Thursday, July 2, 2009

Soldered Necklaces - Tutorial

I used to teach classes at Paper Chic Boutique on how to make soldered necklaces. The technique is difficult to get down, however, with these simple tips and tricks I have come up with you can be a pro in no time.
Step 1: You will need a kit. My kit cost around $150, and I keep it in a plastic tackle box so my items are all together. You will need glass, copper tape (self adhesive), a clamping system of your choice, flux, boning tool, eye protection, face mask, plastic gloves, Q tips or small paint brush, 100% silver solder, dremel motor tool, large piece of glass, power strip, and a soldering tool that heats up to 650 degrees.
It is best to solder outside or where it is well ventilated. The fumes from the flux can be dangerous and you do not want to make skin contact at all with the flux. Please do not solder or have hot tools around small children. I tape my power strip up to the table so there is no chance of an accidental tripping on the cord.
The large glass goes down on your working surface first. The hot solder will not stick to it and if it drips you can reuse it. The hot soldering gun will also not burn through the glass. This is why it is not only safe but important to use glass as your working mat.

Remember that your piece will heat up to 650 degrees, so use your clamps, not your fingers.

Step 2: You want to take your cut glass and surround it with copper tape. Use the boning tool to remove any air bubbles and make sure the tape is nice and secure to the glass. Cut a small piece of copper tape and use it to adhere the jump ring to the top of your piece. This trick makes it much easier than building a prong out of hot solder.
Take your q-tip or paint brush and flux your entire piece. Use your gloves as not to get the flux on your skin.

Step 3: Tin your piece. This means take the solder and simply go around the entire piece with a very thin coat, covering all copper wrap.

Step 4: The build up. So your piece is tinned and you are ready to build up the solder. It is very hard to get a nice clean line unless you are pretty advanced. My trick here is about 1/3 from the edge place a large dot of solder (as shown) and let it harden. Then take the tip of your iron and spread this dot down the long end first and then directly back up and over to the opposite end. Twirl off end. Looks great, huh??!! Repeat with all sides.

When you get to the top of the piece start the dot on either side of the jump ring and only move to one end.

HUGE TIP: The more you mess with your piece the worse it will look. Remember you can buff it with the dremel machine. Try not to wipe it off and start over. Not only will the piece get too hot and potentially crack, but you may burn through the copper tape. Do not leave your iron in one spot on your piece. Simply spread across each side like you were frosting a cake.

Walla, all done and ready for buffing with my dremel tool. I use the stone buffer. Press down with steady but even pressure and go around each side until nice and shined.

These necklaces were made by me for several young ladies in my church to give as birthday gifts throughout the year. I get to make 30 of them so thought I would share my tips and techniques with the public for your benefit as well. Please feel free to comment or ask questions!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Altered Couture

My Sister, Gwendalynn, came for a visit earlier this month. I had two open houses to showcase her incredible jewelry line. Her talent can be found at I have always loved to sew. I first started sewing at a very young age. Mom would make dresses for us and I loved to sit and watch her talent. The great thing about mom was that she wasn't afraid to let me use her tools. She just turned over her machines to me and I was taking off on my own before I knew it. I would make doll dress patterns and sew them together as young as 1st grade. So, when I saw the edition of Altered Couture on the counter at Michael's I was excited to give it a whirl myself. I mentioned it to Gwendalynn and she was just as excited to be my subject to dress.Unfortunatley I did not picture the dress before alterations were made. It was a simple straight no sleeve dress without any detail. I added some puffs to the skirt, as shown, plus gathered tuelle along the bottom hem line. To give some contrast I decided to add fiber to the dress. My choice was black yarn that is frayed and rugged looking, giving this dress a shabby chic quality.
Puffy Pockets with more tuelle and fiber details.
A simple black shash gives an empire waiste look and is tied in the back with a square knot. Shown here, on Gwendalynn, you can see how well the hand tufting on the skirt turned out. The shash actually comes from another dress, a simple black dress with a tie. I cut the dress down the front (this was the fun part) and am altering that dress into a "puff jacket", long in length, to be worn over the dress in the evening.
The black jacket is shown here. The sleeve detail is fun, ribbon entertwined in metal chain, the finishing touch is charms....this really makes the jacket have some personality!
I wasn't able to get the jacket finished before we had to go to bed for our trip into Seattle the next few days...but here it is shown with the dress. The bottom hem will be a "balloon" hem---made with elastic. I am going to add some vintage buttons or some amazing vintage flowers we found in Bellevue as detail in the front.