Top

Author Archive | Donna Lannerd

The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry

Reported by Donna Lannerd

Okay, the title of this book is great at catching your attention and if you do a Google search for it you will probably find some very interesting sites that have nothing to do with jewelry but the book is definitely worth taking a look at. This is the product of the original Naughty Secretary herself, Jennifer Perkins, who started her jewelry business while working (and making jewelry) as a secretary. Bad, bad secretary but great for us that she is sharing her jewelry knowledge in this very unique book that was just released in August.

There are two things about this book that has me wearing the edges of the pages off already. It has gorgeous photography and the instructions are accompanied by even more great photos. It also has a quirky writing style that makes it a blast to read. She provides a great introduction on tools, supplies and a beginner how-to section on jewelry making basics she calls “Secretary School”. There are “Take A Memo” side bars interspersed with projects that provide tidbits of trivia and helpful hints like the one on all the uses for a ripped pair of pantyhose. The projects in this book are very whimsical using found objects, office supplies and scrapbooking items to create unique pieces that are on the funky side of life and will put smiles on anyone who wears them. However, if the pieces are a little too quirky for you, you will still find this book helpful for learning how to make jewelry. I am by no means an expert but I found the projects very inspirational. For example, I love the beads on the cover of the book. They are made from shredded junk mail. As you can see by my try at this technique, I used scraps of my scrapbook paper and made them more stripey.

Some of the supplies used: 1″ wooden beads, Traditions natural gallery black beads from Hobby Lobby, 1MM On-A-String Necklace Kit

I was also intrigued by jewelry she made from rub-ons from the scrapbooking aisle. In the book she says, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” since there are so many supplies to to choose from. I used rub-ons here to make a few embellished connectors to put with a chain. I was totally impressed with myself.

Some of the supplies used: chain by Metal Madness from Horizon Group USA, Rainbow Shell Connector by Traditions natural gallery from Hobby Lobby, Starburst Flowers Rub-ons by E-Z Rub-on Transfers

The last thing I tried was using covered button kits to make jewelry pieces. I was wanting to do a bracelet like was shown in the book but I was unable to find a bracelet blank in a local store so instead I made these hair barrettes for my daughter. Let me tell you, absolutely everyone can do these. In the book she used a vintage hankie but I just used a small amount of fabric I had on hand.

Some of the upplies used: 50mm nickel hair clip from Hobby Lobby, Dritz 7/8″ cover button kit. Liquid Fusion Glue

Pros

  • Lots of photos
  • Step-by-step photo instructions
  • Fun to read even if you don’t make anything
  • Inspiring

Cons

  • Cover may get you some bizarre looks from strangers while reading
  • I did have trouble finding one item from the materials list I was using

Although the style of projects are not my style, I am so happy that I have this book to inspire me and show me the basic skills of simple jewelry making in a fun, helpful way. It is a 9 out of 10 for me.

It is published by North Light Books division of F&W Publications and price is $16.99 US ($18.75 CAN). You can find it for purchase at The Naughty Secretary Club website, Amazon and F&W Publications Bookstore.

What do you think of the Naughty Secrectary? Do you have a favorite book or place to find inspiration for jewelry making with found objects?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Punch Needle Tool Comparison

Reported by Donna Lannerd

I have 2 punch needle tools not because I’ve started a collection but because I put one in a very safe place to make sure I would know where it was. Guess what? It was so safe even I couldn’t harm it … I mean … find it. Unfortunately I was in the middle of a project and after an agonizing week of looking I finally gave in to buying a new one. But, my needle was not one I could find in just any craft store and I was already so far behind that I didn’t want to wait for one to come in the mail. Luckily, punch needle or for some, needle punch, had gained some mainstream popularity and I picked up the Punch Needle Tool and Threader by Dimensions at my local Hobby Lobby.

Now, the only problem was that I was very skeptical of this small, bare-bones tool. For one thing it only cost about $3 and I probably used a coupon so it didn’t even cost me that much. My professional looking (at least compared to the Dimensions gadget) Ultra Punch cost about $16 that I purchased from a vendor at a quilt show. I started to really miss my Ultra Punch by Cameo and I hadn’t even taken the new one out of the package but I really needed to finish that project so I reluctantly opened the package.

First off, the Dimensions tool is much smaller. It is 4 1/2 inches long compared to the Ultra Punch that is 6 inches long on the shortest setting. That’s another thing, this little one doesn’t have extra settings (although I hadn’t even used different settings yet). It is a one-size-is-it punch length. For those of you that are not familiar with punch needle, the whole concept is about making loops on the right side of your fabric with the needle and different settings gives you different lengths of loops.

Just like my larger one, the small one came with needle threaders which you absolutely need with this tool. I threaded the needle and went to work. Voila! It worked. Other than getting used to the smaller size it worked just fine. I finished my project and then I found my other needle which was stored near by with some new floss for another project. Well, at least I have a back up tool now.

Now that I have that extra needle, I am not going to get rid of my larger one. I mean I did pay way more for it than the smaller one but it definitely has its upsides like being able to adjust the loops. The flower pictured below is an example of what those different adjustments can do. I did the center of the flower using the shortest setting and did the petals with the longest. There are actually 12 settings which means you can add a sculptural look to a project.


This next photo is a card using a punch needle motif and I used both of the needles to see if there was any difference. The Dimensions tool’s needle is actually minutely longer than the Ultra Punch on its lowest setting so the center heart is just ever so slightly higher than the outer heart. This effect was minimized when I pressed it.

Pros

  • Ultra Punch has several length settings
  • Ultra Punch needle stores with the needle covered
  • Ultra Punch has 3 needle sizes that are interchangeable on one tool
  • Dimension tool is inexpensive
  • Dimension tool is easy to find at nationwide stores
  • Both tools have a comfortable hold position

Cons

  • Ultra Punch tool is more costly
  • Dimension tool only has one setting
  • Dimension tool is altogether short, making it (at least to me) a little harder to hold

Suggested price of the Dimensions Punch Needle Tool and Threader is $3.00 and is easily available at Hobby Lobby, Michaels and Joann’s. It can also be found online at Dimensions, Joann’s, and Ericas. The Ultra Punch by Cameo can be found online at Joann’s, Nordic Needle and Country Threads and prices vary from $15 – 17.99 for the small and medium (I have the small). Some places only offer it in a 3 size needle set which is usually around $27.99.

I rate the Dimension’s tool at an 8 while giving the Cameo a 9 because I can make the different lengths. I also would recommend the Dimension one to any beginner because punch needle can take some practice before getting the feel of how to do it.

Have you tried either or both of these tools, or perhaps you have another tool we don’t know about?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Creativity for Kids Kits from Faber-Castell

Reported by Donna Lannerd

Summer is just about over and school will begin soon (too soon for my daughter, not soon enough for her parents) but until the end comes there will be days where according to most kids “there isn’t anything to do.” I’ve found an inexpensive, all-inclusive kit that parents and caretakers can have on hand to put a stop to the end of vacation boredom. These Creativity for Kids Kits from Faber-Castell are small in size but come in several different kinds – I counted 23 on their website – and there are some for boys as well as girls.

These particular kits are small on investment but big on return. A few of the kits only have one item but many of them have supplies to make several such as the 2 shown in the photo: 10 Opti-Art Rings and 12 Clip-on Cuties. With being able to make multiple projects you can use it for a group or kids can make gifts for their friends. Price for each kit is only $5.99. There are larger kits that cost more but I really like these smaller ones.

I didn’t have much trouble with getting my daughter to make the Opti-Art Rings. In fact, she wouldn’t stop asking about when we were finally going to make them. Her favorite part about this kit was painting on the designs. I made the palm tree ring below by using a mini-punch, gluing the tree on paper, using the stone to draw around the design and cutting it out before gluing the design on. Directions for this is in the kit though it suggest using a photo. This persuaded my daughter to do the same with a seahorse punch. The ring on the pinky finger is simply a piece of ribbon that we used the stone as a template and glued it on. You may also notice the faux mood ring we made together by swirling paint. When your stones have dried it is then glued to the metal ring. That’s it!


The second kit, Clip-on Cuties, ended up being harder to convince my daughter to make. I don’t think the front of the box does them justice because once I
made one she was much more enthused. My favorite thing about this particular kit is that they use “pipe cleaners” not chenille stems. How many kits/pattern books have I seen that avoids the term pipe cleaners like the plague? This kit’s directions were actually harder to follow because it has you bend the pipe cleaner into a certain form and then trim the excess off which becomes the arms. The photo below shows the point at which seemed not to make that much sense to me or my daughter.


But after getting past this point the Cutie is much easier to assemble. Now, the suggested age for this kit is 6 to 96 (yes the kits actually say 96) but my 7 year old had trouble understanding the above formation and then as she added beads she just wanted to keep adding them without leaving room to bend the pipe cleaner so the beads wouldn’t fall off. But the 7 year old was much more creative than me and didn’t want to put the beads on exactly like the photos. She used some of the large beads for the legs as well as wanting more pipe cleaner to show. I think hers (the purple one) looks much livelier. Anyway, we finished them both and are sharing them here with you.


Pros

  • Inexpensive $5.99
  • ALL supplies are in each box.
  • Supplies are easy to put back in the box. Inside tray holds supplies for easy in and out. Boxes stack nice for easy storing.
  • Quick projects.
    Company has an excellent web site where you can find the instructions for the projects in case you lose yours.
  • A plus: the kits I had each came with a duck. (I don’t know why.) See photo at the end of the article.

Cons

  • Paintbrush in the rings was not adequate. I had to get out some of my brushes that had a finer tip to get the detail needed.
  • Not in all major craft stores.
  • None for the 3-4 age although they do have larger kits for this age range but the cost is significantly more.

I found the kits at Joann’s which have them online as well. Amazon has a few in this kit type but carries others by this company. You can also purchase them directly from the Creativity for Kids website which I recommend doing a product search and use the price range criteria for finding this kit type.

I would give these small kits a 9 out of 10 rating for value and for fun especially since with the surprise of the little ducks. Let us know about your favorite kids’ kits or any feedback if you purchased these particular kits before.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!