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The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Beadalon Deluxe Thing-A-Ma Jig Review


When I first come across this jig the first thing that came to mind was, "What a catchy name!" Well, catchy name aside, a jig is actually a wire shaper.  The set comes with.......
an instructional leaflet

and a metal board with holes and different sizes of pegs. I specifically have to say that it's a metal board because there is this other non deluxe version, i.e. just Thing-A-Ma jig that comes in plastic. So, now you know why it's now a 'Deluxe' version! LOL....! 

Okay, lame jokes aside. :P Basically, what you do is, like the picture above, placed the different sizes of pegs onto the board and then twirl your wire around it to shape it.

I got mine ages ago, not too long after I started making jewellery in 2007. I got it off eBay Malaysia. It came with a set of 16 mini spools of Darice craft wire with missing two spools. Well, not exactly missing but I think the seller wanted to keep the two spools for herself but didn't want the rest. I bought it from a private seller.

Okay, I know 4 spools appear to be missing here. But then again, I've used 2. :P By the way, if you think the packaging looks old, it is not. It's just the pattern on the paper backing that appears to make it look like some old packaging on photos. :P

It was VERY expensive when I got it at that time. I paid a total of RM105.00 for the whole set! Almost twice of what you need to pay to get it in Malaysia today! Well, it's not like the price got bid up to that high, it was under the Buy-It-Now option, if I was not mistaken. I decided to pay for it nevertheless because

  1. I've been searching high and low for a jig for a while already. Not specifically Beadalon's but just any jig.
  2. It was sheer fate that I 'bumped' into it on eBay Malaysia.
  3. It was not sold in Malaysia at that time at all! 
If I wanted to get one, the only option I had at that time was to order from overseas but when you are only a beginner, you really don't wanna go that far. My last option was to ask Sa Kor to buy it  for me in the UK and pass it to me when she comes back to Malaysia.
True enough Beading.com.my is very well stocked these days but back then, their website was only at it's infancy because I've never really heard of them at that time! I got most of my stuffs off eBay Malaysia, not only due to the geographical barier that I was in but also the physical barrier. I wasn't as mobile as I am now. It was somehow by sheer fate that I found out sellers selling findings and beads at eBay, which is also how I decided to start making jewellery. At that time, I only wanted to kill time while recuperating back home but I ended up loving it more than what I initially intended to so and the rest they say, is history! LOL.... XD It was later on that I found out that it was a huge trend in big city Kuala Lumpur at that time to make your own jewellery which is how all these private sellers crop up in eBay, given that eBay Malaysia started only not too long ago. E-commerce in Malaysia was only at it's infancy at that time. Comparing it now and back then, it's so much more convenient these days! (OMG! Did I just say that?! Makes me sound like some been there, done that ..... isshh.... hey, it was only over a short span of 3 years ok! My point is the growth is fast! :P)
I used to have this little list of e-shops here, where I got my materials from but which was removed much later on. I started the list because I knew how difficult it was to look for the materials online and I thought it would be a good idea for everyone to share where to get the stuffs to make your pieces. But Beading.com.my is already so well stocked that there is really no need to look elsewhere, and most importantly, they are very reputable seller. ( No, Steve did not pay me to say this. Hhhmm, maybe I should bill Steve for my earlier sentence! LOL..... XD)
Now, a little demo on how to use this.

First, choose the shape that you want to create from the instructional leaflet. Well, diagram to be exact. And I chose this shape.


The circles with a black dot at the centre represent the peg as as you can see from the diagranabove you placed 3 at the top, 2 bottom, 2 left and 2 right. The number and size of the pegs will determine the size of the 'arms'. So, if you want bigger or wider arms, you can either use bigger size pegs or places the pegs further apart from one another.

Before you start shaping the wire, the first step is to make a loop at the end of the wire.

What this loop does is to act as some kind of hook to keep the wires in place as you shape them as well as the bail for the shape for you to finish off.
When you twirl the wires around the pegs, it is done only at one go as seen from the diagram above. Just follow the arrows shown and you have the numbers at the side to guide you along. You start from one point and finishes back at that point as well. There will be no joining of wires whatsoever.

So, here we go .......

Remove your wire from the jig and the is what you get.


Okay, don't be alarmed with the misshapen wires. It can be corrected. Hhhhhm, I think 'corrected' is not the right word to use. Rather, it's unfinished. You have yet to finish shaping the wire. What you are going to do next is the complete the shape and this you will do with the help of your fingers.

Press the wires on the two sides of the last 'arm' closer together. And with the help of your pliers, wrap the excess wire around the loop which you first made.

And you're done! :D

BUT......... I've only used this three times.

Twice to give it a try and the last one, for this post. I've already not quite like it the first time I used it but decided to nevertheless give it another shot before I come to the conclusion that I do not like it. I've never touched it ever since until for this post.

I'll tell you why I do not like it.

Personally, I feel that it's very clumsy. These are the reasons why.

No doubt the pegs fit nicely into the holes on the board (jig?) but in my opinion not snug enough. Therefore, as you are working the wires around the pegs, the pegs tend to move around a little. So, to make sure that the pegs stay put, you need to hold the pegs down with one hand while you work the wires with the other.

I'm not sure if it's only me who is experiencing this or if this IS the correct way of working the jig but this just spells clumsy to me. I think I might have been much happier had the pegs were made 'dead' stuck in the hole once you slide them in.

Another thing is that as you are twirling the wires around the pegs, I always
 have the wires moving further up the pegs as I work along. In other words, the wires doesn't stay put.

But then of course, this is not something that you loose sleep over la.

This is easily solved with one hand pressing the wires down as you move the wires along with the other hand.

Okay, while one hand moves the wire along, the other need to not only pressed the peg down but also the wire? So, it's like, press peg down, move wire, stop, press wire down, stop, press peg down, move move wire, stop, press wire down, stop, press peg down..........

Clumsy, clumsy, clumsy.

You see, you've got to understand the context in which I was searching high and low for a jig back then as well as the reason for my dislike for it now.

I wanted a jig so badly back then when I was still a beginner. I don't know how but for some reasons, I got the impression that the only way to shape wires was by using a jig. Well, looking back, that was partially true anyway. For a beginner to make well formed wires, a jig helps a lot! The board (jig?) and pegs all add up to help you form a proportionately even shape.

But as you gain more experience working with the handheld tools, specifically the round nose pliers, you'll come to realize that a jig is not necessary at all. Well, to me at least. If you ask me, I think the round nose pliers is a very powerful tool. I believe you can create all that you can do with a jig with a round nose pliers.

The extra work here is in the measurement. You need the manually measure all the turning points and what not before looping. This inevitably will cost you more time. A jig without a doubt wins hands down in this department.

I haven't specifically created a piece of jewellery with a jig. To be honest anf if you've noticed as well, I don't even do a lot of wire shaping in my work. So, it's no surprise that I'm not a fan of the jig. Well, I don't hate it either. Let's just say that I don't particularly favour it. Not because of what, it's just not quite my style of work.

Sa Kor attended one of the jig workshops in UK and according to her she was not particularly in awe either. But I think it was largely to do with the number of students in that particular workshop. She didn't tell me the exact number but according to her, the class was quite big that she feels that there wasn't enough attention for the students such that it's as though the class was over already after the instructor was done making one round around the table! Okay, I don't know if that was exactly how it was but I believe it's just figures of speech. I think it was more about the big class than the jig itself. LOL......

Either way, it doesn't sound as though the jig left much of an impression on her also. But then again, she's a busy woman. She's too preoccupied with work to be bothered with the impression she got from these classes. LOL.....

The only piece of work I've done in the jig-style is this, which was created early last year. This piece was however done entirely using the round nose pliers.

So, to like the jig or not? I'll leave it up to you.

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4 hollers:

City Kitty Kat said...

I am looking for info / purchase this exact jig. OMG Thank you very much for being so helpful and honest.

Wendy Sue said...

Glad you found them helpful. ^.^

imlati said...

umm... so you find this things unpleasant to use?

or not very useful to you?

have you use the clear metal tubes to hold the pegs? (because I saw several websites mentioned those tubes)

I'm considering to buy this wire jigs, but after I saw your review, maybe I should turn down the ideas T^T

do you have any suggestion regarding using other jig boards? because one of my weakness is making symmetrical loops...

Wendy Sue said...

Hi imlati,

Well, both actually. I find it not very useful and rather unpleasant to use. But then again, it's also a matter of personal preference.

I'm not sure what those clear metal tubes are but I sure think that it will probably help if those pegs can be made to stay put!

I think level of experience helps too. If you're a beginner and very particular with making symmetrical loop, then I believe these jig boards will save you the hassle and trouble in achieving just that but I believe that as you get more familiar, you'll probably even find these boards dispensable. :)

Well, at least that's what I think. I haven't use mine for more than 5 times. Too bulky and troublesome for my liking!

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