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bead stars and bead christmas trees

Bead star

I am still clearing out my workshop boxes: dismantling and harvesting some projects for parts; making some ready for a school Winter Fair; putting patterns onto the website. I thought this would be a quick job but archiving takes longer than you think.

Bead stars

You may recognise the image above. For many years, it was the Christmas image on my homepage. These bead stars were created for a craft evening at a local church. It was an unusual workshop in that a large number of people were expected, and they were not from a crafting community. I think I was one of eight people invited to provide activities for the evening. I had three levels of projects in several different bead combinations. The stars are all quite easy to make, but some of them take longer to complete than others. It was a lovely evening and like no other workshop I have experienced elsewhere. In general, the people who attended were confident that they could do all the crafts and set about making the projects with that mindset. They took their time and followed instructions to the letter. I thought the large star would look too daunting, but I didn't have enough kits to meet demand. It may have helped that everyone knew everyone else and there was plenty of liquid refreshment and music.

Pride in making

There was one thing that did disturb me that night. The speech at the end of the evening warned against taking pride in making. I have thought about that sermon a lot over the years. I am a maker. I make books. I design and make craft projects. I always think I can do better and I think many makers are very self-critical. It is what drives me on to work on the next project – however difficult the last one was. The majority of people who sat in my section that night had never worked with wire and beads before, and they had calmly kept working and completed their projects. They made plans for their finished project, and some had decided to make more. I wanted them to be proud because if they were at the start of a new creative journey, pride could soon be replaced by self-doubt. Making is not just about technique and opportunity but about perseverance, evaluating what you have made and a never-ending list of goals – skills that are easily transferable. I thought the speaker had inadvertently belittled what the group had achieved, and to this day I think about what her intended message was.

A pile of bead stars

Clear out

I did have a lot of small star kits left over. Far too many to use up in other workshops. They have languished in my beading workshop box for years, and I have decided to make up the kits and donate the stars to a school Winter Fair.

Anni Albers Booklet cover and bead star making image


On Sunday, I had a day off and my husband, daughter and I went to the Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern, London. My daughter abandoned the star-shaped catnip bags she was making for sale at the Winter Fair, and I, in theory, left my work in the office. But in the exhibition, there are some necklaces which looked like the first stage of the small bead star (below right), and I couldn't help but consider reinventing the star kits as bracelets for the Winter Fair. I don't think I will, but you could use the technique to make bracelets if you wish. I would use peyote stitch to add another row of pink beads between the pink beads described in the instructions. Then, later that afternoon, I was looking at my daughter's fabric stars and folded one into a triangle just like the triangles we had seen that afternoon and saw a Christmas tree.

The Anni Albers exhibition was on my list of things to see, but it wasn't at the top of the list. It was just the easiest to get to. Just looking at something different helped me to see something new in the task in hand.

New project

Last night I made up a bead Christmas tree prototype using the beads from my bead soup. It needs some work. The medium star project was too small sell as a craft workshop, and the bead Christmas tree is not much bigger, but you could use the idea if you wish.

Bead Star to bead Christmas tree

I have put the instructions for small, medium and large bead stars here. Use the small star instructions to make a bead star or a bracelet and the medium and large star instructions to make a bead star or a bead Christmas tree.

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