Nov 262010

Copper herringbone necklace with blue and copper beaded fringe.

Yet another necklace playing with the copper and blue color theme.  It seems we have an ongoing experiment this year with copper and blue.  Then again, theoretically it is the year for rose colored metal and having learned my lesson about running out of beads midway through a project, I decided to limit the colors I was using and instead acquired a relatively large stash of beads within a fairly simple palette.  Thus, I am gradually working my way through the many and varied possibilities that might be rendered in copper and blue.

The idea of restraining the palette came from looking at, and buying, kits from other designers.  I noticed while looking at the available product from various designers that I would see the same, or similar color systems repeated.  Limiting the designs in that fashion made sense.  You would want to be able to save money by buying beads in bulk.  So, kits would be more economical, and thus more profitable if you limited the palette.

Getting back to this design, which, like the previous one uses a herringbone rope as a base.  In this case, the elaborate fringe is heavy enough that it made sense to reinforce the beaded rope with wire, so there is a wire that runs through the center of the rope to carry the weight of the piece.  As I think about it, I could have run a wire through each of the four columns created by the herringbone weave, which would have further reinforced the necklace.

After making the herringbone base, I added multiple layers of beaded fringe.  The fringe is fairly elaborate with large and small blue pearls, large and small copper balls, and blue bicones.  There are four layers, with each layer being longest in the front and getting shorter as you work toward the sides.  The fringes with the smaller beads and copper balls are branched to add density and variety, while the fringes with the larger copper balls and pearls are left unbranched.  By working in layers, I was able to create a very dense look that was still controlled and weighted toward the front of the piece.

This was the first piece that I had made using metal plated beads.  While I love the look of the metal, there are some problems in working with them.  The metal plating is quite fragile and, at least in the case of the copper and silver platings, tarnishes quite easily.  A large project can start to tarnish before you have finished it.  Fire Mountain, the supplier for these particular beads, recommends spraying them with an artist’s fixative, but it isn’t clear when one should do this, or how.  Spraying the beads before using them might mean they end up unevenly coated, so that spots on a particular bead might tarnish.  Waiting until the work is complete and then spraying the finished piece means that parts of it may have tarnished already and you will have to figure out a way to very carefully polish the piece to restore the shine before spraying it with fixative.  The whole issue is something of a conundrum.  Which, as I mentioned I had bought in bulk, I will have to resolve at some point.  I continue to search for a very gentle method of restoring the polish.

Detail of the Copper and Blue Necklace