Check out my latest tutorial, you will not believe how easy it is to make. Full instructions with all materials and tools at the end of the images. Just click the link! Enjoy!
I am so excited to share that my studio and I
are featured in the winter issue of
WHERE WOMEN CREATE!
Released the first of November it is now available at bookstores and magazine stands. Or you can purchase your copy here https://stampington.com/Where-Women-Create-Winter-2017
My feature is a 10 page spread! WOW! Thank you Stampington & Company, and Jo Packham! I am so honored as I have always loved this magazine and now I am featured in it! I'm pinching myself.
My friend Mary Pridgen did all the wonderful photography for the feature in the magazine. She's a friend and a local photographer here in Fort Collins and her company's name is Bare Bones Studio. Thank you Mary!
I'm glad they put this photo in. I am holding a photo of my mother when she was 6 years old. For as long as I can remember my grandmother (Mom's mom) had this in her home. When she died it lived in my mother's home and always sat in her living room on a hand embroidered table cloth. Now that my mother is gone I have and cherish this little treasure.
Be forewarned making jewelry can become and is addictive. Not only is it wonderful handwork but should be considered a gateway drug for becoming a beadaholic and collector of the trade. My stash is in my will it is so big! You have been warned!
1. Decide what type of jewelry interests you the most.
When you first decide you are interested in making jewelry it can seem and feel overwhelming. Trust your gut you know what type of jewelry you love. There is a broad range of possibilities. You cannot expect to learn all the different range of techniques at once. Do you like simple beaded jewelry? Perhaps you like jewelry that makes personal statement with messages stamped in metal? Or strung beads or bead weaving? Pick a medium that excites you and start there. What you learn will help you build your tool chest and every tool you put in your tool chest will dove tail and make it easier to learn another.
2. The basic skills.
No matter which medium you choose, whether it's metal clay, beading or wire working, starting with the basics is always a good idea. There are a few skills you will need to know in almost every project. Making a wire wrapped loop, learning how to crimp and how to properly open and close a jump ring to name a few. These basic skills will translate to almost each and every project you take on. So build on the basics.
3. Learn the terminology and language of jewelry making.
What's the difference in a simple loop and a wrapped loop? Or what's the difference in a head pin and an eye pin? Depending on how good a memory you have you may want to start a notebook of the terminology. It can have cut out photos and sketches not just definitions. This notebook can become a great reference tool over time because as you progress you can return to these entries and add your favorite places to purchase them or what your favorite size is and where is the best place you have found to date to purchase them. All kinds of pertinent information can be added, but it all starts with the basics.
4. Invest in good tools.
In the beginning when you are just starting out you can just use the needle nose pliers and generic wire cutter from the household tool box, but if you are going to move forward and really learn it is a very good idea to purchase good quality tools. This will make learning much more easier, which will translate into a better out come in your project, which means you will feel better about the results and this will effect how you feel about the overall experience and lend itself to further inspiration. It's all related. It can seem like a bit of an investment but like buying good shoes you'll never regret the purchase down the line. Good tools makes all the difference especially when you are learning. Good doesn't always mean the most expenses. Do some research and talk to others who have more experience and read tool reviews. There are lots of them out there.
5. Purchase some basic supplies.
Does your town or city have a bead store? Time for an outing! If not the internet is literally teaming with places to buy supplies. I'm hoping you have an independent bead store as it is really nice to be able to hold things in your hand before making a purchase. Buying online is a wonderful option but it would be nice to know if that pair of pliers is too big for your hands and there are many different sizes and styles of grips on pliers. Then there are different gauges of wire or the different sizes of beads. Do you know how small a 4mm bead is? You might want to before you purchase them in any quantity. The local bead store is a wonderful way to get help when it comes to just these types of decisions. Plus you'll be supporting a local, usually family and often women owned business that deserves your support. The big chains have a lot of offerings and actually a lot of good offerings like Beadalon anything, but some of the other supplies are of lesser quality so it is nice to have some one to ask questions to. If you have to go online I would like to suggest Rio Grande, or Halstead for starters.
6. Set up a dedicated space.
Having a place to work is important. Even if it is a little nook or corner of one room it is important to have a dedicated space devoted to your new hobby. It is important to keep all of your supplies in one place will make life easier and save you time than having to look for and find everything every time you are ready to devote some time to creating. Mark out your territory!
7. Organize from the start.
Part of the investment is in tools and the part is organization. You can start with inexpensive plastic containers and bins but it will make life much easier. There are so many readily available such bins and containers on the market even shoe boxes and small tins come in handy. Just smack a label on their and you'll know where to find what when you need it. Otherwise you will spend half of your life looking for the other half of your life! So just do it from the get go, be organized.
8. Take a class.
If you are lucky and do have a local bead store they are always offering classes. When you take a class you will begin to find and build your tribe. Other people who do and like the same things as you, and many of them will know more than you and share! It is wonderful. Now a days there are amazing classes from some of the top teachers in the industry teaching online classes, have downloadable content or DVD's for sale. I would recommend Interweave as a leader in just this sort of content and then there are wonderful places like Craftsy too.
9. Discover the jewelry making communities of online blogs.
There are many different and wonderful blogs that you can learn an amazing amount of information on. I have a decent list started on my own home page so check some of them out. I follow several blogs like http://www.beadingdaily.com. There are some great blogs out there where blog hops are offered and you can just click and go from one to the next to see what other people just like you are making and doing. Many offer free tutorials and many very useful tips and tricks you may not have known about. There are also all kinds of groups on facebook where the jewelry people meet and hang.
10. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
So many people will not ask questions because they don't want to look stupid. That's just plain silly. Always ask! The only stupid question is one that doesn't get an answer. You would be surprised just how generous people in the jewelry making community will be if you simply ask. You would also be surprised how often people will willingly share what they know and how much time this will save you. There are many experts easily available on the blogs and FB groups. When I was starting out there wasn't any of these wonderful knowledge centers available. Take advantage ofthis. Get connected, you don't even have to leave home and you can visit them in your pajamas!
11. Seek inspiration.
What inspires you? Is it the beauty of nature? Is it seeing what other people are making? I love finding new things that I have never seen before. Don't wait for inspiration to find you, search it out! I live in a beautiful place and that is not by accident. I find that natural beauty fills me with inspiration. I also surround myself with super creative people of like minds. This is truly inspirational and makes life wonderful. It will lift you up and inspire you to learn, share and connect. It is a wonderful cycle. Reach out and look for inspiration! I can spend hours on pinterest and search the web each and every morning over my coffee. It is a great way to start the day.
12. Be brave and take risks.
By this I mean do not be put off from something if it interests you. Take the chance! Don't let fear stand in your way. How will you ever learn or know if you are going to enjoy something if you do not try? Be brave and take the step to learning what you want to know. There is great rewards and joy to be had.
13. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
We actually learn far more from our mistakes than we do our successes. The idea is to LEARN from your mistakes so you do not make the same mistakes again. It is important to strive to always make new mistakes! Learning the right way to do something doesn't always happen on the first try. Try try again. Mastering new skills is a very worthwhile investment of your time.
14. Think and do in increments.
This is very much one of the best tips on this list despite it being towards the end of the list. If you make 20 minutes a day to try something new you would be surprised at what you are able to accomplish. Once you have mastered new skills taking things in bite sized chunks (increments) you can take it even further. I have been making jewelry for over 30 years and I still work in increments. I practice new skills this way every day. We all have very busy lives and making time, even a short time is a very effective way to learn. I am learning wire working and bead weaving right now. I practice for a few minutes each day and my improvement can easily be measured. It is inspirational to be able to see the improvement you are making and when you are working in increments it is easy to gain this perspective. Try it!
15. Don't get discouraged.
Your very few first tries may turn out to be pretty bad. Some you may get first time out, but more often than not it will take you some time. Be realistic! Don't beat yourself up or waste your time thinking against yourself. Shut that inner critic up and give yourself a break and know that you may waste a few crimps along the way. So plan on it. practice it and certainly don't waste time being discouraged!
Being on the list of select artists that can collaborate with the City Of Fort Collins is an honor. You have to have experience, insurance and then be chosen for projects from your slides. I recently finished my pebble mosaic that lives in the new rain garden in the Remington Greenway project. This rain garden. It was hard labor but I loved doing it. A nice change of pace.
I had to sort each stone at the landscaping supply for shape. My car could only haul about 400-500 pounds at a time. It did not like being treated as a truck but too bad! Then when I got home I would sort them for size in my garage which became my staging area as I wasn't allowed to store my supplies on site. Then I would put them back in my car haul them to the site and move them to the ground and set them. So basically I lost 9 pounds and got in a great work out every day moving 300 pounds of stone 4 times a day. It was high sun and I bought a great shade umbrella that saved me each day as it was HOT!
The first day!
My next project is the Mulberry Bridge!! My design has been approved and I am awaiting the funds to begin! Stay tuned...
My new educational videos on how to use my Sizzix leather cutting dies and Big shot machine for jewelry making are now live on the Interweave website. Here's a sneak peak:
If you are interested in the basic techniques of working with my new line of jewelry making dies for die cutting leather (from Sizzix) you can download the complete video here: http://www.interweavestore.com/working-with-die-cut-leather-digital-download
In my second video I show you all different types of way to embellish leather which is really a lot of fun! Here is a sneak peak:
If you are interested in the full video download you can find it here:
Working with everyone at Interweave was such a pleasure and it all went so smoothly.I had a great experience and loved the crew. I especially liked this job because I didn't have to get on an airplane and travel, F&W offices and studios are right here in Fort Collins. Nice!
All of my dies and everything associated with this line is right on my website now. So now there is no trouble finding these wonderful new tools you can shop right here on my site for all of your needs. Special thanks to my webmaster (and wonderful son) Taylor MacKay!
Please have a look in the store: http://jillmackay.com/stackingstore.html I am having so much fun making all kinds of cool things with Big Shot Machine and my dies. Stay tuned for new kits coming soon!
Another Bead & Button show has come and gone. I was in and out of Milwaukee and didn't get to walk an entire isle as I was either in the SIZZIX booth demonstrating my line of leather cutting jewelry-making dies or teaching. Both went well. I worked 12 hour days and was exhausted when I got home. The dies sold well and everyone in my classes loved learning how to use them and other tools to easily make leather jewelry. Here are a couple of photos from the show:
One of my dies, bezels and other supplies from my class. Photo courtesy of Sandra Lupo
Before I left for Bead & Button I spent two weeks cleaning my studio because there was two days of shooting in my creative space for a feature article on me in Where Women Create Magazine! The byline of the magazine is "Inspiring spaces of extraordinary women" I can't believe that my space and I will be published in the November issue. I am so honored!
My F&W Videos are now live online and available for download!http://www.interweavestore.com/embellishing-leather-jewelry-components-digital-download Check out a sneak peak:https://youtu.be/gLPDSyG_2FY
Feeling very blessed to be so busy and have such great things happening. I am starting one of my three Art In Public Places projects that the City of Fort Collins has commissioned from me this next week. So stay tuned to see info and pictures of my pebble mosaic rain garden! Oh WAIT did I mention that I will be on the Fort Collins Studio Tour this year! http://www.lctix.com/ckeditor/userfiles/images/1463597794_2016%20Studio%20Tour%20Web.pdf
This week I was lucky enough to be on set at F&W Publications taping for my two new videos introducing my line of Sizzix leather dies and how to use them to create beautiful die cut leather jewelry. I was nervous but had prepared heavily and EVERYONE there was so kind and supportive that it made my job easy. They said I made their job easy! So everyone was happy and it was a joy. It was a big project for me and now my studio looks like a bomb hit it so that's what I'll be doing for the next couple of days!
During the filming of the second video. On set F&W in Fort Collins, CO
It's almost that time of year again! Time for the Craft and Hobby Association international trade show in Anaheim CA. I have been going to this show for over 20 years now and I always look forward to it. So many old and dear friends, new wonderful creative products, growth and creativity everywhere! This year is a special year for me as I will be debuting my new line of Sizzix dies and findings for jewelry makers! You can come to the Sizzix / Ellison booth and see the entire line, and wait until you feel the garment quality leather with wonderful fashion colors. Leather jewelry never looked like this before!!! Watch this short video for more information on my line!
I will be teaching a class for interested retailers that is nearly sold out, so sign up soon to hold your place! We are going to have fun learning and making this pendant necklace in class:
Here is the class info:
Day + Time: 1/8/2016 2:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Difficulty Level: All Levels Welcome
Demographics: All Buyers
Instructor(s): Jill MacKay
Fees: Member: $35.00 / Non-member: $50.00
Wow, I am so glad to be sitting at home right this minute writing this post. It feels like I have been on the move constantly this fall (okay this whole year has been a busy one. I am not complaining it's just that flying just isn't what it used to be. I just returned home from a trip to Dallas with a one day turn around time from my trip to Cleveland. I was there to tape another segment of Beads Baubles & Jewels which was sponsored by Sizzix and highlighting my new line of leather dies. I love working with Katie and Kathie and crew at KS Productions. They are so gracious and good at what they do. These are wonderful people I have known for almost 15 years now! Wow!
In Octiober I flew to Pittsburgh to see my youngest Taylor for his 26th birthday! (Eek! I am getting old!) It was wonderful to be with him and spend time. He is such a great person and I love who he is. Thank you Taylor MacKay for spending so much time with your Momma! It was great to see all my friends their too. It was very hard to say goodbye even though I get to come home to an amazing home and studio and my friend family here. It always hurt to leave my son.
I doubt this will ever change....unless I can move him to Colorado!!! Ashley my amazing daughter is coming for Thanksgiving with her sweetheart Donnie. I'm still in shock we are even talking holidays...what happened to summer?!!
Life is precious and short love strong and live wisely!
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Ellison Global Headquarters (also the headquarters for SIZZIX). It was a great trip. I heard the marketing presentation which was exciting, saw packaging plans and filmed 5 videos! Phew!
This was one of many beautiful chalkboards up at Ellison, and happens to be what I am learning right now at home...creative lettering. Great exercise for hand eye coordination, not to mention really beautiful and useful!
David and Betsey took me for a wonderful dinner in near by San Clemente which was amazing. We sat on the patio right on the pier and had dinner while the moon came up and the waves hit the shore.
Did I mentioned that I moved back to Bellvue? I am so excited to be back in Pleasant Valley near my dearest friends. Surrounded by great beauty but check this out. My new studio!!!!!!
I am so happy! This photo only shows about half of the space. I am still unpacking and setting up the different sections. Liteseeds has it's own dedicated space as does leather of course (thank you SIzzix) and jewelry and more.
I am very excited to introduce my new line of leather cutting dies and companion findings from Sizzix. It has been a complete joy working with all the good people at Sizzix-Ellison and we have worked hard to bring this new line of quality tools for both the home studio and professional studios. Cutting leather has never been easy...until now!
Using any of the Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine:
There are two kinds of dies. Steel rule dies which are for cutting thicker leather like the cuff of a bracelet (on the left) and thin ornamental dies (on right) for cutting lighter weight leather for layering on top of the heavyweight leather.
To create this...WOW!
We are pretty excited because it is a big deal to bring new tools to the jewelry-making community. New tools that allow you to do something at home that is usually only in the hands of manufacturers. The ability to easily die cut leather at home and is a game changer! Those of you that cut paper will recognize these tools which have been engineered now to cut leather. Brilliant!
We will be showing the line at the Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee in June and cannot wait to see the response from all the jewelry makers there. Our choice of leathers is another thing of note. We have beautiful pastels in pink and blues, and we have soulful metallic colors for a very upscale look. You cannot find these colors available anywhere else. We're bring the complete package!