How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in an anti-tarnish lined jewelry box.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and/or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Silver Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda, Glass Pan & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach & Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Want to Make Beaded Earrings?

Assorted Earrings
Making fine jewelry requires years of special training in gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry design. Materials and tools are very expensive, and mistakes can be very costly. The invention of beaded jewelry created beautiful designs in a much more affordable way, and put the jewelry making possibilities into everyone’s hands. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a piece of jewelry, now is your chance.

How to Make Black Onyx & Tigerseye Earrings
Tigerseye Black Onyx Earrings
These 2” long gemstone earrings are fashionable and easy to make.

Required Beads & Findings:
Earring Supplies
Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
2) Silver plated Head Pins – 2” length,
2) 8.5mm Granulated Round Pewter Rondelles,
2) 8mm Tigerseye beads,
2) 10mm Black Onyx beads,
2) Silver plated Round 4mm Spacer beads
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:

Bead Layout
Step 1: Stack the beads in sequence on the head pin as shown. This is the dangle part of the earring.

Grip with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the top silver bead. Be sure the beads are close together with no gaps in between. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Grasp Wire with Fingers
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you.

Bend Wire
Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Black Onyx bead.

Reshaped Wire
The reshaped pin will look like the photo above.

Trim Excess Wire
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the silver bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Shortened Wire
This photo shows the trimmed wire, and beside it is the scrap piece to be thrown away.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the dangle earring onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire,

Loop Closeup
and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made your first pair of earrings.

These skills can be used to create many styles, which at first may appear to be complex, but are actually fairly easy when broken down into basic steps. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.

Blue Earrings
Blue Bead & Pearl Earrings– If you look closely, you’ll notice the same elements we talked about before: head pins, stacked beads, and earwires. The choice of silver earwires and accents with faceted blue crystals and Mother of Pearl creates a cool, summery vibe. This pair of earrings utilizes a different type of earwire known as lever backs, which prevent the earring from falling off – no more lost earrings!

Fossil Earrings
Fossil Earrings – The natural spiral design and intricate details of these fossils make great focal points for these earrings. You can purchase charms and pendants such as these and simply attach earwires to the provided loops on top. How easy is that?

Triangle Earrings
Triangle Earrings – These earrings are a simple progression from the fossil earrings above. The triangles are merely charms. Head pins, which are available in many lengths, are the keys to this design. Attach the three beads on the bottom of each triangle using pliers. The yellow beads are also attached with head pins. Cut the head off a pin, and use the pliers to make a loop above and below the yellow bead and then attach to the triangle on the bottom and to the earwire on the top.

Jasper& Pearl Earrings
Jasper & Pearl Earrings – Gemstones come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. The accent beads can be mixed and matched in infinite combinations. Experiment by laying out the beads to test your options. The nice thing about earrings is that you can place the beads on a pin and hold them up to your ear to see how they look, with no commitment whatsoever. Don’t like what you see? Try another combo.

Jewelry making is a fun, creative hobby. Best of all you get to wear and share your creations with your family and friends. For more information on beaded jewelry, please read “Designing Beaded Jewelry.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Symbolism of Rings

Assorted Rings
We wear jewelry for many reasons, but rings in particular have played a significant role in our lives.  The circular shape, with no beginning and no end, symbolizes eternity.  Rings can have special meanings for individuals, families, communities, and cultures.

Self-Expression:
Triangle Ring
The most obvious reasons to wear rings are self-expression and personal adornment.

Attention Getting Rings
We express our individuality by creating the image we show to the world, including hairstyle, clothing choices, and yes, even jewelry.

Sculptural Wrap Ring
A signature ring is an item worn on a daily basis.

Venetian Glass Bead Rings
Although it may have a significant meaning, the way it makes you feel when you wear it is the most important hallmark of such an adored piece of jewelry.

3D Sculptural Ring
Jewelry is art for the body.

Commitment:
Engagement Ring
Engagement rings represent promises and intentions.

Wedding Rings
Wedding bands are signs of love and fidelity.

Eternity Bands
Anniversary rings, also known as eternity bands, commemorate love through the years.

Family Heritage:
Coat of Arms Ring
A coat of arms honors family history.  Rings like this become family heirlooms passed down from one generation to the next.

Garnet Ring
Birthstone rings celebrate your birth month or zodiac sign.
For more information on gemstone meanings and uses throughout history, please read: “Gemstone Healing Traditions.”

Accomplishments:
High School Ring
Accomplishments are often celebrated with jewelry.  Upon graduation, alumni often wear a ring to demonstrate school pride and personal achievement.  Champions in athletics are awarded expensive rings such as the winners of the Super Bowl.

Affirmations:
Love Ring
Affirmation rings serve as reminders to fulfill our goals and dreams.

Feather Rings
Feathers symbolize our connection to angels, the spirit world, and our higher selves.

Cultural Pride:
Claddagh Rings
Different cultures wear jewelry for traditional reasons and to express pride in their heritage.  The Irish Claddagh signifies love, loyalty and friendship.

Morrocan Ring
This mosaic ring set in silver is a fine example of intricate Moroccan design and craftsmanship.

Ancient Viking Rings
Ancient Viking rings symbolize clan loyalty, while the open design provides flexibility.

Membership:
Club Rings
Social clubs wear rings in honor of teamwork, shared goals and simply for the fun of it.

Signet Ring
Professional organizations wear insignia rings as a sign of group values and camaraderie.

Power:
Royal Ring & Seal
Rings can be a sign of authority, such as those worn by royalty and religious leaders.  Historically, kings often sealed documents with hot wax and the impression of a specific ring to authenticate the contents.  Envoys sometimes carried a royal ring as proof of their authority to speak on behalf of the monarchy.

Lord of the Rings
Who could forget the One ring?  Although it is a fictional story, “The Lord of the Rings” is a haunting tale, demonstrating what some are willing to do, good or bad, to gain power or to protect and save their world.

As we move toward the future, new jewelry designs will debut and the classics will appeal to new audiences, while their underlying meanings pique our curiosity.  What do your rings mean to you?

Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting!

Gifts from the Heart

Frog with Heart
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s a nice reminder to show appreciation for those who share our lives, including family, friends, and yes even our pets.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  In fact, you may already have what you need for the perfect gift.   Here are a few creative ideas to get you started:

Sweets for the Sweet
Homemade Candy & Cookies
Homemade cookies and candy will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Nature Lover
Fruit Hearts
This edible art is delicious & nutritious.

Heart of the Vineyard
Wine Corks Heart
Connoisseurs will appreciate shared memories celebrated with a nice glass of wine.

The Personal Touch
Clay Heart Vase
Gifts made by hand are always the best way to show your love.

Two Hearts Beat as One
Metal & Wood Hearts
Whether you prefer working with wood or metal, this universal symbol of love says it all.

Love is in the Details
Mosaic Heart
Glass, tile, and stones can be used to create mosaic jewelry, tabletops, wall art, etc.

A Rose by Any Other Name
Paper Roses
As timeless symbols of love, these paper roses will forever be in bloom.

Big Bear Hugs
Teddy Bear & Flowers
Everyone could use a hug.  Teddy bears can be sewn, crocheted, or knitted.  If you don’t have those skills, buy one and add a personal touch, such as a bunch of silk flowers or homemade chocolates.

Soft & Dreamy
Watercolor Painting
Watercolor, acrylic or oil paints are the perfect choice for creating beautiful artwork to be treasured for years to come.

Heartfelt Adventure
Pink Stone Heart
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy taking a romantic walk along a beach or trail on a “treasure” hunt, consisting of well-placed hearts made from stones, shells, or flowers.

Presentation is Everything
Heart Earrings
At the end of the treasure hunt mentioned above, surprise your companion with a little gift, such as a bouquet of wildflowers or handmade jewelry.

Reflective Photography
Black Swan
At first glance, you might only notice the beauty of this black swan but look closer and you will see the perfect heart shape created by his reflection.

Just the Two of Us
Romantic Silhouettes
A sunset photo of a couple is a nice keepsake and posing just right forms a heart.

Your BFF
Dog Wearing Scarf
Our best friends are always looking for affection.  A new scarf or a heart charm for the collar are nice options, but the best way to show your love is by giving them your time and attention.  Works for people too!

Thanks for reading.

Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy Crafting!

Designing Beaded Jewelry

Beaded Jewelry in Fall Colors
Making beaded jewelry is a fun activity for the entire family. There’s an incredible selection of gemstone, glass, crystal, metal, and mixed media beads, which can be strung upon wire, leather cords, ribbons, or any other material of your choosing.

Strands of Gemstone Beads
Strands of Gemstone Beads
Most beads are sold in strands, which are pre-strung on fishing tackle. You cannot keep the beads on this temporary strand because it is not durable for every day wear and tear, and will eventually break.

When working with beads, having a jewelry maker’s tray (like the one pictured below) is extremely beneficial for laying out your designs. The numbers along the perimeter are for measuring the length of bracelets and necklaces. The grooves in the tray are multi-purpose: enable experimentation with different beads; create a necklace and bracelet at the same time; design a multi-strand necklace. Compartments in the tray hold additional beads while you finalize your work.

Black Onyx & Carnelian Beads
Onyx Carnelian Beads
Using the same beads produces two different looks by simply changing the pattern – both are in seasonal fall colors. The large, reddish orange, Carnelian nuggets have a raw but luxurious appeal, while the smooth, round, Black Onyx beads are cool and sophisticated.

Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated Metal Beads
Onyx Carnelian & Metal Beads
The addition of precious metal beads provides rich texture, eye-catching contrast, and the all-important sparkle.

Rain Forest Jasper & Mother of Pearl Beads
Rain Forest Jasper & Aventurine Beads
These two photos demonstrate the effects of using shape and color to create necklaces with very different styles. On the left, a pear-shaped, Rain Forest Jasper pendant takes center stage with Rain Forest Jasper and Natural Mother of Pearl beads. The result is a fancy necklace with warm rich earth tones, suitable for a night out on the town. On the right, Aventurine alternates with dazzling, White Mother of Pearl beads in a soft palette and casual style for everyday wear.

Rain Forest Jasper, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated Metal Beads
Rain Forest Jasper Aventurine & Metal Beads
The same beads are shown here with the addition of gold-plated, round spacer beads on the left, and gold-plated, filigree bead caps on the right.

When you are satisfied with your design, the beads can be strung one at a time onto wire. Be sure to place a piece of scotch tape on the end of the wire before you start stringing your beads. Once you’re satisfied, the clasp can be attached. There are many videos available to show you how to attach each of the different types of clasps.

Here are a few photos to get your creative ideas flowing:

Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a Cord
Glass Frog Cord
This striped glass frog is a fanciful addition to any wardrobe. Cords are easy work with and comfortable to wear. All it takes are a few beads and a focal point to complete this piece of jewelry. You could also use a pendant you already own. Cords can be made of leather, rubber, or woven fibers.

Necklace – Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Necklace - Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Stringing large-hole beads on ribbon is an easy way for beginners to learn about jewelry making. Children and those struggling with arthritis or any other dexterity issues can easily handle these over-sized beads. Stringing on ribbon or a cord can be done quickly and beads can be interchanged until the desired look is achieved. Best of all, there are no special skills or tools required.

Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-hole beads are for use on cords, ribbons, thick chains and wire. Crafter Tip: With these beads, you can achieve the same fashionable look as seen in Pandora stores, but at a fraction of the price. The best selection is available at Fire Mountain Gems.

Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Stringing beads upon wire is easy to do, but requires the special jewelry making tools to attach the clasp. Bead stores will typically offer shoppers the chance to select beads, and string your own necklace or bracelet. A staff member will then attach the clasp, or can give you instructions to do it yourself using their tools. These stores periodically have classes, and offer private jewelry making parties for your family and friends.

Earring & Bracelet – Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
Earring & Bracelet - Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
When you think of crystal jewelry, the name that most likely tops your list is Swarovski. The rich, colors and light reflecting facets of crystal have been featured in memorable jewelry designs ready to wear anywhere from the super market to the high fashion runway.

Necklace – Glass & Metal Beads
Necklace - Glass & Metal Beads
Glass blowers create beads one at a time, and each one is a unique masterpiece. All the colors of the rainbow and a few Mother Nature never considered can be found in glass. Solid colors, striated, and two tone beads are but a mere few of the possibilities with matte or high-gloss finishes. Glass pendants make interesting focal points, while tiny glass seed beads can be woven into intricate spiral patterns in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
There’s a bracelet style to match every person’s fashion needs – cords, cuffs, stretch, charm, bangles, and many more. Genuine gemstone beads are available in an amazing array of colors and sizes. Beads can be purchased from craft stores, beaded jewelry stores, bead trade shows, and from online retailers, such as Fire Mountain Gems. Because genuine gemstones come from the earth, the colors and patterns will vary. If you are planning to make a bracelet and matching necklace or earrings, make sure you have enough beads to complete the set. Each finished piece of jewelry will be as unique and individual as you are.

Jewelry making is an exciting and rewarding craft. Enjoy the process. Learn from mistakes. Experiment as you follow your inspiration to create the perfect design to express your personality and style.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Celebrating 100th Post

100th Post
Today marks a very important milestone – my 100th post! It has been a wonderful experience, and I thank all my readers and followers for taking this journey with me. Below are photos and links to each category of arts and crafts covered to date. Please take a few minutes to peruse your favorites.

Baking & Candy Making
Baking & Candy Making

Beaded Jewelry & Gemstones
Beaded Jewelry & Gemstones

Color Theory
Color Theory

Floral & Home Decor
Floral & Home Decor

“How To” Projects
How-to Projects

Inspiration
Inspiration

Miscellaneous Crafts
Miscellaneous Crafts

Painting – Decorative Techniques
Decorative Painting

Seasons & Holidays
Seasons & Holidays

Wood Crafts
Wood Crafts

Please let me know, in the comments section, if you have any suggestions for future arts and crafts topics. I am looking forward to the next 100 posts. This achievement would not be possible without all of you! Thank you!!

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

The Allure of Gemstones

Agate Geode
Agate Geode
Even in their raw forms, gemstones are so beautiful.

Throughout history, gemstones have been worn as jewelry, used for healing, and carried for protection. Some gemstones have been used as currency by many cultures, while others were ground into cosmetics, paints & dyes. It is believed Cleopatra used powdered gemstones as eyeshadows. (And you thought your makeup was expensive.)

Funerary Mask of King Tut
King Tut's Mask
This exquisite funerary mask includes gemstones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise among others, embedded in the gold.

Fabergé Egg
Faberge Egg
Made as gifts for his wife, Russian Tsar Alexander III commissioned a series bejeweled works of art, known as the Fabergé Eggs. The one shown above is called the Renaissance Egg.

Sodalite & Clear Quartz Earrings
Sodalite & Clear Quartz
Fortunately, today, we don’t have to be royalty to enjoy gemstones. There are many resources for purchasing supplies, including craft stores, trade shows, and online suppliers. One of the best resources available is called Fire Mountain Gems & Beads. Their inventory is impressive, and they offer excellent customer service, great pricing, lots of how-to videos, and reliable information for all jewelry making needs.

Amethyst
Amethyst
Best known for its rich purple color, Amethyst is a very popular gemstone, but did you know amethyst also comes in green?

Unakite & Fluorite Beads
Unakite & Fluorite
Each type of gemstone can have a variety of shades and colors. Some are available in one particular color, but the shades vary from light to dark. Others come in a variety of colors, such as Fluorite, which includes purples, greens and clear stones. Unakite is typically a pink and green gemstone, however some stones are all green or all pink.

Blue Topaz
Blue Topaz
Blue Topaz can be found in a wide range of shades, from the lightest, Sky Blue, to the darkest, known as London Blue.

Tigerseye & Glass Necklace
Gllass & Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye has an almost magical property – it changes color. This phenomenon is called chatoyancy, which is a French word meaning “Cat’s Eye.” It occurs when bright light reflects off fibers in the Tiger’s Eye stone, causing the color to appear to “change.”

Peridot
Peridot
Peridot has a very unique color, ranging from soft shades to brighter, more intense greens, just like those found in nature.

Black Onyx & Carnelian Necklace
Onyx & Carnelian
There are many industry standard treatments (eg. Chemicals, Heat) applied to gemstones to improve color, durability, etc. Before making a purchase, make sure you know if the gems are genuine stones natural from origin or if they have been lab created, and what if any treatments have been applied.

Citrine
Citrine
Like a little pieces of sunshine, Citrine brightens any day with its cheerful yellow colors.

Ruby Necklace
Rubies set in gold
Historically, Rubies are one of the four “precious” gemstones, along with diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires. Love the color but not the price tag? Garnets are a beautiful alternative.

Assorted Gemstones
Multi Gemstones
Exposure to heat or sunlight can fade or weaken some gemstones. Did you know air causes gold and silver to tarnish? Anti-tarnish strips will protect these precious metals. After wearing your jewelry, the best way to keep it clean is to gently wipe it with a soft cloth prior to putting it away. Avoid using chemicals, which can destroy or damage gemstones..By taking care of your gemstone jewelry, it will last for generations to come.

Interested in reading more about gemstones? Please read, “Gemstone Healing Traditions.”

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Special Needs Solutions for Jewelry

Hands with Jewelry
Jewelry can be frustrating for people with arthritis or limited mobility in their hands and fingers. As a result, putting on a bracelet, earrings or watch can become very difficult, if not impossible. A few simple changes can make it easier, so that wearing jewelry is enjoyable once again. All the jewelry components pictured below are available online through FireMountainGems.com.

Toggle Clasps
Toggle Clasps
When selecting necklaces or bracelets, look for toggle clasps. A toggle clasp is larger and easier to manipulate than a spring ring or lobster claw clasp. Another advantage of toggle clasps is that they are easy to use and typically can be secured without the help of another person.

Lobster Claw Clasps
Lobster Claw Clasps
Many spring ring and lobster claw clasps are quite small, making them more difficult to secure. If a lobster claw clasp is the only option, ask for a larger size clasp and a larger jump ring on the other end. Regardless of the type of clasp, many people try to secure the clasp behind the neck, which can be very frustrating. You can always secure the clasp of a necklace in the front and then slide the clasp around to the back of your neck.

Extender Chains
Extender Chains
For necklaces, it is helpful to choose a length that you can put on over your head. If you don’t know what size you need, go into any store and try on several until you find the length that works best for you. Make note of that size so that you can be sure to buy that length in the future. Another option is an extender chain. This short length of chain, in gold or silver, can be added to a necklace to give you a few extra inches of length.

Stretch Watch & Stretch Bracelet
Stretch Watch & Bracelet
If a bracelet clasp is too difficult, you may be able to slip it on without opening the clasp. Another option is stretch bracelets and watches, which are easy to slide on and off over your hand.

Memory Wire Bracelets
Memory Wire
Memory wire bracelets are quite easy to wear. Simply wrap it around your wrist and it will resume its shape, which resembles stacked bracelets.

Fishhook Earwire & Leverback Earrings
Earwires & Leverbacks
Earrings come in several types. Pierced earrings are available with earwires, earstuds (also known as posts), and leverbacks. Earwires are available in many shapes, sizes, and vary in thickness. The aptly named leverback earring can be easily opened and closed with the simple flip of a hinged lever. Both the earwires and the leverbacks offer ease of handling and there are no small parts to secure.

Butterfly Clutch & Earnut with Comfort Clutch
Earnuts
Most post style pierced earrings come with butterfly clutches like the one shown above on the left. These are quite small and difficult to secure. How often have you dropped one and they’re impossible to find on thick carpet! A nice alternative is an earnut with a comfort clutch, which is a plastic disc that provides support from the back to prevent the earring from drooping and also gives you a larger piece to hold onto when securing the earring.

Flat Pad Clip-on Earrings & Slip-on Comfort Pads
Clip on Earrings
Clip-on earrings can be uncomfortable to wear. Choose flat pad clip earrings or add slip-on comfort pads to make clips more comfortable. If you have allergies, be sure to ask if nickel free earring posts or clips are available.

Ring Guards
Ring Guards
Do you have rings that you can no longer wear? If they are too large, a ring guard can be added to make it a smaller size. A jeweler can resize precious gold and sterling silver rings.

Rings on a Necklace
Rings on Necklace
Another option is to wear the ring on a chain or necklace. A custom beaded necklace can incorporate your favorite rings into the design. As a side note, if you lose a dangle earring, don’t throw away its mate. Many dangle earrings can become pendants on new necklaces.

Jewelry is such a wonderful expression of our personalities and everyone should be able to wear it. With a few simple adjustments, jewelry can be given new life in your wardrobe and more importantly, restore a little piece of your independence. If you lack the skills to make these changes, you probably know someone who makes beaded jewelry. I’m sure they would be glad to help.

Wear your jewelry in good health!  Happy Crafting!

Luck of the Irish

St Patrick's Day BannerLeprechauns and a pot of gold are certainly hallmarks of St. Patrick’s Day. Below are a few crafting ideas to help you get ready for this upcoming celebration of all things Irish.

Shamrocks
Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, is famous for its shamrocks. If you are lucky enough, you may even find a four-leaf clover. Notice the almost woven effect created by the natural layering of these leaves. Irish knot work patterns, such as the one illustrated below, are inspired by the natural world.

Carved Marble Knots
Eternity knots can be found on everything in Ireland. The pattern shown here has been carved into marble. It could also be carved or burnt into wood, stenciled onto a wall, or drawn and/or painted onto t-shirts, handbags, or even a comforter. Jewelry makers include knot designs for their beauty as well as the symbolism of eternal love.

Cookies & Irish Coffee
A great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with a few shamrock cookies and a creamy mug of Irish coffee. In case you didn’t know, this coffee gets its high-octane kick from a shot of Irish whiskey.

Irish Soda Bread
Store bought Irish soda bread is usually made ahead of time and may be too dry. It’s best enjoyed straight out of the oven.

Jewelry Charms
The four-leaf clover is a very popular good luck talisman. A leather cord is a very inexpensive way to make a necklace. The cord can be cut to the desired length, and special cord tips are attached to the ends along with a spring ring or lobster claw clasp. Any charms with a large enough bail can be slid onto the cord and easily changed for a new look. Prefer ready-made jewelry? Ready to wear cords can be purchased with the charms of your choice.

St. Paddy's Day Parade
Of course you’ll need to wear something green to really get into the spirit of the holiday. A little green fabric is all you need – a hat, scarf, socks – anything will do.

Irish Icons
These icons are often found on everything from mugs and T-shirts to bumper stickers. Iron-ons are inexpensive and easy to apply. Craft stores also have stickers, as well as temporary tattoos, which have all the cool designs without any of the commitment.

Irish Embroidery
Embroidery is a great way to dress up any garment with lively, eye-catching graphics and funny sayings.

Shamrocks Crochet
If crocheting were your specialty, these three leaf clovers would make a very unique scarf or hat. They could also be used as decorative accents on a pillow or afghan.

Beer & Shamrocks
There are plenty of colorful holiday-themed sheets in the papercrafting aisle, or you might want to design your own. If there’s a subliminal message in this design, I suppose it would be: “I love shamrocks and beer!” Who doesn’t? (lol)

Art Clay
Working with art clay can be a fun activity for the whole family. Figures like these pictured above could be used as jewelry pendants, or attached to hair accessories or refrigerator magnets, just to name a few.

Irish Angel Stained Glass
Stained glass is a beautiful way to incorporate holiday themes and of course the color green and requisite shamrock for luck.

Ceramic Irish Bear
Belleek, is a well-known brand of Irish pottery, recognized by its neutral cream color, which often includes hand painted shamrocks. You can achieve the same look, at a fraction of the price, by visiting a ceramics studio to paint your own using a similar color scheme.

Lucky Horseshoe
An up-turned horseshoe has always been considered good luck. The addition of a four-leaf clover may be all that’s needed to amplify good fortune to the next level. well, it’s certainly worth a try.

On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish! So wear something green, enjoy a pint, and keep an eye out for a rainbow – there might just be a pot of gold under it waiting to be discovered!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Crafting!

Crafts of Love – Valentine’s Day Gifts

Frogs in Love
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation for the people you love.

Valentine's Cake
Celebrate with a Lady Finger Torte, Layer Cake, Cherry Cheesecake, Cupcakes, or Cake pops. Anything homemade is always appreciated. And if baking is not your specialty, buy one at the bakery, put it on your own serving dish and it will be our little secret! (lol)

Homemade Candy
Candy making is an easy process for everyone, even beginners. Start by melting chocolate wafers, called candy melts, which come in a variety of colors and flavors. Pour the chocolate into molds and refrigerate according to directions. You might also consider chocolate covering strawberries, nuts, graham crackers, or marshmallows. Present the finished pieces in a heart-shaped box or container.

Decorated Valentine's Cookies
Decorated cookies are eye-catching as well as delicious. Whether you choose homemade cookies or plain store-bought, add icing details, candy, or sprinkles to complete your festive designs.

Roses
Fresh-cut or silk flowers can be arranged in a bouquet, vase, or heart-shaped wreath. You don’t have to go to the expense of buying roses because any type of flowers will be appreciated.

Bleeding Hearts Flowers
Live flowers in a hanging basket or pot are not only beautiful, but long lasting as well. The flowers shown have not been photo shopped. They really are heart shaped, hence the name “bleeding hearts.”

Glass Heart
A glass paperweight, suncatcher, or pendant is a beautiful option.

Heart Charm
You could also paint a wooden heart to be hung on a wall, included on a wreath, or as a charm on a gift package or handbag.

Jewelry
Beaded jewelry is easy to create. If you don’t have those skills, you can buy a readymade chain or cord and string over-size beads without the need for any tools.

Winged Heart
You could also buy a heart-shaped pendant and add it to an existing chain or choose a new one.

Love Song or Poem
If you have a gift with words, write a song or poem on specialty paper to suit the occasion.

Painting
Artwork, such as painting, drawing, and photography, is a personal way to share your talent and show your affection at the same time.

Photo Album
A scrapbook is a thoughtful way to commemorate family memories and special events.

Vision Board
Create a vision board or photo album with inspirational travel brochures, activities and scenic pictures to build excitement for an upcoming vacation.

Candle Making
Candle making is simplified using a kit. There are multiple options including colors, shapes, sizes, and essential oils scents.

Romantic Dinner
You can’t go wrong with dinner for two. This is the perfect venue for candles, printed napkins on a pink or red tablecloth, and creative place settings to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Heart Pillow
Sewing a pillow is a quick colorful project to coordinate with any décor.

Knitting
A knitted scarf, hat, gloves, or sweater will keep that special someone warm and cozy on a cold winter day, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

Stuffed Animals
Who doesn’t love cuddly stuffed animals, especially teddy bears? If you are skilled with a needle and thread, you could make a bear with faux fur or buy one. There’s nothing like a big bear hug to brighten your day and chase away the blues.

Sunset at the Beach
It is said, “The best things in life are free.” Go to the beach, the mountains, a nearby park, or your own backyard. Any place will do to spend time together watching the sunset, enjoying a picnic or barbecue, or simply going for a walk hand in hand. Expressions of love don’t need to cost a lot, just a little creativity and a heartfelt message.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Crafting!