Taking the Next Step

June 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

I’ve always loved making things. When I was little I made a mess, then I made cards and drawings, then paintings. I started cross stitching and knitting, then sewing, and then making my own clothes. I’ve done screen-printing, ceramics, accessories, home furnishings, glass painting, baking, and all manner of other things. I can’t imagine my life without it being chock full of hobbies and creative endeavours going on all around me.

Although I’d always been interested in jewellery making and re-purposing broken pieces, it wasn’t until I started working in a bead shop that what was a hobby then became a near obsession. It isn’t just the jewellery I like, it’s the objects themselves: the beads, chain and findings, the glass, ceramic, acrylic and metal materials, the textures and colours and when it’s put all together to create something wearable and beautiful. Now, beading and jewellery making are a huge and wonderful part of my life.

I have lots of other things going on in my life at the moment (including university, freelance writing, blogging and moving house) but sometimes you need to kick yourself into taking something you love a step further. I’ve started an Etsy shop but haven’t felt inclined to market and publicise myself terribly much – I’m not sure why, maybe because there’s so much work involved, and because right now, I haven’t got that time. There’s a few shops and galleries in our area, though, that I’ve seen and thought…’Could my work go there?’

Often I dismiss these thoughts, but a while ago a friend sent me a text saying ‘Have you seen this gallery X? And have you tried to get your work in there?’ It was only after I read this that I realised: people thought my work was interesting. Not everyone, and maybe just a few, but people thought it was interesting enough to go for those opportunities. Without that first nudge, I might not have started to think differently.

So this is the next step for me. I can’t commit to huge things now (like diving straight in to approaching a shop) but I can plan for the future. In August a fantastic photographer, Anthony Farrimond, and I will be working together in shooting my jewellery collection, so I can put together a portfolio to approach shops and craft venues, as well as (possibly) trying again online. Anthony wants to increase his fashion and jewellery portfolio, and I want to develop working relationships with photographers and get my portfolio off the ground – so it’s an ideal opportunity. It also means that I have two months to develop my body of work, create new pieces, and finally make those collections that have been rushing round in my head for so long.

I’m really excited about taking the next steps in something that has changed from a hobby into a passion, and feel lucky and honoured to have friends who tell me the right thing when I needed to hear it, even if they didn’t know I did (thank you Emily), and have met professionals who I know will take my work and create something wonderful with it (thank you Anthony). Watch this space!

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BTW: the essentials

May 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

I posted recently about some new projects that I’m working on and as I am finishing an essay today that I need to hand in Friday (!) I haven’t really got a lot on my table jewellery-wise. However, I did finally get my act together and get some storage for everything. Previously all my beads, findings and everything else were in little plastic bags inside bigger plastic bags in a giant plastic box under my desk, all jumbled up together and hard to find.

But now…

A fancy new storage unit with all different sized drawers for everything I need, not too big and right by my desk for access (listen, this seems really dorky, but if there’s two things people crush on that they don’t like admitting, it’s STORAGE and STATIONERY). I’ve done it in colour order, because that’s always very pleasing:

Including (L – R) chunky red coral cylinder, handmade polymer clay hearts, yellow agate hoops, and a beautiful button from White Clover Kiln.

There’s a whole row just of slightly different blues. Why do you always end up with so many of a certain colour? Those porcelain pendants (second from right) are from Two Scoops.

As with any lovingly arranged storage, you get the bits where it just turns into ‘misc’ – the two on the right are polymer clay beads and miscellaneous acrylics.

And a whole row of huge, bright, plastic, wood and glass beads of some bizarre shapes and sizes!


On the left are Czech glass flowers from Avedis Beads, some lampwork hoops from HMB Studios, brown freshwater pearls from Two Scoops, bobbly lampwork bead from work, and two wooden buttons from the wonderful Duttons for Buttons in York. On the right is a collection of weird and wonderful lampwork and acrylic beads that I really liked…but now can’t think what to do with, and have far too many. Everyone has a drawer (or box, or bag) like that, right?

So maybe not the most exciting BTW ever – but it definitely was essential! What’s your crafting or jewellery making essential that hey, isn’t glamourous, but you couldn’t do without?

recycled jewellery making workshop

May 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

The other week I taught a recycled jewellery making workshop to a local craft group. It was the first big workshop I’ve done and it was hard – but fun! I thought I would share some photos with you of the group and of what people made.

People were asked to bring along any old, broken, or unwanted jewellery, and we supplied the basic findings and pliers. As you can see there was quite a lot of donations (and cups of tea).

After a short demonstration by me, showing people how to fix on fasteners for bracelets and necklaces, and make earrings using headpins, I let everyone have a go and experiment. This went down really well and people seemed to enjoy just delving in and making something different and unusual. All of the pieces below are created from recycled jewellery or beads.

A lovely purple and pale lilac long necklace using acrylic, wood and metal beads.

A fantastic ‘gothic’ necklace, earrings and bracelet set using pressed glass beads and recycled pendants.

A three-strand choker turned into a chunky bracelet and matching earrings.

Three lovely wooden, acrylic and glass bracelets (made by a lady for her partner and son – so neither of them felt left out!)

Pretty in pink necklace with tiny pink and white beads and recycled pink and chain dangles.

Fantastic dangly earrings using tiny acrylic pearls on headpins, wrapped discs and lengths of ball chain.

One side of a lovely bracelet created from half a giant diamante brooch, cord, lampwork glass bead and that beautiful mother of pearl pendant.

A bracelet using loads of colour, texture and materials with wrapped and knotted cords.

I thought that everyone who attended did amazingly well, especially as many of them hadn’t ever made jewellery before! I’m booked in to teach another class in Autumn as I’m pretty busy with my MA dissertation until then. Looking forward to it and hopefully will see even more fantastic creations!

working space 2/3

March 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

About an hour after the colour idea was formed, this was the result – a sort of mish-mash of stuff, pliers, cups of tea, thread, beads and ends of headpins.

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