With the winter holiday hurtling towards us like a meteor, crafts and sewing are in high season. Given the size of my family and friends gift list, I know my optimistic plans for handcrafted gifts will be a crater of despair by mid-December “mailing deadlines” if I’m not far along soon. I’ve resorted to over $100 to mail a box past that mid-December window (ouch, that hurt) and I’ve gifted many gift certificates with folks getting fun handmade “extras” post holiday. Every time, I tell myself never again. I’ll only begin what is reasonable to accomplish in concert with my work and other schedules. Yet here I sit among bins of fabric and patterns, some wood, beads, beads and more beads and recipes with plans for neat containers and stacks of holiday magazines collected throughout the years spread over every available surface for “inspiration”.
Those who purchase gifts may be able to kick into gear the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, but for crafters time is slipping away at an alarming rate. I should add that I don’t work quickly. Even simple projects are approached as an exercise and play. This color with that or here? I’ve seen folks grab a quilt pack, toss it down, say “good enough for so and so” and motor away, quilt top in a day. No arranging on a quilt board, no fussing about with color and patterns, no back and forth. That’s not me. The design is the part I enjoy most and I milk it for all its worth. I want the best possible combinations so test and try, stop and arrange, move slowly, checking as I go is my snail’s pace. Whenever folks say “you should sell that (or those)” I think “they’re nuts” – it generally takes me days. Handcrafted items from me are only for those close to me.
One area where I can make a bit faster progress is jewelry – specifically earrings. Was a time when they were all long and more involved in design. But, for wearing all day without getting earlobes that stretch to your ankles, a few select beads work best. Today I’ll talk about this simple “one drop” style (note that a few in the photos require joining 2 pins – hadn’t segregated those out when I shot these). Once you settle on a main bead and finding color (silver, rose tone gold, gold…) you’re set.
First my favorite suppliers; Rings & Things in Washington is the go to place for craftspeople and avid crafters (http://www.rings-things.com, there are others with similar urls, you want this one with the hyphen). They have a fantastic supply, very clear catalog and excellent prices. As they’re primarily a wholesaler, they do charge a minute small order fee. They also have an excellent project gallery and instructions. I’m putting together my order to place it before I post this (I’m such a nudge – but first in, first out J ). Second is the original Garden of Beadin in California (in last few years some shops with the same name have come online http://www.gardenofbeadin.com). Those of you who hit the crafts stores know that both JoAnn and Michaels have expanded to include a rather respectable collection of jewelry supplies as well.
If you plan to make much jewelry, invest in the tools. You can use a coupon at your craft store for a multipack of tools for around $10. It’s worth it. The big clunkers used for home repair will be too hard to work with in the tight spaces of jewelry loops and finishes. The black handled tool in the above photo is a crimper – great for necklaces and bracelets, not necessary for earrings. The craft stores are now carrying sterling silver and gold plate jewelry “findings” (the stuff you use to put your jewelry together). The silver and gold plate head pins bend easily – good for working with, not so good if you snag your earrings with a hairbrush or clothing making them burst apart and go spinning across the room. The less expensive standard head pins will take a bit more muscle to make a nice loop to attach to your ear wires but will withstand more “wear and tear”. If you online/catalog shop you have a choice of standard and thin head pins. Some beads (mostly the really small seed beads) have tiny holes and won’t fit on standard head pins. Generally, standard pins are the way to go. There are all sorts of ear wires and posts to choose from – personal tastes there. If you use the gold plate or silver wire, consider doing the wire-wrapped beaded head and eye pin instead of the simpler loop on head or eye pins. The simple loop is fast and easy and will hold up on standard head pins. I use my thumb, sometimes the back of the wire cutter, to push the wire around the needle nose pliers and get a good even circle loop.
For simple post earrings you need needle nose pliers, wire cutters, your choice of ear wire and head pins. Pick a bead to highlight. Place a seed bead in an offsetting color above and below it. Create a loop on the earring pin and attach it to your ear wire. The red glass bead used in the photos was available in a multipack of colors in the crafts store. A friend had come by to match an outfit (I have a rather large stash) and put this combo together.
You might also scan the Designer Tip Sheets and Project How to list with Photo thumbnails. I’ve gifted earrings in boxes, sewn bags, on a decorated square of cardstock with 2 holes punched in for the ear wires to fit. This year I’m planning to make a bunch of decorated matchbox type fold overs (aka Mirkwood’s matchbox notebook without the paper with a length to match whatever is required by the earring). I’ll place these sets in a matching box. Photos to come. (Meteor image from NASA, copyright free).
This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.