Madonna! I'd wear every one of those, and wondered, How does she do it? Here are some of Kirsten's tips about the hobby she picked up in the 1970s when, as she says, "I realized I could make jewelry for very little money and have items which were unique."
Kirsten's first steps:
"I went to a bead store and a helpful saleslady told me what I needed to buy and how to finish off a piece with crimps and a clasp. That was the only formal instruction I had. I learned everything by trial and error, observation of jewelry pieces, and reading. Today, there is endless information online, including tutorials through large suppliers such as Fire Mountain Gems."
Building technical skills:
"Since crimping the ends and adding clasps are the only essential skills you need before making anything, practice these before beginning, to give yourself confidence. Even cheap plastic "kiddie beads" will work as you master skills. When you feel confident, plan a better-quality project."
(Note: Many supplier sites show step-by-step videos for creating pieces, such as Nina Designs' video on how to knot pearls onto leather, a beginner project that delivers advanced style.)
"The minimum tools include: flat-nosed pliers without "teeth", round-nosed pliers, and a side-cutter. (A little kit with these three tools is quite inexpensive.) You may also add a crimping tool and a bead board for laying out your designs."
|Kirsten in Maui|
"I love beautiful beads and collect them when and where I can, often in my travels, and then work them into designs. (Kirsten found her coral stick beads in Maui.) I also buy necklaces and other items at thrift shops or on sale at stores. Sometimes, people share things they no longer want, or I remake seldom-used pieces of my own. All are cut up and stored by colour and design."
"After making hundreds of pieces over the years, I believe it's very important to make pieces which enhance your own style, coordinate with your clothes, and fit your body proportions. For myself, I don't make pieces that have cluttered designs, jump rings galore, too many chains, or ones made from tiny seed beads, woven into patterns."
"Make others happy with your work and give them a gift of yourself as well as something unique, in their style and colours. If they have given you beads, why not use a few in the gift?"
The Inner Game:
"Because ideas don't always work out as you planned, be patient and unafraid to redo something until you have it right. Have fun and don't let the setbacks prevent you from creating with joy."
Kirsten's creative journey:
"My plans for the future include using fabrics and making fabric/paper beads."
Two more of Kirsten's pieces: Left, olive baroque pearls given by a friend, to which she added crystal spacers for length and interest; right, blue (dyed) freshwater pearls with white faux pearls and sparkling beads:
I feel a tug to return to jewelry-making, despite my initial flopped project. As Kirsten said, "(The bead store) did not start you in on the essentials, or on the design process. Nothing works out well without these essential parts."
Even if you don't long to wield pliers, each of us can admire Kirsten's verve and vision. I thank her warmly for sharing examples of her work and her insightful advice.
To see more of her work (and those of others whom Kirsten admires), follow her Pinterest board or search "Pinners" by entering Kirsten Giving.