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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!