One woman's adventures in the land of hand made jewellery

Saturday, 20 April 2013

UnBirthday Party Day!

It seems so long ago that I was sitting on my boat making a very special piece of jewellery for a complete stranger... well only a month ago and not such a complete stranger, we'd been introduced and swapped emails so I knew her name, where she lives and most importantly what her birthday month is.

Jana lives in the Canaries, a place I hope to sail my boat to later this year and she was born in February which makes her birth stone the gorgeous Amethyst. There is a lovely legend about how this gorgeous stone got its name - see my previous post which also explains why we are making celebratory jewellery for each other.

Purple, violet and all shades in between are my favourite colours so it made making a special gift even more pleasurable. But what to make from my onboard mini-stash? Would it challenge my resources? Would I have to go on a hunt for a bead shop (the one in the city of Portsmouth, UK sadly closed a few years ago)?

Over the years I have collected lots and lots of second hand beads and costume jewellery and amongst my crafting stash on the boat is a large bag of unsorted beads and trinkets. I spread the contents on the saloon table, trying not to loose any on the floor as the boat rocked and swayed in the winter winds howling round outside (it was snowing and a gale was blowing, which seems weird as I write this now in the heat of Dubai).

This is what I picked out, adding a few things from my findings box, some Czech glass pearls and the violet coloured glass beads you can see in the top left:

I'd sketched out a few ideas and decided to make a necklace with a large focal piece that would catch the light and glitter, something for everyday wear over a plain top but that could equally be worn to an UnBirthday Party. I love constructing tassels in shapes and forms.

The whole necklace was laid out several times whilst I decided what to put with what and where. I have finally learnt it, seems to figure out the whole construction before I begin so avoiding the how on earth do I attach xxxxx dilemma later on, where xxxxx could be the clasp, the focal or even simply ending a string of beads. Eventually satisfied I started assembling beginning with the focal piece.

The observant amongst you will have noticed from my first picture that the dark amethyst coloured beads were already wired with bead caps. They came to me that way and I've no idea how they were originally strung, one of the fun things I love about using recycled jewellery and beads. I simply made connecting links threaded through the long faux bone tubes to join these together.

Isn't it amazing how one material glass can look so different - the beads in the picture above look much more robust with their strong colour than the delicate translucent violet ones in the picture to the left.

Some tiger tail enabled the stringing of the last section of pale violet glass beads and pearls up to the sunburst clasp on either side.

And finally the focal piece could be joined into the necklace using a length of silver wire.

All that was left was to wrap it in a swathe of tissue and ribbon, place if in a padded bag and send it on its way....

The finished piece
And that is the story of my HBBH3.5 piece.

I'll leave Jana to tell the tale of her present to me but I will say that as yet my crazy globe trotting life has prevented me in seeing it in real life though I have viewed it via a Skype conversation with my in-laws in the UK! Roll on May 17 when we land at Heathrow and can settle at home on our boat for the foreseeable future.

PS: If you want to know more about my expat and sailing adventures you can find them here

PPS: It is a PARTY and here is a list of everyone who is celebrating - do go and meet them:

Alicia Marinache -
Chris Eisenberg -
Joana Perez Stribel -

Shelley Graham Turner -


  1. LOve what you did for February! What memories are made on where and how you created the gift! Great swap!

  2. Beautiful.
    Janeen Burlingame

  3. A beautiful piece and a lovely story (you made me curious, I'll have to check your sailing adventure and try to not drool too much!). Enjoy your journey!

  4. What a fantastic life you must be experiencing on that boat, and so glad you were able to creat such a memorable piece for Jana. Hope to see pics of what she sent you in the near future. So glad you had fun with our little surprise party.

  5. That's beautiful and so thoughtful because of the background behind it too. I love the idea of using recycled jewellery, taking something unwanted and turning it into something pretty. The bead caps do add a gorgeous bit of sparkle too. I really must come and visit your site more often. Hope all is well with you. xxx Kay

  6. I love all things purple so your necklace is a HIT with me!! Very pretty!! Happy Unbirthday!

  7. Susie,
    Wow all from your boat, how cool! And the piece is lovely too! I must go and read all about your adventures sounds so intriguing. Sail on friend.

    Thanks for coming to the party, make sure to go to to find out about the party goodie bag you have coming your way (well to your land home anyways)! ~ Shelley

    OH and if you really love purple maybe you want to check out all the PURPLE atmy Jillys Bead Posse pinterest

    ALL purple, ALL the time! Raising funds for fight against Alzheimer's . For more info, or to join us visit

  8. What a wonderful backstory and wonderful necklace!! I really love the design and the colors!!! Have a Blessed day!!!

  9. Thank-you everyone for all your kind comments....

  10. That's really unique and amazing.