We’re Suckers for Steampunk!

Gear & filigree earrings. Photo courtesy of beadinggem.com

Gear & filigree earrings. Photo courtesy of beadinggem.com

Cogs and gears and rivets, oh my! It seems like steampunk culture is everywhere, from embellished bags, to sculpture (R2D2 is our fave!), to clothing. Where we have enjoyed seeing it most, however, is in jewelry. We can’t think of a better way to justify keeping those oddball bits and pieces, like orphan keys, watch parts, and other bits of metal, than by using them to create fabulous jewelry!

Although the term “steampunk” has been around since the late 80s, and hints of this sub-genre of science fiction can be found in the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley, it has really taken off as a fashion genre in recent years. People have embraced steampunk as a culture and a lifestyle (as Wikipedia can tell you), and although we are impressed by these folks’ commitment to their lifestyles, we are happy to pay homage to the genre by creating jewelry that alludes to the fantastic world of steam- and spring-powered technology.

Below are just a few amazing steampunk-inspired pieces we thought you’d enjoy! If you are interested in making your own steampunk jewelry, come on down to Blue Door Beads and we’ll show you how to combine cool components from Vintaj with watch parts, rivets, rings, and more to create jewelry that reflects your own steampunk style!

This steampubnk owl is a great combination of watch parts, hand-stamped metal, spacer beads & Swarovski crystals! Photo courtesy of riverpathstudio on Etsy.

This steampubnk owl is a great combination of watch parts, hand-stamped metal, spacer beads & Swarovski crystals! Photo courtesy of riverpathstudio on Etsy.

Adorable polymer clay hummingbord with steampunk wings & tail! Photo courtesy of DesertRubble on Etsy.

Adorable polymer clay hummingbord with steampunk wings & tail! Photo courtesy of DesertRubble on Etsy.

A cool combo of watch faces & watch hands! Photo courtesy of PuddinAndPeanuts.

A cool combo of watch faces & watch hands! Photo courtesy of PuddinAndPeanuts.

Polymer clay steampunk unicorn pendant. Photo courtesy of Freeheart1 on Etsy.

Polymer clay steampunk unicorn pendant. Too cute! Photo courtesy of Freeheart1 on Etsy.

Watch part & filigree ring. Photo courtesy of LondonParticulars on Etsy.

Watch part & filigree ring. Photo courtesy of LondonParticulars on Etsy.

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Fly Away Home

One of our favorite things about summertime is the cluster of birds that chirp and flutter in the bushes in our store parking lot, greeting us every morning when we come to work. We have a wonderful variety of birds here in Oakland, California, including finches, mourning doves, bluejays, hummingbirds, and (our personal favorite) chickadees!

Too cute!

Their happy chattering and boundless energy make them a pleasure to watch, to the point where we almost wish our back parking lot was the front of our store, so that we could watch them all day! But we don’t mind waiting for our lunch breaks to step outside to watch them build their nests, call to one another, and swoop around in the sky.

We wanted to pay homage to our feathered friends, as well as the other winged creatures that flutter around our neighborhood, by showing you all of the fun bird, dragonfly, and butterfly beads & pendants we have in the shop. We also have classes and workshops coming up where you can create your own piece of flying-creature-inspired jewelry!

Vintaj never ceases to disappoint us! It seems there are always coming out with darling new bird & butterfly pendants and components. Choose from warm, brown nickel-free brass elements (that can be polished up to be really shiny!), or the slightly darker iron-based charms, also nickel-free.

We created the necklace pictured below using one of Vintaj’s “Songbird” altered blanks and embossed it using the Sizzix DecoEmboss Die in Cherry Blossom Garden. Swing by the shop to have us show you how to use the special edition Vintaj Sizzix BigKick embossing & etching machine. Caution: this technique is highly addicitive! As for the bird’s nest: we will soon be featuring a workshop where folks can drop in to the shop to learn how to create this darling little nest. Mix & match beads for multi-colored eggs that are great for pendants, as well as earrings!

Also flying around the shop: this unique variety of winged pendants and charms! We love the organic look of the carved bone and jade pendants, the shimmer of the mother-of-pearl butterflies (the tan one and orange one), and the cutie-pie dragonfly connector & sterling bird charm!

Create your own adorable butterfly pendant like the one pictured below in our Faux Cloisonné class happening this Sunday, August 26th! Learn to make polymer clay look like classic cloisonné…super cool! Call the shop at 510.652.2583 for more details.

And for those who would like to wear a fabulous piece of jewelry right out the door, we also have necklaces featuring a feathered friend or two. The necklace below features a polymer clay focal bead created by local artist and instructor, Debbie Anderson. Debbie will be teaching the Faux Cloisonné class — learn all about polymer clay from a pro!

In closing, we would like to wish you happy beading and share with you this quote from Victor Hugo: “Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”

Chain It Up!

We are partial to all kinds of chain: fine, heavy, shiny, antiqued, silver, gold…the list goes on & on! Chain is incredibly versatile, and although it is tempting to use it in the simplest way possible in jewelry-making (chain + pendant = necklace. *yawn*), we encourage you to use it in much more interesting ways. For example:

Create flowy, dangly earrings.
It doesn’t take much to create this delicate look. First, we created a wire loop, hooked it to the oval component, then wire-wrapped the loop closed. Next, we slid a bead on the remaining straight wire, created another wire loop (but left it open), then slid several pieces of the same chain in various lengths onto the wire loop before wrapping it up. We then attached an ear wire to the oval component to complete the earring. The result is a long & dangly earring that is also pleasantly lightweight!



Use chain links to connect donut beads together.

One of the many reasons we love Vintaj nickel-free brass chain is the fact that the larger styles are made up of links that open up with pliers! Not only does this mean you lose fewer links by not having to cut them, but it also opens up many more possibilities for attaching charms, bead links, or large-hole beads, like the bracelet pictured. Mix & match donuts of different colors, or add rings of different sizes. The sky’s the limit!

Add dramatic flair.
This necklace could look nice as a simple series of wire-wrapped bead links connected with chain. However, we wanted to create a more dramatic look, so we opened up the chain links connecting the bead links and added varying lengths of different types of chain, including etched, rounded, and smooth. This added texture & a little bit more personality!

These are only a few possibilities for how you can use chain in your next jewelry project. Want to see your unique chain design featured in our blog? Email us at blog@bluedoorbeads.com and you could be featured in a future post!

Purdy Patinas

Although we love bright & shiny things as much as anyone, we also enjoy vintage-style jewelry. When metal jewelry has a patina, we feel it gives a jewelry piece character and hints at the fact that the item may have a history. Even if the piece is brand new, a patina can lend the piece a bit of an antique touch!

Vintaj “Nouveau Roses” Earrings

When patina happens naturally, it is technically a tarnish that forms on the surface of brass, copper, bronze, and other metals. Patina results when the surface of a metal is altered by the effects of the atmosphere, causing gradual changes resulting in an uneven coloring, typically green. Sometimes referred to as natural toning, a patina was once only achieved with the passing of time.

However, today jewelry-makers can apply their own ready-made patinas to metal beads, metal blanks and other components. Vintaj patinas are opaque inks specially formulated to adhere to metal, and they look gorgeous on Vintaj’s nickel-free brass and Arte Metal components!

Come to Blue Door Beads tonight between 6pm-9pm to learn how to apply Vintaj patinas and create amazing embellishments to your next bracelet, necklace, or pair of earrings. We’ll also be serving wine & cheese, so enjoy a nosh, some vino & good beading company! Can’t make it tonight? Come in any time and we’ll show you the tools you need to get started on your patina adventure.

Door photo courtesy of http://www.ralphegrant.com.

P.S. We just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to feature a great photo of a gorgeous blue door. Gotta love the natural patina on this bronze door!