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

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Inspired By A Museum Visit

Old Emirati Jewellery in the Dubai Museum
Heavy, chunky jewellery is in vogue so inspired by some pieces I'd seen in the Dubai museum on a recent visit I decided to have a go at a tassel necklace.

My first problem was how to work with all the threads potentially required. The blue glass beads I'd set my heart on for my first tassled necklace "Sea And Sky" (picture below) had relatively small holes but being heavy required some sturdy stringing thread. I selected a blue polyester cord, two strands of which would just fit through the smallest of my selected beads. Looking through some of the beading books I have on my shelf there seemed to be many ways of creating a tassel. Some use all the threads throughout the work, some add in extra threads for the tassle whilst others use materials like embroidery silk skeins which naturally splits into many threads..

Sea And Sky Necklace
For Sea And Sky I used two threads of polyester chord on either side of the necklace, four lengths in all. Two threads were around 70 cm long being the overall necklace length plus extra for the tassle ends and some 15cm spare, the other two were much shorter at 30 cm. After knotting the two ends of the longer chords together I passed both threads through a calotte. Each chord end then received a dab of nail varnish and whilst wet I rolled the ends in my finger tips to make them as fine as possible. It was still fiddly to thread the smaller beads and despite the nail varnish the ends still frayed eventually. However, by starting with extra thread I was able to trim and retreat the fraying ends from time to time. I repeated the process on the other side but this time just strung about an inch of beads onto the two threads.

The clasp was to form part of the decorative front of the piece  so once the main necklace was threaded I added a slightly larger bead. All four ends were threaded though this bead to form the top of the tassle. Below it I separated out the four threads and threaded beads onto each one in turn. Each tassle end was made a slightly different length. At the end of each tassle I by-passed the final seed bead and threaded the chord back through the next two or three beads and then having eased everything together but not so tight that the tasle became rigid, worked a knot. The remaining chord was threaded on up through a bead or two before cutting off any excess. I gave each knot a dab of nail varnish for extra security. Once all four tassle ends were worked all that remained was to add the clasp pieces to each calotte. 

This looked great and received several admiring comments from friends and family so I was inspired to become more complex. For my next piece I wanted a fuller tassle made from seed beads alone. In my bead stash I had a quantity of lovely greeny-blue bugle beads and grey-blue seed beads, exactly the colours that inspired the piece and some large silvered flat glass ovals. The effect I desired for my "Waterfall" necklace was of water like a stream over rocks. One of the ovals used as a focal bead would reflect light like a waterfall but the downside is that these are heavy beads, hence why they had languished so long in my box.

Tiger tail was used for the necklace strands mainly because it is much easier to thread seed beads on this stiffer material but also it would help support the focal bead weight. Two strands of greeny-blue bugles and one of grey-blue seed beads interspersed with slightly large pale blue glass beads were strung. Each length of beads was attached onto a small decorative brass connector at either end, plaiting the three strands a little for texture as I love the way beads at different angles sparkle in the light. The necklace was finished by adding some matching chain at either side and a fastening. Using chain reduces the amount of beads required and makes for more comfortable wear as I hate the scratchiness of glass bugle beads on the back of the neck. It's mostly hidden behind a collar or hair anyway.

The tassle is a completely separate structure which also comprises the "bail" for the focal bead. For this I strung around 2.5 cm of  seed beads into the middle of each of six 30 cm threads, I used Beadalon's Dandyline which is fine but strong. Then a single larger round pale blue glass bead was strung onto six of the threads. The same process was repeated on the other side. These two beads would prevent the seed beads disappearing in to the focal bead's large hole. Once the beads were centred I fed all twelve ends through the focal bead. Easing the loops I'd formed slightly I passed the main necklace through.

Then I set to work in much the same process as the previous tassle working each thread into a strand of beads, by-passing the end bead before passing the thread back through the beads. Each length of tassle was slightly different to give some depth to the "waterfall". I worked each one prior to finishing any of the ends off so that before knotting each tassle thread I could ease an individual tassle tight against its other end to ensure the beads in both tassles and the central "bail" were close together but not too taut. This was a bit fiddly but worth the effort. Having ensured the Dandyline ends in each tassle were securely knotted I finished off the knots with a dab of nail varnish. The end result is I'm sure you would agree very pretty, chunky and I am looking forward to having somewhere special to wear it.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely necklaces. Definitely deserve to be worn somewhere special! :-)