Tuesday, June 12, 2007

She brings me white golden pearls

A few weeks ago, I took an "Introduction to Beaded Jewelry" class at the local bead store. I had expected it to be just ok, and a rehash of what I had already read in a book I had bought. I also wondered how it could possibly be a 6-hour class.

So I went with skepticism and came back amazed. The instructor, Kathy, is the owner of Beads and Beyond in Bellevue. She had loads of interesting facts about beads, a great handout with actual literature references (apparently she was a librarian in a past life) and some amazing tips for how to make the fiddly work with beads easier for those of us who have some issues with hand-eye coordination. I ended up staying nearly two hours past the end of class, working on my first projects, and spending $70 on supplies at the store.

I've never really had any kind of artistic hobby, or one that involves working with my hands more than my brain. I love it. And while I'm not really a creative person, I'm slowly discovering what my aesthetic sense is and being able to classify *why* I like a particular design. As you might expect from a logical, analytical person, I like perfectly symmetric designs. I also prefer beads and stones with regular shapes, rather than more random "natural" looking ones.

You can see the pieces I've created on my Smugmug photo site.

I'm also trying to figure out how best to photograph these, so I've ordered a cheap tripod for my camera to experiment with the Macro setting, which is great for close-ups but doesn't use the flash, and thus requires no motion in the camera to compensate for the slower shutter speed. And my tiny camera is really, really hard to hold perfectly still.

I'll leave you with a picture of my current favorite:

I have been "recycling" a bunch of the jewelry I don't wear into new items I like better. This one is more of an "enhancement" since I left the original bracelet intact. When I went to India in 2004, my aunt Meena bought me this very cute silver bracelet. In college my friend Jennifer bought me a charm bracelet for my birthday, and over the next couple of years, I added charms from Mexico and San Francisco when I went on vacation. The silver bracelet from India is much more interesting than the bracelet my charms were on, so I moved all the charms over to it. I also taught myself how to use a simple wire headpin to make tiny crystal charms using a technique called "wirewrapping". It's much harder than books let on, to make the charms look uniform and professional. So my first few crystal charms look a little, um, homemade. When I get better at it, I may replace them.

So, dear readers, if you have any cheap-ish beaded jewelry that you're planning to get rid of, please send it to me. I'll even pay for your postage. If it's not so cheapish, I can reconfigure it and give it back to you in a new form. I love just making the stuff, and am happy to give it away, because at some point, I'll have more jewelry than I can wear. Oh wait, that might have already happened.

So send me your tired, your tattered, your crappy jewelry that you don't love anymore! I will make it new and interesting again. Yippee!


  1. Hi An:
    Wish you had got into this hobby sooner!! I just gave a bunch of stuff I wasn't using to my cleaning lady. Anyway, I'll have to look through my stuff and send you some pieces. That charm bracelet looks very nice, by the way! Love you, Amma

  2. Looks fun! Love the bracelet. Hopefully we can do some beading when I visit :) I'll have to load up on supplies though.

    One place to go for cool vintage/cheap jewelry are thrift stores. Even Value Village...sometimes they sell bags of the stuff for $3.



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