Wednesday, 29 June 2011

tissue tape cuff

Here's another pic I found. I'm not sure what to do with this one. What you see is nothing more that Tim Holtz tissue tape on a brass cuff, the kind of bracelet base you use for e.g. bead embroidered cuffs (which was what I bought it for). I kind of like it, but don't know how to seal it.

You see, tissue tape is not strong enough to stay bonded to the metal. And I have bad experiences trying to glue the sticky sides of stickers and tapes. Glue on glue just slides, it doesn't stick (until it dries if you're lucky). After I "made" this bracelet, I taped a bronze tag just to see if I could make it stick permanently by sealing it with decoupage glue/lacquer, but it didn't work. So I'll have to try actually glueing the tape to the metal and then apply a sealant/varnish on top, hoping it won't affect the tape.

So far I haven't tried it. The only thing I have done since I took the pic was to trim the excess tape visible on the back. Not sure if I should keep working with this project or actually save the cuff for the bead embroidered bracelet it was meant.

"Lampwork" beads

I was looking though my bead and jewellery photo file on the computer as I need to erase old photos to have room for the new when I found this pic, which I've never shown ayone before.

Not very pretty perhaps, but can you see what it is? It's coloured glue gun glue that I played around with one day when I was bored. Sort of making my own hot glue lampwork beads. I did one or two using the actual glue gun, but then I switched to just melting the glue sticks over a candle. The blue beads in the back have patterns in red. Let me tell you -- it's not easy making little stars/flowers on a glue bead using stringy hot glue!

Is hot glue a good bead making material? Not really. The beads feel almost like rubber beads, but with a somewhat sticky surface even after it's been drying for days. It's also difficult to control the glue once it starts melting. It's stringy and messy. Though, I suspect it's not easy to work with glass rods either as a newbie... So far from ideal, but useful enough to kill a slow afternoon.

And why on earth did I get the idea to do this in the first place? I suspect it was a combination of having watch lampwork tutorials -- using glass -- on YouTube and looking at African plastic bead bracelets. The kind of beads that are made by hand using recycled plastic that's heated over a flame or other heat source and wound around a mandrel to form it. Hot glue is sort of a plastic. (But if I'm going to make any plastic lampwork beads in the future, I'll definitely use recycled plastic and not soft, sticky glue.)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Giveaway tips

I've got a couple of more giveaways to mention. I love giveaways (and really must get around to doing my own one day soon!) and these are a couple I've found lately.

First, Andrew Thornton and Eclectica are giving away a bunch of gorgeous german glass beads. Vintage reproduction beads to be exact. I love german glass beads and I so want to win these! Don't you? If you do, get over to Andrew's blog and this giveaway post immediately for your chance to win. But hurry, there's not much time left.

Then you can head over to the Beaducation blog. They're having a giveaway for their blog followers. To win, all you have to do is follow the blog and they'll draw a winner of a 100 USD Beaducation gift certificate. But that's not all: if they reach 1000 followers by July 1st, they'll give away a second gift certificate to a lucky blog follower! And don't miss this giveway either were they'll on Monday (yes, this Monday) give away the winner's choice of one of the new DVD classes.

Bead blog recap weeks 23-25

I skipped doing a recap last week, seeing how this week was my last week blogging before taking a summer break (I'll keep blogging here, just taking a break from the daily bead blogging at Manekis Pärlblogg). So this will be an unusually long blog post and therefore I'll use it to test the jump break, adding one of those "read more" button things.

This recaps contains contest tips, new products, how to make shell jewellery, treble clef pendant tutorials and more.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Happy Midsummer's Eve!

A little late perhaps, seeing how it's already evening, but I wouldn't want to forget wishing you all a lovely Midsummer's Eve (Midsommarafton), whether you're Swedish and celebrating it or not. It's pretty much typical windy and cold midsummer weather so you'll have to make due with these flower photos, which are a couple of weeks old by now.

The pickled herring is eaten --without any alcohol -- and so are the strawberries and cream. I'm not going out so I'll just sit here and celebrate the holiday in the company of the cats, eating chocolate and peanut cake (that's not traditional midsummer food, no -- but delicious). Perhaps see if the magic of the midsummer can inspire a new bead/jewellery project. I could use some midsummer magic to stir my inspiration right now. 

The midsummer night is actually not a bad theme. With folklore, legends, fairy tales and traditions like the seven flowers under the pillow, love spells, foretellings, Näcken and all the other supernatural beings from the folklore (which are said to be the most powerful on special nights like this one -- though of cause it orginally referred to the solstice night, not the night of Midsummer's eve, which is fixed to a Friday each year since 1953). And then there's Shakespeare with his Midsummer night's dream, if looking past the Swedish tradtion and Scanian folklore. Nothing is more inspirational than the romantic blend of magic, fairy tales and the beauty of the blossoming gardens and forests right now.

Glad midsommar!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sometimes you're lucky

Like I mentioned in the giveaway post earlier, I feel like I've won several giveaways and prize draws lately. It's always been my intention to do something to show off on the blog and thereby also send a little thank you to the generous people that've given these beads and components to me. But seeing how I've not blogged much lately, I haven't really gotten around to do that. Sure, I've mentioned a couple of the things on my other blog, but today I thought I'd at least show you some of the things I've got and who I got them from.

This first pendant -- without the bail I've added just to test an idea of mine -- is from Clay Designs by glee. I won it in a Beads of Clay open studio event. If you, like me, love ceramic beads, be sure to check out the Beads of Clay website and blog.

Recently -- ok, probably some months ago, but it feels recent -- I also got some lovely patinated bronze clay components and a polymer clay heart by Staci Louise Originals from her Artisan Accents jewellery components line (in a giveaway at Lorelei Eurto's blog). One of the bronze pieces are missing from the photo.

What more have I got? Yes, I won a monthly prize draw as a Rings & Things blog partner. (That was probably a few months back by now -- time flies!) This included sparkly Chines rondelles and a small swarm of butterflies.

I love the butterflies, but one thing I really liked was the colour in these little rondelles. It's called 2-tone green and it's a sort of light sage green finish on crystal, which glitters with hints of mauve and also a slight blue tint. And, boy, does these rondelles sparkle despite their small size (3 mm)!

Then, this week I got this loot by Beads Direct. Not a giveaway, but a prize I won in their "bloggers and writers competition". I was one of three winners with my blog post "Grey looks best with colour!". In line with the colour I chose, I got this handpicked mix of monochrome beads. I especially like the lentils. I'd probably never buy them myself as I don't use chunky lentils that often and would've focused on other beads, but having them here in my hand I just love them.

(Click on each pic to enlarge it: they don't look as dark then.)


There you have it, just some bragging. Sometimes it really pays off to enter giveaways and competitions, even when it feels like you never win. Because one day you will. I'm not luckier than anyone else and see what I got! It's just a matter of not giving up just because of the odds and of finding the opportunities.

One good way of finding these opportunities is of cause to follow blogs (as well as following people on Twitter and FB) and sign up for newsletters. In the newsletters, shops and magazines will announce upcoming and current contests they arrange. As for blogs, follow blogs where you know giveaways are common, but it also pays to follow other blogs as bloggers often gets extra chances to win if the blog, tweet or write something on Facebook about the giveaway they want to enter. Some bloggers -- like me, over at Manekis Pärlblogg, or Michelle Mach -- will also blog about contests, calls for submissions etc that we hear about.

If you're active on a forum, there might be a section where members can post tips about contests etc. If not, you might want to start one. You can also start a section or thread with giveaway tips. Help each other to find all the fun contests and giveaways/blog candy online.

Most of all, if you find a giveaway or competition, don't pass up just because you keep telling yourself you never win. Who knows, this time it might be your name they draw or your creation the judges will choose. Maybe you win, maybe you don't. You won't win most of the time, that's just the way it is, but hang in there and you will win one day. The only way you're definitely not going to win is if you pass up when the opportunity arises. And it's always the things we don't do, not the things we do, that we regret later. So take the chance whenever you can. Find the opportunities. Just do it!

So many giveaways -- don't miss them!

There are several giveaways to be found on the blogs I follow right now. And such treats they are! These are really giveaways you don't want to miss. And as usual, I'm telling you this last minute -- winners will be picked this Monday -- so if you read this and want a chance to win: don't hesitate, but head over to Andrew, Lana and Lori right now so you don't miss the deadline!

Note: Some of the giveaways include a lot more than you see in the pics. I just chose one pic from each blog to illustrate this post.

Something Unique by Lana

Lana is giving away a lovely mix of beads and findings in different materials here. There's beads by Gaea, pendants by Mary Harding, enamelled charms from Gardanne Beads, lampwork by Jane Perela (see photo), leather cords, jump rings and more.

Pretty Things

Lori is having a Big Bead Giveaway with a lush stash that includes semi-precious beads, Green Girl pewter, lucite flowers, a Diane Hawkey pendant, czech glass beads, vintage sequins, metal stamp holder and more. Nine winners will be sharing the goodies. Check it out here.

Sweet Bead Studio

Like Lori and Andrew, Cindy came back from the Bead & Button Show with a lovely stash, which included things to give away. Here giveaway post can be found here. The giveaway includes sari silks, brass components, lucite earring pairs and an inspiration pack, which will be divided between four lucky winners.

The writing and art of Andrew Thornton

Last but not least is Andrew Thornton's latest Thursday giveaway over here. His generous giveaway also include some fab art beads like a Heather Powers (HumbleBeads) pendant, components from Green Girl Studios, charms from Susan Lenart Kazmer's Industrial Chic line, components from Earthenwood Studio and more (all can be seen in the pic above).

Good luck!


Having won a few giveaways this year, I really feel I want to host a giveaway too. Paying it forward, of sorts. But what to give away? Do I even have anything pretty enough for anyone to want to participate? I'll have to think about it...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Ugly ducklings

Not all things you do turn out as well as you'd like them to. This is one example of that. This is one of my etched pendants. It's difficult to get a good pic of a matte and shiny black pendant, but I think you more than well can see the things I don't like about it.

First of all, when I bought these onyx pendants they were an opaque black and I had no idea that my etching would reveal that classic agate banding. I etched it a little longer than necessary , which made the problem worse. Also, the long etching made the sticker I used to make the bird motif started to lift, probably causing the white lines along parts of the silhouette. You live and you learn, I guess...

It's been sitting like this on my table for weeks, months now. Not sure what to do with it. I've thought about either giving it to someone who likes it better than I do, someone having mercy on it, or to try and etch it again, seeing if I can add a lightly etched surface to the motif. Not that I know whether it'll improve it or not, but I've wanted to test "double etching" and the effects I can make that way. And if this pendant is already screwed up, I don't have anything to lose by using it as a guinea pig.

I feel like I'm bullying the poor bird by complaining about it every time I look at it, but on the other hand, I do call it an ugly duckling, not just ugly. I still hope it can transform into, well, if not a swan so at least a prettier bird than I feel it is now. And if I can transform it perhaps I should just have an ugly duckling giveaway at let someone else provide a better home for it...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pretty purple pebbles

I feel like I haven't blogged in ages (giveaway tips and blog recaps don't count). At least partially it's of cause a side effect of having worked a lot lately and also being called to work last in the last minute on days when I was supposed to be off, thus messing up my planning.

We did have Wednesday off and my sis and I spent the afternoon wandering around in Malmö (as my dad went to hospital for tests, we took the opportunity to tag along). We also got a chance to visit the Panduro Outlet, which we missed last time, and that's where I bought these glass pebbles. They're the kind you use in flower arrangements so the quality is nothing near glass cabs: they have tiny bubbles on the surface, shapes are irregular etc. But I really liked the colour and patterns in these purple glass stones.

Great thing about it was that they were sold loose so I could pick out the pieces I liked the best. Normally they're sold in bags, but for jewellery-makers and crafters this is so much better as you can pick out the perfect pebble (hopefully) and also mix and match colours instead of having to buy a whole package of each. Notice how a couple of the pebbles -- the two on each side of the one at the top -- have patterns of white that almost looks like fuchsias with their petals and long stamen.

Not sure what I'm going to do with these, but most likely I'll do some beaded bezels. As usual. The irregular shapes make them less ideal for fabricated bezels and settings, though they would work with, say, glue-on bails and other "glueable" findings. Or maybe I should make a wire bezel? Haven't worked with wire in ages, it feels like.

Perhaps I'll tumble a few that have too many bubbles and flaws.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Bead blog recap weeks 21-22

Almost forgot to do a recap this weekend. As I'm doing this on a Monday I might as well also mention that today's blog post on Manekis Pärlblogg is about a new beading contest, Native American Necklace Contest. Read all about it here (or rather, if you don't speak Swedish, find the link to the contest info there).

Beaded bead chain

Make a beaded chain with embellishments that looks like beaded beads. The technique is similar to spiral rope and bead wrapped beads in the way the beaded embellishments are made between stringed sections.

June monthly challenges
New design challenges from Art Bead Scene, La Bella Joya, Operation Tackle That Bead Stash and Vintaj.

Turn glass beads into cabochon
Using a kiln for glass fusing, you can slump glass beads into pretty cabs. No kiln? Use beads slip in half and grind down any sharp edges by hand, machine or using a tumbler.

With the prices of silver soaring, silver-filled (AKA rolled silver) has become an option that can now be found in several US bead shops.

Vintage style butterfly beads
More butterfly beads -- the perfect motif for summer jewellery. This time pretty copper beads with retro images from Jewels by Jules, sold by Rings & Things. See photo above.

eMag for copper lovers
Copper Wire Jewelers is an e-publication from the team behind the community with the same name. The mag doesn't contain projects, but instead you'll find eye candy by jewellery makers from the community as well as useful articles.

Flex Your Creativity 2011
SoftFlex Company has announced this year's edition of their design contest Flex Your Creativity. The challenge this year is in mixing their beading wire with their new craft wire.

Personalized tags
I've had a couple of people ask me about logo tags recently and here's my reply. Includes options such as buying logo stamps, ordering ready-made tags (cast or engraved), doing your own engravings etc -- and the latest thing, engraved acrylic/plexiglass tags.

Caring for your jewellery
Jewellery care is important for your pieces to last long and look good. Also, cleaning jewellery is important for the maker in order for the jewellery to really sparkle when displayed and photographed.

Dyeing bone beads and components
How to dye components made of bone. Dyes that work on bone often work on other porous natural materials such as MOP, FW pearls, wood and more.

Colourful patterned components
Beads Direct has a new collection of coloured, patterned jewellery components (clasp, chain, jump rings, links) perfect for informal summer jewellery.

Customized ear cuffs
Ear cuffs are hot. Frost08 offers a service for those of you who want to order custom made ear cuffs rather than making them yourselves. Also includes link to tips on ear cuff projects for those of you who want to make your own cuffs from scratch.

EU to ban cadmium in jewellery
From december, the EU is banning all use of cadmium in jewellery and plastics.

Calla lilies
Make your own dimensional versions of this easily regonizable flower, using sheet metal, beads, clay and more.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Celtic Braid Cuff

A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail saying my Celtic Braid Cuff didn't win anything in Rings & Things' contest, but it did get chosen as one of Polly's Picks ("non-winning designs that we think display a noteworthy use of Rings & Things components in a practical design"). Which does mean I've got some money to spend on beads this weekend.

The bracelet is a prime example of how a design can grow and evolve into something different than you originally planned. In this case, I knew I wanted to use braided cotton cord to embellish the leather cuff. But originally, I wanted to whip stitch the edges and make some sort of insertion stitch between the stitches along the edges. Not having a proper embroidery bible at home, I tried to google insertion stitches. As luck would have it, I for some reason couldn't remember the name for this type of stitches so I had google rather randomly until I ended up finding not the Swedish but the English name for them. And finding a good embroidery source in English, I suddenly found a stitch I'd never seen before:
Interlaced band (AKA german interlacing stitch, interlacing insertion stitch or interlaced faggot stitch when used in insertion/faggoting). That's one cool stitch to just stumble over!

This stitch combined two things I like, but rarely get around to do: braiding and hand embroidery. Finding this stitch I immediatly abandoned my original idea and began testing it on a piece of felt before moving on to the cuff.

While I liked the finished braid, it did feel slightly unfinished and angular. That might appeal to some, but I felt it needed a touch of something. So inspired at least partially by the Vikings and their habit of "encasing" writing on runestones using borders, I stitched the left over piece of brown cotton cord to the black cord along the edges of the stitched motif. The thread I used to stitch the cotton cord is not visible on the front nor back: it runs through the cord and, at intervals, it's stitched to the black cord where that cord exit the holes in the cuff.

There's a total of four cord ends that I secured on the back by tacking them to the cuff using the beading thread and treated the tips with an anti-fraying product. I wanted to avoid clumsy knots and criss-crossing cord on the back so it'd be comfortable to wear. You can't see the unobtrusive tacked cord ends in the pic below, but you can see what the double herringbone base looks like on the inside of the cuff: just two even rows of short stitches.

The holes were probably the toughest part of the creation. Lacking leather-craft tools, I used fine leather needles and two sizes of tapestry needles to make each hole. That took some time... To make sure the pattern of holes became even, I placed a piece of graph paper on the cuff as a template. Of cause, eventhough I tested the stitch before making the bracelet, I forgot one important thing: you need to make the herringbone base very loose as the braiding tightens the stitches. I did make it loose, but not loose enough. Simple didn't count on the thick cord taking up that much space. When testing it on the felt, the soft fabric gave way to the cord in a way the leather couldn't. I didn't realise that at the time. But at least I know it for my next celtic braid bracelet. Because I will make more. And I will buy some more cuffs so I can make that insertion stitch bracelet I originally planned too. (I probably should invest in some leather-working tools as well, but hey, I'm not made of money. Have to prioritize.)
I'm so glad I found this celtic-looking stitch and I will use it again. It's pretty easy to make and a lot of fun. You should try it too!


To see all the winning entries and the rest of the Polly's Picks in Your Designs Rock 2011, check out the contest gallery here.
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