© 2016

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? 

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    1. April 5, 2016 | #

      That is a brilliant solution :) I can’t think of any simple solutions I have stumbled upon right now, but then my brain is still half asleep – it’s one of those day :)
      Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        I’m just so happy that it ended up being the right size! Although I just discovered that my beads won’t fit on my newest bangle from Ohm, since it is fractionally larger, so I might have to find another hole-maker. Maybe a different brand of juice would have slightly larger straws? :D

    2. April 5, 2016 | #

      Absolutely ingenious! Super impressed!

      Mars xx

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Thanks :)

    3. April 5, 2016 | #

      Your theme is truly interesting and educative. I am learning a new art. All the best.

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        I’m glad that others find it interesting too. :) When I started I found information on making pendants, earrings, and rings, but nothing on making beads. And since beads are a bit thicker, I wasn’t sure how much of the information was still applicable. So I figured that I would share a bit in case there are others who want to give it a try.

    4. April 5, 2016 | #

      Lovely beads! Great idea with the straw, I saw last year the trick to use straws to hull strawberries :) Very useful little things!
      Suzanne from
      Suzannes Tribe

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Hmm, I had never thought of using them to hull strawberries! :D Really, I have my kids to thank for the idea, I guess, since the juice boxes were for them.

    5. April 5, 2016 | #

      nessecity is the mother of invention. and here is a wonderful example of it.

      i’ve never made clay beads before, but i have worked with clay (red and white and liquid) a long time ago. i know how fickle it can be.

      great d post.

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Thanks :) This clay is fairly nice to work with, but fickle would describe it quite accurately!

    6. April 5, 2016 | #

      Excellent solution! I’m loving how you think out of the box (“what box?” :D ) to get the job done. I suppose that’s what creativity’s all about, but sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a thought “rut”… I love all these reminders you’re sharing to keep an open mind.

      Thanks for the visit over at Life In Dogs ; I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts :)

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Although there are quite a few books for metal clay, the ones for jewellery really focus on other types of jewellery, so thinking outside the box was a bit necessary. I’m also a bit frugal, so … ;) But I’m glad that my inventiveness is entertaining others!

    7. April 5, 2016 | #

      Love that – so ingenious!

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Thanks :)

    8. April 5, 2016 | #

      Neat idea!

      This is a very cool theme. Looking forward to seeing more!

      Heather M. Gardner / @hmgardner
      Co-Host, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
      The Waiting is the Hardest Part

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Thanks – and thanks for stopping by from the A to Z challenge :) I look forward to following along on Stormy’s quest!

    9. Debbie
      April 5, 2016 | #

      Brilliant! I had never thought about how you shape and make the hole, pretty important part if it’s going to fit right on a chain or bangle.

      • Tracy
        April 5, 2016 | #

        Originally I thought that I could make or fix the hole after making the bead, but after messing up the holes on my hawk skull and my birdfeeder bead quite spectacularly, the hole is now one of the first things that I think of :D

    10. April 5, 2016 | #

      What a great solution! I have never considered using a drinking straw to make a hole in a bead before.

      • Tracy
        April 10, 2016 | #

        Thanks :) I’d like to find something that made a slightly bigger hole (I’ve just gotten a new style bangle that my beads don’t fit on!) but hopefully once I get a chance to look I’ll find something that works – maybe even in my pantry again :D

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