Monday, 25 November 2013

Bead rings - and a bit of crafting philosophy!

I've been enjoying making rings out of wire (see my posts in April and August), but recently saw a technique for making beaded cluster rings. I was a little skeptical. Bead rings seem to me to be like stretchy bracelets - very pretty, but slightly too simple. I fear I am becoming a bit of a craft snob!

After all, does a craft really have to be technically challenging to have worth? Surely, the beauty and practicality of the finished product is far more important than the number of hours it takes to create? I've lost count of the number of times I have seen a crafting project idea, and wondered why anyone would make it, other than for the pleasure of making something. For example, I've never quite seen the appeal of knitted vegetables. My apologies if you are one of the many people who have a passion for these, but I just can't quite see the point. They aren't particularly decorative and can surely only have limited appeal as toys. They must simply be hugely satisfying to make.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. Where is the worth in craft? Is it in the finished product, or is it in the creation process? I've come to two conclusions. First, the value of craft is wherever the crafter chooses to place it. Crafting can be hugely personally rewarding, and for many people that is enough. But my second conclusion is that I am a largely practical person, and for me craft needs to have a purpose as well as being satisfying to make.

So, enough of the philosophising! Bead rings may lose out on "creation satisfaction", but they make up for it with the beauty and usability of the finished piece - I should worry less and get on with making!

This was the first ring I made using the technique. The body of the ring is made using glass E-beads, threaded onto mono-filament. The cluster effect is made using coloured shell beads. Each one is put onto a head-pin, the long end of which is wound down to the bead in a series of coils. It is important to do this rather than simply making a loop, as the element will be threaded onto the mono-filament. Mono-filament is so fine it would easily slip through the tiniest gap in a loop or jump ring, causing the bead to fall off. Making multiple coils prevents this. The mono-filament is then simply tied in a secure knot, and the ends snipped off. Because of the jumble of coils and beads in the cluster, the knot and the ends are completely hidden, and so don't need to be worked back through any of the glass beads.

This second ring was made in the same way, but using lapis lazuli chips to form the cluster. The rings are easy to put on and take off, because the glass beads rotate along the finger as you do so. However, I discovered that using elastic thread, rather than mono-filament, makes for a more comfortable wear. I'm also experimenting with using seed beads for the ring's body, to create a more delicate look for slim fingers.

The most important thing I learned from all of this? Stop thinking about it, and get on and make something!
Happy crafting.

The lapis cluster ring is available for sale in my Etsy shop.

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