Getting Ready for Tucson: Jewelry-Making Products I Love and Making Way . . . for More Products I Love

6 Feb 2013

As I've been preparing for the Tucson gem, jewelry, and bead (and fossils and minerals and tools) shows this week (I'll be arriving just as you see this, yay!), I've been making a shopping list. I never follow it, mind you, but it helps me remember, when I'm out there, what I found lacking in my studio, while I was back there.

So far on my list: pearls, loose pearls, other pearls, pearl strands, a few loose pearls, and maybe a conch pearl. Ha! I know, that's silly.

Like I need a list to remind me to buy pearls. Hehe.

There are a few more jewelry supplies on my list, of course--lots of brass components, stampings, and findings that I can use for enameling, as well as some copper ones. I want to find some unique bezels and "insertables" (more metal stampings) that I can use with resin or enamel, and it'll be a good time to stock up on wire. I want to check out a special garnet or spinel from Rare Source, and I think the last thing on my list is mandrels for enameling, if I can find some, maybe from a glass supplier. We'll see.

Naturally while I was making my list, I was doing a little bit or organizing and inventory of my current studio stash. I'm happy to report that I found the surface of my largest work table! I also found some great supplies, some of which I haven't gotten around to using or sharing with you yet. So before I go stock up on even more jewelry-making supplies in Tucson, take a look at the great stuff I've been hoarding lately.

Rivetable Ring Blanks from Beaducation

Talk about handy--especially for rivet-challenged people like me! Beaducation's sterling silver rivetable rings come with a 9mm pin/post (just trim for the size you need) for riveting already soldered on and will save you lots of work time (possibly days, if you rivet like I do! Ha!). There's a handy video tutorial on to show you how they work and to give you some ideas for using them. I think you could also use them to post-set a large-holed bead, pearl or other gemstone.

Bezels and Resin Supplies from Susan Lenart Kazmer's ICE Resin

Being a paper fanatic and lover of all kinds of ephemera and found objects, Susan Lenart Kazmer's bezels and ICE Resin products are perfect for my jewelry-making style. I love building little collages and works of art to go inside the bezels, which come in a variety of sizes, shapes, designs, and metal finishes--and they seem to be adding new ones based on Susan's own designs all the time. Susan's ICE Resin comes in a double-barreled "squirtable" syringe for easy mixing.

Metal Stampings, Charms and Medals from Nunn Design

One of my favorite booths to stop at in Tucson each year is the Nunn Design booth. Becky and her team of designers make beautiful jewelry and always inspire me to use their charms and findings in unique ways. I'm most in love with her brass stampings (flowers, bees, birds, and more) because I can enamel on them, but I also love her shield-shaped bezels (perfect for more resin works of art) and religious saint medals.

Colorful Lampwork Glass Beads

If you define hoarding as buying things that you don't use, then I'm a lampwork glass bead hoarder. I love the pretty little works of art so much, but because they are all so unique and fabulous, I find myself collecting them more than using them to make jewelry. Each year I have must-see booths in Tucson and at Bead Fests, to get beads made by Kerry Kester Bogert, Gail Crosman Moore, Sylvie Lansdowne, Eleanore Macnish, Lisa Kan, Bronwen Heilman, and some others. These colorful beauties were made by Kerry Kester Bogert, author of Totally Twisted and Rustic Wrappings.

Carved/Etched Mother-of-Pearl Discs by Lillypilly Designs

The Lillypilly Designs booth is another favorite stop in Tucson each year. I'm a stacker, especially when it comes to ring designs, and my love of pearls and mother-of-pearl is no secret . . . so I was thrilled to discover these carved/etched/engraved mother-of-pearl shell discs. I love stacking them in twos and threes with a unique head pin center to make fun and pretty rings. They're also available in horn as well as in pendant-style bezels, perfect for more resin art!

Metal Charms and Components by Green Girl Studios

I'm giving away all my favorite shopping spots, but here's another one. Green Girl Studios is a great booth in which to get lost digging through trays of gorgeous handcrafted metal beads, charms and other components. In unique metals and finishes (such as shibuichi, pronounced she-boo-ee-chee, as Green Girl Studios designer Andrew Thornton taught me), their metal components are not only things you've never seen, they're things you can't live without for making truly unusual jewelry with uniquely designed elements.

Colored Copper or Aluminum Metal Sheets by Lillypilly Designs from Fusion Beads

I love patinas--I think we all do--and I love finding new ways to create patinas on metal. But sometimes it's nice to just start out with a great piece of colorful metal and not have to create my own or worry that I won't get just the right effect in just the right spot. Especially since, as I just mentioned, I'm a stacker and sometimes it's hard to get patinas to play nice when you're stacking pieces in a jewelry design. The premade metal sheets take what is usually a final step in creating jewelry and make it a pre-made beginning step--and it really gets my creative juices flowing to start with the ending like that, so to speak, and design with literal color instead of a plan to add colorful patinas at the end. These Lillypilly Designs metals come in patinated copper or anodized aluminum, embossed or plain or patterned, in a variety of gauges, and are available from

Quick and Easy Patina Solutions

Speaking of patinas . . . Somewhere between buying pre-patinated metal and creating your own patinas using sometimes laborious processes is a happy medium in the form of quick and easy, (practically) no-fail patina solutions. Two that I've used and loved in the past year are the Swellegant and Metal Me This patinas. Swellegant Metal Coating paints and patinas create a gorgeous realistic metal look and patina on just about any surface (they even make things look like metal that aren't metal--paper, clay, wood, resin, ceramic, glass, rocks...) They look especially awesome on my favorite brass flower stamping from Nunn Design, as shown here.

For something less realistic but more colorful, Metal Me This colorful patinas (colored oxides in a water-based polymer/resin binder) are beautiful and come in a wide variety of custom-blended colors that bring out the best in textured metals. Both Metal Me This and Swellegant patina products are user-friendly.

Boy, I've got a lot of jewelry-making to do! But first I'm going to go see all the new stuff these folks are showing off in Tucson. I bet you've got a great stash of jewelry-making supplies on your workspace, too. Whether you're a fan of enameling, jewelry making with resin, metalsmithing, or any other jewelry-making technique, you'll find loads of inspiring projects on sale now in our eProjects sale in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop!

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