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Building and Using a Light box

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tip for April 23, 2014

Building and Using a Light Box

Very often we get questions about how to take great photos, so I thought I would share an older article from our blog. Some of you may have read it before, but it’s such a great tip I felt it would be perfect to post again for anyone just getting started. Enjoy!

This article was originally contributed by Mike Ault and I think you will find it very useful.

So you’ve designed and made an absolutely gorgeous piece of wire jewelry and want to get it on your website as soon as possible so it can be seen and generate sales. You take your camera, place the piece carefully on a neutral background, hold your breath, carefully snap a picture, only to have it turn out amateur looking at best. What can you do?

Professional product photographers use what is known as a light box to control their light and exposure for product shoots. You, as a wire jewelry maker can also take advantage of these techniques. Light boxes can be made from white milk jugs, cardboard boxes or other containers. Or, you could go out and spend anywhere from $60-1000 USD for a pre-made one. In this tip I want to show you how to make one from readily available materials that will last, be portable and produce professional looking results.

A light box is a container with light reflective sides, usually white. The floor of the light box is usually covered with either white or colored paper or fabric. Some photographers use a roll of paper so when it gets soiled, they can easily replace it.

To build your own light box all you need is time, 5 sheets of 20X30 white foam board, a marker, a ruler, a cutting surface and two 500 watt work lights. A straight edge such as a steel ruler is handy to make sure your cuts are straight.


  • To begin, view the diagram to see how to mark your foam boards. You will need 1 each for the top, bottom, sides and back. Follow the measurements carefully, slight overcuts probably will not affect the result. Make sure you use a sharp razor or Exacto knife to do the cutting and make sure you keep fingers, arms, legs and bodies out of the way.
  • The slots shown only have to be wide enough to accept the edge of the foam boards. Too large and things will be shaky, too small and it will be tough getting them together.
  • I suggest keeping the foam cut-outs for the top’s light port and shooting port as when these are not in use you will want to insert them back in place. Also keep two of the narrow cut pieces from one of the sides, you will need 2, 1 inch by 6 inch pieces later.
  • Once every thing is cut out, carefully piece it together. If you have measured and cut carefully it should form a hollow box about 30 inches wide and 20 deep and 20 tall. For covers for the light ports when in use (to soften the harsh light from the work lights) I use light-weight white cotton fabric attached using Velcro. Others have bought frosted or cracked glass to cover the light ports.
  • I suggest using a 8 x 10 piece of glass from a picture frame (just the glass is available at a hardware store in pre-cut sizes) and the 1 inch x 6 inch strips to provide a stage to set your jewelry on. This gives the picture depth.

. Lightbox Front View

Lightbox Side View



Thanks for reading. Happy Wrapping!

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Large Wood Shaping Block

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tool of the Week for April 21, 2014

This week’s featured video tool tip is about the Large Wood Shaping Block with 5 Nylon Shapers , DAP-145.00

Today, Kate Richbourg shows us how to use the Wood Shaping Block. I’ve featured this set below. Feel free to browse our other Dapping Blocks. I’m sure you’ll find something perfect for your workbench!



Demonstration by Kate, JewelryTools.com

This week’s featured tool from JewelryTools.com is the Essential Dapping Set # DAP-145.00

This high quality hardwood forming block is great for bending and forming without the risk of marring.

Lighter weight and less expensive than the steel version, the large grooves consist of 3 half round (1-1/4″, 1-1/2″, 1-3/4″) and 2 larger third round (2-1/2″, 3-1/4″) channels.

The five nylon rollers are used for forming and are durable enough to be used with a hammer. Form bracelet links, give a soft curve to earrings both top to bottom and side to side. Work the metal to desired curve by starting with large depression and working down as you go.

Block measures 7″ x 1-7/8″ x 2-3/8″.

.Price: $39.95

Click below to see this

Large Wood Shaping Block with 5 Nylon Shapers DAP-145.00
available on JewelryTools.com:

Other Tools you may find useful:
Flat Dapping Block, Large


Flat Dapping Block

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Bubble Girl Bracelet

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com


Tip for April 18, 2014

Bubble Girl Bracelet

Spring is finally here along with a grouping of wonderful holidays, and great opportunities to create beautiful gifts. Today I’d like to feature an easy to make wire bracelet, perfect for any mother, sister, wife, cousin, aunt or grandmother.

This pattern is easy to make and can be used for any occasion, however with Mother’s Day coming up, why not customize it with some birthstone colored Swarovski crystals, Gemstone Beads or add some Tierra Cast charms (which are ON CLEARANCE right now!) for a personal touch. With so many choices, the possibilities are endless!

Bubble Girl Bracelet

Bubble Girl Bracelet

Designed by Lindi Schneck

Skill Level: Beginner/All

Technique: Round Wire/Forming

One of my customers was a bride who needed a special, yet inexpensive gift for her “bubble girl”, who blew soap bubbles on the happy couple after the wedding. After just a moment’s thought, I grabbed a piece of wire and voila! “Bubble Bracelet” was born! This design is very quick to make and with all of the amazing beads available today, the variation possibilities are endless. (Of course, you do not have to be a “bubble girl” to wear this.)


**Tip: When choosing your supplies, make sure that your bead choices fit onto your chosen wire gauge, (18-gauge being the stronger choice of the two options).



  1. Formula = wrist + ½-inch. Straighten, clean, then measure and cut a piece of wire Formula length + 3-inches.Line Break
  2. Measure 1¼” from one end of wire and mark. Use either the small side of double barrel pliers or the largest section of round-nose pliers; make a wrapped loop with this shorter end.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  3. Divide your Formula measurement in half.  Using this new number, measure from the bottom of the loop just made toward the open end and mark.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  4. Put your embellishments/beads on a scrap wire and measure their total length.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  5. Divide the embellishment measurement by 2, and use this distance to mark to each side of the center mark on the bracelet wire.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  6. Use a pin vise to twist a 1-1/2 inch piece of 22g square wire, (this is a great use for a scrap). At one end of this twisted wire, use the small tip of round-nose pliers to form a small loop that will ‘just’ fit over the bracelet wire gauge.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  7. Making sure your bracelet wire JUST fits into this loop cut the excess wire from the loop, forming a ‘bead’. You will need to make two of these, which will be holding your embellishments in place.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  8. Put one of those loop ‘beads’ on the mark closest to your closed wrapped loop, and crimp it into place with either flat-nose pliers or a crimping tool.  Add the chosen bead embellishments and crimp the other ‘twisted bead’ on the opposite end, to hold the center beads in place.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  9. From the open end of the bracelet wire, measure ¾-inch and mark. Use a chasing hammer to flatten this segment of wire, on the same plane as the end loop/eye.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  10. To form the hook, use the tips of round-nose pliers to form a tiny curl at the flattened end of the wire.  Replace round-nose pliers at a larger segment of the jaw, immediately under the curl just formed and roll the wire in the opposite direction, forming a hook.
    Bubble Girl BraceletBubble Girl BraceletBubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  11. Begin shaping the bracelet by bending it around a form and ‘walking’ your fingers on the wire, teasing it slowly into an oval. Carefully make a little bend with your chain-nose pliers in the wire at each side of the hook and eye, finishing the shape.
    Bubble Girl BraceletLine Break
  12. Finished Bracelet
    Bubble Girl Bracelet

I think I”ll make one of these for my mother. I know she’ll love it! I hope you do too.

Happy Wrapping!

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360 Degree Free Hand Mandrel Vise

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tool of the Week for April 16, 2014

This week’s featured video tool tip is about the 360 Degree Mandrel Vise, VIS-105.00

Today, Kate Richbourg shows us how to use the 360 Degree Mandrel Vise. I’ve featured this set below. Feel free to browse our other Mandrels and Bench Vises. I’m sure you’ll find something perfect for your workbench!



Demonstration by Kate, JewelryTools.com

This week’s featured tool from JewelryTools.com is the Essential Dapping Set VIS-105.00

The perfect tool to free up your hands so you don’t have to hold your ring mandrel, this 360 degree mandrel vise is perfect for your work desk or bench.

Vise ONLY, Ring Mandrel not included.

Price: $19.95

Click below to see this
360 Degree Mandrel Vise without Mandrel
available on JewelryTools.com:

Other Tools you may find useful:

Bezel Mandrel, Oval, 11 inches


Brass Hammer

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New Product: Padded Work Mat

by Judy Ellis, Wire-Sculpture.com

Tool of the Week for April 14, 2014

This week’s New Product is the 20 x 15 Inch Padded Work Mat – MAT-620.00

How many of you use a work mat in either your beading or wire wrapping? A work mat is one of those “essential” work bench helpers. They keep your beads and small items from rolling onto the floor, and come in all shapes, sizes an textures. Today I want to introduce you to the newest addition to our tools.  Take a look – I think you will love it!


20 x 15 Inch Padded Work Mat

  • This sturdy, durable padded work mat has a non-skid backing for a clear, level and comfortable work surface.
  • Handy ruler at bottom makes measuring quick and convenient while working on projects.
  • Nice, large size to accommodate tools and accessories.
  • Measures 20″ x 15″.
  • Price: $9.95

If you are a wire wrapper or a beader, you know that work mats are a must and this is a great option for anyone who measures and cuts wire frequently due to  the handy ruler at the bottom!   If you are working on your spring projects, this would be a great addition to your workbench. I’ve also suggested a few other items that might help you “get organized” as you begin moving into the busy summer season!

Wire-Wrapping/Beading Work station

  • Two shelf organizer for tools, beading string, wire, etc.
  • Lower shelf has an attached ruler for quick measurements while the top shelf has 10 hooks underneath for hanging cord, or wire.
  • The dowels on top hold pliers, cutters, scissors, tweezers, shears, and much more.
  • This station is made entirely of wood. Takes just 1 screwdriver and 10 minutes to assemble. 22 L x 6 3/4 W x 15 H (When Fully Assembled)

Black Zippered Tool Case – Large

  • Great for storing all of your cutters and pliers with space for at least 6 pairs of tools.
  • Additional spaces for smaller tools and accessories.

24 Compartment Professional Beaders Organizer

  • 24 Compartment Professional Beaders Organizer.
  • Easy to pull beads from the curved bottom. – measures 15 inches x 9.2 inches x 2 inches ,heavy duty plastic.

If you’re just getting started in the world of jewelry,  CLICK HERE for a great article on our blog that might help give you some helpful hints on setting up “your” space, and now that you’ve got your tools and your workspace set up -  don’t’ forget the WIRE!

Happy Wrapping!

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