Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's practically a law: whenever I make something I really, really like, the camera won't do it justice.

No idea what I was on when I designed this one - I'm sure there's a reason for it being threaded on ribbon, I'm just not completely sure what that reason might be. I think it had something to do with the large-diameter holes in the African magazine beads I'd originally planned on using. This is the way my mind works. Or not.

The centrepiece is a rectangular sardonyx; this and its siblings cost more than I've ever paid for a string of beads before. Still, it would've felt wrong to have wasted my birthday money on something I didn't love.

It's a beautiful stone, but I swear the thing I like most about this one is the way the knots in the ribbon act as spacers.

Monday, March 09, 2009


...Yep, that's me at the Coventry Womens' Forum last Saturday, hawking and also wearing my wares.

I feel uniquely privileged to have had the chance to be a part of such an uplifting and inspiring cultural event, and have spent the past few days rejoicing in renewed awe of my empowered feminine self.

No, really.

Friday, March 06, 2009

This, for the record, is what you get when you use a bead supplier with a minimum spend limit. You browse for a bit, you dither, you think about all the useful thread and findings you could buy to make up those last couple of pounds and then you buy cloisonné goldfish. I hear they've made this a law in certain countries.

Of course, once you've bought them you have to work out what to do with them. For a while I was leaning towards simply leaving them bagged up somewhere prominent as a reminder that I was running low on thread and clasps, but then I figured everybody's allowed to be whimsical sometimes, right?

The barrettes are made in three stages. First, I wire on a layer of semiprecious chips. After that, I apply the fish and the bubbles. After that, I go back to the couch to lick the physical and mental wounds I've acquired from working with large lengths of springy fine-gauge wire.

Making them drives me barmy, but I'm sort of hoping not all of them will sell so I can adopt one for myself.

I love making bracelets. They're little bite-sized pieces of beading heaven, a safe place to investigate colours and textures without worrying about putting in hours of work on something that might turn out ugly or too heavy for the thread.

Better still, if I make three or four in a day they hang on the stand in a very satisfying sort of way. You've been productive, Sarah, they tell me, and I believe them and treat myself to a bit of chocolate as a reward.

Anyhow, clockwise from top left:
  1. Wood rounds and tree agate chips - very naturalistic and a bit oriental.
  2. Garnet chips with garnet leaf and lamp glass centrepiece - terribly, terribly sophisticated.
  3. Wood rounds, glass rounds, moonstone oval - I liked this one so much I made two.
  4. Small and large haematite rounds - some say funereal, I say a classic. You choose.
Damn, I'm looking forward to making more of these.
...Y'see, I swore I wouldn't get into the whole pendant thing. Pendants are for people who can do clever stuff with wire - stuff like cutting the ends of it in a manner that won't draw the wearer's blood.

It starts in such tiny ways, doesn't it? I'm not terribly confident with elastic, either, and it didn't really seem like such a huge deal to apply an extender chain to make a bracelet fit nicely. Out of extender chains? They're awfully expensive, aren't they? Why not simply buy a length of chain to cut up and make my own? Chain arrives but won't fit the bracelet clasps? Well, I have to do something with it, don't I?

I should probably mention at this point that the wastage of a couple of quid would not have flung me into penury.

I should probably also mention that these pendants contain no sharp ends - just glass, semiprecious stones, wood and these really funky little wire spirals I make with one twist of the round-ended pliers and then some clever stuff with the pad of my thumb.
Two days before an event is a very, very awkward time to realise you don't have any double-length strings made up. The photograph to the left depicts several hours of undiluted adrenaline, cursing and decaffeinated Earl Grey tea.

It's always nice to have some longer strings available, of course; almost everybody likes a necklace they can knot and loop and mould to their own personal style. They look pretty, they sell well.

They suck the living soul out of me. Three tiny beads, one less tiny one, repeat until 1) you reach 45 inches, 2) the beads run out or 3) your brain creeps out of your left ear and flings itself to its death via the nearest window.

Pretty, though, ain't they?

These were the jumping-off point when I realised I was likely to have a busy craft fair schedule for 2009 - a bunch of eclectic bead strings grouped by colour and featuring all the fun lamp glass beads I'd not been able to slot in anywhere else.

There's at least a dozen little stories hidden in this photo - the big red clay square from the beading carousel my parents bought me from Costco last year, the purple foil glass discs I bought in the form of five or six bracelets from the local charity shop, the little 4mil glass rounds in midnight blue that I still think are the prettiest colour I ever saw... I could go on about these forever. There's even some in here from the first bag of lamp glass beads I ever bought, from the British Heart Foundation shop next to the Etna restaurant in Coventry city centre. Back then, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Of course, some beads are more special than others, and so are some necklaces. Take a look at the second necklace from the bottom? It's another very simple design, chiefly because I thought the featured beads spoke for themselves. Discover their story at