Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CREATE YOUR STYLE Lights Up the Main Line Bead Society

It was my recent pleasure to illuminate members of the Main Line Bead Society in Springfield, Pennsylvania about being a CREATE YOUR STYLE ambassador, share current Innovations and Trends, and introduce them to the www.create-your-style.com web site.
The group learned how we become ambassadors and what our responsibilities are in exchange for our association with the Swarovski family and legacy. They were impressed when I listed the global regions we come from and how we recently welcomed our first Russian Ambassador. They had no idea there were so few of us but that we came from so many places!

I showed them several of our sampler "candy boxes" to see how we are introduced to new innovations, our  "bible" of products and how we were recently bereft at the discontinuance of crystal yarn, to name a few of the now "vintage" products. We talked about the current hotties of gemcolor pearls, crystal rose and luminous green, as well as upcoming colors of nature blends and birthstone beads. I made up little sample bags that members passed around, and also displayed my own designs using some of those elements. 
There was no internet where they meet so I simply chatted for a while about the Create-Your-Style.com web site. No one knew about it! It was great fun to turn people on to the wealth of information and inspiration there from the interactive features such as the online design tool to the videos from the Professor of Crystal Nick Regine, the APPS, the Ambassador blogs, and the shopping! Lots of questions and note-taking ensued.

And their favorite part of the meeting... maybe, might have been, ya think? SWAG!

Thanks to the VERY generous support of Swarovski, I came loaded down with CYS gift bags for everyone with issues of Water and several packages of elements, plus a few cool things for which we had a drawing including copies of our Crystal Jewelry Inspirations (which I signed for them), color carousels, a couple issues of Sound and little books of designs and projects.

I am looking forward to workshops with this wonderful, enthusiastic bead society. I think the fave designs being considered were my Deco Rose bracelet and my Filigreellipse earrings. I'm looking forward to teaching them.
 Thanks, MLBS for such a sparkling evening!








Wednesday, April 24, 2013

TREND TRACKING: leather cord and sliders

No question that leather cord bracelets sporting sliders and charms are sizzling hot right now. Few jewelry projects are as easy to create, even if you've never made jewelry before. Can you glue, trim the end off a strip of leather, and do a bit of addition and subtraction to measure a length of cord? Then you are good to go.
Me, too! So I am giving myself a well-deserved and easy break this morning to play with some of the trendy Cousin's slide bracelet components, which you can find at Jo-Ann's.  Here's the step by step for my slider cuff:

1. Measure your wrist for your desired bracelet total length. Mine is 7".
2. Measure your clasp length, clasped. This one is 1 ½".
3. Measure for cord length: here's the bit of math. Our parents were right, we do need math for everything.

You need to account in the cord length for the ends that get glued into each clasp. Measure the clasp depth: I took a small strip of paper, inserted it into the clasp, and marked where the clasp ends. Then I measured the section marked off on the paper. My clasps are both about ¼" deep.  Measure both in case they are different, and add both increments. My math:
My desired finished length: 7"
Clasp length: 1 ½"
Clasp depths x 2 = ½"
Subtract clasp length from total length = 5 ½".  Add ½" for clasp depth and my leather cord needs to be cut to 6". Ultimately this will give me 5 ½" length of leather cord exposed.  Add the 1 ½" clasp. Comes to 7", right?

4. Trim nice, straight cuts at the cord ends. Use a sharp craft knife and a cutting board, pressing with a firm and controlled sawing motion. Use caution when using knives if any kind.

5. Use an emory board to smooth the ends, and wipe the dust away.

6. Now comes the really fun part: choose your sliders! Play around with your sliders to come up with a pleasing arrangement. I tried a few ideas, and took photos to remember so I could recreate my fave.

7. Once your sliders are arranged on the cord, glue the cord ends into the clasps. MAKE SURE your clasps are facing the proper direction so the sliders show correctly if they have a top and bottom, like the owl in my design. I prefer my clasp's hook facing in, it's easier to hook that way. 
Use a viscous glue such as E-6000. Drop glue in the clasp and insert the cord end completely. Don’t use too much glue or it will overflow. If this happens, wipe excess away immediately using the edge of a card, such as the one on which your sliders probably came packaged. Place the glued bracelet to dry 6-8 hours someplace flat and away from little hands or paws. Here's my finished cuff again. All told including writing this blog with photos, my slider project took under two hours! For anyone but especially me the seed bead devotee, this is insanely instant gratification... except I need to make that glue dry faster!



Sunday, January 20, 2013

My First Wire Crochet with Swarovski Crystals, Beadalon Findings and Dagger Beads from Unicorne

My first wire crochet!

I had not yet been drawn to wire crochet since it tends to be organic and I am a more architectural designer. But I needed to learn this technique for an upcoming Jewelry Television gig. I already know how to crochet and bead crochet, I just never did it with wire. Nothing like a deadline for live TV to compel you to take on something new and learn how to do it well, and fast!

Several CREATE YOUR STYLE with Swarovski Ambassadors are wire crochet dynamos so I turned to the Crystal Jewelry Inspirations book for tips. Many thanks to Laura Timmons for her project which described a method of braiding individually crocheted strands. Aha! It was just the technique I needed to employ. Thanks, Laura! I also looked at the web site of Dixon Chick Stephanie Dixon, so thanks for the additional inspiration, Steph!
I wanted to feature these striking, silver-dotted, red glass daggers from Unicorne Beads, so I strung them between sections of alternating sizes of Swarovski Jet crystals for two crocheted strands, one strand also including Beadalon oval links in gunmetal. The third strand uses all Jet crystals in sizes 5mm and 8mm. All strands use 26 gauge Artistic wire from Beadalon, non tarnish silver. Thanks to Laura I realized I could crochet single strands and braid them together into a more substantial form, though I used only 3 strands and her project uses many more.

Finishing up is straightforward enough if you've done any wire work that includes end cones or caps and wire wrapped loops with a clasp. Here's what I did: secured all braided strand ends together into a tidy "nest" that fit inside my bead cap, leaving long ends to string through the bead cap and form a wire wrapped loop.  Twirled the wire ends into a thicker gauge cable for the wire wrapped loop. Made a wire wrapped loop capturing one oval link. 

Used Beadalon's Quick Link connectors to extend the necklace with more small gunmetal oval links, and used an ear wire as the clasp. 

I suppose I should say that I got hooked on wire crochet and look forward to exploring it again.

Tune in to Jewelry Television (JTV) JEWEL SCHOOL on Feb 3 and 4th, 10-noon EST, to see the cool crochet kit you can buy to get started yourself!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crystal Jewelry Inspirations, My Journey as a Contributing Ambassador

 
It is my honor and pleasure to blog about being in the Crystal Jewelry Inspirations book of designs from the CREATE YOUR STYLE with SWAROVSKI ambassadors. Our common passion for Swarovski materials makes for a special bond not only between ambassadors but between us and everyone who loves Swarovski crystals! Kalmbach editor Karin Von Voohees empowered ambassadors around the world to share our styles and techniques as a group like never before!

How I chose my design
Let me tell you my journey for Crystal Jewelry Inspirations. I considered several existing pieces before ultimately creating something totally new just for this book.  First I presented to the editor my Fossil Pendant, one of my personal favorites to wear. Didn’t make the cut for the book because it doesn’t have enough crystals. I like featuring crystals in ways that set them apart from other materials in a piece but for this book, the design needed to be ALL about the bling.

Then I thought about this colorful necklace which always gets lots of comments when I wear it. But though it uses a great variety of stitches and is all crystals, it isn't totally my distinct signature style as an artist. It's very fun to make and to wear, though, so I will write this one up for sure. Some day!

Finding my design voice
I wanted to contribute something to this collection of special designs that people would connect to me and my style. I love rubber O-rings and also wanted to make a piece that was more than two dimensions. Loom weaving is, I think, an unexpected technique for crystals and something I teach and demonstrate often.  A loomed cuff worked up into a foundation cuff pretty fast so I could get right to adding embellishment and detail in all the circular brick stitched O-ring "orbits." Color was based on my desire to be graphic but feminine, stylish but edgy. Round crystals in jet (black) and crystal (white) checkerboard with fuchsia perfectly captured elements of fashion and futuristic, in my humble opinion.

The closure challenge
Everyone should give their work the happy ending it deserves. I chose to design an original clasp that was totally integrated rather than bring in a manufactured closure. I started playing with a toggle and buttonhole. First I just wired up a rubber tube, but needed to consider how to keep it in place.

The best answer was to use memory wire, which spirals into the third dimension with kinetic energy!

Everything about Crystal Jewelry Inspirations is meant to empower, instruct, and inspire. The diversity of projects and gallery pieces is simply stellar! See for yourself.

You're also invited to see more of my designs at www.leslierogalski.com, and shop for projects, kits, patterns, and more at www.sleeplessbeader.com.

 Happy beading!




Monday, December 10, 2012

Recycled Wine Cork Earring Card Hole Punch

Holiday time is so busy! I make tons of earrings as gifts and to sell at holiday craft shows. And all those earrings must be professionally presented on earring cards. 

I make my own cards rather than buying commercial ones, so I must punch holes in them myself too. Here's my easy and recycled material two-holes-at-once hole punch. Since my earring lengths vary, I do not like using a jig which puts the holes in the same place on each card; sometimes I need holes way up close to the top of the card, sometimes lower. I eyeball my position of the holes depending on the length of each pair of earrings. Make yourself a little guide if you don't feel comfortable doing this by sight.
Cork earring card hole punch with push pins
Cork earring card punch closed
HOW TO MAKE THE CARD HOLE PUNCH
1. Slice a wine cork in half lengthwise. 
2. Glue (any craft glue works) or use double sided tape to adhere two push pins to the flat sliced side of one half of the sliced cork.
3. Place the card on a soft board (I use an inexpensive cork hotplate)
4. Eyeball where to center the holes between the card sides. My visual guide is to align the holes under specific letters in my name at the top of each card.
5. Keep the push pins parallel and find the best place for the holes that allow enough room for the earrings to hang from the earwire when they're in the holes without lying too low on your card.
6. Push the pins through the cards.
 
TIP: You may want to make more than one of these and vary the distance between the push pins to suit the scale of your earrings, with holes father apart if you make larger earrings.

I hope this tip helps you spend less time making gifts and more time giving them! (Or selling them!)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS–and check out the Little Cogs Earring Kit on www.sleeplessbeader.com for a fun earring project!



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Studio storage and finished jewelry

Storing your stash is one thing; storing your finished creations is a whole new adventure. I used to pin my finished pieces all over  my booth display panels which were stuck in a corner of my room. Some things hung from hooks I made to cling to branches (yes, from trees). But it was a mess, the pins were bending all the time,  and I feared the ruin of my display panels.

I ended up hanging pegboard. I was not sure how it would look, or if it would be cost effective because I'd need LOTS of hooks, and worried about how pieces would hang.

As it turned out the boards look really clean and their natural wood color works great as the background color. Hooks come in lots of sizes and shapes, and I slipped sturdy tubes over several pegs to help round out the way pieces are hanging.

Thanks to my hubs Mike I only bought  hooks with smaller gauges of pegs (the part that goes into the holes) to fit easily. IMPORTANT TIP if you want to do pegboard! Larger pegs distort the holes and are a pain to move around. Make sure to look for the hooks with the slimmer pegs!

I also still use my branches and hammered copper hooks so my jewelry wall has a bit more of a display feeling than just plain pegboard. Why not paint it, you ask? Because paint scratches-- and what color would match all my jewelry? Plus you can see that the pegboard matches the woodwork trim in my studio!

Now I am on the look-out for a nicer tube-thingy than cardboard to pad some hooks. Maybe there's an interesting but neutral color,  easy-to-cut hose... or the tubes used to control network wires. I'll find something.

But meantime I am quite happy with clean arrangement,  ease of organization,  low cost and especially the now-I can-see-everything-and-so-can-customers look of my jewelry wall!
PS: Yes, it's a TV, and yes, that's my Swarovski CREATE YOUR STYLE Ambassador apron on my dress form! 






Friday, July 27, 2012

SLEEPLESS BEADER.COM New Shop!

EVOLUTION for Sleepless Beader! I've been working hard to grow the kit and tutorial sales part of what I do. This gives everyone out there a chance to make my designs and reveals which designs are ready to become workshops and classes with me at the helm, too. I have teamed up for this facet of my beady path with one of my sisters who is a whiz at the biz end of things. Her skills have enabled me to focus on what I do best, design and of course social networking! She's got the tech savvy to take over financials (taxes, tracking and ordering inventory, kitting and shipping, costing) and web based stuff such as our new site, and she even knows how to do some seed beading! With her help, the brand new sleeplessbeader.com commerce-enabled site will launch soon!
Along with the shopping cart part we'll have a newsletter sign up, calendar of events, special offers, a gallery, fun and games! Look for Sleepless Beader at the upcoming Bead Fest on August 17-19th at the Oaks Expo Center–Artisan Table 445. Kits and tutorials at the show will include popular favorites and new designs I have finally gotten around to writing and illustrating. Good thing I'm sleepless!