Bonus column: Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart answers questions about making jewelry out of seashells and how to identify poisonous plants.
Q. How can I make jewelry out of seashells?
- Tracy Stone, Chestertown, Maryland
A. Wearing beach finds as jewelry gives you custom accessories that will keep reminding you of the pleasures of summer. To make a pendant, choose a good-size shell, like the mussel shown; drill a hole in it with a craft drill. Then, with pliers, attach a jump ring (available at crafts stores), and thread it with a strand of bead cord. If you have a bunch of tiny shells, drill a hole in each and string multiples onto one cord. We like pastel bead cord for a subtle look, and brighter colors for contrast.
HOW TO DRILL A SHELL
Shallow plastic container
Diamond-coated drill bit, 1 millimeter
1. Place sponge in container. Fill with enough water to just cover sponge. (The water will keep the drill from overheating and the shell from cracking.)
2. Set shell on sponge, top-side down, and hold securely with your fingers. Keeping edges barely submerged, slowly drill through shell.
Micro Max cordless rotary-tool kit, by Dremel, 8 volt, $89, homedepot.com. Diamond-coated twist drill bit (#56), by Eurotool, $6, metalliferous.com.
Q. How can I identify poisonous plants at a glance?
- Zach Magoto, Lexington, Kentucky
A. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for recognizing irritating plants. “The itch is caused by urushiol, an oil from the plant,” says Joan McVoy, a registered nurse and educator at the Nebraska Regional Poison Center, in Omaha. Wash exposed skin immediately with soap and cool water, then soothe with colloidal-oatmeal products.
Poison Ivy: There are regional variations in size and shape, but this plant will usually have leaflets growing in clusters of three. It can be a low plant, a tall shrub or a vine.
Poison Oak: This plant produces leaflets that look like an oak tree’s; usually three (but as many as seven) grow on one stem.
Poison Sumac: Also known as poison dogwood, poison sumac can have 7 to 13 leaflets on a stem and grows from 6 to 20 feet high.
Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., 9th floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Questions may also be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.