>Full Steampunk Ahead

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The new jewelry trend that you have surely noticed by now is referred to as ” SteamPunk” or “Industrial Chic”. If you do not think that you know what this style is, you will… once you know the components found in the steampunk designs.
The parts and pieces that make up this style are just that: sections and elements of other items. Steampunk has characteristics of being industrial, quirky, uncommon, unusual, mysterious and interesting to the point of curious and comical. This style surprises viewers of the unexpected elements and highlights a diversity of “vintage charm”.
The style includes but is not limited to the inclusion of items such as gears, springs, watch innards, old typewriter keys, buttons, rhinestones, hardware nuts, bolts, washers, wire, old photos, partial watch plate connectors, collectible odds and ends. Miscellaneous items that are found in a junk drawer or old tool box can be used in this art for example; old keys, charms, toy parts, dice, pottery shards, shells, lucite beads, antique tone beads, bottle caps, and loops. Basically, anything that has a vintage or antique feel to it is suitable for an authentic steampunk creation.
Steampunk style should relay a thought-provoking attitude, and a concept capturing essence of age and history. The color scheme is usually from the variety of metals used. It is an over-all eclectic look that embodies funk and mechanics.
Although the look may seem to be a little rough around the edges, that is the draw of this style. The main concerns from the artist in creating a steampunk design is obtaining a pleasing arrangement that is balanced in color and visual weight.
So, tackle your junk drawer(s) to unveil some miscellaneous treasures to be used as elements in your next creation in the steampunk fashion and popular-culture phenomenon. Some artists, like Club Creative Studio will gladly consider using your collection of “junk” to create a unique custom signature piece for you. Although this is not a “new” idea, as the steampunk movement has been around since 1987, you can place your own personal twists in the designs you create, or allow others to create for you in this wonderful style we call steampunk.
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>Tools of My Trade

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There are tools to my trade. Some tools are specific to the jewelry making profession, others are just items that I have found to be helpful and may seem odd to use. The photo above is a range of hand held tools that I use everyday. They are color coded and I usually know which one I need to pick up by either the color of the handle or the location of the tool as I place and replace it onto the work table surface. I’d like to share what each tool is for and comment on them as well.

Starting from left to right:
Wire Cutter (green handle). A wire cutter can be purchased in many different types of stores, a jewelry/bead store, a floral supply store, a “do- it-yourself” home improvement store, a craft store, a tool store, even a dollar store. They are not very expensive and so they can be resharpened or replaced as needed. I cut wire often and the gage of wire is not always the same. My cutters go dull quickly but, it is a must to have one on hand to cut any type of wire, nylon string from packaging, or even cut the end of a metal charm off. It is the number one tool that I use and need often.

Flush Cutter (bright green handle). This is a type of wire cutter but, the cutting jaws are angled for a more accurate cut. This cutter gets “flush” to the wire you are cutting and it is easy to place and see exactly where you want to cut.

Chain Nose Pliers (red handle). The pliers’ jaws are flat on the inside and rounded on the outside. The flat surface creates right angle bends in wire. The rounded outside makes rounded bends. Their tapered point allows me to work in tight places. Pliers’ tips are strong and solid foundation to twist or hold wire on one end.

Crimp Pliers (blue handle). Crimping pliers are specialty pliers that have two grooves machined into the jaws and are made to crush and close (fold over) very small crimp beads or tubes. Crimp pliers come in a few different sizes based on the size of crimp beads or tubes used. The one above is a “micro crimper” that crimps or secures smaller crimp beads.

Round Nose Pliers ( lavender handle). The name refers to the shape of the pliers’ jaws. I use the round nose to create loops and creative curves in the wire. Most of the round nose pliers have a tapered point. That allows me to vary the size of any loop or bend, also making them consistent in size if looped or bent in the same location of the tip.

Round Nose Pliers (pink handle) is a smaller version of the lavender handle tool. The loops and curves formed with this are much more tight and smaller. Both tools are used interchangeably but they can also be used for a specific bend.

The tools that are not marketed specifically for the jewelry profession and are merely “invented” will be the topic of another post but, for now I did include one item (pictured) that I use on a regular basis that is not common on shelves of beads shops as a tool. I discovered it by playing a board game!

The board game of a jewelry artist’s choice should be SCRABBLE. Well…until there are a few missing wooden letter docks, that is! The length of the grooved wooden plank that usually holds the Scrabble game letters (first item left to right in photo) happens to also be the average length of a person’s wrist, for a bracelet. Thus, making for a great design shelf for planning and creating a bracelet. The beads can be placed in the desired order to be strung and it will end up measuring seven inches. You can adjust the length by ending the clasp at the end or just before it reaches the end of the mini shelf.
An Awl (second item left to right above) is used for making sure a hole in a bead is uniform and able to allow a wire or string to move completely through the entire bead. For snug fits, the awl makes sure that the pointed end helps ribbons and string move through a bead hole with out snags and smoothly.
Ruler The ruler is used at the beginning and at the end of my creations. In the beginning, I have an idea of the length I want the creation to end up being. Especially if it is a custom piece, the length is very important to get correct. It is always important to allow for extra wire in the beginning so that there is adequate wire for folding over at the ends. When I use links for a connection, it is sometimes good to incorporate extra or expendable options at the ends as well.
Needle Tool This is a tool with a very sharp metal end and the shaft is like a file. It is used to smooth out the inside of a bead hole and can also be used to poke a rough spot out of a metal charm, or make a hole bigger in a metal charm.
Flat Nose Pliers This is used like bent chain nose pliers (not pictured). The bent nose pliers have an end like a hook that grip wire and material in hard-to-reach-places. The flat nose pliers can also do that but, the jaws are entirely flat and smooth and can be sued to grip, bend, and flatten wire without marking it.
Determining your level of projects considers basic knowledge of some tools, materials and beads. The intermediate level person has skills that are working knowledge of basic techniques, tools, and materials. An advanced skill level has experience in technique or medium being used. An advanced skill level person accepts challenges and are looking to push beyond existing skills. Club Creative Studio finds that growth is evident and the moto: Be Creative Everyday is key.
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>I’d Like Some Cheese With My Whine!

> I love a good creative challenge. I also love when others help me to overcome a task that is ridden with questions. Recently, a friend (Jennifer) collected wine bottle corks and presented me with the challenge at hand. I did not whine for long.

How would I approach this magic trick? My mind is racing with a few ideas on how to tackle the first steps. I have found that the pure corks work best for cutting and I was able to smooth the edges with an ordinary finger nail file.
After a few trials and errors and after I was able to decide the best method/tool to use to poke a hole in the center of a cork, so that it broke as smoothly as possible. I was able to celebrate knowing it would all come together nicely. The necklace strand is made with simple wooden beads and spaced with a single seed bead.
The pendant section is a portion of one cork that is flanked with glass round beads and wooden disks dyed in the color green. I used silver and green tone wire as wrapped accents around the cork to add a touch of flair and funk. Since this is the first attempt, I am excited to see what else I can create. I would like to use the remaining pure cork stops for jewelry and then suggest that a cork wreath be made with the plastic coated corks, as to not waste them but, use to further her wine theme in the home as a decorative item- something different to appreciate with wine and cheese!
The second project also features a portion of a cork as well for the focal bead. I placed a brass spacer disk on top to make it look a bit industrial and rugged. The flowers are decorative brads that I often use in the packaging of Club Creative Studio earrings and it is also represented in our logo design. The brads are secured into the side of the cork with the metal point and a dot of jewelry adhesive. Metal butterfly charms and the hand-torched glass dot beads along with the peach colored ceramic beads finish out the entire look and feel of this necklace. It is unique and as always one-of-a-kind.
Thanks for the challenge and I will keep working on improvements and using ideas that are both fun and functional.

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