5 things you really should consider before buying cord

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These are five things that I wish I had known before I did my first round of cord shopping! When I first discovered my love for micro macramé, I wanted to buy tons of cord/threads. I didn’t put too much thought into it, and I ended up with a bunch of unnecessary cords, a lot of which are still sitting untouched in my room! So, if you’re considering buying cord anytime soon, you might want to keep these five points in mind!

1. The size of your piece – With smaller pieces of jewelry, like earrings and rings, thinner cords achieve intricacy better. Griffin silk cords and thinner nylon cords work pretty well. I personally love s-lon size 18 cords for my micro macramé work. Thicker cords like cotton, heavier nylon, leather, hemp and jute work better for bigger projects, like necklaces and bracelets.

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Cotton thread for the necklace provided sturdiness, but also allowed the knotting pattern to show nicely

2. The ‘feel’ of your project – You have to ask yourself – ‘What does my piece say?’. Does it say ‘classy’, or ‘fun’, or ‘boho-chic’? The answer will help you determine the kind of cord you want to use. Silk cord automatically adds a bit of class, while cotton and leather are more fun and bold. Hemp and jute, I feel, naturally scream ‘hippie’. Also think of what kind of movement you want your entire piece to have; some cords, like s-lon, drape very well, whereas some other cords might be stiff and not allow too much flexibility.

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I used a thick rounded leather cord for these earrings because I wanted them to be fun. The beads I used kept with the theme, and they had wide enough bores for two strands of cord to pass through them.

3. The type of finish you’re looking for – If you’re the kind who wants to tie up all loose ends neatly and close off pieces with as little extra cord showing, thinner cords work better. Thicker cords will always look a bit messy at the end, but that look does work for certain designs! I realized the hard way that trying to finish off a piece made with hemp cord with a neat knot + super glue to secure it was not the best way to do it. Once the glue dried, the hemp started crumbling! Since then, I’ve decided to allow myself to make my pieces with hemp a little laid back.  If you’re not fussed about having to fold the cord over itself and then wire wrap, your options really widen. Clear beading thread and illusion cords are available too, for normal beading projects.

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I don’t know if you can see it, but I’ve looped this silk fabric string through the jump ring and back over itself and then wire wrapped it to secure it. Keeps with the sort of Bohemian theme of the bracelet, no?

4. The size of beads you use – I love adding beads to my knotting projects. They add that extra oomph to everything! A big learning point for me was that cords come in different sizes and it is imperative to know exactly what you’re looking for! Beads come with bores of different diameters, so always make sure that the cord you’re buying can actually fit through your beads! I’ve made this mistake quite often when I was starting out. There are a lot of sites out there that tell you exactly what diameter different cord sizes represent. I’ll link you to the one I refer to.

I wanted to do a fun and simple bracelet for the square knot project tutorial. I had to be sure to choose cord that was thick enough to make a sturdy bracelet, but also thin enough so that two strands could go through the beads.

5. Colours, colours, colours! – Choose your colours well. If you want your cord to be the focal point of your piece, use nice happy colours, or even mix different colours into the project. But if you want to let your beads do most of the talking, like I do with my earrings, choose neutral colours or a colour that allows your beads to pop. This varies depending on the piece and on personal taste. But know that although there are a whole bunch of very attractive looking cords in stunning colours, you will find that there are some colours that you honestly will never use. So don’t succumb to the temptation of buying cord just because it looks pretty. Really think it through!

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The brown thread here really helps the rest of the colours stand out

These five tips really help me with my cord shopping these days. My cord browsing has now become less of ‘ohmygodthatssoprettyIjusthavetobuyit’ and more of sensible decision making!

~ Kirtana

Getting your bling on with Swarovski Elements

Swarovski elements beads - of all shapes, sizes and colours. (Image courtesy the Beadaholique blog)

Swarovski Elements beads – of all shapes, sizes and colours.
(Image courtesy the Beadaholique blog)

I’ve already talked about how much I love beads that shine when I raved about Czech Fire Polish beads.  However, no bead shines quite like a well-cut crystal, and all Swarovski Elements crystals are perfectly cut, and come in myriad hues that will delight anyone.  Swarovski Elements are “the finest crystal elements manufactured by Swarovksi” – that’s a quote I’ve taken from their website.

Between K and me, I think Swarovski Elements are probably the most frequently used beads in our jewellery. And there are several good reasons for that. Firstly, like I mentioned, their shine is fabulous. Good crystals are faceted to give you maximum brilliance, and when you talk about crystals, the foremost expert that comes to mind is Swarovski. I think you get the best value for money with these beads.

One of K's rings with opaque and transparent Swarovski crystals

One of K’s rings with opaque and transparent Swarovski crystals

Secondly, the variety is incredible! You can get pretty much anything you want, in any size and colour you want. You want round crystals? They have them. Looking for exotic colours like greige and astral pink (one of K’s favourites!)? You’re looking in the right place. Interested in rings, butterflies, clovers and fish? They’ve got you covered. I sometimes like to look for unusual things, just for the sheer pleasure of actually finding that they have what I’m looking for! Even, or especially, if i have no idea what I’ll do with such beads!

A few of the assorted Swarovski Elements shapes I own - butterflies, flowers, fish, leaves and rings.

A few of the assorted Swarovski Elements shapes I own – butterflies, flowers, fish, leaves and rings.

Out of the vast variety, if pressed to pick our favourite, it would probably be bicones. Bicones, as the name suggests, are beads that look like two cones placed base-to-base. They add texture and incredible sparkle to jewellery, more so than traditional round crystals. You can get them as normal beads, which you can string, and as pendants or drops, which make for the most beautiful dangles. Swarovski also has a new type of crystal, called the Xilion bead. Here, they’ve used the latest technology to create both large and small facets on the same bead, which increases the brilliance of the bead. And I really did not think that was possible! The Xilion beads are just gorgeous!

A few of my beads, in different sizes

A few of my beads, in different sizes

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, good crystals add class to any piece of jewellery. If they’re well-cut, they have no sharp ends or extra bits that will snag against a wearer’s skin and hair, and this is very important to us. No one likes to wear a piece of jewellery that is uncomfortably scratchy, and while we all tend to suffer a bit, in the name of beauty, we prefer to offer painless adornments! And really, no words of mine can do enough justice to how beautiful these beads look in pieces. I speak from experience when I say that wearing beautiful jewellery is a huge boost to one’s spirits. If you’re lucky enough to own jewellery made by Swarovski, you know what I’m talking about. Their Elements are no less spectacular.

A few of my Swarovski bicones, in my favourite rainbow arrangement.

A few of my Swarovski bicones, in my favourite rainbow arrangement.

I’ll leave you with a sneak preview of the piece I’m currently working on. It’s based on Swarovski keystone beads (one of my latest obsessions), bicones, and of course, since it’s me, Czech Fire Polish beads! Tell me what you think!

My current work-in-progress: The pendant of a necklace made with Swarovski aquamarine keystone beads, purple bicones, and bicoloured Czech Fire Polish beads.

My current work-in-progress: The pendant of a necklace made with Swarovski aquamarine keystone beads, purple bicones, and bicoloured Czech Fire Polish beads.

*Ammu* 

Snug as a ‘Bug!

Sometime last year, I got bitten by a bug. The I-MUST-have-that bug. You guys will have figured out by now that I am particularly susceptible to such attacks, especially around beads and jewellery making supplies. It also strikes me when I’m passing by a book store, or browsing on Amazon. But this was something else entirely… well, random!

I’m a sucker for all kinds of stationery, and I have a draw full of paper and blank notebooks (which I should really start using), and as a kid, I would go around giving people hand-made cards for every possible occasion. But somewhere along the way, possibly with the realisation that my drawing skills were somewhat impaired, I stopped making cards. And then, last year I discovered embossing! And I was suddenly struck with all the possibilities this would open up for me, as a lover of card-making without the requisite drawing skills!

So, I sat and looked at various models online. Compared them on Amazon. And on Youtube. And on different craft review blog posts (bless them all!). And came to the conclusion that as I was a novice, I should pick something (a) I could use easily and (b) I couldn’t break in a week, because some of the models out there are extremely fancy, digital machines!

My Cuttlebug with its plates and an embossing folder. You can see the pretty paisley design on the orange card stock.

My Cuttlebug with its plates and an embossing folder. You can see the pretty paisley design on the orange card stock.

I settled on the Cuttlebug V2. And promptly went out and bought replacement plates, embossing folders, embossing powder and ink even before I bought my embossing machine! When the machine finally arrived, it arrived nestled in a box in another box twice the size of the first. A little intimidating, to say the least! The blurb on Amazon calls the machine, “light-weight and portable”, and it is portable, but it’s heavier than it looks!

The 'Simple Flowers' embossing folder I got with my 'bug.

The ‘Simple Flowers’ embossing folder I got with my ‘bug.

But it works like a dream. And the very first couple of papers I embossed came out beautifully! I am totally hooked, and now want to emboss every single thing that will stay still long enough for me to send it through the machine!

Fancy flourishes

Fancy flourishes

The entire principle is very simple – you place your paper in between your embossing folder of choice, and then sandwich the folder between glass plates, and send the entire thing through the machine. With the pressure, the design on your embossing folder gets transferred to your paper, and the result, my friends, is glorious!

Yes, I love paisley so much that I have three embossing folders that are paisley prints! And I'd like some more!

Yes, I love paisley so much that I have three embossing folders that are paisley prints! And I’d like some more!

I’ll leave you with something I plan to try very soon. Will post my version as soon as it’s ready!

*Ammu*