Category: Crafts (Page 4 of 9)

A beady obsession

As anyone who has kept up with my crafting blogs knows, I obsess. It doesn’t matter really what I obsess about, I’ll find something on which to focus all my free-moment-energies and there it is. After crafts in general, and then craft books, the newest thing has been beads. I started with the jewelry set I got at the flea market, I went on to looking for beads on Amazon (but not buying any), and about 2 weeks ago I moved to ebay. The problem with e-bay is that the sellers make it too easy for you, many of them include free shipping, and some auctions start quite low (as in one cent). Indeed, it was one of those one-cent auctions which got me. It was for a single Murano Glass Bead. What do I want with one bead? Who knows! But it was one cent, free shipping, and it was just too easy to buy it. I’m sad to say that there were dozens of more bids following that first one, and I’ve actually bought 32 (yes, that’s not a misprint) items. I don’t even know what those items are (beads and pendants, I assume), but I know that I have to quit! Now, someone take me to e-bay (or is it beadaholics?) anonymous.
Well, my first purchase came today. It’s a strand of 8mm white freshwater pearls, 55 in all. I’ve never had “real” pearls before, so I can’t really evaluate how good they are. They are definitely not all perfectly round, many seem more oval-shaped than round, and many of them have markings or some imperfection or another, but I guess it’s a way of telling that they are “real” instead of just “plastic”. In any case, I paid $5 for the strand (including shipping), so I wasn’t expecting museum quality. It took the pearls 10 days to arrive from Hong Kong, which really isn’t bad.

Beadalon Collapsible Eye Needles

Beadalon Collapsible Eye NeedlesI haven’t been “beading” for very long, but soon after I bought our first jewelery kits I lost the beading needles that came with them. It’s quite hard to put small beads into thread without a beading needle, so I hurried to buy some more.
There were several choices at Michaels, a craft chain store near us, and some how I lucked out and got the Beadalon Collapsible Eye Needles. I LOVE them. So far, I’ve pretty much been able to bead anything I’ve wanted using them. The eyes collapse, so it mostly doesn’t matter how small the hole in the bead is (but be weary and don’t try to force it, I did get a needle to break while trying to pass it through too small a hole).
There are a couple of minuses, however. For one, they’re expensive!, up to $4 for a 4-pack. For the other, they are VERY easy to lose. I already lost 3 of the 4 that came in my last package. They are so thin that it’s almost impossible to see them once they fall into the floor.
Anyway, I’m sold by them.

Alex Toys Paint Ice Beads & Jingle Jewelry Kit

Alex Toys Paint Ice BeadsI got Alex Toys Paint Ice Beads and Jingle Jewelry Kit, after the kids and I made a couple of necklaces with the Girlfitti Magna Style Jewelry Kit which my mother got for the girls. They enjoyed that kit, so I thought they would like these as well.
And indeed, they did. They loved painting the “ice” (a.k.a. glass) beads in the first kit, and they loved the idea of jingle jewelry in the second kit. But… they weren’t too big on making the jewelry itself. The beads that come with the kits are very small, and the possibilities for creativity, at least with the ice set, are limited. So they haven’t gone beyond painting beads on that set.
jingle.jpgWe fared even worse with the Jingle Jewelry Kit. The first problem was that the kit didn’t have any written instructions as to how to make the jewelry, just drawings of the steps. Alas, if you’ve never made jewelry before the steps could seem puzzling. But beyond that, using the jingles means having to knot the cord in precise places before and after putting specific beads – not an easy endeavor for me, much less for two little girls who barely know how to tie knots. Let’s just say that the enthusiasm for the kits did not last very long.
In all, now that I have gotten more beads, those two kits seem rather expensive for what they are (but that’s true of all of Alex’s kits). Still, the kids liked painting those beads so much that I’ll try to find some transparent beads for them to paint.

Shrinky Dinks Cool Gear & Sculpey Clay

shrinkys.jpgI didn’t grow up in the US, so “shrinky dinks” were not part of my childhood. Indeed, until people started mentioning them as a possible “craft” for my kids, I didn’t know anything at all about them. Everyone whom I talked to about them thought they were great for kids, so I got a box of Shrinky Dinks Cool Gear by Faber and Castell.
I didn’t bother to look at what came in the box, but it was rather disappointing: 5 sheets of shrinky dinks (about 30 images, I think), 8 small color pencils, two keyrings, one super-cheapy chain, one plastic cord and 8 shells. There was also a small hole puncher and some self-sticking magnets. So basically you can make 4 “gear” type of items, a bunch of magnets and have a few shrinky dinks left over. That seems quite little for $15. After doing some more looking around in Amazon (after I ordered 🙁 ) I found some better deals, like Shrinky Dinks Jewelry by Alex, which include more images and more play items – and is substantially cheaper. Well, live and learn.
shrinkies.jpgOne other thing to keep in mind when ordering this set is that the drawings are the type that would be likely to appeal to boys more than to girls (race cars, sports equipment, etc.). Still, my girls did not seem to notice, though they did chose to color the more gender-neutral images first.
As for the craft itself, it’s a good way to spend a few minutes – coloring the picture, baking them, waiting for them to cool down and then affixing them to something. But there isn’t that much entertainment value for the price – the kids were amused at seeing the large pictures turn into such little things, but they probably enjoyed the coloring most of all. In all, it just was not worth the $15 or so that I paid for the kit 🙁

scylpey.jpgOne toy that was worth its price was Sculpey clay. We got the Sculpey III Multipack – Bright Ideas, which comes with 10 different colors of clay, very bright colors. It also retails for about $15, but we bought it at Joann with a 50% off coupon. Still, given how much fun my kids had with it, it would have been worth the full price.
Basically, sculpey is clay – as in playdough type clay. It starts off a little hard, but after you roll it and handle it a bit, it becomes as plyable as play dough. The advantage is that you can also bake it and harden it – so you can make everything from a bead to a sculpture out of it. Of course, what you end up with is mostly linked to your particular sculptural talent – which doesn’t run very high in my family. But the important part is that the kids had a great time playing with the dough and expressing their creativity.
sculpey.jpgNow, if it was up to me I would have chosen more muted colors, but of course, it’s for the kids and they like stuff that’s bright. Still, they followed my lead and made beads and pendants (and some figurines), which we’ll turn into necklaces tomorrow and thus extend the fun 🙂

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