Roxy and I have been friends for a long time, well before we started Drakestail Jewellery. We’re both creative people, and we both love working with our hands and getting crafty. I did cross-stitch and embroidery for years, and when I was a kid I made simple beaded earrings, as well as ones using acrylic shapes that I fused in the oven (very 1980s!), which I sold in my aunt’s hair salon. When we stumbled on the idea of taking a beginner’s class in jewellery-making, I remember thinking that it would be fun to try my hand at a new craft. Unsure at how complicated or difficult it would be, I briefly imagined my beginner’s attempts at pottery (lop-sided and lumpy) and wondered how my work would turn out.
We got together with some friends and went to a local bead shop for the lessons. They had laid out tools for us – several kinds of pliers that we would learn to use – as well as beads, wire, and “findings” (the “other stuff” – clasps, crimps, jump rings, and so on). The instructor had us pick out beads from organizers on our table, and started by showing us how to thread them on some stretchy cord and tie off a secure knot. Voila, a bracelet! Seemed easy enough. We went on to learn how to loop wire to make links, then connect them to ear wires or to other links to form a bracelet. We learned how to use crimp beads on flexible wire so the clasps would stay on securely. It was a lot of fun. Ever the perfectionist, I could see how some of my loops were a bit crooked or my wrapped loops weren’t all the same, but I got the idea, and knew that with some practice I could get them right.
We went home with our new treasures, along with a couple sets of pliers, some beads, wire, and findings. It didn’t take us long to discover some good bead sellers online, and start amassing our stashes. I’ve long since replaced my first set of pliers with fancier ones, and I’ve refined my wrapped loops and other techniques, and have added to my repertoire as well. I’ve tried silver smithing, which was absolutely wonderful. Someday I’ll have the space to do more of it, and work on the pages of design ideas I have. I’ve also tried using silver metal clay, which was less of a success – I don’t think I’m meant to sculpt things. I managed to make a cute sea turtle pendant but I don’t think it’s the right medium for me.
Some of my designs over the years, such as the Tree of Life pendants, have been huge successes. Other designs have been less so, and there’s a few that got dismantled because they didn’t turn out at all as I envisioned. I think that’s the key, though, to creative success. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Not every design will be a winner, but some of them will be, and you won’t know until it’s on your workbench sparkling up at you.