Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peanut bead question

This morning I got an Etsy conversation from someone asking about the size of the peanut beads.  I was all set to take a picture or two, send her the answer, and I thought....  Hey!  This would make a good blog post!  I've been wanting to blog more, and this is the perfect excuse.

This bracelet is my "Shadowed Diamonds" pattern that I've been nattering on about for months, and the one I'm teaching at the Bead&Button Show in *12* days!  I'm all set for the class, but I'm getting other designs ready for Meet the Teachers.  I'm super excited!

Where was I?  Oh - right.  Stop nattering on about class.  Start nattering on about sizes.

What's really interesting is that I was about to start writing this blog and my Beading Daily e-mail came in, covering a similar topic!  You can read about it here.

Peanut beads are approximately 3x4mm.  The beads that are typically used for peyote stitching are 11/0 cylinder beads, or Delicas.  Delica is a brand name, but it's generically used like Xerox or Kleenex.  The magazines say cylinder beads.  Anyway, cylinders/Delicas are a touch over 1mm across.

I made a handy-dandy picture so you can see some commonly used seed beads in comparison to peanut beads and twin seed beads:

The reason we use cylinders for peyote instead of rounds is that the sides of cylinders are flat and fit nicely next to each other.  We can use rounds, but the result isn't quite as nice as with cylinders.

From this picture you can see that peanuts and twins are much bigger than what we typically use.

Why use peanut beads in our stitching, then?  They won't "click" together as nicely as cylinders, and they look all round and knobby, besides.  Well, that's why I like using them.  They produce an interesting, dimensional look and a substantial feel, and they work up quicker than cylinders.

Here's my Shadowed Diamonds pattern close up in both peanuts and cylinders:

And here's the side:

(I had to curve the cylinder one a little so it would stand up.)

The peanuts stand up when you peyote them, giving a double layer look and feel.  I think it would be wonderful if they could come with different colors on each end.  That would make stitching a little trickier (which end is up?), but you'd have a reversible piece!

When I started working with peanuts the little round nubs sticking up reminded me of something.... pegs on a Lite Brite board!  I then found color-lined peanuts that really shone against black, and I designed a few simplistic (on purpose) patterns reminiscent of playing with a Lite Brite.  Since that name is taken (and I don't want to get sued), I call them StarLite.  My husband came up with that.  Isn't he clever?

Here's a StarLite Mini Flowers bracelet:

StarLite Mini Hearts earrings:

At this point I should note that there are different types and even sizes of peanut-shaped beads.  There are peanuts (made in Japan), bowties or farfalles (made in the Czech republic), and berry beads (made in ??).  The dark red in the above earrings are bowties and absolutely gorgeous!  Bowties can be stitched with peanuts, but berry beads cannot.  They're a little bigger, so I've heard.  I haven't seen them and haven't sought them out since I heard that they don't play nicely with the other beads.

One last example - tubular peyote.  If you've ever stitched a full necklace with tubular peyote, you know how long and arduous a task it is.  I've done it a few times and love the results, but I wanted to poke my eye out with my needle about three inches in (I have how many more inches to go?  ACK!!).  I tried it with peanut beads, and it works up SO much quicker.  Not all of the peanuts like to lie flat, but that gives the rope an interesting look.

Here's my StarLite Dots necklace:

One thing about this - if you're going to learn tubular peyote with peanuts (or any beads, for that matter), don't start with black.  We learned this the hard way when I taught this design at a local bead store.  Oops!  We should have learned with a different color than switched to the black for the necklace.

All I know is that my yard chicken, Kirby, likes to wear it:

(This is what happens when you're out too long in the sun trying to find good places to take pictures of your jewelry.  He's adorable, though, right?)

So how's that for an answer to a very simple question?

I just realized that my last two blog posts were (very long) answers to questions.  Anyone else have any questions?  I'm full of opinions knowledge.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Crash course in gift album scrapping

A friend of mine recently asked for help to create a gift scrapbook for someone who's retiring.  I am very busy (and anxious) getting ready for the Bead&Button Show, so I don't think I'll have a lot of time to help her.  I did tell her I would cut titles for her, though, and I won't go back on that.

I wanted to give her advice, though.  If you've never done an album before (or even one page), the task is extremely daunting.  What I wrote out ended up being pretty thorough, so I thought I would share my (cough) vast experience with you, too.

Two years ago I blogged about three mini gift albums I made (part 1, part 2, part 3), but I didn't go into a lot of detail on how to actually do it, start to finish.  These steps are good for any album, not just for those you're going to give away.

Here's what you need to do:

Gather all the pictures you'll need.  Make copies of any original (non-digital) pictures and have digital ones printed. Sit down with all of them and figure out how many pages you're going to have.  Determine if you're going to have the book in a chronological order or in some other order.  Chronological is easier, I think.

Put the pictures in order.  While doing this, set aside any pictures that you know will be for a certain page (like if you were going to have a set of pages for how someone has changed in the last however many years, set aside one for each look she had or every 5 years or so).  Otherwise, put them all chronologically.

(Example of two pages in the 8x8 book I did for my mother's dog, Cappuccino - how she went from a puppy to full grown.  The other dog is the dog I had at the time, Caegal, shown here because he's cute and was the same size throughout.)

Then split the pictures up into pages.  Keep in mind the sizes of the pictures, if you're going to be able to cut any of them down, and what titles, journaling, or memorabilia you'll have.  You might want to get an accordion folder (or three) that you can put everything in - one pocket for each set of pages.  Also figure out what you'll want for the front page and the back page.  The front page should be an introductory page and the back page a conclusion.

(The front and back pages of the 8x8 album I made for my mother and stepfather's trip to Germany.  The first album I did, actually.  I pre-made the album and filled it in with their pictures when they got home.)

Then you should make a list of all the pages.  This performs a few functions:  You see exactly how many pages are needed, you can write down the titles so you don't forget them, and when you finish a page you can cross it off.  If there are too many pages, scanning the list will help you figure out which ones you can cut.

Oh - you should determine if you want double page layouts or single pages.  Single pages with different papers and looks tend to look disjointed to me.  Imagine if the pages above were next to each other in an album - that would be single pages.  The ones above of Cappuccino show what a double page layout would look like.

After you have your list, write any journaling that you're going to want.  That might not be much, but now is a good time to write it out on scratch paper.  That way when you're doing your pages you won't be scrambling to figure out what you wanted to say.

If you haven't bought your album yet, do it now.  I recommend getting a 12"x12" album.  You'll have more room to work.  I started out on 8"x8", and I found it difficult to get everything I wanted to fit.  I ended up with two albums!  All of the examples shown are smaller than 12x12.  I need to get to scanning the other albums with my Flip Pal mobile scanner.

Get enough refill packs to cover your list plus a few extra.  There always seems to be "just one more" page that needs to be done.  Your album will probably have 10 inserts, enough for 20 pages.  Each refill pack will probably also have 10 inserts.  Double and triple check that your refills match the album.  This is very important.  One would think that it wouldn't make a difference, but it really does.  If the refill packs don't have spine expansions (little metal screw-in things), ask if they sell them separately.  You'll need them if your book is larger than 30 pages or so.

I made an album for my mother for Mother's Day one year - remaking my baby album.  I hadn't bought enough refill packs, and I was working on it the night before at a scrapbook store.  They were out, and I was running around like a crazy woman finding a suitable new album where there were enough refill packs.  Learn from my mistake!

Then pick your papers and embellishments.  You might want to choose a color or two for the whole book or you can choose pages based on what the pictures are (i.e. If there's a picnic, you could choose picnic-type paper).  When you choose your paper, also get some plain cardstock that matches, including some light colored paper for journaling.  Make sure you have enough for mats and titles as well as the journaling.  It's better to have too much than not enough.

For the Germany book, I chose all browns.  The patterns didn't matter, just the color.  For the dog's book, I chose a set of pink, black, and white doggie paper with a number of different patterns, and I coordinated pink and black cardstock to go with it.  For a book I did for my stepfather, I found a pack of paper with blue, beige, and green.

(Two pages in the 8x8 "Thank you" album I did for my stepfather.  Great mailbox, isn't it?)

Don't forget to get adhesive and a cutter.

Organize your papers in the order of the pictures, unless you've chosen to go with a coherent look throughout the book.  Then it doesn't really matter, except you don't want to repeat a patterned paper for more than one set of pages in a row, unless you have an event that's going to span more than a double page layout.  Let's use a picnic as an example.  If there are so many pictures that you love, and they all won't fit in 2 pages, expand it to 4 pages.  In that case, you'll want to use the same papers throughout so it's obvious it's all the same event.  If you use the same flowered paper for 4 pages in a row but the pictures are of different events, then your recipient and other album-lookers might get a little confused.  Not the end of the world, but try to avoid it if you can.

It'll be easier to add the refills to the album before you start.  Count out how many inserts you'll need and set the others aside.  Unscrew the post tops, remove the back cover, add the inserts, add the cover again, and rescrew the post tops.  (That was a very basic explanation - sorry.)

Now you're finally ready to scrap.  It'll probably be easier to start from the top and work your way down.  Lay the papers on the table side by side (I'm assuming you're doing double page layouts for all but the first and last) and put your pictures down on the paper.  Move them around until they look good to you, leaving space for a title and journaling.  Crop (cut down) any pictures with extra space, and you'll be able to fit more on the page.  Don't crowd it, though.  You don't have to worry about following something you saw in a book unless it's something extremely cool that you absolutely love.  I mainly just move things around until I'm happy.
(Two more pages from the Germany album showing a double page layout.)

Don't feel you have to use every picture.  It's okay to set one, two, or even five of them aside.  Just pick the most relevant ones to help the recipient remember the event.

Before you stick things down, write out your journaling on plain cardstock and cut it out.  This makes sure you have enough space for it.  Also, if you're going to mat the pictures, cut those mats now.  Don't stick the pictures on the mats until you're sure there's enough space for everything.  I've done this too many times to count, then I'm backpedaling trying to fix the page.

When you're happy, adhere the pictures to the mats then the mats to the background paper.  Adhere any memorabilia, journaling, and embellishments you have.  Also put a title on if possible.  You can use stickers, cut out letters by hand, cut them out at a scrapbook store with their die cuts, or bribe your friend who has a Cricut or QuicKutz to cut them out for you.  If your papers have a coherent look like the albums I've shown, try to use the same font for the titles throughout.

(I had to include a few more of Cappuccino's pages.  She's so cute!)

Slip the pages into the album and cross it off the list.

Breathe and go to the next page.

Once you're done, have a glass of wine or a chocolate bar.

It sounds like a lot, but the vast majority of it is preparation.  If you don't do the prep work first, you'll be flailing about not knowing which way is up.  I know from experience.

Above all, have fun!  If there's a mistake in the page, don't worry about it.  This is a gift you made from your heart, and the person you're giving it to will love it.