Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shiny Shells, Bright Beads, Cool Colors

I have a number of artsy hobbies, and one of them is making jewelry. I've been doing lots of that in the past couple months, with an eye toward eventually selling some of it on Etsy.

Here's a bracelet, made using a general pattern I like a lot: threading multicolored strands through vertical crosspieces woven using flat, even-count peyote stitch (I usually make the crosspiece two or four beads wide) of lighter-colored beads than the horizontal strands.

This is about the simplest variation on this theme that I do --- I also like to do wider, more interesting crosspieces (say, two columns of horizontally-oriented bugle beads bordered and separated by two-bead seed bead columns --- the count is still even, at six beads, when you do this).

Another thing I do a lot in my beading is make my own buttonhole clasps. Rather than having to buy clasps for everything I want to make, I can put a button, a large bead, or a bit of shell or rock on one end of a bracelet or necklace and make an appropriately-sized loop out of seed beads at the other.

Here's the clasp I made for that green bracelet:

The button shown at left is a flat piece of abalone with a hole through the middle --- so that the string runs perpendicular rather than parallel to the shell's width. (These pictures, in case you can't tell just by looking at them, were taken at different distances from the bracelet. The loop at right really does fit over the shell, even though it looks tiny here!)

Here's another example of this type of closure, this time on a necklace, and without the benefit of a vertical crosspiece on which to anchor the button and loop:

This necklace is a good case in point for another useful aspect of the buttonhole clasp --- it removes the need to worry about mixing metals! With ready-made clasps, unless you work entirely in either gold or silver, you've got to have some of each or it gets awkward. With this necklace, there are a few gold-coated seed beads scattered throughout, so a silver clasp would look wrong, but I don't have any gold clasps because almost all my existing jewelry is silver, and I prefer to build on what I have. So I put a purple button with a gold border on one end, and a loop of gold beads on the other: crisis averted.
The tiered necklace is another motif I really like: it looks awesome, and it's almost obscenely easy to do!
Sometimes, as with this tiered bracelet, it can be fun to vary the spacing of the larger focal beads in different strands, for a more interlocked look:Finally, I've also found that asymmetry can make a necklace more interesting, and can call extra attention to the focal element by placing it somewhere unexpected.


Kowalski said...

Oooooh, how pretty!!!
I love beaded jewelery, especially necklaces, the're smooth enough not to cause sensory overload, they add some colour to simple outfits, and they're usually not made of metal (important for peeps like me who are allergic to nickel). The idea to use a button instead of a metal clasp is really good for this reason as well.
An Etsy shop sounds cool, let me know when you've set one up, so we can add a linkbutton to it on T & K.

TheWiredOne said...

I really like those jewelry designs. Now I know what to do with all these shells that I've got. I can use them in jewelry!