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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” …

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.

I’ve been seriously neglecting the Jewelry Making reader mailbag lately. This question was actually posted in a comment, but I decided to move it up to the main page because others have asked this question before. And most importantly, I have no idea! I would one day like to experiment with soldering, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Tim W. asks:

Help! I need a reliable torch that has adjustable flames for small and large silver projects. The more I research the confuseder I get. Some say that acetyline has too much soot others say that propane is the way to go. I don’t know but we are having a hard time getting enough heat on larger projects to get the soldering done when I use a standard bernzomatic torch from the hardware store. Not to mention the flame getting smaller and larger it you tilt the bottle… What torch do you recommend?

If you make these torches or are a jewelry maker and have soldering suggestions, please leave a comment. However: while I don’t mind others pointing people in the right direction via commercial links in comments, please put your link in an “href” tag and don’t write out the entire URL - that tends to break my blog column formatting. Also, please DO NOT put 4-5 links, just the one will do!

This month, I’d originally planned to write up a few projects detailing some simple jewelry projects that might make great gifts for Mother’s Day. However, time (as usual) flew past and I don’t have the time to take all the pictures. But I just saw on the Jewelry Making site that they have a few mother’s day projects already lined up so you might want to head over there if you’re searching for ideas of jewelry to make for mom.

Some of the projects include a Rose Quartz “Love” Pendant and a Bracelet for Grandma.

Read: Mother’s Day Jewelry Projects

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Mass Produced ArticleWrote up a short article today which deals with a jewelry making tip for those times when you just HAVE to make duplicates of a particular item. I know that many out there are going for the “all-unique” jewelry making aesthetic - but you’d be surprised how many times you’re going to have to settle down and crank out a few pieces that are similar or the same. It’s certainly happened to us more than once!

Tip For Mass Producing Your Jewelry

Hello and Happy New Year! Whew, it’s been very slow getting back into jewelry making after the longish holiday. We’re still getting cleaned up and organized after the great Felt Club XL show. But I realized our Gemstone Shape poll has been up for ages - nearly 5 months!

Jewelry Making Poll Results - Gemstone ShapeAnyhow, this is how the results shaped up. I expected Teardrop / Briolette to win handily since these are great stone shapes for necklace pendants. It held 198 votes, so a good chunk of people do like these shapes.

I was a bit surprised that the “odd shapes” category did so well with 160 votes. One of the bad things with these polls is that I can only allow 4 choices, at least as long as the poll remains at the top of the page - there’s just no more room! Anyhow, so we had to lump all the other shapes together, which is perhaps the reason that it had so many votes. I know that roughly shaped and odd- shaped stones are extremely popular with many jewelry makers who want to have a unique product.

Bringing up the rear were circular / disc / oval shapes, with 97 votes and square / rectangle with 70 votes. We’re actually a big fan of rectagular shaped gemstones and glass and try to use them in designs whenever we get a chance.

Okay-dok. I’m a bit out of ideas for new polls, so I just made one up about what kind of Jewelry Pliers you use the most for making jewelry. I suspect it would be helpful to have pics, but once again, there’s no room. So if you’re wondering what the different pliers are, just search for them online…

Thank you to everyone who came to visit us at the Felt Club this past weekend. We had a great time and sold quite a few pieces… earrings seemed to be a bigger seller this year.

A few questions from the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag that I hadn’t gotten to yet:

Jennifer writes: “I am just beginning in the whole jewelry making/beading process. I am interested in finding out the best way to produce bracelets using jewelry wire, esp. when it comes to attaching the clasps so it doesn’t look so … amateur. Thanks.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: Well, I know that it will take some time to get the technique down. I’m assuming you’re talking about using crimp beads or something similar to tie off the end of a bracelet. You might find this article about creating folded crimp beads helpful. You will need a special bead crimping tool, available at or other craft stores.

Some people also like to add something called “French Wire” (sometimes known as “bullion” or “gimp”) to cover up the bare jewelry cable/wire that shows where it connects to the clasp. It’s basically very thin silver wire that comes spooled like a slinky, and you insert the beading cable through the middle of it. See this tutorial for an example of what it looks like.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Bracelets and Clasps” …

11/28/06 | Upcoming Changes

Hi there Jewelry Makers! Just wanted to let you know about a few upcoming changes in the next couple of months. In the past, I’ve often delayed posting until I had time to write up a truly informative (and sometimes rather long) article, product review or DIY jewelry shop review.

I’m going to start mixing in some shorter posts in the future that will just give a really brief overview of the topic or product, hopefully with links so that you can get delve into it more if you choose. But hopefully, this will mean more frequent posts as well since right now there is usually about 1-2 weeks between new material. I’m still going to attempt to put up tutorials and those WILL be very in-depth as usual. Those have been extremely popular so they aren’t going away. The Mailbag is also going to continue to be addressed, so keep sending in your questions.

In addition, you might notice some design changes in the next few weeks. Hopefully, we won’t have to take the website down for very long, if at all. But if you try and access pages (especially late at night) and you get errors or “updating” messages, then rest assured it’ll soon be corrected in the morning.

Thanks and Happy Holidays,
Jewelry Making @ Bloglander

Digging through the mailbag again, and this question popped out. I’ve been actually trying to work up a tutorial with several ways to make your own jump rings, but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. Actually, the real reason is I haven’t perfected that technique either!

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Brenda M. writes: “I would like to know if 18 gauge wire, not silver, is strong enough to make jump rings out of? Thanks!”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: As far as I know, it should be fine. In fact I think many times that base metal wire might even be more rigid than full soft or half hard silver wire. The base metal is often more brittle, though. As far as gauge size goes, I’ve made it with anything smaller than 22 gauge.

One issue with base metal is that the jump ring “ends” may be sharp when cut, and I don’t know if it’s as easy to file down base metal as it is silver. I haven’t tried filing either (it might not even be necessary to file it if the wire isn’t cut at such an acute angle) so I might be wrong about this.

I suppose it would also depend upon the application and whether the jump ring is required to support stress or force. For example, for use in earrings you could get away pretty thin wire. For chunky necklaces, however, I wouldn’t use really thin wire. Actually, a bigger concern might be the fact that the jump rings aren’t soldered so you have a chance of the connector slipping out through the opening if they aren’t closed correctly (refer to this article on opening and closing jump rings).

Depending on the application, it may be worth it just to buy them if you need the quality to be consistent. Above are store-bought jump rings, nickel plated base metal on left, silver on right. For making the jump rings, I know Beadalon sells a really simple device for it that’s about $10. It has 4 metal mandrells for wrapping wire around, and a plastic doohickey base for winding it. Try Rings & Things for more info.