Jewelry has always fascinated me, translating into frequent purchases over the years and a vast stockpile of jewelry. But whenever I visited a bead store, admiring the mind-boggling array of beads, I always came stumbling out with no purchase.
That changed in April, when LK offered ‘Making Necklaces and Earrings with Beads’ at the AIWC Spring Back to Life Workshops 2012. Learning the basic tools and rules, using the bead board and foam bead mats that keep the beads from rolling off the table to some unknown spot on the floor, I put together a blue and purple necklace that I wear often – and get compliments.
My fate was sealed on a trip to White Earth in Minnesota, to visit and buy the astoundingly beautiful jewelry produced by Wendy. Glass and crystal necklaces came home with me. The lampwork jewelry, produced by melting glass, and forming shapes and colors, was so tempting, but high priced.
Globus in Balexert had a wildly colorful carnival display of lampwork jewelry that caught my eye too.
I’ll have to learn how to make it, I thought.
To name a few favorites …
So, an AIWC year-long workshop on jewelry-making was born.
We’ll cover different techniques during the Workshop. Envision it as a cooperative, where participants share their knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4
Beading will be the October project of the month – stringing necklaces, earrings or bracelets using gemstones or glass beads – to beautiful effect. LK will guide participants through the tools and techniques. Then everyone will assemble beads, string them and finish off necklaces, and create matching earrings if time allows. A copious supply of beads, findings, wires and tools are ready to help us get started. A veritable bagful of Halloween eye candy ….
Caution – if you get hooked, you too may start to collect beads, and need someplace to store them! After searching in vain, I found plastic boxes perfect for holding my growing inventory of beads at MParc’s Migros Do-It + Garden in Carouge.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Wireworks and wire wrapping are wonderful ways of creating beautiful jewelry out of nothing more than simple strands of wire. Wendy advised me to buy inexpensive copper at the hardware store when starting out – I guess that Coop Brico+Loisirs Genève (Onex) or Martigny can stand in for a Home Depot.
I spoke at length recently with the jewelry-maker cum salesperson at Kristallgeheimnis in Zermatt. We discussed wirewrapping, since the gold-wrapped gemstones in pink and white on display caught my eye. They looked something like this.
Another mental note – learn how to do this myself. Further note, plan to visit again, so I can stock up on some more beautiful stones. It’s a great day trip from Geneva.
Wire wrapped stones are not only used for pendants, but for bracelets and rings too.
Bling Rings ….
You can even write with wire ….
The Zermatt jewelry-maker said that wrapping the smooth gemstones is difficult for a beginner, and that wrapping rough stones would be a better way to start. More nooks and crannies to wrap the wire around securely.
So, on the next hike in the Val Ferret, I started to pick up stones – beautiful design certainly exists in nature – that could be strikingly wrapped and worn as a necklace or ring. The collection would do a rock hound proud. The stones, with their white, gray, gold and copper facets, lend themselves readily to copper, silver or gold wire. The rock collection will make its appearance at the November session.
Although the wrapped stone shown above is from a jewelry website, it looks like a twin to some from the Val Ferret. I think I’ll try wrapping in copper wire.
Wirewrapping takes patience – wrapping the wire just so around the stone to balance and secure it, while also showing off the natural design in the stone. But our Jewelry Workshop session will feature several very easy wirewrapping techniques to get started.
If there is an interest, we can graduate to Wirewrapping 201, where we use gems. Or the bolder and more experienced among us might want to start with the smooth gemstones.
But bead cages make it simple to put beads inside of wire. One of our go-to guides, Making Wire Jewelry by Helen Clegg and Mary Larom, shows how to bend wire into opposing spirals, push them out, insert a bead or two, and close up the cage. Veteran jewelry-maker Edward Soukup tells a tale of how young women in ancient Egypt wore these earrings with stones in the color of their lovers’ eyes or hair, or his favorite color, to ensure that he could not resist her. Supposedly Cleopatra wore such a pair when she snagged Mark Anthony. [Soukup, Edward, Jewelry Making for Beginners: The Scroll Wire Method]
Coop Brico+Loisirs has a colorful array of thicker, more pliable wire – red, blue, green, purple, bronze and orange – as well as silver, gold and copper.
Like the five Olympic rings, but different colors.
As time allows in the November session, we will experiment with shaping this wire with tools and hands, in preferred colors, into bracelets, necklaces, key chains, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
More advanced participants might want to make findings – clasps, closings or links – from scratch.
With the skills acquired so far, the December Bring Your Bling: Re-purpose Your Old Jewelry, will be an open session to put together something new from old or traded components. Dig into your jewelry box, find pieces that you don’t wear anymore, and envision new ways to make them wearable. It might be as simple as adding a magnetic clasp for those hard-to-close necklaces or bracelets.
February will feature seed beads, but more to come about that and later months.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.