Thursday, September 30, 2010

Earrings in the air.

Hi, you guys!  I shall briefly interrupt my series on zip-tie jewelry to bring you a teeny idea, consisting of three pictures and six words.

Metal hanging basket into earring holder.

Okay, that was it!  As you were.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zip-ties part II: daggers and commas and beads, oh, my!

More zip-tie jewels, anyone?  Last time, we turned some cute leafy shapes into earrings...

Click here to visit the zip-tie leaf tutorial.  By the way, I forgot to mention where I found my huge bag of zip-ties:

At the dollar store, in the automotive and tools aisle.  Admit it - you thought that section was just for guys, didn't you?  Show of hands - how many of you usually skip that aisle?  Do not!  It is a treasure trove ripe for the plundering.

Today, some more zippy fun.  Let us start with some dangerous little daggers.  (Dangerous because I couldn't stop making them.)

To form a dagger, just insert the end into the lock and pull.  At first it will look like a leaf - then take it nearly as far as it will go, to form a small loop.  Like this:

I prefer to snip off the skinny part at the end, which tends to be a bit floppy.  Don't they look like the world's smallest sword?  Hey!

Compliment me outfit, scurvy dogs!  If not, ye'll be walking the plank - or me name ain't Pirate Barrrrbie.

But I digress.

If you twirl your zip-tie dagger around a pen and hold for a few seconds... will take on a nice arc and look more like a comma.

Daggers and commas are wonderfully versatile and I am still coming up with ways to use them.  For instance:

Are those not the cutest?!  Just add a bead with the right sized hole (you want a good, tight fit), secured with a drop of glue.

Best to use one like E-6000, one of the Gorilla glues, or something similar that likes plastic.  Do you love them?!

Here's one more look, super nifty.  Have you ever seen these little findings?  Like minuscule clams.

They're called "crimp covers." (Find 'em at bead shops, craft stores or online jewelry supply sites.)   Pinch one closed at the end of your zip-tie...

Such a classy cool result. 

Okay, my peeps, that's it for today.  More zippy tutorials to come - hope to see you soon!

(A very cool postscript: today I am featured as 'best recycled jewelry' on Fine Craft Guild's top ten tutorials.  Neato!) 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Zip-tie tutorials, part one! Zippy, leafy earrings.

Hi again, fans of weird jewelry!  Here are some leafy little cuties:

Made from plastic zip-ties.
Today begins a small series of ideas for these things, starting with this simple-peasy earring tutorial.  Here goes.

Step one: make some zip-tie leaves.
Insert the skinny end into the locking hole and pull until you have a teardrop shape.  Trim the tail, and you have your basic leaf.  As you make a second leaf to match, pull the end slowly and keep measuring against the first leaf until they are the same.

Two notes: be sure you insert the end into the hole so the teeth grip and lock.  If you insert it backwards, it will just slip out.  Also, once you have completed your leaf, you could add a drop of glue into the lock, just to be sure it won't click past any more teeth and shrink smaller.  This is optional for these earrings, though; there's not much stress on the design, they are probably fine without glue.

To turn a leaf into an earring, use a jump ring and any earring finding.  Like this:
And there you go!  A basic leafy earring.

If you nest two sizes, you get this extra pretty, double-happiness version...

Or link two teardrops with a teeny tiny leaf, as in this yellow pair:
So find some zip-ties, make some leaves - then just play.  Whee!

Hope you liked these!  More zip-tie creations to come.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One-minute pendants: a shocking true confession!

Here are some pendants, made from polymer clay medallions, little tiny mirrors and plastic Mah Jongg tiles.  They share a shocking secret, which I have kept locked within my breast for the past six years.

Today I reveal all.  The secret: each object was turned into a pendant in one minute or less!

The method:

This is foil duct tape from the home improvement store.  This is no la-di-dah decorative crafting duct tape.  It is metal.  It is strong.  It is not playing around.

Once in a while, I want to convert something into a casual pendant, without taking time to drill a hole or wait for glue to dry.  Doesn't that sound nice?  Here's how to turn anything into a One Minute Pendant.

Find a pretty object - one that's not too heavy - and something to use as a bail.  (Bail, n: that little hanger thingy at the top of a pendant.)  There are so many things that will work as a bail - just scrounge around your house and lots of options will appear.  You could use wire key rings:

The finding from a chandelier earring:

Or a little bit of leather cord.

Simply cut a piece of the metal tape to fit the back of your object, then stick it on, sandwiching the bail inside.

Be sure to burnish it down completely.  A small rounded object works best - here I used the end of a swizzle stick.

Your minute is up, your pendant is done!

You can do earrings, too...

For those, I used yet another bail option: just a piece of craft wire with a loop at the top.  Coil the wire to make a larger area for the tape to grip, like so:

I know what you're thinking.  "This is a cheat.  This is shoddy workmanship.  Michelle's confession has shocked me.  I never suspected she had such a skeleton in her closet!  It's just a piece of tape.  How long is tape going to hold up?"

My dears, nothing in this life is certain.  Glue can fail, jump rings can pull apart, sooner or later all jewelry will come to dust.  All I can tell you is, a foil duct tape pendant, if treated kindly, will last a long time.  How do I know?

Here is the very first pendant I ever made from scratch.  Polymer clay and some little charms.

Ahem.  I know, it's lopsided and inexpert and a little bit goofy.  But I was so proud of it!  And, in fact, I wear it all the time.  And here's the back:

I made it six years ago.

Aren't you a little bit shocked?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bobbin Baubles

Hi, gang!  This is a flower ornament anyone can make! You won't need any special tools - or, in fact, any tools at all. Here goes:

I call it the Big Bold Bobbin-flower Bauble. 'Cause it's made from a sewing bobbin. It's kinda big and splashy - but I hope you think it's cute.

Start with a bobbin, some jump rings and fifteen little shirt buttons.

If you prefer, all your buttons can match. But a mismatched-yet-harmonious collection makes a really cute flower. When choosing the jump rings, keep 2 things in mind: they should be large enough to reach across from your button to your bobbin, and thin enough to open and close by hand.

Open a jump ring by swiveling the two ends sideways. (Don't pull the gap straight apart.)

Add a button; attach to one of the bobbin holes. Then swivel the jump ring closed.

Fill all ten holes on one side of the bobbin - that's ten buttons. Here's how it will look at the ten-button stage:

On the opposite side, do every other hole - that's the final five. It gives a layered look if the five on top are a bit smaller than the ten on the bottom.

You know what? You could stop right there! I think this is kind of a cool look, featuring the naked bobbin:

But if you desire, go on to one final step - adding a button centerpiece. Pick out something to compliment your flower.

Grab a little piece of twine or cord and thread it through your centerpiece button. Run it down through the center of the bobbin...

Then just thread the two ends through a couple of opposite bobbin holes, meet them in the middle and tie them off. Like this:

Now you're totally done! That's your Big Bold Bobbin-flower Bauble.

See how changing the centerpiece changes the look?

There are a million ways to use your bauble. Just a few strategic stitches will secure it to whatever needs be-baubling. (I'm sure that's a word, right?)

A watch strap...

Cute hat...

Wide cuff bracelets...

Vintage purse!

If you have something that's metal or mesh, like this chain link bracelet...

...use jump rings instead of thread to attach your bobbin flower. Even faster and easier than stitching it on.

Okay, that's it - hope you liked it.

p.s. The chocolate and vanilla-colored cuff bracelets? I made them from a deconstructed tennis ball.