Beads, Charms, Pendants, and Oh! So Much Jewelry-Making Inspiration

While at the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, WI, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the eclectic mix of beads, tools,  stringing supplies, and jewelry-making inspiration that abounded on the show floor. Highlights included seeing the new TOHO demi-round seed beads, new Delica silk colors (which will be available soon!), Crystaletts micro linx, and an exotic mix of international beads and findings.

African trade beads, Hill Tribes silver beads, pendants, charms; Bali silver beads, findings and charms

I managed to pick up some new Hill Tribes silver beads, which I can’t wait to make good use of (keep your eye out for a new project soon!), and couldn’t resist a few strands of African trade beads along with some other jewelry-making supplies.

These strands are more like spacers I’ll use like heishi to make something colorful and summery. The yellow, blue and green beads are glass; the pink and blue are vinyl!

African glass and vinyl spacer beads

African glass and vinyl spacer beads

My attraction to these pieces should really be no surprise to me as I’ve been a collector of Bali silver beads and findings, as well as Hill Tribes silver beads, pendants, and findings for a really long time. And I can’t seem to resist materials with color!

Not only are the silver beads and findings handmade and unique, the Hill Tribes designs are 99.5% pure silver so tarnish more slowly – a huge plus if you are someone who wears your designs often or if you don’t store your jewelry in zip-top bags.

These beads usually have a soft, satiny finish and can be polished up easily, either in a tumbler or with polishing cloths for a higher shine. And simply put, the nature-inspired shapes made by the Hill Tribes draw me in. (Can you resist them?)

Hill Tribes silver charms and pendants

I think I should start carrying around a checklist though, so I remember which pieces I already own so I don’t keep buying the same shapes each time (or, maybe not, ’cause can you really have too many starfish?).
Hill Tribes silver starfish pendant and charms

Hill Tribes silver designs are made in Thailand by the Hill Tribe silversmiths. This tribes are located in northern Thailand and use traditional tribal methods for working with metal. Every piece is unique, was made using primitive tools and methods, and each creation is a small piece of art you can wear.



Hill Tribe in Thailand, creating fine-silver designs

Photo courtesy of Ands Silver

Get your chakra on
As an aside, there is tradition in the shapes and symbols found among the Hill Tribes designs. For example, the flower symbol (6 dots surrounding a single dot) is the chakra flower, sometimes simply referred to as a flower print. Add it to your designs and feel its benefit, or just enjoy its sweet detail.

Hill Tribes silver beads with chakra flower symbol

Hill Tribes silver beads with chakra flower symbol

I enjoy working Bali and Hill Tribes silver designs into my finished jewelry. I think these beads, spacers, and charms add a really nice touch.

Beaded charm bracelet by Tammy Honaman. Glass beads by Worn Beadies, Hill Tribes and Bali silver beads and charms; sterling silver wire; fine silver headpins

Beaded charm bracelet, by Tammy Honaman

Hill Tribes and Bali silver also work well on their own, even with just one piece strung on a simple cord or cable. No matter how you work Hill Tribes silver, Bali silver, African trade beads, or other beads and findings from across the globe into your handmade creations, you can’t go wrong!

If you’re looking for inspiration and bead weaving instructions with around-the-world flair, be sure to check out the Across the Sea beading collection. In it you’ll find seed bead weaving patterns inspired by cultures spanning the globe.

Have an Across the Sea creation you can share with us? Or a favorite find at a recent bead or jewelry making event? Please post your handmade jewelry designs to our members gallery or leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Yours creatively,

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