Thursday, October 6, 2011

Make a Wish!

 Etsy is a devilishly addictive place filled with all sorts of wonderful things and I find myself getting drawn into looking at things created by others rather than looking at my own work, oops! In my hunts I've made a few treasuries and plan to make more but I thought I would share this one with you:

'Make a Wish!' by littlekamakura

Need a place to keep your wishes safe? Or maybe a little help in making them come true? This selection of great items might just help!

Wire Wrapped, Necklace Oxidi...

Rosebud and wish box necklac...

As You Wish Necklace - Victo...

Wishing Stone Pendant

Wish Locket - Butterfly neck...

Bilbo's Door, Fairy Wish...

Wishing Well. Mini Well Char...

Little Wish Bird Antique Lac...

Wishing Star Jar Necklace - ...

A Magical Wish Box. OOAK.

Faerie Wishes mini Witch-Bot...

Locket of Wishes-Crocheted F...

Hearts Desire. Enchanted Wit...

MAKE A WISH - Hand Dyed Silk...

Eco-Friendly Wall of Wishes ...

Tiny acorn MIGHTY OAK wishes...


Make a Wish! is a subject that's become very near and dear to me whilst working on getting my shop launched. Over past weeks I've spoken a lot on wishes and luck (and I'm sure I'll continue to do so in the coming months). I really think items for wishing and similar magical things are great! Whether you believe in magic or not having something to focus yourself on often helps no end. Whether your wishing item is a reminder of a goal you're working towards or just to remain upbeat small things like these can really turn your negative outlook around.

I'm sure this isn't the last time I'll visit this topic as I put finishing touches on more wish bracelets that I hope to one day sell.. I'm hoping to get a small pile of stock ready to market as stocking stuffers. It's a fine theory, I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why Misanga bracelets?

Okay, so here it is my first 'proper' blog post. I thought long and hard what to write about, in the end I thought the best thing to write on would be my current crafty obsession - misanga bracelets.

'The Mechanist' misanga by Little Kamakura

What on earth is misanga?

Misanga is a good luck charm made from knotted embroidery floss, thread or similiar material. Like friendship bracelets they are made from simple knots. It is said that if you make a wish when you tie it on it will come true when the bracelet falls off from wear. Misanga originate from Japan.

Now hang on.. I hear friendship bracelet makers from all over furrowing their brows and questioning how this is different to standard knotted bracelets. As far as I can tell from my research so far can tell me the answer is simple; it isn't.

Then why do I call my bracelets misanga rather than friendship/wish bracelets? Simply put.. I like the word! As you can likely tell by the background of my blog and parts of the concept of Little Kamakura I love a lot of asian inspired things and saying 'misanga' makes me smile (even though I'm sure I'm mispronouncing it!) which is in keeping with the spirit of the bracelets.

California Sunset by Michelle's Goodies
The origins of the bracelets

As with all things crafty pinning down a specific origin is hard. People are always inspired by others, and you will always find the occasional cheeky so and so who will claim that they created something because they put a slight twist on something they saw elsewhere. Two sources of knotted friendship bracelets are pretty soundly agreed upon however.

~* The knotcraft and handweaving of Native American handicrafts. Central American indeginous tradition stated that the recipient of a friendship bracelet must wear it until the cords wear out and it falls off naturally.

The friend paid for it with the hard work and love that went into crafting it and the recipient repays their friend by honouring the effort that went into it. Removing the bracelet before it wore out is considered a sign that the friendship has gone badly.

A variation of this tradition is the wish bracelet philosophy, where the recipient is entitled to a wish that will come true when the bracelet falls off.

Macrame is another popular base for making friendship bracelets. Macrame is a form of textile-making using knots rather than weaving or knitting. 

Macrame is believed to have originated with 13th century Arab weavers who would use excess thread and yarn to make decorative fringes for hand-loomed fabrics. Throughout the years the practice spread, becoming popular with artisans and a handicraft for sailors to perform while at sea. it was most popular during the Victorian era. Sylvia's Book of Macramé Lace was a favourite, it showed readers how "to work rich trimmings for black and coloured costumes, both for home wear, garden parties, seaside ramblings, and balls—fairylike adornments for household and underlinens ..."

Friendship bracelet by Mystiqued04

Popular kinds of bracelet

There are many variations on the misanga bracelet, here are just a few of the most popular:

Wish bracelet by Hattie McHatterson

Wish Bracelets are a simple variation of the tradition of wishes coming true when your bracelet falls off. They tend to have thinner threads, braided from fewer base threads or are made using a length of cord. These bracelets look more delicate and tend to have a focal bead or charm designed to remind people of the wish they made when they put it on.

Many wish bracelets made with beads use colour philosophies, attributing certain colours to certain areas of wishes.

Pixie Sticks by Campfire Knots
Chinese Staircase or a twisted/spiral macrame knot. This simple but stunning knot produces a great spiralling effect, like a staircase (hence the name) These bracelets can vary in size and can often be found with extra embellishments, like the nice colourful chunky knots in Campfire Knot's creation above.

Micromaracame bracelets by Kaliste Bracelets
Flat macrame. Using a similar knot to the chinese staircase flat macrame bracelets use a back and forth knotting making the bracelet sit flat rather than twisting. This method is sometimes used to thread beads into the central colour of the bracelet.

Chevron Friendship Bracelet by Kennedy Bentley
'Normal' Friendship Bracelets in recent years one of the most popular designs for friendship bracelets has been based on a method that involves knotting along the diagonals of a design. It is so popular it is often referred to as the 'normal' way to make friendship bracelets. This method is often used to make stripes, chevrons and diamonds but can also be used to make more complicated designs that use the same method and some creative thinking.

Captain's Ink by Poisoned Apple Crafts
 Alpha Pattern. Also known as squar-knot designs. By knotting differently to the 'normal' method you can knot back and forth moving almost as you would when weaving. This method is used to make more complicated patterned bracelets, most commonly words and phrases but pictures are also popular.

Why are misanga so expensive?

While writing this blog post I felt the need to address the cost of knotted bracelets. Many people see a friendship bracelet as its parts - some embroidery floss threads and some knots and they see that they can be bought cheaply in some places and then wonder why they cost more in places like etsy shops.

Simply put, if you see a cheap misanga one of three things is probable:

~* A machine was involved somewhere
~* A sweatshop was involved somewhere
~* The poor designer of the bracelet is undercharging because of the pressure from people saying they 'should' be cheaper.

Yes a friendship bracelet is knotted thread but so much more goes into making and selling a piece of jewellery. Here's a fun game for you if you think people are overcharging for hand-knotted bracelets:

1) Get a piece of thread or string and tie a double knot in it. Not just any knot, neatly place it on the string. Now do another and place it precisely under the first so they are touching. Now, imagine doing that sort of thing hundreds of times for a basic bracelet and thousands of times for more complex designs.
2) If you're still in doubt over the cost of a friendship bracelet next grab your camera and try to get a good photo of your knotted piece of string. Remember you need to make your thread look super attractive, you're competing with lots of other people charging mere pence for their string when you know yours is worth pounds
3) Imagine your disappointment if you ordered a bracelet and it arrived in the mail all loose and knotted. Now think on ways to display your string, ways to package it so it will be secure and look appealing. Price up the pieces used to make your packaging and the extra effort it takes to make it.

...if you're still all grumpyface and think people are overcharging you I have all sorts of arguements involving the fees involved to list on sites like ebay and etsy and the chunk of money paypal takes away before it arrives with the seller, but really this isn't a rant blog post!

Beaded Friendship Bracelets by It's me, Mary
In closing, wow that post ran away with me. I've babbled a lot and I have more babble in me, but I'll leave that alone for now and come back to it another day to stop your brains melting. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The start of the crew

Today I listed this is my etsy shop:

First in a planned series of friendship bracelet sets. This is The Herbalist. The series will focus on the crew of my fantasy airship, The Black Dragon. 'The Herbalist' is inspired by my as yet unnamed healer for the crew's voyage!
Next in the series of crew bracelet sets is either the engineer/mechanist or the captain!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Preparing for Take Off!

It's an exciting and nervewracking time, preparing to launch something new. A part of me in anxious, another is as optimistic and hyperactive as a small child on Christmas morning.

The design of my blog is slowly taking shape, I've set up my twitter and facebook accounts and I've started testing the water with the items I make to see if they have a chance of selling out there in the competitive wide world.

I'm finding myself daunted by just how large the world is, how many people there are and how I'm just one creative soul hoping to reach out to others, to share my outlets; my craft projects and my writing amongst other things. I just hope that in the days, weeks and months to come I can cobble together something noteworthy!