Friday, 30 September 2011

Butterfly Ball set - Easy Choker & co ordinating Drop Earrings

Butterfly Ball set - Easy Choker & co ordinating Drop Earrings

This feminine set is easy to wear and dresses up or down. It's simple and quick to make too.


  • Chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers, round nose pliers and cutters
Beads & Findings:


  • Cut the chain to fit your neck - the completed necklace will sit just on your collar bone (this is usually about 16"!)
  • Attach a 5mm jump ring to each end of the chain
  • Attach a lobster clasp to one jump ring
  • Try on the necklace and adjust the fit if necessary
  • Cut a short length of chain (mine was 21 links long) and attach a jump ring to each end
  • Attach one butterfly charm to one jump ring
  • Close the lobster clasp and hold the necklace up to locate the central link
  • Attach the other jump ring on the end of the butterfly chain to the central link
  • Cut a very short length of chain (mine was 3 links long) and attach a jump ring to each end
  • Thread a Fimo bead onto an eye pin, trim to size and turn a loop. Attach the loop to the chain length.
  • Attach a 5mm jump ring and a butterfly to the eye pin loop
  • Count 7 links along the necklace from the butterfly dangle and attach the fimo bead chain
  • Cut another piece of chain (mine was 10 links long) and attach the other Fimo bead and butterfly, following the 2 steps above
  • Count 7 links along the necklace from the butterfly dangle (opposite direction - see pic!) and attach the fimo bead chain
  • Check the fit - the butterfly dangle should drape from the hollow of your throat.

  • To make the earrings, cut 2 pieces of chain (mine was 40 links long) and attach a 5mm jump ring to each end.
  • Attach a butterfly charm to each end of the chain
  • Hook the 15th link onto an earwire
  • Repeat for a pair!

If you'd like to receive all the findings and beads you need to make this set for FREE - then place an order over £5 (excluding postage) this weekend at and we'll send you your free items automatically. Hurry though - this offer ends at midday on Monday October 3rd 2011

Friday, 23 September 2011

Cute Cluster Drop Earrings


Here's a quick and easy - but really effective - earring pattern. I made mine with plated findings and lightweight acrylic bicones, but it would easily 'upscale' with sterling silver jump rings and Swarovski bicones if you're an uptown girl!

Tools and Supplies:

4 7mm jump rings

4 5mm jump rings

2 ear hook wires

6 4mm acrylic bicones (2 in each of 3 colours)

6 head pins

2 pairs chain nose pliers (or 1 flat, 1 chain, or 1 jump ring tool and 1 chain)
Round nose pliers


  • Thread one bicone onto each headpin and turn a loop
  • *Open 1 7mm jump ring
  • Thread on 2 5mm jump rings and 1 ear hook
  • Close 7mm jump ring, ensuring ends are tight and snug!
  • Open 1 7mm jump ring
  • Thread on 3 bicone loops (1 of each colour)
  • Thread the 7mm jump ring through both 5mm jump rings and close the 7mm jump ring
  • Repeat from * above - but thread on your bicones in the opposite order to ensure a pair of earrings when worn!

Wear, and enjoy the admiration :-)

Friday, 16 September 2011

Adventures in Chain Maille

I love the look of chainmaille, and today was the day I decided to give it a try! The picture above is my first attempt ever - it's a Helm (parallel chain) bracelet and I'm feeling really pleased with myself :-)

Chainmaille is a series of interlinked rings - and there are hundreds of patterns. Helm pattern is a relatively simple weave, perfect for a beginner like me. I must say it was quite addictive and very satisfying - it reminded me a bit of knitting. I also found my mistakes easier to correct than my knitting errors(!)

There are a few methods for producing Helm but this one was the one that I found easiest.

I used the gold rings in my design because I thought it would be easier to see where my rings were supposed to link. I really like the effect though! I will be doing some more chain maille for definite.

I  used 36 7mm silver jump rings, 38 5mm jump rings and 17 7mm gold jump rings, plus a triangle toggle clasp to complete the design so that it fitted my own wrist. All the findings are available from

I hope you feel inspired to give chain maille a try!

Best wishes

Friday, 9 September 2011

Autumn Flower Girls.. & a JellyRoll Bracelet

Hi Beady Peeps!

The bead barn overfloweth with sparkly things this week, so if you're in need of Autumnal Inspiration, have a look at the new things we found here

Our new Official Packing Goddess (Hannah)  has set to work, which left lucky old me with some time to make some pretties this week.

First up is a project for you. It's a pretty hairband for flower girl, or even as the finishing touch to a party outfit. It's quick to make, very comfy to wear (this is very important when you are trying to persuade a small person to wear a beaded hair band!) and I think it looks great! I've called it Autumn Flower Girls because I designed it with my friend's wedding in mind.

If you've not tried wiring beads before, this is a perfect first project to try. Here goes!

Tools and Supplies:

  • Cut 2 loops of memory wire and then trim them so there is a 5cm gap in the circle
  • Cut 65cm of craft wire and fold in half to locate the centre
  • Place one loop of memory wire on top of the other and line up the ends roughly (they're trimmed later, so you don't need to be exact
  • Ensure that the memory wire loops are on top of each other and not twisted, or resting inside each other *very important!* as this gives the whole piece its structure
  • Fold the middle of the craft wire over the middle of the memory wire base and wrap around firmly 4 or 5 times.
  • Working to the right, wrap the craft wire around the memory wire loops firmly to hold them together. Aim for tight neat wraps, about 5mm apart. Finish 2cm from the cut end of the memory wire loops.
  • Repeat, working to the left.
  • Now cut *ONE* of the memory wire ends back by 1cm. Using chain nose pliers, fold the long end back so that it touches the cut surface. Squeeze to flatten and neaten
  • Wrap the craft wire over the join and to about 5mm of the end. Wrap tightly and closely. Snip off the remainder and squeeze flat with chain nose pliers.
  • Repeat with the other end.
  • Your base is now complete!
  • Cut another 65cm of wire and fold in half to find the middle
  • Again, find the middle of the base, and wrap the middle of the craft wire round - you should have two 'ends' - one for each side of the design.
  • Start with a 3 flower cluster: Thread on one lucite trumpet bead, one 2mm spacer and then pass the wire back through the trumpet (see pic)

  • Hold the trumpet flower and spacer close to the base and pull the wire through tightly.
  • Wrap the wire round the base once
  • Repeat for 2 more flowers
  • Wrap the craft wire just underneath all 3 flowers together and then use your fingers to arrange the 'bunch' - keep the wire quite tight.
  • Wrap the craft wire once round the base
  • Thread a 6mm bicone and hold it tight against the base. Check the position is how you want it (I suggest aim for parallel with the base) and then wrap the craft wire back around the base to hold the bicone.
  • Repeat with a second bicone
  • Repeat the pattern twice more so that you have the centre flower 'bunch' then 2 bunches on one side with 3 sets of 2 bicones - finish with 2 bicones
  • Here's a closer look at the pattern:

  •  Repeat for the other side
  • Once complete, continue to wind the craft wire around the base and trim off - give it a good squeeze to flatten the wire and hold tight

    The second piece I made, is really simple, but looks fab! - I've called it my JellyRoll Bracelet:

    If you don't want to bother with a toggle clasp, this would also be great on Elasticow - because there are a lot of beads, please double it up though, and secure your square knot with a dot of nail varnish.

    I made it by threading 8mm Jolie Vache pearls in mercury alternating some lovely rhinestone rondelles from a mix pack and finished with a triangle clasp. I used Berkley fireline to thread, but tigertail would be fine too - whatever you prefer!

    Have a lovely weekend, and I'd love to see your versions of the Flower Girl project, so don't be shy!

    Best wishes

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Create your brand - check out your buyers - and price it right!

In this post I'm going to take a look at 'branding' and give some pointers on designing the right jewellery for your customer base. We'll also take a quick look at pricing. Phew - quite a lot for one post!

Branding.. branding is what makes 'you', you. It's not something that is only relevant to 'big' companies - big companies do it because it works! If you are stuck for an original theme, think about how you would like to come across to your customers:

  • Quirky

  • Friendly

  • Artistic

  • Ethereal

  • Modern

  • Homespun

  • Classic

  • Edgy

There's no right answer - and those bullet points are just to start you thinking about your business image. When I started madcowbeads my list was.. friendly, zany & memorable. A herd of cows running a bead factory seemed suitably random (and we're in a converted cowshed!) - and I know that it has made the web address really memorable! Once you have thought about your brand, carry this through to your craft stall, your website, any stationery you have, your labels, bags and giftwrap too.

Branding doesn't need to cost loads of money. In most cases you don't need a glossy brochure or a company car(!) and in most craft businesses, being 'too slick' can be detrimental. Here are some effective ideas I've come across:

  • Get small labels printed with your business details (I use Stick these labels on old fashioned brown parcel tags . The ones I saw had thin gingham ribbon instead of the string! These made fabulous business cards for a hand crafted business

  • Decide on your business colours and co ordinate your gift wrapping service (tissue paper is particularly effective, and inexpensive) and your craft stall table cloths

  • Buy plain Kraft card boxes, and use your little labels inside - much cheaper, and nicer than paying for hotfoil printing! Finish with a ribbon in your company colours

  • Consider a 'uniform' for Craft fairs - what could you wear to promote your new brand?

Your intended customers will also affect your branding, so do think this through well. A burlesque theme could be dramatic & very successful in the right setting - but it's not going to be that appropriate at school fetes, where a sparkly fun approach is more likely to draw in the buyers!

When designing your items, you need to consider your sales venue and the type of customer this may attract. If you are running a stall at your local fete, then it would be sensibly to assume that your market is families with young children. Think about what they might buy, and what their budget might be. It would be safe to say you'll do well at this type of venue with smaller, cheaper items that aren't 'time heavy' to make - things like bookmarks, keyrings, zip pulls, stretchy bracelets etc. It's a good idea to have plenty of these available, and then perhaps a few more expensive and eyecatching items to display too.

Acrylic beads and buttons are perfect for these type of items and venues - they are light, pretty and hard to break. They're also really inexpensive, so you can conserve your margins, and offer really tempting prices!

Talking of prices... I know that some crafty folks find it difficult to price their work, so I hope the ideas below help your quandaries!

If you are in business making jewellery to sell, then you need to make a profit! That sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised! Work out the cost of the 'raw' materials and then add an element to cover your 'making' time, and things like pliers, which wear out and need replacing out of your profits! If you attend fairs, there is the cost of the stall, your fuel and wear & tear on your vehicle. Plus you probably need to buy a coffee, or some lunch while you're at the fair. This all adds up and needs to be accounted for.

Here are a few 'easy fixes' to keep your costs down!

  • Draw out a design and make variations of it - with different beads, or in different finishes - this way the 'design time' is lower

  • Use acrylic beads for cheaper items - they look great and don't break!

  • Think about 'economising' without adversely affecting the design - for example, a beaded necklace with a fancy design at the front could have a plain seed bead or 'noodle' side and back - or use suede or ribbon

  • Check your 'assembly time' - if you take ages crimping, don't make items that require tigertail and crimps. Concentrate on what you do quickly and well.

  • Design with one lovely focal and use seed beads as fillers as money savers that still look great

  • If buying online, factor in the postage. Many companies (including the madcows!) charge one shipping rate, so get organised and place one order to minimise your costs here.

If your items are selling really fast, do consider that they may be worth a little more :-) Pricing is your decision, but as a very general rule, charge at least 3 times your 'raw material' costs. On high value designs with branded crystals, or intricate work, a guide would be 6 or 7 times your raw material costs - and the sky is the limit with your handmade, designer one offs!

My personal observation is that many people underprice their work. Why not try charging a little more - you could be pleasantly surprised - and it's easier to have a sale, than it is to put prices up!