Inspired by the lovely JM designer Sheila Davies I have been busy working on this sari silk and gemstone collar piece, using a variety of sari silk ruffles & flowers meticulously sew in to place then decorated by a variety of gemstones from a bead scoop this collar piece is truly original.
It’s quite heavy so more of a winter piece of jewellery to wear than a summer collar, this means that the necklace needs to be durable and in keeping with the collar so I am considering kumihimo with sari silk ribbon intertwined with a length of chain.
On Valentines day I got up ridiculously early, bag packed the night before, tool kit at the ready I had my travel tea cup filled, my breakfast bars on standby as I zoomed off in search of Redditch!
My destination was the Sewing and Pearls workshop, taught by Sheila Davies (resident designer at jewellery maker). I made it in plenty of time, not liking pearls nor lace this was going to be a challenge.
However, that is precisely the reason I decided to take the workshop, sometimes you learn more whilst working out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone is tiny beads, peyote, right angle weave, brick, albion, herringbone stitches and shortly the hubble stitch (watch this space but the awesome Bead School Mel has designed a new stitch, a book is being written as I type!) and french wirework beading.
I have been to Jewellery maker before, so the building, the layout was familiar to me, the workshop environment wasn’t. Previously I have only attended a sunday experience, I am desperately trying to get on another but try as I might I haven’t been successful yet
I was expecting a kit, demos, instructions, and finished items to view as inspiration pieces, interaction with other guest designers & presenters etc However, this wasn’t quite what the day turned out to be…….
I will say, Sheila is a wonderful lovely lady, who is kind, generous and incredibly helpful she allowed us the freedom and creativity to design our own pieces as the day progressed, I actually moved away from lace and on to Sari silk ribbon which I have to say I much prefer to work with. Sheila, I love, she isn’t your conventional teacher, but she is a patient, and thought provoking one. As such there were no instructions, no detailed diagrams of the course objectives for the day but there were inspirational pieces. Including those I have pictured throughout this blog post.
Around the room she displayed her pieces, allowed us to use her stash of pearls, lace, needles etc without the need initially to dip into our “kits” which consisted of a strand of pearls, 2 backing pieces of material, monofilament, and pieces of white lace.
Sheila dished out bead scoops, cut additional backing material up for us to use, gave us access to her pearl stash, quartz etc so I ended up making a piece that isn’t at all something I would of ever dreamt of creating, and then I moved on to creating (and am still creating) what I think will be my favourite piece using Sari silk ribbon and the bead scoop.
Another part of the course is the opportunity to meet the presenters and guest designers on the shows that day. I would love the opportunity to become a guest designer, sadly I suspect my area of specialism is too small & time consuming for JM, bead weaving is my passion, I love creating a bezel for a cab using peyote or albion stitch, adjusting the size of the beads to enable a tight secure bezel, cubic right angle weave, basic right angle weave (ladder weave to JM viewers) and much more, not all bead weaving needs to be done with tiny seed beads and personally I think there are many jewellery makers out in the big wide word who would love to learn a simple daisy stitch, create cubic weaves one day maybe my dream will come true!
I have to say some presenters & guest designers were much friendlier and lovely than they come across on the television, others sadly for whatever reason failed to acknowledge the workshop attendees, or if they did, it was glaringly obvious to several workshop attendees that the acknowledgement was done begrudgingly.
Two of the presenters on Saturday were Ali Defoy, and Lucy Nicholls. Ali & Lucy are simply the loveliest, kindest friendliest most down to earth hilarious people I met on the day, along with the lovely Scott who was standing in for Wendy (workshop co-ordinator), and obviously Sheila. Each of these people took time out of their busy day to come into the workshop room, interact with the attendees, delight, encourage oooh and aaahhh over the our creations, share the delights of the strands which had been or were going on air. This was before Ali went on air, & after Lucy had been on air, and then they popped back again a few hours later to make sure that they both the time to say goodbye to us, just as the lovely Elena had done when I met her on the Sunday experience last year.
During the day Sheila gave us an insight in to stiffening lace, staining white to an antique tea colour (using a tea bag!) and some of her design methodology. She virtually emptied her stash of lace encouraging us to take more pieces to create with, she willingly (or so it appeared) popped here there and everywhere looking for glue, wire mesh, sari silks, and other samples of products that we may not of used or tried previously.
I love teaching myself, but I also love taking classes. I am always looking to learn something new, the inspiration you can get from being around other jewellery designers makes for a vibrant buzzing atmosphere – I really would love to go again and learn something new, maybe a silver clay or wirework workshop next!
Well, the Great British Sewing Bee is back on the TV, Celebrity Great British Baker too, why not combine the two and book a Crafternoon Hen Party at one of several beautiful venues? You can learn to sew, make a tiara, make jewellery using precious gemstones or pearls, combined with afternoon tea, and then add on a spa trip, or overnight stay to make your weekend complete.
Do contact Michelle @ CraftyBetty for more information including how to book.
So, a quick glimpse at my beading board….notice I use a foam beading mat not a macrame board, or any other kind of board – the reason is that this beading mat at a cost of less than £1 holds the beads perfectly, quite how the “expert designers” on JM manage with a macrame board I have no idea, because when I try using on for basic beading my beads fly everywhere!
Anyway, I have drifted back to bead weaving, and really fancied using up some 2mm and 4mm rounds, so have a combination of quartz & jasper in various sizes on my board.
I decided to do a Cellini Spiral as this stitch looks amazing and is incredibly easy to learn, it’s basically a tubular peyote stitch but uses different sizes of beads so the end result is absolutely stunning.
To start the peyote, ideally you need 4 different colours of bead, ideally at least 2 of these are graduating in size, hence I used 2mm and 4 mm, the effect of this is that as the tube grows the beads appear to spiral.
The basic steps are to load 6 A beads, 2 B beads, 2 C beads, 2 D beads, 2 C beads and 2 D beads, take the thread back through the first 2 A beads and then step up, so the golden rule is quite simply which bead you are exiting, pick that up for the next stitch, so it’s a standard peyote. Go through a bead, pick up a bead, miss the bead and go through the next, thus producing an almost brick work effect once a couple of rows have been stitched.
Once you get round to the beginning, don’t just go through the next bead, but also go through the first bead added on the row you are just finishing, i.e. the step up, then continue adding beads as you spiral around. The pattern will commence quite quickly, but pay attention as it will be obvious if you get the wrong bead!
So I was busy beading away, my fireline snapped beads fell everywhere ……..I needed the chocolate orange to console myself.
This was quite unexpected, as fireline is quite hard to cut – in fact I have a special pair of scissors just for wildfire and firemen. It will blunt normal snips & scissors as it’s quite a tough thread to use. These threads are thermally bonded, traditionally used by fishermen but my gemstones cut through the firemen …… so I have no picture to show you – however I won’t be defeated I will get some larger gemstones, and do the same but with a wire threading material. The end result won’t be a dainty, but should still have some impact, depending on how tight I can get the tension on the wire.
Watch this space!
HOT TIP ALERT!
When using wildfire or fireline you may find it tricky to get through the eye of the needle, if this is the case, use your flat nose pliers to squeeze the end of the thread, it will make it go flat which you can then turn on its side and slide thorough the needle eye
It’s a tad cold outside, in the mornings the frost is on the rooftops of the car, the window ledges, the window panes everywhere. I do love the frost, it leave a sense of clean as everywhere you look is shiny sparkly and white, some mornings it can be like looking out of the window at little gems or even diamonds twinkling.
I look for inspiration for my jewellery making everywhere, and whilst walking to work this morning I noticed that as the morning progressed the sun came up, and what was a chilly frosty white glaze over the pavements was rapidly disappearing under my feet.
I noticed, that whilst the frost & ice was dissolving it was leaving behind the most amazing patterns in the pavement – the image you see is nothing special, just simply the pavement under my feet as I walked to work, the ice melted away leaving behind a damp imprint of what clearly had been ice crystals on the ground. It’s so Lawrence Llewlyn-Bowen isn’t it !
The design reminds me of a mug I have as designed by Lawrence, but also a Fern Leaf pattern, the intricate stems, and leaf designs created by nature. Every pattern completely different. Its something I am attempting to replicate in my next jewellery challenge.
I have visited lots of craft fairs, I find them full of inspiration, and buzzing with creativity, I tend to associate them with tea and cake, being a summer time affair generally, but obviously there are the Christmas versions (still with tea and cake), the Easter ones (tea and chocolate cake) but I do find them frustratingly difficult to sell at.
So, the basics of a craft fair are that the seller is registered with HMRC, if not then there could be undeclared income issues to deal with, and trust me its really worth registering as Self Employed if you are looking to make money because the fines simply weigh the meagre amount of tax you would be paying ten, twenty fold.
You need Insurance, public liability, you don’t want anyone to trip up and fall on your table leg, break a finger nail & then put in a claim against you.
Contents / Stock insurance, sadly there are people in the world not as honest as others, not to mention should the heavens open and it rains on your parade, or the Earth develops a huge fault and your table vanishes in a crater before your very eyes!
Table layout needs to be eye-catching, multi layered and not cluttered. Pricing should be clear, as should a little information about the items you are selling, its pointless selling Genuine gemstones if the potential customers don’t know they are genuine, they could just think they are overpriced plastic or glass beads. Or perhaps its a hand crafted lampwork bead design, exquisite and totally unique.
Packaging should be simple, elegant or beautiful also, especially if the items are to be gifts, but not excessive – there is also the small chance you could charge for gift wrapping or you could throw that in as a deal clincher!
I am a huge advocate of the personal approach, smile, greet people, engage in banter and chit-chat, stand at the front of your stall proudly displaying your wares, have a story to tell about them so that a passing potential customer can form an association with the item to the point that they simply must buy it – whether it be the stone of their birth month, or that it matches the colours of their jacket. The story can include a tale of how the feature gem is only mined 2 months of the year, in freezing conditions where the miners struggle to mine enough stone to make them enough money to survive the sub-zero temperatures for the remainder of the year. How the stone is only mined from one mine in the entire world and that its drying up, or the story could be something as simple as how the design was featured in Tatler, or Tiffany’s blue book or its inspired by the necklace worn by the Mona Lisa – the physical item is only half the story in clinching the sale the balance is about the memories you can create around the piece. I can waffle forever if I need to, its easy because I am passionate about the Gems I own & collect, and the pieces I am inspired to make whether they be out of gemstones or seed beads.
I also find that a stallholder can have a huge amount of interaction with potential customers by demonstrating at their stall, but also by allowing the customer to have a go themselves, or request a custom piece. It’s truly satisfying to teach someone a new skill, I love demonstrating techniques, and discovering new techniques, stitches what works and what doesn’t with different types of beads and stringing material.
I found last year that loom band craze lent itself really well to this, and at spare table a couple of children soon had a crowd around them ooo’ing and aaaah’ing at their looming skills!
But now we come of to my big big huge massive bug bare, the big issue I have with craft fairs is that people love to look, touch, hold, gossip, but rarely part with any money.
Lets face it, the real draw of doing a fair is to make some money, now whether that be to reinvest in stock or treats for yourself at the fair or the sole source of your income without money is there any real point to exhibiting at a craft fair ?
I get constantly frustrated with guest designers on JM and the presenters when I hear the constant oooh ahhhh ooooh at the fantastic designs demonstrated on the inspiration (and the other shows) there is absolutely no doubt they are amazing, beautiful pieces of jewellery, but oooh that necklace could be sold for at least (with real emphasis on the “at least” part of that sentence) £50 what a bargain, or the banter where each piece of agate on a strand could be sold for at least £20 each making a profit of £160 come on buy them, why wouldn’t you its ridiculous not to purchase them …but seriously would you, go a craft fair and buy a necklace or any piece of jewellery from a stall holder for that kind of money?? I wouldn’t and I can see the value in the gemstones and the time taken to create the piece.
My point is not to be negative at all, it’s just that I have visited as buyer, and as a seller a variety of craft stalls, I have made many friends whilst at these fairs but each time I have done them I have barely covered my costs, certainly not if you factor in my time or effort involved in setting up, paying for the stall, paying the insurance, petrol, food / drink at the fair and asking around most sellers I have met do it for the social side, and rarely make money. I am sure they all have really good days, but in truth I think anyone who believes you can make a good consistent reliable living selling at craft fairs must be living in a cardboard box or on fantasy island, however if you do manage it please do share your selling secrets and best stall locations!
So I have drifted back to Beadweaving, I always do as I find stringing beads or gemstones on a piece of wire or beading thread fairly mundane and basic, but sometimes you need basic mind numbing threading (stringing) and other times you need an intricate skilful challenge.
So I decided to pick up a kit (given to my for my birthday from my mummy), and using a few stud beads (York Beads NY) delicious delicas and tiny size 15 seed beads I re-acquainted myself with Albion Stitch (Heather Kingsley-Heath) and whipped up a case for each, I have to say Albion Stitch is an easy stitch to get your head around, once I have completed the pendant I am going to use to bead around some Cabs I purchased from Jewellery Maker. I was pleased that it only took Saturday evening, and Sunday Evening to produce 6 beaded stud beads.
I find bead weaving so relaxing, but bizarrely the seed beads are as expensive if not more expensive than genuine gemstones! The beauty of working with them, isn’t in the value for me, its detail, you can spend hours working on a piece and it will be tiny.
To put this some perspective, I spent an entire day at a bead weaving class in London last March and created a couple of the beaded 14mm’s with the dagger beads attached, the bracelet took 8 pieces to create using size 15 charlottes (tinier than size 15 seed beads) and some size 15 seed beads so I spent an entire day completing just a couple of these, I then spent hours in the evenings following the class to complete the bracelet. In this same time I could of created an entire suite of beaded necklaces, bracelets, earrings,tiaras and wire wrapped hair pieces the simple fact is that the smaller the beads, the more intricate the work involved, and the more time required to make a piece of jewellery.
This sadly is most probably the reason you won’t see this art demonstrated on Jewellery Maker, they simply don’t have the time to demo it, but also the tiny beads would I imagine be so intricate to cut, as many of the beads I believe are cut by hand in India it simply wouldn’t be feasible or economical to produce them.
For Christmas my lovely mummy got me a selection box, now these are I know, very common around the festive season but, my mummy didn’t get me a chocolate selection box she got me a Jewellery Maker Selection box, which she selected herself! #jewellerymaker
Wow, on Sunday morning I was just experimenting in the kitchen with a Davina McColl reduced sugar cupcake recipe, using Spelt Flour, Ground Almonds and Maple syrup …. I added cocoa powder, and coated the finished product in 85% chocolate …taste well I was apprehensive at the start but they taste amazing …. well worth the effort
So whilst I was whipping my butter, adding the eggs and flour I put Ed (Jewellery maker) on the iPad and my necklace appeared on the wall of fame!!!! It was shown at 11am, the video is on YouTube, but I can’t upload as the file size is too large for wordpress, so here is the picture again