I never get bored of making jewellery. I think this is because it combines two very different disciplines. One is learning precise and delicate techniques. The other is using your creativity to come up with original and imaginative designs.
It can be painstaking. It can also be frustrating. There’s always new things to learn … I love it though.
I began about nine years ago … when a friend suggested I came along to a class led by Helen Dugdale at the Percival Guildhouse in Rugby.
Helen has been making fabulous jewellery for many years.
After completing a foundation art course at Rugby College she then went on to study silversmithing and jewellery to degree and MA level at Birmingham University.
She has been teaching now for over 10 years in Northamptonshire and at the Percival Guildhouse in Rugby.
I booked onto her Wednesday evening class and have been attending her classes on and off ever since.
What I like about these classes is the variety: there’s always a new technique to learn or a new project to embrace, ranging from simple earrings to more complicated and intricate designs.
Helen demonstrates the weekly theme or project at the beginning of each session and then we set about choosing beads.
There’s always a great selection of beads (for instance, glass beads, pearls, gemstones and crystals), as well as threads and findings (items used to connect jewellery together such as jumprings, hooks, headpins and crimps) for sale each week. Techniques might involve chain making, seedbead threading and stitching, macramé or braiding, to name but a few. One session we even got to make our own beads using polymer clay.
Everyone creates their own unique piece of jewellery to take home. Many of us simply make items for ourselves or as presents. Others take it more seriously and have even found success selling their work at craft fairs and shops.
Honey Mistry, who makes beautiful, vintage inspired jewellery and bridal pieces has attended many of Helen’s classes and workshops, said “Helens’s jewellery classes are fantastic. I learnt new skills and came home with wearable, fashionable pieces of jewellery. Helen is a brilliant teacher and great at explaining things.”
I’ve pursued my interest further by taking a silversmithing class at Rugby School with Emily Richard , where I learnt how to make rings, bracelets and to set stones. I’ve also attended a day class in precious metal clay with Amy Surman at Birmingham University, made glass beads (lampwork) at the London jewellery school with Beverley Hicklin, and have been to the odd workshop with college friend Rae Fin jewellery .
Learning to make jewellery really is the perfect hobby for anyone looking for something fun, creative and therapeutic to do. Spending a couple of hours surrounded by beautiful beads and discovering different techniques to create wearable jewellery is an immensely enjoyable and inspiring thing to do.
To get started with the basics though it’s not really necessary to purchase lots of expensive equipment. All you need is a few good quality tools such round nose pliers, flat nose pliers,wire cutters, scissors and a bead mat.
I went along to see Helen at the Percival Guildhouse, Rugby this week where she was demonstrating how to make a simple bracelet, which we filmed for this blog. To make this ‘overlay’ bracelet as seen in the clip below you will need;
- approx 20 8 mm round beads
- approx 40 4 mm round beads
- Size 8 seed Beads
- 1 Closed Ring
- 1 Clasp
- 1.5 metre fireline thread