Further to comments I’d posted earlier about launching my ‘Credit Cruncher’ range of less expensive items, I have been giving some thought to designs to utilise some of my stash of beads. Many of the things I bought in the early days as I tried different techniques in my hunger to learn as much as possible, were no longer suitable for the style of work I’m currently doing.
I seem to have stashed quite a lot of seed beads – largely to use as small spacers and the like in other designs, but I’d also tinkered with some modest bead weaving. Bead weaving is one of those jewellery making techniques that I love to see and am attracted to the work and can see the skill and value in, but think I’m perhaps short on the right sort of patience to do more intricate work myself.
I was given a book of beaded designs for a Christmas or birthday gift in the recent past and this had several beaded bead tutorials to follow. I’ve opened this book on several occasions with a needle in my hand and never progressed very far with them – they look like they should be simple enough to follow, but the techniques are outlined more like a knitting or embroidery pattern with colour coded charts. After another frustrating session with it yesterday, I just decided that the fault in not grasping it wasn’t entirely mine, but the patters were simply poorly described. At least for the way my mind works. I’ve since found others that I could follow straight away.
I hit my bookmarks and re-visited some sites I knew had tutorials (some as videos) and even after scribbling down some very incomprehensible-looking notes, I was much more able to follow these than the initial book and was soon on my way with some designs.
I also decided pretty quickly that there were things about these designs that I thought I’d prefer doing differently, so once I’d grasped a few techniques, I pretty much did my own thing and have made my own notes so that I can come back to it later.
It’s always amazing to me how much you learn – and how quickly – from trying something new like this. You quickly find shortcomings in the instructions and think there are better ways of doing things – hark at me like I’m an expert.
For example, the instructions I followed for the netted beads above instructed to keep the thread taut and keep good tension. It became evident pretty quickly, that trying to keep it taut with your fingers as you worked (which in itself was like trying to plait fog) simply gave rise to too loose a bead, so I simply repeated each stitched round as I went along, doubling the thread, so that the tension was much more consistent and gave a nicer result – my first attempts look okay, but feel somewhat squishy and fluid to the touch, where later ones feel solid.
I think with beads of this nature, any unnecessary movement between the beads will give rise to more wear on the threads and shorten their life. And doubling the thread is bound to give greater longevity to the bead too.
It also became evident pretty quickly, that the sort of seed beads I’d accumulated weren’t really the right sort for the task – largely because they were far too big – I hadn’t realised just how tiny some would need to be to give the right look. So I think my resulting beads lack some subtlety and would benefit from gentler colours and rather smaller beads for the netting – even though these seemed incredibly small to me – and my ageing eyes.
But it was an interesting departure from my usual work and nice to hone some different skills. I found making them to be totally therapeutic and addictive as you get totally absorbed in the rhythm of the rows and counting the beads. But I’m not sure that the resulting designs are going to end up as best sellers for me. I’ll finish these items up (and the first two need to be re-made to make them tighter and more robust, not to mention I can see a few stray stitches) and see how they look as finished earrings. At the end of the day, what sells in my shops isn’t necessarily what I could wear myself – I don’t go to anything like enough parties for starters.