Friday, 25 February 2011

Quick tricks with Chain

You can of course, just add a pendant.. but here's the low down on our chain and some things to do with it!

Chunky Chain - this is a great all rounder. If you're on a budget and can only buy one type of chain, buy this one. It's 99p a metre and really versatile. Here's some quick ideas:

  • Cut the chain to length and add 2 split rings and a toggle clasp - you'll get 6 charm bracelets or 3 necklaces for £2.97 - with toggles and split rings to spare! Use headpins to attach some beads. I used a mix of 'orphan beads' that were very lonely in my bead box to jazz up some jangly new jewellery

  • Use chunky chain to add structure to your piece. Our free St Patricks Day necklace project (pictured) used chunky chain as a base to hang wired beads and knot connectors - providing a reliable structure. It's also much less time consuming than wiring together your whole design - handy if you're making jewellery for resale. If you'd like a free copy of the necklace project, just email and we'll send you the sheet straight out.

  • Use elasticow to make a stretchy chain bracelet - thread the elasticow through the chunky chain as if you were sewing running stitch. When your bracelet is long enough, fasten the elasticow with a square knot and a drop of superglue. Using pliers if necessary, close the last two links of chain together. This also works well with hammer chain for a chunkier look.

Hammer Chain is extra chunky with 11mm links that have a textured finish. The size of the links means that it is ideal used in a threaded design. From 50p per metre.

  • Thread the hammered chain with firepolish beads, metal daisy beads and Czech pearls for a complex look that's really easy! To get started, thread a 10mm bead (I used a cocoa pearl) onto monofilament then thread on the first chain link, then add beads and loop through the chain links at regular intervals - every 2-3 beads works well. The secret of this stringing work is to pay great attention to the tension of your threaded beads - check regularly to make sure that the beads and chain hang well.

  • Hammer chain can also look surprisingly delicate and girly. Stephie used it laced with Sof-suede in icecream pastels for a fresh twist

  • Another idea is to use 2 or 3 links of chain between strung beads on a long necklace. The chain gives texture and originality to a plain design

Our finer chain comes on 5 metre spools for £3.96 per spool. This chain is strong for its weight, but will not hold heavy gemstones or loaded 'gypsy' style bracelets.

  • Fine chain is perfect for detail - Stephie used the gunmetal version to great effect in this Gothic style necklace which was featured in Creative Beads & Jewellery magazine. The 'swags' of chain hang down from the main body of this original necklace, giving a very intricate and detailed look.

Have a great weekend :-)

Friday, 18 February 2011

What's the best glue for ....?

I get lots of queries about glue. What sticks what to what mainly. So - this blog post aims to demystify the sticky world of bead and jewellery adhesive.

The answer to the title question is, irritatingly enough, 'it depends' so, before you click through and buy lots of craft glue , read on!

It depends on your materials, it depends on what you are trying to achieve and it also depends on your skill level.

Here is the madcowbeads guide to glue: :-)

Super Glue gives an instant hold and a very strong bond. The bond is inflexible, so over a long time it does become brittle and may crumble. Superglue will also stick your fingers together very quickly, so be careful! The instant bond means that you need to be very accurate as there is no time to make adjustments.

It's not particularly washable - although you'd think the opposite if you've ever tried to get it off your hands!

Despite these issues, superglue has one fantastic application when beading. It is absolutely unbeatable at holding a square knot tight -particularly in elastic cord . Nothing beats it. And for this reason alone, it deserves a place in your craft drawer. Unless you never use a knot on your creations!

Jewel Bond from Crafters Pick is a specialist glue. It gives a permanent and washable bond on fabric and other porous materials like feathers, leather or suede.

It glues any decorative embellishment,sequin, embroidery or even rhinestones, and dries totally clear. Once dry, it remains flexible and doesn't crumble or degrade. It leaves no mark on almost all fabrics - the main exception being silk, where you need to be a little careful of marks.

E6000 is an industrial strength craft glue. It's probably the most versatile and popular of all the adhesives I sell. It's quite thick, which makes it easy to control, and also has a five minute bond - which is great for those last minute adjustments.
E6000 adhesive does need a few days to cure completely, and once cured, it gives an ultra strong, flexible bond. It is suitable for non porous surfaces, particularly glass and metal, so it's very popular for bonding glass fused cabochons and pendants onto bails and pads.
E6000 is not as suitable for porous surfaces, and it particularly hates polystyrene and nylon - they just melt!
E6000 is a powerful, professional glue for crafters. Like most adhesives it is toxic if ingested and should be kept away from children.

GS-hypo fabric glue works well with paper, fabric and textiles - any porous surfaces. It comes with an ultra fine tip which makes it very suitable for precision work. GS-hypo fabric is a trusted international adhesive that is useful in mixed media creations.

Henriettas Gum Arabic is such a handy thing! It's not very well known, but is incredibly useful if you work with tiny holed beads. It turns any soft thread into a beading needle by coating the thread and stiffening it. You can also use it to seal knots, but do waterproof the knot with clear nail polish after using gum arabic as it is water soluble.
Diamond Glaze from JudiKins is a water based adhesive that leaves a glossy glazed finish. It's perfect for creating lockets, or sealing paper based creations with a tough 'glasslike' finish.
You can also add dyes, paint or glitter to diamond glaze, or thin it with water to give a varnished effect. It is very popular at the moment, used with heart frames to create personalised pieces
As an adhesive, it is one of the few that really works to glue non porous materials to porous materials. It sticks metal to paper - which means that scrap bookers and card makers love it!
Happy sticking!