Tuesday, 31 January 2012

What To Do With All Those Leftovers: Bead Soup

Over the years I have become very lazy when I finish a project and usually end up putting all the leftover beads in a little bag and then just leave them in my drawer of randomness!  I know I should sort them all out and get the beads back in their original boxes but that just seems so dreary when my head is already full of the next project!

So I decided that I would start working my way through these small bags of 'bead soup' and see what kind of things I could make to use them up - I can't extol the virtues of bead soup projects enough! 
These two necklaces were my first attempt at getting rid of those bead soup bags.  I started with a peyote base of random seed beads and just kept on embellishing until I couldn't fit a single bead more on there.  I like the brown and green one more than the silver/red/black one but they both helped use up those pesky leftover beads.

This one was another bead soup leftover bag but just in red.  I decided to make a simple Potowatomi chain in red seed beads and then embellished the toggle and loop clasp so that it would hang at the front.  All the fizz helped disguise the clasp and used up some pretty ugly beads at the same time!

 This one was a slightly different kind of leftovers necklace, in fact these seed beads were left over from the necklace at the very top of this page!  I threaded a few beads on jump rings and then linked the jump rings to each other to make a cascade.  It's not something I'll ever do again though because opening and closing all those blooming jump rings hurt my thumbs!  I now have a huge respect for people who can sit and make chainmaille!

 This was a small bag of shell spacer beads that Mum had left over.  She thought they looked like Nestle's Smarties so made a simple peyote band with a picot edging and randomly added the shell beads.  Gorgeous isn't it?

 Another leftover soup necklace.  I don't often use gold in my beading but was bought a load of gold and brown beads.  My sister had this and said she wore it out with a posh evening frock and it looked fabulous.

 Then I had a few more of the golds and browns left so I gave them to Mummy and she made a cuff. 

 This cuff was an experiment that went horribly wrong!  There is nothing I like about this cuff at all!  The bead soup didn't do justice to the amazing focal bead so it didn't last long - it was cut up and the beads were put back in a bead soup bag for another day.  I include it only to show that not every bead soup project works!

 These three cuffs are all made on the same theme - plain silver peyote base with a picot edge to complement the larger beads in the embellishment - perfect for when you don't have a huge amount of bead soup left!

 Another red embellished cuff.
And finally, possibly my favourite of all my bead soup necklaces.  This one was given to my Nanna, along with some matching but not the same earrings (of which I didn't take a photo).  I love the bright purples with the deeper, richer iris beads and then every so often seeing a silver sparkle crystal poke out.  The movement of this piece and the jumble of beads makes me laugh every time I see it because it really does force you to look at it and then follow the beads all the way round.  It's a very chipper necklace and I know that Nanna wears it often.


  1. My, you have been busy! Seeing all these bead soup projects almost makes me wish I didn't have the habit of returning every last bead to its original location once I finish a project! My favorite (and it was hard to choose!) is the red lariat. Now I'm off to find out what a Potowatomi chain is!

    1. I must admit I always used to put my beads back in the containers from which they came (and still do with delicas!), but over the years I've become lazy and haven't bothered. It was only when I saw just how many bead soup baggies I had that I thought I'd best try and use them up - if nothing other than to save a few pennies on new beads.
      If you want to learn how to do Potowatomi weave this: http://www.kolumbus.fi/vera-aleksa.sula/english/projects/potawatomi_weave.htm is quite a comprehensive pattern, although this: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art3378.asp is a slightly prettier website that show it. It can be quite the bugger to start but once you get in the rhythm, you'll have a long chain before you know what's happened!
      Happy beading :D

  2. Hello:-)
    I like that 'beading-mish-mash'very much.The collection of bracelets is very impressive.Also the pendant in red-very sophisticated.Should be worn by a person with special features:-)
    The gold 'rope' is astounding.Could be worn by ...me:-)
    I see ,You were very busy last time.

    1. Thank you very much again poppet, you're always so kind :D

  3. I have so many containers of bead soup that I could never finish them if I live to be 105. I found your wonderful blog by googling "what to do with leftover beads". Every time I try to "use up" some of my beads, I find have to buy more components to make the thing work. I appreciate very much your posting of the photos and your writing. You have a great writing style.

    1. I know what you mean about all those pots and baggies of bead soup, they take over sometimes! What a fabulous way to stumble upon a blog, and such a small one too - yay Google! And thank you for the compliments too :)