Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy Guitar Pick Earrings

Here in the Live Music Capital of the World, guitar picks are pretty easy to come by.  But they're not just for strumming guitars!  They can easily be turned into earrings, and the possibilities for transforming them are endless!

The first step is to find some guitar picks that really catch your eye.  Any music or guitar store will have them, and they'll most likely be standard looking picks (colored with a Fender label).  The ones shown in the picture are decorative picks from Austin's own Wild About Music, located on E. 6th Street.

Next you need to put a hole in the pick.  Guitar picks come in different thicknesses.  If you get a thin or extra thin pick, you can probably poke a hole in it with a bead reamer.  Personally, I like the weight of medium to thick guitar picks. They still make very light earrings, but I think they have a nicer swing.  It's entirely up to you!

If you go with a medium or thicker pick, you'll want to use an electric drill with a very small bit.  Probably no larger than 1/16. Remember to protect your eyes when drilling.  Safety first!

Mark each pick with a Sharpie where you want to drill.  The placement of the hole should be close to the top.  If you drill too far towards the center of the pick, you'll have a much harder time attaching your pick to anything.

Once you've marked the spot to drill, you should secure your pick to your drilling surface.  Don't try to hold it with your hand!  Fingers should keep a safe distance from power tools.

Also, keep in mind that when you drill through the pick, you'll also drill through whatever is directly below your pick.  Get a stack of old magazines, and use a hand clamp like the one shown in the picture to hold the pick steady on your drilling surface.

I used an old edition of Vogue, and I positioned it on a table with a ledge so that I could clamp the pick, the magazine, and the table together all at once. Position the drill directly over the hole you marked, and gently press through the pick. You should get a pretty clean hole, but check the back side for any rough edges that might require filing.

Now that the hard part is over, it's time to let your creativity run wild!  You can use jump rings to attach chain for added dangle, or go simple and hang them directly from an earwire.  You could even drill a hole in the bottom of the pick to dangle beads!  Guitar picks are pretty inexpensive, so you can try lots of different looks!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Greetings!

Well, hello! Theresa here. We're going to be trying something new. Start watching for regular blog updates a couple of times each week with more pictures and more updates of what's going on in the store. Our big news this week is that Pam Way of Yellow Dog Beads will be bringing her beads into the store so that we will have them from November 26 through December 24.

That's right! You will not need to wait for her July trunk show. You can pick up some lamp work goodness now, just in time to finish your holiday gifting. 

This Sunday, the 25th, is Bead Brunch Sunday. Bring a project to work on and make some new beady friends. We will also be open tomorrow, November 23. Most people call this "Black Friday" but I think we should change it to "Beady Friday".  Come in and say hi when you get bored with the games or just feel a need to sit and visit. 

Here is some more inspiration using Pam's beads: 

While you are in the store, check out the class schedule. We have some great classes coming, but more on those later. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day festivities.  

Kudos to our own Jessica for her GREAT photos! See you soon!!

~ Theresa

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bottle Cap Earrings

We're hoping everyone had a fun New Year's while kicking off 2012! And just in case your New Year's involved the requisite imbibing of holiday hooch, here's a fun little project for any leftover bottle caps you may have acquired! Here's what you'll need:

  • A pair of matching bottle caps
  • Beads (optional)
  • Earwires
  • Europunch tool
  • Round-nose pliers (for making loops if you're adding beads)
  • Needle-nose pliers (for wiring the beads if you're adding any)
  • Cutters (for cutting wire if you're adding beads)
  • Wire
  • Jump rings

Let's start with the bottle caps. Find two matching ones (and if you have to down another bottle to do so, well, so be it!) You'll need a Europunch tool for this part -- don't worry, we have plenty at the store! It's what you use to punch holes through the bottle cap.

Line up your punch tool in the side of the cap, so that the logo will be right side up. Then, simply squeeze the handle together and punch right through that cap!

Then slide a jump ring through the hole and close it up. At this point, you could either slide another jump ring through the first and attach the bottle caps to earwires for a simple, no-frills set of bottle cap earrings, or you can find some complementary beads and stick them on eyepins or headpins (or wire) to augment your earrings.

I decided to add beads, to give my earrings a slightly more finished look. I used some red Chinese crystal rondelles for the top, and little red stars to dangle below -- seemed perfect for these "Lone Star" earrings! Then stick some earwires on and you're good to go!

Here's another pair, featuring Shiner's special Oktoberfest brew, along with some autumn-colored beads (brown Chinese crystals and tan glass pearls). I used bronze wire for a complementary look.

There's no limit to these neat little accessories -- make some for your friends!

Happy beading, and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Quick holiday ear-blings for parties & gifts

Now that we're officially in the month of December, it's a great time to panic about what you're wearing to the flurry of holiday parties, and what your gift options are. Here's a pair of earrings made using right angle weave (RAW), which is quick, sturdy and open to endless variations. Make some for yourself. Make some for your loved ones. This is a multi-purpose recipe.

First I'm giving the directions for the basic pair (the gold crystal earrings on the left hand side of the picture), then I'll describe some of the variations I've tried.

You'll need:
  • 8 8mm crystal bicones or rounds
  • 6 6mm crystal bicones or rounds
  • 6 4mm crystal bicones or rounds
  • a few size 11/0 or 15/0 seed beads/Delicas in a complementary color
  • beading needle and 6lb Fireline

Thread about one and a half wingspans of Fireline onto your needle, and position the needle in the center of the thread (you don't need to knot it). Throughout your weaving, try to maintain firm tension on the thread -- this helps support the structure of the earring - but be careful about it. The crystals have sharp edges and if you just haul on the line you'll break your thread, which is a real pain when you're beadweaving with a doubled thread.

String (1 8mm crystal, 1 seed bead) 4 times for a total of 8 beads on your thread. Move them down to about 3 inches from the ends of the thread, and tie a knot so the beads form a circle. Pass the needle all the way around all 8 beads again to reinforce the weaving, and finish this section by pulling the needle and all the thread through one of the bicones. DO NOT pass through a seed bead as you finish.

Now string (1 seed bead, 1 6mm crystal) three times, and add an extra seed bead at the end, for a total of 7 new beads. This picture shows the needle pointing at the spot you'll weave through.

Weave through the "top" 8mm bead and all 7 beads you've just added, and then bring your needle through enough of the new beads that it ends up at the top of the earring.

If your earring feels a little loose, you can go back around the "circle" formed by t he 3 6mm beads and the top 8mm bead.

Repeat the last step using your 4mm crystals in place of the 6mm ones.

Finally, add a loop for your earwire. String 7 or so seed beads onto your thread, and then pass back through the top 4mm bead. Weave around the loop one or two more times to strengthen the loop. Then weave back down, knot your Fireline and trim the ends.

Add the ear wire of your choice. Make another earring and you're finished. After you've made a pair or two, you'll be able to finish them in about a half hour barring interruptions.

  • Mix round and bicone crystals for a slightly different look.
  • Add extra "tiers" to the earrings to up the bling content. The pair of earrings on the right hand side of the top picture starts with 8mm black diamond tin cut crystals, then goes through 6mm and 4mm tiers, then into 8/0 and 11/0 seed beads for more taper at the top. If you're going for this look, don't use the same size of beads twice in a row - it disrupts the proportions of the earring.
  • Turn it upside down - add your loop for the earwire to the largest beads on your earring so the beads get smaller as they go.
  • Use different types of beads. Nearly anything will work for this basic design, as long as the beads are about the same size length and width. Unfortunately, that doesn't include those dazzling Chinese rondelles. Fire polished smooth or faceted rounds, gemstone beads, metal, anything is fair game.

I hope this gives you lots of inspiration - happy holidays - Tina

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The wonderful world of crimp beads

If you're working with Beadalon (or other beading wire) then crimp beads are an important part of your jewelry making adventure. Crimp beads are small, cylindrical beads whose purpose in life is to get squished between the two jaws of a pair of pliers, in order to hold the ends of your Beadalon -- which is supporting your fabulous design -- around the clasp you've picked out. [They have a few less obvious uses we'll explore in later blog posts.] Nomadic Notions carries base metal crimps, as shown in this photo, in 4 finishes: black, brass, silver-tone and gold-tone.

We also carry sterling silver and gold-plated (vermeil) crimps, shown here.

How do you decide which to use?

Money is the obvious difference - base metal crimps are $5 per gram (I don't have the exact number but one gram is a lot of crimp beads!); sterling and vermeil crimps cost $0.25 for two, unless you buy them in bulk packages. With the price of precious metals on what seems like an endless climb, base metal is more cost-effective, especially if you're just starting out. Over time, the layer of color on the base metal crimps will wear off, and they may break more easily than the more expensive types.

If you're making jewelry for gifts, or to sell, you'll probably want to go for the more expensive precious metal crimp beads; they look better and will maintain their strength and looks longer than base metal.

Once you've made that decision, the next question is invariably "Will that little thing really go around two pieces of my beading wire?" Our base metal crimp beads are 2mmx1mm on the outside -- that's 2mm across the "hole", and 1mm "long." Our precious metal crimps are 2mmx2mm on the outside.

But it's the inner diameter -- the amount of room inside the little tube -- that determines whether or not the bead will work with your Beadalon. All of our crimp beads, base or precious metal, have an inner diameter of 1.3mm. So the maximum diameter of beading wire that will fit through our crimp beads twice is 0.65mm, and you probably want to stay below that to avoid the crimp bead damaging the wire when you put it on.

Beading wire comes in a wide variety of gauges, but they're all labelled with the diameter in inches, which is how we refer to them: 0.015", 0.018", and 0.024" (or "15", "18" and "24" if we're talking and not writing). In the metric system, that's 0.38mm, 0.46mm and 0.61mm.

So the light and medium Beadalon is definitely safe. If I am doing a project with 0.024" Beadalon, I'll test the crimp beads before I start putting things together to see if I'm comfortable with the fit.

What if I don't know the weight of the beading wire I'm using? I'll usually compare what I've got (wherever it came from, usually a repair) to the open spools of Beadalon in my stash at home, or behind the counter at work. When you're at Nomadic Notions, we'll help you make the comparison to be sure you've got beading wire and crimp beads that will play happily together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Inspiration: Skeleton Earrings!

With Halloween less than two weeks away, here's a little inspiration for you: skeleton earrings! We've got oodles of various skull beads at the store, and for these little guys, I used a pair of white bone skull beads, along with an assortment of other bone beads for the body parts. The rest was just wire and simple loops. Here's a quick breakdown of the supplies:

  • 2 bone skull beads
  • 8 cylindrical bone beads
  • 2 textured bone beads (ribcage)
  • 8 flat disc bone beads (on either side of head & ribcage)
  • 20G wire
  • pair of ear-wires

And that's it! They're sure to be eye-catching adornments for Halloween parties, or just wear 'em to the office if you don't plan to dress up. Of course, dressing up is a lot more FUN! And remember, if you come to the store in costume on Halloween Day (Monday, October 31), we'll give you a 20% discount off your purchase!

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Class Schedule!

In case you haven't heard it via e-mail or Facebook yet, our new class schedule for the months of November, December, and January is now online! You can check it out on our website: Class sign-ups begin on Saturday, October 15, so be sure to either drop by the store, or give us a call at 512-454-0001. Our teachers have been hard at work, and have lots of new goodies in store for you!