Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crocheting With Hand Carved Hook

Here's my first video using Flip video camera.

Crocheting with the first hook I ever carved....about 20 hooks and 4 months ago. I think this might be handy to use to show the techniques of carving the hooks.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Carving Wooden Crochet Hooks

I was entranced the first time I saw a hand carved wooden crochet hook. I was looking at crochet hooks made from sticks. There were others, just as beautiful on the Internet where folks had used a lathe to intricately fashion the handle, but the ones that fascinated me were the oddly shaped hooks that showed how the branch had twisted and turned as it grew. At the time I considered purchasing one, but the price was just too high for me right then. However, I thought, “Maybe someday.”

Crochet Hooks I Carved
Years went by and it occurred to me that I could pick up a stick as easily as anybody else and carve it. I looked for directions on the Internet and found a small pamphlet titled, “How to Hand Carve a Wooden Crochet Hook”. I purchased the book and a gauge from http://www.gourmetcrochet.com/ and there they sat for awhile. I read the book and there were a few things that puzzled me, but I wasn’t yet ready to start. I still had beginner’s feet or cold feet as some people call them.

A few months after I had purchased the pamphlet I was at the home of my friend, Barbara. Her husband Charles showed me beautiful walking sticks he had made from large sticks he’d picked up when he was out in the woods. The finish on the sticks was exquisite. He explained that he removed the bark, sandpapered the wood and then patiently began applying many layers of Tung oil until finally the wood was protected, felt like satin to my hand and gleamed. Again, I was entranced.

I remembered the crochet hooks I had plans to make and it occurred to me that I might be able to get started on the project. First, though, I went to Charles with my questions. He gave me different grades of sandpaper and different kinds of steel wool to use. He lent me some Tung Oil and gave me a knife and I was on my way.

The first few attempts I made took some time. My right wrist and left thumb were very sore. I learned to wear my wrist splints and to cover my thumb with a Band-Aid until I could develop a good woodworker’s callus on my thumb. I learned not to carve when I was tired. That was when I would cut too deeply and slice the hook right off of the business end of my project. I also learned to take smaller cuts in the wood.

The book I used to learn how
I learned termites and wood burrowing bugs lived in the branches I took home from the big Redwood tree next to my building at work. At first it alarmed me that my hook was damaged. But, then, I realized that the defects were actually interesting and continued to use that particular wood. I learned Redwood is very much harder than the white oak sticks I picked up other places.

Now, I’ve got people on the lookout for sticks for me. Charles gave me some fruit wood from a cherry tree in the neighborhood.

I begin a project by removing the bark from the stick. Sanding takes a long time and I discovered that chipping away at the bark with my X-acto knife was faster. Then, I begin to sand the stick. At the same time I pause often to hold the stick in my hand to see which way the hook wants to go. They aren’t always straight and when there is a slight bend to the branch I don’t want my hand to get fatigued as I work the hook later on with yarn. So, I turn it about and about until I get a grip that feels good to my hand.

Preparing the Sticks - Removing the Bark
Once the stick is relatively smooth I make the cut for the hook. I’ve got a small coping saw that I hold at a 45 degree angle about half an inch or more from the end of the hook. I saw almost half way into the stick. From there I pick up my knife. I have 3 of them that I’m using. One is a heavy duty X-acto knife. Another is a smaller X-acto craft knife. The third one is rather pretty and is called a whittling knife. There are times when I will use all 3 of them during the course of a project. It just depends on how I feel.

Close up of the hooks
Lately, I’ve been working on the slant into the hook area first. When I’ve got that area going I will go to the top of the hook and work on the tippy part. When it starts looking like a crochet hook I will begin to size it in my gauge. I tend to make them starting at a larger sized hook of L and M and work my way down in size to the smallest I made which might have been an F. Smaller than that and I don’t think the wood would be sturdy enough.

The directions in the pamphlet cautioned against sanding the underside of the hook, but so far I have yet to make a nice smooth cut with the saw, so I gingerly sand it with the flat side of a small file I got at Home Depot. Actually, it’s a whole set of them, but the only ones I tend to use is the flat/domed on the other side file and a small round file. I use the round file to put a smile on the hook when I’m almost done.
Tools I use to carve crochet hooks
I alternate between carving and sanding as the hook begin to find a good size. I size it in the gauge both for size and to see that I’m approaching a roundness on the hook. I don’t figure it would matter to be a size G one way and a size H the other, but I am a Virgo and I want it to be “right”.

It was tough for me to figure out where to place the gauge to determine the correct size. I did go grab a couple of my “bought” hooks and sized them. Imagine my surprise to see that they were not consistent. No wonder they give a gauge to work to at the beginning of a pattern. However, I have sort of determined that I need to size a hook about one and a half inches from the tip. I keep several balls of yarn nearby that I use to see how the hook I’m working with feels using it to actually crochet something. I also eyeball wherever the yarn ends up at the fattest part of the hook (that inch and a half down) to see if I am positioning the gauge in the right place to get a correct size.

With my first hooks I used a wood burning set to burn in the size. The very first one I did was a J. I made the J backwards and kept looking at it because it seemed strange to me. Well, a few days later I realized I’d made a backwards J so I dragged out the wood burning set again, turned the backwards J into a flower and put a proper J on the other side. Then, I burned my name on the hook.

The gauge I use to size the hooks
I have given away a bunch of the hooks I made. Mimi, a lady at my husband’s work, made a cute blue and white purse for me with the hook I gave her. In line at the True Value hardware store across from where we live and where I purchased many of the supplies I use I gave one of the hooks to a cashier who said he crocheted. It was so funny the first time I was showing off the hooks to him and his buddy was hanging over his shoulder to see what he was doing. He said to him, “Yes, I crochet.” in an exasperated tone of voice. The next time I was in the store I gave him one of the hooks. The guy behind me in line was amazed. He said I should be selling them and maybe someday I will. He said to me that his elderly aunt crochets, but she has arthritis and can’t do it as much as she’d like. I looked at my hooks and found the one I’d made with a big handle just for somebody who might need a better ergonomic grip. I gave it to him and said it was for his aunt. The man said the hair stood up on the back of his neck he was so surprised.
It makes me feel good to give away these hooks. I’m still learning how to make them. Each one I make I am able to focus in on a different aspect of the hook and each hook is different.

I’ve learned when I work on the wooden dowels I bought from the craft store that wood is almost like butter and I have to be careful not to take deep cuts because they generally result in a huge splinter coming out and ruining the piece.

I’ve also gotten some good tools made out of the pieces that don’t make it to a successful crochet hook. Charles told me to use a piece of wood on the crochet hooks as a burnishing tool. So, one of my failures is used for just that purpose. It puts a sheen on the hook, it seems to even out dents and cuts that I didn’t mean to leave, it almost seems to harden the wood. Another piece I tried to turn into a letter opener, which didn’t work very well, but I kept it and wrapped a piece of 400 grade sandpaper on the flat end to help when I want to finely sand the underside of the hook.

One of the things I’m experimenting with now is with the finishes I’m putting on the hooks. I began using Tung Oil. The first coat would be dry in a few hours. The second coat took longer and subsequent coats of Tung oil took even longer to dry. In fact, I had some hooks that didn’t completely dry out until after a good 2 weeks. But, even after that somehow the surface of the hook didn’t have as smooth an action as I hoped for. The surface of the wood was like glass and just beautiful to look at, but somehow it hadn’t resulted in a fast hook.

I bought some Min-Wax stain and tried that, but I wasn’t all that pleased with the result. The stain seemed to come off on the yarn and that wasn’t good at all. I probably didn’t use it right, so the stain has been put away for another day.

Files, Sandpaper & Sanding Block, X-Acto Knife & Whittling Knife
Then, I thought why finish them at all. Once they had been sanded down with the 400 grit sandpaper they were quite lovely and had a good action when crocheting.

However, weekend before last I was over at True-Value hardware store and saw where the stain was being sold. There was a big display that illustrated all the steps in finishing a piece of wood. Step one was the stain. Step two was a protective coating. I thought that’s what I had left out. So, I bought two cans of Polyurethane in a clear satin and a clear gloss. I applied the clear satin to five hooks I’d made recently and I really, really like how they turned out. The directions said to put another coat on and I will do that this afternoon.

I have really enjoyed making these hooks. It’s not that hard. It’s helpful to have somebody nearby to consult with who knows something about wood as you work with it. It’s wonderful to see the faces of people who crochet when they see the hooks and it’s especially nice to give them away.

What I like to think of is the spirit of the wood. I hold a stick in my hands before I work with it and close my eyes. It’s almost as if I am asking the wood if I can work it into a hook. As I work with the hooks after they are made they are warm. I like this hobby.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where I Make a Cat Scratching Post







I made a cat scratching post last week for our cats. Of course, like any self respecting cat their favorite place is the corner on the sofa, but we give them a substitute scratching post. Their favorite had worn out. It started out life with an acrylic base, a bunch of corks like you might find on a fishing net, and a dowel arrangement. This was screwed into the wall. In this house it is screwed onto the side of a bookcase we have in the kitchen. I looked on the internet to see if I could find a picture of it, but it seems nobody is making it anymore.

The first time it wore out the most favored place to scratch was the wicker laundry basket in the bathroom. It was just a simple basket. Nothing fancy. But, they destroyed it. I bought a plastic laundry basket and saved some of the wicker material. When the cork cat scratching post wore out I replaced it with a tower of Styrofoam rounds. I glued the wicker material I had saved from the destroyed basket onto the Styrofoam and forced the dowel thingie through the stack of Styrofoam. Here, you see a picture of this cat scratching post at the end of its life.

When my husband began complaining about how tacky it was looking I knew it must be pretty bad. Like most guys my husband is not concerned with how nice the place looks. Basically, I married a slob. The first few months of our marriage I picked up after him everywhere he went. I nagged. He bristled. It just wasn’t a harmonious arrangement. I realized if I wanted us to remain married I was going to have to do something. Since I couldn’t change him I would have to change me and at the tender age of 21 I became a slob. It has worked well these 33 years we’ve been married. As I’ve gotten older I have become more of a slob, but I am easily able to distract myself from clutter and focus upon whatever neato thing I am doing at the moment. However, when DeeDude, slob extroadianre, comments upon what a mess something is you know it’s gotten beyond bad.

So, last weekend I morphed the old tattered, well scratched and loved cat scratching post into a sleek refurbished one.

Here’s what I did. Since I could not find any Styrofoam in the shapes I needed it to be and since I didn’t want to sit there carving out rounds I switched tactics. I bought a roll of ½ inch foam rubber. I cut a piece of card stock the length of the dowel and wrapped and taped it around the dowel. It acted as a collar around the dowel and the dowel could move easily in and out. Then, I cut a piece of the foam rubber the length of the dowel and tightly rolled it around the dowel. Once I got it to the diameter I wanted I was done. I think it’s probably about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. I secured the foam rubber with bits of ribbon tied every 2 inches or so.

Then, I cut a piece of lovely scrap upholstery fabric I got at Beverley’s with seam allowances included. I basted the top and bottom of the fabric by hand. Then, I wrapped it around my foam rubber tootsie roll and stitched it up by hand. Positioned it in the acrylic base, pushed the dowel through and voila, the kitties had a very nice looking cat scratching post. I put some cat nip on it to see if they wouldn’t get interested in it. DeeDude has seen them working away at it, though I haven’t yet. You’ll notice in the picture Mattie stretching up to scratch right next to it. Not on it. Next to it. Oh, well. I think with time they will warm up to it.

What you could do if you are going to attempt this on your own is to think paper towel holder arrangement. Something sturdy enough to handle your cat as he or she is scratching away at it. Also, if you’ve got some salvaged fabric from whatever they destroyed use that to incorporate into your new cat scratching post. I would have used the wicker from the laundry basket if I could have found it. I know we still have some left, but it beats me where I put it. Someday it will show up, but in the mean time I do like the looks of our new cat scratching post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where I Make Bookmarks

I've got a decent sized table we bought from Costco set up in front of the television in the living room. This is just the right size to set up my sewing machine or drag out all my bead stuff and have a nice session beading. My eyesight isn't what it used to be so I also bought an Ott light which after I'd tried all sorts of other lights is the best one. Great light, no shadows and a true representation of what the colors are.

That said, yesterday and the day before I got my first commission. This from my husband, DeeDude, who asked me for 10 bookmarks that they could sell for $5.00 each and give the proceeds to The MacArthur Metro. They had a celebration birthday party gathering last night for The Metro which is 20 years old.

The Metro is our neighborhood newspaper and is a freebie to everyone. Hardly anybody on staff gets paid, so they are all mostly volunteers. DeeDude got involved with them 13 years ago after his back broke. He was a real estate loan broker in those days and the business was cut throat. He used to come home every evening snarling and all wound up. Then, he broke his back and he couldn't do much of anything for more than a year after that. As he slowly began healing he got itchy for something to do. He wasn't well enough to work a full time job because he was only pain free for short periods of time.

One day they had a want ad in The MacArthur Metro for somebody to write articles. He called them up and they told him to start writing. He never got paid for the work, but it was the beginning of a new career for him. He never went back to loan brokering or stock brokering. As his back gradually healed up he was able finally to go out and look for a paid job. He landed one with The Montclarion, another neighborhood newspaper in our area, but it paid money. He was with both papers for years and then we decided that he should take a year off and write for himself. He's written a bunch of history books. You can see them at his website Evanosky.info But, after awhile we needed him to go back to work again. He enjoys his work now at The Alameda Sun.

All that aside, here are the bookmarks I made. I had to present them somehow and decided to use a piece of cardboard covered with velvet that had come our way once upon a time. I half-hitched each bookmark to a wooden skewer. The only problem was that you had to be careful with the skewers because it was easy to pick up a splinter. I used small clamps to anchor the skewers to the board. I think if I were to do it again I'd get something other than those skewers to use....maybe chopsticks?

I'm tending toward a focal piece at one end of the bookmarks. Lots of quartz and stone carved hearts and coins from other countries that have holes in the middle. I'm using 6 strands of a really shiny and silky white cord that my neighbor gave me. There's enough to do a million of these things. But, I have to use beads where the holes are large enough to fit through the braided strand. I use a tiny, tiny sized crochet hook and grab one or two strands of the unbraided strands at a time to run through the beads until I've got all 6 through. It's a very laborious process.

Ending the bookmarks was a challenge. This thread is so silky that knots just don't hold. I found that if I held the flame of a lighter to the thread and my hand was real steady it would fuse back on itself. The problem there became the tiny little knot of melted plastic was unsightly. So, I experimented with Fimo clay building a bead on the knot. I'd bake the whole bookmark in my convection oven at 200 degrees Farenheit for about 15 minutes or so. That seemed to be enough to set and harden the bead. Then, when it was cool I'd paint the bead with clear nail polish.

Yesterday, when I was making the batch for DeeDude I used the clear nail polish to paint the ending knot. Applied sparingly on the parts of the loose knot and then after I'd pulled the knot tight to the outside of it things seemed to work well. Then, I cut the strands about an inch or inch and a half away from the knot to make a small tassel. Have to be careful with the nail polish, though, because too much on the knot will travel right down the strands and make what ends up to be the tassel part gummed together. I can make 2 or 3 bookmarks in one sitting and then I'm pooped out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting Uses of Creativity

This caught my eye today. Not what I might do, but truly an example of how wonderful artistic and creative urges will move a person. This guy has my vote.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kumihimo

I have embarked upon a new craft. This is Japanese braiding. I found lots of links online here and here and using yarn I had squirreled away began making a rope. I’m thinking that I will eventually coil it around, sew it together and have a small foot rug for DeeDude as he sits barefooted at his computer. I also tried it with a small silken cord, but I was so totally bad with it I braided about 2 inches and called it a day.

The tools? I had some foam sheets (2 mm thick) and printed out a picture of the kumihimo loom from the internet on a large white label (Airborne Express delivery label) and stuck it on the foam. Then, I cut that out. For the nicks into the loom I did end up curving each a bit because I kept getting the yarn caught.

What I think would also be interesting is to use it as a necklace. Not sure how I would handle the ends, though I did scour my local Beverly’s trying to find some sort of finding that would work. No luck there, though I did come home with some things that might work on a different project; they were just too big for this one.



But, basically, this is almost a no-brainer to sit there in front of the television at night and knock off a few minutes of Kumihimo. Unfortunately, one of my cats sat at my feet last night and when I next looked one of the yarn ends looked a bit frazzled.

In making a rug with this stuff I’m going to need quite a bit, even though it will be a small rug and so I was faced with the task of adding more yarn. I tried to fix it so that they wouldn’t all run out at the same time. I’m working with two colors, white and luscious pink. I did a simple knot and carefully worked it into the braid being careful that the ends stuck into the inside of the braid rather than out. Looks sort of like a boa constrictor ate a mouse, but maybe as I do more of it the joins will look better. I tried to stagger the joins so that they didn’t all end up being worked in at the same time.

But, it’s as easy as figuring what the length of your completed project is going to be and multiply that by 4 for the length of cord or yarn you will be using. I just armed it out rather than actually measuring anything.

You have 2 strands that go North, East, West and South. You knot the end and that is what will poke down through the hole on your loom. On mine I had white be North and South and the colored yarn go East and West. It really doesn’t matter how you start just so they lay on opposite sides of the loom.

Poke each into a slot on the loom. So, you’ve got 2 white strands (in separate slots) in the North position and 2 white strands in the South position. Then, East and West will be 2 strands of the colored yarn in 2 slots next to each other there too.

Lift the right North white and bring it down to the right South position. Now, you’ve got one white in the North slot and 3 in the white South position. Go over to the far left South and pick that white up and carry it to the left North position. Now, you’ve got 2 up and 2 down. Turn the disk a quarter of a turn clockwise (or the other way…just be consistent throughout the project).

Now, you’ve got 2 colored yarns top and bottom and the white yarns are in the East and West positions.

Do it again. Top right to bottom right and then bottom left to top left. Turn loom a quarter of a turn clockwise.

And, over and over and over again. That’s all there is to it. This creates a pretty spiral.

I read that there are 40 different patterns and a gazillion different variations.

The cords are made in Japan using silk. And, although silk is absolutely beautiful I’m going to have to stick to yarn or perhaps to embroidery floss.

Also, you can have a kumihimo stand called a maru dai. I looked online and figured I needed to save my money. Instead, I asked my neighbor Phil to drill me a hole in one of my end tables. With a doily and a lamp on top nobody would ever know that I have my own maru dai. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I just know that it will work fine.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Making a Little Coin/Bus Pass Purse

Part 1 of 4




Part 2 of 4



Part 3 of 4



Part 4 of 4

Tatting

I am interested in so many things other than beading. This blog is evolving and expanding into those other interests. Lying at the bottom of my sewing chest are a couple of tatting shuttles. It's been years since I tried making a bit of lace. This, then, to inspire both you and me. Enjoy.




And, here's how to do it.



And, from every teacher you see you learn a little more.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How to Draw a Celtic Knot

I have wanted to know how to make a celtic knot for the longest time. Who knew farting around on YouTube I would find a video about it? Enjoy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2008 Calendar

Hey, I made a holder for a 2008 desk calendar. We’d gotten the calendars before we discovered the bases had gone missing. When I went to Office Depot and discovered they wanted $12 for a base I balked. I went home and out of a piece of cardboard, a bead reamer to make the holes, cut off ends off of a coathanger, duct tape and green contact paper I devised a functioning substitute. Won’t be able to use it for 2009, but hey, I had fun making it.



Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where I Buy Stuff

Whooooiiieee, I just placed an order at FireMountain Gems. Big order. $100 order. What's cool is that I went just over 50 items and turns out that placed me in a more favorable pricing category. I ended up saving $98. Just a boat load of stuff.

A major part of it are bead assortments. I've got some already and have used them a lot. So, I'm replenishing my stock and adding to it with new colors. Also, a lovely resin piece with flowers in it. Figure I can make a necklace for myself and another for a friend. A gauge so I can see what sizes the beads are that I'm using. Split jump rings because I can't seem to get the hang of soldering the open ones I've got. Rubber goo to put on the ends of my tools so they don't scratch (like has been happening with the crimpers I use). Lots of cord to use for bookmarks. Maybe I can get a store going over at Etsy.com Anyway, big order. I've got that much in our PayPal account for all the PayPerPost stuff I did on my other site. But, somehow I just feel guilty spending that much dough.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Headphone Covers


I have these lovely Kenwood KPM-310 headphones. Nice, soft, cushy ear pads. Except, they've gotten old and the soft material covering the ear pads is flaking off. It's pretty disgusting. Imagine this flaky black stuff getting all over your ears, flaking off on your clothes, just disintegrating while you're wearing these headphones that were not cheap to begin with. What to do?

So, I'm spending time Googling replacements for these ear pieces, except nobody has anything. I do NOT want to throw away a perfectly good pair of headphones just because the ear pads aren't good anymore. There has to be a solution.

There was. I spent the evening crocheting covers for them. I used Lion Brand Kitchen 100% pure cotton, worsted weight variegated thread. This is the stuff that works well for dish rags. It's soft and because it's cotton I'm hoping it won't make my ears hot & sweaty.

I used an F crochet hook and in the time it took to watch an episode of, "First 48" with my husband I had them made.

Chain 12 and slip stitch the ring together. Chain 1.

Yarn over and work 24 Half Double Crochets into the ring. Slip stitch closed and chain 3.

Working into the back of the stitches (or not, your choice) do a Double Crochet into the same stitch as the turning 3 chain. Work 1 Double Crochet into the next stitch. Work 2 DC's into the next stitch, and 1 into the next. Alternate like that around the ring. Slip stitch into the top of your turning 3 chain. Chain 3 more.

Work 1 Double Crochet into the back of each stitch around. Slip stitch closed and chain 3.

Work two more rows with Double Crochet the same as the first row. Try the cover onto your headphones for size. It can stretch pretty good. Tie it off and leave a nice longish tail.

Fit the cover onto your earpiece. Thread a large eyed needle onto the tail and weave it all around the edge. Pull it tight and tie it off.

Voila.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

For Family


This is a bookmark I made for my brother-in-law, Bob. It's geared toward use with a paperback sized book. I used a waxed twine that felt like it had some substance to it. Very simple to make. I made a couple for my husband too. It's a nice gift to give to a guy.





I also made a bracelet for Bob. This is with Lapis Lazula stone which is good for writers and for communication. It's one of my own personal favorite stones. I also used a sliding knot on this piece. The cord is a simulated leathery sort of thing that was interesting to work with.



This is a blue bracelet for my sister and the red one is for one of my nieces.







Sunday, September 23, 2007

Creative Endeavors

I just decided to expand this blog to include all the stuff I make. What I'm working on now is an Autumn Angel on blue cloth. I purchased this kit several years ago and hadn't gotten around to starting it. I'd forgotten how long it takes to just do a little bit with cross stitch, but I'm doggedly working away at it. I don't want this to be one of those projects that goes by the wayside and then I find it 15 years later still not done.


Things I'm doing with this particular project are that I counted out and identified all the pieces of floss in the kit. I punched holes with a hole punch in a piece of card stock and tied the floss into each hole with a half hitch knot. I labeled each with their coded and written color.

Then, as I began working on the project I found the only way I could keep on track was to use a green highlighter to mark off the squares I'd already worked. A couple of times I've gotten lost, but was able to correct easily enough. At least, I'm not doing her face yet, which will likely need to be just as the pattern indicates. Otherwise, the folds in her gown can go one way or another and not ruin the picture.

I'm looking forward to having this finished by Christmas. At the rate I'm going I'm going to need every minute I can spend on it between now and then.

What I've got in the works (means I haven't started yet) are a couple of purses. Right now I have a Teddy Bear tote and every time I want to find something I just can't do it. My other purse had 3 separate compartments where I had the same thing going on and it drove me mad. I figured one big bag would solve that problem, except it has not. What I'm thinking about now is a purse with little pockets all on the inside...sort of like a cargo pants purse. A place for my phone. A place for my breath mints. A place for my keys. A place for a pen and a pad of paper. All the things I can't find easily now. That should work.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Not Quite Done

The following photographs are of bracelets that I haven't yet finished. I sat here one weekend and played with beads and made all these lovely combinations. What I'd like is for my sister, Betsy, to have a look and let me know if any of them catch her eye. The next watch I make is for her.

































Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Red and Gold Watch






Red and gold. That's what I had a yearning for. And, I satisfied it making this watch for myself. Funny, I haven't been keen on wearing bracelets, but I always wear a watch. Now, the watches I wear aren't the same day after day. I've been alternating between the blue one and the green watch and, now, I have this one.

It worked up pretty quick. I handled the half clasps better. Maybe the gold is different. Maybe I'm just getting better at it. I don't know. Time will tell. I love these beads. They are called miracle beads. I got them from FireMountain Gems. This is the first time I've used this magnetic clasp. I like it better than the plain one I've been using. And, I love this watch face. That came from WhoHasTheTime.com. The safety chain and a boatload of helpful advice came from the ladies at Bead Inspirations.

Orange and Purple Watch






This is a watch I just made for a young friend. She said, "Purple and Orange". It's actually quite interesting. What I learned with it was that the safety chain I'd gotten from FireMountain gems that, at first glance, looked too entirely small to use for anything could actually be used if I stretched out the last loop with a pair of pliers. It was a very delicate operation, but I felt quite a lot better that I was going to be able to use the 5 feet worth of silver chain I bought with these watches that I'm making.

I am getting a little better at this. With this watch I began beading from the clasp to the watch and I sized it to my own wrist by temporarily anchoring everything with a crimp bead. In the past I've just plowed ahead and ended up being surprised by the fit. So, I'm making progress.

What I still need to work on are the half shell clasps covering the crimp beads. No matter how I do them (these are 4mm sizes) I still leave "tooth marks" on the beads from the crimping tool. It's not hugely noticeable, but I know it's going on and it doesn't please me. Practice? Maybe. I sure would like to use the 3mm size half shells, but they are too small to fit over the #2 crimp tubes. I've got smaller crimps, but the once I used them they didn't hold the wire at all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Knotting Between Beads






This weekend I learned how to knot between beads! This is something I've wanted to know how to do for many years. I bought the knotting tool from FireMountain Gems. It didn't take long. I followed the directions and voila I had knotted a loverly bunch of beads.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tubular Peyote






I am very laboriously trying to teach myself to do tubular peyote. I’ve recently seen some examples of it at Ruby’s site (also bookmarked to the side) and fell in love. Unfortunately, I’ve got this block against having whatever I do turn out looking good. So far, I’ve dismantled the bitty pieces I’ve worked up 3 times only to start over. Last night I cut two pieces of different diameter dowels to use and today, after work, will hie myself off to the hardware store across the street to purchase a little bit of rope. I think the rope is going to work better incorporated into a watchband than a dowel will.

I finally found some directions that I could follow at my beadchat group forum at Yahoo.

Anyway, I will continue to work doggedly at the project because I think watches made with this stitch are going to be really pretty.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Beading Supplies

Well, I did it again. I went and bought $74 worth of stuff at FireMountainGems. Yikes. Anyway, what’s coming and the main reason for the order was that I wanted some more silver chain. Got that and why not the rest of it? Right. There’s a reason I quit drinking. I suppose it could have been worse. Anyway, I justified it all by saying to myself, “Hey, I have a job.” However, I do need to remember we also have other bills. I’ll need to get busy at PayPerPost. That’s what I’ve been using for my bead money.

Also, in the order is a knotting tool. I’ve been eyeballing them for years. Now, I’m going to have one. I also got a bunch of beads. Some gorgeous Lapis Lazuli 8.5 to 9 mm grade C round beads. I always think that is “my” color…for writing and for speaking and for the work I do spiritually. It’s the blue in the throat charka and I wanted some. It was one of the more expensive things in my order and twice I took it off only to put it back into the cart again. I really wanted them! Anyway, I took the order to 15 items and the price on the Lapis Lazulis went to $7.36 for a 16” strand.

I got some head-pins and some more magnetic clasps, some cloisonné beads and then I said I was done. As I went to checkout and signed into my account they found the shopping cart I’d had the last time I’d prepared an order. I didn’t realize that they saved them, so I’ll remember that for next time.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Reworking the Watches I Make

In learning how to bead I have found that my creations do not always stand the test of time and of everyday use. Also, I need to learn to be able to gauge sizes for people. But, for now have been concentrating my efforts more towards just getting the pieces to not be falling apart every time I turn around.

I've given several away, but I've only actually heard back from one person with her experiences wearing the watch. It has made me think that the other people might also be having trouble with their watches, but for whatever reason have not said anything to me. And, I'm thinking there must be at least something wrong with those watches because I've had trouble with the two I've been wearing myself.

So, this is one of those cosmic universe lessons for me. What I should do in my quest to become a good beading artistan is to go and ask the people I gave watches to how they've been holding up. That's me conquering shyness. That's me putting myself on the line and being prepared to take whatever comes my way in the way of negativity (or praise). That's the next step.

And, it also points out to me that what I should do when I give a watch away in these early days of me learning this craft is to plainly say to the folks, "I'll be checking back in with you periodically to see how the watch is holding up. I want you to wear the crap out of it and I want to see how it does."

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Blue Watch

This is a watch I made yesterday. This one is for me. Blue has to be one of my favorite colors. I've made other watch bands using these marbelized beads from A Touch of Glass. I get them at Beverley's in Alameda, but I have yet to find a mail-order source for them where I might find other colors available. Click on the pictures for close-up views.

This watch was made with 49 twist wire. I used the clam shell half beads to cover the crimps. I still need work practicing with them. One got so mangled I had to start over with the project. Luckily, I had only just begun that side.

These watches are getting easier to make. However, I still need work on how to exactly size them for other people. I don't have a bracelet mandrall, but figured I might use a tube of stiff paper rolled up to the proper size. Maybe.

Lavender Watch

This is a watch I made yesterday for a friend. Her favorite color is lavender and, although, all of the beads in this watch are not exactly lavender, they come close. I hope she likes it. Click on the pictures for a "close-up" view.

I made this watch with the 49 twist wire. Although I thought I would have more flexibility using the 19 twist wire the little crimp tubes slid all over the place. So, it seems I should stick with the 49 twist.

I still need some practice with the half open beads that cover the crimps. Once I am done there are bitty crunch marks on them from the crimping tool. I wonder if there is a way to cushion them while I'm trying to get them closed?

Once again I used the silver filled chain as a safety chain. This is more expensive, but it will not stick to the magnetic clasp. All in all, this watch worked up quickly. I got Phil, my neighbor to come over and help me select the beads. He knows what Suzie likes.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Making a Bracelet - Video



This is from Aunties Beads. Karla shows how to make a bracelet using a bead board especially made for bracelets. She talks about the crimp beads, how best to measure, how to make sure there is play in the bracelet before you end it off. Just a terrific video for somebody (me) who is new to beading.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Green Watch






Here's the watch I made for myself. I've worn it two days. It feels good on my wrist. Nothing pinching or catching. However, I think the crimps I used are slipping. These were not the tubes I used with the other projects, but very tiny bead like crimps. In fact, as I worked up the piece one crimp didn't make it through the squashing and squishing process with the crimping tool and I had to put a new one on. I noticed movement this morning along the strand of beading wire up at both sides of the watch face. So, I'm betting that those bitty little crimp beads have worked their way loose.

This time I used a 19 strand twist. The gave more flexibility than the 49 strand twist, but I was hoping would be strong enough. Looks like the crimps are going to give out sooner than the beading wire.

I just placed an order for more supplies at FireMountainGems. They've got a really interesting ordering process. Their stuff is all priced in a tiered system. If you buy 15 or more you get a better break. I realized that my prices were going down because it counts everything you order no matter what it is rather than 15 of any one single thing. I saved about $25 or so on the order. I decided I'll use the PayPerPost money I make on my other two sites to pay for this stuff.

PS. I ended up re-working this watch using the 49 twist wire. The crimps would not hold on the 19 twist stuff.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cloisonné and Green Bead Watch

This piece is finally ready! Clicking on each picture will enlarge them for you.

I purchased the watch face from Who Has The Time. The cloisonné beads came from Bead Inspirations in Alameda, California. The green beads came from Beverly's in Alameda.

At Bead Inspirations they recommended that I use a 49 strand twist wire which was stronger than the 7 strand twist I used when I first worked this piece. Using the 7 strand twist the bracelet broke after only a few weeks of wear at the point where it joined the watch face.

The safety chain was necessary because although the magnetic clasp is terrific, it tended to get caught on things and open up. Losing the watch became an issue. The first chain I used was an inexpensive gold plated version. That didn't work at all because it was magnetically attracted to the clasp. Not pretty. So, another trip to Bead Inspirations and they told me I needed to use a gold filled chain. Now, it hangs freely.

When I originally worked this piece up I didn't leave enough room for play between the face and where the beads began. With this version of the watch I left more jiggle room.

The lady at Bead Inspirations showed me how to use a crimp tube and a special bead to cover the crimp. I have to say, if it had not been for her great advice I don't think this watch would have turned out as nicely as it did.

This watch is for a friend and I plan on making the next one for me.