Tag Archives: Handmade

If I were to teach a basic beading workshop – Part III

2016 - Book thongs for Yayo Torres (13 January)(4)

If I were to teach a basic beading workshop, these are SOME of the tips and reminders I’ll share with participants – Part III (of 3)

On being patient

I’ll skip the part on what tools to use because regardless of what we invest on, this form of hobby is hard on the hands. Not even those with “ergonomic handle” and “double leaf spring for smooth operation”  will spare you from the eventual callouses that will result from cutting, bending, twisting, and turning, among others.

I taught really basic beading class to a group of ladies a couple of years ago. On both occasions, they all exclaimed, “This is harder than I thought!” And I was just showing them how to close the loop of a pin head.

If you will take this up as a form of hobby and are serious about it, the first tool I will recommend is “patience.” Keep lots of it on hand because even a simple pair of earrings can take a while to create, especially if one is a beginner.

Once you put “patience” at the top of the checklist, you can now proceed to invest on pliers, cutters, and other tools you have in mind. It can be tempting to buy a lot, but investing on the basics will do for now.

Have a project in mind you’d like to start on this summer? Good luck and have fun!

Disclaimer: I am by no means an authority on this hobby. In fact, I’ve an on again-off again affair with beading ever since I started nearly 10 years ago. But because I’m forever in “startup mode,” I keep discovering things that I wouldn’t have paid attention to years ago because I was focused on just “getting it done.”

Paying attention to what materials are made of is just as important, but I can’t recall ever hearing these tips from the workshops I attended in the past. Hence, I’m sharing them here.


If I were to teach a basic beading workshop – Part II

2016 - Book thongs for Yayo Torres (13 January)(2)

If I were to teach a basic beading workshop, these are SOME of the tips and reminders I’ll share with participants – Part II (of 3)

On components

On using components such as head pins, eye pins, and the like: they’re not necessarily of the same quality. Once inside a packet, it’s hard to tell if they’ll be too inflexible/ hard and subsequently, unsuitable for a design you have in mind. It takes some trial and error, depending on your source, to determine what head pin will work well with, for example, a Swarovski crystal. I should know; I’ve broken a couple – maybe more – of those when I was just starting out years ago!

And what of components that are more pliable, easier on the hands? Are they any better? Again, it depends on your source. Some will ‘handle’ better until you take the tools to them. Some will peel and flake, and others of substandard quality will feel ‘rough’ in the hands once bent, twisted, coiled, and so on.

Lessons then: be patient when buying components such as those mentioned above. To be on the safe side, and if you’re just starting out, buy small packets of each (e.g. head pins, eye pins, jump rings) to determine if they’re of good quality. If you’re satisfied, keep calm and bead on.

If I were to teach a basic beading workshop – Part I

2016 - Book thongs for Yayo Torres (13 January)(1)

If I were to teach a basic beading workshop, these are SOME of the tips and reminders I’ll share with participants – Part I (of 3)

On beads

Not all beads are the same. That’s pretty obvious, right? After all, one can easily tell a metal ball bead from a plastic one. But even plastic beads are made of different materials. Some have more sheen/ luster while others don’t.

But just because a bead is shiny, it doesn’t mean it’s better or that it’s easier to handle. From experience, pretty-to-look-at beads such as Swarovski crystals, Class A crystals, and similarly lustrous materials are prone to chipping or, worse, breaking apart. If you really want to use them for your projects, use a light hand.

If you shy away from plastic beads thinking they look inexpensive and inferior, shy away no more. There’s now a broad range to choose from. Some even look better and much easier to handle than those I mentioned above. A personal trick I use is to choose ‘rich’ or deep colors or a range of pastel shades that look good together. The former are perfect for accessories that need livening up, while the latter can be used as accents or to help soften deep-colored materials.

Crafternoon Activity II – Book Thongs

2015 - Book thongs for Tita Fely (19 December)(2)

If you have an idea for book thongs or charms, let me share with you one tip: look for beads that have heft or weight in them. But not too much, though. You’ll want just the right amount of weight that will easily slip over the pages of your book.

Are books still in vogue? I think they are. Printed materials may be on the wane, but if bookstores are any indication, those paperbacks and hardbound reading materials will always find loving ‘homes.’

Crafternoon Activity I – Key Rings

2015 - Project key rings (12 December)

I think gone are the days when everything inside a handbag should be in black. (Admittedly, I used to do that.) Something has to stand out, especially if they need to be ‘fished out’ every so often.

Some may find these key rings ‘bulky’ in the pocket. Not really, and I’m not saying that because I made them. For a tactile person, it’s reassuring to know that as long as I can feel the beads, the keys are safe along with them.

Work in Progress – Fabric banners

Image - Fabric banners (22 November 2015)

This is a result of the “Create something new today” quote that was posted last 18 November.

The original pattern was for a heart-shaped bumper. You know, those softies hanging on one side of a crib? But since I didn’t have fiberfill (also referred to as cotton or poly-cotton stuffing) on hand, I decided to use the same pattern to make a row of fabric banners.

“Why make when you can buy them?” I agree with you. Thing is, paper banners – which come in many colors and bright ones, too – tear easily. Not to mention, unless we take care of them, they don’t last long. When that happens, out goes the paper banners and the bit of money one invested in buying them.

Fabric banners, on the other hand, are more durable. But they take time to make; I’ll be the first to admit that. They’re also customizable, especially if there’s a particular event that one wants/ needs it for. Weddings and birthdays come to mind.

This row of banners, which is a work in progress, will eventually hang by the wall next to my workstation at home. The wall is pretty bare; I figured banners could “cheer” it up a bit. (I’ve tried sticky notes in the past; they didn’t last long either.)

Materials: cotton fabric (used on both sides); cotton floss, two strands for the blanket stitch; length of ribbon, twine, or cord to attach the fabrics to, and charms (optional)

Stay inspired everyone!

For the love of handmade: Making personalized bag tags

Handmade bag tags (2015)

Recently, I started making personalized bag tags or key chains, depending on how you use them, using cord, beads, and metal charms. While there are now a good number of kiosks in malls that make such items, I designed my own for a good reason. I wanted to make something for a friend, and I wanted to give her something she cannot readily buy: a pretty, handmade gift made especially for her. Thankfully, handmade items are popular again, so the bag tag didn’t sound ‘kitsch’ when I gave it to her.

It feels great to receive personalized items like these, and it’s tempting to order and have one – or a few – made for your friend or friends.

Admittedly, a tag using these materials ‘can’ be costly. The clasp . . . cord . . . beads . . . the number of letters . . . they can all add up. Take also into consideration the fact that it’s handmade. It’s tightly woven; no high-speed sewing machine can do that.

On the bright side, bag tags like these last longer than those made of cloth, which also has its own appeal. These look better when the recipient is a young professional or is looking for a ‘more’ polished-looking bag tag or key adornment. (The first prototype I made for my own use now hangs in my workout bag.)

Lastly, and I think this is the best part, almost all the components can be re-used, especially the letter charms. Want a different color for the cord or want to use a different set of beads? Go right ahead. It’s yours anyway.

Personally, if someone gave me an item with a backstory like “this is handmade just for you,” I’d use it till the very end. Aside from being sentimental, it’s to show appreciation for the person who put a lot of thought and care into making it.

2014 Crafter-noon – Make Your Own Summer Earrings (26 April)

If you’ve been beading for a while, this is a really easy project. Regarding the beads, the choice is up to you. It’s highly recommended, though, that you choose those that are lightweight so the earrings won’t pull down your lobes (too much) when worn.

2014 Crafternoon (26 April)(1)

Yummy-colored selection of beads

Get a handful of yummy-colored beads and turn them into summer earrings!

The final product: summer-colored earrings

Create and Donate

Key chain made from left-over beads.

Key chain made from left-over beads.

I stumbled into my collection of beads over the last holiday. Since I haven’t done any beading for some time now (a little over a year, to be exact), I thought it might be a good idea to turn them into key chains, one of the easiest projects to complete.

I haven’t done any volunteer work for some time now either (shame on me, I know). That’s why I decided to make a batch of these in different colors and donate them to a woman’s organization I’m planning to go to the Saturday after Valentine’s Day.

Use left-over beads – or even charms – to make something similar.

Random Thoughts: Recycle, Repurpose, Upcycle

When I’m not writing letters or not putting together tokens for mailing, I usually turn my room upside down to look for items that can be discarded, given away or recycled.

I think I’m pretty good at giving away things, especially if I haven’t used them in over a year or if I’ve no use for them at all. Similarly, I’d give myself a “B” for reusing items (e.g. PET soda bottles, plastic bags, corrugated boxes in good condition) as long as possible.

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

I’d love to see the day, though, when I have more time in my hands so I can indulge in repurposing and upcycling projects. The mirror I salvaged from a second-hand store, for example, is still waiting for the rest of its old paint to come off. (Sigh)

To recycle, repurpose, and upcycle: it’s not because I don’t want to spend on things that I know I’ll eventually grow tired of. It’s just that I think it’s a cool idea to be able to max out the usage and benefits I get from something I bought, say, a blouse. I also like thrift store shopping, and many of those I’ve been to (and you’ve been to, as well) are teeming with finds waiting for a second chance at life. My latest ‘fantasy’ (if you will) is to turn pretty cups and saucers into fancy pots and planter bases. If only I have the time (there it is again!) to learn how to drill so I can make drainage holes at the bottom of those cups.

The mirror project and any DIY activity that involves paint have been suspended for now. (Sad) I recently dug up a decorative pie pan, however, and repurposed that as a catch-all for letters and stray pens on my work space at home. Admittedly, there’s a pretty tin tray that I saw at the home section of a department store I recently visited. I decided against buying it because, well, I have two of those decorative pie pans I mentioned earlier! And they’re just the right size for my work space. No point in buying something new when I can reuse what I have on hand.

It takes discipline to embrace this lifestyle. But personally, it’s liberating to know that not everything new and shiny has the power to influence me (to buy).

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