Next Weave along: Crystal and Bead Cuff Bracelet

I made a zillion of these and then gave most of them away.  I was in one of those moods.  This bracelet weaves up very quickly.  It probably takes longer to finish (attach to cuff and embellish) than it does to weave. I would say total time to weave and finish is about two and a half hours, which makes it a “not-slow project” so great for those of you who have a lot of gifts to whip up for girls/women this holiday season.  The kit, which I haven’t put together just yet (give me a day or so) will include enough materials to make two cuffs.  Below are two examples.  One without embellishment beads along the edge and one with.  Obviously, the one without embellishment beads will take less time to finish.  I like them both.  If  you are not going to be embellishing with beads along the edge, you need to be very careful with stitching the beaded piece to the cuff.  In any case, once on a wrist, those stitches will barely show but the cuff will not always be on someone’s wrist and you want it to look good then too.

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Slow Art/Craft

I am going to start off this post the way I originally planned to start it which is:  Looking for a quick and easy project to give away as a gift, something you can make in an hour or two and make a whole bunch of?  Well, then this project is NOT for you . . .

That’s the way this post was supposed to begin, but now I am forced to digress madly. Recently, my job at Mirrix has been to make things.  Elena thinks I should be designing projects every waking moment (in between the basic stuff of running Mirrix).  If she had her way I’d be designing a new kit every other day!  But am I complaining?  I wrote down a bunch of our ideas and then while stewing about them I randomly decided to weave a long strip of hand-painted silk just because I wanted to.  In fact, it will be two strips because I wanted to weave it on the eight inch loom, I wanted it in my lap sometimes and I didn’t want to use the loom extenders with the 12 or 16 inch loom because I wanted that “in your lap intimate” experience.  Even before I started weaving the strip I realized I could use it for a strap for this “failed” tapestry that became a purse but whose strap had gone missing.  I don’t think it was a very good strap but the purse . . . well, as I said, it was a failed tapestry but it was one intricate piece of tapestry.  Not the kind of thing you would ever weave to make a purse.  Oh, darn, now I have to photograph it.  Wait a minute while I do that.

Okay, just took a couple pictures of the purse (and please pardon my photographs . . . my photo tent is officially dead and I am waiting for the new one to arrive. . . so it’s hard to get the light correct but I am too impatient to wait for the ten to post this blog post!) . . .

This is the front.  I think the tapestry was going to be a garden of sorts.  It was a very long time ago that I wove it and I only just discovered the purse hiding underneath a pile of tapestries that hadn’t met their goal.

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This is the back.

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Don’t want to lose my thread here.  So while contemplating new kits I, as I said, decided to weave this strip which I then realized I could use as a strap for above purse.  Let me show you the strip:

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I didn’t use the shedding device.  It’s not done yet, so I should put that in the present tense.  In any case, I needle weaving it because I wanted to feel that very rhythmic movement of under and over with a needle.  There is something very primal about that. But I had promised Elena I would come up with a Christmas ornament, which leads me to another digression because she asked if I had every made one before and I replied:  “Yes, I made one for the White House Christmas tree when Clinton was president.”  I think she was a little surprised by that answer.  The deal was, members of the NH League of Craftsmen were asked that year to make an ornament for the White House Christmas tree, so I did.  I have no photographs of it and I can’t even remember what it looked like.  But I do know I made it and I do know it hung on the White House Christmas tree for at least one season and now is probably buried in a box somewhere.

After we spoke I warped an eight inch loom with shedding device.  The warp spanned about two and a half inches.  The idea was to weave a five inch strip and then fold it over.  Elena wanted me to weave in some standard Christmas image, which I knew I would not do and she knew I would not do!  I loved weaving this piece, but before I even show you the pictures, I need to return to my original theme:  Slow art/craft.  After I wove the ornament I said to Elena:  there should be something called “slow craft.”   I thought I had just made up a new trend and then this morning I found out courtesy of the internet that indeed someone got there before me.  Well, in reality it is an old theme.   It’s the theme of tapestry weaving essentially.  I mean, you just can’t rush a tapestry and if yo are sitting there counting your hours while you weave because you want to actually make money by selling it someday . . . forget it.  Tapestry isn’t like that.

I think there are two ways to approach craft/art, whatever you want to call it.  There is the quick easy approach.  The “I want to make a dozen of these things to give to friends and family at Christmas or to sell at the local craft fair or even in some high end gallery . . . the point being, the final object becomes almost more important than the journey.  Sure, you may still have fun making it, but that is not the entire goal.  With my strip though the goal was to enjoy making it.  The goal was not to rush.  The goal was the experience itself.  Hence the thought “slow craft,” came to mind and clearly it came to other minds as well!

I decided the Christmas tree ornament was going to be a slow craft too. I wanted to play with my hand painted silk.  I wanted to see how it would weave up in a wider strip.

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Before I folded the piece together, I embellished each side.

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I then sewed up the sides, embellished with beads, added a braid to hang it . . . eight hours later I had my “slow craft” Christmas Ornament. I imagine I will only make one because my next project is to make a “slow craft” eyeglass case, again out of hand painted silk.

In short, I am on a slow craft adventure.  I have done my time making work to sell in galleries.  I know I owe several wrap bracelets to one gallery and even though I love making them, I don’t know if I am in the mood.  I am in the mood to slowly and patiently weave row upon row of hand painted silk and then turn it into something that can be used or seen.  I want the experience itself.  And when you want that, you often don’t even want it to end.  I always mourned the finishing of a large tapestry.  What would be next?  My life had been somewhat regulated by this constant theme of a large tapestry in progress and then when it was done I had to find something to replace it.

So . . . slow craft, slow art.  Even if I didn’t make it up, I am going to be talking about it a lot.  Next post is going to be about my “slow scarf”.

Retrospective, sort of

I dug through my stash of bead woven pieces and found some surprises.  I am sure there are pieces hiding in other places, which I will post at a later date, but for now this is what I found:

I remember really enjoying weaving this piece.  I made piles of 11/0 Delica beads in colors I thought might dance well together. Then I just wove various designs with these colors.  I had twelve spaces (because there were thirteen warps) to play with.  It’s amazing how many designs one can managed with just twelve spaces and bunch of colors.  I folded the button end over and sewed it to the back of the piece to disguise the warp ends (which were tied with overhand knots).  I buried those ends under the fold.  I then made a peyote tube and attached a tube to it for the button.  The triangle (which was made with a combination of peyote and herringbone stitch) buried the other end of the bracelet since it is actually two sided.

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I combined matt finish beads with metiallic finish beads so that the individual colors stand out.

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I stuck an interesting crystal to the end of the peyote tube.

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I don’t know if I could make that triangle again, but I sure do like the look!

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This next little gem is a one wrap bracelet made with beads and crystals.  I hadn’t figured out yet that the O-ring should be covered with hand painted silk.  I like the addition of crystals on all the warp ends.  It was the start of something beautiful (the crystal and bead wrap bracelets that followed).

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Wow, this is an old one.  The loom held four warps (which surround the square beads).  The trim on the ends (three size 11/0 beads) was put on as I wove.  I then somehow crossed the interior beads, which are all strung at once.  The warp was something fairly heavy like C-Lon beading cord 135.  I don’t know why it never became a kit.  Maybe it should!

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This bracelet is similar to the one above, but the inside rows are not crossed.

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I had been making a bunch of bracelets to put on a brass cuff.  But with this one I lined the back with ultra-suede (gets rid of all those pesky warp ends in a hurry plus is very comfortable to wear).

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This next one is a variation of the affinity bracelet theme.

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This funny little guy uses a silk covered O-ring as both button and closure.  I’ll try anything once.  I might even try this again.

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You know how much I love checkerboards!

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This is my latest bracelet (I made it yesterday) and it might want to become a kit.  Bicone crystals on a hand painted silk warp.  A few knots, a few more crystals, the usual hand painted silk covered O-ring (as well as warp) and pewter button.  I think it took me an hour to weave and about twenty minutes to finish.  Fun and easy.  Should it become a kit?

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The 20-Minute Bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Weaving isn’t (usually) for the impatient (a trait which I more than occasionally identify with). A tapestry can easily take months to complete and even most bead weavings aren’t completed in an afternoon. But sometimes you need a bracelet to wear with your favorite brown wedges and your brand-new Kate Spade mint-green purse and you need it now. I mean, hypothetically… (ha).

Anyway, I’ve been playing with leather as warp on my Mini and found a partial tube of gorgeous  fire-polished crystals that just screamed spring. I also dug up a tube of SoftFlex Econoflex very fine wire in a pretty blue (it was this). It was like the universe was telling me to create this bracelet. I’d never used wire on leather before and wasn’t sure how it would react, but the results were so much fun and SO EASY. Like, do-this-with-your-child easy (disclaimer: all loom work with children should be done under supervised conditions. Small and sharp parts can be a hazard).

And it was FAST. Like 20-minutes fast. You could, of course, bead a whole lot more of the bracelet (and that would be gorgeous) but it would take a little bit longer and require more than the amount of crystals I had on-hand. purse and bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Fold your leather piece in half and loop around the warping bar. Then bring the leather (keeping it flat) under the loom, around the front and tie the ends back around onto the warping bar. Then, tighten your tension. Make sure everything feels even.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

This leather, looped around on one end and then tied on the other, to the warping

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Make a slip knot with your warp thread. Here we used SoftFlex very fine wire in blue.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Take a crystal (we used 4mm fire Polished crystals), beads or gemstones and place it behind and between the two strips of leather. Then weave the wire through the front, securing the bead to the leather.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Continue to weave on your crystals, beads (in a few places I used three Delicas in place of a crystal) or gemstones onto the leather.

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

When you’ve finished (you can weave as long or as short as you’d like), discreetly double-knot your wire ends and trim then. Then remove the piece from the loom and tie on your wrist!

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

So easy and so cute!

The 20 Minutes Wrap Bracelet

Bead and Crystal Necklace woven during Hurricane Sandy

I have been working on a kit for a bead and crystal necklace.  This is the beginning of that concept, but I still need to do some more work before I come up with the correct formula.  This piece was woven on a hand painted silk warp.  The warp was meant to extend a lot farther past the woven part but it came up short.  I had imagined it would hold a spray of beads and crystals.  So that was lesson number one.

This is the piece while on the loom.  The light was lousy because it was during the heart of Hurricane Sandy and we had no electricity!

These are some off the loom photos:

The following two were taken this morning where there is slightly more light and the colors are true.

The focal bead is porcelain with two small porcelain beads on either side.

Now to try another piece but with larger beads.  The beads I used were size 11/0.  I am going to try a piece with size 8/0 beads and the same size crystals.

Beaded Purse

Back to weaving something big on the Mirrix

(Update: You can buy the Mirrix Beaded Purse Kit here) 

For a variety of reasons, including the fact that I have not woven something large with beads on the Mirrix for quite some time, yesterday I decided to weave our “ipod” kit. I love this piece. I’ve woven two already, but gave them both away. I decided that my blackberry needs a new, beautiful house (this purse fits most cellphnes, ipods, you name it). Also, I needed to warp the loom for a larger piece, remind myself that I love this loom and why so I can communicate this information to my customers. So I am going to take you on this journey, which had some snags in the beginning, which I will share. In fact, I will share all the good and all the bad (mostly it will be good).

The kit itself comes with a multiple page version of this pattern. The piece itself is ten inches long and about three inches wide. It gets folded to have a flap. A rope made from rayon is included with kit but you can also bead your own strap since there are extra beads added for this purpose.

I warped the loom. I am good at this having had a bit of practice! Put the heddles on with no problem. Put in the first row of beads, which was really, really easy because I was using the bottom spring kit. Started using the shedding device. Wove about five rows. Everything was working great and I was patting myself on the back for not having made an error attaching the heddles. Went over to a friend’s house for dinner. Returned for some more beading fun. And then I realized that I had forgotten to put heddles on one set of warps.

Spent the next twenty minutes trying to fix this problem. Fortunately, the mistake was only about eight warps in. Still, I had to unweave what I had woven, remove all heddles in the way to get on new ones, replace all those heddles. After that, I stopped for the evening because the light was lousy and I was in one heck of an annoyed mood.

But this is good because I was feeling exactly what one of our customers feel when things don’t just go swimmingly well. When everything is set up right, it does go swimmingly well and we forget all our troubles in bead land. But when we make a mistake and have to fix it suddenly all those thin threads seem like the enemy and the loom could easily be converted into a weapon or a football.

Woke up this morning with a new attitude and before I even had my morning espresso I wove a few rows. No mistakes in heddle placement. Everything was right in bead weaving land. A not so great close up below but you can see the progress. Those rows took maybe ten minutes to weave and they just fell in place. What I love about the shedding device when weaving wider pieces is there is really only one mistake to make: forgetting to rotate the shedding device. You can tell you’ve done that when you get some funky side warps. They aren’t caught by weft thread. You see it pretty quickly. I did that once this morning but it was the last row I was weaving so it took only a moment to fix. The great thing is that you don’t have to remove beads to fix it. Just pull them back through the shed (that’s the space between the raised and lower threads). And even though when on the loom it looks like there are slight gaps between the rows, once removed from the loom the warp will shrink back to size and pull everything in nicely. There will be no gaps.

I am going to keep taking photos and keep you updated on my progress with this piece. Will take photos of every aspect including finishing (my least favorite part).

Beaded bracelet instructions: Square bead checkerboard bracelet kit

You will be able to but the kit for this bracelet in a day or two. I’ve made all the kits, just need to get it into our shopping cart. But meanwhile, I am uploading the pattern to this blog for those of you who would like to put together your own kit.

Instructions for Making a Checkerboard Square Bead Bracelet using the Mirrix Loom

Materials Included for making one bracelet:
Matte Patina Iris
Matte Metallic Khaki Iris
Metallic Gold Iris
Two swarovski pearlized crystals
Six grams of Japanese seed beads: Matte Metallic Kahaki Iris
One bobbin of C-lon beading thread
Hand-dyed silk yarn for finishing

Necessary tools not included in the kit:

A Mirrix Loom with or without a shedding device
A piece of cloth for holding beads; a beading needle, a blunt edge needle

Warping your Mirrix Loom:

Warp Coil size: 18 dents (a 14 or 16 dent coil will also work)
Number of warps: 13
Number of rows for 6 ¾ inch bracelet: 99

You can use any of the Mirrix Looms to create this lovely bracelet. This piece can be woven with or without the shedding device. It’s your choice. Try Both!

These instructions are for a bracelet 6 ¼ inches in diameter when on your wrist. Increase or decrease by three rows to add or subtract a quarter inch from the size of your bracelet. Make sure that there are sixrows after the button hole.

You will want to reduce your loom’s height to minimize the amount of warp you will use. If you have a larger Mirrix Loom, this can be accomplished by using the extra warping bar. Use the 18 dent coil for this project if possible. The 14 or 16 dent coils will also be adequate. You will need to have 13 warp threads.

We have included a bead pattern to demonstrate the placement of colors. This pattern does not reflect the actual colors included in this kit. Do follow the placement of color in the pattern.

To Begin Weaving:

Place three piles of the different colored cylinder beads on a cloth in front of your loom.

Cut a length of C-lon thread about a yard long. Tie the end of this thread to the bottom of the left threaded rod on your loom using a slip knot so that you can easily release it and weave it back into your piece later. Beginning with the first row, pick up three blue/green beads, three gold beads, three blue/green beads and three gold beads. Weave these beads. Repeat this pattern for two more rows. The next row will comprise three green beads, three gold beads, three green beads and three gold beads. Repeat for two rows. The next row will comprise three gold beads, three blue/green beads, three gold beads, three blue/green beads. Continue this pattern of for 93 rows for a 6 ¾ inch bracelet. As I mentioned before, add or subtract three bead rows to add or subtract a quarter of an inch to your bracelet. Some adjustment can be accomplished by the placement of your peyote button.

For the next section, keep the new color and replace the old color for nine rows. At row 94, you will need to create a button hole. Continue weaving with your current thread, but only go to column six (please see white line in enclosed pattern). Weave this section of only six columns for six rows. Start a new thread to weave the five columns on the other side of the bracelet. Weave that side for six rows. End one of the threads and continue weaving a straight row of checkerboard for six rows.

Next you need to weave in a header and a footer with the silk thread. Cut the thread in half. Thread a blunt nose tapestry needle. You will be weaving a half inch of this silk on either end of the bracelet. Using the needle, go under and over every other thread (or pairs of threads, if you have used the shedding device), then reverse direction and go under the threads you went over and over the threads you went under. After you have woven a half inch, sew both ends of the silk thread into the woven part so it does not ravel. When you’ve finished weaving your header and footer, loosen the tension on your loom and slip out the warping bar. Lay your piece flat and trim the ends so that you have at least four inches left to work with. Tie overhand knots with warp pairs. When you’ve tied all the knots, trim the warp as close as you can without allowing the knots to be undone. Fold the header (or footer) at the seam where the header and beads meet. Turn the knots under so that they are buried. Carefully sew this header down so that you knots are buried and it looks neat. Do the same with the footer. This will be the back of your bracelet. You want to make this hem as sturdy and neat as possible. Make sure that you avoid covering the button hole.

In order to add a picot edge to the sides of the bracelet, string a workable length of C-lon (a yard) and sew it through the beads at one end of the bracelet in order to firmly attach it. You will pass your needle through the last bead at the edge of the bracelet, pick up three 11/0 seed beads and then pass back through the next edge bead. Pass your needle through the next bead so that you are once again working on the edge of the bracelet. String three more seed bead and pass back through next bead. Continue this way until you have come to the end of the bracelet. If you have left over C-lon, work your way back to the other side of the bracelet and repeat this procedure until you’ve reached the far end. If you have only a short length of C-lon, string a new piece and firmly attach to bracelet. This edging is very attractive as well as reinforcing your bracelet and disguising the warp threads on the side of the bracelet.

The “button” will be created using peyote stitch:

Using cylinder bead color of your choice to make a flat peyote piece that you will sew into a cylinder. Firmly attach the pearls to either end of the tube.

String ten 11/0 seed beads. Make the piece 8 rows wide. Zip the first and last rows together to form a tube. Sew the tail back into the bead work. Use the left over thread to sew to the sixth bead in one of the rows. You will be sewing this button onto the bracelet at a point that creates the best fit for you. String up three 11/0 seed beads, sew onto bracelet, thread three cylinder beads, sew back through button.

Wear and enjoy!

Or, if this is a gift: put it in the included gift bag and give it away!

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