Nov 21st, 2022
How Glass Beads Are Made
Left: A person adding details to a glass bead over a flame. Image from Adobe Stock Images.
Glass beads are commonly used for jewelry or other decorative items and are sold everywhere all over the world. Because they have such a long-standing history, there are many different methods of making them, though if one isn't careful it is very easy to butcher the process.
Glass beads are usually made out of silicon dioxide, also known as silica. Silica occurs naturally in quartz crystals and is a large constituent of sand in many parts of the world. It is first melted at high temperatures along with other minerals. The additional minerals can also commonly add color to the beads, with certain minerals composing more or less of the bead's silica mixture. Beads may also get colored by being rolled in small shards of colored glass while the mixture is still molten. Alternatively, after a transparent bead is made it may be painted on the inside, though this method tends to wear easily.
After the glass mixture is molten and colored, it gets shaped. Glass beads appear in many different shapes and sizes, though they are most commonly made by turning the glass around an iron rod, called a mandel. While the glass has yet to harden, it can be pressed flat or molded into different fun shapes. Glass beads may be painted after they are manufactured.
Glass beads are still made of glass, which tends to be fragile. Though most are chemically stable, older beads may show visible signs of aging, and such (though uncommon) deterioration is referred to as ''glass disease''. Glass beads should be carefully stored so they don't scratch each other, and in low humidity environments. High humidity quickens the onset of glass disease.
Though many types of beads are mass-produced for a large consumer base, glass bead-making is a historic art that holds traditions and is a more fascinating process than can be seen at craft stores. Pretty beads are a source of creative inspiration and comfort for many people.
Oct 30th, 2022
Feature: Tiffany Gao
Tiffany's Instagram and Tiktok: @snoopys_jewelry
Tiffany Gao, pictured left, is a 13-year-old who loves creating jewelry. Her handicraft focuses on intricate bead patterns complete with charms, typically seen in her handmade earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.
''I started making jewelry in March because I wanted to give someone I liked a bracelet,'' Gao said. ''It was really fun, and it's really nice seeing other people wear my jewelry, so I kept making stuff.''
Gao now runs a small Depop business called Snoopy's Jewelry, where she mostly gifts or sells jewelry to friends and classmates.
''A lot of my friends that I give jewelry to really like [them],'' Gao said. ''It's also really fun and it's what I do to take my mind off stress.''
Gao has nailed down her process for making jewelry. First, she'll listen to music or browse through Pinterest for inspiration for jewelry.
''A lot of times I go to bead shops, usually Michaels or Hobby Lobby, and I look at pendants and I try to find one that I feel something for,'' Gao said. ''It's usually a pretty fun process, I look around at all sorts of beads and I try to think of which beads go well together.''
Gao says this is also a great way for beginners to get into making jewelry, because it is a simple process that yeilds complex and detailed results.
''I [would] definitely say start with bracelets first, and slowly move up,'' Gao said. ''You can do more complicated designs as you make more necklaces. It gets to be really fun too.''
Oct 15th, 2022
Beginner's Guide to Amigurumi
Crocheting is the act of making textiles using yarn or other strands of material, chaining them together with a singular hook. Similar to knitting, it is versatile, and can make practical items, such as hats or bags, or more decorative, collectible items like plushies and figurines. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting (or knitting) small, stuffed plushies. It is typically used as a blanket term to describe crocheted three-dimensional toys, and thus an Amigurumi plush can have nearly any size or shape. Despite all the variety, there are a few key concepts crocheters use to differentiate Amigurumi toys from regular crochet. While the Amigurumi technique is not specific to Amigurumi crochet, it is specialized and falls under a narrower category on the crochet spectrum.
1) Most Amigurumi toys use a single stitch. Normal crocheting is known for being able to create fancy textiles and patterns out of yarn, an obvious example being a ''Granny Square'', which is a crocheted square that usually has flowery patterns stitched into it. On the other hand, Amigurumi is known for almost exclusively using simple single stitches to create a smooth and uniform surface. Single crochet stitches are the backbone of many other stitches as well, so learning Amigurumi patterns is great for crocheting beginners.
2) Amigurumi toys are made in ''rounds''. Many crochet projects, such as scarves, are stitched in rows with each row uniformly matching the rest. Amigurumi projects are typically started with a ''magic ring'', which is a special looped knot the crocheter can easily add stitches to. A magic ring typically starts with around six stitches, which completes an Amigurumi ''row''. Stitches are then added or removed based on the pattern the crocheter is following. Crocheting in rings allows for versatility in shape, letting one create a cylinder or a sphere and everything in between.
All in all, Amigurumi is a great technique to learn for beginners to crochet, as it is easy to comprehend and allows the crocheter versatility and creative liberty in their creations.
September 30th, 2022
Feature: Nghi Nguyen
Nghi Nyugen (left) is a 14-year-old high school freshman. She is an Aries, and she is very passionate about crocheting, especially making hats and tote bags. Her projects cover a range of accessories, from small purses and heart charms to bucket hats and even full on sweaters. However, her favorite crochet project by far is a blue hat that she gifted to a friend from band.
''He sometimes wears it around school, and he looks happy wearing it so it makes me happy to see him wear it, too,'' Nyugen said.
Nyugen also states that she was inspired by a friend to start crocheting, and being able to make something she is proud of is a reason she keeps doing what she does.
''I started around the summer of 2022 because I was bored, and I kept making things because I felt happy whenever I finished a piece. I like the alone time and just having time to think.''
For those new to crocheting, Nyugen would like people to know that they should continue to constantly practice.
''It's not going to look good the first time,'' she said. ''Just keep trying and it will be worth it.''
September 15th, 2022
How To Make Mayla's Earrings
The last post discussed a variety of accessories via my friend Mayla Montgomery, including her fun handmade earrings. This post will teach you (the reader!) how to make similar pairs.
For this you will need earring hooks, jump rings, pliers and eyepins. Optionally, you may need some craft chain. These can all be found separately or as a set on Amazon
, or at other craft stores.
There are four pairs of earrings displayed, three that display miniature charms and one of which displays soda tabs. All three pairs of miniatures can be found at craft stores online.
To make the miniature fake plant earrings, an eyepin must be attached with either hot glue or craft glue. Using pliers, secure the eyepin to a jump ring, and secure the jump ring onto the earring hook. Repeat this step. This set of basic instructions is repeated with the purple plastic babies, however a length of chain is added between the charm and the earring hook. Additionally, you may need to puncture the charm with an awl or strong needle to make room for the eyepin. To make the coffee cup earrings, extra glue is required to attach the tiny cup and spoon to the saucer.
Finally, to make the soda tab earrings, you will need two soda tabs. Drink companies that package their products in aluminum cans will likely have a soda tab on top. This can be removed by opening the can and wiggling the soda tab back and forth until it snaps off.
Now, all you need to do is to attach one side of the soda tab to a jump ring that fits, before again securing it to an earring hook.
These sets of instructions can be repeated with variation to turn any charms you want into a pair of wearable jewelry. Earring making is a versatile and easily approachable process. If you're still not confident about your ability, remember what Mayla says: start small. Good luck!
September 1st, 2022
Feature: Mayla Montgomery
Mayla Montgomery, pictured left, is a 14-year-old freshman in high school. Her sign is a Taurus, and she's passionate about acting, watching movies, and crafting. In her spare time as a crafter, she especially enjoys sewing, knitting, and making earrings. Montgomery has quite some experience in the craft, too. She has been sewing for multiple years, at first accumulating experience from childhood sewing lessons. Over the years, those lessons have paused, though recently she has been crafting a lot more.
''Over quarantine, I picked [sewing] back up again,'' she reflects. ''I'd facetime my grandma and we'd sew together.''
Montgomery gets most of her inspiration from Pinterest, and her expertise results in a range of products, from patterned miniskirts to earrings displaying various handmade miniatures (images below).
''I think it's really fun, really gratifying, [and] I feel good that I'm not just on my phone,'' she comments about her love for crafting.
Montgomery frequently wears the accessories she makes, too, and is proud to be able to tell people it's a work of her own. She encourages others to pick up crafty hobbies, because it is a good investment of time if you are willing to work towards bigger goals.
''Start small, one of my first projects was a simple tote bag I made with a turtle fabric.'' she recalls. ''[If] you start simple, [then] you can kind of move onto bigger things once you have established the basics. Go sew, go knit, it's so much fun, it's a blast!''
Maybe a tagboard or something??