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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Christmas In July Festive Zipper Pull

The heat is on here in Mississippi, but that won't stop me from thinking about Christmas.  After all, the holiday is only five months away.  I am starting to see Christmas items pop up every where now.  There is a new set of items making their way to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and A.C. Moore.  'Tis the Season by Cousin Corporation of America has put out some very lovely new Christmas and Halloween items due out next week or so.

Anyway - TUTORIAL TIME!  This will only take about 20 minutes and is very simple.  If you have a good solid skill set in jewelry making or crafting, you should have no trouble with this tutorial.
We will be making two zipper pulls.  One will be a Christmas tree out of buttons and the other a simple snowflake with dangles.


'Tis The Season Glass/Acrylic Accent (#31112055)
'Tis The Season Metal Charms (#31112049)
20 Gauge Craft Wire
2 Large Lobster Claw Clasps - one silver, one gold
Eye Pin
4 Gold Head Pins

Flush/Side Cutters
Bail Making Pliers or a Small Marker Barrel
Round Nose Pliers
Flat Nose Pliers

Skills Needed:
Wrapped Loop
Forming Loops
Wire Wrapping

Festive Christmas Zipper Pulls Instructions:
Cut about 7 or 8 inches of craft wire.  Slide the wire through the holes of the buttons from #31112055 in order to form a tree.

Fold the wires at a 90 degree angle to the right.  Take the left wire and bend again at another 90 degree angle.

Wrap the right hand wire around the bend twice.  Trim the wrapping wire. Slide on a few of the crystal dangles from #31112055 in any order you like (save 5 for your next pull).

Slide on the star bead from #31112055. Begin to form a loop using your bail making pliers or marker barrel.  Before you wrap the loop slide on the lobster claw clasp.  Finish your wrapped loop and trim any extra wire.

*NOTE: I like using the swivel lobster claw clasps because they give a bit of action to the zipper pull.

Snowflake Zipper Pull Instructions:

Attach an eye pin to the opening of the snowflake charm from #31112049.  Using the left over five bead dangles from #31112055 and remove them from their head pins.  Make four new dangles with these beads by sliding them onto gold head pins and forming loops at the end. Take the left over bead and slide it onto the eye pin.  Slide on the new dangles.  Begin to form your loop, slide on the lobster claw clasp and then wrap your loop.  Trim off any access.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Open, Closed, or Split - Choosing the Best Jump Ring for Your Project

Jump rings are very important jewelry findings.  They provide a means to connecting pieces that wouldn't ordinarily be able to connect. They can vary in sizes, gauges and styles. Your design will dictate which jump ring to use for each project. It can be confusing when trying to pick the right one especially when you are looking at Open, Closed, and Split jump rings. Hopefully, this post will help you choose the right one for your project.

Open Rings 

Open Sesame:  An open jump ring is one that has a cut in it that allows you open and close it as to connect pieces together.  Open jump rings are used in Chainmaille designs and can be grouped in clusters.

To open a jump ring, use two sets of pliers (chain or flat nose).  If you only have one set, you can hold the other side with your fingers or use a jump ring opener.  When opening a jump ring, open with a twist.  It's like a push/pull action.  Push in one direction and pull in the other.  Never open a jump ring by pulling the sides apart.  It will warp the ring.  To close it back, just twist.  You should hear a slight grading of metal on metal when you close the jump ring correctly.
Jump Ring Opener available at Prima Bead

To use the Jump Ring Opener, slide it onto a finger on your non-dominant hand. Insert the jump ring into the closest fitting slot on the jump ring opener.  Using your chain nose pliers or fingers, gently open one side in a downward direction. The tool will help you stabilize the jump rings while you work on them.

See the video below for more technique.

Closed Rings

Closed Up Shop:  Closed jump rings have been soldered shut and have no way of opening them.  These are perfect for adding dimension to dangle earrings.  Use them as a connector for your eye pins and head pins to connect to.  I use them as the an "eye" for clasps.  When I have finished my beading, I slide the wire through the ring and crimp.  It provides a more secure connection for the clasps.  These can come in various styles and shapes and are often referred to as connector links.

 Split Rings

Split Personality: A split ring resembles a miniature key ring.  Split rings provide a stronger connection than open jump rings and offer an opening that closed jump rings cannot.  You can also use these for more secure connections of charms on a charm bracelet.  I find it has more stability and security than regular jump rings when attaching beading wire to a clasp.

There are a few ways to open them.  The first way is to insert a fingernail to open a split ring and slide a head or eye pin shaft to help you hold the spring ring open a you thread on your clasp, bail, or connector.  Once started, pull the pin out of the way, then finish twisting the split ring on.  The second way to open them is using a set of special pliers for split rings or a set of split ring tweezers.

Pliers available from Prima Bead
Tweezers available from Beadaholique
To use a pair of split ring pliers or tweezers, place the split ring on the flat side. As you close the pliers or tweezers, press the pointed side between the rings of the split ring. Once you have a grip on the split ring, you can slide it around until the end is securely open with room to add your charm, clasp, or whatever else you may be attaching.  Slide the object that you are attaching to the split ring onto the open end. Hold the object in your fingers and use flat nose pliers to work the split ring around to the other side, where the object will dangle freely.

Check out the video below. For more information.

My hope is that this information will help you choose the right jump ring for the right project.  Happy beading!

Unless otherwise credited, all photos and videos are from Prima Bead and Cousin Corporation.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

DIY: Ribbon Bead Earrings

Love the look of ribbon jewelry?  Then you will love this tutorial.  It's easy and simple.  There are no major skills required at all.  All you need is a bit of imagination to create these lovely earrings.

Skill Level:

Skills Needed:
Opening Jump Rings

Two 8mm Split Rings
Ear Wires
2 Large Holed Beads
Fray No More or product similar

Flat/Chain Nose Pliers
Collapsible Eye Needle

Measure and cut two pieces of ribbon around 8 inches long.  Open the loop at the bottom of the ear wires and slide on a split ring. Close the loop.  The reason I used split rings instead of regular jump rings is the split rings are more stable and can hold up under rough handling.  Go ahead and repeat for the other ear wire.

Slide the ribbon into the split ring.  Slip on the collapsible eye needle onto both ends of the ribbon.  Slide the needle into the opening of the bead and out the other side.  Pull completely through and slide the needle off.  

Slide the bead up the ribbon and tie an overhand knot just up from the end of the ribbon.  Coat the ends of the ribbon with the Fray No More.

Repeat for the other earrings.  Wear them in style.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

DIY: Collapsible Eye Needle

Here is an easy DIY tutorial for a collapsible eye needle.  It seems I always need them. I never have them, so I decided to make my own on the fly.  They work pretty well.


Materials & Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Flush Cutters/End Nippers
26 gauge or smaller craft wire

Cut about 10 inches of craft wire.  Place your round nose pliers at the center point of the wire about midways down the beak of the pliers. 

Cross the wire ends over each other.  Begin twisting the wire (not wrapping) until you reach the desired length.  Trim ends.  Slide the needle off the pliers.  Straighten and use until you wear it out.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lighting the Way: A New Tutorial!

Not a jewelry tutorial this time.  It's a distressed lamp tutorial.  Decided to do something different since I am working on a new studio space.  I created this lamp today and wanted to share.  My studio colors are Ocean Whisper, Chef White and Crimson Glow. These are Valspar colors that are available at Lowe's.  I recommend getting the Reserve in Satin Finish.  It covers far better than the Valspar Ultra and Valspar Signature lines.

Valspar Color Samples in your choice of colors
Valspar Clear Glaze
This Lamp from Target - $24.99
Painter's Tape
Brushes - One about 1/2" Flat Artist Brush and one smaller regular painter's brush
Paper Towels
Foam Plate
Crown Spray Tuff-Strip Multi-Surface Remover
Small Paint Scraper
Sand paper (I used my Dremel)
Krylon Low Odor Clear Finish


A couple of hours so paint can dry.

NOTE ABOUT THE LAMP - The lamp may look wooden, but it is painted resin.  DO NOT SAND OR STRIP.

What it looks like online at

Unscrew the ball from the top of the harp on the lamp. Remove shade and harp from the lamp.  Put painter's tape just under the trim on the shade on the top and bottom.

Using the small artist brush apply paint to the top rim and the bottom rim.  If you put the tape under the trim, it will help to keep the paint off the main part of the shade. Set aside to dry.

Cover the upper metal part of the lamp with tape as well as the the upper part of the cord that goes into the lamp base.

Slather the paint onto the lamp body with the larger brush. Put it on rather thick.  Don't worry about it looking messy or clumpy.   I used Chef White as my base color.

I covered as much of the lamp as I could leaving all kinds of streaks and heavy lines in it. 


Once the shade is dry, tape over the rims. You don't want any of the glaze on the rim you just painted.  If you do happen to get it on the rims, wait until completely dry and touch up the rims very carefully so you don't get any on the main part of the shade.

The reason why I started with the rims was because I was unsure if I wanted to paint the main part of the shade or not.  I'm glad I decided to paint the shade.  It just looked odd to me.

Pour about 3/4 cup Clear Glaze onto a foam plate.  Dip the brush back into the Chef White a couple of times and then mix with the glaze on the plate.  Working in large swift strokes brush the shade with the glaze.  Remember, you aren't painting.  You are glazing.  Only put enough glaze mixture on the shade to your liking.  It shouldn't be completely covered up.  If you feel that you got too much on, just wipe it off with a paper towel. Set aside to dry.

Tape off a few sections on the lamp body that you want to add color to.  Slather on the color!  Let dry.  I chose to paint the top ring, the middle ring and the bottom ring Crimson Glow.  The large ball part as well as the part just over the are going to be Ocean Whisper.

Paint the ball at the top what ever color you want it to be.  Let dry completely.

Remove the tape from the lamp.  It's okay if the paint peels off when you remove the tape.  It will add to the distressed look.  Cover the bulb socket with painter's tape to protect. Lightly spray with the Tuff-Strip.  Remember this lamp is resin not wood. Let is sit for about 5 minutes and start wiping with paper towels.  You can use a scraper if you want to in order to get more of the paint off. Sand away! I used my Dremel with the 535 Brass Brush attachment and the 180 grit Finishing Abrasive Buff (511E).  I LOVE MY DREMEL!

Remove as much or as little paint as you want.  You can sand down all the way to the resin if you like.  It will add to the distress look.  Sand the ball too as to achieve the look you want.


When it looks like you want it, spray to seal.

Enjoy your new lamp.  I know I will!

I recommend using Energy Efficient Daylight Bulbs in your new lamp.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Simple Charm

Cousin Corporation of America is rolling out a new easy jewelry line for those who want trendy and simplistic at the same time. Simple Charm is a series of interchangeable focal connector charms. Popular icons, both trendy and whimsical, are made into fashionable connectors. Five different bracelet bases are available to choose from.  It is easy to customize your unique accessories with NO TOOLS OR SPECIAL SKILLS REQUIRED.

This line is set to debut in your local Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores on May 15th.

I had the opportunity to play around with some of these.  I have to tell you it's super easy.  I love stacking them.  I was actually able to adjust the size of the bracelet by choosing a smaller or larger connector based on how I wanted the bracelet to hang.  Talk about comfort.  I also mixed and matched my metal colors.  I put a gold charm on the silver bracelet.

These are the ones I received from Cousin. 

The bracelet bases (on right) I received were textured which I really liked.

I love this rhinestone anchor and this faux druzy.

There is even an evil eye charm and a butterfly.

The hooks on the bracelets slip right into the rings on the connectors.  You just give the bracelet a little squeeze to connect and disconnect.  These are great for when you want a quick and stylish bracelet to wear.

So what will these fun and easy charm connectors and bracelets run you?  They are priced from $1.99 to $5.99.  That's a whole lot cheaper than buying ready made jewelry at the department store.