Creating an item a friend or loved one will treasure is the key element to hand-fashioned presents.
And Made It in Dartmouth will show you just how to do that. I spent an enjoyable hour with Yvonne Temple, owner of the gem of the shop-cum-workshop tucked away in Street Smith, making a simple but eye-catching beaded necklace.
The statement piece is a great beginner’s introduction to jewellery making and with Yvonne’s wide selection of colourful beads of all shapes and sizes it can be constructed to suit a plethora of female friends and family members.
The workshop costs just £5, plus materials, so with everybody counting the pennies this Christmas, a Made It necklace is an inexpensive and attractive present.
For me, the hardest part of the necklace, consisting of two strands of different coloured waxed cotton threaded with beads and buttons that are held in place at either end with knots, was actually selecting the beads and buttons I wanted to include in the piece.
I decided on a colour scheme, that was easy. Some say blue and green should never be seen but I love the combination. I also decided to throw a hint of earthy brown and russet into the mix and a few twinkly silver beads and pendants for vibrancy.
The time consuming bit was deciding which pretty bead, button and pendant would make it on to the finished necklace from Yvonne’s array of pretty beads, buttons and pendants.
A while later, having managed that task, I sat down at the craft table at the back of the shop with Yvonne who showed me how to put the necklace together. She didn’t need to go through making a whole new necklace as the technique was easy to grasp, instead she whipped off the pale blue version she was wearing around her neck and said ‘Here’s one I made earlier.’
Half-an-hour later I left the shop proudly wearing my new creation, and with eager plans to return for another of Yvonne’s workshops, this time in wirework jewellery.
The basic equipment needed for wirework consists of round-nosed pliers, flat-nosed pliers and wirecutters, along with a small hammer and a small steel block for flattening and work-hardening wire pieces, the wire itself which comes in different thicknesses and a range of colours, plus a selection of beads and findings (ready-made pieces such as chains, clasps, cord and earwires).
After getting a feel of how to use the wire and experimenting by twisting it into different shapes of spirals, squares, triangles and hearts, we were ready to take it a step further. In my book I had earmarked a funky bracelet I wanted to try out, so Yvonne showed us how to create the wiggly shape required and how to make a clasp and fastener.
We also learned how to ‘wrap’ beads in wire to create pendants. We used all of our newfound skills to create a finished piece to take home, which contained elements of everything Yvonne had shown us and can be worn as a brooch or attached to a chain to form the centrepiece of a necklace.
Once I got home I couldn’t wait to have a go at making the coveted wiggly wire bracelet. Armed with the coils of wire in silver and copper I had bought at Yvonne’s workshop, and the pliers, hammer and steel block I had acquired a week or so earlier, I set about having a go.
After a few trial and errors I finally came up with something wearable and encouraged at my success have since made several variables on the wiggly theme. I also branched out to make an s-chain link beaded bracelet, a lattice chain, a coiled-link bracelet and some spiral beaded earrings all of which will make fantastic Christmas and birthday presents for the people on my to-buy for list.
Yvonne holds several types of jewellery workshops for beginners and more advanced pupils, plus workshops in sewing and dressmaking throughout the year. This month she will be running a number of Christmas themed classes making wreathes, seasonal stockings, Christmas-style jewellery and Yule-time decorations.
For more information or to book, pop into Made It, visit www.jewellerymakingworkshops.com or phone 01803 834813.•
First Published December 2012 By The Dart