Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Calling All Turkeys

Pete Pulley's Turkey Calls - Photo by Pepperell Braiding Company
Turkey Calls sent courtesy of Pete Pulley.

Here at Pepperell Braiding Co. we are always on the lookout for new and interesting ways our customers use the products we make.

We received a call last week from a gentleman looking for our Real Slate Chalkboards.  After a short discussion I asked a question that I ask regularly—“So, what do you use these for?”

Turns out that the man was getting them for his father who cuts them up to make turkey calls!

Today I received three fine examples of handmade Friction or “peg and pot” turkey calls made by world famous call builder Peter Pulley, now in his 90th year.  This type of turkey call dates back to the 19th century and works by scraping the “peg” against the slate.  By varying the pressure and speed one can produce different sounds made by a turkey.

After unpacking and admiring the craftsmanship, I ventured back to the art department to try them out. Shortly after learning to work them I found that almost the entire office had made their way back there. I guess the folks that work for PBC are just a bunch of… curious people.

- Joel Hooks

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Partially Dipped: Wood Bead Finishing Part 5

Bead Dipping  Tutorial - Pepperell Braiding Company

Here we return to our bead finishing tutorial Dip and Drip from day one. This isn't a full-coating technique, but it's decorative so it makes for an unique finish. This time I quite literally dipped the bead in the paint and set it aside for drying. For the dipping to work, one may want to master the art of dipping an ice cream cone into chocolate sprinkles. Master may be a strong word, but it's appropriate here. There are a few things to consider on the dipping:

You will want to use a thinned-down paint. Just as the hand-painting technique, artists' acrylics are a bit too thick to manage. Even when diluted with water, the paint thins out a bit too much. Leave the paint as it is and you get chunky-glop look above.

And here we have a nicely dipped bead... much like a strawberry ice cream cone. Maybe still a little thick, but that can be adjusted with a splash of water. Again I used the matte craft paints because they have just the right consistency.

Now speaking of ice cream, how about some sprinkles?

Or glitter? Or confetti? Here the bead doesn't need so much of a dipping-action. I lightly coated the end of the beads with craft glue and sprinkled the glitter on top. When the glue dries (about a half hour), just tap the beads to release the excess glitz and repackage the "run-off" glitter.

Since the bead dipping doesn't completely coat the beads, you may want to sequester these beads for interior use only. You could spritz with a clear sealer; but you're still running a risk of the thick paint or glitter from chipping off. 

Have fun with your bead decorating! If you have additional techniques, write us - we want to hear from you :-)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

All in the Details: Wood Bead Finishing Part 4

Bead decorating from Pepperell Braiding Company

Tell me these aren't fun! Decorating your beads is only limited by your imagination. It can be done as simply as making a few dots or squiggly lines, but even this tiny detail draws a lot of attention. Note: All the beads above were painted and sealed before they were decorated.

Bead decorating utensils - Pepperell Braiding Company
Decorating utensils.

Now put the paint away. We're going to focus on PENS. I occasionally used a small brush to make some of the metallic details you see above (just because I didn't have a metallic pen, but the paint was handy). Pens are a bit easier to control and the ink usually dries so quickly there's limited worry for smudging, blotching, or stain transfer. So if you're in a production frame of mind, you can move as quickly as your genius and hands can scribble.

The one pen which surprised me most is the jelly-roll: it works on sealed wooden beads! Turning the pen every now and then to keep it rolling may help, but they work. So for fine detail jelly and felt pens with tips .5mm or smaller are ideal.

"Painting" the bead with markers - Pepperell Braiding Company

Highlighters can be used... on completely unfinished beads. I attempted to "paint" the beads with the highlighters as well as other markers. Just note that the ink is transparent so coating over and over will intensify and darken in some areas. The end results are something else though - like water colored beads.

Beads coated with pen and ink. Pepperell Braiding Company.
The green bead on the lower right was made with
vertical overlapping strokes of the pen tip.

Decorating the beads using pen and ink is relatively simple. It can be time consuming since all of your focus is on ONE bead at a time. I recommend this when working large beads in smaller batches. Small beads (say less than 1") may not catch the eye so easily so you could just be wasting your time on fine detail. 

Again it may go without saying: spray the finished beads with a clear sealer so that you don't see your hard work bleed or fade if it finds itself meddling with moisture.

If you are painting your own wood beads, we want to see them. Feel free to leave a link to your work in our comments.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stroke of the Brush: Wood Bead Finishing Part 3

Hand painted bead tutorial - Pepperell Braiding Company

Mmm-mmm! Hand painted beads. You can't get a cleaner look than that... except for maybe spray painting. While this method does take time, the finished look is second to none. 

Hand painting wooden beads - Pepperell Braiding Company
Painting wood beads by hand.
Time it does take... bead after bead for hand application. Unfortunately this method does not guarantee a finished look on the first coat, unless you've:

A. Primed the bead ahead of time, and even this wasn't 100% helpful.
B. Use a paint-primer combo paint type (see your local hardware store exterior/interior paint counter).
C. You're not too eager to have a completely coated bead.

As you can see above, you can mount your bead onto a pencil or disposable chopstick (or even a finger,) and then go to town slapping paint everywhere. However, most beads are a little flat at the entrance of the hole, so pinching the ends between two fingers to stabilize may be all that's necessary.

Completed hand painted wooden bead - Pepperell Braiding Company
Tah-dah! Finished wooden bead.

For this method I used both artists' acrylics and plain, cheap, simple (matte) craft paints. Honestly, I really have a preference to the cheap stuff. The paint applies surprisingly even and the color saturation can easily be pumped up with a couple coats of clear sealer. The artists' acrylics will give you a nice stained effect and an instant sheen; for a nice flat color, opt for the craft paints.

Artists' Acrylic painted beads leave a shiny & stain-like finishCraft acrylic painted beads will require a gloss coat finish.

Con list of the brush:
  • Multiple layers required (maybe 2 or 3 coats ideally).
  • Slow... see previous note & add a few minutes for drying time.
  • A little tedious if you have a lot of beads to manage.

Pro list for brush technique: 
  • Your color pallet is only limited by your imagination!
  • Clean looking results... unless you just glop on the paint.
  • The mess factor is significantly lower then other bead coating methods unless you're clumsy and drop things often. Then you may want to worry more about bead impressions on your clothing and furniture.

For small projects requiring maybe under two dozen beads, this really is the finishing method for you. Or also if you're meticulous about your details, you would probably enjoy this very much.

Professional painters tips: Really try to prime your beads first, especially if there's an obvious wood grain, because that can bleed through over time. Also I used a clear spray paint to seal my beads, but you can most certainly use a paint-on cover. The spray is just much faster.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spray & Pray: Wood Bead Finishing Part 2

Spray painting beads - Pepperell Braiding Company 2014
Spray those beads!
Note to self: not meant for windy days.

Spray painting is my first suggested route to coating your beads. With practice the coat is even and you can cover a lot of beads in one spread.

Spray painting beads - Pepperell Braiding Company 2014
And spray again... and then apply clear coat.
I say "one spread" but I really mean on one pass. As recommended you will want to pass the spray paint across the batch again once or twice later in the day. Very little is required by means of materials other than your beads, the cans of spray paint, and spatter surface. The toughest material to acquire (especially in New England!) is the weather ;-)

Con list for Spray & Pray:
  • Color selection is limited by what's on the store shelf.
  • A little hazardous - so either wait for suitable weather or you'll have to invest in ventilation and/or a spray booth. 
  • Mess factor of 7 of 10: the nozzle should ALWAYS point away from you. ;-) Also, put down either a drop-cloth or newspaper... something you're willing to permanently mark with paint.
  • To allow for dry time and multiple coats, this can be an afternoon project.

Pro for Spray & Pray:
  • Paint coating itself is very fast. Even if you include the con of the drying time, you can get professional results with mere minutes of hands-on time.
  • Clean even application.
  • Pretty glossy sheen with minimal effort.
My paint tip: After the first spray layer dries (allow about an hour), turn all your beads to apply layer number two. This will ensure an even coat and catch any spots which may have been missed on the first pass.

I highly recommend the Spray and Pray method over others for large finishing projects. Again, try to blast the beads with a can of clear-coat to make them super-glossy and seal them from weather elements.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Dip & Drip: Wood Bead Finishing Part 1

Dipped wooden Beads - Pepperell Braiding Company
Dipped painted wooden beads.

This is one of the messiest methods of bead painting. Hands down. It's not the prettiest of finishes either.

In theory, you can dip your beads in paint and it will evenly coat the surface. Nope. As you can see by the above picture, the coating can be gloppy and uneven. Boo!

To paint via Dip & Drip, you will need:

  • Beads (of course!)
  • Plastic sheet or waxed paper to rest your wet beads.
  • Plastic zipper sandwich bags.
  • Acrylic craft paint.
  • Disposable chopsticks for drawing out the wet beads (recommended one pair/color mix).

Here's what I did:

Dipped bead painting - Beads in plastic bag. Pepperell Braiding Co

Squirted a bit of acrylic paint into the sandwich baggie. Tossed in the beads and...

Dipped bead painting - Beads mixed in paint. Pepperell Braiding Co

smooshed the paint around. I kept checking on the beads to be sure the paint was coating the whole bead. When the beads are completely coated, fish them out using a chopstick and set them onto your drying surface (ie. waxed paper).

The results were not 100% bleak: if you plan to try this out yourself (because the results are boarder-line cool), I recommend using just plain simple craft paints. They're a little more watered down because the thicker artists' acrylics are a bit too clingy and thick. Though the acrylics can be diluted with water, this will leave the beads with more of a stained effect... an uneven stained effect, but a stain look nonetheless. So basic craft paints - gloss or matte (if you opt for matte, remember to seal the beads after to prevent bleed especially if your beads will be used outside).

Pros to this method:
  • You can finish a bunch of beads at once.
  • It's just plain fun! :-)
  • It's inexpensive.
  • It's fast.
Cons to Dip and Drip:
  • MESS-mess-MESS.
  • Uneven finished effect.
  • Paint can get trapped in the hole.
I will be re-visiting the Dip & Drip method another time. Coming soon: Spray Painted beads! Suggestions welcome, so feel free to leave them in the comments.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bracelet-ing: The Square Knot

"Bracelet-ing" The Simple Square Knot Bracelet by Pepperell Crafts

When we first introduced the Parachute Cording to the craft market, we supplied stores with a simple bracelet pattern using the Square Knot. This became the staple of Paracord Bracelets. Below are some examples of the bracelets using Parachute cording in various thicknesses.

550 Parachute Cord Bracelet - By Pepperell Crafts
Parachute Cord 550 with Titanium buckle.

325 Parachute Cord Bracelet with skull bead - By Pepperell Crafts
Parachute Cord 325 with a 10D buckle and skull bead.

95 Parachute Cord Bracelet - By Pepperell Crafts
Parachute Cord 95 - Pink and Purple with colorful 12mm buckle.

The Square Knot bracelet (a.k.a. the Cobra Stitch) is not limited to parachute cord. Using the pattern instructions anyone can make a variation whether it be adding beads, changing the buckle, or using a different type of cording.

2mm Amy Square Knot Bracelet - by Pepperell Crafts
Use macrame cording (2mm Amy) for a delicate look.

Rexlace (Tie Dye Holographic) Square Knot Bracelet - by Pepperell Crafts
For glitz use Tie-Dye Holographic  Rexlace.

The basic Square Knot Bracelet instructions can be found here on the Macarame Super Store as a printable download. 

Change it up and show us what you come up with!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rabbit! Rabbit!

Rexlace Round-stitch Bunny by Pepperell Braiding Company
Rexlace Bunny

May April bring you luck... and Easter candy ;-)

To make the bunny you'll need:

  • Two 6 yard pieces of Rexlace plastic lacing
  • One 6" - 8" chenille stem (pipe cleaner)
  • Two wiggle eyes (medium or large size)
  • Extra pipe cleaners (for whiskers) and bunny ears
  • Pom-pom for tail
  • Glue (white craft glue or hot glue for those responsible/adult supervised crafters)

You will need to master either the Basic Box Stitch or Round Stitch with your plastic lacing before trying this project. Below are diagrams for working around the pipe cleaner.

Lacing around a pipe cleaner - diagram by Pepperell Braiding Company
Working around a pipe cleaner - diagram directions.

Hoppy Happy Spring!