Beaded jewelry has a lot of meanings these days. When I first started on my jewelry journey, stringing was the fashion, especially with beautiful lampwork beads.
I had a blast with stringing, and it wasn’t too terribly long before I succumbed to the lure of actually making lampwork beads for myself. Then I got the idea to sell some on ebay, which I did for about 3 years or so. During that time, I wasn’t able to do a whole lot of other work because I spent so much time making beads!
Here is one of the sets of beads I made during my lampwork phase. Strung, of course, LOL.
Beadwork, Here I Come
Next was beadwork — beading patterns like peyote, herringbone, netting, and things of that nature. Going from working with the larger lampwork beads to the itsy-bitsy seed beads was a bit of a challenge at first. Gosh, those bead holes were small!
In all my work, I’ve been drawn to more organic designs. So while I did learn the beading patterns, I usually managed to go off and do my own thing. Freeform bead weaving intrigued me, and when I saw a freeform netting class at my local bead store, I jumped at it. And this is the result from the class.
I got to enjoying beadwork so much that I started my YouTube channel Beaded Jewelry Diva. I kind of was doing it for fun, but the first time I realized people really were watching was when I was in the hospital after surgery (strangely enough).
One of the hospital employees came into my hospital room and after confirming my name was indeed Gail Nettles, she asked, “Are you Beaded Jewelry Diva?” Wow! That sure did make my day!
I love Sherry Serifini’s work, and I never thought I would get a chance to meet her. But — my local bead shop had her come in for some classes, so I eagerly signed up. (BTW, Sherry is a sweetheart and a great teacher.) Well, now that I realized that I really could do bead embroidery, that gave me a new direction.
Beads! Beads! More beads! Talk about a license to buy beads in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Shibori silk was one of my favorite new supplies, and bought all kinds of colors and sizes.
I also realized that I could use buttons with my bead embroidery. The cuff photo actually does have a button — the big “cab” on the left. I just cut off the shank!
Beads and Wire
Wirework doesn’t seem to be a beading medium, but I am here to say that it can be. Here’s a bracelet I made, using sterling silver wire as the frame, and sterling silver wire for “stringing” the beads.
I did happen to buy a lot of sterling wire when it was really cheap, thus this was in sterling. These days I’d probably make this with copper, or perhaps silver-filled.
It’s a heavy bracelet, and has beads, gemstone chips, pearls, seed beads and who else knows what. 😀 It was fun to make, but it took a long time — I spaced it out over many months.
When people ask me what my favorite beading medium is, my only answer is whatever I am working on at the moment. I go back and forth with all kinds of beading, so I keep my hand in it all.
When I took the Shibori Bracelet class from Sherry Serafini in Feb 2013, it opened up a new world for me, bead-embroidery-wise. I never really thought about using fabric as part of the design before, at least not this way. So Sherry, thanks again for inspiration!
The bracelet I made during the class I ultimately christened “Gypsy’s Silk” — it’s the purple bracelet on the right. It’s a wide cuff, to make full use of the silk, which was dyed in purples and greens.
I used some of the polymer clay cabs I made as part of the design, plus lots of bling-y beads like sew-on flatback Swarovski crystals, and some dichroic cabs that Sherry had for sale.
Of course, these bracelets are like potato chips — I couldn’t make just one!
The next bracelet I made had a more monochromatic look, as the Shibori was in medium shades of blue. There wasn’t enough of a contrast color-wise in the silk, so I made do with pleating and crystals.
This one is much narrower than the one I made in class, but it’s still an imposing bracelet. Especially since I added a small fringe as the edging.
So what to do next? I got some silk in shades of copper and pink, and it was a beautiful color shading. I liked the silk so much that I did more pleating. But anchoring those pleats? That took a little more trial and error.
I used some rivolis this time, so instead of using a lot of crystals this time, I used more glass pearls. One of my new favorites is the new 2mm glass pearls from the Czech Republic, which come in a wide variety of colors.
And yes, I’ve made even more, which I will show in other posts. 😀 I’ve used more of the Swarovski rivolis in the other bead embroidery bracelets with the silk.
You can find the Shobori silk on Etsy, which is where I got most of mine. There are lots of different color combos.
The thing to keep in mind about the silk — if you have rough hands or fingernails, they will snag the silk. For the most part you can cover snags with beading, but it’s sad when you snag it when you are pretty much done. So be careful, and make sure your hands and nails are smooth.