Monday, November 30, 2009

Buy my stuff online!

I've just set up a Folksy shop. Folksy is a sort or marketplace for crafters, and you can buy all kinds of hand-made stuff there. I don't know how well it'll do, but we'll see. It's good to have the option, anyway. I've just got a couple of things on there at the moment but hope to put lots more on soon. I really need to improve my photography skills though!
Anyway, from now on, if anything I blog about is available to buy online, I'll link to it.

Items for sale on Folksy!

I went to Leeds at the weekend and bought lots of beads for making Xmas presents, but those will not appear on this blog till after Xmas. However, I also got some other things too, among which these nice bumpy beads. I made links by putting each on an eye pin and linked them together, then attached a length of Byzantine chain maille at each end, then a length of pale pink ribbon and fastened it with a toggle clasp. I've listed it for sale on my new shop on Folksy too.

And I listed this one - made with my jump ring maker out of turquoise and silver-plated wire linked in pairs with seed beads on alternate links.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Make Jewellery magazine

I bought the second issue of Make Jewellery magazine a few months back and liked it so much I've bought every issue since. There was one exception - I accidentally bought another title called Making Jewellery the following month and was dismayed to find it not as good as the previous one. Then I realised my mistake and am now careful to pick the right one!
I have since taken out a subscription as it's much cheaper that way, and it really is good every issue. (That's when I got the free starter kit I mentioned in a previous post, which was stuffed full of really useful findings and lovely beads - all of which I will be able to use.)

I like it because it's got a nice design, a good look about it. The instructions are very clear and the projects are just the right level of difficulty - they are different and interesting, but they don't involve specialist equipment or hours of labour. The photography is beautiful. It's also quite a young person's magazine, which makes a change from the usual craft magazines aimed at old people and housewives. It includes fashion and trends and so on. I've made loads of the projects and I'm really pleased with the results.

This is exactly what the market needed. When I first looked a few years ago there were only American beading magazines, and the adverts (which were obviously useless, being American companies) took up most of the pages. This is just what I wanted back then. It's an ideal resource for the established beader, but it would also be great for someone just starting out to learn techniques from, as there are varying levels of difficulty and all the basics are explained very clearly.

Handmade jump rings

I've been enjoying the chain maille, which takes a lot of jump rings. So when I saw this jump ring maker, I thought I'd splash out. It came today (from The Bead Shop Nottingham, £9.95) and it's great! I got some silver-plated wire in two thicknesses, and some turquoise wire to play with as well.

You choose one of the widths of mandrel and screw it into the base like this:
Then you put the wire through the little hole to hold it in place and wind the wire round the mandrel as many times as you want jump rings. You cut the wire and take the resulting spiral off the mandrel and you get something like this:
Then you just cut through the spiral with wire cutters and your perfect little jump rings are complete. Like these:
I made these ones with 1mm wire on the 4mm mandrel. I got 0.6mm wire too, which is fine for 4mm jump rings for attaching clasps and headpins and so on, but is a bit thin for much bigger. It's really easy to use, mine came out perfect the first time I tried it, and wire is cheap so I think it's definitely worth just making my own from now on instead of buying them.

Things I have been doing lately

As promised, here are the other things I just hadn't got round to posting. This is the chain maille bracelet I made from a kit from Creative Beadcraft. I decided to get a kit even though it cost £7.95 and I normally wouldn't buy a kit because I thought it would be easier when it's a complicated technique to have the instructions for the actual components rather than try and match up online instructions with whatever I could get. And also the beads are Swarovski and I wanted to see what all the fuss is about, whether they're any sparklier than cheaper ones. I'm not sure they are, really.

You use the jump rings in pairs and make a chain of pairs (a 2 by 2 chain). Then you make another exactly the same. Then you link them with pairs of rings joining every other link in the chains, if you see what I mean. It's quite easy and not as fiddly as it sounds. The fiddly part in making this was wiring in all the beads - that took far longer.

This is the black bracelet made with beads from an old one. The one I took apart was a free gift I got with a magazine years ago, and I think I wore it once. These beads were knotted on black ribbon and it was pretty but impractical. I couldn't even fasten it myself. So I put them all apart from the one I used for this bracelet onto Elasticity and spaced them with black pearly glass beads and made a simple chunky black bracelet which is great for easy going out jewellery.

A very Pat-like necklace

I made this cluster necklace from a kit which came with my Make Jewellery magazine subscription starter kit (from Beads Unlimited). As soon as I made it I thought of my colleague Pat, who wears a lot of black and loves pink and purple, and chunky jewellery. So I took it in to work and sure enough, she loved it. I enjoyed making it too, though it's fiddly trying to get all the beads onto the same jump ring. I think you get a good effect, and I like the dangly chains.


I've been into black jewellery lately, and chunky bracelets, so I combined the two to make this. The big faceted bead is from an old bracelet I took apart because I didn't wear it. I used all the other beads from that bracelet to make another one of just those, but for some reason I haven't put a picture up yet. I will. The other beads on this one are lava alternating with some nice flat glass ones from Beads Direct. It's strung on Elasticity.

And this is lava beads again (also from Beads Direct) with some metal spacers from Beads Unlimited. I got them in a kit I was sent when I took out a subscription to Make Jewellery magazine, on which more later. They're just threaded onto a headpin and strung on suede.


I've been using up odds and ends of the things I've bought recently. Here's a necklace with heart shaped beads I've had for ages in the centre of those green shell rings - they're just the right size. I didn't have enough clear crackly ones to make exactly matching earrings so I made nearly-matching earrings with green ones.

Here, I combined more green rings with blue veined jasper squares, strung little seed beads in the centre and added dark blue, light blue and clear fire-polished faceted beads at each end to tie the colours together. The tiger tail is royal blue in this one (it was light green in the one above).

And the last ring left, turned into the centrepiece of a three-strand necklace. I'm not totally sure about this one actually, I'm yet to make up my mind about it. Anyway, there are random selections of green beads on each of the three strands, including leaves.

More blue swirly cube beads, strung with smaller beads between that aren't fixed so they slide about:

And the last of the blue jasper, mixed with some of those swirly round beads on a toggle-clasp bracelet. I've still got some swirly ones left actually, though only three.

Byzantine chain maille

I've been learning chain maille! I've made a bracelet, which I'll post a photo of soon, from a kit. It was a good deal easier than I expected, so I did more. I learnt this new kind, called Byzantine. I don't know if it really looks like Byzantine battle clothing, but that's what it's called. I like it because it looks sort of natural, kind of fishy and less geometric than the normal kind. Here's a section of a necklace made with it:

And here's a zoomed out photo of the same necklace so you can see how it fits in. The bead is from Yum Yums in Leeds, and it's on a headpin. The whole lot is strung on suede. I like how the links add a bit of interest to an otherwise very simple necklace. This one's nice and long and would look good with a low neckline on a Christmas party dress.

And I did a similar thing but joined two beads with purpley colours on purple suede:

And some earrings, done with teeny tiny jump rings!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bicones two ways

This one is lovely - in real life it's totally sparkly and fab. I like the red and black thing, very smart. It's on red tigertail, and very simple. I made the dangles by making wrapped loops from eyepins, as the hole in the hearts was too wide to use any jump ring. It was fiddly, but I think it actually looks really good. The matching earrings I debated for ages whether to make them with red or black bicones. I might do the opposite colourway too, and get some more of these beads. The hearts are 30p each (from Beads Unlimited) but that's pretty good compared to Swarovski.
And here are some super-sized bicones, lampwork ones. Pretty.

Copper, suger and charms (as Hawkwind never sang)

This is a charm bracelet, my first experiments with chain. It's easier than I thought, and looks cool, I think. The charms are all ones I had from something I took apart ages ago, and I think they look much better on the bracelet. It's fiddly, mind.

These beads I bought because they look like they're covered in sugar, which can only be a good thing in my opinion. the design is similar to one I did a few years ago, made by twisting the beads onto strands of wire and twisting the strands together. The seed beads are loose so they move freely.

And another one I love and didn't want to give away. Copper lined pale blue beads, on memory wire with blue and copper seed beads, and little stars. I haven't got any more stars left now so I can't make another just like it.

Multi-coloured swirly discs

A fab bright, bold necklace and bracelet set. the necklace is 2-strand, on red and blue tigertail, and the bracelet has a similar sized toggle to the beads. I love these and may make some for myself.

New beads for Xmas

Look at these! In fact, I used most of them straight away, took them to work to sell and they all went immediately. But I shall post them anyway.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Looks a bit Christmassy, doesn't it? It wasn't meant to be. This is a memory wire bracelet made with those square beads I've had forever, interspersed with wooden and fire-polished glass accents, and SHRINKLES! I got so over-excited about having Shrinkles again. I used to love making them as a child. It's basically plastic that you draw on, cut out, whatever, and then you heat it in the oven (or with a heat gun, as I did) and it shrinks seven times smaller and seven times thicker. It's fab and looks amazing. But if you heat them with a gun, they do tend to blow about the place so you have to be careful - I think using the oven is easier, but you have to watch them so it helps if your oven has a glass door, which mine doesn't. Incidentally, Shrinkles seem to have got hard to find. Fenwick's used to sell them but were unable to locate any last time I asked. Mine came from trusty eBay.

Solid links

This one was made with these nice oval rings. They've been sitting about on my desk for ages because I couldn't find anything good to do with them but then I made this. As they're just a solid ring, they have to be linked with jump rings, and the in-between links are from Yum Yums again - they're wire wrapped beads, mostly black but with the odd dark blue one mixed in.

This necklace is similar, but the rings are twisty. Instead of jump rings to link them, I made links with eye pins - just put a few beads on and turn the non-bent end the same as the other end. You could do it with plain wire, of course, but using eye pins means half the work's done for you. The clear cubey beads were from eBay, they were a measly 99p for 100 with free delivery! They came from Hong Kong as well, so I can't imagine postage was that cheap.


They look a bit like sweets. To me, anyway. It's not that clear in the photo but they're strung on two colours of tigertail, blue and black. Here's a similar one with purple and pink where you can see the colours. The bumpy ones make me think of the everlasting gobstoppers in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (yes, the 1971 film, in which they for some reason made the gobstoppers which you suck forever in a shape which would be most uncomfortable to suck).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spotty glass bead bracelet

These beads are from Yum Yums too - I did quite well out of that one visit. It's a bit hard to tell in the photo, but the spots have a sort of metallic, petrolly effect which looks very cool on the clear glass. It's just strung on silver tigertail with small blue cuboids in between. I tried it with blue tigertail, but it stood out too much.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Works in progress

I need inspiration. These beads look better on the ends than the sides, which means they won't look good just strung, so I need some creative kind of stringing that shows them off.
And this is a bracelet that I made and don't like. The balance is wrong. So I need to remake it, either as a bracelet or something else, but I'm not sure how exactly.

Big bead bracelets

I've gone bracelet mad! I've been making millions of them, I can't get enough. These are all made with Elasticity. The beads for the ones in the top two photos are from the wonderful Yum Yum beads in Leeds, where I went a bit mad buying loads of stuff when I went the other day. They know how to run a bead shop - they have all their beads in little trays, and little tubs for you to gather them up in yourself. Le Beado could learn a lot from them. Which is where the beads in the bottom photo came from, actually - much more expensive than Yum Yum's, at 55p each (the ones in the top picture were 40p each on a multibuy deal).

And I made two more of the bumpy bead bracelets with the rest of the beads, so I got three bracelets out of that £4.50 pack, and a few left over. Not bad.

Paper beads

I learnt how to make beads from rolling up strips of paper - I bought some recently which were made by some African women, and they're so pretty. You cut a magazine page into triangles, as wide at the bottom as you want your beads to be wide, and then just wrap them around a cocktail stick, gluing as you go. Then you really need to varnish them, to make them colourfast and to make them look really good. These are what they look like before varnishing:
And this is a necklace made with some pink ones (for another birthday present, as it happens).

Monday, August 03, 2009


I totally stole this design, but the one I saw was really expensive so I was never going to buy it anyway. How cute is it? The cherries are just red beads (they're AB but on the side that's facing away from the camera, dammit), they're on headpins, and the leaf is another bead attached to the same jump ring with some tigertail. It's strung between green AB beads and crimps on green tigertail.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Bumpy bead bracelet

How cute is this? The beads are about half of a pack I bought from John Lewis (I haven't linked to it because you can't buy them online) and they're strung on Elasticity (a special beading elastic which is not too stretchy and very smooth). I didn't have the same problems I had last time with tying it either, so that's good.

Those charity shop beads

I know I said I'd give the reworked piece back to the shop but I love this so much I'm not going to after all. The blue beads are the ones off that necklace I bought from a charity shop and they're threaded on a long bright pink cord, spaced in alternating singles and triples with knots. The pink bead is one I've had for years, just for some added interest. It was going to be a red star, but the damn thing had a blockage in its hole so couldn't be used. Bah. There's no clasp as it's a waist-length necklace.

Watermelon beads

Don't these look like watermelons? I'll have to make a watermelony necklace or something.

Plagiarising my childhood

When I was about 6 or so, we were on holiday in Brittany and we went to the festival of the blue nets (fete des filets bleus) at Concarneau. I bought a ring that was very simple, made of wire with a few blue rocailles as the decoration. I loved that ring, I really did, and of course it doesn't fit me now, having been bought for a 6-year-old's tiny little fingers.
But all is not lost - I have made myself a replica! OK, it isn't very neat, but it was my first attempt - I'll get better. I'm pretty pleased with the result, actually, so I think I will have another go. My original was silver with dark blue beads, not gold with turquoisey ones, as this one is. It probably would be worth getting some actual silver wire too, as this stuff is OK but it discolours quickly and smells metallic.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Modestly-priced expensive jewellery

You might have seen these glass beads with a silver core, which are sort of like charms - you pick a few that you like and string 'em on a chain. They're blimmin' expensive, generally up to a tenner a go. Well, while in Bainbridge's (yes, John Lewis) looking for a clasp for my grandma's necklace (which I got in Fenwick's in the end) I found the very same beads for £3 for a pack of two. They may not be sterling silver, but they look just as nice. So after much dithering, and a trip to Fenwick's to see what they had (I bought the chain there actually, as it was a pound cheaper at £2.95) I bought the bits to make this:

I strang it when I went back to uni, it was so easy - you don't need any tools, a moron could put this together. And I love it so much I think I'll be buying more and will make others. You can change it, of course, whenever you want, or if you want to make it more permanent you could put a jump ring through the hole and make it so the beads can't come off. I think I'll leave it and then I can mix and match to my outfits. Though I love this with its bright colours. I think a black and silver one would look nice, or perhaps with a bit of light pink in too. I'll be making my mother one as she'll love these nice coloured beads.

And I did check the price of ready-made ones after - one similar was £30 in a cut-price jeweller's. Mine cost £11 and about two minutes' work, and it's just the way I wanted it. Fab.