The Vintage Cookie

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Disney Bracelet into Mickey Mouse Earrings

These links were an elastic bracelet for a little girl (way too skinny for my wrists). I rewired a pair of them into these earrings:

Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY Disney Princess Earrings Anyone Can Make

My sister had the inspiration these earrings - a little girl's Disney Princess charm bracelet sold for $9.95 at the Bibbity Boppity Boutique in FantasyLand at Disneyland.
A few minutes with my trusty pliers and a roll of 20g wire and we have 6 Princesses as earrings. If you don't want to make your own ear wires, you can buy ear wires at Michael's or JoAnns, or your favorite bead store.
My sister and I wore these to Disneyland last evening. She picked the classic pair of Aurora and Cinderella (center top). I chose the re-launch Princesses, Belle (far left) and Jasmine (lower right). We wore them to great effect and many compliments from Cast Members.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cubic Zirconium Pave Bead Earrings

Vacation continues -- with more beautiful beads, presented simply. On vacation I have plenty of time to shop for lovely beads, but I am not at home with my jewelry workshop to hand. What I have is wire and 3 pairs of pliers.

Here I present two beads covered in super-sparkly cubic zirconia. The beads were expensive (for me) at $4.00 apiece.

I have used wrapped drops on these earrings. The wire is gunmetal finished copper wire from Artistic Wire. I like the slightly "steampunk" feel of the gunmetal finish and the spiral wire wrap. I think it suits the green color of the beads.

I am now back up to date on my earrings. I can keep up with making an earring a day, but finding a chance to photograph them, upload and edit the photos, and write the blogs is a bit more of a challenge.

Vacation Catch Up - Two pairs of Crystal Drops

These elegant earrings are beads from a crystal bracelet. The bracelets were a dollar a piece, so I bought a couple -- one to wear as a bracelet, and one for matching earrings. I have enough beads for more than a dozen pairs of earrings, but here are the first two. I added two chalcedony rectangular beads on one pair - I love how the colors match, but everything else about the stones contrasts.

Whimsical Acrylic Crystal Earrings

Another pair of vacation earrings. I made these with acrylic crystals drops from Beadshines, (in downtown L.A.) The drops are super light and they catch the light very nicely. I wore them to Disneyland. They have a sort of "punk princess" vibe.
All the wire work -- ear wires and jump rings -- are made from 20 g silver plated copper wire.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blue bead earrings - simple and effective

I wear these simple earrings all the time. Nothing fancy -- although I do like the bright red seed beads as separators. All the beads come from Fire Mountain Gems.

One Month of Earrings - Green Howlite Skulls

Today is the one month anniversary of starting the Earring Project, and these earrings officially celebrate my 31st pair of earrings posted to this blog. Let's see if I can keep it going for another eleven months!

Gordon, that's the six year old boy, picked these beads out for me yesterday at Athenian Fashions. This is a big bead and jewelry findings store on the 800 block of Maple St in downtown Los Angeles. This is the trim and jewelry block. At Athenian, prices are good, but not great; however the selection is fantastic. If you are looking for a clasp, headpin, wire, chain, or other finding they probably have it. I was looking for gun metal finished copper wire, which they had, in 20, 22, and 24 gauge. After I had paid for my purchases (wire and headpins), Gordon spotted these skull beads in a rainbow of colors. Green was his choice, but it was the best color, so I agreed and we bought a string - 34 little skulls for $3.50.

New Earrings from Old - Gun Metal chain tassels with crystal beads

These earrings are an upgrade from a pair that came with a necklace I bought yesterday at Bijoux Bijoux (1003 Santee St, Los Angeles.) They were okay earrings, but not great. The tassels were a little too long (and I have a long neck, so when earrings are too long on me, they are too long.) And the earrings were all the same material -- gun metal finished chain and coins -- so the earrings didn't really stand out. I reduced the length of each chain in the tassel by 3 links and I added 3 crystal beads, one to each coin. I picked three beads with similar tonal value to the rest of the necklace -- they are blue, mauve, and lavender with AB finish (from 3 of the 18 bracelets I bought yesterday, see my last post). This is a fairly subtle upgrade, but when the earring is worn the crystal beads really make a difference. (Original earring on left, upgraded earring on right.)

There was a bit of fussing to get the earrings to hang with the beads facing forward, but otherwise this was a simple project. I will add that after one full month of this earring project, my wire wrapping is much, much neater, too.

The original earrings were a good example of what is wrong with much inexpensive "fashion" jewelry, and why I (or you) as a hobby jewelry designer can improve on what we can buy. Almost all inexpensive jewelry sold today is imported, mostly from China. Most of it is, I think, designed by someone who works for the factory making the components. Therefore, although China makes all different kinds of chains and beads and other jewelry components, any particular piece of jewelry tends to be made of one element. A factory that makes metal chain and pendants makes an all-metal necklace. A factory making cut glass beads makes a necklace of all crystal -- sparkly and shiny and something that no one over the age of 12 can actually wear. But I can combine beads and charms and chain from all over the globe. I can make things and buy things and re-purpose things. I can mix vintage and modern, natural and man-made. All I need is a couple pairs of pliers and some wire and I can make something that is perfect for me, for my life and my outfit on any particular day.

Ay Caliente! Hot Pepper Earrings

I found a string of these glass hot peppers at a jewelry store on Maple St. in the heart of the market district in downtown L.A. (J.P. Fashion Accessories, 1140 Maple Ave, Los Angeles.) I put the peppers onto a 3-link chain I made from 20g gun metal finished copper wire, and fashioned the ear wires from the same wire.

The string of eighteen glass peppers cost $4.00. I also bought eighteen crystal bracelets for a dollar each (that was a sale price), and a jeweled watch/bracelet for $10.00. I bought the watch for our upcoming four days at Disneyland. I normally don't wear a watch, just use my phone, but when I am constantly checking the time so we don't miss a show, fireworks, a parade, or a Fastpass time window a watch is necessary.

Earrings from 22 g wire and a pair of glass pearls

These two glass pearls were liberated from a $1.00 "pearl" necklace bought in downtown L.A. They combine with a couple of inches of 22 g. silver plated copper wire for a pair of surprisingly elegant earrings. I made the wire spiral around a round pencil that was slightly thinner than the usual pencil width.Similar earrings could be made with a thicker or textured wire for a little more heft, but when worn even this relatively fine wire catches the light with every movement of your head.

More L.A. Earrings - round glass beads

I tried a couple of different treatments for these beads, pairing them with some cool green chalcedony tubes,  but they were best on their own. I made the ear wires so I could keep them as simple as possible.

Los Angeles Downtown Earrings-Pink Acrylic Beads

These earrings are all about the beads -- a pair of plastic diamonds, very 60s looking, and 40 cents apiece in Downtown L.A. These are totally vacation earrings -- they are all about the beads, not the work. Hope you like them, and you keep your eyes open for cool beads wherever you go this summer.

I love downtown L.A. -- not so much the "hip" new downtown (although that can be fun), but the old downtown of small factories, fashion design, discount fabric stores, discount jewelry stores, discount...., well, discount just about everything. When I lived in L.A., I loved the bustle of the old streets, but I went mostly for the food. I didn't need to buy small plastic toys at wholesale prices. It wasn't until my sister moved out here and started doing costumes for theater that we discovered that downtown was also the BEST place on the earth to buy fabric. It beat even the old New York City fabric district, where we had practically grown up. When I started selling (and making) jewelry, we also discovered it was a great place to buy fashion jewelry, and beads and chains and findings, at wholesale prices. Now, I go downtown whenever I visit L.A.

So on this trip, yesterday was my day downtown (there may be another). I had my six year old son along, so suddenly we did need to buy small plastic toys at wholesale prices. And I looked for beads -- both at bead stores and, as I love to do, at fashion jewelry stores. I combed through the clearance racks, where bracelets and necklaces can be had for a couple of bucks.Yesterday I found a store selling last year's crystal bead bracelets at a buck apiece. I got them in eighteen different colors. I also got yards and yards of gun metal chain in a $7 necklace and bought a few pairs of cool beads at Beadshines - one of my favorite stores b/c of the bins and bins of beads that they sell individually. The pink acrylic beads above came from Beadshines (305 E. 9th St, Ste 105B,

And the six year old got a new stuffed Domo doll, Pokemon cards, and a giant ruby-colored glass "diamond" for his pirate hoard.

Yay summer, Yay L.A.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wedding Perfect Blue freshwater pearl Earrings

I love these earrings. So elegant and feminine -- perfect for a wedding ('cept I've done that already, love you, Darling.)

The rings are just ordinary silver plate jump rings, and the pearls are dyed freshwater pearls - both from Fire Mountain Gems. Unlike the last pair, the copper free form, this pair came out exactly as I expected on the first try.

Sculpted copper wire earrings

I've been on vacation in Los Angeles for the last few days and not had a chance to post earring designs. But now I'm back on line and will be posting a bunch of new styles in the next few days.

I made this pair last month, for Mother's Day. The red beads are pressed glass hearts, hung on fine copper chain. The "free form" wire dangle with the large copper bead was harder than I expected. I was inspired by a pair in a book -- where the author made it sound effortless to sculpt a pleasing wire shape. But it's actually tricky to come up with something that doesn't just look like a mistake, like you were trying to make something else and this is what you got. In the end, I think, the key was thinking about the center of gravity of the earring, so that although the dangle isn't symmetric, it is balanced and hangs straight. It was also tricky to make two "free form" shapes that matched, for a pair of earrings, but that was a technical challenge, not a design challenge. Anyway, I was rather pleased with how these came out in the end. The shape of the curve is the reverse of the curve of an ear, so it complements the ear well. The big copper beads are hollow, so the earrings aren't too heavy, either.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dramatic Butterflys

Another pair of earrings designed around the charms I bought in NYC a few weeks ago. The ear wires are constructed from 22 g silver plated wire. I used a pen barrel to shape the circle. The beads are my favorite Czech glass, a pair of fire polished 8mm blue beads and blue pressed glass bead caps.

Re-inventing an old pair of earrings

I wish I had a picture of the before of these -- they came with a necklace. The ear wires were large, with a coil and a hollow steel bead. All the loops were very large. When one wore the earrings, the large scale findings made the earrings look cheap. I took the earrings apart and re-hung the beads on my own, hand made head pin and ear wire. I kept all of the loops as small as I could. The result is show above, very delicate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Studs "set" in gold with Tulip Bead in a Bottle

I am still playing around with the grown-up glitter glue called "Bead in a Bottle." Here I have set a pair of glass cats-eye cabochons in the gold bead in a bottle. It was easy, but there are a couple of tricks. First, you need to work on a surface that will release the finished piece easily. I found a plastic notebook cover worked well. Second, the bead in a bottle compound binds very tightly to glass, but not at all to plastic, so I had to use a glass cabochon. I assume a big glass rhinestone would also work. I pumped out an "egg shaped" bead, not round, that was about the same size as my cabochon, then I pressed the cabochon gently onto the bead in a bottle material while it was wet. I did the two together, so they would match exactly. Finally, I had to wait for the substance to dry for a long time, a full 24 hours. The simple studs I showed last week dried overnight.

After the cabochons in their "settings" were dry I used G-S Hypo Cement to glue them onto two blank metal studs from Fire Mountain. I will report how well this holds. If this works out, I have much bigger plans for elaborate pins and pendants using this same technology.

Trapeze Earrings with Handmade Indian Pressed Glass

There are different ways of hanging a bead. Setting it sideways gives a little more drama to the bead. When worn, these swing back and forth, but they don't spin around in all directions as much as a bead on a long wire.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cool new idea - Tulip Bead in a Bottle Ear Studs

Amazon, in it's infinite wisdom, decided I was a likely customer for the Tulip Bead in a Bottle product. Hmm, Amazon knows me pretty well. Anyway, I ordered the four tube metallic set for about nine dollars. When the tubes came I was excited to give them a try, but not sure what to try them on. I could see lots of possibilities embellishing clothes, tote bags, even greeting cards, notebooks, and storage boxes. But I wanted something that I could do IMMEDIATELY.

Then I had a brilliant (if I may say so myself) idea. I had a bunch of blank ear studs from Fire Mountain Gems. I grabbed a pair, with their back clutches. I used two thread spools to hold the studs upright (you could use a lot of things, floral foam, an eraser, even an upside down styrofoam cup). I squeezed a really big dollop of the bead in a bottle material onto the ear stud -- big enough to just hide the whole metal disc with a little "swell" over. The bead shrinks slightly when it dries. When first pumped out the bead is shaped a bit like a squashed Hershey's kiss. I left the earrings to dry for a few hours. When I came back they were dry to the touch, but still slight soft. The peak of the kiss had subsided and the "pearls" were almost half round, but they still had a slight cone little hills. I wanted perfect half rounds, so I picked up the studs by their back wire and gently "rolled" the earring on a piece of clean paper to round off tops. This worked perfectly. I left the earrings to finish drying overnight. Next morning I had a nice pair of antique gold studs.

I made a pair of copper studs, and then this morning a pair of gun metal.

The studs look good - big enough to be noticeable but not so bright they compete with other more "focal" jewelry. These are earrings to wear when you want to wear a statement necklace or brooch. I have a couple of 40% off coupons for Michaels, so I may head off there to get a few more colors. I want to make a blue pair with central black dot -- to represent my Blue Stripe karate belt.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Green crystal with copper findings

I love the color combination of copper and bottle green. These green crystals were liberated from a necklace I bought in the NYC wholesale district, down on 28th St. The octagonal black beads and the bead caps are Czech pressed glass from Fire Mountain Gems.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Catch-up -- three earring designs

I have been pretty busy the past few days and haven't had a chance, until now, to download these pictures of my newest earrings.

First, I have a third pair designed around the Indian lamp work beads I bought at Michael's. For this pair I worked to design a special pair of ear wires that would complement the detail on the beads. I wasn't sure how the reverse curve would work, but I actually like the way these earrings hand in the ears.

The second pair celebrates father's day -- seahorse Dad's do all the hard work taking care of the baby sea horses. I bought the charms a few weeks ago in NYC, but I found by themselves they made boring earrings. I searched through my bead collection and pulled out these blue-green pressed glass beads because they worked well with the silver plate charms, and because they reminded me of tropical oceans.
And finally, I just love these fiery red lamp work beads I bought a couple of years ago. The bead holes are too big for headpins, but fortunately I found seed beads that perfectly matched the color of the beads. The seed beads are big enough to keep the beads on the headpins, but small enough to be nearly invisible when you are looking at the earrings. Sometimes it is the little things that you can't see that make a design work.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Window" beads and pearls

This is another pair of earrings designed around a special pair of beads. I accented these teal "window" beads with copper findings and two small freshwater pearls.

Summer earrings

I love the colors of these wooden beads, and the resulting earrings are super, super light. I plan to wear them with a pink cotton sundress.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

More lampwork bead earrings

Here is the second pair from the beads I bought at Michael's yesterday. The green seed beads came with the lampwork beads. I made the ear wires b/c I was too lazy to go downstairs to my stash and find a pair.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A pile of fun from Michael's

The bead and jewelry department at Michael's has gone from totally lame to surprisingly good, and they have very attractive sales. Today I found a couple of things I had been looking for at much higher end bead and jewelry stores, including a nice brushed golden chain with decent heft to it and a couple of strands of handmade lampwork beads from India. Stay tuned for the earrings to come...

And here they are --

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chain tassel earrings

I made this pair of earrings after a trip to NYC. I love the bead shops on 6th Avenue, and I bought a bunch of brass beads and chains. When I got back I whipped out this pair. They weren't hard to make, although I had to fiddle with the length of the chain tassels a little to get it just right for my neck. The bead is green serpentine from China. I find I pull this pair off of my earring rack fairly often.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Earrings on stranded beading wire

These earrings have a (for me) novel construction. The beads are strung on stranded beading wire. I used Accu-Flex beading wire from Fire Mountain Gems. The beading wire is finished off with a copper crimp b/c I liked the look of it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Catch-up Day - Two Earring Designs that play with the ear wires

I didn't get a chance to blog on Sunday, so today is I will catch up with two earring designs. These two designs look different, but they are both examples of earrings that incorporate a hand made ear wire into the design.

The first design is a simple three bead drop. The design element that makes these a little difference, apart from the wonderful color combo of orange and blue, is the bead mounted on the ear wire. Commercial ear wires often have a metal bead, a wire coil, or both, decorating the shaft of the ear wire. When you make your own wires you can put a bead on the shaft instead. You can pick a bead that matches (as in this case) or coordinates with your earring drop. Using a bead will minimize the visual impact of the ear wire and give the illusion of a longer earring, which will in turn visually lengthen the neck.

The second design is a further development of the super easy super elegant earrings I posted two days ago. Here again I have hung beads on the ear wire itself -- in this case 5 freshwater pearls. These earrings are gently curved so that the pearl drop at the bottom hangs exactly below the ear.

Hope you like these designs and are inspired to play around with ear wires a little.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

World's Easiest Super Elegant Earrings

These are so easy you can make a pair every morning to coordinate with your outfit.

I made these with 22g wire, but 18g or 20g works well, too. You should match the visual weight of your dangles and the gauge your ears like.

Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers
Wire cutters
Fine emery board

2 beads you really like
2 headpins
2 pieces of 22g sterling silver wire, each about 3 3/4 inches long Instructions

1. Make the dangles. String beads on headpins, trim excess, leaving just enough to make a hanging loop. Use round nosed pliers to make a hanging loop. (Loop hint - the circumference of a loop is about 3x the diameter, so when you trim the headpin, leave a tail about 3x the length of the loop you plan to make.)
2. Make the elegant ear wires. Working with the curve in the wire from the spool, make a tiny loop on the end of each wire. Measure 2 inches up from loop. Using round nosed pliers, bend ear wire into "V" shape.
3. Open loop on each dangle using two pliers, hang each on an ear wire, and use two pliers to close the loop. 4. Use the emery board to smooth ends of ear wires.

 This design is very minimal, so be careful to keep your loops small and everything exactly the same on each earring.

If you plan to make a lot, you can use plated or sterling filled wire to save $$$. If you are feeling rich, use gold filled or vermeil. If your ears are tough, nickel free brass and copper can be very handsome.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Art Deco style Pearl and Rock Crystal Earrings

An Art Deco inspired pair of pearl earrings.

These weren't so much inspired as discovered. I had seen a design in a book using a bead spacer in an earring, a different style of spacer, with brass chain, seed beads and no pearls - a completely different earring. But I had a pile of these spacers -- silver plated and set with a clear Swarovski crystal. They had been on clearance at Fire Mountain Gems about 2 years ago and I overindulged. So I went down and took them out, and some wire and some freshwater pearls, and started playing around and this is what I found.. I added the rock crystal bead for a bit of contrast, and voila. All I need now is a 1920s/1930s themed formal event. Oh, and a dress to go with.

Bead Soup Earrings

Bead  Soup Earrings.
If you have been beading for any time at all you will end up with a bowl of bead soup. I dipped into my soup today to come up with these boho beauties.
 Each bead is hung on a headpin with a little spiral built in. I love how the little wire spirals to give the beads more liveliness when they are hung on the earring chain.
The finished pair are balanced, but not identical. (I'll post the other earring when I find it - I just took these beauties off to work on tomorrow's earrings, and now I can't find'em.)

The Year of Earrings Challenge

Earrings, earrings, earrings...

I have given myself a challenge -- I will try to post a new earring design every day for the next year. If you make earrings, or just love'em, follow this blog for a daily earring design.

A few of the favorite designs will be sold at Eclectic Nature, 1503 Mt Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA - so if you see a design you like, let me know. Or if you like to make your own, I can identify the sources of the beads and findings.

My first pair -- Victorian Garden. I bought the rock crystal beads some time ago from Fire Mountain Gems. They remind me of the crystal globes popular in Victorian gardens. I found the little butterfly charms last week in New York City at BeadMax Corp, 1030 6th Avenue, 10018. 212-938-1268 ( The pressed glass bead caps, brass wire, and brass ear wires are also from Fire Mountain Gems.