Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Archive for the ‘Jewelry Making’ Category

Seed bead obsession

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Does working two jobs give me a good enough excuse to have lapsed on my blogging a bit? Either way, that’s my excuse. It’s been busy around here, especially now that AmeriCorps at my school and I have taken on planning and IMG_1804fundraising for the school carnival. Today we were supposed to be doing a car wash fund raiser with some of the middle grade students to get money for the carnival, but it got cancelled because of dreary, windy, and possibly rainy weather. Since my day is now free, I figured I’d catch up on blogging! Even though I haven’t found time for the blog, I have still been able to steal some free moments to do some crafting. I’ve been doing a little bit of spinning, a little bit of weaving, a little bit of knitting, but I’ve also had the opportunity to learn even more stuff. As if I needed to.

Lately, I have been obsessed with off-loom seed bead weaving. One of the managers at Bobby Bead IMG_1803gifted me a whole bunch of seed beads so I could play around with learning new techniques. And play around I did! I sat down one night and taught myself how to do brick stitch out of the book The Beader’s Companion, which was also given to me by Bobby Bead when I started working there. Then I taught myself peyote stitch, and I was hooked. For a few days there, I was consumed by it. I would get up in the morning and stitch a little bit before I had to go to work. Then I’d sit down after dinner and watch a few TV shows while beading all the way till bedtime. It’s addictive! There is something about how tiny the beads are, and the fact that you are essentially making fabric out of them, that had me completely engrossed in it. Then I tried out tubular peyote as well. Here’s what I’ve made so far:


I don’t really know what I’m going to do with any of it, if anything. I’m hoping that the smaller diameter tube might become a necklace, but it’s gotten pretty boring doing a tube of the same color over and over. The problem is that I don’t yet have the knowledge or skills to make much out of what I know. I might do a few more samples so I can learn increasing and decreasing, and I’d also like to learn more about finishing techniques. Just as with weaving and fiber arts, there is so much to learn about beading! I’m glad, though, that there are always new things to learn, because it means I’ll never get bored.

Also, I got new glasses! Check it out. I needed new lenses, otherwise it would be physically impossible for me to do anything with seed beads without getting a major headache. I also wanted to replace my old black plastic frames that I’d broken in the winter. All I did was put them in my pocket while I was shoveling because they were fogging up! My frames were discontinued, but luckily I was able to find an almost identical pair. Thank you tax returns!
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Written by nikkinbird

April 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Cute cats and a new necklace!

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Sleeping cats are cute.

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The top one is Tashi, my baby kitten who’s not so much of a kitten anymore. He’s taken a liking to that big squishy pillow that is covered in polar fleece, and can be found napping on it no matter where it is relocated day by day. It matches his squishy face.

The bottom picture is Mr. Mao, my brother’s kitten, who is all kinds of adorable wrapped up into a tiny, skinny, clueless package. Someday I will have to get a recording of his adorable meow, because it is, well, adorable. He has a distinct preference for cuddles from my brother and no one else, but if he’s very desperate he may deign to sit in my or Chris’s lap for about 3 minutes tops, every few months. We take advantage of these moments, for he is the cuteness.

Yesterday I took a break from all the knitting I’ve been doing on my Raglan Yoke Cardigan and finished a necklace I’ve been meaning to fix for a long time. flower pendant necklace 2It’s very simple, but that’s exactly how I think it needed to be. I got this dried flower pendant in Argentina at an outdoor market, or feria. When I got home I made a cord for it by braiding some of the same maroon hemp, and attached it to a clasp, but one of my knots untied and it’s sat, broken ever since. I found it the other day while looking for some other jewelry and decided to finally fix it. I just did a simple square-knot cord and, after experimenting with different ways to string the pendant on, decided to just stick all the cords through the hole instead of one or the other and trying to tie around it. I think it turned out pretty well, and it doesn’t slide on the cord but holds firmly in place, which is exactly what I wanted. A good accessory for a Valentine’s Day dinner!

Flower pendant necklace I’m not anti-Valentine’s day, but I am anti- all those commercials that seem to claim that the only way to really show a woman you love her is to buy diamond-encrusted jewelry, and that imply that it’s only the men who need to do the gift giving. The things I’ve always liked about Valentine’s day are chocolate and the chance to hang out with people I love, be it friends or a significant other. Which are pretty much the things I enjoy about every holiday, really. Since this Valentine’s day was the first one since I was in eighth grade that I did get to spend it with a significant other, I was kind of excited. We made it low key but special. We had dinner at the Pizza Luce in Uptown, which was where we ate on our second date, which was also the date on which we made things “official.” Then, wanting dessert but not wanting to buy a huge brownie fudge sundae at Luce, since those can feed 5 people, we headed to the grocery store. We were going to get ice cream, but the idea of a hot fudge brownie sundae was stuck in our minds. Then, the genius idea was born. We had brownie mix at home, why not buy vanilla ice cream and hot fudge and make fresh ones ourselves? Brilliant! So, we didn’t even have to take the chance of getting a stale, crusty brownie, and we got to share with my brother and his friends, who were hanging out playing video games and watching the Olympics with us. And, since it’s always nice to be appreciated, it was great to hear them say “This is the best day ever,” when we offered to share 🙂 Indeed it was.

My progress on the Garter Yoke Cardigan:
raglan yoke cardigan
Wow. Silly me. I seem to have photographed it inside out. Oops! Also, I am quite a bit farther than that now, as I have been sitting in front of the Olympics and chugging out rows, but at least you can see that I got past the sleeves and am on the body. I’m a bit worried because my row gauge was way off from the pattern and I’ve only made minimal adjustments. I hope it turns out awesome, though, because I’ve been wearing my new brown cardigan as much as I possibly can, and I am now hungry for more handknit sweaters!

Written by nikkinbird

February 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Friendship bracelets

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Fire friendship braceletFor the winter after school session, my coworker and I are teaching a jewelry making class for 3-5th graders. The first couple of classes we taught them how to make friendship bracelets, which actually required that we ourselves had to relearn how to make friendship bracelets. Though not all of the kids cared for the challenge of or had the patience for friendship bracelets, the craze swept the AmeriCorps office, and soon we were all sitting with a safety pin in our pants, concentratedly tying knots. We didn’t get as far as teaching the kids the more complicated woven ones, but I searched the internet to learn how, and quickly became addicted to the satisfaction of creating a little band just from tying knots around string. These woven ones are really fun, though it takes a little practice to figure out just how tight the knots should be tied. I made a practice one that wasn’t too perfect, and by the end of that, I pretty much had the hang of it. One thing that I would like to teach these girls is the art of accepting that the first project might not be perfect, and to just let themselves be not that good at something right away. Some of them are good at that, but others get pretty upset if they can’t do something well right away. I feel lucky to have learned that, and I think I have knitting to thank for it. Just this morning I had to rip out about three hours’ worth of knitting, and it didn’t upset me too much.

For when we finally do get to teach the girls the more complicated woven friendship bracelets, I brought the example of my first, horribly twisted screwed up one, my second, variable tensioned one, and then the actual good example. However, so far most of them seem to be just thrilled to spend the whole time with some stretchy string and a bucket of plastic beads, so we plan projects and then bring beads to keep the easily frustrated from getting bored. Here are some of the results of my obsession. More of the skinny round ones, like the blue one, have been given away.
friendship bracelets

I have some frustrated attempts at jewelry of my own. First is this black hemp bracelet which I tried to string beads on the tying strings instead of the center strings. Instead of doing one on each side, I alternated sides, and it made the knots end up going kind of zig zaggy, which I liked. At first I was tying four knots in between each bead, but as I went along, I kept losing count of how many knots I tied, and fudging more and more, so the space between knots got wider and wider. At that point I gave up and left the necklace unfinished. I liked it, though, so perhaps sometime I’ll try another and be more careful.

oops necklace

And then there is this twisty necklace with blue beads and a star. I started it in the evening in a dim room, so it wasn’t until the next morning that I noticed that one of the beads was a significantly different blue than the rest. Had I realized it, I could have placed it at the end as a toggle bead, but now it’s stuck in stark contrast to the rest on the necklace. It’s not too bad, so I’ll still finish this one, but it bugs me, ya know?
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If you want to learn to make friendship bracelets yourself, these are some of the websites I used:

Artists Helping Children – a list of links to friendship bracelet tutorials, so you can find one that suits your tastes and learning style.

This WikiHow article was helpful and has some pretty good illustrations, albeit a bit small.

This tutorial at was my favorite, both because of the large, clear images and the fact that the image can be easily printed for showing or instructing others.

Written by nikkinbird

January 31, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Jewelry Making

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