Make beautiful, unique jewellery for next to nothing

BIG jewellery is the thing. The bigger the better. But even costume jewellery can set you back quite a few quid, and if you’re into fashion it’s nicer to wear something unique.

Bead shops, charity shops and haberdashery departments

Luckily there are plenty of bead shops online, and many towns have one on the high street. In Brighton we have two, both on the same street and both selling different types of beads. Haberdashery departments in traditional department stores are often good sources of beads. And charity shops are brilliant, often packed with masses of glorious vintage necklaces: pearls, crystal beads and lovely glass ones that you can dismantle.

Wonderful fishing nylon

My favourite material for stringing beads is fishing nylon. You can buy reels of it in various thicknesses and strengths from specialist fishing shops and online, and it’s as cheap as chips.  Get a decent thickness – I tend to use the type that fishermen use to catch fish weighing up to 20lbs, so it’s good and strong.

Fishing nylon is a bit of a bugger to tie. It’s slippery and it  unravels. So I tie at least three knots then use a lighter to carefully melt the loose ends so the knots can’t slip. Just don’t breathe in the fumes!

DIY papier mache bangles and bracelets

What about bangles? The cardboard centre from rolls of sellotape, masking tape and gaffer tape make an excellent basis for gorgeously funky bracelets. They’re exactly the right size. Here’s how to do it:

  • cut a load of strips of newspaper a couple of centimetres wide
  • mix a small amount of wallpaper paste in a bowl
  • wind the strips around your cardboard ring, pasting each layer firmly down
  • keep going until you have the thickness you want – you can create massive, thick bracelets or delicate thinner ones – they both look fab
  • put it in the airing cupboard to dry for a couple of days
  • when it’s dry, you’ll find your card and papier mache ring is solid as a rock. Paper is incredibly strong, especially when you’ve layered and glued it. The Chinese and Japanese make stunning furniture from papier mache, and it has much the same strength as the wood it once was
  • you can paint your bangles using acrylics then varnish them using everyday wood varnish. Tulip 3d craft paints, glitter glues and stick-on jewels are perfect for creating beautiful designs. Or cut some strips of pretty fabric, wind them around your bangle and glue each layer with PVA, which dries clear for an incredibly tough and durable finish