Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Other Hobby, Beading and Jewelry Making

This post from Grandma Coco's blog led to a really interesting email conversation between us, that inspired this blog post!  She's a wonderful designer, and fellow postcard swapper, and it turns out that we both use solar power, in different ways, in our homes and lives.  She's also a jewelry artist, and just started making her own beads.  Our conversation got me thinking about my other hobby (which has kind-of been put on a back-burner), and thought I'd share a bit of it with you!

Many years ago, WAY before kids (when we were "DINK's"... double income, no kids), I decided to start making my own jewelry, mainly because I have a horrible skin allergy to Nickle, and got tired of far too many ring-around-my-neck rashes caused by mislabeled necklaces or earnings that were supposedly 100% silver or gold, or hypo-allergenic.  Learning to make my own jewelry gave me control over what it was made out of.

I started with simple stringing beads.
Don't you love this little FIMO turtle bead that I bought from a PNW artist?
 That led to wire-wrapping with silver wire and chain, and a deep love of natural stones and gems.

Like Cheryl, I even made a few polymer clay beads.
 And you quilters know how you you can have fabric that's too pretty to cut?  Same thing in the bead world.  Here's my "too pretty" (polymer clay) beads that are still in my stash.  Wouldn't that design make a great quilt?  I wish I knew the name of the artist who made them.

 After my boys were born, though, I quickly realized that I could no longer easily go to bead stores, and after their tiny hands spilled a few too many expensive silver, gemstone, and Swarovski crystal beads onto shag carpet, I decided it was time to put away this hobby for a while.  I also had to temporarily stop wearing the dangly earrings that I was fond of, as they also proved to be irresistible to their little hands.  I started wearing necklaces made out of stronger (and cheaper) leather and simple glass beads, and just plain had much less time to pursue any hobby.

After I left my job, I didn't have as much reason to wear my jewelry, but did have a lot of occasions to start making quilts (nieces, nephews, my own boys).  This new hobby kind-of took over.

Once my boys got older, I did break out the beads from time to time, and my husband even gave me a glass lamp working class at Delphi Glass, in Lansing, MI.  If you EVER get a chance to go to this place, please don't pass it up.  It's incredible!  I've always loved glass, and really enjoyed the class.  I even made a bunch of beads, but since moving to Oregon, I no longer have a good place to work.  Here's a picture of me in Michigan, a few years ago.
Here's the beads I made before I put this hobby on hiatus.  My science nerdiness even is present in this, as my attempt to make a glass blood "yellow-top" vial LOL (bottom center).
As with anything, making beads is much harder than you'd think. If nothing else, I have a new appreciation of glass bead making.

This last necklace is my most recent creation, and my most favorite, and special.  I made it a year or so after my dad passed away, from beads that he brought back for me from a trip he and my mom took to Italy, a few years previously. 

Just as in quilting, many of my necklaces have stories behind them.  I think of people and places and stories each time I wear them.  I think that's probably the thing I like most about making things myself with my own hands.  They each contain personal stories and memories, which make them so special.


Beth said...

Yup! I've a small collection of "special" beads that my mom gave me. Some of the date back to my early teens!! I haven't made jewelry in ages.... and not sure I could even find the time!

Beth said...

Yup! I've a small collection of "special" beads that my mom gave me. Some of the date back to my early teens!! I haven't made jewelry in ages.... and not sure I could even find the time!

H2Ogirl said...

How wonderful! Oh I guess I should share my stash of beads with you sometime too. I never knew you could MAKE your own beads. . . funny funy.

Grandma Coco said...

Where do I start, Becky? Boy, oh, boy, I love your glass beads. There are so many different designs. I wish I was brave like you but that torch makes me nervous. Thanks for posting your photos.....and thanks for "praisin' me up" as my grandmother used to say. :)

A.J. Dub. said...

Becky! Holy samolee! Love them. The wire wrapped ones especially. I used to use seed beads to make things, but I never knew how to end them properly (this was before Google and the internet)and I grew tired of them breaking. I also was supposed to take a lapidary arts and jewelry class in college but that didn't happen because I withdrew to go to NJ to be a nanny.
So fun that you can make your own beads! You are one talented lady! I would love to come play at your house, if only I lived closer. :(

Monika Kinner-Whalen / My Sweet Prairie said...


I LOVE the photo of you working with the torch. so incredible! I didn't know that's how they were made!

so... can I buy one? in our kids' birthstone colors? I'm a BIG fan of rocks... I didn't read... do you have them for sale somewhere?

Becky said...

Sure, Monika! I haven't sold any in a long time, but I'll get in touch!