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

Jul 262010

Turquoise and pearl necklace with beaded beads

This necklace began as an effort to replace a netted rope necklace made with the same turquoise beads and bronze pearls that I had given to a friend.  As is often the case, once you give something away, you decide that you passionately loved the piece, can’t bear to be parted from it, and must make it again.  Of course, as it doesn’t do to repeat oneself.  So, it must be an improved version of the earlier attempt.  The version I had given as a gift was a netted rope similar to my earlier netted rope necklaces, the Rust and Silver Necklace, and the Blue and Gold Necklace.  These necklaces use a fairly simple triple loop technique which yields a very nice, elegantly simple, flexible necklace.  So, this necklace was to be a leap into the creative waters.  I would utilize a five or six loop netting technique which would yield a much thicker, but consequently less flexible necklace.  A bold statement, and why not!

After spending most of a week beading away in a spurt of creative energy, I was fourteen inches into the eighteen inch strand, when I discovered I was running short of the little size 15 beads that serve as the connectors between the bronze pearls and the turquoise beads.  A disaster!!!  Anyone who has worked with color, beads, yarn fabric, tile, knows that the colorway is critical.  Products bought at different times usually differ, just slightly, in color.  If you have slightly different colors at the beginning of the project, you can blend the two and the minor variations will look like an intentional part of the design.  However, if you run out of beads part way through a project and you need to change colorways, then it will look like precisely what it is, an error, a lack of planning.

What to do?  I was four inches short, an impassible gulf.  I could undo everything and start all over again, but it would have to be the thinner, and to my eyes at that point, a less lovely variety of netting…or….or…

Detail of turquoise and pearl necklace

Or I coud make beaded beads.  That was the answer.  I very carefully snipped apart the netted rope every fourteen or so rows and finished each end to make beaded beads.  Then I added copper bead caps and beads, and held the whole assembly together with copper wire wrapped loops.  It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention” and in this instance it served me well.  The beaded beads were a lovely way to experiment with the copper and turquoise colors that I had loved in an earlier necklace, but the end result was completely different from what I had done before.  As a bonus, I was finally forced to learn wire wrapping, which I had been intending to investigate.

Beaded bead detail with bronze pearls and turquoise beads

Apr 072010

 grey beaded necklace with pearl dangles

While this was not the first beaded necklace that I had made, it is one of my favorites and it is most likely the first where the end result realized what I had envisioned when I started making it. 

Fabricated of gunmetal grey cylindar beads in a peyote stitch tube with grey/purple pearls suspended on wire.

grey beaded necklace with pearl dangles detail