Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Design In My Society6 Shop - Bohemian Spirit Mandalas on Aubergine

Yay! I love how this design turned out! Hi friends! I wanted to take a minute to share the latest design that I uploaded to my Society6 shop this morning. It's a pen and ink drawing of three mandalas entitled Spirit Mandalas, and it looks especially pretty on the pillows. 

The background is a deep aubergine, like the deep purple-plum color of an eggplant, and I think it's a really elegant combination when paired with the ivory colored artwork. This design is perfect for Boho decor lovers! 

Here are just a few examples of this new design on a few different products. All are available in my Society6 shop so be sure to check them out!

Wall tapestry available in 3 sizes!

iPhone and iPod cases as well as skins and laptop sleeves and skins are available in all different sizes too

I just love the pillows! There are square, rectangular (like the one above) and large floor pillows that you can order in circular or square

I hope you like them! Let me know what you think!

also new...

Visit me at Society6

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

All artwork, article and images copyright ©LauraBethLove2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Painting Through A Blizzard And Learning As I Go

Thank goodness we didn't get the 26 or 27 inches of snow they were calling for Monday night into Tuesday (we got a managable 12 to 13 inches instead) but we still settled in to wait out the storm. I filled the birdfeeder and hung the suet and then made a big pot of white chicken chili (I used this recipe and it's now a family favorite) along with some honey cornbread.  The birdfeeders and suet brought out every bird in the neighborhood and it was neat to see a few woodpeckers (check out this video on my Instagram that I took of a Downy Woodpecker) and all sorts of other birds. 

Sam keeping me company as I do a sketch for another watercolor painting. 

I drew out a rough sketch to use as a guide.

I kept it pretty simple and only used three colors, this was the first layer.

The next day I added some details and her hair.


I probably could have added more paint or more details but I'm trying to avoid over-painting.

I'm pretty happy with the results. I've never had any kind of formal art training so I am just kind of teaching myself and am learning as I go. 

At this point I would rather just observe and figure it out myself instead of being told I am doing something wrong or right, or be shown the way someone else says I should do something. I think it allows my art to be free and without limits or rules because I don't have to worry about any of those things I can just purely express. :)

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

article and images copyright ©LauraBethLove2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How To Choose A Soldering Iron For Jewelry Making

Hi friends! Today I'm going to talk about soldering irons used for making soldered jewelry. In this article I'll give you some helpful tips for how to choose the right soldering iron for jewelry making, and I'll also explain why I recommend a 100 watt soldering iron for jewelry making.  

This type of jewelry - that is, jewelry made with a soldering iron - is sometimes called "low temp soldered jewelry" and the term "low temp" is used to differentiate this type of soldering from "high heat soldered jewelry" which would be jewelry that is made with a torch and a flame, such as when you are torch soldering sterling silver. That type of soldering requires an open flame. 

Low temp soldered jewelry does not require an open flame. It only requires a soldering iron. It is also sometimes known as "soft soldered jewelry" but I think "low temp soldered jewelry" is a more accurate title. For the sake of this article, when I say "soldered jewelry" I am talking about jewelry that is created by using a soldering iron. 

An example of soldered jewelry - the metalwork around the hearts is soldered 

You can buy soldering irons in different wattages. Look at any stained glass catalog and some jewelry making catalogs, and you'll find soldering irons called "irons for the hobbyist," or "irons for  professionals," or "craft soldering irons," etc. But exactly what kind of soldering iron do you need for making soldered jewelry? 

First of all, I get tons of emails from people who want to know what brand soldering iron they should buy. In my books I have recommendations for wattage but not for brands. Why? Because brand is a matter of personal preference. 

Do I have my favorites? Sure I do. But I've only ever tried a couple different brands of irons so I really can't tell you which is the best. It wouldn't be fair to the ones I haven't tried! But I can tell you this: you get what you pay for. 

Soldered jewelry - from my book, Boho Chic Jewelry

If you buy something very inexpensive called a "hobby soldering iron" that has a low wattage, you won't be able to get good results with it. How do I know this? Because first of all, it won't reach a high enough temperature to melt lead-free solder, and that's what you have to use to make jewelry. 

Most soldering irons are made for the stained glass industry and so they are made to melt lead which is used to create stained glass, and lead melts at a low temperature. Because we are making jewelry we need to use lead-free solder. Lead-free solder melts at a higher temperature than lead does, so you need a higher wattage iron to be able to work with lead-free solder.

Note: If you use lead solder to make jewelry you are making poisonous jewelry. Using lead to make jewelry is against the law and you could get in much trouble for this. How do you tell the difference between lead solder in jewelry and lead-free solder in jewelry? First of all, The weight. Lead solder is heavy. Second of all, the finish. Lead solder can be polished to a super shiny finish that has virtually no visual imperfections. Lead-free solder will often have a hazy spot here or there and that is just the nature of the beast. It still will polish up to a nice shine with a little bit of elbow grease. Another way to tell whether it is lead or not is to simply do a lead test on that you can buy at a hardware store. And be advised, even if you put a patina on it or other coating, it is still lead and it is still against the law to use it in jewelry. So my point is, never use lead to make jewelry. Only ever use 100 percent lead-free solder. 

OK, so we have established that you need a high wattage iron so that it can melt the lead-free solder. I recommend a 100 W soldering iron. Sometimes people write to me and ask where they can find one, but all  you have to really do is look on the Internet. Can you use an 80 watt iron? You might be able to, but you might not get as nice of a finish on your jewelry and it might not look as professional. Have you ever seen a piece of soldered jewelry where the metalwork is full of lumps, bumps, and sharp peaks? That is because they did not use the correct temperature - and probably not the correct watt iron - to solder. 

So if you can, get a 100 watt soldering iron. You will also need a rheostat which is used to adjust the temperature of your iron. You can buy soldering irons that have these built in or you can buy an external one that you plug your iron into. I recommend the external one, but again that is my personal preference. I think they work much better and I think it will prolong the life of your iron in case the rheostat breaks you can always get a new one if it's external. If the rheostat is built into your iron and it breaks, you're kind of out of luck. 

Soldered jewelry - from my book, Boho Chic Jewelry

I talk a lot more about soldering in my books, Boho Chic Jewelry and Soldered Alchemy. If you are just starting out with soldering I highly recommend that you start with the Boho Chic Jewelry book. The Soldered Alchemy book is my second book and it is a bit more focused on using solder in a different way, so I always tell folks to start with Boho Chic Jewelry. There you will also find my tips and techniques for decorative soldering and you will learn how I create those perfect little solder droplets to decorate my designs. 

If you're already a soldering pro, then you definitely need to check out Soldered Alchemy. It will change the way you see and use solder and you will be amazed when you see these new techniques! And if you didn't know, I also have workshop DVDs of one project from each book, but I highly recommend reading the books first, then watching the DVDs. (there are links to the books and DVDs on the sidebar to the right of this article.)

Soldered jewelry - from my book, Boho Chic Jewelry

If you've never soldered jewelry before, or even held a soldering iron, this might seem like a lot of overwhelming information, but it really isn't. Soldering is super fun, and if you have only ever worked with beads or wire and have never used heat to make jewelry, I definitely recommend giving soldering a try. You don't have to go directly from "cold wire" working to using a torch. Try soldering iron soldering! Once you get the hang of it you will be addicted!

You can do so many things with a soldering iron! What's especially neat about it is that you can solder items that you wouldn't be able to solder with an open flame torch, such as glass and plastic - which would break or melt from the flame of a traditional torch. So there are definite benefits to soldering iron soldering!

Note: for my complete suggested materials and tools list for soldering, check out my book, Boho Chic Jewelry.

I hope this article was helpful and informative. Please leave me a comment below, and let me know what you think of soldering! Also let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see on my blog, and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, where I will be adding new jewelry making and craft videos as I make them!

Check out my book, Boho Chic Jewelry

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2017 all rights reserved

Monday, March 6, 2017

My 4 Favorite Things For Today - Monday March 6th

It's kind of hard to think of four favorite things first thing in the morning on a Monday morning after staying up too late the night before but here goes... :D

1. Hot chocolate. I gave up sugar for the past two weeks  - not completely, but I cut back about 85 percent because I felt like I was overdoing it lately. I love sweets so that was a tough one for me, but I needed to stop and kind of reel things in a bit to gain some perspective on how much sugar I was consuming. 

I don't drink soda or juice but I do use sugar in my coffee and tea - both of which I drink a lot! Basically all day! I believe in all things in moderation, and I guess it was time to moderate how much sugar I was eating or drinking. That being said, my big splurge for the weekend was real hot chocolate that I made with 1 % milk and of course lots of marshmallows. It was amazing. :)

2. The elephant necklace with gemstone beads. I made and sold one of these over Christmas, so I thought I would make another one. I just love the colors of these stones (left to right Phrenite, Ruby Jade, Garnet, Iolite, Larimar, and Fluorite). I just love Iolite!  

I wrapped them in silver wire and then hung them from a leather cord. This type of jewelry making (beading/wire wrapping) is a nice change from the china jewelry that I make all the time. Sometimes my hands and mind have to do something new for the sake of variety and creativity.

3. Making homemade Chicken Marsala. This week I made homemade Chicken Marsala for the first time ever for my girls and it was awesome! I even slow roasted bulbs of fresh garlic to make garlic mashed potatoes as an accompaniment. All I can say is it was divine. 

I used this recipe from Epicurious (still my favorite place to find amazing recipes) and tweaked it to taste as I cooked, making double the sauce. If you ever cook anything from Epi make sure that you read all the reviews first before you start. I've found lots of great advice in the reviews and comments. 

I used this recipe as a guide for making the mashed potatoes but I used regular potatoes, extra garlic, and half and half instead of the heavy cream. They were amazing. 

4. Trying my hand at watercolor painting. Here's the first ever face/eye that I painted, and I think it turned out pretty good. At least it did until I started over-painting it! I am learning. 

I like doing small drawings for fun and painting those, and I've found that I really like painting faces. It's interesting to see how when you paint a face, a personality starts to emerge. It's kind of mysterious!

If there is anything in particular that you'd like to see just leave me a comment!

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

©Laura Beth Love 2017 all rights reserved

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Crystal Cluster Watercolor Illustration: New Video On My YouTube Channel!

Hi friends! I just uploaded a brand new video to my YouTube channel so please check it out, give it a like and be sure to subscribe. 

For this project I used watercolor paper, pencil, Micron ink pen, and Windsor & Newton watercolor paints, but you can use whatever you have on hand. 

Who isn't crazy for crystals? They're fun to paint (and super easy too!) so I thought I would try my hand at painting my own (Yes, all of my videos are my first-time try, learn as I go!) 

I started with a pencil sketch to get the shapes on the paper, and then I used watercolor paints to color my drawing. I used very little paint - I wanted my crystals to be predominantly purple, so I used some different tones of violet, and then here and there added a bit of blue and then just a whisper of yellow and green to give my crystals that iridescent glow. 

Once my drawing was finished I added a quick sketchy outline in black micron ink. Check it out below!

I hope to do a few jewelry making videos in the near future so be sure to check back! 

If there is anything in particular that you'd like to see just leave me a comment!

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

©Laura Beth Love 2017 all rights reserved

Thursday, March 2, 2017

New Video On My YouTube Channel: Space Feather Illustration

Hi friends! I just uploaded a brand new video to my YouTube channel so please check it out, give it a like and be sure to subscribe. 

For this project I used watercolor paper, pencil, Micron ink pen, and Windsor & Newton watercolor paints, but you can use whatever you have on hand. 

Feathers are super-popular right now in art and illustration so I thought I'd share my own version...the space feather :) 

I start with a pencil sketch to get my shape on the paper, and then I bring in the big guns (black ink pen) to go over the outline and add the designs. Using simple lines and circles and a few spirals I fill in the feather areas thinking up the designs as I work. 

Once my drawing is finished I add a little bit of watercolor paint just to give it a blush of color.

I added the script lettering so that you could see how you can easily fancy it up by adding an additional line on the down-stroke, and then fill it in with a little bit of watercolor paint to tie it in nicely with your painting. 

I hope to do a few jewelry making videos in the near future so be sure to check back! 

If there is anything in particular that you'd like to see just leave me a comment!

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

Monday, February 20, 2017

Making Sea Glass Jewelry

Sea glass, sometimes called beach glass, is the name given to jewel-like shards of broken glass that have been naturally weathered in the ocean. It is found along the beach, often scattered among seashells and other ocean treasures that have been washed ashore. Sea glass is most often found during low tide. Common colors of sea glass include varying shades of green, blue, brown, amber, white and clear. Rarer colors include shades of red, orange and purple. What makes sea glass unique and desirable for use in jewelry is its worn, weathered finish caused by years of exposure to salt water, sand, and its movement in the ocean. 

Jewelry created from sea glass has an almost mystical allure to it. It's weathered, frosty appearance adds a lovely softness to its original hue, giving the wearer a soothing feeling not unlike the relaxing feelings we experience when we visit the ocean. Sea glass is mysterious. The origins of its past life are always a mystery. Sea glass is also very unique in the fact that it is something that originated as man made, but was reclaimed by nature and changed by nature.

If you do not live near a beach or do not have access to finding your own sea glass, you can create your own faux sea glass quite easily by following the instructions below. Handcrafted sea glass, if tumbled for a long enough period of time, is nearly indistinguishable from ocean-made sea glass. 

Supplies needed: safety glasses, leather work gloves, hammer, an old pillowcase, glass shards, grozer pliers, grinding stone (optional), rock tumbler, water.


1. Wear safety glasses and thick leather work gloves for protection.

2. Collect glass shards from broken glass bottles (you can also use stained glass scraps). Break your own shards by placing the glass to be broken inside of an old pillow case and lightly tap with hammer until desired size is achieved. When you are finished with this step be sure to discard the pillowcase!

3. Using grozer pliers (available from stained glass suppliers) carefully remove any sharp points and edges from the glass shards. Sharp points and edges may also be ground down with a grinding stone (also available from a stained glass supplier) or an electric stained glass grinder. Remember to wear your leather work gloves and be extra careful when working with glass so that you do not cut yourself!

4. Place glass shards into a rock tumbler with water (following the rock tumbler manufacturer's directions for correct amounts of water). Tumble the shards until they reach the desired appearance. Depending on the finish you desire, this may take a few days of tumbling or longer than a  week.

The simplest way to make jewelry with beach glass is to either wrap it with wire (available from a jewelry supply catalog such as Rio Grande) or to drill a small hole into the glass so that it may be strung or used as a bead. A good tool for drilling is a flex shaft with a diamond bit. Novices may find success by using a simple Dremel tool. 

In either case it is most important to remember to wear safety glasses when working, and to keep your glass cool while drilling. The speed of the drill will heat the glass and you want to keep the glass cool so you do not burn yourself or shatter the glass. One way to keep your project cool is to drill on top of a wet washcloth. Apply gentle pressure when drilling so you do not break the glass or your drill bit. 

One way to achieve a successful hole is to drill the glass half way through, rinse it with water to remove accumulated residue from the glass, flip the piece over, and then complete the hole from the other side. This method will help prevent breakage. Once the hole is drilled you can gently smooth any sharp edges around the hole by using a bead reamer. This will prevent your threading material from becoming frayed due to a sharp edge.

You now have a beautiful sea glass component to use in your jewelry design! Here are some design ideas for sea glass: string with shells or pearls for an ocean themed necklace. Use an unusual single sea glass shard as an eye-catching pendant simply strung on a linen or leather cord. Use larger sea glass shards for pendants and smaller shards for earrings and bracelets. Combine sea glass shards with color coordinating semiprecious gems. Some winning combinations include; green
 sea glass with amazonite and pearls, white or clear sea glass with amethyst or rose quartz, blue sea glass with quartz crystals or lapis lazuli.

Have a great week!

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns

copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Time Lapse Mandala Artwork - Ink Drawing With Watercolor Painting

I've been playing around with creating time lapse videos, tooling around with the time lapse feature on my iphone... but quickly found out that the built in time lapse feature is just too fast for capturing artwork! 

I thought I would try it out while creating this doodle - a quick pencil sketch to get my design started, and then some pen and paper drawing, topped off with a little bit of color added with water and watercolor paints.  

You can see it all below in about 26 blazing seconds haha! ...but I was unhappy with the video's rhythm of my drawing, which turned out to be just too fast for you to really see what I was doing. (watch it here on my YouTube Channel instead)

Regardless, I uploaded the video to my YouTube channel and then tried to toy with the video's settings, slowing it down 2x and then 4x but I soon found out that that didn't work because when a time lapse video is filmed, there are sections of time that are actually skipped. If you try to slow down a video that you filmed in time lapse mode on your iphone, the result is actually a trippy, smeared video! 

My resolution? I just downloaded an app that allows you to choose your video recording speed, so back to the drawing board - literally. When I get some free time I will give it another shot using the app and hopefully have some better results! 

Have you ever made a time lapse video for your artwork? 
Any tips to share? 

I hope you have a great week! 
Love, Laura

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns