Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scraps, Beads, Fun!

The Great Paper Bead Making Saga!  

It started innocently enough.....a suggestion on using leftover scraps from the Watercolor Technique Ida Abshier is teaching. But......it got out of hand! Not sure WHY? But hours of web browsing and checking out various tools and techniques available we are now hooked! Well, for the moment at least. We found dozens of bead roller tools on the Internet, each claiming to be "new" and "original." That may be a stretch, since quilling and the tools for it have been around for eons and most of the bead rolling tools started from the quilling slot tool. But, that aside, we now own a bunch! Not saying how many.....it's too embarrassing! But obsessive "I've got to buy everything to make up for not knowing enough" folks will understand. Need to backtrack a bit......The bead making actually started with a project for my granddaughter. Wanted to make some "jingles" for a dress for her Kaya American Girl Doll. Tried a few things but it really didn't work. The attempt did, however, remind us of a tool from years ago, a bead winder. And an Internet search did find this picture of something called "The Bead Crafter." Unfortunately it's no longer available. (If you happen to have one, eBay has requests for them.) The site (paperbeadcrafts) that had the picture also had directions for home made versions. It's a great place to visit to learn more than you ever wanted to know about paper bead making! I tried a few. QUITE a few of the home made versions but there was something not quite right with every one. Finally.....and I don't know just how the search led me there.....I found a "Bobbin Winder" on eBay. I LOVED the look of it so sent for it thinking/hoping it might work. I LOVE gadgets and this filled the bill. The vendor didn't understand how I intended to use it for bead rolling but offered to make "adjustment" suggestions. Careful....not something to offer a gadget happy crafter!!! With my vague description, he made some bead winders out of dowels and cotter pins and even made a "holder" I had described. (Something out of my past....a long forgotten craft I still can't quite remember.) First....did I say I'm a "messy" crafter? I am! And no matter how careful I am, I end up gluing my beads to the roller much of the time. Somewhere on the Internet (I can't find the site again so I apologize for not being able to give credit where credit is due) someone suggested using hollow (baby proof) Q-Tips to wind beads. They don't stick!!! You cut off the cotton swab ends and wrap around the plastic. LOVE THIS! (Sometime in the future, I'm going to try plastic toothpicks in a dowel to see if that works. We'll see.) With my bobbin winder-turned-bead-wrapper and a dozen dowel/cotter pin rollers (with Q-Tip straw covers) and their base I have a dandy mini bead factory! I tend to make as many beads as I have rollers available at a time. When the beads dry I remove them (unless I am going to add a coating or additional glaze) and start another batch. I AM SPOILED. If I had my "druthers" I'd have several bead rack holders for drying and a bunch more winders. But, you have to stop "somewhere!" Somehow I lost site of the fact that what I really needed now was a roller that would wrap the heavy weight watercolor paper many of us are using to experiment with Ida Abshier's watercolor project. AND....a heavier tension pin version which this nice person included in a batch for me to test.....filled the bill almost perfectly. (He's an engineer and "almost" as a specification makes him crazy!) What I'm aiming for now is a non-stick (somehow) bead roller (which is really just a version of a quilling tool) that fits my bobbin winder (the 3/8" inch dowel works) and a long tension pin that has a large enough slot for the heavier paper. With water color paper and heavier paper stock options for how large to make the beads would be nice. Though, as I consider this, I am not sure the watercolor weight paper would work in the bobbin winder. It's quite heavy and probably needs to be hand rolled. There's a limit to "primative automation" capabilities.
This "saint" who put up with all my indecision is named Chuck. If you are interested in his bead roller/quiller tool or his bobbin winder there is a link on the Gazette page or you can check out his web page.
==================================================== 10/26/09 NEWS FLASH!!!! Drying Rack has been added!!! Now, sets of THREE Bead Rollers and the Drying Rack are available on Chuck's Web Site. OR you can get Three Bead Winders and the Drying Rack at a lower "combination" price. Just check the web page. The new, heavier/longer bead roller is terrific. Works very well. : ) And, you might also want to ask him about the bobbin winder. He personally doesn't think it's necessary to make paper beads. It really isn't, but it's a help (with thinner papers, not with the heavy weight water color and card stock) and is lots of fun if you are fond of gadgets! ==================================================== Gosh.....all this to support a "hint." Wonder what I'd get into if I were starting a project from "scratch?" The funny thing is, a look at Aubrey's Beads and I just want to buy strands of beads from there. They are beautiful and a strand or two would provide embellishments for a long time. I've lost sight of the idea that originally this was a way to make use of scraps! Anyway, my bead making career is just about over. Not sure where all these neat tools will take me next.....I'm SURE they will be helpful in future projects. Come on over to the Gazette and check all this out. Beads are not the focus of this Challenge. The Watercolor technique is. And, while Ida is indisposed (behind her ailing computer) Yogi Grunwald has sent us tips from her experience with the technique. Come on over....come out and "play."