I’ve been making bracelets from my hoard of beads and bits and pieces. The hoard came about for various reasons: one reason is that there are leftovers from previous beading projects; another is that sometimes pieces of my own jewellery have broken and never ended up being fixed, or were so badly broken that it wasn’t worth repairing them. Then there is the slightly weird reason that sometimes when I buy a stash of vintage buttons, or receive one as a donation, there are a few beads in with the buttons. This happens surprisingly often, I suppose because they’re a similar size and people tend to just shove them into their button tins for tidiness. My mum gives me piles of beads too – she seems to mysteriously acquire them as well (I think people give them to here on the basis that she is an Arty Person and thus will know what to do with them).
My latest bracelets are in the mixed media bracelets section. They’re made with memory wire, which is a useful type of wire that is flexible but also holds its shape, meaning the bracelet can stretch to fit different wrist sizes while still retaining a firm, round shape. It also means they don’t need to fasten at the ends, which means they’re really easy to put on and take off (and I am a great fan of bracelets that are easy to put on and take off without having to fiddle with clasps).
Each one is unique, although as they sell I am replacing them with new ones in similar colour schemes (until the beads run out, anyway!).
For ages now I’ve had a stash of beads that have been waiting to be made into jewellery. However, out of the whole box, there’s probably only about ten percent that were bought by me as beads. That ten percent are leftovers from other projects; the rest of them are there because, over the years, some beaded necklace or other has broken. Some of these were from jewellery that I owned myself, and others came from other people’s broken jewellery clearouts, and were given to me because people thought I was the sort of person who cold make use of them. The thing is, I mostly haven’t, because I’ve mostly been making things out of buttons rather than beads. I never really got into the whole “bead” thing. But a few weeks ago, I thought: they’ve been sitting there for years. (And I really mean years – I’ve had some of them for getting on fifteen years now.) They are not achieving anything at all by sitting there in a box. So I sat down and made a small fraction of my bead collection into bracelets.
I’m fussy about bracelets – or, specifically, bracelet fastenings. Obviously, as a person who uses their hands a lot, I need a bracelet to do two things: not get in the way too much, and not fall off. Otherwise I just don’t wear them. But I equally despise the kind of bracelet fastening that always requires another person to fasten it for the wearer. That’s just annoying. So this limits me to the alarmingly small number of secure clip fastenings that are easy to do up and take off with one hand, or elastic bracelets. Or so I thought. All this time I’ve been ignoring one really obvious solution to the bracelet problem: memory wire.
Memory wire is basically a hard steel spring, and comes in a big coil that looks like a slinky toy. To make into a bracelet, you cut off a section of one or two coils, and basically just bead it up however you like. When you put on a memory wire bracelet, it does two things – stretches and bends briefly so you can get your wrist in, before returning to its previous shape when on your wrist. As well as this, it gently moulds around whatever size wrist it finds itself around, so will fit snugly on a variety of wrist sizes larger than its resting size (or will be like a round bangle on smaller wrists).
So, memory wire is what my new collection of boho-looking beaded bracelets are made with. You can get them at the Unexpected Boutique, and also in my Etsy shop.