Stepping into the Pinkhot studio, I see lots of exciting kit before me: bowls of sparkly beads, iridescent pearls, whirls of wire, fancy tools – and a big plate of biscuits.
This is my first ever jewellery-making workshop and I haven’t got the faintest clue what I’m going to make, nor whether I possess even an ounce of artistic talent. Thankfully, the ever-lovely Chloe has got dozens of examples for us to look at, for inspiration.
There are four of us today, including bride-to-be, Stacie, who’s brought along the left-over beads from the tiara that Chloe has beautifully reworked for Stacie to wear on her big day. Each of us are eager to get stuck in as Chloe explains the basics, showing us how to make twists and thread the beads onto the combs or band.
Introduction over, I’ve decided to make a pretty comb – that can’t be too difficult, can it? Stacie is making a bridesmaid’s headband, which matches the tiara. I spend a blissful few moments digging through some glass beads and select a handful of purple beads – and a biscuit.
Getting to grips with wire
Clasping the comb in one hand, Chloe shows me how to wind the wire on securely and how to make twists along the way. The beads come last, covering up all of the wire work. This is fun! I’m quite pleased, so far. There’s a lovely atmosphere in the studio, the My Fair Lady soundtrack is on in the background and I can’t help but think what a fabulous activity this would be for a hen party.
Stacie’s headband is coming along nicely and although the others in the group throw favourable comments in my direction, their work is far superior. My comb seems lacking somehow.
Chloe casts her expert eye over it and produces some purple wire, suggesting I make some contrasting twists with it. Naturally, she’s right; it makes all the difference, so I proceed to thread my crystal beads on to the comb.
Perfect for beginners
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never done this sort of thing before and I’m thrilled to learn that it’s not frustrating or fiddly, it’s fun – and you never, know, I might end up making something I can actually wear. All right, it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad for a novice. As my design was markedly less complicated than my classmates’, I finish early.
“Nobody twiddles their thumb in my workshop!” says Chloe, handing me some thicker wire, a hammer and a heavy metal ‘stone’ on which I was to do some metal work; shaping the wire into a haphazard heart and hammering it flat. I think I’ve made a cake topper. Next, I’m shown how to make some lovely drop earrings that compliment my comb.
It looks simple, but there’s a tricky cutting manoeuvre which Chloe has to repeat – I don’t want to cut through the wrong piece wire, after all.
I’m so pleased with what I’ve created and it’s been a really lovely afternoon. We leave Chloe to clear up (we did offer) and I race home to try on my new jewellery!
If you’d like to see if you can do better than me (and you will), why not try a workshop yourself?