One woman's adventures in the land of hand made jewellery

Thursday, 16 September 2010

From Texas Oaks... Earrings Grow

Capitol Gardens, Austin TX
Texas is not flat grassland as I found out soon after the plane landed back in mid-August. Austin is in Hill Country - rolling limestone hills covered in ancient oak trees and very pretty. The trees and some earrings worn by a young lady serving at Bead It have inspired me to attempt some 3D beading for the first time.

The Bead It lady had on a fantastic punk-style collar about 10 - 15 cm wide in wire and mainly black seed beads rather like a spiders web in construction. The outer edge had a spiky fringe and her earrings matched this. I liked the 3D effect of the earrings so was inspired to have a go at making something similar but more twig-like to represent the oak trees dotted all over the city of Austin.

Once I'd worked out that in order to get the "branches" hanging downwards, construction had to start from the top it was comparatively easy to make my first "twig" and took about 90 minutes. The second was much quicker, simply following the pattern of the first.  Here's approximately how I did it:
1. Using a long length of fine fishing line (about 65cm/26ins long) I threaded on one silver crimp tube (simpy for decoration and to provide a cover for the final knot), twenty five brown seeds and one green one (all approx size 11). Then by-passing the green bead rethread back through all 25 browns and the crimp tube to the top of the "main branch". Slide everything so that the non-working end is about 8 cm long and add a locking bead to this end to prevent the it being pulled through. Pull tight but not too taut, as you'll need to be able to create a little space between the beads for the thread to exit from at intervals down the work.
2. Add a silver jump ring, preferrably soldered to prevent the fine tread slipping off when worn. and thread the line back through the top 4 beads, add 4 brown seeds plus one green. Skip the green and thread back to the main part. Lay the work down and pull up your first "twig" to the main work.
3. Pass the thread down through the next bead in the main part. Try to exit on the opposite side from the previous "twig". Add 6 browns and one green. Bypass the green and thread back through 4 browns then the two remaining brown seeds back to the main branch. Pull the thread to ease the twig up agaisnt the main branch.
4. Thread the line down another 5 beads in the main part and again exiting on the opposite side to the previous "twig" construct another multi-branched twig as in step 3.
5. Go down one more main bead, exit on the opposite side of the work to step 4 and construct a simple twig as in step 2.
6. Thread down through 5 more beads on the main, exit on the other side and repeat step 3.
7. Thread down through 4 beads on the main part, exit and add 3 brown seeds plus one green. Bypass the green and thread the line up trough the entire main branch to the top. Its easiest to do this in stages, gently pulling everything together as you go.
8. Remove the locking bead and thread both ends, through the jump ring and down through the crimp bead. gently ease the crimp and topmost bead to create a small space. Wrap one end of the line around the exposed threads and tie a surgeons knot using both line ends. Add a dab of nail varnish or glue to the knot and once dry thread the line ends into the work and trim. (I forgot to pack any clear nail varnish or glue in my travelling jewellery kit or make-up bag so will finish off the ends once I get home!)
9. Make another to match and add a silver earring hook to each ensuring if possible that they lie in opposite directions - don't worry if they don't, nature isn't always symmetrical!

Looking at the completed twigs I wonder if made in white with pastel ends they could be coral or would green with red ends look good for Christmas?

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