Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Stash Enhancements; and, Supplies for more Bottle Cap Charms

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 7:40 pm on Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Another Completed Bracelet

Not mine, but Craft Goddess Bea’s. (We saw the partially-done piece last time.) Click anywhere on the image to see more detail.

CG Bea's Finished Charm Bracelet - "By the Sea"
“By the Sea” by CG Bea
Bea has done well by her theme, evoking images of ocean life as well as gaming at Atlantic City. Fish and sea shells, hearts for romance, gold coins for the slot machines, and dice and roulette wheels. You can almost smell the ocean!

I Love My Friends

We do things to enable each other, like pool orders for beads so we can get them cheap! These seed beads are actually very late backorders from an order we placed at Fire Mountain Gems all the way back in May. These seven colors hadn’t been in stock at the time.

Stash Enhancements - Fire Mountain Gems Czech Seed Beads
Czech Seed Beads from Fire Mountain Gems
We’ve been impressed with the colors and quality of the Czech seed beads that Fire Mountain Gems started carrying just this past year. The color selection is growing all the time, and looks like it could rival Japanese beads. And the bead quality – the sizes don’t vary too widely, and the shapes are good, while not having the machine-precise cloned look that other types can sometimes have. I like Czech beads for bead crochet, and for projects like bead knitted bags, bead embroidery, and, yes, for needle-and-thread techniques like right-angle weave and netting.

Friends are also great for helping with craft supplies that have to be gathered – like beer caps for bottle cap charm bracelets. One of the themes I want to do next is “Wine Taste, Beer Budget”, and I will want every bottle cap in that to be a different brand of beer. CG Judith very kindly dipped into her supply of caps and brought me this selection.
Bottle Cap Assortment for Beer Theme
Bottle Caps From a Friend
Many of them are varieties I’d probably never see. Gryphon and I don’t go out to bars or restaurants that serve beer much, so we don’t have the option of asking the waiter to bring us some. And several of these beers are brands that I know Gryphon isn’t likely to buy for home drinking.

Thanks so much, Judith, for bringing me these caps!

More Bottle Cap Goodness

Since our household beer consumption is low (only Gryphon, and not a huge variety of brands), I knew I’d be waiting around forever if I wanted enough caps for another bracelet anytime soon (notwithstanding helping hands from friends like Judith above!). So on Saturday, Gryphon and I hied ourselves over to the best homebrew supply shop in southern NH, Jasper’s Homebrew.

We knew about Jasper’s because Gryphon has done some homebrewing of his own in the past. You can read more about Jasper’s in my post about the visit at I Knit Around.

What’s most important to know about it for this blog’s purposes, though, is that you can buy brand-new, untouched, clean bottle caps at a homebrew supply. For fairly little money. A bag of about 144 costs only $2.99 – and you don’t have to wait to accumulate enough caps to work with.

Unused Bottle Caps from a Homebrew Supplier
Brand New Bottle Caps
Jasper’s offers the basic gold-tone blank bottle caps, but they also do something that not all suppliers do. They have, for the same price, bags of “odd lot” bottle caps. There’s not much control over what the selection of these will be at any given time, but sometimes you can get some interesting colors to work with, like these green caps for “Windhocke Lager”. If you’re really lucky, there will be caps from popular sodas (we remember seeing “Orange Crush” soda caps a few years ago).

And if you’re really, really lucky, there will be bottle caps from some unusual micro-brewery’s beer. Somewhere in Gryphon’s brewing supplies, he has a couple of bags of caps for a beer called “Bad Frog”, and the cap even has a logo with a frog in it. How’s that for a theme-starter?

Bottle Caps are Catching On

We Craft Goddesses have seen a catalog for a well-known publisher of craft instruction books and craft supplies, and lo! new in their product line are books about making jewelry and other crafts with bottle caps. They’re also offering packages of specially-produced 1″ round stickers for use in the caps.

Additionally, apparently they’re making available clean new bottle caps in various colors – for about $30 for a bag of 200! (Remember – I paid only $2.99 for a bag of 144 at a homebrew supply!) We can’t quite decide if there’s something special about this company’s bottle caps, though – the images on the pages were showing the caps being pressed in a scrapbooking home die-cut press, and they showed the holes being punched with an ordinary hand-held hole punch. Our theory is that they’re having bottle caps for crafting specially made from a lighter-weight metal than those used in the beverage industry. .

Whether a lighter-weight metal that will bend more easily is a good idea – I don’t know. I’d be concerned about the caps getting bent under rough wear. If you’re planning to make Bottle Cap Charms, be aware of all the options out there! The beverage industry ones are quite usable, and little more than 10% of the cost of the craft-industry ones. But you may decide that the premium you pay for the craft-industry caps is worth it for the colors and easier bending. Classic case of the old Internet Adage – “Your Mileage May Vary!”

I haven’t acquired a one-inch paper punch yet – haven’t been able to spare the $8 it will cost (unless I find a coupon for A.C. Moore soon!). But I do have a good circle template, and it’s not like you have to be dead-on precise with the scissors.

Picture Picking

I have been having fun looking for images to work with. My past issues of TV Guide and other magazines, and some old catalogs, are being disassembled, and I’m pouring over them with the circle template and an extra-fine point Sharpie, picking out things that I think will be fun.

Searching for Bottle Cap Charm Images in Magazines and Catalogs
Anything That Fits 1″ Diameter is Fair Game
I’m circling letters in ads (in case I want to spell out something). Tiny little faces in the tv listings. Logos for TV Guide and other products in the advertisements.

TV Guide - Tiny Celebrity Images
Tiny Photos in TV Guide
TV Guide is a wealth of tiny images of celebrities and tv/film characters. You could easily pick a favorite actor and do a set of charms with them as a theme, and you’ll have plenty of recognizable images that fit the 1″ circle.

TV Guide Images - Sarah Jessica Parker with Eyes Selected for Charm Images
Sarah Jessica Parker – the Eyes Have It
Face too big to fit? Try just a few features. Sara Jessica Parker is a lovely girl, and that still comes through if you only see her eyes.

Christmas Food Catalog Images
Holiday Themes from Catalogs
A Popcorn Factory Catalog yields images suitable for holiday decorations – hmm….bottle cap charms as Christmas Ornaments for a miniature tree!

The possibilities are proving almost limitless. Some display and packaging catalogs are offering usable background images of abstract color – they’ll often show their tissue-paper colors as a stack of reams, and carefully placing your circle will get you a colorful set of stripes for a background. A catalog of store supplies offers “SALE!” and “FRAGILE” tags small enough that the word will fit the 1″ parameters.

The search for usable images is as addictive as making the bracelets themselves. I don’t know what’s going to come of all this….but I’ll be sure to tell you once I do!

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