I was on one of my favorite Facebook group called Creative Bead Chat where jewelry makers share ideas, ask questions, inspire one another, and a place to socialize with like mind creative and wonderful peeps at the end of February. We were having a great discussion started by Kristin Oppold from Yay Jewelry and next thing I knew 5 of us signed up to be testers for Melinda Orr for Artisan Whimsy Bead Chat Magazine's 5x5 Product Test Group for April 2013 issue!
This is how the 5x5 Product Test Group work ~ 5 members receive 5 items to design with and you have 30 days to create, test, try new techniques and submit your creations. I loved the similarity in concept with my favorite show Chopped (although nobody gets chopped in this test group) :) If you want to be future tester, sign up here.
For our test group we received aluminum strips in two widths, two gauges of copper wires, bronze wire, and brass wire. I use copper and bronze wire in a lot of my work so I was familiar with their characteristics. Both copper and bronze wires are very malleable and easy to work with. I decided to make a Tree of Life Pendant and mixed the two wires to get a different blend of colors. Personally, I wouldn't mix the two wires for future pendants. I don't like that copper wires will age in time but the bronze will remain the same color because of the coatings.
Next was brass wire. Unlike copper and bronze, brass is a lot harder. I tried to shape it but I knew it was going to be too hard on my hands. So if brass wire won't let me manipulate it, I decided I'm going to pound the heck out of it! It was a great stress release :) I really like how hammer textured brass looks. I cut the wires in two different lengths and looped the ends. I hung them on black leather cord for color contrast and surprisingly I ended up liking brass much better than when I started to work with them :) I need to see how the metal tarnishes and will experiment with different ways to seal the beautiful shine it has. If any of you know, let me know what works best!
I was intrigued when Melinda told us she was sending aluminum strips. As I mentioned during our team discussion, I never considered using aluminum for jewelry in the past. When I received the strips of aluminum, I was surprised how soft the metal was. My girlfriend Lynda came over for creative play date and she brought her embossing machine with her. We decided to run the strips through and the aluminum embossed the patterns beautifully! I also hammer textured the other strip and it was so easy to apply the texture. So opposite from the brass wire. I've been wanting to try alcohol ink on metal and decided to try a new technique! I wouldn't consider covering silver with ink because of the price of silver but with the affordable aluminum, color away!
The alcohol ink colored the metal beautifully. I learned once you achieve the color/look you like, leave it alone! I had to redo one set all over again because I just had to add another drop of ink and ruined the look I wanted to achieve. Another tip is to seal the work once you are done and the ink is dry. I used an acrylic protective sealant called Protect Your Memories II. Without any protective sealant the colors chip and mar easily. The sealant didn't change the color of the ink and was resilient to scratches :) The color combinations are endless! I kept the design of the last pair of earrings simple to show off the gorgeous color blends.
I am so happy I got sucked in, I mean signed up, for the 1st 5x5 Product Test Group! I would have never tried aluminum and used alcohol ink on metal otherwise. As you may have guessed, I'll be inking like a fiend on aluminum now!
Big Mahalo to Melinda Orr for including me in the tester group and introducing me to aluminum! Go visit Melinda's store Orrtec for supplies :)
Check out what my teammates Linda Younkman of Lindy's Designs, Ali McCarthy of Northwoods Creative Studio, Alicia Marinache of All Pretty Things, and Kristin Oppold of Yay Jewelry created on April's issue of Artisan Whimsy Bead Chat Magazine! They all did a great job!! Come join us on Artisan Whimsy!
Mahalo for visiting!