Tips for Making Your Own Fabric Beads, Plus Kristal Wick Interview

Fabric Beads, Take Two

A few years ago I tried to make beads from ribbons.  Sounds pretty easy, right?  Cut a piece of ribbon, roll it up, and glue it.  What could possibly go wrong?  (How much time do you have?)  My beads came apart at the seams and they were easily squashed.  I couldn't figure out how much ribbon should overlap on the seam or what type of adhesive I should use.  It's safe to say I was very intrigued when I saw Kristal Wick's new book, Fabulous Fabric Beads.  Here was an artist who made and sold fabric beads for a living–if I still couldn't figure out how to make a good fabric (or ribbon) bead with this book, then I would just give up!

My First Successful Fabric-Covered Beads

Spooked by my earlier ribbon bead experience, I chose to follow the instructions for the "basic" fabric bead.  The book includes many other possibilities–wooden beads covered with fabric, resin beads, quilted and cross-stitched beads, leather beads (great possibilities for men's jewelry!), and fabric beads embellished with wire lace, hammered copper, and crystals.

For my bead, I used strips of a commercial batik fabric that I bought at a fabric store.  But if you love fabric and want to design your own, you'll definitely want to check out the first part of Fabulous Fabric Beads where Kristal shows you all sorts of ways to create surface designs on fabric.  Using step-by-step photographs and instructions, she shows you how to use bleach pens, stencils, salt, foils, and many other techniques.  This might be old hat to you quilters on the list, but I was amazed by all the different ways to embellish, dye, or color fabrics!  Preview and buy a copy of Fabulous Fabric Beads.

I made a few beads following the instructions and was happy to find that this was much better experience than my earlier attempts.  In fact, I felt so confident about my fabric beadmaking skills, that I even embellished one with a leftover seed bead scrap.  I'm already planning my next fabric bead project–leather beads that I can use as spacers with some denim lampwork beads and silver for a Western-style bracelet.

Here are a few hints from Kristal that helped me:

  1. No need to prewash your fabric, but if it's wrinkled, then iron it first. 
  2. If you have a rotary cutter, use it.  It wasn't bad using scissors, but then, I was only making a few beads.
  3. Wait until the bead is dry before you touch it.  (In an earlier part of the book, Kristal writes this in all caps:  WALK AWAY FROM THE BEAD!)  I would suggest that you work on your beads and then immediately go out to dinner so that everything will be dry when you return.  (Feel free to forward this to your loved ones, so they can see that you didn't make this part up!)

An Interview with Author and Artist Kristal Wick

I love the story of how Kristal Wick came up with the idea for her silk beads.  She had been selling dichroic jewelry on the side while working as a technical writer.  Her customers commented on how heavy some art jewelry earrings were, prompting Kristal to search for a lighter alternative and turn her idea into a new full-time job.  Kristal has some great advice on combining colors, as well as a terrific story about how she tranformed a mistake into a bestselling product.  She is proof that you can live your dream!  Read the full interview

New Project
by Jamie Hogsett

These handmade silk beads pair up brilliantly with novelty eyelash yarn. You can buy fabric beads to use in this necklace or make your own following the instructions in the book Fabulous Fabric Beads by Kristal Wick.  (Or take a class with Kristal at Bead Fest Santa Fe in 2009.)  Large fire-polished beads add sparkle and weight to the necklace.  This project was free on Beading Daily until November 17, 2008.  Instructions are now available in the store.

Designer Jamie Hogsett is also teaching at Bead Fest Santa Fe in 2009.  View her classes and sign up.

Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.


Post a Comment