The incredible, inventive bead work of rock star designer Miguel Ases

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How did he think of this?

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Oh, Miguel, how do I love thee? Let me count the chain links on one of your earrings.

I found out about this artist when I was working for a designer and browsing a flash sale website called Max & Chloe: they have tons of fashion jewelry and on trend items, but I was pleasantly surprised to find his complex, intricate, and totally original work amid bibs and personalized “bling”.

His pieces are beaded with a technique I can’t quite identify, it has elements of brick stitch but with out the traditional base, and seems to attach beads with thread wrapped around wire forms, sort of wherever it’s needed, in order to forge these swooping ovals and teardrop shapes, and some more free form than that, while incorporating teeny bits of chain and gemstones through out.

He does bracelets and necklaces too of course, but they are so very complex and involved that they don’t seem to translate quite as well in pictures, so I’ve only included my favorite earrings here.

One thing I particularly appreciate about his work is his palette. There are so many glorious color combinations, coupled with his unique assembly, that just wow me. And I really love that his price point isn’t so terribly out of range for us ordinary folk: sure, it would be a splurge, but not like something only the truly wealthy can enjoy.

I am in complete awe of the breadth of his collection, in color, style, and size. It’s so varied, yet I can see connections between even very different pieces, in the way he puts things together, chooses colors, and the forms the beads take as they marry in thread paths. I’m so in love with his work, I just want to go straight to the studio and try to humbly imitate.

See for yourself and be inspired.

—Julia

http://www.miguelases.com/

Celie Fago’s Amazing PMC and Polymer Jewelry

The Art of Celie Fagocelie-fago-051_med[1] I stumbled on this artist’s website through an email from one of our vendors, just clicking around and found her exquisite work amid many beautiful artist profiles. I love the combination of colors, textures, and different materials. She uses polymer clay in a way I’ve never seen, carving it like wood or bone, and with intricate details of stroke and design that give a rich and full dimension to her pieces. Additionally, she incorporates unexpected elements such as wires, fiber and glass beads—making some of the most unique bracelets and pendants I’ve ever seen!

Like many artists with a comprehensive vision such as hers, Celie is a self taught artist. She’s been working in different mediums for over 35 years and has exhibited worldwide, including in Japan at the Mitsubishi Material Corporation’s special collections, the company who invented and manufactured Precious Metal Clay in the early ’90s. She has authored a book on keum boo, instructed at different workshops and institutions, and even offers classes at her home studio in Vermont. What a wonder woman! So inspiring.

See the gallery below.


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Her website is celiefago.com for more pictures and a bio!

–Julia

Check out this unbelievable designer

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There are so many wonderful designs from this brand, BrokenFab, where do I even begin? The colors, the fresh shapes and motifs, it makes me feel like I’ve entered a wonderland of texture and style. There’s obviously a whimsical approach to design, but clearly a rich, informed palette and an eye for geometric splendor. I never knew I loved neon until now!

From designer Fabienne Morel’s bio:

“Heavily influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s club and pop culture, as well as post-modernist design, the intricately beaded rocaille pieces that Fabienne creates are rich in historical references. Strong geometrics recall classic album covers as well as an exploration of spiritualism, making for edgy, distinctive pieces that are wearable on a daily basis.”

I’m so in love!

See more delicious pieces:

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See more at http://www.brokenfab.com/1482672

TierraCast Tour

One of my first purchases from an official bead store was in the mid 1990’s, at a bead store in Cambridge, MA. It was a small antique silver plated goddess charm by TierraCast. I still own that charm as at the time it was just too special to actually use. Across the country in Berkeley, CA Jim & Lisa Kaufman’s bead store, Baubles & Beads, was in its infancy, and Julia, our current store manager, was a high school student who shopped at their store. None of us knew one another, we were all just beaders who could never imagine that nearly two decades later we would all be working together at Baubles & Beads and going on a field trip tour the TierraCast facilities. TCI-Logo-WebChances are if you have ever made jewelry with base metal beads or components you too have introduced TierraCast products into your own collection. It was with great pleasure and much anticipation we were given the opportunity to tour the factory and learn more about the production of those fabulous finds and meet the people who create them.

We were met by Julia wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

We were met by Julie who wearing a fabulous ring made by Tania Skevos, a former store manager of Baubles & Beads who is now quite famous.

Upon our arrival we met up with Julie, our ambassador for the day. Her bubbly enthusiasm immediately struck a chord with us as we too are excited to share the story of growth and change of another small business.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast's marketing guru.

Meet Tracy, she is TierraCast’s jewelry designer and marketing maven.

She began by introducing us to several people we had interacted with on the phone, through email, and whose names we’d recognize from years of doing business together.

Alan Joseph, one of the company owners and product designer, was our tour guide and he guided us through the entire impressive compound, in order of production from design idea to finished piece. Every piece is made under the same house except for the plating including: design, production, manufacturing, sales, and marketing.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Digital rendering meet the finished piece.

Alan works entirely through graphic design templates on his computer when designing the beautiful and detailed signature TierraCast pieces. He has a background in fine art, so the process starts with that in mind. The products go through rigorous testing periods before they make it to you, the beader. Only 1 in 10 design ideas actually make it into the product line.Scotts BenchAfter all design specifics have been developed digitally he then hands the work off to his team of metalsmith geniuses to begin the task of making a model.  Above is a picture of Scott’s bench, he trained at Tiffany. Be sure to zoom in on the pic to get a good look at all his tools. The window directly in front of his bench looks out to a tranquil garden setting, now that’s what we call a good day’s work! microscopePerfection is required, evident by the microscope in the room. Once the piece has gone through the intensive and fastidious design process, they begin production by making a mold.stackofmoldsMolds are made by pressing silicone in a steel plate that is heated. We were impressed by the organization in the mold making room. Notice in the background of the photo above how the finished molds are arranged. There is a whole back room filled with molds.MoldsEach mold only has a lifespan of about 300 uses. The mold maker was on vacation the day of our tour. He just celebrated 25 years at TierraCast. Definitely a sign of a good company to work for.pewtersolidTierraCast excels in the use high quality pewter. The standard for lead content in culinary pewter is 500ppm. TierraCast uses a pewter alloy called Britannia that contains lead in the minute level of less than 100 ppm. Most pieces have about 25-35ppm of lead content.MoltenMetalWe step over to the next room and find a vat of molten metal next to the casting machine. casterWomanRocksThe caster pours the molten metal into the opening of the mold located in a centrifuge. Centrifugal force pushes the molten metal evenly throughout the mold making for consistent results. Angela, the caster pictured above is one of the fastest casters at TierraCast.buttonsOnATreeOnce the caster has produced a large quantity of product they then simply break the pieces off the “tree”. It is a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the mold maker that no hand finishing is required after removing the product from the tree.removalofbeadsHow dreamy that the day we visited they were casting one of our best-selling items: the Buddha Bead.  A short walk away is another building that houses the finishing room.HomemadeTumblerMy little Lortone tumbler is nothing compared to TierraCast’s homemade version. These drums are filled with cast pieces and different tumbling media to help quickly remove any burrs or imperfections. Once the pieces are tumbled they are sent off-site to be plated. Plating is the only process that does not happen in-house. Upon return from the plater, TierraCast applies chemical antiquing as needed.fillingorders

When we opened the door to the order fulfillment office a blast of cold air struck us; a true sign of women working in here. This room was filled with drawer after drawer of beads, charms, pendants, bails, button, findings, clasps, earwires, oh my gosh I can’t list all of the wonder inside. Sorry the pic so so fuzzy but those ladies work fast!! julieandlisaThe conclusion of our tour left us time for photo ops with each other. Above is one of myself and Julie. We all know Julie well as she has been TierraCast’s sales rep for a long time. We often meet up at the bead shows in Tucson and Milwaukee. lkandjulieNext up is Lisa Kaufman , co-owner of Baubles & Beads, and Julie. Have we mentioned how fun Julie is?organizationAnd to finish us off we have Julia, our store manager, loving the tidiness of the entire place. Interestingly enough, between three of us photographing our tour, Jim Kaufman (the incredibly handsome co-owner of Baubles & Beads) never made it into any of our photos.

 

DIY -Mixed Metal Lotus Pendant

lotusdrops2Besides being super sultry against the skin, one of the things I love about this design is its simplicity to make and all the possibilities for customization. Once you make a pendant you’ll find yourself making a pair of earrings to match. There are many different component pieces out there just waiting for you to embellish them with beads and wire! Enjoy.

Tools Neededlotusmaterials

Flush Wire Cutters
Chain Nose Pliers, 2 pairs are helpful

Materials Needed
1 Lotus petal drop link
27 inches of 2mm rolo chain
11, 4mm jump rings
1, 5mm jump ring
1 Toggle clasp
Ten 2.5mm crystal rondelles
Five 2.5mm square beads
One foot of 26 gauge wire
Eight 2.25mm metal hex-cut spacer beads

Wiring the Beads to the Lotus Frame

Each segment of beads is attached to the frame with a 3 inch length of wire. The wire coils used to secure the beads to the frame wrap upward, toward the point of the frame, allowing for proper spacing between the bead rows. Steps1-2Step 1: Secure one end of the wire to the frame by laying the wire across the face of the frame and wrapping a 1″ tail around the frame, toward the top, three times. The resulting coil should be tight with each coil resting against the previous one.

Step 2: Using flush wire cutters, cut the wire tail off, close to the frame. If the wire end is sticking out, squeeze it down with a pair of chain nose pliers.

Step 3: String 3 crystal beads onto the wire and position the coil on the frame so that all three beads fit within the frame.Steps4-5Step 4: Secure the wire in place by wrapping it tightly around the frame three times, toward the top of the frame. Use the chain nose pliers to help pull the wire tight.

Step 5: Using flush wire cutters, cut the remaining wire close to the frame.addingbeadrowsStep 6: Continue adding rows of beads using the same techniques outlined in Steps 1 thru 5. Make certain that each row accommodates the beads within the spacing of the frame, adjust the number of beads if needed.

The pattern for each row is as follows:
Row 1: Three crystal beads (this row has been completed)
Row 2: Five 2.5mm square metal beads
Row 3: Seven crystal beads
Row 4: Eight Hex-cut beads

Adding the Chain Fringechainfringe

Step 1: Using wire cutters, cut the following measured length of chain: 2 pieces measuring 1/2″ each, 2 pieces measuring 3/4″ each, 2 pieces measuring 1″ each, 2 pieces measuring 1 1/4″ each, and 1 piece measuring 1 1/2″ in length.

Step 2: Organize the chains by size on your working surface so that the longest chain length is in the middle and the shortest lengths are on the outside edge. Organizing the chains ahead of time will make attaching them easier.

Step 3: Using chain nose pliers, attach the chain lengths to the bottom of the frame with a 4mm jump ring. Make sure to close the ring tight so that the chains do not fall off later.

Attaching the Necklaceaddingchain-clasp

Step 1: Using wire cutters, cut the remaining chain to 18″.

Step 2: Connect a 5mm jump ring to the top of the frame and feed the chain length through it.

Step 3: Connect the clasp to the last link of one end of the chain with a 4mm jump ring.

Step 4: Connect a 5mm jump ring into the last link of the opposite end of the chain.

 

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 12th!

 

DIY -Chain Tassel Necklace

tasselnecklacesample2This tassel necklace has long been one of my “go-to” designs for whipping up a quick necklace to showcase my growing collection of rhinestone connectors. The double strand necklace helps to balance the fullness of the tassel fringe. Customize this design by using different styles of chain, mixing metal colors, adding additional chains to the tassel or playing with the length of chains used in the tassel.

Tools Neededmaterials3
Flush wire cutters
2 pairs of chain nose pliers
Beading awl
Ruler

Materials Needed
A rhinestone connector
40 inches of 1.5mm curb chain
5, 4mm jump rings
1, 6mm soldered jump ring
1 lobster clasp

Preparing the PendantMakingtheTasselPendantStep 1: Using wire cutters, cut four lengths of chain that measure 1″ long.

Step 2: Insert the tapered tip of the beading awl into the last link of each chain and use your fingers to force the link to stretch wider by pushing the link onto the wider point of the awl. *This is a great trick to use on any small soldered chain link to stretch out the link and make it large enough to accommodate jump rings.

Step 3: Using 2 pairs of chain nose pliers, attach each chain length to a 4mm jump ring. Close the ring tightly.

Step 4: Attach the jump ring from the previous step to the rhinestone connector with a new jump ring.

Attaching the Necklace

The necklace is made up of two 18″ chains and clasped together with a lobster claw and soldered ring. attachingthenecklaceStep 5: Cut two 18″ lengths of chain.

Step 6: Stretch the end links of both chains using the tapered tip of the beading awl.

Step 7: Attach both chains to the clasp set using a new jump ring. (One side will attach to the lobster claw and one side will attach to the soldered ring.)

Step 8: Using chain nose pliers, connect the two chains to the top ring of the rhinestone component with a new jump ring.

 

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on August 5th!

 

DIY -Draped Fringe Pendant

drapechainpendantIn celebration of Baubles & Beads great July chain sale, I am excited to offer you another chain based project.  This one is super easy and super customizable.  Five lengths of chain are used to create a draped fringe around a centerpiece bead. The chain lengths can be made longer or shorter as needed to accommodate any size bead. I love how the spiral rope chain looks but with so many chains available, you can substitute just about any small link chain.

Tools Neededmaterials

Flush Wire Cutters
Chain Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers
Ruler

Materials Needed
2 1/2 feet of spiral rope chain -1.6mm
1 centerpiece bead -10mm (I used these)
1 eyepin -2″
2 jump rings -4mm or 6mm (21ga)
10 daisy spacer beads -3mm
1 clasp set -12mm or smaller

 

Stringing the Pendant Pattern

Step 1: Cut one piece of chain in each of the following lengths: 1″, 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″. These four pieces of chain will make up the fringe that surrounds the bottom of the bead.step02-03loopyfringe

Step 2: String the following pattern of beads onto the eyepin: 1 spacer bead, the 2.5” length of chain, 1 spacer, the 2” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, the 1.5” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, the 1” length of chain, 1 spacer bead, and the 10mm bead.

Step 3: On the opposite side of the 10mm bead, string: 1 spacer bead and the opposite end of the 1” chain. You will need to push the bead and the 1″ chain length closer to the open end of the pin in order to be able to feed the small chain on.

Step 4: Continue feeding the opposite end of the chains onto the pin, in order of length, with a new spacer bead strung in between each chain. After the opposite end of each chain has been fed on, finish the segment by stringing on a final spacer bead.

Making a Loop on the Opposite Side of the Eyepinstep04-06loopyfringeStep 1: Using the tip of the chain nose pliers, grab the wire against the last spacer bead strung. Bend the wire  against the edge of the tool making a 90 degree angle. (Using the tool this way will leave a small amount of space on the eyepin wire to allow the chains room to dangle freely.)

Step 2: Using flush wire cutters, cut the wire so that it measures about 1 centimeter from the bend.

Step 3: Using round nose pliers, gently shape the wire into a closed loop.

For an in-depth look at how to make simple loops, check out our archives on “How To Make a Simple Wire Loop”

Putting it All Togetherstep07-08loopyfringeStep 1: Cut two 8 inch lengths of chain.

Step 2: Using chain nose pliers, open one of the loops on the eyepin and attach a length of chain. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step 3: Attach each side of the clasp set to one of the opposite end of the chain with a jump ring.

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on July 31st!

Congrats go out to Sue for being the lucky winner of a kit of materials to make her own necklace using this tutorial.

How To Make a Simple Wire Loop

simpleloopsampleThe simple wire loop is the foundation of all wire jewelry. The process of making simple loops will introduce you to the main jewelry tools and when put into practice, allow you to link beads together for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Tools NeededtoolsforwireworkRound nose pliers are made up of two cylinder shaped jaws that taper to a small point. They are used to shape the wire into a loop shape. This tool should only be used when making a loop shape as the rounded jaws will dent and damage the wire if they are used to manipulate it in other ways.

Flush wire cutters are designed to provide a smooth flat cut across the wire. It is essential that each wire loop begin with a flush cut wire. Most flush cutters only cut flush on one side of the blade, the other side of the blade provides a bevel cut. A flush cut is achieved when the flat side of the cutting blades is facing the wire you want to keep.

Chain nose pliers consist of two jaws that are flat and smooth on the inside, rounded on the outside, and like round nose pliers, the jaws taper to a small point. Chain nose pliers are the real work horse when is comes to wire working tools. They are most commonly used to open and close loops and jump rings and make right angle bends.

Rulers are a wire workers best friend. Select one that features both metric and standard measurement.

Materials Needed
For simple loops we prefer practicing with half-hard 20 gauge wire. To learn more about wire sizes and hardness’s  check out our archived post on wire properties.

Making a Simple Loop

There are many different ways to make a simple loop. At the end of the day it is more about how your loops look, not how you went about making them. Please take care not to bend your wrist when shaping the loop or you can injure yourself. Instead rotate your arm until it can turn no further, release your grip on the wire, returning your arm to the starting position and then completing the loop in a second movement.

step1-3Step 1: Using chain nose pliers, make a 90 degree bend approximately 1 centimeter from the end of the wire.

Tip: Different measurements of wire will produce different sized loops.

Step 2: Using round nose pliers, hold the tip of the short wire end between the jaws of the pliers. With your other hand, grasp the longer side of the wire so that the thumbnail is under the 90 degree bend and the index finger is supporting the wire on the opposite side.

Tip: Finding the correct place to position the wire on the pliers can be challenging at first. The tapered jaws of round nose pliers allow one to make a variety of different sized loops and makes it easy to slide completed loops off the pliers. It may take several attempts to discover where on the pliers to make a loop. Once you find the perfect spot, mark the jaws of the pliers with a fine-tip Sharpie marker to keep you from guessing the next time.

Step 3: Begin shaping the wire into a loop by rolling the round nose pliers toward the right angle bend. (The resulting loop should always be shaped “on top of” the right angle bend.) Your arm will not be able to turn far enough to make the loop in one movement; it will take two separate movements to close the loop completely.

simpleloopIn our classroom we like to quip “you have to make 200 loops before you feel like you have made a good one.” Practice making this loop over and over until you feel comfortable making loops.

Making Wire & Bead Links

The trickiest part of making a simple loop on the other side of the bead is making a loop that looks exactly like the first one. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and mark your round nose pliers with a Sharpie to remind yourself where on the jaws of the pliers you made the first loop.  step4-6Step 4: String a bead onto the wire and position it against the loop.

Step 5: Using your thumb, push the wire against the top of the bead to create a 90 degree bend.

Step 6: Cut the wire so that it measures 1 centimeter long.Step7Step 7: Repeat Steps 2 & 3 above to complete the loop, only this time grasp the bead for leverage. Again, it will take two movements to completely close the loop.

Tip: When it comes to loops, consistency matters. It doesn’t matter if your loops are perpendicular to each other or parallel, so long as each link is the same. To adjust the alignment of a loop simply hold one loop with a pair of chain nose pliers and use your fingers to twist the opposite loop into the desired position.

Connecting Beads & Wire Links

Step8-9Step 8: Using chain nose pliers, grasp the open end of one of the loops.

Step 9: Twist the wire sideways, opening the loop just enough to feed the loop of another bead link into it.

Step 10: Using chain nose pliers, grasp the open end of the loop and gently coax it back into closed position.

That’s it! Repeat, repeat, repeat. To complete a piece of jewelry simply attach a clasp to the loops of the first and last bead link. 

 

DIY -Tri Color Chain Weave

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Wow, the bead store just received a shipment of new chain and the 4-in-1 chain has me so excited! If you have been following this blog for a while then you know I like to stitch things together, especially chain. The chain consists of a figure-8 links connected together by a large round link. The resulting effect looks very similar to flat 4-in-1 chain mail.  Chinese knotting cord is used to connect these chains side-by-side while adding a splash of color. The finished bracelet measures 7 1/4″.  Oh, the possibilities…enjoy and share your creations on our Facebook page.

Tools Neededtricolor materials
2 Pairs of chain nose pliers
Wire cutters
Hypo-tube cement

Materials Needed
1 1/2 feet 4-in-1 chain (can be all one color or use 6 inch lengths of different finishes for the tri-color effect)
2 yards Chinese knotting cord
1 D-ring toggle clasp
4 jump rings -6mm, 18 gauge
5 jump rings -4mm, 18 gauge
Medium twisted wire needles

Preparing the Materials

Step 1: Begin by cutting 3 equal lengths of chain that measure 6 inches each. Cut off the figure-8 link on each end of the chain so that the final link on each end is the larger center ring.

Step 2: Cut a 1 yard length of Chinese knotting cord and string a twisted wire needle onto it, doubling over one end by about a foot.

Weaving the Chains Together

The 4-in-1 chain is made up of figure-8 links that are connected together by a larger jump ring. The resulting effect looks very similar to flat chain-mail.  Chinese knotting cord is used to connect two of these chains side-by-side while adding a splash of color.

attachingcordStep 1: Rest two of the chains side-by-side so that the links of each chain are going the same direction.

Step 2: Attach the cord to the chains by feeding it through the first two side-by-side figure-8 loops. Leaving a 2 inch tail, tie the two cords together with a double knot.

Step 3: Feed the cord back through the same two links to secure the cord. (The first row of figure-8 links have now been connected together.)

weave1The basic weave pattern consists of wrapping the cord through two side-by-side links (this step keeps the chains flat) and then stepping up to the next row of figure-8 links by feeding the cord diagonally, between the two chains, and up through the next figure-8 link on the chain.

Step 4: “Step-up” to the next row by feeding the cord through the figure-8 link located one row up on the opposite chain. The cord will cross between the two chains diagonally.

Step 5: Connect the two chains together side-by-side by feeding the cord down through the corresponding figure-8 link of the opposite chain.

Step 6: Complete the stitch by feeding the cord back up through the figure-8 link of Step 4. (The next row of figure-8 links have now been connected together.)

twochainsStep 7: Repeat Step 4 through Step 6 until there is only one figure-8 link left to be stitched together.

Securing the Cords in Placeknot00Step 1: If needed, flip the piece over so that the beginning knot is on the side facing up. “Step-up” to the next row by feeding the cord through the figure-8 link located one row up on the opposite chain.

Step 2: Connect the two remaining figure-8 links together by feeding the cord around them twice so that the cord goes through each link two times.

Step 3: Feed the cord under the diagonally crossing cord from Step 1. (In the next steps, the cord will be secured in place by knotting it around this diagonal cord.)

gluetheknotsStep 4: Using a half-hitch knot, tie the cord around the diagonal cord.

Step 5: Make a 2nd knot around the same diagonal cord and pull the cord tight.

Step 6: Completely coat the knots with cement glue. Once the glue dries, about 10 minutes, cut off the excess cord close to the knot.

Step 7: Glue and cut the remaining cord from the knot on the opposite end of the chain.

 Adding Additional Rows of Chain3rdchain01Additional lengths of chain can be woven to either side of the finished piece. Use the same techniques outlined above to add a third length of chain.

Attaching the ClaspattachingaclaspThe clasp is attached to the center round link of each chain using a jump ring.

Step 1: Using chain nose pliers attach a 6mm jump ring to each of the outside chains and a smaller, 4mm jump ring to attach the center chain. Repeat on the other end of the bracelet.

Step 2: Use three 4mm jump rings to attach the toggle bar to one of the D-ring toggle components.

Step 3: Put it on, put it on and show someone!!!!

WE LOVE READING YOUR COMMENTS!! Comment on this post for your chance to win a kit of materials to make your own. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on July 22nd!

Update: Congrats go out to Angi M. for winning the kit!!

Instructor Interview- Kate Richbourg

Q & A with (the amazing) Kate Richbourg

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The famous & fabulous Kate!

Emily Miller, Baubles & Beads Class Director, interviews Kate Richbourg, one of our instructors here at the bead store. Kate is an educator, a maker, a new author, and jeweler.

EM: Kate, you wear a lot of hats, which is your favorite?

Kate: Well, my favorite hat (when not wearing an actual hat) is teaching. This my is 22nd year of teaching and helping students continue on their journey.

EM: When did you get started making jewelry and did you have a mentor?

Kate: I pretty much always made jewelry, my Gran had a box of junk jewelry and I played with that, of course with no special materials, stringing with dental floss! I was very lucky that my Mom and Gran were my early creative mentors; they put me on the road to doing something creative. In 1992 I got a job at bead store, selling beads, which led me to teaching. I started teaching at Baubles & Beads in 1993-94. Lisa Kaufman [the owner of Baubles & Beads] was instrumental at offering me opportunities to teach new classes. In the beginning, stores were big part of classes.

Check out Kate's Tube Setting class this summer at the store.

Check out Kate’s Tube Setting class this summer at the store.

EM: Was there a particular technique that was difficult to master?

Kate: When I got started there was not a lot of info out there, so I’m self taught. I’ve taken only a couple of bead classes. I didn’t know what was hard or what was easy. The first book I bought was The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight, it taught me a lot, it was my general teacher. I still refer to it regularly when stuck.

Kate in action while teaching a class.

Kate in action while teaching a class.

EM: Do you have a teaching philosophy?

Kate: Usually when you think about creating classes, you might think who is the class for? Beginners, intermediates or advanced students? I can take beginners to intermediate level in class by just jumping in and starting. At the end they say, “I made that!” There are no limits to what you can learn. I like to share lots of tips, some that might be advanced, but without telling them it’s advanced.

EM: What makes you happiest about teaching?

Kate: Part of it is a community of like-minded people. Creating with your peers is always fun; taking time to be creative while in class I get a lot of ideas of what to do next. The interchange between teacher and students as well as student to student.

EM: What essential items does your studio have?

Kate: My favorite thing right now is a rolling mill. I love to hammer, texture and flatten. The rolling mill makes me super efficient to shape and flatten, a lot easier than I could do by hand.

Tools are Kate's friends

Tools are Kate’s friends.

EM: What is your favorite material?

Kate: Well, that’s a loaded question… whatever material I’m working with at the time. Metal…then the first and original material, beads. A tie between metal and beads.

Kate's book is a fantastic entry level book into the world of soldering but even seasoned metalsmiths will discover helpful tips and hints.

Kate’s book is a fantastic entry level book into the world of soldering but even seasoned metalsmiths will discover helpful tips and hints.

EM: After a long day of teaching, what do you do to relax?

Kate: Put my feet up on the coffee table. Teaching takes so much out of you but is invigorating too. I sit and reflect, remember people’s names and projects. Sort of like a meditation, over what went well or could be improved.

EM: Predict something about the coming year in jewelry making and design, where do you see the next big trend?

Kate: I think that now that people are learning so many types of jewelry making, beading, metal, wire, putting all those techniques together in one piece. Distilling what students have learned into one piece. Metal is still strong. It’s interesting how fiber is coming into jewelry, fiber and unconventional materials in jewelry is pretty cool.

EM: If we could see a picture of your bench, what are you working on right now?

Kate: Right now I’m working on some chain necklaces. I’m preparing for an online class, so lots of chain, the simple loops and how to put it together. All chain, all the time, right now.

workinprogress

Work in progress.

EM: What else do you make besides jewelry?

Kate: Oh my gosh, I knit, sew, quilt, make a mess, I’ve been sewing and knitting since I was a little girl, it keeps my hands busy.

EM: Will you share your favorite quotation?

Kate: Yes, here in my studio I have some quotes on my wall. My favorite, favorite one is:
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein.

favquote

Inspirational quote.

EM: If you could go back in time to any era, which one and why?

Kate: I’m conflicted about going back or forward in time. The 20’s were this zany pause between the world wars where there was a lot of creativity: writing, art and I love the fashion. I’d love to see where we are in 100 years too.

hi

Like Kate, beads will never go out of style!

EM: What do you want to learn next?

Kate: Oh my gosh, I really want to learn how to engrave. I don’t know why. When you pick up a piece of old jewelry and see the hand engraving it’s just beautiful. I just picked up an ebook copy of an old book from the turn of the 20th century about hand engraving.

EM: Thank you Kate, for a great peek into your world!

Kate has been teaching jewelry for decades yet she always manages to bring us new ideas and products to play with. Check out her video below from Craftsy about how to use a torch (safely).

Connect with and learn more about Kate by visiting her blog:

Check out her blog: We Can Make That at Home

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