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April 5, 2012

Hardware jewelry for the real world
Posted by Teresa at 07:50 PM * 48 comments

Making unfortunate jewelry out of hardware seems to be a near-universal impulse. Most of it comes out looking like macaroni necklaces for grownups.

It was thus a good thing when Erica at Honestly WTF published a tutorial for making a braided hex nut jewelry that you can actually imagine real people wearing. The technique is simple. The result is attractive. Specimens have been popping up all over the place.

Since this establishes that a small hex nut is just a large metal bead, it follows that this braiding technique can be applied to anything else that’s got a hole in it. (“Anything with a hole in it is a bead = “anything with a handle attached to it is portable.”) Personally, I’m eyeing my stashes of stick beads and wingnuts.

Honestly WTF also did a tutorial on a braiding technique that uses curb chain links as the third strand in the braid, yielding very presentable results. Erica has a good eye.

If you’re crafty, you might want to check out all her published DIYs. They’re not the usual sort of thing. Her forte is figuring out easy-to-make knockoffs of what would otherwise be very pricey baubles and clothing details by designers like Balenciaga, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Miu Miu, Prada, etc. It looks like fun.

Comments on Hardware jewelry for the real world:
#1 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 08:40 PM:

Cool stuff!

Does it make me a tasteless loser that I actually like some of the hardware jewelry?

#2 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 08:45 PM:

I like this one too.

#3 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 08:56 PM:

That is nifty!

Fishing tackle bracelets were the in thing when I was in summer camp; I still like the look of them.

#4 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 09:17 PM:

I immediately thought of a novel. Is it obnoxious of me that I want to put this as a pop quiz question?

In what classic SF novel is the production of handmade hardware jewelry a big part of the plot?

("Yes" is the answer, of course -- yes, it is obnoxious. But do you wanna guess the novel?)

#6 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 09:55 PM:

The Man in the High Castle?

#7 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 09:56 PM:

"And here's one I made out of noodles!"
"Impressive, I admit."

#8 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:33 PM:

The sf novel might be Child of Fortune by Spinrad.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:36 PM:

Xopher, it does not make you a tasteless loser. I was being a snot. And that bracelet you like is gorgeous. It's one of Alice Menter's, yes? Great design, great execution. I don't even cavil at her prices, since she's using hex nuts and other hardware that's been plated with silver or gold. That silver bracelet is worked in a traditional beadweaving technique usually done with glass seed beads.

I should have been clearer. What I should have said is that it's entirely possible to make attractive jewelry out of hardware, but just wearing a standard unmodified cabinet hinge on a chain around your neck doesn't qualify. I'm sure that if you gave Dawno or Elise an unlimited budget and a Grainger catalog, they'd make wonderful jewelry; but then, they already make wonderful jewelry out of small round objects with holes in them. Design is still design no matter what medium you work in.

There's a step you can't skip when you're a crafter. After you've finished making something, you have to try it on, or have someone else try it on, and see whether it works. I feel entitled to talk about this because right now I'm in the middle of ripping apart an elaborate piece of knitting I've been working on for months. As a knitted object, it was gorgeous. As a piece of clothing, not so good.

I've designed plenty of jewelry that doesn't work the way it should. My commonest error is to get so enthusiastic about the pretty rocks that I fail to notice that the finished necklace reaches my knees, or is too heavy for normal humans to wear. I've got four big necklaces waiting for me in the "take it apart and do it over" jar. See these feet? Solid clay.

Am I babbling? I should stop now.

#10 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:52 PM:

Incorporating hardware (especially vintage or retro items) into jewelry is very big in the steampunk arena. Examples are readily found on Etsy.

Re braiding with beads, I recently learned how to make kumihimo bead-and-wire bracelets like this one.

#11 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 10:59 PM:

Lee, that is beautiful!

#12 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 11:16 PM:

Xopher @ 2: That's nuts.

#13 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2012, 11:41 PM:

Somewhere I have a container full of those beads you have on the end of metal guitar strings. Sort of like a brass bead with a channel around the middle. They're fairly nice accent beads...

#14 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:16 AM:

And let's not forget the nearly infinite possibilities to be found in telephone wire. (Though, granted, that lends itself more to basketry than jewelry.)

Rrr. Must. Not. Start. New. Project. ...

#15 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:16 AM:

possibly for Google url.

#16 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:17 AM:

9
'If you haven't started it over at least twice, you're probably doing it wrong.' - me, on knitting.

#17 ::: Jordin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 01:07 AM:

A cautionary note: some high-quality fasteners are plated with cadmium, which has good anticorrosion and friction properties.* Cadmium-plated hardware looks very nice and shiny, and would be appealing for this kind of jewelry.

Unfortunately, cadmium is also highly toxic, and wearing it against skin, especially in the form of a bunch of more or less loose parts rubbing against each other, is almost certainly a bad idea. It's also a bad idea to do anything which will generate cadmium dust, like filing or polishing plated hardware.

The good news is that your average hardware-store hardware won't be cadmium plated. But it turns up a lot in industrial surplus.

No idea if this is a significant risk or not, but it is something amateur jewelry-makers should be aware of.

*Fun fact, courtesy of Wikipedia: if you have to replace cadmium-plated hardware with something nontoxic, the next best plating is gold. It's about the same mechanically, and not significantly more expensive (given what aerospace hardware costs), but cadmium is preferred because it holds paint better.

#18 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 01:19 AM:

Naomi @ 3 - You and I must be of an age; either that, or summer camp trends cycle through fishing tackle bracelets fairly frequently. I still have my stash of yet unused barrel snap swivels and seed beads of just the right size hanging around.

After I learned how to make friendship bracelets out of 6-strand cotton embroidery thread (which I had plenty of, since I had also learned to cross-stitch around that time), I started using beaded barrel snap swivels as clasps for them. (Then, over time, I found out that this combination was unfriendly to the cotton. Ditto the various other small metal things I'd knot into the thread. The ones where I threaded seed beads directly onto the thread rather than onto a metal intermediary had a longer lifespan.)

I wish I had pictures to share of a fellow league member's DIY roller derby jewelry. Since skate hardware has a limited lifespan (toestops fall apart, wheel bearings cannot hold, mere entropy is loosed upon the track), there's often quite a bit of this to recycle ("upcycle"?) into accessories. Anyway, my friend sports the most fantastic pair of earrings that her derby wife made just for her; they incorporate a pair of busted wheel bearings, one bearing at the bottom of each beaded dangle.

Googling "roller derby bearing jewelry" turns up lots of pendants made of bearings with stones set in the middle (e.g.), but nothing quite like my friend's earrings.

#19 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 01:36 AM:

TNH @ 9, P J Evans @ 16 - The pair of socks I'm currently knitting know just what you're talking about. They were my first experience in resizing some heel instructions of the "knit a flap, turn the heel, pick up stitches along the sides of the flap, decrease back down to original circumference" variety. That it was also my first time doing a toe-up version of that kind of heel made figuring out the proper heel flap length difficult. It also didn't help that this particular pattern gave the heel flap length in terms of rows rather than inches.

I like formulae. I love the toe-up, short-row-heel-or-toe formula of Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy. It requires a gauge swatch, but in return it offers a reasonable expectation of a good fit on the first try. So after futile searches of web and picking of friends' brains for a formula ("Yes, I know the flap is half the stitches of the sock. It is the length of the flap, and also the width of the heel turn, that I'm trying to figure out. No, not the width of the heel flap. I promise. Really"), I tried to make a formula. Let X be the width of the heel turn expressed as a percentage of the heel flap stitches, round down for snugness, etcetera misguided etcetera.

Of course it didn't work. Random fudge numbers worked better. I tried several random fudge numbers over the course of several rips and reknits, trying on the heel each time. (While sitting in the front row of the audience at a small panel at AnomalyCon 2012. Etiquette? What's that? Is it also attending the con?) Thankfully, I was doing magic loop two-at-a-time, so I once I got the heel right on the one sock I could jump right to where I left off on the other sock and do exactly the same thing before I had a chance to forget.

Also, the socks were for me, and I have small feet. Thank goodness.

#20 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 02:12 AM:

PJ Evans @ 16

If you haven't started it over at least twice... well, something to look forward to, then!

#21 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 02:22 AM:

Jacque @14: Those telephone wire baskets remind me of an African basket we have that was woven out of strips of plastic grain sacks.

#22 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 04:53 AM:

Something about good brass makes it wonderfully appealing to touch and handle - the heavy slipperiness, the quiet clash.

#23 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:24 AM:

For most heel flap socks, the fudge factor is simple.

Fold your heel flap into a triangle. If it forms a right triangle, you have the correct number of rows. You may be off by as much as 5mm or so worth of flap length with this method, depending on yarn selected and your actual heel shape. My feet are shaped rather like rectangular planks, so giant heels and proportionally not terribly deep, so I tend to go a trifle shorter than the triangle rule would suggest.

This will not work for a classic peasant heel tho, where you knit the heel flap to wrap under the foot and then graft or do 3 needle bind off to seam it, and then pick up all around the edge. I haven't done any of those, so I'm not sure what the fudge factor is.

In terms of logical reversibility, I like plain "Dutch" heels. There's a lot of writeups, but Judy Gibson's is good. Counting stitches for the sake of counting makes me cry, but counting for mathing is happiness. (also, I can cheat and have things precounted by dpn.)

#24 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 09:05 AM:

Possibly it's just because I've been doing too much gardening lately, but I've been contemplating the possibilities of thin slices of garden hose as jewelry; I've always liked the green with diagonal cross threading as a visual texture.

#25 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:46 AM:

My brain has been full of jewelry ideas for the past year or so (I'm a fiber artist), but more pressing deadlines have kept me from following up on them. I need to work in some time for trying new things.

Oooh. I just had an interesting and related idea for a commissioned piece. Hm. Hardware, you say? This could be interesting.

#26 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 11:20 AM:

The novel I was thinking of was Man in the High Castle, but now I have two others to add to my reading list. I kinda thought that might happen. Thank you for indulging me.

#27 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 11:55 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @18

I was at summer camp in 1983 and 1984. (I'm almost 42.) We also made friendship bracelets. I think we made friendship bracelets and pins at school, too - the pin was a safety pin with beads that got threaded on the bottom part of a shoelace in tennis or running shoes.

#28 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:31 PM:

Naomi (3): I like that one.

Jacque (14): Those baskets are gorgeous!

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:54 PM:

Lee #10: That's beautiful.

#30 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 03:28 PM:

Teresa 9: Xopher, it does not make you a tasteless loser. I was being a snot.

Oh, dear. I didn't mean...Teresa, I didn't feel insulted or anything, I just liked some of it and wanted to say so. And in fact the ones I like are the ones where the hardware is used in a design, not the ones where things are just put on a cord...that has a certain punk cachet, but not one that I find terribly appealing. I didn't think you were being a snot.

... As a knitted object, it was gorgeous. As a piece of clothing, not so good.

Hmm. Ripping it apart because it fails as a piece of clothing seems like a good choice, but it strikes me (and I'm sure you gave this any consideration it was due) that there's nothing wrong with knitted objects that are not clothing...as long as there's some way to make them definitely and undeniably not clothing. That's just a whimsical thought triggered by your phrasing, but I wonder if some of the odd-but-cool knitted objects I've seen were recoveries from failed attempts at garments! (Immediate thought: failed onesie stitched up plus head == teddy bear.)

My commonest error is to get so enthusiastic about the pretty rocks that I fail to notice that the finished necklace reaches my knees, or is too heavy for normal humans to wear.

One of the titles of Lakshmi, in the stotram I sing every day, is 'nanalankara bhushite', which means either "wearer of many necklaces" or "adorned with various kinds of necklaces," depending on the translation (there's apparently no such thing as a literal translation of Sanskrit, a language apparently so jammed with puns and hidden meanings that any attempt to render it into simple English is doomed to failure). I've seen you adorned with many varied necklaces, and while I know you're not a devotee of Lakshmi as such, that line about her does pop into my head from time to time!

I assume that "reaches my knees" means either AFTER looping it a couple of times, or that such looping wouldn't work with that particular piece of your art...again this really just brought to mind the prohibition on clasps (or rather requirement for at least one claspless necklace) in certain Wiccan traditions, which has led to some necklaces that can be worn by seven people simultaneously with no particular strain!

The point of the no-clasp rule was for the necklace to be a certain minimum length (though of course the official rationale is for it to be a continuous circle), probably one that Old Gerald found attractive on young women (men aren't required to wear a necklace); this would not be the first time people went to excess in obeying a restriction devised for a particular purpose.

#31 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:04 PM:

So, Teresa, when do we expect to see the Android's Rosary?

#32 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 07:54 PM:

I'm teaching a class at Musecon in early August on so-called 'African net' style beadwork (not sure where the name came from). Looking at this thread's pictures is making me want to make up a couple samples with 'unorthodox materials' in them to use as show-off pieces to spark students' creativity (as well has having the boring seed-bead-and-thread kit available to learn on in the workshop itself).

#33 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 08:26 PM:

Bauhaus School artist Anni Albers was known for making jewelry out of washers and other found hardware during the great depression.

Everything Old Is New Again :-)

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 09:09 PM:

On heels in toe-up socks:
the way I do it is wrap and turn two stitches shorter on the end of each row, starting with the purl (wrong) side of the first row, and stop when I have about a third of the stitches left ('about' because the number of stitches I'm working on doesn't usually divide by three).
Then you work two rows to pick up all of the stitches, including the wraps (work with the stitches they're wrapping) and do a decrease at the end of each row, on the last stitch of the flap and the first stitch of the gusset.
After those two rows, the heel is turned and you're in the flap, and all the end-of-row decreases will take off gusset stitches. (It's p2tog on the purl rows and ssk on the right-side rows.)

#35 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 10:17 PM:

Re; wearing jewelry you make once you're done.

I had an idea because I was doing shows where I was bored between customers. I made a necklace out of: cut jewelry wire into 1/2 inch pieces, make a lot of pieces. make the wire pieces into pieces with wire spirals at either end with a iridescent tube bead in the middle. Ring two of them with a jump ring, continue until you have a necklace. (It was a boredom project)


The only shortcoming when I wore it was that it kind of pulled the hairs in the back of my neck/hairline. The person who bought it has not complained about it though, I know them well.

Thank goodness.

#36 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 06:23 AM:

Can the larger hardware bracelets double as exercise weights?

(There's some beautiful hardware stuff out there. Brass and stuff gets heavy, though.)

#37 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 06:28 AM:

Xopher @30: You have heard the one about the Wiccan priestess 10-foot run, right? Put all your ritual jewelry on at once. Anybody who makes it across the finish line gets a prize.

(grinning, ducking, and running. without necklaces.)

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 06:32 AM:

elise @36:
Can the larger hardware bracelets double as exercise weights?

Oooh, interesting question! It occurs to me that wearing a pair of matched-weight hardware bracelets all day could be a kind of muscle-toning exercise to gradually increase one's arm strength.

#39 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 06:53 AM:

Insufficient caffeination led me to read abi's last as "arm length."

#40 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 07:13 AM:

abi @ 38, TexAnne @39:

An Ilizarov device would do for both purposes. It just needs to be prettified.

#41 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Naomi @ 27 - OK, so, we're close, but you're a few years ahead of me. I think around 1983 was when we made crochet chain bracelets on the bus to summer camp, using three strands of yarn and no crochet hook. The fishing swivels came soon after, and the macrame-like friendship bracelets by about 1988.

Torrilin @ 23 - This is neat. Thank you! By "fold heel flap into a triangle," do you mean bring opposite corners of the 4-sided polyhedral together, such that "if it forms a right triangle" essentially means "if your heel flap is now a square"? As for peasant heels, I've done 'em once and avoid them since. Picking up stitches is my least favorite thing; peasant heels mean doing even more of it.

Bookmarking the Gibson. Can never have too many sock heel options.

P J Evans @ 34 - Your method sounds like a version of the short-row heel/toe method that I've come to adore, mainly because it doesn't involve picking up stitches.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2012, 11:04 PM:

43
It's pretty much an inverse version of the common top-down sock. I have to say that toe-up is easier to make, because you don't have to pick up the edges of the heel flap.

Peasant heels: I've done them; they work best if you can make your rows the same height as the stitch width (which really requires working in two colors). When I've done one, I put the first edge on a holder, and did a backward-loop cast-on for the second edge; it made the picking up much easier.

#43 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 10:10 AM:

Ah, sock wars. I've tried these heels and never looked back. No holes, no picking up stitches, and no tight section over the top of the ankle.

Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heels

Cat Bordhi's Padded Sweet Tomato Heels

They adapted easily to my non-standard technique of knitting the sole first.


#44 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 10:13 AM:

I haven't seen this book mentioned before, but I bought Hardwear Jewelry when it first came out (about 5 years ago) and built a library program around it, so the concept's been around since before steampunk exploded. I do recommend the book. Some lovely (and easy-to-make) pieces and I remember the program I did was a big hit.

[Comment was gnomed because of Amazon's URL format. It's not so much that we hates them, precious, as that they share a URL syntax with spammers -- AS]

#45 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2012, 10:14 AM:

I have been gnomed. Possibly because I put a link to Amazon in (I couldn't find the book I was recommending at Barnes and Noble).

#46 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 11:08 AM:

I must second Carol Kimball's recommendation of Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato Heel. I use it on toe-up socks, my mom uses it on top-down socks, and it works beautifully for both. With only a few exceptions (mostly involving contrasting heel colors), it's now my default heel. Be aware, this heel requires 2/3 of the sock stitches (instead of half), so some creativity may be required if you continue a design for your socks over the top of the foot. But isn't that half the fun?

#47 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 12:32 PM:

The heel I use is the Strong heel (named after Gerdine Crawford-Strong, who wrote the pattern up for Knitter's). The version I have internalized and memorized goes thusly:

Divide your tube in half (so you have X stitches on the 'front' and X stitches on the 'back'. Place markers at the divisions. On the 'back' side of the marker, increase one stitch on each side every other row until the back =2X [double the width of the back].

Knit to two stitches past the center of the back, turn and knit to two stitches past the center the other way; continue short-rowing OUTWARDS, decreasing the turn-stitch together with the next one outwards as you pass it each time, until you again have X stitches in the back. Voila, heel turned.

#48 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2012, 12:34 PM:

In the department of 'crafting keeps me humble' -- not only does knitting regularly prove to me that I cannot be trusted to accurately count to 3 over and over, I just spent twenty minutes with markers and graph paper attempting to copy a Greek Key/meander pattern off a photo of a ring so I can put it on the skirt of my impending baby niece's dress.

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