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Monday, March 30, 2015

What Would Happen: The Reveal we are FINALLY!  If you recall back in February, fellow ambassador Dawn Doucette issued a design challenge to the rest of us Creative Circle gals.  She selected the same group of beads and findings for each of us to create a few pieces or a lot of pieces depending on what we had time to do.

The lovely haul included gemstone beads, acrylic beads, lamp work glass beads, crystals, chain, and a few pendants/charms.  Gorgeous selection if you ask me.  Dawn did an outstanding job of picking the stash.  In addition to using this stash of goodies, we were to add in our own elements from findings to beads and of course our imaginations.

I have teased you with a few of the things I had been working on over the past few weeks. Here is the reveal of what I made using these beautiful items.

The very first piece was came very quickly as far as ideas go.  The implementation of those ideas was a completely different story.  I spend the majority of the time on this bad boy as well as the majority of my stash.  I would get one idea that would morph into another one. The end result is a lovely Bohemian queen look.  It's definitely a statement piece.

Here is a list of the product numbers I used:

1 pc   34780079 - Natural Braided Jute Cord
1 pc   34718105 - Copper Oval Link Chain
1 pc   34737022 - Natural Color Thin Hemp
2 pkg 34708555 - Metal Drop Charms- Copper
1 pkg 34708550 - Metal Flower Connectors 
1 pkg 34708213 - 45pc 6mm Rondelle Copper
6 pkg 34714101 - 9pc Gemstone Teal Marbled
1 pkg 34708494 - 115 pc Coin Charm Copper
1 pkg AJM65011128 - Peace Sign Pendant 
          (Check your local Walmart)
1 pkg AJM64011010 - Tusk Pendant
          (Check your local Walmart)
Clamp Ends/Ribbon Clamps
Copper Lobster Claw Clasp and Extender Chain 
Copper Bail
Copper Jump Rings

The next piece I created required a bit more skill.  I had somewhat of an idea in my head, but wasn't sure how it would turn out.  I sketched it out and decided to give it a go.  I hand-cut a piece of 26 gauge copper sheet metal, added in some rivets, threaded 18 gauge copper wire through the rivets,  and then added in some of the pretty dark colored gemstones and lovely smoky crystals to the center piece.

Cutting out the center part was a bit tough considering I broke two saw blades on it.  I ended up having to get it started with the saw and finishing it with my sheet metal shears.  The eyelet rivets were easy to set once I punched the holes with my metal punch.  I think this one may be my favorite piece.

Cousin products used:
34714025 - Chocolate Moss Jasper
7728022 - 4mm Crystazzi Satin Button - Light Padparadscha

For my next piece, I wanted to create a simple set.  I wanted something a bit more relaxed and easy going.  I just love these lamp work beads.

Products used:
1 pc   34718105 - Copper Oval Link Chain
1 pkg 3612742  -  Teal Ceramic-Acrylic Mix Strand
Copper findings
5 inches of 20 gauge copper wire

Make sure you check out all the ambassadors' creations by clicking the links below to go to their blogs.

Molly Moore Alexander
Allison Cooling
Lisa Crone
Dawn Doucette
Rachel Goodman Nielsen
Carolina Moore
Rebecca Goodman Utermohlen

Overcoming a Challenge

"Life is not about the destination, but the journey".  We have heard this from time to time in reference to many things.  The same can be said about challenges we face.  It's not about the outcome of a challenge, but about learning from the experience.

Even sitting here trying to right this post is a challenge.  Do I go with what I know to be true and risk offending someone or do I play it safe and just talk about the fluff?

There are times in which no matter how hard we try, we can hit a brick wall.  We try and try and still fall short of what we are trying to accomplish.  Sometimes it's the materials we are working with that are giving us grief. Sometimes it's our lack of skill or mental state at the time that causes our difficulty.  When we hit those brick walls, it is important that we understand that there are things that are just completely out of our control.  Threads snap, wire breaks, beads shatter or roll off the work table. Life throws us a curve ball.  These are things that we can't control but they frustrate us as if we could somehow by the sheer desire of it not to happen can control them and prevent it.  In a perfect world, maybe.


When I hit a design challenges, I step away.  I rethink by sketching out what I was trying to do.  I usually find that my original idea was not all the great.  If I could just get my frustrations out on paper, I feel so much better.  Sometimes, I just need to change my focus.  In other words, I WALK AWAY!  I get up from the table and go do something else.  Usually that means the laundry or the dishes get done.  Sometimes I take a walk or read a good book.

When I hit a stump, (for instance trying to make a clasp that I have been making for years and no matter how hard I try I still can't get it),  I revisit a tutorial on the subject matter to make sure that I haven't missed something.

Sometimes, the challenge comes our own desire to achieve more.  There is nothing wrong with that.  These are the most difficult of challenges to overcome.  For me, I wanted to know how to do bead embroidery.  Seems simple enough, like sewing...sort of.  I watched video after video after video on how to do it.  Each one seemed to have a completely different idea on how to do it which was a bit confusing.  Glue the stone on the backing, don't glue, do this not that....don't do on and so on. But I kept trying.  I bought a couple of books on the subject and studied them.  I talked to friends who are highly skilled in bead embroidery as to what threads and backing to use.  I'm sure I drove them nuts and they were all glad that this crazy person didn't live close to them.

You have to stretch yourself to accept the possibility that you can accomplish something more.   Keep trying until you get it right no matter what you are attempting to do.  Even then it's hard and it may not look right the first time, the point is that you TRIED it.  I have learned a lot just by attempting something, like distressing a lamp.  Who would have thunk!?


Sometimes, the challenge comes from outside forces, like work.  We get a ton of paperwork dumped on us at the last minute or a meeting throws us off our game. A deadline gets moves and messes with our mojo. One of those times for me was when Cousin asked the ambassadors to create a show piece for the Bead and Button show.

I TOTALLY FREAKED OUT!  This is a show that is in front of thousands of people who have way more skill and design capability in their little finger than I have in my whole body.  I think I went into a panic attack when I got the email. After the initial shock calmed down, I did my research on the show and current design trends, sketched out my design, ordered my supplies, and got to work.  I drew inspiration from old Victorian age bridal jewelry and the wonderful style icon, Coco Chanel.

I actually sketched on paper and got frustrated.  Fortunately, I have a good bit of knowledge in using Illustrator from my graphic design days.  So, I used precise measurements of the beads and findings to plan out my design and to make sure what I had on paper would line up with that I was attempting to do.  Not everyone has to be this precise....I do.  I'm just weird like that.

Keep in mind, I am still panicking during this entire process.  I'm trying to be calm and just go with the beading flow here.  I think I shook during the entire creation and lost a ton of beads to the floor.  I can't tell you how much thread and how many needles I broke.  But, I kept going until I was done.

I ended up making two pieces that year for the same show.  I'm just crazy like that.

Looks like a hot mess!  No, does, but I think Coco Chanel would so wear this one proudly.

There was another time that Cousin sprung something on us with a Walmart - Canada project.  They hand-picked beads and findings for us and asked us to create an inspiration piece as well as a project piece for this client.  I had beads that I would have never chosen to use whatsoever!  I had limited myself by that too.  These lovely beads made their way into my heart as I worked with them.  Thank you guys at Cousin for giving us such difficult tasks to do.  It stretches us as designers.


Sometimes, our materials get us.  Breaking two saw blades on 26 gauge copper sheet metal and the blade was designed for that particular gauge for example.  GRRRRrrrrrr!  Or cracking the tip off the only top drilled briolette you have left of that color and it is no longer available and you can't purchase a new one.  Been there, done that way too many times.  Or you order one color of bead and when it arrives it's a completely different color than what it showed on the screen!  Yeah....had that happen a time or two as well.  Or snapping your best needle in the middle of stitching or busting a bead as you pass your needle and thread back through it and that bead is like in the freaking middle of your project!  Yes,  I have issues.  I admit that.  Okay....deep breath....moving on.

It is the challenges in life that help us grow and develop into who we are.  If we never allowed ourselves to room to fail, then we would never overcome.  These challenging times test our metal (pun intended). The old saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger really is true.  That being said....don't be afraid to try something new just because it  Be brave and let yourself be free to make changes as your design and skill set evolves.

You might just enjoy and come to love the finished projects.  Trying new techniques or projects that are more challenging to us will give us a great insight into areas we may have neglected to cultivate in our lives.

Always be grateful to those who helped you along the way.  They too were once on this very same path to discovery.


Then the one last remaining challenge we can face is the unexpected curve balls that come our way.  We have unexpected events that are completely out of our control and catch us by surprise like the death of a loved one, job loss, injury or sudden illness.  These are things that also help define us.  They give us an opportunity to either press on or to give up.  I have had my share of severe hard knocks in life.  Each time, I had a lay and wallow in my sorrow or move forward and live.  "Weeping may enure for a night, but joy comes in the morning," (Psalm 30:5b).  Things that may seem like a great disappointment have a way of turning into a great blessing. Our response to these challenges is everything. We have a choice in the matter. We can choose to allow challenges to stunt our development or allow them to stretch and strengthen us.  We choose our response - to be full of bitterness and discontentment or look for the joy hidden in the sorrow.  We choose to be an overcomer or the victim.  As for me, I CHOOSE to be an overcomer.  The pressures or "challenges" of life reveal more than we realize about the condition of our hearts. If we are still bitter from the last blow, it comes out at the next one revealing our warped perspective. The same is true for if we continually seek the good in every situation.  When we are dealt a dirty hand and we release joy in the midst of it, it shows us that we are seeing the situation with a pure heart and a clear perspective. Life has a funny way of warping our mentality and perspective when it comes to life's little challenges.  Be mindful of that.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a particular situation, change the scenery! Looking from a different perspective and fresh eyes will help to move past the disappointments and sorrow to see the best way to deal with the issue at hand.  What does a different perspective look like?  I can only tell you what has worked for me....taking a break from the situation and all the voices of other people so I can hear my own inner voice, spending time in prayer and meditating on the truth of God's Word. Whether that would be taking a short road trip through the country, a walk along the banks of a lake, a hike through the woods, deep prayer and meditation, confiding in a trusted friend or counselor, or taking a long hot bubble bath while eating tons of chocolate is completely up to you.  Find your happy place and "search for peace and seek it eagerly" (1 Peter 3:11b).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Simple and Trendy Adjustable Leather Necklace Tutorial

Haven't done one of these for a while so here is a simple tutorial for you.

All you will need about 3 feet of 2mm round leather lace and a pendant.

Products I am using:
34737017 - Cord Basics 25yd Brown Leather Cord
Pendant from the dollar bin at Walmart (Also a Cousin product)

Measure and cut 3 feet of the leather and soak in a bowl of water for about five to ten minutes to soften the leather up.  Remove and dry off with paper towels.  Give the leather a gentle squeeze to remove any excess water.

Thread your pendant onto the leather and lay the ends parallel.

This is where it might get tricky, so check out this video tutorial just in case my instructions are unclear.

Take one end and fold it back over itself and hold the other end up against it. It will make a big loop.

Wrap the folded end around itself and the other end two times.

Tuck in the end of the wrap under all the loops and pull tight.  This will pull in your large loop and get very snug.  Your large loop should disappear into the wrapping.

Repeat for the other side.  Knots should slide easily against the leather.

Enjoy your new trendy and simple sliding knot necklace.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Would Happen - Part 3

Hello!  Today, I am continuing the series on the Design Challenge we ambassadors are working on.  In previous posts, I have introduced you to our design team challengers and showed you all the lovely supplies that were hand-picked by our design diva, Dawn Doucette.

Dawn fell into the Romantics team due to her style of designing.  Let me take a moment to reintroduce her:

Dawn Doucette -Victorian influenced, one of a kind designs, attention to the most intricate details, created works of art that become family heirlooms.
Dawn has been designing jewelry since she was a little girl. What began as loomed friendship bracelets evolved into a business of creating couture jewelry; Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry. Dawn works with gemstones, crystals, pearls and seed beads to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Her designs have been published in Beadwork Magazine; winning design contests and modeled by distinguished public speakers.

Dawn is giving us a glimpse as to what she is working on for our "Design Challenge". 

Summery colors for sure.  Even though these colors are bright and cheery, I find them highly relaxing at the same time.  They are like sitting in the sun on a beach enjoying a lovely breeze across the water. I love how Dawn played off the colors of the leaf with the coral colored gemstones totally unifying the look.  I really cannot wait to see the rest of this piece.  I know it is going to be amazing.  It looks like she also matched the bead backing to the color of the leather on the pendant as well.  Dawn's designs are very intricate and her attention to detail is unsurpassed.  I enjoy looking at all her designs.  Check out her site to see all her wonderful creations.

I have to say, I am really enjoying this challenge more than I thought I would.  I have been really spurred into creating things after being in a design funk for a while.  Thanks Dawn for helping me break through my designer's block.

Check out the previous posts:
What Would Happen?
What Would Happen - Part 2

Friday, February 27, 2015

What Would Happen: Design Challege Part 2

This is the second part to the blog series we as Creative Circle Ambassadors are doing for our "Design Challenge" issued by fellow ambassador Dawn Doucette.  In my previous post, I introduced you to our teams and showed you all the lovely goodies we received to create our pieces with.  Now it's time to show you a little of my design process and to tease you a bit before the big reveal at the end of March.

I gathered up a few of the supplies that seemed to just go well together and pulled from a few things I already had to accentuate what I was looking at.  I did make some changes to my initial design as some of the supplies didn't behave and want to play well with others.  The leather strap in the center was one of those supplies.  A few things shown in the background were also abandoned as the design took shape.  These supplies are available at your local craft stores and at Prima Bead.  Walmart carries a few of them as well.  I did accidentally inflict a war wound while working on this one.  My pliers slipped and scraped against my knuckle.

Don't you just love these copper paddles.

The next piece was a bit more complicated.  The beads are available on the Prima Bead website as well as your local craft store.  The sheet metal and heavy gauge wire (not shown) are available online from various retailers such as Rio Grande. I broke two saw blades cutting through the copper sheet. LOL.  I guess I wasn't holding my mouth right.  After the first initial cuts, I finished it up the cuts with my shears.

The design is purposely hidden underneath the copper sheet so you can't see what I am planning.
 Hopefully soon, I will let you know the progress of the other ladies. I am excited to see what they are up to.  Ciao for now!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Would Happen?

So what would happen if you gave eight very unique designers the same exact beads to work with?   We are about to find out!  One of our Creative Circle Ambassadors, Dawn Doucette, came up with the idea and hand-picked our supplies for us and a great job she did too.

We have been issued a challenge to create unique items using the same pieces. Okay...sounds fun.  Reveal date will be on March 30th.   We can do whatever we want using the materials given and adding in our own findings, beads, chains, etc. that make us happy. 

I do plan to blog along the way as I brainstorm as to what to create.

Below I have grouped our ladies into "teams.  Most of them have been grouped together by their styles and techniques.  The last grouping is of the last two remaining original Creative Circle Ambassadors.


The Glamazons:   It's all about the bling with these two.  The more sparkly, the better for them.  They can move between sharp, edgy, on trend designs to laid back girl next door styling.  They know how to bring the punch to their designs.

Allison Cooling - young, innovative, edgy designer of Quiet Lion Creation, skilled photographer, graphic designer, blogger

After obsessively scanning through Vogue and other fashion magazines, she became inspired by the designer jewelry that filled the pages. Wanting to replicate the look and feel of those designs; she found that after a few experiments, it was easy to do.

Allison aims to show the world that making cool, hip, and beautiful jewelry is fun, regardless of skill level. Her blog is devoted to DIY jewelry using all types of techniques and materials. Occasionally, Allison posts tutorials for men's jewelry, accessory DIYs, nail design DIYs, recipes and art inspirations.

Rebecca Grafton Utermohlen - young, feisty, vibrant, leans more towards the sparkles and glitter, DIY jewelry fanatic, marathon runner, dedicated blogger

Rebecca started making jewelry as a 12-year-old kid who was bored one summer and needed a hobby. As the years have passed, jewelry making became more than just a hobby; it developed into a true passion. Rebecca dabbles in all types of different crafts, but jewelry making remains her favorite.

The Romantics:  These ladies always seem to have that old world charm in their designs.  Romance exudes from all they create. They are laid back, calm people who love the world around them.

Dawn Doucette -Victorian influenced, one of a kind designs, attention to the most intricate details, created works of art that become family heirlooms.

Dawn has been designing jewelry since she was a little girl. What began as loomed friendship bracelets evolved into a business of creating couture jewelry; Bella Amore Legacy Jewelry. Dawn works with gemstones, crystals, pearls and seed beads to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Her designs have been published in Beadwork Magazine; winning design contests and modeled by distinguished public speakers.

Molly Moore Alexander - wire and mixed media artist, blogger

Molly is a self-taught jewelry, mixed-media and mosaic artist, and is the owner and designer of Miss Molly’s Designs. Here jewelry designs have been published in such publications as Bead Trends, Belle Armoire Jewelry, Jewellery Magazine and Jewelry Affaire, and can be found in public and private collections around the world.

Each of Molly’s pieces are created lovingly in her home workshop, incorporating copper, silver, glass, resin and natural stones with wire, fiber and found objects, resulting in unique, one-of-a-kind designs. Molly continues to push herself artistically, learning new techniques and working with exciting new materials whenever she can to keep her designs distinctive and current.

The Die-Hard DIY/Crafters:  These ladies bring a very unique perspective to the table.  They have the ability to switch back and forth between crafting and jewelry design with great ease.

Rachel Goodman Nielsen - DIY enthusiast, dedicated blogger

Rachel loves to create. Some of her passions include baking, building stuff, sewing, gardening, crafting and, of course, making jewelry. Rachel loves to try new things and a few years ago decided to give jewelry making a shot. Her sister showed her a few basic skills and she was hooked. She enjoys the process of creating a piece of jewelry and learning new techniques. Rachel shares what she creates with the readers of her blog, Adventures of a DIY Mom, in the form of step-by-step tutorials. Rachel is a wife and stay-at-mom to four kids, three girls and a boy.

Carolina Moore - DIY Fanatic, blogger

Caroline has been crafting all her life in a variety of areas including jewelry, quilting, and papercrafting.  She currently maintains two blogs dedicated to her crafting - alwaysexpectmoore and 30minutecrafts.

She is a newcomer to the Cousin Creative Circle experience.

The Silver Sisters - The last two remaining original Creative Circle Members.  We have been with Cousin from the beginning back in August of 2011.

Lisa Crone - laid back and very organized, author of A Bead in Time, blogger, bead fanatic, creates more classical designs with modern twists, beachy and nature themed designs

Lisa has been designing beaded jewelry for over 20 years. She is a self-professed bead fanatic and enjoys learning new techniques from other bead enthusiasts through books, magazines and classes or improvising as she goes.

In her book A Bead in Time Lisa shares her journey of finding design inspiration in nature, artwork, vacations and the craft store. She currently maintains a daily beading blog where the tagline reads, “appreciating the individual beauty of beads and the unique works of art they are used to create.”

Lisa blogs to share in the fun of the online beading community. She regularly showcases beads, techniques, projects, bead artists, designers and crafters.

Shelly Owen (aka Me) - jewelry designer, wire and metal artist, graphic designer, painter, design style varies, given to melancholy on occasion

Shelly is a self-taught designer with over 20 years experience in jewelry design.  Her designs have been seen on the CW's hit show "Hart of Dixie" and published in Crafts 'n Things magazine.

Monday, February 2, 2015

That's My Jewelry Making Passion

So....what is that one technique that I always revert back to no matter what?  Can you guess?  No?  I think the one technique that I can't live without and am always incorporating into my designs in some way or another is wire wrapping.  Why?  It's a very versatile medium to work in and I find it very relaxing.  And without even knowing it, you probably have done a bit of it.  You might be thinking, "NO, I haven't!" Forming loops on head pins to make earrings sound familiar?  Yup, that was your introduction into wire wrapping.  Wrapped loops to make beaded chains.....again, wire wrapping.  :)  See you have been doing it all along.  TUTORIAL ALERT:  Stay until the end because there is a EASY tutorial!

Some of my fun stuff!
Wire wrapping can be both a challenge and very rewarding at the same time. When you learn some of the vocabulary of wire wrapping, it does make it easier.  I had no clue as to what to buy at all when I started so I just bought stuff.  I didn't understand that there were different tempers and gauges of wire.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  If only someone would have walked me through wire wrapping, I think I would have enjoyed the experimentation a bit more than what I did.  I found it so frustrating at first.  So I am going to share with you a bit about wire that will greatly help you get started into the fun and rewarding realm of wire wrapping.

Wire comes in three tempers - dead soft (best for wrapping in my opinion), half hard (best for making ear wires, and ear cuffs), and hard (great for clasps).  Gauge refers to the thickness of the wire.  Temper and gauge of the wire you choose to work with will effect what you can create.

Earrings made from 20 gauge Red Brass wire.
Gauge can be a bit tricky since the higher the number, the thinner the wire.  If you want to do simple wire wrapping around beads or stones, I recommend a thinner gauge like 26 or 28 in a dead soft temper.  You can also use 26 gauge for wire crochet and knitting. 28 gauge or thinner can be used for beadweaving. If you want to make clasps, use 18 to 16 gauge in half hard or hard.  Once you get used to working with the wire, it will be easier to create what is referred to as "work-hardened" wire. What this means is that
through the manipulation of the wire, you have changed its temper from dead soft to more of a half hard temper and half hard into a more hardened temper.  This can be accomplished through hammering or repetitious movement of the wire. Sometimes, through polishing the wire with a tumbler the wire will harden up some.  Wire also comes in a variety of shapes such as round, half round, square, twisted and patterned.

Bracelet made from 18 gauge Copper wire

When I began jewelry making, the only medium I worked in was beads. It was all I knew.  String some beads, crimp, and go.

I branched out rather quickly into beadweaving and various other techniques using mixed media and fibers. I was intimidated by wire so I stayed away from it.  I had someone encourage me to branch into wire wrapping.  I went and grabbed a bunch of various gauges of steel plated copper wire not knowing there were different temper of wire.  I think I bought all half hard and hard. I wanted to give up, but then I found aluminum wire!  Super soft and oh so easy to work with... also easy to make a mess with due to it's super softness. 
Mixed metal wrapping and clasp

My new BFF quickly became copper. Copper is a very versatile wire....again it comes in various tempers, but even the hard copper wire is easy to manipulate.  I have since branched out into stainless steel wires, red brass (jeweler's brass), German Silver (don't recommend this one since it's almost all Nickel), yellow brass and enameled copper.

I love to mix beads into my wire wrapping and sometimes even a bit of metalwork. You can mix chain, metal shapes, and leather into the wire as well as seen in the photo below to the left.  You can also mix different colors of wire together to get a lovely mixed metal look.

 what tools would one need for wire wrapping?

PROTECTIVE EYE WEAR is a must have!
Various Gauges, Shapes and Tempers of Wire (readily available at craft stores and online)
Round Nose Pliers
Chain Nose Pliers / flat nose pliers (Chain Nose is also referred to as Needle Nose)
Flush Cutters and/or end nippers
Emery board or nail file

As you advance you may want to invest into the following:
Steel Bench Block and rubber base
Rawhide Mallet
Nylon Maller
Various Mandrels (Neck, Bracelet, Ring)
Ball Peen Hammer
Wire Jigs
Bail Making Pliers
Wire Twister (for making some really cool wire out of square wire)
Wire Cup Burr Tool (to remove sharp edges)
Finger Cots (to protect your fingers)
Painters Tape (for holding wire bundles together as you wrap)
Nylon Jaw Pliers (for straightening long pieces of wire)

With wire you can make bezels for pendants, beaded chains, bead frames, ear wires, bracelets, earrings, rings, and even your own chains and jump rings.  Your only limitation if your imagination.  There aren't any rules in wire wrapping, so have some fun!

 here is your tutorial I promised. I have been making these for a couple of years now and they are fun and easy to make and wear.

Tools & Materials:
Round Nose
Flush Cutters
Marker or Bail Making Pliers with a 10 to 12 mm barrel
20 gauge dead soft or half hard wire in your choice of color/metal (do not use Aluminum)

Measure and cut about 5 inches of wire and straighten with your fingers.
Measure from the end of the wire about 2 inches and fold the wire back over the barrel of your round nose pliers.  Measure about two inches from the bend and repeat to create a weird "Z" shape.

Take your round nose pliers and place at the end of the wire and make a loose spiral. Repeat at the other end.

Kind cute!

Press the wire firmly against the barrel of your marker or bail making pliers and wrap the wire around the barrel.

Make a slight bend in the folded ends of the wire using your round nose pliers.


Easy-peezy, lemon squeezy!