Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anatomy of a kit

Today got away from me, so I accomplished very little by the time Steve got home from work.  I was contemplating what to blog about tonight, and Steve said, "Why don't you write about what all goes into making kits?"

Sure, I've talked about making kits before, but those posts have been mostly rants about how difficult it is to get all the materials together along with a list of good online bead stores.  If you missed the rants, click here and here.  I've also shown you one of my kit sample boards and touched briefly on what's in the kits in my Why you should take a class from Traci Otte post.

I've discussed the steps I take for making a tutorial, so it's only fair I show you the basics for making a kit.

I don't think he realized what he was getting me into.  Hold onto your hats, folks!  This is going to be quite a ride.

One of the items on my to do list was to make a few kits for my "It's Got Legs" design in a new colorway.  You can see the "Fire" version at the bottom of this post.

When I'm at shows, I like to have different finished samples of my designs out, whether or not I have kits for them.  That shows how the design looks with different types of beads, which will hopefully inspire people to experiment.  I sell my tutorials separately from the materials kits, so folks aren't locked in to specific beads or colors.

At the Art Glass and Bead Show in Madison in March, I had this bracelet out:

Two people asked if I had kits for it, but I didn't.  When I got home, I saw that I had enough materials for a few kits.  I picked up one more pack of Rizos just to be sure I had enough.

The first order of business was to see how many kits I could make.  After some calculating and counting, I updated my kit making cheat sheet:

and gathered my beads:

(there's a lot more than the beads that go into the kit - read on!)

Based on the 6mm crystals I had, I determined that I could make four kits:

I always start with the bead that I have the least of so I'm not wasting time counting or weighing other beads.

Now is a good time to mention that I try to include way more enough supplies than are needed.  I've mentioned my mutantly-large wrists before, and I use those as a guide, plus I add some extras.  Ladies with skinnier wrists can use their extra materials for matching Dainty Flower earrings like these:

(Tutorial sold separately)

I bagged up the piles of 6mm crystals and moved on to the Rizos:

I determined long ago that the best way for me to count out beads is to use a triangle scoop and whisk away five at a time and make piles of ten.  Whenever I've strayed from this, I've gotten thoroughly confused.  The above picture is for one kit.

Next comes weighing out the small beads.  After doing more calculating and counting, I determined that I can include plenty of extras and still include less than a gram per type of bead.

Here are the 11/0s:

and the 15/0s:

It doesn't look like a lot, but I assure you that I counted on a finished bracelet and practically doubled the number.

I love this scale.  I first got a kitchen scale, but it only weighed in 1 gram increments.  If I was weighing out 2 grams, I never knew if I had 1.8g, 2g, or 2.4g, or anywhere in between.  When you're weighing for kits, that's really important.  If I overcompensate, that means I'm losing money, and I might not be able to make as many kits as I want without buying more materials, costing me more money.

In December, I saw Kim at Knot Just Beads using a small Fast Weigh scale like this one, and she told me it weighs in 0.1 gram increments.  When I looked it up on Amazon, I was delighted (yes, truly delighted) to find that it was really cheap, too.  Right now it's $6.50 with free shipping, twenty-five cents less than I paid six months ago.  It works great, and I like that it doesn't take up a lot of room in my drawer like my old scale.

Snap clasps go in the tiniest of baggies:

For some reason I thought 1"x1" bags would be bigger than they are.  I got them at a great price, so I bought 1000.  I will never use them up.

I like to include everything but the scissors in my kits, so I punch a few holes in a business card, bend it a little, and stick a needle in:

Finally, I include a bobbin with Fireline.  Steve usually helps me with the Fireline, but for this project it didn't take long.

For some kits I've punched holes in the top and bottom of my business card and wrap the thread around it.  I prefer the bobbins, though.

Here are all of my piles:

Since this is a new colorway, I had to make new kit cards for the packages.  I took a new picture:

Fortunately I had a finished sample to take a picture of.  For many kits I have to make a sample first.  I probably should make a small sample of this one to include on the sample board, but that's not for today.

I created the document, printed it (after changing ink cartridges - I go through a lot of ink), and cut the cards out:

I then entered everything into my inventory program so I could figure out a price.  The materials cost me a little more than the other colorways, but I'm still able to keep the price the same.  I then printed out labels for the baggies (so people know which bead is which) and for the packages.

Here are my labeled baggies:

It's really hard to take pictures of reflective objects.

I include the letters used in the tutorial to make it simple.

Now comes the fun part - loading the packages!  That means I'm just about done.  I like to arrange the beads so it's easy to tell what the colors are when looking at the back of the package.

Here are the final packages:

Again, shiny objects are hard to photograph.

They're now in the "It's Got Legs" large bag with their new friends, ready for the Meet the Teachers Reception!  I really hope those two ladies come find me again there or at the Milwaukee Bead Show.

Yay!  I've crossed one more thing off of my to do list.  I added one thing (making a few more "Space Walk" kits for "Cobblestone Path"), so it's like I'm walking down an up escalator.  I sure hope that feeling passes soon.

For those who have gotten all the way through this post, I have a reward for you!

This is Frisco with two of his favorite things.

We plucked him out of the bushes on July 6th, 2013, and the vet estimated that he was about 8 weeks old.  After some calculating and counting, we think that today is his birthday!  Well, it could have been yesterday, or it could be tomorrow, but still... Our little boy is one year old!

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