Making jewellery is like any other creative endeavour – from writing to cooking. You put your “raw material” together in a way that has meaning for you, and you hope to God that it then speaks to someone else. Sometimes, it’s extremely frustrating, because pieces you absolutely love lie overlooked in your inventory box, and pieces you create that don’t quite live up to your expectations seem to be extremely popular. But whether it communicates your ideas the way you want it to or not, a piece of jewellery is only as good as its components.
This is something I learned the hard way. When I was just starting out, I was lucky enough to able to get some beads from California. Poor V had to go to this store with a list and throw himself on the mercy of the salespeople, because he didn’t know a headpin from a briolette (although he is now quite the expert!). But it was (and still is) extremely expensive, and so I used materials I found off Commercial Street in Bangalore. There’s a verse in the Bible which talks about not putting new wine into old wineskins, because both will be ruined. That’s more or less what happened to me. The findings rusted, and tarnished my beautiful beads. Or they broke. Or they just looked wrong. So these days, we’re really particular about what we use, and are extremely picky about putting things together.
But no matter what I’m making, I find myself using Czech fire polish beads almost all the time. And if you’ve seen our Facebook page, you know that I am not exaggerating when I say this. So, let’s talk a little about these beads, and then you can ooh and aah with me the next time you see jewellery that uses them!
Firstly, Czech fire polish beads are glass beads that are machine-cut to make them faceted. Why is this important? Because faceted beads have the most gorgeous sparkle. I will skip the physics lecture on total internal reflection for the sake of everyone’s happiness, and you can just take it from me that they look pretty! I personally love beads that sparkle. Crystals, chatons, Czech fire polish beads – these are beads that add a little bit of something special to any piece of jewellery. Don’t get me wrong – I love semi-precious stones like pearls and aventurine and malachite, but beads that sparkle are the apples of my eye.
Furthermore, once the beads have been cut, they are then polished by melting them just a wee bit, to smoothen out their edges. This polishing process is apparently what makes these beads shinier than the average bead. I love the plain glass ones, but you also get beads that are opaque or pearlised, which sort of defeats the purpose of the polishing, in my mind, but are still pretty. They’re nice for when you want either a specific colour of pearl or stone bead, and the real things are too expensive, or don’t exist! Czech fire polish beads can also be labelled “AB”, which stands for Aurora Borealis. All AB beads have a special rainbow-like film coating, and so, when the light catches them in certain angles, they shine different colours. Think of a CD in the light, and you have a fairly good idea of this effect. The entire bead is typically not coated, so it gives them an interesting duality.
(AB beads in green and orange, pale pink pearlised beads, semi-opaque beads in opal and two-toned beads in crystal/rose)
These beads come in various sizes and shapes, and are extremely versatile. I don’t think I could ever have too many Czech fire polish beads! And as I mentioned, I tend to use them in just about everything! Here are a few pieces I’ve made using these beauties.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about my absolute favourite beads! I’d love to hear what your favourite beads are!