Crafty (not like a fox)
My message board friends have done a Secret Santa exchange for years now, which is always seriously fun. A few years ago we switched to doing Christmas in July to cause less stress on people's holiday budgets, which has worked out really well. It's fabulous to get a really neat present in the middle of the summer. Everyone posts a list of likes and dislikes and ideas and then we draw via Elfster. This year I drew my hilarious friend Rachel and wanted to do a really good job on her gift. She had wine charms on her wish list and she loves anything French, so I set out to make her some French-themed wine charms. I got the base idea from a set of DIY wine charms MB received for Christmas last year from Nie. She drilled holes through various dice from d20 sets and put them on hoop earrings, which works pretty well, but I wanted a more secure ring since the earrings tend to unhook themselves. I ran my specs (thin enough to directly thread beads onto, some kind of closing mechanism that would stay closed) by my mom, she of epic crafting experience, and she found the perfect rings at Hobby Lobby:
Since they're called stemware hoops, I kind of suspect they're intended to be used to make wine charms, and they definitely were exactly what I wanted. I found some fantastic Eiffel tower charms on Etsy for a ridiculously-reasonable price and ordered ten. These are the charms I got, but I got them from this shop (the exact ones I bought appear to be sold out in her shop right now) and she was awesome. The charms got to me right away, they were exactly what I wanted, and she sent a little sample packet of other cute charms she offers. The most challenging part turned out to be finding pretty non-plastic beads that would fit onto the rings. I ended up finding the perfect beads at the Jo-Ann store - the label says they're 2/0 Czech glass e-beads. I bought one tube of mixed colors and one tube of clear. Then I futzed around with the number of beads, the pattern of beads, the order of color / clear, and after five or six attempts I found a pattern I liked. I was able to pull together sets of three beads in ten different colors from my variety tube, and ta-daaa:
She also wanted bookmarks that won't fall out of her books. So I googled "bookmarks that stay in books" (seriously) and found this tutorial. I wanted to use a thinner elastic with a less-obvious knot, so I tried using stretch magic, a thin plastic / elastic beading cord. That was a big fail. There wasn't quite enough stretch and the cord was too slippery to hold a knot. I called my mom again and sure enough, she had 1/8" sewing elastic that turned out to be just the thing:
Instead of knotting the top, I stitched the ends together to make a flatter join and they turned out pretty nice. I sized one for mass market paperbacks, one for trade paperbacks, and one for hardbacks. Maybe her daughter will just end up stealing them for makeshift headbands, but I wanted to try.
The package was a big hit and I'm still gloating a little over how well the wine charms turned out. Maybe I need to find someone else who likes wine and make more!
Reading: Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
Playing: old mix CDs