Bends and Twists

“Your mind is a key, and whatever it unlocks, the greatest treasure of all.” -Michael Bassey Johnson

After joining the workshop on caging crystals, I got hooked on making accessories. I promised myself to buy materials and tools so I could busy myself with making baubles, putting into practice what I have learned.

I made a trip to Wellmanson Beads and Accessories in Quiapo, very near the Quiapo Church, in my search for tools, wires, and charms. I did not expect to be overwhelmed by how many awesome items they had in the store! There were rows and rows of beads, chains, gauge wires, and so many more!

The items I got from this store include my wire cutter, round nose pliers and long nose pliers that I think were only around ₱60-₱70 each! I also got wires, some chains, jump rings and lobster claw locks and a string of rose quartz beads.

Outside the store, along Villalobos Street, there were tons of other stores that sold beads, chains, charms and stones for making accessories. One of them was DIY Beads.

If you thought the beads and charms selection from Wellmanson was overwhelming already, this store was even more so! I was not able to snap a pic because I was so busy looking at stuff to buy!

I got a string each of carnelian, moonstone and rhodorite. I am no gemologist and cannot attest to the authenticity of these stones. All I know is that they are super pretty to look at!

Since I was not satisfied yet, I went to a couple more stores until I found one that sold some heart-shaped cherry quartz. Again, I do not know if these are real but I truly hope so.

Once home and have had my lunch, I immediately went ahead to play with my purchases! I ended up making keychains for everyone in my team at work. I also made some pendants to wear.Making accessories has helped me lately because my insomnia has come back, allowing me only three hours of sleep instead of my normal six to seven hours. By the time my hands were tired, I was ready to doze off.

I realized that I forgot to get gold-colored gauge wires so I searched online to buy. I ended up buying from PlanetAccessory over Shopee. From that shop, I also got a few more charms, and strings of black onyx, ruby, jade and amazonite beads.

Because of the heavy rains, I had to wait for about half a week to get my hands on my orders. By this time, I have found lots of ideas on Pinterest on designs to re-create and tips to be better at making wired jewelry. I am so glad that there are lots of DIY guides that could be found there!

I could not sleep at all last night (again) and so,I busied myself making a few more accessories. Most of them were rings.

In my attempt to be better at bending and twisting wires, I cut myself in the process. Thankfully it was just small. I wrapped the wound with a plaster and went back to wringing the hell out of my wires.

By the time I knew it, it was sunrise already. My fingertips were aching and I think I grew callouses in the process.

I realized how quickly time passed by when I busied myself with making trinkets. My mind went on laser focus mode and did not have space for worries and anxieties. I found the activity truly realxing (except for when I scratched of cut myself).

On the other hand, I realized how I could not entirely make the wires bend to how I want them to at all times. Sometimes, they have a will of their own and would want to bend to a different direction than what I had planned. Forcing the wire sometimes meant making dents or marks that I could not straighten anymore. I had to work with them not against them.

I also found out that my ring finger is of the same circumference as a Vicks Inhaler. I did not have a ring sizer or ring mandrel (costs a lot!!!) on hand so the inhaler was such a huge help to me when I made rings. I guess having caught a flu recently had its perks.

I plan to grow my collection of semi-precious stones. I also need to buy them not in these round form, but in irregular shapes for added charm. I already got myself an organizer from Daiso that will allow me to keep them in containers that are so cute! I think I will need to buy some more!

I hope to greatly improve my creativity and hand dexterity so I can make beautiful accessories. For now, I shall be browsing my Pinterest for inspiration.

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Fancy Cages

A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories.” — Oscar de la Renta

When I was a little girl, I remember always asking to wear my Mom’s jewelries or my Dad’s heirloom necklace. Jewelries and accessories made my eyes shine with glee when I lay my hands on those sparkly things. My Mom would always remind me that when I was around two years old, I kept on begging to have my ears pierced and I felt so “grown up” when I finally had them.

img_7754I guess it’s karma for my insisting to have them early because my ears developed an allergy for gold earrings. My lobes would swell and get wounded so I stayed away from those things unless absolutely necessary. Even then, I would remove them after a few hours. As I grew up, I lost that fondness over accessories. I either just wear a necklace or a bracelet, but never the whole shebang.

Lately though, I have rediscovered my penchant for gemstones or crystals. I used to love reading about them as a kid and wondering if their so-called healing properties were real. I am not sure how a stone could make one more tranquil or relaxed but what I am sure of is that they are pretty things, regardless of whether they are impregnated already (with added materials) or in their pure state. So, when I discovered the Caged Crystal Jewelry Making Workshop hosted by Maartsy, I made it a point to make sure I could attend it.

After attending church service, I went straight to the workshop. An hour early there, I saw Ms. Benj of @penumbra.ph (the instructor) preparing the materials to be used throughout the workshop. She was as pretty as her jewels and charms! It looked like she really made sure to prepare everything we will need. We had tools, handout, and a buffet of crystals and charms to use that afternoon.img_7671

Ms. Benj was very hands-on in teaching us, going around the table to make sure we were getting the instructions from the manual right. She would make it a point to show everyone our finished work of art every time we would complete one. I think she taught us a total of six ways of caging crystals.

img_7712My most favorite is this tree of life style I used on a very adorable heart-shaped rose quartz. It looked so feminine and sweet! I paired it with a long chain because I have not tried wearing long necklace pieces. I figured, I should try experimenting on wearing such kind.

I had so much fun bending and looping wires that I forgot all my worries at work that day (deadlines coming up). All I could focus on was the design I was trying to make. And despite struggling with the silver wire that was a little too thick for comfort, I was so happy that I was learning how they made those pretty accessories I would see from online shops in my IG feed. It was not easy but I was glad to know doing it was not too difficult for me not to manage.

img_7728I went home with the accessories I made and some extra wire. I remembered the amethyst crystal I bought not so long ago and tried to apply my learnings from the workshop by caging it in my remaining gold wire. The result was so cute! I guess I now have two favorites.

I realized how much I loved creating stuff with my hands. I may not find happiness in drawing or painting because I was not gifted in those areas at all, but I found that I enjoy creating stuff with my hands like when I bake or when I mix up some concoctions. This was not any different. I loved it so much! I found the process therapeutic for a reason.

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Products of my hard work.

Do I recommend this workshop? Yes! Whether you’re a girl or a guy (yes, we had a male participant that day), learning how to turn crystals into wearable accessories will not only be a good pastime but might also turn into an income-generating activity.

What will you need?

Patience

You cannot create a beautiful piece in one or two twists of the wire. You have to be patient when working with it especially when you have to loop them around.

Hand dexterity

Some designs can be intricate and will require careful and calculated maneuvering of the wires. The thicker ones are tougher to bend into place. I even cut myself a little bit in the process. But, that should not stop you from enjoying this activity.

With practice and time, you will be twisting and bending wires like a pro to create beautiful crystal cages to house your favorite gemstones.

A creative mind

There is no such thing as an ugly design but you can let your creativity flow in this activity. You can twist and bend the wires in multitude ways and no work can ever be exactly the same as another.  You just have to trust yourself and the design you are aiming to create.

I am glad to have found another activity that I am sure to enjoy doing. I am already scouting for sources of materials to make accessories for myself and for friends and family. I am pretty excited about what I can create once I have all that I need.

Soleful Saturday

Mind what you wear on your feet. You don’t know just where they might take you.

Sandal CraftingI was searching for activities to do over the weekends when I came across another event posted on Facebook. This time it was about sandal crafting. While I was leaning towards leather wallet and bag making, something just pushed me into clicking the “Going” button and paying for a slot in that workshop.

The venue was hosted by Builtable Coworking, “the first ever co-working space + fabrication laboratory in the Philippines.” Located along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City, this company aims to bring together innovators and makers and provide a space for enabling creativity, discovery and learning. Among them is this kind of workshop that I attended. You may also check their services and other events hosted from Builtable Coworking’s official website.

The workshop was headed by Tal de Guzman, founder of Risqué Designs. From my research, Risqué Designs is a Filipino lifestyle brand that creates very beautiful footwear. Bringing together far flung communities in Negros Occidental and Laguna and the city of Marikina that’s famous for its shoe industry, the company is among those reviving the “demand for age-old skills like loom-weaving, wood-carving and shoe-making.”

Ms. Tal’s business has been around for five years now and she has been sharing her talent and knowledge of creating footwear for about two years already. She was very patient with beginners like me and thorough in her teaching.

IMG_4547Included in the fees were the handouts, materials, and tools needed to create the sandals. However, we were free to bring our own leather for the upper part in case we preferred to. I did not have any with me so I relied on the available leather in the venue.

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The soles were pre-cut already in order to save time since cutting it is time-consuming for beginners. Still, we were taught the proper way of outlining and measuring the important points of our feet.

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Because my feet were not the standard size, I had to “hack” my shoe last (this wooden instrument shaped like a foot). It took some leather and some tape so it measured the same as my feet.

I chose size 7 for this activity without asking how they measure their sizes. I forgot that I go from size 6 to size 8 depending on the kind of footwear I was buying. I wear size 8 for leather heeled shoes; size 6 for slippers and rubber shoes; size 7 for all other footwear. Crazy, right? No wonder I take forever to buy shoes.

After hacking both shoe lasts, we were made to design how we wanted the sandal straps to look like. I chose a design that involved sort of braiding four strips of leather. Having  irregularly shaped feet (I am pigeon-toed), I need to make sure my footwear have a lot of material to hold on to my feet. You have no idea how many times I lost one shoe as a baby, especially those I wore on my left foot. So, yeah. More straps equals less chances of them slipping off my feet.

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IMG_4557We made makeshift stencils/patterns for our leather strips before actually cutting them. For myself, I chose two colors; brown and metallic gold.

I do not have steady hands so I failed to ensure all my strips were perfectly cut. At least I did not chop my fingers off. I think I did more damage to the ruler I used as a guide though.

Well, there they were. All eight strips that will hold my sandal soles and my feet together.

The next step was to secure the insoles to the shoe last in order to begin constructing/building the actual footwear. After securing the soles in place, I started to have a picture of what my sandals were eventually going to look like on the shoe lasts.

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Time to open that jar of adhesive! I appreciated so much that we were reminded to bring our face masks in case we wanted to lessen the chances of inhaling the smell of some of the materials we were going to use. That adhesive’s smell was not as strong as your usual rugby, but it did smell strongly of chemicals.

It turns out though that you wait for the glue to become tacky so the parts will stick together. Pressing together the materials after being freshly painted with glue will not do anything to bind them. Patience is a virtue here.

We had to trim off some of those pieces of leather stuck on the sole so they won’t feel bulky when we step on them. I did not do a pretty job at it because my cutter was getting dull already. I figured, the more I tried to make a perfect job at it, the more there was a chance I was going to be sent to the hospital because I was bleeding out. I contented myself with what I could accomplish then proceeded to spreading glue over the two parts I was going to bind. . IMG_4565

After binding these two parts together came my favorite part. The hammering! It’s meant to help them stick together better. It’s also a great way to let out some of your stress–just kidding!

IMG_4567Once that was done, I got to glue on the heel. Unfortunately, for the left foot, my unsteady hands failed to make sure all parts were perfectly aligned. Thankfully, they had sand paper (the really rough kind) to help me “cheat” and “disguise” my mistake.

Everything I did for the right foot, I did with the left. Turns out, it’s difficult to ensure they matched. I may have missed a centimeter or two on the left side so they did not look like twins. They did pass as sisters though. That was consolation enough for me.

After four hours, I finally have my very own sandals!

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The workshop made me appreciate our shoemakers even more. I have always had the thought that making shoes is not an easy task. Today, I had a feel of how tough it really and I just made one pair of sandals. Imagine how much more difficult it is to create shoes with beautiful and intricate designs!

That being said, Filipinos should support its footwear industry all the more. Marikina is a good place to get quality shoes. I heard that Liliw, Laguna also has its own footwear industry going on. No matter, supporting our own products will surely help the industry and the communities relying on it prosper.

Meanwhile, check out Builtable Coworking’ website or Facebook page for other workshops and events you might be interested in. You may also checkout Workshops by Tal on Instagram to see announcements for new workshops and pictures from those she has held.