Monday, January 30, 2012

Upcycled Sushi Tray Bracelet Tutorial

This month's Etsy Fort Worth "Upcycle THIS!" Craft Challenge contest secret ingredient was disposable plastic sushi trays.

This is my entry; a step-by-step tutorial to make your own bracelet with one of these pretty trays!
You can click on any of the photos below for a closer look.

Tools and Supplies:
✧ One disposable plastic sushi tray with at least 2x5 inches of flat usable space in the bottom
✧ 6 yards embroidery floss, 6 strand (I used DMC color #498)
✧ 2 hex nuts, 1/2 wide (3/16" inside)
✧ Small circle hand punch, 1/16"
✧ Scissors
✧ Saucepan
✧ Tongs
✧ 2 Wide rubber bands
✧ Non-tapered drinking glass, 2.5-2.75" in diameter (or another cylindrical object)
✧ Tape
✧ Big-eyed needle (optional)

Grocery stores often have this kind of trays for their sushi. You can find plenty of inexpensive options (and non raw fish options if you're not a fan).

First, I recommend washing your sushi tray (if it has been used for fish or food) in the dishwasher.  I put mine on the top shelf and made sure the 'heated dry' setting was off, just to be sure it didn't warp the plastic.

This is what the original tray (9" x 6.25") looked like (to the left).  You can see there is a section framed in the middle. That's the part I wanted to use for mine!  

Using scissors, I cut into the tray and trimmed the sides off so I have just the flat part of the bottom of the tray (right).

Then I cut around the shape in the center. This will also work with a smooth tray. Your cut out piece should be a rectangle about 2x5". I suggest rounding the corners.

**Please note, I originally cut out around the larger rectangle, so the next few photos show the steps with that piece.  It ended up being too big so I trimmed that outer edge off to be left with the innermost section of the tray which is the 2x5" piece.

The next step is to warm up the plastic piece in a pan of hot water. (You will want to have your rubber bands and glass or other cylindrical object ready before you start this step so go ahead and peek to the next step first). Keep the water just under boiling. DO NOT BOIL!  This will cause the plastic to get too brittle and crack when it cools. It also takes some of the shine off the plastic and leaves a nasty whitish tinge in areas. Just be patient and watch it for several minutes.
Use a pair of tongs to turn the piece over so that the blank side is facing up, and press it gently to the bottom of the pan in the middle.  This should encourage the ends to start to curve upward in the right direction.  Keep coaxing the ends to curve by using the tongs to pick up the plastic and bend it gently by pressing against the bottom or side of the pan. You shouldn't have too much trouble getting the plastic to start to shape.  If it is still too rigid, give it a little bit more time in the hot water and you'll be able to feel when it's a little bit easier to mold.  
You won't be able to achieve the final perfect curve during this step...that's what the next step is for!

When the plastic is nice and flexible and starting to curve in the right direction, remove it from the pan with your tongs and act quickly to use rubber bands to hold it in place around a cylindrical form like this un-tapered drinking glass (it should be about 2.5-2.75" in diameter.  This one is 2.75" across).  The idea is to secure the plastic in place before it cools too much, so if you're not fast enough you may need to get it back in the water for a few extra minutes and try again.  You'll be able to feel that it's too rigid.  

You may want to use thick rubber gloves so you can handle the plastic comfortably, but honestly I didn't because it was cool enough to touch within seconds of taking it out of the water.

Leave the plastic in place on the glass for at least 15 minutes.  When it is completely cool, you can remove the rubber bands and it will hold this shape!  Be gentle as you continue from this point on, because after it cools it returns to being just as rigid as before, so could still possibly snap or crack if you try to bend it too far.
*This is the stage I realized that although it looks really cool, the size of the piece was too big (above left).  I carefully trimmed off the outer rectangular area with a pair of scissors (trimmed piece, above right).

Next, I used the 1/16" small circle punch to make 8 holes along the bottom edge of each side of the cuff.  As you can see I did a TERRIBLE job of making a straight line.  I would suggest using a white wax pencil to mark where the holes should be and try to line up the punch to your marks.  I made my holes about 1/8th of an inch up from the edge of the plastic.

For each side of the bracelet, I cut eight 10" sections of red embroidery floss (so, 16 sections total for the bracelet) and used two through each hole.  I passed the ends of two pieces of cord up through the first hole and down through the second hole, then tied a double knot on the underside.  I repeated this for each of the other sets of holes. 

Then I slid all the ends of the bunch of cords through a hex nut, and tied all the strands into one knot, snug up against the hex nut on each side.

Now, we are almost finished!  
The next few steps will make a square sliding knot around both bunches of cord, so that our bracelet will be adjustable! 

 First, cross your ends past each other and tape to the outer side of the opposite end of the cuff.  Be careful not to pull too tightly, you don't want to crack the plastic.

Next, turn the bracelet so that one of the stitched ends is facing you and it is lying on its curved back (see below left).

Take a 24" section of embroidery floss and put it under the middle of where your tassels cross.  We'll refer to these cords as the 'anchors' from now on. Tie a 'normal' knot to secure the string in place.

Then, to begin the square knot, bring the right end up and over the anchors, loosely so you leave a loop on the right side between the tying cord and the anchors.  Now bring the left side up over the right end, then pass it under the anchors and up through the loop on the right side.  Pull both ends to pull it tight. 

Make it snug but not too tight, your knot needs to move easily.

This completes the first half of your first square knot.  

The second half is the same but in reverse:
Bring the left end up and over the anchors, leaving it loose to make a loop (see above right) and pass it under the right end.  The right end passes under the anchors (make sure it's over the left end first) and then up through the loop on the left.

Repeat with several more knots until you have about a half inch in length for your sliding knot.  To finish, you can either tie a regular double knot with the tails (on the underside of the knot which will be against the wrist when worn) and then trim , or you can use a needle to weave or sew the ends back in through your knot.  I personally don't like gluing because the glue can stick the sliding knot to the anchor chords and then won't slide!! ( I guess I need a little more practice).

This is a pretty good video which shows you how to tie the sliding square knot.
I think it's harder to explain that it is to actually do! 

One last step:  in order to prevent the ends from slipping all the way out of the sliding knot, I tied small knots in the tassels about 1/2 inch away from the square knot on both sides.  The ends need to be able to pull through far enough so that you can get your wrist through, so to figure out where to place the knots find out how far you need to slide the slider. These little knots will be like stoppers.  
I took four strands at a time and tied a knot in them, so that the tassel would keep its shape as a tassel!

You could also tie a tiny knot at the very end of every strand, or tie knots and add beads at the ends...etc.  There are lots of variations for this bracelet.  Have fun and please let me know if you need further help with ANY of this; I know there is a lot of info and a ton of steps.

I'd also love to see your own version of the bracelet, if you use this tutorial to make something similar, post them here in the comments so everyone can see!

I LOVE to be pinned on Pinterest :)  I hope you'll share with the world by pinning me if you like what you see here!

Green Crafts Showcase

Friday, January 27, 2012

Signature Large Gold Wire Hoop Earrings, 14k gold fill

Bespangled Jewelry Signature Gold Wire Hoops, Large, Medium, or Small (also available in Sterling Silver) 

*Please note you have the option to purchase here directly from my blog or via my Etsy shop. You will see that my Etsy prices are higher, and this is due to the service fees they charge sellers on their site. Shopping directly from me means I can pass the savings on to you!

Light and airy golden hoops are an everyday staple for your wardrobe, year-round! All Bespangled Jewelry comes wrapped in a sweet organza bag tucked inside a handmade pillowbox, tied with a lovely ribbon. Your items are always ready for gift-giving!

Bespangled Jewelry Large Wire Hoop Earrings in 14k gold fill or sterling silver

Large hoops measure 2" in diameter.

      Available in Gold or Silver

Payments are made securely through PayPal. You may pay with your choice of debit or credit card even if you don't have a PayPal account.



Bespangled Jewelry Signature Wire Hoops, medium size, available in gold or silver

Medium hoops measure 1.25" in diameter.

Available in Gold or Silver

Payments are made securely through PayPal. You may pay with your choice of debit or credit card even if you don't have a PayPal account.


Bespangled Jewelry Signature Wire Hoops, Small size, available in gold or silver
Small hoops measure 1/2" in diameter.

Available in Gold or Silver

Payments are made securely through PayPal. You may pay with your choice of debit or credit card even if you don't have a PayPal account.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm in Craft Book Heaven!

I daydream of the time when I'll have a house just big enough to be able to dedicate an entire room to books.  Floor to ceiling bookcases on every wall and a giant skylight to illuminate this special space so that no wall space has to be sacrificed for a window. I picture a beautifully upholstered comfy chaise in the middle of the room, with a table for my coffee and a lamp for reading at night.  Ideally, there would only be a trapdoor in the floor through which to enter the room, or maybe a door that doubles as a bookshelf, again, to save all the room on the walls for books.

book room with hidden door

In this imaginary room, I have an entire wall at least which is dedicated to my humongous craft and hobby books collection, which I can assure you is very real, although the majority is still packed in boxes in storage since my last move.

Miraculously, I recently unpacked a few of those boxes and found a good portion of my beloved stash of craft books and happily began to fill up my lonely bookshelf. Plus, I just received my order from Amazon this week after redeeming some gift cards:

I have flipped through all of these books, and have bookmarked at least a dozen projects I want to try! Eeeeeeee!  Here's a peek inside each of them (yes, I'm trying to make you jealous :)

The Handmade Garden Projects book has so many amazing ideas, and uses mostly recycled materials and renewable resources which to me, makes it about a million times cooler. I LOVE the look of this curvy short bamboo fence made with uneven lengths! That succulent is in a handmade lightweight planter, which is another one of the projects.  I'm a huge fan of this book!

Handmade garden fence from varying lengths of bamboo from
Handmade Garden Projects

tells you how to make your own beauty products from easy to obtain natural ingredients so you don't have to bombard your skin with chemicals every day. I'm excited to try the Coconut and Oat Cleansing Lotion and the Chocolate Orange Lip Balm (doesn't that sound AWESOME??).

Handmade chocolate orange lip balm from A Green Guide to Natural Beauty

Stash Happy: Felt has a ton of really cute projects geared toward using up scraps of fabric and also recycling things like old wool sweaters into hats or tea cozies. These large felt 'carnation' decorations are really fun and festive!  I think these would make great wedding decorations, in various sizes and different shades of white...and maybe a few fun embellishments?

Handmade felt 'carnation' decorations. Excerpt from Stash Happy:Felt

The Art of Resin Clay could really open up a whole new world for me as far as jewelry goes; there are some super cool techniques in there for things like making handpainted faux coral branches and exsquisitely detailed three-dimensional lockets...

How to make faux coral branches from resin clay.
Excerpt from The Art of Resin Clay

The Ultimate Crochet Bible is FULL of techniques which to me are almost all new because I'm a crochet newbie.  I can barely remember how to do the basic chain stitch without having to look it up every time, but this book will be a valuable resource for me every time I get the itch to stich and hopefully I'll be able to improve a lot because of it. This technique of tubular crochet could make for an interesting cuff bracelet, I think!

Tubular crochet stitch how-to. Excerpt from
The Ultimate Crochet Bible

Some of my recently rediscovered books are still just as inspiring to me as the first time I flipped through them:

Decorative Crafts Sourcebook is a 300 page encyclopedia of techniques, plus projects that utilize some of those techniques. It is amazing and always the book I turn to first when I need an idea for how to make a project more interesting. One particular project that has caught my interest is how to make these salt-dyed napkins. These could be great in any variety of color combinations and could brighten up any table!
You may also like to read A Sneak Peek inside my favorite Craft Resource Booka post I wrote for the Etsy Fort Worth Team blog. It takes you further inside this Decorative Crafts Sourcebook!

Salt-dyed napkin tutorial. Excerpt from
Decorative Crafts Sourcebook

Remake, Restyle, Reuse  is full of projects for adding interest to existing objects for 'inspired design'. For example, etching designs on plain glasses to make them fancier, or stitching silhouettes onto pillowcases or napkins. The finished products in this book have a really high-end feel to me, and I love that!  I simply adore the idea of etching designs like these on glassware.

Etched vases and glassware tutorials. Excerpt from
Remake, Restyle, Reuse

Alternacrafts is full of fun ideas like glittery collage magnets or bottle cap pendants and rugs made from strips of old t-shirts.  I like to apply the techniques to projects which are more my own style but that's the beauty of books like these!  You take what you want and leave the rest :) This newspaper bouquet is pretty cool!

Newspaper bouquet; paper flowers tutorial. Excerpt from

Craftivity is similar to Alternacrafts in this way, but it is still chock full of excellent tips and tricks that I know I'll need someday! This is a blinged-out teapot made from a slip casting of a detergent bottle. Very crafty!

Funky blinged-out teapot project. Photo from

Lotta Prints is one of my favorites; much like Remake, Restyle, Reuse, this book offers a higher end looking kind of project.  (The author is Scandinavian, so I'll attribute the clean and sleek style to that). One of my favorite things about this book is all of the stencils and patterns that come with the book.  I love that she shares her designs with us! Projects are things like curtains stamped with leaf motifs and aprons that look screenprinted but are just printed with a potato. 
These printed men's ties are super cute!

Handprinted men's ties, DIY project from
Lotta Prints

I am just giddy about all these books and can't wait to get started on some projects that I look forward to sharing with you as well.

If you'd like to procure a copy of any of these for your own, the links are above and below for the best prices on Amazon:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today I am Inspired by...the Color Blue

This stunning photo of the Skaftafell Ice Caves in Iceland took my breath away.  To me this is the essence of the color blue, in all its glory.  I'm left speechless (well, almost speechless) by this image and it made me want to explore the idea of this color further. The word 'blue' must mean something different to everyone. If someone is describing something to you as 'blue', you probably need to ask for further clarification. When you hear the word, do you picture a baby blue? navy blue, cobalt blue? electric blue? Take in the splendid array of hues in this photo; what words do you use to describe them?

I see beautiful deep indigos, shades of peacock, teal, and aqua.  I see the color of apatite - my favorite gemstone - and brilliant deep sapphire, turquoise, aquamarine. To me this image represents water and sky, atmosphere, air, This cave is frozen solid, the colors are cool, and yet, I find it strangely warm and inviting. This is nature's beauty at its finest!

I have created a collection of beautiful blue items inspired by this photo, and I had a lot of fun choosing colors from the picture, figuring out what to call them, and searching using those terms. Please visit the link and see for yourself!  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My very first Swap Sponsor! Introducing Julie{IsCocoandCocoa}

I am so excited to have my very first blog sponsor! I want you to meet Julie{isCocoandCocoa}. I'm a relatively new blogger, and Julie has been giving me some great advice.  It's not always easy getting started at something new, and it's really nice to have a buddy to help me out with my newbie questions. I am thrilled to have her badge on my sidebar.  Welcome, Julie, and thank you!

Julie is working on a degree in Marketing at UTA and is a mom to three boys, two of whom are 10 year old twins, and the other is 2! They are all destined to be heartbreakers, I'm sure (if you don't believe me hop on over to Julie's blog and tell me I'm wrong). This busy girl is also an avid blogger, incredible baker, and on top of all this, she knits and crochets for her Etsy shop Coco & Cocoa, and as you can see from this Owl Knit Hat with Button Eyes and Crochet Elfin Hats she makes some really cute things!!

I am also absolutely in awe of this awesome Ruffled Crochet Necklace. Isn't this just the coolest thing ever?? So much fun!

I hope you'll take some time to peruse Coco and Cocoa on Etsy and see some more of Julie's amazing creations, and keep in mind that she LOVES custom orders so if you see something that's almost perfect but not quite, just ask and she'll work with you to come up with something that is just right!
  Be sure to check out her blog as well (-WARNING-) but only if you're strong enough to resist these Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars...gulp!!

If you're interested, you can learn about becoming a sponsor with Bespangled Jewelry too!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Birthstones. What's the Deal?

Birthstone Rings from Lunasa Designs on Etsy

The idea of Birthstones is interesting to me.  I didn't really think about it until recently, as I was writing about January's Birthstone Garnet, but I started to wonder why certain stones were chosen for certain months...and how the whole thing came about.

So, with a little time on my hands and easy access to the incredible interwebs, I thought I'd see what I could come up with!  Here goes:

Apparently, between 1400-1600 in Poland it became popular to wear specific gemstones for their astrological significance to the wearer and not just the beauty or color of the stone. Each gemstone was believed to hold special powers, which were strongest during the month it was assigned to. People believed that wearing these stones would empower them with certain special abilities, so they worked toward a collection of all twelve stones to be sure they could wear the right stone each month. 

The particular stones associated with the wearer's month of birth had importance for that person throughout the year, and in particular during certain astrological events (you know, like when the moon passes into the House of Aquarius...or something).

A Birthstone list with associated months was released in 1912 by the Jeweler's Association of America and was agreed upon as the modern standard worldwide.  As you will see, some months have more than one recognized Birthstone!
  • January - Garnet
  • February - Amethyst
  • March - Aquamarine
  • April - Diamond
  • May - Emerald
  • June - Pearl, Moonstone
  • July - Ruby
  • August - Peridot
  • September - Sapphire
  • October - Opal, Tourmaline
  • November - Yellow Topaz, Citrine
  • December - Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite

I am currently working toward having all of these stones represented in my shop, and each month I'll write about the current birthstone and the lore and mythology behind it!  The links above will take you to the posts on each stone (when available) and the links below will take you to my Etsy shop. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Garnet: January's Glorious Birthstone

Pomegranate seeds look like garnet!
Photo via TheDeliciousLife on flickr
CC BY 2.0

antiqued wire wrapped sterling silver garnet handmade artisan necklace

Garnet, glorious birthstone for the month of January, is a fascinating and richly colored gemstone.  It is named for the latin word for pomegranate, granatum due to its amazing resemblance to the color of the deep glossy red seeds of this lovely fruit.

This luxurious burgundy or crimson red tone is the most widely known hue for the stone, but some may be surprised to find that this incredible gemstone comes in a wide variety of splendid colors, from a nice warm honey-brown color to a dark emerald green or even black.

Garnet's stone lore has it rumored to be able to light up the night and protect those who wear it from nightmares. Garnets have also long been carried by travelers as protection against accidents far from home.

Handmade Wire Wrapped Garnet Pendant Necklace

Luxurious rich high quality faceted garnet gemstone beads are carefully hand-wired around the center of the handformed wrapped wire teardrop-shaped pendant. Centerpiece dangles gently from a dainty sterling silver chain. The entire necklace has been oxidized and then polished for a slightly darker grey antiqued looking patina finish, to give it an earthy, organic artisan feel. 

Pendant measures approximately 1 inch (25mm) wide by 1.25 inches (32mm) long . Gemstone beads are 5x8 mm rectangles. All metal is sterling silver. Necklace measures 17" long, but length can be adjusted by request. Fastens with a lobster claw trigger clasp.

$72 USD

handmade simple garnet bracelet with sterling silver beads on knotted brown silk cord
Simple Garnet Bracelet with Knotted Brown Silk Cord

Genuine smooth polished garnet and shiny sterling silver beads will dance around your wrist on this lovely casual bracelet made with handknotted dark brown silk cord. Great style for everyday wear.

Bracelet is made to fit most size wrists: knot slides for adjustable closure.

$26 USD

Garnet Gemstone Necklace on Oxidized Sterling Silver Chain

Lovely faceted garnet gemstone beads swing gently from the center of a dainty sterling silver chain which has been oxidized and then polished for a slightly darker grey antiqued looking patina finish, to give it an earthy, organic artisan feel. 

All metal is sterling silver. Necklace measures 16" long and fastens with a lobster claw trigger clasp.

$38 USD

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