Trinket Strings

Is it just me, or does the New Year begin with a real need to declutter and put things away – and dare I say it – spring clean? It must be the effect of taking the Christmas decorations down, but somehow I can’t quite get away from it – what do I do with the influx of little bits and pieces from Christmas Crackers? They’re all still sitting around, but I’m not yet ‘allowed to throw them out’ and they don’t have homes – so what do I do with them?? The thing is I have to confess to having trunks full of little bits of lace and buttons and fabric and trinkets that I can’t bear to part with! Being creative is alas, very messy, but they at least are put away. The downside of that is I don’t get the pleasure of seeing them on display, which got me to thinking…

I happened to be in Barnes last weekend and visited the lovely Tobias and the Angel, (68 White Hart Lane London SW13 0PZ, who create an enchanting collection of homewares comprising of quilts, chairs, lampshades, bags to name a few, using vintage, antique and custom fabrics. Combined with lamp bases of patinated woods and kitchen accessories from by-gone eras, you could almost imagine that you were visiting an eccentric granny – one with very fashionable tastes! There is a warmth and mystery to the shop which is a bit like being in a treasure trove, you never quite know what you will find. And so it was, when I came across these lampshades.

embellished lampshade

close up

Suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to do with all my little bits of mess – and I couldn’t wait to get home to dig everything out and see what I could create from them! Next stop was my favourite car boot sale…luckily it wasn’t raining and I came away with some really great bits of junk to add to my collection!

carboot finds

I’m quite a believer in design copyright, so even though I got the inspiration for my idea from Tobias and the Angel, I’ve used a very different method to create my ‘strings’. To start with, I couldn’t be bothered with drilling holes in things and suspending them from loops of wire. I’ve used glue to add brooch backs to some of the items that I couldn’t quite see how to stitch on, but for the most part, I’ve simply used a needle and thread to create this look, which is why I thought it’d make a lovely craft project for a wintery Sunday afternoon. It’s the kind of thing you could do with a tray on your knee, sitting in a comfy chair by a fire!

grouping the trinkets

You will need:

Suede thong – available from haberdashery shops
Needlenose pliers
Sequin glue
Brooch backs
Needle and thread
an assortment of trinkets, buttons, beads, crystals, keys, jewellery
Tape measure

Wash any very dusty items with a little warm water and gently pat them dry. Glue brooch backs onto plastic figures or trim and allow to dry. Pull apart any bits of jewellery that you want to have as smaller clusters. Use the needle nose pliers to secure any ends that are loose. Do any repairs to things that are loose or more broken than you want them to be.
Measure your chosen lampshade around the circumference, about 5cm up from the base of the shade, add 40cm to this to allow a tie at either end of the string. Cut this length of suede thong and working from the centre, place a trinket every few centimetres along the thong.

I worked to 6cm for the cream shade and 8cm on the black. Play with the placement until you feel happy with the order of the trinkets, add or take things away and introduce buttons or trim to increase the variety of interest. Keep in mind that the centre will be the front of the shade and the ends by the tie will be the back – unless you want to use the bow as part of the decorative effect.

You can also use ribbon instead of thong, but I found that it doesn’t sit quite as neatly on the lampshade, the thong seems to ‘stick’ to it because of the pile of the suede.

attaching the trinkets

attaching the trinkets

When you’re happy with the balance of the trinkets, decide which measurement works for this string and keeping this distance between each trinket, start to stitch things in place. Make sure that the thong is flat without any twists in it! Work with a thread that is close in colour to the thong. When it is complete, carefully lift it – the string will spin with the weight – and arrange the string on your shade. You will find that this looks so sweet when the light is off – who knew that lighting could add such an impact when it isn’t even on?

*Sloping shades work best as the weight of the trinkets will cause the string to slide down slightly and a drum shade has nothing to stop the string from falling off.

black string

ivory string

All of my collections of little things – and I know I’m not alone – now have a purpose and really look great together. It seems the more random the better because they become talking points. How nice to be able to create interest with a simple adornment to a lampshade. It’s very easy to personalise and to make one as a gift and best of all, the tangle of lovely things that you didn’t know what to do with now have a home – and you can see them every time you walk past that lamp.

trinket ribbon

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