More to Explore with Jewelry Making!
If I were to describe it as a road, I could say that I came to beading and bead-weaving along a rambling, twisty, back country road full of mysterious forests and magnificent views of far-off mountains. Okay, so maybe I’m waxing a little poetic here, but my road to seed bead work came after a lengthy, but enjoyable, jaunt through many different kinds of jewelry making projects and techniques. And while seed bead work and bead stringing are still my two favorite jewelry making techniques, I’ve discovered that there is definitely more to explore when it comes to jewelry making.
When I first started stringing beads, I could really have used a book like, well, Getting Started Stringing Beads by Jean Campbell. I don’t think there are many of my first bead stringing projects that have survived from those first days, mainly because I was totally clueless about things like…um…crimp beads. And bead stringing wire. And even jewelry making pliers! I spent so much time stringing beautiful beaded necklaces and bracelets, gave them away as gifts to my mother and sister, and then almost always had them returned to me to fix because my skimpy knots and weak thread fell apart pretty quickly. Had I a reference like this great beading book from Jean Campbell, my first attempts at beaded jewelry would probably have lasted a lot longer.
Some of my best jewelry making memories go back to elementary school, when I learned how to make those macrame friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss. My mother would take me to the yarn shop with her and while she was busy selecting yarn and needles for her next project, she would let me pick out 6 or 7 new colors of embroidery floss and a pack of safety pins to make knotted bracelets. Well, my knotting projects are all grown-up now (even if I haven’t quite grown up yet), and these days, I enjoy making knotted beaded jewelry using both traditional macrame techniques as well as kumihimo, Celtic, and Chinese knots. And while I may not be brave enough to try micro-macrame, I’ll happily continue to practice my beaded kumihimo techniques and learn more about incorporating fiber and beads together. The Knotting and Braiding Bible has lots of beautiful knotted and beaded jewelry making projects to keep me happy, and feeling young!
As I moved along my jewelry making path, I decided to try my hand at “real” jewelry, which I assumed could only be made of metal. (Oh, how foolish a young jewelry artist I was!) But, still, I happily embarked on my next set of projects using wire and metal, and spent many months learning how to coil, wrap, and weave wire into jewelry making components and finished wire jewelry. These days, I’m still playing with wire and metal, learning things like cold connections, riveting, and even Viking knit and wire weaving. Wire + Metal by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson will take you beyond basic wire jewelry and out into the world of basic metal jewelry making with these fantastic jewelry making projects.
And finally…I graduated to seed beads. I started out like some beaders, working on one of those cheap little “Indian” beading looms from the craft store, but weaving those little seed beads with a needle and thread spoke to some undiscovered part of my soul. I went back and forth with my little seed bead loom, sometimes abandoning it for months before it called me back with a fresh pack or two of seed beads. When I finally discovered how to weave those seed beads together without the use of a loom, I knew I had found “my” favorite technique for jewelry making — and now, more than 15 years later, I still find that working with seed beads is by far my favorite way to make beaded jewelry. If you’re a long-time beader like me who wants to “keep it fresh”, I would highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Kelly Angeley’s Explorations in Beadweaving for its beautiful, innovative beading projects that use both off-loom beading stitches and bead embroidery to create “in the moment” jewelry for any occasion.
Feeling inspired to go a little off the beaten path and explore more jewelry making techniques this summer? For a limited time, all of these eBooks (plus a few more) are just $9 each! Check out this great sale in the Beading Daily Shop, and find more to explore with your jewelry making journey.
Do you have a favorite jewelry making technique that you discovered along the road to seed beads? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts and the stories from your own jewelry making journey with us!