Wednesday, October 23, 2013



I discovered these coloured wire hoops in a local bead shop.  They are really inexpensive (around £1 each) and have a screw fastening.  The idea is that you simply undo the screw, thread large-holed beads onto the wire and there you have a necklace.  The beads have to have holes large enough to go over the screw at the end of the wire.

The bit I didn’t like about this idea is that I don’t have many large-holed beads and – the really naff part – they fall off if the necklace slips out of your hand as you fiddle with the screw to fasten it.  So I worked out a way to use normal beads that would not fall off if you let go of the wire !!



I undid the screw and slid the collar back.  Then I snipped the stopper off the wire.  I removed the collar, added beads, replaced the collar and made a new stopper by crimping on a large crimp.  The beads will not now fall off as the hole is not big enough to pass over the screw or the collar.

If you want to try this, it is important to remember to snip off the end with the collar, not the end with the screw head, because if you get it wrong, the screw fastening won’t work as you have chopped off one half of it !!  You also have to make sure you put the collar back on the right way up.  It has a screw thread at one end and that needs to be at the outer end of the wire so it will marry up with the other half of the screw on the other end of the wire.

You can also adjust the length of the necklace by snipping off more than just the stopper from the end.  For children the necklaces are perfect because they’re fun and cheap.  My friend’s daughters aged ten and twelve loved making some for themselves, I did the snipping and the crimping.  For them I had to cut off up to 10cm of wire to make the necklace the correct length for the beads to sit just right when worn.


I made several necklaces, using different coloured wires and toning beads.  They are nice and light to wear and look neat and modern with a t-shirt or top.  They’re so quick and easy to make you could have one for every outfit !!


Monday, September 23, 2013


Earlier in the year when my friend Elizabeth said she would like to have a stall at a brocante or vide grenier to sell some of her craft work, I said I would join her and sell some of my jewellery.


We looked at the booklet which gives the dates and locations of all the brocantes in our area and chose the one at Huismes in early September. 

I seem to remember choosing that one because of the dates we were both available, the number of stalls (not too many so there wouldn’t be too much competition but enough to guarantee plenty of visitors), the time of year (likely to be not too hot and certainly not as perishing cold as the Christmas market I did at Ferrière Larçon) and the location.  Huismes is a nice village not far from Chinon so we thought it could be one of the more upmarket events.

How wrong we could be !!


We had a practice run at setting up in Elizabeth’s garden and without a doubt our stall looked the business.  But it turned out to be completely out of place. 


In the very chilly early morning as cars, trailers and vans were queuing up to get a place I could see that most of what other people had for sale was just junk.  In fact even before got out of the car an older couple approached and, having spotted the only English number plates on the field, asked us if we had any Wedgewood.  We didn’t, which is a pity. 


I had a walk around once we were set up and saw that we were the only stall selling anything new or of any quality.  The rest was all jumble sale stuff, a lot of it the sort of stuff I would have long since taken to the tip !!

We had a lot of interest and compliments as people examined and admired our work.  Elizabeth sold some pictures, cards and needlework but I sold only two pieces of jewellery. 

One was a nice little necklace to a nice little girl who was with her nice handsome dad who obviously was also in the wrong location and was not going to buy his daughter anything grubby and well used !!  The other was “thrown in” at a knock down price for a lady who really only wanted the cheap jewellery box that we had on display and thought she might as well buy a necklace to go in it.  I let it go for a silly price, although it pained me to see a lovely, well made necklace of semiprecious stones and crystals being stuffed into a cheap Chinese trinket box.  I’m not usually that precious about my jewellery but I wish I had kept it to wear myself.


It was an interesting experience.  Altogether we sold 53€ worth of goods.  As the table cost 6€ at least we were in profit – but not if you take into account the cost of the petrol to get there !!

The man who had a large stall with his wife opposite ours was very friendly and highly amused.  Between them they had made 450€ selling absolute trash.  He said so himself.  I asked him about it and he said this was the last brocante they were ever going to do, having done three a year for the last ten years.  They were selling unwanted stuff from their house and on this day it was mostly a euro or less.  He advised us to bring junk next time !!

So it’s all down to location, location, like everything else.

location6Thanks to Tim for this photo of our stall. 

You have to know your brocantes and some are definitely better than others in the sense that at some you only get people selling junk, at others you get quality stuff, furniture, antiques and crafts.  We had judged it completely wrong.

There were also some thieves about.  The friendly man opposite had had things stolen from his stall and he blamed it on the groups of swarthy looking travellers.  We watched how they visited the same stalls over and over again, in groups with lots of young children, which would make it easy for things to be taken from one end of the table while the stallholder was distracted at the other end.  He also said that the middle of the afternoon was the worst time – he described the new arrivals as “paysans” – wanting stuff that was really cheap.  Can you get cheaper than 1€, I thought – 50cents perhaps.  Still, he seemed happy enough, as it was all pretty worthless anyway and it would be less to take to the tip the next day !! 

The saying goes “third time lucky” so with two disappointing stalls behind me maybe the next one I do in France will hit the jackpot ~ so long as I remember it’s down to “location, location” !!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I like using textured beads.


beads2 This  necklace is made from dyed lava stone beads with frosted spacers in a gunmetal colour.

It looks stunning against a plain black top.


beads4 The centre beads in this necklace are made of a silky fabric which is glued onto plastic, making them nice and light.  I teamed them with a textured copper bead to bring out the colours.

It goes well with summer tops and dresses.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


pink heart necklace1 

Time for beading has been short lately.  Even though I am now retired I seem busier than ever.  Most people say that’s what happens when you retire – you wonder how you ever had the time to go to work !!

pink heart necklace2

I had promised some jewellery to blogger John Gray for his allotment open day, so I had a quick rummage in the bead box, spotted this lovely pink stone bead and made it into a necklace.

I was pleased with the result and have several more of these beads, so I might make one for myself !!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


The friend who asked for the black and grey necklace a little while ago was so pleased with it that she asked me to make another one the same and a second one in a different colour.

charity necklace2

I was able to get some more of the large black and white beads and make something very similar to the original, just slightly shorter.

charity necklace1

She was intending to auction them at an event to raise money for a children’s charity. So for the other one I decided to go neutral in colour, thinking that might appeal to more people.

This one would be my favourite, I think.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013



A colleague came to work wearing a floral blue and pink top today and to go with it she was wearing the necklace I made for her a few years ago.

I had quite forgotten about this necklace.  I made it when I was going through a phase of making double-strand necklaces for everyone!  They’re quick to make and look quite dainty, even though some of the beads are quite large. 

I was pleased that she still wears it and it still looks good today.

Friday, February 22, 2013


A friend asked me to make a necklace using black and grey beads to wear with a new dress for a special occasion. She liked the big bead necklaces I made a while ago.

black beads3

black beads4 I produced three different designs, just to get an idea of what sort of thing she wanted.

black beads1This is the one she chose – she liked having several large, flat beads.

black beads2

Many more beads had to be added to get the 26 inch length she wanted.

black beads5 The finished necklace.