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Jewelry Making News, Tips, Tutorials, and Reviews

CalderIf you happen to be in the New York area, you might be interested in checking out the current Alexander Calder exhibit which features some of his wire jewelry.

Calder was a world famous modern designer, probably most famous for his “mobiles” and other innovative works of art. (Actually, he was the one who CREATED what we know as the mobile - it didn’t exist before him). He wasn’t known for creating metal jewelry like this, however, and many of the works were actually made for friends as gifts. They’re truly wonderful, however, and I think a lot of jewelry makers could take inspiration from his designs.

The exhibit actually originated at the Norton Museum of Art in Florida. I’m hoping it’ll come take a turn in California, if it hasn’t already.

View: review of the NY Show

I recently received a question in the mail from a reader concerning ethics in DIY jewelry design. Since we’ve gotten this type of question before, and often thought about it ourselves, I decided to try and answer it here. Keep in mind that this is only an opinion, and I’m not a copyright lawyer:

twofords asks:

What are the “rules” when it comes to copying someone else’s work? Whether there are legal rules around doing so, but even more importantly (or just importantly) the ethical and moral rules around doing it? … Is it unethical to “steal” someone’s idea and
make it yourself?

First off, I want to say that this problem is of course not only limited to jewelry making. If you walk into any supermarket, you’ll see tons of “copycat” products on the shelves just hanging out. Many are such blatant copies that the colors, font and pictures on the packaging are meant to mimic the real item. And those original items are supposedly copyrighted and trademarked.

The same thing exists when you go to the store or online to buy electronics, baby products, furniture. In some cases the product is almost an exact copy, and the degree to how well it is copied varies. Others will only take a general idea or design scheme and try and make something original, or at least improve on it.

I believe there ARE legal rules surrounding this type of infringement, but I’m not sure to what degree they are enforced or whether that is even possible in the global (and especially online) economy. Because I don’t know what those rules are exactly and how they apply to jewelry, I’m going to assume that it is VERY difficult (or impossible) for a DIY or home jewelry maker to enforce design copyright in that manner. (Can you imagine trying to copyright or patent all your designs?) So, we’ll talk about ethics only.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Ethics of Jewelry Design” …

5/19/08 | Blitz Jewelry Care

Blitz Cleaning Products - Jewelry Making at Bloglander

The nice folks over at Blitz Manufacturing sent us a whole assortment of jewelry and metal cleaning products to try out. The company has actually been around since 1912, when they created their first jewelry cleaning cloth. Since then, they’ve expanded to include an enormous lineup of jewelry / metal cleaners, polishing cloths, jewelry cleaning machines, travel kits, and other jewelry care accessories. They’ve even branched out into non-jewelry cleaning items like musical instrument string cleaners and sporting good cleaners.

We were sent a travel kit, various cleaning cloths, several varieties of the wet cleaners and even a guitar string cleaning cloth. One nice part about the company is their dedication toward non-toxic and environmentally safe cleaning products - this is going to go along way in the future with all the concern over chemical and cleaner hazards.

I have to admit that we haven’t yet tried out the wet cleaners fully, but we have made some good use of the polishing cloths. We’ve used one of the double sided cloths from another company before and it worked fairly well. The Blitz Jewelry Care Cloth we used was at least as good, if not better. I feel like it loosened more of the tarnish.

The cloth is two pieces, one of which is impregnated with polishing agents and serves to loosen the tarnished areas on the metal. The other outer cloth is used to remove the tarnish and buff the surface of the metal to get a nice shine.

The cloth can be used on gold, silver, platinum jewelry. (Note there are several types of jewelry where the cloth is not recommended, such as pearls and opal. ) We tried it on several items including white gold and platinum rings and silver findings like clasps. It performed admirably on all items. I had a lot of difficulty taking “before and after” pictures which is what I usually like to do. I just was not able to show how well it cleaned. In particular, I used the cloth on my own wedding ring which has been through all sorts of crazy wear (I used to occasionally mix concrete with my bare hands with it on!) and it came out amazingly clean.

Below is a picture of a before and after on a standard silver lobster clasp on a silver chain necklace. The cloth instantly took off the tarnish.

Blitz Cleaning Products - Jewelry Making at Bloglander

Continue reading “Blitz Jewelry Care” …

Sylwia Calus Design - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderWe came across some very cool, slightly futuristic jewelry on Etsy made by Sylwia Calus who hails from Warsaw, Poland. She’s been making jewelry for around 4 years, but already her work is being sold European designer shops.

What makes the jewelry interesting is the choice of materials and the way they are used. She employs clear polyester resin to create classy, one of a kind bracelets that contain decorative elements inside. She hand-polishes the bracelets to give them a nice finish - below is an example of one of them called the Square Shadows bracelet.

Sylwia Calus Design - on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

Another very interesting use of materials are her knitted silver wire pieces. She takes thin silver wire and knits or crochets them into earrings, bracelets and other items. Shown below is an example - her Knitted Oxidized Silver Earrings.

Sylwia Calus Design - on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

Visit: Sylwia Calus Design on Etsy

I apologize that lately the only posts you’ve been seeing at Jewelry Making at Bloglander are ones for craft shows. This year, we’ve actually decided to discontinue our jewelry making business - we had a good long go at it, made a lot of great contacts and had a good deal of fun making and selling our own jewelry. But it’s gotten to the point where it’s too difficult to continue.

You can blame it on the economy or whatever you’d like. I know this is not a great excuse - but in any case, since we haven’t been making a lot of jewelry there hasn’t been as much opportunity to write up the popular how-to posts. I’m not yet sure how the focus of the blog will change - but I think that we’ll continue to talk about bead shows / resources, jewelry promotion and product reviews. We’ll also continue to try and feature great DIY jewelry makers we run across and perhaps run more interviews. I hope that the how-tos on the site will continue to be a good resource for beginning jewelry makers - but we probably won’t get to create too many more of them.

Glass Craft and Bead Expo - Jewelry Making at BloglanderOk, on a happier note, the Glass Craft & Bead Expo is coming up very soon on April 2-6 at the South Point Hotel / Casino in Vegas. We haven’t been to this one before, but it sounds pretty interesting. They have various classes and demos that focus on art glass techniques and tools. There is a “Bead Bazaar” area that looks similar to the other bead shows that we’ve been to.

The classes actually look pretty interesting, and I think some of the demos feature live torch work. They also have a charity auction and a “Gallery of Excellence” where they feature outstanding examples of art glass and other jewelry. The admission is $15 for 3 days, but if your register in any of the classes that admission is waived.

Visit: Glass Craft & Bead Expo website

Beaders Guide to Color Book - Jewelry Making at Bloglander
If you use a lot of different seed beads in your jewelry, you might be interested in The Beader’s Guide To Color by Margie Deeb. This professionally designed beading book is a great information resource for both novices to color theory and expert designers alike. There are 20 different jewelry/art projects, 75 color palettes and instructions for beginning beaders on loom techniques. I have to admit that personally we haven’t really gotten into using seed beads in this way yet, but this book is still on my wish list for future inspiration.

From the author’s website:

Author and artist Margie Deeb discusses in depth the psychological and symbolic associations of all the colors of the spectrum, and the ways in which color can be used to create and accentuate pattern, rhythm, and movement.

The illustrations in the book seem to be really well done. The color palettes actually use Delica numbers (a classification for the Miyuki seed beads) and cover a wide range of different color combinations. I think some of the reviews I read of the book seem to think this is less of a standard “how-to” book and more of a presentation of the choice of color in seed bead projects. Still, most both beginners and advanced jewelry makers seem to think it’s a worthwhile addition to their libraries.

Swarovski Here’s yet another jewelry competition we’ve found. But this one is being held by a company that everyone should know, unless you’ve been beading inside a cave. Cut crystal maker Swarovski is holding their “Create Your Style” Contest and entries will be accepted until May 16, 2008.

You can enter in 3 different categories: Professional, Amateur and Student. But what’s cool is that the finalist prizes are quite significant and are the SAME for the first two categories (1st:Trip to Austria, 2nd: $3500 gift cert, 3rd: $2000 gift cert) - the student category prizes are a little less but still significant and are put toward tuition. Semi-finalists get $50 gift certs.

All of the designs have to be made of at least 80% Swarovski crystals. One note - if you win I think they keep your design in order to photograph it for various books. I’m also not sure if there is an entry fee, but I don’t think so. They’ll announce the winners on October 15th, 2008 in New York. Good luck if you decide to enter!

Visit: Swarovski: Create Your Style

Ugly Necklace Competition - Bloglander Jewelry MakingI hesitated about a microsecond before posting this unusual jewelry making competition. There is a contest held by Land of Odds (and sponsored by a few other companies) to design the ugliest necklace possible. There’s a reason I didn’t picture any of the previous winning entries here. =) Have a look for yourself. The contest is currently open and they will stop accepting ugly necklace entries on March 15. Oh, the humanity!

Visit: Ugly Necklace Contest

Rings Things Designs Rock Contest - Bloglander Jewelry Making

Another upcoming competition for you jewelry makers: don’t forget about the Rings & Things 2008 “Your Designs Rock!” Competition. The focus here is on designs that you make that use Rings & Things products. The entries are being accepted until the end of this month February 29. There are several categories including Glass, Gemstones, Polymer Clay, Metal Clay, Mostly Metal and Alternative Materials.

Although the prizes are Rings & Things credit ($750 Grand Prize, six category $250 First Prizes and $75 Honorable Mentions), you also get a chance to have your design featured in their catalog and other promotions which could be a good chance to get worldwide exposure for your designs.

2008 Bead Button Show - Bloglander Jewelry

Just a quick note that it’s time to think about the Bead & Button show again. Sure it seems like it’s 6 months away - it’s being held June 1-8, 2008 in Milwaukee. But registration opened yesterday, and the Bead Dreams Competition and Exhibit is now taking submissions from now until April 4. Never to early to get a head start in the new year on planning out jewelry pieces to submit and figuring out what bead supplies you need to pick up at the largest consumer bead show in the world. They also have a ton of different beading classes and workshops worth looking into.