I have been making jewelry for about 10 years and most of the jewelry I made/make is for my own use. I have a 20 year old daughter, the youngest of my three children, I have two sons ages 25 and 28. My daughter has more of a passion for wearing jewelry than I do and she never, I mean never, goes anywhere unless she is totally accessorized. This accessorizing started at an early age. So we need jewelry. Lots of jewelry.
Even at the age of three she had to have her bracelets and necklaces stacked and a ring on just about every finger. Well, I'm getting off track here. We started on this jewelry making journey together. I have always loved to craft and make things. I learned to sew and crochet at an early age and I have always liked to dabble in crafty things. School parties were right up my alley, I usually organized the craft project for the class party.
All of this started around June of 2002. My daughter Baille, who was dog sitting for a neighbor, came home and told me about the jewelry my neighbor was making for her daughter. She said mom you have to see them - they are really cute. I had to take a look. One evening when Baille went to feed the dogs, I went along. Now mind you I was not snooping. My neighbor had left her most recent project laying out on her dining room table and I took a peek. "Baille, we can do this" were famous last words. So I went home with the full intention of learning how to make jewelry for myself and my daughter. I knew nothing about crimp beads, toggles, beading wire or beads for that matter. The only beads I really had seen much of were plastic pony beads and I really had no desire to wear those, but I was determined to learn. Our first trip WalMart - now nothing against WalMart but they just don't have the same supplies that most of the bead stores or craft stores carry today and believe it or not but there has been an explosion of jewelry making over the past nine years. The stores that now carry beads and every supply you need to make jewelry was nonexistent back then. There were very few books on basic jewelry making and the magazines that we look to today were not around either. I think that BeadWork and Bead and Button might have been not sure but i didn't even know what bead working was. I picked up a roll of "beading" wire, some seed beads, a lobster clasp and a tool. Our first attempt was a red, white, and blue bracelet to wear for the Fourth of July. It was pitiful. The bracelet maintained the shape of your wrist even after you took it off I didn't think that was suppose to happen but the spool I bought said beading wire. I think my neighbor may have told me how to loop the wire through the toggle and back thru a crimp bead and then to flatten the crimp bead but that was the extent of my instructions. I wasn't even sure how to crimp that darn think. I was using base metal crimps and you had to practically stand on them to get them to close. This was our first bracelet. I'm almost embarrassed to show it here but when I say it maintained its shape - it was bendable. This must have been for my daughter lol.
I have always given my daughter credit for starting us on this jewelry making journey however my oldest son Kyle politely reminded me the other day that he is actually the one that started us on this journey. When he was about 12 he was really big into the hemp knotted bracelets and we had even gone looking for beads to add to some of these bracelets but I must not have been in the right frame of mind back then because it didn't click with me at the time. Hemp bracelets were not my style. What a laugh, now I love them! I always purchased jewelry to match any outfit that I was going to wear and my daughter today is wearing some of those original purchases and calling them "Vintage". I mention this because the next step in this journey does a full circle back to when we were first looking for beads for my son to use in his hemp bracelets.
My family always went to Frankenmuth Michigan over Labor Day weekend before the kids went back to school. Well on this trip to Michigan we happen to run across an actual bead store, Bead Haven Frankenmuth, Michigan. I wasn't even looking for a bead store on this trip. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I think I may have even had an anxiety attack at that point. There were beads color coordinated on every wall of this small store. Part of my problem with all the hobbies that I have ever done is that I love, love, love color actually I think I am addicted to color -- colored fabric, colored yarn, colored paper, colored beads! I didn't have any idea what these different beads were but I was in heaven. The first day in the store I couldn't even think. There was so much - bead overload. Back to the full circle comment -- this bead shop was the same store where we first looked for beads for my son's hemp bracelet years earlier just in a different location and much larger. It took me several years before I made that connection. I didn't purchase anything on my first entry into this store. I went back to our hotel with my head spinning. We were going to be there for the weekend and my plan was to go back to that store and purchase beads for a project. The problem was I couldn't decide what color I wanted to get. I didn't know then about just buying beads that you like and figuring out later the project. No, I had to pick out beads for one bracelet that weekend -- what a laugh. I don't think I could even sleep that night trying to figure out what I was going to do. One little tidbit that I forgot to mention -- my children are all very artistic. When they were younger they would rather draw pictures and color than to play sports. When we went out to a restaurant they were perfectly content to draw and color on the placemat and we had some rather interesting placemats in our day. They have all gone into artistic careers. That being said, my older son had a very good eye for color and was rather progressive in his ideas (he is now a graphic designer for an advertising firm) so I trusted him to help me out with this color and bead selection. First, "mom what colors do you think you wear most for work". I was working full time back then and wore dressy clothes to work with the appropriate accessories. After much deliberation, I decided to go with some green czech glass beads, green dagger beads (which my son suggested but weren't really my style) and some other green glass beads along with some pink glass beads. Not all being used together mind you. At the same time I picked the sales clerks brain. "Do you have wire that isn't so stiff when you take it off" . Softflex? "What, show me". I went home with a spool of real beading wire, beads, a couple nicer toggles than what I had found at WalMart and now a real burning desire to learn how to bead.
These are the bracelets that I made from those beads at the first bead shop I found. I made two and often wore them together. I got a ton of compliments on these bracelets although they were very simple and I still wear them today. The bracelet made with the pink beads has since been deconstructed and used for other projects.
I love to learn. I find this adventure as much about learning as about creating. So a big part of this journey is learning about beads, beading materials, beading techniques. In order to keep this blog post from being so long, this is where the story is going to end for today. More to come.