Monday, May 25, 2015

Spool Tamers...... I Don't Know How I Ever Managed Without Them!

Have you ever removed the end of a wire spool and had it go BOING on you?
Don't you hate it when that happens!

Well, Beadalon have come up with a clever little accessory called a Spool Tamer that will put an end to your unravelling spools. It's simple to use and works really well!

This little gadget will make your springing spool struggles a thing of the past, not only with your wire spools, but also beading elastic, beading thread and beading wire.

A couple of the clever features of Spool Tamers are that they are elasticized for easy placement around the spool and they are also adjustable so they can be resized to fit most size spools.

Let's take a look at one in action. Begin by removing the plastic cuff from the spool, or unhook the end of your stringing material from the notch - take care that the spool doesn't completely unravel, especially if it is wire.

Thread the stringing material through the hole in the adjustable plastic buckle, from the inside.

Stretch the elasticized band over the spool so it sits against the wire. Adjust the ends so that it's not too tight and not too loose. Your spool is now tamed and ready to use!

To dispense, hold the tab whilst pulling the stringing material.

If you've dispensed too much, you can easily rewind it. Hold the spool so that the front is facing upwards, grip the tab and rotate it clockwise around the spool. Make sure you leave a small tail for next time.

This is one of those "I don't know how I ever managed without it!" products. After using this one, I immediately went out and bought a packet and I'm sure it won't be the last packet I buy. It really has tamed my wire!

'Til next time.....

Monday, May 18, 2015

When is a Crimp Tube More than Just a Crimp Tube?

Q. When is a crimp tube more than just a crimp tube?

A. When it's a Beadalon Groovy Tube!

So, what's a Beadalon Groovy Tube, I hear you ask? Well, it's a crimp tube with grooves in the side that slightly spiral around the tube at an angle.
crimp tubes with grooves

The grooves catch the light and create more sparkle than regular crimp tubes!

Beadalon recently gave me some to play with, along with some .024" wire so I'm going to share with you the Beadalon method of crimping.

I've blogged about how to crimp previously but this method might make it easier for you if you are struggling with it. Crimping is usually a 2-step process, but the Beadalon method is a 3-step process, with an additional step at the beginning. It's this first step that just might make your crimping nightmares go away!

Before we begin, take a look at the profile of your crimping tool. Notice the oval shaped hole at the tip?
oval hole in crimping pliers

This oval shaped slot is actually used in the first step of the crimping process. It shapes the round crimp tube into an oval prior to the actual crimping step. Who knew!

So let's take a look at the Beadalong 3-step crimping process. To start, string a Groovy Tube onto the beading wire, slip on a wire guardian and then thread the wire back through the Groovy Tube. Slide the tube up to the wire guardian, making sure the wires are sitting flat alongside each other rather than crossing over inside the crimp.
String crimp and wire guardian

Now we're ready to crimp. The photo below shows the order we'll be using the notches in.
Crimp tubes in this order

Step 1: Place the crimp inside the oval shaped hole at the tip of the pliers and squeeze the crimp to compress it into an oval shape.
place crimp in oval hole
oval shaped crimp tube

Step 2: Place the Groovy Tube into the hole with the notch in it. If your crimping pliers have three holes, you'll be using the middle one which is sized for 2mm crimps. Make sure the wires haven't crossed over each other and squeeze gently to form the two wings that the wires sit in.
create indentation in crimp tube

At this point, I like to check that the wires are securely encased, so give each one a good tug separately. If they're not secure, place the crimp back in the notched hole and squeeze more firmly.

Step 3: Return the Groovy Tube to the first hole (the one closest to the tip), turning the tube on its side, with the indentation facing towards the hinge of the pliers, and squeeze to bring the two wings together in the centre.
flatten crimp tube wings

And you're done!

There is definitely a little more sparkle in a Groovy Tube compared to a regular crimp tube.
completed crimp

But the thing I noticed most was that because of the grooves, the walls have a little bit of extra thickness and seem to have more substance than ordinary crimp tubes. That should make it a stronger crimp!

So if you've been struggling with the crimping technique, give this method a go. Hopefully, the extra step will make all the difference!

'Til next time......

Monday, May 11, 2015

Slide Connectors - a Neat and Quick Way to Finish a Beaded Bracelet

Have you seen the new Slide Connector Clasp Sets from Beadalon? 
Beadwork and Loom Design clasp set

These barrel-shaped connectors are a huge timesaver when it comes to finishing stitched beadwork and loom designs because there is no stitching required to secure the design to the clasp. Sound intriguing? Then read on to learn more about them!

Slide Connectors come ready to use with a clasp and extension chain already attached. They're available in gold and silver and come in three sizes: 13mm, 20mm and 26mm. I'm working with a 13mm set which will fit a beaded bracelet that I started two years ago - this was just the push I needed to finish it! So let's see how it works.
barrel connector with attached clasp
Looking closely at the fitting you'll notice a slit that runs the entire length of the barrels. At each end is a round disk which acts as a stopper. One end is already closed and the other is ready for you to feed your work into.
slit runs length of barrel

To use the fitting, insert the last row (or the last two rows for smaller beads) into the slit and begin sliding it into the tube.
Insert stitched beads into slit

Continue gently feeding it into the slit until it's fully inserted.
Feed beadwork into slot of Slide Connector

Press the open disk down onto the cylinder until it's completely closed. You can use chain nose pliers to help you with this if you find it too difficult with your fingers. If needed, press the disk down onto your work surface to close it further. Finish the other end of the bracelet in the same way.
Close disk on top of barrel

And here's my finished bracelet - the Slide Connector Clasp Set took only minutes to attach and it gives the bracelet a very neat and professional finish!
Beadalon Slide Connector Clasp Set

As you can see, Beadalon Slide Connectors are excellent for finishing beadwork designs. But it doesn't stop there; they also work well with designs made from multiple strands of beading wire (just crimp the end before sliding each strand into the fitting), ball chain, rhinestone cup chain and any other stringing material that can be anchored inside the tube.

Apart from being timesaving, Beadalon Slide Connectors give your designs a professional finish and they make your design more visually appealing because the loops that are usually required on a barrel fitting have been done away with - that's the thing I like most about these connectors!

'Til next time.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cut Out & Keep Jewelry Superstar Feature

This past week, I've been the featured "Jewelry Superstar" on Cut Out + Keep. Each day for seven days, I've created a jewelry tutorial with step outs for you to recreate. You can see all seven of the projects below. Just click the link above each photo and it will take you straight to the tutorial.

You can also learn a little bit about me in my Jewelry Superstar interview: find out some fun facts such as who my favourite actor is, what my favourite TV show is and what my favourite colour is (regular readers will already know this one!). I also talk about where my jewellery-making journey began and where I find inspiration.

So please come and join me on Cut Out + Keep for some fun, elegant, classy and casual jewellery tutorials.

Fiesta Sunset Earrings
Sof-Suede leather lace combined with wire wrapping. Wrap it neat or wrap it messy - both ways look equally good!
Sof-Suede leather lace earrings

Pavé Drop Earrings
Very sparkly, elegant earrings made with Swarovski crystals and ETI's Resin Clay
Resin Clay and Crystal earrings

Faux Perfume Bottle Necklace 
Inspired by exotic Egyptian Perfume bottles. Or maybe if you rub it, a Genie will appear to grant you 3 wishes!
Genie Bottle Pendant

Another Sof-Suede leather lace design. This bracelet uses a round Kumihimo disk to create the braid. 
Sof-Suede Leather and chain bracelet

Filigree Wrapped Crystal Earrings
A quick and easy pair of classy earrings using round filigrees and crystals 
Crystal Bridal earrings

Golden Nuggets Bracelet
Can you believe this bracelet is made entirely of findings? Yep, that's right! There's not one bead in the design. 
Daisy Spacer bracelet

Barnyard Girls Earrings
A fun and whimsical pair of earrings featuring some very simple wirework to create the feet. 
Chook earrings

I hope you've enjoyed the tutorials I put together for this feature.

'Til next time.....

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Storage Stool Revamp Part 2 - The Reveal

Today, I continue the transformation of my little sewing stool from dated 1980's brown laminate to a modern, graphic piece of furniture that looks right at home in my recently revamped studio. Didn't it come up well?!!
padded sewing stool

You can see Part 1 of the transformation here.

What I started out with is the little stool below. It has served me well over the years; firstly as a sewing stool and more recently, as seating in my studio. It has a lift up lid with storage inside making it perfect for stowing away works in progress when I have to clean up the studio for workshops.

But this dated brown laminate just has to go! Replacing the laminate isn't an option because the composite wood underneath would probably have disintegrated if I tried to remove the old laminate. The best alternative is to paint the surface with laminate paint.

So off to the hardware store I went armed with a list of what I needed. But my jaw nearly dropped when I saw how expensive the laminate paint system is: Tile and Laminate Cleaner - $14, a 500ml tin of White Knight Tile and Laminate Primer - $36; and a 1 litre tin of laminate paint - $51...... way more than I had budgeted for this project.

So I have a dilemma! Should I abandon the project because of the cost? After all, I have only invested $6 on fabric so far. Or should I continue because of the senimental value the stool has for me?

After weighing up the pros and cons of continuing with the project, I decided it is worth splurging on the White Knight laminate paint system. So, armed with the products I needed, it's time to make that brown laminate disappear!

Read on to see how my stool was transformed.

Before I got underway, I tried to remove the screws to disassemble the stool but they were so tight that I couldn't budge them. I figured it wasn't really a big drama to paint it whilst it was still assembled but it would certainly have been easier to paint if it had been disassembled.

I started out by lightly sanding all the laminate with 240 grit sandpaper to give the surface some tooth. It's surprising how much dust that produced so I gave it a good wipe down before proceeding.

I applied a layer of Tile and Laminate Primer to the roughed up surface with a microfibre roller and allowed it to dry for a few hours.

It seemed a little patchy so I gave it a light sand with 240 grit sandpaper and followed that with another coat to make sure I had a good base to work on.

After sanding the primer again, I applied the black laminate paint in a cross hatch pattern to make sure it completely covered the primer. And then I smooth-rolled it all in one direction for an even finish.

The first coat was touch dry after only two hours but it needed to dry for six hours before sanding with 600 grit sandpaper. Then it was ready for its second coat.

I left it to dry for 36 hours (it takes a week to properly cure) but anticipation got the better of me - I just couldn't wait any longer to see how the padded seat and repainted frame looked together. So I screwed one side of the hinges to the frame......

.... and the other to the lid.

And voilà! My fabulously modern stool looks wonderful. I'm absolutely thrilled with the result and now the stool looks right at home in my clean, crisp black and white studio. The makeover was worth every cent!

'Til next time.....

Friday, April 24, 2015

Storage Stool Revamp - Part 1

Many, many, MANY years ago, my husband gave me the most wonderful birthday gift - a Horn sewing cabinet with a built in machine lifter. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement. At the time, I was doing a lot of sewing for the little people in our lives so it was wonderful to have a space where I could not only sew, but I could also quickly and easily stow away my machine and sewing projects out of little hands way. Over the years, the cabinet fell into a state of disrepair and we parted company but the little stool which came with it continues to serve me well.

Last week, I got a bee in my bonnet about that little stool. Whilst it's very compact and fits perfectly under my workdesk, visually, its 1980's brown laminate and brown fabric was sticking out like a sore thumb in my crisp black and white studio.

It suddenly seemed very out of place!

And whilst it's not in perfect condition, it's a very sturdy little stool that has a lift up lid with a storage compartment inside. It has a lot going for it..... just not the colour! So I thought this would be a piece worthy of updating.

Firstly, I needed some black and white upholstery fabric which I got for the bargain price of $6/metre at Spotlight. Now I was ready to get underway.

First thing to do was remove the cushion from the stool by removing the screws. I managed to undo most of them but had to enlist the help of my husband to get the last couple out.

He stuck around for a bit and removed the staples from the fabric for me too. I really appreciated that extra muscle!

There were dozens of them and some of them had snapped leaving part of them in the seat, so whatever could be pried out was pried out with pliers and those that couldn't be removed were hammered below the surface.

Next came measuring the fabric. And the easiest way to do this was to simply lay the padded cushion on top of the fabric, making sure that the pattern was straight and that there was enough overhang to staple onto the seat. No need to mark cutting lines; the geometric pattern made it really easy to cut straight!

To work out where the seams should be, I turned the fabric right side up and centred the cushion on top. Then I was able to pin the corners to the shape of the cushion.

Then, over to the sewing machine to stitch the seams.......

......before trimming away the excess.

After turning it right side out and fitting it on to the cushion, it was time to staple it into place.

I also bought some black canvas to staple to the underneath of the cushion to hide the raw edges.

Looking pretty good! The recovered seat is a great improvement.

In my next post, I'll be revamping the laminate stool. You'll be amazed at the transformation, so please check back to see the finished piece!

'Til next time.....


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