INSPIRED BY MARRAKECH, FIONA MARR ON BECOMING THE BEAD NOMAD
"These are really nice but…," I will hear someone say as they are handling my beaded jewellery,
"it’s a shame I don’t wear necklaces".
Before they can run off to the next stall where they might well ooh and ahh over the scented candles or handmade soaps I ask them “but you do like to wear scarves, right?”
A wonderful discussion ensues.
We agree that scarves are incredibly versatile, that they add that necessary pop of color, magically they can draw the eye away from any problem areas, their ability to dress up even the most casual look is undeniable, what great gifts they make, etc., etc. and when we have concluded that leaving home without one is pointless, I gently suggest:
“Have you ever considered that necklaces, especially bold fashion statement pieces like these, are scarves you can wear in the summer?”
As they pick up the piece they had been admiring to try it on, I reach for the mirror and it becomes clearly apparent that there are no good reasons for NOT wearing necklaces!
I create jewellery from upcycled beads, charms and other materials. I source locally from charity shops but my inspiration is definitely global. I first decided to try designing my own necklaces after a trip I took to the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech. The cobalt blue and bright yellow pots set against tiled backdrops and terracotta walkways fit right in with my dream vision of Morocco, but to find this quiet haven existing alongside Marrakech’s cacophonous market was a gift.
It was not until I paid my second visit of the day that I went into the Berber Museum which famous designer Yves Saint Laurent created to house a collection of North African tribal clothing and jewellery.
Wow – a real eye-opener.
Arriving in Casablanca on the last day of my trip I tried to do some last minute souvenir shopping at the Quartier Habous, but much as I longed for a Berber necklace to call my own, after having seen the masterpieces at the museum, what was on offer for the tourists was hard to settle for. I walked away empty handed but the designs and materials used in these Moroccan neck pieces encouraged me to go big and go bold.
Back home I began by taking apart a blue wooden bead choker I had picked up in the Coyoacan market in Mexico City – my tribute to the queen of self-expression herself, Frida Khalo. Over-sized prayer beads I had bought as souvenirs in the souks of Kuwait provided me with the perfect centerpiece. I re-purposed a few bracelets, raided my mother’s old jewellery box and assured my granddaughter I would replace the handful of solid-colored pony beads I used as fillers.
Below, the original Berber and an example of one of my wanna-be versions.
Can you tell which one is the original?
I love to give workshops to teach people how to make their own beaded necklaces and bracelets. There exist all sorts of DIY videos with easy to follow instructions on how to make jewellery but I find people enjoy exchanging ideas (and beads) plus having an expert on hand is a definite bonus for first timers.
"I showed up with 3 ugly necklaces that I never wear and I am going home with one statement piece that looks amazing AND I can brag about having made it myself!"
Though it may seem daunting at first, and amid assurances that they are going to start out with something simple, inevitably once the workshop participants have finished beading their first strand, every one of them decides that they are ready to add-on some extra bits.
“Do you think some charms would look nice here?”
“Can I borrow some of your silver thingies that you put around the beads (i.e.caps)?”
“Would five strands be a bit much?”
But certainly what I hear the most is...
“I can’t wait to go home and see what other jewellery I can upcycle.”
For me, these workshops are another great source of inspiration and ideas. Plus it is a great way to connect with people by fostering their creativity and self-expression.
Up-cycling can be as easy as combining 2 or 3 of your existing pieces, picking up a trio of contrasting necklaces at your local charity shop or adding a few charms to fashion your own original creation. You can even use your good stuff (pearls, gold and silver, etc.) and by connecting the different chains with a large jump ring, your prized pieces will remain intact.
FIONA'S TOP TIPS:
- Check out a craft show near you to see what is trending
- Go online and do a search for local charity shops and haberdasheries
- Or better still– take a beading class and make your own from scratch!
What are you waiting for?
Start creating and upgrade your favorite summer look from casual to wow with an up-cycled accessory today - don't forget to share with us on social media too!
Fiona Marr is settling down in Wales after an exciting career as a librarian working at International schools around the world. Born and raised in South America, she has spent her life experiencing a multitude of cultures and connections. She is a life-long Crafter and believes that the best way to celebrate our differences is through creativity. Check out Bead Nomad where she shares her passion for self-expression. | Facebook