Who are you and what’s your craft?
I am Lilly of Jewellery by Lilly 🙂
I make handmade Jewellery. Mostly bead and wire work. I enjoy using semi precious stones.
What illness/es do you have?
I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For four years I was very affected then I had some improvement in 2012 and that is when I started my small business from home. I have since had a return of most of the symptoms but my mobility remains good which I am really thankful for. I still struggle with energy, weakness and other symptoms which mean I don’t spend as long on the jewellery making as I would like.
What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?
Semi precious stones. My pliers! When making wiggly wire pieces, my mandril!
Why did you start crafting?
I have always been creative. Prior to becoming unwell with CFS/ME, I was a painter. I studied Fine Art: painting at Bath School of Art and Design. After a couple of years of being unwell I wanted to try to do something creative so managed to get to an afternoon class once a week. I started with life painting but then wanted to try something different. I took silver smithing classes and loved it. It was difficult because I couldn’t stand for long and my energy was low. But I could sit for most of it and took breaks when I needed.
I moved to Suffolk in 2012 and no longer had those facilities. so I took two short classes in jewellery making (wiggly wire and express earring making) and set myself up at home with what I needed to get started. Since then I’ve been self taught and internet taught! My repertoire is expanding and I’m designing more of my own pieces.
What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?
I can only craft now and then. I have to do a little paid employment to keep my head above water, one hour a day at a school. So I have to prioritise that, and keeping myself and my husband fed and the washing done etc. But I try to make sure I’m making time for the jewellery making at least once or twice a week. Sometimes more if I’m lucky. I tend to only do it in half hour or hour sessions. Have a break and do something else, and maybe come back to it if time and energy allow.
I think this is my current favourite project. But it’s very hard to choose! I didn’t entirely design this one myself. I adapted the design slightly from one on Beads Direct. It is bridal necklace in sterling silver with Swarovski pearls. I wish I’d known how to make it when i got married two years ago!
How expensive is your craft?
It is quite expensive. I try to sell my pieces to cover my costs but I don’t sell ever so much so yes, it does get expensive. It depends on what you’re making though. Making earrings can be very cheap, depending on what beads you use. The initial outlay is for pliers, cutters, a mat and wire or chain, findings and beads for your first couple of projects. With the wiggly wire necklaces, one reel of wire (costing around £4) makes about four necklaces, so that’s not so bad. You use a lot of beads in one of those though. The nice thing is that you add to your collection as you go. I buy new beads etc as and when I can afford to. There are usually left overs, so it’s sometimes fun to just look at what I’ve got and make something slightly random. The finding kits I purchase from beads direct go quite a long way and make many projects.
Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft?
Take breaks. If your hands are hurting, stop. Try again later. Sit where you’re comfortable. Start with an easy project, there are loads of tutorials online. Try YouTube. Beads Direct have loads of great projects and have all the bits you need in a list where you just have to click the button to put them into your basket. I would start with an elasticated bracelet, you won’t even need pliers for that. Or earrings, you will need pliers, but they’re a good place to start and don’t take too long. You can make one, and come back another time to make the second. Or if you’re on a roll you can have a finished pair relatively quickly which is very satisfying 🙂
Anything you would like to add?
If you’re a creative person, jewellery making is really great as it is so diverse and leaves so much room for individuality and creativity. The world is your oyster. If you’re not as creative but fancy giving it a go, I highly recommend it. Like I say there are thousands of projects out there for inspiration or to copy.