Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ceramic, Sculpture and Pottery Class in the Philippines

This is awesome! UPCFA is having another round of their ceramic class perfect for jewelry artists, handmade hobbyists and just about anyone with a creative streak. I would love to learn ceramic basics and watch a kiln bake my work. And maybe even create my own beads from ceramic or clay materials - nothing like working with your hands! If I make extra dough by then I'll sign up for it :)

Basic Intermediate Ceramic Class for Teens and Adults
Use the pinch, coil and slab techniques to create cups and mugs, fish sculptures, fruit bowls, or candle lanterns!

UPCFA Ceramic Studio
Instructor: Kathy Sta. Ana
Course fee: Php 4,500
Duration: January 9 to February 20, 2011
Please call 981-8732 or 981-8500 local 3977

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Jewelry: Jolly Yuletide Presents

I make it a point to do a pre-holiday check on for the latest jewelry finds for the season. And again, Etsy delivers!

You may check out a great selection of handmade Christmas Jewelry from these Etsy artists.

The Santa Baby Bracelet by FanceeThat
These polymer clay swirls bring on a new twist on Christmas candy canes

Christmas Necklace by burcutansug
A parade of Christmas charms right on your neck.

Silver Calla Lily Necklace by Piperblue
Elegant and simple like a floral Christmas bell.

Snow Kissed Branch Necklace by Piperblue
I'm loving the frosted look on these silver-plated branches with snowy pearls.

A merry assortment of Christmas-themed earrings by AZbeadgirl

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Engagement Ring of the Century: Kate Middleton's Sapphire Blue Ring

Typically, a bride-to-be would abhor the idea of an engagement ring that belongs to a dead woman whose marriage ended in a much publicized divorce. But this is no ordinary engagment, its the catch of the century for any single lady- marrying the Prince of Wales!

The lovely bride-to-be Kate Middleton with the dashing rescue helicopter pilot Prince William of Wales.

I just hope this pretty commoner doesn't suffer the same fate as Princess Diana, may the wonderful Prince William protect her so (from her grand in-law) hah!

"The 18-carat oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds" engagement ring

So wanna feel like Kate? You can be a princess with your own knockoff of this royal blue stunner for only $39.95 offered at the site. The designer cashing in on the royal gem quips:

"I've always felt that any girl could become a princess. It's my pleasure to offer a ring that has become a royal sensation. Having a long relationship with the British Royal Family, I wish the couple a long and happy marriage." —Kenneth Jay Lane

The Princess knockoff ring: Make yer BFFs jealous!

Oh yeah even from the grave, Princess Di can ressurect 80s jewelry trends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Allure of Celebrity Engagement Rings

Celebrity engagement rings don't go below the $90,000 range by hollywood standards. Anything below that worth is tugging on the B-list line, but some celebs can play it safe with vintage heirlooms which sadly can be fugly on any modern bride's ring finger. Heirlooms often have huge tacky cut rocks plated with crassy gold instead of posh platinum.

The tabloids and paps have made it a game spotting newly popped rocks on celebs. This year alone has been a circus of quickie marriage proposals clinched by huge and pricey wedding bands.

For starters, Chad OchoCinco is all about the Bling! and he knows how to rock his woman's world by giving them the heavies, such as this10-carat engagement ring!

The bride Eva Lozada- may you have 85 years of bliss with Chad!

Now onto husband number #2, Jessica Simpson's suddenly spurned engagement was just in time to trump her ex-husband's Nick Lachey's own engagement plans. Oh get over it you two!

Rumor has it, the distressed Jess paid for her own fat Ruby and Gold engagement sparkler to the tune of more than $100,000

Jessica Simpson and NFL footballer Eric Johnson

The Filipino-Italian beauty Vanessa Minnillo flaunts the ring that haunts Jessica Simpson to this day.

 This $125,000 engagement deal-sealer is a 4- carat platinum Asscher-cut diamond with smaller  trapezoid cut diamonds all from Nick Lachey's pockets. 

The engagement ring that equals a $3 Million Dollar head- must be well worth it for Hockey player Mike Comrie.

The blissful bride caught on her knees by the Paps

Katy Perry and Russell Brand are so out there, a celeb couple so out-of-whacked its almost cliche! You can't expect anything ordinary for these two - so the grand Indian theme wedding was as exotic as blueberry jam on chappati roti.

This 3-carat Cartier blingamajig  is worth $120,000 with a rare diamond called the Golconda Diamond from the diamond mines of India.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pretty Wooden Bangles by Baubles Bangles & Beads

Wandering through can unearth the best local finds, so while on the lookout for all things handmade, I stumbled on a very popular multiply shop called Baubles Bangles & Beads-

Go wild with these animal print bangles.. Rawr!

These damask-style wooden bangles are to die for!

These ornate hand-painted bangles are one-of-a-kind creations by Venny Santos, Pao Yiu and Joyce Tan. They cost P350 per piece plus shipping costs.

So add a touch of whimsy to your wardrobe, this multiply store is worth a visit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Brief History of Beads

Beads are jewelry components made from clay, wood, stone, tooth and glass. A hole is bored or cut through to allow a piece of string such as twine, fiber or thread to pass through. The beads are then grouped together to form a cohesive piece of jewelry - bracelets, necklaces, anklets.

Ancient beads privately collected and owned by

Ancient beads have allowed archaeologists, a glimpse of early human societies and their cultures. Beads denoted social status as a symbol of wealth and power. They were used as currency, in barter and trading. Beads that are made into ornate jewelry have a profound effect on mating rituals and weddings.

The First Glass Beads
The first objects crafted entirely of glass were beads from Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt dating from about 2500 BC.

Ancient Millefiori beads made of glass from

The Millefiori beads we know today were first created by the Phoenicians. Millefiori beads are colored molten glass stretched into thin canes.

Modern Millefiori beads made of plastic

Artisans from Venice and Murano Italy are known for their exquisite Venetian beads. They develop pioneering techniques in creating beads that are still used even today such a lampworking or coating a mandrel with molten glass and wounding it around a metal rod.

An interesting catalog of ancient Murano glass beads by an Italian Murano glass company called
Ercole Moretti

Another process of making Venetian beads starts with a large glass bubble. As it is blown by one operator, another pulls it to form a tube that may be as long as 100 feet.The bubble has become the hollow center of the beads that may now be cut from the tube. The sharp glass edges of the beads are rounded by being tumbled and heated along with a mixture of ashes and sand that prevents the beads from fusing.

In the middle ages, we have the rural town of Bohemia to thank for the thriving industry of Fire Polished beads. Czech glassmakers had a steady supply of firewood due to its forest terrain.

This allowed Czech artisans to experiment with glassmaking techniques for centuries. They developed pressed-glass beads. They created molds where they could pour the molten glass and stamp the glass beads. Though the Czech glassmaking industry suffered through World War I and WWII, it was able to regain its throne as one of the world's best bead manufacturers. Today, quality glass beads are often associated with Czech glass beads particularly for their glass seed beads.

The principal consideration in beadmaking is consistency of color and size.

Glass stems to be machine cut into glass beads by bead supplier Tianjin Ruiying Glass Artifical Factory

Modern materials and mass production facilities ensure uniformity with the use of commercial plastics and machine cut crystals. But the brilliance and art that comes with handmade glass beads remained unmatched in value.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jewelry Measurement Tools: Planning Board, Sizers and Gauges

As a jewelry designer, do you measure down to the exact millimeter or do you go by gut and do a visual estimate?

If I'm doing it for a client I go for the exact measurements, there's nothing far worse than a necklace than turns out to be quite a choker. However, as hobbyists our enthusiasm gets the best of us and we just want to create and do away with the math.

Luckily, there's a great array of jewelry and beading design tools that focus on Measurements and Sizes:

Necklace Planning Board
The Necklace Planning Board is the best guide for designing necklaces. It helps you plan your design, the placement of your beads as a whole. You can foresee what your necklace will look like without the string or chain. As you are creating, you would soon realize what textures and colors would go together seamlessly.

Photo and Product sold online by

Some jewelry shops refer to them as Bead Design Boards. Some have a bead counter which provides a visual placement for round beads. Measurements also go by inches. Some boards have 3 rows (Beadalon brand) enough for you to envision multi-strand necklaces. Like in making movies, the Necklace Planning Board is the cutting room floor for necklaces. Best of all, they serve as a bead tray to keep all your beads from rolling away.

Bracelet Sizer
The Bracelet Sizer is used to get the right size of the wrist before you can start on your bracelet. This is a good peg especially if you are receiving orders online and you can't personally measure your client's forearm.

This Bracelet Sizer can be found at

In any bracelet, the thread or chain will curve around the wrist, the bracelet sizer helps you allot the right amount of space or allowance between the skin and the beads. Please consider that not all beads are round- some are stone flat, irregularly shaped or bulky. If you are creating a bracelet of mixed beads and stones, you need to compensate for the length of the thread.

Bracelet Gauge
They look like metal bracelets and like handcuffs, they provide an opportunity for you to do a fitting on your client. The client can now gauge how tight or loose she may want her bangle, cuff or bracelet to be.

Check out this Bracelet Gauge at

Ring Sizer
This is the most popular among the jewelry measurement tools- this is how they get the right fit for engagement rings. Imagine, buying something that pricey then it doesn't fit. As for jewelry making, Ring Sizers are there to gauge finger diameter.

I usually use my ring sizer as a dummy finger for freeform peyote stitch projects (aka glass bead rings). In Manila, I bought mine at Wellmansons in Quiapo for P150, I got the aluminum kind though I would have preferred the wooden one (P400-P500).

Here are some online shops that sell Jewelry Measurement tools:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Angelina Jolie's Bracelet: Of Salt and Serpents

Stylishly coiled around her wrist, Angelina Jolie wore a gem-studded serpentine bracelet from the Protector Collection by Asprey at the Salt Premiere in Los Angeles.

The limited edition Protector Collection was designed and inspired by both Brad and Angie in support of The Education Partnership for Children in Conflict

The Snake has been a recurring theme among jewelry artisans for centuries. Its an ancient design that draws power from nature- the snake is considered a symbol of fertility and protection. The most common symbol being the Ouroboros, a snake eating its tail is a symbol of infinity and rebirth.

Hot Mama Angelina Jolie wore Armani to her Salt premiere- black, strapless & yes, beaded! Alongside her is the hottest accessory known to womankind- a freshly shaved and beardless Brad Pitt!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Functional Jewelry: Draw, Color and Propose with Crayon Rings!

One can never be too old to write on the walls. Or easily take note of an idea - who needs a pen anyway? When you got crayon jewelry to jot down those sudden spur of the moment ideas.

A clever use of color: Ingenious Crayon Rings by furniture designer Timothy Liles. The man is my jewelry pop icon :)

"Will You Marry Me?"

Get on one knee and propose with a crayon ring. Bet she'll love it! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Basic Jewelry Tools: Beading Pliers

Specialist Crafts stores often carry a wide range of jewelry beading tools. Such tools can help beginners and Pros create impressive and elegant jewelry pieces. Some of these tools can also be found at hardware stores. But a craft store is your best bet in finding the right size tool for your beading projects. I would suggest investing in a reasonably price stainless steel set of tools whether it be a plier or a cutter. Cheap ones don't last long and rust easily in storage.

To begin with, any one trying to get their groove into jewelry making or beading should have a reliable plier in the toolbox. You don't need to purchase all the pliers just specific ones tailored to the kind of material you'll be working on.

A good pair of Pliers equal a good grip on the material you are handling.

Here are the types of Pliers used in Jewelry-Making or Beadwork:

Crimping Pliers

Primarily use for fastening strings, wires and creating an end loop as a lock. This is usually done by using crimps, french crimps, bead crimps and folding clasps.

Crimps are cylindrical tubes you can insert wire ends of a necklace.

Folding clasps once crimped provides a hole that any lock or clasp can latch unto.

The crimping plier will secure necklaces and bracelets strung on flexible beading wire by folding the metal tube of the crimp, once the beading wire or thread is in inside. Available here. 

Chain-nosed Pliers
An essential tool in the any crafter's toolbox. This is the most traditional and reliable plier used in beadwork- it does most of the crafting action.

Mainly, use for making loops, bends, opening and closing and twisting metals, locks, rings. I would recommend this Ergonomic Chain Nose Pliers from Bead Smith. 

There is also a variant known as Blunt Chain-nosed Pliers for getting into those tight miniscule spaces. The nose ends angle at a certain direction. Find this beading plier here.

Snipe-nosed PliersThese pliers taper toward the flat end, oftentimes group with or similar to chain-nosed pliers. Basically, they are use the same way. You can find a jeweler's snipe-nosed plier here.

Flat-nosed Pliers
Use for straightening bent wire and for making sharp angles in wires. The insides of the noses can be smooth or serrated. You can buy one here online

Round-nosed Pliers
Handy to ascertain wrapping space, positioning wire and enlarging loops when needed. The round noses helps you maintain good control of the loop and creating diameter. This is not a plier for gripping or flattening metals, this is meant for wrapping and twisting wires the way you want them. Check out Round nosed pliers at

Blunt-nosed Pliers
Blunt-nosed pliers help put on the squeeze, its the plier to use to bring on a tight tough grip without causing damage. They do not taper (become smaller or thinner) towards their flat ends.

Split-Ring Pliers
Designed for opening split rings and making attachments fast and easy. Hardened steel nose separates rings and keeps them separated while you secure findings. Spring hinge increases comfort by reducing fatigue.

Get yourself a handy split-ring plier here

Nylon Jaw Pliers
Nylon Jaw pliers are designed to treat wire and metal surface delicately particularly sculpting craft wire, wrapping wires and soft wires. The soft nylon jaws will not leave a mark, dent or a texture on the surface of the material you are working on.

In fact, it protects the surface finish of wire, so no need to polish it off later. Nylon Jaw Pliers can easily undo angles, bent wires or simply straighten the wires. Keeping the design or wire scuplture in place while giving you that flexibility to edit your wire angles. Go steady with this Nylon Plier

Using the right plier for your project can help you move or bend the metal around with ease and smooth precision. So its a good idea to invest and collect on reliable beading pliers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Authentic Human Hair Jewelry by Larissa de Souza

Human Hair jewelry has been around for centuries since the dawn of time as tribal adornment and as mementos for deceased loved ones. Today, it may border on the uncanny valley of creepiness as a macabre memento- almost like a serial killer trophy.

But the art of Hair Jewelry is grounded on sentiment, maybe even grief or love. It may also prove to be quite fashionable and elegant once braided and weaved with precious metals.

Larissa de Souza is a NYC jewelry designer who views hair as a great medium for scupltural design. She does custom jewelry work using your hair or a loved one's. 

For more info on her hairy craft visit or at her Etsy shop


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