Sunday, January 29, 2017


secondhand beads

Over the years I have acquired lots of really nice secondhand beads, most coming from charity shops but some coming as cast-offs from friends and family.

This particular set were found in a local charity shop and included some lovely dark plum coloured lava stones, some glass beads and some fairly horrid and manky cheap spacers.

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I restrung them and used them in my exhibition last summer.  This style of necklace, just a few beads strung on a piece of wire, was the very first type of necklace I learned to make when I was practising how to choose bead sizes and colours and attach a clasp.  I had forgotten how useful it is as a type of necklace to have, nice and light and not too dominating if worn with a t-shirt or top where it blends in with the colour.

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This charity shop necklace was originally a long and tremendously heavy string of fairly rough chunks of jasper.  To much of a good thing and almost unwearable because of its weight.  I think I paid about £2 for it and remade it into a much shorter version with nice rustic spacers instead of the nasty corroded metal balls that were in it.  Much more wearable and the rough chunkiness of the stones make a striking statement on a plain top.  Without giving the wearer neck ache!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


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One of my favourite local bead shops in the UK closed a couple of years ago but whilst it was open I bought loads of beads there.  The owner was a gifted crafter and ran courses on all manner of jewellery making and bead making.  She had the finest selection of beads I have ever seen in a bead shop and I was very sad when she decided to close.  Apparently the reason was that her husband’s business, the major income producer, was expanding rapidly and in need of help in a hurry so a tough decision had to be made.  If I had been ten years younger I might have been tempted to offer to buy the business from her and run it myself.

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Amongst her stock she carried a large selection of bracelet kits in all colours.  The thing I liked about them is that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to select beads in colours that went together very well and although they would certainly make an instant bracelet I used the strands to make chunky necklaces.  By using the best of the beads and adding in my own, along with spacers and bits of chain, I made several striking necklaces very quickly for my expo.  Much quicker than if I had gone rummaging through my stock of beads from scratch – which normally would be a total joy but on this occasion I was under time pressure so these strands were a big help.

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Some of the strands contained too many plastic beads for my liking but I included some as they kept the weight down when made into a necklace instead of a bracelet.  Most contained a combination of semi-precious stones, glass, plastic, metal and resin beads, plus a few spacers. 

I still have some left for future enjoyment!

Saturday, January 14, 2017



When I was invited to contribute to an exhibition of local crafts in the next village last summer, I had no real idea what I was letting myself in for!


It all came about when we called into the tourist office in the village and I admired some of the jewellery on display there.  I got chatting to the French speaking English lady who was on duty that day and she mentioned the series of exhibitions (expos) that they had planned for the tourist office in the next village later in the year.  For two weeks at a time people would display their crafts in the office to show what craft work was going on in the area.  This would take place over several months in the summer and she asked me if I would be interested in taking part.  I agreed, never thinking for a minute that I would actually be asked to do it!

When the phone call came I was both pleased and flattered and agreed to do it.  When I then took stock of how much stuff I had available to display I wondered if I had made a big mistake!

Then when I went along to view the area the exhibition would take place in I really questioned my own sanity.  There were several huge display cabinets and I had nowhere near enough to stuff to fill them.  Not only that, but I couldn’t find most of my display equipment – about half of my black velvet busts and jewellery rolls were nowhere to be found despite turning the house upside down to search for them.


With a humungous effort I scrambled together all the jewellery I had that I wear myself, borrowed stuff that I had made for other people, finished all the half done projects that were already on the go and made a whole lot more. 


I gathered various bits of furniture, ornaments and kitchen ware from around the house, as well as some old floor tiles and bits of rock, to create things that I could display things on and supplement the few real display stands that I could find.


Even with all the items that I had there was still not quite enough to fill all the available space.  So Nick and I came up with a great idea for one of the cabinets.


As the whole point of the exhibition was to showcase local crafts, I decided to do a display of “how to make jewellery”, thinking that if I can do it, anyone can do it and somebody might just be sufficiently inspired to have a go.


I made a display of basic tools, a few beads and beading books, to show how you would start to string a necklace.  I don’t suppose I’ll ever know if anyone was tempted to try it for themselves, but you never know.

The exhibition took two hours to assemble and about twenty minutes to take apart.  I sold a small number of items but that was not what it was all about for me.  To be able to show my work and the variety of styles that can be done as a hobby was what I was aiming for.  The young lady in charge in the tourist office said it was very well received and she had lots of interest, so it was worth the effort.