Monday, January 28, 2013


Classic Chain Mail Jewelry With A Twist by Sue Ripsch

Published by Kalmbach Books

Another successful, beautifully illustrated book by Kalmbach! It is well worth the cost!

This was my first adventure with chain mail but definitely not my last. I have been wanting to give it a try for a long time. It is heaps of fun! No wonder it is so popular right now. However, it is NOT as easy as it looks. Good vision (a magnifying glass would be helpful), steady hands, and great dexterity are a must! But wow is it fun!

The Author - Sue Ripsch

Sue has been involved in the jewelry-making industry for several years. Her focus is on chain mail designs, primarily with precious metals. Her husband, Steve, makes her jump rings. Her daughter is now involved in the business with her. Sue & Steve travel together, sharing their knowledge and love of chain mail jewelry while teaching across the country.


I found the book to be very informative, well written, and easy to use. It has very beautiful illustrations, photographs and easy step-by-step directions.  Although it is written with the use of precious metals in mind; sterling silver and gold filled; I was able to work with metal jump rings with no problem because the wire gauge is given in the materials list.

It begins with The Basics; information about jump rings, how to make them, and how to polish them. Then comes information about Aspect Ratio to help one learn how to calculate the wire diameter size needed to make the appropriate size jump rings for a specific weave. This is not for faint at heart but it really isn't that hard either. It just seems intimidating! I played around with the Aspect Ratio & it truly does work. I used jump rings that were too small & the weave came out too tight. Then I reconfigured the Aspect Ratio, changed the size of jump rings to fit the wire diameter better and the weave turned out beautiful!

There are 28 projects divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced weaves. I like the way many of the beginner weaves are also used in the intermediate weaves, so one is able to improve and build skills. In each section of projects, a variety of weaves are used; such as Byzantine, Celtic, Full-Persian, and Dragonscale.

I also like the way Sue gives tidbits, advice, or recommendations on the title page of each project. For example, on page 18, the Cleopatra Bracelet can be made "with metal balls or - my favorite- crystal rondelles. "This increases the possibility of the imagination and creativity. For the more advanced weaver, on page 89, the Half-Persian Bracelet "can be made in two different scales that result in a very nice pair of his-and-her bracelets."

Another highlight is the use of multi-color jump rings. The possibility for variety now becomes endless. I made two Criss-Cross Bracelets on page 23 with silver and gold jump rings. I added wired agate beads between the criss-cross components. I also made a pair of earrings to match each set.

 Still have to put the ear wires on these earrings.

This was a fun book to work out of and I highly recommend it to everyone! It is definitely worth the cost!

I'm offering these earrings and the matching bracelet as a giveaway to one fortunate commenter on my blog. The more you share and let me know, the more chances to win. The winner will be picked randomly on Sunday, February 10th. Happy reading and sharing! Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Don't Be Afraid of Habanero's!

The habanero pepper originally came from the Amazon, then it migrated to Mexico. Now it is found in the United States. In fact, it grows well here in our area of  Texas because it likes the hot, dry weather.

The habanero comes in a variety of colors. Green habaneros are the mildest because they haven't ripened yet. The most common colors are orange and red. Although, occasionally they are found in other colors; brown, white, and pink.

Healthy Benefits

  1. Significantly slows the growth and reproduction of human prostrate cancer cells.
  2. Inhibits the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestines.
  3. Raises metabolism which burns fat cells increasing the body's ability to lose weight.
  4. Lowers blood pressure.
  5. Clears mucous from nasal and bronchial passages.
  6. Helps diabetes by encouraging production of new cells that produce insulin.
  7. Has anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Has an anti-ulcerative effect on stomachs infected with H-pylori.
  9. High in magnesium, potassium, and iron. 
  10. A good source of Vitamins A, B, and C.
The Scoville scale measures the pungency of heat strength or capsaicin levels in peppers. Most habanero peppers measure between 200,000 and 300,000 heat units; however, some measure as hot as 580,000 units. The habanero is typically 60 times hotter than a jalepeno.


There are several cautions that should be taken when handling, preparing, or eating habaneros.
  1. Wear rubber or plastic gloves when handling these peppers to prevent burning or irritation of the skin.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching face, eyes, or other parts of the body.
  3. The heat of the pepper can stay in the mouth or on the tongue for up to 20 minutes or so. Bread or tortillas are best eaten for reducing the heat in the mouth. DO NOT DRINK WATER. Water will only spread the heat.
  4. The heat of the pepper can cause stomach and intestinal discomfort.
  5. Milk can be used to dilute the capsaicin oils from the skin. Soak the affected area for at least 20-30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Thanks to all who read, blogged, & entered the giveaway! I hope you enjoyed the blog. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


It's a brand new year - 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it? I'm starting off the new year with book reviews. I have three to do for Kalmbach.

Easy Crystal Stitching Sophisticated Jewelry by Nikia Angel

Published by Kalmbach Books

This book I found rather interesting since bead stitching is something I've never done in jewelry. I was unfamiliar with the author so I "googled" her. Nikia Angel has been beading obsessively since 1988 and teaching since 1990. She instructs at many major bead and jewelry shows across the country. One of her passions is to inspire her students and beading enthusiasts to share her love of jewelry making.

The book flows very well. Nikia starts with explanations of Materials and Tools. Since, I have never read much about crystals and seed beads, her explanations about them were very interesting and informative. The only problem I had here was when I went to purchase needles and thread, the store in my area didn't have the name brands she described. So I had to ask for help. Thankfully there was a comparable product. For me, as a beginner, it would have been helpful to have a little more information on the comparable products and a little more definition of terms.

She then describes Jewelery Techniques which was helpful to refer back to during my adventure into production. The next section is seven "Building Blocks" of the basic bead components of stitching in this book: circle, triangle, square, bezel, bail, spiral rope, and toggle clasp. Each lesson has illustrations or diagrams to help you through the instructions.  As a beginner, the component breakdown was very useful. The more experienced beader could use their imagination and creativity with this section.

Next comes the variety of projects. The diagrams on each are very helpful (although I wish there were more, especially on how to connect the components together). At the top of each project there are references to the components within each. I also found this useful during my beading project.

My Project - Page 51 - Arabesque Bracelet

After many tries, I was finally able to interpret and understand the directions to complete the bracelet. There seemed to be a few gaps in the instructions for a beginner. Also I really needed more instructions on how to connect each component. A diagram would be very useful at this point. But I am extremely pleased with the final outcome and am offering it as a giveaway.

I used Gold and Aurora Borealis (AB) large seed beads instead of the bicones that were called for since I couldn't find any in my stash that matched like I wanted.  I also used small pearlized (aka luster or ceylon) seed beads. Six components make up this bracelet. Two are shown in this picture. It is a variation on the square. After the first two components, I got the hang of it and the rest were easy.

Here are the six components. It would have been helpful in the directions to know that the first and last components needed to have the toggle attached to one and the clasp attached to the other one BEFORE  I cut the thread! However, I was able to "sew in" the thread and attach each after making them separately. Technically I think they are suppose to be sewn attached. The really nice thing about this type of stitching is, I don't think there's a totally "wrong" way to do it. Also, if you "goof" like I did you can FIX it!!! Woohoo!!

The finished project turned out pretty good if I do say so myself! Earrings to match will go with this bracelet!  Since "practice makes perfect", I will try another project, perhaps a necklace; such as the Winter Skies Faux Lariat on page 46.

This book is a great resource for any beading enthusiast. I am really enjoying it!

I'm offering this bracelet as a giveaway to one fortunate commenter on my blog. The more you share and let me know, the more chances to win. Winner will be picked randomly on January 20th. Happy reading and sharing!