I have always loved handcrafts and have been crafting since I was a child. I suppose it is in my blood: my mother and grandmother were great knitters and my maternal grandmother was a master at crochet – from delicate lace doilies to dresses; my paternal grandmother made the most beautiful embroideries and my ancestors were Huguenot silk weavers.
I started knitting and crocheting at about 6 years old and progressed to tapestry and embroidery soon after that. A spell in Sweden got me hooked on counted cross stitch which I loved as it reminded me of fairisle knitting patterns; I have no patience with plain knitting patterns and tend to focus on more challenging, complicated patterns to keep me interested. Patchwork has been an off and on hobby since my teens, as is dressmaking.
In 2014 I had my first encounter with seed beads when I created Roger the Alien in sequins and seed beads and covered my bra in other space-related themes for the London Moonwalk and I fell in love with those frustrating little pieces of glass.
By 2015 I had progressed to beadwork jewellery, sewing beads as small as 1mm into inticrate pieces with fine Fireline 0.15mm in diameter. There are so many beautiful shapes and colours of beads to choose from, each one offering a different effect and technique. I am addicted and found my niche as an artisan jeweller and set up Hillibeads Jewellery.
As I was originally a teacher, working with both adults and children, it seemed only natural to share my skills and experience with others and Hillibeads Crafts was born. So many of us learned our craft at our mothers’ or grandmothers’ knees but with the rise of technology, the increased cost of raw materials and ready availability of cheap clothing and accessories, these skills seem to have skipped a generation.
During the summer of 2017 I started running one-day classes and workshops in various crafts for children, Mummy and Me jewellery workshops and, in the autumn, I created and delivered four-week courses in jewellery making and crochet.