Friday, 24 June 2011

Fun & Friendship Bracelets - Mad Cow style

Grumble grumble - I've been mooching and looking and sniffing out bead project kits.

Chiefly to find some nice 'gifty type' things to stock at, but also, in a more general, nosey type way.

*sweeping generalistion alert!* I have to report that I found:
a) they're often not great value - cheap, badly finished beads is a consistent theme
b) the better quality ones are nice, but often unaffordable to mere mortals, wanting some prettiness to while away some spare time
c) more often than not, you need to buy tools & pliers. Which is fine if you're a beader already - but if you're an experienced beader, you probably don't need a ready to make kit... and if you're a beginner, it's becoming very costly to whip up that cute bracelet.

This got me thinking. Now, the obvious answer is for madcowbeads to produce a range of kits surely? Probably not - you see the small quantities you need for a kit mean that they're 'labour hungry' and this is what puts the price up. So - I decided to make a small 'thing' and set myself a challenge.

The 'thing' (finished and pictured above right) had to:

  • Need no tools - except things that a non beady person would have (like scissors)

  • Use no more than 5 different items - and each item had to cost less than £1

  • Be quick & easy to make

  • Look groovy

To save you time - I've put all the things you need together and called it 'Fun & Friendship Kit - madcowbeads style'. You can buy it by clicking here. The total cost is £3.07 and that makes a minimum of 3 bracelets, with heaps of hanger beads, grooved beads and about 5 metres of cord left over. If you buy another couple of packs of the lustrous focals here - you can get a total of 9 bracelets for less than £4. This will use up most of the things in the 'Fun & Friendship kit'

You could also add jumprings and charms - either directly to the cord, or using the loops on the hanger beads. A pack of jumprings & a bag of mixed old fashioned charms adds £3.49 to your total outlay - for 9 really different bracelets.

So - here's how to make the 'Fun & Friendship bracelet'

  • Cut 50cm of wax cord - a bit more if you like a looser fit, a bit less if you're a small person

  • Fold in half and cut so you have two pieces the same length

  • Tie both pieces together, wiggling the knot so it's about 8 cm or so from one end

  • Thread one bronze groove bead onto one cord

  • Pick up the second cord and tie a knot to secure the grooved bead - close-ish to the bead, but don't get too picky about that as if it's too close, your bracelet will be unbendy

  • Thread a hanger bead over BOTH lengths of cord

  • Tie another knot

  • Thread a large focal bead over ONE cord

  • Pick up the second cord and tie a knot to secure

  • Thread a hanger bead over BOTH lengths of cord

  • Tie another knot

  • Repeat the pattern so you end up with 2 focals, 3 grooved & 3 hanger beads, finishing with a simple knot at each end

  • Now... to make the sliding knot. I'm pretty good at explaining things, but not how to tie a double overhand knot (double fishermans knot, some call it.....) so, either find someone to show you - or teach yourself from this really handy & easy to understand picture guide here

  • Trim ends to suit

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Get the kids to make something for Fathers Day..

Something simple but useful - a great Father's Day gift that is easy to make.

I'm sure that Dad will be thrilled with this beaded bookmark and it's quick and easy to make for those with shorter attention spans. Best of all, it needs no special tools at all! If you're feeling flush, add a book. I find books about motor racing or vintage aeroplanes are very successful, but all Dad's are different!

To make this you need 1mm wax cord a few metal beads - we used drum beads but any beads you like are fine - just make sure they'll fit on the wax cord. You also need a charm - we used a suitably manly skull and crossbones for a Dad-Pirate, one jump ring and a foldover clasp

Cut about 30cm of wax cord and tie a knot in one end and pull it very tight, snipping the end close to the knot. Thread on a bead or three, and then tie another knot. I'm sure somewhere there is an amazing technique for knotting close to other beads, so if anyone knows it, please let me know - however, the 'tie a loose loopy knot and then wiggly it into position before tightening' method works well for me!

Next, put your cord into a book to make sure the length you are planning works. If you've bought a special 'Dad book' for Fathers Day, then use that one. The top of the bookmark should hang down along the spine of the book. Tie another another knot and wiggle it to about 1cm down from the top of the book. Thread on another few beads, and tie another knot.

Still with me? Good - Cut the wax cord 4cm below the last knot that you tied. Attach your end tip or clasp. I squashed a foldover clasp into a rounder shape and used a dot of superglue to make sure it was stuck!

If you're raiding your existing beady stash rather than buying new supplies, feel free to substitute. We made some with coloured veggie suede which looked rather funky.

These bookmarks also make excellent makes for charity or fetes - they're quick to make and need only a few good value materials so they don't use up loads of valuable time and beads, while producing something really cute and saleable.

Instead of a charm at the end, you could use a cute doll bead and then just tie a knot. Remember the dolly needs to be upside down on the bookmark so that she hangs right way up in use!