Sunday, October 30, 2011

Episode 1 Technical Notes

As promised, I thought I'd share some of what I learned in creating these challenge projects.
Afterall, that's the whole point of this silly experiment.


Probably my favorite skill learned this week was working with wood. I've never made wood beads, so it was great fun to try. I used my band saw to cut the curtain rod into 1.5" segments and then use the belt sander to sand off the paint and "facet" the edges. The edge of belt sander was used to draw lines into the surface of the wood before drilling a hole with the drill press. My inspiration was from some photos I saw by Laura Bowker. She does AMAZING faceted glass beads and shared how-to photos at the recent Northwest Bead Society bead bazaar.


The pendant was cut from some tin, a piece of the red styrofoam pear was cut in a shape of a cabochon, and it was riveted together using Crafted Findings riveting tool.

The first thing I learned was that tin is actually too soft to use with the riveting tool. The hole stretched as I riveted and the rivets kept popping. This is one of my favorite new tools and it performs perfectly every time, so I was surprised. But, placing a tiny washer on the back of the rivet before riveting did the trick.

Second, I was happy to use a new trick I developed at the Bead and Button show while helping a student who struggled making a frame for a domed piece of plexiglass. She had work-hardened the metal quite a bit, so when it came time to flare the hole to create a "bezel" for the dome, we could not get it to flare without collapsing the whole frame in the dapping block (we did not have any torches available to anneal the metal). Now, whenever I create a frame for any type of dome or cabochon, I screw it between two of the new Faux Bone donuts so that the outside edge of the frame stays flat while we use a dapping punch to flare the inside of the frame. This trick was inspired by a class with Nancy Megan Corwin, where she taught us how to saw out hydraulic press forms. (The photo will give you an idea of what I am talking about, but when making a frame, the metal disc would have a center hole cut out that is just larger than the center hole of the Faux Bone donut - this photo is from another project.)

This is an example of how photography can make things look better than they are...truth be told...this belt is hideous! I think I'll name it the Thunderdome Utility Belt. It was created in much the same way I created Cristina's Cuff, the last project in my book, Spotlight on Wire. In fact, you can see a preview of that project on Kalmbach's website. Instead of a bead loom, I simply strung the wires between two chairs.

So, my overall lesson? TAKE CLASSES! I may not be making cutting edge glass beads like Laura Bowker, or doing world-class chasing work like Nancy Megan Corwin, but both of these women taught me something that helped me in my work. So thanks ladies!

I had promised my daughter she could watch the show the next day after school. After watching it, she immediately said "I want to do that!" She spent 15 minutes gathering her items and... here she is with what I think is a pretty cool bracelet from a rubber gasket, zip ties, wire and a piece of a basket. She also started a felt purse using her new sewing skills...but a 6 year old has only so much attention span!


  1. How did you attach the cabochon? Is it glued on, or somehow secured between the two layers of metal? It turned out looking great.

  2. Hi Diana, The center hole on the metal pendant was punched smaller than the cab, then I flared out of the inside edges fo the hole using the Faux Bone donuts (as pictured above), that way, there was a gently arced framed that holds the cab in between the two layers of metal. : )