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In Arts & Entertainment

Craft some creative control with "Cool Jewels"

If we've learned anything from the new wave of independent and artful craft fairs popping up across the country, such as Milwaukee's Art vs. Craft, it's that so many things are better handmade.

Even major retailers like Target employ major league designers who purposefully create wares that look one-of-a-kind (despite an entire rack of the same item). But the D.I.Y. movement isn't about settling for homemade imposters, it's about actually doing things yourself, and the good news is, it's not as hard as you might think.

Milwaukee native Naomi Fujimoto has known this for a while. As the senior editor for BeadStyle magazine and a jewelry maker for a decade, she's become quite the bead aficionado and certainly knows her way around an accessory.

Now, she's ready to share her crafty little secrets with the novices. Her new book, "Cool Jewels," (Kalmbach Publishing Co.) is 100 pages of beading projects for teens that are simple to understand but interesting enough to be envied in public.

"I think making jewelry can be intimidating if you don't already know how, and I wanted to do a book that shows teens and other beginners how easy it is," she says. "You only need a few basic skills and a few minutes to make the projects in 'Cool Jewels.'"

The colorful book is loaded with pictures and step-by-step instructions for making necklaces, bracelets and earrings, with, 10 to 15 projects in each category. And Fujimoto doesn't stop at just the staples -- she's graciously included helpful hints for expanding the life and wearability of your pieces.

"My best tip is to ask questions at your local bead store," she says. "Locally, I do a lot of shopping at Knot Just Beads, Eclectica, Planet Bead, and Bead Needs, and the people who work there are really knowledgeable. If you're new to the hobby, it's worth it to take a beginner class."

Although she lists plenty of shopping suggestions for bead purchasing -- owning calipers, a tool to measure beads in millimeters, is a must when buying online since it's difficult to know exactly how big beads are if they're not in front of you -- what's great about "Cool Jewels" is that it also promotes recycling old jewelry and incorporating vintage materials into new creations.

Fujimoto is obviously a pro -- she's selling her jewelry in the Milwaukee area at M.E. lou, Beauty and Lovely -- but she has not lost sight of what makes a project do-able for someone who is just starting out. She outlines where to start, where to shop and what to pay attention to when looking for beads. With her help, almost anyone can craft a fine and wearable piece of jewelry.


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