Hope Strength Necklace

My OOOPS Moment…Plan B Is Looking Better

Yesterday I decided it was time I started working with bezels again. I picked out a gorgeous teardrop shaped moonstone, textured and patterned a piece of copper and got a lovely closed seam on the silver bezel. Then it was time to solder the bezel to the copper. Got a gorgeous seal. Was sooooo excited. Too excited to notice that I had just soldered the bezel upside down and backward.
Time for Plan B.
I cut out the offending upside down bezel..added some stamped words, a rivet, and folded down part of the copper. Hmmm…taking shape as part of a necklace. What else? Strung it on an antiqued piece of brass wire I was saving for a bracelet, added some copper, brass and silver plated beads, two lovely cobalt lamp work beads, and a little bit of coiled wire.
Here’s what I ended up with – unfinished – but with possibilities. Have to mull a bit as to what, and how, to attach it to to finish it off.
But – Moral of the Story: Mistakes happen. Work with them.

Any finishing off suggestions?


Evolution of a copper pendant – a work in progress

It was a very self-indulgent week. No, I didn’t have a massage…or a facial….or even a mani/pedi. I treated myself to a crafter’s ultimate indulgence: 3 hours of private lessons with an amazingly talented artisan who has some of her metalwork hanging in the contemporary gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Her workspace is just flat out ridiculous (in a good way) – the large, first floor of a former dye manufacturing plant. Every possible tool and accessory you can imagine for metal working, jewelry making and more is here. My eyes couldn’t get any bigger as I walked in the door.

Parts of a pendant - the stone, copper bezel wire, sample bezel

My private lesson centered on soldering – something I just can’t do, let alone master. I bought some beautiful dichroic beads that I had picked up at a bead show recently. And I wanted to solder a copper bezel around each, and solder them in turn to a piece of copper sheet I had cut out.

Was it worth the $$$ for the private lesson? Oh yes. While I wouldn’t rush out to use the big-friggin’-acetylene torch we used again (I’m happy with my mini-torch!), I learned an entirely new batch of basics that allowed me to actually produce a fairly nice bunch of bezels around my stones. (A feat, I hope, I will be able to repeat at home.)

When I did get my pendant home, I got out my handi-dandi little dremel-wannabe drill/sander/etc and polished it up a bit. Them I played with  my stamps and put a very neat pattern of circles all over it. Then I sanded. The rough cut shape was sort-of what I wanted, but not exactly.  The little sander attachment took care of that.

The Pendant Takes Shape

At this point, I still am not quite sure how to orient the pendant. Should the bead be on the top, the bottom, or on one side? Still playing around with this.

I also decided it was too plain. So I created a spiral out of copper wire and added a teeny-tiny dichroic bead at its center to increase the shine factor. In this picture, I have only placed the spiral on the pendant.

The Pendant Gets Some Bling

Nothing has been attached yet. Still waiting for some inspiration to tell me where to put it.

Oh well…..the pendant saga continues. Opinions gratefully accepted.Next Post: (hopefully) The Finished Pendant

It’s commmmmmiiiiing! Bead Fest Philly arrives next week

Hard to believe it’s been 4 months since the last Bead Fest (though technically that was called Bead Fest Wire and was a bit smaller.) And yes, I signed up for more classes and and going to be “oohing” and “ahhing” my way into spending another small fortune on the 300+ trade booths that will be there.

seaglass blues pendant by fatdogbeads

Sea Glass Blues Pendant by fat dog beads

Interestingly, while the show usually takes place over a weekend (Fri-Sun), this year’s event includes extra workshops on Wednesday and Thursday as well.)


• Classes are good. Learning new things is good. 3 or 4 hour classes – very good. All day 8+ hour classes – not so good. (at least for me….definite attention span deficit here.)

• Don’t be so quick to buy all the tools and extras they sell in the class. Take a deep breath and WALK AWAY FROM THE SALES TABLE. If you recall last Bead Fest, I took a class in Soldering. Loved it. Bought a whole friggin’ mess of soldering stuff that I have yet to take out the of bag. Lugged that darn heavy firebrick all over the sales floor with me. And though it sounds way cool to say , “Yeah, I have my own mini torch for soldering,” it would be way cooler to say, “I know how to use it.”

• Take notes. You really WON’T remember all the little tips the instructor gives out.

• It’s okay to take the same type of class again with a different instructor. (Back to the Soldering stuff again. Figured taking another basic-type class would maybe motivate me to actually take the stuff I bought out of the bag and use it.

• Know your prices. You know how people tell you that not everything you’ll find at an outlet mall is a good deal? They’re right. And that goes for bead shows as well. I am easily amused by shiny objects. I need to pause before I purchase.

• Bead fest this year is having a package check (for a small fee, they say.) I am all about that! But having someone hold your packages does not give you free rein to buy even more stuff. (That’s a note to ME.)

Classes I’m Taking:

• sculpting with Art Glass – not really sure what this is, but looked interesting and is being taught by Paula Radke a renown artisan. I do know there’s something about learning how to fire pieces in a microwave kiln, so that looked new and different

• Omega Bail Wire Wrapped Pendant – always looking for new ways to wrap a stone. This is a 3-hour class. (Yay!)

• Bezel Boot Camp – this is the all day class, but I’m really looking forward to it. Another basic-soldering class (which I desperately need) and learning more about flux and pickle (more to come on them later…. though I do think that would be a great rock band name….)

Anyway, rounding up the required items to bring to class over the next few days. Checking debit card balance. Resisting the urge to buy more beads before the show starts….and I’m OFF!

Watch for Beadfest Philly Part II coming soon!

grape ice and lavender wire wrapped bracelet

Grape Ice and Lavender Wire Wrapped Sterling Silver Bracelet

BeadFest Wire/Philly – Day One, Class One

I came. I flamed. I soldered (a sterling silver circle bracelet with some pretty funky looking circles. But of course, I like it!) See photo.)

Silver Soldered (Sort Of) Circle Bracelet

My First Attempt At Soldering

And no human, animal or object got harmed in the making of this bracelet.

Mind you, this is the very first time I have ever held, let alone used, a hand torch. It was fun. Really! You’ve got to admit it’s the cutest little thing! So cute that I think I will have to name it.  (It is wrong to name your hand tools like you would your pet?)

BeadFest, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is 3 or 4 day event held in various parts of the country featuring anything and everything that has to do with beads and jewelry making. At the heart of it all is a grand exhibition hall boasting almost 200 vendor booths.

First Torch Used For Soldering SIlver

The Cutest Little Hand Torch Ever

But BeadFest is also about the classes. People (95% women, IMHO) come from all over the country to take classes in wire work, metalsmithing, bead work and weaving and more. In my class of 12 today, there were women from North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Florida.

Some of the women were staying the entire four days. I was doing some of the math in my head – and realized what a pricey couple of days that is. First, there’s the cost of travelling. Add in hotel and food costs. Classes run from about $135  up to $235. Some are four hour courses, others are all day (8:30 – 4:30).

Note to self: bring bottled water and some p-butter crackers for tomorrow’s all day class in case there is no break.

A few posts back, I listed a few things you should bring with you if you’re coming to BeadFest. One was a wheeled case. Guess who didn’t get to Whole Foods in time to purchase her wheeled bag?

Uh-huh. That would be me. When I started out this morning, I brought all the required tools in a nice, roomy shoulder-type carry bag. Plus, I had a small pocketbook with me. All was good until I actually got to the registration table and realized the classes were “way over there” in another building connected to the exhibit hall.

Note to self: consider a GPS next time. Or at least, ask someone SOONER where the friggin’ room is.

While I got to the convention center with time to spare, I was the last one to enter the classroom as the class was about to start. Why? Because I walked around in circles trying to find the right room.

The Valley Forge t Center is not just one building, but three that are connected by a long series of windy hallways and stairways that lead who-knows-where. The three buildings are: the actual convention center/exhibit space…The Radisson hotel with its meeting rooms and banquet spaces…and Scanticon.

Please – send me an email ASAP if you know what a Scanticon is. I sure don’t. Or why SOME of the meeting rooms are lettered/numbered, and others are names of Philadelphia area towns and/or historic figures. There is no rhyme or reason for what they are named and where they are located.

Good Thing To Know: while walking past the Guest Registration at the Radisson (at least twice) I discovered they have a free help-yourself coffee service.

Note to self: do not take coffee if they are out of lids. (Yes, sad to report, there was spillage involved.)

As started above, though shoulder bag was a tad heavy, I was managing UNTIL I got the “kit” I purchased from the teacher (Thanks Kieu!) felt like a ton of bricks (actually only one – a beautiful new fire brick to call my own). So there I was after class schlepping my new soldering kit –  fire brick  included – and my filled-with-tools shoulder bag and my little pocketbook.

Note to self: go into hall closet and find the wheeled carry-on bag.

Good thing the exhibits don’t start until tomorrow. I wouldn’t have made it past the first booth without collapsing.  Anyway, not bad for day one. Tomorrow: an all-day class in wire-wrapping cabochons.

(Think they’d mind if I bought my little personal torch with me?)