Lovers of Bangles, Baubles and Beads and Jewelry Making Unite!
Jewelry Lovers, Welcome to My World of Bangles, Baubles and Beads!
"Hi, my name is Margaret Schindel and I'm a jewelry-holic." There, I said it: I'm totally addicted to jewelry! I'm completely passionate about designing it, making it, wearing it, giving it as gifts to the special people in my life, and teaching others how to to make their own beautiful and unique.jewelry. I lie awake in bed coming up with new designs. I can spend many hours designing and redesigning a simple beaded necklace or bracelet until I'm happy with it and it will feel like only 15 minutes have gone by. I love playing with unusual combinations of colors, materials, textures and finishes to create one-of-a-kind earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, pins, brooches and rings. The only thing I love more is learning and sharing new jewelry making techniques!
If you're a jewelry lover, too, and would like to learn how to make jewelry or add to your existing repertoire of jewelry making techniques and skills, I invite you to join me on a wild and wonderful adventure into the world Bangles, Baubles and Beads. I'll share my favorite jewelry making techniques, step-by-step tutorials and projects, tools, supplies, even my favorite bead storage solutions. I'll provide support and inspiration, whether you're a jewelry making beginner or an intermediate jewelry artist. We'll even cover some advanced jewelry making techniques so you can continue to build your skills here over time. You'll learn to make your own beautiful jewelry to wear, give as gifts or even sell, if you wish!
Let's Make Positive Contributions to Our Jewelry Making Community
Our Artist Community Is as Good as We Make It
If you're a jewelry making enthusiast, too, I encourage you to share your best tips and techniques and your favorite jewelry books, materials and supplies, tools, storage solutions, etc. Write a blog post or article letting your colleagues know what you've discovered, what you recommend and why. The more we share, the stronger our jewelry making community becomes. I'll also be sharing and promoting many of the best articles on this topic on my blog and on social media, and I encourage you to do the same. If you've written something you think other jewelry makers would find particularly valuable, whether it's a project, technique, tip, product review or book review, feel free to let me know in the comments section at the end of this article.
We all benefit from cultivating, strengthening and actively participating in a rich and vibrant community where jewelry makers and designers from different parts of the world, with different types of expertise and different levels of experience can come together to share ideas, opinions, favorite jewelry making books and techniques, help and encourage each other, learn from each other, be inspired and have fun. That community will be as valuable as the contributions we all make to it!
My Jewelry Designs
I adore designing and making one-of-a-kind jewelry. I find that making each piece of jewelry is a lot more work ... and also a lot more satisfying.
A Few of My Favorite Jewelry Making Books and DVDs
Whether you're new to making jewelry or want to hone your existing skills or learn some new techniques to add to your repertoire, I encourage you to check out these jewelry making books that I own (or have borrowed) and can recommend highly.
Soldering Made Simple by Joe Silvera
Soldering is an incredibly useful skill for anyone who makes jewelry. But many jewelry makers are scared and intimidated by the idea of using a costly jeweler's torch, especially the two-fuel torches that are best for this type of work. Fortunately, there's a simpler, easier, safer and cheaper alternative for soldering silver components: using a simple, safe, and inexpensive butane kitchen torch AKA creme brulée torch. Joe Silvera's wonderful book "Soldering Made Simple: Easy techniques for the kitchen-table jeweler" lives up to the promise of its title. Don't be limited to "chemical bonding" (gluing) and cold connections - learn how to solder jewelry the easy way!
On Joe Silvera's Soldering Made Simple companion DVD you can watch him demonstrate the easy soldering techniques with a butane kitchen torch that he explains in his book. If you're interested in learning how to solder the easy way, it's worth owning both the book and the DVD.
The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight
Metalsmith, designer, teacher and publisher extraordinaire Tim McCreight is a legend in metalsmithing, jewelry making and metal clay circles. His renowned book "The Complete Metalsmith" is a must-have for anyone who wants to make jewelry using traditional bench skills and techniques. It's chock-full of in-depth information, drawings and valuable charts that you'll refer to again and again. It's considered by many to be one of the best books ever written on this subject and jewelry instructors have used it as an essential teaching textbook in classrooms around the world for many years.
200 Beading Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets by Jean Powers
Whether you're just starting out or have been making beaded jewelry for years, you're sure to pick up some valuable tips from Jean Power's book, "200 Beading Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets". She does a great job of explaining techniques clearly and includes lots of photos and diagram illustrations. I also love the well designed, easy-to-read layout. It's a terrific reference book that covers all types of beads and beading techniques.
PMC Technic: A Collection of Techniques for Precious Metal Clay
This book has been around for a long time and I still consider it required reading for anyone who wants to create professional quality jewelry with fine silver metal clay. Many of the techniques also apply to other metal clay types. There are 10 chapters, each covering a valuable metal clay technique and written by a well known subject matter expert, in many cases the person who developed it. Tonya Davidson discusses the many uses of the metal clay syringe and how to hold it for maximum control when extruding the clay. Celie Fago explains how to create strong, perfectly aligned hinges from metal clay. Jennifer Kahn shares her technique for creating custom fit metal clay bezels for setting gemstone cabochons. And another seven of the world's top metal clay artists share their expertise on equally valuable techniques. Tim McCreight's excellent illustrations are extremely helpful.
Jewelry Making Projects and Tutorials
Beaded Convertible Eyeglasses Leash / Necklace Tutorial
Most eyeglass chains are boring, cheaply made, and/or trendy. I've never understood why people spend so much time, energy and money to select fashionable, well-made, flattering eyeglasses frames and then either don't use an eyeglasses leash (and then lose their expensive glasses) or buy one that's unworthy of the eyewear they're holding.
I prefer to think of an eyeglasses leash as a piece of jewelry and, of course, I design my own. I've also been commissioned to make numerous custom eyeglasses chains for clients, and as soon as I put one up for sale it gets snapped up in a flash.
Making a beaded eyeglasses chain is very similar to making a single-strand beaded necklace. The main difference is in the finishing of the ends, and making sure that the bead strand isn't too heavy and is fairly delicate at the ends. So if you're going to invest the time, effort and materials into designing a beautiful beaded strand, why not finish the ends so that you can wear it both as an eyeglasses leash AND as a beaded necklace, depending on the situation?
There are several ways to make a beaded eyeglasses chain that converts to a necklace. In fact, I once saw findings designed specifically for this purpose. My method is quick, easy and uses readily available jewelry findings,
Check out my step-by-step Beaded Convertible Eyeglasses Leash / Necklace Tutorial to learn exactly how to make these stunning and versatile two-in-one pieces of jewelry!
Romantic Queen of Hearts Earrings Project Tutorial
These Queen of Hearts Earrings are a sophisticated, fun and flirty design! The heart beads, high-contrast color palette, sparkling Swarovski crystal bead accents and jointed dangles make these drop earrings dazzling, dramatic, regal and romantic.
Best of all, they're quick and easy to make. My very detailed instructions, step-by-step photos and professional wire wrapping tips make these fancy drop earrings easy enough for a (slightly ambitious) beginner project, while the design is elegant enough for even experienced beaded jewelry makers to want to create.
These gorgeous earrings feel wonderful on! They also would make a memorable, cherished gift for someone special - your mother, wife, sister, best friend, girlfriend, fiancé, daughter, grandmother, daughter-in-law, etc.
What Types of Jewelry Making Do You Focus On or Want to Learn?
What Types of Jewelry Making Techniques Are You Most Interested In?
What Jewelry Making Techniques and Materials Are You Most Interested in Exploring, Reading About or Sharing with Others?
Please choose your major area of interest
My In-Depth Reviews of Some of My Favorite Jewelry Making Books and Products
Here are some of the reviews I've written so far related to jewelry making.
- How to Make Silver Charms from Metal Clay by Sue Heaser
Talented UK miniaturist, author, and polymer and metal clay artist and instructor Sue Heaser teaches her easy techniques for sculpting tiny, detailed jewelry charms from silver metal clay. This well written and cleverly illustrated book contains a to
- Designing From the Stone by Lisa Barth
Fabulous metal clay and wire jewelry artist, teacher and author Lisa Barth has won international acclaim for her stunning metal clay jewelry featuring unusual gemstone cabochons in one-of-a-kind, integrated bezel settings whose designs are inspired b
- Bead Storage Solutions and Organizers
My huge collection of beads and findings has grown by leaps and bounds since I started designing and creating one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry 16 years ago. During that time I've bought and experimented with MANY different bead storage solutions and bead
- Metal Clay Product Reviews: Products, Tools, Books, Magazines and Videos
As the Senior Editor and Technical Editor of Metal Clay Artist Magazine, I'm often asked my opinion about metal clay products. Here is where I review some of the ones I think are especially noteworthy.
I Got My Passion for Jewelry From My Mom and Dad
My mother adored wearing beautiful jewelry and eventually, when he could afford to, my father loved buying jewelry for her.
Dad used to give Mom a piece of gorgeous contemporary or antique jewelry for special occasions - their anniversary, Mom's birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, etc.
Dad had exquisite taste and, with a bit of guidance from my older sister, he always picked out something truly memorable for Mom on those occasions. A delicate Victorian stick pin, a diamond and platinum brooch in the shape of a wreath, elegant gold earrings, and a bracelet of diamonds and sapphires set in white gold are just a few of the treasures he gave to my mother over the years.
We lived in Manhattan, and as a young girl nothing gave me more pleasure than to watch Mom come home from having her hair done, get dressed in a simple, elegant gown, and then pick out one or two special pieces from her jewelry collection to wear to the New York City Ballet, the symphony or the Metropolitan opera. My father wore a dark suit or, for the dressiest events, a formal black tux, and to me the two of them looked like royalty as they headed out to those special evenings out.
So in a sense, I inherited my love of jewelry from my parents.
Both Dad and Mom have passed away and my sister and I now own most of those beautiful pieces; they carry sentimental memories far more precious to us than the jewels themselves.
How I Became a Jewelry Making Fool
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my parents returned from a business trip to Italy with the most gorgeous handmade Venetian glass beads from Murano, Venice. It was love at first sight for me!
There were some loose Murano glass beads, but mostly they brought back complete necklaces. I was mesmerized as I watched Mom cut apart the strands and restring combinations of beads from different strands, mixing them with some less expensive glass beads including seed beads and bugle beads from the local crafts store, to create her own one-of-a-kind necklaces. She let me have a few of the Venetian glass beads along with some of the inexpensive glass beads and helped me make a necklace for myself. That's when I first fell in love with jewelry making.
It wasn't until I was in my forties that I finally decided to get serious about learning to make jewelry.The necklaces Mom had made with her Venetian glass beads from Murano when I was a girl had simply been strung on clear plastic fishing line, and most of them were opera length with no clasp. I realized that I would need a bit of basic instruction before I could start making "real" beaded jewelry. So I took a one-day adult education class in bead stringing, where I learned about different bead stringing materials, jewelry findings like crimps and clamshell bead tips, and different types of clasps, and how to use them to finish the ends of a beaded necklace or bracelet professionally. I also learned how to make beaded headpin dangles finished with wire loops and how to attach them to earring findings to make drop earrings. I had so much fun learning the basics that day and immediately started bead shopping!
When I remarried in 2000, my husband and I honeymooned in Italy and part of our trip involved learning how to make lampwork glass beads with renowned glass artist and teacher Kristina Logan in Tuscany. (How can you not love a man who agrees to study making lampwork glass beads with you during your honeymoon?) The experience was amazing and we both loved it! Our first lampworked glass beads may not have been all that good, but to us they were very sentimental mementos of our honeymoon. So when we got back home, I strung most of them into a long necklace, interspersed with silver Bali beads handcrafted in Indonesia. My husband and I still smile every time I wear it.
If you'd like to learn a bit more about our honeymoon adventure studying lampwork glass bead making in Italy with Kristina Logan or more about glass art and jewelry, check out my article on Lampwork Glass Beads, Collectible Art Glass and Blown Glass Art Installations.
Collecting Vintage Beads and Jewelry Supplies - My Guilty Pleasure
I had been ogling vintage beads covetously for many years, and once I finished my one-day bead stringing class I finally could justify indulging in my long-awaited guilty pleasure: collecting vintage beads (including lampworked glass beads from Venice) as well as one-of-a-kind glass beads and pendants made by glass artists.
Over the years my bead collection - mostly vintage beads, vintage Swarovski crystals, artisan glass beads and Bali silver beads, as well as sterling silver and 14k gold-filled findings - has grown by leaps and bounds. Today I own literally thousands and thousands of beads, many of them quite rare - enough to fill a dozen large parts cases with removable compartments, each dedicated to a particular color range. I have so many beads in certain color families, such as blue and pink, that I store them in extra-deep cases. In fact, I love blue beads so much that I have two full double-depth cases of them, one for "true blue" beads - royal, navy, baby blue, etc. - and another for blue-green beads ranging from mint to aqua to turquoise to teal.
Metal Clay is my Passion!
In 2005 or 2006 I discovered a revolutionary jewelry making material that was to become an even greater addiction for me than beads: metal clay.
At that time the only metal clay formulas available were pure precious metal - fine silver clay (pure silver AKA 999 silver) and 24k gold clay. (Gold clay was reformulated later as a 22k gold clay, since 24k gold is much too soft a metal to be practical jewelry material for anything more than than small embellishments or as a thin decorative layer bonded to a stronger metal structure.) When I saw the incredible work that a small number of talented jewelry artists around the world were doing with this fairly new material using fairly simple construction techniques, many borrowed from the worlds of ceramic clay and even polymer clay, I was totally hooked. I had a burning desire to master metal clay, since it would open up a whole new world of possibilities in my jewelry designs. Here was a new form of precious metal that I could texture, mold, sculpt, carve - manipulate it in nearly any way I could think of - with just my hands and a few simple tools!
That's when I lost my heart to metal clay.
There were only two brands of metal clay at the time, Precious Metal Clay or PMC, and Art Clay, both of which offered pure silver and gold clay formulas. Since working with a malleable form of pure precious metal would mean learning a whole new set of jewelry making techniques with a much more expensive material than even very rare vintage beads, I decided to get a good technical foundation from a knowledgeable teeacher before exploring the uses of metal clay on my own. Luckily for me, my PMC certification class was taught by world-famous artist extraordinaire and metal clay pioneer Celie Fago, who has been my friend and my mentor for all things jewelry related, especially metal clay and polymer clay techniques ever since.
Since metal clay was such a relatively new material at the time, it was a bit like the Wild West for the small number of adventurous jewelry artists who were experimenting with it, trying to develop best practices, explore and push the boundaries of this unique form of metal, and share and communicate their experiences and findings. I set out to collect, consolidate and organize all the disparate and often conflicting information about working with metal clay and then ask the most experienced pioneers to help me sift through the contradictory statements and beliefs to help establish and share best practices. The new site Squidoo was coming out of beta testing and I realized that writing up and publishing my vetted research findings in a series of online articles there would be a perfect platform to share that information. It was also a perfect opportunity for me to "pay it forward" to the metal clay community for all the help and answers the metal clay pioneers and experts I spoke with provided so generously and patiently.
I've written and published 17 metal clay articles online so far, not counting the ones I've published in print publications. I could never have imagined that some of the most respected and talented artists, teachers and students around the globe would rely on them and recommend those articles to their students! My series of metal clay articles always has been and always will be a real labor of love and my gift to the metal clay and jewelry making community. They are chock full of valuable tips, techniques, and reliable information from some of the world's top metal clay artists and instructors, as well as some eye candy for inspiration. Enjoy!
© 2014 Margaret Schindel