Handmade Catholic Rosaries and Jewelry

This the Blog where I share my faith, my Rosaries, and other good things!

Friday, November 28, 2014

DIY Sturdy Advent Candle Wreath

   It happens every year,  I search and search for Advent Taper Candles only to have the candles broken by a child the first Sunday that we light the wreath.   It drives me crazy!    So I finally decided to make my own Advent Candles from sturdy little pillar candles.   This is project is so fast and easy, I highly recommend it for anyone with small children who need semi-childproof Advent wreaths.  The kids can't break these candles....but obviously all lighted candles need to be supervised around young children.  

To make these candles you will need the following:

4 small pillar candles :  Mine came from Bed Bath and Beyond.  2"round and 4" tall.  $8.00
Plain Green Wreath (Michael's Sells them)
Purple Ribbon for Decoration
old broken Crayola crayons:   Violet and Pink
a tuna tin
a shallow pot for boiling water.
flat paint brush.

Step 1:
Put a few inches of water in the shallow pan and bring it to a boil.

Step 2

Put the clean empty tuna tin in the pan so it sits in the water.  But do NOT get water in the tin.

Step 3.  Peel the pink Crayola crayon.  Throw a few crayons in the tin to melt.  I start with Pink so I can use the same can for the Violet color.  You can add a little white to the pink crayon wax to make it less 'Barbie' color.  I didn't think to do that in time...so mine is unfortunately, 'Barbie Pink'.

Step 4  

Allow the crayon to melt and dip your brush in the wax.  Quickly stroke the wax on the candle starting with the top near the wick.   Produce even strokes one next to the other, to cover the candle as smoothly as possible.  Let your brush warm in the wax after every few strokes as wax will harden in your brush if it gets too cold.

After you finish painting the pink candle then you can throw 3 purple crayons in with the remaining pink wax.   I added a white crayon too because I wanted to lighten the dark purple crayons I was using.  

Then I just placed my candles on the wreath,  I had to bend some of the wire branches out a bit so they would more easily accomodate the pillar candle.


If you wanted a fancier wreath, you could use a floral wreath form that you soak in water and add fresh greenery all around the wreath.   That would be lovely....but I don't have that amount of time to invest.   This whole project probably took me a total of 30 minutes to accomplish.   It only cost me $8 because I had the wreath from the past 20 years of Advent in my house.  I happened to have the ribbon, the crayons, the brushes.  All, I had to buy was the pillar candles.   That is what I consider, a super easy DIY project!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some common questions....

I recieved this information from a fellow Etsy seller and felt that it was worth sharing....

*******************What is Gold Filled?****************

"14K gold filled will not tarnish, crack, chip, peel, or turn your skin green. Under normal circumstances it will last an entire lifetime. Gold filled is not plated. It is a tube of solid 14K gold that is then filled with jeweler's brass. There is 100 times more gold in gold filled than in gold plate. The cost of gold filled fluctuates with the daily gold market on the stock exchange. 14K gold filled matches your solid 14K gold jewelry perfectly because that is exactly what you are looking at - 14K gold".

****************************What is Vermeil?*************************

Vermeil sometimes called silver gilt, is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 22 carat (92%) gold or 14 carat (58 %) gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must also be at least 10 carat (42 %) and be at least 1.5 micrometres thick.

*************************CLEANING TIPS***************************

The best cleaning solution for Sterling Silver is 'Haggerty's' or 'Goddards' Silver Dip. It's a clear liquid. You dip your Sterling in it for a few seconds and rinse off. Then Voila! It's sparkling clean. I found that other liquid cleaners don't work as well, so if you can't find it, order it on line, Amazon.com has it. It's safe on gems, but try to avoid getting it on pearls, (use a Que-tip around the pearl area).

** I actually use Silver Dip for Sterling, Vermeil, Gold Filled, Brass, and Copper. It is a great, and instant all-around cleaner.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Remove Tarnish from a Silver rosary with simple ingredients

Do you have a lot of tarnished silver pieces around your house?   I know I do.  I wanted to try to remove some tarnish without using a lot of toxic chemicals.  I found a very simple method for tarnish removal that is relatively simple to use.  So I looked around the house for a few small pieces to use for my experiment.

My sons Sterling Rosary is looking much older than it actually is!
The first thing I found was my son's rosary.   He likes to hang his Sterling Silver Graduation rosary over his desk.  But it was so humid this summer it turned quite dark.  This was a great opportunity to clean it up for him.

Here's what I did....

First I gathered together the following:

Aluminum foil
2 teaspoons Baking Soda,
1 teaspoon Salt,
Warm water
a bowl
a tarnished silver rosary

I lined the bowl with enough Aluminum foil that would easily cover the bowl without water getting out.
I poured hot water into the aluminum lined bowl....
Added the Baking soda and salt and mixed....then threw in the tarnished rosary in the warm water and watched.

NOTE:  Make sure the tarnished silver parts come in contact with the aluminum foil....this is a must!

Can you see the little flakes rising to the surface? It looks like snow.
You can check on your rosary every few minutes to see how the process is coming along...

Right away I could smell an odor not too different than liver of sulfur.  I did the experiment outside, because I didn't know if the gases would be toxic. 

I stirred my rosary around...to get all the parts in contact with the foil.

I saw white flecks floating in the water...I wondered if that is oxidized powder that is floating off?

My water was quite hot...but not so hot to burn me.  I wondered what temperature was the best?  Wood boiling water be better?

Every now and then I swirled the rosary around and checked on it.  I didn't want it to be a bright silver...but I wanted it to retain just a little of the aged look.

After I was finished, I dried the rosary parts off with a soft cloth.  
A little of the oxidization rubbed onto the napkin that I was using.  The pieces looked pretty good again.

Here is the finished rosary.  The medals have lost the deep dark grey and have retained a vintage look...without being overly shiny.  I could probably have left it in the water longer, if I wanted a shinier look.

  When I gave the rosary back to my son, I told him that when he prays the rosary, the oils from his hands will help prevent oxidation...and when he's not praying, it should be in a rosary pouch.   I handed him an anti-tarnish rosary pouch...and hopefully, I am not going to have to shine it up again!

I had so much fun, I decided to try the experiment with some other silver pieces.   The ladle and the candy dish below were pretty tarnished. This time I used boiling water, and left them in the water for only a short time.

I didn't know if the pieces were real silver or silver plate...but I forged ahead anyway....

The candy dish started brightening right before my eyes.  But it occurred to me that it was most certainly silver plate....so I took it out pretty quickly since I wasn't sure if this would destroy the thin layer of silver.  The candy dish is still a bit mottled...but still looks much better than it did before!

I would guess the ladle is also silver plate.  But it looks way better too.

(After reading the science behind this experiment, it appears that this process should not be harmful to silver plate...unlike commercially available tarnish remover)

So what actually happened in this experiment?   I looked up the science of it after I was done, and this is what I found.

When silver tarnishes, it combines with sulfur and forms silver sulfide. Silver sulfide is black. When a thin coating of silver sulfide forms on the surface of silver, it darkens the silver. The silver can be returned to its former luster by removing the silver sulfide coating from the surface.

There are two ways to remove the coating of silver sulfide. One way is to remove the silver sulfide from the surface. The other is to reverse the chemical reaction and turn silver sulfide back into silver. In the first method, some silver is removed in the process of polishing. In the second, the silver remains in place. Polishes that contain an abrasive shine the silver by rubbing off the silver sulfide and some of the silver along with it. Another kind of tarnish remover dissolves the silver sulfide in a liquid. These polishes are used by dipping the silver into the liquid, or by rubbing the liquid on with a cloth and washing it off. These polishes also remove some of the silver.

The tarnish-removal method used in this experiment uses a chemical reaction to convert the silver sulfide back into silver. Many metals in addition to silver form compounds with sulfur. Some of them have a greater affinity for sulfur than silver does. Aluminum is such a metal. In this experiment, the silver sulfide reacts with aluminum. In the reaction, sulfur atoms are transferred from silver to aluminum, freeing the silver metal and forming aluminum sulfide. Chemists represent this reaction with a chemical equation.v

3 Ag2S   +   2 Al   --/>   6 Ag   +   Al2S3


The reaction between silver sulfide and aluminum takes place when the two are in contact while they are immersed in a baking soda solution. The reaction is faster when the solution is warm. The solution carries the sulfur from the silver to the aluminum. The aluminum sulfide may adhere to the aluminum foil, or it may form tiny, pale yellow flakes in the bottom of the pan. The silver and aluminum must be in contact with each other, because a small electric current flows between them during the reaction. This type of reaction, which involves an electric current, is called an electrochemical reaction. Reactions of this type are used in batteries to produce electricity.  (This information was taken from the following website  http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/TARNISH.html)

How coool is that! (I have always loved science!)  Now I know the little flakes I was seeing was actually the aluminum sulfide.  I also read (you can read the whole article at the link) that it was better to use boiling water in the experiment.  That is good to know for future reference.

It is also worth noting that the gas that I smelled must be Sulphur Dioxide which is produced when the Sulphur combines with Oxygen.  This is a toxic gas and is best avoided with plenty of ventilation.

I think this experiment is a huge success, and I know this method will come in handy in the future for other tarnished silver pieces.  It is so easy...you should give it a try!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

White Bronze Rosary Parts have arrived!

White bronze rosaries are finally here!  Many of you may be wondering  what is White Bronze?  White Bronze is not actually Bronze.  Both are metal alloy...but the recipes are different.  Bronze, is made of copper with Tin as the main additive, whereas, White Bronze is made of copper, tin, and zinc.  It is also known as ‘Miralloy’. 

White Bronze is the new alternative to nickel and silver.  There are several reason for its recent popularity.  With the price of precious metals on an all-time high, White Bronze is so much more affordable than silver.   It has the look of aged silver, it ages to a warmer tone but does not tarnish as quickly as sterling silver. 

Bronze, Copper and White Bronze in Precious Metal Clay
Both Bronze and White Bronze are very strong, resist corrosion and breakdown, are solderable, non-magnetic, smooth and virtually non-porous. This makes these metals a perfect choice for rosary parts with detail and durability!

With the rising cost of sterling silver on the global market more and more rosary makers were turning to pewter or plated parts for their rosary making.  Pewter is not a very strong metal and often lacks the detail and durability.   Silver plated rosary parts have a copper base that is electroplated with silver.  The silver layer is incredibly thing and it is most disappointing how quickly a base of copper can start showing through.
In the jewelry making industry, nickel had become a popular choice.  But unfortunately many people developed nickel allergies.  Do you know a documented 15% of the US population currently has nickel allergies...as opposed to 10% during the 80's.  With allergies to nickel on the rise, it is no wonder that nickel is  being banned for jewellery use in the European Union.  Thankfully, White Bronze is considered the safe alternative to nickel.

I am thrilled that our caster for the antique reproduction rosary parts is now providing pieces in white Bronze.  I don't know about you...but I have never been so intrigued by metal before!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Evolution of a Rosary Workshop

Ever since I started making rosaries, the problem of organization has loomed large in my head.   I had no particular place to work, so all my beads and findings were spread across the table in our formal dining room.  Unlike a lot of homes...we actually needed to use in our formal dining room for dinner time on a daily basis.   But with rosaries everywhere, we were forced to squeeze the family around the kitchen table.   Cleaning up for Thanksgiving took several days of packing it all up.   When Easter came, it was again a several day process to reclaim the table. 

After Easter I decided I could no longer live this way.  It was an eye soar.  It was impractical.  It was driving me crazy.  So I made a commitment to move to the only place in the house that was not formally claimed.  My basement storage room.

Like most families with 7 children, the storage room was piled high with boxes of children's clothing, baby perifinalia like cribs, and baby toys, and even a huge weight set...that my teenage boys 'planned' to use (but rarely did).  So when Easter was over, and I began to set up shop again, I first set up a table in the basement, and slowly began moving things down there.   The lighting was bad, and I still had no organization.  So I didn't actually work down there too much.

For the next several months I was running from the basement to the main floor every time I started a rosary...as my supplies were half way between the two rooms.  (Good exercise...but very time consuming!)  I refused to move them back to the dining room, knowing that that bit of inconvenience would help me not lose sight of my goal.  Little by little things started moving forward.  We started donating and selling everything that we were not going to need again.  We even moved the weight bench to the garage.  I had 6 sets of Fluorescent light fixtures installed (and natural light tubes put into the fixtures).   Wow!  It was so bright it felt like heaven!  Having the light I needed made me feel like my own workshop was actually going to become a reality!

I started to think of how I could get rid of even more.  It seemed we had pared down as much as was possible.  All the shelves were still taken, except for two rickety things that I needed to take to the dump.  I was about to load them in the truck, when the wheels started turning in my head.  ... I realized I could take the two old shelves apart, remove the bent and rusted parts and possibly come out with one good shelf!  Woo hoo!  It worked perfectly.  The finished shelf had plenty of shelves, and without spending a dime, I now had an place to orderly store my findings!!!
For the final step in the organization process I needed to get a huge peg board secured to the wall.  I have some kind of phobia about power tools...so I didn't think I should try it on my own.  My loving DH was so busy with other items on his 'To Do List', that the peg board had been sitting forlornly on the floor for months.  So when my brother, the priest came for a visit, I jumped on the chance.  I told him he was suppose to follow the path of Joseph the Carpenter for the day and help me put up my peg board.   Ah ha!  It worked.  Within minutes we had that peg board attached to the wall. 

The wall space is still at a premium, since we have shelves lining the room that are still filled with the needed storage items.   So we installed the huge peg board so it would run from floor to ceiling.   How satisfying it was to hang my beads in a neat and orderly fashion.  Then I put my table in front of the shelf and pegboard so my findings and beads would all be within an arms length.  I even recycled an old office chair that had lost its back.  The seat on wheels was perfect for me to skoot back and forth around my table.  

I cannot tell you how exciting it is to finally be able to have a place for everything and everything in its place!   I won't spend half my time searching for a part, or buying beads that I already have.  I can close the door on my business and be back in a home again.  The feeling of order in my shop gives me so much peace! It is truly an exciting day in my rosary making business!

Maybe some of you crafty folks out there also have issues with organizing your supplies? I hope that this post inspires you to save your sanity, save some money and use what you have to reclaim some space for your creative talents.  It is totally worth the effort!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Amazing Graces of Divine Mercy Sunday

"The soul  that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment."

The soul  that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment."

I encourage everyone to read the Vatican Decree on  Indulgences attached to devotions in honour of Divine Mercy.


This is just 3 pages...so it is worth reading to make sure you do all that you can do to gain these amazing graces.