Sunday, April 28, 2013

Try, Try Again!

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to take a class at a bead shop, and miserably failed. It wasn't really anybody's fault, but it was a very upsetting experience. I spent about 80 dollars on class fees and materials, and came home with ZERO to show for it. The instructor didn't give me any instructions to take home and try at home, she had me working with a very difficult cord--Fireline, in extremely long lengths to try and make a leather wrapped bracelet. I got so upset 3/4 of the way through, I told her this type of stitching thread was too difficult for me to manage.

I came home, thought about it, and decided to try another shop that was offering a similar class. It was Donna's Beads on Beneva Road in Sarasota. What a difference! I paid for another class, but they let me bring my materials from the OTHER store and learn. There were TWO teachers for a very small class of five students, and we had fun and really enjoyed the experience. I had a hard time not laughing when the instructors put on their magnifying visors. They made me think of that character in the TV show Star Trek-- Geordi LaForge, who wears a special visor on the show. They were VERY patient, and checked in with us constantly to see how we were doing.

We used Fireline today, but much shorter lengths and with TWO beading needles while stitching the beads. We used 2 mm diameter leather cord, but a couple of gals said that 1.5 mm leather cord would be even better. Using two beading needles and shorter thread line (about two yards at a time) made all the difference in the world! I got started and very quickly started seeing results. They had a way of using an overhand knot to join new thread on the sides when you needed it, and making the the knot pull to the back of the bracelet for tying and weaving in later by tugging on the short ends.
And here is another view of the beginning with the knotted leather cord and button that starts your journey to the other end. I found my button at JoAnn's. There is another great place for buttons for these wrap bracelets on Etsy. The seller's name is Button Jones. :-) The best size for the button is from a 1/2" to 5/8", otherwise anything any bigger overpowers the beautiful beads and leather.
A very fine Japanese company--Miyuki--makes these tile beads that were used in our class today. They are called Tila beads. They are a little pricey...about 7 dollars in a bead store for a tube of about 100 beads. But they are very very beautiful and come in many iridescent colors and variations. The beads are expensive, but the holes and quality are very uniform. You get much prettier looking jewelry with nicer beads and they lay better as well.

I was really happy with how things went today, and had fun in the process...Yay! Now the trick is to finish off the bracelet at home, weave in the loose threads where I joined new Fireline, and post a photo!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Breast Cancer People Pins and More

Orders are coming in from Relay for Life back in Elkhart, IN...I'm making several pins a day for right now, so not much time to try anything else...It makes me happy to be making something when some of the proceeds go for such a good cause...

Found another campground, the River Vista RV Resort in Dillard, GA, that is having a special weekend devoted to Relay for Life this summer in July. I sent them a note with a photo explaining how I was making pins for Relay for Life in Elkhart, Indiana, would they be interested in having some pins for sale on their special weekend? They said, "Yes! Please send us one." So now, I've got a craft that is finally making a LITTLE money and donating money at the same time for a great cause. The pins are selling for 10.00 a pin, and three dollars of every sale is going to Relay for Life....Each one is a little different every time I make one so they are sort of unique in their own way. Different head beads, spacer beads, and assortments of pink, silver and metallic beads for the arms and legs come together in a different way each time..And I thought of a cute way to present them as a gift. Wrap in tissue paper first, then place in a little hot pink organza gift bag....Everybody has been very happy to receive these and I hope I can do a lot more!
I've been trying to figure out how to get some sales going on Etsy, with these pins, but not having much success! I think the pricing is ok, because once people see these, they love them and want one, but until you get a few sales under your belt, it's hard to get going on Etsy. People have said you have to "renew" your listings on a regular basis, which pushes them to the top of the viewing list, but that lasts about a day, and then your item starts moving to the middle of the listings and back to the bottom as time goes by. I'm going to have to just start studying and reading forums as to how to sell on Etsy. It seems that lots of photos are best whenever you post something on Etsy, so I need to put more photos and more angles of the things I'm selling, I think.

I know HOW you photograph your item is another huge important step to be on top of. I bought a book, "Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles" by Steve Meltzer, on Amazon.

It was very helpful but very technical. I did come away with some additional knowledge about lighting and the option of placing your item in a little white "tent" with proper lighting for best viewing for a really nice photo.

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks. What I REALLY need to be doing is working on my daughter's crochet/wool visor newsboy cap. I've got the beret done, now it's time to get going on the visor! Here's the newsboy cap as shown on Etsy for over $90.00. I decided I MIGHT be able to make one for a lot less. 
Here's the crocheted part done, a simple single crochet beret that's going to get sewn to a brown herringbone vintage visor that buttons in the back. I found the vintage visor pattern which has the exact same button closure in the back as the original hat, on Ebay. The original also has a couple of wool pompoms, a braid, and a couple of wool fabric flowers. The hardest part will be getting the beret attached to the visor. I have no idea if the beret is big enough circumference wise to fit the visor! Hope this works! If it does, I will have made a comparable newsboy hat for about one third the price. My daughter really really wanted this hat, and neither one of us could afford the price they were asking. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Class Disaster

Wel-l-l-l-l.....I tried...Tried taking a class in making these leather wrapped bracelets that are so popular all over the place. And I failed....It wasn't the teacher, it was me. Me and Fireline, we just didn't get along! Fireline supposedly is one of the strongest threads you can use when using all kinds of faceted beads and stitching with beads. I will say that Fireline is NOT an easy thread to work with. It kinks up on itself very easily, twists, looks like it's in a knot when maybe it isn't, and is worse than a pile of messed up yarn when trying to work with long lengths of it.

I was upset with the shop. Not only was the class a little on the expensive side, 25.00, but their beads were VERY expensive and you had to buy your supplies from them. It cost me 53.00 to buy the beads and cord for the bracelet, on top of the 25.00 for the class fee. The store shall remain nameless, because I was so upset at my experience today, I probably won't go back, even though they offered me a free second chance to master working with Fireline.

I will say one problem I ran into was the teacher had me measure out enough thread to make a triple wrap when I only wanted to make a double wrap so I was working with far more thread than I needed to be for the bracelet. I remembered only later that a beading/jewelry teacher told me last year that Fireline was NOT for beginners, it was difficult to work with--and how!
the store's sample bracelet

I was working with 30 feet of this nasty stuff, trying to pass through beads back and forth, doing my darndest to keep the lines straight so they wouldn't tangle. It happened over and over and over again. She would patiently help me untangle and unknot the lines...she seemed to know where to pull and tug, I had no clue. The harder I tried to untangle the threads, the messier it got and the worse the knots became! 

Finally, after two hours of struggling with this Fireline stuff, I called it quits. When I hardly have enough patience to untangle a messy ball of yarn, to try working with tiny thread filaments of knots and messes and twists and kinks, and what seemed to be endless yards of the stuff, was just beyond my ability. There ARE other threads and cords you can use, but she insisted I would get the hang of it if I would just hang in there with the Fireline. She was going like gangbusters on her bracelet as she worked along side me. Nope! Not gonna happen! I will try again on another day, but I'm going to try waxed linen instead. It's just GOT to be better than this Fireline stuff! Seventy-eight dollars later, and I have a bunch of very expensive beads and nothing to show for it. At least the beads are reusable. No wonder they charge quite a bit for the bracelets online. They are a LOT of work! And patience, something I'm in short supply of..... Sigh......

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Leather Wrapped Bracelets

Next week, I am taking a class on how to make a leather wrapped bracelet from Knot Awl Beads located in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota area. The cost of the class was 25.00. They seem to be easy to make. Here are a couple of cool ones being sold on internet sites like Etsy.

You need 1-2 mm leather cording, a pretty button about 5/8"-3/4", special thread for wrapped the leather cords and stringing the beads like waxed Irish linen cord, C-lon thread size D, or Nymo cord, glue for securing the knots in the leather, a beading needle and lots of same sized beads, somewhere around 4-6 mm. The store uses Fireline for the thread, so I thought I'd try it. The other threads come in so many colors, if I make a bracelet with a colored leather, I'll use something different. A clipboard is a great item to use while you are making the bracelet, and holds the cords in place. The stitch that is used is the ladder stitch, which you can find how to do on the internet. I just wanted to take a class in how to do it so my first bracelet would turn out probably nicer with a little help than if I had taught myself.

I found a handy measurement list on the web for how much cord and thread needed for a single, double, triple and four or more leather wrap bracelet.

Leather Wrap bracelets
Measurements for supplies for single and multiple wraps

single wrap 7.5”       30” cord, 7-8 feet thread

double wrap 15” 45” cord 14-16 feet thread

triple wrap 22.5” 60” cord 21-24 feet thread

4 wraps         30” 75” cord 28-32 feet thread

5 wraps         37.5” 90” cord 35-40 ft. thread

Can't wait to take my class on making one!

Until next time.......