Basic charm bracelet tutorial inspired by Cousin brand products: Part Two

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Part Two: Putting it all together

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Lets make some charms!

Buying only already made charms limits your creativity and can be costly. Making your own beaded charms allows you to incorporate many color options and a uniqueness to your own one of a kind bracelet.

It’s very simple to create these like the ones pictured above that I created for this bracelet. Use a ball or head pin to stack your small beads, bead caps and large beads onto. When you have the configuration how you like it, wrap the wire left at the top around the end of a round tip plier, leaving a few millimeters space under it (shown above) and hold the wire at the tip with your long nose pliers.

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Holding the loop you have made securely with your round nose pliers, begin to wrap the wire around the space of wire under it with your long nose pliers in a spiral downward. When you have finished your spiral, use the flush cutters to cut off any excess wire.

Now we are ready to start configuring our bracelet and yes, this requires a little basic math but that is what keeps the bracelet balanced.

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Now I know this looks like a mess but it’s a blueprint, a grand plan for balance! I recommend taking a picture as a reminder of how you wanted it because when we clear them out to begin attaching the charms, sometimes even I forget the order I had planned.

Lay your chain down on your bead mat and attach it to your mat right below the lobster clasp to hold it in place with a pin. Measure out about 6-7 inches down from the clasp and secure it right there with your other pin. This is your canvas to create in so begin to lay out your charms on both sides in a pattern that you feel gives a good balance and continuity to your bracelet. Now, here comes the math! Count how many links in the chain there are within the area you have pinned, then count how many charms you have on one side of this chain. Is there enough for each link? Or is there just enough for you to skip one link or two links in between each charm? If it’s an odd number then you should look at the charms your using and see if there is a wider charm that could take up the slack by skipping one before and one after just this wider charm. It’s just a little basic math and anyone can configure it. After you do this with one side, do the same configuration for the other.

Now you are ready to attach the charms!

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This is the final part! Open your jump ring and place the charm on the jump ring first and then attach it to the chain link using both long nose pliers to close them up in order according to your blueprint using your final equations. Do one side at a time making sure to secure close each and every jump ring. I prefer oval jump rings because the split is on the side of the oval so when the charm hangs, it doesn’t hang on the part where you close it and there is less chance of losing your charm if it gets caught on something. You may want to consider a little bead or charm dangle for the tip of the extender chain for a finished look. The bracelet you have made is adjustable and can now be worn by anyone from 6 3/4 to 8 inches long.

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Thank you for reading and learning. I’ll be back soon with another tutorial!

PEACE!

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Basic charm bracelet tutorial inspired by Cousin brand products: Part One

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Part One: Getting Started

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This is the first tutorial I’ll be doing here on my blog so I’m excited to share a little of my Freak Show methods with you! Having been an only child, my mother had to work extra hard at teaching me to share and I believe she was successful. In a jewelry industry full of artists that are completely secretive about their methods, I plan to be different and share and share alike. This isn’t rocket science or a magic formula, this is FUN! So, if you like what your learn and have the opportunity, share the fun with someone else out there and teach them too!

I will be doing this in two parts and this is first part.

Charm bracelets seem to be a top seller in my Etsy shop and are the most requested type custom order I create. Usually these bracelets tell a story when I make them but for this tutorial, lets just begin with some basic lovelies to get started.

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Above you will see the items I used in the piece and many of them are Cousin brand. I know it looks like a lot of stuff and it is but these are VERY basic, easy to acquire jewelry findings, beads and charms. Feel free to use similar items and colors that YOU love. Sizes aren’t very important here. While one person likes a big and chunky piece, another may enjoy something on the lighter side. Although, the balance of the items used and the technique in which you build the bracelet is very important for the final product.

Here is what I used:

A variety of great purple acrylic and mesh beads from Cousin

Gunmetal circle link textured chain from Cousin

Purple cracked glass beads

Gunmetal flower beads

AB crystal teardrops

Crystal AB rondelle and bicone beads

Faceted metallic beads

A variety of bead caps

Gunmetal head pins, ball pins and decorative head pins

A variety of gunmetal and silvertone flower charms

Tiny AB flatback crystals

Gunmetal oval jump rings

Gunmetal lobster clasp

You will also need a bead mat, a couple of pins, a ruler, an etcher (optional), a jewel picker, a toothpick, a super fast drying gel type glue, a flush wire cutter, 2 long nose pliers and a round tip plier. I use the Cousin brand tools for my work and that’s is what you see pictured.

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The first thing I need to do for this piece is set the tiny crystals into these flower charms. Whenever gluing something to metal, it’s important to rough up the exact surface area of it. I used a diamond tipped etcher to rough up the inside of these little bezels where the crystals will go before I begin gluing. I use a “superglue” gel type of glue to set crystals because honestly, jewelers glue takes too long to dry and this type of glue holds even better. I really don’t think one brand is better than the other but do make sure you are using the gel type. Use a toothpick to apply the glue into each tiny bezel area ( a little goes a long way) and then use a jewel picker to pick up each crystal to place them. A jewel picker has a sticky tip and is a must for setting crystals. This needs 10 minutes at the most to dry.

Now that you have set your crystals, you can remove a length of chain about 8 inches in length for your bracelet and use a jump ring to attach the lobster clasp.

Continue onto Part Two…

Where I Stir My Cauldron

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About 6 months ago I redesigned my eat in kitchen table area into a home studio area to accommodate my needs. It’s light and bright so I can see what I’m doing but even better than that, it’s MY place to create and it’s organized just like me. I’m a neat Freak so I LOVE organization! Lets take a look at some of the things I did to make it a functional place to create all the creepy goodness.

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This was the good sized eat in area of my kitchen. It already had a built in desk to the wall with cabinets and this is where I have spent my time working from home for HSN. At one time, I even appeared on the front page of the business section of what is now the Tampa Bay Times right here at the built in desk, promoting and being the poster child for the Work At Home program at HSN. I have been with HSN and working at home since 2006. Although in those pictures, this was not yet a studio and there was a kitchen table behind me while I worked at my desk. The Freak Show did not yet exist.

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I have to thank IKEA for making design of this space easy online with simple measurements and a design guide. I printed out a list of just what I needed and went straight to the store’s warehouse area. This list even included the isle and bin numbers so that finding everything was a snap. I chose table tops to sit on top of these cubby quad cube bases and also chose heavy duty wheels to hold a lot of weight to install on their bottoms. The white carts of drawers fit perfectly into the nooks and crannies of the space.

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There are many organizational bins inside of those cubbies to make getting to things easy. These are simply bins and storage containers that I purchased at the Dollar Tree. What a fun-tastical place of organization bliss that won’t break the bank! I covered these bins in a contact paper. It’s easy to use and removable should I have a fickle moment and want to change the look.  Inside of each bin are smaller bins and containers with sections. All the tiny pieces have a place and a home so they can be readily found. I applied chalk board stickers to the outside of each small and large bin. Why? Because if you are into organization the way that I am, you are constantly organizing and reorganizing. These chalk board stickers make it easy to label and re-label the bins. What may contain bling bling crystals today, may contain leather cording tomorrow. If you cant find these stickers, they are easy to make. Just purchase some chalk board paint from the paint section of your craft store and paint right over a round or oval sticker. It really is almost as easy as waving a magic wand.

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For my table tops, I got heavy duty unfinished chip board organizational drawers from HSN. I covered them with that good old contact paper and some creepy themed stickers. I love me some skulls and spiders! Everything on these table tops serves a purpose to my craft and are hidden away in the drawers and in the stacked faux books that open. A clear work space is key for the success of completing your projects as is the proper lighting. The lighting is so important as well when you are taking pictures of your work which you will see so much of as I continue this blog. Many of my creepy little friends offer inspiration as I work on pieces and sometimes they even appear in the pictures with my work too.

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Lastly, no comfy pillow is too big for a Chihuahua. I bought this pillow to make it easier to kneel down on the tile floor when I need to retrieve an item from a lower bin. My Chihuahua’s name is Ayla and she has hijacked my pillow with all of her 5 lbs. She is usually right here with me while I’m working if she isn’t right there in my lap. My inspirations aren’t always from the creepy things. Sometimes they come from furry little bundles of joy.

Welcome to my Freak Show!

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My name is Stacy and I’m a Freak! I have been this way since I was very young and became obsessed with classic horror movies at the age of 6 which fed my interest in horror movie make up. As an older child I continued on my freaky little path expressing myself by the clothes I wore, the jewelry I chose and the music I listened to.

The older I became the less accepted it was to express myself in the same fashion. As a parent, I started to live a more toned down life with less of the color that reflected who I was on the inside. Now that my children have entered adulthood, I can finally be who I am by not hiding the freak that has been knocking at the window pane in my heart begging me to come out and play.

This is my time to express myself, to design for myself and for others that stay true to their inner Freak and listen to their inner child. This is my Freak Show and all are welcome to join in and be the Freaks that they have always been.

Let me take you with me on my journey and give you a behind the scenes look into how I design these amazing jewelry pieces for others and where I get my inspiration from.