Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Blink of an eyelash" necklace.

Today's project is inspired by something that happened in Mexico. I was there for several weeks, studying Spanish. A wonderful trip...but I was going through serious craft withdrawal. I had to make something! No tools, no supplies, no way to feed this craving - arrrgh!
At the edge of an open-air market, I met an old man with a small trove of beads. I bought one beautiful string of glass rondelles before hurrying away to class. I wanted, planned to buy more - but I never found him again.

So what could I make with...

Cotton string from a papeleria, a ten peso folding scissor and a handful of beads?

I made this:

It's sort of minimalist, sort of ethnic, and it so suited the time and place. It was a little weird, but I was happy with it.

If you'd like to experiment with this idea, it's a good one for beginners. Fast! Simple! But as simple as it is, you can have much fun playing with different looks.

Here's how to make an "eyelash" necklace. You need a few beads, some string, scissors.
First tie a loop in one end of the string:

The ideal size is just big enough to slip over one of your beads. This picture shows the loop loosely tied - start out like that, then adjust for size and tighten the knot.

Next, string all but one of the beads. Figure out where to place them, depending on the final length you want. I find this design looks nice at princess length, for most people 18 to 20 inches.

Tie a knot at each end of the strung beads to keep them in place. Add the last bead, then tie a final knot to end. Leave just a little play between the beads, so there will be room for the eyelashes. Like this:

Of course, you could wear it as is. But don't stop now - tie on some eyelashes! You can tie them as a basic half knot:

That will give a random, floppy effect, as in the original necklace:

Or for a more regular look, tie lark's head knots, like this:

And there ya go, an interesting necklace. In the blink of an eyelash.

Pretty easy, right? But wait, there's more. Just play around with it and see what you get. You could use both knots together, and vary the lengths:

Which ends up looking kind of rock and roll barbed-wiry:

If you try that one, remember to leave a little more leeway between the beads, so there'll be enough room for the extra knots. Or better yet, don't tie off the beaded section until after you have added the eyelashes - then cinch everything up tight and tie the second stopper knot.

This next one has a second pair of lark's head lashes between each bead:

How cute are these ladybugs, for a little girl?

Or the one with flowers, for a pre-teen?

One more technique: an alternative to the knots on either end of the beaded section. Loop the string all the way around the first and last beads and tighten - that will act as the stopper. It can be useful because it's adjustable - you won't need to figure out in advance where the knots go to make your necklace come out even. You can just slip-and-wiggle the 'stopper loops' until everything is centered where you want it.

Here's a closeup of how to do the stopper loop:

That's today's idea. Hope you liked it!

(Oh, and if you haven't checked out this giveaway, today is the last day to enter.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Giveaway. Giveaway? Giveaway!

Yes, let me try a giveaway! I'm not sure I know how to do one properly, but how about...

If you would like a set of 8 hand-wrapped coral buttons as seen in yesterday's post:

Or a pair of vintage deer earrings, as seen in Saturday's post:

I would love to send them to somebody! Please leave a comment below, just be sure it includes either your email address or a link to it, so I can contact you. Deadline: midnight, Friday April 30th.

Let me know for which giveaway you would like to be entered (or both!) and on Saturday, May 1st, I will use my cutting edge high-tech randomizing program to choose the winners. On Monday I will mail out your gifties!

(*note: my cutting edge high-tech randomizing program = my mom will pick a number between one and the number of entries.)

My first giveaway! No wait! Hang on...okay, now!

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for playing!

Something fun to try? Beads into buttons.

I wonder if any of you have tried this? Turning beads into shank buttons.

It's done using a basic wire-wrapping technique called a wrapped loop. You put a bead on a wire headpin, and if you wrap the wire at least one full turn after making a loop, the loop is sealed closed and it becomes the shank. You would sew it on the same way as any button.

There are tons of tutorials online, many with video, showing how to do a wrapped loop. Here's a good one from Beadstyle magazine.

Just to give you the general idea, this shows the steps along the way:

(click photo to see it bigger)

Not a tutorial - but I hope it conveys that it's not all that difficult!

My main tip for the most successful bead-into-button is to use a flat or disc-shaped bead. (If it's round it sometimes works, if the buttonhole is just barely big enough to pass over the round bead), but the more button-shaped it is, the better it will hold. Here's a rondelle (disc-shaped) example:

You can have so much fun with this project! I know there are a gazillion buttons out there, but there are at least two gazillion beads. And sometimes it's cool to create your own custom buttons, just for the bragging rights. You might even be moved to do something a little special or even luxurious...say, buttons made of semiprecious stones?

I found this gorgeous coral-colored cashmere sweater at a thrift shop:

Here it is with real coral buttons.

Decadent, just a bit? Might turn an inexpensive store bought item into a charming, truly custom gift. Hmm...Mother's Day comes to mind.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A lucky break: vintage 'uh-oh' earrings.

Dismantling vintage items to make refashioned jewelry makes me a little uncomfortable. I always prefer to keep an antique as original, rather than taking ghoulish pleasure in using its poor, dismembered corpse for my twisted...ooh, that sentence was getting off topic, I'm not even gonna finish it.

Even though I never like doing it, occasionally I do dismember - er,
take apart my vintage finds. But sometimes I luck out! At a vintage shop at the Farmer's Market, I bought a charming, delicate Chinois-style plastic fan. It was two bucks! I'm guessing, maybe from the 40's or 50's?

I got it home, opened the wrapper and spread the fan out -

Uh-oh! One of the strips was broken about halfway down. Was I sad? No. Because, yay! I get to use it for parts!  I clipped off two deer segments, added the earring findings -

And done.

They are gorgeous.  And I still have about twenty deer left, plus the two bakelite-looking covers - I know I'm making something with those! Not to mention all the rest of the delicate remains of the corpse. And I don't feel guilty at all!

This time

Friday, April 23, 2010

...and ten! Ten million headbands, that is.

Here it is, one last post about the 'SuperSecret Challenge' challenge. I've had so much fun! Today's project is another 'infinite convertible': a blank slate for creativity, style and thrifty re-purposing.

From the challenge stash, I took this plain headband. Sometimes, you just want a basic headband. This one fits my big head really well.

I took a two-holed chipboard tag (also from the stash), peeled off the paper, sharpie-ed black around the edges. The only other ingredients: string, and a cute found object (in this case, a fabric rose from a scrunchie that lost its scrunch).

The key to this project is the two-holed tag. Tie the flower to the tag...

...then slip the headband through the two holes.

You end up with...

Fancy headband!

I've seen them in stores with big price tags and all kinds of embellishments: huge flowers, feathers, weird 'fascinator'- type creations. You could make dozens of these and slip them on and off one headband to match any look.

No chipboard tags? Make your two-holed base from any plastic or cardboard that's reasonably stiff, thin enough to cut but still slightly flexible. These are from the recycling bin:

Here's a retro/neato variation, still using the two-hole, slide-it-on-and-off concept:

I cut some felt shapes, and made two small slits instead of holes (a little hard to see in this pic, but they're there). Then I pinned on some big brooches.
Wahlah! Fancy brooch fascinators.

I've been collecting pins forever and have a ton of pretty, retro or bizarro choices. Here are just a few ideas:

This one's my favorite:

"Ahhh! Mommy, mommy, that lady with the big head has a spider in her hair!"

Thanks again for checking out my adventures in stash busting. It's been crazy fun. Hope you will continue to visit; I have ideas percolating even now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nine! Convertible hatbands.

Hi! This is project 9 of 10. For first time visitors, please see previous posts on the SuperSecret Stashbust challenge - a really fun project initiated by Heather M. from the amazing blog Dollar Store Crafts.

Today I have grabbed three items from the challenge stash: a thin strip of folded fabric, a cute linen flower and some novelty yarn:

Let's see what I did with 'em! First, I embellished two pieces of the fabric strip with a little bit of yarn, using basic white glue.

I used fabric paint to color some of the yarn robin's egg blue for a different look.

When dry, they ended up like this:

I embellished a third length of fabric with the linen flower, using my legendary "just barely manages to sew on a button" needlework skills.

Finally, I added a simple velcro closure to each piece.

I happened to have some of the glue-on kind, but you could use any kind of closure you prefer - snaps, hook-and-eye, sew-on or self-adhesive velcro.

So what have I made?

Here is my white cowgirl hat, regular.

Here is my white cowgirl hat, SuperSecret StashBusted!

My favorite thing about this simple project is the velcro idea: the ability to change out hatbands. It's's a true blank-slate project you can take in any direction...

And it's especially great if you have a big head and can hardly ever find a hat that fits! Yes, I am talking about my big-head self.

Who needs three hats? Who needs ten hats? All I need is one, infinitely convertible.

Yee haw!