Explorations in Beadweaving: 10 Unusual Components to Bead
I love a book that gets me inspired to look at objects around me in new ways. Author Kelly Angeley does just that when she takes everyday things that could be found in your own home and turns them into some pretty unconventional components in Explorations in Beadweaving: Techniques for an Improvisational Approach . Then, using peyote stitch, herringbone stitch, right-angle weave, bead embroidery, and combinations of these, she creates one-of-a-kind pieces that become unique keepsakes for the wearer.
Inspired by this approach, I went on a scavenger hunt around my house looking for objects I could bead. Together, with some of Kelly’s funky finds, we’ve got a great list to get you started beading with unusual components.
10 Unusual Components for some Beadweaving Fun
1. Porcelain bath fixtures
Kelly’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Lariat uses herringbone stitch to turn vintage sink knobs into bold beads with two tasseled ends.
2. Sparkling wine and bottle caps
Some bottles of champagne and sparkling wine have cool surprises under their foil caps. Wrapped in a wire cage and used to hold the cork in place, I collect the metal caps with unique images. I think they’d be great paired with bead embroidery. You could also use colorful vintage bottle caps, too!
I probably wouldn’t use champagne corks for beading since they have such a bulbous head to them, but wine corks could work! A quick drill through the center lengthwise and you’ve got a really unique bead to add to a finished design.
4. Hair clips and broken barrettes
My daughter loved hair clips and barrettes when she was little, but has abandoned them now that she’s a teenager. I can see popping the pretty bits off her hair clips and beading up something sweet for her baby book.
5. Cut glass pieces
When I first saw this piece in Explorations in Beadweaving I did a double take. Would you believe that top component that says “Metropolitan” is actually glass cut from a vintage cocktail shaker? It is! Now I know what to do with my overflowing cupboard of souvenir glasses.
6. Pillbox lids
My mother has a beautiful collection of antique pillboxes. I’ve seen lids embellished with everything from micro mosaic tile work to ornate metal embossing to intricately embroidered scenes. They’re rarely bigger than 2″ in diameter. At estate sales, Mom will leave behind the boxes that have damaged closures. Next time I’m picking up the broken ones and using that lid for beadwork!
7. Vintage buttons
While not the most unconventional item on the list, my big old jar of vintage buttons caused me pause when on my scavenger hunt. With a wide variety of sizes, shanks, and materials, there’s a wealth of possibilities for pieces to bead with when it comes to buttons.
8. Fabric tape measure
I’m not only a beader and jeweler, I’m also a knitter. I have a bunch of retractable fabric tape measures in various notions bags around the house. I remembered I recently used one of those tape measures to death and have frayed the pull to the point that it’s hanging by a thread. I’m going to pull out the tape measure, cut it from the spool, and bead it into a really cool wrap bracelet.
9. Drawer plates and pulls
My, oh, my, did furniture makers of the past now how to make a dresser drawer shine, or what? The back plates of drawer-pull hardware can be found in a range of materials and levels of ornate style. Kelly used a vintage brass pull in her Orbital Pull necklace for a show stopping design.
10. Old clock parts
I have a soft spot for old clocks. Many no longer tell the time, but as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day! I imagine the insides of this oldie but goodie could be a treasure trove of parts for repurposing in beaded jewelry.
More Unusual Components
Help me grow my list of unusual components to bead. What’s the craziest finding you’ve worked with? Share with us in the comments below or use the hashtag #unusualcomponentstobead on social media!
Editorial Director, Books
Join Kelly Angeley in an improvisational approach to beading.