Sunday, July 10, 2016

I come bearing gifts...

.... Yes. A gift. And I will get to that shortly.
First, let me start with this: I have two bead embroidery videos available from Interweave!

This is what the cover looks like. If you are interested purchasing the videos, they are available directly through Interweave either as a digital download, or you can pre-order the dvds by clicking here.

Making videos is a daunting task. I went to a very nice studio where a professional makeup artist put so much makeup on me, I could have passed for a Kardashian. As a matter of fact, I don't think I ever had more makeup on.There were cameras everywhere, and lights too. There was a microphone attached to my shirt, and the little box that went with it attached to my heinie, and I had to remember to get someone to turn it off  every time I went to the bathroom. I managed to not forget, which is a good thing for me and all other parties involved .  It was great fun, but also scary as hell.

I had this initial idea that I would like to sound like Christopher Walken while filming these videos, the only thing that stopped me is that I am completely, utterly incapable of sounding like anyone else but myself. (There is one exception to this. I can imitate the sounds our old car's leaky windshield used to make every time it rained. But really, that's where my talents in the field end.) 

Meanwhile, so far this year I have traveled to 10 different states to teach classes, met lots of new people, made a great many new friends, and before the year is out, I have 7 more such trips.Which is to say, I have been busy. Good busy, but busy up to my eyeballs.
It's a good thing,  I am not complaining, as a matter of fact, I am enjoying it quite a bit.However, there are some things I simply don't have the time for as much as I used to.

This brings me to my original point of how I come bearing gifts:

Remember the pretty leafy cabs I used to sell in my Etsy store and all over the place, wherever I went. Well, as pretty as they are, they are a pretty big pain in the buttsy for me to make. They take days to make, my hands hurt for days after each batch, and I am done huffing E6000 too.... I can imagine much better ways of eradicating my precious little grey cells...( Think nothing more nefarious than the occasional gin and tonic.)

Anyhow, I won't be making them by the hundreds like I used to. I know, I know, it's so sad, everyone loves them. Well, hopefully everyone loves them enough to make their own, if I tell you all how to.

My gift to you on this lovely summer day, which happens to be a hundred degree day here in my hometown Boulder, is the secret recipe for my leafy cabs. My intention is to give you tips, sources, and set these cabs free in the wind, so everyone can make their own. But because I am really busy, that's all I can do. I tell you everything I am willing to share and leave it at that, and won't be answering questions about this subject. I am leaving for my next teaching trip to Alaska in a few days and have lots to do before that happens, so please no questions, no requests and no helpful suggestions. This is how it it. 
May you enjoy making your own cabs.

List of materials needed with sources:

-Rubbing Alcohol, cotton pads
-metallic leather scraps ( no link here, because I will sell these on Etsy, once I have some time after my trip, until then, you could just do your own search on this)
-Modpodge type glue and a cup to pour it in
-small flat paintbrush
-the glitziest, most sparkly nail polish you can get your hands on ( OPI makes some really good ones, and I love Ciate

Step 1.
-Put all your cabs in a colander, wash them vigorously with dish soap and water.
Set them to dry on some paper towel. 
-Once they are dry, wipe each clean with alcohol to remove any lingering water stains or other stains. Sort out the chipped ones or misshapen ones. (There is always a few.)

-Get your skeleton leaves out. Cut them to the shape of the cab you will be gluing it on to.
Instead of trying to cut out as many as you can from one leaf, focus on the prettiest part of the leaf, and only use each leaf for one or two cabs. The vein is much thicker at the bottom, try to avoid that area. 

Step 3.
-Pour some modpodge into the small container. Spread an even, generous layer onto the cabochon with your flat brush. It has to cover the entire surface, or you will end up with bubbles. Press the cutout leaf directly onto the wet glue, don't wait. Brush over the leaf again, once again, using a generous layer of modpodge.
Yes, your fingers will indeed be covered in glue. It's kind of fun peeling it all off on layers. Like a snake shedding.

Don't worry about the leaf overhanging the edge of the cabochon. You will be trimming it off later. Now you just want to let everything dry. It is super important that you let this dry completely before you move on, or you will end up with a cloudy mess on your hands.

Step 4. 
Don't cheat. Let it dry all the way.

Step 5.
Depending on how glitzy you want those rascals to be, it is your chance to go crazy with the sparkly nail polish you have been secretly stashing, or.... Not.
In this case, I wanted to show you my stash of nail polish and how it looks when applied....

A little goes a long way. Dab it on gently. 
And then, surprise! Let it dry all the way.
Mica powder would be fun to experiment with too, and alcohol inks as well. Really, the possibilities for decorating your leaves are endless.

Step 6.
Meanwhile, as you are watching your nail polish dry, get out the stash of metallic leathers. I have not listed a source for it, because you really only need scraps. I will be selling scraps just for this purpose in my Etsy store in August. Until then, if you don't have metallic leather scraps at home, get some holographic paper from Michael's or Joanne's from the scrap booking department . It will do. It is not quite the same, but it's the next best thing.

This part is the main reason I can't make these by the hundreds. Cutting the leather and also the skeleton leaves out in such quantities will surely cause pain. In my case even with the comfiest scissors, I lose feeling in my my thumb for a day after a batch of these. I know, I know. I could get a laser cutting thingamajig to cut things for me. If I did, I would not be writing this blog post sharing the joys of cutting little circles with you, Dearest Reader! But seriously, you don't want to mess with repetitive motion injuries, so be careful.

When cutting those circles out, stay inside the line. Even then your cutouts will need to be further trimmed later on.

Step 7.
Now that all your leather bitsies are cut to shape, get your E6000 out. Spread an even, generous, almost goopy layer onto the back of your dry cabs. All the way around, or you will get air bubbles.
Press a cutout onto the back of each and every cabochon.

 Make sure there are no air bubbles. Lay your cabs on a flat surface, and squeeze those pesky bubbles out by pressing down on your cab with your little fingers.Here I used a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and put the whole thing out on the balcony to dry.
Let everything dry for hours and hours. Or overnight. Especially if you don't like the fresh scent of E6000. 
Step 8.
Get your handy little scissors out and trim the edges off. No matter how precise you were with all the other steps, you will need to trim each and every cab thoroughly. I haven't got that far with today's production, so no more pictures unfortunately. But I should tell you that the very last step after trimming everything, is to seal your margins.
So get out your trusty little brush and modpodge again and seal those edges by painting a line of modpodge all the way around sealing leather to glass.

DOs and DON'Ts:
Do not just try to use modpodge and skip the E6000, or vice versa. There is a reason I use both. It works better, there are less bubbles and things are less likely to peel apart.

Do not try to cut either your leaves of leather to the perfect shape. No matter what you do, you will still have to hand trim every single cab later.

Do not worry if your first batch is not perfect. I have made thousands of them and some were just meant to fail. Some colors are better than others.
Do experiment.
Make them with friends, have gluing parties if you wish and make as many as you like. But be nice. Please give credit when credit is due. That is, if you want to sell them, please mention where you got the idea from, and do not publish any altered version of this process either in print or online. I shared it, but the process remains my intellectual property.
Thank you and enjoy!


  1. You're a gem, Kinga *smooch* thank you!

  2. Absolutely FABULOUS! Thank you!

  3. Fantastic! Thank you!

  4. Thanks, this is super generous of you. Time to go leaf collecting!

  5. You are a class act Kinga Nichols! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Such a very generous gift, indeed!! I think, you know, that I will buy from you when you have the idea to make and sell any yourself. I would rather you got the income, than buy from someone who is profiting from your idea. <3

  7. WOW! What a wonderful write up and gift.
    Bought the videos. Can't wait to hear.

  8. Thank you so much Kinga. I have admired your cabs for so long and they are way up there on my wish list. I have ordered the materials and can't wait to have a go at this. ��

  9. Thank you Kinga for the generous gift on your blog - I also bought your videos and awaiting their arrival. Thanks for your classes in Alaska! They were SO much fun!

  10. I love your leafies!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing!!! They are so beautiful and I still cherish my tray of your gorgeous bling

  11. Thanks so much! What a wonderful gift!

  12. Hello Kinga... I just finished watching your Interweave videos, they are wonderful. I have been doing bead embroidery for many years, but I have been in a lull lately. Your work is stunning, and you have inspired me to get my beads out again. Thank you!!!