I love to use all sorts of different materials in my jewellery designs and each one brings its own special qualities to the piece. Glass seed beads come in a wonderful range of sizes, shapes and colours, they are not expensive and the good quality ones are very regualar. Gemstones have such character and individuality and really add value jewellery. Manufactured crystals, such as Swarovski, give that touch of sparkle and bling. Metal is invaluable in both findings and beads. Certain manufactured materials, such as reconstituted gemstones, shell pearls and manufactured gemstones (eg Goldstone) definitely have a place in my work. So what about plastic? Like many people I tend to draw the line at plastic, acrylic and other similar materials. The name, the image, the weight and perhaps even the price, put me off. The time and effort put into making a piece of jewellery, deserve better, in my opinion.
However, for me there are three exceptions. Lucite Flowers, Miracle Beads and Luna Soft Cabochons.
Lucite flowers win me over with their pretty shapes and delicate colours. They work really well when used in a cluster and their light weight means that you can go crazy with them. I use them in my Precious Posy tutorial and if glass flowers were used instead the bracelet would be far too heavy and pretty pricey. The additional advantage is that you can dye them and use permanent marker pens to customise the look. The flowers in the pink and white bracelet were originally white and I dyed them with fabric dye to match the cord.
I have bought a selection of Miracle Beads, but they haven’t quite made it into a design yet. The beads have a wonderful glow to them, which is quite unique. For me, this is what earns their place in my jewellery making. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the lovely designs by Janine Learner, which feature miracle beads. Scroll down to my blog on 18th June to see how miracle beads can work so well with glass beads in her work. I am looking forward to using the red beads in a Christmas design. The purple and orange could well end up in a Halloween design and the I plan to try the pale lilac beads with clear AB coated glass beads.
If you have not tried Luna Soft Cabochons, also known as Polaris Beads, then you may be surprised. They have a wonderful inner glow with a soft, matte finish. I will be teaching a workshop next month at Stitchncraft using these cabochons in a Kumi-cab design. Originally I only used gemstone or lampworked glass cabochons in my Kumi-cab designs, but I needed to find an alternative which was stocked by Stitchncraft. I was delighted by the results and found the cabs lovely to work with. The warm glow works so well with the seed beads and the braiding and the cab adds a real optical depth to the piece. In the photo below I did not use any editing trickery on the cabochon, that is the genuine effect when the light hits them.
We all have our preferences and prejudices about different materials, but it seems wise to keep an open mind and break your rules now and then when a new product has something special to offer.
At the time of writing there is only one place available on the Kumi-Cabs workshop on 30th September at Stitchncraft in Dorset. If that is no longer available, or is too far away, then take a look at the two Kumi-Cabs tutorials I have available in the shop.