February 27, 2008

Ornament Thursday: Luck of the Leprechaun

It's time for another Ornament Thursday! This means that a big group of great artists will be posting fun ideas and projects related to this month's theme, and we will all link to each other's posts...see the links below. This month's theme is *LUCK* in pre-celebration for St. Patty's day next month. My inspiration is that very Irish fairy, the Leprechaun. I wanted to use one of my porcelain leafy face stones, some of my green shamrock porcelain charms, and some Vintaj brass beads and a filigree wrap.

Above, is the Luck of the Leprechaun necklace that I created with this inspiration in mind. It turned out a little differently than how I imagined it in my head, and I am very pleased! Yesterday, I had shown some of the ingredients I was thinking of using to create this (shown below, the very bottom picture) As you can see, my choices changed a little bit when it came down to crafting it. That happens often for me, as I tend to respond to materials. The main change was the choice of the filigree wrap. Instead of doing a step by step project here, I would like to show you a little bit of my thinking process and the steps I used to create a more unusual wrap. I used a bead instead of a flat wrap, so it took a bit of unconventional thinking...

I began this project intending to use the flat Vintaj filigree wrap shown in the very last picture. It seemed like a good choice...the right size for the cab. I actually wrapped the face stone and it looked fine, but it was almost too close in size, because all you could see from the front was a tiny rim of brass around the stone. All the good decorative stuff was in the back. And I felt like I wanted more of an interesting shape, instead of just a simple setting. So I eyed the big filigree bead shown above and grabbed my flat nose pliers...excited to see what I could discover.

I pried open the bead, which feels strange to do...tearing apart a perfectly good, round bead. But I had a feeling something cool would happen if I looked at it in a different way. The metal is thick, so it takes some care and patience to open the bead. I felt like I was cracking a nut! It began to unfold like a flower, or like a 4 leaf clover, how appropriate! I kept opening until it was as flat as I could get it with my fingers.

At this point, I needed my tools. These flat nose pliers are very handy for flattening the brass, and if you do it slowly and deliberately, you can avoid marring the metal. The width of the pliers provides just the right tension, and can cover a large area of the surface, giving you just the right pressure. Regular chain nose pliers would be difficult to use for this, since the pointy part can really dig into the metal, not to mention the back cutters that my pair of chainnose has (I hate that part...I never use those cutters!) . Another good idea might be to tape your pliers, to avoid tool marks. By working slowly a little at a time, I was able to turn this round bead into a flat wrap.
Above, you can see the wrap in action from the back. Notice I inserted two large jumprings onto the center of the wrap, then placed the stone on top of both the wrap and the rings and wrapped the ends over the stone. As I mentioned, this is a very heavy piece of metal, so I had to plan carefully, bend a little, check again, and bend some more. The porcelain of the stone is high fired, so I knew it could withstand the pressure of the heavy wrap as I pressed it around the stone.

In the end, I really love this choice for the wrap over the original idea, because I love the shape the pointed filigree shape took when wrapped around the stone. And with the stone being a face, it sort of ends up resembling some sort of fairy like, costume headpiece, which I love. I used a beautiful wide piece of hand dyed silk ribbon, loosely knotted and tied to the center, and attached to the toggle clasp with a little wrap of natural brass toned wire. All the brass is from Vintaj (except for the three tiny brass ball drops from Metalifferous) the 2.5 inch Moondust dyed satin ribbon is from M&J Trim, and the porcelain is by me, Earthenwood Studio

Below, the original ingredients I was planning on using. My inspiration continued to be the world of the Leprechaun, and I kept the ceramic parts but switched up a few of the brass bits to create this project.

And now, links to more Ornament Thursday participants!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva Luck is knotted up in Part 1 of this tutorial

Art Bead Scene Lucky ABS! We're part 2 of Lucky Knots!

Jennifer Heynen of Jangles Lucky Charms Bracelet...The name says it all. This bracelet has everything to bring you good luck.

Jenny Harada Jingly Good Luck Charm

Joolz by Lisa As Luck Would Have It...Lucky Earrings

Katie's Beading Blog Make your own luck with these fun, swingy earrings!

Labyrinth O' Luck Hali has created a finger labyrinth journal designed after a 4-leaf clover.

Linda Augsburg at Make It Mine magazine Lucky doesn't begin to describe the adventure I had making this T-shirt...

Lucky Lucky to be... based on a coin holder a friend made for me...

Lucky To Be Me Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? Well, YOU, of course. No matter who you are when you look into this magical mirror, you'll be reminded you're lucky to be you!

Lynn Kvigne - Beading Help Web Irish Proverb Window Ornament - step by step instructions for making this year-round ornament that may bring luck right through your window!

Melissa J. Lee - Strands of Beads Good fortune is yours with this cookie-inspired necklace.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! You'll "make Jean's day " if you check out her lucky Pendant with a Clint Eastwood eighties twist

Swelldesigner Swelldesigner gets lucky this month with some super colorful, sparkly painted bangles

The Impatient Blogger Luck starts with a wish...Margot shares an project she created for Simply Beads last August.

Savvy Crafter Get Lucky over on Candie's blog! She's giving away some Lucky charms and see her earrings made with napkins! Bon Appetit!!


  1. I look forward to seeing what you do with these components! I like that what you've picked out has more of a traditional faerie feel, instead of "OMG! LOOK! It's green and covered in shamrocks, it's IRISH!"

    I find that the latter category of items is so kitschy that it can be only worn for St. Patrick's Day. These beads are beautiful, though, and would be appropriate for year-round wear by anyone with an appreciation for Celtic culture.

  2. tee hee hee, I am looking forward to it too! It is noting more than a fleeting idea right now, but it will be a good challenge for tonight...

    Yeah I agree, sometimes the over the top green shamrocks and all makes me cringe. I am not a lot Irish, but with my red hair and freckles...am probably a lil Irish. But when I see all that stuff in March I feel like I would be a little offended, if I had more Irish blood...

    I love the old Irish fairie tales and the Celtic art traditions, so I am thinking about that today...

  3. These are fabulous. You out-did yourself with a beautiful collection of work. I hope they all bring you good luck!

  4. Aw, I'm Irish and I love it. The dorkier the better! When I was a kid I had this godawful kelly green striped shirt with a matching polyester vest I wore for several St. Pat's days...paging the Dork Patrol!

    Melanie I used some of your yummy beads in my design I posted (it was the one that almost made the mag cover.)

    I'm also a huge fan of Celtic mythology (and myth in general) which is why my daughter is named Avalon.


  5. Kriss, Thanks! It was great fun collecting them and working on this!

    Margot, thanks so much! How funny, we both used the same Shamrock design from my line, but done with different glazes and loop configurations, it really changes the whole look!

  6. Melanie

    I had to come back to see the finished design and...holy shamrocks! This is FABULOUS! So inventive and such gorgeous saturated color. Green is my favorite color.


  7. thanks Margot, that's awfully sweet of you! Holy Shamrocks...I love it!

  8. Awsome necklace - it looks so magical! And I love your step by step instructions - so easy to follow!


  9. Lynn, thanks so much! I was going for a magical, fantasy look, so I am glad it came out that way...

  10. I love the filigree wrap! You are so darn clever!

  11. This is absolutely beautiful and beautifully expalined and demonstrated.!!!

  12. WOW. This is SO COOL! I would never think to crack open a bead like that. AWESOME! :-) H.

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of using the metal bead that way! I was totally entranced by the piece when I saw it, but then when I read what you DID, I realized how totally genius the ideas is!! Love the ribbons and the color combinations too, but REALLY GREAT use of that metal bead!

  14. Fantastic! I loved seeing your process of deconstructing and reshaping the bead!

  15. Another gorgeous piece! I love how you incorporated the Vintaj brass components. As usual, a really original idea!

  16. Thank you all so much for visiting and commenting! Happy Ornament Thursday to you all!

  17. I'm a day or so behind but wanted to say what a wonderful project this is. I love all the cool elements!

  18. this turned out lovely! Love the rustic vibe it has.

  19. yes, rustic, I like that word! Thanks