) but they are so pretty and full of texture. Think of wire settings, tab settings, prong settings, bezel settings….. I can’t wait!

I am a sucker for carnelian. I love it when it is banded and has great colors, and this package had it. They are packaged like this and people go in and pick out which ones they like and buy single pieces. I just took the whole package. The lady kept asking if I wanted them all. She didn’t believe me when I said I wanted them all. LOL.

There were also all these cool little intarsia findings and beads. So I bought a handful for my girls to play with. They were only $1 each. I figured I couldn’t go wrong at that price.

The little white cases have three types of Topaz (The blue is Kelsi and Kiari’s birthstone, the other two are just really pretty.) I cannot for the life of me recall what the little blue/purple stones are, but again, I am a sucker for pretty, so I bought them too.


The red stones are Red Coral. I don’t normally care for coral, but I love the cut and color of these. I have some great ideas for these. Think of bright silver against that dark deep red. POP!!!

I also found some beautiful Labradorite with beautiful flashes of of blue, purple, green, orange and red. I wish I had bought more of those.


I also bought some fun little things for my girls including small half Geodes and watches. They were a big hit and at just a few dollars, I got to be the coolest person in the world for a few minutes. Totally worth every cent. HAHA


Did you know that I have a mailing list? It is different than my blog. I haven’t done much with my mailing list. In fact, it was first designed to let local people know of my upcoming classes. But as things are changing for me, including my location, I figured I would change the focus of my mailing list. I figured I would turn it into a newsletter. I won’t get all spammy, because who needs that? But I figured I could use it to compliment my blog. If you are interested in signing up please fill out my form.


Bead Soup Blog Party – LOIS MOON

You might remember that I signed up for the Bead Soup Blog Party hosted by Lori Anderson of Pretty Things Blog. This has been quite the challenge for me as I have to use BEADS…. AHHHHHHHHH! But it has been fun. I was working on my piece today. My partner is Lois Moon. She is an amazing beader. She works with the dreaded TINY beads. Check out some of her work.




She also does some amazing photography. She certainly has a blog of eye candy. She also post about great giveaways, so you would do well to check her blog out.

Well, the great reveal of the Bead Soup Blog Party is this Saturday. This is where we all post pictures of what we have created with what we were given. Lois did not send any little seed beads, bless her soul! However, interestingly, my piece does use seed beads. But you will just have to visit me again on Saturday if you want to see what I have made. It has been a challenge, like I said, but it is a fun challenge at any rate.

See you Saturday for the reveal!

Tool Time Tuesday – Matched Ear Wires

Well, once again it is Monday. However, my flight to Tucson leaves at 5:45 am tomorrow, so I will not be around to make my post. Again, better one day early than not at all.

This week is going to be a lot of fun for me. I am very excited as I am flying to Tucson to hang out with Kevin Potter in his shop. I am going to learn everything I can about the hydraulic press and Stakes. I will even have the opportunity to make a few of my own tools. I am so excited! I am also going to be staying with some good friends of ours from grad school. The only thing I am not looking forward to is the hot weather. I enjoy summer as much as the next guy, but I am ready for it to be done. Fall is my very favorite season and it always has been. I am so glad that I get to be here in Ohio to enjoy just one more.

The other night the topic of creating ear wires came up on one of my email groups. The person was looking at buying a jig to create them. Now, I am very grateful to jigs. They do come in handy every now and then and it is also how I got started with wire and jewelry in the first place. I recall talking with one lady at a show that had helped to write a book on making jewelry with the jig and she had said she NEVER used one any more as she could do all the same things with her pliers. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do that. Sure enough, slowly but surely I began to do more and more with just my round nose pliers. I pretty much never use my jig any more. It has been years since I have even looked at the thing. At any rate, I told about my own situation and that I thought that there were better places for her to spend her money. The conversation continued with several of us and the concern about making her ear wires match came up. What a great opportunity to create a video. YAY!

Now the video(s) here were filmed around midnight and posted that night (I went to bed at 3:00am.) So I did notice one big oversight, I forgot to tel how to finish the ends. So watch the videos and come back here so I can tell a little more about that.

I am either extremely slow, or very chatty. Either way, the video was too long for YouTube. Therefore, there are two parts. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Part 2:


Okay, to finish the ends I do any number of things. You can take a file and lightly file the edges and round out the end that way. It takes a little more time. The next thing I use is called a Wire Rounder. They are about $10 – $12 (I think?) and you just put it on the end of your ear wire and twist your wrist. It is basically a cup bur  mounted to a handle. The last thing I do is take a cup bur put it in my flex shaft, push the petal and ZIP, it is all done.


New Pieces

I have done a little in the studio, but not a whole lot this past week. I had a full day set aside on Friday. I even took my baby, but we ended up having a showing of our house. So I spent the day cleaning and then took a nap instead.

I made more bracelets, because really, can you ever have enough? Someone had mentioned that they would like one in Sterling. So I made one. I have since oxidized this one and it really brings out the details of all the folds. DANG, silver is much more difficult to fold and unfold. But it sure is pretty!


This next one is a different take on a Mother’s Bracelet. I made it for the friend that I will be staying with in Tucson. I don’t know if she wears jewelry or not, so it might just sit in her jewelry chest or on top of her dresser, but it sure was fun to make at any rate. I also made little pendants for her little girls.


Riley is in the studio

My 11-year-old has been bitten by the piercing bug. She LOVES it and is always asking me if she can go in the studio to do some more. Just wait till you see the piece she is working on now. It is not simple and quite elaborate for a beginner. I am really proud of her. She is learning a lot, but enjoying it. Santa may have to bring her a saw for Christmas.

This is a shape that she drew free-hand and then pierced out. She showed one of the Recess Aides at school and was then commissioned to make another for the aide. I have also now had a talk with Riley about the value of her work. LOL. She did get a pair of earrings in exchange and is happy with the transaction.

Riley Hedgehog Cutout

Riley is filing the rough points on her little hedge hog. It makes my heart so full to look at pictures of her working in the studio. *PROUD MAMA HERE*


Here are some other pieces that she has done. The two at the top are the original and the commissioned piece.

The three at the bottom (from left to right) are a cat, dog and mouse. All drawn freehand and then cut out.


Class Changes

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. This one will be rescheduled at a later date.

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.

****Date Change!*****
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. NEW DATE ***** Saturday, September 24*****

See you all next week when I return. I should have a lot of REALLY good stuff to share.