I love working with beads. It’s meditative and relaxing and gives me creative satisfaction. Beading materials can be bought from specialist suppliers in stores and from shops on the internet. You can also shop by catalogue. For me, one of the best ways to buy beads is on the internet as you can really take your time shopping around at any time of day or night from the comfort of your home, plus it’s fun receiving packages. Of course, I also enjoy shopping for beads and supplies in stores where I can go through trays of treasure picking them up by the handful and imagining what I could make. When I travel I always keep an eye out for special beads and jewellery to add to my collection. I love having a well stocked supply of beads, it gives me creative freedom.
I think that it’s important to have a workspace specially designated for my projects. My beading table is very large and I’ve placed it under a window where there’s lots of light and a wonderful view. It’s good to invest in a bead design board but I’ve found that I like to string beads at random, although I do colour group my beads for accessibility. I can be focused on an idea and suddenly I would remember, seemingly from nowhere, a bead I once saw, and that bead would become the focus of my attention drawing the whole idea together. It’s fascinating to see how a piece develops. The right bead combination could really make a statement. I like to keep some of my finished pieces around my beading area as they inspire me, but nothing inspires me more than when I see my handcrafted jewellery worn by someone else. It brings such pleasure to know that someone enjoys it as every piece I make is special to me.
It’s important to have good quality stringing materials as it’s upsetting to have your jewelry stretch and sag and fall apart. I always use beading wire with brand names such as Accuflex and Beadalon. I also use natural fiber cords and sterling silver wire.
Handmade beaded jewellery can be made from many things. Some of my favourite beads are glass and crystal beads. India glass beads are made of molten glass and although machine made they look handmade. Lamp-worked beads are handmade created with hot glass. Czech glass fire-polished beads are hand or machine-faceted. I often find myself leaning towards Swarovski crystals. Their precision cut facets and brilliant sparkle are simply alluring. I also keep a good stock of natural stone and gemstone beads on hand.
When selecting a piece of handmade jewellery, think about where you will wear it. Would the length of this necklace be perfect for the occasion, will it work for me from day to night, or is this bracelette too dressy for work? And these earrings, are they overpowering my look? I like to design casual yet elegant styles, versatile flapper-style necklaces, opera necklaces that are long enough to slide easily over the head, pretty bib and matinee length necklaces, single strand bracelettes that can be paired up as well as multi-strands that can be worn anywhere. Earrings that are simple and easy to wear. The main thing is to wear something that pleases you and that you will enjoy for many years.