Woodland Bling

The word ‘bling’ meaning ‘flashy, elaborate jewellery was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003. Ten years later we first ran a very popular session called Woodland Bling, where we made bracelets and necklaces from elder sticks. This week we repeated the session with a group of eager 9-10 year old girls during their Outdoor Education lesson.

Hollow elder stick

Hollow elder stick

Elder wood is hard and yellow-white and is great for carving. We have a few trees in our school grounds and they are a great natural resource. The white flowers in Spring are harvested to make delicious elderflower cordial, whereas the dark purple black berries are used to make natural paints and dyes. Interesting fact about elder? It is thought the name elder comes from the Anglo Saxon word ‘aeld’, meaning fire, because the hollow sticks were used to blow air into the middle of fires. And this is why we use sticks from the elder tree. By pushing the pith from the centre of the stick you have a hollow tube which makes great jewellery beads. How do you make them? Well let’s visit the Catwalk Cafe at this year’s Jewellery and Watch Show to find out more about these unique pieces of jewellery.

Removing bark with a sheath knife

Removing bark with a sheath knife

Welcome to our seminar held on this rather cold and snowy Monday morning. This morning we are going to walk you through how to make some unique beads, perfect “For those who want more”. They look equally stunning made into bracelets or necklaces and doubt will be the highlight on next year’s fashion catwalks during London Fashion Week. These natural, handmade, rustic beads are made using freshly cut elder sticks. Start by simply removing the bark from half of the stick. Experienced, older jewellery makers can use a sheath knife for this task, whereas younger inexperienced makers might prefer to use a vegetable or potato peeler. Now decide on your finished design and, using a small hacksaw or secateurs, cut the stick into the desired lengths.

Cutting to desired length

Cutting to desired length

Now comes the clever bit. Remove the soft, fibrous core from the centre of the stick and, comme par magie, you have a bead! The beads can now be threaded onto a piece of coloured wool for the evening look or a piece of string for a more everyday, ‘visit to the beach’ look. A particular stunning design can be made by threading beads with bark on and beads with no bark in an alternating pattern. Make a breathtakingly beautiful necklace or a simple flawlessly crafted bracelet. For those who wish to “Live the moment”, of course nothing beats a matching necklace and bracelet which will simply refuse to go out of style, timeless.

And there you have it, a contemporary, British designed piece of jewellery, which will make an exquisite gift or the perfect addition to your jewellery box. Who knows they might even appear at Tiffany & Co next year!

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