Saturday, February 25, 2012

Improving the BookLoop

I've been steadily working on improving my most promising bookmark reinvention, the BookLoop, and thought I'd share what I've discovered so far via trial and error.

First the loop component material: I've tried elastic cord, beading cording, silk ribbon, velvet ribbon and so forth, and to date my #1 favorite material for the loop component is 3/8" organdy ribbon, which I buy in fifteen yard spools that are sold as special occasion ribbon. On sale you can purchase it as cheaply as a dollar a spool, and most fabric and craft stores have a ton of it in innumerable colors (and if you don't see it in the ribbon section, try the bridal or flower-arranging aisles.)

I like the transparency, the flexibility and the durability of organdy, which is thin enough to thread through a tapestry needle. It usually retains its crispness and resists fraying even with frequent handling. Also, it knots beautifully and stays knotted.

Although I love to bead, and continue to play with designing beaded anchors, I'd say solid pendants and pendant-brooches have proven to be the most secure and easiest to assemble anchor components. You can thread your cord or ribbon through the stringing opening or loop of the pendant, which is always more sturdy and secure than a jump ring or independent connector. Plaid has a new series of beautiful metal pendants that feature great works of art by masters such as Da Vinci, Klee and Monet; currently two medium or one large Plaid pendant cost $3.00 each at Jo-Anns. I've used some of these for the limited-edition BookLoops I've put together for my Nightborn promo giveaways.

For pendant-brooch combination pieces I feed the ribbon through the pin mechanism as well as the stringing hole for extra support. If you're making a giveaway item with this type of component you might want to remove the pin mechanism first, or at least warn your recipient that there is a pin on the the back so they don't end up sticking themselves with it.

I became very frustrated working with jump rings because they're flimsy and tend to bend back open too easily. Then I discovered double jump rings, which are exactly like the rings used for key chains. They're a bit tough to handle, as their size makes feeding components onto them a bit of a challenge, but it's worth the trouble because once the component is attached the ring doesn't separate under handling pressure, so it won't come off.

I've been looking for interesting and offbeat objects to use as anchors, and one little item I discovered were miniature glass bottles. Here's one I found filled with little bits of golden stone. You can find these at Claire's on their BFF necklaces, but craft stores often carry empty ones you can fill yourself; just make sure you get the ones that have a connector ring attached to the cork or stopper (which you also have to glue in place once you fill the bottle.) Because these are glass and/or choke-sized I don't recommend using them for BookLoops for kids.

I had been searching for a scroll-type pendant or charm for months to use with my Nightborn promo BookLoops without success, and finally decided to make one myself. I tried paper, paperclay and metal with not-so-great results before I went back to beads. I found some very cool color-changing decorated tube beads for the body of the scroll, and stacked two accent beads on either end to give it the look of a scroll. Bottom line, if you can't find what you want, experiment/design/make your own version.

I've also been hunting through oddities for anchor ideas, and finding a lot to inspire me in steampunk art supplies: old keys, dominoes, non-sharp watch components, compasses, loop-backed Bakelite buttons and that sort of thing. For kid-friendly BookLoops I've been playing with party favors, bubble-gum machine toys, miniature dolls and tiny stuffed animals. You can probably find a lot of fun components in junk drawers and the bottom of toy boxes, too.

For my next collectible series of BookLoops, which I'm making as promo items for Nightbred, my second Lords of the Darkyn novel, I decided to go with a seashore theme that relates to the story. I thought about using the pretty shells I've collected for years (and dreaded the thought of trying to drill holes in them) until I found a terrific series of "Sea Life" pendants and jewelry-making components by Blue Moon at Wal-Mart, also priced at about $3.00 each.

I'll keep working on improving my BookLoop. While organdy ribbon is just about perfect for the loop component, it's not really something that would appeal to most guys. I'd like to find another material, maybe some type of thin/plain cording that men wouldn't mind using as bookmarks for their reads.

Since I first came up with the BookLoop a few people have e-mailed me to ask if they can use my design for making personal, promo and commercial versions of their own, and that's all fine with me. I did this for fun, not profit, so please feel free to use the idea however you like (and if you improve on it, I'd love to see and hear about the results.)


  1. Wow you are so creative! I have never heard of a bookloop before, I just use paper bookmarks :) preferably those about books.

  2. These are gorgeous. You've inspired me to give it a try.

  3. I love these! The little pendants and things are very cool.

    I use the split rings when I make anything anymore because I agree, the single rings break. But I have two pair of very tiny needle nose pliers and I hold the split ring in one and whatever I want to thread onto it on the other and the push the object against the ring until it slips over. It's worked best for me because as you said, they're so small, anything else is very cumbersome.

  4. I love organdy ribbon. I bought a ton of it for our wedding invitations and ten years later, I am still finding spools of it in random places. It makes a nice base for jewelry too, if the beads have a small enough hole they stay where you place them.

  5. Found a pretty good deal on ribbonbazaar dot com, (1.25 per 25 yard spool) no affiliation I was just shopping around to make some of these for Fresh Fiction reviewers :-}


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