Friday, March 16, 2012

Favorite Techniques: Friendship Bracelets

Pink White and Purple Braid Friendship Bracelet by QuietMischief

Today my guest is Michele of Quiet Mischief - a fantastic two-artist team creating stunningly intricate and clever jewelry designs.

Inspirational Beading: What is your all time favorite beading or jewelry technique?

Michele: I make friendship bracelets, which may seem pretty simple. I mean, everyone's made friendship bracelets, right? You get a few threads, make overhand knots for a while, and you're done. But the truth is that there's a whole world of knotting that most people who make the bracelets never get to. My current favorite technique is the second one I learned: alpha knotting. It is most known for making it easy to write words in a friendship bracelet, but I like it more for the ease of making pictures.

Inspirational Beading: How do you first learn to use this technique?

Michele: I first learned about the alpha style from my mother, who is the source of most of my craftiness. She had taught me how to make friendship bracelets when I was little, and when I showed a renewed interest in my late teenage years she showed me the tutorial she had found on the internet on how to knot letters into a bracelet. Later, after trying to use the traditional knotting style to make a bracelet with a flower pattern, I returned to the alpha technique and found it to be much better at accomplishing what I wanted.

American Flag Micro-macrame Frienship Bracelet by QuietMischief

Inspirational Beading: Of all the creations you’ve made with this technique, which one is your favorite?

Michele: This is a tough choice, but I have to go with my (currently) most technically advanced bracelet: my American flag bracelet. I designed the whole thing myself, including a couple of new techniques to make it possible. It's as accurate as I can make it, down to the 13 stripes and 50 stars.

Inspirational Beading: Can you share any tips for getting started with this method?

Michele: First of all, I recommend already having some practice with the traditional friendship bracelet knotting technique. Inconsistent tension (some knots too tight, some knots too loose, few just right) will be much more obvious in an alpha bracelet, so it's best to get those problems out of the way beforehand. Once you're ready, start with simple letters or pictures and use only two colors until you're more comfortable with the technique.

Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material or color to use it with?

Rainbow and Flame Heart Pattern Bracelets by QuietMischief

Michele: Most people who do friendship bracelets stick with embroidery floss, other craft thread, or hemp. I have also tried knotting with yarn, ribbon, and leather cord. Leather cord is fun because it's so new to me and everyone else, and I love knotting ribbon chokers, but for alpha bracelets there's nothing like good old embroidery floss. I use DMC brand and appreciate the huge range of colors available to me.

Inspirational Beading: If someone had to choose to learn only one technique, would you recommend this one?

Michele: Probably not. As much fun and versatile as alpha knotting is, it's rather difficult to master and much more so if one doesn't have a foundation in the traditional knotting style.

Inspirational Beading: In your opinion, what is the best way for beginners to learn this technique?

Michele: One of my long-term goals for my craft and my business is to write my own friendship bracelet book. Until that comes out, this friendship bracelet tutorial is the most comprehensive I have yet seen, with pictures and videos to illustrate the step-by-step instructions.

Duct Tape Rosette Rings by QuietMischief

You can see even more amazing micro-macramé, and delightful sculptural duct-tape jewelry at Quiet Mischief on Etsy and DeviantArt, plus stay in touch with artists Michele and Lissi on Facebook and Twitter. Michele also offers plenty of tips and insights into crafting and jewelry business on her blog, Quiet Mischief and Company.

Copyright 2012 Inspirational Beading and Quiet Mischief and Company
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  1. Super cute jewelry Michelle! Love your blog posts too...made me laugh!

  2. Oh, WOW! Have made friendship bracelets before, but these are on a whole new level! Absolutely amazing work! Thanks for sharing, Morti!

  3. I've been making friendship bracelets for a while now... perhaps two years or more...
    In this time I've come across a long way... from making simple candy stripes to the more intricate swirls and Celtic knot patterns. And mastering alpha technique was the best thing to do! I've made dozens of Name bracelets for my friends, and it never gets tiring!

    But coming across your blog I realised that I was missing a whole world filled with beads and colours and textures! I've just learned your Potawatomi Daisy Stitch, Tubular Herringbone and Square Openwork RAW, and it really amazes me how I can turn ordinary beads into fantastic little pieces of art! Thank you so much for all these amazing tutorials!

    1. Thank you, Zarnaz! I'm glad I could provide a little inspiration.


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