Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gifts from the heart

Hand made gifts are unique and often more meaningful than  any gift card or other more expensive gifts.

My grandmother's (my mother's mother) birthday is next week and I always try to make her something, that is special and unique.  More often than not, it includes beads!  Of course, that is a given.

She collects angels, so one year I did this picture for her.  I did this on my loom using 11/0 Delica Beads.  The gold beads in the ribbon and candle around the angel are real gold plated beads.  I mixed opaque, matte and transparent silver lined beads to create texture in the angel's dress.  The background was done in matte beads, so the angel would stand out even more.

This year, I decided to use some of the Preciosa 4mm Bicone Crystals I've recently added to my store.  I'm making her a bracelet and earring set.

Since her birthday is in April, I am using Crystal AB crystals. I like the sparkle that the AB finish adds. They are on the right in the photo below.  I wanted to make the set more interesting than just plain Crystal crystals - give it some color.

My mother died when she was 45.  Even though my mother was already an adult with her own children and grandchildren, she was still my grandmother's oldest girl.  A parent should never have to bury a child.  So, in honor of my mother's memory, I am using Alexandrite AB crystals in the bracelet as well.  My mother's birthday was in June, so these represent her birthstone.  Pearl is also recognized as the June birthstone, but I like the Alexandrite better.  Alexandrite is a unique color that changes color in various light sources.  Under the light bulbs, it appears light blue, but in the sun light, it turns a very pretty pale violet.

I've chosen the simple RAW pattern for the bracelet.

Only this time, each connecting crystal will be Alexandrite.

I chose a simple hook and eye clasp, so my grandmother will not have to struggle to put it on.

I used 'French' Wire again to attach the clasp, but I did not cut a piece long enough.  The end of the clasp rubs the ending crystal on the bracelet.  

So I took it apart, and used the shorter piece as a guide to cut longer pieces.

Now the clasp has plenty of room to move around.

I used the same length of 'French' Wire for the eye end.

I repeated the process to make these earrings to match the bracelet.

And here is the finished set.  It is even prettier than I imagined it would be and I know my grandmother will cherish it not only for it's beauty, but for the meaning behind the crystals.  She will have a beautiful reminder of her daughter, made by her daughter's daughter.  I could never "buy" anything this perfect for her.

Happy Beading!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Matte Crystals???

When I started selecting the first colors to be added to the new Preciosa Crystals section of my website, I noticed they had crystals with a Matte finish.  Isn't the whole ideal of crystals to have them sparkle?  Needless to say I was intrigued - enough to order some of the matte ones and see just for myself.

So I chose the matte aquamarine crystals and thought to make a bracelet using both the matte and regular crystals.  I wanted to do the RAW crystal bracelet again and use the matte crystals to frame the regular ones.  I really liked the Spiderwire and used it again in this project. 

To finish the bracelet and add the clasp, I chose sterling silver French Wire

I cut two lengths for each end of the bracelet.

I chose a small toggle clasp for this bracelet.

Then I began to attach it....

I began by placing the length on one of my needles....

and added the clasp...

Then I ran the 2nd needle through the length of French Wire..

Next I began to weave both ends back through the RAW stitches...

Then I tied a surgeon's knot to secure the clasp.  After cutting the threads away from the knot, I used my Thread Zap to melt the end of the Spidewire.

I repeated the process for the toggle end of the clasp and here you can see the clasp closed.

Here is the finished bracelet.

I must say I rather like the effect of mixing the matte crystals with the regular ones.

Next I decided to do earrings to match.  This time I wanted the earrings to be in the same RAW stitch....

I used the same technique to attach the ear wires with the Spiderwire and French Wire.

Here is the complete set.   So my skepticism has been replaced with appreciation for these matte crystals!  :)

Happy Beading!