Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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This week’s post is for all you chain maillers and beaders who work with a lot of jump rings!

If you drop a jump ring on a bare work surface, it can bounce with great distance off the table and go flying off to heaven knows where. As anyone who’s ever dropped one (or ten) knows, jump rings can be very hard to find on carpet.

To minimize your losses, always work on a padded surface, like a bead mat or bead board. A padded surface will absorb momentum from a dropped jump ring and can stop it from bouncing off the table or from going very far if it does manage to hit the floor.

Chain maille jump rings

Since there is always the risk of losing or culling a few rings along the way, consider buying extra jump rings when you are getting supplies for a project. Even if you don’t end up needing to use the extras, you can easily use them in other projects since jump rings are such an essential beading staple. Make sure to get all your jump rings for a project from a single source so your materials all have a consistent hardness, color, and size.

Happy Tuesday! –Gabby

Gabby

Earth Day 2016 – Charity Results!

The results of our annual Earth Day charity drive are in! 1026 TierraCast Tree of Life and Earth charms, pendants, and buttons were purchased in our Earth Day charity drive, which means that we were able to make a $1026 donation to the National Wildlife Federation!

Their ability to meet the needs of wildlife is inextricably linked to the amazing individuals, groups, organizations and corporations they call their supporters. Together, they form a pack, leveraging their influence to safeguard America’s wildlife and wild places. Your generosity and thoughtfulness will truly help make a difference!

If you would like to support the National Wildlife Federation even more you can follow this link!

nwf

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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There are many ways to finish kumihimo designs, but one of the most popular ways is with cord ends. Cord ends give your jewelry a polished, professional appearance and can be used with almost any clasp of your choice. Our Kumihimo – Clasp Option 1 Technique shows you how to finish round braids with wire and cord ends that have a small hole at the top, but what about cord ends with a ring at the top? Here’s a quick and easy way to use these versatile finishings in your kumihimo braid designs!

First, trim down the ends of your braid so that they will fit cleanly into the cord end. Then, mix a batch of 5 Minute Epoxy. Add some mixed epoxy into a cord end and firmly insert one end of the braid. You may need to hold the cord end in place for a minute to hold the braid steady as the epoxy begins to set. Repeat on the other end of the braid with the second cord end.

Kumihimo with cord ends

The epoxy will take approximately one hour to fully cure. Once it is cured, you can attach your clasp with jump rings through the rings at the top of the cord ends.

Kumihimo cord ends

And there you go! For kumihimo jewelry ideas, check out our Kumihimo Inspiration Gallery!

Happy Tuesday! –Gabby
Gabby

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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It can be difficult to determine how much stringing material you’ll need for a project, especially for bead weaving, bead crochet, and kumihimo braiding techniques. Thankfully, new tools and supplies are being introduced all the time to help beaders save time and materials, and none more so than the Wire Knitter/Kumihimo Weight!

The primary job of a Kumihimo Weight is to keep an even tension on a working kumihimo braid and help it hang straight. This simple purpose, while incredibly helpful, hides an even more amazing fact: because your tension is tighter when you braid with a weight than without it, you use less cord when you use a weight.

To find out how much cord to use for a kumihimo project, you would typically multiply the desired finished length 3-4 times. Using this formula for the 24 inch necklace that I made below, I cut eight 72 inch pieces of cord and then proceeded to make my braid according to our Kumihimo – Simple 8-Warp Braid with Beads Technique, except with a Small Wire Knitter/Kumihimo Weight attached to the working braid.

4.26 - 1

Look what was left over when I finished the piece! That is eight 33 inch pieces of cord coiled up and sitting with my finished necklace – 22 feet of excess cord that didn’t need to be cut simply because the Kumihimo Weight kept the tension so tight and even. The leftover cord pieces aren’t useless and are long enough to be used in other projects, but who wouldn’t want to have all that cord still on the spool in one piece instead? Try using a Wire Knitter/Kumihimo Weight with your next kumihimo project and see just how much stringing material you can save when you use it!

Happy Tuesday! –Gabby
Gabby

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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Plastic earring backs can be used for more than just securing your ear wires in place; they can also function as a bead stopper when you are working with heavy wires such as snowflake forms or memory wire! Simply insert the wire through the earring back hole and twist gently to ease the back onto the desired place on the wire. This is a great trick to use if you are unsure of your design and may need to change the pattern or materials later, as you can easily remove the earring backs and alter your piece before making the finishing touches.

Snowflake

Snowflake close-up

Happy Tuesday! –Gabby
Gabby

Tuesday Tips and Tricks!

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Here’s an easy way to add a bright pop of color to your designs in an unexpected way: dress up your clasp with wire coiling!

First, choose your clasp. S-clasps, hook and eye clasps, and toggle clasps are all excellent options to use. You can also create your own clasp with our Handmade Finding Techniques for a truly unique piece. Next, choose your wire. Artistic Wire and Parawire have a rainbow of rich hues to select from that will befit any design. 26 gauge dead soft wire is an ideal size to use for this technique, as you don’t want your wire to be too stiff to easily coil with or so thick that the coils block you from clasping your jewelry correctly. For my clasp, I chose to make my own sterling silver closure with our Making a Clasp – S Hook Technique and decorate it with 26 gauge Red Artistic Wire.

Tips and Tricks

This technique is very similar to our Covering a Component Techniques, only with no beads! To begin, cut a piece of wire no longer than 12 inches in length. It is very easy to add more wire later if needed, so you will want to work with a smaller piece to make the coiling more manageable. Carefully anchor your wire to the clasp with a few wraps, going as slowly as needed to avoid wire kinks. Make sure that your tension is even and the coils are neatly aligned side by side with no gaps. You can use your fingers to gently push the coils closer together if there are gaps. Once you have the hang of making the coils, keep going until you have coiled over all of the area you wish to decorate. Then, use flush cutters to trim the wire ends closely to the back of the clasp. You may also want to use chain nose pliers to manipulate the wire end to make sure that it doesn’t scratch your skin. If you run out of wire, simply trim your existing piece of wire as described above, cut another wire piece, and begin again by anchoring your wire as you did at the start. You can come back later and trim the end of your new wire piece once you’re finished.

And there you go! Go crazy with color and give your clasp equal attention in your designs!

Happy Tuesday! –Gabby

Gabby