Earring Tales: Hand and Nail Care

Yes, I’m serious. If you do work with beads, you have to look after your hands.

I’m not saying you need to go in for expensive manicures or skin creams or masseuses, but before you pick up your beads – and especially before you pick up your beading thread! – look over your hands. Because beading thread can and will catch on anything. Hangnails. Bandages. Paper cuts. And my personal bane, ragged nails.

There’s nothing quite as morale-crushing as being three-quarters through a piece of complicated beadwork and seeing the thread fray into an intractable, unusable frizz.

(Well, there are a few things. But we’ll save the longing to go hunt certain beings/events/Murphy down with a nail-studded bat for fiction.)

My problem with nails is generally the result of cooking. Or rather, vegetable prep for cooking. Cut up an entire bag of peppers to freeze, and your nails end up soaking in enough water to make them prone to getting ragged. Not good. Usually fixable with a little attention and a pair of good scissors, but it’s something I need to pay attention to.

…And speaking of cooking, if you’re simmering something and beading between stirs… you guessed it. Look over your hands again, every time. Just one spatter of tomato sauce in the wrong spot can give you a bad day.

Let’s not get into chocolate. Chocolate comes after beads. Not during. 😉

Anyone else have tidbits they want to share on avoiding craft disasters? 🙂


40 thoughts on “Earring Tales: Hand and Nail Care

  1. Being 75% done with a pattern and realizing that you’re missing something important, like a jump ring, the right set of pliers, or that pretty bead that completes the look. I’m the sort of person that tends towards disorganization and chaos, crafting taught me a lot about prepping my work station that just didn’t click with schoolwork and chores

    Liked by 3 people

      1. As a dude who loves building models, having a carpet of any description under your workstation is just asking for Murphy to slap you silly. Also, no matter how much you check, there will be That One Piece you just saw a bit ago when you didn’t need it, and now that you do, it’s mysteriously gone..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Personally? I almost always eyeball the length of bead wire I need for a necklace. So, when you find out you misjudged by that half of an inch you need to get the last crimp bead on… yeah. Not fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A lot of the needlework I do involves stamped patterns or iron-one transfer patterns which have inks that wash off or get smeared if wet because that’s what they are designed to do. So I’ve learned to make sure my hands are dry before getting them anywhere near the pattern.

    Also to fold the excess fabric or wrap it so that the pattern isn’t where the cat can walk on it. Because sometimes her method of drinking her water is to dip her paw in the cup and lick her paw. And damp cat paws can smear the pattern just as well as damp human hands.

    If I doing anything freehand, especially cross-stitch, sometimes keeping track of just how many stitches I made can be tricky. I’ve had to re-do sections because I put in too many stitches or not enough or otherwise miscounted.

    Also the thing about beads? Also applies to embroidery floss. If the directions say one, have two. At least. In case you mess up. Or when you are separating it (floss is six strands – most projects call for two strands so you separate it into three pieces of two-strands), it turns into a knotted, tangled mess. And write down who made the floss and it’s number so when you run out, you know which one to buy instead of having to play compare and contrast and hope it was the right one. Only later for it be a shade or two off.

    Sharp scissors – snipping thread or cutting fabric is an exercise in frustration and making a mess without very sharp scissors. Also don’t use your sewing scissors for anything but sewing so the sharpness lasts longer.

    Also, like above, organizing the stuff before you start sewing is of the good. That way you don’t discover half-way through that you need green . . . . and you have absolutely no green. Or not the right shade of green.

    Finally, GOOD LIGHTING! You don’t want the eye strain from trying to do needlework in bad lighting. Trust me. And it can prevent color mismatches.

    That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The only thing I have is that it’s a lot easier to remember what you’ve done and what needs doing if you don’t take a ten year (or more!) break in the middle of a cross-stitch project.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If you’re using wire, make sure you get the right gauge. If you don’t have appropriate wire, don’t try to “make do”. Nobody likes breaking glass beads.

    Don’t eat and bead. That’s just asking to ruin your project- or your clothes. (This should be obvious, but some people- me included- are a special kind of absentminded when deadlines start coming up.)

    If something you braid turns out tightly braided, that’s fine. If it’s loose, that’s fine. Do not try to adjust this mid-braid. It never works, and it will look bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Keep in mind that not all your embroidery threads are colorfast, even if they say they are. I did a simple design in a very pretty red on white fabric and when I went to wash it and then iron it flat, the white became tye-die pink. I ended up using it as a classroom example of what not to do. This applies to fabrics as well-especially reds, blues and purples. Always pre-wash with hot water!

    Also-lotion is your friend. Get the good stuff. I have a nice lotion- “Tuscan Honey” by Camille Beckman that I use to keep my hands from getting dry and cracked and snagging the thread.

    For any sewing projects- You will be chronically 1/2-a-yard short (also, the fabric store will no longer have said fabric….) so make sure you buy a bit extra. This applies to quilts as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have you tried ‘craft gloves”? They’re a tightly knit thing that are supposed to support your hands and fingers, and would also keep nails (etc.) from snagging and hands dry. They drove me nuts when I tried them for knitting (I don’t bead, I sew and knit) but other people like them.

    I like lanolin around my nails every night. (Of course if that’s one of your allergies, it won’t do you any good. ) Keeps things soft and smooth. Try the baby section of the drug store, it’s usually there. I do have a problem with nails going through weak periods due to medical issues. Nothing really helps that, although glue-on nails protect the cracking nails from snagging on things and ripping.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, gelatin will help a lot to keep your nails from cracking. I used to have that problem too, and found out having gummy worms once a week worked wonders(I do know other people who drink pure gelatin, especially those with allergies to food colors/additives). I’ve also used Elmer’s glue on the cracks, but that’s more emergency treatment.

      My own crafting thing is bright light, and all my equipment pulled out before hand. And someone to check the colors on my paints, plus have a box to put everything in when I get interrupted. It never fails that if you don’t, you end up with two colors on a sculpture when you only wanted one. And water. For baking stuff, yeah, everything pulled out before I start, and put in order of when I’ll need it. Because there’s nothing like finding out you’re out of extract right at the end of mixing egg whites or the like.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh I understand the baking pain. Nothing quite like discovering you only have a solid spice when you need ground and trying to use spoons to change that.

        For knitting, I don’t do much for my hands, I’m typing and getting paper cuts basically all day in between being told what an idiot I am by customers, but no matter your type of yarn, needle and yarn quality is important. And never put your knitting down if the stitches are close to the edge. You will loose at least one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve also used Elmer’s glue on the cracks, but that’s more emergency treatment.

        Super glue might work better unless you’re allergic to cyanoacrylates.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My creative experience is more drawing/painting, with the occasional sculpture, but generally the tricks are

    1. Paint gets EVERYWHERE. No, it doesn’t matter if you weren’t working with it, if there has been an uncapped tube of paint in the workroom, it will get on you.

    2. Too much fixative can cause charcoal or pastels to run. Also, just use hairspray, its cheaper.

    3. If you’re working on a major project, and it’s not working out, try blood sacrifice!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I hear you on the ragged nail issue. It’s why I keep a heavy-duty set of nail clippers with attached file in my knitting bag at all times. Saves endless hours of frustration and snagged knitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Always have a plan B. No matter how well you prepare and how much extra material you have, something *will* get lost before the final knot is tied.

    If you cook or work with multiple crafts and run out of what you need for one craft, see if you can jury-rig what you need from another craft or from the kitchen. I don’t think this applies as much to the fine beading you do. When working with projects with bigger beads I have made emergency clay beads to fill in a gap.

    A touch of lip balm on the end of that thread that you just *know* is going to choose the worst possible moment to fray on you helps. This only works if you have a lip balm with a high enough wax content that you get your thread stiff instead of sticky.

    Be grateful for the problems you don’t have. I’ve read a book written by a woman who was profoundly blind and wanted to learn how to sew. Try threading a needle with your eyes closed. It’s possible, but there is a trick to it. I also have a friend with only one arm who has the artistry to make some of the most beautiful quilts you’ve ever seen. She also works with slumped glass, but can’t make lampwork beads because that requires two hands.

    Crafts can be tricky to re-work when something goes wrong. I’m sure there are other people much better at it than me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t work beads, but I do cross stitch. I’ve learned to always count multiple times before I do anything. Also, follow a predicable pattern, that way if you have to go back, your thread wont get knotted because you zigged when you should have zagged!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ll add this to all the splendid tips:

    Frustration is not your friend when crafting. At any point in your project. And there will come a project when no matter how careful you prepare and work nothing will go right, or just a point in a project where nothing works out how you want it to. Take a step back, carefully secure your project and take a walk or listen to music or just do something else to get your mind off of it before coming back to it – even if it takes a couple of days. Thats still better than getting to the point of starting to hate not just the project but also the entire craft you’re working in.

    Also? Creativity is your friend. If you run into a problem where you could use a third or fouth hand or some other kind of unusual tool? Look on the net for ideas of things that could help if you dont have an idea yourself and make those or a facsimile from things you have lying around. It doesnt always have to be expensive specialty tools that will give the most help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve found the dollar tree to be packed with marvelous, affordable makeshift tools. I suspect I may be the only customer they’ve had walk in looking for cheesemaking equipment, soapmaking equipment, gelatin art equipment…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. From knitting, I’ve learnt not to hesitate when I think I need to redo something. If I keep on going then ten to one I’ll decide to unravel after all because of a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction and backtracking two rows is far less frustrating than ten or twenty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lifeline knitting! I’ve done a project that produced a beautiful shawl, and taught me about lifeline knitting. The pattern was done over sixteen rows, with increases every even row, and I had to rip out from row sixteen to the lifeline so often. Gah. Complex patterns, have a row counter and sometimes have a stitch counter going.

      Liked by 1 person

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