Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I DIY #1: Q+A with Tina Thor, Jewelry Designer

Today we're introducing a new post series - "What I DIY".  We'll chat with people who have managed, whether by a twist of good fortune or by good old pavement pounding, to turn their there's-no-college-major-for-this hobbies + passions into a career.  We'll ask them questions about what they do, what they like, what they drink, and sometimes they'll even do a tutorial for us, like today's first "What I DIY" subject - Tina Thor, Jewelry Designer.


Tina, shown here with her temporary foster dog Queenie, creates unique pieces that are sold all over New York (including Bergdorf Goodman), in LA and Miami.  Lest her other pup feel neglected, here's Tina's older-to-her-but-younger-than-Queenie rescue Rickson.

Tina's going to walk us through making string jewelry similar to the two inspiration pieces with a few Q+A's mixed in.  I'm also going to help myself to a self-guided tour of her office.  Bashful I am not.

While Tina works with lots of different mediums, with summer approaching she's been creating lots of pieces using this waxed linen thread. Since this particular kind of string jewelry requires very few supplies (thread, sharp scissors or clippers and beads), you can easily whip up a few of these suckers at the beach, over a glass of wine or while watching fireworks from your rooftop. 

What You'll Need:
- waxed Irish linen thread (I've included two versions, found here + here, on our little online store if you can't find it locally)
- scissors or angled pliers
- beads

About the beads.  What differentiates your "grown up" beaded jewelry from the ones you made when you were little is getting wise to colors and textures.  Tina likes for her pieces to tell a color story, whether it's a collection of sun-bleached, muted beach tones paired with wooden beads reminiscent of driftwood or colors plucked from your favorite beach tunic, take a little time to think about the colors and materials you'll use.  Take a look at Tina's inspiration pieces for her lovely mix of colors, shine + texture. 

You can either buy beads (like these, these + these) or just reuse select beads from old, under-worn strands junking up your jewelry box.  Here's Tina's table full of old strands and finds.
And this is our handsome student, Ian.  He's single, likes almond m&m's and is obviously a very good sport. 

1. Cut a long piece of string, longer than you think you'll need, so that as you go along, you can cut a fresh end for ease of threading.  For smaller beads, Tina suggests making a fresh cut on a sharp angle to help coax the bead onto the string.  Suede, like the piece shown here, is a great surface to work on to keep beads from rolling around too much. 

2. If you're using old strands of beads, cut your beads free.  Gather your beads, new or old, in a small pile to begin threading.
If you've got some accessories you'd like to include, like the cross on Tina's, or elephants like these, grab them, too.  These two are obviously in love, so I'd recommend you not separate them. 
So while you start beading, I'm going to share a little more about our friend Tina, like this factoid here:

Question for Tina (Q): When you were 16, what did you imagine your "grown-up" job would be?
Answer (A): An advertising sales rep for a travel magazine

Q: What sorts of jobs did you end up having?
A: gym trainer, shop girl, bouncer, member of a sailboat crew

Q: What dish do you always make when friends come over?
A: Martinis

Q: What's your drink of choice?
A: Martinis

To learn more about Tina + finish your necklace, join us after the jump by clicking the link below.

3. Start beading.  Tina had a good trick for Ian, which is that if you have a long strand of small beads, you can actually grasp them in between your pointer finger and thumb, pull out the string with the other, and re-thread them with a new thread all in one fell swoop.  Here's Ian giving it a try.  Old string....

New string...

This should save you a little bit of time as you go through blocks of color. 

Tina ran to the ladies' room.  Quick, let's snoop around while Ian keeps beading. 

Tina's back.  Act natural.

Q: How did you get into making jewelry?
A: Making dog collars for by beautiful rottweiler

Q: What was the first piece of jewelry you made?
A: A dog collar with huge clay beads?

Q: What was your first "big break"?
A: Bergdorf Goodman decided to give me a case in their jewelry department.

Q: What types of pieces give you lots of bang for your buck?  What types are more trouble than they're worth?
A: String pieces are fun because they are easy and pretty.  Drilling things can take hours and then they break on you.  I don't love these.

Tina's been making a piece too in order to put Ian's slow beading to shame keep Ian company, which leads to the next step.

4. So you think you're done beading.  Since there's no clasp, and this string doesn't "un-knot" easily, make sure you try to get your finished piece over your head before finishing the strand.  Here's Tina trying hers on before giving it the old snip.

You can also add a few beads to the end of your tie-off strings for a more finished look, like these.

Tina's necklace is done and fabulous.

Ian's necklace is now a bracelet.  E for Effort, Ian. 

Fill in the blanks: Your dogs would describe you as loving.

Q: If there were a short film about your life, what would the title be?
A: "Betreten Sie Den Speicher" - "This Way To The Gift Shop"

Mwah.  Thank you, Tina!

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