Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Festive Santa Stretch Bracelet

Another Holiday themed bracelet coming your way.  This time I used some vibrant red beads with Santas on them as well as some patterns.  I paired these with gold plated...you guessed it....stardust beads! This really shouldn't surprise you by now. 

Again, this is done with two strands of powercord because of the weight of the beads.  When I secure the surgeon's knot I use some loctite gel glue to help keep it secure.  It dries quickly and works like a dream. 

I love using bead stoppers on one end of the cord so that my beads don't slip off.  Yes, you could knot the end of the cord, but with these beads, they could slip right over the knot.  Plus, the bead stopper is easily removable, while a knot may be hard to remove.  

The pattern on this bracelet ended up being more random.  The pattern does not match, but in this situation I did not feel that it was necessary. 

See this item in my shop!
The combination of red and gold came out really nicely.  Plus, with a little green in a couple of the beads there is definitely a festive holiday look to it. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Snowmen and Snowflakes

I know, I know...it's not even the end of October yet but I do need to get ahead of the curve and get some holiday or winter themed pieces done and listed so that people have the opportunity to buy them before Christmas or the end of the year.  So...with that in mind I decided to get a start on it with some winter/holiday themed stretch bracelets.  This first one is composed of silver stardust beads and glass beads.  Yes, you may have noticed I use a lot of stardust beads in my jewelry.  I may be addicted to stardust beads.  A little. Maybe.

This bracelet ended up with a steady pattern, I decided to make it match.  Some designs look better random, but I thought this one would look good with a consistent pattern. This bracelet was made using Powercord, and as with the Halloween bracelets I made it was made with two strands/  With the heavier beads it works well because two strands will not stretch out as much, and they will also give some added security.  

See this bracelet in my shop!
The two stardust beads on the bottom of the bracelet have some diamond cut details on it. This is the first time I have used them.  I'm not sure that I will use them in a lot of my pieces (unlike regular stardust beads, which we have already talked about). They do have a nice look, but the diamond cut detailing takes away some of their sparkle in my opinion.  Overall though, I really do like how the bracelet turned out and foresee more of these in my future. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Keeping Your Place, Halloween Style

I tend to make a lot of ribbon bookmarks.  Up until now a lot of them have just been a single length of ribbon with beads or charms attached.  I decided to try laying two different colors and sizes of ribbon together to see if it would work.  

I had a couple leftover Halloween beads from the last couple bracelets I made and had recently picked up some new ribbon to work with. I started with layering a thin black ribbon on top of the orange ribbon.  I secured the ribbon down the middle using some Ultimate adhesive.  Getting it perfectly lined up down the middle took some work, but I found going slow combined with using some tweezers to lay down the black ribbon worked well.  With the Ultimate adhesive (which has a consistency similar to Elmer's glue) you can manipulate it, but there may be some residue if you move it too much.  

After gluing the ribbon down and letting it dry for a while, I then added ribbon crimps to each end.  These are secured using nylon jaw pliers, but I always add a little adhesive on the edge of the ribbon.  This not only helps to secure the ribbon crimps, but I find it can help keep the ribbon from fraying a little as well.  It won't completely stop fraying but definitely helps to prevent it.  

The beads that I had leftover were a black skull and a Jack O'Lantern bead.  I decided to add a couple stardust beads for some sparkle. 
After digging out some gunmetal headpins (I just felt they would disappear more and highlight the beads) and creating drops, I attached them to each ribbon crimp, and voila! Instant and unique bookmarks.  

I love these ribbon bookmarks.  Each one is unique and can be personalized to the owner.  The possibilities and color combinations are endless.  I have a number of these available in my etsy shop and am currently working on more that are themed.   These bookmarks are also incredibly gentle on books.  All of the ones that I make are long enough to work in a standard hardback book.  They are flexible, so they don't damage pages or the spine.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let's Talk Illusion

So...my favorite style of jewelry to make is illusion style.  Well, it is at least one of my favorites and one of the ones I am most familiar with.  It's a style that can be used in either multi-strand designs, or single strands.  Plus, you can use it to make pretty much any piece.  
See this bracelet in my Etsy Store!
I prefer to use crimp covers over the crimps that I use because I feel that they give the piece a more polished look overall.  Many people prefer to just crimp their crimps normally, or flatten them using chain nose pliers.  No method is wrong, I just prefer to use covers.  This makes it appear like they are just sections of beads held in place, but you can't really tell what is holding them in place.  

With illusion style, you can be as symmetrical or as random as you would prefer to be.  Some of my designs are precisely spaced where the sides mirror eachother in beads and spacing.  This especially happens when I make illusion style necklaces, I will almost always make these completely symmetrical. 

In these pieces I not only make the spacing and number of beads match, but I will match the shapes and the colors.  When I do illusion style bracelets, I will often just be completely random; however, when I do multiple strands I try to make sure that the way the spacing ends up, there will not be much blank space when the piece is worn.  If there is a gap on the wire in one strand, I will usually try some beads lining up in that area on another strand. 

Using crimp covers can take some practice.  Believe me, I flattened or ruined many many crimp covers before I got the hang of it.  The best way I have found to close these is by using the very tips of my crimping pliers and then applying gentle pressure.  If the bead does not line up properly or if it's just a little wonky, then I will gently adjust it with the same portion of the pliers.  
Click here to view in my Etsy store!

Creating these pieces can be very time consuming, especially if you are doing a more symmetrical design that requires precise spacing.  Don't feel bad if you need to step away for a minute, or rest your eyes.  I often have to stop for a while as it can put a strain on both your hands and eyes.  As mentioned in a previous post, if you need to mark where you left off or hold beads in place, then use a bit of scotch tape (or a bead stopper) to secure them. 

I love this style as there are just so many different looks you can create.  Using different bead shapes, spacing and number of strands make the possibilities endless.  Yes, it can take some practice, but the end result is elegant and beautiful.  If you commit to creating this style, you will need to become very good friends with your crimping pliers, crimps and crimp covers. I think it is worth it, don't you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Statement Heart Bracelet

This is another bracelet that I made using supplies that a friend of mine purchased and asked me to make something out of.  A lot of the pieces that I have made lately have been for her utilizing things that she has asked me to be creative with.  I started with the blue porcelain hearts and green porcelain rounds.  I decided that some silver stardust would be a nice touch with them, so I started laying out my beads.  

While I sometimes like to use bead boards, I've also been known to just lay out my beads on a board or my desk to see what they would look like.  Sometimes using a bead board won't show me what the completed piece will really look like, while laying out the pattern in the correct shape will better help me.  I definitely recommend bead boards, but sometimes they just aren't the best tool for me.  

Due to the weight of these beads, as well as the fact that they could have sharper edges, I used two strands of Powercord.  These beads are hollow, so getting the cord to cooperate and go strand through the middle can be a challenge to say the least! While you don't need to use a needle with Powercord, it can really help when using these types of beads.  I chose to use a wide eye needle so that I didn't have any difficulties using it with the Powercord. 

I wanted to use a single heart in the design and thought that it would be a piece that would lay over the top of your wrist well.  I then spaced the green porcelain beads with silver stardust beads, which provide a nice sparkle and contrast (in both colors and size) to the bracelet. Using a bead stopper to hold the end of the Powercord is a lifesaver as it keeps your beads from falling off the cord as well as leaves your hands free.  Can you imagine holding onto that end while stringing on the other?  I would probably drop it multiple times and have to start over.  If you don't have bead stoppers, don't worry! You can use a piece of scotch tape on the ends of the cord for the same effect. 
As planned, the heart bead lays really nicely on the top of the wrist.  After testing it for a while I discovered that it did not turn and stayed in place pretty well.  I have enough beads leftover that I am thinking of making a necklace to go with this bracelet, as I really like the combination of beads and colors.  I just hope the person I made it for feels the same!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Double Take?

This bracelet may look familiar, but I promise it is different than the one featured in a previous post.  Using leftover beads from when I made the first Halloween bracelet I decided that I had enough to make another.  These beads feature creepy eyes, a ghost, spider web and spider.

I used the same technique when making this bracelet as I did with the last bracelet.  I love the look of this bracelet as the beads are more uniform in shape and size, so even though the colors and theme are similar I really feel it can stand apart from the other bracelet.  Like the last bracelet I did this on Powercord.  I ended up adding a second strand of Powercord to the original bracelet because the weight of the lampworked beads did make the single strand stretch a bit too much. Knowing that I did that with the previous bracelet I immediately went about creating this bracelet with two strands from the beginning. 

I knotted each strand separately and in different places.  This way if one of them is worn or gets cut, it can easily be repaired without having to completely restring the bracelet, or deal with the beads flying everywhere if one strand does break.  Both knots on the bracelet are sealed using Loctite get glue, which not only secures the knot nicely, but dried relatively quickly.  Even though it does dry quickly I do try to hold the knot for a few minutes to give it a chance to cure and so that it doesn't immediately stick to the other strand or the beads.  After I feel it has dried enough I then shift the cord to hide the knots within a bead.  Now, with natural shifting the knots won't always stay hidden, but it gives it nice presentation.