If there’s one thing I love more than fabric, it’s probably beads. I’ve been collecting beads for about as long as I can remember and I have a large plastic storage box full of my eclectic selection. Unfortunately, as with fabric, I usually buy beads I like without any real plan to make them into something. I’m also terrible at buying findings, which means that I almost never have the right findings to finish a project. But I’m trying to be better!
I decided to pick up a set of wireworking pliers and a magazine for inspiration (and of course just a few more beads!), and see what I could learn. Although I like beads, I’ve always been bad at making things with them so I felt I needed some pointers for stringing techniques and ideas. While browsing the internet, I’d also become intrigued by the polymer clay art I found. I last used Fimo (a brand of oven-hardening polymer clay) back in the ’80s when I was a kid and remembered it being not very good for making noodle horses, but it seems times (and formulations) have moved on. I decided to take advantage of some good online deals on Fimo blocks and have a play. I’d found a really lovely website, Desired Creations, and was fascinated by all Desiree’s tutorials. Skinner blends? Faux gemstones? Canes? I wanted to try it ALL. I ended up trying to adapt her tutorial for moss agate to make my own version of opal, using chunky iridescent glitter flakes, microglitters and fragments of Fimo Effect gemstone range. It… didn’t quite work as planned, though I still quite like my “candy quartz” results:
The magazine I’d picked up had a variety of jewellery-making tutorials, including out-of-reach things like lampwork glass and precious metal clay, but also more achievable tutorials on polymer clay, bead-stringing and chainmaille. It also included a Reader’s Challenge section. I looked with interest at the different items people had made, then noticed the small list of up-coming challenges. My eye was drawn to the “Golden Days” theme and it occurred to me that I had the perfect idea and beads for an entry, and thus the golden daisy was born!
I emailed my photos in the day before the deadline was due, and sat back to wait. In the interim, I wore my daisy to a friend’s wedding, where I received several compliments on it. A couple of months later, when I had pretty much forgotten all about it, I received a mysterious package in the post. It proved to be full of beads – my prize for having my necklace printed in the magazine! I was (and still am) completely thrilled. Plus, MORE BEADS! 😀 I’ve started to make a few more of these in different colours (dark blue and pink), but they’ve had structural issues so I need to solve that before I finish them. The back could probably do with refining, too.
I also finally decided to get to grips with chainmaille and wirework. Chainmaille has fascinated me for ages. With my shiny new pliers and a lot of little packets of jump rings in assorted golden, brass and copper tones, I made a slightly steampunk-ish choker with dangly bits and a Broderie Anglais back:
Lots of learning curves in this – making the chainmaille itself (it’s european 4-in-1), handling the small rings with the two pairs of pliers, attaching “floating” beads in the chainmaille, attaching the piece to the Broderie Anglais (it’s actually sewn to the beads on the chainmaille), making the eyepins for the danglies. I’m not totally happy with it (the ribbons intended as a fastening aren’t actually the great idea I thought they’d be), but it was a lot of fun to make.
I also had more of a play with my Fimo, and made the following things, some of which are more successful than others!
My first ever attempt at a cane – here’s lookin’ at you, kid! (Lots of things I’d do differently if I tried this again.)
A heart-shaped decoration for a wreath mum was making for Sian and Neil. The other side is copper-coloured. The little not-very-swirly lentil got set in a beaded bezel (my first!), adorned with some Swarovski bicones and dangled in the middle of the heart.
Reversible tile beads, made from left-over clay from my eye cane and the heart. I think the brown/white side looks like shell, mum says chocolate. She seems quite keen to eat a lot of my Fimo creations (her first comment on seeing the candy quartz was, “Oooo, those look interesting! Can we eat them?”), so I’d better watch out!
Snowflakes. I made the Fimo frame with the intention of dangling something in the middle, then got interested in beaded snowflakes. The two concepts sort of collided.