Friday, December 7, 2012

My Jewelry Debuts at a Gallery

Hello friends.  My first consignment opportunity debuted on December 5, 2012 at Harper College at Studio V. I am excited to share the story with you as well as the process on how this came to fruition, as I know that many who will read this blog are fellow jewelry/wire artists. Below is a photo of the outside of Studio V.

                                                              Here is a photo that I took of the front of Studio V

 This all started when I got word that the college was going to have a freestanding and professional gallery storefront on the campus in the Chicago area. I am actually an alum of the school and am familiar with the campus.  I sent the Studio an e mail inquiring about submitting.  They asked me to provide them with my website and three photos of my work.  After doing that I was asked to meet with them and bring several pieces in for them to see.  Last week I met with the Studio's visual fashion merchandising professor at Harper College who spearheaded Studio V (that is a Roman Numeral V for the five senses).  He was very positive about my jewelry and price point.  He referred to my wire wrapping as "Fashion Jewelry."  This was a term I had not considered my jewelry falling under, but I rather liked this description.  He compared and contrasted this to fine jewelry such as wedding and diamond engagement rings that you find at mall retail stores.   After he agreed to accept my jewelry on consignment we talked about the business aspects.  He then showed me a locked jewelry glass display case for which my jewelry would be shown.  The following week on December 5, I brought in 18 pieces of jewelry and all my display items.  The merchandising professor and one of his merchandising students took my jewelry and the displays and shared these items with an entire class of merchandising students that day where they went to work making a display for my jewelry in the locked glass case.  They augmented the display by scattering small white Christmas light bulbs at the bottom of the display.  Very cool!!  In addition to having my jewelry debut on December 5, Studio V was also having an open house that night complete with hor' d'oeuvres and wine. My supportive husband and I attended this well planned and professional event. While at the event, we saw fashion clothing, fragrant organic soaps, artwork, jewelry, glass work and other design elements which were wonderful to behold. 

                                                                                         Open house invitation

 Constructing the display and other logistics are outlined below

About two years ago, my stepfather, Artie, made me some merchandising displays for my jewelry.  They are basically small black wooden stands for jewelry cards and then some various heights of  wooden square pillars painted in three colors (fawn brown, soft turquoise and cream) for which to display the card stands upon. I'm glad that he created this for me, as I was able to use these in my display. 

                                                            The pillars Artie made for my jewelry display

               This is one of the many jewelry card stands that Artie made for me.  The pillars are not shown.  

The jewelry card stands are pretty cool.  The slots are at an angle and the cards rest back to easily display the card and jewelry.  It is perfect for small necklaces, earrings and even bracelets.  

To prepare for this event, I made the jewelry cards, as shown above, went to my local custom rubber stamp store and had them make three rubbers stamps with my logo/logos.  I also fancied up some brown boxes with my logo. 

                                                            The three rubber stamps

                                                       This is my secondary logo.  My first is the lotus with the OM symbol. 

                                                           Here you can see the use of two of the stamps on the box

                   Here I am seeing the display for the first time.  Notice the small light bulbs at the bottom of the case. 

Creating and sharing what I design and wire wrap has been a constantly evolving journey (and still is).  A little over a week ago I didn't know that I would display my jewelry in a studio, a little over a year ago I didn't know that my "lessons" would be shared in a magazine, a little over two years ago I was frightened by the thought of writing my first tutorial, but since then I have written four and am currently working on two more.  What makes this possible?  I can't say for sure, but feel it has a lot to do with positive affirmations from the jewelry community and the emotional support from my family and friends.  If you are a jewelry artist and have had reservations about sharing your work it is my hope that some of this has inspired or helped you in some small way to get your work out there and noticed. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Hinged Wire Woven Earring Tutorial on Etsy

Hello Everyone.  To think that over a year ago I wanted to create my very own tutorial and now I have three completed!!  That was a dream of mine to create at least one lesson and share it with other people wanting to know how to contort wire into functional shapes.  The process is a lengthy one to complete one tutorial, but when it is finished I get that same feeling I get when I turn the last page of a good book.  I want more!!  So this means that I will start working on my next tutorial.

This tutorial can be found on Etsy at:

About this tutorial:  This one is different from the others in that I didn't use sheet metal for any components.  Everything is done with wire to create a hinged earring.  See the photo below to see the moveable hinge:
The reason for creating a hinge is to show how this hinging is possible while incorporating the hinge wire into the design.  Why is this important?  This will allow for a more fluid design following making the hinge instead of using a rivet or swirls or a curled wire at either side of the hinge.  Using this technique doesn't make it necessarily better than the others, but gives the artist another option in their design.  The hinge also allows for a movement in the piece that would otherwise be stationary.  This hinge can also be used in bracelets and was actually intended for this use, however I felt this earring design to be pretty groovy, so went with it.

This design can be done in any soft metal such as silver, gold fill, gold or copper.  Below, see the copper earring.  This is my mother's favorite (Christmas present?  Perhaps!!):

For the design of the earring I used a pear shaped briolette.  After I photograph, write and put all the steps into a document I then work the tutorial myself just to be certain that it works smoothly.  When I was done I created this pair of earrings out of a triangle bead and with more chains.
This tutorial was a great adventure.  Now, on to my next one!!  I'm thinking a chakra barrel bead pendant done with metal forging, wire wrapping and chains.  Gotta love those chains!!

Thank you.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm Published!! Thanks, Art Jewelry!!

What does Art Jewelry magazine, snakeskin and tutorials have in common?  My step by step article on how to imprint snakeskin onto silver and copper sheet to make a delicate texture for wire framed earrings. 

If you click on the link provided here you can see a short video of all the interesting projects in the November issue of Art Jewelry, including my Snake Skin Earring tutorial. 
November 2012 Art Jewelry Magazine Video Preview

So how did that come to fruition?  About five years ago a master seed bead artist encouraged me to send my wire wrapping ideas into a magazine or enter a contest.  I looked at her like she had grown a second head and placed a hand on my chest, looked around the room and said to her, "Who me?"  She told me that it would never happen if I didn't try.  I thought that the idea was overwhelming and yet her voice kept returning to me each time I would finish a project.  I would ask myself if the finished project was worthy of entering it into a juried art exhibit, a magazine or a contest.  Honestly, it is challenging to be objective about your work after finishing it, as so much tender love, resources and time goes into many of the wire wrapping pieces that I complete.  It seems that with each necklace, earring, ring or bracelet that I finish that I appreciated it more than the others.  Still, I knew that bells would ring and songs would permeate my surrounding when I had that hit.  That happened a year ago when my uncle's wife asked me to make and donate a snake head necklace (see my post banner snake head) for a fundraiser to research the Western Diamondback rattlesnake.  The necklace sold to the highest bidder in a silent auction and subsequently 1,000 dollars went towards tracking devices for our reptilian friends. 

It all started with a sketch of the snake head

After the snake head was finished and photographed I sent a photo into Art Jewelry.  They asked me to fill out a submission form and send them the snake head necklace to their office in Wisconsin.  I not only sent them the necklace, but the matching earrings that I made out of the snake skin rolled against silver in my rolling mill.  They photographed the snake head and put that photo into the Art Jewelry Gallery and asked me if I would do a step by step article for the earrings.  After I danced a small jig I wrote them back telling them that I would be glad to write a step by step article. 

Writing an article for a magazine is different from writing one for your own use.  I tend to write my step by step tutorials with nearly a hundred photos or more.  To do that for a magazine would take many pages.  It was my job to condense the ideas and photos that I had to convey the process thoroughly.  After submission to the magazine the editors proofed my completed submission and sent back some changes, including a couple of illustrations that offered even more visual enlightenment to the process.  Their assistance was gold!!  It was wonderful to work with such a professional editing staff.

So, check out the Snake Skin Earrings, as well as other projects that use interesting components in the November 2012 issue of Art Jewelry.  I have also provided links to my tutorials.  One is a free tutorial on how to use the Economy Compact rolling mill and the other is on patterning metals without a rolling mill.
Patterned Metals Without Rolling Mill

Free Rolling Mill Tutorial

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Lesson for a Budding Artist

Where does the person start who knows little to nothing about jewelry or metal fabrication?  Do they start with beads?  Metals?  Wire wrapping?  Why not all three?  Last week we had some out of town company visit with us from Ohio.  This was my husband’s college roommate and his wife, Trish, who is a nurse.  The wife asked me if she could watch me work in my studio and I asked her if she would consider working with me.  She was game.  She had not dabbled in jewelry arts and was graciously willing to allow me to show her some of the tools.  

Since Trish is a new grandmother she was interested in making a necklace with her granddaughter’s name on it.  I felt that her experience would be dimensional if she could dabble in many of the tools offered to create such a necklace.  This meant bringing out the torch, rolling mill, hammers, dapping blocks, metal stamps, disc cutter and jewelry tools.  

Here you can see Trish using a drill press for the first time.  

What was so amazing is Trish’s steady hand while stamping metal.  This stamping she did was her first attempt.  She nailed it!!  It was awesome to see Trish work all of the metal fabricating tools with great confidence and precision.  Her finished necklace looks great.  Don’t you think?  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Art as a Personal Journey

What does art mean to you?  How does it resonate with your soul?  How would you describe art if you were asked?  These are all questions that I asked myself this morning. 

I had not intended to feel philosophical about my artistic feelings, but outside forces shifted my focus to look at this glaringly today.  I am thankful that this opportunity arose early this morning as I was walking around our neighborhood lake. 

I was challenged this morning to think of art as a personal journey when someone close to me noticed my OM tattoo for the first time.  This person mentioned to me, “Art should be viewed on a wall, not on the skin.”  I am human and my first feeling was one of defensiveness, but that gave way to introspective thoughts about what art meant to me and how others perceive my art or how I perceive the art of others. 

As long as no living thing was harmed art is neither wrong nor right.  A gamut of emotions can follow when viewing art.  Take the tattoo, for example, the reaction of the person viewing it was one of unpleasantness.  I can think of a host of reasons why body art doesn’t appeal to some.  So, in a sense, the art of a tattoo can elicit a response that can be visceral, entertaining or even spiritual.  That is art. 

Artwork is something that is visualized or experienced and evokes a response.  Just because the response isn’t always favorable doesn’t make it true art.  In fact, some great artists attempt to challenge the person experiencing the art to feel something other than pleasantness. 

I thought about the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.”  If I am a beginning artist and I artistically create something that brings me great joy, then I am happy.  If I am a seasoned artist and something I make doesn’t seem finished then, I am not happy.  So who wins?  I guess it would be the person who connected spiritually to the experience.  You could line up ten people from different artistic strata and ask them to critique the work of a young artist and they might change the vantage point of that artist, but nothing can take away that feeling of actually creating something for the first time.  That critiquing is where the great conflict emerges.  

So, I challenge you to create.  Find your artist within.  Ask no one if what you design is good enough.  If it connects with you spiritually and gives you a sense of fulfillment, then you have released the artist you know is evolving.  I use the word “evolving” because artistry work is a process of constant evolution.  The more we think and work like an artist the more we feel the role.  

My OM Tattoo

Seed=design idea
Bud=playing with the design
Blossom=feeling the design ignite your spirituality 
Release the fragrant nature=feeling fulfilled with the design
Reseeding=sprouting new design ideas from the original seed
~Susan Barzacchini

Feel the shift within by creating your own bouquet that makes you feel accomplished. 
Namaste, Susan

Sunday, August 5, 2012



"Surprise" is what I got when my lovely neighbor gave me a bouquet of roses, buds and sunflower in a hurricane glass vase.  Let me explain.  About three years ago we moved into a new neighborhood in a condo and I had a dream come true.  We moved smack dab in the middle of two lovely neighbors.  The lady on our right is my 82 year old walking buddy who gets up early and encourages me to walk each day, which is terribly necessary for this diet of mine to work effectively. The three ladies on our left are equally as wonderful.  One of these ladies is a jewelry artist who specializes in making pieces with gemstones and fine silver metal clay.  I love and own some of her work.  So, back to the surprise.  Yesterday the jewelry artist neighbor knocked on our door and had a bouquet of flowers and some home made chocolate cupcakes with white icing.  I wonder who told her that this was my most favorite treat in the world.  I can't imagine life without tuxedo cupcakes.  As she gave me the flowers she mentioned that before I toss out that water in the vase of the flowers that I should examine the bottom of the vase closely.  Still fixed on the sugary goodness slathered with white butter-cream icing I nodded and closed the door to our condo.  I ask you, "What the heck is better than sugar and flowers?"  Oh, perhaps diamonds and gemstones.  Right? 

                                 Here is the bouquet that was handed to me

I took the bouquet into my house to find a conspicuous place to show off those lovely petals and glossy leaves.  I finally decided on the coffee table, but before I placed them down I decided to see what the "surprise" was at the bottom of the vase.  I love surprises, but I am rarely surprised, as I seem to have a keen sense of intuition that holds me back from actually being surprised. 

Upon closer inspection this is what I found at the bottom of the vase

I could hardly believe my eyes.  What I had initially thought were marbles were actually faceted bits of glittery things.  Today I would discover that these were semi precious gemstones from my neighbor's personal stash.  Whoo hoo!!  

Here is a closer view of some of the stones
And do you know what I did after I made this amazing discovery?  I grabbed a big spoon out of our silverware drawer to pull some of the gemstones out to touch them and see them and to examine the facets.  Now I know how a pirate feels when they find their hidden treasure.  Okay, so maybe that is a little overboard, but I'd like to say that I found a treasure at the bottom of that vase.  I am thankful for this gift and even more thankful for such amazing neighbors.  
Out of the water and into my hands

The beautiful sunflower among the thorns of roses

A setting of one of the gemstones given to me by my neighbor
inspired by tutorial by Abby Hook "Love Penant"

Since many of you are jewelry artists I would love to have your input on wire wrapping these pretty gemstones.  I like to work in silver round wire and have wrapped a couple gemstones different ways, but I think that I will be needing some more ideas to keep my hands busy. 

As always thank you for visiting my blog.  


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Sided Patterned Puff Heart Pendant Tutorial


Alternate Cross Pattern Tutorial

Since writing the tutorial/article on using the rolling mill I have received e mails from artists interested in the technique, but not ready to take the plunge to get a rolling least not yet.  I understand this, as I have been wanting a hydraulic press for years and have been tentative to make this purchase for various reasons.  This information started my wheels turning on how metal could be patterned and "puffed" simply by using tools found on most jeweler's benches without a rolling mill or a hydraulic press.  After much head scratching I had an idea that involved using acrylic that I had purchased at a rubber stamp convention years ago.  I grabbed a 2X2 acrylic square and some patterned brass and went to work attempting to combine the techniques of patterning and "puffing" the same piece of metal.

 2X2 Acrylic Square being prepared for the "Puff/Hydraulic-Look"

 Preparing the patterned brass for the "Pattern/Rolling Mill-Look"

  My first attempt was successful, so I tried it again and again until I was confident that this discovery was not just a fluke, but a successful process.  What I discovered is that this technique requires heat.  The metal has to be annealed, there is no way around it.  Once I had figured this out, I set my sights for creating a tutorial.  Since I wanted to share not only the processes, but a finished piece, there was a lot of photographing to capture nearly each movement that I made through the lens of my camera.

It amazes and excites me to meld the process of making jewelry with photographing each stage and then post processing and editing the photos for ease of viewing.  The mind thinks differently when trying to figure out how to put each step into photos.  It is like two layers of art; making the jewelry while photographing.  My mind and my heart are at peace with this form of creativity.  So, after months of creating prototypes, photographing, writing and arranging I present to you the Two Sided Patterned Puff heart Pendant Tutorial (including the alternate cross pattern), which can be found at

Thursday, May 31, 2012

 Custom Logo Jewelry Tag

Wow, can it be that I last posted five months ago?  That is far too long.  I've been working on another tutorial and it is very close to completion; just a bit of tweaking and soon it will be posted.  More on that later, but for now I'm so excited to share something that I have been wanting for a long time, but needed to work out the logistics.  This something is a jewelry tag with the Wired Lotus logo.  I had wanted to do this in the form of a stamp, but what I wanted was bigger than most jewelry stamps could handle.  This prompted me to contact Tracey from Rolling Mill Resource to see what she could do with her custom low relief patterns.  Tracey looked at some designs that I had for her and she offered her suggestions for a logo that would translate well in a low relief rolling mill pattern.  She then put my final design into a low relief pattern and sent me a sample to see how it would work for me.  See the below photo of two of the samples she sent to me. 

Low Relief Laser Paper Pattern 

The above is a photo of the actual rolling mill relief patterns.  Note that one is three dimensional and the other is sunken in relief.  So, not only did I get my choices with size, but I also was given two different looks to choose from.  For those that patina their work, this makes a huge difference, as when you "rub off" some of the patina to expose the high areas this is what stands out, while the rest of the piece looks more antiqued and dark.  So, the above pattern will sink into the metal and the words will be dark with patina and the below pattern will be three dimensional resulting in the letters and pattern being highlighted with buffing.  How cool is that? 
If I didn't own a rolling mill and I discovered this technique of personalizing all of the jewelry that I give as gifts, then I would surely want one right now!!  I mean, who knew that paper could imprint designs onto metal right in the convenience of my home?  If you are interested in learning more about rolling mills or this technique I have now posted my free rolling mill tutorial at, which can be downloaded and printed from your computer.  See the link below:

Also, check out Tracey's Facebook page, but hold on to your hats, because this will really wow:

As always, thank you for taking time to visit my blog.  I'm excited to be back at it!!