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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!

    Event Review: Gem Show in Costa Mesa, CA

    Reported by Maria Del Pinto
    I just visited the Gem Faire at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in California.  The gem show provides a great opportunity to find a vast selection of beads, findings and other materials all in one location.  They do not allow photography inside the show, so I will just share a bit of what you will find at this particular show.
    The key to shopping at a Gem Show is to know your prices and be familiar with the quality of stones you are looking for.  Assume nothing and ask a lot of questions before making a purchase, just to be sure you are buying what you really want.  I find that it helps to make a list of the beads, chains, findings, gems, and stones I need to purchase before attending the show.
    I also recommend checking with online gem stores to get familiar with pricing for the particular types of beads and stones that you are looking for.  I like to check out at least a few of the vendors before I commit to a purchase.  I have often found that prices will vary from row to row and it has not hurt me to be patient.  The exception to this rule is “one of kind” and trendy pieces.  
    For example,  at this particular show, I was on the look out for some cool “evil eye” beads for a design I had in mind.  Unfortunately, they were sold out in minutes before I could even get to the front of the line.  Next time I will get there earlier.
    This show offered a vast selection of beads in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs.  I bought a hank of 8mm glass beads (see above photo) in assorted colors.  I love to keep plenty of glass beads on hand to use for spacers in jewelry designs and on altered art pieces (they are easy to attach with head pins).
    Occasionally I find something that is not on my list that is just to cool to pass up.  I bought a hank (above photo) of skull beads to craft with.  I know I can make something fun to make with them.
    At another vendor, I did find some great Millefiori pieces (see above photo) at an amazing price.  The chips and focal pieces will look really cool mixed with stones and beads.
    Another fun find was the cats eye beads (see photo above) which great to use with recycled jewelry pieces, felted beads, and polymer clay designs.  I like the way the light bounces off these beads and have found they are great accents to various projects.
    There were also plenty of precious stone vendors, natural mined pieces, and other more valuable items to be found at this show.  It is eye candy for the jewelry designer.  As for me, I was there for findings, spacers, chains, beads, and other smaller purchases that could be used with some of re-constructed jewelry pieces I am working on.  
    Some of the vendors do offer classes at this show.  There was a wire wrapping class, beading class, and many others.  The classes change at each show and folks need to get on the mailing lists of the various vendors to find out the specifics on each class.
    Overall, this is a great show to see, touch, and buy jewelry making supplies.  I would recommend getting onto their mailing list so that you can have the mailer and money saving coupons sent to you.  The mailer offers a free “Friday” ticket that will let you in the rest of the weekend if you need to return to buy more supplies.

    The Gem Faire in Del Mar, CA, continues on Sunday, March 6th, for those in the area. Here’s a link for a 2-for-1 Admission Ticket coupon.

    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!