Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bubble Hooks - Q & A Session

Hey there Jungle Cats!  It's been an amazing 4 years, and about 2 years of that time we have been making Bubble hooks.  How exciting there are thousands of Bubble Hooks all over the world, shipped to a total of 14 different countries!


The sculpt has slightly evolved over time, as we continue to find ways to improve it.  But, I know many of you may have burning questions you've been dying to know about these curious hooks you've been, seeing and/or buying and using.  A little while ago we asked you what you wanted to know about Bubble hooks over on our Facebook Page, (<------Click there to go to the post.)  Here are a few of the questions you asked us:

Bubble hook FQA list:

Q:  What kind of clay do you use?
A:  I use oven bake polymer clay.  I use several different brands, but nothing less than Preemo brand.  I much prefer FIMO though.  Other lesser brands are not strong enough for long term durability.  There are some more expensive brands I have not had the opportunity to purchase yet.  I am sure they are excellent as well.  However, the higher quality the clay, the tougher it is for my hands to condition.  This is where "Daddy Monkey" steps in often and his hands do some of the beginning "smooshing" for me.  Most clay artists use their pasta machines to condition the clay.  I have never found that to be an easy method.

Q: How long have you been making the Bubble Hook?
A: The first Bubble Hook was sculpted January 10th, 2014.  Prior to Bubble hooks I took custom character hook orders, but a custom order list is difficult for an artist.  I found it very stifling to my creativity, and the hobby I once LOVED had become cumbersome.  So once I met all the commitments on the list I changed how we do things.  We now offer listings on Etsy for what is available.  This allows me to create new canes as I am inspired to do so, or as life time allows.

Q: What made you decide to start making Bubble Hooks?
A:  I laid my hook down from age 14 to 34.  I began crocheting again.  For 2 years, I (like most of you I am sure) drooled, wished, and hoped for a hook from a certain other company.  The photos were so glamourous looking and after a few years and a Christmas gift card from a friend, PLUS $25 more dollars out of our pocket, I FINALLY owned my very own hook.  I won't name the company, but I excitedly began using the hook, which arrived in a beautiful box with great packaging.  I didn't even mind the 6 week wait.  But 350 stitches in, I looked down and realized the paint and finish were already chipping off this new hook.  With shipping the gift card, and our money there was almost $65 invested to get this hook to my house, and 7 rows of 50 double crochets later....the luxurious automotive grade paint finish was CHIPPING.  Then, it happened....50 more stitches in, just ONE more round and the end of my new $65 hook BENT.  Oh the tears that came.  I just bawled and wailed to the poor hubs, a.k.a. Daddy Monkey.  So DM gets on the internet and reads some and says to me, "Did you not read this fine print?  That is a plastic hook.  You always tell me you don't want a light hook because it is plastic.  WHY did you want an $65 plastic hook?"  Well folks, I will tell you, i had NOT read any print stating that beautiful shiny hook was plastic underneath.  I was crestfallen!  I emailed the company, and they were so nice to tell me they would replace it.  Which they did with an Ebony wood version of the same MM size hook.  The ebony wood is listed as the hardest wood on their site.  It is also more expensive.  It is about $80 to get that one shipped to your home.  It arrived just as beautifully and professionally, and the end snapped off in 15 minutes.  Devastated.....and already having a table full of clay supplies from making the character hooks for 2 years......I put it all together.  "I like the feel of that hook in my hand, but MAN, nothing beats a clover amour head.....hmmmmmm......But wait Ya know I REALLY miss my thumb grip.....hey wouldn't it be cool if the had pictures on them?"  And, there you have it.  This is the how and why of where the Bubble Hook was born.

Would you be willing to make a custom hook?
A:  No, I am sorry but at this time I am not accepting custom orders.  I would never be able to keep up with the volume and flow of business that way.  I understand some are willing to wait, but as I said above, a wait list of people is very daunting, and a constant pressure we just don't need.  We have a fairly zen life and household.

Q:  How long does it take to make a hook?
A:  Your specific hook can range literally as quickly as 2 hours after your order is placed up to 8 weeks after your order is placed.  Just molding the soft clay can range from 2 hours to 6 hours per hook; from the moment your order is placed a timer begins.  However, many factors go into the production process and amount of wait time.
1) Supplies - The first of which is my supplies.  Luckily I keep my local craft stores on their toes, but sometimes, I am forced to order online to obtain your desired size.  If an inline order is necessary it is 10 - 14 days to be shipped to me, and I place one online order every 2 weeks.
2) Sculpting - The sculpting process itself is very hard on my hands.  I can sculpt about 3 days a week without being in a good level of pain every evening.  I have time blocked aside for all the facets of my business including pattern design, blog writing, hook making, Red Heart product Review and all that I do.  The 3 days blocked for sculpting each week, I average 20 - 30 hooks sculpted.  They are batched together and sanded on a different day.  The amount of actual sculpting time per hook will depend on the design ordered.  If it is a cane design, the cane itself took days to weeks to create, and any caned hook takes extra time to sculpt clearly without skewing the photo.  It takes many thousands of delicate light touches very quickly to blend the edges in where they cannot be seen.
3) Sanding - The hooks are hand sanded with 4 grades of wet/dry sandpaper, a light dremel is applied, then they are treated in mineral oil for several days.  Next we give them a good buffing with a cotton polishing cloth.

4) Silk Touch finishing - My silk touch finish involves ALOT of hand stress and muscle strain for me.  I produce them as fast as my arms and hands allow.  Thank you in advance for understanding.

Q: Are they comfortable?
A:  I thought it best to get quotes from some REAL live hookers on this one.  Here's what some of our customers had to say:

Tracee Fromm - Fromm Me To You Blog
Knife Gripper
"They fit my hand perfectly.  So comfortable I can crochet for hours without worry of my hand cramping or my wrists getting tired so quickly.  The way it is shaped by the thumb is perfectly comfortable.  And I am proud to say I have the COOLEST looking hooks of anyone in my weekly crochet club!"

Cassie and Amy - Lou And Marie
Knife Gripper
Cassie Stosser - They are the only hooks I currently use!  They aren't too bulky and let me crochet comfortably for longer periods of time."

Aimee Nickolas - "Oh my lands, are they comfortable?  Yes!!  I dread using any other hook!  Dread!!!  A couple years ago I had problems crocheting for any length of time.  I bought the gloves and a wrist guard and everything.  I hardly ever use them now that I have SLM Bubble Hooks!  They are fantastic!  Oh yes, and light and not too big.  Fits my hand perfectly."

BreAnne Banks - Krazy Ladies Kreations
Pencil Gripper
"You have the most amazing bubble hooks ever and make it where I can crochet a little less tightly"

Ashley Reid Flaherty - Giggles and Stitches
Hybrid Gripper
"I love them!  The larger sizes do get a bit heavy though"

Fran Fenez - Little Hippie on the Prairie
"Oh Kelli!  I FINALLY got to use my Monkey Bubble Hook, and i couldn't believe how comfortable it was!  I chose a D hook and the smaller you go the more comfort you need.  I was blown away by how light it was, and how comfortable.  I never, EVER thought I'd actually be looking for patterns with a D hook, but here I am......it's awesome!!!"

Julie Geake - Sew. Crochet. Love.
"I love my Bubble Hooks!  Just lent mine to a good friend who loves them!  We actually make crochet cases for our Etsy shop and adjusted the hook sleeve size to fit the Bubble Hook."
Get a Bubble Hook sized holder like this one in their ETSY shop:

Courtney Knorr-Warriner - 3 Hoots Boutique
Knife Gripper
(Note: This jungle cat names her Bubble Hooks.)
"Today, I'm pattern testing with Ruby!!!  Obviously I adore bubble hooks.  I do prefer the newer sculpt over the older one, though.  I'll eventually replace my older, more round hooks (the girls have already started divvying them up between themselves).  I;m a knife holder with carpal tunnel...these hooks are super comfy.  My hands don't get over tired, and there's no pain later in the day....even if I've been crocheting for hours (like I have been today).  Plus, they're pretty!!  I love me some pretty hooks."


Q:  Could I mail you my own hooks and have this done to them?
A:  No, I am sorry but that would be a lot to keep up with and make sure certain hooks make it back to certain homes.  It would be crazy town.

Q: Do you use a mold or free hand?  
A:  It is flattering that so many think I make these EXACTLY the same, but I assure you they aren't.  If you look and feel very closely you can find tiny differences in each one.  They are as close to exactly alike as my muscle memory can manage, but even the sculpt I use has evolved over time and is currently much more streamlined than it was originally.  The thumb grip you feel literally comes from me gripping the soft clay with my thumb.  The size of the bubbles begins with the same weight of clay for all sizes, but larger hooks, I have to add extra clay, really tiny hooks or clover amours I have to cut some away.

Q: Can they be used for both grip styles; pencil and knife?
A:  I personally am a very tight gripped knife hooker.  I have had pencil grippers rave over these and have had pencil grippers not care for them.  I think the majority DO like them though, especially since the newest sculpt evolution in April of 2015.

Q: Are they a hard plastic or rubbery soft?
A:
These are a hard baked polymer plastic with a metal hook shaft inside.

Q: Can you get them in Bates and Boye?
A:
Bubble hooks can be ordered on Etsy in Bates, Boye or Clover Amour.  I currently offer about 7 different styles and will add more as time and life allows.  My personal set are clover amour glazed Bubble Hooks.

Q: Which is better, silk touch or matte finish?
A:  Silk touch DEFINITELY.  Anything we use repeatedly with our hands will show hand oils.  On a silk touch finish hook, hand oils only add to the patina of your clay as polymer clay IS porous!  Don't be afraid to wash them occasionally with mild dish detergent and lay flat to dry.  The silk touch treatment adds an amazing sheen and really makes the effect clays "pop".    This is one that honestly is just a matter of opinion and personal preference.  Some jungle clients LOVE the feel of the glaze, some love the cool clay.  You may just have to try one of each!

Q: Is the size marked on a Bubble Hook?
A:  Yes, the size is stamped into the end of each hook.

Q: Does the size of the Bubble change?  Do you make different sized handles for nerve/arthritus pain?
A: I am sure if measured by micrometer tool, the bubble would measure differently, but my intention is for them all to be as close to the same as possible.  They do not come in different varieties for specific hand needs.  The one Bubble hook size and shape are the same I have made for 2 years with the slight edits I have made to streamline the sculpt and make them better.

I hope I have helped shed some light on the things you've been wanting to know!  Have a question about our hooks we didn't answer?  Leave us a comment below and we may answer it in a future post!  Meanwhile now through Feb 7th take 25% off your order with code: IREADTHEFAQS
Click HERE to go to The Sick Lil Monkeys Bubble Hook Shop on Etsy.

7 comments:

  1. When will you offer the stained glass in your store? I love that new design sooooo much!

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  2. The one you think looks like "stained glass" (thank you by the way), is really just a mudd bubble hook. (Scrap clay). I just had a batch that turned out that way. :)

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  3. Knowing you sculpt and mold each by hand, and that no 2 are alike, makes me cherish the ones I have.

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  4. I'm so excited! I bit the bullet and just ordered my first SLM Bubble Hook! Can't wait for it to get here! :D

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  5. Would love to order one, but don't have the funds, so maybe I will win one! I did share on Facebook for you though!

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  6. Kelli, this was a great blog!! I can only imagine how upset you were when the other brand hook bent and the replacement broke. One day I would love to have a complete set of Clover Armour Bubble hooks. But for now I will enjoy the Boye Bubbles I have.

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  7. I love your hooks and I'm looking forward to getting another. I'm pleased that you still make them out of clover hooks!

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