Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Resin Jewelry Book

"I immediately took the book to the fireplace and curled up with my pooch Daisy." (Photo courtesy of my husband, Mike)   

I opened up my mailbox to find an explosion of color.  This is both literally and figuratively speaking.  The Blue Brick’s,  Shireen X. Nadir just released her book Resin Jewelry (2nd edition).  It is now in hard copy or can be instantly downloaded  

 This luxurious jewelry instructional book is loaded with vibrant photos.  I immediately took the book to the fireplace and curled up with my pooch Daisy.  This book kept me captivated much the same way  best friends connect  over a warm cup of tea on a cool fall day.  Shireen has many talents and she exhibits those talents in her book through 16 step-by-step projects.  In addition to the guided projects, she offers tips on successful bezel creation, how to preserve flowers and foliage, resin mixing and pouring and how to circumvent challenges while working with resin.  First and foremost, she is an effective teacher, artist and communicator.  Her instructions are clear and concise from start to finish.  Each project has an abundance of photos and is written in detailed tutorial form.   It is an added bonus that Shireen is a professional photographer and captures action and still shots to demonstrate her lessons.  Her book is like ROY G BIV on steroids!!  The jewel-tone color photography seems to fly off the pages.  
Readers will be captivated by the projects and the work shared in the book. It is written for both the beginner and experienced resin jewelry artist.  What really made my heart sing was the thorough instruction on how to use the vacuum extractor to yield beautiful bubble free resin jewelry.  She does a superb job with describing and photographing the vacuum’s components and the entire bubble-free resin process from start to finish.  She even includes the name and website of the vacuum extractor she uses. 

For those that have tried the resin spheres, you may have found that it is nearly impossible to get those air bubbles out of the mold, or  trying to figure out the best pour method for achieving that oh so groovy three dimensional foliage sphere.  Well, this book is a great resource for that step by step process and I about hit myself in the forehead when I saw the simple tool used to fill the sphere.  We aren’t just talking spheres of hearty status flower;  we are talking delicate heads of fluffy dandelions encased in a sphere of resin!!  When I learned that Shireen was going to be covering making a dandelion sphere I was thrilled, as I haven’t been able to find a good source of instruction for doing this process until now. 

Of the many useful tools and tips covered in the book, Resin Jewelry, my favorite is the description of the best types of resins on the market.  Shireen has done her research with these resins and shares what she has learned about them to her readers.  There were a couple of resin products I had considered trying, but was a little overwhelmed with so many products on the market.  Before reading this book, I simply didn’t know which ones to use.  Now I do.  

This book has changed how I think about resin.  It has inspired me to want to make resin spheres, use texture molds and try my hand at cubes.   It gives me the information I need to dehydrate my own flat and dimensional foliage in my own home and makes the resin jewelry making process seem less intimidating.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to explore resin jewelry or to augment their current jewelry style, by adding resin components.  This book is a work of art.   



Monday, January 27, 2014

New Etsy Tutorial for Fringe Earrings and Tucson Bead Show

Hello Everyone.  We live in the Midwest and have gotten a good deal of snow and cold weather.  Cold weather and my mood have an inverse relationship; the colder it gets the lower my mood.  It is as if the cold and my mood "thermometer" have plummeted.  So, after much thinking about what to do about this, I cleared an area in my bedroom to put a folding table in front of a window just 24 hours ago.  Since this time, I have more productive creatively than I have in many moons.  I share this information with you in the event that you are also having these lulls in your creative inspiration during these frigid months.  Just pony-up a chair to a window and do some creative work or reading and see what happens.  It also helps to have some groovy music playing. 

Tucson Bead Show

About six months ago my parents announced that they were going to Arizona.  They offered to take me with them for the entire month of February.  I gave this some real thought, as I don't take many vacations.  I have many commitments here at home, including a family as well as an exchange student from Korea living with us.  And then there is our small pooch, Daisy. 
These Boots are made for walking: Daisy our Pooch (photo credit: Mike Barzacchini)

After many supportive discussions with my husband, I decided to go to Arizona and to the Tucson Bead Show.  I had no idea that Tucson boasts over 30 shows being held through the city of Tucson the first two weeks in February.  Thirty!!  Am I the last jewelry creator to know this?  Perhaps, but I am taking full advantage of being in town at that time.  I will take a two day Photoshop and Photography class by Doug Baldwin who is a professional jewelry photography artist.  This will be followed by a two day teacher certification class on torch enameling metals with Barbara Lewis using her Painting With Fire technique.  I look forward to sharing all of this with you on this blog upon my return in March. 

New Tutorial!!

I have just completed and posted my 4th tutorial:  Lotus Petal Fringe Earrings.  My first three tutorials are: 1.  Patterning Metals with the Compact Rolling Mill, 2.  Two Sided Patterned Puff Heart Pendant  3.  Hinged Wire Woven Earrings. The Lotus Petal Fringe Earrings can be found on my Etsy site by  clicking this link  Click Here to Wired Lotus Etsy
Lotus Petal Fringe Earring Tutorial

 I started creating this tutorial several months ago.  First, I start with the concept and then work on that concept over and over until I am satisfied.  Once I feel it is good to go, I then photograph every step.  In this tutorial there are 145 photos and 54 pages of instructions.  I take nearly 500 photos and choose the best of the group and then enhance the photos for viewer clarity.  These photos are then put in a digital folder.

  I then write step by step instruction with every turn and twist of the wire used to create the earrings.  The photos are matched up
with each written step and formatted in an easy to read step by step tutorial format.  Believe it or not, I then let all that is done simmer for a month or two.  I literally want to "forget" what I have done.  Why?  So that when I return to it I can make the earrings based on the tutorial photos and words.  It is a sort of check and balance system to make sure that it all makes sense and that all of my measurements within the tutorial are accurate.  I don't just make one or two, but rather multiples of the earrings.  I then edit the entire tutorial based on what I learned from creating the earrings. Everything is saved in PDF and then submitted to Etsy.  Whew, that is a lot of thinking.  Now my wheels are turning for the next tutorial. 

I do hope that you are all staying warm and cozy in your homes.  If you are in a warmer climate, please send the Midwest a little of that in a bottle.  We would give you many thanks. 

Namaste, Susan

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Rolling Mill Success Story

At the end of November I received an e mail from a man writing on behalf for his wife whose mother language is not English.  He shared with me that his wife, Kinga, had read my rolling mill tutorial,  

 which can be found on Scribed or

After reading the tutorial she subsequently purchased the economy rolling mill to take her jewelry creating to the next level.   Kinga was seeking clarification about my instruction with regards to the copper outer sandwich and wanted to know if she could use the rolling mill with only the pattern and the metal to be milled.  My answer to her was affirmative.  This can be done and the embossed look will be just as nice as if the outer copper sandwiches were used.  When I first created the tutorial I included this step to assure that the rollers were protected from hard metals such as stainless steel permanently etching a design directly into the surface of the rollers.  So, I would say that anyone wanting to roller press hard metals should use the protective outer copper sheets, but if the pattern used is not harder than the rollers, feel free to omit those outer copper sheets. 
Upper photo is of a rolling mill sandwich with the protective copper outer plates.  The second photo shows no copper outer plates.  The third photo shows the impression achieved with no outer copper plates. 

The story continues through subsequent e mails with Kinga’s husband on her behalf.  Kinga demonstrates her knowledge of the rolling mill by sharing with me a photo of her first rolling milled copper piece.

When I asked what made this splendid pattern, I was told a split wire reinforced rubber/plasticized hose.  That was not something located anywhere in the body of my tutorial, but look at that splendid design. 

Kinga’s Serendipity Etsy shop, Serendipity Silver Art, boosts her first pair of rolling mill earrings(Textured Copper Earrings) and can be found on her Etsy page at:

Kinga also shared with me a photo of one of her successes working with etching.  When I initially saw the photo I had to inquire as to how she finished the earrings.  I was told she sawed and finished this lovely pair of earrings by hand.   It is apparent that her attention to detail and symmetry are important to her finished design. 

I found myself drawn to Kinga’s style.  We seem to share a similar attraction to the arabesque shape.  You get a feel for that in the above etched earrings and the below pendant.

Anyone wanting to join Kinga in making a connection can do so on her Facebook page where she has been sharing her new discoveries and her one of a kind pieces of jewelry.  Just look for her as Serendipity Silver Art. 

On a side note, I noticed today that over 4,000 people have looked at the Flat to Fab Rolling Mill tutorial on Scribed and over 600 have downloaded the tutorial on Jewelry Lessons.  I guess that we should be seeing a whole lot more patterned metals adorning earrings, pendants and other jewelry.  The reason for writing this tutorial was to share and connect with others, at no cost to them, the process of patterning metals so that they could experience the joy of turning flat metals into patterned wonders.  

Thank you, Kinga, Ivan and all the rolling mill artists who make this jewelry world a more exciting place with your dimensional metals.

With warmth and kindness, Susan

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three Days of the ChristKindl Fest

When last I wrote I was literally getting ready to go out the door to the Barrington, IL ChristKindl Fest.  This is the village's first annual ChristKindl open air German Fest. 
Mike and Susan in the Wired Lotus booth at the ChristKindl Fest in Barrington, IL (Photo courtesy of Bob Lee)

The Fest began at 3pm on Friday and ended at 5pm on Sunday.  It was a three day event for which Wired Lotus had two weeks to prepare displays and create one of a kind jewelry.  There were singers, dancers, Oompa bands, glog, open air German concession stands, a carousel, sweets, candied pecans, wooden carved nativity booth and even a pair of real reindeer.  And to make everything even more authentic, there was a constant light fluffy snow that gracefully covered the tents, ground and knit hats of children all day on Sunday.
"Tuba Christmas" headed towards the entertainment tent on Sunday

The booths (hauses) in a row. 
Haus' at night

Across from our booth was the Barrington High School students who were participating in the "Merry Meals" project where their goal was to pack 10,000 meals to send to Guatemala City to feed children and families.  They had a goal thermometer outside of their tent that we watched going up each day.  By the end of the day the nice fella who was helping the students stopped by our "hut" to tell us that they exceeded their goal of 10,000 meals for the hungry.  High five!! 
Barrington High School Students Volunteer to pack "Merry Meals."

 James, our exchange student son, came to help us out on Saturday morning.  He did a great job helping me to merchandise the jewelry on tables in front of the haus.  He talked with the people of the community and offered great support. 
James helps Susan set up tables on Saturday morning

There were two booths that were selling hand made jewelry.  One was our booth, Wired Lotus and the other was N Style Designs, whose booth was across and diagonal from our booth.  Nancy owns this booth and we made a connection talking about the rigors and excitement of preparing for such a professional event as the ChristKindl Fest. 
Nancy's N Style Designs Handmade Jewelry
As chilly as it was there wasn't much of a whiff of the lavender that filled my marquise shaped bowl that propped up our business cards.  Still, I wanted to share this new idea I had to display the cards, in case it can be of help to others seeking a similar business card solution.

So, what was the hot item at our booth?  It was the silver wraps with botanicals captured in resin, especially the spheres. Pendants were especially hot.  This necklace was one of the few remaining resin botanicals. It is now at home in Studio V at Harper College.   

In the midst of the events of the weekend, our son, Jonathan turned 18 years old.  Before going to the Fest we fussed a little bit to make his day special.  He was a very good sport about giving up his day so mom and dad could open up shop. 
Our son, Jonathan turns 18 years old on December 7

Daisy, our bichon frise was a naughty dog the first two days of the show as she had to stay at home alone for many hours.  We had wanted to bring her with us, but we were afraid that she would get cold.  On the third day of the show, we bundled her up and put a reindeer hat on her and she was very happy to be our haus mascot. 
Daisy sitting pretty for a customer

To end this post, I would like to humble myself by sharing with you the aftermath of the frenzy of preparing for the Fest.  For those of you who have that creative or artistic gene, you will understand this phenomenon I call "creative tornado."  It is as if a disaster is left in the wake of all that wire twisting and soldering.  Looking back at this photo I wonder where I had any space to actually work!!
Susan's Workshop (or should I say, disaster)
I know that this is a long post, but I want to end by giving thanks to several people who made this weekend very special:
*My husband, Mike, who worked all week, then stayed in the booth with me all weekend and held down the fort making meals and cleaning house.  He fully supported everything about this weekend.

*Jonathan, who gave his support with this event on the weekend of his special birthday.

*Artie, my stepfather in Ohio, who spent many hours in a cold garage sawing and engineering my displays and sending me the finished displays to stain.  Artie, you are a creative wonder. 

*My mother, Julie, who supported my stepfather's absenteeism while he worked for days on the displays.  

*Studio Vs, Thomas Tucker and Cheryl Turnauer for the opportunity to be introduced and chosen to represent the college and Studio V.

*Maria Coons and David Loop for orchestrating and securing the haus for Studio V.

*Andrea Russell for taking the time to prepare my jewelry for the Fest and for logging all of my jewelry back into Studio V.

*James, our exchange student son, for helping out at the haus on Saturday morning and showing great enthusiasm. 

*Bob Lee who rode his bike 6,500 miles across the nation to raise awareness and funds for this three causes: ALS, cancer and hospice. Mr. Lee took the professional photo at the beginning of this post and sent it to us that night.  Thanks for connecting with us, Mr. Lee

*The Barrington Rotary Club and the Barrington Village Association for all of your hard work volunteering to make ChristKindl Fest a wonderful Barrington event.  We especially thank the Rotary ladies who brought us hot apple cider in the evenings.  

*Thank you to all the kind people of Barrington and the surrounding communities who "connected" with us and offered us stimulating and thoughtful conversation. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Off to the ChristKindl Fest in Barrington, Illinois

What an exciting event planned for our Northwest suburbs of the Chicago area!!  Similar to the ChristKindl Fest in Chicago, at the Daley Center, we are celebrating the holiday in full force.  Check out the website for the event at

Studio V graciously asked that I plan on attending the Fest with my jewelry in one of the huts.  It has been a busy two weeks since I have been given this honor.  Now, in about a half hour, I will be taking my jewelry to the festive event to share with the community.  This is wildly exciting. 

Last night we were given keys to the huts and here you can see me, in the light of night, in front of the hut that will house my jewelry and shivering legs.  It is forecast to be 8-25 degrees this weekend.  The event is three days.

Stay tuned to learned all the lovely details. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Studio V Holiday Party

Hello Everyone. Today was Studio Vs Holiday party and customer open house.  Studio V is located at Harper College in Palatine.  It has been a little over a year since I was warmly welcomed into the Studio with my jewelry.  This year I spent several months making jewelry to showcase for this event. Yesterday I worked until the wee hours of the night getting ready for my jewelry submissions.  All pieces need to be made, finished, priced, packaged and inventoried.  After all this is done I photograph each piece. The caveat to this year's prep is that yesterday I had been to the hospital for a surgical procedure and was scheduled for a second surgery today.  I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to finish everything and take photos.  I got out my 35mm digital camera and my new Doug Baldwin diffused light boxes and went to town taking photos of the jewelry at from 2-4am.  It was a dream working with these lights. I look forward to taking Doug's jewelry photography and Photoshop class at the Tucson Bead Show in February. 

The Daisy necklace was created by making a pattern onto sterling silver sheet with the rolling mill and then cut out a circle within a circle and finally dapped the inner circle making a bezel.  I did this to fit a round daisy and resin cabochon that I made with Ice Resin.  I recently learned how to get that clear look in resin by using a vacuum extractor. This involves a pressure chamber and a special oil filled vacuum machine with some tubing.  It reminds me a lot of using a pressure cooking pot.  Note that all the photos below are now at Studio V. 

Resin Daisy Necklace

Of course the necklace had to have matching earrings.  Here is where my new silicone sphere molds come into play.  I got these molds from Resin Sun on Etsy and I love the quality of her molds.  
Resin Daisy Earrings

And then there is the simple sphere silicone resin molded flower necklace with matching earrings. 
My first sphere resin molding and vacuum extractions of air bubbles

Matching earrings and pressed flowers and foliage

I had read about sanding resin and gave it a go with this piece.  It gives a sort of cloudy appearance, even with a variety of grits of sand paper at high as 12,000 grit.  It eludes me how artists can sand resin and get a glassy finished surface.  If you know how this is done, please share.  When I was done sanding this piece, I thought it looked like a flower field in fog and went to town wrapping it. 
Flowers in molded resin

 Shifting gears a little bit I made a couple of pieces for Studio V out of an unusual and unlikely component; Elytra  (Sternocera aequis) Beetle shells.  I first saw these shells in a bead store in Wicker Park in Chicago.  The minute I saw the jar full of these shells I thought that I had to find a way to wire wrap them into a pendant or earrings.  I purchased a few grams of the wing bits and then created these jewelry pieces.  
Elytra Beetle necklace

Elytra Beetle Earrings
So, between tube setting, resin and bug shells I am having a great time making new discoveries, all of which involve wire wrapping or wire in some form.  While I have a curious streak for jewelry making, my home base seems to be wire.  

I wish you all a pleasant Thanksgiving. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Setting Faceted Stones

Learning and teaching is so important at a young age.  It paves the way to understanding for a foundation for later life experiences.  Now that later life is here, learning and teaching continues to be an integral part of my life.  At this time I am in both teaching and learning mode.  It has offered a great amount of growth experiences. 

Card made by my mother of me in my younger "learning" years.

Recently I signed up for an online Craft University class where Ann Cahoon, a gold-smith from Massachusetts, demonstrates how to bezel set with tubes, prong setting and flush setting.  Ann is smart, concise and a great teacher.  After reviewing the class content the student does homework assignments and then submits them to Ann for critique.  This process is time sensitive and ends in a couple of weeks.  It truly is like taking a University class. 

I began this process with reviewing the content for all three modalities of faceted setting.  I found that at this time of my life, I am not interested in the complexities of flush settings.  I also wonder about the integrity of the flush setting.  While I enjoy the prong setting process, it is the bezel setting with tubing that most excites me.  So, the two classes that I focused on were the bezel and the prong setting. 

Bezel setting with tubes, I have learned, is not acurately called tube settings.  I had always called it this and find it hard to change my ways, so for now I will call it bezel setting with tubes.  I had thought that bezel settings were for cabochons.  I first started bezel setting cabochons about four years ago.  

The faceted stone has "parts" like an ant has parts.  I remember learning ant parts in high school:  Ant thorax, mandible and legs.  The parts of a gemstone are: table, crown, girdle, pavilion and culet.  Before this class I called those parts: flat top, faceted part, widest part, slopey part and point.  In this instance, progress come in the form of correct terminology. 

I am being brave in sharing my first examples on my blog as my technique is not yet ready for public display, but if I share them now I can then share other examples and the progress of the process will be documented. Perhaps someone reading this blog one day can find some comfort that they are not alone in faceted stone setting inadequacies. 

In my untouched photos I have numbered the copper plates.  Those numbers indicate the chronological order of attempts to the technique.

Prong setting side view

The stones used for the settings are purple cz.  These stones are used because they have similar qualities to diamonds. 

Prong setting top view

The problems that I had with bezel setting with the tube was sawing the tube perfectly straight for soldering onto the copper plate and then getting the top of the tube level to the table of the stone. I commiserated with my fellow students and found that I was not alone in this technique.  In addition to getting the tube completely square, I seem to have difficulty with getting my "seat" drilled with the bur bit level.  In attempting to get it level my stone would fall far below the top of the bezel.

Front view of bezel settings.  1=unlevel table  4=drilled too deeply

Top View of bezel setting

At this time I await the teacher to critique these examples.  It only goes UP from here.  Stay tuned for progress photos and hopefully a finished pendant with a bezel setting. 

Namaste, Susan