Showing posts with label Crafts & DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crafts & DIY. Show all posts

Thursday, February 17, 2022

DIY Vintage Suitcase Coffee Table

Vintage Suitcase Coffee Table

I have loved old chests and trunks since my childhood.  Now that I qualify as vintage myself, I take an even greater delight in finding, and transforming, items that have a story older than my own.  Perhaps it is nostalgia.  Whatever it is, I am always on the lookout for something with an interesting history.

This DIY project actually began in the aisles of my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (a nonprofit I enthusiastically support).  As a rescuer at heart, I couldn't let a battered metal traveling case sit there abandoned and unwanted.  There was no doubt in my mind that an item with plenty of mileage on it had interesting stories to tell, that it had more than proven its worth, and that it should be given the chance to be useful once more.  I laid down my five dollars and started imagining what that chest could become.

These metal trunks were in use during the 1940s and 1950s.

Any search on Pinterest will show you that DIYers are pretty gung-ho about converting antique trunks, chests, and suitcases into all kinds of cool furniture pieces.  You can also find a number of these reclaimed treasures being sold on Etsy.  This is a popular trend with staying power.  I can't imagine these vintage pieces ever going out of vogue.

Top of Trunk - Mostly Surface Scratches in the Paint


Bottom of Trunk Had Seen Better Days


Inside of Case - Paper Lining - Perfume Spills

You can see from the "before" pics that I had my work cut out for me.  As is common with these old metal cases, there was a good deal of rust to contend with, and the inside paper lining was spotted in places (smelling, thankfully, of perfume).  The first order of business was to remove the surface rust with abrasive pads.  I didn't want to lose the character and patina of age, so I was careful to remove only the top layer of corrosion.  A person can ruin a good antique by doing too much restoration.


Removing Rust - Power Drill Abrasive Pad

Dremel Abrasive Buff - Perfect in Tight Spots

The rust had created a distressed metal effect that artisans work hard to achieve.


Trunk Lid Primed With Spray Paint

To deal with the minor stains inside the trunk, I painted over the paper lining.  I could have attempted to strip out the paper, but the likelihood of getting all of it removed without creating a bigger mess was too great.  I knew the primer would not only cover the stains, but would make the trunk smell clean and fresh.  Once the paint coats were dry, I sprayed a clear matte acrylic sealer over them.  


New Liner - Tissue Paper Decoupage

In determining a decorative finish for the interior, I considered several options: stenciling a design, applying a decoupage treatment, lining with fabric, using decorative stick-on tiles, or inserting a thin cork liner. I decided to go with a lovely tissue paper decoupage (using a matte Mod Podge finish).

Towards the end of the project, I changed my mind about the exterior finish. Originally, my intent was to simply sand the finish and leave it with a wire brushed finish. That would have worked for my rustic cabin decor. However, once I decided to sell this piece, I felt a freshly painted finish would be more appealing to potential buyers. I used Rust-Oleum Chalked Spray Paint (in a neutral linen white) and then gave the trim a light distressing with fine grit sand paper.

After Pic - Suitcase Coffee Table Transformation

I could see the finish line in sight as I attached four hairpin legs to the bottom of the trunk.  Because the metal skin on the case is very thin, I reinforced the bottom interior of the trunk (essentially creating a false bottom).  This provided the added stability and thickness needed to bolt the legs securely to the case.

Would I tackle a project like this again?  Absolutely!  It's not easy to walk away from a vintage item needing some TLC.  Besides, these chests are iconic and incredibly versatile.  Not only will someone gain a unique conversational piece, but this suitcase is a great place to store things like remote controls, or dreams of future travel.

This coffee table and I now share our own unique story.  Sometimes, in quiet moments, I feel transported as I imagine where it has previously been, what it carried, and who might have packed and unpacked it time and time again.  I find myself composing little vignettes about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Case.  Pretty good entertainment for the price of a five-dollar admission. 









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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The Best Tool Roll Organizer To Store & Protect Your Tools

Whether you enjoy jewelry making, building, painting or refurbishing models, other hobby, crafts & DIY projects or doing small electronics repairs, investing in good quality tools for doing delicate precision work can help achieve better results faster and with less effort by giving you more precise control and leverage while reducing the strain on your hands (your most valuable tools by far!).

Choosing the right tool storage and organization system can not only help protect that investment but also enhance your efficiency and enjoyment of the creative process while you are working on your projects. However, I have learned the hard way how challenging it can be to evaluate, compare and, ultimately, determine the best solution for your individual tool storage and organization needs, 

Today, I am sharing my personal product review of the DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer, 21 Pockets Tool Bag Roll that I bought a few months ago as a Christmas gift for my husband, who has an extensive collection of precision hand tools for his hobbies, crafts nd DIY projects.

This awesome waterproof DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer can securely hold many tools of different sizes and shapes. You can view them at all a glance, find and remove what you want, and return it to its spot quickly and easily when you have finished using it.

My husband John works long hours at a rewarding but stressful and high-pressure job. One of his favorite ways to relax and recharge his batteries is working on a variety of hobby, crafts & DIY projects. He especially enjoys collecting and restoring rare and hard-to-find, vintage 1:43 scale die-cast model cars and trucks, as well as collecting and refining hard-to-find plaster buildings for our Christmas village display and then painting them in stunning, elaborate detail and adding interior lights. Sometimes, he even adds strategically placed, tiny color-changing LEDs to create special effects (for example, randomly flashing multicolored lights inside a Harry Potter-esque magic shop, as though the wizards inside are trying out different magic wands to find the one that will choose him or her, or simulating the glow of a blacksmith's forge by carving out a large, wide opening in a wall, lining it with iridescent, colored foil through which you can see tiny LEDs, each cycling through red, orange and yellow and out of sync with each other). We actually display two different Christmas villages, one made up of lighted Dept. 56 Christmas in the City buildings and another with John's amazing carved, exquisitely painted and lighted plaster buildings. During the holidays, our display can take up half of our living room, with two villages arranged around that year's train tracks layout and connected by John's wonderful, vintage, O-scale model train collection, some of which he inherited from his beloved uncle.

Since John isn't easy to buy gifts for, I usually ask him for a Christmas wish list to give me some guidance. (I also choose one or two gifts for him that will be complete surprises, but in case they miss the mark, I know that he'll at least get some of the gifts he really wants!) Two of the items on his most recent wish list were a set of good quality, upgraded pliers and cutters and a better storage and organization solution for them and the rest of his precision hobby tools. 

Since I used many of the same items as jewelry making tools, I knew exactly which pliers and cutters I wanted to buy for him. Xuron makes very high quality tools for small-scale, delicate, precision work at a very reasonable price. They are also more durable than similar tools I have purchased from much more expensive brands. So I chose several pairs of my favorite Xuron pliers and cutters as part of John's Christmas gift.

However, while there are lots of great toolboxes and other tool storage and organization options for larger tools, like hammers, wrenches and sockets, I knew that finding a better tool storage and organization solution for my husband that would meet his specific requirements would be a lot more challenging, since he had already experimented with several different types of tool organizers and storage that weren't working for him.

Close-up photo of Xuron and other jewelry making and hobby precision tools (pliers and cutters)
The five Xuron jewelry making and electronics pliers and cutters I gifted to my husband for Christmas, nestled in the four lower and far right upper pockets of the DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer I also gave him to store them and the other precision tools in his collection.

Great Tool Storage and Organization Solutions for Precision Pliers, Model Building Tools, Jewelry Making Tools, Etc. Are Surprisingly Hard to Find!

Last year, John purchased a secondhand, wheeled O.P.I. nail polish salesperson's sample case that he has been converting into a super cool, customized, mobile crafting workstation with a spacious, attached, removable work surface that he calls his hobby tray. Since he doesn't have a dedicated workspace for his hobbies and crafts, this clever solution now enables him to work on crafts and DIY projects whenever he has a bit of time, wherever he happens to be. Even better, it also doubles as a compact, consolidated storage organizer for all his painted plaster Christmas village, electronics repair and vintage die-cast car refurbishing and model building tools, supplies and current projects. 

He has been having a blast "imagineering" (to use a Disney term) and tweaking his one-of-a-kind mobile craft storage and workstation over time. In fact, redesigning and refining has turned out to be one of his favorite projects to date!

He had come up with workable solutions for customizing the interior in terms of organizing and storing his paintbrushes, paints, glues, sandpaper, markers and other supplies and for safely storing delicate project works-in-progress. Unfortunately, he wanted (and needed) a better way to store and organize a variety of other tools, including pliers and cutters, needle files, riffler files, X-ACTO knives and blades, hemostats, dental picks, micro carving tools, tweezers, specialty pens, scissors, miniature screwdrivers, a ruler, a pin vise, micro drill bits, etc. 

These precision tools needed to be easily visible and acccessible while in use and protected during storage and transport, and the tool organizer not only would need to fit neatly inside the top compartment of the new mobile hobby storage/workstation but also work as a standalone, portable tool storage organizer that he could easily bring to another location, for example, to help a friend or family member with an electronics or jewelry repair project. 

In addition, John's ideal tool organizer and storage solution would need to hold a lot of tools, in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and store them compactly, as well as be both lightweight, sturdy and wear-resistant. 

Traditional and Nontraditional Tool Organizers Didn't Meet Our Needs

Like John, I have been a "maker" since I was a child. and have spent many years trying to find better storage and organizing solutions for my jewelry making, beading, metal clay, polymer clay and painting tools and supplies. While I discovered some wonderful bead storage and organization solutions years ago for my enormous collection of rare and vintage beads and jewelry making supplies, I continue to search for better jewelry making tool storage and organization solutions.

Between the two of us, we have tried or considered a variety of traditional hobby, DIY and craft tool holders and organizers, such as brush holders, tool caddies, plier stands and tackle boxes. (Plano tackle box systems are wonderful for storing jewelry findings, beads, and other jewelry making supplies, but not the best solution for storing, organizing and protecting delicate precision tools.)

We both have also tried a number of non-traditional tool storage and organization solutions, such as cosmetics organizers, including the acrylic eye pencil and lip pencil organizers and lipstick/lip gloss organizer that I keep on my vanity for makeup.  (They work great for their intended use!)

Unfortunately, every commercial or DIY tool organizer solution either of us has tried over the years has had significant limitations that failed to meet our respective precision tool storage and organization needs. As a result, each of us ended up having to cobble together several different tool storage and organization products to accommodate our collections.

Some of the Tool Storage and Organizer Products We Tried That Missed the Mark (and Why)

  • Storing delicate, precision tools in a Plano tackle box rack system would give them no protection. They would rub against each other, potentially nicking or dulling cutter blades or scratching or dinging smooth pliers jaws, creating uneven surfaces that would transfer to the wire or metal on which they were used. 
    • For example, John's coarse bastard file or diamond-coated riffler files could wreak havoc on his pair of fine nippers if they were to come into contact. 
    • Another important downside of that type of storage is that it would not be easy to see each individual tool at a glance and find and remove the desired one quickly and easily.
  • Tool storage organizers with uniform-size compartments, like brush holders or marker storage units, would not work for pliers, cutters or similarly shaped tools. Even straight tools of varying widths, lengths/heights and diameters could not be stored and organized in these storage solutions efficiently (and some tools were too wide or thick to fit at all.    
  • None of the three common types of pliers storage solutions I have used have been particularly convenient for me, and none would work for John's mobile hobby and crafts cart. 

A pliers rack is fine if you have a permanent spot for it to live in a dedicated workspace. However, they don't protect the tips of the pliers, cutters or nippers from each other and would be unsuitable to lay on their sides in John's rolling hobby station cart.

Wood pliers blocks keep the pliers and cutters separated and, therefore, somewhat protected. However, they don't fit every pair of pliers or cutters (especially those with wider/ergonomic handles or grips), and removing and replacing the tools into the holes in the block requires a bit more fiddling than we want to do, especially for the pairs in the middle of the block.

I have a lot of jewelry making pliers and cutters, most of which I have been storing in zippered tool pouches (similar to this Eurotool tool pouch with zipper), for lack of a better lightweight, easily portable solution. They have elastic loops or straps inside to hold the tools in place and prevent them from knocking into each other when not in use. Unfortunately, since the manufacturer doesn't know the sizes, shapes, handle widths and other characteristics of the pliers and cutters you own or how many you have, I have found that unless the zipppered tool case was designed by the manufacturer for a specific brand and set of these tools, it is very difficult to use the interior storage space efficiently.

More importantly, in my experience, it is impossible to remove a pair of pliers or cutters from the elasticized loops without using two hands, even if the tool pouch was custom designed by (or for) the tool manufacturer to work with a specific set of pliers and cutters from a single product line, and especially if the tips have protective caps. So, whenever you are working on a project and need one of those tools, you have to stop working, put down the project so you have both hands free, and then wiggle and coax the required pair of pliers or cutters out from under their elastic strap restraints (without banging into or dislodging any adjacent pairs) before you can pick up the project again with your nondomiant hand and try to pick up where you left off before this unnecessary and distracting interruption.

The need for a simpler, more compact, more portable tool storage solution became a much higher priority when John began customizing his new mobile hobby workstation. (Since we have also been rethinking and trying to redesign my too-small crafts room/ "studio" space, if I could figure out a great tool storage and organization solution for John, I had my fingers crossed that maybe it could work for my jewelry making and crafting tools, too!) 

The DuraTech 21-Pocket Tool Roll Organizer to the Rescue

One Tool Organizer and Storage Solution to Rule (and Hold and Protect) Them All!

Photo showing the full length interior of the open tool roll filled with tools
The main pockets are in wider and narrower widths to accommodate a wide range of tool types, shapes and sizes and provide flexibility in how your organize them. The bright turquoise blue lining also makes it much easier to see and distinguish between the "business ends" of different pliers, cutters and other precision tools.

As usual for me when shopping for an important product purchase, I did my due diligence. 

I began with an in-depth needs analysis, asking John to describe in detail his storage and organization requirements for his model building tools and to take me through all the types of craft storage he had already tried and explain why they didn't do what he wanted and needed.

Then, armed with that information (and a spinning head!), I dove into my product research. Since I had already been looking for solutions to similar storage and organization challenges for my jewelry making tools for my compact crafts studio redesign, I was already familiar with a lot of what was out there and knew that none of what I had found so far would meet my husband's very specific needs.

Fortunately, my persistence paid off! I wanted to make sure that whatever tool storage and organization solution I picked for John would be one he would be happy with, so I had decided to run my choice by him before ordering it, rather than keeping it a surprise until he opened it with his other Christmas gifts.

When I showed him the DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer, 21 Pockets Tool Bag Roll I had picked out for him on Amazon, I could telll immediately from his interest that I was on the right track. The more he read, looked at the product photos and read the product reviews, the more his eyes lit up.

I placed the order that same day, fingers crossed that he would love his new DuraTech tool roll organizer as much when he put his gift to use after Christmas as he did when looking at the product page. Fortunately, he did!

Key Features and Benefits

After filling his new tool organizer with his scale model making tools and using his DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer for more than a month, here are the things he loves about his gift.

Extreme close-up photo showing bartack stitching reinforcement between the pockets, which are bound with stitched twill bias binding tape
Areas of stress are reinforced with bartack stitching between the pockets and heavy-duty, stitched twill tape bias binding enclosing the edges of the pockets and flaps. .

Durable Premium Fabric, High Quality Construction

  • The double-layer, high-quality, waterproof 1680-denier turquoise blue and 900-denier black oxford cloth fabrics are extremely durable, making this Dura-Tech tool roll organizer both sturdy and water-resistant. (Oxford cloth is a tight basketweave fabric. The ones used in this tool roll appear to be ballistic coated nylon or polyester oxford cloth, similar to Cordura fabric.)
    • Even if you aren't storing your tools in a car or shed or traveling with them, so they are exposed to the elements, it's still nice to know that they will be protected against spills and water damage in the event of an accident.
  • The comfortable haul handle, adjustable straps, buckles and hook-and-loop flap closure are also made of sturdy, high-quality materials with durable construction, e.g.:
    • bartack stitching reinforcement between the pockets and on the top haul handle, areas most likely to be subject to stress during use.
    • edges of the pockets and flaps are bound with heavy-duty twill tape bias binding tape and stitched securely with sturdy contrasting thread.
  • After two months of nearly nonstop use, my husband’s DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer still looks brand new.

    Thoughtful and Attractive Design

    Pockets Galore

    • The 17 main pockets that span the length of the tool roll's interior along both sides are tall and come in different widths. The wider pockets can accommodate and hold most pliers and cutters securely to prevent them from moving around and potentially causing damage to the working surfaces. The narrower pockets are great for storing thinner tools and can even accommodate a 12-inch ruler, as you can see in the photos of my husband's DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer.
    • The three shorter, deeper, gusseted pockets at one end can hold a surprising amount, and there is a flap with a hook-and-loop tape closure to help keep the contents from escaping accidentally. These are great for storing smaller items (e.g., a set of micro drill bits housed in a hard storage case, a set of sockets, small packages of nails, screws or washers, a tape measure). 
    • At the opposite end, there is also a sturdy mesh pocket attached to the outside of one of the 17 main pockets. Since this mesh pocket is shorter and also see-through, it's perfect for shorter tools, such as needle files, that could slide down inside one of the taller, opaque, main pockets, where they would be hidden and hard to reach. 
    • The DuraTech tool roll organizer lays flat when unrolled and filled with tools, and there’s plenty of room in each pocket. This means you not only can store all your crafting, model building or jewelry making tools in one place and see them all at a glance, you can also easily remove and replace each tool with just one hand while you are working, so you don't have to put down your project every time you need to reach for a new tool.
    Close-up photo of mesh pocket
    The open mesh pocket at one end of my husband's DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer holds micro drill bits (in a fitted case), needle files and a small diamond nail file for rounding and smoothing wire ends

    Striking Use of Contrasting Colors Goes Beyond Just Good Looks

    • The two-tone black and bright turquoise color-blocked design looks very sharp and distinctive. Bonus—the bright blue color makes it easy to spot your tool storage organizer quickly if you happen to misplace it (or if your work space, craft room or studio is messy and overcrowded, like mine). 
    • The "business end" of the tool(s) in each stitched pocket are much more visible against the backdrop of the bright turquoise fabric lining in the center. So, you can quickly and easily distinguish a pair of round-nose pliers from a matching pair of needle-nose pliers or a Phillips-head from a flathead mini screwdriver, or pick out an individual diamond-coated riffler file from others in an assorted set.

    Versatile Touches

    • The large, sturdy, aluminum D-ring next to the haul handle can be used to hang your DuraTech tool roll organizer from a hook or to use as a keyring, attach a water bottle, etc.
    Close-up detail photo of bartack-reinforced haul handle, tough, high-denier oxford cloth fabric and sturdy D-ring for hanging
    This close-up photo of the bartack-stitched, reinforced haul handle, durable, high-denier, heavy-duty oxford cloth fabric and large, sturdy D-ring help you visualize a few examples of the high quality materials, workmanship and construction that went into this superior  tool roll orgaizer.

    Capacious When in Use, Lightweight and Compact When Rolled up for Storage

    • The DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer can hold a lot of pliers, cutters and other hand tools.
    • The adjustable straps allow this tool roll organizer to accommodate a large number of tools of varying shapes and sizes and store them securely. In fact, if you shake the closed and buckled  tool roll, you won't hear any of the tools rattling against each other. 
    • As you can see, even after my husband put all his favorite model making, crafts and DIY and other hobby tools into his new DuraTech tool roll organizer, there is still plenty of storage room for future specialty pliers or other precision tool acquisitions. (As any hobby or crafting enthusiast will tell you, you can never have too many tools, lol!)
    • Given its generous capacity, this tool roll is surprisingly lightweight and compact. It's takes up relatively little real estate on a work surface or in a cabinet, drawer or rolling cart and doesn't add much weight to that of its contents, making it extremely portable.

    A Remarkable Value

    • After researching so many tool organizers and storage solutions, I was very surprised (and delighted) to discover how affordable this DuraTech tool roll organizer is, given its obviously  superior quality materials, construction, design and durability compared to most of the other types of storage and organization products I've found during my extensive searches. 
    • Currently this DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer is priced at less than $18 on Amazon, which I consider an absolute steal in terms of value for money.

    A Inexpensive and Thoughtful Gift for Any Jewelry Making, Scale Model Making, Electronics or DIY Enthusiast

    My husband couldn't be more thrilled with his DuraTech 21-pocket tool roll organizer. I'm seriously considering buying another for my jewelry making pliers, cutters, awls and other hand tools.

    It's hard to imagine anyone whose hobbies and interests include model railroading, remote-control cars and planes, building scale models or dioramas, jewelry making, watch repair, electronics and similar creative pursuits who wouldn't appreciate receiving such an attractive, thoughtfully designed, well made and durable storage organizer for their precision tools as a gift.

    Of course, if that description also fits you, I encourage you to consider treating yourself to one of these terrific DuraTech tool roll organizers. 

    The Best Tool Roll Organizer To Store and Protect Your Tools by Margaret Schindel


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    Tuesday, January 4, 2022

    Modern Amigurumi for the Home – Craft Book Review


    Amigurumi is the Japanese art of crocheting small, cute dolls. It comes from the Japanese words ami (crocheted) and nuigurumi (stuffed toy).  

    *As defined by Google 


    Amigurumi Crochet Designs



    From Annie's Crochet comes this Modern Amigurumi for the Home crochet leaflet with 8 adorable designs to crochet in the Amigurumi style.


    Designs include two cute cats, two birds and a rooster, Petunia the Pig a darling dog, and an adorable Fairy House.


    This crochet leaflet includes color photos of finished items and full instructions to create your favorites from this collection. Author Elisa Sartori has named each of these cute designs with the names Madge, Esther, Felix, Mr. Rico, Petunia, Poppy and Luna. The Fairy House goes by the name Le Petit Maison


    Summary


    This craft pattern leaflet is available on Amazon where it is ranked #164 in the Stuffed Animal Crafts category. It is also available online at Annie's Craft Store and at yarn stores such as JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby. 


    Amigurumi is a really fun style of crochet which can vary in size. There are no restrictions about size or look, so whatever type of yarn or hook you use, the end result can vary in size. The world of amigurumi is sweet, cuddly, and smiley.


    So, add a little fun to your home décor with these adorable Amigurumi designs to crochet from Modern Amigurumi for the Home! 





    Related Craft Book Reviews



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    *Modern Amigurumi for the Home crochet craft pattern leaflet review written by

    ~Wednesday Elf









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    Wednesday, November 24, 2021

    Winter Time and Birds, Some Good Advice Regarding Pigeons! A DIY Project!

    Every Winter the Birds Come Calling! 

    I guess that's because we (my other half and I) love to see and feed the birds during the coldest months of the year.  There is something wonderful in seeing even the plain little sparrows munching on suet cakes that we have made or bought. The winter months can be tough on little birds as they need a lot of energy just to keep their tiny bodies warm.



    Image by Kurt Bouda from Pixabay

    There is one bird though, that I do not want on my balcony!  I do NOT want pigeons!

    Why?  Pigeons are very dirty birds.  They like to make their homes in high spaces!  If they can find a spot out of the wind and elements, they will call that spot home!  They will also chase away any of the smaller birds that I really do like having around my balcony in the winter months.  So what can I do?



    Well, I was checking out ways to keep the pigeons from even wanting to come onto my balcony, but the availability of food for the smaller birds is what is attracting them.  So if there is no food there will be no birds and I will miss out on some really fun times watching these little critters. I need to do something else that will make the pigeons look for other lodgings.

    Pigeons are spooked easily,  so one method of deterring them is to hang windchimes and balloons so that there is always movement and sound happening.  Hopefully they will find a quieter place to call home!

    While thinking about this problem and the solutions I had an idea that would do the trick. I came across a whole stack of old CD disks that we no longer needed or wanted.  Old operating systems on CD's were taking up space and were really not necessary for our computer operations.  One side of the disk has a label on it and the other side has beautiful rainbow colors!   So I took a dozen or so of these disks and set to work.

    I drilled a hole in the disk about an inch inside the outer rim!   Then just thread some wire or garden twine through the hole and leave enough string/rope to make a loop big enough to pass the disk through it. You can hang them all at the same level or vary the lengths as you please.   Then take all of your strung CD's outside and hang them with the loop around a cord or light string.  .  

    At our home we have a string of lights on our balcony because we love to sit out there evenings during the summer months!  This string of lights is now lit for the holidays and it looks amazing with my hanging CD's!  Just check out the short video I took!  You can see the effect it has in the daytime and at night!  




    The sunlight plays on the discs sending light all around the balcony!  It does not take much wind to make them spin and when they are spinning light beams are playing all around the balcony.  I am so pleased with the outcome.  They are quite pretty with their rainbow colors and they themselves are not at all noisy!  Even in the windiest of days if the CD's bang around, you just hear a little clicking sound.  










    Evenings on the balcony are so pretty with rainbow hues being seen from all corners.  I have a mirror on the one side and my lights and the disks are nicely reflected in it.  It makes it seem like I have twice as many lights and CD's on the balcony!  I personally love the look!

    What do you need to accomplish this for yourself?  A DREMEL TOOL is great for drilling the holes or you can use a regular drill with a fairly small bit (depending on the size of your cord).   If you don't have lights to hang these from, you can make a line with any kind of twine and fasten it with some hooks to where ever you want these hanging. .You can also use Christmas hooks to hang these from an eaves-trough.  Vary the lengths of the cords or keep them all the same, that is up to you entirely.  

    What I have found in just the short time that these have been up, is that the little birds are not scared of the light show, but the pigeons are not coming to roost anymore.  Hopefully this will keep them away. 

    I checked into other methods of keeping pigeons off the balcony, but they involve either hurting the birds or making the railings uncomfortable not just for the birds but for us as well.  I don't want to hurt anything, but don't want to encourage those pigeons to roost on my balcony.  

    I will let you know how it works, but, for right now it seems to be doing the trick!  No pigeons were harmed during this trial and I suspect they won't be hurt or harmed in any other way while these are on my balcony!

      





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    Wednesday, November 3, 2021

    How to Make a Stylish Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet

    Main image: Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet Tutorial

    Beaded bracelets are wonderful accessories that can add a pop of color to any outfit. Unlike necklaces and earrings, bracelets allow you to enjoy looking at them throughout the day while you’re wearing them. Vintage beaded coil wrap bracelets from the 1940s and 1950s designed by top jewelry icons of that era, such as Miriam Haskell and Robert DeMario, are coveted by vintage jewelry collectors. They have also come back into fashion repeatedly, for good reason.

    While bracelets with clasps can be quite challenging to fasten and unfasten, even with a bracelet helper tool, beaded coil wrap bracelets made with memory wire are a cinch to put on and take off your wrist. During my three decades of designing, making and, periodically, selling one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry, my coil wrap bracelets featuring vintage beads have remained among my most popular jewelry designs, regardless of fashion trends.

    In this jewelry tutorial, I’ll review how I made my most recent memory wire coil wrap bracelet with a mix of contemporary and vintage beads, which is a birthday gift for a very dear friend. The friend for whom I made this one owns several beaded coil wrap bracelets I’ve designed for her in different colors. She loves wearing them so much that when I asked her what type of jewelry she would like me to make as her birthday gift this year, she requested another coil wrap bracelet, this time in shades of olive green.

    These beautiful, classy, distinctive bracelets make wonderful gifts for any jewelry lover (including yourself), and especially for someone who has difficulty putting on or taking off her favorite bracelets with clasps. 

    Beaded Memory Wire Wrap Bracelet Tutorial

    Materials, Tools and Supplies You Will Need

    • Assorted beads in a range of sizes, shapes, materials and surface finishes.
      • I used a combination of rare vintage glass beads, vintage Swarovski crystals, contemporary glass beads, including Japanese and Czech seed beads and glass pearls, and small (2mm and 3mm) 14k gold-filled beads. 
      •  I've written an article on The Best Sources for Vintage Beads, Findings and Jewelry Components, if you are interested in using vintage beads in your memory wire beaded coil wrap bracelet designs. Buying beaded jewelry at thrift stores, auctions and estate sales and taking them apart can be a great way to buy more unusual and vintage beads less expensively. 
      • You can also make beautiful bracelets with inexpensive beads from the crafts store, if you prefer. 
    • A bead board.
      • While not strictly required, a bead board will make it much easier to plan out, play "what if" and rework parts of your design. 
      • The BeadSmith bead board I use has three channels for designing multi-strand bracelets and necklaces, a flocked surface to help keep beads from rolling around too much as you are laying out your jewelry designs, six recessed compartments of different sizes to hold and organize beads, findings and other jewelry components, and a plastic cover to protect your work-in-progress from dust and keep your laid-out design in place in between work sessions. 
    • Steel bracelet memory wire. 
    • Memory wire cutters.
      • Memory wire is extremely hard steel wire that will ruin the cutting jaws regular jewelry wire cutters intended for softer metal wire, such as silver, gold or copper. I highly recommend using either memory wire cutters made specifically for this purpose or a heavy-duty wire cutter from the hardware store.
        • An old, heavy-duty toenail clipper with straight or slanted (but not curved) jaws that you don't mind ruining is another option.
    • Bead stoppers.
      • These are steel coil spring clamps that prevent beads from slipping off stringing wire. I find they are also useful when stringing beads on memory wire bracelets.
      • I have both the basic Beadalon wire bead stoppers, which I am showing in this project because they are less expensive, and the cushioned Soft-Flex wire bead stoppers, which I prefer because they are more comfortable to use and less likely to escape from your fingertips.
      • As an alternative, you can try using ribbed clear silicone ear wire clutches, if the holes fit your memory wire.
    • Memory wire end caps.
      • Memory wire end caps are half-drilled metal beads that are glued onto the trimmed ends of the memory wire to keep the rest of the beads in place on the finished memory wire wrap bracelet and leave a smooth, rounded end that won't scratch or snag on clothing.
      • Choose silver-plated or gold-plated end caps to match your wire or spacer/accent beads.
      • Alternatively, you can use heavy-duty memory wire looping pliers to turn a small loop at each end of the wire. Finishing the ends with small loops also gives you the option of making and attaching beaded dangles to them.
    • Strong, two-part epoxy glue that dries clear. 
    • Wooden toothpicks and scrap cardboard.
      • Toothpicks and pieces of cardboard cut from shipping cartons or cereal boxes are the perfect disposable mixing tools and palettes for preparing and applying small amounts of clear two-part epoxy to the ends of the wire.
    • Close-fitting latex or nitrile exam gloves.
      • You'll wear these to protect your fingers while sliding small spacer beads and memory wire end caps onto the epoxy-coated wire ends. Choose gloves that are aren't too large, too loose or too thick to maintain the dexterity required to hold the small memory wire end cap beads securely and quickly maneuver the wire into the small holes before the epoxy sets.
      • I find that unpowdered nitrile exam gloves work great for this purpose. 
    • Ultra-fine point permanent marker.

    Step 1: Choose Your Color Scheme and Assemble a Varied Selection of Beads to Design With

    First, decide what your main color will be. Choose a wide variety of beads in different shades of that color, sizes, shapes and finishes. Then, decide on a couple of complementary accent colors. Start with a broader selection than you think you will need. I find that I can never predict exactly which beads will end up in my final design, and the more choices you have to play with, the more creative you can be.

    My friend wanted the dominant color of her bracelet to be olive green. This photo shows just some of the light to dark olive-toned vintage and contemporary beads I selected from my very large collection for this design, along with some small accent beads in gold, bronze and deep red shades, from garnet to cinnabar.

    Photo of bead board with coil of bracelet memory wire and memory wire cutters

    Step 2: Cut Your Memory Wire to the Desired Finished Number of Coils, Plus Some Extra 

    A memory wire wrap bracelet can have as few as two coils or as many as you can fit on your arm! I usually prefer to make by beaded coil wrap bracelets either three or five coils wide.

    Although it's possible to leave the entire memory wire coil uncut until you have finished stringing all your beads from one end, I find it much easier to cut the purchased memory wire coil to a more manageable length and add beads from both ends, since I always make multiple design adjustments as I go along.

    It's important to cut the wire longer than you want your finished bracelet to be, for a few reasons. You need enough extra wire at both ends to hold onto as you get closer to stringing the last of your beads and to allow space to clamp the wire ends with the bead stoppers so the beads won't slide off one end while you are adding beads to the other end. Also, the width of the beads will increase the diameter of the coils, so if you start with just three coils of wire you might end up with only two coils once the beads have been added. Wider or longer beads also prevent the memory wire from curving as much, which also enlarges the beaded coils and takes up more of the wire. 

    So, if I'm planning to make a three-wrap beaded coil bracelet, especially if I will be including 8mm and larger focal beads in the center of my groupings, I will usually cut five or  six coils memory wire and then trim the excess after all my beads have been strung and I am happy with the design.

    Remember to use either a memory wire cutter or another heavy-duty wire cutter whose cutting jaws won't be ruined by this very hard wire!

    Photo of bead board with beads laid out in beginning of design

    Step 3: Begin Playing With Design Ideas

    You can string your beads in a random pattern, if you wish. The most important thing is to have a harmonious mix of bead colors, shapes, sizes and finishes. 

    I prefer creating memory wire wrap bracelet designs that combine apparent randomness with symmetry. I do this by creating "bead stations," small groupings of odd numbers of beads in symmetrical patterns, usually featuring a larger bead in the center flanked by smaller and medium-size beads interspersed with tiny spacer beads. I find that this creates a pleasing "rhythm" and "flow" to the design.

    Occasionally, I will include a larger grouping of symmetrically arranged beads, such as the one I experimented with in the upper channel of the three-strand bead design board shown in the photo above.

    Photo of beads strung on memory wire held in place with a bead stopper clamp

    Step 4: Start Stringing Your Beads Onto the Memory Wire

    Once you feel comfortable with the initial direction of your beaded coil wrap bracelet design, it's time to start stringing your beads onto the memory wire. Clamp a bead stopper about half a coil away from one end, then start stringing the beads in your desired order or pattern.

    I usually repeat some of the smaller and medium-size spacer beads from one "bead station" grouping when designing the adjacent grouping, making slight changes and using a different center focal bead for each successive pattern. 

    Step 5: Adjust as Needed So the Bead Stations Complement Their Neighbors, Both to the Sides and On the Other Coils

    I've found that it's nearly impossible to create a final multi-strand beaded coil wrap bracelet design before stringing the beads on the memory wire. 

    While the mechanics of cutting memory wire, stringing beads and finishing the ends are fairly simple, designing the bracelet so that the colors, sizes, shapes and patterns of each bead grouping complement not only the ones to either side on the same coil but also their counterparts on the adjacent coils is definitely a challenge (a bit like playing the three-dimensional chess game from Star Trek, lol). 

    As you can see in the photo above, my final design turned out to be significantly different from the initial pattern groupings I was experimenting with at the beginning in order to get all three parallel beaded coils to fit together nicely.


    Extreme close-up photo of final beaded coil wrap bracelet design before trimming and finishing the wire ends

    Step 6: Do a Final Alignment Check

    Snug the beads down firmly, gently stretching the coils apart and adjusting the bead stopper clamps, if necessary, to ensure there are no gaps where the wire shows between the beads.

    Then, do a final check to make sure you're happy with the way the beads on each coil align with those on the other coils. Even though I am careful to keep re-snugging the beads as I go, I usually have to make a few minor adjustments after snugging the beads one last time.

    Photo of gluing the last few beads to one end of the memory wire

    Step 7: Glue The Last Several Beads to One End of the Bracelet, Then Trim the Memory Wire and Glue on the End Cap

    Place one end of the memory wire into the jaws of the memory wire cutter. Using just enough force on the handles to compress the wire without cutting through it, make adjacent, parallel grooves along the first 1/2-inch of one end of the memory wire. This will create some "tooth" on the smooth metal surface to help the epoxy adhere better. Use an ultra fine point permanent marker to place a small mark about 3–4 mm from the tip of the wire.

    Next, prepare a very small amount of the J-B Weld clear two-part epoxy. Put on your exam gloves, then squeeze equal amounts from both sides of the syringe dispenser onto a scrap of cardboard and mix them together thoroughly and quickly with a clean toothpick.. 

    Clean off the tip of the toothpick, then use it to pick up a drop of the prepared epoxy mixture and apply it to the small section of wire where you made the grooves, starting at the mark you made about 3–4 mm from the tip and spreading it inward along the remainder of the grooved section. Quickly remove the bead stopper clamp and slide the last several beads down onto the glued section of wire, taking care not to get any of the epoxy on the last 3–4 mm of the grooved end of the wire. Slide one more bead down next to the glued beads, replace the bead stopper next to it to keep the glued beads in place while the epoxy sets, then prop the bracelet with the exposed tip of the wire facing upward.

    When the epoxy has not only set but also cured, tug firmly on the glued beads to make sure they are securely attached. Then, slide a memory wire bead cap onto the clean end of the memory wire to gauge how much of the wire to trim. Remove the end cap and use the memory wire cutters to remove the excess length. 

    Helpful Tip

    Trim a little less wire from the end than you think you need to. Removing a bit more, if necessary. However, if you trim off too much, there won't be enough wire to allow the epoxy to bond it securely to the end cap. It's better to leave the wire a smidge too long and have a tiny gap between the last bead and the end cap than to trim it too short.

    Close-up photo of gloved fingers aligning the hole of the memory wire end cap to the glued, trimmed wire end
    Coat the tip of the trimmed and ridged wire end with a dab of epoxy and align the end cap hole.

    Close-up photo of pressing the end cap onto the glue-coated wire end
    Then, quickly and carefully, push the end cap firmly onto the glued tip of the memory wire.

    Using a fresh piece of cardboard and a fresh toothpick, prepare another small amount of two-part epoxy. Quickly apply a dab to the exposed end of the trimmed wire, align the hole of the memory wire end cap and guide it onto the wire tip. Hold the end cap securely in place for at least 60 seconds, applying pressure from the end with a clean, gloved fingertip. Slowly and carefully remove the pressure, then prop the bracelet with the freshly glued end pointing upward, so that gravity continues to pull it down onto the clipped wire tip. 

    Allow the epoxy to cure fully, then give the end cap a tug to make sure it is firmly secured to the end of the wire before moving on to Step 8.

    Step 8: Trim and Glue the Other End of the Bracelet

    Finishing the second end is a bit trickier than the first. Slide the loose beads down the bracelet wire, snugging them firmly against the glued beads at the other end. Use the ultra fine point permanent marker to mark the wire at the last loose bead. Then, carefully slide several beads off that end of the wire and place them in order in a channel of the flocked bead board, making note of which end of the row of beads was at the end of the wire.

    Use the memory wire cutters to indent parallel lines into the section of memory wire adjacent to the remaining strung beads, as before. Put on the exam gloves, prepare a small amount of epoxy, re-snug the beads and apply the glue to the section of exposed wire between the end of the strung beads and the mark you made. Quickly slide the beads you removed back onto the wire in the correct order and snug them down onto the glued section. Wipe off any visible epoxy that might have squeezed out onto the adjacent exposed wire. Replace the bead stopper and allow the epoxy to cure fully.

    When the glue has cured, carefully remove the bead stopper and tug firmly on the glued beads to ensure that they remain firmly attached to the wire. Examine the adjacent wire carefully, scraping off any tiny areas of cured epoxy residue with a utility blade. 

    Trim the excess wire, testing the length of the remaining exposed wire at the tip with the memory wire end cap and leaving just slightly more than the depth of the end cap bead hole. If necessary, use the memory wire cutter to impress additional closely-spaced parallel indents into the exposed wire end.

    Prepare a small amount of epoxy and glue on the bead cap, applying pressure with a gloved fingertip for at least 60 seconds as before, then prop the bracelet with the freshly glued tip facing up and allow it to cure fully.

    Tug on the end cap bead to ensure it is well secured to the end of the wire.

    Close-up photo of finished beaded coil wrap bracelet being worn on woman's wrist
    I'm modeling the finished, one-of-a-kind, vintage beaded memory wire wrap bracelet I designed and made as a birthday gift for my dear friend Sally.

    Wear or Give Your Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet With Pride! 

    Although I collect rare vintage glass beads and Swarovski crystal beads and love to use them in my jewelry designs, making beautiful beaded memory wire coil wrap bracelets can be as easy or challenging and as inexpensive or costly a project as you decide to make it. 

    Wouldn't it be fun to get some inexpensive beads from craft stores and find and disassemble beaded jewelry at bargain prices from yard sales and thrift shops, then pick up some memory wire, a heavy duty wire cutter and some epoxy and invite your favorite teens or college students over for a jewelry making "play date?"

    I hope you decide to give this beaded coil wrap bracelet project a try. If you do, I would love to see what you make!


    How to Make a Stylish Beaded Coil Wrap Bracelet by Margaret Schindel

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