Stainless Steel Elegance

My first project as a member of the Prima Bead Blog Team was to create a piece of jewelry using Prima Bead’s newest product, Stainless Steel Elegance.  And of course, they sent me lots of other goodies to inspire me, but I honestly really wanted to keep this one simple. Most of the jewelry I design is created using sterling silver and 14K Gold Fill. So the challenge of working with such a different metal was pretty exciting!

I have a couple goals as a PBBT member, and that is to focus on using Prima Bead’s products, supplies and tools. There will be times that I will veer from that, but I really want to be able to showcase their product and be able to detail my experience with it.

My first impression was that I like the weight and feel of the Stainless Steel Elegance. The metal, if you’ve never used Stainless Steel before, is smooth & cool & has a slightly industrial look to it. My intro package included the following SSE items:

Stainless Steel Elegance

Stainless Steel Elegance

As a die-hard fidgeter, I love the feel and movement of charm bracelets, so I decided to go that route for this design. First I considered fabricating a bracelet using the split rings they sent, but I LOVED the look and feel of the rolo chain and decided to work with that instead. But all they included in my package was an 18 inch necklace, so it looked like some modifications were going to be needed….

SSE Round Link Chain, (formerly) 18 inches

SSE Round Link Chain, (formerly) 18 inches

After I cut the length of chain and secured it to the clasp & closure, I was pleased to see that I had enough left over for a pair of dangly earrings – Woo Hoo! 

I used the Crystazzi Purple Passion bicone mix and the Black Satin Oval package. I thought these lent an urban, sophisticated feel to the SSE chain, but were still feminine and sparkly; two things that appeal to me.

The headpins provided were just fine for the Black Satin Oval beads, but I wanted to do something to give the little 4mm bicones some oomph. So I snipped the ends of the headpin and used my round nose pliers to create a nice loop, which I then hammered lightly to catch the light.

Purple Passion 4mm bicone mix on modified SSE headpins

Purple Passion 4mm bicone mix on modified SSE headpins

After securing three Black Satin Oval bead to one strand and two to the other, I then added three Purple Passion bicones to frame each oval bead. I think the modified headpins were a good choice – they added a bit of a length to the bicones and continue with the goal of showcasing what can be done with the SSE product line. And, ta-da, here is the finished piece:

Purple Passion & Stainless Steel Elegance Charm Bracelet & Earrings

Purple Passion & Stainless Steel Elegance Charm Bracelet & Earrings

Overall, the effect was what I was trying to achieve, although I had a couple things I had to work around. First, the headpins were heavy enough that they did not fit through the loops in the chain, so I found that creating my loops a little bigger allowed me to slip them over the chain, rather than through it. This actually was sort of a nice surprise, because the charms now slide freely along the length of the chain rather than remaining stationed at a particular link. This is a fun and different effect that I think I quite like. I believe that the headpins are probably a 22 gauge (or possibly even 20 gauge) wire, which is quite a bit larger than I typically use. My suggestion to Prima Bead would be to mark their packaging to reflect the diameter of the headpin, which would help to ensure that crafters purchase exactly the size they need. 

PP & SSE Charm Bracelet & Earrings, Alternate View

PP & SSE Charm Bracelet & Earrings, Alternate View

Never having work with SS before, I definitely have to say there is a learning curve that goes along with it. It was somehow both stiffer and more malleable than sterling, and took some getting used to. I think it would be the perfect metal for designers working with mixed metals (wouldn’t it look fabulous with copper?!), or for anyone creating Steampunk style jewelry. I think the look is definitely urban and a little edgy.

I am curious to hear about your experiences (not to mention, TIPS!) working with Stainless Steel. What did you think of it? How do you think it’s best used in jewelry design?

Bring On The Challenge!

Sometimes as a designer (jewelry or otherwise), we need to have a little fire lit under us to re-inspire, reawaken and rejuvenate our creative juices. I haven’t been doing this long enough to have had a real lull in my creativity, but as a busy mom of an even busier three year old… Well, I’ll be honest. Sometimes I stick to the “tried & true” when creating new pieces. I have certain materials and colors that I like and that I know my customers like, so why veer from that path? Sometimes I simply don’t have the time.

Well, thank you Prima Bead! Very soon they will be sending me my first package of “new & improved” goodies (“materials” for those of you who aren’t as obsessed with jewelry design as I am). I get to play with these fun new materials (Oh, the color! Oh, the texture!) and write a bit about my experience with these. This is gonna be a great challenge for me and a way to keep me from doing the same ol’ same ol’.

Prima Bead has a great selection of some of my favorite materials, and a ton of other great items, including this… (What a gorgeous, Spring-green color!)
PD Green Glass Beads
And this… (Deep, blue-hued “Mirror Beads”!)
PB Mirror Beads
And this… (Wouldn’t this gemstone slice look beautiful with some peridot or moonstone?!)
PB Gemstone Slice

Ok, Prima Bead, included in my wish list is some of your FABULOUS Rose Gold plated components! I am newly obsessed with this very on trend metal, and hope to get my hands on some real soon. (hint, hint)

PB Rose Gold Bead

Take a peek at the Prima Bead site when you have a chance – I would be curious to hear what you find there that gets your creative juices flowing!

Celebrity Gift Lounge Preparations

First, let me answer the question, “What is a celebrity Gift Lounge?” for those of you who may not be too familiar with the topic.

In a nutshell, Celebrity Gift Lounges are set up prior to an event – like the Golden Globes – in order to introduce celebrities to new and/or exciting products & services. As celebrities wander through these gift lounges, exhibitors take the opportunity to demonstrate or show the products they represent, in the hope that the celebrity will be intrigued or impressed enough to agree to having their picture taken (ideally while wearing, holding or using the product) by a professional photographer. The Artisan Group has been participating in this, and other, celebrity events and awards shows for several years.

Grant Bowler's lovely girlfriend wearing my Vine Collection necklace.

Grant Bowler’s lovely girlfriend wearing my Vine Collection necklace.

The exhibitor will typically then use that photo to publicize their product’s appeal to that particular celebrity. This usually needs to be done in a “grass roots” sort of fashion, with the exhibitor promoting the image on their website, social media outlets and blogs. Typically, due to contractual requirements, exhibitors are not permitted to use the images in paid advertising so that there is not an inaccurate implication that the celebrity endorses or is being paid to endorse, the product.

With that said, at the end of 2012 I had been officially accepted as one of many artists to have their work represented at the 2013 Golden Globes Gift Lounge. Now the work begins! I had about two months to prepare and submit a design for 100 pieces of jewelry to be included in the swag bags being distributed by TAG to celebrities visiting the Gift Lounge. Yikes!

My basic design needed to be:

• Something created “exclusively” for the Event
• Something that would be simple enough to duplicate 100 times, while still giving me enough time to meet my usual customer needs
• Something that wouldn’t break the bank – after all, I wasn’t going to be paid for these
• Something that would be “wearable” and appealing to my usual customer, who, like me, is fairly conservative in their attire & accessories

For better or worse, I decided to try something that had been inspiring & intriguing me for some time. A tutorial for the necklace below (by wonderfully talented designer Mai Sato-Flores), which I first saw in Wire Jewelry magazine in 2010 had stuck in my head, and I decided this was the perfect time to give it a go.

Garnet & Gold Necklace by Mai Sato-Flores

Garnet & Gold Necklace by Mai Sato-Flores

Once I had my design fine-tuned, then came the VERY tiresome process of creating 100 items. I had about two months to do this, in order to mail them off in time for the Event. This meant a lot of late nights and trying to exist on five to six hours of sleep each night. Especially since the event was taking place in January, and I was trying to keep up with normal holiday orders. Eeek! What had I been thinking?!

Since I had so many pieces to create (100 pair of earrings!), I decided to create them in an “assembly line” fashion – first came the “vines,” then the charm, then the handforged earwires.

One "sample" pair of earrings, and lots of partial "vines" just waiting for charms & earwires!

One “sample” pair of earrings, and lots of partial “vines” just waiting for charms & earwires!

Once all the necessary pieces were completed, I packed them up in 100 little boxes with 100 “About the Artist” bio cards and sent them on their merry way to Hollywood! I am quite proud of the fact that, short of pulling the wire or mining the gemstones, I created these pieces 100%.

Vine Collection Earring - Garnet & 14K Rose Gold Filled wire

Vine Collection Earring – Garnet & 14K Rose Gold Filled wire

It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it! The sense of accomplishment – just knowing I could create a design, duplicate it 100 times and package them all up efficiently – was worth the whole process!! I certainly learned a thing or two about both the design process & marketing my involvement in the Gift Lounge. It has been a wonderful experience and has been a boon to my little business, and I have TAG to thank for it!

Have you ever considered participating in a large event (either celebrity related, or just local customers)? How did you prepare for it? Did you have any “big” lessons learned that will help you for your next large event or show? I’d love to hear about it!