Tutorial: bike inner tube earrings, or, Bicitoro visits the papercrafting aisle, with apologies to Ms. Stewart

I hear that it’s good for your SEO to keep your titles short, but I’m always so drawn to a good old Victorian “or” title. I mean, the amount of nuance that can be drawn out of the juxtaposition of two complementary titles is just boundless. The following text is then imbued with ever so much more meaning. It’s a technique which allows the author to subtly influence the audience’s reading of the text.

Ah, the title. It is merely glanced at by the reader, unnoticed, though it lingers in the subconscious, a vital tool for the reader’s increased understanding of the author’s message.

The same people who talk about SEO also say that you have to get right to the point, capture the reader’s attention in the first snappy sentence, or you’ve lost them forever.

They probably know what they’re talking about when it comes to internet reading. But I’ve noticed that when it comes to sewing and craft blogs, we have an entirely different way of capturing the reader’s attention. In fact, I’d wager that 80% of you haven’t read a single word of this introduction. You just scrolled down to see the photos to see if you want to pin the post to your “Try This Later” board.

So without any further ado, pretty pictures:

There are certain sections of craft stores that are complete mysteries to me. The baking aisle, for instance. I mean, I’m a damn good baker if I do say so myself—I just don’t have much interest in making my food look cute. The fake flowers aisle is another one that is dead to me (I think it smells funny).

I’ve skirted warily around around the papercraft aisle for years, temped by the pretty cardstock but unable to understand why anyone would spend time fiddling around with scrapbooking. (I keep my totally unsorted memorabilia collection in a shoebox in the closet. Sometimes I can’t remember the names of people in the photos. Scrapbookers, feel free to be appalled if you like.)

After I got a custom order for a reflective inner tube belt, I started thinking how fun it would be to come up with a line of them for my Etsy shop. Cutting out each individual star was kind of a pain, and they weren’t as perfect as I would have liked. If only there was a punch for that….

I edged into the papercraft section at my local megacraftopolis. There in the heart of Martha Stewartdom®, I found snowflakes, baby handprints, flowers, curlicues, filigree leaves…. And finally an on-sale butterfly.

Not wanting to pay full price for something I suspected wouldn’t actually work (these suckers run about $12 each), I went with the butterfly.

And it worked! The butterfly came out perfectly, with much less struggle than I’d anticipated.

The next day I braved the Fiskers section of the craft punch aisle and scooped up a few more of their hand punches to play with. I got a star and a cloud, those being the only two that I could actually imagine putting on a belt (finial ornament, anyone? Hardcore, right?)

The Fiskers seem to be a bit sturdier design, but the down side is that the farthest in you can place the design is about 1/4″. The Martha Stewart punches have a deeper reach.

There’s another brand of craft punches available at my local megacraftopolis, Marvy Uchida, but I didn’t see any style I wanted to try. When/if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I went to town making belts and other sundries. The by-product of that, of course, I was soon overrun with these:

I couldn’t figure out what to do with them for the longest time. I knew people stitched garlands out of paper circles and such, so I tried it with the stars. To what end, I had no idea. To decorate the Pfaff, maybe?

(Seriously, people of the Pinterest. What the hell do you do with all your paper garlands? And your pennants, too, while we’re on the topic. Why are you obsessed with pennants?)

The shapes were too curly for my taste, so I tried using contact cement to stick them back to back.

After some trial and error, I figured out that using a paint brush to apply the contact cement was way less messy.

Let the pieces all dry for about 10 minutes, then carefully stick them together. I used a leather punch to make a little hole in the top, then just used them like regular charms to make some awesome earrings.

(By the way, all four of these pairs are for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on the photos to go to the listing.)


You may be stunned by this, but using craft punches on bike inner tubes dulls them pretty fast. Who’d’ve thought?

The papercrafting site Cherry on Top shows an easy way to sharpen craft punches by basically punching through foil and then through waxed paper. It works like a charm.

Also, if you’ve got a punch like the cloud which is asymmetrical, be sure to cut pairs out from opposite sides of the inner tube so your charms glue together correctly.

Have fun!

Want more inner tube crafts? Check out my ebook Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

2 thoughts on “Tutorial: bike inner tube earrings, or, Bicitoro visits the papercrafting aisle, with apologies to Ms. Stewart

    • I found mine at my local big craft store–think JoAnn’s or Michael’s in the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure what Megacraftopolis chains there are in other ports of the country….

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