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!