The Perfect Gift for Mother's Day - a colourful resin bracelet with a sparkly magnetic clasp.

The Perfect Gift for Mother's Day - a colourful resin bracelet with a sparkly magnetic clasp.
These stylish bracelets feature a selection of crystal focals and silver beads and have a strong, crystal-encrusted magnetic clasp, making them perfect for the girl who can't get a regular bangle over her knuckles. They also come in larges sizes for girls with bigger wrists.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Drying and Preserving Flowers for Resin

Give a girl a bunch of flowers and it will last a week.... but give her a resin bangle filled with flowers and it will last forever!



In recent weeks I've been using a lot of flowers in my resin bangles and I've had many questions on Instagram about how I've treated the flowers so this post answers some of them.

I've tried a few different drying methods and some of my results have been really good and some not so good. I want to share both the successes and the failures with you. The methods I've used include silica gel, salt, a dehydrator and a microwave press. The first three keep the flower's shape. The last one flattens them.
At the back: medium silica gel; large silica gel beads, small microwave flower press.
In the front: fine silica gel sand, large microwave flower press

Preserving in 3D

The first thing I tried was silica gel. The process is really simple. I use a microwave safe container when I'm using silica gel because I need quick results and the microwave will certainly give you that. You just place a layer of dessicant in the bottom of the container - I found that 1-2cm (1/2"-1") was sufficient. Then place your blooms and carefully spoon over another layer of dessicant as thick as the first layer.

Set the container aside and let the silica gel get to work. Or, if you're in a hurry like me and only need petals, place the container into the microwave on 50% power for 60 seconds.

Check the petals to see how they're going. If they feel like parchment, they're done. They'll be fragile but they shouldn't be brittle. If they crumble, you've overcooked them - shorten the time for the next batch, If they feel silky, they're not done yet so continue drying them at 10 second intervals (always at 50% power) until they feel papery all over. Each flower will be different - fleshy flowers will take longer and some flowers will darken and some will fade. Some won't be successful so it's a good idea to record your results for future reference.

Once they're dried, use a soft brush to dust them off and store them in an airtight container with a little bit of silica gel to keep them dry until you're ready to use them.

Now, to the Results....

The Failures!

You can see from the photos below that not all silica gels will give you equal results. Each of the three Silica gel products I tried preserved the shape and colour of the petals really well but the first brand I tried had large round beads. Notice how deeply dimpled these mint leaves are.

These leaves were dried with Dri Splendor which I found in the dried flower section at Michael's. Unfortunately, the results were the same whether I set the container aside for a few days to work its magic or whether I sped up the drying process in the microwave - pockmarked botanicals!


These crystals aren't my favourite for this purpose but they'll be great for putting in containers with my dried flowers to keep them dry.

I also tried some finer crystals that I sourced locally. These orangey-coloured crystals are much smaller in size and they turn a greeny-blue when they've reached their moisture-holding capacity. Even these smaller crystals left dimples.

And whilst I'm disappointed with the dimpling, the colours are really well preserved.

The Successes!

Next I tried Activa's Flower Drying Art and finally I got the results I was looking for. Petals were beautifully preserved. They were covered with a fine layer of silica dust but this is easily brushed away with a soft brush.

I also tried cooking salt and I found this worked almost as well as the Activa silica gel. The only difficulty I had was that the salt clumped around the entire petal and it was sometimes difficult to chip the salt away without damaging the petal. But the results were excellent and it's extremely economical.

Petals dried in the dehydrator preserved the colours better than any of the other methods but the petals are better suited to potpourri than for embedding in resin. It also took a few hours for them to dry but the advantage was being able to do so many all at once.

Pressing Flowers in the Microwave

Now, on to the Microfleur. I've had one of these for many years but had never really experimented with it until now. This is such a good invention. You can press flowers in the microwave without a Microfleur but the Microfleur just makes it really easy.

You simply lay out your petals (I didn't press the whole flower, just the individual petals)....
 

 ....and sandwich them between the cotton, the wool felt and the plates. There are clips to hold it all together. Then it goes into the microwave at 50% power. That's really important. To see what happens when you use full power, scroll down to the bottom of the post. I found that the large Microfleur needed longer - generally 1 minute to start with - whereas the smaller 5" Microfleur worked in as little as 30 seconds.

Check how the petals feel - they should be papery but not brittle. If needed, microwave in short bursts until they are completely dry. Once again, keep records of what you do - it really helps. Notice how the petals have changed colour - the pink petals became mauve.

Here's a geranium from my garden.

The colour change was really dramatic! This geranium was really difficult to remove and it's really fragile - I had to use a toothpick to gently ease it off the cloth. 

This wedding bouquet was full of bright tropical colours....

But when dried, it took on all these lovely soft vintagey colours.... you'd never guess they were the same flowers!

I've had most success with purples, pinks and yellows. Some of the reds went black and some of the whites I've dried have become a little brown but nowhere near as brown as this wrist corsage which was dried naturally.

If you've stuck around this long, you deserve to see my disasters too! Here's my first set of felt pads and cotton liners - charred into oblivion by forgetting to use 50% power.

And here's my second - singed, but still useable! Luckily, you can buy replacement pads. These are the 5" pads but you can also get replacements for the 9" Microfleur

So now you've seen how I do it, raid your garden, or your neighbourhood on your next walk and experiment. And of course, this is a great way to preserve a special bouquet. Once the petals are dry, pop them into resin and you have a bouquet that will last forever!

'Til next time.....



            




If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beaded Leather Kumihimo Bracelet with Sliding Knot

If you've mastered the basic 8-strand Kumihimo braid but would love to take it to the next level, then this project will be right up your alley. Without learning anything new, you can make a simple braid look very classy just by working with a different stringing material and adding beads. In this project, you'll learn how to make a Kumihimo braid with leather cord, how to add beads and then how to make your bracelet adjustable by tying a sliding knot - no clasp required.


 Here's what you'll need:

How to Create the Kumihimo Braid

Cut three 1m (39") lengths each of gold and silver cord and two 1m (39") lengths of black cord, Align the ends of the cords and tie them in a loose knot approximately 10cm (4") from the end.

Place the knot into the hole of the Kumihimo disk.

Set the cords into the slots of the disk using the photo below as a guide, i.e. on either side of the N, S, E and W markings.

Once all the cords have been placed in the slots, you can begin the braid. It consists of three simple steps. The first is to take the cord at the bottom on the left hand side of S and place it in the slot to the left of the N cords at the top.

Step 2: Then take the cord to the right of the N mark and place it in the slot to the right of the bottom cord.

Step 3: Rotate the disk anti-clockwise.

Continue with these three steps until the braid is approximately 15mm (5/8") long. Try to keep your tension even as you create the braid. A weight added to the braid can help with this or you can just pull it through as the braid gets longer.

Working the Beads into the Kumihimo Braid

Next it's time to add beads to the braid. I've strung twelve white beads on the bottom left black cord and twelve gold beads on the top right silver cord.

Tie a loose knot or add a bead stopper to the end of the two cords to keep the beads on.

Continue working the braid as before, but now when you come to a cord with a bead on it, slide a bead to the centre of the braid.

Then cross the cord to the other side of the disk as before. The bead must sit underneath the cord that it crosses over or it will end up inside the braid instead of on the outside of it.

Once you have worked all the strung beads into the braid, it's time to add the large hole bead. To do this, you will need to remove all eight of the cords from the disk, one pair at a time so that you can thread them through the bead.

Replace each pair of cords back into the slots of the disk as soon as they have been threaded through the bead.

Tighten up all the cords so that the bead now sits in the hole of the disk.

String the remaining beads on the black and silver cords opposite each other and continue braiding until all the beads have been used.

Whilst the braid is still on the disk, take a length of sewing thread and wrap it around the ends of the braid, knotting it securely so that the braid won't unravel. Do the same thing at the beginning and then undo the knot in the cords.

Apply adhesive to all the cords just beyond where the thread has been tied.

Move the pair of gold cords and the pair of silver cords to the side and knot the black cords around the remaining gold and white cords. Apply more adhesive to this knot.

Trim away the four cords you just knotted. Do this at both ends of the bracelet.

String a bead cone on the four remaining cords on each end of the bracelet and slide them up to the braid. Gather the cords on each side and tie them into a knot.

How to Create a Sliding Knot

Cross the ends over each other.

Hold the point where the cords cross over between your thumb and finger. Take a twelve inch length of gold cord and place it under your thumb on top of cords, leaving a 7.5cm (3") tail.

Wrap the loose end of the cord four times around all the cords back towards your thumb.

Thread the loose end back through the coils, making sure they do not cross over each other.

Pull both loose ends of the wrapping cord to pull up the knot. Pull it up firmly but not too tightly or you won't be able to operate the sliding knot.

Trim the loose ends close to the coil. For added security, you can apply adhesive to the cut ends where they touch the coils but make sure not to get any on the bracelet cords or the the sliding knot will knot work.

Now you have a very classy looking leather bracelet with an adjustable closure.

To see this knot in action take a look at this short video from Silver Creek Leather.

'Til next time....






            




If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Sliding Knot - More than Just a Knot

One of the most practical knots you'll learn to tie when working with leather cord is the sliding knot. It's also known as a coil knot or a barrel knot because of its shape. It eliminates the need for a clasp and end caps on bracelets and necklaces and is a great way to lengthen and shorten necklaces to suit your neckline.

But it's way more than just a means of making adjustable jewellery - it's very versatile and it can be used in so many ways to add interest to your leather cord jewellery.


Take a look at some of the many different ways it can be used and then scroll down to see how to tie a barrel knot.


Use it to secure beads in the centre of bracelet or necklace.


In this example, a barrel knot on either side of the focal beads keeps them from working their way around to the back of the bracelet.

Use barrel knots as a decorative element to add interest to a plain cord



This necklace uses white barrel knots to give the plain black stringing cord some interest, without taking away from the focal beads.



On this bracelet, the barrel knots are trimmed longer and at an angle to represent barbed wire.

Use a barrel knot to create a loop for hanging components


Create a loop in leather cord to hang from an earring wire. Then thread the cord with beads and knot to secure.

Barrel knots used on multi cord jewellery create groupings of beads


Create clusters of beads by stringing one bead on each cord and then securing them all in place with a barrel knot.

Create a link connector


Create a loop, string a bead and then create another loop and you have a link that you can connect to other components.


Learn How to tie a Sliding Knot

Keep an eye out for some tutorials on how to make these pieces in upcoming weeks  but in the meantime, check out this short video from Silver Creek Leather which shows you how easy it is to tie a sliding knot.



'Til next time.....



            




If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs



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