Crochet Beaded Bracelets

My friend Gina sent me a link about two years ago showing some crocheted bracelets with button closures – so cute! I figured out the pattern, found different sized buttons, crocheted about twenty bracelets in varying lengths (multi-wraps are fun!), used jewelry o-rings to attach charms midway and started handing them out to friends on my travels.

Oh, the charms – they fell off in legions – usually after a household chore like doing the dishes…or walking across a room. Sometimes even before I was done with the visit (In Kauai I actually asked for some pliers and replaced the gifted charm with one from my purse. It probably also fell off soon after I left. Mrgh!)

I have not mastered the fool-proof closure of o-rings (does this exist, beyond soldering?).

Alas, a design failure the internet did not prepare me for. Also, I’m not sure how much I want to talk about how hard it is to BUTTON your own wrap-around bracelet…

New rule: Jewelry should not be a reminder of loneliness, or dexterity challenges, or a cause of any stress whatsoever frankly (right?!). Wait ’til you see how I’ve solved this!!! (P.S. o-rings replaced by stitching…why didn’t I think of that…first?!)

Magical Magnet Closures

I attended a presentation today of the San Diego Bead Society and was inspired to think again about what kinds of trades I could make for my next art retreat. I put 2 + 2 + 2 together and came up with: crocheted bracelet with beads and magnetic closure.

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Size 11/0 beads, Lizbeth variegated thread, size 10, gold magnetic closure

A couple hours before this creation I spent time looking up patterns for beaded amulet pouches and such, thinking that would be my thing. Then I remembered what I already know how to do and how many supplies I already have on hand. And how time works.

So I made the above prototype, using waxed nylon bead string to attach the magnetic ends to the crocheted piece, and also to thread the beads throughout. For the crocheters, I used a 2.25mm needle on Lizbeth size 10 thread. So far I’ve mapped a small bracelet (I have skinny wrists) like this:

  • Chain 60
  • Work a slip stitch in the 2nd chain from hook, and in all the rest to the end
  • Gauge: I worked these stitches fairly loose, to make way for the beads.

After that, I stitched the waxed bead string through a bead on one end and then worked a series of knots before attaching the magnet closure. Then I used the same waxed string to work my way back through the bracelet, attaching the beads on alternating sides.

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I aimed for every other stitch back and forth and it didn’t seem to need too much precision to attain a good effect.

I tried a couple of beading patterns (e.g. all on one side vs. alternating) and decided that going back and forth on the chain gave the best dynamic effect on the wrist.

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I used Dritz Fray Check on the end knots and wrapped the ends next to the magnetic closures with extra stitches. We’ll see how it holds up in the next few weeks.

The Front and the Back

 

So far it’s hanging nicely with beads on all sides and the magnetic catch falling to the bottom of my wrist. I’ll keep wearing it and see how it holds up throughout the week.

Favorite Discovery

Magnetic connectors do the work for you! And they come in really fun shapes – like fish and turtles. The ones I found were too wide to work with my current skinny crochet chains but I have plans for those magnetic turtle and fish connectors…just you wait…

 

 

 

 

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Bringing It All Together: I’m Making Cards!

I had to wait awhile to post pictures of this so my daughter wouldn’t see her birthday card ahead of time. I’m having a lot of fun using my mono prints and stamps to make impromptu cards (anyone else out there boycotting purchased greeting cards and all they stand for? UNITE!).

So here’s what I made to celebrate my daughter’s offspringing…

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I added beads to the embroidery then used double-sided tape to attach it to a piece of scrapbooking paper.
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Then I glued a mono-printed page to the inside top and stitched my needle lace to the bottom (I like how the cut threads added to the wave motion).
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close-up of the mono print
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close-up of the attached needle lace
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Back of the card – I like how the blue silk stitches seem to interact with the gold grassy marks.

I really enjoyed adding beads to my embroidered patterns and I suspect that technique might make another appearance. I especially enjoyed finding a use for my needle lace pattern AND avoiding the greeting card industry. It’s evil y’all. Buy card stock on sale and draw a picture. Your loved ones will love it even more than that $7 card that sings.

P.S. I used my mono prints recently to create a thank you card (plus two bonus bookmarks I included…that could be used to create two new cards…). It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as well as a gift that’s fun to give. I highly recommend purchasing a cheap gelli-plate and going to town. It’s kind of a “no wrong answers” situation: even your least favorite print can be turned into your favorite bookmark.

Art Quilting: In Progress

This weekend I took another wonderful class with Jane LaFazio and I’m having a great time finishing my small art quilt. Following Jane’s suggestion I took this opportunity to commemorate a fun trip in an art quilt. My family was fortunate enough to visit Turkey a few years ago and I *just almost* finished the scrapbook from the trip. So I raided the box of leftover souvenirs and I’m creating this art quilt as a final homage and memory creation of that travel experience.

Jane taught us how to incorporate paper and cloth into our base quilt, then we began embellishing each quilt square in anticipation of putting them back together again. Here’s a few shots of my WIP…(I’ve wondered more than once how this will all come together, but I’m seeing it now and getting more and more excited with each finished square and re-working of the pattern).

We'll start with squares I think are close to finished
We’ll start with squares I think are close to finished. I captured the city of Foca in this map segment because it was a favorite for us. The beads are from a bracelet we found on the street there.

 

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Museum ticket, beads, cloth, various threads (the first name of our guide appears in this quilt block “Marina” – her last name is on another block.) First I tried a new zig-zag stitch across the bottom in crewel yarn that I didn’t really like so I wound up the thread with the stem and outline stitch around the feather (better)…then worked up the beads with some metallic thread (they’re cool – turquoise inside and copper around the edges)…and wound up back on the weird zig-zag stitch with more beads. I think it comes together pretty well…it took some time though…

 

The paper at the top of this quilt square is from a bag of nuts we bought at a wonderful store on the coast of Turkey. A whole store dedicated to dried fruits and nuts - so yummy!
The paper at the top of this quilt square is from a bag of nuts we bought at a wonderful store on the coast of Turkey. A whole store dedicated to dried fruits and nuts – so yummy! More embellishment is probably in store for that bottom piece of material…we shall see what happens after I attach everything. This piece of paper makes me very happy in this quilt. It might get center billing…

 

We have another patch of blue here that may or may not get further embellishment. I enjoyed bringing the scroll pattern down into the green on this one, and the red thread is a variegated gift from a class member - so it needed to jump on board. :)
We have another patch of blue here that may or may not get further embellishment (it doesn’t show in the picture but the material is silk with blue on one side and pink on the other – the sheen is amazing). I enjoyed bringing the scroll pattern down into the green on this one, and the red thread around the “Turqui” logo is a variegated gift from a class member – so it needed to jump on board. 🙂

 

Unfinished Business

I thought this one was done in class, but it's starting to look like it needs some more...
I thought this one was done in class, but it’s starting to look like it needs some more. (The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts was wonderful and highly recommended.)

 

Lots of options here...the bracelet is an example of Turkish crochet called "oya" that I bought there.
Lots of options here…the bracelet is an example of Turkish crochet called “oya” that I bought there.

 

Last quilt square that hasn't been finished. This is another oya piece I bought there - looks to me like it needs a little needlework closet to hang in...
Last quilt square that hasn’t been finished. This is another oya piece I bought there – looks to me like it needs a little needlework closet to hang in…

I’ll share finished product when I get there.

Making and crafting to my heart’s content and hoping the same for you…

Kumihimo bracelets…WIP

These are fun and fairly quick to work up (despite the fact that I’m not done yet…need supplies…and rest 🙂 ). Aside: I’ve found it challenging and sometimes tiring to learn new techniques in new media every week. It’s been a great way to spend my sabbatical, but I definitely couldn’t jump around like this on a regular basis.

So first, the semi-end products:

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These need a variety of finishings: end caps, magnets, tassels. I’m liking the silk cord (two on left) more than the silk ribbon (bracelet on right).

 

This is what the ribbons looked like *after* I distressed them with water and *before* I wove them ever so tightly into that third bracelet on the right.
This is what the ribbons looked like *after* I distressed them with water and *before* I wove them ever so tightly into that third bracelet on the right.

Turns out I am a tight weaver coming out of the gate. It doesn’t seem to matter what project – if I’m weaving I’m pulling and holding things tight. I don’t think this is a good strategy all the time…so I’m working on it. In this case, there was a weight pulling the bracelet down through the loom, so I should have just let it do its’ job. I didn’t realize this until the end of the first bracelet (which was the silk ribbon one). Also, I’m not a fan of the big beads that line the ribbon bracelet…I have skinny wrists and these seem pretty big in scale for me. The smaller beads I could use on the silk cord (which is called “rattail” for enquiring minds) suited me better. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what size cord I used in the store to fit inside those beads (p.s. I still had to cut the ends of the cord at an angle then glue them into points before stringing on the beads…not the easiest part of the project.)

Here are some close-ups of the process, in case you’re not familiar.

Here's the disk needed - apparently these come in other shapes and you can make many different patterns.
Here’s the disk needed – apparently these come in square shapes as well and you can make many different patterns with each shape.

 

These cool plastic spools hang off the loom with the beads attached.
These cool plastic spools hang off the loom with the beads attached (they flip open/closed). The shiny thing in the middle is my highly technical weight (it’s a large metal nut, from my teacher). I like that they look like rudimentary flying saucers when they’re on the loom.
Here's a small beginning
Here’s a small beginning (I think I already accidentally missed a bead placement at this point…ah, first projects!).
Here's more bracelet - getting ready to remove it from the loom.
Here’s more bracelet – getting ready to remove it from the loom.

So I need to glue on end caps, use O-rings to attach magnets and put on tassels. I have the teacher’s email address if things get weird. 🙂

I’m looking into buying spools of this silk cord because I feel like I can’t get enough of this kumihimo weaving. It’s very meditative and I really enjoy it. Plus I love finishing projects within a few hours/days (so different from usual crochet projects).

 

Russian Spiral Jewelry…continued

Today I continued to work on these patterns and figure out the kinks (e.g. switching threads, tying off, clasp vs. connection for a roll-off bracelet).

Happy with my progress…

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It was fun seeing what different color combos created.
It was fun seeing what different color combos created.

The clasp on the third bracelet (from left) didn’t work out so I’m going to have to re-work it. (It’s tricky to get the “v” effect from those tiny connector beads (accomplished in the middle bracelet). Still learning, but happy to be wearing the first two bracelets…learning…!

Tomorrow I’m taking a class to learn how to make a Flat Ribbon Kumihimo Bracelet…pictures to follow!

Jewelry: Russian Spiral

I took a jewelry class today to learn how to bead the Russian Spiral pattern.

I messed up A LOT and created one and a half bracelets (I’ll probably re-do the half blue one pictured first below).

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It’s very loose and mooshy – as far as beading goes…but I really like this clasp – I’ll probably undo this bracelet and try again.

Here’s the semi-winner/runner-up of the day…

Interesting variations based on bead size and color...
Interesting variations based on bead size and color… 

I used size 11, red – size 11, rose gold – size 8, red (actual color numbers available on request. 🙂 )

Cool clasp - note that the top bead connect is cool. The bottom bead connect...not so cool...
Cool clasp – note that the top bead connect is cool. The bottom bead connect…not so cool…

I am learning, because it’s the name of the game.

I’m still not sure how to gracefully switch my needle from one set of threads to another (maybe I should just start with 6 full yards of thread – to avoid the tie-off problem mid-way?! Sounds like the possibility of lots-o-knots…). My bracelet is two different widths for some reason (first half is “fatter” and after I tied off and re-started the second half is “skinnier.” I haven’t figure out why yet – same stitches – same threads….) Maybe my gauge keeps getting tighter with my bead stitching as I go along.

Making art and figuring it out as I go along…

Humbly Learning Pine Coiling

I watched a few videos and read a few stitch guides…and I’m pretty happy with the results! These are “mini-baskets” so I could learn some new stitches and play around with different lashings. I learned many things…

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artificial sinew in a v-stitch
artificial sinew in a v-stitch
blue button in the middle
blue button in the middle

 

 

black waxed thread with beads
black waxed thread with beads
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I think the black thread should go all the way around…(I was going for half/half…didn’t work out)

 

Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
inside button - I'll go for less wire wraps next time
inside button – I’ll go for less wire wraps next time

 

the bottom of this mini-basket...might be nicer than the inside...
the bottom of this mini-basket…might be nicer than the inside…or maybe not…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was a fun week of weaving and coiling (kind of rough on the fingers – lots of great ideas…). I’m reading through my Alabama Chanin Stitch book and ready to do some hand-stitching next!!

Sea Grass Basket

Thank you Donna Sakamoto Crispin for the base pattern!

Sea Grass Basket
Sea Grass Basket
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Shells from my collection – Ocean-drilled spaces…
the bottom of the basket
the bottom of the basket
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front of basket – overlapping braid end
sea grass braid
purple sea grass braid
beads inside
surprise surfline beads inside
It works upside-down too!
It works upside-down too!

 

Basket front
Basket front

I’m having so much fun with this basket (it clinks when I move it!).

It feels, smells and sounds like the ocean…

Overflowing with Art

Hello World! I’m back from a week long art retreat in Portland, Oregon called Art and Soul Retreat. SO.VERY.ENGERGIZING.AND.INSPIRING. If you find yourself near any of their upcoming locations I encourage you to check it out: authentic artists, inspiring teachers, sharing participants. I could go on and on…and I shall… 🙂

Art and Soul Retreat-ing

Pics to follow and teacher info below for “enquiring minds” like myself who like to read ahead. They were all AH-MAY-ZING teachers who shared a plethora of information and technique (and supplies!) and I highly recommend checking them out (in person if you are nearby – they’re from all over).

I took 6 day-long classes learning the following:

  1. Wet (Nuno) Felting – made a scarf!
    (LeBrie Rich – Pen Felt)
  2. Doll making with cloth and paper clay – WIP! 🙂 Paper clay is fun!
    (Lulu Moonwood Murakami – lulumoonarts)
  3. Needle felting with a sewing machine – made 3 bases I’m in love with! (broke some needles – I’m not proud – “it’s part of the process” – more on that later)
    (Rebeckah Meier Designs)
  4. Gold leaf and copper strung African beads on a half ostrich egg bowl – featured below!
    (Debbie Rijns, who specializes in Precious Metal Clay work in South Africa – I couldn’t find just one link that summarizes her artistic work – best to internet-search her)
  5. Hand stitching and embellishing the Alabama Chanin Way – after all these years of hand-sewing I learned a new way to thread, knot and sew. Amazing. (WIP! I bought a shirt pattern…there’s A LOT OF HAND stitching to do…hopefully I can finish it while I’m still this size. 🙂
    (Natalie Chanin designed the pattern and technique – Patti Calande taught the class)
  6. Basket weaving with sea grass – another WIP (boy did I dig this one! Weaving is so meditative for me.)
    (Donna Sakamoto Crispin – the amazing artist/teacher blend we’re all looking for! Donna was great!)

A Finished Product: “Home Base”

I enjoyed figuring out this artistic vision as I went. Layer work is still a challenge for me, though I learned so much about the value of strategic layering throughout the week.

This one is named “Home Base” because it incorporates elements of all my home bases (virtual, physical and metaphysical).

These photos are staged on the lobby floor of the hotel in a brief moment of Oregon sun (yes, I was laying on the ground taking pictures when my significant other arrived…he wasn’t surprised and offered to help…bless our lovies!)

African album beads and grass seeds, copper wire, seashells, monkeywood base, gold leaf edging
African album beads (red/black around edge), grass seeds & Ethiopian silver (red/green hanging right side), copper wire, seashells, monkey wood base, gold leaf edging, armadillo symbol from Sand People drawings (for me on this bowl this represents my hometown of San Antonio, TX).

 

A look at the inside of the bowl. African porcupine quill at the front.
A look at the inside of the bowl. African porcupine quill at the front. I learned how to “stitch” with copper wire (lesson learned: it pretends to be like thread, but it absolutely isn’t thread in some crucial ways – blergh!). I especially appreciated the way Debbie taught me to “hide” the wire behind each inside disc. That’s some tricky sh*t that took me LOTS-O-PRACTICE to secure those beads.

 

I had a touristy seashell bracelet in my stash, so I cut i apart and stitched the seashells onto the ostrich shell with copper wire. They had 2 holes each already drilled so it was pretty easy to incorporate.
I had a touristy seashell bracelet in my stash, so I cut it apart and stitched the seashells onto the ostrich shell with copper wire. The shells had 2 holes each already drilled so they were pretty easy to incorporate. The image at the bottom of this view is the Coral Tree seed pod, which grows in South Africa and ALSO in Southern California (in my front yard!). It was a nice connecting home image for me, and it sits opposite the armadillo on the bowl.

 

The tiny coiled copper wires are the beginning and end of my beading work (fun shadows!).
The tiny coiled copper wires (left of photo) are the beginning and end of my beading work (fun shadows!).

It was good layer work for me – I started with the green wash paint inside and dots in the middle, and they ended up guiding the bead design.

 

Lovin' the sun on this one!
Lovin’ the sun on this one!

I really enjoyed this class, learning about gold leaf and incorporating South African Sand People images into my work (there’s also: giraffe and the “thread of knowing,” which represents our collective conscious dreams).

Get out there and try something new!
Crafting on…!