From Jennifer: If you loved the cover project from the winter 2014 Quick + Easy Beadwork special issue, you'll enjoy this guest blog from designer Yasmin Sarfati — she designed that fabulous necklace-making project! A self-taught designer, Yasmin stumbled across a bead store twelve years ago when she got off the bus at the wrong stop, and continued to pursue her passion for beads while working as an office manager and then as a student of education. She opened a bead store in her native Israel, and now focuses on her love of combining seed beads and crystals with off-loom bead-weaving techniques.
When I started beading over 10 years ago, I bought acrylic beads on my first visit to a bead store. When I came home, something about those beads just didn't seem right, and I couldn't bring myself to work with them. I went back to the store a few days later, and this time bought some Czech fire polished beads, yet I still felt that I was missing something. Finally, when I started looking at beads online, I saw beautiful, sparkling crystal beads, and I fell in love. I knew right away that I needed these crystal beads, and I went right back to the bead shop and bought some.
The word "crystal" comes from the Greek word krustallos, which means ice and rock. Crystals found in nature include quartz crystals, diamonds, and even table salt! The crystal beads we use and love are man-made, machine-cut, and are created through quite an intricate process. It's both the materials used to make crystal beads and this process that make crystals much more expensive than other glass beads, but well worth the price, in my opinion.
Since I started beading, crystal beads, crystal pendants, and crystal stones (like Rivolis or fancy-shaped stones) have become widely available and very affordable. That means I can indulge and include crystal beads in almost every piece I design! It's exciting to see the new shapes of crystal beads every year, along with all the beautiful new colors. If you want to add sparkling color to your jewelry using crystals, you don't have to always build your design around a crystal focal point.
As an example of how you can add crystals to almost any design, look at this beautiful design by Melinda Barta. I added some sparkle with crystal chatons in the center of some of the flowers, and replaced a few of the seed beads with tiny 2mm crystal beads, adding a very subtle sparkle to the piece. But, take care: when you incorporate crystals into your work, you must remember the holes on crystals are usually sharp. To avoid cutting or breaking your thread, you can use a doubled thread, use thread conditioner to strengthen it, and try not to pull your tension too tight when passing through the crystal beads. If you want to use a single thread, make a second or third pass through each crystal bead for strength and security.
If you loved Yasmin's cover project from Quick + Easy Beadwork, you'll be thrilled to know that she has turned her Sweet & Spicy necklace into an exclusive beading kit, just for us! Each kit includes all of the beads and jewelry findings needed to complete the project (you supply the beading needle and thread), plus a copy of the winter 2014 Quick + Easy Beadwork. There are a very limited number of kits available, so make sure you pre-order your kit today.