Jun 022018
 

It’s funny how a jar filled with sequins can evoke memories. When I completed several greeting card projects last year that included sequin-filled shaker windows, I was reminded of the time not long after we married, when my husband was stationed at Coronado’s naval base in southern California and I worked part-time at a local store called Cora Mart, located on Orange Avenue.

Cora Mart, which closed its doors in 1996 after more than 30 years of business, was an old-fashioned general store where you could find anything you needed except groceries. There were probably fewer than half a dozen aisles in the store, but their shelves and unpainted pegboards were well-stocked. Cora Mart was like a miniature department store without the frills. There were no display windows, no air conditioning, and no carpeted floors. The linoleum tile floors were cracked and faded, and the register counter at the front of the store was crowded with candy, gum and baseball cards. Needless to say, this was not the age of bar codes, so if a product wasn’t marked with a price, you’d ask a fellow clerk who might or might not know where to look it up—or you’d simply make up a reasonable price on the spot.

At the back of the store you’d find fertilizer, weed killer and garden tools, hardware, hammers and other implements. Another aisle sported storybooks, games, puzzles, toys, baby clothes and diapers. There was a household section stocked with towels and wash cloths, pots and pans, dishes, kitchen gadgets, stain removers and a smorgasbord of household cleaners. Another area was geared toward home dec—lamps, clocks, picture frames and doilies. And then there was the drugstore section with its first aid supplies, aspirin, wart remover and Pepto Bismol lookalikes. My favorite aisle, of course, included fabrics, buttons, rick rack and lace trims, sewing notions and craft supplies.

Among those craft supplies was the most beautiful collection of sequins I have ever seen. Sure, you’d find round or faceted sequins and star-shaped ones, but I recall shiny slivers of plastic shaped like tiny crescent moons, leaves, wreaths, pine trees, flowers, butterflies, birds and so much more. When I crafted my shaker card windows and filled them with sequins, I wished for more than circles or stars.

This afternoon I decided that it might be fun to make my own sequins. Equipped with a Die-namics Sequins die, some leftover Oil of Olay packaging in gold and silver plastic, as well as some Elizabeth Craft Designs Shimmer Sheets in such yummy shades as Australian Opal Gemstone, Pink Iris, Blue Iris and Imperial Garnet Gemstone, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

My first roll of the die through my Big Shot crackled and crinkled like a champ, but the results were less than spectacular. I think more than half of the sequins cracked and flew off into multiple directions, but what was left could still be used for shaker windows or card embellishments, as long as you weren’t planning on sewing them into place. The die couldn’t seem to punch holes through the sequins, at least not consistently. I suppose I could have punched holes one sequin at a time with a paper piercer or sewing needle, but the word that comes to mind is labor-intensive.

Then I tried the Shimmer Sheets, and these were less of a failure, probably because they were thinner than the plastic packaging and were actually designed to be cut with craft dies. I’m not sure the sequin die I used was designed to cut Mylar, however. In fact, the die packaging reads, “Die-namics will cut through: card stock, thin chipboard, ¼” cork, felt, acetate, sticky-back canvas, fabric, denim, sandpaper, 2 mm craft foam, wood veneer paper, photo magnet sheets, and MORE.” Acetate seems like Mylar, but you’ll notice that Mylar was not on the list. Many of my sequins were missing center holes, and I struggled to remove the Mylar film from the die shapes. Hmmm, I thought, I think I know why people purchase sequins instead of making their own.

On the other hand, if you watch a video titled DIY Paper Sequins on thefrugalcrafter channel, you’ll see that Lindsay Weirich gets good results with a hole punch, paper piercer, wooden dowel and shiny card stock. Who knew?

My handmade sequin-making experiment, however, made me wonder how industrial sequins are made. Certainly, I can’t beat the speed at which the sequins are punched in the short video shown below:

According to Smithsonian’s A History of Sequins from King Tut to the King of Pop, written by Emily Spivack, the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 revealed gold discs sewn on his garments, suggesting wealth. The intent, presumably, was to prepare him for a financially-secure afterlife. These gold discs were likely an early version of sequins, a word whose origins go back to the Arabic word “sikka,” which means coin or minting die. Over the ages, writes Spivack, coins or precious metal discs continued to be sewn onto garments. Even Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by them, and in his day, women wore dresses called gamurra that had metal discs sewn onto them. One of da Vinci’s many sketches was a diagram for a sequin-producing machine, although the machine itself was never built. In the 1400s, gold coins sewn onto garments in Venice were called “zecchino.”

Yesterday’s metal discs are today’s plastic sequins, spangles, paillettes or diamantes—each looking somewhat different. Sequins typically have a center hole, while spangles have a hole at the top. Paillettes are large and flat, and diamantes are artificial, glittery or ornamental gems. What they share in common is that they can be sewn onto garments, shoes, bags and other accessories.

A Brief History of Sequins points out that the coins originally sewn on garments were heavy and eventually migrated to shiny, lighter-weight gelatin discs in the 1930s that had a tendency to dissolve when exposed to heat. The gelatin itself came from animal carcasses, according to 5 Sparkling Facts About Sequins, and was rolled into sheets from which the sequin shapes were cut out. Sometimes the pattern of the dissolved sequins on the garments of a dancing couple told a story, which explains the then-popular phrase, “missing sequins could tell tales.” A Brief History of Sequins explains that the non-gelatin version of sequins came about, also in the 1930s, when Herbert Lieberman, in partnership with Eastman Kodak, created sequins from acetate stock. In the 1950s, when Dupont invented Mylar, the fragile acetate sequins were coated with Mylar, which made them more durable. Today sequins are usually made from plastic.

I began this post, reminiscing about the variety of sequins I was able to purchase in the late 70s and early 80s. Today you’ll usually find round, star or heart-shaped sequins at your local Joann’s, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Walmart stores. Looking for something outside the norm? You will probably need to shop online, although fortunately you don’t have to look overseas. The alphabetical list below is not an endorsement of any particular site; it simply represents a starting point for more unique sequins. When searching for such sequins, it’s helpful to look under “shapes.”

If there is a shop where you have discovered interesting sequins, please share your information in the comments below.

© 2018 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
Nov 082017
 

One month before the December holidays, most folks I know are getting serious about finishing (or starting!) their handmade gifts, or wrapping up (pardon the pun) their gift purchases. It’s also that time of year when my local scrapbooking store, Memory Bound, holds its Holiday Open House. This past Thursday through Sunday, the Jingle All the Way Holiday Open House saw many visitors, including yours truly.

One of the reasons I like visiting Memory Bound, especially when special events like the Holiday Open House are held, is that they are wonderful creativity-starters. Even if you aren’t a paper crafter, aren’t you a little bit tempted by the projects shown in their Facebook photo album or the video shown below? (Click on the photo to see the video.)

Honestly, I didn’t have anything specific in mind when I visited the shop Sunday afternoon, but several tree projects caught my attention. This first project is a Joyful Tree that consists of pre-cut wood pieces that you’ll paint white, cover with decorative paper and winter-themed embellishments, then top off with a star or other tree topper made out of wood, fabric, felt, ribbon or anything else you desire. The tree, when finished, stands about 23 inches high. The easy-to-assemble project is packaged in a Kaisercraft Christmas Tree kit that costs $12.95 at Memory Bound.

The second tree project I spotted is based on an Accordion Tree pattern you can purchase exclusively from Memory Bound for only $1. You’ll need a wood base, dowel, scrapbook paper and glue for this project. The sample Accordion Trees at Memory Bound used Cozy paper by Authentique, and were topped off by a large snowflake, embellished with a raffia cord bow. The base consisted of a wood tree slice, but you can use any wooden base that provides stability. The pattern is easy to follow and the tree looks real cute on your kitchen or dining room table, the top of your piano, a shelf or an accent table.

As I exited Memory Bound, this wood-slat, painted Santa Grooved Tree caught my eye. The shop offers a daytime class on Friday, November 17th during office hours when I normally work, so I will not be able to take advantage of it. But if you’re interested, the class is taught by Laurie Speltz from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The class fee of $47 includes everything you need except for basic supplies such as a craft mat, baby wipes, a Basic 5 Brush Set, a Black Pigma Micron .01 Pen, and stencil brushes. If you live in or near Ankeny, call Memory Bound at 515-965-1102 to learn about registration details.

So, why did I actually visit Memory Bound this past Sunday? I had no preconceived ideas (which makes for some risky shopping), but I was looking for something with a winter/holiday theme. What I ended up with is this lovely selection of papers and some jute ribbon spools. Stay tuned to find out what I do with them.

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
May 212017
 

In my neighborhood you always know it’s graduation season when it’s a weekend in May and cars line the street everywhere it’s legal to park. Garland-festooned mailboxes and balloons tied to poles or trees beckon visitors who stride up the driveway. They enter homes without ringing the doorbell to take part in an open house or a family celebration. That’s also my signal to make a few graduation cards, if I haven’t done so already. This year we have two of them in our family—two nieces who have finished college and are moving on to the next phase in their lives. I had so much fun making and then describing shaker cards in my last post that I decided to try my hand at a couple of graduation cards for my nieces.

I gathered the basic tools and supplies listed below:

To begin the project, I cut 8-1/2 x 11-inch heavy weight white card stock into two rectangles for two cards. I scored them in half and folded them. Then I cut two 4-1/4 inch x 5-1/4 inch rectangles from a sheet I removed from a DCWV pad of black-and-white floral paper that I’ve had for a while.

I removed some rectangular cutting dies from their package for the first time to cut shaker window openings in my cards.

Before I could do so, however, I had to cut apart the dies because they were joined to each other with metal “wires.” Snipping them apart with pliers was easy; filing down the nubs with a metal file took a little longer. I got my file from Elizabeth Craft Designs (which no longer sells them), but you can pick up something similar for around $8 from your local home improvement store, such as a multi-purpose file set from Home Depot.

For the first card, I ran the white card stock and black-and-white floral paper through my Big Shot die cutting machine on two separate runs to cut rectangular windows. Then I wondered if I couldn’t do both sheets at the same time. I tried it, and it worked great.

This left me with some rectangular scraps to use for another project.

After I cut out shaker windows, I covered both of them with bridal tulle, adhering the tulle in place with Scor-tape. You’ll notice in the photo below that the paper bends; this is because it is fairly thin paper, definitely not as heavy as card stock. In retrospect, I wish I had adhered the decorative paper to card stock, and then cut a window into it. It would have been sturdier! I guess you can always learn something new from your projects.

I sandwiched gold and iridescent white sequins between both shaker windows, adhering all layers together with Scor-tape, as you can see in the photo below.

Finally, I stamped images with Memento Dye Ink in Tuxedo Black, and then colored them in with an assortment of Copic markers. It’s important to use a Copic-friendly ink; if you don’t, you’ll end up with a smeared mess! I know this because I made that error with a previous project. Then, I cut out the images with a die set from Avery Elle that coordinates with the Hats Off stamp set. I could have cut them out with scissors, but this was so much easier!

I was in a hurry to use the dies, so you’ll notice that when I cut them apart with my pliers, I did not snip off the wires that attach the dies to each other, nor did I file away any remaining nubs.

I adhered the images to the front of the card using Ranger Multi Medium Matte, which is a strong adhesive that dries clear and matte. Keep in mind that the paper was adhered to bridal tulle, which of course has holes in it because it’s a mesh, so if you don’t use the same product I used, it needs to be something that adheres paper to fabric without adding bulk. I haven’t tried it, but I bet Beacon Fabri-Tac would also work. I like the fact that Ranger Multi Medium Matte dries real quickly; Beacon Fabri-Tac does not.

Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I had used fewer sequins. On the other hand, it was serendipitous that the graduation caps prevented all of the sequins from dropping to the bottom of the shaker window. I wanted to create the effect of confetti floating through the air . . . just not quite so MUCH confetti!

Because I didn’t want the Copic ink, which saturated my card stock, to show through on the inside of the card, I used the Avery Elle coordinating dies to cut out the images once more in plain white card stock. I adhered these shapes to the inside of the card directly opposite the colored shapes on the other side, giving the card a neat appearance.

With one card successfully completed, I decided to tackle the second one. But guess I was over-confident. The next thing I knew, I had adhered my two layers of tulle together, but without the sequins. This was a problem. When I tried to peel apart the layers, the card didn’t survive the effort. But thank goodness for paper scraps! I folded another half-sheet of Bazzill card stock to create a card, and adhered some of that black-and-white floral paper to the front.

Then I grabbed one of the white rectangles that remained after I cut out a previous shaker window, and cut a rectangle of white craft foam to adhere to the back of it. Why? I wanted the rectangle to be the focus of the card. By adding foam (and thus dimension) to the rectangle, it made it stand out more.

The rest of the card was easy to finish. Once more, I used the Avery Elle Hats Off stamp set to stamp images for the front of the card, and colored them in with Copic markers. I cut out the images with the coordinating die set, and adhered them in place with dots of Scotch Permanent Tacky Glue. Then, I dotted the white space with Ranger Multi Medium Matte, and use my Xacto knife to pick up and drop into place one sequin at a time. When I was done, I decided I liked this non-shaker version of the card better than the shaker version. Who knew?

I still have a few leftover paper scraps from the die cuts, but they can be used in another project. That’s the one result that you can’t seem to get away from when you make your own cards . . . and it also means you need a method for storing scraps. I use three-hole punched clear sheet protectors for my paper scraps, and organize them by color groups inside a binder. What do you do with your scraps? Have you been making graduation cards?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share