We all love beads here at Art Bead Scene - readers and writers alike. But I bet I am not alone in saying that my personal love of beads extends way beyond 'small, decorative object(s)...usually pierced for threading or stringing.' (Wikipedia). Findings, fibres, cords, found objects that can be incorporated into my jewellery - all these are things that, alongside beads, I couldn't live without. Well, perhaps that's going too far but sometimes it can feel like that!
Today though, I want to talk about one of my favourite of all non-bead components - the humble bead cap. When I first started out beading with wire, quite a few years ago now, I found these sweet little things endearing - they were, as you would think, tiny little caps; miniature headgear for the little beads I loved to work with. (I don't think I could have told you what an art bead was at this point!) They sat and looked pretty, and occasionally served a useful purpose in keeping my beads from falling off headpins if the holes were too big, but that was about it. I played around with having them on the bottom of a bead too, a cup rather than a cap, and also sandwiching a bead between two caps. All very pretty, but nothing earth shattering there!
When I discovered art beads a few years later, I also discovered artists such as Shannon LeVart (better known to you and me as MissFickleMedia), and her stunning hand patinated components. I went ahead and bought some bead caps. They were really pretty and almost seemed too lovely to use with some of my beads....and when the caliber (and price tag!) of the beads you are working with changes, you don't always want to cover them up with bead caps, however pretty. And the bead caps were so lovely in their own right, I didn't want them to be secondary to the beads themselves. So I started to think, how else could I use these lovely components....I tried a few things out but wasn't totally happy.....so I stuck with the capping and cupping, just with more expensive headgear than before.
|Earrings made for the Bead Soup Blog Party earlier this year.|
Still, my quest to elevate the bead cap from it's lowly status as a finding continued....and then I had several lightbulb moments over the past year....why not turn the cap around? Not merely cupping or capping, but springing out from the bead like a flower? Now I was onto something! (This is not to say this was desperately original. I know many people have done the same and many people continue to do the same! It was however, new and striking to me.)
|Cupping, capping, layering and flipping of Vintaj and Fallen Angel Brass bead caps - all in one pair of earrings!Polymer clay rondelles - Humblebeads|
The lightbulbs continued to flash - layer the caps! Stack them! And then I discovered more and more bead artists creating artisan bead caps - ChelleV2, GardanneBeads and TheaToo to name but a few. These caps didn't need beads to be beautiful - they could work all by themselves, turned into flowers or bells with cord, wire, headpins for stamen.
Here are some examples if you are struggling with a stash of beautiful bead caps like I was:
A tiny ceramic bird from BoHulleyBeads perches atop a handmade bronze flower beadcap (TheaToo), handmade brass headpins form spiralling stamen.
|Patinated ring and headpins from MetamorphSupplies.|
A series of earthenware clay bead caps from ChelleV2 are knotted on waxed linen cord and hang down artfully, mimicking faded flowers, or tears.
|This was made for Erin Prais-Hintz' Challenge of Music earlier this year. Watch out for her Challenge of Literature on Thursday!|
The difference that different media can make - look at these bell earrings, this time bead caps from NadinArtGlass. The light and delicate ridging on these caps make for an elegant pair.
|I made these shortly before going on stage to sing as I had forgotten to bring any jewellery with me!|
A different look again - these Vintaj bead caps make perfect earrings as well, or even a single one as a sweet pendant.
|Created for one of Andrew Thornton's blog challenges last year.|
Enamelled flower bead caps add a pop of colour wherever needed - these bead caps from Anne of GardanneBeads are some of my very favourites, being a lover of colour. One hangs from an antique brass branch, a perfect complement to this cute lampwork owl from SoulSilver
|These wee flower dangles are the perfect addition to many pieces of jewellery - Anne has just made me a custom rainbow hued order!|
What components (other than beads!) do you love to work with? What handmade elements have you elevated beyond the ordinary? If you are a bead or component artisan, what are you working on beyond beads and pendants to make our jewellery making ever more unique and beautiful?
Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer and singer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can read more about beads and singing at her blog, songbeads.blogspot.com and see more of her jewellery at songbead.etsy.com.