Fun Weekend, New Bracelet

It’s  been a busy weekend around here.  David’s son, Jason, and his girlfriend, Kristen, arrived on Thursday for a three day visit.  We don’t see them very often so we were looking forward to hanging out together without much of an agenda.  We hiked, cooked, swam, sunned and drank some good wine.  Here’s a photo of David and Jay during our hike in Sabino:

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We were out early and it was still pretty hot out there!  The big smiles pretty much tell the story of the weekend.

I also enjoyed my solo time with Kristen.  We gals need to stick together since we are usually well outnumbered by the guys!  Kristen is studying to be a nurse, and she is also very creative and artistic.  She expressed an interest in learning how to do Kumihimo so we set off to play at the bead store.  We picked up supplies so she could make a woven bracelet like mine, and while we were there, we spotted a sample of an earth-tone beaded bracelet with tassels that we both really liked.  I decided to buy the beads we needed to make it figuring we could use online resources for the how-to part:

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And here’s the finished bracelet:

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I really like it, probably because it looks pretty much like the one we saw. I think the process of construction was fine but my technique on this go-round was less than stellar.   Different (less artfully arranged) photos tell the real story.

This bracelet has a loop and button closure.  Here’s a close-up of that part:
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The construction begins with the loop:

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This bracelet is beaded using double strands of cording, but the loop is started using only single strands.  Once you have about 2 inches of single braid on the Kumihimo disk, you take the warps off, fold the braid in half and rethread the 16 warps (2 in each slot) to begin the beading part.  I didn’t keep those eight doubled warps from criss-crossing each other when I rethreaded so my first beads didn’t create a neat edge.  This will be something I pay closer attention to next time.

After the beaded portion is the desired length,  there’s some additional braiding, the ends are knotted, and the button is attached by threading one cord of the sixteen through the button.  Here’s a shot of that construction:

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The tassels are simply the remaining cords dotted with beads, trimmed and knotted.  I used simple knots which didn’t secure each bead to a specific spot on a cord.  There’s a way to knot that keep the beads from moving around but I haven’ t learned how to do that yet.

Here’s the bracelet on my wrist:

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Hmm. The mess at the beginning is pretty apparent. Maybe this way:

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Better.  Happily I have plenty of beads left over so I can give it another go.  Once I get the kinks out I’ll send one to Kristen.  She and Jason are off to Las Vegas today for more vacation and David and I going to finish the weekend eating up leftovers, catching  up on the Times puzzle and floating in the pool.  Ahhh.

 

Fun With Beads (Part 2)

It’s Done!  

After my amateur photography detour I finally got down to the business of beading and here is the completed necklace:

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I love it!  I saw this exact design in my Kumihimo book and decided to just replicate it for my first go-round.  I’m not sorry I did.  I had such a good time making this and at each step I learned something new.  Here’s how it all came together:

The initial set-up of the beads is similar to that of the simple Kumihimo bracelet I made before:

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In this case, weighted bobbins are used as is a thin nylon cording. About eight inches of beads are strung on each warp before winding.  The bead spinner is a nifty tool that helps the stringing go quickly.  One hand spins the beads and the other uses a curved needle to skim across the top and quickly push the beads up the string:

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After an initial half inch of braiding sans beads the beads are then individually placed in the proper position as the warps are moved back and forth and the kumihimo disk is turned.  Because each bead needs to sit beneath the crosswise warp a weight is attached to the bottom knot to pull the necklace down as it forms thus leaving room at the top to slip each bead where it needs to be.  Here’s what it looks like from the top:

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My hands got tired, and it didn’t take long before I used an old honey jar to rest the work on:

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Here’s a shot of the necklace taking shape:

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Mistakes are easy to spot because the cording becomes visible on the outside of the necklace.  It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of reverse beading in order to back up and fix mistakes.  The goal is to NOT take the warps off because chances are you’ll get hopelessly lost and have to start over (yes, I learned that one the hard way).   Eventually, I had to improvise further because the weight underneath always has to be swinging freely and the jar didn’t cut it after several inches of necklace.  This time it was the jumbo pretzels container (with a hole hacked out of the bottom) that saved the day.  Not beautiful, but functional:

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In case you’re wondering there are actual Kumihimo frames that are specifically made for this sort of thing.  Definitely one of those in my future.

Once the beads are the right length, another half inch of braiding is done without beads.  Then the necklace is taken off the disk and the edges are bound.  Here’s the necklace with the end caps/cones attached:

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I had to get out my new jewelry making tools (i.e. pliers) to wrap the end cones and create loops to attach the clasp.  Here’s a close-up of my handiwork:

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Not bad.  For veteran jewelry-makers this is a no-brainer, but I was all thumbs at first and it took a few tries to get it right.  After that the other pieces came together easily like this:

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And this post would not be complete without a picture of me wearing my new necklace.  Ta da…

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Can’t wait to make another one…

Fun With Beads (Part 1)

And I Haven’t Even Made Anything Yet!

Today I picked up materials for making a beaded Kumihimo (my new addiction) necklace.  In the store there is one entire wall full of small tubes of seed beads.  I was particularly drawn to a variety called picasso seed beads.  They have a creamy finish with some color variation and no two beads in a tube are exactly alike.  I picked up about six different colors, and in preparation for making the necklace I dumped them into my bead spinner:

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I was so entranced by this beautiful mix of color, and I kept running my fingers through the bowl just enjoying the feel of the beads.  Before I knew it, the necklace was forgotten as I grabbed my camera and got busy snapping pictures.   The sun was streaming in my dining room  creating all kinds of beautiful effects.  At first, all I wanted to do was get closer in order to see all the lovely color variation:

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So pretty.  Then I moved into artistic mode, zoomed in further, did some cropping and voila:

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This way you can really appreciate the depth of color.  (The turquoise beads are not actually picassos but I needed little bits of zippier color for the necklace project). Next I zoomed out some and created a bunch of random designs like this:

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I love the juxtaposition between the sharp focus and soft focus.  And for more optical illusion fun check this out:

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These look like they are falling or floating, don’t they?  In reality they are sitting on their sides on a white countertop. Eventually I did make a small strand of beads and took a bunch of different shots.  Here’s my favorite:

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Oh my goodness.

Coming up–Part 2, The Necklace!

My New Addiction

Otherwise known as Kumihimo, the art of traditional Japanese braiding.  At least I was warned…

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I can get turned on to all kinds of hobbies, and my one requirement before venturing in at all is that I need to be able to try something out with a minimum of investment.  This way I don’t feel compelled to keep on with something that I’m not loving once I’ve gotten into it.

I started reading about Kumihimo quite by accident when I was looking for some tutorials for adding beads to one of my handmade blouses.  I still haven’t quite found what I was looking for, but I did find a youtube site that showed how to do beaded Kumihimo (you can see a bit of it in the illustration above). I knew I wanted to try it, and luckily a beading store nearby had all the supplies and a starter kit.  Here’s a look at what I came home with:

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I decided to start simple with just a silk cord design (no beads),  and today I sat down to make some Kumihimo bracelets.  By the way, I’m pretty sure that this is the grown-up version of friendship bracelets.  I was of the lanyard era (yes, that old) so I can’t say for sure.

Essentially the Kumihimo Disk is threaded in various ways to create all kind of designs. Mine was a two-tone alternating color design so the initial set-up looked like this:

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The pattern is achieved by a simple up and down movement of the warps (official term for the strands) with quarter turn movements after each.  The disks below are bobbins like those used in intarsia knitting and they just keep the warps from getting hopelessly tangled.  This all moves very fast once you get your zen motion going and the braid forms below the disk like this:

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Eventually you get a big old braid:

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Once the warps are all used up and the braid is removed from the disk there’s a special way to bind the braid so that it won’t unravel when you cut it into pieces for jewelry or whatever.  This is what that looks like:

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I used some industrial strength glue on a toothpick to add end caps and voila!

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Although you should let it dry overnight, I couldn’t resist closing it up

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and slipping it on my wrist:

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Now I’ll leave it alone until tomorrow.

Oh, this was so much fun to do, and the possibilities are endless.  Next up, beads.  More on that later.