A New Year has arrived and so has another Guest Showcase! This month we’ve got the lovely Rachel Smith from Beads By Verchiel to answer all of our questions about what got her into crafting, advice for someone new to the world of crafting, and much more!
If you missed last month’s Guest Showcase with Aly’s Stitchy Fingers (it’s okay, we forgive you) then you can check it out right here!
Hey Rachel, welcome to Guest Showcase. What got you into crafting?
I think it has always been in my genes to be a crafter! My Great Grandfather George Holloway was a jeweller in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. My Gran also worked in the jewellery quarter and whilst she didn’t make the jewellery, she was a great admirer of the craftmanship of the jewellery pieces. My mother has always been an avid (sewer knitter, card make and crafter) and so the passion of sparkly things and to create, within the family continued.
I have many treasured memories with my Mom and Gran (picture of the 3 of us in 1989!) with the sheer delight of admiring the beauty and sparkle of their recently purchased pieces of jewellery and pearls brought from the jewellery quarter.
I enjoyed crafting from a very early age, mainly sewing, sketching, painting and various forms of art. In my teenage years, my art and sewing classes were sheer delight! I remember designing a satin pelmet and curtain (to surround the top of my bed) around the age of 14 and was hooked on crafting.
I first got into jewellery making around 14 years ago, when a quaint bead shop popped up in my local town where I now live. I booked myself onto a number of workshops and from then on, I was well and truly engrossed in my now niche!
I also enjoyed a trip to Bristol every Monday morning (for 2 years) where I learnt how to silversmith with a fabulous tutor and group of fellow crafters.
I find it very difficult to filter out one thing, as there have been so many memorable creations. I was once presented with the most amazing Georgian tiara with big emerald crystals and seed pearls, that needed restoring as there were broken parts and missing crystals. That was sheer bliss for me – carefully redesigning missing elements, working out how to do it and find a match to this missing crystal! I was very proud of the results and it was commented that you wouldn’t have known that it had been restored. I loved seeing it in its sparkly glory once restored.
Another memorable piece has to be a Cleopatra style necklace that I was commissioned to make using ancient Eqyptian faience beads in 9ct gold. It is a bit of a worry in case you make an expensive mistake with 9ct gold, but you have to put that to the back of your mind. Despite the beads being from ancient Egypt the colours are still incredibly vibrant.
I do think however, that the most recent bead embroidery hedgehog kit has been my favourite, as it was the first project that I did alongside my Daughter Emily. I wanted to create something totally unique and hand drawn. As you can imagine, we had a number of drafts and creations made before we came up with the final piece that Emily illustrated. I am so proud of the results and we have hedgehogs Cyril, Clara and Honey that have real character and cuteness. Watch out for the launch on Hochanda!
As the saying goes, practise makes perfect, although I am a great believer in progress not perfection! Don’t be afraid to go off piste so to speak and if you’re not sure if something works, give it a go and experiment.
From a jewellery making point of view I would recommend dipping your toes with the many varieties of mediums you can try, from wirework, bead weaving (working with needle and thread), kumihimo (Japanese braiding with a disc), crochet with wire, bead embroidery and more – the options are endless. There’s something for everyone that incorporates in many other crafts alongside.
My mind is constantly working overtime with new ideas and projects and these things all take time to put down on paper and physically create. I am so very exciting to be moving forward with all these buzzing ideas and can’t wait to bring them to Hochanda.
I love working on different jewellery mediums including wirework, beadwork, kumihimo bead embroidery, to name but a few. The good thing is that there something for everyone and that you can combine the jewellery with other crafts including card making, soft furnishing, crochet etc.
I have a lovely Facebook community in my group and will be continuing with my weekly Facebook live demos every Thursday at 6pm. I love the ideas that are bounced between us and how everyone helps and supports each other within the group. Everyone is welcome to join whether you are a beader, crafter or just love absorbing all the live demos and ideas.
There’s something really uplifting and fulfilling when you feel you have inspired others to try something new and the delight, they get in making and creating. I feel most at home with the courses that I teach, with worldwide visiting students, face to face at Marlborough College Summer School every year. Inspiring and watching people of all ages (Teenagers and Adults) grow in their jewellery making journey and confidence.
As well as being able to share my love of jewellery making with the Hochanda viewers, I loved meeting all the Hochanda team, both onscreen and behind the scenes. What a lovely welcoming Hochanda family.
It was great having the pleasure to meet and be hosted by Scott and Hayley and a real bonus to be watching John Next door (whilst I was setting up for my show). I just love Johns shows!
Fancy making some jewellery yourself? Check out the full collection of Beads By Verchiel here on Hochanda!