Friday, October 26, 2012

"MICROSOFT" SCAM PHONE CALL

This morning I received a call from 510-943-3040.  The caller was a man who called me by name and claimed to be from Microsoft.  His South Asian accent was so thick I had a hard time understanding him, but I finally figured out that he was telling me that my computer was sending error and warning messages. 
  
I asked him if he was selling something, but he said he was not a telemarketer.  He told me to go to my computer.
  
I immediately suspected a scam, but I was curious, so I went along with him.  I had no intention of letting him get access to my computer, though.  He asked me about my Microsoft button.  I don't have one on my computer, but I knew what he was talking about.  He insisted that I had a Microsoft button on the lower left corner of my keyboard, next to the Fn button.  I insisted that I didn't have one.  He seemed to be getting a bit exasperated and then asked if I had a Mac.  When I told him I did not, he went back to insisting that I have a Microsoft button.  Then he hung up on me.
  
I looked at the caller ID and found the phone number; instead of a name there was a long numeric code.  I also saw that this number called me twice yesterday.  I tried to call the number from my cell phone, but got a recorded message saying that my call cannot be completed as dialed.  I have hunch that this is on a relay, where the call originates overseas, but comes up as a U.S. number.
  
So I spent the next hour trying to do a reverse phone number lookup.  The reverse-lookup sites all seem to want you to pay for information, but I finally found an article that helped:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-28648080/reverse-cell-phone-lookup-service-is-free-and-simple/
  
In that article was a link to PhoneLookup.com, where I looked up the number.  The result was that the number is an "unpublished" "landline" in "Freemont, CA."  
http://www.phonelookup.com/1/510-943-3040
  
There's a link there to another site that charges a fee for the name.  Not gonna do it.
  
What made the search worthwhile was the comment by Anonymous, dated September 26, 2012: 
   
"Caller has S. Asian accent...Pretend to be from Microsoft, offering to fix 'error' messages on computer. Ask user to allow for remote computer access."
  
This is exactly what I suspected. 
  
While I was writing this blog my phone rang.  There was nobody on the line when my husband answered.  Sure enough, the caller ID reads 510-943-3040!  This jerk isn't giving up.
  
My next step was to contact my telephone provider, which is Comcast.  The service rep told me that this is definitely harrassment.  He said that if we get another call from that number we should dial *57 immediately and that will track the call.  After that I should call the local police and report this harrassment.  Finally I can block that phone number by using *60.  Those numbers are for Comcast and I assume that they would be different codes for other telephone providers.
  
If you get any calls from this guy/phone number, contact your telphone provider and they will tell you what to do. 
  
Let's put this guy out of business.

Friday, October 12, 2012

WINTER HANDS & PEARL KNOTTING

Today the temperature never rose higher than 39 degrees Fahrenheit at my house in Vermont, and we saw snow on the upper ski slopes of Pico Mountain.  Word just came in that Killington opens tomorrow for skiing!  Tonight we expect our first frost of the season, even though we're still experiencing the peak foliage of mid-October.
    
The night-time temperatures have been chilly enough to cause the heat in our house to kick over for the past couple of weeks and I've had the heat on in my car a bunch of times.  Already I'm noticing that my hands are drying out and my cuticles are hardening and cracking.
    
For those of us who work with silk thread when knotting pearls, dry hands can be a big problem.  The dried up cuticles and skin can catch on the thread and damage it while we're working.  This is also a problem for anyone who handles yarns, threads, and delicate fabrics.  In addition, for those who do scrapbooking or work in offices, paper can suck the moisture out of your hands, not to mention the paper cuts that can also catch on and shred your silk thread.
    
I've already started to use hand lotion a couple of times during the day and always before I go to bed at night, because it's easier to keep the skin from drying out than it is to fix it once it has been damaged.  But that's probably not a surprise to anyone.
    
There are two problems that I think many of us miss.
    
First, going outside in the cold without gloves or mittens can be very drying to your hands.  We usually think of the heat as the culprit, but cold can do damage, too, especially when there is wind.  I don't even want to mention the winter F-word (frostbite).
    
Second, driving your car can dry your hands out!  Why?  Because when we turn on our car heaters, we often aim the hot airstream straight at our hands to keep them warm as they grip that cold steering wheel.  Even when we divert the airstream away from our hands, we're in a confined space with the heater running—meaning that passengers are also getting dried out hands.
    
The solution is the same in both cases. Wear gloves or mittens when you go outside and when you're in the car.  Even better, apply hand lotion under the gloves and mittens.  When going outside, be careful to use hand lotion that has little to no water content because the water can freeze and damage your skin—yes, I'm aware of the concept of using hand lotion to trap the moisture into your skin, but not when you're outside in below-freezing temperatures.  Avoid using face lotion with water when you're outside in the winter, too.  Ask me about the time I went skiing with the wrong lotion on my face.  The next day I had quarter-sized, dry, red splotches all over my face.  It wasn't pretty and it hurt.
    
I know that fingerless gloves and fingerless mittens are popular, but they leave those fingertips and cuticles exposed.  I've decided that I'm going to wear my fingerless gloves over my driving gloves.
    
I'm hoping that if I'm careful to protect my cuticles from dryness then my nails won't dry up and crumble again this winter.  Maybe I'm expecting too much.  Time will tell.
    
So, what can you do if you've already got parched hands and cuticles and they're catching on your thread/yarn/fabric?  Gently smooth the rough cuticles with a fine emery board.  Don't scrub.  Then apply a grease-free hand lotion so that you don't stain your work. 
    
Save the vaseline and other greasy lotions for bedtimeand wear cotton gloves to keep the lotion on your skin and away from everything else.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11, NEVER FORGET

Today is September 11, 2012 and it is the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in NY, the Pentagon, and crash of a plane in Shanksville, PA.
   
I guess we all remember what we were doing that day.  It was a gorgeous fall day, just like today in the Northeast--cool and crisp with the most beautiful blue sky.  Maybe that similarity is helping me to remember so much of that day.
   
I was in Boston, observing Christine, one of the trainers in my department at the state agency I worked for.  Shortly before 9 AM we were interrupted by Andy, an attorney from another department, who told us that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings--we all thought it was a small plane.  We went into the other room where they had a television with very poor reception and muffled audio.  We watched for a minute and then went back to the class.
   
A few minutes later Andy came back to the classroom with a very grim look on his face.  Another plane had struck the second tower and they now knew that both planes were commercial airliners.  The realization struck us all at the same time.  This was deliberate.  It's so hard to explain my reaction.  I literally couldn't process what was happening.  We went back to the television, but the reception was so bad that we were having a hard time seeing or hearing what was happening.  Suddenly, we realized that the first tower was collapsing; a short while later, the second tower went down.  One thing we were able to hear was that over 50,000 people worked in those buildings.  We didn't know if any of them had escaped.  That thought was paralyzing.
   
I checked my email and found a message from my fiance (now husband) who lived in Manhattan and worked in New Jersey.  The message was one sentence.  He had seen the second tower fall from his office.  At least I knew he was safe. 
   
Word came down from the Governor that all state offices were closing and we were to leave work immediately.  My car keys were in my office at Copley Place on the other side of Boston, and my car was in the garage below the building.  I had to take the subway back to my office from the classroom.  Everyone on the subway was nervous and sharing everything we knew with the other passengers, even though we were all strangers.  On a normal day we wouldn't even have made eye contact.  We had no idea  if there would be more attacks.  I had a hard time getting into my office because people were leaving the building in droves.  I saw a co-worker who told me that the Pentagon had also been attacked.  Copley Place is located between the two tallest buildings in Boston, the Hancock Building and the Prudential Building.  It struck me that those buildings might also be targets.
   
I truly felt a huge relief when I got myself out of the city.  Where did I go?  JoAnne's Fabrics.  I kid you not.  I was driving by the store and on a whim I pulled in.  I spent about an hour in the store and being in a craft store made me feel better.  I guess that makes sense.  Beading, painting, sewing, etc. always help to calm me.  After that I went to see my mother and finally I went home.
   
I spent the entire night watching the coverage on television--literally the entire night.  I didn't sleep; I watched until dawn and finally fell asleep in my chair. 
   
What a horrible time that was.  We should never let our memories become dulled to the pain and horror of that day or we will let down our guard and leave ourselves open to another attack.  We should never forget the innocent people in the towers and on the planes who lost their lives.  We should never forget the Pentagon employees who lost their lives, both military and civilian.  We should never forget the police officers and firefighters who entered those burning buildings with the intent of saving people and gave their lives instead.  We should never forget those brave civilians who stormed the cockpit of the plane that crashed in PA--the plane that was intended to crash into the Capitol Building.
   
Two years ago I stitched a bracelet of the Manhattan Skyline, including the Twin Towers.  I completed it while I watched a 9/11 documentary in 2010.  You can see the post and photos of my bracelet here.
   
Although I had completed the main part of the cuff, I needed some Charlottes to create the picot edge.  I finally found those Charlottes this past summer.  I finished the edging on my bracelet today while I watched the 9/11 coverage.  I think that was appropriate.
   
For those of you who don't know, a Charlotte is a very tiny seed bead, usually size 13/0.  It would be designated as a round seed bead, but because it has one section that is flattened, it is called a Charlotte.  That flattened spot reflects light and helps the Charlottes to glitter.
   

This is the completed cuff bracelet with the picot edging.  


© Copyright 2012 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pinterest and Inspiration

As an artist, I see inspiration everywhere.  Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory.  If I don't "write it down" I don't remember "it."  Sometimes "it" is a beautiful combination of colors; sometimes "it" is a shape.  Other times "it" can be an idea that is triggered by something I see.

This was an experiment on a paper towel, based on a kids' craft that I Repinned.  I liked the results and I'll probably try this technique on a tote bag.  The original post is from http://hellogiggles.com/diy-sharpie-tie-die
    
When I find inspiration in a magazine or newspaper, I cut it out or simply save the publication.  Then I forget where I put it, or even worse, I forget that I saved anything at all.
    
Frequently I see things online that I want to remember.  For years I saved websites to my Favorites.  But there was no visual and the name of the website often was meaningless to me when I'd go back to look through the list.  I spent way too much time opening links to see if I could figure out why the heck I had saved them.
    
I tried creating files with website addresses organized in titled sections.  That was a little better, but still no visuals.  Even when I knew why I saved the link, I'd frequently open the link and still not be able to find the item I wanted.
    
Saving websites on my desktop was helpful for a short while, until my desktop was too full to add even one more link.  Then I discovered that I could make a folder where I could place links with a common theme.  The next thing I knew I had subfolders and things were out of control again.
    
I wanted to copy photos and paste them into files with the links to the corresponding websites, but there's the copyright issue, not to mention how much time and computer space it would take.
    
I'd often wished that there was an easy way to save not only the links, but a visual that would identify what was so enticing about that site.
    
And then there was Pinterest.  My friend Gale told me about it.  She offered to send me an invitation.  I replied that I was drowning in newsletters, Facebook, online Groups for painting, polymer clay, and jewelry-making.  I didn't have room in my schedule for one more online social site.  So I ignored Pinterest for a few months.
    
I don't even remember why I finally broke down and looked at Pinterest.  Oh!!! the color palettes, gorgeous photographs, cute animals, recipes, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, polymer clay, fashion, and tons of tutorials.  It was delicious!  I spent hours linking all over the place, but it didn't take me long to figure it out:  Pinterest is the ultimate way to organize my online inspirations!  
    
Simply put, Pinterest is a giant bulletin board system.  When you become a member you get your own page, where you can create your own bulletin Boards and give them descriptive names.  Then you can "Repin" items through the homepage or through somebody else's bulletin Board into one of your own Boards.  If you're not sure you want to Repin an item to one of your bulletin Boards, you can "Like" it.  You can also "Follow" a particular person's page or an individual Board.  Pinterest is extremely user-friendly. 
    
You can even "Pin" something directly from almost anywhere online, including things from your own website or your blog.  Then other people can Repin your Pins.  It can be that easy.
    
Of course, nothing is ever truly as simple as it seems.  There are some "Pinterest manners" to mind.  Amy Lynn Andrews of Blogging with Amy has written "The Ultimate List of Pinterest Tips."  Even though I've been using Pinterest for several months, I found that Amy's blog had some really great information.  Every Pinterest member should read it. 
    
Here's the link to my Pinterest page:   http://pinterest.com/lindasartbarn/
    
As of today, I have created 36 Boards, 991 Pins, and 113Likes.  I LOVE Pinterest!
    
If you want to join Pinterest, you can go to http://pinterest.com/ and request an invitation, or you can ask me to send you an invitation.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

TIPS ON HAND-KNOTTED PEARL NECKLACES, PART 3

This is the third in a series of three posts on hand-knotting pearls.  If you missed either of the first two posts, please read them first.  Here are the links:
  
Tips on Hand-Knotted Pearl Necklaces, Part 1
  
Tips on Hand-Knotted Pearl Necklaces, Part 2
     

This is the strand of pink Swarovski pearls that I finished restringing yesterday.  Notice the French wire protecting the silk thread that is holding the clasps. 
     
Well, I missed my self-imposed deadline of finishing this third part by the end of June, the month for which pearl is the birthstone.  I apologize for my tardiness.  I had some problems with formatting, portions of my post were rearranged just as I was finishing up, and it took quite some time to get it back together in the correct order.  Some of the formatting is still a little funky, but I'm not going to take a chance on scrambling it up again. 

There are also a few spots where I would like to place photos, but I need both of my hands to work with the pearls.  When I can find someone else to take quality photos, I'll add them to this post.  
   

FAUX PEARLS VS. REAL PEARLS

One might think that there is no doubt that people prefer real pearls over fake—and that would be true most of the time. Remember that both natural and cultured pearls are real. The biggest problem with natural pearls is the price. Putting together enough natural pearls, matching in size, color, and roundness, to create an entire necklace makes for a purchase that is prohibitively expensive for most of us.  Cultured pearls are much more affordable, but still can be out of our budgets if we want them round and matching in color and size.  


This is the beautiful strand of cultured pearls that my mother gave to me.  I've restrung them a few times.
      
Potato pearls and rice pearls, named for their shapes, are fairly easy to come by and relatively inexpensive, but a necklace made from them will never be mistaken for a classic pearl necklace. Neither are round, they are both a bit bumpy, usually with indented rings around them—and rice pearls are very small. Baroque pearls, as beautiful as they can be in other styles of jewelry, are odd-shaped, with bumps and lines in them, so they aren't going to make a classic pearl necklace either.
           
Another downside to real pearls is that they can be fragile.  They can be damaged by perfume and cosmetics.  Without the proper care, the nacre can be damaged and in rare cases, pearls that are mistreated can actually dry out and crack.
       
A professionally-knotted strand of high-quality faux pearls with good knots, a filigree clasp, and French wire can be very beautiful.  Swarovski makes excellent-quality crystal pearls that have all the positive characteristics of real pearls without the problems.  They are similar in weight to real pearls, will warm up when in contact with human skin just like real pearls, have a gorgeous luster, are not damaged by perfume and cosmetics, and are quite inexpensive in comparison to real pearls.  They also come in a large variety of colors. 
           
There are many other glass faux pearls, some are very good quality, others are not.  If they have a nice luster, the lesser-quality faux pearls will look fine, until they start to peel.  Better quality faux pearls can look good for a very long time.  The holes of lesser-quality glass pearls can catch on your silk thread and shred it while you're stringing them—the holes also may be so large that it's difficult to knot them.  Even the Swarovski crystal pearls can sometimes be a little rough around the holes.  It's a good idea to have a pearl reamer on hand to smooth out those holes.
         

1.  CHOOSE YOUR PEARLS

STRING NEW GLASS PEARLS

I'm not going to get into a big conversation about how to choose your pearls.  I will recommend that for your first necklace you get some good-quality glass pearls, round, about 6mm or 7mm in size.  Save the graduated-size pearl necklace for after you've learned the basics.
       

RESTRING OLD PEARLS

Although it's a bit more work, you could restring a broken strand of pearls that you already have, or a strand that is clearly in need of restringing.  How can you tell if your pearls need to be restrung?  The silk could be dirty, worn, or frayed.  There could be gaps between the knots and the pearls from the silk stretching.


Although the silk thread is not worn or frayed, you can see that these knots have gotten very dirty from the bronzer I wore.  This necklace needs to be restrung. 
   
Before you cut the necklace apart, clean the pearls in a large bowl with a little warm water and a drop of very gentle liquid dish soap, using a very soft cloth.  You don't want to lose any of the pearls down the drain of your sink, so be sure to use that bowl.  Rinse the soap off with warm water, again inside the bowl.  Let the strand of pearls dry thoroughly, overnight.  If the thread is still wet it could get caught in the holes as you cut the necklace apart.
  
When you cut the necklace apart, take care to keep real pearls in order because the best pearls (roundest, best color, etc.) will be in the center (front) of the necklace.  Putting the pearls in one channel of a bead board is a good way to keep the correct order.
    
Use caution while cutting off the old knots, so that the old thread doesn't get stuck in the holes of the pearls.  Use scissors with a very fine tip to cut behind each knot—between the knot and the pearl. 


You can see that at least one pearl has alread been cut off, leaving a short tail.  Hold onto that tail with your non-dominant hand and place the scissors between the knot and the next pearl.  Be sure to cut behind the knot so that there's no clump of thread to get caught in the hole of the pearl.

This is what was left of the silk thread after I cut off all the pearls.  See how dirty the knots are, yet the rest of the thread stayed clean because it was covered by the pearls.  It's a good thing that these were not real pearls because the bronzer that discolored the knots could have discolored the pearls as well.  Note the 2 pieces of old French wire are in the upper-left corner.
     

2. PICK OUT YOUR THREAD

CHOOSING AND MEASURING SPOOLED SILK THREAD

If you're going to hand-knot a strand of pearls, you need to start by figuring out what size thread to use.  Since your thread will be doubled, you need to confirm that two strands of thread will fit through the holes in your pearls.  You also need to run those two strands TWICE through each of the first three pearls and the last three pearls.  That means that four strands of thread need to go through six of your pearls. 

If you have multiple sizes of threads, you can do a test to see which thread fits.  Cut about 12 inches of each thread and put each strand on a separate collapsible eye needle.  Don't knot the thread.  Be careful to keep each cut thread next to its spool, so that you don't mix the sizes up.  Run the first thread through six pearls.  Then, starting with the first pearl, run it through the six pearls a second time.  You do need to be careful on your second trip through each pearl that you don't catch the needle on the strands of thread that went through the first time.  Remove the first thread from the pearls and test the next size.  Pick the size thread that fits best.   Remember to do these tests with thread that is already stretched.


Any time you're passing the needle and thread through a pearl a second time, you want to pull the prior thread down tightly, so that the needle has room to pass above it without catching that thread.   
    
NOTE: Once you've used a collapsible eye needle, you shouldn't open the eye up to use it again because it could break in the middle of a real project—and there's no way to add a new needle at that point. You'd have to cut your necklace apart and start all over again. Instead, save your test needles, still threaded, in small zipper bags for future tests. Label each bag with the size of the thread inside—one thread per bag.                
         
[ ( length of necklace X 4 ) + 15 ] = length of thread
         
That means that if you want a 20-inch necklace you will measure (20X4) = 80. Then add 15. The length of your thread will be 95 inches. When you double the thread it will measure 47.5 inches in length. That will give you enough thread to make the 20-inch necklace, including all the knots, and enough to attach the clasp.
    

MEASURING CARDED SILK CORD

This part is really easy! Basically, you don't measure silk cord on a card. Why? Because carded silk cord generally comes in lengths of 6.5 feet with a needle already attached. You never want to cut this thread until you are finished stringing your pearl necklace.
        
I've done considerable research on the longest necklace you can knot with those 6.5 feet (78 inches) of cord with no luck, so this is what I think. The cord already has a needle, so you can't double it. Rather than multiplying the length of the necklace by 4 and adding 15, I'm multiplying by 2 and adding 15. That means that a card of silk thread will allow for a knotted pearl necklace with a maximum length of about 30 inches. That's a pretty long strand of pearls, so for now, I don't think that you need to worry about not having enough cord on your card.  If you ever do want a pearl necklace longer than 30 inches, you'll have to use silk thread on a spool.
       
The only thing you need to do is choose the size of cord you want, which is fairly simple when using carded silk cord. Unwrap a couple of different sizes of cord from their cards, but keep each cord with its card. You want to know which size is which. DON'T CUT OR TIE KNOTS. Test the first one by running it through the six pearls and then, starting with the first pearl, run it through the six pearls a second time. Remove that thread and try other sizes, if necessary. Pick the size cord that fits best.  Note that there is no eye in the needle to collapse, so you can remove the pearls from this cord and put the cord back on its card.  You CAN use this cord another time.

3. STRETCH YOUR THREAD

STRETCHING SPOOLED SILK THREAD

Both spooled silk thread and carded silk cord need to be stretched. If you don't stretch them before you knot you necklace, you'll quickly end up with gaps between the knots and pearls in your finished necklace. Please refer to Part 1 for my favorite method for stretching spooled silk thread. That method doesn't work for carded silk.
      

STRETCHING CARDED SILK CORD

I know of three of ways to stretch carded silk cord:
  • The first method is to lightly dampen the entire length of cord with water.  Pull the cord taut as you iron, until it's dry.  Be careful not to scorch the cord.
  • The second method is to yank on small sections of cord until you've stretched the whole length.
  • The third method is to tie each end of the cord to a weight and hang the cord from its center over a tall item that allows both weights to hang freely.  Leave overnight.
The first is my preference because it's consistent, easy to do, and allows you to prepare your cord immediately before use.


4. GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES

You will need:

  • Fine-tipped scissors
  • Clasp, preferably a filagree clasp, which is traditional for pearl necklaces
  • 2 pieces of French wire, each about 3/8 inch long
  • Pearls, enough to make the length necklace you want
  • Measured, stretched silk thread or cord
  • Knotting tool of your choice
  • Gum Arabic (glue)
  • Toothpick
  • Clear nail polish
  • Pearl reamer (optional)  

NOTES ABOUT SUPPLIES:

    

FRENCH WIRE

French wire is also called "French bullion" or "French gimp."
    
Your French wire should be silver or gold to match your clasp
    
It's hard to find French wire in sterling and gold-filled. I've never had a problem with the plated French wire.


PEARLS

Pearls come on a temporary string, usually 16 inches long. The number of pearls on a string depends on the size of the beads.  The smaller the pearls, the more of them can fit on 16 inches, and vice versa.
        
To determine how many pearls you'll need for your necklace, you need to know the size of your pearls and the length of necklace you want to make.
     
Here is a good chart from Jerry Smith Beads for figuring out how many beads you need to make a necklace, as well as how many beads come on a 16-inch temporary strand: http://www.jsbeads.com/ref/howmanybeads.asp
    
Note that the chart says for 8mm beads you need 57 beads to make an 18-inch necklace. When knotting pearls, you'll use less pearls because the knots take up space. The clasp also counts toward the finished length of a necklace.
    
I have an 18-inch necklace of 8mm pearls with a square 8mm filigree clasp. This necklace has 48 pearls.

KNOTTING TOOLS

I know of four different knotting tools, which I've listed in the Section 5.
    
My preference for knotting doubled silk thread from a spool is the Needle Tool, which is the same as an awl.
    
If you're going to use a Needle Tool when knotting single silk cord, you need to anchor the pearl down so it's stable while you use both of your hands to make the knot.
     
When knotting single silk cord, it's easiest for a beginner to use the special Knotting Tool because it helps to move the thread up to the pearl at the same time it tightens the knot.  
        

GUM ARABIC AND NAIL POLISH

Gum Arabic is the glue recommended in Henrietta's book for silk thread. It washes off your hands and tools and won't damage your pearls. You apply it with a toothpick.
       
A tiny dab of clear nail polish is used on the knot after the third pearl at the beginning and end of your necklace. It makes the knot waterproof. Use a toothpick to apply the clear nail polish so that you can keep it from getting on the pearl.

PEARL REAMER

If the holes in your six end pearls are not large enough to allow the threads to pass through each pearl twice, you can use a pearl reamer to make those holes a little larger.
       
You should always use a pearl reamer in a small bowl of water.  Be sure that both the reamer and pearl are wet.  That will protect you from inhaling the dust.
     
Keeping the pearl wet will also protect it from heating up due to the friction of the reamer. Heat can crack your pearl.
     
Simply insert the tip of the reamer into the hole and twist gently back and forth. Then go to the other side of the hole and repeat.
        

5.  KNOTTING YOUR NECKLACE 

At the beginning of your necklace, whether you use silk thread or cord, you will string the first three pearls, 3/8 inch of French wire, and one side of your clasp—in that order.  I'm not going to go into all the details here or this post would go on forever.  Instead, I'm going to remind you of Henrietta Virchick's wonderful (and very inexpensive) book, Pearl and Bead Stringing with Henrietta.   (No, I am not affiliated in any way with Henrietta or her publisher.)

You can see the filigree clasp on the left, the 3/8 inch piece of French wire next, and then the three pearls.  I haven't added any knots yet.  I'm about to run my needle back through the pearl on the left.


In this photo, you can see that the needle has gone through that first pearl again and the French wire has been pulled up tight to the pearl.  The French wire forms an attractive loop around the silk thread, protecting it from the clasp.  You can also see that there are now 2 double strands of thread.  The threads with the needle are in the lower part of the photo.  Make an overhand knot with the two pairs of thread, go through the second pearl and make another overhand knot.  Put a little Gum Arabic on the threads that are about to go inside the third pearl.  Go through the third pearl and cut the threads with the knot as closely as possible to where it exits the pearl.  You only have 2 strands of thread left now, and you're ready to begin knotting all but the last three pearls.

Once you've strung the first three pearls, there are differences between knotting with single cord or doubled thread.  I definitely prefer the doubled thread.  There are several tools that you can use to aid you in creating knots:  
  • Needle tool
  • Knotting tweezers
  • Knotting pliers
  • Knotting tool (for single strand)
        

KNOTTING WITH DOUBLED SILK THREAD FROM SPOOL

You can pick up the pearls one at a time on your thread and knot them as you go, which I found to be easier when I was learning.  Alternatively, you can load all the pearls onto the thread at once.  Then you slide a pearl into place and knot it, slide the next pearl into place and knot it; continue until finished.
    
Any of the tools above can be used to make your knots.  I prefer the simple Needle Tool (awl) when working with doubled thread.  These are the basic steps for making a knot:
  1. Add a pearl to your thread.
  2. Make an overhand knot.  Always make your knots the same exact way and in the same direciton.  This will ensure that that knots are uniform.
  3. Holding the Needle tool in your dominant hand, place the tip into the loop of the unclosed knot.
  4. Although you can't see it, my non-dominant hand is holding the thread off to the left.  My dominant hand has placed the Needle Tool inside the knot.
  5. Holding the thread snugly in your non-dominant hand, use your dominant hand to guide the tool and the knot up against the pearl. 
  6. Here you can see that the knot has been moved up next to the pearl and tightened.  Gently and slowly slide the Needle Tool out of the knot as you tighten it.  It's important to get the knot as close as possible to the pearl, but it shouldn't be fully tightened yet.
  7. Move the knot as close to the pearl as you can before you remove the tool.
  8. Take one strand of thread in each hand and tug them in opposite directions until the knot slides tightly against the pearl.
  9. Take the left strand in your left hand and the right strand in your right hand.  Gently tug the two strands away from each other.  That will tighten the knot and move it up against the pearl.
  10. Add another pearl and repeat steps 1 through 6 until there are only 3 pearls left.   

KNOTTING WITH SINGLE CORDED SILK FROM CARD

This is where the Knotting Tool is great.  With a bit of practice, it should allow you to get your knots tight and snug against the pearls.  Start by stringing the clasp and first three pearls as described above.  Now add another pearl to your thread.
  1. Make an overhand knot. Always make your knots the same exact way. This will ensure that the knots are uniform.
  2. Holding the Knotting Tool in your dominant hand, place the tip of the knotting tool into the loop of the un-tightened knot.
  3. Put the remaining thread into the crook of the tool and pull taut with your non-dominant hand.
  4. While holding the thread in your non-dominant hand, use the tool to slide the loop of the knot toward the pearl.  The knot will begin to tighten.
  5. While maintaining tension with the thread, gently and slowly push the lever up with your thumb while pressing the tip of the tool up against the pearl, until the knot slides off of the tip.
  6. Still holding the thread taut, tighten the knot by pressing the crook against the knot, which should be up against the pearl.
                
You can also knot carded silk cord with the other tools, but you must have a way to hold the pearl stable while you hold the thread in one hand and the Needle Tool (or Knotting Tweezers or Knotting Pliers) in your other hand. This is harder for a beginner than using the Knotting Tool.  One way to do this is with a clipboard.
  1. Once you've strung the clasp and the first three pearls, fasten them to a clipboard, just above the third pearl.
  2. Add a new pearl to your thread.
  3. Make an overhand knot.  Always make your knots the same exact way.  This will ensure that the knots are uniform.
  4. Holding the tool in your dominant hand, place the tip into the loop of the unclosed knot.
  5. With the cord in your non-dominant hand, slide the knot toward the pearl.
  6. Tighten the knot as you slip the tool out of the knot.
The biggest problem with using single strands of corded silk from a card is that if you don't get the knot close enough to the pearl before the knot tightens, it's almost impossible to fix. That's why I like using the doubled thread.
     

FINISHING YOUR NECKLACE

Add the last three pearls but leave them unknotted. Add your French wire and the second part of the clasp.  Finishing the last three pearls and adding the other part of the clasp is a bit more complicated than the beginning of your necklace.  Henrietta's book has some excellent diagrams to show you how to to finish your necklace.
    
After that you're done!


FINAL NOTES:

  1. When you've finished your necklace, you'll probably have a good ten inches or more of thread or cord left over, with the needle still attached.  Save it in a small zipper bag and label the bag with the size of thread or cord.  You can use this as a test thread/cord when determining the size of thread/cord to use for stringing a different pearl necklace.
  2. Sooner or later you're going to want to restring this pearl necklace.  Keep a record in a safe place that describes which size thread or cord you used.  Also, if it was spooled thread, make a note of the length you cut.
    
     
© Copyright 2012 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

TIPS ON HAND-KNOTTED PEARL NECKLACES, PART 2

Last June I wrote a blog post called "Tips on Hand-Knotted Pearl Necklaces, Part 1."  If you missed that post you can read it here
     
I've been meaning to write a follow-up to that post ever since then, but for some reason I just couldn't get motivated.  It struck me as quite a coincidence that I'm inspired to write about pearls again in June.  Maybe it's because the pearl is the traditional birthstone for the month of June.  I think I'm getting a little heavenly nudge from my mother, whose birthday would have been on June 14.  I'm sure that I inherited my love of pearls from her. 

This is the 20-inch, white, 7mm, cultured pearl necklace that my mother gave me about 15 years ago.  I've restrung this necklace several times over the years.  I don't wear it very often anymore since I retired and traded in my business suits for tennis and ski clothes.  I'm going to make an effort to wear it more often, though, because pearls go with everything, from formal to casual.  And because it makes me think of my mother. 
    
I've been thinking about some things that I didn't write about pearls in last year's post, as well as some new things that I've learned.  I thought they were worth discussing.
  1. Why silk?
  2. Pearls have small holes.
  3. Silk thread on a spool.
  4. Silk cord on a card.
  5. Comparing thread and cord sizes.
   
WHY SILK?
  
As I explained in  Part 1, it is traditional to string pearls with silk thread.  Silk gives the knotted strand a lovely drape and the silk has a soft sheen that goes so beautifully with the luster of the pearls.  There are two main reasons that the thread is knotted in between the pearls.  The first is to protect the nacre from wear, especially around the drilled holes, and the second is to keep the pearls from being lost if the necklace is broken.  With knots around every pearl, only one pearl can fall off if the necklace breaks.
    
A few years ago I had just restrung the pearl necklace that my mother gave me.  The next time I wore the necklace I leaned over to pick something up from the floor.  I didn't notice that the necklace caught on the wooden arm of the chair next to me as I stood up.  The necklace broke.  Because it was knotted, I only had to find the one pearl that fell to the floor.  The rest were intact on the necklace.  I was frustrated that I had broken it immediately after restringing it, but it was a relief to know that I could fix it myself.  Two restringings would have been expensive!
  
Speaking of restringing, your pearl necklace should be restrung on a regular basis.  The thread will get dirty, no matter how careful you are to apply makeup, perfume, and hairspray before you put it on.  Even if you don't wear cosmetics, your perspiration and body oils take a toll on the thread.  Ironically, your body oils are good for the pearls, helping to keep them from drying out.  If you wear your pearls daily you might need to restring as often as twice a year!  Restringing every three years is probably enough for most of us. 

Of course, there are other reasons for knotting between pearls.  One is that the silk knots make the necklace look beautiful and rich.
      
Some of us like to hand-knot beads other than pearls.  Gemstones can be enhanced with a complimentary color of silk thread knotted between them.  Of course, if the gemstones are expensive, the knots will protect the beads from wear and loss, just as they protect pearls.
    
     
PEARLS HAVE SMALL HOLES
    
The holes that are drilled into pearls are quite small in comparison to other beads.  Very small pearls have very small holes.  Larger pearls have only slightly larger holes.  Because the weight of the pearl is one of the factors used to determine its value, the smaller the portion of the pearl that is drilled out to make the hole, the better for the jeweler who drills and sells it. 

Here are some examples of the sizes of holes in beads and pearls, from left to right.  The 8mm, purple, glass bead seems to have the largest hole.  The 10mm, pink-dyed, fossil bead has a large hole as well.  The 8mm, faux "black" pearl has a hole that is almost as small as a real pearl.  The 4mm, white, cultured, freshwater pearl has a tiny hole.  The 8mm, lavender, baroque, cultured, freshwater pearl has a very small hole, barely larger than the hole in the white pearl.
   
It is possible to find large-hole pearls from a few vendors.  You won't want larger holes for knotting, though.  Large-hole pearls are predominantly for other styles of jewelry.  
       
There is no standard for the size hole that is drilled in a particular size of pearl.  Those of us who do a lot of pearl knotting keep several sizes of thread on hand.
    
    
SILK THREAD ON A SPOOL
    
One way to buy silk thread is on spools.  In the U.S. that used to mean Gudebrod Champion thread.  Gudebrod stopped making silk thread a couple of years ago, so that brand of silk thread is hard to find these days.  A couple of other companies have started to make silk thread on a spool.  I'll list the ones I know of at the end of this section.  
        
Typically, silk thread on a spool is sized 00, 0, A, B, C, D, E, F, FF, FFF.  Size 00 is the finest and Size FFF is the thickest.  A big benefit to buying silk thread on a spool is that you get a lot of it, usually for under $10 per spool for the finer sizes and under $15 for the thicker sizes.  The information I found showed that spools can hold anywhere from 90 to 700 yards, with the finer sizes holding the greater yardage.  Getting that much thread is a big benefit if you'll be knotting pearl necklaces on a regular basis.


These are two spools of Gudebrod Champion silk thread. Notice how much finer the Size C is than the Size FF.  The C thread is white and the FF thread is ivory. 
    
Spooled silk thread comes in a large variety of colors.  No matter where you buy your silk thread on a spool, you'll usually find that Black, White, and Ivory come in all sizes.  However, colors like Royal Blue are less likely to be used on pearls and more likely to be used on gemstones, which have larger holes.  Don't be surprised to find that Royal Blue only comes in the thicker sizes, such as E, F, FF, and FFF.  Silk thread comes in dye lots, just like yarn—but if you've bought a whole spool of a color, it should last a long time.
        
You must measure and cut silk thread that comes on a spool and then put it on a collapsible-eye needle. That means that you're using doubled thread, which is my favorite way to make knots.
    
Silk thread will stretch, so it's wise to pre-stretch it before knotting your necklace.  See Part 1 for instructions on the way I stretch my thread.  Check out the Caravan Beads link at the bottom of the next section for another way to stretch silk.
 
Here are two online stores that sell silk thread on spools.  There are probably more.
       
http://www.landofodds.com/store/findgude.htm
 
http://www.bigstoneinc.com/Big-Stone-Silk-Spools-c2030.html
       
    
SILK CORD ON A CARD
    
The other way to purchase silk is in the form of silk cord on a card.  It has a bit more texture than the silk on a spool.  "Carded silk" comes in a single strand, already attached to a needle.  It is sized from 0 through 8, with 8 being the thickest.  The Griffin brand is sold in 2 meters (6.5 feet) lengths of silk cord on a card.



Here are 4 cards of Griffin cord, in a variety of sizes:  2, 4, 6, & 8.  You can see that this twisted silk cord has a little more texture than the silk on spools.  Note the leftover piece of cord with the needle still attached on the right side of the photo. 
   
Just like silk thread, silk cord comes in dye lots.  There may be times when you should buy an extra card or two of a specific color, just in case.  For example, you've knotted a 3-strand necklace, something happens to one of the strands, and you need to restring it—but you can't find the same dye lot and the color difference is obvious.  That means you'll have to restring all three strands.
  
With Griffin carded silk you don't have to measure your thread, but that can sometimes be a negative when you're limited to the 2 meters of thread on the card.  Because a needle was attached before the filaments of silk were twisted, there is no need to add a needle and it is used as a single thread.  Don't cut the thread until you've finished your necklace and you won't accidentally cut the wrong end and cut off the needle.

This thread must also be stretched and is typically done by yanking on small sections at at time, a method I don't really care for.

    
Carded silk used to be made primarily by Griffin, but there are more sources these days.  In the Michaels store where I teach jewelry classes, the Griffin brand #4 carded silk is sold in white only.  I'm not sure if silk thread is sold in any of the other large craft stores.
    
I strongly recommend checking out this link at Caravan Beads.  They give you a lot of information about the Griffin thread, including a warning not to cut off the needle, as well as a way to stretch the silk.
http://www.caravanbeads.net/cartgenie/pg_griffinSilk.asp
  
Fire Mountain Gems sells the Griffin carded silk thread.  They also sell the Purely Silk brand on cards, but this brand is sized with the lettering system, like spooled thread.  I suspect that this IS spooled thread, put on cards in shorter lengths—although you will find a few spools of Purely Silk at this site.  The Purely Silk carded thread also comes in lengths of 16 to 28 yards and there is no mention of an attached needle, so I doubt that there is one.
http://www.firemountaingems.com/thread_cord.asp#SilkThreadbyPurelySilk
  
http://www.fusionbeads.com/shop/category/39/Beading_Thread/
 
http://www.dibeads.com/Silk-Cord.html
  
  
SPOOLED THREAD & CARDED THREAD COMPARISON CHART
    
I'm used to the lettered sizing system of the spooled silk thread and I get a bit confused if I have to buy carded silk.  I finally made a comparison chart of the two types of thread so that I can make substitutions without going nuts.  My chart supplies the diameters of each thread in millimeters so that you can see why the substitutions work.  Unfortunately, I'm unable to figure out a way to copy a multiple-column table to Blogger, so this is the best I can do.
  
                 Spool   =   Card
                       00   =   none
                         0   =   0
                        A   =   1
                        B   =   2
                        C   =   3
                        D   =   4
                        E   =   5
                        F   =   6
                      FF   =   7
                     FFF   =  8
     

Please note that these are not exact conversions, but simply the closest diameters.  Also, when you use spooled thread, it is doubled, while thread from a card is used as a single strand.  So when I say that Size B spooled thread is comparable to Size 2 carded cord, what I mean is that two strands of Size B thread are similar in diameter to 1 strand of Size 2 cord.
  
  
I the next thing I want to talk about is measuring thread and knotting techniques with a single strand of cord vs. double strands of thread, but I think this post is long enough. 

Look for the third and final post on pearls here:  "Tips on Hand-Knotted Pearl Necklaces, Part 3."  
  

  © Copyright 2012 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.




Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crystal Creations for Spring

Two wonderful girls in our family are celebrating milestones this spring, so I decided to make something special for each of them.

The first big event was a few weeks ago, in May.  Our eight-year-old great niece received her First Communion.  I decided a year ago that I wanted to make rosary beads for her and her mother told me that she would like pink.  I was a little apprehensive about how much work it would be.  I thought that making all the loops to connect the crystals would take forever, but once I figured out exactly how long each piece of wire needed to be, it worked up fairly quickly.  To my surprise, I didn't get tired of making the loops.  I was thrilled with my results and plan to make rosary beads for each of the other two great nieces when they receive their First Communion. 

I will be making more rosary beads, which will be for sale on my Etsy site in a few weeks.

Pink crystal beads, sterling silver wire for loops, pewter crucifix and centerpiece.  Her name and the date of her First Communion are engraved on the back of the crucifix.

    
    
Our second big event is our only grandaughter's high-school graduation, which takes place in two weeks.  My husband and I and liked the chained pink crystals in the rosary so much that we decided I should make a necklace with matching earrings for her.  I was very unhappy with the first set of earrings that I made because they were too ornate.  Once I realized why they didn't work, I chose to make simple earrings, with a loop below and above the crystal, just like the loops that chained the crystals together in the necklace.


Pink crystal beads, sterling wire for loops, sterling toggle clasp. 


© Copyright 2012 Linda's Art Barn. All rights reserved.