// October 6th, 2011 // 4 Comments » // Art Jewelry, Beads, & Glass, Blog
I hope everyone is having a wonderful autumn, it is my favorite time of year and the perfect time to enjoy the cooler weather. Since I live in Texas and my studio is in my backyard I am especially grateful for the cooler weather. There is nothing that I enjoy more than getting away from the pace of day to day living in my own little space where I can leave the door open and listen to the birds and watch the squirrels race around while I work on a special project.
Recently my daughter, who is in college now, requested a choker to coordinate with some of her fall wardrobe pieces. There are about 12 hours total in this simple choker so it worked up quickly in about a week’s time around the lampworking, metalsmithing, and other projects I have going on. I’m a serial crafter and get bored easily so I like to move from craft to craft.
I thought I would show you some of the items I use in my studio when I’m working on a piece like this.
I like to have a variety of measuring options. I think most of us have a variety of rulers, calipers, tape measures, etc. If you don’t yet just give it time, lol, measuring devices are attracted to crafters, it’s like we’re magnetic. I find the same thing happens with scissors.
This is my current favorite measuring device. It is called a digital caliper and can be found at Harbor Freight for $9.99 and up. There is a button that you can depress to change from mm to inches and I’ve found this invaluable because, depending on the project, I use mm and inches interchangeably.
When I was working on the choker pictured above I used a tape measure (inches) to get the neck circumference but used the digital calipers set to mm to get the exact measurement of the clasp (15.2 mm) and then coverted the neck circumference (13.5 inches) to mm (342.9 mm). I then subtracted 15.2 mm (the clasp) from 342.9 mm (the neck circumference) and was left with a total mm measurement of 327.7 mm which was the length I needed to weave. You have to remove the clasp length from the neck circumference because if you weave 13.5 inches and then add the clasp you’ll end up with a baggy necklace. Ask me how I know.
Before I discovered the wonders of the digital caliper I used these manual brass ones. I have to confess, I never had the hang of these. I always read them wrong and they drove me crazy. I like to create but I am not a fan of inaccuracy or tools that are difficult to use. These sit in a drawer and gather dust now. I’ve seen these priced at anywhere from $5.00 to $8.00 at various bead shops and online. My advice would be save yourself the aggravation and spend the extra $4.00 or so and get the digital calipers. Do you even need calipers? Well, no. Technically all you need is a needle, something to cut with, some thread, beads, and a clasp. Good tools, however, can save you from errors and save you time. It’s worth my time to have good tools.
Scissors, aaaaah. I have an affinity for scissors since I’ve sewn in one form or another since I was a small child. This little pair has been with me a long time. When they get dull (because I always miss the scissor sharpener man at the fabric store no matter how many post-its I leave for myself) I cut fine sandpaper with them and it sharpens them right up. I can’t remember where I learned this little trick but it really does work.
My threadburner, I can’t live without it. You can usually find these in your local beadstore or you can find them on artbeads.com. They run about $22.00. They cauterize the end of your thread so you don’t have fuzzies and you can get so close to your work to burn off those ends. I won’t beadweave without these.
Silamide. I love this thread. I love it because it’s strong, it doesn’t fuzz much, and I don’t have to wax it because it’s already been done. I can work with looooong pieces and not have problems with tangles. I like that.
My poor old magnetic needle case and my size 12 beading needles. I really should replace the old girl but I’ve had her forever so I’m attached. I like John James needles but there are also some Japanese beading needles I picked up at some show that I really like too. Try a variety of needles, lengths, and sizes until you find what best suits you. We are all individuals and a needle is really a personal choice. I have used threaders and still do on occasion but for the most part I just thread the needle the old-fashioned way. But how can I see the eye of the needle?
Magnifiers. These clip on to my glasses and they were around $10.00 at Hobby Lobby, I think I found them in the cross stitch section. Wonderful little things and just what is needed for tiny work. I have an opti-visor as well that I use for metalwork but I like something lighter when I’m beadweaving and these fit the bill nicely.
The last subject I’d like to mention is culling. Culling by definition is an act in which objects are picked out and put aside as something that is unwanted or inferior. This is an important part of any beader’s work and good culling can make the difference between a uniform piece and one that is caddywonkers (that is a technical term). It can also prevent thread being sliced by broken, jagged, or irregular beads. What you see in the photo are the 4 strings of thread that I had left over from a hank (typically a hank of beads will have 12 such threads) of Russian 10.0 glass beads. The loose beads are beads that were culled and will be thrown out because they were cut too long, too short, or were irregular, jagged, or had a poor finish. Some beadweavers cull all the beads for their project in the beginning. I like to cull as I go. This is another reason it’s so important to be able to see the materials that you are working with well. Good lighting and good magnification are essential to quality work.
It’s wonderful to meet all of you! Until the next time, happy crafting!