Posts Tagged ‘jewellery’

Quite a few of my jewellery designs feature Fimo beads.

I’ve been making jewellery since I was at high school; To be fair that’s quite a while!

Quite a few of my designs feature millefiori Fimo beads, so this week I set myself a challenge of having a go at making some of my own. Here’s what I got up to in my adventures…….

…… But first we’ll do the explanation bit!

Millefiori is a term that’s more traditionally used to describe a particular technique used in glassmaking. It’s derived from the Italian words ‘mille’ (thousand) and ‘fiori’ (flowers) and it’s a brilliant way of adding decoration and colour. Glass millefiori beads are absolutely stunning – I use a lot of those too.

Millefiori Glass Beads available to purchase from

To make polymer clay (Fimo) millefiori beads you first need something referred to as a ‘cane’. Now as I’m an ex teacher I suspected that all of this ‘cane’ business was going to be fairly easy. But I didn’t think to factor in that I had decided to try this challenge out on the day that I celebrated my 21st birthday (Yes, AGAIN !!!!!) and was already slightly the worse for wear after starting celebrations a tad too early. I tried my best regardless……

Making a cane seems to use pretty much the same technique as putting letters in sticks of rock; Possibly a strange comparison to make, but I’m from Lytham, a stone’s throw away from a rather famous Lancashire seaside resort where I was born in the Royal Victoria Hospital (21 years ago, like I said), and as about 99.9% of all the sticks of rock sold all over the UK are actually made in the aforesaid town with a tower, I figured that surely there must be something in the blood that would deem me a natural with such things.

I found a video tutorial to aid me in my quest; It’s brilliant!

Here’s the one that I made:

My first attempt at a flower cane - all ready to roll out.

Take a good look at it because disaster struck shortly afterwards……. I think possibly because I took a while to find my camera……… and then stopped for a short wine and snacks interlude…….. the fimo wasn’t as pliable as it had been when I first started working it. So as I returned to the task and began to roll the cane out it started to crumble and broke open. I pieced it back together as best I could but it’s not as flowerlike as it should be 😦

Luckily I’m an optimistic soul. Nothing’s a disaster; It’s never a mistake – just a design element I might not have planned. I’ve learned that you can’t walk away from something that’s only half done if you’re using Fimo – next time I’ll do better 😉

So, I carried on until I’d made my beads – I’m so glad I did. I’ve still got to bake them in the oven and then incorporate them into a finished piece of jewellery. You haven’t seen the last of them though; Watch this space…………!

My very first millefiori beads - I'm delighted with them!

Now where’s that glass of wine and bowl of nibbles? – There’s some celebrating to be done :0)

Wow! It’s already February and this week see’s the move into the second month’s theme of  ‘Jewellery’. And a very busy start to the month at Bully Bus HQ it has been what with early Spring cleaning and all; I was fearful that at one point I might not be able to squeeze this week’s offering in at all, but here it is – my adventures in beaded felt jewellery….

I love playing with embroidery silks and beads!

First of all, I have to say that I LOVE making little felt beads! The resulting treasures look great when incorporated into jewellery designs and are always a really big talking point when people spot me wearing them. They’re incredibly easy to make and there’s also a brilliant little book bursting with all the inspiration and instructions you’ll need to get producing them for yourself.

Beaded Felt Jewellery – Helen Birmingham

If  you haven’t got a copy of this inexpensive little book, and you feel after reading this blog that you’d like to include beaded felt jewellery in your own crafting repetoire, I would highly recommend popping along to your local bookshop, craft store or online at Amazon and make sure that you pick one up – ISBN-13: 978-1844483150.

Make sure you gather everything you need!

So…….. How to make some felt beads of your own. Hopefully you’ve gathered together some scraps of felt (the thin crafting type is easier to work with), some embroidery silks (although normal sewing thread is fine), a selection of seed and bugle beads, a sewing needle, some scissors and a bamboo skewer – make sure that you either cut the sharp end off, or cover it with a blob of  Blutack or piece of cork though; From painful experience I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve impaled myself with the air turning blue as a result 😉

Step 1: Cut yourself some strips of felt roughly 2.5 cms wide by about 8 cms long. Select some thread to match the colour of your felt – it doesn’t matter too much if it’s not exact.

Step 2: Take the bamboo skewer and wrap the felt strip tightly around it. Use a few stitches to secure the edges in place. I’ve used a contrasting colour to demonstrate – And don’t worry about being too precious at this stage as you won’t actually see this join when you’ve finished.

Wrap tightly then stitch to secure.

Step 3: This is where the fun begins! Choose some contrasting thread and using your needle, sew into the felt tube at one end to secure in place. Carefully wrap around the tube with the thread, making sure that both ends are tightly bound – otherwise the ends will flare out over time and the beads may look mis-shapen. Finish off with a little knot and bury this, along with the tail of you thread, inside the bead.

Bind well at each end to stop ‘flaring’.

Step 4: Securing fresh thread in your felt tube bead (back to the same colour you used in Step 1) you can now add your embellishments. I tend to start at one end and work randomly, stitching through from one side to the other each time to secure your seed or bugle beads in place. This will add strength to the structure of your bead and ensures maximum life expectancy when incorporated into jewellery pieces that are sure to be worn again, and again, and again….

To make life easy I’ve used size 8/0 beads; Size 11/0 will require more patience as not all will slip over the eye of the needle!

I like to add the beads in a random pattern – but neat freaks may differ in approach 😉

Step 5: Believe it or not that’s pretty much it! Repeat each step until you’ve got yourself a nice little selection of beads which you can then use in your own jewellery making projects. I tend to keep the beads on the skewer until I’m ready to use them and you’ll find that you can easily fit about six or seven beads to a skewer – just the right number to use for a bracelet!

So easy! And gorgeous when incorporated into your own designs 🙂

Yay! The finished product; Very nice – even if I do say so myself 😉

Next week I’m going to be having a go at more bead making – but this time with Polymer Clay. Wish me luck!