Monday, March 18, 2013

Suede Wrap Bracelet

Inspired by a piece on Pinterest/Etsy and Hellboy's rosary, A and I built a wrap bracelet. This one is a pretty straightforward jewelry build, but there are a couple ideas we thought we could share, like the adjustable length. We prefer the look of multistrand jewelry, but thought it might look a bit crap to have many bracelets come back to one clasp. As a result, this multi-bracelet look is achieved via one strand about 32" long.

You'll Need:
  • suede cord in two colors (26" and 8")
  • chain (12")
  • 4 stone beads
  • 6 metal beads in two sizes
  • toggle clasp
  • rubbing alcohol

We had two items that needed preparing for this one: we had beads that needed reaming out to their final diameter and a suede cord that was much too soft for our intended purpose. A quick search online suggested vinegar, glue, rubbing alcohol and urine as suitable to stiffen leather, but for a variety of reasons (chief among them drying time) we opted for rubbing alcohol. A thorough soak and then strung up to dry, our suede could do its thing.

The beads proved harder. Literally. An hour into David Tennant's Hamlet and one bead was marginally more open. It was clear that reaming these beads would take a matter of days... Days I was unwilling to commit to reaming stone beads. So I came up with a solution. A terrible, terrible solution.

NOTE: My method worked for me, this time, for my limited purposes (4 beads). That it worked for me doesn't mean it will for you. With Our Powers Combined would like to take this moment to remind you that all tools should be used consistently with their labelling and that uses as described probably void any claim to damages resulting from misuse. We aren't lawyers. And we certainly aren't tool manufacturers. Following any advice here is (as always) at your own risk.

So, I had a bead reamer. And beads that I needed reamed rapidly. And a high speed rotary tool. Do you see where the disclaimer fits in yet? It was pure luck that the shaft of the bead reamers, once removed from their cheap plastic handles, were the same size as the collet on my Dremel. So, I chucked the smaller reamer as a bit and bored out to its maximum size on my stone beads. Still too small. So I took clippers to the handle of the next size up and chucked it in after its friend. Using my digital calipers, I was able to pinpoint where on the slope of the reamer I hit .100". It seemed like a useful diameter. So I marked it clearly with a Sharpie so I could spot it at a few thousand RPMs.

I was wearing safety glasses. You should probably not do anything resembling this.
From the pic, you can see my process: A scrap of leather in the jaws of my trusty Leatherman held the bead secure for the high speed and very high heat process. Stupid hot. Burn yourself hot. You've been warned for the second time. Lots of dust, a high whining noise, and then it was done. Finish both sides and then it's time to go.

First this, then that.
Building the bracelet is comparatively simple. We wove the suede through the chain and knotted on a key as a dangling charm. Thread on the stones and beads, tying overhand knots periodically to keep them from sliding too far from their intended location. The final breakthrough here was the adjustable length. If the suede stretches, if your wrist changes size, if you want to change the fit... Heck, loan it to a friend. Plenty of reasons to want to change the size of the jewelry. To do so, I tied a pair of sliding stop knots, one to the other to allow the dark and light portions to slide past and adjust the fit. You can spot that portion at the T-shaped end of the toggle clasp.

Once complete, wrap the bracelet around the intended wrist and adjust the length so the toggle clasp closes properly. Each time you wear the bracelet, there may be some minor re-fluffing of the beads to get everything where you want, but that to my mind is preferable to gluing them all in place.

This look can easily involve all manner of additional dangles, beads, transitions, etc. The trick is keeping your length roughly to a multiple of the intended wrist (here, 6.5" for comfort becomes approximately 32.5" for five wraps). Beyond that, it's all up to you.

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