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Meet the Maker : Jackie Astill

Here at The Bead Shop we love helping customer realise their designs and it’s wonderful when we get to see the final results. Which has lead us to create a new series of blogs posts introducing you to some of the talented makers who frequent The Bead Shop.

Jackie Astill - Meet the Maker

Our first maker in the series is Jackie Astill: an all round creative jewellery maker with a love for Crystal clay.

A collection of Jackie's Pendants
A collection of Jackie’s Pendants.

Jackie, how did you discover The Bead Shop? I honestly can’t remember! I’ve used your shop for a long time; buying findings etc., however I have recently been in a lot more often because I have started to use Swarovski crystals in my jewellery and you have a great selection of both Xilion beads and flat-back crystals at very reasonable prices. I like to be able to see the colour and size range when I’m deciding what to make.

Do you have a favourite Swarovski colour? It’s very hard to choose, because there are so many, but my favourite Swarovski colour is probably the Silver Night because it goes with everything, I also really like the Blue Zircon, which is so bright.

How long have you been Jewellery making? I’ve been making jewellery since I was at school (40 years ago!), when I had a stone tumbler and polished my own stones and turned them into jewellery that my Mum would sell at her workplace! Then I really started making jewellery again about 5 or 6 years ago and now I make a wide variety of items and in a range of mediums that I sell at craft and wedding fairs. I like wire-working and I also like to experiment with mixing media.

What do you love about jewellery making (and/or) crafting? I love to “get into the zone” and when I am jewellery making or crafting, I can switch off all the other stuff that is going on in my life and just create something. Crafting is very different to my working life and really helps me to relax. I have to admit that I also love it when other people see and complement the things that I make!

Where do you get your inspiration for your jewellery making? I pick up inspiration from a range of sources – I look at other people’s jewellery (either what they are wearing or what they have made); I like nature and natural forms, so they are often a basis for my ideas and I look in shop windows. I’m not the most innovative of designers, but I am very practical and can often see how to make things or improve on existing ideas. I also like mixing the medium I work with and that can create some “happy accidents” that work well.

How did you discover Crystal Clay? I actually saw it in your shop! I’d seen a similar product on a TV craft channel and I liked the sample jewellery that they had produced, so I thought I’d give it a try. (We gave Jackie some of the brand new Swarovski Ceralun clay to trial for us and you can see Steph chat to Jackie about here results in this video);

What else do you like about Swarovski Ceralun? I like the great range of colours and the metallic colours are really metallic. It is very easy to use and works well both with commercially available bezels and (with a bit of practice) freehand or with hand-crafted bezels. It is a little softer than Crystal Clay and is easier to mix. It remains workable for a couple of hours, so you have time to think about what you are making without rushing.

As mentioned in the vlog these are Jackie’s half Ceralun half Resin designs. A great way to mix different media.

Mixing media together is a great way to create unique jewellery, like the use of resin or glitter.
Mixing media together is a great way to create unique jewellery, like the use of resin or glitter.

Here’s a closer look at Jackie’s customised storage jar.
Jackie Jar

Any final thoughts Jackie? I’m a bit of a “magpie”, so I like the crystal clay because it makes it easy to make “sparkly stuff”. It’s the best way that I have found to use the crystals in more intricate pieces – using the tiny crystals to create complex effects. It is easy to use, versatile, does not need a lot of equipment and even the most inexperienced jewellery makers can make really effective pieces.

Where can people see more of your work? I sell my work on Esty, ( and my store is called Ancient and Modern Gems, I also have a Facebook page called Ancient and Modern Gemstones (, where I post photos of my new designs and ideas that I am working on. I also have a small display in The Bead Shop and I sell at occasional craft fairs.

Jackie has also given us some great tips about working with Ceralun which you can read in this blog post.

To see our full range of Swarovsk Ceralun clay and related items please visit our website.

Would you like to be featured in our meet the maker series? You do not have to be a seller, as long as you make things from items we sell we’d love to share your creations with other makers and bead enthusiasts. Feel free to get in touch with Steph (

Thanks for reading!

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