Behind the Scenes

“Oh that bracelet is really pretty! Maybe I should try doing that. It really looks easy.”

Well, it is. Sort of. 

But you don’t know what goes into the making of a bracelet or necklace. It’s what you don’t see before the bracelet is finished. 

I didn’t know what went into it all before I became hooked on making bracelets and necklaces. 

At first, I’ll admit, I copied designs I found online. Well not totally copied, but fairly close. But those were for me, and certainly not to sell. 

Then I started making my own designs, which was a lot more enjoyable and creative. 

Getting ideas and then finding the right beads is a lot of fun. Usually. Unless you can’t find what you’re looking for. So many times I’ve had a particular color and style of bead in mind, but can’t find it in the local craft stores.

Ordering online is the only other option. I don’t paying for shipping, but sometimes there’s no other choice if Amazon doesn’t have what I need. And I hate waiting, but what other choice do I have?

Now I do have a rather large assortment of beads in the studio,  since I’ve been doing this for awhile.  

 But it seems like there’s always something else I need.

Putting the design together is usually easy, as long as you have an idea what you’re going to do. I use a bead board to plan the jewelry out which allows me to not only see the design as I go but also make sure the size is correct. Which is very important.

Then comes the part I really don’t enjoy. Stringing is not that bad, and I have several different kinds and sizes of beading filament and wire that I use. 

Note to newbies: be sure to allow yourself enough filament to have at least an inch of filament at each end so you’ll be able to tie off the bracelet without the beads coming off. Yes,it’s happened to me many times, and I scold myself for doing it every time! You’d think I’d learn eventually. If the ends aren’t long enough to tie your knots correctly, you’re going to regret it. 

And be sure to use a bead stopper on each end of the almost finished bracelet or necklace. My favorite are the “bead bugs”. I like the name, but they really work well. I probably have 20 sets of them so I can make a lot of bracelets or necklaces at one time. Then complete the final steps with several pieces at a time.

Because for me, the most difficult part of finishing a stretch bracelet is gluing the knot, which is an extremely important final step to be sure that knot holds. Why is it so difficult? 

For one thing, it’s very precise, and the smaller the beads, the harder it is to tie the knots and position the glue correctly. I use a brand called G-S Hypo Cement which dries quickly, and because of the type of applicator, it’s fairly easy to get the right amount on there. Let the glue dry for a few hours, snip the ends off, and you’re done.

The problem, you may ask? Getting  the cap back on the tube in exactly the right place. Plus my astigmatism makes it even harder! You can see from the picture below that it’s very slim and tiny. I love the way you can manipulate the drop of glue, but let me tell you, putting that cap back on is not easy.

The other closure types, lobster claw or toggle clasps, can be easily as frustrating until you master the art of the crimp. (Just make sure to include the clasps in the overall length of your jewelry.) Putting the actual crimp bead on isn’t really that difficult. But finishing it off with a crimp cover? Let’s just say I haven’t mastered it as well as I’d like. The crimp covers are small, and have to be positioned just right to cover the crimp. And with astigmatism, it’s worse than putting the cap on the glue!

And if you mess up on these last steps, well, you sort of have to start over. Which is certainly not fun.

But the finished products are definitely worth it. 

Obsessed With Beads

Once you start collecting a few beads…you just can’t get enough of them. There are so many styles…colors…shapes and sizes…so many different materials. You want them all. But then what do you do with them?

That was my situation. But let me start at the beginning.

When my husband decided we needed ANOTHER Christmas tree several years ago (we already had SIX!) he wanted to do a wine themed tree. Which led me to start collecting wine corks so I could make a few garlands to put on the tree the following year. Well, my cork collection grew as friends contributed their corks, as well as my asking for wine corks at restaurants when we went out to dinner, and I soon had a large collection of them. Then I started buying a few beads to add to my creations.

One thing led to another, and I found myself making not only wine cork Christmas garland, wine cork Christmas ornaments, but also wine bottle hanging “jewelry” and other cork creations, combining any number of my colorful beads with the corks. I even started collecting champagne corks (and a few Petron corks) and making what I call “corky people.” It was so much fun!

But I quickly became obsessed with all the bead choices and eventually decided to expand my creativity into making my own jewelry. At first I only made bracelets and a few necklaces just for me, and for my granddaughters, but one thing led to another, and I realized I had to sell some of my creations in order to fund my obsession/hobby. After all, how many bracelets can you wear at one time? Three, four, maybe five in a stack, but when you’re working remotely you don’t get to show them off as often!

I already had an online shop called The Beaded Cork which sold my corky people, corked wedding cake toppers and wine bottle hangers as well as diaper cakes and cupcakes, but I’d put that on hiatus for a little while. 

So I renamed and redesigned my store, which was not the easiest thing in the world to do, but after several weeks of categorizing products, taking photos, and pricing and writing up product descriptions, my shop was launched on Etsy.

The shop had an assortment of farmhouse garland, beaded corky people, necklaces, and of course all sorts of bracelets, including kids’ bracelets. However, after several months I decided that it was taking too much time to manage it as well as work full time. But if you’re interested in any of my pieces, please email me and let me know what you’re interested in.

And a former bedroom has now been turned into a craft and jewelry studio where I can play with my beads in my own space without having to move my unfinished work to make room for other things. Plus I have room to create other items when the mood hits me! (Which is what the vase of silk flowers is for that’s sitting on my table.)

With my own space who knows what else I’ll come up with as I go along!

And if you have a particular jewelry or garland idea in mind, contact me and we’ll see what we can come up with.

And now, back to my studio. The beads are calling.