It has become somewhat of a tradition along the South Shore of Long Island to sell bracelets and other accessories down by the beach boardwalks during the summer. I can vividly remember watching in delight as my older cousins worked ferociously to complete the bracelets, ankle bracelets, hair ties, and even necklaces they would sell for less than a dollar each. It wasn’t about making money, although a busy day was certainly a plus, it was about creating the accessories. They would allow me to sit with them on the spread out beach towels, which doubled as a makeshift bracelet display area, until I was old enough to start making and selling the bracelets myself. A few years later my younger sister followed suit, and now my six-year-old cousin and her friends are keeping the tradition alive, proving that no matter how many store bought bracelets and accessories there may be, nothing can really replace a handmade ones.

MyRibbonBarrette_open_leftThis is not to say that the bracelet and accessory making is easy. At times, in fact, it’s far from it. Depending on the difficulty of the braid or stitch you’re attempting to create, you could end up spending hours trying to perfect a single bracelet. Complications that typically arise during the process include the tangling up of excess material, which can sometimes result in what looks like a messy bracelet with a mind of its own, and usually always ends up in a frustrating de-tangling session. That’s why once I saw the new My Ribbon Barrette Maker, from the Choose Friendship Co., the makers of the My Friendship Bracelet Maker, I knew immediately that I had to test it out, since barrettes were definitely merchandise that could be found on those beach towel years ago.

My Ribbon Barrette Maker, for kids ages 6 and up, includes eight Barrettes, 16 Ribbons, and 128 Tri-Beads. The barrette stays secure in the Barrette Holder while you weave the ribbons through it, in steps that will create the classic fishtail braid. The kit includes eight different ribbon colors, and the specially designed Ribbon Loom keeps your ribbons organized. The Ribbon Loom contains four slots on the left and right side, numbered 1L, 1R, 2L, 2R, etc., and the instructions are very clear on where to place each string.  The same color will go in slots 1L and 1R and the other color will go into slots 2L and 2R. Once you take the ribbon from slot 1L, and it wraps around the barrette in the proper way, you place that ribbon into slot 3R. While the slots and numbering may seem confusing, it becomes clearer as you continually create your barrette, and it is far less confusing than detangling the ribbons if created without the slots would be (trust me). As you complete more and more of the barrette, you just simply move the ribbons over, and eventually back to their starting slots. This removes even the chance of the ribbons becoming tangled. The fishtail is a braid of moderate difficulty, but without this kit it would increase tenfold. The slots are essentially extra fingers, making it a gift to the lives of beach-boardwalk-bracelet sellers, as well as bracelet- and accessory-making girls everywhere.

MyImageButtonMaker-wContentsThe Choose Friendship Co. takes simplifying crafts even further with the My Image Button Maker, distributed by Crorey Creations Inc. Buttons were never too hot an item on the boardwalk,  but I believe that’s only because they were difficult to make while simultaneously selling them. Well, not anymore, since the My Image Button Maker is so simple you can even use your own photos, provided the 36 images that are included aren’t up to your liking. If you chose to make a pin button or magnet using your own photo, the instructions call for you to use the MyPhotoSizer software. This software will size your image to fit into the picture window of the kit. The picture window lets you line up your photo for easy cutting, creating images that are exactly the size you will need to create your own pins. After you decide on an image, you must assemble the top casing (by placing the desired image inside) and decide if you want to make a magnet or a pin. If you want a pin for your backing, the instructions state to insert the pin through the backside of the button casing. If you want a magnet, peel the adhesive side off of the magnet and stick it to the center of the outside of the back button casing. It’s really as simple as that!

Since I now have the knowledge of the My Ribbon Barrette Maker and My Image Button Maker, plus the additional products from Choose Friendship Co. that are similar to them, it wouldn’t be right for me as an older cousin to not share these kits with the girls who are still selling bracelets at my old boardwalk stomping grounds. Hopefully my little cousins will continue making their bracelets, barrettes, and pins throughout the upcoming school year. Once they get their hands on these kits, which basically eliminate the frustration of messing up, I doubt they’ll be able to stop. Honestly, I’ve already made myself a few magnets to put on my fridge at college, and to give as little gifts to my friends. Anyone who enjoys creating crafts, particularly accessories, will find these products useful and enjoyable!

For more commentary from Lindsay, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!