Quentin Baker meets Joanne Pomlin from Big Bead Boutique.
If you want to get started in jewellery-making, there are a number of ways to learn how to make the trinkets and treasures that have adorned societies all over the world since the dawn of history.
My first adventure with jewellery making began in the rainforest, when I made a coconut seed into a shiny polished ring using just a saw and some sandpaper. Using a penknife to etch designs gave it a modern twist, yet it retained a connection to the forest and to nature – which for many is similar to the enduring appeal of gemstones, feathers and other adornments.
Making bead necklaces is another popular and practical way to start creating jewellery you can wear and share. Beadwork began 82,000 years ago, making it the oldest form of jewellery known to us.
Joanne Pomlin, who runs the Big Bead Boutique in Brighton, warns that beads are addictive and that half the hobby is collecting the ‘treasure’. Customers often compare the boutique to a sweet shop, but she is quick to point out that there are far fewer calories consumed in this hobby. Her shop is a trove – from glass and acrylic beads to charms, pearls, woven silk, and from ornamental designs to skulls, birds and owls.
So what’s the secret to creating a beautiful beaded necklace or bracelet?
‘You’ve got to get your feature beads which are the colourful or patterned beads. Then you get plain beads to complement that feature bead. That’s the basic start to constructing what you do,’ says Joanne.
Getting started is easy, but she recommends a basic jewellery lesson that will help you understand the various materials and techniques involved and how to arrange the beads. You’d probably use ‘tiger tail’, a nylon coated wire which ‘goes through beads like a needle’ making it easier to use than thread, she says. ‘Once you understand the basics, it’s down to your creative inspiration.’ There are online courses available, or you can try one of Joanne’s workshops and classes in her vintage-style tea room beading workspace.
If you’re more into soldering than stitching, you may want to look at other ways of setting stones. Wire-wrapping is popular for beginners because it doesn’t require a soldering-iron. It’s popular among artisans who lay their wares out on mats all over the world.
Gemstones, which can be polished and rounded or faceted and reflective can be beaded or set in metal. London Metropolitan University do a short-course evening class, ‘Fine Jewellery and Gem Setting’ where you can create jewellery with silver and semi-precious stones.
One way to help you spread the initial cost of a jewellery-making course could be by credit card, especially if you've got a card that offers a 0 per cent period on purchases. It's important to bear in mind though that if you don’t clear the balance within the introductory period, you will be charged interest.
Remember though, jewellery really is about creativity. If you don’t have metal, you can use paper and glue to create flowers, or even try your hand at cardboard. Although if you’re planning on a paper-based proposal ring, I hope you know your partner very, very well.
This is a Sponsored Post by Guest Blogger Quentin Baker on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank.