Thursday, June 5, 2014

Turning Leftover Beads Into Suncatchers

What do you do with a pile of orphan beads? ("Orphan" being defined as beads left over from other projects, and beads I don't plan to use for jewelry for one reason or another.) In my studio, they're now used to make suncatchers!

I love suncatchers. For Mother's Day I gave my mom a rather elaborate suncatcher I found on Etsy. It had all kinds of quirky items on it besides beads, including old keys, charms and other small trinkets. Sure, I could have made a suncatcher for her myself, but the idea to send Mom a suncatcher in addition to her other gifts occurred to me right before Mother's Day. There wasn't enough time to make one for her myself.

So I went shopping on my favorite source for "all things handmade" (shameless plug: my own Etsy shop is Playing With Colors) and found a lovely suncatcher at The wonderful seller moved heaven and earth to ship it so Mom would get it in time (just try getting that level of service at a big box store!) It got delivered practically overnight. Mom was thrilled with her gift and I was positively wowed by Beauty of Light's awesome customer service.

Anyway, back to the orphans. I had enough of them on hand to make a simple, one-strand suncatcher if I supplemented them with some of my jewelry beads. Instead of using nylon fishing line, which stretches and weakens over time, I opted to use 49 strand beading wire to string them. This is the same super-strong product I use for stringing necklaces.

I also had several teardrop shaped glass prisms that once hung on an old chandelier. They had been gathering dust in a box for years. Cleaned up, they'd be perfect as suncatcher drops. I selected one, gathered up the beads, and got busy. Soon, Suncatcher #1 was born:

Orphan beads and an upcycled prism from an old chandelier make a colorful suncatcher.
I enjoyed making this colorful suncatcher so much I immediately started in on a second. This time I aimed for a more delicate look. I used some large faceted acrylic beads in a yummy raspberry-pink color, combined with turquoise, pale green and clear glass beads. Oooh, this suncatcher thing is too much fun! Here's Suncatcher #2:

Two large faceted acrylic beads and pastel colored glass beads adorn Suncatcher #2.
But why stop with just two? I couldn't seem to focus on anything but suncatchers. Soon three more were dancing in the breeze outside my studio door as I photographed them for my Etsy shop. But I won't stop there. I'll be creating dozens more in the days ahead. Is there a 12 Step program for suncatcher-makers? I believe I'm addicted.

What is it about them that captivates so many of us? I think it's their sparkle, their movement and the beauty of sunlight shining through them that makes them so irresistible. They're wonderful as garden art or hung on a porch or deck; indoors, they bring cheer on the drabbest winter day when hung in a window. They make terrific gifts, providing pleasure year round for even the hardest-to-please recipients. Can you think of a better gift for someone who is ill, or in a nursing home? Given as a hospitality or housewarming gift? Or a gift for a co-worker, friend, or neighbor? This simple touch of beauty lifts spirits and brings joy to all, day after day, year after year. I can hardly wait to make lots more of them!
Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

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