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CHA Mega Show 2014 | Jesse James Beads

Jessie James BeadsThe CHA 2014 Mega Show floor was the first time that I got to see the Jesse James Beads mixes all in one spot.  It was eye candy for the jewelry maker soul.  I just loved looking all the strings of different types and colors of beads hanging on their bead wall, which was taller than I was.  You could not walk past the bead wall and not stop to admire the different shapes and textures of the beads on display. Continue Reading →

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway!: WireLace and Alacarte Clasps (day 2 of 2)

Reported by Susan Reidy

I’m not usually a jewelry maker, but lookie what I made.

Ohh, ahh. It’s so pretty, sparkly and girly. I love it! And, it was pretty easy to make, even for this novice.

My beautiful results were all thanks to the WaterLily Necklace Kit by Alacarte Clasps. It had all the materials I needed to make the necklace, and super simple, easy-to-follow directions.

One of the stars of this necklace–the ingredient that gives it the airy, ethereal feel — is the WireLace. WireLace is ribbon woven with very fine wires of brass, copper and/or aluminum that is bonded with an enamel coating in a rainbow of colors.

A unique aspect of WireLace is its ability to expand to about three times its width. Here it is straight from the package all shiny and silky.

Now, I grabbed it on either side and pulled gently to make these awesome waves of ribbony goodness.

And if you don’t like how your waves look, you can smooth it back out and try again, and again. It’s also a tube, so you can gently open one end and put things inside, like beads. I had tons of fun stretching it out, making different shapes, and then smoothing it back out. It’s really addictive.

My example here is the 6 mm (about 1/4 inch before expanding), but it’s also available in 1 mm ( about 1/32 inch, which doesn’t expand); 2.5 mm (1/8 inch); 12 mm (1/2 inch); and 20 mm (7/8 inch). WireLace is available in 31 colors.


It’s nickel-free, which is good for people with allergies to nickel, it’s waterproof so you can use it in items that might get wet or need to be hand washed and it’s heat resistant (although some colors will change slightly when heated).

Don’t the delicate, airy appearance fool you. I stretched the you-know-what out of a small piece, as you can see below.

I was still able to smooth it back out into its original shape. It did fray slightly at the end, as you can see above, and some of the fibers started unraveling, but I did handle this piece quite a bit as I was testing it out. When my testing was done, the piece was still usable; I just snipped off the fraying end.

With all WireLace can do, it’s no wonder that it’s famous. It’s been featured twice by the Queen of Craft, Martha Stewart. During her March 2 Crafts Hour, Martha and Kristin St. Clair showed how to make this awesome mesh ombre necklace, putting the tube properties of WireLace to good use.

On Martha’s Eggcellent Easter Special, this Egg Garland with WireLace was featured.

You can buy WireLace by the yard, in 10-yard spools or in complete kits for making lots of awesome jewelry pieces. I decided to start my actual WireLace crafting (I did do lots of playing first) with the WaterLily kit.

Here are all the goodies included in the kit, which retails for $69. It includes Swarovski crystals in teal, green and violet; Italian glass silver seedbeads, wire, turquoise WireLace, crimp beads, end caps and a teardrop shaped clasp. All I had to add was G-5 Hypo Cement, a two-part epoxy and needle nose pliers.

First off, I had to twist the ends of the WireLace into a point, and add some of the Hypo Cement. This makes it into a nice point to make threading the center beads easier. You can see the nice step-by-step directions, with full-color photos. Even if I didn’t fully understand a step, I just had to look at the photo, and it all made sense.

I had some trouble at first getting my beads through, but I just kept twisting the WireLace until the point was thin enough.

This is the first bead to go on, right to the center of the WireLace.


Next, you have to strong the wire through, being careful not to snag the WireLace on the way. This was a little tricky, but I found if I pulled down on the WireLace, there was plenty of room to sneak the wire through.

I added the rest of the beads for the center piece, and strung the wire through twice to make a circle.


I pulled on the wire to pull the beads into a circle and added the crimp beads to keep it in shape. It’s a tight squeeze; needle nose pliers are a must.

Here’s the center piece all finished, looking just like the directions!


Next, it was time to string on the violet crystals, every inch and a half.

After the crystals are all strung, separate the WireLace that is between each group of crystals. This was a fun step.

Then it was time to string the seedbeads. I’m not sure why I don’t have a photo of this step; maybe it’s because I was going cross eyed from stringing a bazillion teeny tiny beads. Ok, I exaggerate, but it was a lot of beads, and was probably the most time consuming part (but it wasn’t difficult). The beaded wire weaves in and out of the WireLace poofs. I love that look.

Once that’s done, I added the crimp beads to the ends and trimmed down the extra wire and WireLace.

I mixed up my two-part epoxy and filled up my end caps before adding them to each end.

I added the clasp and it was all done. Alacarte Clasps has all kinds of kits available for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

I love how simple it was to follow these directions, and come up with such a professional looking necklace. The materials are a wonderful, top-of-the-line quality.


Since I thoroughly enjoyed my jewelry making experience, I wanted to see what I could on my own. I also wanted to incorporate it into my first love, papercrafting. I decided to make a free form flower. I made two sets of petals, twisting them in the middle, and then securing them with wire. I added some pearls to the middle, again with some wire.

Here are the leaves I added after the flower was assembled. I decided to wire a pin to the back.

Here it is all finished. I just shaped my flower from the WireLace, but you could also put a wire inside the WireLace, and shape it that way.

I took another piece of WireLace, stretched it out, and added some pearls to the inside, working them down the length with my fingers.

I thought it made a nice border for my Mother’s Day card, which also includes my flower pin. It’s a card and gift in one!

I enjoyed the WireLace shaping so much, I wanted to try making a butterfly. I made one poof, twisted it in the middle, and made another poof.

I made two of these.

And wired them to my butterfly’s body, which I also made from wire. I’m thinking this little guy will be perfect for some home decor, or a scrapbook page. I keep thinking of more custom embellishments I could make for all my papercrafting.

I really enjoyed working with this product. It’s unlike anything I’ve have ever used before. I can’t wait to make some more jewelry, and incorporate it into some scrapbooking.

Pros:
  • Unique product that can be stretched to three times its width, and then smoothed back into its original shape.
  • Tube-like shape, so can add beads inside the WireLace.
  • Super versatile. Great for jewelry making, papercrafting, polymer clay, even sewing projects.
  • Complete kits are available, with quality components and step-by-step, easy to follow instructions.

Cons

  • On the pricier side at about $5 per yard for the 6 mm size, and $50 and up for complete kits.
  • You’re going to love playing with it so much, you’re going to want lots and lots.

GIVEAWAY! 
Our friends at Wire Lace and Alacarte Clasps have given us a kit to give away. Just leave a comment answering the following question to be entered to win.

Have you tried WireLace? Which of their kits do you like the most?


One comment per person, per day (this is day 2 of 2), please. Winner will be selected on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

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

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway!: WireLace and Alacarte Clasps (day 1 of 2)

Reported by Erika Martin

When you hear the words, “wire” and “lace,” you probably wouldn’t think that they go together. After all, wire conjures up thoughts of hard metal, coldness, and rigidity. Lace conjures up thoughts of something soft, frilly, dainty and intricate. Put those two words together, though, and you get a unique, versatile and extraordinary product that can take your crafting in new direction.

I recently had the opportunity to review some items from the WireLace line from Alacarte Clasps. If you’ve never heard of WireLace before and have no idea what it is, I recorded a quick video that shows some of the product line that was sent to me and what this wire lace can do.

WireLace is a wire mesh ribbon perfect for jewelry, crafts, textiles and embellishments and comes in 5 versatile widths and 31 colors (with the 1 mm size coming in all but one color and the 6 mm size coming in all 31 colors). All of the sizes (except the 1 mm) are tubular and expand about 3 times its width. The wider you stretch the WireLace, the shorter the length becomes, so make sure you plan for extra in projects (1/2 to 1 times the final length).
WireLace is also nickel-free, waterproof and heat resistant. It can be used in low heat projects (under 275 degrees).
According to the website, there are quite a few uses for WireLace, including:
  • Expand it to create lacy waves about 3 times its width (not the 1 mm wire lace)
  • Use it flat like ribbon
  • Insert beads, string or wire inside (1 mm not tubular)
  • Knot it
  • Thread it through beads
  • Bake polymer clay on it
  • Knit, crochet, weave or sew with it
…and much more!
The WireLace website provides a Tip Sheet on different ways to use the product: stringing, supporting and finishing. There are full-color photos included along with directions.
I created 4 projects with WireLace and must say that I am quite impressed with the product. I’ll walk you through the 4 projects I made (a bracelet using a kit, a mixed-media canvas, a bracelet/necklace and earrings).
My first project was the Swirls of Pearls bracelet that came in kit form. The kit includes: step-by-step illustrated instructions, template, collapsible eye needle, WireLace, bell end caps, ‘Starry Night’ Alacarte Clasp, and all Swarovski elements.

There are a few tools that you’ll need to complete your project (as noted on the product page) but I found that I could substitute on some of those, as I didn’t have some of the items listed.
I was a bit apprehensive about creating something that looked so intricate and complicated but the kit comes with fantastic directions that were very easy to follow and I was surprised at how quickly I had the bracelet put together.

Following the directions and diagrams on the instruction sheet, I sorted the beads in the order that they needed to be strung.

I threaded the collapsible needle that came with the kit (which is something I used in my other projects later on and made sure that I put it away safely to use for other future projects – it’s a valuable tool) and strung the beads according to the diagram. Our newly adopted rescue kitty, Ozzy, saw me working and decided he wanted to help.


One of the issues that I found here was that three of the largest pearl beads only had one hole in them so the needle couldn’t go completely through them. Because the kit gives you the exact count of beads that you’ll need, that meant that I was short three large pearl beads. Fortunately, there were three pearl beads close to the size that I needed in my grandmother’s old button/bead tin so I was able to complete the necklace. The pearl beads from the tin, though, were a bit yellowed with age, so they didn’t completely match the other pearl beads, but it’s something I can look past. This could pose a problem for other crafters that may not have supplies at home as a back-up.

The next step was to wrap the wire lace and beads around the template that came in the kit. This is where the scotch tape comes in handy and I used it on the edges each time I folded the Wire Lace around the template to hold them in place. The template makes it easy to have strands that are all the same length and tells you which beads go where so that you have an even distribution of them.
Once I got all of my strands wrapped around the card and the beads sorted on each strand, I started gluing them into place according to the template. The directions call for using G-S Hypo Cement but this wasn’t something I had so I used Brush-On Super Glue and that worked perfectly as a substitute.
***UPDATE: I got an email from one of the execs at WireLace with some very useful info to share with you. Here’s what Linda Hartung had to say:

“Super Glue is a great fast and quick hold and on crafts project but when it comes to jewelry it can produce very unsatisfactory results. Not only do we not recommend it – neither does SWAROVSKI or any of our manufacturers that make our jewelry components. The reason is because cyanoacrylate typically shrinks (2% to 11%) and becomes brittle. So in the short term this glue can appear to work – but over time as it shrinks and becomes brittle it can be very disappointing.

The SWAROVSKI senior product manager Nick Regine teaches classes specifically on the properties of glues just to bring about some helpful education. In his class he teaches about how cyanocrylate is so strong it can actually pull the foil backing off the crystals as it shrinks. When used on WireLace it can cause the wire fibers to snap and break because it becomes brittle – that is why we recommend GS Hypo-cement. GS Hypo-cement provides a medium bond with pinpoint precision for easy application while staying flexible with no shrinkage. I’ve also written an article on glues to use on jewelry in case you’re interested http://www.alacarteclasps.com/pdf/gluing-instructions.pdf

We recommend 2-part epoxy for glue in the end caps because it again does not shrink and provides a permanent, strong bond. Here again, shrinkage could be a problem.”

Following the directions and diagrams, I tied of the strands of my bracelet and slid them off the template. To finish off the bracelet, I pushed the knots on the sides of my strands into bell end clasps with some Super Glue and a toothpick. The directions call for 2-part epoxy, but the Super Glue seems to have done a wonderful job as a substitute and those knots aren’t going anywhere.

The Starry Night Clasp comes in the kit and is a beautiful finishing touch for this bracelet. TheWireLace website offers this clasp separately (scroll to bottom of page in link) if you want to purchase it for other projects and custom sets the crystals of your choice (34 crystals to choose from) in your choice of clasp (2 metals to choose from).


The bracelet length can be changed depending on how many times you rotate the strands before clasping. At the longest, the bracelet measures 8 inches (with no twists) and at its shortest, it measures 7 1/4 inches (with 3 twists). The twist is what creates the “swirls of pearls” look.

I love the sparkling and “bubbles” look of the finished bracelet. It reminds me of something you’d see a mermaid wearing. The pearls look like perfectly place bubbles. My daughter is already begging me to wear it!
My next project was a mixed-media canvas. I wanted to try using the WireLace as an embellishment on something other than jewelry.

I used acrylic paints to paint a 12″ x 12″ inch canvas with sand, seaweed, water and added some paper fishes that I cut using paper from the Garden Party Collection from Imaginisce. I also added some distressing spray that I wiped over the canvas to mute the bright colors a bit.


On the “sand” that I painted, I applied some Super Glue in the area that I wanted to add some Cocoa 6 mm WireLace.


When I had the WireLace secure, I pulled at the lace a bit to help expand it and give more texture.

The Seafoam green WireLace was a great addition to the painted seaweed.


I used some of the 1 mm Turquoise WireLace to create some wave texture and dimension.

I added some extra dimension with other embellishments (seed beads, Sharpie marker, googly eyes, sea glass and Imaginisce flowers and brads) to finish off my canvas.


We have a fun ocean and nautical theme going on in our bathroom (yes, I know that’s so cliche) and this is going to look great in there, though my daughter is begging for it to go in her room (notice a pattern here with my daughter? haha!).

My third project was a bracelet/necklace.

I cut four strands each of Turquoise and Chocolate 1 mm WireLace and used those as 1 bunch each to braid with a third strand of 6 mm Aqua WireLace. Before I started braiding, I strung a bunch of beads on the 6 mm Aqua WireLace. Along the way, I moved the beads up and braided in between them.


I tied the ends in two square knots to complete the bracelet/necklace. I pulled a bit too tight and broke the strands of WireLace. I’m not sure if this would happen with the 12 mm and 20 mm width, but both the 1 mm and 6 mm broke when I pulled too tightly.
This strand of beads and WireLace can be worn as a necklace…

…and it can be wrapped around the wrist a few times to be worn as a bracelet.

My fourth project was to create a pair of earrings that complement the bracelet/necklace.

I used two strands each of the 1 mm Chocolate and Turquoise WireLace and strung a red bead onto them. I added knots along the way for interest and used Super Glue to secure the top knot. I added a jump ring right below the top knot and then an earring wire.

I pulled apart the wire at the ends for a little bit of flare, even though the product sheet says that the 1 mm WireLace does not expand.
So, guess who wants the new jewelry I made? Yup, you guessed it! My daughter. She’s getting her ears pierced this week and wants to confiscate this set to put in her jewelry box.
You can browse the WireLace Gallery for ideas and inspiration. There’s also a complete Kit listing. WireLace currently offers 29 jewelry kits along with WireLace sampler kits and pattern/templates kits. You can find a listing of retailers that offer all colors and widths and retailers offering all styles of clasps.
Pros:
  • 5 versatile widths
  • 31 colors
  • 1 mm WireLace comes in all but one color
  • 6 mm WireLace comes in ALL 31 colors
  • 4 largest sizes expand to about 3 times their width
  • Kits come complete with every component except tools and glue
  • Heat resistant, waterproof and nickel-free
  • Enamel coating creates stunningly shiny finish
  • Collapsible needle in Kit is handy in other projects outside of the kit
  • Mutiple uses: weaving, crocheting, knitting, beading, knotting, bake it, insert things into the larger sizes, use it as embellishments, etc.
Cons:
  • 1 mm and 2.5 mm WireLace breaks if pulled too hard
  • Not all beads in Kit were usable and I had to improvise with beads I had on hand
  • Not easily found in most craft stores, so most will need to look online for products
  • Price point can be a bit high for some crafters for both kits and WireLace
I personally enjoyed using the WireLace in spite of the few cons that I discovered and would love to try it with a crochet hook next. Another way that I plan to use it next is on an art quilt. I think the texture of the larger size WireLace would be a great addition to art quilting. Now I just need to go make sure my daughter didn’t confiscate everything I made!

GIVEAWAY!
Our friends at WireLace and Alacarte Clasps have given us a kit to give away. Just leave a comment answering the following question to be entered to win.


What kind of crafts would you use WireLace for? Which color of WireLace is your favorite?

One comment per person, per day (this is day 1 of 2), please. Winner will be selected on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

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

    Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Epiphany Crafts Shape Studio and Button Studio

    Reported by Jessica Ripley



    I was first introduced to the Epiphany Crafts Button Studio and Shape Studio at Summer CHA 2010 (where it went on to be named one of Craft Critique’s Best of 2010), and was able to watch a demo to see exactly what these tools that seemed to take paper punching to a new level could do. As something that creates custom embellishments, they pretty much had me at hello, but still I wasn’t sure I needed yet another tool to add to my already overflowing allotted craft space. Still, I was excited to try them and see what they could bring to my crafting process.

    Epiphany has created a variety of custom shapes to work with when it comes to choosing a shape or button tool. For each tool, there is a corresponding clear epoxy shape with an adhesive back which fits that particular tool exactly, and is ultimately the key to creating your own unique embellishment.


    These shapes must be purchased separately. This may seem like a deterrent to some that you must continue to buy product once you purchase a button or shape tool in order to use it (which honestly was my first thought), however upon further consideration, the number of epoxy shapes which can so easily be customized in each packet is quite generous when compared to similar pre-made embellishments that we buy. Buttons of course usually come in much larger quantities than what Epiphany provides per pack, however the value of being able to coordinate them to fit any project is definitely a plus.

    As I am primarily a paper crafter, what excited me most about these tools was the sheer ability to match embellishments to any project using patterned paper. The slot to place the material to be punched is about the same width as a paper punch, and strength of the “punch through” similar as well. Therefore, it seems you are limited to using paper with the tools. I tested thick cardstock which worked just fine. I also tried a thin fabric just for grins, but to no avail (not the manufacturer’s fault at all, just testing in the name of crafts).

    Using the easy to understand instructions on the back of the package, I was creating my own shapes and buttons in no time. There are 4 easy steps:

    1. Insert paper (I found small detail patterns work best) and line up using the see through view finder. I love punches that you are able to see exactly what you are punching out, so find this part of the Epiphany design is just excellent.

    2. Place the appropriate epoxy shape on top of the area of paper to be punched. (This was a little tricky for me at first. The epoxy shape is a tight fit and needs to be worked into that opening, and the flower button shape had to be positioned just so, but I quickly got the hang of it.)

    3. Place the plastic insert on top of the epoxy shape then close the lid and press down. You must press fairly firmly, but not necessarily any harder than you would normally do with a press down paper punch. The rounded lid is also easy on the palm of your hand.

    4. Lift the lid and remove your finished customized embellishment.

    Epiphany also has a line of products which enhance the pieces even further, such as felt flowers and settings.


    I created the layout below using the Round Shape Tool and the Vintage Settings.



    So, if you are like me, my first thought was “gee that’s neat. But couldn’t I do the same thing by using a paper punch I already have and then using a 3D gel medium to create that “epoxy” look?” Well, yes probably, but one of the most valuable resources I ever consider in my crafting is time. This little gadget saves time, and in a big way. Not only in drying time if I were to go the gel medium route, but also in cases of mass production, I just couldn’t beat it. Plus honestly it is just plain fun, and a little addicting once you start. Suddenly my scrap pile was looking full of possibilities!

    As mentioned above, another time saver Epiphany Crafts offers are felt embellishments that can add your customized piece to. In a matter of minutes and with a little hot glue I had whipped up these pins to add to one of my favorite purses (that always needed just a little extra something).


    And they of course work great on paper projects too like in this card.


    I even whipped up a pair of post earrings.


    Speaking of jewelry, Epiphany Crafts has thought of time savers in that area as well. Rings and Charm Settings that can be attached to necklaces or bracelets which hold one of the round customized shapes perfectly are shown in their 2011 catalog. I was not able to find these yet online, however look forward to their arrival in stores. What a great way to create a custom gift these will be.

    The projects above all use a Shape Tool, however the buttons are just (if not more) versatile. Buttons will never go out of style, and being able to add customized looks to sewing projects is so wonderful.

    The Button Tool works in the same way the Shape Tool does, but has prongs on the insert that you place through the button holes before punching.

    Creating several buttons takes only minutes, especially once I had the hang of the process. A minor issue, I did notice that though the punch has two little prongs to poke through the button holes, they don’t quite go all the way through the paper cleanly when punched. Because I planned to sew the buttons, this didn’t bother me as I knew a needle would just poke through, so I don’t feel it that big of a problem.

    I just love that I can sew these onto projects! I made the pillow below and added several as a decorative touch.


    After having a chance to try these out for myself, I have to say that I foresee myself reaching for both the Epiphany Shape Tool and the Button Tool many times. I’ve seen them listed for sale anywhere from $15 to $25 depending on the retailer’s price, and the corresponding epoxy shapes around $5 per pack. Though this is a little more expensive than say a paper punch would be, I will be adding another 1 or 2 to my stash. I just love the possibilities with them, and at their relatively small size, my fear of not finding a place for them in my craft area is completely gone. I know right where they’ll be actually, front and center on my desk ready to be used again and again.

    Pros

    • A unique tool that is fun to use, small in size, but big on possibility.
    • Create custom embellishments and buttons for all sorts of craft projects using patterns and colors you love.
    • A precious time saver, using the tool is quick and easy.

    Cons

    • You must continue to purchase the corresponding epoxy shapes to use the tools.
    • The highest price I found of $25 seems a little pricey, but I did find it for less also (and with a coupon, would be a bargain).
    • The use of the tool is limited to paper (or photos).
    GIVEAWAY!

    The great folks at Epiphany are giving away this amazing prize package to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the comment section of this article on this blog to be entered:


    How would the Epiphany Button or Shape Studio change the way you craft? Do you find the possibility of being able to create custom buttons exciting? Or would you continue to work with whatever you can buy in stores? We LOVE to hear from YOU!

    One comment per person, per Vendor Spotlight: Epiphany Crafts article (this is the first of two).You have until Sunday, May 1st at 6pm CST to leave your comment.

    Disclosure

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

    CHA Jewelry Design: Beadalon

    The Craft and Hobby Association show had a great selection of jewelry supply product companies in attendance.   One of the booths we visited at the show was the Beadalon booth.  We got a chance to stop by to see some of the new items they have trending right now in jewelry making.

    There was a display of Fernando Dasilva’s jewelry.   He recently wrote a jewelry book called Modern Expressions and was at the show doing book signings.

    Another item that caught our eye was the Chain Maille jewelry that is made with their new  “Chain Maille Rings” product line.  They look like jump rings but are made from copper wire and are available in different colors.  The wire is tarnish-resistant which is a must if you are going to make “Chain Maille” jewelry.

    They also have a special new mat that is tacky enough to hold the jump rings so they don’t slide around.

     
    The process of making Chain Maille jewelry making has been around for a very long time.  Basically, you use long nose pliers and special jump rings that vary in size.  These jump rings are specifically made for this craft  and the finished designs looked fun to wear.


    Lauren Anderson is the designer of these pieces and has been making Chain Maille for years.

    What do you think? Ready to go get your Beadalon on?

    Krylon created the ultimate spray project site. As a crafter, you can never run out of ideas.
    We make sure of that. Hundreds of craft projects. ProjectsInACan.com

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

    Vendor Spotlight: Little Windows Make 3 Necklaces Kit

    Reported by Taylor Usry

    I recently had the chance to play with an awesome product – the Little Windows Make 3 Necklaces kit. Doesn’t it come in the prettiest package?! Just like a box from Tiffany’s – stunning blue box and all. Presentation is important! I couldn’t wait to open this kit up, but before I get into it, let me share the deets: the kit retails for $48.00 and is available from the Little Windows store. It comes with everything needed to make three 1 1/8″ square resin necklaces, including:

    And there are leftovers to make more goodies. Extra is great! The kind folks at Little Windows also included a small doming tray for me to try out. And for cropping your photos, the Little Windows Photo Cropping Software is available for free. It is internet-based, which means it works on both Macs and PCs.

    Making the necklaces could not be any easier. The hardest part was deciding what to put in them! Once you’ve made the choice (more on my first tries in just a bit) the online photo cropping software is super easy to use.  It can be accessed from any computer, so you can take this craft on the road with you. They only make two shapes available, though – medium squares (which fit the molds included with this kit) and medium diamonds (same size as the square, only on an angle). The other sizes you see pictured in the template above can be purchased as add-ons for the photo cropping software; molds for them can be purchased as well. You can watch the demo they provide to see just how easy editing your photos is – just upload and crop. Up to eight medium square photos will fit on the 4″ x 6″ specialty photo paper. Once you’ve printed your photos out you place the cropping template on top of it, trace around the edges with a ballpoint pen and then cut it out. Now you are ready to make your jewelry!

    The resin is very easy to mix – just pour to the correct lines on the mixing cup, stir for 2 1/2 minutes, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then you fill the molds about 3/4 of the way full, if you are just using photos in them. When you add the photos it’s important to slide them in, not lay them on top and push down – that will cause your resin to spill over the edges. If you have bubbles, they usually disappear after 10 minutes. If they don’t you can either pop them or pull them out with the mixing wand.  Once you’ve got the the photo all set into the resin, you place the molds back in the dust cover and let them sit for about 12 hours. It’s important to note that you can do more than just photos in these molds – you can do beads too. I’m not sure if you have to have a certain type, though – the ones I had at home bled into the resin and tinted the whole thing pink.

    I used a photo of my little sweeties in one of the necklaces above. I turned it black and white before I printed it. The other necklace I didn’t want to be just a photo, but I read on the site in the FAQ section that the reason you have to use the specialty photo paper was that regular photo paper was too porous and wouldn’t work. So I was hesitant to try just plain old patterned paper or cardstock. Instead I scanned a piece of Webster’s Pages Waiting for Santa paper and uploaded that. It turned into the cutest little holiday necklace! So the possibilities there are endless – you can use scanned papers, pictures of art, landscapes, people…I really don’t know what to make next!

    After you’ve let the resin sit in the molds for about 12 hours, the next steps are super easy. You pop the molds in the freezer for about a minute, pull them out and twist them like an ice cube tray, and then tap them on a hard surface (I used my counter) – and out they come! The hand drill makes short work of the hole through the top. Then you put a silver pin through it, twist it into a loop, and put them on a necklace. I’m not kidding, it really and truly could not be any simpler. And the step-by-step instructions included with the kit have excellent pictures as well as written instruction (for all types of learners). It’s foolproof!

    With some of the leftovers I used the doming tray to try our a technique they call doming. The concept is simple – just pour resin on top of your shapes and allow it to set. You can use these little trinkets as magnets, for custom embellishments, stick-ons for cell phones or iPods…there is no limit to the possibilities! Shown above are my first batch of domed images – the leftovers from what I printed and didn’t turn into necklaces.

    I tried the beads with this technique too. But again, I think the beads I have just aren’t for use with resin. They look super cool, especially on the photo-paper base I used, but they did bleed a bit. I punched out a piece with a flower punch, poured the resin on and added the beads. I pushed them into the resin and when it dried you can see above how they sit up off of the flower. What an easy way to make cool custom trinkets for projects!

    I cannot say enough great stuff about this kit – I know I’ll be making tons of things with it! Currently setting up in the molds are a cool set that uses the layering technique. I wish I had a picture to share, but it just doesn’t look right in the mold and I can’t take it out yet. So I’ll direct you to the ones on the Little Windows site.

    When I first saw the price of the kit I thought it seemed a bit high. Once I used it, and saw the quality of the things that come with it I changed my tune. I can say unequivocally that this kit is worth the money. It’s easy to use, the website is super helpful and easy to navigate, and the extra components are way cool. I feel like I keep saying the word easy, but that’s because it really and truly is!

    The kit would make a great gift for anyone. Or you could get it for yourself and make some unique gifts for others. Either way – just get it!!

    READER DISCOUNT
    Order one of these great kits or Little Windows custom designs for yourself or as a great holiday gift!  Craft Critique readers can enjoy FREE SHIPPING by entering the discount code CCFREE at checkout.  Offer expires December 14th.


    EDITOR’S NOTE: If anyone is having problems entering or redeeming the free shipping discount, please email the folks at Little Windows and they will happily refund the cost. Just email them directly to correct, Thanks!

    GIVEAWAY
    The great folks over at Little Windows are offering our readers a chance to win one of their Necklace Kits (MSRP value of $48).  To win, just answer this question in the comments section at the bottom of this article on our website.

    Have you ever used a kit to make a gift like this?  Is this something you would purchase and make yourself or give to a friend?  We’d love to hear what you think!

    One Comment per Person, contest will remain open until Friday, December 10th at 6pm CST.

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