Saturday 19 December 2015

Task 47: Make a beaded necklace and wear it for 60 days

As I'm sure you'll know by now, during the process of developing my sixtyat60 list I invited friends and family to contribute ideas, to ensure that the tasks pushed me outside my comfort zone and were as rich and varied as possible. When it was my friend Jenny's turn to cast an eye over the list, she quickly spotted a lack of creative activities (just as my potter friend Jane had done) and decided this must be rectified..... 

Two of Jenny's creative interests are drawing pet animals (see her lovely pictures of Alfie and Mabel below) and making beaded jewellery. Thankfully she didn't suggest drawing (at best my art could be described as primitive) and instead proposed a session of necklace-making. I thought this sounded a grand idea and then in a moment of mini-madness, I upped the stakes by declaring that I would wear the necklace for 60 days. 

Last Thursday I arrived at Jenny's house hot-wired for an afternoon of creative craft. I bore with me a tray of lime drizzle rasberry slices for the following reasons: 

1.  to show my gratitude to Jenny for helping me with Task 47 

2.  to test out the formula that I'd developed when I did my pot throwing task with Jane. Just to refresh your memory (and mine)......

                           Fun + (Frustration x Fear of Failure) x Friend + Food = Fulfillment

I walked into Jenny's dining room and there in front of me was a table festooned with beads of all shapes, sizes, colours, textures and patterns. instantly dawned on me what a mega-challenge I'd taken on. There was so much choice!!  And I had to come up with a design that would be appropriate for all occasions, including the festive season. If my finished necklace was a complete dog's dinner, I'd still have to wear it for a whole 60 days. Fear of failure (see formula above) began to creep in.

Jenny and I sat down at the table and I took a deep breath. Jenny placed a bead board (see below) in front of me and very patiently went through the principles of how to create a beaded necklace.  

I knew I wanted to create a simple necklace (Andrew rightly describes my sartorial style as 'understated'). Other than that, I had no idea of what to make.  Jenny handed me the piece of thread. 'Just try a few ideas out' she said. This proved to be very sensible advice. I soon learnt that small beads of very modest appearance when sitting in the hand could look fab when threaded.  Gradually the design of the necklace evolved

I found the process of threading the beads very therapeutic. It was exciting to see my embryonic necklace coming to life, and the need to concentrate 100% on what I was doing meant that I couldn't worry about the fact that I hadn't started my Christmas shopping (aargh.....)    

Once I'd completed the threading of the beads on the board, it was time to end the necklace using bead tips and a clasp. That all proved to be quite tricky, especially since my eyesight is far from keen these days. Ooh yes, I could definitely feel some frustration beginning to bubble up.......but Jenny zoomed in to lend a hand and the beads were soon safely anchored and fastened in place.  

And here's the finished article........I'm really rather pleased with it!    

As I began to gather up my things to leave, Jenny looked thoughtful. 'You know' she said, 'It would be rather nice if you had some matching earrings.....' and by the time I'd finished doing up my coat buttons she'd made me a pair - how amazing is that! 

With the necklace duly completed, I'm now wearing it for the 60 day stint. It's been out to dinner, coffee, tea and lunch (please don't get the impression I'm enjoying my retirement or anything), on dog walks, around shops, to a saxophone lesson, and even to a Crystal Palace football match (of course Palace won that day - the necklace clearly brought them luck).  Eight days down - 52 to go.......

A massive thank you to Jenny for a brilliant afternoon of beading.  I really enjoyed the whole experience and the formula developed during pot-throwing with Jane proved to be spot on  - as the necklace was admired by our supper companions last Saturday evening, I'm pleased to confirm that I definitely felt a whoosh of fulfilment!

I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Shooting Star Chase children's hospice care. For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at

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