I spent so time in my studio making beads and components this past winter, that I am just now getting around to putting them together. When I look at other people’s beads to buy, I have tons of ideas. Then I sit down to work at my bead bench and feel paralyzed by the myriad of options I’ve provided myself. After a day or so I get into a rhythm of stringing.
I love the large copper focal bead, below, made by Shannon LeVart of Miss Ficklemedia. Her patinas are gorgeous. I am inspired to give patinas a try on my own. I ordered her e-book and some of her patina colors, but in the meantime I also attended the glass bead making workshop. I’ll give both of those techniques some time to ramble around in the back of my brain while I work with the supplies I have at hand. Shannon also made the smaller patinated beads and the toggle clasp for this necklace. I made the silver beads (except for the small round ones) from PMC, and I had the bright copper beads in my stash, along with the brass spacer beads, from years ago. The peach-lined light blue Japanese drop beads were an impulse buy at the Beadin’ Path sometime last fall. I’m happy with how they all came together, though some of the colors (the glass beads) look a little off since I took quick photos late this afternoon.
Each beach rock necklace has its own personality. I started with a simple design to re-familiarize myself with my rock inventory. When it comes to beach rocks, I prefer to make asymmetrical necklaces, but it helps me to get going with one or two that are easily balanced.
The color of the matte glass seed beads in the photo changes with a different background. The color below is more true.
The focal bead in the first necklace, and in the one below, is a hollow drape bead made from precious metal clay.
Tomorrow = more studio time for more necklaces. The latest weather prediction is for 6 to 10″ of snow and gale force winds. I hope the power stays on!
This afternoon I found myself back in the studio after taking a long January break. I had three necklaces to make from freshwater pearls, and it was the perfect project to help me get back into the swing of things. Each necklace was 55″ long, designed to be worn either doubled for an opera length, or tripled as a substantial choker. I usually string my necklaces starting in the middle, adding to each side and working back to the clasp. Even with an asymmetric piece it is easier for me to balance the two sides when working from the middle. I don’t tend to sketch my ideas for a necklace. Instead I do a lot of on and off with the beads until I find the design and balance I like. I did something different with today’s pearl necklaces. Working with such a long length was going to be too cumbersome to work from the middle out, so I started at the clasp end. I worked in small sections, balancing the thick and thin bits with each consecutive 2″ segment. As the necklace got longer, I would wrap it around my neck to see how the strands looked next to each other. When I needed to rework a section, I only had to remove about 4″ of beads to get the design to work out. I also included short sections of silver chain, to keep the necklaces from getting too heavy, and to add contrast to the pearls.
Each necklace was a combination of pearl colors, mixed with small sterling silver round beads and several handmade beads of Precious Metal Clay. One featured whites with greens, the second featured whites with purples and blues, and the third featured whites with taupe and coppery hues.
At a holiday craft fair in December, a customer asked me what was the difference between a freshwater pearl and a salt water pearl? I stood there looking like an idiot because the only answer I could come up with was “price.” I did not want to say that they are a lot cheaper, even though they are. (It’s not a good idea to use any version of the word “cheap” when trying to sell your jewelry!) I like to know about the components I use in my jewelry, and I felt negligent that I did not have a good answer about freshwater pearls.
Here is what I wish I had known and said at the time:
Freshwater pearls grow in freshwater mussels as opposed to saltwater pearls that grow in a certain kind of oyster. Both the mussels and oysters can be farmed, but one mussel may produce up to 10 pearls while each oyster only produces one. The mussels can be cultivated in many different climates, whereas the pearl oysters need warm water. You can see why the freshwater pearl is a less expensive alternative to the cultured pearl, and yet they have the beautiful glow one looks for in a pearl.