Thursday, May 7, 2009

Silver on Silver - Oddly Victorian


Hill Tribe Silver Beads - Cast 15mm bicone - Thailand
Hill Tribe Silver Beads - Woven metal ribbon 8mm bicone - Thailand
Sterling Silver Donut 4mm Spacers - US
Sterling Silver 2mm seamless rounds - US
Dark Silver 10mm ovoid fresh water pearls - China
Light Silver 5mm keishi pearls - China
Bali Silver "S" Clasp

Stringing Material - Light Silver Gudebrode Silk - "E" weight

#10 wire beading needle (2)
Silver "french wire" fine (.5 inch)
Tri-cord knotting tool

A co-worker commissioned a necklace from me. She wanted chunky and silver and long. Since she wasn't prepared to spend several hundred dollars for 48 inches of Hill Tribe Silver, I suggested gray pearls and a little bit of silver as accents. From the selection I showed her, she homed in on the light gray/silver palette - particularly the small keishi pearls and some larger 12mm ovoids. From my silver box, she selected probably the heaviest silver beads I had, but I was able to steer her to some lighter, less expensive accents as well.

The result is oddly Victorian, which really wasn't my goal, nor is it particularly my style, but I am really pleased with the results. I don't normally work with a monochrome palette - contract is king in my book. But I really like it, and will make a variation of it for myself sometime soon.

Materials Cost: $50.00
Time to Complete: 2 hours
Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Bone and Amethyst - A Match Made in Hell

Sometimes the magic just isn't there. It's not a matter of lost mojo, but not every design really works. That being said, a little background on some of the beads...

Early on in my beady-beading career, my mother (and best client) asked for a necklace of ivory and amethyst. A lovely combination to be sure, but real ivory beads cannot be sold except as an antiquity. I convinced my mother that I could find substitutes that would be just as good - and I did. Way back, some time around 1992, I found 16mm round polished bone beads. They were from Germany and I paid a pretty penny for them (probably close to $100 for two strands). I paired them with 10mm round AAA quality amethyst and 14k spacers. The whole thing was struck on silk and was one of my mother's favorite necklaces.

When she passed away in 2002, neither of my sisters were interested in the collection of beaded jewelry I made her, and so they sat in a drawer, in little silk pouches for about 5 years. It took me that long to overcome my grief and appreciate the love and pride that each of those necklaces represented. A few weeks ago, I was about to put on the bone and amethyst necklace when it broke. One of the hazards of using silk - it does disintegrate over time.
Rather than remake the same necklace, I decided to use the beads to create something wilder. I added pearls, swapped out the 10mm amethyst for big faceted chunks, and went against conventional wisdom and used silver accents rather than gold. And you know what, I really, really, really hate it.

It was supposed to be a two strand choker, but it's too long. The stones clack and clunk against each other, it's so heavy that it just pulls my neck down. The amethyst are out of proportion, the clasp doesn't go with the rest of the design. It's just plain ugly.

I guess this endless rain has got me down - and I woke up thinking it was Friday. That's enough to put a saint into a bad mood.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pearl Torsade - It's Alive, I Tell You - It's ALIVE!

8 Strands - 6mm x 8mm teardrop freshwater pearls, mauve-grey - China
10 Grams - Size 10 Rainbow Light Amethyst Matte Delica cylinder seed beads - Japan
150 (approx) 5mm round brass coated pewter beads - China
75 (approx) 4mm Tanzanite AB2X bicones (art. 5301) - Austria
Various Miyuki and other Delica colors - size 15 and size 11 - Japan
Brass Rolo Link Chain - 3 inches - Antique, origin unknown
Brass Colored Pewter Toggle Bar
50 Yards (approx) Fireline - 20lb Test - United States
2.5" Big Eye Needle
Thread Zapper
Nylon Jaw Flat Pliers

Well, not really - but I've been feeling a bit like Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with my own creation.

The materials include 8 strands of teardrop pearls, about 75 Tanzanite AB2X 5301 - 4mm, 5 vintage amethyst Swarovski crystals, 150 brass spacers, 2.5 tubes of size 10 Delica Light Amethyst and a few size 11 Delicas in the same color. And nearly a full spool of Fireline.

Here is a closeup of the center embellishment

Figuring out the closure was a nightmare. When I ended the piece with the peyote stitch caps and the little "ruffle" of size 15 Miyukis, I was planning on using a magnetic closure so the two ends would "kiss" closed. Didn't work - the necklace was too heavy for the magnets. Then I created a toggle set from matching Delicas:

Ugly isn't the word. Two additional attempt were even worse. But last night, I had a brainstorm - and this is how I finished it:

Material Cost: $250 (approx)
Time to Complete: 100 hours
Difficulty: 5 our of 5