Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review: Break the Rules Bead Embroidery

Diane's Beaded Dolly from the gallery section of the book
This book is awesome! It has everything I love -- beads, Frozen Charlotte dolls, and obscure Beatles references! Just out by Diane Hyde, it contains nearly two dozen projects that combine all kinds of non-bead materials in jewelry pieces that rely on bead stitching and bead embroidery to tie everything together.

Shells, thimbles, miniature dollhouse accessories, spoons, pen nibs, corks, eyeglass lenses -- all are captured and tamed in Diane's deft, original designs for pendants, necklaces, art dolls, earrings, bracelets, and more. I especially like her instructions for working with parts of porcelain trinkets. You should see the hens and chicks cuff bracelet. Seriously!

The materials are clearly listed along the outer page margins. My slight complaint is that tools aren't listed separately from supplies, but they are mostly contained toward the bottom of each list. The book contains abundant photographs and full-color illustrations, with instructions listed step-by-step, and headers for separate parts of the project.

Smart, smart creations by a gifted designer. It's not easy to integrate beads with objects, but Diane's use of color and proportion make the pieces work. If you're not into found objects, this book would not be for you. If you're fairly new to general jewelry and finishing techniques (for example, resins, sealers, drills), you will learn a lot with this book. As far as beading level of difficulty, I would recommend this book for intermediate level beaders who can manage a needle and thread and perhaps know a couple of simple stitches already.

Break the Rules Bead Embroidery: 22 Jewelry Projects Featuring Innovative Materials, by Diane Hyde (Lark Crafts)

Grade A+ Break the Rules Bead Embroidery: 22 Jewelry Projects Featuring Innovative Materials

Diane's website is While you're there, check out her very classy beadpunk gallery

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Feather Charms Tutorial

I've been making pendants using a bunch of found objects. It's so handy to know how to convert everyday things into hang-able charms. Feathers are a great example. There are a few techniques to choose from, but I like this one best because it's quick and easy, and also durable enough for jewelry projects.

You'll need just a few SUPPLIES: 
  • Fold-over cord end findings in gold or silver tone (I get mine from Rings and Things.)
  • A few feathers, any sizes and colors
  • Craft glue (I like The Ultimate from Crafter's Pick, available in hobby stores or online, because it's tacky, low toxicity, and dries clear and flexible.)

Fold-over Cord Ends
Clear drying, flexible craft glue
  • Craft knife, small sharp scissors, or a single-edge razor blade
  • Wide flat-nosed jewelry pliers

1. First, prepare the feathers. If the fluff goes all the way to the end, strip it off by pulling up the shaft on both sides. (You can put more than one feather inside the crimp, if the shaft is small.)

2. Before you glue, fold in one side of the finding. Don't fold in too much, though, or it will be too difficult to insert the feather and apply the glue. This little step makes it a lot easier to crimp the first side all the way down, while holding the feather and wet glue in place.

3. Next, lay the feather inside the finding with the end of the shaft sticking up past the top of the finding, so that it overlaps the hanging loop or even extends above it a little bit. (You'll trim this off later...)

4. Apply a bit of clear-drying craft glue inside the finding, covering the feather end. I usually squeeze out a dab of glue onto a piece of scrap paper, then pick up a small amount with a toothpick.  If you apply too much, just wipe off the excess later, after you close the finding completely.

5. Holding the feather in place inside the finding, grab your pliers and fold the 1st side in by squeezing the pliers tightly, leaving the 2nd half unfolded for now.

6. To close the 2nd side, grasp it with the pliers and pull it inward toward the center, as you did with the 1st side. Then switch plier positions and squeeze the 2nd side down over the 1st side. Finally, squeeze very tightly across the whole finding to make it as flat as possible.

7. Wipe off any excess glue before it sets, then let the glue dry completely.

8. Once the glue is dry, use your razor blade or craft knife to slice off the end of the shaft that sticks up past the top of the cord end. This creates a clean, finished look.

This is such a quick and easy way to make feathers hang-able. I made the samples for this tutorial in less than 5 minutes! Try using foldover crimps with other things like leather strips, fabric, lace, or millinery flowers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Crystal Katana Rhinestone Pusher

I've been growing accustomed to Kellie DeFries' Crystal Katana tool for placing rhinestones, chatons and other fine geegaws into 2-part epoxy resin clay. The tool works great for that -- I like the wide barrel, so your hand doesn't get tired. But it's not too heavy to flip around when you need to use the other end. I find that placement is easier than the little ball of wax on a toothpick, which can stick too much.

This video shows some other kinds of projects -- how to glue flat-backs to plastic headphones, using white glue; how to use E6000 to bling some shoes; and how to use 2-part liquid epoxy to glue crystals to a metal license plate cover. Great information here...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Geishas have unusual pets

Out for a little walk in the moonlight...

Mixed a little 2-part epoxy resin clay (Crystal Clay brand) to attach the hanger.
Made a couple of pendants with the leftover clay.

Next project!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Raggedy Letter Brooches

Here are the first two finished, using my Ma's antique lace and some vintage rhinestone cup chain.

 Click the pictures to enlarge.
Love it when there are endless possibilities... and lots of lace.
These will be available at OFFCenter.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Part-Time Craftiness

Did you know The Crafts Report has gone digital? And you can get each issue in your inbox if you'd like, for free.

This month, I enjoyed Patrice Lewis's article "Tips for Running a Part-Time Craft Business." Although their craft business is a full-time pursuit, Patrice comes up with lots of ideas for those of us who are supplementing our income with handmade products and related services.

One income-producing idea she didn't mention that I have personally found to be rewarding is teaching arts and crafts classes. Locally or nationally, you can get a really good per hour or per day rate if you play your cards right.