Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sample Request from ELLE

Last winter I was contacted by the editor of Venus Zine about featuring my ring in their Spring issue, and I was disappointed to find out not long ago that for some reason I didn't know they decided not to. Because of this incident, I hesitated for a while before doing this quick post.

But I just can't help it.I have to share this with you because it was a pretty exciting day for me.I received a convo from Elle magazine this morning.They wanted some samples of my safety pin earrings for a photo shoot this week.I was told they needed the earrings for their July cover shoot inspired by London's 80s punk fashion, and they needed the earrings in New York by tomorrow! (I am going to try to pretend that I didn't scream after I read the email) I quickly made the samples they wanted, and shipped them out this afternoon(Elle paid for shipping).

Ok, so basically this is all I know, and, yes, I did refrain myself from asking if that means my earrings will be on their July cover (I did good!). But even without knowing their ultimate decision, being contacted by Elle alone already made me very happy. I feel recognized, whatever that means. (Oh yes, just because I was rejected by Trunk doesn't mean New York won't like my jewelry).

I was very excited to know my earrings will be seeing the fashion world and I wish I could be there. :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jewelry Photography from e-How.com

I was doing some research on lenses for Digital SLR cameras(yes! I'm considering upgrading to an SLR!) and came across some videos that I thought may help online jewelry sellers.This same photographer also did many other videos on jewelry photography--

Style a Long Necklace for Product Photography -- powered by eHow.com

Style a Short Necklace for Product Photography -- powered by eHow.com

Earrings & Jewelry Photography -- powered by eHow.com

Monday, March 23, 2009

Handy Tools For Wire Wrappers--Part II

Thank you to those who responded to Handy Tools For Wire Wrappers--Part I, I didn't realize there are acutally some jewelry makers reading my blog! In today's post I'll be talking about essential wire wrapping tools.The pictures above shows you my everyday tools.They are not the only ones I use, but are what I can't work without.When I travel, I usually bring these six pliers with me.Sometimes when I think about it, it just doesn't make sense why I use these tools,but I guess after you've been working on wire for a while, you develop your own habits and also your likings for tools, and maybe it doesn't need to make any sense :)
If you are an advanced jewelry maker, you probably noticed most of my tools really aren't fancy.I need to upgrade my pliers because I'm still using the first pairs when I started selling jewelry. I will be upgrading my pliers to either Lindstrom or Swanstrom this year, which cost abour $40-50 per pair.I suppose I should feel a little embarrased about using cheap tools, but all I'm hoping to demonstrate here is that you can still make decent jewelry without expensive tools.

I'm going to go through all tools,starting with the most basic ones.The picture below shows two pairs of round nose pliers.The one in pink is actually a pair of cheap "3-in-1" pliers which combines round nose pliers, flat nose pliers, and cutters, but the cutters are dull so I only use the tip, where you use to make round loops. Rond nose pliers make beautiful loops on a wire, but they don't make sharp angles.Plus you are more likely to mar the wire when you work with round nose pliers.

The following picture shows three pairs of pliers: chain nose pliers(front), flat nose pliers(middle), and bent nose pliers(back).These pliers serve the similar functions: making straight/sharp angles on the wire, and holding the wire without marring it too much.These are also the pliers I use to "tuck in" the end of the wire(e.g. on my wire wrapped rings) for a smooth finish. If you have limited budget, there is no need to buy all three of them.Bent nose pliers or chain nose pliers alone will suffice.

Here comes one of my favorite tools -- nylon jaw pliers.These are the only pliers that are guaranteed not to mar the wire.I use them mostly for straightening the wire.They also have a firm grip so you can use them to hold beads.To straighten the wire, hold one end with bent/flat/chain nose pliers, and then run these nylon jaw pliers through the whole length of wire with some pressure.The surface of the nylon jaw should be smooth when it's new, but mine are totally abused and worn out ...

Another one of my favorite tools--wire looping pliers.Their function is very similar to round nose pliers, but the cool thing is you can make loops of consistent sizes with these. I have wrapped one side of the pliers (where it's supposed to be concave) with some masking tape to prevent them from marring my wire.
The last pliers I'll be talking about are side cutters.You can get economy side cutters for just a few bucks, but the two cutters I'm showing you are made by Lindstrom(these are the first pliers of mine that have been upgraded).The larger one (HS 8152) is their "ultra flush" cutters, and the small one is micro flush cutters.The micro gets into the smallest corner and is perfect for presicion jobs. The ultra flush will cut thicker wire, and because it makes flush cuts,you can make perfect jump rings without having to file them.
Ok.Here comes a few extra things that are great to have. The first item is a polishing cloth. Before working, I run my wire through the polishing cloth when it's a little tarnished. I also use it to clean finished jewelry.

Ultra fine steel wool(grade 0000) also cleans tarnished wire and can be used to partially polish oxidized jewelry.It can be purchased at any hardware store.
Here's something fun to finish this long post -- table top trash cans.They are only about 3" tall and have two openings of different sizes.If you chew gum then you may have recognized the shape of these cans :) Oh yeah, they are Eclipse gum containers that I loooove so much and have to use them to store my sterling silver scrap.

To summarize, start with
-round nose pliers(don't get those 3-in-1 pliers!)
-chain nose or bent nose pliers
-side cutters
and then, if you have more money, you can get
-flat nose pliers
-nylon jaw pliers
and then, when you start to become more advanced, or picky about your jewelry, you should get
-wire looping pliers
-and maybe upgrade your cutters :)
-polishing clothes makes your jewelry more shiny
-steel wool cleans oxidized jewelry
-table top trash cans are cute and handy, but you need to chew a lot of gums to get one :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009


My car is covered with pollen today. Or should I say for the past few weeks. This is one of the scariest thing I've ever seen.This yellow "dust" looks so harmless but it gives me terrible sinus headache.I actually had to take a few days off because of the headache.I never had such terrible reactions to pollens.I did have hay fever when I was in England, when I would have watery or extremely dry eyes, but the pollen in Charleston is scary.Very scary.It's everywhere in the air and you can't avoid it even if you don't go out at all.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Handy Tools For Wire Wrappers--part one

Just to share with you a few handy organization tips and jewelry tools I like :)

I love these plastic organizers.They are inexpensive, stackable, and come in different numbers of cells for different sized beads.I have seen some "professional" acrylic beading organizers would love to buy them, but the price was, in my opinion, just outrageous.These little boxes I use are almost as good and I love the price :)
I also use them to carry tools when I travel.

These tiny zipper bags are great.I have them in different sizes.If you make jewelry then you probably already know that keeping jewelry in small zipper bags can prevent it from tarnishing.I use them to organize small findings as well because they are a great space saver.

In this picture you can see that I put the zipper bags in a compartment of a stationary organizing tray that I bought for next to nothing from a garage sale.

I love these sorting trays.Their shape makes it easier for you to pick up beads and dumping them into small bags or tubes.I think every beader should have some of these.They come in a set of 12, which is more than enough for me. Under the beading tray is a small "beading mat" that I bought from a bead store a long time ago.It prevents beads from rolling or bouncing away when you drop it accidentally, and I love it!(but I still drop beads on the floor, which is not covered by the beading mat, so I still have beads ALL OVER THE FLOOR...)

I bought my beading mat at a local bead store in Indianapolis, but later on I also found some blanket of the identical material.I'm not sure if it has a name, but it is somewhat like felt or fleece.If you can't buy the identical beading mat locally,I am sure either felt or fleece will do the same job.

Here comes the tools. The one at the top is a memory wire shear.I don't work with memory wire, but I use this shear in combination with my Lindstrom ultra flush cutters.Lindstrom cutters are very expensive so I sometimes use these cheaper memory wire cutters when I need a flush cut.It's very sharp and makes a super flush cut(because it was meant to be used on memory wire, which is stainless steel, a hard metal).The only disadvantage is they can't get into very small corners and are not suitable for precision work.
The little tool at the bottom is a wire rounder.This is a must for every wire worker. It's basically a file/bur to smooth the wire ends so they don't scratch your(or your customers') skin.When I first started out selling my jewelry, I used this to file the end of every wire wrapped ring I made.Then I had a dremel so I started to use just the tip(also called "cup bur")on the dremel.

Cup burs are somehow harder to find. Before I had a dremel, I also used the cup bur with the pin vise in the following picture.The one I have can hold wire or small objects very tightly.This is als0 a handy tool if you want to make twisted wire.This versatile set is now available at mysupplyshop.
Ok, so the last picture -- files. The skinny one is just a economic jewelry file.I bought the files in a set, but most of the time I only use this flat one.I also like the real nail files a lot--this one I am using has four steps and the last step is very very fine.

I will also do another post on other basic/essential jewelry tools I use as when I get some time!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I have been hoping to make some new necklaces, but my creativity apparently has its own will.I made a bunch of bangles this week.Check out these simple and delicate interchangeable Add-a-Charm bangles--
sterling silver and gold filled interchangeable hammered bangleThey are pretty as singles or sets, and you can add your favorite charms onto them because they are finished with a hook clasp. I've been wanting to make these bangles for quite a while, but it took me sometime to figure out how to make them pretty and functional at the same time.
sterling silver and gold filled interchangeable hammered bangle
sterling silver and gold filled interchangeable hammered bangleAfter I made these plain Add-a-Charm bangles,I came up with an idea to make them more like my style--you gotta have some pearls and wire on the bangle! So here are the new Berry Bangles in different colors.Each bangle features pearls in two colors and another gemstone in a coordinating color.

I'm very excited that I finally got to use on these bangles more of the new pearls I bought in Hong Kong back in September last year.I was able to find some of these riny pearls in many different colors.They are too small for rings and earrings, but look just wonderful wire wrapped onto the bangles.I really like these.Maybe I should try to make some matching necklace!

Before I finish, may I share a news with my lovely readers who are also Etsy sellers: I just started the team blog for the Full Time Etsy Crafters Team, of which I am the organizer.We have plans on gathering helpful Etsy seller tips and info, and many of them will come directly from our team members, many of whom are selling full time on Etsy. If you enjoy reading the seller tips on my blog, be sure to subscribe or follow our team blog! If you have any questions for full time Etsy sellers, please feel free to comment on the blog, or email the team at fulltimeetsy[at]gmail.com.

have a wonderful day!
xo mollie

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Safety Pin Mania

sterling silver safety pin earrnigsWhile most people remember my jewelry as sweet and elegant, a "weird" side of me creeps in my jewelry designs every now and then.Take these safety pin earrings as an example, a few years ago I made myself a pair of small sterling silver safety pins and wore them as earrings because I thought it just looked so funky and "masochistic"(oh yeah, I've known to be a little strange among friends). When my friends saw these "earrings", they frowned and gave me this "what the xxxx...." expression, so I thought I was the only one weird.

I did not list these earrings in my etsy shop until early last year, after my business was well established. Somehow I felt the "need" to know I was not the only strange person on this planet, so I listed them as a way to say "Are you as strange as me? If so, here's something cool for you.."

Ever since they were listed, I would sell a pair of them every once a while. And whenever I sold a pair, I would make them with this secret excitement as if I felt somewhere else there was someone who understood me(just because they bought some earrings?).

They didn't become popular until a few weeks ago(now..if you are an etsy seller, you need to read this part carefully..), when I re-organized the items in my shop.I made a new shop section(category) called "plain hoop earrings" and listed these safety pin earrings under this section. I have ever since noticed a significant sales increase in hoop earrings, and especially these safety pin earrings.

sterling silver safety pin earrnigsI have customers commissioning safety pins of different size, finishing and metal.The most recent one I just did are these 2" safety pins in heavy gauge(18gauge) wire. Speaking of masochism, I guess my disorder is not as serious as some others --

sterling silver safety pin earrnigsOh, but did you know they can also be somewhat feminine and sweet?I just created these "bejeweled" safety pins yesterday with tiny sterling silver beads.These are probably the most expensive safety pins you'll ever own.I plan to make a few of safety pin with gemstones as well recently. :)

sterling silver safety pin earrings
don't they look like a pair of shoes in this picture? --
sterling silver safety pin earrings
before I finish, I'd like to say thank you to those who supported Murphy while I was gone.This little mountain monkey enjoyed his moment of fame!(I'm a little worried my readers may never want me back because Murphy is more charming than me) I thought you may want to know he has been hired as my assistant(I don't have enough cash but luckily he also takes bananas) so you will definitely be seeing him again.

have a lovely week~

xo mollie (&murphy)

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