Hello beautiful beaders!

I don't know about you guys but I love these frosty mornings and can't wait to jump out of bed and see what excitement the day will bring.

Everything is just a bit cosier in the winter and, although it's harder to prise my boys from their warm beds, once they are up I just love the madness of the kitchen, watching hands grapple for rounds of hot buttered toast and tea, whilst I sit back and sip my hot water and lemon contentedly.

Once the boys are off to school my routine often finds me secreted in my home studio, my sanctuary, where I design and plan all of my new kits and training techniques.

I think it's always important to go back to basics now and then, to hone your craft, and ensure that you do even the simplest things to the very best standard. With that in mind I thought I'd share some basic techniques with you guys this week. These are a couple of essential training methods which can be used for most projects, and ones you'll definitely need when making my newest Sue Ryder Sparkle Angel Kit, that I told you about last week. 

Turning a head pin loop

This technique is for creating loops at the top of your beads to enable you to attach onto your jewellery making projects.

Step one: Take a bead/beads and add to a head pin, cut the head pin about 1cm above the top of the bead.

Step Two: Bend the pin at a 90’ angle as tight to the top of the bead as you can (take care not to crack the bead) Face the pin towards you.

Step Three: Place the round nose pliers at the end of the pin and roll away from you, as you start to create a loop, reposition the pliers further back in the loop and continue to turn until you have a closed circle.

You can buy the pliers for both of these techniques here

Adding a crimp bead and calotte fastening

Use this technique to finish off any wire threaded piece, and secure the beads you have in place. Calottes, or clam shells, are small rounded cases which disguise the crimp beads. 

Step One: Thread on a crimp bead and Using flat nose pliers press the crimp bead flat, this will fuse the crimp with the wire and secure the beads in place.

Step Two: To add a calotte, continue to add a crimp bead and squash the crimp bead using flat nose pliers.
Gently close the calotte round the crimp bead and gently wiggle closed with your flat nose pliers, take care not to squash the calotte.

You can buy the crimp beads and callotes (or clam shells as they are also called) here

Have a go at both of those techniques and do let me know how you get on. Why not write any questions, feedback or tips in the comments section below this blog.

If you'd like some more detailed training then we are running some wonderful workshops over the next couple of weeks. There's a free needle felting taster session, a pearl knotting course, the fabulous Pru McRae with her advanced Prumihimo and so much more. If you're a novice jewellery maker, or if you'd just like to brush up your skills, then we have a Starter Class on the 19th of February, from 11am to 3pm. The course costs £20. To book on to any of the courses please click here

Finally, I'd like to finish off this post with an exciting new competition where you can win my latest Sparkle Spacer Angel Kit, the beautiful Molly Angel!

To win this gorgeous kit simply click on the link here, comment like and share the post with your friends. If you're not a member of Facebook you can still enter by commenting with your name in the comments box below this blog.
A name will be selected at random and the winner announced in our next blog post!

Good luck and Happy Beading!

xxx Donna

Watch Donna Wednesday February 1st at 9am on Create and Craft TV at Sky 674, Freeview 23, Virgin 748 and Freesat 813