Saturday, October 29, 2011

What is Kumihimo?

What is Kumihimo?

Well, I'll tell you.

A few years ago, a group I belong to, South Shore Designers, learned the technique of Kumihimo. (We teach each other new things.)

Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid- making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. The traditional "tool" is the marudai. It is expensive (relatively) and not portable. The newest "tool" is the foam Kumihimo Disk. It is portable and easy to use. One of our group saw a disk and we were off learning to make Kumihimo braids.

Here is a Kumihimo Disk all "loaded" with various fibers. If you look closely you can see the finished braid laying across the disk.

While learning, I made several different types of braids. Different cords, different colors and patterns and then the best Kumihimo -  with beads. A ha .....

The left and fourth samples are made with beads and the others with ribbons, rat-tail or silk cord.
Here is a short video of some pieces I made.

Now we are getting to the good part.
Remember the new beads that I received before we went on vacation? Some beads (called magatamas) were for a new Kumihimo pattern I found in a recent Bead and Button Magazine.
While on vacation, I started a bracelet.

Well, that is only part of the story. (Of course it is!)

The tutorial in the magazine was for a necklace made with both small seed beads and the magatamas and one for a bracelet. I decided to make the bracelet.
The magatama beads are fairly large for seed beads.

As I worked, I realized that a bracelet made this way was not going to work. The result was much too wide/big for a bracelet. So, since I had lots of beads and fortunately had more cord than needed for a bracelet, the plan changed to making a necklace.

Magatama beads           

OK now I have a necklace started. The same thickness that  helped decide to make a necklace rather than a bracelet, helped decide to not make the whole necklace that thick.

So, off to the bead store with some plans in mind. Probably a  length of chain to  make the desired necklace length. Then perhaps make it adjustable. Always a good thing to be able to wear with different necklines.

At one of my favorite bead stores, pflora beads in Canton, MA, I chose a nice silver chain from the many available; added a lobster claw clasp and voila:

Here is a better picture of the chain and clasp:

I wondered if it would be heavy but during a trial run when I wore it Sunday, it was very light. (I received lots of nice compliments too.)

You like? Let me know what you think.  Would you like to see the necklace in other colors? Which ones? Let me know your thoughts.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The End of Vacation

End of Vacation

and other oddities

We ended our nice vacation at Virginia Beach on Saturday  and drove to my daughters in MD. But on Friday I turned on my laptop and it froze. When I did the infamous "control/alt/del" it thought a long time and then gave me a message "system failure" Yikes! This is much worse than a slow connection I had been working with all week. I shut it off and haven't opened it since. Figuring that it may go away. At least until we get home.  It doesn't owe me much but "Please let me get the information off before completely dying!"
I have not heard from anyone with a suggestion for the "wandering clasp".  Well, one, saying they would check back to see if someone had an answer. Maybe there is no answer.
I was able to make two, 3 wrap leather bracelets and one new project in Kumihimo while we were away, Unfortunately, at least so far, I have no new pictures to show as they are on my laptop. Both are sold already (yay! thanks). This one has been stored here in my iContact file. It's color is more "purple" than the picture shows.
One of the bracelets will be an anklet. Something I never think about as I don't wear anklets. However, my customer ask about it and voila I have an anklet. My sample really looked nice on her, just a little long so I made her's an inch shorter. Unfortunately, I can't get the nice "sun" button anymore; so this one has a nice jet black button. Buttons seem to be the problem material for these bracelets. Hard to find nice ones and if you find nice ones, you may not find them anymore.
Next week's post will be about the "new " Kumihimo" project. It really requires pictures to even start to tell you about it.
PS When I got home I was able to restore the computer to working shape. Now, I MUST back up MUST back up. (Before I wish I had if something else goes wrong .... goes wrong)
Until next week,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Wandering Clasp

The Wandering Clasp

and other oddities

I chose my dragonfly pendant necklace to bring with me on vacation. The easiest way to bring it along is to wear it. So, I had it on during our trip and kept noticing that the clasp was always traveling down to the pendant.
Now, I've noticed this phenomenon with necklaces before. But what the heck? Why does this happen? I'm not an owl who can turn their head all around. When I turn my head to the left, I turn it back an equal amount to the right. Therefore, one would think, a traveling clasp would go first to the left and then to the right - equal amounts. But, no, this is not what happens. Am I sounding a little like Andy Rooney?  Anyone else have this problem? Have you ever been able to fix it? I kept noticing the clasp all the way down to Virginia Beach (our final destination)
I brought several jewelry projects with me to work on. The weather forecast was Saturday  through Monday to be beautiful and then Tuesday through Thursday to be rainy. So, the plan was to be on the beach or boardwalk early in the week and make jewelry if it rained.

(A view from our unit several years ago.)
I'm a people watcher at heart and the beach/boardwalk it a great place for that. This, I think, is one of the funniest signs I've seen in a public street. I expect you know what it means.
While sitting on one of the benches on the boardwalk I noticed:
Couples - some holding hands, some just walking, some running.
Runners were thin, usually with ear buds to listen to something; walkers were heavier and chatting with someone.
Then I noticed a woman looking intently toward the ocean and finally saw what she was looking at. Dolphins surfacing up and down by the fishing pier. They only come up for a few seconds so you have to be looking at the right spot. Obviously the fishermen and dolphins know where the fish are. They were fun to watch.
Since we are near the Naval Air Station we have heard lots of planes. The first two I heard really startled me and they looked like they were going to fly to Europe - due east.
I think we are right in their flight path.
This time of year they have the "Neptune Festival" here in Virginia Beach. We have been here several times and have seen the beautiful sand sculptures. This year instead of having them up and down the beach for all to see, they are in a large white tent and there is an admission charge to go in to look at them. $3.00 It is supposed to go to the "Arts". That is good but a little disappointing. Sunday was the last day. We have been wondering if they will take the tent down and be able to see them. They have been amazing in the past.
When we were here in 2008 we had a front row seat to the building of the sculptures. Some of you may have already seen the video I made about the sculptures. If not here is a link to it. Virginia Beach Sand Sculptures.
So, hoping we don't get too much rain but looking forward to work on those beads that have been staring at me.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Life as a Jewelry Designer

The Life of a Jewelry Designer

at least this one!  

I was very excited late last Friday to receive my package from an online bead supplier. I had ordered some Fire Polish beads to fill orders for  some 3 wrap bracelets. I had also ordered some "Tree of Life" charms for some new projects and some great looking Magatama seed beads for a new design I saw in a recent bead magazine.
I unpacked the items and entered the information into my Jewelry Designer Manager software program. (Something I've made myself do lately as it takes care of my inventory and helps me with pricing. Tax time is much easier, too)
That took care of Saturday morning. In the afternoon, I went down to church to help a friend set up for Communion and she helped me get other things ready for Sunday. There went Saturday. Beads still looking at me....
Sunday morning, I awoke with a pain in my side. Something I had before and the Doctor I went to see said, she couldn't find anything wrong. Maybe it was something I had eaten - too much fat, spices etc.
Well, this time it  lasted longer and felt like it could be a bit more serious. I called  "Urgent Care" and the nurse told me that I should go to the ER. Oh, fun on a Sunday!  So we did. Bottom line, after an ultrasound of my various stomach organs, they didn't find any thing wrong. That is a good thing! I went home with some pain pills and muscle relaxants in case I needed them. Monday morning, I was fine!
On Monday morning I had a student coming for a private Chain Maille class.  Finally, glad to be doing something jewelry related. I really enjoy teaching and my student is a good one, just needed some help to learn the Half Persian weave. It isn't really very hard but is hard to start.
Even I had some problems holding the starting rings so she could see them. However, we finally worked through the various "problems" that come up learning a new technique.
You can see more about the Half Persian weave and more pictures at my previous post about the "Eileen bracelet"
Oh, I forgot to mention we are having our downstairs bathroom remodeled so our contractor was working here. Then the inspector came.  He carefully worked his way through the class room (aka dining room) to the bathroom. It took him longer to get to the bathroom than it took him to inspect. Yes, and our computer repairman was here along with my daughter and son-in-law. They took care of the computer guy. We just all had lots of fun.
I love my Life as a Jewelry Designer.
Now I need to gather up enough projects to take with us on our vacation starting this Thursday.  Next week we will be in Virginia Beach. Love VA Beach in October. Water is still warm and the beach is not crowded.
I'll get to work on those beads from the box I received on Friday. We have a nice balcony where we stay in VA Beach and it is very pleasant to work there while watching the waves.
We also will stop to see my oldest daughter and family on the way down and way back home. All in all, I'm really looking forward to a nice trip. We are fortunate to have my other daughter here to watch the house while we are away. I'm sure they also will like having the house to themselves for awhile.
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