Tutorial: Leather and Clay Bead Bracelet

How to make a leather cord and polymer clay bead bracelet.Since my polymer clay addiction started a few weeks ago I have busily been making beads in different shapes and sizes. When my husband saw that I had almost filled a 1 quart mason jar with my colorful creations he asked me what I was going to do with all of the beads.

Hmm... I hadn't really thought that far ahead.

Of course beads are always great for jewelry making, so I started with a bracelet.

Many thanks to Endless Leather for providing the gorgeous leather cord I used in this tutorial.

Materials


  • 6 - 3/4 inch extruder cane beads
  • 6 - 1/2 inch solid color beads
  • 1 meter round leather cord
  • scissors

Directions


Before you begin, make sure that the holes in your beads are at least two times larger than the diameter of leather cord you are using.

If you are unfamiliar with clay bead making, you may want to review my posts:

Fold your cord in half. Tie a knot to create a loop that is slightly larger than your largest bead.
The bead is going to be part of your closure and should easily fit through the loop.
Next, you will start stringing your beads onto the bracelet.

Starting with a small bead, run one end of cord through the bead. Then run the other end of the cord through the bead in the opposite direction.
Pull the cord ends until the bead is positioned next to the closure loop.
Next, add a large bead in the same manner.
The second bead should barely touch the first.

If you string the beads too tightly your bracelet won't bend around your wrist.
Continue stringing the beads, alternating between large and small beads.
Add the last bead by pulling both cord ends through the hole in the same direction.
Tie a knot snuggly against the last bead and trim the excess cord.
 To wear your bracelet, simply place it around your wrist and pull the last bead through the beginning loop.

How to make a leather cord and polymer clay bead bracelet.

I actually made this bracelet in two different colors. **Spoiler Alert** Both of these bracelets will probably be part of my September giveaway.

How to make a leather cord and polymer clay bead bracelet.

Which color is your favorite?


The Blogger's Guide to Social Media

The Blogger's Guide to Social Media: Making a plan for promoting your blog or small business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and InstagramAs a craft blogger, I spend almost as much time promoting myself on social media as I do crafting and writing. The task can be a little daunting because I would rather have my hands on yarn, fabric, glue and glitter than my computer keyboard. However, I am aware that my presence on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram can be effective in attracting new readers and keeping my loyal fans coming back for more crafty goodness.

My personal goal on social media is not only to promote my blog and my shop, but also to tell my story. In addition to self promotion, I like to share a glimpse at things that you won't find on my blog.

Each social media platform offers a unique venue to share different aspects of my day to day work. In an effort to keep my fans and followers informed and engaged (without being spammy) it was necessary for me to develop a basic plan for what I share on each social media outlet.

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/thechillydog
Like me on Facebook
I have a personal, "real world" connection with many of my followers on Facebook. They are my friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and collaborators. These are the people who are most interested in my day to day trials and triumphs.

When I am posting on my Facebook page, I pay close attention to the question "What have you been up to?" because this is exactly what my fans want to know about.
I frequently share the following information on my timeline to give my followers a preview of what's happening behind the scenes:
  • pictures of my work in progress for both my blog and my shop
  • information about local workshops I am teaching
  • links to other blogs, web sites or publications where I have been featured
  • critter pics (I live in Arizona and we have some pretty awesome creepy crawlies residing in our back yard.)
I occasionally share links to articles on my blog or news about my shop.

Despite the fact that I rarely share links to my blog on my own Facebook page, I do share them on other Facebook pages. For example, if I use a specific yarn in one of my tutorials, I share a link on the yarn maker's Facebook page mentioning that I enjoyed their product and show them what I made. Businesses big and small appreciate positive publicity for their products. I don't want to be spammy, but this kind of self promotion can be beneficial to both their brand and mine.

Twitter

Follow me on Twitter
Twitter is a very effective platform for attracting new readers and customers through the thoughtful use of #hashtags and @mentions. I often use #knit #knitting #crochet and #DIY in my tweets.

My tweets are more quirky than my Facebook posts so I can grab your attention in 140 characters or less. Sometimes my tweets are even a bit vague so people are more likely to click on my links.
I frequently tweet:
  • links to my blog posts (both new and old) with @mentions to any relevant brands I used in my project
  • pictures and links to items in my shop
  • pictures of my cat #CatsofTwitter #KittyLoafMonday
  • my favorite items from the Crafty Saturday Show and Sell link-up on my blog and re-tweets of other people's favorite #CraftySaturday items
  • re-tweets of items I like from the #HandmadeHour and #HandmadeHourUSA live chat hosted by @HandmadeHour  @HMNation
  • re-tweets of items I like from #SPSTeam because @SPSTeamEtsy is the best Etsy team around
  • re-tweets of things that inspire me or make me laugh

Google+

Add me to your Google+ Circle
I like Google+ because it offers a variety of ways for you to connect with others. It is similar to Facebook in how you can post pictures, links, video, etc.

The "Collections" feature on Google+ is much more reminiscent of Pinterest because you can add posts (your own or others) to collections. People can follow you and/or your collections.


On my Google+ page, I frequently post links to my blog and items in my shop.

I also have a few collections (giveaways, craft tutorials, printables, yummy food, indie shops and blogging tips). This is where you'll find my favorite posts by other bloggers and small business owners on Google+.
Google+ also hosts a variety of interest-based communities. In addition to moderating two Google+ communities (SPSTeam on Etsy and Create Happy Crafts) I belong to a few other craft and business related communities where I can connect with my peers, get advice and share my latest projects.

Pinterest

Follow me on Pinterest
My Pinterest boards fall into three main categories:
  • craft ideas/tutorials
  • handmade/vintage items
  • business/blogging tips
Of course I pin all of my own blog posts and shop items, as well as those from other blogs and shops that I love.
I also use Pinterest when I am in the early stages of project planning when I am researching topics or getting a little inspiration. If you notice I'm pinning a lot of clay projects, you can bet I'll probably be sharing some clay-related tutorials on my blog, soon.

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram
I am just getting started with Instagram. Right now my plan is to share pictures of my works in progress so my followers can get a peek through my virtual windows to see what I am doing right now.

It's likely that a few, but not all, of my instagrams will end up on my Facebook and Twitter pages as well.
If you'd like to make your own social media plan, I highly recommend the book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More!. It has a lot of useful information for anyone who is interested in developing their brand on social media.

Clay Tutorial: Applying Canes to Beads

Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to apply cane slices to make colorful clay beads.In my last post I showed you how to make an extruder cane with polymer clay. I like this design because it's dynamic and changes color as you slice the cane into pieces.

If you are new to polymer clay crafts, you may be wondering how exactly you transform a cane like this into a bead. One method is to apply thin slices of the cane to a clay core. Let me show you how.

Materials


Directions

As always, when working with clay, take off your jewelry so you don't get any bits squished into your rings and protect your work surface. I like to use parchment paper.

Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to apply cane slices to make colorful clay beads. Begin by using the blade in your bead making kit to cut your cane into slices that are 1-2 mm thick.

Expert tip: If your clay is smearing when you cut it simply place the cane in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to cool it down.
Once your cane is sliced, measure the width or diameter of the cane.Take a piece of clay and make a ball that is about the same width/diameter of the cane.

I use the clay leftover from making the cane for this part. It doesn't really matter what color you use because you won't be able to see the clay core at the end.
Since this is a square cane slice, it's helpful to form the core into a small cube.
Apply a cane slice to each side  of the cube.
Don't forget to add slices to the top and bottom, too.
Gently press the canes onto the inner core.

You will notice that you can still see the seams between the cane slices. You'll need to blend those so they become invisible.
You can use the roller from the bead making kit to gentle roll side to side across the seam to press the clay edges together.

For more control (and less squishing) I like to use a metal knitting needle to roll out the seams.
Afterwards, the seam is virtually invisible.
Roll out the remaining seams in the same fashion.
Gently press in the corners of the cube and roll the clay into a ball.

You want to use a very light pressure so you don't smoosh the design.
Finally, pierce the bead and bake according to the package directions on the clay.

After baking, let your beads cool completely. If you can still see any signs of the seams between the cane slices, simply use the sand paper from the bead making kit to lightly buff them out.

Here are the beads I made with the extruder cane in two different colors.

Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to apply cane slices to make colorful clay beads.


Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to apply cane slices to make colorful clay beads.

What should I use these for? Bracelets, necklaces or earrings? Maybe I'll make a matching jewelry set.

Clay Tutorial: Multi-Color Extruder Cane

Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to make a dynamic, multicolored cane with an extruder.Polymer clay is one of my new favorite materials to work with. It comes in a variety of beautiful colors and with just a few simple tools you can make stunning beads.

You can use a clay extruder (it's like a tiny cookie press) to create a dynamic clay cane that changes color as you slice it.

Materials


Directions


Colored clay can stain certain materials, so make sure to protect your work surface. I like to use a piece of parchment paper. If you are new to clay, you may want to take a minute to read my "Getting Started with Polymer Clay" post.

Roll pieces of clay in each of the four colors. It's easiest to use a clay conditioning machine on the thickest setting. You can also use the roller from your bead making kit. The sheets of clay should be about 2 mm thick.

Use the circle cutter from the bead making kit to cut:

18 suede brown and dusty rose pieces
20 ballerina and white pieces

Lay out the pieces as shown.
Next, make four stacks of circles from the four rows of clay.

Place the 3/16 inch square disc into the extruder tip.
Load one stack of clay into the extruder and press it through.

Repeat for the remaining three stacks.

You will have four square "snakes" of clay.
Gently press two of the "snakes" together. Repeat with the remaining two "snakes."
Stack the two pairs of "snakes."
To help the four pieces of clay stick together, very gently use the roller along each side. You don't want to smoosh the clay too much.
This next step is optional.

I rolled out a thin (1 mm) sheet of suede brown clay and wrapped it around the cane then used the roller to gently press the sheet to the cane.
This cane doesn't look too exciting when you cut off the first slice.

As you slice through the cane, an ever-changing color pattern is revealed.

Here are the first 36 slices of my cane. I think it's so cool the way each slice is magically just a little different than the last!

Polymer Clay Tutorial: How to make a dynamic, multicolored cane with an extruder.

What would you make with this multi-colored clay cane?