Favorite Tools: Webbedware

Today's installment of Tools on Tuesday features Courtney Webb of Webbedware. Courtney makes cuff bracelets and (coming soon to her shop) necklaces. Courtney's trademark is the use of textiles or other fiber in her designs.

Courtney's collection of "tiny tools" --- mini versions of standard hardware store stock -- enable her to achieve a level of craftsmanship that would be impossible otherwise. More specifically, her tiny ruler, tiny drill bits, tiny file and tiny scissors allow her to make precise cuts of leather for her cuff bracelets, teeny holes in shapes to attach to jump rings and chains for her soon-to-be-introduced dove and butterfly necklaces, and smooth edges on said shapes. They are her favorite tools not only because they're easy to use and perfect for the job, but also because "they're so darn cute!"

Now, to illustrate:

First, using the tiny ruler to measure and precisely cut the leather for cuff bracelets. The bracelets are metal, and the leather goes on the inside as a liner so that the cuff is comfortable to wear.

Next, using a tiny drill bit to make holes in the shapes for attaching to chains and jump rings. The hole has to be drilled in exactly the right spot for the shape to hang properly. As you can see, the shapes are so dainty that there's not a lot of room for error---nor really for the hole itself! Talk about precision!

And then, using the tiny file to smooth out the edges of the metal shapes before fusing the fabric to them.

Followed by trimming the excess fabric off of the metal shapes using the tiny scissors. Once the fabric is in place Courtney coats the pieces with acrylic to enhance the color of the fabric and to preserve its condition.

Put it all together with a dash of style and you get Courtney's distinctive couture-inspired accessories. Nice work, Courtney!

Until next time --

Favorite Tools: NordeaSoaperie

Today's Favorite Tools post highlights the handiwork of soap-making maven, Nordea, of NordeaSoaperie. Nordea's favorite tool is her trusty hand-blender (pictured above). She uses it to cut the time- and labor-intensity of making her hot-process soaps. In hot-process soap-making, fatty acids from oil are combined with sodium hydroxide (lye) and water and then cooked, first on the stove and then in the oven. Heat hastens the chemical reaction that ultimately creates the soap.

Nordea relies on her hand-blender to achieve what soapers call "trace," the point at which the oil and lye-water mixture blends permanently together and can no longer return to its component parts.

Oil and lye-water mixture not-quite-mixed, with bits of oil still visible

As Nordea explains, "With hot-process, it is important to get to a 'heavy trace,' meaning the soap is pretty much solid in the pot before putting it in the oven. The thicker the soap batter, the better the cook."

Heavy trace: The drips of soap from the blender form a pattern on the surface of the soap.

After 45 minutes in the oven the soap has liquified and is ready for the addition of fragrances and pouring into molds.

It takes about 10-15 minutes of mixing with a hand-blender for the oil and lye-water mixture to come to trace. Nordea estimates that it would take at least three times as long without the hand-blender. It would also take very large arm muscles.

But Nordea also makes liquid soap, and here the use of a hand-blender is absolutely imperative. "Even with the [hand]-blender, it takes at least 45 minutes for the soap to come to trace. So I would NOT be able to make my liquid soap without it." And that would be sad!

Until next time --