D is for Drinking Straws (AtoZ 2016)
I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck do drinking straws have to do with making beads?”
Because I make beads, I need to make a hold in the middle of the bead so that I can wear it on a bracelet. If I was making a pendant or something that needed a small hole, I could drill it after the clay is dry, but drilling larger holes is quite hard (I’d even say impossible) to do cleanly. So, I need to make the hole in the wet clay.
When I started, I tried using knitting needles to make the hole. But, the clay stuck to the needles and I couldn’t get the beads off without smooshing them (if the clay was still wet) or breaking them (if I waited for the clay to dry). I couldn’t find a nice middle ground where the clay was firm enough to slide off and also soft enough not to break.
Then, I realized that I had the perfect tool sitting in my cupboard: juice boxes. Specifically, the bendy straws that come with them.
It took me a few tries to get my technique just right, but they are the best tool that I’ve found to make the bead holes. Not only are they the perfect size, the angled end is also particularly useful to burrow through thicker pieces of clay like my eyeball bead. The straws by themselves aren’t quite firm enough to hold a perfectly circular shape on their own – they tend to squish a bit too much – but sticking a knitting needle inside gives me the firmness I need to form a round hole for the bead. Then, I pull out the knitting needle and the straw becomes flexible enough to twist out while the clay is still damp. And I don’t ruin the shape.
I love finding simple solutions to problems!
Have you faced a frustrating problem, only to stumble upon a simple solution?