Arte Es Vida

Porcelain Clay Pin by arteesvida
December 21, 2006, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Clay Jewelry, Product Reviews

Porcelain clay, the latest air-drying product from Amaco is an absolute BREEZE to work with! It isn’t overly sticky or messy like many air-drying clays and is soft enough to make blending in inclusions a breeze. Many of the techniques you use with polymer clay can also be used with the porcelain clay.

This pin uses gold leaf, pearl ex powders, clay cutters and clay molds to create a unique look!


Amaco Porcelain Clay

Oval Circle Cutter

Amaco Rose Mold (or any other mold you wish to use!)

Pearl Ex in pink and green

Gold leafing and gold leaf adhesive

Clay roller

Jewelry Grade Adhesive (such as E6000)


Wash your hands well. This clay is bright white so it will become dingy easily if your hands are dirty. Pinch off a small amount of clay, add a bit of green pearl ex and mix until blended. This gives a more authentic painted-porcelain effect than if you just paint the clay after it is dry, although you can do that too! Press the green dab of clay into the leaf portion of the rose mold. Trim out any extra clay so the green clay doesn’t overlap into the bloom area.

Repeat the process with a slightly larger portion of clay and the pink Pearl Ex powder. Press into the rose mold right next to the green base…you can overlap slightly on the back so the two pieces stick together.

Put aside to dry.

Roll out some more clay about ¼ of an inch thick. Cut out an oval using a clay cutter. Paint a thin coat of gold leaf adhesive over the whole piece and lay the gold leaf down over it. Bray it lightly and pull up (this will give you the streaky speckled effect rather than attaching the whole piece of leaf completely).

Let both the rose and the oval dry completely (overnight is best). Glue the rose to the oval background and the pin backing on the back of the oval. Let glue cure completely.

You can use these techniques on a variety of porcelain clay projects…experiment and have fun!

Turning Photos Into Artistic Masterpieces by arteesvida

Mei Noel was the first person to turn me on to this site…the things you can do with it are amazing, and can be used to make wonderful personalized jewelry gifts!

Face Transformer Image Upload

Load a head shot on the system and fill out the information requested in order to register the image.

The next screen will give you a box that will allow you to crop the image down (I cropped mine to face only.) The screen after that one has you use circles to mark where the eyes and mouth are so the image transforms properly.

You choose how you want the image transformed from different categories and then let the program do its work!

Right now the save button on the system is down, but you can save the image by clicking your Print Screen (PrtScr) button, opening paint, and clicking paste. That will give you a whole screen shot which you can trim down into the image you want.

You can then resize the image to fit the jewelry project you wish to complete.

These images were created using the same head shot that is at the top of every BellaOnline Jewelry Making page. Stay tuned for more jewelry making projects that incorporate these sample images!

Faith As A Botticelli

Faith As A Mucha

Faith As A Modigliani

The New Beaders Companion by arteesvida
December 17, 2006, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Bead Embroidery, Beading, Book Reviews, Product Reviews

The New Beader’s Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell is one of the best-selling jewelry making books in print. It was revised and updated just this year with lots of great new information! As much a tool as a book, the spiral bound flip book can sit directly on your work station to be referred to as often as you need it! The book starts with a breakdown of the types of beads on the market, the different finishes available, and all the different shapes (so you can say “Ah! That’s what a Keishi bead looks like!”). The book is replete with sketches and diagrams so you can get a really good idea of how size 10 beads really compare to size 12s, along with charts that compare by number the beads per inch, per gram, and weight by hang for all the different sizes. The millimeter-sizing chart is also separated into round and oval shapes, making this chapter alone well worth the price of admission!

There are also in-depth sections on stringing materials, conditioning materials, adhesives, and needles. There is a great chart to help you pick the right needle for the work you are doing, and even a section on using a needle threader!

Other chapters include in-depth directions on many different off-loom stitches (brick stitch, peyote, herringbone), looming techniques, stringing techniques, bead embroidery techniques, how to knit with beads, how to crochet with beads, tying knots, macramé, findings, wirework, and even a chapter on finishing details for the different types of beadwork discussed in the book.

There is even blank graph paper in the back of the book designed for different kinds of stitch work that you can copy and use to create your own designs!

I often get emails from people who are just getting started and want to invest in one really good book that covers all the basics. Whether you are in that position or if you have been beading awhile but would love a good tool that covers a lot of basic information in one place this is a fantastic resource!

Make Your Own Spool Knitter by arteesvida
December 17, 2006, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Product Reviews, Wire Work

Knitting fibers or wire to create intricate jewelry designs is easier than you think! A spool knitter does all the work for you, but you get all the creative credit! Spool knitting creates the exact shape you need for a chunky necklace and bracelet…it is really the perfect technique for jewelry projects!

You can purchase a spool knitter for about ten dollars at your local Craft and Hobby store, or pick one up online a little cheaper (before shipping, that is). Of course this isn’t a bad deal if you know this is a tool you will use a lot. But if you are interested in experiment with spool knitting before investing in extra tools, or if need a several spool knitters for a class or group project, you can make your own for just pennies!


Spool (wooden one is best)
4 smaller (picture) nails
1 larger nail
Hammer (or drill and glue if you are using plastic)

Wooden spools are harder to find, so if you can’t get your hands on one, a plastic spool can also work, though you will have to drill the holes and set the nails in with adhesive, instead of being able to hammer them in with a nail. (Hammering will probably split the plastic, but you can experiment to see what works best!) Keep an eye out for wooden spools at your local thrift stores, flea markets, or Ebay! You don’t have to use a fabulous vintage spool…any generic spool will do!

If you look down at the top of your spool, you will see a circle with a hole in it, kind of like a donut. In order to position the picture nails correctly, thing of the circle as a clock face. Hammer in a picture nail at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock (or every 90 degrees if you are geometry whiz!).

The longer nail will be your strand-lifting tool to pick up your weavings and lift them over the nail heads and drop them down the middle of the spool. A short, thin knitting needle will also work if you have one already!

Check out Lili’s Twists at WigJig University for some wonderful spool knit wire projects and Fiber-Wire Beads and Jewelry by Lisa Vann for more info on incorporating both wire and fibers in your jewelry designs!

The JEC UltraLite Beehive Kiln by arteesvida
December 16, 2006, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Product Reviews

The best thing about the JEC UltraLite Beehive Kiln is that it is truly is home studio friendly…even if your home studio consists of your dining room table! The kiln was originally been developed by JEC for fine metal granulation (which it does beautifully) and enameling but was upgraded so it fire metal clay as well!

In order to fire metal clay, you do need to purchase ceramic inserts (see the second picture to see the ceramic insert inside the kiln) to lay the metal clay on for firing. Make sure that the clay is thick enough or it will bond to the insert during firing and take forever to come off! Most metal clay instructors recommend the raw clay being at least as thick as three playing cards stacked together. Because metal clay fires to heavy solid pieces, it is tempting to keep the pieces super thin but they don’t fire nearly as well.

Also available from JEC is a temperature control that isn’t necessary for firing metal clay but is very useful if you want to anneal glass or granulate fine or sterling silvers. If you are interested in making your own lamp work glass beads and pendants, I would definitely recommend purchasing the temperature controller so you can use this kiln to anneal your glass work!

The directions for firing the metal clays recommends leaving the kiln cover off to avoid overheating. This works well if you do not have your kiln in a location underneath an air vent. I started my kiln on my kitchen counter right underneath a low a/c vent that pushed too much air over the surface. I had to add the cover back on to keep the kiln hot enough to work with…but that also meant I had to pay strict attention to the piece to make sure it didn’t get overheated!

Metal clay is an expensive investment and the learning curve when you first start working with it can be a drain on your pockets. But the kiln is incredibly easy to use and you will start making saleable production pieces after only a couple of tries! You can purchase the kiln, the inserts, and even add on a temperature controller all for under 200 dollars. With most other kilns starting at 500 dollars this is an amazing deal…especially if you only want to make a few pieces at a time. (Since the kiln is so small, it wasn’t a huge electrical drain either…I noticed no appreciable difference in my electric bill.)

The JEC products site is expanding on a regular basis with new products being added all the time. The owner of JEC told me his is currently working on a book that will encompass all of the techniques (including glass annealing and glass slumping) that can be done with their kiln. When I had purchased my kiln, the only payment option was check or money order by mail but I noticed the site is now accepting PayPal as well. JEC also ships VERY fast. The customer service is just wonderful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email them and ask…they were very patient with all the pestering I did when I was researching kilns for myself!

On The Web At:

Wish List Time Machine: 2005 by arteesvida
December 3, 2006, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Product Reviews

Every December at BellaOnline I would do two things. One was to create a project for each holiday tradition (Christmas, Hannukuah, Kwanzaa, and Yule) and the second was to publish a big holiday wish list for jewelry makers. Guess which was most popular and stayed popular even after the holiday season was over. All the books and products I reviewed were things that I have actually tried out myself, and I would always attempt a project from each book before reviewing it so all my readers knew what they were in for.

Although I do have some new books to review, I won’t be doing a complete wish list this year, but I am reposting wish lists from previous years because they still cover some great stuff! And thanks to the poster who found one of my reviewed books at a great discount on the web….if you have a good inexpensive source for any of these items please do post it!


Bead Books

Beading For The Soul By Deborah Cannarella was the only book in the stacks of books I have lying around that was picked up by my seventeen year old brother. Now THIS one is cool! he exclaimed to me. And he’s right. The 26 projects inside the book cover a wide range of techniques from simple stringing and basic knotting to bead embroidery and beadwork such as peyote stitch and brick stitch. What makes this book so different is the way it approaches beading as a tool for creating meaning and engendering spirituality for the creator and the wearer of each piece. The projects are divided into chapters focusing on protection, healing, strength, good fortune, prayer, bonding, and remembrance. Each chapter is introduced with some history of traditional beadwork and how it was used in spiritual practice. This book will not only inspire your jewelry making creativity, it will inspire you to find meaning in your work!

The Impatient Beader By Margot Potter is the book for the newbie beaders and time-crunched crafters on your shopping list! The projects are simple, but very pretty, and filled with designs appropriate for a wide range of interests and styles!

Don’t let those tiny seed beads scare you! The Seed Bead Bok By Kate Haxell has a wide range of projects that you can make using seed beads, including a fabulous tiara for the princess in all of us! The projects range from simple and fairly quick, to the more intricate and time consuming. The back of the book dedicates many pages to different beadwork stitches including the peyote stitch, the brick stitch, the chain stitch, loom weaving, wirework, and several different bead embroidery stitches. This is a great resource for beginning beaders, but the projects are developed enough to appeal to even more experienced seed beaders!

100 Beaded Jewelry Designs By Stephanie Burnhap is not another one of those books filled with projects that take a month to complete…they only look like they take a month to complete! The book has an extensive technique section that includes threading, knitting, weaving, stitching, knotting, netting, and finishing, along with lots of simple stringing ideas. The part I liked best was the pictures and diagrams of all of the beads used on the supplies list. Instead of having to guess what a Size 15 seed bead looks like, or what kind of leaf bead will work best you actually get to SEE what you need before you go shopping for supplies!

Creative Beads From Paper And Fabric By Ann Krier is not your grandma’s plain rolled paper and fabric beads! Although the book starts with a good covering of the basics, it also includes some creative and gorgeous variations including watercolored beads, stamped beads, and embroidered beads as well as embellishments including wire wrapping and fiber tying!

Simple Glass Beading Book And Craft Kit includes a copy of the bestselling Simple Glass Beading by Dorothy Woods plus 1,500 seed beads, 300 bugle beads in various striking shades, 26 feet of coordinating beading thread, 6.5 feet of silver beading wire, a beading needle, 3 feet of organza ribbon, velvet drawstring storage pouch, and 3 ft x 4 in of colored beading thread in white, red, blue and green. This kit is so cool I got one for my Sister-In-Law! The total value of the book and the materials enclosed is over 45.00 and the retail value of the kit is 25.00. But the best part? The kit is only a dollar more on Amazon that the book alone! This is a wonderful all in one present for any crafter!

Wire And Metal Work Jewelry Books

Metal Craft Discovery Workshop By Linda and Opie O’Brien is the book that I have been waiting on for years! When I first saw their directions for an etched copper metal bracelet in a Rice Freeman-Zachary book, I immediately fell in love with their sense of style and fun. This book is full of funky, creative metal craft projects and ideas but their sections on tools and basic metal working techniques is inspirational enough to send you straight to your own studio. They go into great detail about ageing and enhancing metals, transforming images to metal, and their four basic pages on working with resin is the best explanation of working with resin I have ever seen! The step by step projects (which including jewelry, shrines, and other fun items) are amazing…and the “Adornment” chapter will keep you busy for weeks!

Getting Started Making Wire Jewelry By Linda Chandler and Christine Ritchey is the perfect book for anyone on your list (including yourself!) that is interested in learning wire work but is afraid they are going to stab themselves with their needlenose pliers in the process! Like all of the Interweave publications, the photos and directions are so easy and clear to follow you feel comfortable jumping right in! The book covers all of the basic jewelry components including jump rings, basic bead loops, wrapped bead loops, clasps, and how to connect beads. I swear, where was this book when I was teaching myself all of these techniques the hard way??? There are also lots of pretty projects including the spiral bracelet and chandelier earrings once you feel comfortable with the basics!

Bead On A Wire By Sharilyn Miller is the latest offering from the very talented Belle Armoire magazine editor Sharilyn Miller! If you have seen her appearances on HGTV, you already know that Sharilyn has some mad wire-working skillz and an amazing creative eye for design. This book blends gorgeous wire-work (and all the techniques are carefully photographed and illustrated in the front of the book) with luscious beadwork for designs that have a gorgeous high-end appeal. So much wire work is either very simple or very quirky but these designs would be equally at home on a bohemian chick or red carpet diva!

Jewelry Making From Other Materials

Making Jewelry WIth Scrapbook Embellishments by Kristin Detrick is a fun take on jewelry designs! For anyone who has visited the scrap booking aisle on the way to the jewelry making aisle and thought ”These are neat, I would love to figure out a way to use them! this is the book for you! A lot of the embellishments she uses are available at your local chain craft stores, but all of the items used are listed in the resource directory in the back with their pertinent web links. This book is full of eye candy and ideas of how you can use non-jewelry ephemera to make some gorgeous, one-of-a-kind pieces!

Sandra McCall’s Rubber Stamped Jewelry By Sandra McCall is not to be confused with the Sharilyn Miller book by the same name. While both artists put rubber stamps to good use in jewelry making projects, their techniques are totally different! Sandra’s book is separated into glue, fabric, polymer clay, and metal projects. The section on glue was chock-full of techniques I haven’t seen before. There are some wonderful techniques that utilize stamping into hot glue in order to create textured designs. The book also uses bezels and stamped papers to create the look of semi-precious stones!

Wish List Time Machine: 2004 by arteesvida
December 3, 2006, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Book Reviews, Product Reviews

Every December at BellaOnline I would do two things. One was to create a project for each holiday tradition (Christmas, Hannukuah, Kwanzaa, and Yule) and the second was to publish a big holiday wish list for jewelry makers. Guess which was most popular and stayed popular even after the holiday season was over. All the books and products I reviewed were things that I have actually tried out myself, and I would always attempt a project from each book before reviewing it so all my readers knew what they were in for.

Although I do have some new books to review, I won’t be doing a complete wish list this year, but I am reposting wish lists from previous years because they still cover some great stuff! And thanks to the poster who found one of my reviewed books at a great discount on the web….if you have a good inexpensive source for any of these items please do post it!

Fabulous, Functional, and Under Five Bucks!

Whether you are looking for an inexpensive gift, or some ideas for filling a gift basket, here are some of my inexpensive favorites:

Future Floor Finish
A big bottle of Future can be purchased at your local supercenter in the cleaning aisle. Although it is marketed for adding shine to your floors, it is a clear, durable acrylic that makes a wonderful sealing coat on polymer clay and other surfaces!

Burt’s Bees Hand Salve
This stuff is an artist’s best friend! When you work with your hands a lot, you need to keep them moisturized but not greasy…Burt’s Bees hand salves don’t leave a nasty film over your hands, and they smell wonderful!

Wax Paper
Don’t laugh! Wax paper is super-useful as a portable, disposable work surface. Anyone who works with clay, glue, or paint is either already a fan of using wax paper, or they don’t know what they are missing! If you work in polymer clay, you don’t even have to remove your clay from the paper to bake it…just put the whole thing in the oven, less jostling of your work!

Pearl Ex Powders
Are a clay and paper artists best friends! A jar of pearl ex’s super conecentrated pigment lasts FOREVER and comes in every color imaginable. It can be brushed on dry, or mixed with gum arabic for a gorgeous watercolor effect

Blank Books
Give your favorite artist (of course that includes yourself!) a fabulous unlined blank book for them to keep an art journal or design idea book. There are blank books to fit every budget…and plenty of nicely made ones for under 5 dollars!

Pliers and Wire Cutters
A jewelry maker can never have too many sets around…mine are forever wandering off. Inexpensive needle nose and round nose pliers make a fabulous gift…as do small wire cutters!

Copper Wire
Lovely to work with, and very inexpensive…it doesn’t have to come from the craft section of the store, the copper wire from the hardware section works just fine. Gauges of wire most often used by jewelry makers are 18, 20, and 22 gauge.

Game Piece Trinkets
Dominos, scrabble tiles, Mahjohng tiles, dice, and poker tiles are only a few of the cool odds and ends jewelry makers love to use in their designs. A bag of these goodies would thrill any dremel-owning designer to pieces!

Jewelry Making How-To Books

Stamp Artistry: Combining Stamps With Beadwork, Carving, Collage, Etching, Fabric, Metalwork, Painting, Polymer Clay, Repousse, and More by Rice Freeman-Zachery
Wonderfully creative uses for rubber stamps…includes some fantastic jewelry making projects! Also check out her latest book, New Techniques For Wearable Art, and read her interview with BellaOnline!

Designer Style Jewelry By Sherri Haab
This book is a great addition to any jewelry maker’s library. If you are just starting out, you will find the directions very detailed and easy to follow (Sherri Haab’s background is in writing children’s craft books…she understands that sometimes you have to tell people to break the egg shell before adding the egg to the recipe!)…for more experienced designers, there are tons of unique ideas to play with. The book works in several different media including wire, clay, resin, leather, laminate, shrink plastic, crochet, mixed media, and image transfers. Definitely something for everyone!

The Beader’s Guide to Color by Margie Deeb
This is an exquisite, highly detailed book can hold its own against any color theory text. Besides discussing the particulars of color theory, Margie Deeb delves further in to how color theory affects beaders…everything from blending techniques to surface finishes is discussed. The book also includes over 20 beadwork projects, each with color scheme ideas for you to work with.

Books To Feed The Creative Spirit

Living Out Loud by Keri Smith
This book is wonderful and so much fun! Like a vitamin C shot for your creative self (without the annoying needle)! This book includes stickers, postcards, permission cards, and other cool punch outs besides the affirming, supportive text. Even a total scrooge will find themselves grinning and wanting to create!

Make Your Creative Dreams Real : A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day by Sark
This is Sark’s biggest book ever! It is full of all the sympathy and support of your best girlfriend, coupled with practical advice on how to go about achieving the life you want for yourself. The best thing about Sark is her understanding of how people work best in baby steps (or, as she calls them, ‘micro movements”), rather than in huge, leaping, goals that seem so unreachable. A “program” anyone can follow!

Urgent 2nd Class: Creating Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, And Other Art From Ephemera by Nick Bantock
This book has more wonderfully creative ideas than any paper arts book I have ever seen. If you love collage, assemblage, trash to treasure, and ephemera, you will ADORE this book. There is no time spent on how-to projects…just tons of ideas, discussion, and inspiration. I have gotten TONS of great ideas from this book…definitely one of the “must haves” on my bookshelf!

The Spirit Catchers: An Encounter with Georgia O’Keeffe (Art Encounters) by Kathleen Kudlinski
This is a wonderful book for young adults, but not to be discounted for us older ones…I read it and adored it! It is a fictional story about a young man during the depression when his life intersects with that of Georgia O’Keeffe. It is full of real life quotes by her that lends an authentic voice to the work. Besides being a look inside the life of one of America’s favorite artists, it has a very positive message about being true to your artistic spirt and living the life that feels right to you.

The Lives of Shadows: An Illustrated Novel by Barbara Hodgson
This is a simply gorgeous book…I think Barbara Hodgson’s best ever, and I have read them all. The research and attention to detail she put in to researching her setting (Damascus) is simply amazing. If you love the illustrated novels of Nick Bantock (author of the Griffin and Sabine series) you will adore Barbara Hodgson!

Cool Tools

Poetry Dog Tags: 250 Tags to Speak Your Mind With Two Chains to Hang Your Thoughts On By Clare Ultimo
This metal box includes 250 metal tags stamped with words stamped on them. Mix and match to create your own poetic jewelry!

Dremel 750D Minimite Cordless Dremel Tool
I have had this Dremel for about a year now and I don’t know how I ever lived without it! It is cordless and extremely lightweight…perfect for jewelry making endeavours!

Symbols of Ancient Mexico: 18 Rubber Stamps by Jim Paul
Of all the stamps I use in jewelry making on a regular basis…I probably use the stamps from this set the most !