Beaded earrings for a set

I made companion earrings to wear with my beaded pendant — the image-transfer one. While I was looking up stitches to use, I ran into a tutorial by Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry for exactly the design I had in mind! That’s the second time this month I’m running into ready-to-use recipes for stuff that I want to make. (The first one was for my latest knitting project.)

Beaded earrings using CRAW

Beaded earrings using CRAW

For these earrings, I used the size-8 green beads and smaller size-15 brown beads that I’d used for the pendant. I made 12 units of Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW) with the larger beads, and embellished them with the smaller beads — one small bead between two large ones on the inner curves of the cubes, and two small beads in a similar fashion on the outer curves.

CRAW was not difficult to understand at all — not all difficult. I mean, it’s way too easy to imagine constructing a cube — first a floor, then walls, then ceiling. The execution of the first unit, though, was a different matter. Invariably, while I pulled the thread through the beads, I would lose my grip on the tiny setup that I created thus far, and then, it would be extremely difficult to bring the orientation back to where I was, and figure out which bead to go into next. I would just turn and turn the connected beads in my hand, all the while scratching my head. I tried to use the stop bead as reference, but it didn’t work for me. I even tried Jill Wiseman’s ‘taco’ style of construction, but with similar confusions.

After a couple of failed starts, I solved the problem by threading my stop bead into position at the center of the reinforced first square. That helped provide a ‘proper’ reference point for me. It was smooth sailing from then on.

When I was done constructing the drops, I threaded a couple of faux pearl beads into head pins, and attached each pearl-duo to a piece. I made eye loops at the top, and added ear wires to complete the earrings.

Button beads for… beading!

Yippee! The beading gods have finally heard my prayers. My local stores now sell Preciosa seed beads, so I don’t have to order uniformly sized beads from overseas. <Dances a little jig.> So I now have beading needles, beading thread, aaaand… beads! I’m all set to practice some beading. Peyote stitch, get ready to be conquered!

Antiqued polymer clay flower / button beads

I made these button beads from polymer clay, thinking I’ll work some beading around them whenever I’m done learning a few beading stitches. I used a mold for these beads, and used acrylic paints for antiquing. The mold impressions are deep at the edges, and there’s a whole lot of paint there that I just couldn’t get rid of, but I’m not bothered much. After all, they’ll all be obscured by the beading. πŸ™‚

Hope against hope that I get to working more on these soon. I’m chugging along on a knitting project right now, though. I’m on the edging for one sleeve, and then I’ll only have one sleeve left so I’m pretty eager to finish that too. Hmm, I think I can aim for beading practice only next week.

Am I too greedy to hope that Miyuki seed beads become available locally too? πŸ™‚

Heart earrings

Okay, it’s Valentine’s day again. I’m not a fan of special days that are invariably associated with many expectations of gifts and much pressure to have a great day. πŸ˜› Anyway, here are a pair of heart earrings that I made. Not with this day in mind, they just seemed the easiest stencil to use from a Sculpey template that I bought recently. Until I found that working with them was actually kinda difficult. But I persevered, and well, here they are:

Heart earrings from polymer clay

Heart earrings from polymer clay

For the base, I used dark chocolate colored Premo clay with a reddish tinge, which also has red and silver glitter in it. It needed some hand conditioning along with machine conditioning, because too much machine conditioning can eventually push quite a bit of the glitter to the edges.

Cutting out the hearts was the easy part. My knife did slide too much in the clay because I’d conditioned the clay so well that it was like butter I was clumsy, but I managed to smooth over those nicks later. I cut out a slice from a pinkish colorway cane that I’d made quite a while ago, and laid it on a part of one heart. After many attempts at making the heart puffy, and ending up with as many bad bruises on the clay, I decided that puffing can wait for a shape with all smooth edges, and that I’d stop trying it with a heart with a sharp angle at its top. (On second thought, the bruising was also probably because the cane was Sculpey III, which is super-soft.)

So I went back to the drawing board. I cut pieces from the cane-embellished heart, leaving out the unrepairable bruised areas. I made another heart, arranged the cane pieces on the new heart pair, and flattened them. In the middle of each, I embedded some seed beads. I laid the hearts on a curved surface and baked them. (Yup, a consolation for not making the hearts puffy.)

After baking, some seed beads fell off on their own, and I pried the rest off. I like how they’ve left traces of their insides on the clay, like they’re not truly gone. πŸ˜‰

Then, it was time to try out my first ever sanding. I used coarser (400) to finer (2000) grits and wet-sanded for a while, and buffed the pieces for some more time. Yes! A sheen, finally! (The cane was Sculpey III, and it apparently doesn’t like to turn shiny. Always something new to learn, and that’s what makes it fun for me.) I might eventually buy a machine for sanding and buffing, but for now, I’ll just rely on my arms.

To finish the pair, I connected them to ear wires with jump rings as usual.

Kumihimo bracelet

I tried out Kumihimo again, though I know the beads I have are not really suitable — the more even ones are too small, show the thread, and don’t settle down well; and the larger ones are too uneven. :)Kumihimo bracelet

This is a 12-strand Kumihimo bracelet. After braiding only with the threads for about 0.5cm, I threaded an equal number of beads into all strands, and incorporated them into the braid. I added 1+2+1 cream+brown+cream beads for the next section. At this point, I became involved in another project and forgot all about this one. When I came back to this, I realized that I’d forgotten how many beads I’d added in the first section! πŸ˜€

I tried counting, but lost track. Then deciding that I didn’t want to undo the braid just to count the beads, I just winged it, and added 6 beads in each of the strands. It looked fine then (though it doesn’t now…) Anyway, I continued with the two sections until the rope was about 16cm long. I braided some 0.5cm more with just the threads, applied glue on the braid and snipped the threads off. Then, forming two pieces of wire eyelets at both ends, I secured bead caps at both ends.

To finish the bracelet, I attached jump rings and a lobster claw clasp. I also added a little leaf charm to one of the jump rings. So cute! ❀

In other news, I decided to take the plunge into international orders, and placed one for beads (not seed beads) with Fire Mountain Gems and Beads during a sale recently (not a Thanksgiving one). I’m delighted with the purchase! The downside is that the shipping costs end up being more than 50% of the order, and customs duty is about 30% on order+shipping, which means my pocket will be lighter by almost double the actual price of the items. Worth it? Only if most of my purchases happen during a sale and are 50% (or more) off! πŸ˜€

So I made a Kumihimo bracelet

Oh, and I made a Kumihimo disc to make the bracelet with. πŸ˜‰

Tired of searching for a Kumihimo foam disc here in India, and wanting to avoid ordering internationally due to all the hassles involved, I decided I’d just make my own from cardboard, since my Kumihimo plans for the near future anyway do not involve thicker cords.

Kumihimo disc

I used thick cardboard from a package that arrived for a different order. My lovely sis used her trusty Big Shot machine to help me cut nice concentric circles for the disc. (Thanks, Sis! ❀ ) I eventually used a knife to fully cut out and cast away the centre. Kumihimo discs usually have 32 slots, but I decided to make it 36 because I’d used a protractor to mark the slots. πŸ™‚ To reduce the strain on my poor fingers, I first cut slots in the cardboard, adhered card stock (again, borrowed from my sis) on both sides, and cut the card stock over the earlier slots. Less than an hour of cutting, gluing and snipping later, I had my disc! I was so excited to finally try out Kumihimo that I quickly made an 8-strand bead bracelet, with random placements of two seed bead colors. I finished it with bead caps attached to a lobster claw clasp.

Kumihimo bracelet

Kumihimo bracelet

The spiral weave is evident, but only at second glance. The unevenness of the beads completely overwhelms the weave. 😦 This technique really needs some good, uniform seed beads to make the pieces shine. The ones that I’d used for my bead crochet projects are more uniform, but still need a lot of ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’ to pick similarly uniform beads. They’re also too small for kumihimo, and end up showing the thread beneath them. They may be better for beading stitches, like peyote stitch. But I don’t have thin needles or thin thread for peyote stitch…

I guess this means I’ll have to go the way of placing international orders, paying whopping shipping fees and dealing with customs frustrations, sigh!

Meanwhile, I’ll just admire my Kumihimo bracelet. πŸ™‚

Paper beads, seed beads

I still use the paper bead bunch keychain that I made, and I still love it. Using the keychain made me want to churn out more of those beads. Here’s what that urge resulted in —

Paper beads, seed beads

Chillin’ out!

I don’t want to make another keychain out of these, though. I wonder how I can use them… I’m thinking they’d do well accentuating a yarn-based project. Any other ideas?

(My first) Stitch markers

Hopping through my favorite knitting blogs — and even on new ones that I’d discover — I’d come across occasional mentions of bead-based stitch markers, with pictures of the cute ornaments. Seeing that I love both yarn and beads, I don’t know why it took me so long to make some of my own. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re not removable? But I’ve even used rings made of scrap yarn for marking, so that’s not it. Well, whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter now because I made a few stitch markers!

Stitch markers

These are real simple ones that just involve stringing combinations of glass beads and seed beads through head pins, making an eye loop and adding a jump ring. That’s all a stitch marker needs, right? Here‘s one of them doing its thing with a shawl that I knit for my mom. I don’t know if I’ll make more anytime soon, but I saw quite a collection of markers in a blog post by Bethany (Orange Swan), and most of these markers don’t have a jump ring in them, so I’m gonna try my hand at least a few.

When I showed these to my sis, she was mildly disappointed that they weren’t earrings like she’d first thought, so I went ahead and made some earrings to match. Happy, Sis? πŸ˜€

Stitch marker earrings