Sunday, January 22, 2023

New Obsession

      Sometime last June I was looking for a particular design in some earrings and everything I found I didn't like. After searching for a while I remembered that I actually have the skills to make jewelry. You may wonder how I could forget something like that but I can sew and I often see things I want and it doesn't occur to me that I could make it myself. These things happen. To me. Anyway, as often happens when buying materials to make one thing you want, you have to buy more than you need. So I made the earrings I wanted, and then made more that were basically the same. After that my interest in making jewelry exploded and I made more, started doing different designs, bought more materials, and so on. I have been having a ton of fun with the jewelry. Maybe because it's a little bit different. I have been making dolls for such a long time that even the unusual dolls are still not all that different for me. But the jewelry is new and exciting. 
     So fast forward many months of jewelry making. I have my designs in 3 retail locations, started up a shop on Etsy, remembered I don't actually like Etsy, and built a website because it seemed like the next logical step. Then a week ago I became completely obsessed with the idea of needing to learn stone wrapping. Which is a bit funny for me because I have not always been a fan of wrapped stones. But a little voice in my head told me that I needed this skill. I need it to progress to the next stage in jewelry making. Eventually, I will have some completely unique, one of a kind pieces. But first, I have to learn this. So a week ago I got some materials together, asked Ethan for some of his favorite tutorials (he was doing some stone wrapping recently as well) and I got to learning. My first victim stone was this rainbow moonstone. I loved that it was almost perfectly oval, while still being a tumbled stone and not cut to shape. This first wrap was not nearly as easy as the video would suggest. It just goes to show that skills of this kind take time to produce something nice. 
     Somewhere in the learning process I reminded myself that I should document this journey. Because you should always be reminded of the garbage you made before you learned to make things that are beautiful. This moonstone got wrapped and rewrapped at least 5 or 6 times the first night. My fingers hurt a lot by the end of it. 
     This design has the potential to be amazing. But the end result of this attempt was definitely not amazing. I am going to try this wrap again at some point. 
     Here was another design that looked amazing, and easy, in the tutorial, but the results were less than ideal. Part of that could be because she was wrapping cabochons and I am wrapping tumbled stones. Even if this was a similar shape, it's not the same as a cut stone. 
     This was how I ended day 1. I didn't hate the wrap and I really needed to stop for the day. My fingers were incredibly sore and I needed a break. This wasn't a particularly encouraging place to stop, but it needed to happen. 
     So the next day was Saturday. Ethan didn't have to work and he showed me one of his favorite stone wrapping techniques. I had actually just watched the same tutorial so had a decent idea of what to do. But it was really fun to hang out and have him show me how to do this. It was also the first time I used square wire and half round wire. What a game changer! I was really pleased with how this came out, even with all the flaws. I also am super excited about this stone. It's a rainbow fluorite, which is one of my favorite stones, and it fluoresces blue! I may never be in a place where that would happen, but I know the stone can do it, which makes me happy. 
     I liked this particular wrapping technique so much that I tried it again. This wrap was actually meant for the original rainbow moonstone, but once I got really into the design, the stone didn't fit anymore. So I grabbed a variety of stones I had (I mentioned I collect stones, right?) and found this aventurine that fit fairly well. It needed a few adjustments to be really into the setting, but I got it to work. I was, again, pretty pleased with the result, even with the flaws. 
     Then came the day I was going to wrap this green goldstone. I had a vision for it, since I figured this glittery green stone would look excellent with gold (yellow brass), which is another funny thing for me because I really am not a fan of yellow gold and much prefer white metals. But this stone was calling out for gold. I tried out a round wire wrap again, using another new-to-me technique, had to adjust a bunch of things (take off some wire weaving) mid-design, and this is the result. I also now am waiting on square and half round brass wire. Those shapes seem to give me the best results so far. Though I don't hate this design and I do like the wire weaving. It definitely needs more practice. 
      Let's revisit that poor rainbow moonstone from day one. I had wrapped and rewrapped the stone 5 or 6 times the first day, made a new wrap for it the second day that ended up not fitting, and finally was a bit more confident in the skills, had picked up a new trick that would help keep everything fitted properly while working, so now it was time to try it again. And I like it. This wrap is still not perfect and has a bunch of flaws. But I like it so much more than what I could do the first day. 
      It's not fair to just share the stuff that I like so let's visit with a wrap from day 6 that immediately got removed after I took this photo. I was learning a technique for a wire netting design, which I really like, and I think it will be excellent. But I am not there yet. I also still have not watched the end of the tutorial to see if the way she makes the bail is something I won't hate. I am really not into narrow wire for bails and would much rather use a larger wire for that. But I am still thinking about a way to incorporate that into the design and have it work. Anyway, I do want to use the wire netting technique, I am just not yet to a place where I am happy enough with it to actually leave it on a stone. 
     Now let's move onto this egg shaped angelite. I went back to the wrap design that Ethan taught me and I again managed a wrap that I like quite a bit. So far this wrap, with the square and half round wire, is my favorite, and the easiest for me to use to get a result that I like. There are still some flaws on this, but far fewer than a week ago. 
     Let's talk about this piece of sodalite. I did not need to buy another stone, I have plenty to work with, but I saw it and immediately knew that I needed to wrap it. It is a tumbled stone but again, is almost perfectly shaped, as if it were a cut stone. The orange color was also almost perfectly centered. So I bought yet another stone, brought it home, and got out some copper wire. It is still square and half round, the same technique I have used multiple times, and it is nearly flawless. There are a couple of parts where if you look really carefully, in mostly hidden spots, you can find things that are not awesome. But I am incredibly pleased with how this came out. Even the back of the wrap came out really nicely. This one is going to stay just the way it is. 
     So as of today, I have been working on stone wrapping for 10 days. We can call it 9 because I haven't wrapped anything yet today, but likely I will later. I have 6 finished pieces that I don't hate, and for now, I am going to keep all of these as they are. Eventually, I will likely rewrap everything other than the sodalite I wrapped on Friday. But right now I like being able to see where I started (for the most part) and how far I have come in a little over a week. Apparently when my brain told me I HAD to learn stone wrapping, it wasn't kidding! 
     At some point I will likely offer these for sale on my website, which is, but I am not to that point just yet. Eventually, I will also expand on the pendants and do some full custom pieces, but there is still a lot I need to learn to get to that place. But I am having a really good time with this so far. I am going to continue to (try to) wrap at least one stone every day, or learn a new technique, or something related to this new obsession. I will of course still be making dolls, I have another one that I finished last week that I need to get photos of. Dolls make me happy, jewelry makes me happy, gemstones and crystals make me happy, and 2023 is the year I am going to be totally unapologetically me. Which also makes me happy. I hope you enjoyed learning about my latest obsession. We'll get back to dolls soon, I promise. 


Anonymous said...

Amazing! I like the sodalite best!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful wrapping!

timaru star ii said...

Jewelry-making and the model horse hobby have a long and wonderful relationship, one which I have enjoyed myself. Make that "enjoy" because I haven't stopped,... Your new obsession is delightful to see. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

Joan Yount said...

So super wow! The wrapped stones are even more amazing than my brain could picture! So intricate and interesting! Ya, I can see some sore fingers, lol. Absolutely amazing job, but then, nothing you do surprises me, lol. You are a unicorn.

Beth Rappleyea said...

Looks great so far!! I love your choice in stones, and that you went immediately for the decorative bail way of dealing with wire ends. Keep plugging along--that's how you get anywhere! I cringe at my first attempts at stone wrapping, and now I have a permanent cabinet in a retail jewelry store. I incorporate my pendants into semi-precious bead necklaces too. Remind me to show you pictures sometime.