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