It was my first time on Jewellery Maker TV on Tuesday. I was incredibly honoured to be invited to come and join the guest designer team and to be part of their big seed bead launch on 3rd May 2016. Two hours in a TV studio sounds like a long time, but it flew past in the blink of an eye and was just so much fun, so I thought I would give you a sneaky peek behind-the-scenes of my experience and the chance to take a closer look at the jewellery that featured on the show.
Preparing for Jewellery Maker TV
My preparations for this show began several weeks ago. The guest designers are sent the kit (or kits) of beads that are going to feature on their show so that they can use the contents to make some jewellery. I started with a gorgeous seed bead kit. It contained six 22g tubes of Miyuki seed beads in sizes 6/0 and 8/0. (If this is sounding like a foreign language, then you can read a bit more about seed bead sizes here and find out about the different seed bead brands here). Given that there are something in the region of 34 size 8 and 18 size 6 beads in a gram, this works out to be a lot of beads. They were all in fabulous colours as well – I had the ‘wave mix’ which included Ceylon pearl, grey, then galvanised silver, and a couple of the most fabulous shades of turquoise and blue. It was such a joy to work with these gorgeous colours. So what did I make?
Coming up with Design Ideas
The first place to begin is with an idea, or ideas. When I met the Jewellery Maker buying team back at the beginning of April, they had been telling me more about the seed bead launch and also about the week in which it was going to feature. This was Jewellery Maker’s birthday week – in fact, their sixth birthday. So, as I was thinking about ideas for my designs, I wanted to work from this point. I also wanted to be true to my own design style, so before long, I found myself thinking along the lines of parties (birthday party) and gifts.
I should also say that it is a while since I have worked exclusively with the larger seed beads. I have been working a lot with new beads recently. Although these are larger in size (think Silky beads, Kheops, Honeycombs, Chilli Beads), they usually have more holes through them, so this makes a difference when you are using them. When it comes to the traditional one-holed seed beads, I have scaled down in size to sizes 11 and even 15. The larger beads are brilliant when you are starting out, so I wanted to work with this idea as well.
What I ended up with was the aim of creating some jewellery that evoked the fun of a party, with ideas like gifts, bows and streamers, but which used beginner-level techniques that I could demonstrate on the show. I also thought about Jewellery Maker’s existing products – the stunning gemstones that I have seen on the channel – and I wanted to demonstrate that the seed beads can be used to add a fabulous new dimension to gemstone jewellery. Luckily, my second kit included a gorgeous selection of pearls – freshwater cultured in two sizes and turquoise Keishi pearls – so I was able to work on ways to mix the seed beads and pearls. Read on to find out what I made…
My Jewellery Maker Jewellery Collection
I started by creating a necklace that incorporated a beaded clasp inspired by the ribbon or bow decoration you might add to a parcel, or perhaps the streamers you might use to decorate a party. I created a design that used really basic techniques, but the finished necklace looks anything but basic. I went back to two of the first beading stitches that I learned, stitches that are still some of my favourites. Peyote stitch is so versatile and can be used to make flat or three-dimensional work, so I use this a lot, particularly when I am making the beaded clasps that I like to incorporate into my jewellery. Spiral Stitch, (sometimes called Spiral Staircase) is a very easy stitch and so versatile – you can change the look of it by simply changing the beads you use. It is fairly quick to stitch, so it make a lovely beaded rope for any kind of project. So I used both techniques in the necklace that I demonstrated on the show.
Very much in my style, using three-dimensional Peyote stitch, I made some little gift earrings. Then I thought I might experiment a little further with a more advanced technique to try an alternative way of making parcels, so I used Cubic Right Angle Weave to make a second pair – this time mixing up bead colours so I ended up with an asymmetric pair!
Then I moved on to think about how to mix up the pearls and seed beads. The Peyote diamonds necklace, which I called ‘Pearl Pods’ uses the Keishi pearls as embellishment for the Peyote background. It took a while to make, but the techniques I used were actually very simple. I also went back to try a new variation of another favourite basic technique, ‘Wave Stitch’ when I made the seafoam bracelet. The colours of the beads inspired this design which is full of texture and looks much more complex than it actually is. I thought I should also try making the pearls the stars of a design, using the seed beads to enhance them, so this is when I created the ‘Kite’ earrings. Having done this, I still had some seed beads left and I realised that I would need some jewellery to wear on show day, so I went back to a favourite technique, netting, to try a new variation that incorporated both sizes of the seed beads. Since they’re very much my colouring, this left me doing something that I often do: ‘reverse-dressing’! When it came to the morning of the show, I had the jewellery I wanted to wear, so now I just had to find an outfit to go with it…
As the morning of my first show dawned, it’s fair to say I was a little nervous. Firstly, I just hoped that my journey to the studios would go smoothly – relying on public transport is always a little nerve-racking, but on this occasion, the trains didn’t let me down! So at least I wasn’t panicking about arriving late. I was greeted by the whole production team, so this included the lovely Zena who was the presenter on my show and then all the behind-the-scenes team members: producer, floor manager, camera operator and the rest of the studio team. They could not have been more kind, helpful, welcoming and fun, so my nerves were soon disappearing. With all their experience, the show changeover runs so smoothly. I had never filmed live TV before, so when you are all watching the ads between shows, there is a changeover happening in the studio as the last show’s guest designer and presenter pack up and leave while the new team move in. Everything is planned so that there was time for me to set up and get organised before I appeared on camera. I couldn’t believe how smooth it was!
I soon forgot that I was in front of the camera – Zena is so much fun to work with. Her passion for jewellery making comes over and is completely infectious in the studio…not that I need much encouragement – I’m always happy when I’m working with beads! So the two-hour show just sped by. It was lovely to be able to interact with the viewers on air and I was overwhelmed by all the kind messages welcoming me to the show, so a huge thank you to everyone who wrote in and made me feel so welcome. Before I knew it, I was leaving the studio to make way for the next designer! I discovered that the show is also put on YouTube, so I was able to watch some bits of it afterwards, so if you missed it, you can see the whole thing here.
Now, I’m making plans for my next show and the Jewellery Maker team are planning to add the patterns for my jewellery onto their website, so if any of these designs have taken your fancy, there will be patterns available…keep following me to find out more news about that when I have it!
Back to Reality
I will be honest here – I had a ball on the show and can’t wait to do it again, but what with the nerves, the journey (sadly my journey home was a lot less smooth than the journey up, thanks to a broken-down train!), I found all this did take a big toll on my energy levels, so yesterday was very much a day-of-rest (translation: I found I had no energy to work!), today has also been a lot quieter, with lots of rest. As I recover, I shall be moving back to focus on the next issue of Bead and Jewellery Magazine which goes to print very shortly! So, I’m off to relax for the evening before another early night…!