Everyone has to learn something for the first time, right?
If you’re new to silicone crafting, this is the blog post for you! Today’s post is a 101 class on everything you need to know for crafting with silicone!
If you’re not new, but looking for a refresher, we’re excited to have this post available for you to re-read and reference as you need!
Why Silicone Products?
A good place to start: why do we use silicone beads and teethers and what makes them special?
Our silicone beads are made of 100% food grade silicone. No BPA, no Phthalates, no toxins! Because of this, silicone is completely safe to come in contact with people (for example, it can be used in cooking utensils!). In the case of our products, silicone is safe to come in contact with curious little mouths!
Silicone is a semi-flexible material that squishes and gives slightly under direct pressure. It’s uniquely soft, durable, and even resists conduction (which means it won’t pass heat easily).
Teething babies, toddlers and even children often chew on anything they can when teething. Direct pressure can often relieve the pain or discomfort of teeth trying to push their way through a gum line! However, a baby trying to relieve pressure won’t always pick the best items to chew on and hard objects can hurt and lead to more pain. Silicone has become the go-to material for teething babies because of how soft, flexible, and gentle it can be!
Additionally, one of the first ways children learn about the world is through ‘mouthing’ things! Mouthing in babies is a normal developmental response as they begin to engage with the world around them - the more interesting the item they chew, the more information they learn! This is why we love teethers that have raised backs and details on them - the depth, tactile learning, texture - it’s all a learning process for a child!
Cording and Silicone Beads
Why should you use high quality cording for beaded projects? A high quality product like silicone beads is only as good as the product that binds them together. Nylon cording is the cording that we recommend using when making teething products or children’s products that contain beads, as it knots and fuses strongly. Our satin cording works great for projects that showcase the cording as part of it's overall aesthetic, as satin cording gives a smooth, silky sheen. However, we do not recommend satin cording for projects that require fusing.
Nylon cording is a unique cording product: it’s extremely strong, will not rot or break down when exposed to liquids, has high abrasion resistance (meaning it won’t wear out quickly!) and most importantly, it absorbs tremendous shock loads (meaning it’s able to withstand being pulled, thrown, or manipulated). There are two awesome nylon cording options on our website: our regular nylon cord and our nylon paracord!
Additionally, you can melt the fibers of nylon together! Once melted together, they form an incredibly strong bond that is extremely difficult to break. You can melt ends to prevent fraying, fuse pieces together, and melt knots to secure them from unraveling. Check out the picture below for best practices for melting and fusing nylon cording - it should be melted, hard and uncolored. Too little and you will be able to fray the ends. Too much and it burns and becomes weak.
Nylon cording is the only cording material that will (when assembled properly) ensure your products will last and be strong for their entire lifespan. And we think that’s pretty important when it comes to baby and child safety!
Knots & Safety
Now that you’ve got an understanding of why we use these materials; do you know how to safely secure them? Knots are a huge part of silicone crafting, and knowing how to make safe and secure knots is of the utmost importance.
So what knots should you be using? In silicone crafting, especially when making items for children, you should never use single knots. We recommend at a minimum double knots, and even triple knots if you can manage it! Beyond using the correct knot, even a double or triple knot can be undone if it hasn’t been adequately pulled tight and fused - always make sure you run a lighter flame over your knots to melt and fuse the fibers of the cording. Once a knot cools, it should be unable to move, undo, or unravel.
Double Strand Loop Knots are also a useful knot when trying to tie off a strand of beads, or secure beads in a design.
If you are making a product like a wristlet that is intended for adult use only, you can use our new Elastic Cording for a stretchy option! Elastic Cording is great for wristlets, bracelets, or any other product that you want to be able to stretch and expand. However, Elastic Cording cannot be fused - it will catch on fire, so please don’t attempt to fuse it with a lighter! Elastic Cording should be double or triple knotted - the best way to ensure your knot is secure is by not only pulling your knot with the working ends, but pulling on all four strands going into and out of the knot at the same time. This even tension on all the strands will help secure the knot well. Pro tip: If you’re looking for even more security on an elastic cord knot that is intended for adult use, you can add a dab of super glue to your knot.
Why is knot safety so important? Loose products are extremely dangerous to a child and can present choking hazards. Additionally, any loose strings or undone products present strangulation hazards. Children’s products should be approached with the utmost caution and care in assembly. Your knots, assembly and designs are all a part of this.
You’ve triple knotted your cording and fused it properly. What else can you do? Another great way to help secure your knots is by hiding them in the interior of a silicone bead! As we discussed before, silicone is a semi-flexible material that can expand to accommodate additional strands and knots. Your silicone bead hole will be able to expand and hold in it a double or triple knot (with a little convincing!). Hiding knots inside beads is an extra layer of security because the silicone will expand, however it will only expand as large as the knot. The silicone around the knot will go back to its original shape and hold that knot secure in the interior of the bead.
Imagine tying a big knot in a thick rope, and then holding that knot in your hand. When someone tries to pull that rope away, your hand will catch and hold the knot and give you a spot to grip and hold the rope stable. The same goes for your cording, knot and bead!
Safety Requirements in Different Regions
How do I know the items I make are safe and legal to sell if I wanted to? As important as it is to make quality and safe products, you should also always be aware of your specific region's safety requirements for children’s toys. For example, there are slight differences between what is allowed in US markets and Canadian markets; however, both markets agree that a soother clip should not exceed 8” in total length.
You can find key information regarding safety regulations and compliance for toys in our easy-purchase, easy-read Safety eBook.
Whether you’re making something for a friend, your own child, or to sell, you should always be aware of how to be safety compliant!
Differences Between Teethers & Pendants
Have you ever looked through our website and wondered what the difference is between a teether and a pendant? A teether is classified as a silicone product that passes a choke test, and because of this is large enough to be used as a stand alone toy. However, a pendant is a silicone product that might not always necessarily pass the choke test on its own, and therefore is meant to be used in conjunction with something else (for example, maybe a pendant is hung from a play-gym or attached to another toy or teething ring). Pendants are generally smaller products that don’t qualify for the choke test sizing - this doesn’t mean that they aren’t safe, but it does mean that they should not be used as stand alone toys as they would not be compliant on their own. Rather, however they are used in other designs must ensure that the final design they are part of is compliant and passes all the safety requirements. (Don’t worry! We work to make these distinctions clear on our website so you know exactly what you’re purchasing!)
What tools should I use when assembling my own creations?
In assembling silicone crafts, there are a number of important tools we use! Some of these tools make crafting a bit easier, and some of them make crafting a bit safer. All of them are important!
1. Sharp Scissors - Working with dull scissors makes finishing off a craft difficult. Dull scissors can require multiple cuts, which can fray your cording and send tiny fibers all over your new creation. Find yourself some sharp sewing scissors to clip off your finished ends. The cuts are sharp, clean and easier to fuse well.
2. Crafting Needle - An essential for getting cords through complex designs! We love our crafting needles because the point is blunt (no pricking yourself or your silicone beads!), and the eye of the needle is extra large to accommodate for thick nylon cord.
3. Needle Nose Pliers - The better half to your crafting needle is a good pair of needle nose pliers! When your hands get slippery and your needle gets hung up, a plier is super handy. Needle nose pliers can be purchased as part of our Crafting Tool Set. Pro tip: our Silicone Thimbles are also great for adding extra grip and protecting your fingers from rope burn!
4. Low Flame Lighter - In order to properly fuse your nylon cording, you will need a low flame lighter. This could be a personal lighter found at most stores. Never use a torch lighter, BBQ lighter, or anything that has a hot high flame. Your cording will melt too fast, most likely burn, and you won’t be able to control the level of fusing with these aggressive lighters. A small pocket lighter is the best option!
5. Ruler - It seems obvious, but a ruler is so important to have on hand when you’re making children’s toys! It’s important to measure and make sure that your designs are compliant with your local safety regulations.
6. Bead board Trays - Our versatile bead board trays are a fantastic tool to help you plan out your silicone creations! With handy pre-measured rings and necklace forms as well as straight measurements and sections to hold your beads while you craft, they're a must have!
7. Knot Gripper - this fantastic tool is made by the amazing Canadian craftsman, Dave at Wheatland Woodshop. Never guess again if your knots are tight enough! The knot gripper tool helps you tighten up your knots beyond what your hands are able to do!
8. Choke Test - If you intend on making products to sell, make sure you’ve purchased a regulation choke test to ensure your designs are safe! You can purchase them from our shop here. They’re the one piece of safety equipment every small shop should own! They can be expensive, but they’re the best investment and assurance that your products will pass important standards!
Sizing Guide & References
Sometimes, having thousands of bead options at your fingertips can be overwhelming! Where do you start? What do you purchase? What can the sizes be used for?
Typically, a worthwhile investment is purchasing one of our Sample Color Cords! You’ll have the most up to date collection of our standard colors, and a physical sample of most of our round beads. It makes purchasing at home easier, both for color accuracy and for bead sizing!
There are always exceptions to every rule, but here are some helpful tips for items you can make with our different size beads!
22mm - garlands, teething toys, hanging toys
19mm - wristlets, garlands, teething toys, hanging toys
15mm - soother clips, wristlets, teething toys, keychains & lanyards
12mm - Soother Clips, wristlets, teething toys, keychains & lanyards
9mm - keychains & lanyards
The above picture shows our most popular bead sizes. The larger the bead, the bulkier and heavier it can be. Generally for soother clips & teething rings, the most popular size is 15mm. As you go up in size, you may use fewer beads, however those beads will be heavier all together. As you go smaller, you’ll have a more detailed look, but the smaller sizes will not hide knots or multiple strings as well as the larger sizes. Sometimes your projects need a larger heavier bead, and sometimes smaller and lighter fits the bill!
Wash and Care Instructions
All handmade products should always be regularly inspected for wear and tear. Silicone beads are extremely durable, but wear and tear can happen! When you inspect handmade products, make sure that there are no tears in the silicone by the bead hole, and that there is no compromise to the string and its strength. At the first sight of wear we suggest you discard your handmade product.
Washing your handmade products is always an important part of ensuring what a child plays with is clean and safe. All silicone products and nylon strings can be washed in warm soapy water. Wood products, as well as our Jersey Cord and Suede Leather Cord should not be immersed in water. Spot clean as necessary.
We recommend replacing most soother clips after about 2-3 months of use. If you’re looking for more information on the specific care instructions for each product, be sure to check out product descriptions provided on our website listings!
Silicone crafting is an entire world unto its own! We hope this blog post has been helpful in explaining some of the ‘why’ to our craft industry and gives you a bit of background as to what products to use!
Always message us with any questions you have, we’re happy to help!