Friday, April 17, 2015

Upcycle - Restore - Renew with Madeira Silk Floss

Embroidery with Madeira Silk Floss

Oh no, my favorite yoga tights got a hole right above the knee and they are the best color match for an Art of Cloth tie dye short dress I got at Stitches West this February. Finding the exact grey color to mend it was not a task I looked forward to. Instead I decided to embellish the hole with Madeira Floss Silk –> Madeira Floss comes in 108 colors

Embroidery with Madeira Silk Floss

The mended spot got flower done without no prior drawing, just embroidered free hand. I plan to fix a few other pieces of clothing in this same way. Next on my agenda is a cashmere sweater with a giant hole at the elbow. This one will require a leather patch and I happen to have some in my studio. Then a T-shirt with a hole in the front - that one may require a bit of thinking, maybe slashing vents all over might be a better solution. We will see.

Comparing Thread Burners, Zappers & Sealers

Comparing Super Max Thread Burner or Pen, Ultra Thread Zap, Thread Zap II
Top - Super Max Burner/Pen. Middle - Ultra Zap. Bottom - Thread Zap II

Thread burners, zappers and sealers are great tools to have when working with thread and cord. They can be used on synthetic cord & thread, such as nylon, and silk. I use mine mainly for micro macrame, Cavandoli knotting, square knotting, Shambhala bracelets, kumihimo, bead crochet and various beading techniques, such as crown knotting, pearl knotting and peyote stitch, but it is certainly not limited to these techniques. 

When a thread burner is used to cut thread & cord, it cauterizes the cord and keep the ends from unravelling. When used for melting the end of cord right at the knot, it prevents the final knot from getting untied. It is important to melt the end of the cord into the knot rather than melting the actual knot as it would weaken its integrity. The precise tips of these thread burners makes this process a lot easier than a match or cigarette lighter. 

To test these thread burners, I put in all new alcalyne batteries, all from the same brand and quality level. The Super Max Burner has 2 AA batteries, the Thread Zap II, 1 AA, and the Ultra Thread Zap, 2 AAAs.

When compared for how quickly they get red hot, the Super Max Burner is the clear winner getting to red hot in less than a second with its full tip red hot. The Ultra Thread Zap takes twice as long to get to its maximum temperature, and only the little tip part gets red hot. The Thread Zap II takes 3-4 second to get to its maximum temperature, with about half of its tip red hot. 

The Super Max Burner reaches higher temperature. The other burners don't get as hot and take longer to reach their highest temperatures. The Ultra Zap gets red hot faster than the Thread Zap II, but a smaller area of its tip gets red hot. 

Comparing Tips for  Super Max Thread Burner or Pen, Ultra Thread Zap, Thread Zap II
Tips smaller to larger, top to bottom:  Ultra Thread Zap, Super Max, Thread Zap II

Comparing Replacement Tips for Super Max Thread Burner or Pen, Ultra Thread Zap, Thread Zap II
Replacement Tips - Notice that the replacement tip for the SuperMax is a bit smaller than the original tip
 Ergonomically, the most comfortable one is clearly the new Ultra Thread Zap. It fits comfortably in the hand. It does not need a cover to protect the tip as the tip retracts when off. It is turned on by pushing the orange knob forward. An orange plastic half ring prevents the knob from getting accidentally pushed. That part might get easily lost, but it is not essential.

The Super Max has a cover to protect the tip when not in use and to prevent the burner from getting accidentally turned on. The Thread Zap II is similar to the SuperMax, but the knob does not move a lot, making it difficult to feel when the tool is turned on.

Ultra Thread Zap
The Ultra Thread Burner comes with an extra tip housed inside the battery compartment
The SuperMax is the best for the busy designer. The new Ultra has some of the best feature. The Thread Zap II is the easiest on the wallet, though with the extra tip, the Ultra might the better choice.

The ultimate choice will also depend on what size/diameter cord you are working with. The Ultra Thread Zap is probably better for thinner cord and fine thread used for Peyote stitch and bead weaving whereas the SuperMax will be best with Chinese Knotting Cord of diameter upward of 1mm.

For safety, remove the battery or the tip when storing. Keep away from children.

These tools work well when finishing a limited number of thread as each individual thread,cord needs to melted one at a time. May leave discoloration especially with light colored thread or cord.

Change the batteries often and let the tip cut or melt without forcing to keep the tip from getting damaged.

And foremost be careful not to melt or burn your work!

Regardless of which of these tools you choose, any of these thread burners will be much better and more precise than a cigarette lighter or matches. They are a necessity for many techniques, especially for square knot slides and Shambhala bracelets.  >  Get thread burner now!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kumihimo Bracelet Deconstructed...

Kumihimo Bracelet with Long Magatamas & C-Lon Bead Cord Tex 400

I love what ifs… as possible alternatives, variations and ways to play around with designs. So what would the bracelet look like if the position of the cords holding beads was changed…  The top bracelet is done with even spacing between the beads, the bottom one is done with a stacked beads positioning creating a wider spiral space between the beads. The actual braid on the bottom one can be seen more clearly. 

This option is now on the PDF instructions for the Kumihimo Bracelet with Long Magatamas and C-Lon Bead Cord Tex 400. If you got your earlier, just pop me an email and I will send you the additional page, or better yet get a new Cord, Bead & Clasp Pack to make another bracelet with this new option. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kumihimo Bracelets with Long Magatamas & C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord

Kumihimo Bracelet with Long Magatamas & C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord

At shows I often demo braid samples on Kumihimo disks. Lately one of the finished braided sample turned into a bracelet has attracted lots of attention with many asking for a kit. VoilĂ , a new kit is born.

Well, not so fast, it took a bit more experimenting, to iron all the wrinkles out of the process and several test bracelets later a final version was done. It is better than the original bracelet in my opinion. So yes you can get there without all my experimenting and get a great result on the first try. That's the beauty of a kit, you get all the materials in one spot and bypass the trial and errors. -> Kits

Kumihimo Bracelet with Long Magatamas & C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord
Bead, Cord & Clasp Pack

The cords in the Bead, Cord & Clasp Packs are pre-cut and ready to be inserted in the slots in the kumihimo disk for your convenience. All of this will make this project easy even if it is your first kumihimo project.

This kumihimo bracelet is an original rendition of a kumihimo done with Long Magatama beads from Miyuki. These beads have been often associated with beaded kumihimo. So what's original about this one?

The C-Lon Bead Cord Tex 400 braid can be peaked in between the Long Magatamas, giving the beads a fabulous color background.

A central core is used, so the bracelet will remain the same length for the lifetime of the bracelet.

This project comes in many colors - Bracelet can be stacked or worn in combination with other types of bracelets.

Kumihimo Bracelet with Long Magatamas & C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord

With the Bead, Cord & Clasp Pack you get the complimentary PDF instructions sent by email. The manual is 12 pages long with over 30 large pictures. It is a step by step instruction with pictures like the ones below showing each step. It includes instructions on how to set up your cords on the K-Disk, how to load the Long Magatamas, how to braid, how to braid with beads, how to remove your project from the K-Disk, and how to prepare the ends for the clasp and how to finish the project. It has a what if? section, plus the standard women's bracelet length and how to care for the bracelet. Plus it has the braiding mantras… whatever else would you need, right.

Kumihimo Braiding Steps
Left Up

Kumihimo Braiding Steps
Right Down

Kumihimo Braiding Steps
And Turn

That's the Kumihimo Mantra!

Tool Bags designed for this project are also available. They include: a Mini K-Disk, 8 EZ-Bobs, a Weighted EZ-Bob, a Mini-Clamp, and a Big Eye Needle. The PDF manual is available by itself if you already have all the material and tools on hand.

Kumihimo Supplies

These bags makes it easy for you to take your project on the go, then you can braid in the car, on a plane, on the beach or watching for your favorite TV show. 

Watch out it is addictive - but hey you can make gifts and a bracelet in every color available!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Playing Musical Chairs with 104 Colors of C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord


Wow, almost all the C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord colors are here, 100 colors out of 108 are in. The picture above shows all 104 spools of Tex 400. 8 spools are regular C-Lon Bead Cord standing up for the Tex 400 Cord not yet in stock and the 4 neons are not shown - they do not play well with the other colors. We are still waiting for 8 new colors of Tex 400 to arrive, 4 in February and 4 in March. Yippee!

The next step once they arrived was to adjust all the jpegs. Often the picture did not match the actual color on the spool, or there was discrepancies between jpegs of different sizes, so I spent time readjusting most the Photoshop files and jpegs of all 108 regular C-Lon, 108 C-Lon Tex 400, 44 C-Lon Fine Weight and 32 C-Lon Micro. 100's of jpeg adjustments later.... They now match the actual spools a bit more, at least on my monitor and preferred browsers, but please keep in mind that monitors and even browsers vary as to how they display colors. 

Another consideration are dye lots, so occasionally a color drifts a bit. Right now for example Antique Brown in the fine weight size is a bit yellower than in all the other sizes. Occasionally 2 colors drift closer to one another making them difficult to differentiate. But, hey, at least the dye lots are close, unlike Chinese Knotting Cord where often dye lots are so extreme that they create all new colors... but that is a story for another blog.

After that I played musical chairs with actual spools trying to find a better way to fit for all the 104 colors in rows of 8 colors. Finally I transferred this reshuffle to the the web. 

Here are the actual spools of Tex 400 for the first 7+ rows

Here is the last 6+ rows of Tex 400

The new arrangement starts with Greys, Black and White and ends with Blues. The old arrangement for the standard C-Lon Bead Cord started with Purples and ended with Black & White and Greys. So yes if you have an old color chart - reprint a new one if you wish. The new color charts are available in a PDF format.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hand Sewing in Leather with C-Lon Bead Cord and C-lon Bead Cord Tex 400

Determining actual size over the internet is not an easy thing. Having the real material on hand to test is always best. But occasionally distance and time makes it impractical to wait for samples.

Today I was asked to sew into a piece of paper to simulate hand sewing into leather. I was to cut a piece of paper to a 2.4 cm by 11.5 cm and to sew a few cm of hand stitching with C-Lon Bead Cord (on right) and C-lon Bead Cord Tex400 (on left), sewing with holes 4mm apart.

Hand Sewing with C-Lon Bead Cord
Sketch submitted for request
I printed a rectangle on a piece of paper using Photoshop with the measurement listed above. Then with the help of a steel ruler I punched holes 4mm apart using an awl. 

Comparing Hand Sewing with C-Lon Bead Cord & C-Lon Tex 400 Bead Cord

As I was sewing, I could not pull hard enough on the stitches as the paper I chose was not stiff enough. Next, I will try this on leather, so keep posted!

Princess-Warrior Bracelet Continued

Occasionally I find better buttons for a design, so I changed the antique copper flower buttons to heart buttons for the closure for this bracelet. The flowers are still used as decorative elements.

Then we can play around with positioning. 

By bringing the flowers closer together...

Or setting them at a diagonal...

or by using them for another project and leaving them out completely...

Or we can create a triangular composition with the flowers. This is my favorite one at present. 

Let me know if you come up with another possibility... See earlier posts about Turkish Flat Bead Crochet and the Princess Warrior Bracelets

Get kits, bead & button packages, and the tutorials > Turkish Flat Bead Crochet & Princess Warrior Bracelet Kits