Reported by Erika Martin
It’s been a long time since I’ve made jewelry or played with clay, so when the opportunity came up to review the book, Beyond the Bead, by Margot Potter, I jumped at it.
I have to say that since I’ve been creating, I’ve really gotten back into it and spent another $37 at the craft store yesterday on more jewelry findings, beads and clay. I’m totally digging the new creative juices that are flowing, and one of the best things to come out of this book is that I’m finding new ways to use things I already have in my stash (namely: scrapbooking and stamping supplies) to create all new works of art that are wearable!
Beyond the Bead is a funky, eclectic collection of techniques which is broken down into different chapters based on the main materials used:
- Digital images
- Scrapbooking supplies
The book also has sections that break down the tools & supplies you’ll need for making the jewelry showcased in the book, along with basic techniques on conditioning clay, turning loops and more.
Here is a quick video tutorial that I made using the directions as shown in the book on how to turn a loop.
Each project has beautiful and up-close photos, as well as step-by-step instructions with full color photos detailing the techniques. I found them very easy-to-follow and well-written. It was great to have the photos so large so that I could see everything that was being done. It made creating very easy.
I would have loved to try out every technique and project in the book, and eventually I most likely will. I did do quite a few projects, though, that I’m excited to show you. I learned some new techniques and I’ve found a new hobby to get into. I tweaked some of the instructions and improvised with tools because I didn’t have everything the projects called for, but they still turned out to be something I’m very proud of.
When I saw “shrink plastic” in the section of the book focusing on creating with plastic, I realized how long it had been since I’ve last used this medium. I forgot how much fun… and frustrating… it could be to work with. I was definitely out of practice, so it was nice to be encouraged to use it again. One tip that wasn’t included in the book is to make sure you have your shrink plastic in a small contained area if you’re going to be using your heat tool (embossing gun) to shrink it. I like using a heat tool because you don’t have to heat up your oven or toaster oven to shrink the plastic, but it can be a bit frustrating to blow your heat tool on the plastic and have it sliding all over the place while you’re trying to melt it.
The instructions show how to color in your images, give tips on what images are the best to use, how to cut them out, how to make the hole before shrinking, heating and finishing the charms. I even liked that the book showed how to transfer an image onto the shrink plastic if it’s from a book (rather than a stamped image). I’ve never done that before, but will definitely be trying it out. This will only work with translucent shrink plastic since you’ll need to see through it to the image below to trace it.
I chose to use a Stampin’ Up! image and stamped it onto white shrink plastic (since I only had white shrink plastic). It’s best to use a solvent based ink (like Staz-On) to stamp your image. I found that other inks just rubbed off the plastic. I used Sakura Souffle pens to color the images after they had shrunk. To string the beads and attach the earring hooks, as well as attach the charm to the necklace, I used the techniques I learned in the “Basic techniques” section of the book to turn loops and create wrapped loops.
I wonder how many others out there have a ton of bottle caps that were all the rage for a while on the scrapbooking market a few years back. I’ll admit that I have a entire plastic shoebox FULL of them. I’ve probably used all of 4 or 5 over the years. This book includes a project that put bottle caps to use, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way mine turned out.
Because I didn’t have a drill on hand to drill holes for jump rings, I improvised a bit. That’s what’s great about instruction books. They give you ideas and if you don’t have everything they call for, you can put your imagination and ingenuity to use and improvise with what you do have.
Crystal Effects, Glossy Glaze, Glossy Accents…these are all liquid lacquers that you can use to either coat a project or encase items in to make them look suspended. This is what I used to fill the bottle cap after adding beads, a button and star confetti.
I added a pin back to the backs of my bottle caps to create pins out of them. These would also work well as earrings, as well.
Scrapbooking is one of my most passionate crafting loves, so my studio is full of scrapbooking and papercrafting supplies. It’s always fun to break out of the mold and find new and nontraditional ways to use things you already have on hand.
I never would have thought to use chipboard for making jewelry but I’ve now gotten hooked on this. The pieces are lightweight so they don’t make for heavy jewelry and the possibilities are endless. It’s like having a small canvas to work on. You can paint them, emboss them, sponge ink onto them and more!
I created a matching set of earrings and a necklace. I followed the directions to lacquer my chipboard on the front, but I used a gold Pen-Touch marker (Sakura) to coat the back of the chipboard pieces.
I have to say that this was my favorite chapter of the book. Working with clay always seems so therapeutic to me. I love working the clay in my hands and softening it and molding and shaping it. The book shows how to condition the clay using a pasta machine but since I don’t have one, I used my hands. It’s definitely good therapy for your muscles.
I’m not a big fan of skulls and crossbones, but I have friends that are, so I tired out the technique shown in the book to make a necklace and I also created a bigger skull and turned it into a pin for a friend’s daughter. Again, I improvised because I didn’t have the black bead for the eye, so I created one with black clay. Instead of using sparkly decoupage medium, I created my own using Crystal Effects liquid lacquer and mixed glitter into it. I got the same effect and could use what I had on hand. I picked up more clay yesterday because I plan on making more and adding them to my Etsy shop as well as giving them to friends as gifts.
I also tried out the Faux Metal technique in the book to create a pair of earrings and then modified the technique to create a matching barrette. This technique is a great way to use your stamps. A whole new world of crafting with my stamps (and I have a LOT of them) has opened up to me.
I did make the mistake of not having my clay thin enough (this is where a pasta machine or rolling pin would have come in handy) to put jump rings through the holes on my clay beads, though I now realize that if I’d had bigger rings on hand, I could have followed the directions completely in the book. I’ve already remedied that with my latest shopping trip and I have larger rings on hand for upcoming projects.
So, what did I think of this book?
I LOVED IT!
It got my creative juices flowing in a whole new direction and gave me reasons to look at my crafting supplies in completely different ways. I can also use some of these techniques on cards and scrapbook pages, so it’s an across-the-hobby art form. I learned things that I didn’t know before I opened the covers of the book and definitely plan to continue with this new-found hobby. I’m actually going to buy Margot Potter’s other book on beading and creating – The Impatient Beader gets Inspired! Her style is so refreshing and she makes it so easy to springboard off of her ideas. I highly recommend this book for beginners and advanced beaders and jewelry makers. She gets you thinking outside the box.
I did notice that many of the items called for in the book were from Ranger, which is one of the reasons that I didn’t do some of the techniques called for. I simply didn’t have all the tools or findings that were on the supply lists and being that I was just getting back into this hobby, I had a limited budget that I could work with to get supplies. Some of these items were things like pendant frames, melting pot, alcohol inks (trust me, you can’t make your own with dye-based inks and rubbing alcohol…I tried and failed miserably at it, so I’ll be putting money aside to get some in the near future, as I love the effects), as well as tools like jewelry drills, wood burning tool and soldering tool. I would really like to create some of these projects and will put those tools and supplies on my wish list for future purchases.
Even without all of the supplies and tools, there were still ways that I could do some work-arounds and springboard off the ideas that Margot shared in her book. I’ll also be involving my daughter in some of these projects as many of them are great for kids to work with, as well, with adult supervision.
Well done, Margot…I highly recommend your book!
Have you read Beyond the Bead? Did you love it? Leave us a comment and let us know!