Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
As the parent of an American Girl OBSESSED tween, my daughter and I were eager to review the American Girl Crafts Wrap and Roll Bracelets kit from EK Success. The kit contains materials to make 150 paper beads and includes supplies to create up to 13 bracelets.
The kit includes:
– project and idea book
– 150 paper strips (to make cylindrical and oval beads)
– 150 wooden beads
– 1.5 fl. oz. (44 mL) clear craft glue
– foam brush
– clear string
– 20 rolling tubes
– foam block (used for holding the beads as they dry)
The kit contains rectangular paper strips to make cylindrical shaped beads, and triangular strips to make oval beads. The rectangular strips are approximately 11.75 inches by 13/16 inch. Each individual strip is to be wrapped separately on a rolling tube (which is about 2.5 inches long). The instructions advise to roll the paper tightly around the tube, trying to keep oval beads centered or cylindrical beads straight and even. After you roll the entire strip dab a little glue on the end of the paper, hold it for a few seconds if necessary until the glue sets. Our finished cylindrical beads were approximately 3/8 inch in diameter.
We found it much easier to dab a bit of glue on the paper after we wrapped it around the rolling tube once or twice. Because we were wrapping tightly, the dab of glue would keep spreading forward as we wrapped and the whole bead felt tighter. If needed we would add an additional touch of glue as we wrapped. There is a short learning curve, but after 5-6 beads both of us had a feel for what was tight enough and knew when to unroll a bit of the bead to make it more even. Our attention span was about 30-40 minutes per bead rolling session and we would create 12-18 beads collectively. If I was alone watching a DVD as I wrapped, I could make 20-25 in a sitting.
The instructions suggested sealing the beads by brushing them more of the clear craft glue. This protective coating helps the bead keep its shape and adds a shiny finish. We carefully applied the glue coat to the beads after we rolled them. You have to be careful that you don’t glue the bead to the rolling tube so as a “check” we made sure we could move the bead on the rolling tube before setting it in the craft foam to dry. The craft foam is actually florist’s foam used for creating flower arrangements. After each of our four beadmaking sessions we allowed the beads to dry completely overnight. However, I think the beads are safe to handle after a few hours of drying time.
Sharing the glue bottle turned out to be an issue for us, so we poured a puddle of glue onto a non-stick craft sheet and we shared that. The kit only included one foam brush so I grabbed an extra from my craft stash. You’ll definitely need a few extra glue applicators if you do this with a large group. We are almost out of glue (we used more than the instructions stated) and we have approximately 20 paper strips left in our kit.
The oval beads were easier and more fun for both me and my daughter. The cylindrical beads were more difficult to keep straight. Some of our cylindrical beads had uneven edges and this was an issue when I made the stacker style bracelet (my first time making this style bracelet). As you can see in the photo above the plastic string is not flush with all the edges of the beads because of the uneven bead edges (and because I might not have pulled the string as tight as I could have pulled it). You can also see that I left a tail of string.
The kit comes with 150 color coordinated wooden beads that can be added to bracelets. Our beads were a mix of longer ovals and small spacers. We noticed that some of the holes on these wooden beads weren’t completely drilled through the bead. I was able to finish poking the holes through with a needle.
Our other issue is that the bracelets are finished by tying the ends into a square knot. Square knots are not too bad with yarn or non-slick string. Trying to tie them with the plastic in the kit is a big challenge. So was picking up all of the beads after a knot failure.
My ten-year-old daughter has seen various American Girl craft kits at chain craft stores. Although she was initially drawn to the brand (she loves anything American Girl), she was excited at the prospect of making her own paper beads and bracelets because she likes to make jewelry. We only used beads from the kit for these samples but my daughter immediately came up with ideas for future bracelets using some of her bead stash and some of my designer paper. With a retail price of $14.95, this makes an affordable gift or group project plus this kit can act as a springboard for girls to experiment making paper bead jewelry.
- Kit contains all of the critical items to create multiple bracelets
- Illustrated instructions were well written and easy to follow
- Enough paper strips to make 150 beads, which is enough to cover a few misshapen or beads gone wrong
- The clear string included in the kit is very difficult to tie
- More string is required for a stacker style bracelet so you’ll probably need additional string in order to use all the beads
- Some of the wooden beads in the kit weren’t drilled completely which made them difficult to thread